Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm still confused...

Nobody ever explained to me how nearly 2-million people could get into Washington, DC, in freezing weather in one day, when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans at 80 degrees with four days notice?

Can you explain it?

Friday, January 30, 2009


You might want to skip this one. Really.

Have you ever had the crap scared out of you?

Happened to me.

Literally. Sort of.

Like I said, you might want to skip this one.

Thursday night, I was watching TiVo. And, I'd been drinking.

No, I'm still a good Baptist. I had been drinking Diet Rite. Only, I had had a few. Two with supper, and a couple more while watching TiVo. Hadn't gotten ready for bed, but had removed my shoes and shirt. So, I'm in my socks, pants, boxers, and t-shirt.

I fell asleep watching, oh, I believe it was some National Geographic science show that it had recorded earlier in the week.

Fast forward to a little after midnight. Unless you decide to skip the rest.

Getting what you voted for

With the President ordering the closing of Guantanamo Bay, the question arises: what to do with the prisoners there?

Of course, there are some on the left that think they need to be released. This, despite ongoing reports of former detainees returning to terrorism.

However, let's assume that the administration recognizes that the bad guys are bad guys and need to be kept locked up somewhere.

Some states are saying they don't want them. And I agree. I don't want my state housing them.

But, then again, my state voted for McCain.

I have a solution that ought to make everybody happy: Spread the Guantanamo Bay prisoners around among the states that voted for Obama. I mean, after all, he campaigned on the promise to close Gitmo. So it's not like they didn't know he'd do it, right?

Well, it was okay with them if he did. So much so that they voted him into office.

I'm for having those responsible for putting Obama into office having to put up with the consequences.

Here's the plan: There are, by one count, 245 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. 28 states and the District of Columbia awarded 365 Electoral Votes to Obama.

Spread them out accordingly.

For each Electoral Vote for Obama, a state gets just over 2/3 (0.671) of a prisoner. Here's the breakdown:

StateElectoral VotesGuantanamo Bay
New Hampshire43
New Jersey1510
New Mexico53
New York3121
North Carolina1510
Rhode Island43

This could solve all kinds of problems.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amazon on TiVo

I've really enjoyed my TiVo. Got the first one back in April, 2006. It was a reconditioned Series 2 machine, with one tuner and a small hard drive. It cost about $150 and included a year of TiVo service. It really was a good deal.

However, TiVo has upgraded, and as I mentioned recently, so have I.

We now have a TiVo HD, which is essentially a Series 3, though they aren't calling it that now. And, while the TiVo HD supports Netflix streaming (as do other systems, including the XBox 360), all TiVo boxes ... including the Series 2 (the cheaper ones) ... support Amazon downloads, called "Video On Demand."

Now, while the Netflix process is streaming ... that is, it doesn't have to fully download before you start watching it, just like, say, YouTube ... videos are downloads.

Netflix streaming is including with any of their unlimited packages. We have one of the low-end packages, and essentially use just the streaming., though, is a pay as you go process. I rented a Batman movie, and had 30 days to watch it. Once I hit "play," I had 24 hours to watch it as many times as I wanted. That's pretty standard, for instance. iTunes or Apple TV has the same structure.

I bought A Christmas Story, back around Christmas. It downloaded, and we watched it a few times.

The thing I like about's setup is that they keep the videos available. I don't have to keep it on the TiVo box.

I deleted A Christmas Story, and after removing it from the "Deleted Items" ... essentially, fully and completely removing it from the TiVo ... it was still available in my "Video Library." I can download it again, watch it, delete it, then download it again, watch it, delete it, then download it again ...

Bottom line is, unlike iTunes or Apple TV, knows if I have it on my TiVo. And, if I don't, it lets me put it there. It only takes up space on my TiVo if I want it too.

They also have a wide selection of older TV shows.

Remember the cheesy Irwin Allen show, The Time Tunnel? As a kid, I loved that show. So, I bought it ... all 30 episodes ... from They are in the library, and if I ever want to watch them, I can download them again, and don't have to pay for them again.

Of course, they're protected files, and you can't burn them to DVD. If you want to do that, it's just as cheap to buy the DVD instead of download.

I've also purchased 4 "seasons" (74 cartoons) of Looney Tunes. Actually, I bought 6 "seasons" (110 cartoons), but 2 of those "seasons" (36 cartoons) would not download. I've been dealing with for a month trying to get that resolved, and they finally have decided to issue me a credit and remove the videos from my library. I'm okay with that. They've already removed the videos and issued the credit.

Still, other than that one hiccup, I've been very happy with the Video On Demand, and will rent or buy going forward.

Now that I've got a TiVo HD, I'm waiting for the number of HD movies available through Video On Demand to increase.

When they do that, I'll become a full-time couch potato.

Digital TV? I gotcha digit right here!

I've watched with amusement this whole switch to digital TV.

Of course, the government got involved and screwed it all up.

The Congress had set February 17, 2009, as the date when TV stations would stop broadcasting analog signals. Prior to all this, some stations were simultaneously broadcasting ("simulcasting") analog and digital signals.

The old TVs we all grew up watching are analog. Newer TVs might still receive analog signals, but they all receive digital signals, too. That's because Congress said that stations would have to stop broadcasting analog next month. The idea is that if those frequencies aren't used by TV stations, they can be used for other purposes.

Each analog TV channel takes up a wide bandwidth. Channel 2, for instance, is 55.25 MHz, but covers 54-60 MHz range. That is, the channel has the range of 54-60 MHz reserved, and properly tuned, it's 55.25 MHz. The spacing on each side is to prevent other sources (including adjacent channels) from interfering.

Your FM radio works the same way. If you notice, you will see that all FM stations have odd numbers in the decimal point. Say your favorite station is at 95.5 MHz. If you travel around, you'll eventually find a station at 95.3 and at 95.7 MHz. You won't find one at 95.4 or 95.6 MHz. That's so that there's a padding of .1 MHz on each side of each radio station to cut down interference.

AM radio has a similar process, but it's a larger padding. For instance, you might find a station at 1110 KHz, and another at 1120 KHz or 1100 KHz. But none at 1111-1119 KHz. The pad keeps stations from interfering.

TV channels do the same thing, but have a larger padding that's necessary because of the nature of the signals and the equipment.

Digital TV wouldn't need as much spacing. That means you can get more channels in less overall bandwidth, because they can sit closer to each other, or require less padding on each side.

That would free up a wide range of frequencies for other uses.

You see, lots of different technologies use frequencies between other technologies.

For example, on analog TV, channel 6 is 82-88 MHz. Channel 7 is 174-180 MHz. What takes up all that space in between 88 and 174 MHz? Lots of things. Including your favorite FM radio station.

So, digital TV makes sense from the efficiency standpoint.

But, there's more.

There's HDTV.

Some might think digital TV and HDTV are the same thing. They're not. HDTV is digital, but not all digital is HDTV.

Anyway, digital TV (including HDTV) is an improvement on things. In my opinion. But why should you have to do anything because I said so?

You don't.

But Congress says you should.

And they said that analog TV would stop broadcasting next month.

That means that if you get your signal over the air, you won't be able to receive signals after the cutoff. Unless you can also receive digital signals.

Keep in mind that if you get all your TV channels from cable or satellite, you're okay. More on this in a minute.

Older TVs won't handle digital signals. So, someone came up with digital converter boxes. You can buy them at Walmart. When they have them in stock.

Now, they cost about $50 each. And everyone who has an older TV and receives over-the-air broadcasts would have to pony up some cash to keep watching TV.

So, the government decided to help out. They offered discount cards for $40 off a digital converter box. So many people ordered cards that they ran out of funding for the discount cards.

Now, Congress is working to delay the cutoff. The Senate voted to move it to June. The House may follow suit.

What does all this mean?

The Congress messed things up. In other words, business as usual.

The whole process is screwed up.

First, digital TV is better. However, what good does it do to someone like my 95-year old grandmother who wants to watch Matlock? Not much. (Now, I should say that my grandmother has cable, and isn't impacted by the switch to digital. But someone else's grandmother might be impacted by the switch.)

Despite the fact that digital is better, the market will bear out things as the people want.

If enough people want digital TV, then the market will push digital TV.

True, the market sometimes makes bad decisions. Like VHS over Betamax. Betamax was better quality, but VHS took the market and Betamax died.

IBM PC technology took over the personal computer market. I personally think Mac is better, but PC rules the market. However, Mac and Linux are still around, although others have fallen by the wayside.

The bottom line is that the market will let people choose change at the rate they want change. If they want change.

People don't always make the best decisions regarding change. Just look at the recent presidential election.

But if you want a really bad decision, just turn it over to Congress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Michelle Obama, racist cracker

It seems that Michelle Obama isn't black enough.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the First Lady is under fire by Amnau Eele, co-founder of the Black Artists Association, for her selection of designers. Or for who she didn't choose:

In an interview with the Sun-Times, Eele said that she wants the First Lady to know there are other, lesser-known designers that the First Lady should take a look at.

"You know, I have an issue that every day I meet young black designers that are facing homelessness, they can't buy fabric, they can't get the things they need," she said. "We have qualified designers in the community. A young man like Michael Knight (of Project Runway) -- surely you could have worn a scarf by him, a Tshirt, a handbag."

Heh. Apparently, to some, Michelle Obama isn't black enough. She must wear "black" clothes, too.

Martin Luther King wanted people to just his children "(not) by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." It seems that only applied to the late Yolanda, and only still applies to Martin III, Dexter, and Bernice. It seems it's okay to judge others by their color. And by the color of their clothing designers.

It's not enough to be black. You must shop black. Equality doesn't mean ... well, equality. Equality means favoritism.

Welcome to our world, Michelle.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Mac virus

One of the things that I found pleasing about my MacBook (1-1/2 years old now) was the reduced chance of getting a virus.

I have suffered viruses in the past, on my DOS machines. One was on a pirated -- eek! -- copy of MS-DOS 4.

Yes, a long time ago, I tried out MS-DOS 4 with a pirated copy. I ended up buying a legitimate version, but wanted to try it out first. And it bothered me that it had a virus. ("Stoned" was the virus, by the way.) However, I obtained a clean copy ... pirated, though ... and reinstalled it. And I was satisfied enough to buy a copy. I later regretted the decision, and removed MS-DOS 4 and went back to DOS 3.3.

I bring that up, because it taught me a lesson: pirated copies of software aren't simply wrong (I knew that, but was immature enough to justify it in my mind), they were also dangerous.

Since then, I've helped many others remove viruses from their computers. And many, though not all, had been using pirated copies of stuff. Sometimes, it was a program/application (Microsoft Office, for example). Often it was illegal music or videos. And, sometimes, it was disguised with screen savers and other such.

The bottom line on all this, is that illegal software, music, movies, etc. is a bad, bad idea.

And not just for Windows computers.

Many Mac users like to act all uppity about their computers. And, in all honesty, I really, really like my Mac. But a good computer doesn't make a good computer user. Often, with Macs, it simply shows that some Mac users are assholes.

And dumbasses, too.

There's a virus in the wild for Macs. And, according to Intego, it's on Websites that offer pirated copies of iWork '09, an Apple office suite.

Once again, proving that pirated software is dangerous.

And, that thinking that Macs are safe from viruses is a false sense of security.

For some time, I've been running anti-virus software on my Mac. The current security suite I'm running is Intego Security Barrier.

If you're a computer user, regardless of your operating system, you really should be using a good security suite.

And if you're using illegal downloads, you deserve every bit of misery you suffer.

Netflix on TiVo

We've been TiVotees for a while. Well, okay, I have. The Wife is not quite as big of a devotee of TiVo as am I. Still, we've enjoyed it.

We bought a reconditioned TiVo Series 2 (from TiVo, not off eBay or anything) nearly 3 years ago. Recently, though, we upgraded. Seriously.

Bought a TiVo HD. It has lots of features that you don't find on the old Series 2. Dual tuner, for one thing. Sure, you can get a new Series 2 with dual tuners, but our old reconditioned TiVo box had but one tuner.

Oh, and the quality of the new TiVo HD is better than the old one. We don't have digital cable or HD channels, but the newer TiVo sill has a better picture.

The feature that I've enjoyed the most, though, is the live streaming from Netflix.

You can't do it on a Series 2, but the Series 3 or HD models allow you to watch 12,000 selected Netflix videos on your TiVo.

To use it, you have to have an unlimited Netflix account. And you have to go to the Netflix Website to add videos to the "Instant Queue." Oh, and only a portion of the Netflix catalog is available for watching via TiVo. Still, it's great being able to watch a movie without having to wait for it to show up on TCM or in the mail from Netflix.

I've watched some Star Trek episodes, Vantage Point, Roger Rabbit, Walking with Dinosaurs, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (TV series), The Bone Collector, Duck Soup ... well, a lot more than I should have.

And I'm sure I'll be watching a lot more.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I swear...

January 19, 2009, 2:37 PM EST

President George W. Bush shook the hand of the Chief Justice of the United States.

"Thanks, John. This will save our country," the President said.

"Thank you, Mr. President," the Chief Justice replied.

As John Roberts left the Oval Office, the President walked back over to his desk and sat down. He took a deep breath, and a smile crept slowly across his face.

Adjusting his coat, the President picked up the phone and placed a call.

"Dick? George. John's on board," the President told the Vice-President. "You'll let the others know? Good. Thanks."

He hung up the phone.

January 20, 2009, 12:04 PM EST

John Roberts looked over his notes one last time. He glanced at his watch. The whole process was running late. That was the first change. George W. Bush was a stickler for things being on time.

The applause died down, and Roberts put his notes aside. Standing up, he walked to the podium and faced the tall man standing a few feet away.

"Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?" the Chief Justice asked.

"I am," said the junior Senator from Illinois.

The Chief Justice began, "'I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear ...'"

After getting the words wrong, flustering the incoming president, Roberts looked over at the outgoing Chief Executive and gave him a slight smile and nod.

George W. Bush returned the smile and nod, thinking quietly to himself, "One down, fourteen-hundred sixty to go."

January 21, 2009, 7:34 AM EST

The Chief Justice stood up in the Map Room of the White House and slipped on his robe. He listened as the tall man he had sworn in the day before. He was ready to do his job again, and as planned.

Looking around, he noticed that no Bible was present. This would be easy.

The Constitution allows for that:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

No Bible, yet he'd used the phrase "swear" again, rather than "affirm," as would be appropriate.

"Are you ready to take the oath?" Roberts asked the new president.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replied.

The Chief Justice began, "'I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear ...'"

January 22, 2009, 6:18 AM CST

George W. Bush, private citizen, placed a call.

"Dad? George," the former President said. "Yes, sir, it's going perfect. John did his part Tuesday, and sure enough, Obama was flustered."

He listened for a moment, then told his father, "Yeah, John did it again yesterday. Didn't use a Bible. Looks like they borrowed one Tuesday, not for historical effect, but because they don't own one," laughing into the receiver.

"Yes, sir. They've realized that they're 0-for-2 on the swearing in. John's going to be away from the office, so it'll be tonight before they try a third time. John will do his part. He'll make sure he gets it wrong every day. We have 1,461 scenarios laid out, one for each day. John's got them memorized; he has a photographic memory."

He paused. "Oh, certainly. Obama will be so busy, spending every day for the next four years being sworn in, he won't have time to do any harm. Hmm? Yes, sir. The plan's perfect."

The conversation turned. "How's Jeb?"

January 22, 2009, 5:41 PM EST

John Roberts walked back into the Map Room, putting the final touches on his robe.

"Let's get this done. Did you bring a Bible?" Obama asked the Chief Justice.

Roberts handed over a thin book.

"Hmmm," Obama said, handing it to his wife. "I thought it would be bigger."

Roberts prepared to give the oath again. "Oh, that? I borrowed it from Mitt Romney."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just wondering...

Is it racist to still call it the White House?

Trading Politicians

It won't be long.

Just a few hours now, Mortimer.

The wager is not to be settled until the inauguration, Randolph.

Mortimer, you've resisted paying up for 11 weeks. Admit it: we were able to have a completely unqualified person elected President of the United States.

The wager was for an unqualified person to actually become president. And, until the actual inauguration, he hasn't become president.

It's a done deal, Mortimer. I cannot believe you are being so petty and are continuing to refuse your obligation.

Randolph, I have always been a man who said exactly what he means, and means exactly what he says. The wager was for someone with no qualifications to become the president, and when he becomes the president -- if he becomes the president -- I will pay the assumed debt gladly.

Two and a half months of your stubborness have taken the fun out of all this, Mortimer.

Well, then, Randolph, let's make it interesting. What say we place another wager ... and make it double or nothing?

That's most irregular, Mortimer. But, I must admit: I am intrigued.

There is the Senate seat in New York that needs to be filled.

I beg your pardon, Mortimer, but Mrs. Clinton is still a Senator.

But we lined it up for her to be Secretary of State.

We actually planned on her being McCain's Secretary of State. It was to be another one of his gracious concessions to the left.

Yes, we were fortunate that Biden picked Vice-President. However, everything we lined up for Hillary worked out despite Obama's election.

Still, she isn't Secretary of State. Not yet. And still may not be. We can't let up now, Mortimer.

We've been successful in nearly every endeavor so far, Randolph. That one bit of unpleasantness with Winthorpe and Valentine, but overall, we have a very high success rate.

So, Mortimer, what is your wager?

That within one month ... by February 20th ... Caroline Kennedy will be a United States Senator.

What? You must be joking, Mortimer. There is no way that someone with no qualifications, with no political experience, would ever become a United States Senator!

Randolph, your memory is failing. We managed to have Hillary Clinton, who had no qualifications whatsoever, elected Senator.

We had to force Rudy Giuliani out of the race for it to happen.

We also had Barack Obama elected Senator.

He had served in the State Legislature, though. True, he had no accomplishments, other than some shady property deals. But we forced Jack Ryan out of the race, paving the way for Obama.

Don't forget that Obama, with no qualifications, won the presidency. So, what makes you think that qualifications mean anything?

I see your point. The bet's off.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Justice delayed

The president commuted the sentences of border guards Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compea.


I'm having a hard time understanding why they were convicted ... for shooting a drug smuggler in the ass.

We need more drug smugglers shot in the ass. Maybe this will open the door for more drug smugglers being shot in the ass.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Today is a national holiday here in the U.S. It's a day where we celebrate the birthday of a great American, born and raised in the south, who lived and died for what he believed...

Thank you.


Thank you. Today is my birthday.

Um, I was actually talking about Martin Luther King.

Excuse me?

Yes, sir. You. Today's a national holiday celebrating your birthday.

My birthday was Thursday.


I was born January 15th, 1929. 80 years ago. It was a Tuesday. I don't remember, of course, but I was told it was a Tuesday.

I was born on January 19th. In 18-aught-7.

Shouldn't that be "naught-7"...

Son, don't correct your elders.

Um. Sorry.

As I was saying, I was born on January 19th, some 202 years ago. So, today's my birthday.

But today's the day we celebrate Dr. King's birthday.

Son, I believe you said the birthday of a man "born and raised in the south, who lived and died for he believed" ... didn't you?

Well, yes.

And today is my birthday...

He's right, son.

Yes, sir, I understand. But it's your birthday, Dr. King...

No, son, it's not.

I understand, sir. But it's the day we celebrate your birthday.

Why on earth would you celebrate my birthday on a day other than my birthday?

Well, most federal holidays are moved to a Monday.

Why? Because it's convenient?

Well, yes, actually, when you get right down to it.

Oh. So I'm remembered when it's convenient? I'm honored with a sale at Sears and Roebuck? People who wouldn't know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for whom I was but a poor spokesman, call on my name but have no idea what I was really all about?

He's asking good questions, son.

Was it convenient when my house in Montgomery was bombed during the bus boycott? Does a sale at the shopping mall remind you of the dream of which I spoke in our nation's capital? Does sleeping late and taking a day off work remind you of my tireless efforts in the fight against discrimination in Albany, Birmingham, St. Augustine, or Selma?


But you want to celebrate my birthday on a day when it's convenient, so you can go out of town for a long weekend?

Ah. Um.

You don't have to say anything, son. But, I didn't give my life for a "convenient" birthday celebration. Besides, it's not about me. It's about freedom. It's about equality. And as long as people strive for freedom and equality, that's what's important. But people shouldn't take one day a year ... particularly the wrong day ... but should be fighting every day for freedom.

In, 1963, I said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We have not yet reached that day.

But tomorrow...

Tomorrow, a black man becomes president. And as long as people judge him as a black man, and not on his character, this nation will not have reached the day that my dream is fulfilled.

Some people voted against him because of his color. Others voted for him because of his color. Both of those votes are out of line with my dream. But those that voted for him ... or for his opponent ... because of the character of the man ... those are the ones that are living my dream.

But many feel that Barack Obama's election brings us closer to that day.

The teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will bring us closer to that day. Jesus Christ taught us to all love one another. Jesus Christ taught us that we are all God's children. Jesus Christ taught us that we are all part of the family of God, and that we'll all be together one day. Jesus Christ taught us that He is the way to eternal salvation. And if He is the way to salvation, surely He is the way to peace and harmony in our land.

Do not remember me by saving a dollar at J.C. Penney. Remember instead that I was just a poor, black preacher, who was saved by the grace of God though His Son, Jesus Christ. And He can save us all. And our country, if we just follow Him.