Browse Month: November 2005

11/29/2005

I’d like to stand up and cheer for people like Deborah Davis, a fifty-year-old mother of four who was recently arrested on a Denver public bus for refusing to show identification to a police officer. She was simply riding the bus, talking on the phone to a friend, when the officer stepped onto the bus and asked everyone aboard to present photo identification.

Knowing her rights, Ms. Davis refused. A second officer was summoned– he, too, asked to see her identification. She refused again. A federal officer was called to the scene, with the same result. She was promptly put into handcuffs, removed from the bus, and taken to the police station. There, after a bit of creative thought, the police charged her with refusing to comply with official instructions (a federal misdemeanor). She was told if she ever rides that bus again she will be arrested and put in jail.

The case is scheduled for federal court in two weeks. It should be interesting to see what happens. Technically, she has committed no crime– there was no sign stating that all bus passengers must provide identification, and there is no law stating that United States citizens must do so at the request of any law enforcement officer. In fact, demanding to see someone’s identification when no crime has been committed and no warrant issued is an illegal search. There are clear Constitutional issues here, making me wonder whether it will go to the Supreme Court eventually.

As our society becomes more indoctrinated to the official War on Terror stance that “security means freedom”, we grow increasingly complacent. We hand over our driver’s licenses without a second thought, simply because someone wearing a uniform asked for it. This is a dangerous path– one which probably has Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson turning in their graves. Hopefully more people like Ms. Davis will continue the struggle to free us from our own government.

11/22/2005

Seen on Fark, this is a hilarious take on the Apple evangelists…

11/18/2005

Clearly not everyone learned their lesson from the famous Hot Coffee from McDonald’s Lawsuit a few years ago, because some woman is suing Dunkin’ Donuts for– you guessed it– burning herself after she dropped hot coffee on her foot. She thinks the agony she suffered is worth a cool $15 million.

When, oh when, will people learn that stupidity and clumsiness doesn’t entitle you to money?

Clearly we need more robust warnings on all products…

11/17/2005

Could the end be in sight?

Congressman John Murtha is taking a stand against the Bush administration’s strategy of endless rhetoric and endless occupation of Iraq by American troops. He took the House floor today and demanded that U.S. soldiers be immediately withdrawn from Iraq. What’s interesting here is that he’s not only a decorated Vietnam veteran, but he’s been known for the last thirty years as a “hawk”. He voted in favor of the Persian Gulf war, as well as the Iraq occupation.

I guess he’s had enough, like so many other Americans. Time for Bush and Cheney to stop this continued stonewalling about “until the mission is accomplished” and consider the real impact this war is having– not only on American morale, but on the troops themselves and of course on the Iraqi people.

In all likelihood, of course, this is a futile gesture and the referendum will be voted down by Congress. Even with Bush’s popularity plummeting, he still manages to carry some clout with his cronies.

11/16/2005

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny. When the government fears its people, there is liberty.”

— Thomas Paine

11/15/2005

Straight from Palm Beach, FL:

A former First National Bank and Trust customer filed a lawsuit against the bank in Martin Circuit Court Wednesday, asking for $2 million to compensate for stress and pain he said he suffered over an overdraft charge on his account.

Barnard Lorence filed the suit himself, claiming he was treated rudely by a bank manager when he asked to reverse the $32 penalty he was charged for overdrawing his account by less than $5. He accused the bank of falsely advertising that it cares about its customers.

“What they don’t say is they have at least one manager who will be obnoxious and arrogant if one attempts to try to communicate with the bank,” he wrote in his suit.

Lorence said he has brain damage from a 2001 accident and the stress of the conflict with the bank is making his condition worse. He said he can’t sleep because he can’t stop thinking about it. He asked for millions, saying a few hundred thousand dollars would be a slap on the wrist to the bank and it deserved to be “paddled.”

So let’s see if I understand this correctly:

1) I can’t balance a checkbook and write one too many checks.
2) I ask the bank to cancel the (admittedly hefty) fee for it.
3) They say “no”.
4) I whine like a baby, spend all my waking time “thinking about it”, and sue.
5) PROFIT!

Of course, if this thing works out for Mr. Lorence, I should probably consider doing the same thing with Dell. After all, they wouldn’t waive the $40 shipping fee on my server, despite the clear mental anguish the whole situation caused me.

11/14/2005

Laralee’s been threatening for years to go through our “files” and trash all the stuff we really don’t need. Today she apparently dove into our boxes and boxes of receipts and managed to provide a generous donation for our recycle bin.

One of the more interesting items she found was this receipt from 1990 (yes, 1990!) showing the Apple IIgs computer I bought. My first real computer, woo hoo! This was the system I brought to college and used for a few years until the software got too old (Apple decided not to support that model and shift all their effort to Macs, meaning there wasn’t a market for IIgs software).

Note the 768 kB of memory, the 5.25″ disk drive (oh, those days), and the bargain $450 hard drive with an astounding 40 MB of storage. Funny that now you can buy 40MB of storage for right around 4 cents.

11/14/2005

The Dell griping must continue.

As detailed a few days ago in my journal, I ordered a server from Dell and had a bit of an adventure getting the order straight. Despite my protestations, and request that I get a free shipping credit, they said they simply couldn’t do it.

Later that day, someone else from Dell called to “follow up” on the order. In reality it wasn’t a follow-up at all– it was an attempt to sell me more stuff. This woman called herself a “Technical Sales Coordinator” or something equally impressive but meaningless. Her job, as far as I could tell from her description of it, is to sell me a bunch of add-ons for my server. She was ready to sign me up for a new monitor, a laser printer, a USB drive, or anything else from the “catalog of over 70,000 peripherals stocked by Dell”.

Because she said she’s “one step above” the sales reps I’d dealt with earlier, I told her about my ordering experience and asked if she could do anything about free shipping or some kind of credit for my frustration and wasted time. Nope, it turns out all she can do is sell stuff. “Gosh, I wish I could help you with that,” I remember her saying, “but I can only manage the peripherals.”

Thanks a million.

Well, this morning I received another call from a different Technical Sales Coordinator offering the same set of 70,000 peripherals. Luckily I missed the call, because I would have really laid into her. What kind of ridiculous process is this? I place an order, the order doesn’t work and I get overcharged for it, so I complain, but no one will listen to my complaint, and then… I get not one but two calls offering to sell me more crap I don’t need! If I wanted a laser printer I would have added it to my order!

I can only hope I get a third Technical Sales Coordinator calling me, because then the trifecta will be complete and I’ll have to go ballistic.

11/11/2005

The year is 1975.

You’re using a computer (admittedly a very expensive computer) and need a gigantic amount of storage. So you buy a hard drive. The biggest hard drive you can buy. A hard drive so big it can hold… five hundred kilobytes of data.

The drive takes several days to format. But when it’s ready, hoo boy! You’re playing with power!

Isn’t the progress of technology astounding?

11/11/2005

The world has been on the edge of its collective chair recently, waiting for China to unveil the new mascot for the 2008 Olympic Games. Well, the day has come and we have not one, but five mascots! Their names are:

Bei Bei
Jing Jing
Huan Huan
Ying Ying
Ni Ni

Apparently if you say them in order like that, you’ll be saying “Beijing welcomes you!” in Chinese. You’ll also sound like you have a horrible stammering problem, and that it may be time for your medication.

From an AP article:

A plethora of real and mythic creatures were among the candidates considered by Chinese leaders, Olympic officials and design specialists over the past year. Among those that didn’t make the cut were the dragon and a mischievous magical monkey out of Chinese folklore.

Personally, I think a mischievous magical monkey would be awesome. Imagine Curious George as the Olympic mascot! The mind boggles just thinking about the possibilities there.

Best of all, perhaps, is the photo below showing Jackie Chan (the little man in an aluminum-foil coat) dancing with the new mascots. Oh. My.

11/11/2005

Dell’s suckitude continues. A few years ago I swore I wouldn’t buy from them again because their customer service was so bad, but now I need a new server and after shopping around a bit I’ve reached the inescapable conclusion that their prices are lowest.

So I went to their web site, chose a server, and tweaked two things: the processor and the memory. No big deal. I stepped through the rest of the order process, clicked “submit”, and went on my way. Then I received the e-mail notification about the order and noticed the price had jumped more than $300. Hmm. It looks like they didn’t give the special discount being offered right now.

With a heavy sigh, I called their customer service and asked what was happening. Apparently there’s “a problem with the order”, although the guy I spoke with had no idea what the problem was. This isn’t the first time I’ve used their online order system, tweaked one or two minor things, and had the order go haywire. Three cheers for their sucky web site!

I can’t check my order status online, even though it’s “in the system”. More suck points!

Now I’m chatting with a “technical server rep”, since the first-tier customer service guys can’t do anything except redirect calls. To my complete lack of surprise, he goes through the whole online order process (just like I did) and says, “Huh, you’re right.” Thank you, Mr. Wizard! Now he’s sorting through some internal system to place the order, and when I asked if I could get free shipping for all my trouble, his answer was (shockingly) “Gee, we’re selling these servers at cost, so we can’t do that.” Yeah, right. That’s how Dell stays in business: by selling everything at cost.

So once again, Dell sucks. If only I could find cheaper stuff elsewhere…

11/10/2005

I just ordered a Christmas gift on ThinkGeek— the gadget-lover’s dream site. At the end of all the credit-card shenanigans, this message appears. Awesome.

11/10/2005

Sunny, 72 degrees, no wind. Can this really be November?

No matter, the ultimate game today was awesome.

11/08/2005

“Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious.”

— William Feather

11/04/2005

Today President Bush went to the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where he faced a room full of press people. After a brief introductory speech, he fielded questions. Here are some of his actual responses:

Question: Hi, Mr. President. Thank you. Did Karl Rove tell you the truth about his role in the CIA leak case? And do you owe the American people an apology for your administration’s assertations that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby weren’t involved?

Bush: We’re going through a very serious investigation. And I will — have told you before that I’m not going to discuss the investigation until it’s completed. And we have got a — my obligation is to set an agenda, and I’ve done that. And the agenda is fighting and winning the war on terror, and keeping the economic vitality and growth alive, dealing with the energy problem, nominating people to the Supreme Court that adhere to the philosophy that I can depend on — Judge Alito being such a person. I noticed today that they’ve got a date. I’m disappointed in the date, but happy they do have a firm date for his confirmation hearing. We’ve got to recover from the hurricanes. So I’ve got a lot to do, and will continue to focus on the people’s business.

This is funny. He didn’t answer the question, which I think is perfectly okay. It’s true that an ongoing investigation doesn’t warrant commentary from someone at his level. But then he launches into some kind of weird rhetoric: war on terror… Supreme Court… hurricane.

Let’s see how he answers the very next question:

Question: You’ve taken a beating in recent weeks, sir. What are you going to do for a fresh start? Are there going to be any staff changes? Would it help if the special prosecutor would wrap up his probe quickly?

Bush: Well, again, you’re trying to get me to comment on the investigation, which I’m not going to do. And I hope you understand that. It’s a serious investigation, and it’s an important investigation. But it’s not yet over. I think it’s important for the American people to know that I understand my job is to set clear goals and deal with the problems we face. Now, look, we’ve got an ongoing war on terror. And my administration is working with friends and allies to find these terrorists and bring them to justice before they strike us again. We’re fighting the terrorists in Iraq. And, as you know, we’ve got a two-pronged strategy, an important strategy, that one — on the one hand, has a political solution to it, on the other hand has a security solution to it. And we’re working hard to achieve those objectives. We’re laying what I have called the foundation for peace, because democratic nations don’t war; democratic nations will be allies with each other in fighting off an ideology that is dark and grim in its vision, and is willing to use murder as its tool.

Wow. Once again he doesn’t comment (still okay), and once again he fires off the catch phrases: war on terror… terrorists… terrorists in Iraq.

A few questions later:

Question: The American people are beginning to question your honesty, according to the polls, 58 percent. And your approval rating is at an all-time low, primarily because, it seems, of this investigation. They are wondering whether you can keep on track and whether to believe you, sir.

Bush: Well, no, I understand there is a preoccupation by polls and by some. I think this may be — I think we’ve got — this is maybe the fourth or fifth consecutive semi-press conference — press conference or semi-press conference that I’ve been asked about polls. The way you earn credibility with the American people is to declare an agenda that everybody can understand, an agenda that relates to their lives, and get the job done. And the agenda that I’m working on now is one that is important to the American people. First of all, it’s to protect our country; it’s to understand that we’re at war with a radical ideology that wants to inflict harm on America and, at the same time, use that harm they inflict to achieve territorial ambition. I’ve talked a lot recently about the Zawahiri letter to Zarqawi, which is a clear statement of purpose by these terrorists. It should be viewed for what it is: an open warning to the free world that this is a very vital war and we need to win it. So I spend a lot of time talking about that — and more than talking about it, acting on it. Secondly, you know, our economy has shown amazing resilience in the face of natural disaster, as well as rising energy prices. But we’ve got to have policies in place that make it possible for the economy to continue to grow.

Surprise! A little side-stepping, and then we see those key words… protect our country… terrorists… vital war… natural disaster.

Clearly this is a guy with a very small bag of tricks, and people are getting tired of him pulling them out one after another, completely ignoring the whirlwind around him. Not only are his answers completely meaningless and vacuous, but this word-for-word transcript shows that he’s a terrible speaker when he’s not being teleprompted. He stumbles over words, stammers through sentences, and says things that are simply non-sensical. What, for example, is a “semi press conference”?

To all those people who voted for this man and think he’s qualified to lead our country, I point to this as one more piece of evidence that we’ve got someone at the helm who looks like a moron and avoids the real issues by falling back on material he’s been using for over four years.

Time for some new tricks, Mr. President.

11/02/2005

Most of the time, spam e-mail is easy to understand. It’s someone attempting to sneak past the filters by making their message look legitimate, and then snare you with some idiotic offer or product.

But today I received one of those very rare– but very funny– spam messages that just don’t make any sense. There’s no product, no link to click, nothing useful or actionable at all. Hmm.

(Of course, an alternate theory is this is some potential new client trying to contact me…)