12.30.2008

Proof of Life


Proof of Life, originally uploaded by Gamera33.

Footprints frozen in the ice during Christmas.

The national Republican party is apparently *desparate* for direction

If you aren't aware of political goings-ons, the Republican National Committee chairmanship is up for grabs right now and we have some real *winners* wading into the race.
Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform and has been a fixture in the D.C. GOP scene for nearly three decades, wants the candidates to appeal to a wider group of Republicans beyond the 168 members of the committee. He also wants to establish the RNC as a body independent of future elected officials.

...

Norquist "has a unique capability to insert himself into whatever the next big thing is," says Republican strategist Rich Galen, a former top aide to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). "It's just Grover being Grover."
Oh yah, yuk yuk, I've seen that from him.

























In case you don't recognize it, that's New Orleans. Post Katrina. But, you know, I'm sure he'll help the right candidate rise to the top. Like...oh, maybe this guy.
RNC candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas greeting to committee members includes a music CD with lyrics from a song called “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular radio show.
If you never heard the song, you can go here. I'm not embedding that disgustingly ignorant piece of trash on my blog. I don't give a rat's ass *what* it's *supposed* to be, it's gross.

And the reactions he's getting? Well....

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Peter, Paul and Mary must be spinning around that their own song, of all people, of all groups, you know, to use their "Puff the Magic Dragon." It's tasteful parody. See, it's one thing if Rush Limbaugh wants to use it on his show. It is another thing when an official, especially one who aspires to be a Republican National Committee chairman takes it out of the Rush Limbaugh venue and puts it into a political context. So, it is -- it is not -- that is the message that he wants to send, it is impossible to think he would ever be elected RNC chairman now.

LEMON: But Lynn, I'm getting e-mails from people and notes on Facebook and Twitter saying, you know what, this was taken care of -- wasn't this taken care of during the campaign? People thought it was racist? Rush Limbaugh has been doing this for a year now. Why are you bringing it up? For the fact that your bringing it up is because people like Reid, and you guys, you uncover that someone was distributing it again.

SWEET: Well, that's what makes it different, is that it left the confines of the Rush Limbaugh show.

LEMON: Reid?

WILSON: That's absolutely right. It was sent out to all 168 members of the Republican National Committee. Some of whom -- at least one of whom I was told wanted it out of his house. He didn't want the CD anywhere near him, and he threw it away as fast as could. This is something that the Republican Party is really dealing with right now. They got somewhere between, you know, four and five percent of the African-American vote. You are not going to attract a lot of African-American voters in 2010 or 2012 if you're, well, engaging in this sort of, well, what could be a joke, doesn't really look like, though.

LEMON: Whatever you think of it. I mean, it wasn't real smart to send it out. Come on, let's be honest. I mean, I'm not going to call anyone a racist here, but these are grown men, and you have to suffer the consequences of whatever you do.

You can't have it both ways. There's an old saying, if you have to explain the joke, it ain't funny. And this isn't funny.

Alienating a whole segment of this country may be fine with Saltsman, but he's running for a position where he will be directing and *leading* the Republican Party in an attempt to *gain* votes and *gain* support. And the Republican Party---or at least the 168 people who get to vote for the RNC Chairmanship---has to decide whether they want the RNC's next slogan to be "Barack's articulate and bright and new and clean."

And don't think for a minute it hasn't already affected how people look at the RNC.

Today on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall hosted a segment discussing RNC chair candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas greeting this year that contained a CD with the song “Barack the Magic Negro” on it. During the discussion, Kate Obenshain, vice president of Young America’s Foundation, defended the song, calling it “a parody.” But Hall, an African-American, quickly interjected, saying there is nothing “funny or amusing” about it:

HALL: Well let me tell you this — if someone referred to me as “Tamron Hall the Magic Negro Anchor Lady,” I would never see it as anything funny or amusing.

Hall later told Obenshain, “you’re not going to win a lot of people over calling them ‘Magic Negros.’”
Now, I'm not a Republican, but a functioning opposition party is a necessity. And I don't think this is how you build a party. But maybe that's just me.

12.26.2008

My real-use review of the BlackBerry Storm

Ok, for all the people who have asked about it and read all the reviews, here's my take on the BlackBerry Storm. I'm not going into the techy stuff because that's all out there for tech geeks. I'm just gonna talk about my experiences in actually using the phone for three weeks.

I received it the day before Thanksgiving. I had to return it on Monday or keep it. This phone sells for $199. I'm getting $100 off via the New Every Two from Verizon and I get a $50 Visa card after purchasing the phone so I'll end up paying $50 for it. I usually don't pay squat for my phones, so while it's a bargain compared to the retail price, it is expensive compared to my past purchases.

I'm going to use the NYT review of the phone as a frame for my review because it's apparently widely read---people ask me about it when they hear I have a Storm. All quotes in this entry are from this NYT article.

You can put MP3s on it (and the speaker isn't half bad if low on the bass), you can run your IM clients (google, msn, yahoo, and aim), surf the internet (great---but I long for the ability to tab browse), and get email straight to your phone (I have three accounts on there right now). It has a camera which can take video and obviously you can text or make calls---it is a phone.

First off, my biggest problem with this phone is the flash. I've shown it to many people. It is *literally* blinding. It comes on while focusing if it's dark and there is a delay when taking pictures. If you dumb down the settings on the phone, speed improves. When you have it high resolution, anti-blur, flash, auto-focus, etc., there is a little delay while it chews away on all the settings. I have changed one of my side buttons to go directly to the camera to help cut into this delay so I can still snap a quick pic. And I'm trying a work-around by putting transparent tape over the flash. Janky, yes, but if it fixes my biggest problem with the phone, I can live with it.

Secondly, I had an issue with the touch screen during phone calls. I would accidentally mute myself a lot. Some friends with iPhones say they have the same issue. After looking through some third-party BlackBerry applications, I found one that fixes this problem---TalkLock from CellAvant. I downloaded it and now I now longer have this problem.

Finally, the phone occasionally gets lost. I've had to pull the battery a couple of times to get it to come back to life. I also don't tend to turn off my phone. I had my last phone for almost three years and I don't think I turned it off for more than a few minutes that entire time. Allegedly, you have to restart smartphones to "reboot" them. Since I have been doing that when it seems to get laggy, I've had no real problems other than when the networks seems sluggish. I also wasn't re-starting when I added new programs. Now that I'm restarting after downloading and installing new programs, my lags are rarer.

Ok, on to the NYT review.
Hello? Isn’t the thumb keyboard the defining feature of a BlackBerry? A BlackBerry without a keyboard is like an iPod without a scroll wheel. A Prius with terrible mileage. Cracker Jack without a prize inside.
It doesn't have a button keyboard, but it does have a touchscreen keyboard. And I use my thumbs to type on it. Unlike the iPhones I've tried, I don't get as many accidental clicks since you can touch the screen without selecting and be more accurate. And the screen is pretty big---not as big as the iPhone (I checked the other day against one), but close.
It’s not a bad idea. In fact, it ought to make the on-screen keyboard feel more like actual keys. In principle, you could design a brilliant operating system where the two kinds of taps do two different things. Tap lightly to type a letter — click fully to get a pop-up menu of accented characters (é, è, ë and so on). Tap lightly to open something, click fully to open a shortcut menu of options. And so on.
Yah, the Storm does that, too. When your finger is on the "a" key, you get 7 other options for a (accents, umlauts, etc). Lightly tapping the screen twice zooms. Lightly tapping once brings up a menu at the bottom.
When you hold it horizontally, you get the full, familiar Qwerty keyboard layout. But when you turn it upright, you get the less accurate SureType keyboard, where two letters appear on each “key,” and the software tries to figure out which word you’re typing.
I don't hold my Storm that way. I prefer the whole keyboard. But, yah, trying to type "Boltini" into it upright gets me "Bolting" every time.
Incredibly, the Storm even muffs simple navigation tasks. When you open a menu, the commands are too close together; even if your finger seems to be squarely on the proper item, your click often winds up activating something else in the list.
This would be where the clicking part comes in handy. I don't actually press down until I'm sure I have the link I want---even on forums where the new post button can be *tiny* if you don't zoom in a bit. Also, if I push the wrong link, I can usually get the right one before the wrong link actually loads.
Nor is that the Storm’s only delayed reaction. It can take two full seconds for the screen image to change when you turn it 90 degrees, three seconds for a program to appear, five seconds for a button-tap to register. (Remember: To convert seconds into BlackBerry time, multiply by seven.)
It definitely doesn't change orientation as quickly as an iPhone. And some programs only work in the upright position---mostly games. Usually, however, if I restart the phone, these issues disappear.
And that’s before they discovered that the Storm doesn’t have Wi-Fi. It can’t get onto the Internet using wireless hot spots, like the iPhone or other BlackBerrys. Verizon’s high-speed (3G) cellular Internet network is now in 258 American cities, but that’s still a far cry from everywhere.
I don't think *any* of the Verizon phones have wi-fi capabilities. If there is one, let me know. They keep you locked into the Verizon data plans. The data plan is $30 unless you want unlimited and then it's $45. I'm going with the unlimited and am reducing some of the other things I pay for like unlimited pix messages, etc.

It's not perfect and it probably won't kill the iPhone, but I'm keeping this phone. Really, now that I've downloaded a bunch of third-party apps (weatherbug, youtube, google maps, and I've got a few more on my list), other than the flash on the camera, I think this is the phone for me.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

12.23.2008

Not borrowed nor blue




Concrete Blond - Caroline

Not sure about where the pics are from in this one, but it's the best audio quality I could find.






Skream - One For The Heads Who Remember

Love this one....

12.22.2008

I want to know who thought this was an acceptable idea

Illinois rules for drunken drivers change on Jan. 1

Come Jan. 1, first-time driving under the influence offenders who want to drive during their period of statutory summary suspension will have to take extraordinary steps.

Legislation approved in August 2007 requires the offender to install a "breath alcohol ignition interlock device" on his vehicle. The device prevents the engine from starting if the breath sample registers a blood-alcohol content of 0.025 percent or more. Anyone driving the vehicle will be required to use the device, which requires additional blows at random intervals throughout the trip.

The same legislation, Senate Bill 300, also increases the length of statutory summary suspension from three to six months for those who failed a breath alcohol test when arrested and from six months to a year for those who refused to take the breath alcohol test at time of arrest.
Make sure you remember that.

Ogden woman killed in Interstate 74 crash

An Ogden woman was killed Friday afternoon in a three-car collision on Interstate 74.

...

State police Master Sgt. Rory Steidl said area police agencies were notified by radio of a wrong-way driver headed west in the eastbound lanes of I-74. About 30 seconds later, the crash occurred at the Illinois Central overpass, he said.

...

The vehicle, driven by Elizabeth Drewes, 53, of the 1000 block of Churchill Downs Drive, Champaign, struck other vehicles and caught on fire, according to a release from the Champaign Fire Department.

...

Drewes refused medical treatment but was transported to the hospital; she was later arrested on preliminary charges of aggravated driving under the influence.
Make sure you remember that.

Champaign police officer pleads guilty to misdemeanor DUI

A Champaign police officer who admitted driving drunk the wrong way on an interstate highway will be spared a conviction.

Lisa Staples, 39, pleaded guilty Thursday before Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus to misdemeanor DUI and was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision. Should she successfully complete the period, she'll have no record of a conviction. She has been a Champaign police officer since 1997.

Staples will also wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet on her ankle that can tell if she consumes alcohol; perform 250 hours of public service; and pay a $750 fine and court costs.

Staples was arrested early Nov. 30 as she drove her unmarked departmental squad car west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 72 just west of Mahomet. Several people had called to report a driver going the wrong way on the highway about 2:30 a.m. At 2:47 a.m., she was stopped by a Piatt County sheriff's deputy.

...

Both Piraino and Lee said their goal was a resolution that might allow Staples to keep her job as a police officer, a decision that's up in the air.

"If she can't drive, she can't be a police officer," Piraino said.

Lee, a prosecutor for 20 years, said Staples made a "bad, terrible mistake" but he agreed to court supervision because no one was hurt. The DUI was her first ticket, he said.


Excuse me? Someone drives drunk the wrong-way on the interstate in a city vehicle and everyone is worried on whether she'll keep her job?

I've known people who have gotten DUIs and *never* *ever* *ever* have I heard of *anyone*---the prosecutor, the judge, the police---being worried about whether a DUI conviction would lead to job loss. When you are convicted of a DUI, you get your license suspended---I believe it's mandatory and done by the Secretary of State's office, not the courts. And frankly, if this person is getting special treatment, it's bullshit.

Plain and utter bullshit. No one is better than anyone else. And someone who would not only drive drunk but drive drunk in their work vehicle (an act that would get your ass fired if you worked for the university or state)---I doubt their judgment completely.

I knew a construction worker who had an extremely difficult time making a living after his DUI.

I knew a guy who quit college because he commuted from home to a community college.

I knew a girl who had to move back in with her parents because she needed help getting to and from meetings, community service, and work.

Why is this person better than the rest of the Champaign population that the laws don't apply to her.

I cry BULLSHIT.

It sucks to fuck up. It sucks to lose your license. It sucks to be put into poverty because of poor judgment or poor decision making. And I can sympathize with people who seem to be punished far longer than seems necessary. Now, if we want to have a discussion about how strict Champaign County is regarding DUIs, that's a completely different discussion and I'm willing to have it.

But I'm not sympathetic enough to think that *some* people get special treatment while others don't.

And I want to know who was responsible for this. Because it's wrong.

Equal treatment under the law. Or else it's just "some are more equal than others."

12.21.2008

Sending soul-filled sounds your way....

Just bought this album. I have no idea who this guy is. I'd never heard of Gramatik before Wednesday. I found one song I liked while clicking around on the internets. After finding four, I just bought the whole stinking thing.

Best impulse buy in a while.

Here's a link to the album's last.fm page. You can listen to every single song on the album.

It just came out so no videos on the YouTubes. Sorry, but it's for the ears only today.

I'm also trying out something new---let me know if it works.

:)

Look for some changes to the blog over the next few weeks. I have a couple weeks off and I plan on doing some renovating. If you have problems with accessing the blog, let me know via email (gameragabs@yahoo.com) or twitter or whatevers, mkay?

12.08.2008

U=EV/ID

Apparently, some scientists have come up with a mathematical equation for procrastination and their theory is that procrastinators aren't perfectionists or lazy, they are impulsive.

The 'U' stands for utility, or the desire to complete a given task. It is equal to the product of E, the expectation of success, and V the value of completion, divided by the product of I, the immediacy of the task, and D, the personal sensitivity to delay.

Prof Steel says procrastination is becoming a bigger issue because many more jobs are "self-structured", with people setting their own schedules.

This means that people tend to postpone things with delayed rewards in favour of activities that offer immediate rewards.

"Procastinators tend to live fro today rather than tomorrow. for short term gain for long term pain" he writes.

First off, I'm going to assume either the author of this article, the Professor quoted, or the copyeditor of this article is a procrastinator considering the horrific typos in the final sentence.

Aside from the snark, I'm a procrastinator when it comes to specific things. But others, I couldn't procrastinate if I wanted to.

For example, laundry must be hung up, folded, matched, and put away immediately after coming out of the dryer. Dusting---can't be bothered with it until it gets desperate. And I'm nearing desperate. Filing at work? On top of it. Filing at home? Spilling out of the organizer onto the filing cabinet and sometimes dropping to the floor.

And it only took me 24 hours to get this gem up....

12.03.2008

Quick spot of dreary news

I've picked up a disturbance in the force via Google Reader. And by force, I mean the publishing world. It's *so* bad that today has now been labeled "Black Wednesday" by some.

Layoffs at Simon & Schuster


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt lays off employees---and that comes *after* a "temporary" halt on acquisitions

Major reorganization at Random House---and that comes *after* a pension freeze for current employees and an elimination of pensions for any new hires

Thomas Nelson Cuts Staff By 10 Percent


And even though publishing and books are near and dear to my heart, it's not just books that are hurting. Apparently Cox newspaper group, Sports Illustrated, and even Google are cutting back, laying off, and struggling.

I think this is why the bailouts of the financial and automotive industries piss me off so much. It's not like other industries aren't going to be in trouble as well. And instead of paying executives and management *ridiculously* large salaries and bonuses, perhaps these corporations should have prepared for a rainy day.

I mean, really, why do certain industries get free money and the rest get to sink to the bottom taking their employees with them?


12.01.2008

DUBSTEP!

Recently, I've been introduced to dubstep.

Love.

Never heard of dubstep, you say? You could read wikipedia if you want wiki knowledge, but better yet, you could give it a listen. That's the only way to really know what *it* is.

Here's an internet radio station: Dubstep.fm. You can add the stream to your iTunes and listen to it whenever you get the craving.

I've heard some people are rapping over dubstep which can be *amazing.* Some people locally are making thugstep remixes---here's a thugstep mix from DJ Belly. He spins Thursday nights at Boltini. You can download it for free after a 45 second wait. It's only 12 minutes long so it doesn't take forever to download.

FYI: If you don't hear this on good speakers, you will *totally* miss the fabulousity of the bass in dubstep. Something about the bass going down to X mhz and most speakers only going to X+Y mhz. Or something. And the YouTube doesn't sound as good either---the bass is missing. But I'm sure that's because it gets compressed somehow.

Frankly, I dig it. And since I *love* some serious bass---especially with my politics---here's a 10-minute dubstep mix with photos of Banksy's work from around the world.



You are either gonna love it or hate it. I *really* like it.