March 27, 2004

Psychic Phone Tip For Bombs?

CNN.com - Psychic tip prompts bomb search on plane - Mar 27, 2004

Oh, for pete's sake. People, if you've left your intelligence at the door, it's less likely you'll have it when you need it. Listening to psychics is like listening to voices in your head: it's not a sign of high intelligence.

Of course, Carl Hiaasen would note that it happened in Florida, as well he should.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Ride Through Chernobyl

GHOST TOWN via Slashdot

Amazing pictures of a woman's ride through the Chernobyl area on a motorcycle. It's really creepy, but an amazing look at an area where the rotegen level is the most important thing you need to know.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

This Driver's Been Educated.

DMVS | Frequently Asked Questions - DDC Clinic

So along with the new car, I got a little bit of sticker shock -- insurance. Old cars have really, really cheap insurance, so you tend to forget that insurance for newer cars are nearly as much as the car itself. So when I started looking at insurance for the new car, I found prices ranging from $550/6 months to $760/6 months. This, just so I can drive the car.

So, after checking around, I decided that I needed to do what I could to reduce the payments as best I could. Georgia, and a lot of states, allow you to get reduced rates on your insurance if you take a Defensive Driving Course -- in my case, 10% off. Not bad. The cost of the course is $30 -- easily made up by the price break. How wonderful.

And so I took the course.

Let me pause for a moment and bring back, for those of you who've been outside of school for a number of years, a few thoughts about high school. The classrooms are usually dingy and dark, humorless, barely lit. The chairs hurt. The tables were small plastic laminate tops with sharp metal legs. The material was boring, on good days -- on bad, it inspired drooling and insanity. The fellow inmates were usually mentally tuned out, and cared more about their fingernails than what's being taught. In fact, it was shocking to find anyone who's willing to answer any questions, even when prodded.

This, in a nutshell, was the Defensive Driving Course.

I won't mention the school or the name of the instructor, out of politeness -- but I will say I can't recommend the school, ever.

We spent 6 hours over 2 nights watching one of two things -- either a) videos, 5 hours of them, or b) the teacher hitting the forward button on the DVD the state provided as fast as he could. He wrote two things on the board in the two days of being there. One was his name. The other was the answers to three of the questions on the test.

The videos were classic. I mean that in both the sense of time, and the overall humor of the situation. About 1/2 the movies were made before I was born. The 70s haircuts, the video styles, the cars (Chrysler Cordobas and such). The videos hadn't been updated since then. The other half were from the 80s -- with the exception being, I swear to God, a videotape of a TV program called "The Great American Driving Test" (or something like that) from around 1998, with such luminaries as MC Hammer and Craig T. Nelson. I know it was a TV program, because they kept breaking for commercials.

Two people fell asleep in class. One read Newsweek the whole time. Several people drew, me included. I was the only one there, though, for insurance reasons. The rest were there for driving offenses. One girl, no older than 18, was there for her second time (she was one of the sleepers).

I'm glad I have my certificate. I'm glad it's over with. But I'm certainly glad I don't have to go there any more; I don't think I could take another ounce of humanity like that without breaking out laughing or walking out in disgust.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Georgia House Bans Genital Piercings


Yahoo! News - Georgia House Bans Genital Piercings

Christ, it's bad enough that we tried to ban the e-word (that's evolution, to most of you) this year, but now, the legislature's got their heads up their ass. After adding an amendment to a anti-genital mutulation law making genital piercings illegal, one of the sponsors claimed that he had never heard of anyone voluntarily getting a piercing there... and said he didn't think it was an "appropriate thing to be doing".

Bill Heath: If you've never heard of genital piercing, why was it added to the amendment? Did you think to ask about it? Or did you just sponsor it without asking any questions?

I hate political amateurs.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004

Wally Pleasant

Wally Pleasant - Welcome To Wally World

I came upon Wally Pleasant a few years ago -- a co-worker of mine was a friend of his, and got a few albums off of him. I listened and loved them, especially such wonderful things as "Amusement Park Death Song", his cover of "The Cat Came Back" (a really great National Film Board of Canada animated short), and "Son Of Bob Dylan". He's done some great stuff, check out his site and listen to the MP3s he's got up.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dennis Miller "Interviews" Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman on Dennis Miller

I don't really want to say this is bizarre, but certianly odd -- Dennis Miller kind of "gives up" on an interview with Eric Alterman, who's promoting a book he just came out with. Eric does more than 90 percent of the talking, and Miller barely moves. Miller later apologized for it. I really have no idea what he was thinking, but it's worth a watch.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April Winchell Audio Links

April Winchell: Multimedia

A huge archive of interesting versions of songs, corporate music, outtakes, and things like the KFC Employee Training Tapes. Favorties? The first promo, Adelle, the 4 or 5 Peter Sellers versions of Beatles songs, and... holy Christmas, it's a version of "Do The Hustle" and "Shake Your Booty" by the Brady Bunch. Oh my...

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March 21, 2004

Al-Queda Linked Group Supports Bush To Win


Yahoo! News - Purported Al Qaeda Letter Calls Truce in Spain

Really, this is probably a more political move than anything; any group with links to Al Queda supporting either candidate will obviously know that they're really supporting the opposite group.

But it's funny as all-get-out. Can you imagine, a rally for "Al Queda For Bush"?

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

Sorry About The Lack Of Entries

There's been a lack of entries lately, not because I don't want to -- but because I'm sadly swamped lately. Several projects have reared their ugly heads and forced me to cut back on the fun stuff.

But I wanted to give a short little speech about something that really matters to me.

My car.

Yeah, I know -- I'm about as far from the "car-monkey" type that I grew up with around Detroit as you can get. There, I had friends who's dads built and designed the cars they worked on, and my parent's Honda got called a "rice burner"; I was an iconoclast, so naturally working on cars was not cool.

Off at college, I found I needed some wheels; while walking was fine, muggings around my college's art building (off campus by a mile or two) made walking home at 2 AM not so good.

I have no idea where Dad found the car, but when I came home for my winter break senior year, he'd found a car: a 1987 Nissan Sentra hatchback. With more buttons and secret panels than I'd ever seen in a car, I nicknamed it "The Batmobile". Dad said it should last me a good 2-3 years.

It's lasted 10.

The car's lasted me through 2 cities, 5 homes, and around 100,000 miles of driving -- that's over the 80,000 it came with. Dad and I have gone through about every system in that car together (well, really, mostly him, and me watching). Batteries, radiators, heaters, air conditioners, breaks, windows, electrical problems -- this thing's been toyed over for years. "It's a good car," we kept saying over the last couple of years, even as parts fell off. Mom thought we were nuts, but really, it's just something we do together.

Last week I went out and bought a used Honda. It's a nice car. I think it'll last me years.

But here's to my Batmobile. It's a heck of a car. I miss it still.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004

Underwood Mini-ITX Mod

mini-itx.com - projects - underwood no. 5 (Thanks, Mathisha!)

This one is just cool -- it's a mini ITX project using a 1924 Underwood as a base. OK, maybe it's a little matrix-y/steam-punk for most people, but take a look. Personally, I might have kept the keyboard, attached the keyset to the mechanical parts and re-wired them so they hit the right spot... but until I do that, I'll just admire this one and seeth with envy.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 09:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

But Is The President Going To Testify For An Hour?

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: March 07, 2004 - March 13, 2004 Archives

Granted, this is from a political site; but it's funny to see the Press Secretary and the press dance around one another.

Q: Okay, so he will only testify for one hour -- that's a "yes"?

McCLELLAN: Well, that's what has previously been discussed with the commission. But I'm saying the President, of course, is going to answer all the questions they want to raise. I think that you all should make that distinction.

Q: It's scheduled for an hour; it might go longer.

Q: It might go longer?

McCLELLAN: Again, from this podium I'm telling you that the President, of course, will answer all the questions that they want to raise.

When you're arguing over whether an hour is right at the hour, or about an hour, it's pretty much a hopeless discussion.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

William Hung Gets A Record Deal?

CNN.com - 'Idol' reject†Hung gets†record deal - Mar 9, 2004

If you haven't heard of William Hung, it's this year's web hot topic. He was on American Idol, and became such a sensation not because he was good, but because he tried very hard, and had an excellent attitude about it. If you see the video of him on American Idol, it's actually rather inspiring.

But a record deal? That's a little overboard. While William's rather inspiring as a person, he really does stink as a musician. Badly. It's like Tom Green starring as Hamlet on Broadway: probably not the best idea.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

TV Station's Closing And Delays Crawl Hacked

News 14 Carolina gets pwnt via Mefi

Seems that there was a workaround to News 14 Carolina's web-based Closing & Delay system, and a few people put up some pretty interesting comments (and a few childish ones as well).

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So... Lemme Get This Straight...

TAP: Web Feature: Plugging Leaks. by Murray S. Waas. March 8, 2004. via Talking Points Memo

The article says that Karl Rove claims he wasn't Novak's leak in the Wilson/Plame incident... but he's a totally manipulative jerk who used the excuse to ruin a career for political gain, once it was out.

Rather, Rove insisted, he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in Novak's column. He also told the FBI, the same sources said, that circulating the information was a legitimate means to counter what he claimed was politically motivated criticism of the Bush administration by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Rove and other White House officials described to the FBI what sources characterized as an aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife to the press, utilizing proxies such as conservative interest groups and the Republican National Committee to achieve those ends, and distributing talking points to allies of the administration on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Rove is said to have named at least six other administration officials who were involved in the effort to discredit Wilson.

Oh, that's fair. Remind me never to have anything bad about me in the paper, just in case Karl Rove decides to use that as an excuse for an all-out attack.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Apple Headphone Alternatives

On the new iPod earphones via Engadget

Steve S. at PDAntic comments that he hates the new iPod earphones. I'm going to go one farther and say, I hate bud earphones in general, Apple's in specific.

I'm a big Mac fan, but those little iPod bud earphones that everyone loves so much are horrid; I can *not* for the life of me get them to stay in my ear. Don't know why, but I move an inch, and they fall out.

In-ear phones, for what ever reason, hurt like hell; I never use them. At work and at home, I use a pair of Beyerdynamic DT250-80s, and love them to death. Why? Velvet ear cups. End of film. I've worn them for 12 hours at a stretch and haven't had a problem with them. On the road, I use Sennheiser PX100s, which do OK for walks and such, but are definitely tiring on the ears.

If you're looking for good headphone advice, definitely check out Headroom, which has more cool information on headphones and more sweet audio toys than any site I can think of; and it's much better than the crappy headphones Apple has.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Georgia Legislature Worried Same-Sex Ban Not Strong Enough

House to vote on gay marriage bill

It's at times like this I wonder how phones and indoor plumbing, those new-fangled inventions, came to be accepted in Georgia. Our dear legislature's been getting their handkerchiefs in a knot over gay marriage; the latest has to do with a proposal to remove a section from the State Senate's version, which declares all such marriages not recognized.

[State Rep. Jeanette] Jamieson's proposal would delete a key provision of SR 595. The provision, "Section B," stipulates that Georgia cannot recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and that no such marriage "shall be recognized by this state as entitled to the benefits of marriage." † The Christian Coalition of Georgia has blasted HR 1470 as a "counterfeit bill" and is lobbying to defeat it. But Jamieson, who voted against SR 595, said her proposal is more likely to withstand court review and would not affect benefits some Georgia companies provide for domestic partners. Critics allege SR 595 might outlaw such benefits.

Honestly, this is seriously antediluvian (or antebellum, since it's the South) Will we end up with the Mason-Dixon line for gay marriages? Will there be maps in the paper showing where gay marriages are legal in blue, where they're illegal in red, and the rest in a striped combination of the two? What's gotten into people lately?

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

John Ashcroft Suffering From *What*?

CNN.com - Surgery†possible for†Ashcroft - Mar 8, 2004

I won't say I'm happy about this -- hospital stays are serious things, and they're not jokes.

But I'm stretched past my limit a little when I see Ashcroft has gallstones blocking his bile duct. It's just a little too ironic.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004

A Little Fun from Talking Points Memo

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: March 07, 2004 - March 13, 2004 Archives

Josh Marshall usually is very dignified and objective; but this little quote proves he has a way with words when he's passionate:

I mean, the question isn't whether that would be a crass use of the 9/11 tragedies for political gain. The question is whether it's possible to imagine anything more crass. Isn't ground zero something like a graveyard?

What could be worse? The president addressing the crowd wearing a pelt from a recently executed Guantanamo prisoner? Personally executing Saddam on stage with a scimitar?

I tend to agree (like that was going to be hard to guess), but I'll take it one further: it's sick.

These people did not die so that George Bush could stand in front of them patting himself on the back for what a "good job" he's done protecting the country. They died in a horrible, tragic event. Using Ground Zero is much like anyone using another's death to further themselves -- sad beyond words.

I'd also like to point out similar objections were brought forth about Paul Wellstone's memorial, and the reported political overtones that disgusted some Republicans.

One politician's death might bring some partisan commentary -- 3000 dead just shouldn't.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

Electronic Voting Opponent's Experience As An Election Judge

My day as an election judge

An excellent article by one of the people who wrote a paper examining the security on electronic voting machines on his experiences at being an election judge. Very well written, very insightful -- it's worth a read going into the presidential election.

I continue to believe that the Diebold voting machines represent a huge threat to our democracy. I fundamentally believe that we have thrown our trust in the outcome of our elections in the hands of a handful of companies (Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S) who are in a position to control the final outcomes of our elections. I also believe that the outcomes can be changed without any knowledge by election judges or anyone else. Furthermore, meaningful recounts are impossible with these machines. I also believe that we have great people working in the trenches and on the front lines. These are ordinary people, mostly elderly, who believe in our country and our democracy, and who work their butts off for 16 hours, starting at 6 a.m. to try to keep the mechanics of our elections running smoothly. It is a shame that the e-voting tidal wave has a near hypnotic effect on these judges and almost all voters. I believe that after today's experience, I am much better equipped to make the arguments against e-voting machines with no voter verifiability, but I also have a great appreciation for how hard it is going to be to fight them, given how much voters and election officials love them.
Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack