Thursday, October 25, 2007

Streaming Tunes

When my alarm went off yesterday I learned about yet another facet of the American music industry's insanity. The DJ at the local college station that my alarm was tuned to said that he was running late on his tracks because once a quarter ("or" as he said "once every four months for those who can't do math", ahem)* the RIAA has them enter in every song they play into a computer over the course of two weeks. In order to help combat piracy they have to enter the song title, artist, album name, and how many people are listening on the Internet.

What in the hell does that accomplish? Did the RIAA decide that it didn't have enough enemies and that it figured it should (further) torcher those most dependent on their product? Oye.

*You're doing pretty bad when I'm out smarting you when I first get up; even the dog outsmarts me in the morning. Also, this was obviously the Cleveland State station and not the Case Western station.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh Glorious Day

There's now a Super Walmart within 40 mintues of my house (it's probably 30 tops). I'm amazed the local corrupt grocery unions and their coporate sponsors weren't able to put the kibosh on this store opening up in the Cleveland city proper. Guess it shows how desperate the City is for jobs and businesses to locate here.

They still have a ways to go before they compete with several smaller towns though. The backwater location in which I lived before had about a half dozen super stores within a half hour of it.

About 6,000 people applied for 350 jobs there. Robert Simons, a professor of urban planning and real estate in the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, said that's a sign of a soft local economy. "That seems like a whole lot" of applicants, he said.
And of the 6000 who applied, probably only 200 were qualified to work there...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Michigan Notes

I was at a bar/restaurant dealie on my latest travels to central Michigan. Before I get into that, I’ll point out that the people who passed the smoking ban in Ohio are nothing but a bunch of nosy busy bodies whose only interest is controlling the lives of their fellow citizens, but I will concede that places that serve alcohol in Ohio have become significantly more habitable since the ban took effect.

I was reminded of that fact in Michigan when I got a side of free phlegm with my meal at what would otherwise be a pretty nice place to eat. As well, I've been to the local (Ohio) bar several times which would have been unthinkable without the smoking ban. I hate the control freaks who passed the ban, but I no longer care that it passed, and wouldn't care (and would probably prefer) if they passed elsewhere.

On another note, years (and years) ago, the Ohio lottery broke out their daily lottery drawings to be twice a day. "Who would want to play that thing twice a day?" I thought. Well Michigan has gone one better and using video terminals in bars they have drawings every four friggin' minutes. Would-be casual gamblers note, there's not much more depressing than seeing a bunch of losers smoking down a pack while they drop their days pay on state sponsored gambling.

I don't think I can go into a bar in Michigan again.

Hate Speech

Well hate speech laws are on the way. New York state is going to make it a felony to display a noose. Of course it will only apply to those who are using it to intimidate, so it will be completely open to the intimidate-ie to determine that. From here:
The bill also covers etching, drawing or painting the symbol. He said that, as in the case of Nazi symbols and burning crosses, an intent to threaten or harass would be part of an anti-noose law.
It was also in the so-called Jena Six case in Louisiana, where six black teenagers are accused of beating a white student. The incident happened after nooses were hung from a tree on a high school campus there.

Displaying noose = felony
Nearly beating someone to death = no biggie

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rice Things

I know my brother-in-law is a fan of these things, so I figured I'd bring 'em up:

They're a Japanese treat made out of sugar and rice gluten. The texture is usually what throws people off, kinda like uncooked bread dough. At roughly 30-40 cents a piece (their diameter is a little larger than a fifty cent piece) they definitely rank as a special treat.

These are honeydew melon flavored and they're pretty tasty. Mrs. Sandmich also bought me some orange ones, which had an okay taste, but unfortunately they vaguely tasted like an antibiotic that I had as a kid* and I can no longer stomach anything that tastes remotely like that sick stuff (any attempt to make foul tasting medicine taste better only results in some horrid franken-taste).

*I actually didn't know it was an antibiotic until we to get it for Kid Sandmich. Mrs. Sandmich had to be the one to give it to him 'cause I could probably only give that foul tasting stuff to persons on my 'enemies list'. For those who might know, it's the liquid stuff that you have to keep in the fridge.

Domain Name Rant

Network Solutions may well be the worst domain name hosting company out there. What's sad is that they were at one time the only company that you could register at (I'm sure their arrogance has caught up to them). I won't get into the technical details of why they suck, but I will point out that I don't think I should have to sit through a river of ads in order to utilize a service that I've already purchased from them.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Misguided Efforts

From here:
Investigators had downloaded about half the videotaped images late Thursday, police spokesman Paul J. Browne said. He said they planned to review tape from up to seven digital security cameras in and around the building where the noose was discovered early Tuesday morning.

Police also were testing the 4-foot-long piece of twine for DNA evidence and interviewing students and faculty, but said they had no suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, police were called to the Ivy League campus again Thursday to probe another distasteful discovery — a caricature of a yarmulke-wearing man and a swastika found on a bathroom stall door. The NYPD's thought hate crime unit was investigating the black-ink drawing, but police said there was no reason to believe the two incidents were linked.
I remember when my sister's place got broken into (twice), it's all the police could do to come out and file a report and say "meh". Maybe she should have pretended she was black (an unimaginable uber stretch to be sure) and charged 'hate crime' instead of 'break in'. Maybe then the local law enforcement may have made an effort to catch the perps.

Likewise, it's amazing the resources being mustered to find the perps against this rich black woman. The poor black women in Cleveland who are threatened with real crime everyday can forget ever having this amount of care and concern ever being directed towards them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Data Violations

Expect more of this stuff in the future:
This is to say nothing of the TJX/CardSystems breaches. Personal information is spread around in too many locations to expect that every outlier is going to have it perfectly secured. I even got a letter from IBM, for whom I only worked for nine months more than twenlve years ago, that they had lost a backup tape with my info on it. Great.

I don't know. I think the whole system is riddled with flaws since our 1920s level of record keeping was never meant to hold up under this strain. Unfortunately the current system is so huge, and has so many different invested parties that any movement (if it occurs at all) towards better security is going to be painfully slow and expensive.

Update 11/5/2007: Steven Gal agrees

Friday, October 05, 2007

Government Black List

From Strategy Page:
Last month the U.S. Army locked out Time Warner's Roadrunner customers, because Time Warner refused to act on army complaints that hackers were using Roadrunner access to try and hack into military networks. The army lock out got Time Warner's attention (they said they had no idea the hacking was going on.)
And the reason Time Warner didn't have any idea was because they flat out don't care. Rather than take some modest steps to secure their networks, ISPs put on their best Sergeant Schultz face and declare "I zee nauthzing, nauthzing!"

This does bring up a troubling idea though: the government blacklisting ISPs ('black listing' is the semi-tech term used to describe what the U.S. Army did to Time Warner). Granted it was fairly justified in this case, but I wait for some government do-gooder to blacklist some ISP out of some spite related to a fashionable stand (such as trying to bring down a controversial web page). Best to squelch this right now.

More Ohio Tax Insanity

The sales tax auditor was back in this week (yes such things exist in Ohio). Some questions came up on a different subject, but I was given this example of the lunacy of the Ohio tax code:

  1. If we purchase rubber gloves for the employees to use in order to protect the product being produced, those are tax exempt.

  2. If we purchase those same gloves in order to protect the employees, they are taxable.

I'm sure so idiot in Columbus is pleased with this one he's throwing to business: here ya' go, a nice arbitrary tax cut. However they're not doing anyone any favors since the cost to analyze (and then re-analyze every time the auditor comes in) every apparent 'tax break' isn't worth the money saved from the break itself. It would be better for everyone if they just taxed obvious items and then equally obviously, not taxed others.