Friday, July 30, 2010

Angry Weiner

That's one hot Weiner. I relish these puns.

More of this, please.

US Broadband Speeds Slower Than Kyrgyzstan

Recent surveys detailed at TechDirt inform us that the US ranks about 27th in broadband download and upload speeds, behind such technological powerhouses as Kyrgyzstan.

I'm calling this the "Borat Effect," so you'll need to pay me if you use that. Real moneys, too.

We're falling behind is just about everything due to two factors: greed and cowardice. US broadband providers want to extract as much profit from their business as possible while providing the bare minimum to attract and retain customers, and our Congress and administration are more than happy to accept campaign contributions from broadband providers while ensuring that nothing improves.

Needed: Technical Learnings of Kyrgyzstan for Make Broadband Glorious Nation of America.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Louis C.K. on Being White

Microsoft's 'Community Watch' Approach to Security

Ars Technica reports:

At the Black Hat security conference today, Microsoft championed a new approach to addressing security issues. The new emphasis is on collaboration between software vendors and security researchers to ensure that customers are kept as safe as possible.

Microsoft likened its approach to Neighborhood Watch schemes—secure computing cannot be achieved with software vendors and researchers all working independently; the landscape is too complex and the attackers are too numerous for this approach to work. Instead, companies must set aside their differences and work together to safeguard customers.

I'm familiar with how neighborhood watches operate. Come with me while I take a jaunty trek through Mr. Ballmer's Neighborhood.

Hey Steve. You left your garage door open.
Yo. Steve-o. Your front door was ajar all night. Again.
Did you know all your Windows are cracked, Steve?
Nice siding and shutters you've got there, Steve. Plan on installing a roof?
Umm, not sure if you noticed, Steve, but Linus Torvald's house seems to have a cloak of invisibility.

Remember, we're all in this together.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We're Not Fixing The Suicide Problem

Suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes,
And I can take or leave it if I please...

Such is the refrain from the Johnny Mandel/Mike Altman song best known as the theme used by M*A*S*H. It appears that our response to suicide prevention has proven woefully ineffective since the song was first released in 1970.

Brendan Koerner, in his Atlantic essay The Suicide Conundrum, notes thusly:

Despite all we've learned about human psychology over the past several decades, we seem unable to make much of a dent in America's overall suicide rate, which has remained remarkably stable over the past half-century. In fact, the rate of suicide attempts seems to have gone up over that time period; the rate of successful attempts has most likely held steady due to advances in emergency-room medicine.

Think about that for a moment. While there has been a plodding removal of stigmata associated with mental health issues in general, we still we have more suicide attempts, the success rate tempered only by advances in medical care and advanced life support. That's failure, plain and simple.

Says Koerner:

And so the mystery remains: How do we reduce America's suicide rate, which has barely budged for 50 years? The natural answer is to address the underlying causes, such as desperate economic circumstances and poor mental health. But if we were intent on launching a 10-year crusade to reduce the national suicide rate by, say, 30 percent, what sorts of (relatively) quick, affordable fixes could we marshal? Will bridge barrier and signs work, for example, despite some recent evidence to the contrary?

That's an excellent question, and the fact that we're still asking it calls into question current approaches to prevention. The socio-economic causes of suicide are well known, yet they never enter into the debate when pompous windbags pontificate about deficit reduction on the backs on our neediest citizens while preserving the ability of those who have the most to accumulate even more.

How many poor citizens who attempt suicide but are saved by dedicated emergency room staff have private insurance? My guess is that not many. Medicaid is paying the tab, or hospitals are absorbing the expenses, both of which have been identified as part of the overall health care problem in this country. 

Experts agree that preventative medicine can lower overall medical costs, as issues are identified early and treatment can cure or effectively manage conditions before they become more significant in severity and require more invasive - and more expensive - treatment options.

Yet there seems to be little support for channeling a portion of available resources toward correcting the root causes of hopelessness and despair, or providing avenues for the desperate to cope with the crushing circumstances that have lead them to individual tipping points.

Have we become a society so cold-hearted that it's now acceptable to turn our backs on the suffering of others so that a small percentage of people who have accumulated the largest share of our combined wealth can continue to amass huge fortunes and increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots? Or is the system so stacked against anyone not part of that protected class that hopelessness is the new reality, and Americans are witnessing the beginning of a downward spiral that will only accelerate as we cowardly accede to a mental health caste system where those deemed worth saving are the very same people who are responsible for making the life and death decisions?

If so, it's time to start pumping Paxil into the water supply, because that sounds like a very unhappy existence.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rachel Maddow Outsmarts Bill O'Reilly

From the "Department of That's No Surprise" comes this video clip of Rachel Maddow running circles around Bill O'Reilly without working up a sweat.

Sorry for all the Rachel clips lately, but damn.

Ground Zero - Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

Let me see if I understand this correctly. It's ok to have strip clubs within a couple of blocks of NYC's "Ground Zero" as this does not taint the sanctity of hallowed territory, but having a Muslim mosque in the vicinity tarnishes all that we hold sacred and dishonors the souls of the loved and the lost?

What a complicated time in which to live.

Dumb Questions - Luke Russert and Charlie Rangel Spar For Our Entertainment

I'm no Luke Russert fanboy, but for once, the guy is asking the right questions and pressing to get answers.

Rachel is right - Charlie is in deep doo-doo. The fact that he thinks criticizing a news organization like NBC will garner sympathy for his cause says more about traditional media than it does Charlie Rangel, who appears from the allegations to be as crooked as a country road.

Westboro Baptist Church vs. Comic-Con

It's one thing to protest military funerals and the gays. It's another thing to bring your traveling dickwad show to Comic-Con.

These geeks are prepared.

Check out the full set of images at Comics Alliance.

SMBC: Sisyphus

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rachel Maddow - Omission Accomplished

Rachel Maddow is fairly devastating in her assessment of the Shirley Sherrod - Fox News connection.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tron Girl

Anyone get the license number of the bike that ran me over? Anyone?

Google Online Security Blog: Rebooting Responsible Disclosure

Google has taken an interesting, and in my view overdue stance on what a responsible security flaw disclosure strategy should include. As both an IT security professional and a humanoid, protecting the end user as quickly and effectively as possible should be the shared goal of both security researchers and software makers.

Too often we've seen the waters muddied via subjective descriptors such as "responsible" that seem designed more to protect the software vendor's reputation and market share than to keep critical flaws from being exploited, causing harm to end users and corporations.

Google's approach is reasoned, fair, and transparent. Microsoft will hate it.

Google Online Security Blog: Rebooting Responsible Disclosure: a focus on protecting end users

Fight the Right 2010

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Shirley Sherrod

Keith gets righteously indignant regarding the whole Sherrod issue.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rachel Maddow on Modern White Fear and Racism

Rachel Maddow is one of the best I've seen at using history to show the path to the present.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Serenity Now - The Trailer

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ben Stein is a Dick

A tiny dick, to be sure. Here's what Ben has to say about the unemployed:

The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along—not always easy.

Sounds exactly like a faux-economist who got fired from the NY Times for being the spokesman for a questionable credit report company.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 19, 2010

So Long, Andyman

Columbus DJ and all around good guy John Andrew "Andyman" Davis drowned this past weekend while vacationing in Michigan. Andyman leaves behind a wife and three young children.

When I moved to Columbus in '95, local radio was in the midst of the decade's conversion to corporate ownership and musical homogenization. Having relocated from the east coast, I was spoiled by the musical variety that comes with living in the New York metro. There was so much to hear, whether it was cutting edge or deep tracks, and one gets accustomed to quality.

CD101 in Columbus was indie radio, an oasis in the parched desert of dreg. Andyman had been with CD101 since 1991 and became program director in 1998, although he kept his weekday afternoon drive-time gig. He was largely responsible for the layered playlists, live shows, and dedication to a locally-owned station that never finished in the top ten but had thousands of loyal fans.

Beyond music, Andyman hosted a radio event appropriately named the Andyman-a-thon for the past seventeen years, raising money for children's charities by staying on-air long past his ability to remain cogent. You could almost guess the number of hours Andyman had been awake by the number of times he said "brother" when chatting with callers or studio visitors. We gave every year.

Sometimes the world gets it right and cranks out a truly gifted, kind, and generous soul and allows the rest of us to be in proximity for a bit. Sadly, such souls are sometimes quickly taken, and we're left to wonder why, when so much was left for them to do.

But that's not a question for which there's an answer, and we're left only to remember, hopefully having had enough time in Andyman's presence to carry a bit of him forward and make this a better place.

I'm sad that his kids will miss the comfort of his presence, the greatness of his being, and the certainty of his mission. I pray that each of them finds peace in knowing that he is part of them always.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Hard to Admit You're Old

It's hard to admit you're old.

I'm not talking about looking into the mirror each morning and seeing a few more gray hairs, or understanding that you have children planning engagements and graduating from college. That seems logical, a normal progression in the circle of life that requires little more from me than acknowledgment. Yep, those things are happening.

Such events aren't entirely unfamiliar. They've occurred in my life, too. College - check. Engagement - check. Tentative first steps toward raising a family distinct from the one in which I was raised - double check.

It's the other stuff rushing up and grabbing me by the shoulders, vigorously shaking me to ensure I'm not day dreaming, forcing me to take action rather than simply walking around with a goofy smile on my face as time marches forward, me with it.

I bought a Townie bicycle yesterday.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, Townie is a model manufactured by the Electra Bicycle Company. What sets Townie bikes apart is that they are engineered for comfort more than for speed. Sort of like a man of a certain age who is typing this.

Getting past the marketing gibberish, the Townie allows the rider to place both feet flat on the ground due to a 23-degree riding position rather than the traditional posture where the cyclist leans forward toward the handlebars and pushes the pedals nearly straight down.

Think of it this way - on the Townie, I look like I'm cycling around with a stick up my ass. I'm more upright, more comfortable, and I pedal more forward than down, making for a less strenuous endeavor that relieves some of the ache in my back.

Which brings me circuitously back to my original point, which many of you may have forgotten by now. I'm begun actively making accommodations due to age.

I stopped running long ago due to shin splints exacerbated by hundreds of miles of combat boots slamming into hard pavement in the early hours before daylight lit the distant horizon. High school basketball knee injuries combined with being bowlegged channeled running into walking, and over the years flat feet and over-pronation have introduced plantar fasciitis into the equation.

I'm intimately familiar with the heel cushion aisle at the grocery, and I keep a frozen water bottle handy for those times when rolling the bottom of my foot back and forth on it bring some measure of relief after the stretching exercises and ibuprofen.

So walking becomes uncomfortable due to shin splints and funked-up foot tissue, which leads to biking, and a entry-level Trek model from a couple of years ago reminds me of twenty years of lower back problems, which is how I ended up at Roll asking questions about better options.

Staying active, in mind and body, is essential to longevity, and I'd prefer to longevitate, thank you very much. So I'm trying to keep moving while coming to terms with a physical plant that frankly has peaked in performance and is now slowly failing.

It makes me feel a little whiny when I think of people with significantly greater challenges. I only take three medications and sleep with a snorkle-dorkle-doo mask to keep from asphyxiating while I dream. Some of my problems are due to genetics, others from an unholy fixation with the occasional good cheeseburger. Rather than aiming high, the game is to not become too fat, or too sedentary, or so inflexible that I pull a muscle while reaching for my wallet.

That's light years away from when I ran with the wind in my hair (when I still had hair), ate what I wanted, drank that which tasted good, and saw my doctor only when my recurring ear infections became too painful to endure. Fancy, elaborate maneuvers have given way to a grinding ground game. At least I'm still here and playing.

My dad died in his early 80s, a ruptured aneurysm bringing the end quickly, with little warning. He used to joke that if he had known he was going to live so long, he would have taken better care of himself.

If only such wisdom didn't come with age.

Sleeping With Nerds

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Reputation Precedes Me

Getting High With iDosing?

Kids today, with their newfangled ways to disassociate from the reality that it's really hard to be a kid today, have turned to audio in their latest attempt to make their parents, teachers, and law enforcement say really stupid things on television.

Now, I'm on the Board of Directors of a well-known substance abuse prevention organization, so I look at news reports like this much in the way a dog might tilt his head sideways when hearing a sound that doesn't jibe with what he knows to be true.

Music and sounds have been used as emotional gateways forever. This is hardly a new realization. Anyone remember when rock and roll was going to lead to heroin addiction and pregnant Daddy's girls?

We have kids experimenting with choking each other in order to feel the rush associated with oxygen deprivation. Misuse of common household chemicals is on the rise. Herbalism has found a new audience.

So let's fan the flames of fear about iDosing instead of having a serious conversation about what all of these activities have in common: Learning to deal with life can be very difficult and troubling and will undoubtedly cause some feelings that can be uncomfortable and foreign. And that's where we're failing, on several levels.

Most adults struggle to "feel and deal" with their own lives because they lack coping mechanisms or prefer the shortcut of a pill or blinders. And these are the folks tasked with teaching our children that the world can be a big, scary place, and that it's enormously difficult to sit in your own skin while you do the best that you can.

If you want to take away hedonism and escapism, you'd better get started, because there are entire industries based on these two qualities. It might be better to spend some time helping our kids understand what it's like to feel things and assist them in developing skills they can put into practice for the rest of their lives.

But that doesn't making a shocking local news clip, does it?

How To Have The 'Racist' Conversation

Balloon Juice

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

London's Wall of Fat

Sewer workers in London are on a mission to remove walls of solidified fat from underground drains.

Where's Mike Rowe when you need him?

It's estimated that 1000 tons of fatty deposits are blocking parts of the sewer system, or roughly the lipid count of the weekly visitors to the Ohio State Fair. Why there's not a cross-marketing opportunity with the manufacturers of Crestor is beyond me.

It's rumored that Ricky Gervais is working on a development deal to turn this into a ten-episode comedy for HBO.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stand Up For Net Neutrality

The Origin of Faggot

This exchange during a poker scene exchange filled me with a mixture of serenity and camaraderie as the characters fell into familiar roles. It was compelling when I watched it on the TV box, and I think it's worth sharing.

The combination of friendship, human interaction and gentle education was powerful, and true. There are very few things in life that remain scary once we take the time to understand them.

AP and Woot®

What goes around comes around sometimes. In this case Woot® has advised the AP that since the AP took content from the Woot® website and used it within an AP story, AP owes Woot® payment for said use, given that AP is very aggressive about holding other organizations to the very same standards.

You can read the whole there here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Missing George Carlin on Independence Day

I last saw George Carlin at the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio less than a year before he died. He wasn't at the top of his game, needing to refer to a huge notebook for some of his material, claiming that they had added a bunch of stuff for this tour and he hadn't gotten it all down yet.

There wasn't much new material. George was old, and tired, and near the end of the race. But he was still furious.

On this Independence Day, you should be furious too.

When Alan Simpson, chairman of the Obama Debt Commission, overtly states that changes to Social Security are down the road, odds are he's not talking about raising the income level above the current $106K to make the rich folks pay taxes on their elevated income. It's obvious that the preferred solution is to increase the retirement age, cut benefits, or both.

George was prescient.

US Government Restricting Media Access in Gulf

You had to know this was coming. Transparency is only welcome when there's nothing to hide.

Happy 4th of July - Welcome to the Future

It's important to remember that even with all of our problems, this is still a pretty good place to be.

Poll: US Declares Independence from Whom?

A Marist poll found that 26 percent of Americans surveyed could not correctly identify from which country the 13 original colonies declared independence.

Holy crapballs.

Those 18-29 polled even worse, with only 60 percent getting the answer correct. A full 33% were unsure.

Men scored better than women (81% to 67%), while those age 45 and over were correct more often than younger respondents (78% to 67%).

The is one of the first times I've been proud to be an old guy.

Since it's a holiday, I won't rant about the youth of today.

If you're part of the 26%, we declared independence from Great Britain. Now get back to your day off.

Live Blogging the Declaration of Independence

Have you ever wondered how modern bloggers might have covered the Declaration of Independence?

No? Me either. But this fisking is still pretty hilarious.
Jefferson has buried an obviously untrue assertion after a rather longwinded series of unsubstantiated premises. [And what's with the capitalization? Is Course a proper noun now?-ed.] Is it really necessary to dissolve our political bonds? Really? Does the earth have powers? [And why isn't "earth" capitalized? Surely, it's closer to being a proper noun than "course."-ed.]

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sex on the Streets in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Pride parade just happens to fall on the July 4th weekend this year. What's the patriotic thing to do?

Freak out!

Via Think Progress:

“We think its not right for them to invade the Fourth of July, and we’re trying to warn people that if they do go downtown they may be exposed to some deviant behavior,” Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values. “Everything from sex in the streets to topless women.”…”It bothers me that they’re going downtown on the Fourth of July, and it has nothing to do with the July celebration. Nothing,” Burress said.

I wonder how many times Lee Greenwood's voice will be heard crooning over the festivities as the flag-waving crowd warbles off-key in agreement to this particular line from the chorus:

"I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free."

The possibility of sex in the streets is the best these folks can muster in their vain attempt to portray the LGBT community as shocking to the sensibilities of families. It's ok for Girls Gone Wild to show their tits in Fort Lauderdale, or women in New Orleans to flash flesh in exchange for plastic beads, but we can't have any of that freaky lesbian topless stuff, no sir.

God Bless the USA.