Sunday, December 28, 2008

Final Visual

Check out this Microsoft ad for Visual Studio:


Now check out this shot of Ultima, a summon monster from Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics:

That's not the only similarity either. The girl in the party looks a lot like Penelo from Final Fantasy XII and the weapon used by the summoner looks a lot like a generic 'rod' weapon that's in all Final Fantasy games.

For as much as I'd like it to be, it's actually not a case of outright thievery by MS in this case. Previous Visual Studio ads have aped games like Halo, World of Warcraft, and Second Life. In all those cases it was rather obvious, but I found it interesting that their Final Fantasy advertising tribute chose a rather obscure set of characters, I guess noticing it makes it all the more delicious to a handful of adherents.

By the way, I got the bottom pic from the site below, do not click on it if you think that there is still hope for mankind! (Safe for work, but not for sanity)
http://www.kaolinitedreams.com/ultimaholy.html
You clicked on it didn't you?!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Battery Powered

From here:
A consortium of 14 US tech companies is asking for $1bn in federal aid to build a lithium-ion battery plant.

According to a report in today's Wall Street Journal, that steaming heap of cash would be used to help build a factory that would enable the companies, in the words of the report, to "catch up to Asian rivals that are far ahead" of US efforts to supply batteries for the next generation of electric or hybrid automobiles.
I wish I knew who said it, but I heard it said that attmepts to speed advances in technology by using only money is like trying to speed the growth of a single baby by using nine mothers.

Of course this might not be about technology, but about getting the government to foot the bill for a new battery plant, which begs the question: who wants to live next to a battery plant?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas in 2008

This is the 5th Christmas for this blog, but only the second Merry Christmas post. My employer gives us a generous allotment of time off around the holidays so I usually don't feel like writing, which is fine since no one else feels like reading.

On Christmas Eve of this year we received some fancy gift wrap from the kind folks at Maker's Mark. Mrs. Sandmich is saving her's, but I couldn't resist wrapping some gifts in it, and I had to point it out since they are probably the best wrap jobs that I've done in my life:


The stars are actually little Maker's Mark bottles!



As well, kudos to Mrs. Sandmich for scoring an excellent nativity set:


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Levels of Internmet

Justin comments on the World War 2 internment of Japanese Americans in relation to some rather nice Life photos that have been posted up to Google. I confess that I cannot muster the emotion with this event that others can. World War 2 was a time of many atrocities, and the internment of Japanese Americans, unfortunately, doesn't rank quite as high as others of the era.

At the onset of the war a large concern for those on the west coast was an invasion by Imperial Japan. With what little defenses they had destroyed at Pearl Harbor (contrary to popular belief, America didn't have a lot of defense forces at the start of the war), drastic actions came to the fore. In other countries the 'enemy minority' is beset by machete wielding mobs, but the American government sent this group off to fairly modern work camps, of sorts.

With all the effort put in, the whole thing only further begs the question, what was supposed to be accomplished by the internment beyond some momentary, misguided revenge grudge? Even apart from the immoral human toll, it would appear to be a huge waste of resources. Justin didn't link to it, but the one photo the stuck out at me was this one:


Caption: Japanese American soldiers, visiting their families while on leave from European combat duty, stand honor guard beside coffin of Japanese American WWI veteran Clarence Uno who died while interned at relocation center for Americans of Japanese descent.

Although the other photos were interesting, after seeing that picture all I could think was "umm, okay, why were those people there?" I tend to doubt that even people at that time had a clear idea of what the point of the whole operation was.

For as awful as it was to those interned, there is one piece of useful data that can be gleamed: the whole episode did provide a bit of a social contrast to other minority groups as Jared Taylor notes in relation to the 'legacy of slavery' excuse frequently used as cover for black Americans:

This wholesale internment was far worse than anything done to blacks then or since. Many of the men, women, and children who were rounded up are still living today. If any group in America had wanted to give up, blame white society, and try to live off its victim status, the Japanese could have. Instead, when the war was over, they went back to what was left of their lives and started over. Twenty-five years after the war, they had long since caught up with white society and, as a group, had incomes 32 percent above the national average.
Maybe part of the reason the internment flies under the radar is that the Japanese are so adept. Maybe if they sat around in squalor and bitched and moaned for sixty seventy years people would take more of an interest in the deprivations they had incurred in the past. Such is life...


Caption: Close-up of grave at cemetery in Japanese detention camp.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Devil May Cry 4



Devil May Cry 2 was an awful game. They took a game that had little story to begin with and took that out, leaving what was essentially a series of (bad) Devil May Cry minigames. On top of that, the designers of the second game also decided to reuse art from the first game, which would be forgivable if the first game hadn't already reused it's own art several times over the course of the game.

Although the third game was supposed to be on a par with the first game, I never played it since the difficulty was supposed to be outrageous. This wasn't wholly unexpected since the first Devil May Cry featured an easy mode that had a tense difficulty, and a 'regular' mode that was reserved for those ever so rare gamers who enjoy nonstop Megaman levels of aggravation. And all that is quite a bit apart from the even harder 'Dante Must Die' mode that was designed by someone who hates humanity.

Devil May Cry 4 sets out to correct those sins of the past while updating the already gorgeous artwork and adding an additional fully playable character. Playing this game reminds of how fun the original Devil May Cry was. A brawler at heart, the game is all about using quick responses to take down multiple enemies at once.

This game also elicits nostalgia by reusing some of the same gaming devices that were used in the first one. Reusing entire levels? Yup. Frequent returns to vanquished bosses? Oh yeah. Firearms that are nearly entirely useless? You know it.

Any of those devices would be faults in any other game but so much care has been put into enemy design, level design, and the easy to master, though deep combat system that the throw-back devices come off as an intentional choice, rather than a cheap out. The designers sought to take what made the original Devil May Cry great and make it better, rather than reworking it into an unholy mess. It's in every way like the original: fun, but not involving; really good, but not great. An enjoyable ride if you take it for what it is.

However, outside of the review I do have something to get off my chest. It has to do with the character control scheme. This is something that's at fault in nearly every game with a third person perspective, including the excellent God of War games which borrowed heavily from DMC. To set this up, here's some in-game shots of DMC4:

In the first shot the character is fighting an enemy on the left of the screen while in the second a character is fighting an enemy that is at the 'front' of the screen in between the character and the person playing the game. The in-game controls work as you might expect with the player pushing left in the first shot and 'back' or 'down' in the second.

The problem comes in at the inevitable camera change when switching areas. Hypothetically the character on the left might fight his way into a new room which will require a new camera view. At this point the camera might be looking straight at the character instead of his left hand side. Now all of the sudden the enemy the character is fighting is no longer on the 'left' of the joystick, but 'down', leaving the player vulnerable while an adjustment must be made. What makes it worse, particularly in some of the beautiful wide shots in DMC4, is that you cannot even see your character in the new camera because they're behind a wall or whatnot. At that point there is no way to know which way to attack.

The DMC games have a closely related game in the Onimusha series. Same publisher, same concept, just with a different setting and a more patient, less frentic combat system. In the first Onimusha (at least, I cannot remember the others) the control scheme was that you pushed on the joystick from the perspective of the character rather than the player. Under this scheme, 'up' on the joystick always moves the character forward and 'down' always makes him turn around. This took some getting used to since the natural inclination is to push the character around on the screen like he's a glorified mouse cursor, but in the long it was far superior since camera perspective didn't matter: if the enemy was in front of you, which is normally the case, you just keep pushing 'up' irregardless of what way the character was facing on the screen.

Although I loved it, no one else did. Kid Sandmich in particular loathed the system despite my many attempts to sell it to him. Despite it's lack of popularity, it would be nice if it could at least be an option on "third person" games like this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nine to Five

Years ago I had a job with a contract IT job shop and occasionally they would hit employees up to work on a Saturday. Our first question would be "Overtime?" and then the employer would say "well we have you listed as exempt so technically we don't have to pay you overtime", at which point we would "well then we're technically not going to show up". After finding that they were unable to find a sufficient number of suckers, the business would relent and offer overtime to anyone who came in. The fact that they even tried to screw us out of pay cheesed me off, it's not like the shop wasn't charging the customer an exorbitant rate for off hours work so I'm sure the whole situation was caused by a manager who got bonus dollar signs in his eyes.

But...did they have to pay us overtime? I don't know.

I do know that at the time I was jealous of those who had a true full time job at a dedicated employer, instead of a job at a contracting shop whose main point of existence was screwing customers out of barrels of cash. Typically part of having one of those coveted dedicated positions is a willingness to provide support to the business at all hours as part of your salary. To me that was, and still is, an acceptable trade off for such a job.

Oddly enough, at least to me, not everyone takes the same position. Redmond Magazine profiles one John Paul Myszczenko who held (holds?) some type of help desk position* at the nefarious AIG. After providing a year or two of off hours support, Myszczenko discovered that he was non-exempt and after pressing his employer, got back pay for himself and various other employees. But what makes an employee "salary, non-exempt" and what makes one "salary, exempt"? When does the employer have to pay overtime? Well at least when it comes to 'help desk' positions the Department of Labor ruled:

The DOL ruled that IT support specialists and help desk workers do not qualify for either the "administrative" or "computer professionals" exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The DOL determined that the IT position is not exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements because the position, which requires only a high school diploma, does not require the discretion and independent judgment necessary to qualify for the administrative exemption and lacks the development and analysis skills necessary for the computer professional exemption.
I've read that several times, and at least from this IT guy's perspective, that doesn't make a lick of sense. The world of hard barriers between management and 'hourly' has gone by the wayside. I guess I could see where it might apply to some hyper-conglomerate like AIG, but for most businesses, especially with those who bring in under the $100 million a year it's a typical kludgy government fit.

I know that the reason these regulations exist is because of abuses by businesses in the (way) past. As well, this type of nonsense may make sense for other fields, but for IT pros either the compensation is sufficient for the job you are doing, or it isn't and you can go somewhere else.

On one last note, I recall one business's solution to this situation (sorry no link). When faced with outrageous overtime costs for what is, let's be honest, an relatively easy job, this business cut the salary for non-exempt employees by 20% and told them to make up the difference with overtime. Generally, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

* I wish it weren't so, but help desk postions as they are strictly defined are the bottom rung in the IT field. Someone has to be at the bottom (not me, I've never had a help desk job) but IT's bottom is better than the 'top' in a lot of fields.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Local Radio Woes

The local radio station that carries the occasionally entertaining Opie and Anthony is dumping the program and going all music (in this case, mildly alternative rock). This is a little risky and probably the last act of a desperate station. The trend has been to add 'shock jock' type talk programs to bring in a stable, though not large, base of listeners. This has been disappointing for a number of reasons since I think traditional radio can work given the right tract.

Unfortunately one look at CBS's other stations in Cleveland leave little reason for hope. The best of the bunch is their ageing hippie oldies station that no doubt plays the exact same tracklist as the classic rock radio station in Cincinnati (despite a different owner). From there it goes downhill. There's the soft rock station that plays the odious (though unfortunately successful) Delilah* and then there is what is the worst radio station in the entire city: Q104**.

Despite their faults, numerous as they are, the other stations have some (weak) radio personalities; but they all suffer from very, very poor station programming.

I think I've mentioned them before but the best programming I've ever heard is from WOXY/97X quite possibly the greatest radio station ever to exist. This was the only music radio station that I ever turned on at home just to listen to it. I recall one time back in the mid-nineties a block of music that included the likes of The Smiths, The Beastie Boys, and The Bangles. They're not afraid to play good music no matter where it comes from, so long as it's not getting wide play elsewhere.

With the proliferation of different listening choices*** and the price pressures on radio advertising, broadcasting companies have faced the choice of either taking a chance and putting out something that might draw listeners in or playing it safe and phoning in their playlists and personalities so that they can preserve what little listener base still exists. CBS Radio is playing up the 92.3 K-Rock decision as the former, but they did play Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend the other day, so that counts for something, even though Devine Intervention is better, but anyway:





*My favorite Delilah memory was being around Columbus, Ohio driving home and while looking for something to listen to I was able to tune in Delilah's sugary bilge crystal clear on three different radio stations.

**Because it plays generic semi-upbeat music, Q104 is the radio station of choice at the local YMCA (despite the fact that it advertises competitors). When I exercised regularly back around 2004 I got so sick of hearing the same songs every morning that I sprang for an early MP3 player. When I started exercising a little more than three years later, Q104 was still grinding away on the same crap with some slightly new crap added in. Try sitting through more than thirty seconds of this dreck and then imagine hearing it and noise like it every single day. How do those stations stay in business?



***Our Saturn only has a tape deck and I only have one good tape, a Jesus Jones single of Real Real Real and the excellent, nearly unacquirable B-side Maryland. When I drive the other car it's all Paul van Dyk and Tiesto in the CD player.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nothing to See Here....

Mrs. Sandmich and I stopped by the Cleveland Museum of natural history a little while back and they had a traveling exhibit called 'Understanding Race' that sought to examine, generically, race. I was expecting something hard hitting (i.e., overly politically correct), but the exhibit itself was incredibly banal, at least the portion I saw. It's message was: "people are different". Gee, thanks.

Out of curiosity I checked the web site for the exhibit and came upon their 'educational aids'. As can be expected, their indoctrination materials had a bit more bite.

Now the whitey bashing and ghetto-tribal-chic crap is bad enough, but the authors of the guide (no doubt under the aegis of some PC god) then go through great lengths to torture language and science until they squeal in pain.

From here:

The idea of race was invented only a few hundred years ago and neither explains nor accounts for human biological variation. It is because the idea of race was entangled early on in science, the notion of human biological races persists. The following activities demonstrate why human biological variation is not racial.
Does any of that make a lick of sense? If I have to explain to you why that's 100% hog gas then you're already too far gone. More...

The term 'evolved' suggests that, in addition to ecological conditions, time is also important as a factor in human biological variation. Changes in skin color occurred over tens of thousands of years – actually not a very long time in evolutionary terms! In fact, this was long enough to produce skin color and other relatively "cosmetic" changes across populations, but not long enough to produce the fundamental or "deep" biological changes implied by 'racial' classification.
Ahh delicious. Since evolution would at least dictate the possibility of different races, then evolution must be invalidated. I wonder how 'deep biological changes' would need to be before these PC zealots would consider the idea of separate races. I can't help but think of the different species of sparrow where binoculars and a dose of patience is required in order to differentiate groupings.

Lastly, the main bugaboo:
Students will be able to recognize and cite examples of how things can ‘go together” in many different ways and how different cultures can select different criteria for classifying the same things. Students will recognize that most IQ tests are at least partially based on cultural knowledge that is learned and that is culturally-specific.
I remember reading a Steve Sailer piece that pointed out a very, very basic IQ test where the subject would be asked to subtract, or 'add backwards'; for instance 100-4-19-3-10, etc. I wonder what's culturally specific about that? Moreover, when I took the U.S. military's glorified IQ test it was all about gears, ropes, pulleys, etc. Is the point of the exhibit organizers that if the gears are shaped like turtle shells or some other tribal bull, that people will magically score higher on the test? I take it then that they've done several thorough studies to back up that claim, correct?

A very naughty thought entered my head while going over these items: isn't the diversity racket just a scheme to cover behavioral issues and other inadequacies in those of sub-Saharan African descent? After all, the educational aids were quick with excuses for anti-social behavior and knocks against IQ tests, but they didn't feel the same compunction to talk down the uneven distribution of athletic ability between races.

My last question is, since the 'Understanding Race' show is propaganda, then what does that make the museum that hosts it?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Incurable

Thanks Slashdot:
Students at an Ottawa university are pulling out of a Canada-wide fundraiser that provides close to $1 million a year for cystic fibrosis research and treatment, arguing that the disease "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" — something experts say is untrue.
If they think I should die, then what do I think they should do?

Just about every disease has different infection rates across different races and sexes with some contained to only one group. I anxiously await this groups rules for the proper infection distributions that must be obtained before a disease is politically correct enough to back the fundraising for cures.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Economics by Jar Jar

Steve Sailer has had a couple posts up about how Bush helped to, more or less, eliminate credit worthiness for government backed debt, namely home loans; the result of which poisoned the world financial system (though other governments have their own culpability). So we have Bush, the last line of defense against Wall Streeters and Spend-a-holic lefties and he decides to go in with them on their bad ideas. I can't help but remember back to that horrible Star Wars movie where Jar Jar Binks demonstrated his moronic naivete by voting to begin the dissolution of the federation.

Now Obama has several ideas in the pipe on what to do that range from bad to useless. I don't think those idiots have a clue about what's around the corner. DoctorHousingBubble notes:
So every action that we take to intervene in the markets is done via two methods. One, we borrow the money which has been the status quo. The second method is printing money which given the magnitude and the commitment of funds will shortly arrive at our doorstep. It doesn’t seem like many people care about the moral responsibility of leaving a better country for those that come after us and once again this selfish egocentric give me everything now mentality is dominating Wall Street and Washington. God forbid that consumers will have to watch their spending for even one freaking holiday season. You wouldn’t want your kid to go another year without that third edition of Tickle me Elmo.

He then goes on to note that the bailouts have left around 7 TRILLION worth of liabilities on the government's books, liabilities that will come due sooner than anyone cares to think about. If I had to guess, I don't think that the 7 trillion he notes even includes the 5 trillion in liability exposure from Fannie and Freddie. Those liabilities plus the existing debt easily put us in the 150% debt to earnings ratio with our GDP. With the other coming unhandled government liabilities (social security, medicare, pensions, etc.) and more ineptitude (wind farms and bailouts) a run on the currency is hardly unlikely:
An entire generation of American policy-makers - Clinton, Bush, Rubin, Greenspan, and the Congressional leadership of both parties - has come perilously close to ruining a great nation. The creation of the credit bubble was one of the most disgraceful episodes of economic government in western history.
The author of the linked article then paints a possible rosey outcome that's based around the late September bailout liability numbers of 1.6 trillion.

I'd tell you to buy gold, but apparently you already knew that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Night

Taking a break from overly critical reviews and unstable rants, I'm posting to pass on the news that our dog Nox has passed away. I know, pet obits are the height of cheese, but please humor me.


His old pal Sylva is on the left, Nox on the right

Nox was an awful dog in almost every way; however he was also very sweet and never brought any harm to anyone or anything. I gave him a pass on a lot of his mannerisms since it was obvious he drew a hard lot and it was difficult not to feel sorry for him. Then as he aged his aggravating personality traits dulled making him all the more endearing. Needless to say, he will be missed dearly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

PixelJunk Monsters



The PixelJunk series of games have been crafted as PlayStation 3 exclusives by a studio in Kyoto, Japan that's run by an American. As such they sport an off-beat style that makes them immediately engaging. 'Monsters' is PixelJunk's take on a tower defense game which is itself a stripped down version of traditional real time strategy games.

The game itself was fairly entertaining at first then annoying, and eventually "throw your controller through the TV aggravating". This followed a similar theme through other PixelJunk games where they start with a unique art style, solid gameplay and a great soundtrack, but then the developer finds that's not enough to stretch out over the length of even a $10 game. Given that, they resort to making the game more and more difficult, not more strategically challenging mind you, just harder. Enemies take more hits to take down, they flood your defenses more, etc. Whenever I see such a cheap stunt I recall American McGee equating this technique to making a book harder to read the closer you get to the end.

The game's one redeeming 'post aggravation' attribute is the co-op gameplay which enabled Kid Sandmich and me to spread the difficulty between the two of us. This team dynamic is what eventually made the game difficult to put down. Despite my initial hatred of the single player, when we came to the end of the co-op game I was disappointed that it was over. Sure it was a ten dollar game, but with such cheap mechanics there really wasn't any reason not to pack in a couple more levels.

Like PixelJunk Eden, this game is packed with promise but falls short of where my expectation level is. It might just be that I knew that ten bucks could have gotten me a good PS2 game down at Gamestop, so my expectations might be misplaced.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Bailout Follies #2

The big three say that one or more of them will be bankrupt before the end of the year if they don't get more free money. Let's hope for our sake they are.

Why's that? Well the fix is in with Mr. Change:
Wagoner has warned GM needs an infusion of cash in the coming weeks to prevent a devastating bankruptcy at the nation's largest automaker and cannot wait until president-elect Barack Obama -- who has promised to bail out the sector -- is sworn in on January 20.
Mr. Corporate welfare has a plan though. Obama, Pelosi, Schumer, etc., you know, the same people who told the lending companies who to lend to, are going to tell the automobile manufacturers what cars to build. Ahh that old time socialism, how could that NOT end in disaster? The only thing to be done after forcing Detroit to build a car that won't sell is to give consumers no choice about what to buy.

Another core issue in this whole debate is that the big three need to A) make fewer cars and B) make them less expensively. Unfortunately from my automotive-supplier side seat, when they try to make fewer cars, their economy of scale decreases and the cost for their supplies goes up. This starts a feedback loop where the costs continually go up at the precise moment they need them to go down. The long and short is that they need to find those cost savings from somewhere else, namely the outrageous top to bottom employee benefits.

As a tech dude I've seen computer prices fall year after year while their functionality has gone up. While not everything can hold to this curve, it's unnatural that while the cost on most manufactured items has gone down, the price of cars has continually gone up. That can't last, bailout or no.

On a related aside, I liked this piece by Eric Lundquist on the lack of a government bailout for the dotcom crash. That crash really hit home for me since so many people with my skill set were suddenly dumped onto the market, but I was grateful this alternate history wasn't the end result:
The revolutionary idea that companies don’t need products, expertise or sales was a concept that had to be preserved and encouraged. Without the government’s willingness to step in and grow the dot-com company creation economy, startups would have been forced to come up with real products for which real customers would plunk down real cash. Aren’t we glad that never happened?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Terror on the Seas

Ha ha, the Saudis had one of their oil tankers pirated away from them. There's been noise about doing 'something' about the Somali/Yemen pirates, but thus far nothing has happened. A Brit columnist writes that maybe nothing should happen, at least from the elite navies of the world:
If we're happy to let mainly Third-World sailors run a serious risk of disastrous shipwreck to move our stuff more cheaply - and we are apparently quite happy with that, have been for a long time - it's difficult to see why we care about them running similar risks of being pirated. If we care about poor sailormen's safety, we might do at least as well to crack down on the shipowners' use of flags of convenience and poorly-paid, poorly-trained crews.

One might find a clue to the current UK press outcry in the fact that most of the world's shipping deals are still struck in London's financial centres, but arguably the majority of us who don't work in the City have no great reason to spend our money and our servicemen's time in order to make life easier for the Square Mile's many shipowners, brokers and insurers.
I'd forgotten about the fact that ship owners poo-poo'd being a U.S. flagged vessel, favoring instead cheap, 'ask no questions' operators like Panama. Well to them all I can say is that maybe if you ask nicely, the Panamanian navy might stop by and help you out with that pirate problem.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Bailout Follies

Unable to get anyone else to invest in their lousy operations, auto manufacturers are now hitting up Uncle Sam. The main issue is that these large companies have unresolved labor issues which will still be unresolved after they soak up a couple billion dollars, and so they will need a couple billion more sometime in the not too distant future in order to put more patches on the sinking ship. What's worse is that the big three have spent the past ten or so years exporting their issues into the U.S. economy by using their largess to extort ridiculous terms from dealers and near (and beyond near) bankruptcy level pricing from suppliers.

Since the trough was opened up after AIG, everyone has been looking a for a piece. I wonder myself if it's not too late to form the 'Sandmich Saving and Loan' so that I can get a 1% loan with a 500 year payback timetable.

Inevitably, poorly managed areas have come to the fore looking for goodies which will inevitably be paid off (if they ever are) by the better managed locations:
The three mayors proposed providing loans to help cities pay pension costs. They also want $50 billion in loans for investment in infrastructure, and additional one-year loans to cities unable to borrow cash because of the tight credit markets.
The pension issue is related to the fact that these gutless politicians refuse to stand up to their government unions and demand compensation levels that, you know, they can afford. The last I checked, roads (i.e. "infrastructure") don't pay taxes, buy washing machines, or pay for their own maintenance. And the reason these cities can't get money? The same reason GM and Ford can't, they suck.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bento Watch #39

I wish I could report a lot of variation, but my bentos lately have been some form of the following.

This is hamburger coated with that Japanese hamburger sauce (ketchup + soy sauce), what appears to be apples (probably with a light sugar and lemon juice coat), teriyaki green beans, rice covered with that rice covering stuff (furikake), and miso soup which I didn't put in either picture.

This is grilled salmon with said green beans and rice with an umeboshi. Through an unintentional accident we now have a quince tree in our yard. For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinces, they're like a not very tasty apple, almost like an apple you picked a month or two early. I fixed them up with A LOT of sugar and a little lemon juice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Make Them Volunteer!

John Derbyshire (who else?) points out our future lord and master's desire to use corvée labor in the interest of The State:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
Perhaps Obama can get his youth brigades to go around their neighborhoods to make sure every home has a properly displayed picture of the Dear Leader hanging in a clean, prominent position.
My favorite bit is having seniors 'volunteer'. "You want Social Security? Get out there and break some rocks!"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Red Cube

I've taken some solace from this site, and I must admit that I enjoyed this bit:



It also included this quip (among others of various quality):
People could afford housing and healthcare without the government - if it weren't for the government.
All that and more (with some NSFW) at The People's Cube:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton: RIP

It goes without saying that the passing of Michael Crichton sucks. He was one of the few scientists brave enough to go against popular orthodoxy and global warming in particular. However he also had well founded issues with items such as cloning (The Lost World) and 'little green men' (Sphere).

His wit and wisdom will be missed, and yes, I forgive him for being a party to cursing the planet with George Clooney.

2008 Election Notes

Although the final tally isn't in, it looks like I called the ballot issues mostly right. Can't go wrong with betting on lazy American's desire to get something for nothing.

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Deroy Murdock writes about voting issues in Cuyahoga county and East Cleveland in particular. I've wondered about this myself as I'm not brave enough to spend any quantifiable amount of time in East Cleveland without a conceal carry permit. I'm heartened to know that there are Republicans brave enough to act as observers in these third world haunts. My favorite though is this line:
Ecuador has more voting integrity than we have here in East Cleveland today.
When voting is a joke then democracy is a joke, alas. I guess the Democrats would rather settle it with firearms like they do in other scenic areas of the world where voting is a put-on? I myself would rather live someplace civilized, but some of my fellow citizens are so spoiled by civic peace that they're willing to risk civil unrest.

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On November 3rd, Steve Sailer wrote an article on how McCain, and to a lessor extent Republicans, blew it.

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Can we now agree that white guilt is now dead? Is it now fair game for persons of pallor to make points that might have some relation to race? I sure the hell hope so or this experiment will all be for naught. Of course many Obama supporters wanted him elected so that every other racial group would forget about race like whites supposedly had; idiots.

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Though it had some appeal, can conservatives now agree that Bush's presidency has been a failure for them? We kept hitting the snooze button, content to sleep through his inadequacies (not that we had much of a choice). Unfortunately he was a weak man with weak ideals and left us all the weaker for it. He's still far preferable to the alternatives that were presented, but for as much as I'd like it to be, that's not a selling point.

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John Derbyshire has written that we're at the end game where the government breaks the levy and no longer feels compelled to justify it's bloated existence. A sufficient number of government employees and dependents will exist and that the private sector will be present for the only purpose of being looted for big government aims. This revolved around a point he was making that one should push their kids into government work as in the near future there will be only be government stooges and serfs for said stooges.

All I can say is, I hope that he's wrong.

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I also have some...odd news. It appears that the Sandmich will personally profit from an Obama presidency, at least in the short run. For a while now my place of work was looking to acquire another business, but the owner had been putting off any kind of decision, until he was faced with the Democrat's pitch for a capital gains hike. The (hopeful) future acquisition will add a little job stability for my field of work that generally favors instability.

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On that last note, I wonder if the employees for the company that is being acquired voted for Obama. I just recall Obama's class bating where he egged on the ravenous crowd with "How many of you make less than $250,000?". I felt like asking the crowd "How many of you work for someone who makes more than $250,000? What's going to take a hit first, his paycheck or your job?"

Well a lot of people, at least in the private sector, are about to find out the answer. It might be time to investigate that government job, but I'll hold onto hope that the government will fade out of business.

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Speaking of which, who is buying our debt? Now that the deficit is busting all barriers, there's certainly a non-zero percent chance of debt purchasers not being back, or at least having their 'investment' run into the ground by inflation. Who would take that risk at a 1% interest rate? I'd hate to think that anyone with $500 billion laying around had nothing better to do with than to flush it down the toilet bowl on the Potomac.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Non-Cheap Date

I remember hearing about these Bose noise cancellation headphones when they came out. I was intrigued by the idea, but they're $300, for headphones!?

As fate might have it though, I won a set of those at a conference I recently attended. I wish I could remember the name of the vendor who offered them as a prize, but alas...

I gave half a thought to selling them on EBay, but didn't see the point in maybe getting $100 for a $300 set of headphones. Having resolved to keep them I fired them up and was amazed at the audio quality. The noise cancellation pushes ambient noise away and makes everything sound as if it's ten feet further away, and then all the nuances of whatever music I was listening to were coming through crystal clear. I can now see how it might get obsessive for some people as they upgrade every piece of their audio equipment in order to preserve every wavelength of sound quality.

It is an amazing product, but is it worth the price?

They're headphones....they're $300.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Beginning of the End

Q: Boy Sandmich, you sure have pointed to a lot of bad Obama items, but you haven't said anything all that great about McCain?
A: No, I haven't

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Even if McCain pulls out a victory, his will be a punt presidency more than anything else. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it's preferable. Why rush to the day of reckoning when you can push it off for a couple years and maybe even delay it indefinitely (a big 'maybe'). However, there are three issues that trouble me greatly with this election:

  1. Obama's goons (and yes they are his, he's sent them a truck full of money) are engaging in widespread vote rigging in all the close states.


  2. The press has exceeded their regular bias and have become a very loud mouthpiece for the Obama campaign.


  3. Obama has ignored campaign finance regulations with de facto encouragement of illegal donations (particularly of foreigners).
If the press is a propaganda organ for the government and the leader of the government has obtained that power by explicit fraud it's difficult for me to see what the difference between that situation and any other totalitarian regime*. Soft totalitarianism to be (hopefully) sure, but totalitarianism none the less.

What's in it then for those that oppose government policies? It's not as if their concerns are given a fair airing, and it's not as if it would make difference in governance if they were. Additionally, since the federal government is coming up on it's spending limit, the carrots it's used to keep states in line (highway, medicare, and education money) will start to evaporate. With that, then how long before the additional pressure of extreme leftist policies cause some states to wonder about the benefits of being tied to the hip of Washington D.C.? I wouldn't picture anything so far as seccesion, but I can picture a state at some point working up the math on the taxes and regulations on their populace and determining that the cost/benefit of subservience to D.C. just isn't worthwhile and that the time had come to just ignore what D.C. has to say about pretty much everything.

Wishful thinking on my part, I know. However, the future is a bit more likely to shake out as I stated than the possibility that the government will find a magic money pot to fund all their stated obligations (to say nothing of the future).

*I cannot find who to attribute this to, but I'd read on someone's blog that America already has an issue with the person in the presidency being constantly derided as a dictator, but what happens when the president actually is a dictator?

Battery Powered

The miracle of the next gen electric cars is based on the use of lithium-ion batteries (i.e., 'laptop' batteries). Coming to a car near you:
The U.S. government issued on Thursday a recall of 35,000 Sony batteries and the Tokyo-based company said it would recall a further 65,000 batteries worldwide.

PC makers have reported 40 cases of overheating, including four cases where users suffered minor burns, and 21 cases of minor damage from fires and overheating, a Sony spokeswoman said.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cheated Out On Grease

I thought that I had made mention of this before but I guess not. However, since Azel(sp?) has brought it back up I figured I'd point it out. Over in Japan McDonald's has 'mega' versions of common menu items that are way more heroic than our wimpy American counterparts:




Cholesterol on a bun!

One theory is that McDonald's is so gun shy about selling unhealthy viddles that they've stayed away from the bigger sandwiches in the states. If so, we can point to another point of joy stolen away by the evil lawyers in this country. However, maybe, just maybe, environmentalists can bring that joy back.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ohio Issues 2008

[Update: Ooops, I missed issue 1 and misstated my stand on 5 (since corrected), oh well...]

Here's yet another roundup of Ohio ballot issues. It's always a good gauge for the populace as not every kook can get a ballot initiative in Ohio like they can out in California, so behind every issue there is usually some popular interest or a truck full of money:
  • Issue 1: Horridly technical Ohio consitutional amendment. Such details should be left to legislators.Sandmich vote: No, Sandmich Passage Prediction: No
  • Issue 2: This issue allows the state to go further into debt in order to perform vaguely defined environmental cleanup actions. A post over at the Pain Dealer site lists various projects that are tied to some sort of private development. I personally favor more favorable regulations that would allow manufacturing to return to abandoned plants rather than tearing them down for WalMarts. Sandmich vote: No, Sandmich Passage Prediction: Yes.
  • Issue 3: A justifiable fear began to grow some years ago that some corrupt enterprising state that abuts the Great Lakes would take it upon itself to sell water out of the lakes to nogoodnicks whose agricultural policies have drained their local water resources. In response the U.S. and Canada passed the Great Lakes Compact. As with most things related to government, it's rather heavy handed and this ballot initiative seeks to clarify some private property rights. Sandmich vote: Yes, Sandmich Passage Prediction: Yes.
  • Issue 4: I must confess to being mistaken on this initiative because I thought it was actually 'issue 5' for the longest time. This was the ballot initiative that would have guaranteed everyone in the state 7 paid days off from work. Someone came to their senses though and pulled the issue off the ballot.
  • Issue 5: It turns out that issue 5 is an effort to roll back restrictions that were put on 'payday' loan operators in the state earlier in the year. I hate seeing any kind of government regulation, but I can honestly attest to the fact that interest rates charged for credit loans rarely have any basis in reality. Although I've never had to use one of these places, it's not all bad that they exist. Sandmich vote: No [remove restrictions], Sandmich Passage Prediction: Yes.
  • Issue 6: Largely because Ohio's business environment stinks, DHL left their shipping hub in Wilmington, Ohio. For the longest time Wilmington, which is out in the middle of nowhere, was known for being the location of the training camp for the Cincinnati Bengals. However the Bengals have long since left and now the place will only be known for the hillbilly college that resides there, unless that is if issue 6 passes. If this issue passes then Wilmington will also be the location of the only lawfully sanctioned casino in the state. It's interesting that the same legislators that sought to protect the poor and ignorant with issue 5, seek to take from the same groups with issue 6. I guess the 'payday' loan operators main offense was not giving Uncle Buckeye a big enough cut. Anyway, yet again the quick fix of an artificial tax increase is in instead of trying to make the state a more favorable destination for businesses. Sandmich vote: No, Sandmich Passage Prediction: No.
  • Issue 127: A property tax for the county libraries. Mrs. Sandmich told me to vote YES, so I haven't put much thought into it. Sandmich Passage Prediction: No.
  • Issue 133: Parma city school tax. I grew up with a favorable impression of the public school system where my dad teaches at in southeast Indiana, but unfortunately Ohio public schools, and particularly those in northeast Ohio, are leaches. Teacher salaries start at nearly $40K a year, which isn't bad considering that A) they get their summers off, B) they pay like $20 a month for medical insurance and C) this is the killer, Ohio teachers don't pay into Social Security; and after all that they have nerve to complain about how rough they have it. I'm sick of their bitching so I feel that it's time to "starve the beast". My property values don't mean much since Uncle Sam is already seeing to populating my area with Hee-Bee-Gee-Bees on my dime via section 8 housing. Sandmich vote: No, Sandmich Passage Prediction: No.

Monday, October 27, 2008

World Series Notes

Although I haven't gone through and scanned all the major league ballparks, the Tampa Bay Rays must have the ugliest ballpark in the MLB (especially with the absence of the Expo's old haunt*). I thought it odd at first since the Buccaneers have one of the nicest looking arenas in the NFL, but then I figured the design was due to the sometimes horrific weather patterns in Florida during baseball season. That still doesn't completely excuse the fact that the arena looks like it should be storing shipping containers instead of entertainment.


In a word: warehouse

I've stated before that I'm not the biggest baseball fan, but over the years I've acquired a taste for playoff level professional baseball. It would be impossible to expect that major league players could go all-out in every one of the 162(!) games they play every season, but that changes in the playoffs when games go from being vaguely important in some way, to critically important in every way. Every pitch and every 'at bat' is critical and ripe with tension.

That brings me around to the DH rule. I've always been cool to the idea, seeing it as a sanctioned form of cheating. However, I've warmed to it through this series of playoff games due to horrible batting by the pitchers. I don't mean that they're bad compared to their teammates, I mean they're downright awful by any comparison. They don't even look comfortable holding the bat and seem eager to get the ordeal over with so that they can go back to hiding in the dugout. I've felt quite sorry for these guys and have come around to thinking that they don't deserve that humiliation just for the sake of strict rules interpretation. Sure, the pitcher for the Phillies hit a home run last night, but that's the exception that proves the rule since the last home run hit by a pitcher during the World Series was 34 years ago. What's the point in that, really? Ready to wait another 34 years for the next World Series pitcher-hit home run?

*Interestingly enough, the proposed design for a new Rays stadium bears a striking resemblance to the deadly old Expos stadium.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wife Beater Redux

I went to another luncheon sponsored by the local Domestic Violence Center today. I heard stories about various cretins and these stuck with me more than usual, probably because they had to do with teenagers.

The featured case was of a young guy who stabbed his fifteen year old ex-girlfriend to death and got life in prison with no parole; except, the girl's mother was distraught because the state of Iowa decided to have a parole hearing for him!

My first thought was "why?", but my second was "why is he even still alive?". However I have to wonder how far anti-domestic violence adherents would want to go to prevent such horrid crimes. I would be all for having such a low life get his entrails cut out and burned in front of him "ye old English style", but I suspect that the pushers of such gutless initiatives as anti-stalking laws would be abhorred at such a prospect.

We all dream of living in a secured park-like setting that is free of violence with a wall between them and the rest of the world, but people will have to accept at some point that to get closer to that goal, horrible things will have to happen on the other side of the wall to keep the chaos at bay. Otherwise, you're just blowing a smoke of feel-good platitudes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Double Edged Saif

I was hoping this controversy was going to fly under the radar of the general public, but it looks like it's hit the wire:
One of the fall's most anticipated video games for the PlayStation 3, Sony's "LittleBigPlanet," had to be yanked from shelves at the last minute Monday because it might accidentally offend Muslims.
The controversy is that since the song had lines from the Koran in it then Muslims, always looking for an excuse to be offended, would riot in the street while no doubt burning American and Israeli flags despite the fact that the developer is British and the publisher is Japanese.

However, I had another thought after I heard more about the song's artist:
"It's quite normal to play music and be inspired by the words of the Prophet Mohammed," said Diabaté, himself a Muslim. "It's my way to attract and inspire people towards Islam."
Sony simply wasn't going to win on this one. They were either going to be accused of blasphemy and/or protelyzing, best to dump the track and continue down the road with everyone else in pursuit of creating bland, multicultural entertainment products.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Max Payne


I hope you like talking, and mood. Yep mood and talking, can't get enough!

There's a key scene in the Max Payne video game where he goes into a diner only to be ambushed and the place set ablaze. It's a tense segment where you're trying to escape being burned alive while people are shooting at you. In the movie's rough equivalent of this segment, Max goes into a diner and then...just leaves. So it goes for the rest of this snoozer, I felt all three hours of this 99 minute movie.

Between all the talking and set pieces a story starts to come out that seems dissimilar from the game. However, after reviewing wikipedia it turns out that the plots were closer than I recalled and I have to think that the screen writers sought to play down the predominant mob elements of the game (which were absent in the movie) and play up the left wing bilge about an evil pharmaceutical company engaging in twisted military-industrial research (which in the game was a shadow of it's cinematic portrayal). I went to play the game to check my memory (the game is more than seven years old at this point), but the Windows game did what Windows games do best*:


My Windows gaming experience to a 'T'

The game had some catchy themes, but it's main draw was novelty items. The Matrix had come out two years prior and Max Payne exploited the bullet time obsession of the day by allowing Max to be able to slow down time over short stretches so that he could get an edge on opponents. As well, the game featured a graphical art, crime noir style that, while not necessarily original was basically unique for a video game. However appealing these items were in the game all them to varying degrees were already old hat in cinema when the game came out. In the intervening years it's become even more challenging to make an engaging film based off these points and the film suffered further when they failed to bring in the games other predominant feature, lots and lots of shooting.

With a violent and dark motif, the game easily snagged itself an 'M' rating (i.e. 'R'). While watching the movie, I saw the style and the talking, and more style and talking, and...well you get the point, and I came to think that it was mistake for the producers to drive the films rating down to PG-13 (i.e. 'T'). All the good stuff that gave the game its heft had been dumped. One particular segment in the game involves a play-through of a nightmare for Max that's one of the most disturbing, and yet involving scenes in any game I've played, and although the film made what can best be described as a very strong weak showing to force the scene in, it was left in such a gelded state that it may as well have been dumped all together along with all the other good scenes that were in the game.

It's a shame, the movie had everything in it that should have made a movie work: decent acting, nice sets, respectable direction; but when a movie gets beat by a video game in the story department it has issues. Games can get away with crappy stories since they can rely on other mechanisms to keep it entertaining, for movies though that's all they have; or this case, don't have.

*I recently saw something, again, that poked fun of the Mac for the lack of video games it plays. The joke though is that playing video games on a Windows system can be such an exercise in pain that it's doubtful that anyone in their right mind would want to play a lot of video games on Windows either.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Loser, Baby!

Some absolute loser by the name of John Seewer is going after a plumber that lives in the Toledo area because said plumber had the nerve to question Barry Obama (blessed be his name) on taxes. So instead of going after, say, a certain presidential candidate who bought his house with the help of a convicted felon (among a printed dictionary of other faults), Mr. Seewer is going after some poor schlub. As if America is better off knowing how much back taxes the poor plumber owes as opposed to whether or not someone running for president claimed a glorified bribe as income on his 1040.

I must confess, I HATE the John Seewers of the world as they work feverishly to make the planet worse, and it looks like this particular loser lives in my state which means this bottom feeder's presence has a direct impact on my well being! I HATE elites like him so VERY much that, heh heh, a certain Penny Arcade shirt came to mind, but they don't sell it anymore! Instead I snagged the comic it's based on and made a rough abbreviated version:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mama Money Quote

At the YMCA tonight I had to sit through several Obama ads that featured video of the handful of times he had seen middle class white people* and several shots of the child Obama with his mother (I'M HALF WHITE!!!) before she dumped him off on her parents so that she could study Indonesian blacksmithing. If only he would also relay the message his mother pressed into him:
Sometimes I [Obama] would overhear him [Obama's step-father] and my mother arguing in their bedroom, usually about her refusal to attend his company dinner parties, where American businessmen from Texas and Louisiana would slap Lolo’s back and boast about the palms they had greased to obtain the new offshore drilling rights, while their wives complained to my mother about the quality of Indonesian help. He would ask her how it would look for him to go alone, and remind her that these were her own people, and my mother’s voice would rise to almost a shout.

"They are not my people."
No prob though, Obama has found 'his people' and they certainly aren't the people in those B.S. ads that he's running on TV:
[Kenyan presidential candidate] Mr. Odinga and Mr. Obama were nearly inseparable throughout Mr. Obama's six-day stay [in Kenya]. The two traveled together throughout Kenya and Mr. Obama spoke on behalf of Mr. Odinga at numerous rallies. In contrast, Mr. Obama had only criticism for Kibaki. He lashed out against the Kenyan government shortly after meeting with the president on Aug. 25. "The [Kenyan] people have to suffer over corruption perpetrated by government officials," Mr. Obama announced.
And who is dear Mr. Odinga?
About 50 parishioners were locked into the Assemblies of God church before it was set ablaze. They were mostly women and children. Those who tried to flee were hacked to death by machete-wielding members of a mob numbering 2,000.

The 2008 New Year Day atrocity in the Kenyan village Eldoret, about 185 miles northwest of Nairobi, had all the markings of the Rwanda genocide of a decade earlier.

By mid-February 2008, more than 1,500 Kenyans were killed. Many were slain by machete-armed attackers. More than 500,000 were displaced by the religious strife. Villages lay in ruin. Many of the atrocities were perpetrated by Muslims against Christians.

The violence was led by supporters of Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who lost the Dec. 27, 2007, presidential election by more than 230,000 votes.
...
In return for Muslim backing, Mr. Odinga promised to impose a number of measures favored by Muslims if he were elected president. Among these were recognition of "Islam as the only true religion," Islamic leaders would have an "oversight role to monitor activities of ALL other religions [emphasis in original]," installation of Shariah courts in every jurisdiction, a ban on Christian preaching, replacement of the police commissioner who "allowed himself to be used by heathens and Zionists," adoption of a women's dress code, and bans on alcohol and pork.
I can see why white people in general wouldn't want to vote for someone who supported white only institutions just the same as many black people are leery of politicians espousing strong ethnocentrism since it's bad for civil society and damaging to all parties; but there's got to be a difference between that and voting for someone who has had it in for them, right?


*Got to love this other line that was espoused by the theology practiced at Obama's church of twenty years:
If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.

Spam Marks

From Slashdot:
An international spam ring with ties to Australia, New Zealand, China, India, and the US is in the process of being shut down. Finances of members in the US are being frozen using the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 while the FBI is pursuing criminal charges. The group sent spam advertising male enhancement herbs and other items using a botnet estimated at 35,000 computers, and able to send 10 billion emails per day. The Federal Trade Commission monitored the group's finances and found that they had cleared $400,000 in Visa charges in one month alone.
I have noticed about a 33% drop off in the amount of spam that my workplace gets, but would it be too much to ask to have the government find the people who purchased some of that $400,000 of crap off of the spam and ban them from ever, ever using a computer again?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wasted Cycles

As you might recall, Intel was quite happy when they were able to snag Apple into their camp. Formerly, Apple used processors manufactured by Motorola for their systems. I figured Intel was happy because of the uptick in sales, but in hindsight I think it was the fact that they were reaching the upper echelon of what kind of speed they could crank a CPU up to and they knew that it was only a matter of time before even a slouch like Motorola was able to catch up to them and negate Intel's speed advantage, such as it was. After all, there was a lot of truth to what Apple was saying at the time that the CPU speed isn't the be-all end-all. It doesn't really matter if your CPU is moving at 509 million gigahertz if your memory is stuck at 100Mhz since a computer is generally as fast as its slowest component.

But the speed game was great marketing. Who wants to talk about front side bus speed and PCI bus access rates when you can just slap a number on your product like "2.4Ghz". So Intel was happy to get Apple because work is so much easier when you don't have to, you know, work.

Intel though can't completely sit on it's laurels and it's substituted all that hard work that they put into speeding up their product for the lazy-out of cramming more identical CPUs onto the same form factor. Now when one goes to buy a product it's measured in 'cores', or the number of CPUs that have been baked onto the chip. Here's the nasty secret though: hardly anything uses multiple 'cores'. That's why some people experience a performance drop when they trade in their ancient 2.4Ghz PC for a 2Ghz multicore because the app(s) that they use most heavily isn't written to use more than one CPU.

I bring this up because MSDN magazine, Microsoft's organ for Microsoft programmers, has been running a series of articles on coding to multi-core systems. It's in Microsoft's interest to push this skill set since no one is going to buy a new PC with new M$ software on it if they're going to get worse performance. This brings up the other nasty secret: writing multi-threaded apps sucks.

Reading about programming in general isn't the most uplifting topic, but reading about multi-threading may be the most boring thing I have ever read, ever. It's like listening to a bug doctor talk about the different kinds of dirt that can accumulate on the legs of ants: the topic is easily grasped by many, but cared about by exceedingly few. Add onto that the fact that writing multi-threaded apps is like having to teach someone to juggle correctly the first time they try by writing down the instructions and mailing them to the aspiring juggler. I found this quote over at MSDN that best summarizes the whole topic (emphasis me).
Anyway, back to the problem in hand. If you are seeing effects akin to thread sync issues in a multi-threaded program then it's very likely that there are thread sync issues. This is a problem with your application, not with Windows. It may be things like you aren't using memory barriers where needed so the processor cache isn't being flushed, or that you're missing or have incorrectly placed one or more critical sections, or any number of things. As I'm sure you're aware this is very difficult to debug...
The core issue, as it were, is that the main program has to farm out it's sub-functions to what is essentially a completely different computer. When will the 'separate computer' get back to the main program? Who knows!

Companies like Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft have the skills and resources to code their high-end packages to take advantage of this functionality, but I still think it's a stretch for Microsoft to expect that the vast army of 3rd party programmers who write to Windows will be able to tackle multi-core programming when so much of what they write barely works on one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boo Ray

Something that I've had an issue with is the huge cost discrepancy between regular DVDs and Blu-ray disks. I was looking forward to picking up the movie Hitman on Blu-ray, but it's ten friggin' dollars more! Adherents will point out that the high definition Blu-ray packs twice the resolution as those old DVDs, and although true, this is a matter of scale.

When DVDs came out they wiped out VHS tapes. Tapes were a horrible medium where age and mild use would render them unwatchable. I had tapes that I had gotten new that were painful to sit through due to tracking issues, and god forbid that your machine got grumpy and ate your thirty dollar exclusive edition of some flick. Blu-ray simply doesn't have those kind of advantages over DVDs. However, it needs to be said that the higher resolution disks aren't all they're cracked up to be either. A standard DVD played over a progressive scan player with RGB cables is already pretty darn good, and my experience has been that unless it's a vista shot of some sort(which can be breath taking in HD), it's difficult to even tell that a movie is being played back on Blu-ray. Aggravating this point further is that if a movie is more than ten years old, there's a decent chance that the print that's committed to disk doesn't look all that great on DVD, let alone Blu-ray.

What brought this back to mind is Netflix upping the subscription fee for Blu-ray users by a buck. Inexpensive given the typical cost difference, but Sony will have to find a way to bring the media costs down as their project will have problems catching on if they continue to charge a 50% premium for what is typically a 10% better viewing experience.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Obama Roll

My buddy turned me onto this product which I've used fairly religiously for my blogging since the products release. As it turns out though, I have a big stash of Obama crap that I've never bothered to post, since Obama's abhorrence as a candidate is so apparent that no amount of additional evidence would ever be enough to dissuade one of his persistent adherents. However the stash continues to grow, so I figured I'd dump it all in the monster post.

From here:
His race and his ideas are apples and oranges. It's nice to have an apple on the table, to be sure, but the oranges are dry and stale. And no matter how many times you say how great it is to have the apple, no matter how often you bleat "you just don't get" how wonderful apples are, it won't make the oranges any fresher.
From here:
Meantime, there was the supposedly dogmatic McCain challenging Bush’s approach to Iraq nearly from the get-go. In the summer of 2003, in response to the upswing in violence, he called for “a lot more military” in order to win in Iraq. He said he had “no confidence” in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In May 2004, McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “we’ve got to adjust to the realities of the situation as it exists and that means doing whatever is necessary and acting decisively.”

McCain was challenging Bush when Obama was assuring voters there wasn’t “much difference” between his position and Bush’s. And now Obama is locked into a position despite the facts on the ground. Obama may indeed have great judgment, but his record shows little experience employing it.
This is related in some way:
"Terrible things, incomprehensible things," he shouted, "things that would drive a man mad!"
He stared wildly at them.
"Or in my case," he said, "half-mad. I'm a journalist."
"You mean," said Arthur quietly, "that you are used to confronting the truth?"
"No," said the man with a puzzled frown. "I mean that I made an excuse and left early."
From here:
Many are for him for no more serious reasons than his mouth and his complexion. The man has become a Rorschach test for the feelings and hopes, not only of those on the left, but also for some on the right as well.
In this bit, Obama puts forward the idea that illegal immigrants would be allowed to serve on juries, which probably isn't too much of a stretch once he allows them to vote:
Obama had a version of the jail pander, too. He spoke of immigrants "arrested for crimes they didn't commit and thrown in jail by juries they couldn't serve on."
Obama says that it's American's fault that they don't speak the foreigner's languages:
Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But ['BUT' what?] understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they'll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.
A commentator on YouTube answers back:
It's funny, because English is the second most spoken language in the world. So why the hell should I learn Spanish? If anything, I should learn Mandarin (most spoken language).

Obama, of course, lives the life of a Peruvian peasant:
We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times—and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen.
I was never clear if he meant 72 in the winter or summer. No matter as I cannot afford any of that or an SUV because of what his buddies have done to energy prices.

From here:
Consider Bernadine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and the co-host of Obama's career-launching fundraiser. When she was in the Weather Underground she was one of those members typically fascinated with Charles Manson (I discuss this briefly in my book). Speaking of Manson's famous murders she exclaimed, "Dig It! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach! Wild!” In appreciation, her Weather Underground cell made a threefingered “fork” gesture its official salute.
From here:
As I’ve pointed out repeatedly over the past few days, Obama’s attempt to bully TV stations airing the ad and stop scrutiny of his radical ties is part and parcel of a larger campaign to chill the free speech of conservative political activists and donors.
From here:
For example, Rezko is going to prison in large part for packing the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board with five of his lackeys so they would approve hospital construction in which he had an interest. That Board used to have 15 members, making it hard for Rezko to corrupt it, but in 2003, a bill passed the Illinois legislature reducing the number of members from 15 to 9. And who was the chairman of the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services committee that recommended that bill? Why, Rezko's $250,000 friend, the Presidential nominee ...
From here:
It's worse than a conspiracy. It's a consensus. The newsrooms of the agenda-setting newspapers, the television networks and the newsmagazines have become strongholds of the elites that Barack Obama, he of Harvard Law, insists he is not one of. The young men and women in the newsrooms of flyover country emulate the elites and sometimes dream of one day being one of them.
From here:
So it is with huge grief-filled disappointment that I discovered that the Obamas send their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory School (by 5th grade, tuition equals $20,286 a year). The school’s Web site quotes all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character while, of course, isolating your children from the poor. A pox on them and, while we’re at it, a pox on John Dewey! I’m sick to death of those inspirational Dewey quotes littering the Web sites of $20,000-plus-a-year private schools, all those gentle duo-tone-photographed murmurings about “building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship” in their cherished students, living large on their $20,000-a-year island.
From here:
Hmmm, why does Obama think that voting for him "is a leap from the American people"? Is he not-too-subtly pinning his problems on his racist countrymen?
From here:
That's $845 BILLION [for Obama's promised foreign aid project], folks. (You can read more about it from Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media, here.)
Do you think the AIG bail-out is a bad idea? Picture doing it about once a year for about 10 years. But there's a difference, of course. If AIG recovers, the taxpayers could get their money back with interest. The money Obama plans to flush down a UN sink-hole will never be seen again — and the global tax that generates it will be with us forever.
From here:
Throughout his political career, Obama has gotten more than $125,000 in campaign contributions from employees and political action committees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, second only to Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman, who received more than $165,000.
Clinton, the 12th-ranked recipient of Fannie and Freddie PAC and employee contributions, has received more than $75,000 from the two enterprises and their employees. The private profit found its way back to the senators who killed the fix.
There has been a lot of talk about who is to blame for this crisis. A look back at the story of 2005 makes the answer pretty clear.
Oh, and there is one little footnote to the story that's worth keeping in mind while Democrats point fingers between now and Nov. 4: Senator John McCain was one of the three cosponsors of S.190, the bill that would have averted this mess.
From here:
We're told that this is no time to play the blame game. But why not? Since we're all stockholders now in a vast Ponzi scheme, we should have some say in who gets thrown into the street and who doesn't. The Democrats are particularly eager to avoid the blame game. They fiercely opposed legislation in 2005 that would have imposed sanity on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whence came this misery. The legislation was written by three senators, including, as it happens, John McCain. The senators who blocked it were, as it happens, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd. This unholy trio took more than a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions from executives and employees of Fannie and Freddie. Just a coincidence, of course.
From here:
But who's desperate? The Obama camp dispatched Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was impeached and thrown off the federal bench for taking a $150,000 bribe to go easy on a couple of racketeers, to inject a little race baiting into their faltering campaign in Florida. "If Sarah Palin isn't enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama," the black congressman told a group of retired Jews, "then you damn well better pay attention. Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't [sic] care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks." It was the most overt use of hate speech yet.
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Obama gets a freakin' house with help from a someone indicted for money laundering, wire fraud, extortion and corrupt solicitation; has someone raising money for his campaign with well-publicized ties to organized crime; and the Illinois attorney general is currently looking into how Obama earmarked $100,000 for a former campaign volunteer who never spent the money for its intended purpose — and yet, I don't see too many "investigations" decrying Obama's transparently false claims he practices a "new" kind of politics.
I've thought that the commie label of Obama has been overblown, but his tactics against those who disagree with him make me wonder:
All the while, in St. Louis, local law-enforcement authorities, dominated by Democrat-party activists, were threatening libel prosecutions against Obama’s political opposition. County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, abetted by a local sheriff and encouraged by the Obama campaign, warned that members of the public who dared speak out against Obama during the campaign’s crucial final weeks would face criminal libel charges — if, in the judgment of these conflicted officials, such criticism of their champion was “false.”
Oh well, I'm sure it will be off to the gulag with the lot of us eventually, all in the name of forced servitude.

From here:
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
I take it then that Obama is anti-gun, anti-religion, pro "anyone who isn't white" and pro deindustrialization? His campaign's excuse is that he was only telling the rich San Francisco types what they wanted hear. Yeah...

From here:
If John McCain had belonged to a church for 20 years and that church advocated white supremacy and the pastor of the church spewed racist propaganda wrapped in Biblical verses — much of which was caught on video-tape — what would we say? If McCain's good friends included people involved in blowing up abortion clinics instead of the Capitol Building, the Pentagon, and police stations, what would we say? If McCain was socially close to a professor with ties to neo-Nazi groups in Berlin, as opposed to a professor who had ties to the PLO, what would we say? If McCain spent his formative years schooled in fascism as opposed to Marxism, what would we say?
'We' would say that mentioning any of that is racist! Right? Right.