Sunday, December 13, 2009

Branch Rivalry

Found this while cleaning off my desktop...

Silverlight Confidence

Spell it right Microsoft and maybe I'll install it (last seen here):


Focused:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sad Days for the Proletariat

Crap like this is why I'm deeply discouraged with politics in our country:

The DHS decision under the former Bush administration extended from 12 months to 29 months the amount of time STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students are allowed to work after graduation under the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program. The IRLI claims the decision allows unlimited numbers of foreign students to work as candidate H-1B workers, directly competing with qualified Americans.

The Court of Appeals held that American STEM workers do not have the standing to challenge the regulation because they are not within the zone of interests of the foreign student visa provision.
U.S. workers do not have standing in court to sue the government who is expanding a program that steals jobs and dilutes wages. It's disgusting enough that something like the H-1B program (and it's myriad of knockoffs) exists, but then to suffer this as well at the hands of our government?

Corporate, elite whores one and all.

How about some more? How about the Fed overpaying for some AIG divisions so that the goons who run AIG won't miss out on their bonuses? Hear the noise from Congress on the Fed blowing $25 billion of taxpayer money without so much as a poll? Me neither.

How about the government trying to pass "cap and tax" so that GE can get rich?

How about the Supreme Court voting that our private property is only ours as long as Costco doesn't want to build a store on it?

How about the Fed and the Treasury conspiring to devalue the dollar so that the bankers can get rich while we pay twice as much as we should for a gallon of gas (at least for now, look for 4x as much in the not too distant future if this keeps up).

How about letting out lifer prisoners because our rulers would rather sleep snugly behind their gated communities knowing that they didn't kill any nasty, bad men. The havoc they cause outside their castle walls is someone else's problem (SEP). If that wasn't bad enough they force that crappy vision onto our military so that they can needlessly die in places that don't give a lick for the delusional vision of our elites.

And so on...

Then what is there to comment on? No point in debating anything at the moment. The common schlep knows that he's getting boned by everyone from government unions to corporate elites while our elected officials, nearly to a man, look desperately for some way to keep the 'boning' going.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Exchange Student Notes #3

(We are hosting an exchange student from China for this school year. Sally is her phony baloney American name)

  • I love how she took a bite of a cheesecake that I had made, and although you could tell that her stomach was telling her to wolf it down, you could also tell that she was thinking that she was five bites away from going back home as the 'fat American' and having all of her friends laugh and point at her. She deferred to the mincemeat pie.
  • We rented GI Joe (yes, it was free) and although I'm not partial to subtitles they make it easier for Sally to watch English language movies and I figured the less I saw of that movie the better so I turned them on. Good golly, I was thinking that movie would have been dramatically better with no dialog at all. It turned my stomach, but Sally loved the movie a bunch. Probably something along the same lines of my listening to sugary J-POP tunes, the full force of the artist's intent doesn't come across, making the inept end product more palatable to those who cannot completely understand it.
  • After catching that new Disney Christmas Carol movie (yes, free, again) we stopped by Skyline. I had already eaten my calorie quota that night (and then some) so I passed on getting anything (feel free to be amazed). Kid Sandmich got a jumbo three way and I explained to Sally that many years ago I'd eat two of those, four chili-cheese coneys (she was eating 1) and an order of garlic bread all in one sitting (feel free to be amazed again). She got a mildly puzzled look and stated that most Americans she sees eat a lot "but dad, you eat..." and then made a small oval with both of her hands. I then explained that after years of eating two jumbo three ways, four cheese coneys, and an order of garlic bread in one sitting, that my big eating days are unfortunately behind me (hopefully!).
  • She also caught a high school football game, but didn't care for it. She thought that basketball was much better, though I'm sure the fact that being out in the cold rain to watch the football game influenced her decision.
  • Mrs. Sandmich had set a 'rule' for Sally that she could sleep in as long as she liked on her days off of school so that she could talk to her family the night before. If we do the Exchange student thing again this rule will need to be shot down. I was okay with knowing that she would be skipping breakfast, but this past weekend she got up at quarter till four (and no that's not AM) making the planning of anything iffy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Final Fantasy IV



This game is the second old console Final Fantasy game redone for the Nintendo DS. Unlike Final Fantasy III which was not originally available in the states this game was released in a modified format back in the early nineties as Final Fantasy II (it being the second Final Fantasy game released in this country).

I had originally dug into this game on the 2005 Gameboy Advance version. The story was amazingly strong for such a small package and I was enjoying it immensely. Unfortunately about a third of the way through the game I got cocky and wound up blowing a couple hours worth of gaming by going into a dungeon my characters weren't ready for. Even at the time I knew better and that I should save before going off the story's rail, but with that big scoop of game having to be replayed I put the game down and waited to forget what it was that I was doing so that the adventure would be new again.

Fortunately the wait (of several years) paid off with this re-release that Kid Sandmich got me for Christmas. It features a snazzy opening much like the re-done Final Fantasy III and artwork that's even a hair better than FF3. The most shocking improvement, however, was when the game hit a cutscene and instead of being subtitled with text it was a fully voiced in-engine cutscene, a first for me on the DS!

In this iteration they did away with the grating job system from 'III' and opted instead to integrate that system into the story with each character holding to a set job. This change added to the depth and eliminated the 'double grind' issue with other FF titles that are job based (having to grind up the character level as well as a job which will probably turn out to be a dead end). Another big improvement is a crude 'auto' system decreases the pain of grinding by allowing for a rough level of automation. In fact, on the final dungeon I was able to grind up my characters past level 80 without much effort (level 60 is the bare minimum needed to beat the game).

Almost more than any other Final Fantasy game that I've played, this game dishes out brutal punishment for those who haven't explored every nook and cranny of the map. Skipping through the game and holding exclusively to the story will leave characters at too low of a level, and valuable goodies that make the game much more manageable will be left at the wayside (there were a few points where Kid Sandmich ran into trouble and I'd find out that he hadn't been to the semi-secret dungeon of WhatzIt to acquire some secret weapon). However, the most grating aspect of this game is that towards the end magic became increasingly useless, making the game a by the books hack and slash. If you wanted a healing spell in a fight you'd have to start casting it early in the match because the long charge time meant that by the time you needed it you'd already be good as dead.

I love the effort put behind this title and it's turned out very nice, but still, the original (GBA version) game was pretty good, so although it was an enjoyable improvement the developers didn't have quite the hump to overcome in putting this game together as they did for Final Fantasy III to make it playable to modern audiences.


As an aside this will be the last retro FF game that I play before the release of Final Fantasy XIII early (hopefully) next year. I tried to play through 'V' but I determined early on that it was pretty much the same game as FFIII.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

300

Mrs. Sandmich just got 300 for me on Blu-Ray. I have to say that I thought it was OK when I saw it in the theater, but now I'm of a mind that it will enter my mental library of movies that I like more and more after every viewing (other such movies that come to mind are The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Princess Mononoke, and yes that old Sandmich favorite Tron).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amusing Danger

I'm taking a particular interest in the absolute personal data destruction of the Microsoft Sidekick phones. Back when we were getting new phones at work T-Mobile offered (from what I recall) two Windows Mobile phones: the Wing and the Sidekick. The only reason that I went with the Wing over the Sidekick was because the Sidekick was running Windows Mobile 5 (which turns out to be 99.9% the same as the Windows Mobile 6 that came on the Wing, but oh well...).

Anyway, the exec in charge of 'Premium Mobile Experiences' at Microsoft and thus in charge of the 'Danger' division which nuked the data has the amusing name of Roz Ho. I'm certain that applications are being accepted for the soon to be open position; women with supervillain names are encouraged to apply.

An Obama Proclamation

Hotels for illegal immigrants, tents for Americans.
So let it be written. So let it be done.

Browns Notes

Notes from the Brown's 'thrilling' 6-3 win over Buffalo:
This was the first game without a TD in the NFL since Dec. 16, 2007, when the Browns beat Buffalo, 8-0
Quite the record between those two, though from what I recall unlike the latest match there was about a foot of snow on the field for the previous game.
This was the sixth time since 1980 that a team had two completions or fewer in a game (Browns QB Derek Anderson was 2 of 17 for 23 yards).
I admit to not watching it, but I read that the Cleveland quarterback also had nine of his passes dropped which would be par for the course when it comes to the Cleveland receiving corps.
The Browns are the first team to win a game with just two completions since the Bengals defeated the Broncos 31-21 on Oct. 22, 2000, when Corey Dillon set the then-NFL record with 278 rushing yards.
That was back when Cincy was in their "quarterback d'juor" mode and when the Bengals discovered that they didn't have to have their inept QB throw the ball they just fed it to Dillon every down.

There was a fun fact as well when Cleveland was playing Cincy last week and the game was coming within a minute or two of ending in a tie and they noted that the previous NFL tie was between Philly and Cincy last year. Not noted that the one before that was a couple years earlier in a game between Pittsburgh and...Cincy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Business As Usual

Just another day around town for Mr. and Mrs. Sandmich:

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Misplaced Priorities

Joystiq notes:
He noted that translating [the video game Gears of War] into Japanese is no problem, but passing the censors? "Huge problem," ...
Essentially, Epic was forced into making two different games: "Japan version and 'rest of the world' version'" A separate team was needed in customizing content and removing much of the violence featured in the game. "Every Title Update, and all Downloadable content, had to be done twice."
A video game which was rated 'M' in the States was too violent for Japan? Isn't that the same country that allowed a game called Battle Raper to be published?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Age and Football

I've noted before how the NFL and football in general has been doing it's darnedest to bring in other demographics because of it's fear of it's current viewers...dieing. However I've begun to suspect that it's not that the audience for the NFL is growing older, but that their natural constituency is older and that there's just more old people around now-a-days to watch football. Anyway these PA comics confirm my suspicion:
From early 2006: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/2/8/
From late 2009: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/9/25/

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exchange Student Notes #2

(We are hosting an exchange student from China for this school year. Sally is her phony baloney American name)
  • Sally related a tale of being in the hall at school and having a girl walk up to her and tell her that she's "cute". Sandmich's first thought: "at least it wasn't a guy"
  • We went to a pioneer day type of thing at a local park and they had the typical 'ye old America' type of stuff of pressing apple cider, playing obscure instruments, churning butter, and making fabric of various kinds. In addition to those they had something there that I wouldn't have thought much of before without Sally in tow: hunters and trappers. The semi-role players had a couple tables set up with their recreations which included knives and several flint lock muskets. For the first time it stuck out at me that here were people (at least one of whom had made his own musket) that packed up their weapons, transported them here, and put them on display without giving a thought as to what the man would think (beyond the obvious safety regs). One of the people there was even kind enough to demonstrate his musket for the crowd. I had to wonder what a government would be worth if it carried an undying fear of a self organized group of citizens carrying a dozen muskets around; answer: not much. (I found out later that was the first time Sally had seen a firearm that wasn't a toy).
  • When we were down at the Asian market Sally said that she couldn't understand what the people in the grocery store were saying to one another. It was then that I noticed (after all these years) that the language they were speaking didn't sound like Chinese Mandarin* (that features lots of 'sh' type sounds). Out in the car she referred to them as being from 'Thailand' which I knew wasn't the case, but she later corrected herself when she saw an Asian father chasing his sons down the street and she said exclaimed "you sure have a lot of Taiwanese here" in the same tone of breath that someone else might say "you sure have a lot of negros here"**.
  • Along those lines I guess there was an awkward moment between Sally and Mrs. Sandmich at the local fish shop which has a world atlas on their wall. Sally asked why Taiwan was displayed as a separate country. Not being as much into international intrigue as yours truly, Mrs. Sandmich said "because it is". I advised that it might be best to avoid that subject.
  • This note is from the "don't eat your own poo" department. Sally went over her rigorous school life back in China(7 am-12 pm, lunch at home, 1 pm-5 pm, and then half days on Saturday followed by paid extra tutoring from the teachers). She said that everyone in China takes a lot of math and science and mildly wondered why it was different here. Me being me I said "because not everyone can do it", which got me a puzzled look. I went, in the vaguest possible way, into how groups in America are different and I got another puzzled look. I then decided to relate it more locally and used as an example some of the tribes in western China like those out towards Afghanistan or Tibet***, and how those people might not have the same amount on the ball as the rest of China. More puzzled looks. She then went in to say that they were poorly educated because of infrastructure and poverty issues, not because of any inherit group differences. I gave up at that point; I thought that insanity was strictly an American (and to a lessor extent, Soviet) invention.

*Wikipedia notes that the Taiwanese apparently have their own language in addition to Mandarin
**equally applicable to that part of town
***Based partly on what John Derbyshire related about how although it's okay to feel bad about the plight of the Tibetans we probably wouldn't want much to do with them besides.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Obama Semantics

Why didn't Obama believe he was lying when he was lying about how his medical plan wouldn't cover illegal immigrants? At first I thought it was because he intends to 'make legal' all illegal immigrants, but it turns out that was giving him too much credit. The real reason is because he doesn't believe that there is such a thing as an illegal immigrant.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

House Discipline

House Democrats look to issue some mild punishment against Joe 'You Lie!' Wilson. No word yet if any action will be taken against Representative Barney Frank who worked to single handily bankrupt the country through his dealings with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or if any action will be taken against William 'Freezer Money' Jefferson.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alter Ego

A friend posted this song over at Facebook, and while cute it seems to lack any 'edge'. I wanted to post the song I was jonsin' for over the weekend, but then thought better of it and decided to post it here (lyrics NOT safe for work or those who feel they have good taste):

The hook in this song is irresistible and I'll guarantee that you'll find yourself singing it inappropriate situations (i.e. any situation), and some of the well written lyrics are sticky too. None the less, it's nothing appropriate for the general viewing audiences on Facebook (the owner of said locomotive having a label that rhymes with 'switch').

The song itself is off of Use your Illusion II, an album that should have been edited down and crammed together with Use your Illusion I to create one dynamite album instead of two mediocre albums.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Profiles in Cluelessness

From here (thx Drudge):
Other signs did not focus on Mr. Obama, but rather on the government at large, promoting gun rights, tallying the national deficit and deploring illegal immigrants living in the United States.
...
Republican officials said privately that they were pleased by the turnout but wary of the anger directed at all politicians.
Why is it directed at 'all politicians'? Could it be because such Republican idiots are perfectly happy to have the malcontents vote for them, so long as they go away after the election?

The Republicans are going to continue to be completely worthless unless they grow up and get a clue.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Oligarchs

I've Dropped Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs as a site of interest after he came out in favor of crap like this:
Fox News Network LLC on Wednesday appealed a U.S. judge's decision not to force the U.S. Federal Reserve to reveal the names of participants in its emergency lending programs.
....
The Fed argued in both cases that disclosure could cause "competitive and reputational harm" to participants, potentially triggering bank runs and hurting the economy if information or rumors were allowed to spread.

The taxpayers don't have an interest in why they are being saddled with hundreds of billions of dollars of debt? The Fed's total backstops are actually up over a trillion dollars and by some counts several multiples of that, but we don't know since the Fed won't say. Their reasoning is that too much information will cause runs on the financial institutions they're helping out; of course the whole reason there would be a run is because these institutions are BROKE, so the logic actually goes something like this:

  • Under the table the Fed has backstopped some mystery parties. Who it is and why they found special grace in the Fed's favor is unknown. It could be entirely on the up and up, or it could be because Ben Bernanke went to school with the CEOs. Mr. Johnson believes that our trust should be put entirely into Mr. Bernanke, a man who has done nothing to earn anyone's trust, especially with saddling the taxpayers with untold hundreds of billions in order to back up the poor decision making of his buddies. The only problem is...
  • If the institutions are backstopped by the Fed, then why worry about a run since they're protected? The horrible truth is that the Fed can't afford to be called on those backstops. It's one thing to say that you'll back FOB's (Friend Of Ben's) 300 billion in bad mortgage securities, it's quite another to actually do it. That's why there's a move in Congress to audit the Fed BEFORE these liabilities come to light. Tools like Charles Johnson would rather find out AFTER the fact that the Fed star chamber single handily bankrupted the country by making sure that their friends didn't have to go without their yacht.

Charles Johnson and others like him claim to be defending our economic system, but if our whole economic system is based on shadows and lies there's really nothing there to defend.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Spend Money to Make Money

Pretty typical for Ohio:
CLEVELAND (AP) -- A state lawmaker is complaining about signs that let passing motorists know when Ohio road work is courtesy of federal stimulus money.

The state has ordered that markers identify Ohio's 365 stimulus projects at both ends of construction zones, at a cost estimated at more than $1 million.
....
ODOT spokesman Scott Varner says the state felt it was important to show taxpayers how stimulus money is being used.
Back when thee company I work for had a graphite processing operation, I convinced myself that the horrific level of filthiness associated with processing powered graphite was actually the color of money: that filth helped pay my paycheck. However, I was under no delusions that any other person would think that such a place was only good for filming horror movies.

Such it is with these stupid signs. When motorists are stuck for hours on end in construction, or writing $100 checks for going three miles over the incredibly torqued down speed limit, or taking a painful detour, the last thing that springs to their mind is 'gratitude' when some arrogant ass like Scott Varner slaps his name on an overpriced sign to proclaim that he is responsible for the mess. Only someone with an ego as inflated as his could think that the work responsible for his paycheck is anything other than pain and misery for those outside of his profession.

Good Citizens

(Yet another) Black mob nearly beats a white person to death in northeast Ohio:
CLEVELAND- The St. Rocco's Festival on Cleveland's west side is generally considered family friendly.

But Cleveland Police say around 10 o'clock Saturday night, a 17-year-old boy was kicked and beaten by 20 teenagers as he was leaving the festival.

Justin Winemiller says it appears the motive for the attack was the thrill of beating him unconscious and capturing it on tape.

The high school senior tells Fox 8 News "they threw me up against the wall and while they were kicking me, someone was recording the whole attack, someone was spinning around, making sure they got every angle of me getting kicked and me getting thrown to the ground."
I anxiously await all those black parents who are concerned about their neighborhood to call the culprits into the police.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Better Man

Seems like this abused lady in Parma Heights, where I live, could do better:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CHEYENNE TRAIL: A 26-year-old woman called police Sunday to report that she had gotten into a physical altercation with her 30-year-old live-in boyfriend over her Sony PlayStation. He wanted to go fishing, and she wanted her PlayStation back. When she tried to take back the PlayStation, they got into a fight.
Really? She's having trouble finding a guy to play PlayStation with all day? In that case she should just stop by the local GameStop around midnight on the day that Modern Warfare 2 is released, she'll have her choice of potential suitors.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Pallet Swap Too Far?

Check out this picture from Getty Images:

Ahh the legend of the attractive woman in the data center. This picture gets a lot of play, for reasons I figure have to do with playing on tech nerd fantasies (with said tech nerds associating themselves with one of the guys in the back)*. However, the picture gets SO much play that it's lost whatever effectiveness it may have once had. Here's just the woman on the banner for one of Microsoft's virtualization sites:

Here she is shilling something on CDW's page:

IBM also used the photo with their Director product, but they pallet swapped the shirt to change it up:

And here's the picture being used in a print ad for PC Connection where they pallet swapped...uh oh:

For reasons unknown to me they also sloppily threw on a dress shirt and tie on the guy in the back. I guess they figured he was disrepectin' da honies by wearing just that white shirt.

* Though to be fair, the pictures use may have more to do with price than anything. Use of the photo can be had for a couple bucks, while similar pictures (like this one)require negotiating a price for their commercial use.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Unoriginal, Wanna-Be Tyrant

I've always thought that Obama was smart, but I've also always thought that he's about as creative as a cinder block. He's proven the point again by attempting to pull some cheap propaganda lesson. Drudge links to Obama's bit of addressing kids in public schools:
  • Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and [Glorious Leader] Barack Obama [who apparently would never cast his lot in with the other 'presidents'] and motivate students by asking the following questions: Who is the President of the United States? [good question, bad answer]
  • Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? [here's an F'n idea, how about those idiots listening to us, you know, the people who elected them?]
  • Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us? What would you like to tell the President? [I'd like to tell the president to shove that wagging finger of his down is pie hole]
  • Teachers can extend learning by having students ... Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. [work to vote him out of office so that he can work full time to try to be the planetary overlord since being 'president' just isn't enough]

What an a$$hole. At least it doesn't extend up into high school, because then I'd have to have an awkward conversation with our exchange student along the lines of "you know those 'history' classes you take over in China? Same thing."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Defending America Is Boring

Our immigration services can't keep Mexican criminals out of our country, but they're trying to make up for that by keeping American criminals out of other countries (emphasis mine):
Three Americans "tourists" are on their way home from Cambodia Monday after being arrested in an ongoing federal sex tourism investigation.

The arrests are part of “Operation Twisted Traveler,” an effort by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify and prosecute American sex tourists in Cambodia.
Why were these guys even on the radar? Because they were well known felons:
Another of the men onboard was Jack Sporich, a 74-year-old that police call the ‘Pied Piper of Pedophiles.” He spent nine years in a California prison for molesting as many as 500 boys during camping trips.
...
The final passenger, 59 year-old Ronald Boyajian, was convicted of 18 counts of sexual intercourse with minors in 1995 in Menlo Park, Calif.
Why were the even out of jail? Who knows, but luckily their abuses will finally meet the full force of law:
In the U.S. the men face charges under the Protect Act -- a 2003 law that provides life terms for child sex offenders with prior convictions, a much longer sentence than offenders would get abroad.
Heaven forbid they put them away for life for abusing American kids, or if ICE would do their job in the country they actually work for.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Exchange Student Notes


  • Our Exchange student starts school today and I'm hoping for the best. I've gotten the impression that she's sick and tired of sitting around the house and would rather be anywhere else; if nothing else than to take her mind off of her home sickness.

  • I can now feel my brother-in-laws pain with his new daughter. How does a dad treat his daughter? If you're like me, you treat your daughter like a different kind of son. For instance, a good boy gift might be some fancy bacon, and a good girl gift would be....maple flavored fancy bacon. I came to this realization when I was sitting through 'Twilight'* with Mrs. Sandmich and 'Sally'. They were both glued to the screen while I played 'God of War' in my head to try and escape the pain of the two hour long teen-angst-athon. I'd never think to get that movie for anyone I know, ever.

  • Mrs. Sandmich went clothes shopping with Sally a couple of times and after she related the experiences I've come to the conclusion (again) that American girls dress like whores. JCPenny, Macy's, Walmart, it matters not. For instance, when I was in Walmart last night they sold girl skirts that looked like they were part of a Japanese stripper school girl Halloween costume.

  • Speaking of Walmart, they were packed last night with parents and kids buying school supplies for the school year that was to start in less than twelve hours.

  • Chinese exchange student food hits: Chicken, rice, Japanese BBQ sauce. Misses: Mexican, drinks other than water.

  • It's been tough to reign in my normally un-PC self. We have a cat that meows pretty loud when he wants someone to check his food bowl, I affectionately would refer to him as our 'Chinese opera puss cat'. As well, it's now an American past time to refer to substandard household goods as 'Chinese made crap', I've had to catch myself a few times on that. I've also had to take it easier on the pet eating 'jokes'.

It's rough dropping her off for her first day of school, at a school that our own son doesn't go to out of quality concerns. I've never cared so much about the quality of the local schools but in some ways it's worse to be completely entrusted with the care of someone else's child. Parents know the acceptable shortcuts with their own kids, but there's some pressure to not let down her very trusting parents who I will never meet. If it makes them feel any better I share their concerns.

I should point out that when we were awaiting our student I was expecting some type A ass. This would be someone who got too big for their own country and had to go to a completely different country to find room for their ego, someone who we couldn't stand to be around and vice versa. I couldn't figure out how else a teenager could undergo such a trial. I went to a boarding school, but I could at least assuage myself with the fact that I'd see my family every six to eight weeks. However, in what I've found to be the best hypothesis, I couldn't foresee a student from a well-to-do family who's only 'in' for higher education for their child was a forced (in a career sense) sojourn to the U.S.**

In a magazine put out by a missionary organization that I occasionally keep track of, a priest said that teenagers are teenagers the world round. So it is with Sally. She's just a normal,reserved, modest, and respectful teen stuck in extraordinary circumstances.


*Kid Sandmich ran out when the movie was being turned on saying that he "wasn't going to watch any chick flick". "Silly boy", I thought "it has vampires in it, how can it be a chick flick?". Needless to say, the joke was on me.

**Sally's sister has undergone the same trial I take it (?), and her sister now attends the university of Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vista Mistakes, Redux

I was checking out the Win7 videos here and there’s some cool stuff on how Win7 can be deployed to multiple system using a VHD (virtual hard drive) and how you can mount that VHD offline and un/install drivers and apps; meaning that you don’t have to reimage a system after every change, but you can also boot it up in a virtual machine to make sure that it works! Or how about the ability to force network files to be hosted locally on the PC via a centrally applied policy? I’m liking that. There’s also the ‘applocker’ tool that makes whitelisting apps a breeze. It looks like they’ve also taken their RPC over HTTP functionality from Exchange and extended it to the whole network, which would allow users to VPN in without having to bugger with separate VPN software and hardware, joy! Built in hard drive encryption and seamless XP virtualization compatibility are also pretty cool. I really can’t wait to get this for work.

Oh you home users want something too? Ummm, how about that touch screen idea? Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Update

Been busy with two things. First up we have been carving room out of our house for a guest visitor, an exchange student, who will be with us for the next nine to ten months. This involved a lot of cleaning and pitching stuff that we'll never use. After a few hectic moments our student arrived, ready to experience the best that Ohio public schools have to offer (their Africa program must have been full):


It takes a complete stranger to let you know how truly you are. And by 'you' I mean 'me.

Secondly I've been busy with the garden (and a special thanks to whoever picked up the organic gardening mag for me, it's quite good!). Today I spent some time that may have ordinarily been spent blogging, shucking sunflowers instead:


Three this size


I was just going to salt them, but I changed my mind and I'm trying to make them Cincy chili flavored.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tiempo a Mooch

Cripe:
One out of three people in the U.S. without health insurance is an
immigrant (legal or illegal) or the U.S.-born child (under 18) of an immigrant.
Immigrants and their children also account for one-fourth of those on Medicaid.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Psychonauts



One would think that video games would be immune to 'critic pump' like many other mediums. For example I remember looking at reviews in the back of Rolling Stone back when I was in high school and I learned pretty quick that if the reviewer gave a music album five stars it was probably unlistenable bilge. Unfortunately video games are another art medium and as such are susceptible to the same faults. For example there's one game that reviewers constantly chide gamers over not buying, but it's a game that just doesn't look very fun (though I confess to judging the book by it's cover).

Another game that's a sore spot for video game reviewers is Pychonauts. Developed by Tim Schafer, whose largest claim to fame is developing the original Monkey Island, the game shows promise but can never seem to escape the mediocre gameplay that glues the package together.

When I first started playing the game I ran into two technical faults that were somewhat beyond the foresight of the developers. The first is that the game runs too slowly to play under the PS3's PS2 emulator. There's some other games that do this, but oddly graphics power hogs like Final Fantasy XII and God of War II have no issues (maybe a reliance on some PS1 hardware functionality within the PS2? I kinda doubt it, but...). The other technical issue is that the artwork for the game was often too dark, and I mean too dark to see anything. A lot of games of that time didn't come with a gamma correct, but many did (though the examples that come to mind are all from flat panel obsessed Japan). My hope at the time would be that the game would reward me for squinting at the screen while tethered to my PS2 via the controller cable.

It started out well enough. It was clear from the onset that the game had clever writing, memorable (if a bit generic) characters and a mildly unique art style. Once the gameplay started in earnest annoyances started to surface. Several of the 'super powers' had an intentional delay to keep them from being too 'super' and targeting enemies was iffy (a kind of hybrid auto-target that always seemed to target the wrong enemy). Later in the game when you're sporting a bevy of super powers there's no easy way to access them if you find the need to switch between them rapidly.

On top of that the inconsistent platforming and different-though-similar areas made the game start to feel more like a Spyro game that was put out for the original PlayStation*. The ever mounting number of collectibles seemed more like padding and busy work than actual game play elements (unlike Jak 3 which dared players to see if they had the mad skills to get the collectibles). The art and platforming elements also got old and I couldn't escape the feeling that everything Tim Schafer was trying to do had been done better in the game Alice** (which looks better and was released five years before Psychonauts).

Another nagging fault included a health system that feels half play tested. You can carry health power ups but only three at a time, my first thought was that the damage dealt should have been modified so that there wasn't one more piece of crap that you had to carry around. If you did happen to 'die' a certain number of times in a level you were kicked out of the level, and when you went back in you were...right back where you were when you were kicked out. What was that supposed to accomplish besides punishing players with the omnipresent extended load screen?

Towards the end of my playthrough I began to feel cheated. It's one thing to waste two hours sitting through what's supposed to be a great movie that's actually a dud, but quite another to log 20+ hours into a very well reviewed, dog of game. Well that's not fair, the game itself is OK, but nowhere near the quality of it's hype. I must admit though that I got about 70% of the way through the game before deciding that it was a royal waste of my time and I was unable to force myself to play another minute of it***.

*Original 3D PlayStation games exhibited the same 'wonky', Tim Burton-esque art style though unintentionally due to the very limited capabilities of the hardware. I'd read somewhere that the PS1 didn't actually support floating point math, which I find hard to believe, but I can't find a corroborating source.

**American McGee's Alice is an odd duck of game. I wanted to dislike it's whacked out art for whacked out art's sake, but the final weapon and the closing cut scene make the game worth sitting through.

***The whole experience reminded me of Grim Fandango, which happens to be another Tim Schafer game

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Runs

I figured I'd note this in case anyone would be interested in such a thing. Karl Denninger points out that:

  1. There are a number of known insolvent banks that are being left to continue in business because....
  2. More than likely the FDIC is nearly insolvent.

Of course the FDIC can get more cash by going to the taxpayer til (you know, taxpayers paying taxes so that the government can pay them back on money they had in a defunct bank). The sticky issue is that there isn't nearly enough revenue coming in to cover the FDIC liabilities so the government would have to issue debt, a lot of it (in addition to the metric tons already being issued). The last treasury auction had one 'soft' fail in that they were barely able to force the debt load down the pipe, what then happens if they go to issue debt to back the FDIC and they are unable to force it? Well things will get interesting then, very interesting; and I wouldn't make any big plans on getting a withdraw from an insolvent bank (or possibly a bank of any sort) as a 'bank holiday' will probably go into effect to prevent a justifiable full fledged run.

I personally wouldn't be surprised if Uncle Sam issued his own IOUs right to the defaulted depositors in such a case.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Get Robbed and Die in a Fire

It's been quite a few busy weeks for ol' LiverLips Obama. First he takes a stand that white firefighters should not be employed, then he states that police officers (and white ones in particular) are 'stupid' for doing their jobs. I guess white people must suffer any number of horrors so that ideologues like Obama and their white useful idiots can feel smug about themselves.

His fudged apologies haven't helped his cause and his attempts to stay on the health care topic have bombed since people are more worried about being able to eat in six months than whether or not they feel like paying through the nose to go to the DMV for medical care*. I guess it doesn't help that a lot of people have figured (correctly) that Obama will favor inner city emergency rooms to long term care for the aging (why else would he want to set all the government medical rates? Turn down the 'white' people money knob, turn up the 'NAM'** people money knob).

I'm sure the press didn't mean to put their man in such an awkward position, but if they want to have fun with him in the future they can ask "OJ, innocent or guilty?"

*Watching this fight over national medical care would be like watching me debate for months about whether to buy my own tropical island. In both cases the subject cannot come close to affording it.

**For the uninitiated, NAM = non-Asian minorities

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Local Mog

From here:
Ali was one of seven Minneapolis-area Somali men killed over a 10-month period, and authorities believe all were killed by fellow Somalis.

Somalis killing each other? Who would have been able to see that coming?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bringing your 'B' Game

This review of some rather ancient games will be a two-fer!

God of War II



Enchanted Arms



Movies have it easy. Someone can make a movie for $600,000 and bring in a quarter billion dollars worth of gravy. I remember an interview with one of the heads of the old Humongous Games company some ten years ago where he said that the bare minimum to bring a game to market that would be considered a higher tier product would be a million dollars (though even he seemed to concede that such a game would probably prove lacking). The newer downloadable game scene has opened doors for the makers of less expensive casual games*, but for those who want their game in a DVD case on a retailers shelf the expenses continue to mount.

For developers working on what is referred to as a 'AAA' title some of these cost concerns are mitigated due to publisher support. The original God of War shipped with a short 'making of' video that was unlocked upon beating the game. For God of War II the developers thought so much of their efforts that they put together a series of professional productions totaling around an hour worth of time on the second disk**. The game itself is impressive and as the developers note at the E3 showcase, it looked better on the PS2 than a lot of the first gen titles for the PS3. It's a game that makes no bones about what it is: a showcase first party game with lots of over the top sets and violence that would only appeal to a male audience.

Just playing through the game I could see that almost no detail is left untuned and that the game must have been a massive development effort. The developer interviews detail late nights, constant tuning and a passion for quality artwork and presentation, in short, a single minded obsession to put out one of the best games of all time. Costs are of course a concern and the 'making of' details some dumped levels and concepts, but by and large Sony wanted what did make it into the game to be top flight, and they succeeded in their effort.

But what about studios without suckers for shareholders who are willing to take a bath on their stock to 'sell a game that sells consoles'? What, if any corners can be cut? More importantly, is it possible to make a 'B movie' type of video game, a 'B game' as it were?

A little while ago I was looking around on Penny Arcade's site looking for a Final Fantasy XII reference (what it was and why I was looking for it I cannot recall) but the top post in their system for my search was Gabe berating a critic for not liking a game called Enchanted Arms. Since I was in between games and had an RPG jonesin', I picked it up (it's pretty cheap used). When I started playing it I noticed right away that although some parts were strong, if a corner could be cut it was. Entire environments would be rendered with a handful of textures, villagers were all lifeless pallet swaps, and although Final Fantasy games occasionally feel overly directed, this game felt like it was on rails, especially for an RPG. Lastly (and 'worstly'), instead of the lush, orchestrated God of War II soundtrack that was recorded in three different countries, Enchanted Arms featured the single worst soundtrack of any game I've played since the Atari 2600. It has a small handful of OK songs, that you will hear repeatedly, and many more horrible tunes that were no doubt produced by someone on the dev team whose only musical experience was recorder lessons in second grade (needless to say I ended up muting the game for long stretches).

For all it's faults though the game seems to work. Instead of a bevy of unfocused characters the tight roster fleshes out the players more roundly*** than many other RPGs. Since the game expects you to go from point A to point B and not wander around, there's a bare minimum of grinding. Lastly, since the developers knew that they weren't bringing much to the game, they made sure the battle system and story were pretty good.

So yes it's possible to make a 'B game' but it's difficult since it's a short path from there to unplayable Wii style shovelware; video games just aren't very tolerant to a lot of cutbacks. If Enchanted Arms cut out dialog or story, or cheaped out on the battle system the game would have gone from okay to horrible (as opposed to God of War II which probably could have cut 10% of the corners and no one would have noticed). What I thought was interesting was that Tycho at Penny Arcade thought it was possible as well and as a reference he pointed out a game made by From Software, which just so happened to make Enchanted Arms as well. So I doubt that any From Software games will feature a 'making of' feature like the one that shipped with God of War II; if it did I would envision profiles of developers who left work early to play pachinko and artists who just carried over half the assets from some PlayStation 2 game that they made five years earlier.


*Jonathan Blow, well known developer of the game Braid notes that making a casual game can be free so long as you don't mind living in your mom's basement for three years.

**It shows what a gaming nerd I am that I enjoyed the 'making of' features nearly as much as the game itself.

***I need to point out that this game also had the most flagrantly gay characters of any game probably ever. It's one thing to be a flaming homo, it's quite another for the character to spend most of his on-screen time sexually harassing (sometimes physically!) one of the other male characters. Such things are such the joke JapanLand.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

3/5ths of a Deer

A senile black woman who beat a dear to death is all over the news in Northeast Ohio. The latest is that she will be charged to the fullest extent of the law for animal cruelty.

About a half an hour south a black mob nearly beats two white people to death. The news? Silent. The police? Asleep.

In the same town (Akron) a couple of black slime buckets nearly kicked a dog to death while robbing a house. The press ran stories to get donations in an effort to save the poor pooch (who eventually had to be put down). Police were sure to get the animal cruelty charges on the book for the suspects.

It's probably not enough to expect white people to get an equal footing with blacks (God only knows the holy hell that would be unleashed if a white mob beat nearly beat two black people to death); but how about equal footing with animals?

Monday, July 06, 2009

More Health Care Idiocy

From here:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., compared requiring all Americans to have health insurance with mandating that drivers carry auto insurance.

"We want everybody in the system," Hoyer said. "That will bring costs down."
Only in CONgressworld does driving up the demand for a scarce resource decrease the costs. Part of their master plan for costs reduction is to pay doctors less for patient maintenance; so while they are driving up demand for doctors, which would ordinarily drive up the price, they are attempting a price control where they give a pittance of a reimbursement rate. Although people who don't have mashed potatoes for brains already knows where this leads, since Massachusetts already has a idiotic system like this we also have a real world example of, surprise, SHORTAGES:
The 47-year-old single mother has advanced Lyme disease, and she can't find a primary care doctor to oversee her care. She's called half a dozen practices in three towns, and none are accepting new patients. So when problems come up, even routine ones, she comes to the emergency room. Each time, she goes through her medical history with the intake nurse.
AMAZING! Who would have seen that coming?!?!? I mean, besides the morons in Congress and their illiterate supporters? Word on the street is that the only way this might be patched to work in the short run is to force doctors to dedicate a certain percentage of their case load to government insured patients.

On top of that, one idea floated was to charge companies with more than 25 employees a fine of $750 a year per employee to cover their employees government insurance. Much has been over this added cost, but I had the opposite reaction. I figured it was only a matter of time before I was forced into ObamaCare since my workplace spends more than $750 to cover one month of our private insurance. Other workplaces will come to the same conclusion and will happily saddle the Feds with their costs, bloating the program well beyond it's funding capabilities. Supposedly Congress fixed it to prevent employers from doing just that, but we are talking Congress here so I highly doubt it's effectiveness.

New Juarez

Has anyone followed the Drudge linked stories on Chicago? Like Bloody Weekend: 8 Dead, Dozens Wounded:
At least eight people were killed and some two dozen others were wounded over the [July 4th] weekend. Four of the victims lost their lives during a bloody six hours late Saturday and early Sunday.
In a different story a doctor at a single Chicago hospital said that they "see probably an average of between 10 and 15 people who get shot or stabbed every night".

The makeup of the troubled areas, victims and perpetrators is pretty predictable; but still, have they just given up on policing and locking up criminals?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Black Cat

Time for a real obit, one that doesn't involve America's favorite carnival freak. An obit which unfortunately involves another Sandmich family pet.

First a footnote...umm...at the beginning. When we moved up to Cleveland back in 2009 I half thought in the back of my mind that one day I'd find a good enough job or retire enough debt to be able to move back down. Along with the family I'd be able to take all the pets back to their original home as well. Silly, I know; but I'm a rather silly person.

Well the job I had turned into probably what could be one of the greatest private sector jobs that an IT person could get and our house, though it has faults, is probably one of the best bangs for the buck within twenty miles of downtown Cleveland. However my thoughts of "everyone" going 'home' formally dissipated this past Friday with the passing of our cat Sable, the last of the (many) original Cincinnati pets.

Although he had a few chronic health issues, he lived about as long as his buddy Tiger and like Tiger he had some idiosyncrasies that set him apart from the regular puss cat herd. For example he liked to race Mrs. Sandmich to the bathroom at night, probably on the off chance that he would get to play in the sink water or with one of the leaking spigots. He also preferred to get foot based 'belly rubbins' to getting pats on the head. I also get occasionally disturbed since like all black cats he could fade in and out in the shadows by opening and closing his eyes.

We have other cats at the moment, but for the most part they're...cats; barely distinguishable from any other cat you might meet. The best equivalent I can come up with (and this applies to our newer dogs as well) was the feeling I had when watching the first season or so of Star Trek Next Generation, that the cast was just an inferior knock off of the earlier, superior one.

Sadly our original 'cast' of pets is now, no more.



Sable on the left, Tiger on the right

Car-boned

That 'cap and trade' bill passed by the House is one of the worst peices of legislation passed by Congress. I want to put this subtly but if you believe, as our elites apparently do, that it is possible to reduce our greenhouse emmisions to 20% of the 2005 output, then you are an idiot.

Obama's justification for the bill is that otherworldly Kensian B.S. of government spending boosting the economy, neverminding the fact that the money being used had to be stolen from the private sector economy to begin with. His excuses carry about the same intellectual reasoning as paying vandals to go around the city and break all the windows, since doing so will provide a boon in glassworker jobs.

On a related note, for anyone who hasn't caught that Planet Green channel, it's Aljazeera for rich white people.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Liquor Up!

While at my niece's baptism, we were debating good whiskey (and bourbon specifically) when my brother-in-law brought out the 'good stuff', Knob Creek. Made by Jim Beam and aged around 9 years, this is one smooth liquor, and with a good deal more alcohol than your average whiskey.

It's kind'a on the expensive side, probably due to the length of time it's aged (Maker's Mark*, my personal favorite, ages five to six years if I recall correctly), but I still thought it might be nice to have a bottle.

Guess not though since Mrs. Sandmich points out that they've run out of the stuff and won't be able to make more until October! No run on the banks in our current economy, but on a run on the liquor; I knew I should have invested in a still instead of a 401K.

UPDATE: Strike that; the higher end Jim Beam Bourbon that I was thinking of was Booker's, not Knob Creek (which is...not my thing). See comments for details.


*Fun fact: Maker's and Jim Beam are owned by the same multi-national conglomerate.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dereliction of Duty

From here:
A controversial and sweeping prison reform bill that would allow thousands of inmates each year to be released early cleared a sharply divided Ohio Senate panel on Wednesday with unusual bipartisan support.
The ONE thing those idiots are supposed to do, the ONE HUGE reason why people tolerate government at all is not workers comp, free cheese, or harassing employers about checks that didn't clear ten years ago, no it's none of that crap at all, it is a government's ability to maintain order.

However, what's the first thing loser legislators around the country do when it's time to save a buck? Unleash felons of all stripes upon those little people who are unfortunate enough to not live behind a gate like themselves. To the gallows with all of them I say.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Babies a Plenty!

Congrats to my brother and sister-in-law on the birth of their son Ethan!

I guess my posts are kinda redundant since it'll be all over Facebook before too long. I've never been into the whole 'fake community' scene so I've shied away from the service and with a large investment by a Russian Internet firm I've lost what little interest I had in putting something up on their server.

Why would the Russians invest in Facebook? 'Because in Soviet Union, Internet searches you!'

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Video Games as Art

It's beyond debate that artists create art for video games, but to what extent does the total video game package count as art? It's a debate that may never end as a video game doesn't have much in common with 'closed loop' style art like movies, where the art of the package is all that is brought to the table. In contrast video games have more in common with something along the lines of a house.

If someone sees a Frank Loyd Wright house with custom furniture and handmade wood working they would say "ART!", but if people saw a cookie cutter suburban house decked out with the cheapest fixtures that China can produce "ART!" would not spring to mind, ever. In between the two extremes are a variety of contructs that may be art in some ways, but not in others. Carrying this analogy even further, both a house and a video game can suffer from 'too much art'. A house can be too 'Frank Gehry' and leak all the time and game can be all 'art' and no 'game' with the same amount of interaction as a DVD remote.

What brought this to the top of my mind was Steve Sailer's post on how unappreciated video game art is in the same vein as his interest in unappreciated golf course design art. Now how much golf course design is just exterior design writ large is open to debate, but I think that it's also fair to think that golf course design would have an influence on exterior design of any scale.

However, wouldn't a better gauge of art be it's influences outside of it's medium? This is something that golf courses can't really do (though the case may be made for exterior design in general). With video games on the other hand I have seen it's influences primarily in movies. There's the probable influence the game God of War had on the movie 300, the slicked over, non-stop action of the latest Star Trek film which almost felt like I could play along with, and James Cameron's upcoming Avatar, which, like the last Riddick film, was made along with the video game (a movie/game which itself seems to borrow from yet a different game).

But when will video games be appreciated as art? I tend to think that this is a generational thing and that in fifty years or so the answer to the question will be so obvious that it won't even brought up.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

20% Unemployed

Update: In addition to being underemployed, the government would also like me to be underpaid as well. When are the Iranians nuking Washington and how much will I owe them?

Earlier this year one of our manufacturing operations went to unpaid Fridays and a few months later our other operation went the same way. The fact that both places have retained their staff is a testament to the horrid economy. Even with all that it's going to take maximum effort for the place I work for to break even this year so they've sentenced the corporate offices where I work to unpaid Fridays as well.

Currently, it's only set for the next two months with the expectation that business might pick up later in the year. Fortunately I can use my vacation days to lessen the damage to a 10% pay cut for the moment, but especially since there's no way business will pick up and may in fact get worse.

I know of a few other people in the same situation and stories like this back up the idea that the economy is taking something on the order of a 20% hit and that the GDP numbers of a 1.5% decrease a quarter being released by the government are just feel good wackery. The unemployment numbers (corrupted under Clinton) and the inflation numbers (which don't take such items as housing and fuel into account!) are already untrustworthy so it wouldn't surprise if the GDP number isn't as well, particularly if it's partially based off of the other two.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Burned With Desire

You could do worse than to play this song in the background while working (dance music alert!):

Monday, May 25, 2009

Backyard Somali Pirate

Got to love this story about a struggling school on the near west side of Cleveland:
For the Cleveland school, it may have been a case of pass or perish. In October, district Chief Executive Eugene Sanders threatened to simply shut down or replace the staff at Gallagher and nine other so-called "turnaround" elementary buildings if their marks don't improve by 2010.
...
More than 60 percent of Gallagher's about 800 students primarily speak languages other than English. About one in four is in special education. And many come from poverty, homelessness and other upheaval that teachers say eventually grinds youthful enthusiasm into despair.
...
[picture caption]Abukar Abukar, a Somali refugee, helps Adora Campis, who is involved with a program that helps homeless students in the Cleveland school district. Every Friday, the program distributes bags of food to 50 students who are homeless or on the brink.

Ahh dear reader, you have no idea how upset this makes me. WHY IN THE WORLD ARE WE IMPORTING HOMELESS SOMALIS WHO CANNOT FEED THEMSELVES INTO OUR COUNTRY!?!?! What group of idiots would bring that upon themselves?

Anyway, a school full of freshly imported Somali's and Hispanics that's failing? Paint me as shocked.
But is Gallagher truly a failure?
No, but it's existence is a failure of the worst sort.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Solvency Watch

First we have the already reported news about the massively negative draw that Medicare and Social Security are going to have on the budget very soon; something anyone with a calculator could have predicted several decades ago. I just wished to add that NPR (!) this morning pointed out that the only way the trust fund would work would be by borrowing a ton of cash or dramatically raising taxes. Their reporting is a start, though neither of their points will work long term since the plans draw way much than we could ever afford any way we approach it.

Second we have John Fund reporting on the budgetary mess in California. This is of interest to me since Ohio is like a mini-California in that they have a massive budget hole of their own. It looks like California is betting that the Feds will help plug their twenty billion dollar hole. As Mr. Fund pointed out though, Obama had earlier told California, who was trying to save money, that they couldn't cut the pay for some unionized employees or else they would forfeit the seven billion dollars that they used to plug holes earlier in the year. In this way, the Feds are turning the states into debtor slaves where no doubt the likes of Obama and Pelosi will write every budget in the country via regulation; and since their budgets will always call for deficits states will always need Federal cash.


The other side of this coin is that the whole scheme reeks of the parents telling their kids that they can charge all they want so long as they buy a couple meals a week from Uncle Chuck's restaurant. With the state's and localities free to rack up huge tabs secure in knowledge that Uncle Sugar is going to bail them out, the whole scheme turns into a game of chicken with the Feds hoping that the additional local debt doesn't bankrupt the country.

That brings up the third point: where will the Feds get their cash? Currently the Fed is exhausting all of their supply routes. With falling wages and failing employment, raising taxes will only carry them so far, and may even do more harm than good (from their perspective). They can continue attempting to print their way out, but people and other nations in particular will become (even more) leery of accepting greenbacks for their goods and services. We can continue to borrow, but for how long will other nations care to lend money to us when they're just going to get a stack of American Monopoly money in return? This would be the same money backed by the full faith and credit of Obama, his tax cheat treasury head, and a corrupt CONgress (among others).

However, much as the Feds are trying to do to the states, other parties are developing similar plans for our nation. Karl Denninger notes a BBC piece that points out that Japan's opposition party would rather buy U.S. debt backed by some other currency, namely the Yen. On first read I blew it off: there's no way our government would be so incompetent as to sell our nation out like that. Right? ......Right?

The more I thought about though, the more I became afraid that they would actually do it, that they would turn the United States into a Weimar Republic, not because of losing a war, but because of an unending addiction to government bloat. Mark my words, if something like the 'samurai bonds' (or as Karl Denninger calls them 'seppuku bonds') it will be game over. The day the U.S. issues foreign denominated debt, you should leave if you can, at least while you're money has worth. This isn't me being petty over some partisan difference, it's me being realistic about the fact that at that point our nation will be sold off in huge chunks and it will only exist in stasis in the vaults of overseas banks.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Of Puss Cats and Bunnies

Over the weekend our pet rabbit passed away from causes unknown.


Cotton with one of her puss cat buddies

Rabbits don't have quite the depth of character of a cat or dog. Cotton made up for this fact by being a 'grumpy bunny'. The only time she let people pet her was when she was out of food and she had more than enough attitude to charge any forty pound pooches that began sniffing her a little too enthusiastically. Cotton was an exception, yet owning a rabbit educated me to the fact that a rabbit has no real natural defenses and that rabbits in general exist as fresh meat stores for a planet of predators (and bizarrely, rabbits seem resigned to that fact). Mrs. Sandmich was very upset at Cotton's passing, but I was happy that we were able to give her rabbit a good home and a long life (for a rabbit). When we picked a baby Cotton up from her litter around nine years ago her mother was already pregnant with another litter; I tend to doubt that many of Cotton's brothers and sisters had it as nice as her.

---------------------------

One of my last memories (that I retain) from living at my parents was my mom acquiring a Siamese kitten. From what I recall, my mom had a soft spot for the naughty cats from the movie Lady and the Tramp and she had mentioned several times that she'd like to get a Siamese cat. Still, I was mildly surprised when I got back from my factory job at around 11:30 at night back in 1991 to find a pretty kitty exploring his new digs.

Unlike my cats who mob visitors so that they can get attention, 'New Moon' was strictly a mama's boy. If my mom wasn't out and about, he was missing and if my mom's bedroom door was closed at five in the morning he would cry until he was let in. My mom took great care of him and fed him food that's so good that my cats won't touch it. It sucks to lose such a dear pet, but eighteen years? A lot of people don't get to live that long; a great run for a great cat.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cute Baby Alert!

Many, many congrats to my sister and brother-in-law for making me an uncle again with the birth of their daughter Cecilia!


The world just got a little bit better


With this announcement I realized that more than a year ago I failed to note the birth of the Kais (yes, it's plural). My only excuse is that I.....didn't want to misspell anyone's name and I forgot to do the posts. I guess the affected parties will need to have some more babies so that I can make up for this oversight!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Believe the Lie

From here:
Social Security's challenges have been exacerbated by the recession. Still, the fund is expected to continue paying full benefits for almost 30 years while funding about 75% of benefits thereafter.
I thought that after all these years that our esteemed members of the press would have learned that THERE IS NO SOCIAL SECURITY OR MEDICARE TRUST FUND! None. Nada. Zero.

We only have a few short years before both of these plans begin to be a major drain on the Federal budget. At that time, we'll find out just how long they can pay 'full benefits', and I'll guarantee you it's substantially less than 30 years (probably not even 30 months).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Importing Evil

I've been unable to really muster much outrage about that Dafur place. It just seems to be a stretch of desert being fought over by competing savages. I guess though that it's all the rage in the elite circles, to the point that they're importing the losing set of savages into our country (thx Drudge):
As police were arresting Jimmy Odong, 19, of Portland and recovering the stolen merchandise, a group of about 15 to 30 people gathered, with about 10 of them becoming aggressive toward police, officers said.

A number of other officers were dispatched to the area, which is alongside the Kennedy Park housing development. Members of the gathering group, some of whom are Sudanese, like Odong, and some who are from other African countries, began calling the officers names, including "killers" and "murderers," in apparent reference to the police shooting of a Sudanese immigrant, David Okot, last month.
So the Feds decided that ruining California with ridiculous immigrations policies wasn't enough, they have to go and ruin places like Maine? By any measure these groups of people that they're bringing in from hell holes like Somalia and Sudan are people that any right thinking nation would pay to keep out. Everyone in the gathering group should have been boxed up and sent back to what passes for their country origin since they obviously like the code conduct much better there.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Obamamobiles

Beyond the fact that the administration is running roughshod over the law to get these ill devised plans done for the American car manufacturers, what kind of quality can we expect from companies that are union/government owned?* I guess it gives new meaning to the term "Department of Motor Vehicles".

*I asked my boss and he said an electric powered Yugo
**Post title stolen from NVbob over at MarketWatch

Monday, May 04, 2009

Going Green

Also eating up my time at the moment is our attempt to get a garden into the ground this year.


Mrs. Sandmich turns the last of the soil.

We'd grown stuff before. There's our pear and quince tree on the right and several years ago we grew tomatoes up toward the wood fence. The tomatoes grew well, but we didn't put any time into it and the plants were soon overgrown with weeds and had rotting, broken tomatoes that we never picked off. I guess I couldn't get up for picking tomatoes when I could go down to the grocery store and pick them up for $2 a pound, and maybe less if they're on special. For that reason this year we figured if we were going to put time into growing stuff that in addition to tomatoes we would grow more obscure stuff like leeks, shallots, eggplant, and okra, stuff that can be more pricey if it can be found at all (in decent, non-shipped-5,000 miles condition).

Yes, yes, part of my motivation has to do with all the economic horror stories I've read that will probably not come to pass. It's an overreaction, but a healthy one I figure.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

PS3 vs PC

One of the things sponging up my regular blog writing time is my ongoing attempt to build a PlayStation 3 theme. While looking at the default cursors, I noticed that one was missing:

No hourglass! It was easy to notice since I believe the hourglass icon has burned itself onto my LCD screen at work.

On the other hand I had a nagging issue with my PlayStation 3 about a month ago that involved random lockups. I didn't get any hard drive errors and when the lockups always occurred when the system was loading something. These lockups always required a forced power-off.

The issue started happening while we were playing Army of Two and it then spread to other games. To be fair the copious amounts of pet hair in my house have me blowing the unit out on a fairly regular basis or the PS3 will become prone to heat lockups (an issue I also had with my PS2). I think between that and the fact that Army of Two would cause the system to crash and reboot when attempting to exit the game caused some file system issues (the lack of logging on the PS3 means the operator has to guess).

The issue (I think) is that the PS3 uses an encrypted, proprietary file system so there's no third party "chkdsk" or "scandisk" that can be run against the volume. The fact that there's no "first party" tools is an egregious oversight by Sony (who I'm sure isn't alone in this regard) since anything encrypted can be rather finicky. A minor corruption that would be barely noticeable on a regular old FAT partition could bring down an encrypted volume and then on top of that there are no tools available to bring it back!

I'd put off fixing this issue for about a week or two, but when we bought Resident Evil 5 I figured I'd better have the PlayStation 3 in perfect working order before we sunk a huge amount of time into our new game. I figured what would give me the best shot at clearing up the issue was to backup the data, format the drive, and restore the data while hoping that Sony backs the files up rather than imaging the partition (which would be easier and generally faster from a technical standpoint, but it would do nothing to clear the issue). At this point I entered into an aggravating adventure with the external hard drive I was going to use to back the data up onto.

Between demos, music, pictures, etc. my backup needed about 70GB worth of space. This was fine I figured as I had a 500GB hard drive. The first issue, which I knew about, is that Windows will only create up to 32GB FAT partitions. The reason for this is that FAT is horribly inefficient ('FAT32', FATs current incarnation, was originally designed to optimize space on 500MB to 2GB drives) so if one was to partition a 500GB drive using FAT a small 1,000 byte file file would probably still wind up eating up 32,000 bytes worth of space, not to mention the fact that the partition table itself would ring in at about 64MB (source). However, I didn't care about any of that. Even if the inefficiency of FAT meant that I'd only be able to use 60% of the space, that was still a good deal more than I needed.

With my Linux boot CD in hand, I booted up and formatted my monster drive FAT (which can take quite a bit of time) and then hooked it to the PS3. Nothing. Maybe it was a partitioning problem in Linux (the tools don't exactly give a lot of feedback)? I redid the partition. Nothing, the PlayStation 3 still didn't see the drive. I hooked it to a Windows system and it saw it fine (Windows won't make large FAT partitions, but it can use them, a most aggravating 'feature'). I then attempted (at around midnight) to make a smaller partition within Linux, but the OS showed me no love (making fractional FAT partitions in Linux isn't something I do every day, or ever).

Discouraged I dumped data off of the PS3 until I could cram the backup onto a 32GB partition, backed it up, formatted it and restored. Thankfully I was rewarded for my efforts by having a behaving PS3.

From what I've read (one uncorroborated forum post) the PS3 maxes out on readable partitions at around 500GB because the size of the partition table exceeds the PlayStation 3s drive management memory limits. I wanted to find out how far 'around' 500GB that was, but I haven't had time to sink into it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ramadan on Hitler's Birthday

This shows how little I pay attention: Earth Day is on Lenin's birthday? I learned this after my mom pointed me back to The People's Cube:
April 22 is known in Russia as Lenin's birthday and is traditionally celebrated by uncompensated shoveling of earth. The event is called the Communist Subbotnik, or the Sacrificial Earth Shoveling Day. On a Saturday around that day all workers, peasants, and toiling intelligentsia are supposed to donate to the Worker's State a day of free labor - either at workplace or on communal property - cleaning streets, digging earth in public parks and lawns, etc. It is a good educational experience for the proletarians, reinforcing in them true communist values - sacrifice through hard uncompensated labor, humility, and respect for authority of the Party's founder. It also provides a metaphysical experience wherein the proletarians can reach the state of spiritual enlightenment as motes of a vast collective. Vodka also helps.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Uncomfortable Movie

I finally caught Mike Judge's movie Idiocracy on cable toady. I think Derb put it best when he said that the movie had it's moments, but was flawed. I think that the chief flaw was trying to make a comedy out of such a uncomfortable subject (all of 'civilization' being made up of nothing but overbred idiots). It was bad enough that Comedy Central had a 'male enhancement' commercial that ran every break, making it difficult to determine when the movie was coming back on, but when they visited the idiot filled Congress (" The House of Representin' ") with their celebrity black president it got downright depressing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Limited Military

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates goes to show how he got to keep his job under Obama:
He also noted that there was no purely military solution to piracy in the region.
Oh I beg to differ. There certainly isn't any "deliver the pizza" style military mission that will work, but I'm sure a couple thousand daisy cutters would clear that supposedly pressing pirate issue right up.
As long as you've got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there's really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids.
Daisy cutters go "on land" don't they?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Newsflash: Obama Hates White People

Well, 'news' if you live under a rock:
While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Barack Obama plans to begin addressing America's immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
In a completely unrelated story practically across from my place of work (in what should be a decent neighborhood):
The victim said he was in the rear parking lot of the restaurant, smoking, when a stranger wearing a black hat and bandanna over his face approached him from behind and put a gun to his head. The stranger forced the victim into the victim's vehicle and had him open the passenger door.

The victim emptied his pockets and handed over his cell phone. Then, a second stranger got into the car, demanding the victim take his car CD player out and give it to him. The first stranger hit the victim with the handle of the gun three times and yelled at him to hurry.

The strangers then told the victim to get out of the car and open his trunk. They took the speakers and amplifier out of the car, then got into another car that pulled up. When the victim looked at the car, the first stranger hit him in the chin.

The victim shoved back and ran around the restaurant, telling employees to call the police. He then ran back to his car in an attempt to follow the crooks, but realized he didn't have a cell phone to call police.

The males were described as two Hispanic men in their late teens to early 20s. The gun was black and had a long barrel.
As well, also COMPLETELY unrelated, did anyone hear that Chandra Levy was more than likely murdered by an illegal immigrant from El Salvador? I know, kinda hard to get fired up about a young liberal Jewish woman being done in by liberal Jewish policies, but still, where's our crack American reporters? Answer: busy being incompetent so that they can go out of business faster; "better dead than offend" as Mark Steyn says!

In other news Steve Sailer notes:
The city had coded the [firemen] test takers by race, and of the top 15 scorers, 14 were white and one was Latino. Since there were only 15 vacancies, it looked as though no blacks would be promoted.

After a racially charged debate that stretched over four hearings, the city's civil service board rejected the test scores five years ago and promoted no one.

"To have the city throw it out because you're white or because you're not African American is insulting," Ricci said when he and 19 other firefighters sued the city for racial discrimination.
Where was ol' Bailout Obama on the issue? As if you have to ask:
The Obama administration, taking its first stand on race and civil rights, sided with the city officials and said they were justified in dropping the test if it had "gross exclusionary effects on minorities."
Back of the bus for you whitey!