Tuesday, January 31, 2006

alt.breakfast.meat

I'd long been a fan of the breakfast product goetta: a 'starchy sausage' made out of cut oats and pig lips and anuses which was an invention of German immigrants in Cincinnati. Although every bit as unhealthy as regular sausage (if not more so), one company makes a respectable veggie version which is quite faithful to the taste of the 'meat' goetta (though, thankfully, it lacks the livery overtone that many meat goetta varieties exhibit).

Being such a regional treat, it's nowhere to be found outside of the Cincinnati tri-state area and when I got a jonsin' for some, I discovered a (hillbilly) product that went by the name of scrapple that was essentially the same thing, though made with corn instead of oats. I hesitantly picked some up from the grocer and after cooking it, found it had a flavor not all too dissimilar to scent that pet-toilet carpet exhibits when it's torn up in the process of being discarded. Needless to say, it went in circular file and my quest for a goetta substitute was thwarted.

Recently though, my sister-in-law-to-be was over and she went on to describe a tasty dish her family was going to be making later. I'm into new foods, so I asked how it was made. She said it was called 'pon haus' and that it consisted of pork mixed with corn and...

"Whoa!" says I, "you mean scrapple!" I then went on to relate my sorry experience and then spent the better part of the evening ridiculing my brother over his part in the future project.

However, it wasn't long before Mrs. Sandmich came to the conclusion that I was wrong, even in absence of any evidence (I've no idea how that habit formed ;-) ) and she then went on to make her own batch of pon haus, which I derided the entire time. She fried some up....

...and made me taste it. Needless to say, I was made to eat crow (and a loaf of pon haus) after I discovered it closely resembled the taste and texture of goetta; and not the crappy "lips and anuses" kind either. This was like 'super goetta' since it was made from a decent cut of pork. It's taken all my willpower to keep from frying myself into cardiac arrest with my new found bounty.

I, of course, appologize for ever doubting you on this future-sis, though I probably would have been a pain about it anyway ;)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Do No Evil...

...unless there's a buck to made. Want to look into the real face of facism and not that pretend crap the left is all riled up about, check out this LGF post that does a Google image search for 'tianamen' on the regular and Chinese blogger sites.

(hat tip - Riding Sun)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Government by Ineptitude

From here:
The complete inability to control earmarking [by Congress] is symptomatic of a larger problem: an inability to make the hard choices necessary to fix our country’s finances. If a doctor was incapable of treating a broken bone, would you trust that doctor to save you from a heart attack?

If Congress doesn’t have the courage to eliminate a bridge to nowhere that affects all of 50 people on an island in Alaska, how can it be expected to reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that directly impact the lives of tens of millions of people?
For as much as I'd like to pin this all on rent seeking idiots, stories like this (where Congress is mandating the implementation of a technology, whose details they are leaving to a third party) prove that idiotic lawmakers have little interest in the public good.

(I'd like to pass along as well that it sure would be nice to have a REAL opposition party in the U.S. instead of the bunch of lunatics that are passing themselves off as Democrats. Don't get me wrong, they're a force to be reckoned with, as elections around the world prove: the rabble can be roused to vote for just about any kind of idiot; but it sure would be nice if they concentrated on the good of the country rather than....well I don't know what they're doing....don't know if they do either.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Way of the Future

Mr. Kendall poo-poos fortune telling, but I think I found something that will get him over his hang ups, from here:
Police are investigating a Tokyo group in which a 57-year-old man is said to be living together with 10 women in their 20s and 30s as well as one baby, after they received information that a woman was forced to join the group, police sources said Wednesday.
ONE baby? Anyway, what's his secret?
"I realized that I can attract women by reciting a charm," he [the man, or should I say the MAN] told reporters. "After starting fortune-telling at home, female clients have gathered around me, and now we lead a communal life, just like polygamy."
Oh well, this kind of thing always looks good on paper, but any dude who would want more than one wife should probably be checked into an asylum; but who am I to knock his magic abilities?

More Testing

I passed yet another inane Microsoft exam today, and for anyone who might do a search on it, the 70-291 prep guide put out by Microsoft is pretty much worthless (I can't say how worthless because then the Microsoft thugs will get me). Seems it's not enough to have vague questions and training material from Microsoft, but the whole testing concept needs to be vague as well; making the whole charade a crude filter rather than reflection of actual ability.

This exam also continues a long trend in training materials that teach you worthwhile facts, but fail to pass along the (worthless) knowledge required to answer the insane questions posed on the tests (not 'insanely hard' per se, just 'insane'). I was ready to strangle the idiot who developed this pile of puke by the time I was done taking it.

Anyway, I needed a score of '700' or better to pass. My score? 700

What's the '700' relate to? Who in the hell knows, the score is vague as well.

Monday, January 23, 2006

More 24

To Jack Bauer, or to not Jack Bauer. A quandary again whether or not to sit through another season of 24, and National Review sums it up better than I:
The barrage of subterfuge tends to blast the show into a plausibility-free stratosphere, drifting happily outside the reaches of the believable. But even as the show hemorrhages logical coherence, it bulks up on rocket-fueled suspense.
This year it's more easily answered since Mrs. Sandmich is into watching it. The topper from last year (to me) was when Jack out-thought an ACLU-esque attorney so that he could get to breaking the fingers of his client in an effort to extract some much needed info. (Leading me to think that U.S. intelligence could do with fewer 'Mr. Beans' and more 'Jack Bauers').

Here's to hoping that they keep the 'Oh come on now!' portions to a minimum this time around.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

An Offer He Couldn't Refuse

The news of the tech stock trading scandal in Japan is all over the place, and I'm sure this news item will not go unnoticed:
Naha police said Noguchi, 38, vice president of H.S. Securities Co, apparently slit his arms and wrists at a Naha hotel. No suicide note was found but a blood-stained knife was found nearby him, the police said. H.S. Securities was among the companies the investigators searched in investigations into alleged fraudulent practices by Livedoor group companies.
With the fine, marbled presence of the Yakuza in Japan, this story reads like Abu Nidal's suicide via multiple 'gun shot wounds to the head'.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More Internet Idiots

The geniuses over at Bell South have thought up a new crack pot idea to get more revenue - charge content providers for the honor of having their traffic going over Bell South's network. From Internet Daily:
Bill Smith, chief technology officer at BellSouth, justified content charging companies by saying they are using the telco's network without paying for it.
'Higher usage for broadband services drives more costs that we have to recover,' he said in a telephone interview.
What? It's hardly the content providers fault if those morons aren't charging their customers enough. They're also more than free to offer plans based on the amount of bandwidth a customer uses over a period of time.

The method they're pursuing has a big technological hurdle as well. If I'm at my house soaking up bandwidth with bittorrent, e-donkey, bearshare, or other peer-to-peer programs, it's impossible to recover any fees since there is no formal 'provider' for the content. The only answer would then be to throttle or kill the bandwidth of everyone/thing that hasn't paid. The only issue with this is that this has already been tried. It's the exact model that CompuServe and AOL used before the Internet killed off that business model (though apparently not permanently).

There's another issue as well. Users pay the ISP so that they can access the content on the Internet, in other words, the content providers are providing the basis for their product. The system more symbiotic than the tech officer's characterization of the content providers as freeloading leaches. It would be like soda machine manufacturers asking Coke and Pepsi to give them a cut of each soda sold, as if the machine could exist without any product in it. Another quote:
He suggested that Apple Computer might be asked to pay a nickel or a dime to insure the complete and rapid transmission of a song via the Internet, which is being used for more and more content-intensive purposes. He cited Yahoo Inc.'s Inc. plans to stream reality TV shows as an example.
I'm sure that sounds good to the idiots in the boardroom, but have they asked themselves how long their Internet service provider business would be around if Apple, Google, Yahoo, and/or Microsoft decided not to allow their traffic onto Bell South's network because they don't feel like putting up with this extortion?

(This whole thing smells like SCO's attempt to get licensing fees out of shops that use Linux. They were able to get a couple wary parties to sign up, as well as some companies (Sun and Microsoft) that had ulterior motives, but most everyone else to them to go screw themselves).

(UPDATE 1/19/06: Google tells Verizon and Bell South to go suck pipe.)

Life Imitates South Park

There's a lot of noise on this, but not nearly enough to cause the required embarrassment to those responsible. From "Gay cowboy film tops competition at Golden Globes":
"So I want to give my first thanks to my fellow filmmakers for strengthening my faith in the power of movies to change the way we're thinking," Lee said.

Based on a short story by novelist Annie Proulx, "Brokeback" is the wrenching story of two macho cowboys who, despite themselves, begin a romance in 1963 and pursue it during stolen moments over the next two decades.
From a 1998 episode of South Park that was basically a send up of the indy film scene:
Cartman:"Naw dude, Independent films are those black and white hippy movies. They're always about gay cowboys eating pudding."
The show even features a scene from a movie with that plot device. God forbid the artsy types concentrate on making something entertaining instead of predictable drivel.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Slave to the Wage

As usually happens this time of year, my birthday falls around MLK day, and inevitably two questions come up, and I'll answer them here in order to make a permanent record:
Q: Do you get off work for MLK day?
A: No, they actually make something at where I work and places that aren't bloated ticks on the butt of society can't get away with not coming in on random days.

Q: Do you get off work for your birthday?
A: No, I work for a living.
I should note that I have had exactly one job where I did get off for MLK day. When I worked for IBM, so many of their customers were banks and gov/ed type places that it wasn't worth it for their field service people to come in that day.

I've heard of the rare places that let you off for your birthday, but I've never had the luck of working at one.

(Update: Unamazingly, GM was closed for MLK day)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stupid Ib Anerica

I (along with I'm sure many others) caught John Stossel's piece 'Stupid in America' about American public schools. If the piece had a weakness, it was that Mr. Stossel was a bit ambitious and tried to cram a comprehensive look at American public education into a little over 40 minutes worth of video. Excluding that fault, he did touch on a great many points with which we are all familiar when it comes to American public schools. I'll only bring up two minor quibbles:
  1. I think he dumbed down his explanation of competition a bit too much. Yes, a lack of competition leads to a bloated, lazy, over spending system. What also happens though is an institution or business has no idea what to sell beyond their original mandate. It could be the biggest hearted, most well intentioned monopoly on the planet, but without a direct competitor, no one is taking chances on new ideas so no new ideas get produced. John Stossel brought up the good old USSR, and it was well known that they only sold two flavors of ice cream: chocolate and vanilla. The flavors that ice cream can be made into and the demand for different flavors are limitless, but without someone risking the sale of different flavors, the monopoly has no idea what other flavors to make or, given that, what flavors can generate the required market saturation to make their manufacturing worth while, even if it was given to such an idea. Of course Mr. Stossel pointed out the end effect when he noted that the performance of kids who attended in Milwaukee 'voucher' schools improved, but so did the kids in the regular public schools.
  2. Stossel went after the big bogeymen: lazy, evil edu-unions and ignorant, lazy bureaucrats. One piece left out of the puzzle though was the parents. I'd written previously about the school where white people were leaving because the influence of the Asians that attend the school had made it 'too difficult'. I'll point out again, if I was to take the Asians at that school and swap them with the students at the worst school in Cleveland, which school would be then be the failing school and which one would be successful? Mr. Stossel himself interviewed a mom who was concerned that the school hadn't yet taught her son to read, and although the school certainly bears some blame, I couldn't generate much sympathy for the lazy mother.
This article from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel makes a related point:
Parental choice by itself does not assure quality. Some parents pick bad schools - and keep their children in them long after it is clear the schools are failing. This has allowed some of the weakest schools in the program to remain in business.
This is the double edged sword of competition, no? For every Ben and Jerry's ice cream, there's some no name brand that either doesn't make it, or struggles along by selling five gallon buckets of cheap crap. For many people, that some would succeed while others fail is simply unacceptable. Better that everyone is brought down to the lowest common denominator.

It was interesting that such great points were made, and generic public support seams to be there for school choice, but the politicians who publicly stand against it rarely if ever pay a price. Working against any reform movement is the fact that:

A) The lazy and mediocre gain more from the system than they would under a real merit based program, and these people are more numerous than any of care to admit (...the majority even maybe?)

B) Socialism has a way of blinding people to the possibilities. They may hate the current system, the way most people hate government monopolies, but to all too many people the vision of a capitalist, competitive based education system means less a bright, sparkly grocery market of choices, than a black pit of unknown from which will spring mankind's worst urges. This is, more often than not, projection. Such as when the union thug says that too many people will exploit a free choice system for personal gain. "Oh really....?" says I.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Morronic Maryland

In their divine wisdom, the legislators of Maryland over rode the governor’s veto and passed a law which mandates that Wal-Mart cut Maryland a giant check. From Here (emphasis mine):
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart is the only company in the state that currently would be affected by the law, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2007. It has about 17,000 employees at 53 stores and two distribution centers in Maryland and was planning on building a distribution center on the Eastern Shore, which the governor said may now be in jeopardy.

Supporters say the law is needed because Maryland is underwriting the cost of health care for many Wal-Mart employees who can't afford to pay their share of insurance premiums. Democratic leaders, who pushed the Fair Share Health Care Fund Act through the legislature, said they did not know how many people were involved or what the cost was to the state.
The logic used for this eludes me, mostly because none exists.

Would they rather these people not be employed at all? Who made them supply these health benefits? What costs are they looking to save? Whose jobs will be lost? If it's such a great idea, why didn't they apply it to every business in Maryland?

These people have absolutely no clue, they just fold to the group that makes the most noise (unions in this case) no matter how idiotic their demands. What's even sorrier is that these people would be more than happy to tax the residents more so that they can cut a corporate welfare check to the first automaker that infers that they might build a plant in the state.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gifts

I'd read a series of fantasy novels which had many great lines, but the one that's stuck with me (because it was the last one, making it easy to remember) was a 'gift which cannot be thrown away is not a gift, but a trap'. So true I've thought. Not that I frown upon any gifts, recent or otherwise, but this saying is a great self-justification to avoid becoming a pack rat, especially when it comes to gifts that have a short lifespan. Clothing comes to mind; if one was to hold onto an article of clothing that was a gift from someone long after it was worn out, then one is 'trapped' into owning something they can no longer use.

This is also a good guide for giving gifts. Typically when I give a gift, I'm transferring ownership and I could typically care less if the giftie takes it out to the firing range. It's not my design that everything I give should turn into a permanent memorial to my presence (just most things...).

However, I've found an exception to this with a Christmas present from a buddy:

Now this enters into another well known school of thought, in particular that which deals with antiquities. Do I truly 'own' such a gift? Not really, I am merely borrowing it for a short time before it is passed down to another generation :-).

(BTW, Thanks for all the great gifts this season everyone!)

Phish

I had a post half written on this subject, and then GMAN goes and puts a rather comprehensive post up:
http://www.greggman.com/pages/phishing/phishing.htm
It's amazing how suave some of these scams are, and the details for finding them are boring and technical, but that's the price you pay for being on the Internet. Check out the post for all the raw tips.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

More J Candy

I got some Japanese candies for Christmas...


And one of them had a catch phrase that caught me off gaurd...


"Life Partner"? That's a little more dedication than I normally look for in a candy...

Super MS Korea Developer Rap!

Know Korean? Don't think it matters; I dare you to sit through more than 15 seconds of this travesty:
http://www.microsoft.com/korea/events/ready2005/vs_song.asp

Friday, January 06, 2006

Testy

For those few concerned, I did wind up passing my Microsoft test today. This puts me on the path towards renewing my now seven year old MCSE (which in itself cuts down on me having to take a test). I will need to take (and pass) at least four (though optimistically five) tests and since I’m feeling pretty ballsie, I've already scheduled the next one for two weeks from now.

It's hard to convey the inanity of these tests to anyone who hasn't taken one (I've taken MANY); and although I learned a lot studying for the exam, the test questions inevitably wind up being 'you versus the Microsoft wordsmiths'. Questions are paired down below their main essentials and the answers are equally vague and often relate to things no one would do in the real world. How about a quick example:
You are the caretaker for 4 dogs. All the dogs are lab mixes with black coats. It is winter and need to give the dogs water as quickly as possible, do you:
  1. Shovel snow into the dish and allow the built in heater to melt it

  2. Bring in snow and melt it on the stove

  3. Fill a pail up from the outside spigot
Now I can't relate a real question because A-it'd be incredibly boring and B-Microsoft promises to take away your livelihood if you so much as infer the actual content of the exam. However, you'll note the first two sentences contain unnecessary fluff while the pertinent pieces don't contain enough info. Where's it winter at? Is the outside spigot heated? Why are all the given choices bad?

It wouldn't cheese me so much if what I had put time into seven years ago was now completely worthless. Rare is the field that chews through knowledge like the tech industry. At least in other fields you can feel confident that skills you've learned will carry you forward in your career. Sure you'll have to stay up to date, but it's not like you get a job and five years down the road find out that everything you know is crap.

Oh well, that's why I make the big bucks ;-)

(If I had to guess, I'd say content creators have it worst. All I have to do is look at those poor souls to know that I have it easy)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Monkey Business

From Male monkeys prefer toy cars, females like dolls:
Just like human boys and girls, male monkeys like to play with toy cars while female monkeys prefer dolls, a research project has shown.
This intriguing discovery is one of many signs of deep-rooted behavioral differences between the sexes that scientists are exploring with the latest tools of genetics and neuroscience.
'Intriguing'? Only a university type could find such a meticulous finding of the obvious intriguing. How about some more?

Many studies have shown that men tend to be better at mathematics and spatial reasoning while women outdo men in verbal and language skills.

For example, in a computerized maze-searching experiment, it took females five minutes longer than males to find their way to a goal, according to Scott Mowatt, a psychologist at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Women are better at talking? Someone call the Pope! This is real news!
Next up: Historians find that Hitler was a mean guy and English majors find that they've wasted their lives.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006

Cool Card

For reasons I'll not go into in the interest of being brief I received a cool thank you letter from Japan that turned out to be a little self assembly paper model of a takoyaki (octopus meatball) stand. I don't think I've posted this before (I hope...):