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June 30, 2003

  "Why I'm anti-anti-American."

Found an excellent essay via /var/log/otto, today.

It's written by a French-Iranian immigrant, and it is reasons he is thankful to be an American.  In these times of "everybody in the world hates us, including ourselves" it should be, in my opinion, required reading in colleges and universities across the nation.

I want to post it all, but in the sake of brevity I'll post just the last of his reasons:

-- America, the freest nation on Earth, is also the most virtuous nation on Earth. This point seems counterintuitive, given the amount of conspicuous vulgarity, vice and immorality in America. Some Islamic fundamentalists argue that their regimes are morally superior to the United States because they seek to foster virtue among the citizens. Virtue, these fundamentalists argue, is a higher principle than liberty.

Indeed it is. And let us admit that in a free society, freedom will frequently be used badly. Freedom, by definition, includes the freedom to do good or evil, to act nobly or basely. But if freedom brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. The millions of Americans who live decent, praiseworthy lives desire our highest admiration because they have opted for the good when the good is not the only available option. Even amid the temptations of a rich and free society, they have remained on the straight path. Their virtue has special luster because it is freely chosen.

By contrast, the societies that many Islamic fundamentalists seek would eliminate the possibility of virtue. If the supply of virtue is insufficient in a free society like America, it is almost nonexistent in an unfree society like Iran's. The reason is that coerced virtues are not virtues at all. Consider the woman who is required to wear a veil. There is no modesty in this, because she is being compelled. Compulsion cannot produce virtue, it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue. Thus a free society like America's is not merely more prosperous, more varied, more peaceful, and more tolerant -- it is also morally superior to the theocratic and authoritarian regimes that America's enemies advocate.
SFGate.com

Interesting to think this is the SAN FRANCISCO Chronicle.  I'd love to see the feedback they get for running this.

I'll post the article in its entirety in the feedback thread in case it disappears.

GORDON  |  10:09 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030630_2

 

  Hardening Arteries, or LEARNING TO HATE PEOPLE.

Long time readers of dtman.com know that the writers are, for lack of a better word, somewhat jaded.  "Why?" is a question that, to my memory, has not been addressed, until new forum member TPRJones submitted it.

When I turned 21, I was a nice guy.  I liked nearly everybody.  I thought the best of people.  I thought the world was a nice place.  I thought people would do the right thing if you gave them a chance.  I thought that government was evil (see, I wasn't completely naive), but I also thought you could change the system from the inside (well, okay, maybe I was).  I wanted to explain to everyone how maximizing individual freedoms and individual responsibilities is the only hope for a bright future for the human race, and will eventually lead to the ending of poverty and racism and suffering.

On Sunday, I'll turn 31, and I've become a dick.  I hate nearly everybody.  I think the worst of people.  I think the world is a horrible place.  I think people will do the right thing only if they know you will kill them if they don't.  I think that government is evil (at least something hasn't changed), and I think it will only change when the whole system collapses.  I want to explain that killing the fuckers that have no concept of the value of individual freedoms and individual responsibilities is the only hope for a bright future for the human race, and will eventually lead to the ending of poverty and racism and suffering for the blessedly few survivors.

Ten years ago, I felt bad when hundreds of people died at some place I'd only seen on a map.  Today, if a virus targeted towards killing the stupid were to decimate the ignorant 90% of the world's population, I'd not morn the losses.  At all.

Was there something in particular about the last decade that turned intelligent individuals like myself into bitter cynics?  Or is this just part of growing up?  What happened to me?

Do you feel as you age that things are worse than they used to be?

Personally, I'm going to take a little time to mentally compose my answer.  I think I know...I just want to think about it a bit.  But I think it might have something to do with "experience."

GORDON  |  6:08 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030630_1

 

June 28, 2003

  Yes, I realize it's technically the weekend.

And I know I said no more posting on weekends, but I'm still up, and it still feels like Friday night.

Just thought you'd like to know I made an update on the DTMan Music Page.  I reviewed the new album from VAST.  It's good stuff.

GORDON  |  1:12 am EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030628_1

 

June 27, 2003

  What do Linkin Park, Radiohead, Madonna and Green Day have in common?

They are against consumers being able to purchase their songs piecemeal.

Despite the major labels' success in clearing hundreds of thousands of tracks for purchase online through services like Apple's iTunes Music Store, some top artists continue to resist authorizing the dismantling of their albums for Internet consumption as a la carte singles.

Some acts are requiring that their music be sold exclusively in album bundles. For example, Linkin Park recently pulled its music as a singles offering from digital services. Sources say the band has expressed concerns about undercutting album sales. Other acts with similar stipulations about their work include Radiohead, Madonna and Green Day, sources say.

Top acts and their representatives are expressing reservations about the creative and financial implications of shifting to a singles-based model. "The fear among artists is that the work of art they put together, the album, will become a thing of the past," says attorney Fred Goldring, whose firm represents Will Smith and Alanis Morissette.
Billboard

Well, I guess they have the right to package their product however they want.  But know what?  They're fools.  For absolutely no additional work they could increase their revenue by offering their songs on pay-download sites.  Fans who want the entire album would still buy the entire album.  Now, those who only want one song from these artists will just get it without paying.  

I guess once you have your first million you can be picky.

GORDON  |  6:18 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030627_3

 

  Shout out.

A couple months ago I linked USS Clueless, mainly on a lark.  I was in the mood to link a page, and I'd just surfed it for the first time. 

I made a good decision.

Consistently, that website has some of the best written, well thought out essays on the web.  And, they seem to do their research, unlike some websites I could name *cough*dtman.com*cough*.  Their commentary tends to run to current events.  If you haven't visited them, do.

Today I was catching up on a few days of posts, and followed this article they linked.  A brief history of the Air Force's A-10 Warthog.  A good read, if you're into that kind of thing.

GORDON  |  5:35 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030627_2

 

  Updates.

The forum/feedback threads are fixed.  Somehow I ended up with a corrupted "active sessions" database entry.  What really impresses me is that I'd thought it was a server problem, and opened a tech support ticket with my hosting service.  But they not only tracked down the real problem, they gave me a step-by-step in how to debug my script, which is way above and beyond what they were required to do.  The DTMan web host is Nexpoint Technologies.  I use a shared server, so there's the occasional downtime once or twice a year when some other yahoo breaks it, but the cost for my plan, $100/year for 500mb storage/unlimited bandwidth, and the excellent tech support, make it look like a good deal to me.

+++++

I have a sauna now!  It's called "outside."  I believe the news said there was a 110 degree Fahrenheit heat index, today.  It's hot.  It's like Africa-hot.  And I know what Africa-hot feels like.  Ho-yes.

+++++

My tomato plants are growing like crazy in this heat and humidity.  If it wasn't dark outside I'd getpixplzthx.  I've been putting down blood and predator feces around the area, and so far no bunny nibbles....but the first time I see bunny nibbles on a tomato, I'm buying a bb gun.  Be veeeewy quiet.....

+++++

Strom Thurmond died.  Isn't that weird?  I mean, no surprise, but still.  It was like Senate of the Living Dead.  Braaaains.  Braaaains, y'all.  Fresh braaaains.

+++++

Spent the afternoon in Wilmington.  Ate lunch on the Cape Fear River at a cafe with a great view of the Battleship North Carolina.  I want one.  A battleship, I mean.  Hey...my birthday is next month!

++++

The brand new movie theater here in town is having a midnight showing of "Beyond Re-Animator" tomorrow night...I'm going.  The first 50 people in the door get a vial of the glowing green re-animator juice....  if I get some I'll be sure to postpixplzthx.  Maybe we'll go to a cemetery after the movie and see if it works.  If it does I'll getpixplzthx.  HEY....where will Strom be laying in state, do you think?

GORDON  |  1:30 am EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030627_1

 

June 24, 2003

  Isolationism.

I was doing the daily surfing, and saw an interesting blog post linked at Right We Are!.  It's a "dream" July 4th speech to the nation from President Bush.

My fellow Americans:

As you all know, the defeat of Iraq's regime has been completed. The discovery and destruction of all weapons of mass destruction have been covered thoroughly in the press. A new Iraqi government has been established and appears to be stable. Our mission in Iraq is complete. This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be completed within 30 days.

It is now time to begin the reckoning. Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries that have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, and Poland are some of the countries listed there. The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening. Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.

Read on....
Common Sense & Wonder

It all "Go-go USA!"  I think I agree with about half of it.  I support the idea that nations who have actively opposed us should have consequences, but I'm not sure that pulling out of the rest of the world make the United States any safer.

GORDON  |  3:03 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030624_1

 

June 23, 2003

  Affirmative Action.

I've not yet done any surfing today, but I heard about the Supreme Court's decision in favor of so called "affirmative action" on CNN.  I'm guessing there's an uproar in the blogosphere about it.  I'm going to say what I have to say before my thoughts are diluted with what everyone else is saying:

Affirmative action is for losers.  Those who are good enough don't need it, and those who need it aren't good enough.

GORDON  |  1:07 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030623_1

 

June 20, 2003

  Awwww.

Awww...kitty seepies.

What can I say...I'm a cat person.

GORDON  |  11:20 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030620_1

 

June 19, 2003

  Flotsam and jetsam.

I want to update my link list a bit.  I had the category "From the Front," and it will exist as long as there are bloggers there, but many are coming home, and I'm in a quandary as to what to do with them, now.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to start a new link category called "Active Duty," but I'm still thinking about it.

As such, if you know of any bloggers on the front or just active duty, drop them in the feedback thread, and I'll get them linked.

GORDON  |  7:31 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030619_2

 

  Revelations.

Couple things I wrote about in the past that I now wish to revise, now that I've had time to really think about it.

I wrote a few times about al-Jazeera showing images and videos of dead and wounded American POW/KIA's in Iraq.  I wrote about how dirty that was, an abuse of Geneva Convention, etc.

All of a sudden, I just realized....they would have to be completely stupid to think that wouldn't rally American support for the war.  And I don't think they're completely stupid.

They either did it of their own accord, or they were used by the U.S. government as a propaganda tool.  They got some bad press for it from western media, but I think they took one for the team.

That is, at least, a possibility.

Another thing I wrote about was Bush's tax cuts, and the record amount of pork that was added to the war spending bill.  I wrote that I support the tax cuts, but I also strongly favor control of spending.  I couldn't understand what in the hell they were thinking.

Recently I figured out where all the pork came from.  Bush needed to get his spending bill passed, his war blessed by Congress, and his tax cuts approved...we are, after all, coming up on his reelection campaign season.  All that pork...which may have been ordinarily vetoed...was Bush's way of buying support in Congress.  I'm sure each and every stupid project was wheeled and dealed ahead of time by the White House, to ensure that Congressman's vote and support.

So there you go.  Amazing what can happen when you have time to really think about something.

GORDON  |  3:00 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030619_1

 

June 18, 2003

  France protecting those oil contracts in Iran, too.

I was a bit premature showing a rerun earlier....I should have waited for this story to break:

PARIS, France (CNN) -- Iranians in Paris and London set themselves on fire Wednesday to protest a French government crackdown on Iranian dissidents opposed to religious rule in Tehran, police in both cities said.

Two Iranian women and a man set themselves on fire in Paris. Police initially said the women died, but hospital sources later said all three were alive, with one person in critical condition.

[...]

On Tuesday, police carried out raids in the French capital targeting the People's Mujahedeen, the military arm of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) which opposes the Islamic government in Tehran.

Police said they arrested more than 150 people on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks and seized $1.3 million in $100 bills.
CNN.com

So there we go.  France is supporting another oppressive regime in an oil rich country.  "But France is not completely passive," you say.  "They are in the Congo, after all."  

Yeah.  Know why?  No oil contracts with the existing government.

I also find it interesting they seized all that money, with their economy flagging, in small part due to American boycott of France and French products.  I wonder what will become of that money.

France sucks.

GORDON  |  11:03 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030618_2

 

 

  I can't think of a thing to write about, today.

Been thinking about it all day and surfing for inspiration, but I've got nothing.

So, I guess I'll just repost an essay that appeared on this page a couple years ago, written by forum member Pander.  The current "windmills off Nantucket Sound" controversy inspired me to think about energy generation.

So, here it is.  From May 10, 2001.

ENERGY SOURCES FOR US ELECTRICITY IN 1999:

Coal: 52%
Nuclear: 20%
Gas: 15%
Hydro: 8%
Oil: 3%
Wood Waste(wood-burning): 1%
Garbage: .6%
Geothermal: .4%
Wind: .1%
Solar: .01%

Power sources:

Solar - Nice but inefficient and currently <.1% of our electricity output. It's MUCH better for passive heating than electricity generation. Use it to heat swimming pools, or add a greenhouse effect which can warm a whole house. However, limited deployment when you get too far north. It might be a viable energy source for sub-Saharan African nations, maybe a few Asian/European nations, but that is many, MANY years into the future with research. This is not a savoir power source though. You can't power Alaska on solar power.

Hydro - Nice but with environmental concerns. Also, nearly all gone in the US. We can't dam the Mississippi, so what we have(3.5 Quads a year) is all we'll get. This is generally not debated. Hydro is a good continuous power source, but far too limited to include in any real debate about the future of energy. It's there, it's good, we need more though.

Wind - Nice, with a future. I'm unsure of the environmental damage (the Sierra Club cries about golden eagles, I don't know if any have actually been killed yet), and it is pretty useless east of the Mississippi, but in places like the Dakotas and Montana it should be very good. Still, not practical for the large scale, as even the largest wind farms produce only fractions of what a 1000MW nuclear power plant can make. Wind contributed .1% of all the electricity the US used in 1999, and will probably grow to maybe 1% by 2008. However, it still is too hard to deploy, as mentioned, to provide anywhere near the fossil fuels.

Geothermal - Nice, but it does have a few environmental concerns (mainly noise and loss of possible wildlife areas like Yellowstone's geysers if you really want to get the most out of geothermal). Plus, it's very limited. The largest geothermal plant possible in the US has already been made in California, and it still doesn't supply as much power as a single nuclear power plant. We can squeeze a bit more power out of geothermal, but it's just not that likely. Geothermal isn't best used as an electricity source, but as a heating source, same as solar. Most all of the hot water in Iceland is heated through geothermal heating.

Coal - Ick. MUCH more radiation is given off in coal than in a nuclear power plant, with much fewer safeguards and environmental concerns. Hope you like sulfur dioxide, cause if you oppose nuclear power that's what you're going to get. In 1999 Coal supplied 52% of all electricity in the US. While it's safer now than it was 50 or 60 years ago (back in the truly black, sooty days when sulfur dioxide and nitrous emissions weren't being noticed), thanks to the implementation of limestone scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, and cyclonic dust collectors, they still emit sulfur dioxide ranging from .4 to 3 million tons per year, in addition to even more dangerous NOx gases and the usual CO2. Still, the fact that these plants don't take as many permits and as large a capital to make as nuclear plants makes them more attractive at the moment to investors.

Oil-fired and gas-fired plants provide some electricity, about 3% of our total, but are generally not smart. They pollute, plus why not use the fuel for cars while we can? Not a good application of oil.

Natural Gas is used to provide a good bit of electricity, about 15%, but again, why not use it for something else (namely heating)? It's clean, but running out fast. It's going at about the same rate as oil. Trying to conserve it for heating is the best path I see...

Fuel cell technology doesn't seem very good for large-scale electricity production, but it looks like a VERY good alternative for gasoline in transportation. Give a good hydrogen storage tank and we'll see a new industrial revolution in about 20 years. EXTREMELY clean, reliable, affordable, in use already (Louisiana buses are driven by fuel cells), and without any moving parts, they are a great replacement to fuel injections engines.

Tidal and Ocean tech - Nearly useless with LOTS of green concerns. Tidal generators use the idea that as tides rise you collect the water they hold, then as they fall you dump the water like a dam. However, this seriously screws up the marine life in the area, and very hard to deploy (basically just a few areas in northeast Canada). Ocean thermal energy converters were an idea where you'd make a huge pipe vertically down in the ocean, and using natural convection of head you'd get an amount of water to circulate and generate heat/electricity. Found nearly unfeasible...might work later with better research, but pretty much nobody is interested anymore.

Nuclear - The way to go for now for many reasons. Economically, they are the most consumer friendly group, providing the cheapest power at a very consistent rate. Plus, the economic barriers to building them which scared off investors in the 70's/80's are being reworked by the NRC and Congress, getting rid of much of the redundant bureaucracy and numerous permits for the same exact thing. Soon it will only require one permit to conceptualize, build, and operate a power plant instead of 3 separate permits for each. Also, there will only be one public hearing on safety instead of two(think of these as filibusters used by coal companies to stop the building of nuclear plants), overall reducing the time it takes to build a plant by anywhere from 1 to 4 years.
Also, modular design in nuclear plants means that instead of 100 unique plants in the US there will be two major designs, making retention for building crews very easy (thus giving incentive and bonuses for the contractors to actually build the damn things on time), employees can switch between plants without needing new certifications or instructions, the plants can all be modified together with new designs easier, and overall permit times and building times will be shortened by the simple fact that the design is already known and approved. Plus, the design of the new pebble bed reactor, which uses helium in the heat exchanger means that plants using a pebble bed core will be more efficient and have a much shorter re-fueling outage than normal fuel-rod plants(20 days vs. 2-3 months).
Pollution is a concern. To say that there is no pollution is incorrect. However, there are ways that are incredibly safe to deal with the high level wastes. Out of the spent fuel of a nuclear plant in a year(~30 tons), 28 of these will be U-238, .8 will be the highly dreaded fission products (such as cesium-137, Strontium-90), .35 will be unspent U-235, and the rest will be transuranics(U-238 which absorbs neutrons without fissioning, such as plutonium, americium, curium). It's that .8 in fission products plus the transuranics which are the high level waste. These are currently stored in fuel rods they were used in, and these fuel rods are placed into a pool of depleted water (no minerals) 40 feet deep, with 6 foot cement walls coated with stainless steel on the outside. Any dosimeter will tell you that no radiation escapes (last month I visited the U of Illinois campus nuclear reactor and verified that for myself, actually. Got to look inside of the core, and inside the fuel storage pool).
Now, what to do with these high level wastes that amount to about a ton per year per plant. Right now they are, as mentioned, safely stored in pools right next to the reactor. The water blocks any radiation, plus cools them down from their high core temperature, plus keeps the energy given off as they decay cool. Some plants have been doing this for 25 years already. So right now the high level wastes with very short half-lives are already being worn down. But what to do with Cesium and its 30 year half-life, or the transuranics and their 1000+ year half-lives?

There are two steps. Containment and isolation. First of all, the fuels are inside dense oxide fuel pellets and zirconium metal rods, together which retain more than 99.99% of the waste by-products from fission. This is under EXTREME high temperature, high pressure conditions which never take place in the handling of the fuel later. However, if they are to be taken to geologically sound locations later, they must be stored in safe containers designed mainly to prevent the flow of water in or out, as well as prevent the flow of any by-products. The first step is to make the waste form acceptable. The fuel pellets we use will corrode, nor spontaneously turn into liquid, so it will not mobilize on its own (good). Next, the waste canister of steel or carbon is placed around it, with alloys of copper or titanium. These will last thousands to hundreds of thousands of years even under the constant heat and radiation of the fuel, even if exposed to ground water. Next, an overpack encloses all the other layers, and often a certain mix of dried cement is placed surrounding the inside layers from it. Thus, should any ground water reach this layer, it will turn into cement and not let any more water pass. Over THIS is a packing which stuffs the space between the host rock and the container. This is usually bentonite clay and crushed rock, which are very effective at reducing the movement of ground water into the waste package, and delays the migration of any waste by-products from the waste form. A 1-foot thick packing can delay the movement of strontium and cesium up to 10,000 years, as one example.
EVEN IF all these somehow fail, and water makes it in, the waste form itself acts as a final barrier, as the pellets hold the elements well while maintaining nearly no solubility at all. And even if THEN it gets it...it needs to flow all the way back through the same obstacles. Not going to happen.
These engineered safeguards are not designed to last forever. What will happen though, to the transuranics which will outlast the containers (many thousands of years, but it will happen), is that they will be stuck in the isolation factor of the equation. By storing them in safe geological repositories they will be nearly harmless, delayed for many hundreds of thousands of years before they could do any harm.
Utah claims to be concerned about transportation of nuclear waste through the state. Let's talk background radiation for a second. Each person receives about 125 millirems of radiation per year from everyday sources, such as the sun, microwaves, xrays, natural elements/minerals, hell even bananas are a source of measurable radiation. 500 millirems is the most the US gov't allows an average citizen as a safety rule, and 5000 millirems(5 rems) is the most allowed to a nuclear power plant worker (although, with the exception of Chernobyl, no worker has ever even approached those rates, the VAST majority stay under the 500 millirems of average citizens.). So 125 is average, 500 is most allowed for most people, and workers can get 5 rems.
If you were to live 90 feet from a road that saw 250 shipments of spent fuel, the increase to your annual exposure would be a fraction of a percent of what you get from normal sources. Virtually immeasurable. The transport cask, which must survive 40 foot freefalls onto unyielding surfaces, direct falls onto steel rods, 1475 degree F fire for 30 minutes, and underwater submersion for 8 hours straight, ALL IN SEQUENCE ONE AFTER THE OTHER without a SINGLE leak of so much as a drop of water. If that isn't safe enough...well, I can't really figure out a way to finish that sentence. But it's safe. I watched a couple videos of trains colliding with these casks at 80+ MPH. Now THAT was some cool! No damage to the things at all.
The radiation shielding these things have is cylinders of steel(1/2" thick) clad with 4 inches of heavy metal shielding, enclosed by a shell of 1 1/2" thick steel, surrounded by 5" of water, encircled by a stainless steel outer jacket. No radiation is getting out.
Okay, enough about safety, I hope that's convinced you a bit of the safety of waste products and whatnot. How much fuel do we have? We have a TON. It is dirt cheap because it is unbelievably common. Uranium mines are generally not sought after because there is far too much supply without the demand. Plus, fast-breeder reactors allow more fissile material to be made at the expense of unusable U-238. Without getting into too much detail, these plants don't have a moderator, instead letting fast neutrons form with U-238 to make Plutonium, a fissile material, while some neutrons hit Plutonium to cause more chain reactions. More plutonium is made than used, so you can get more fuel from less fuel. Plus, reprocessing allows unspent fuels to be re-used (They do this in France right now), further extending usable fuels while reducing wastes. All in all there are about 26000 Quads worth of coal left, while the world uses about 90 Quads per year (assuming use is nearly constant, 300 years left). There are many times more uranium in the world. We can provide all the electricity we want for pretty much as long as it takes until we develop fusion to a measurable degree. Lots of uranium.
Dan mentioned the safety of plants, i.e. Chernobyl and TMI. TMI has already been addressed, it released only a trace amount of reactants (mainly Xenon gas) into the public, while the containment building did everything it should, and the core stabilized. It's a wreck economically, but it caused no problems environmentally, and served to give the alarm for tighter safety systems and increased emphasis on inherently safe systems as opposed to human-controlled safety systems.
Chernobyl flat out CANNOT happen in the US. The reasons are twofold. 1) We do not use RBMK reactor design, which has a graphite moderator (useful for plutonium production). This reactor type, if it loses all coolant, can run into severe problems, as the graphite still remains to keep the reactor running. As the reactor runs, it gets hotter without water to boil off, and the graphite can then catch fire or explode. Boom. We use water as both a moderator AND coolant source in all our plants, thereby making sure that if we DO lose coolant, the moderator goes away too, thereby causing all reactions to stop. With the reactions stopped, an ECCS can dump high-pressure water onto the core to cool it off, and no problems then.
2) They did not have a containment building. This is a HUGE HUGE HUGE NO. Like with guns, no matter how safe you think it is, ALWAYS treat a nuclear power plant as if the core can "explode", or send highly radioactive particles miles around. As a result, all American plants are required to have containment buildings. These are huge concrete buildings, built to withstand (and they've tested this successfully) B-52 crashes. They cost $800million, but they will prevent any release of radiation to the general public, as they did in TMI. The big fear at TMI is that hydrogen from a reaction would form up, and blow off the top of the containment building, but no such thing was close to happening. It easily held all radioactive particles in. Chernobyl, and most plants like it in Russia, did not have one. If it did, you probably wouldn't even know about Chernobyl. Since it didn't, when the graphite blew the core out the top it spread radioactive particles all over Europe. Oops.
Finally, any fears that a plant could blow up like a nuclear warhead are absolutely impossible beyond impossibility. A nuclear warhead requires 95% fissile material to sustain the chain reaction it uses to blow up. No reactor has more than 3-5% enrichment. As a result, no boom. Enriching to the 95% mark is something very few places can do, and I believe they are all controlled by various governments around the world.

That, is why I support Nuclear power as the solution for the next 100 years. No atmospheric pollution, high level waste can be dealt with, safe, plentiful, more jobs, constant...altogether the best road.

Fusion - Definitely need research, looks very promising provided we can figure out how to mimic the sun. Right now we CAN do it. We use tritium and deuterium to fuse into...lithium-3 I think? I'm not sure about that one...there's a few kinds of fusion possible, with the harder ones being the ones we want to do. The end goal is fusing two hydrogen together to form helium (roughly). This causes NO radiation, NO waste products, uses water for fuel, and is incredibly powerful. It is THE ultimate energy source. An Olympic sized swimming pool could supply the power for a city of about 400,000 people for a YEAR. Yes, I think that works nicely. Which is why I'm studying nuclear engineering to work with fusion in college now.

The problem with getting those good kinds of fusion? Pressure and containment. The sun can provide an UNBELIEVABLE amount of pressure, and hold the resulting fused helium for thousands of years before finally releasing it (gaining all the energy efficiency it can). We can provide about 10^-9 amount of pressure, and can hold the result for about one second. We can, however, provide hotter temperatures than the sun can. We're around 200 million degrees K compared to 15 million for the sun. Go us. We can use this to fuse various isotopes of hydrogen such as deuterium and tritium, but these have problems, such as tritium's radioactive properties and deuterium's slight rarity (it's still fairly common though). Lithium-3 is also used I believe, it's a bit safer but a bit harder to fuse.

I saw fusion in action about a week ago, now that was nifty. Just something to say, "I saw fusion".

So there you go.

GORDON  |  7:58 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030618_1

 

June 17, 2003

  "Don't answer the door...I'm downloading Metallica tunes."

Senator Orrin Hatch thinks it would be a good idea to "destroy the computers" of "copyrights violators."

I'm serious.

See?

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music downloads.

During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading.
Yahoo! News

Good old, level headed, technology oriented politicians.  Never afraid to put vigilante justice into the hands of their campaign contributors.

Orrin's top contributors.
  1. HealthSouth Corp $38,255
  2. Pfizer Inc $34,000
  3. Qwest Communications $29,000
  4. Metabolife $27,250
  5. AT&T $25,499
  6. Torchmark Corp $25,000
  7. AOL Time Warner $24,000
  8. GlaxoSmithKline $21,000
  9. Novell Inc $20,500
  10. SmithKline Beecham $20,499
  11. Oracle Corp $19,750
  12. Global Crossing $19,500
  13. Verizon Communications $19,500
  14. Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $18,775
  15. Viacom Inc $18,750
  16. Schering-Plough Corp $18,000
  17. Bear Stearns $17,750
  18. SBC Communications $17,500
  19. Merck & Co $17,440
  20. Rexall Sundown Inc $17,000
  21. Walt Disney Co $17,000

Of course, not everyone around him at the time was crazy about the idea.

"No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer," replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads.

They probably thought he was joking, or perhaps using hyperbole.

"I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

But they'd be wrong.  And, it occurs to me that it's pretty hard, or impossible, to remotely "destroy" someone's computer.  Then I realized...he never said "remotely."  I assume a thug would come to my door with a baseball bat, and ask the way to my office.  I wonder if they'd break my legs instead of my PC, as an alternative?  After all, I have health insurance.

A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites), Jonathan Lamy, said Hatch was "apparently making a metaphorical point that if peer-to-peer networks don't take reasonable steps to prevent massive copyright infringement on the systems they create, Congress may be forced to consider stronger measures." The RIAA represents the major music labels.

I think, technically, you officially become a Crazed Wacko when you support an anti-piracy scheme so draconian that the RIAA thinks you aren't serious.

If you support Senator Hatch (R-Utah) and want to let him know about it, here is the link to a comment form on his webpage.  I'm sure he'll be glad to have your words of encouragement.

GORDON  |  9:54 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030617_2

 

  They keep coming.

More Q&A.

 

Eddie R asks via email....

1)       Why do men have nipples?

>> So we know where to attach the jumper cables.

2) Why do people say they need to step outside to get some air? Like in the movies they always say " I need to go outside and get some air" Does that mean that the air inside is some how disappearing or did someone fart or what?

>> Funny you mentioned farting...you were close.  People "step out for air" because they had eggs and beer for breakfast, and they need to cut one.

Thanks for playing!
Gordo

And from the forum, resident depressive Malcolm asks...

10. Why does Gene Shalit seem to like every piece of shit he reviews?  I think he's the one that gave Carnosaur a good review.

>>He has been legally insane since 1980 when exposed to the movie Xanadu on the big screen.  How else do you explain his grooming practices?

9. On what day exactly did Michael Jackson change from black to white?

>>October 16, 2001.  His album "Bad" was so corny, it could only have been released by a white man.

8. Why is Chris Walken so evil?

>>He has to be, for when we need him to represent humanity in our fight against "The Visitors."

7. What are my chances of graduating college & not dying from a chemical overdose of some sort?

>>5:3, against.

6. Is Iowa good for anything?

>>Keeping the liquid core of the Earth from welling up and covering important states.  See: Nebraska.  But not as an important state.  Because it serves the same purpose.

5. Who needs to die more : Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Charlotte Church, Vanessa Carlton, or Michelle Branch?

>>Avril Lavagne.

5. Will "Friends" ever really go off the air or will NBC keep milking it?

>>It will be milked another season, and then be turned into a theatrically released movie.  There will be male nudity.

4. What's a good brand of vodka?

>>Stoli

3. Should I bother to go to the cinema to see T3?

>>Yes.

2. How long before EQ is officially declared a drug & made illegal?

>>Never, but EQ2 will be declared a controlled substance on July 23, 2006.

1. Why does fate hate me?

>>Because you owe her money.

Gordo is good, Gordo is wise, Gordo knows all, Gordo sees all.

GORDON  |  12:55 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030617_1

 

June 16, 2003

  Email flood.

I was shocked every time I opened my email this last weekend and found, literally an email asking a WWGD? question.

Here's the best one I've received so far.  Acidman asks:

 

Why are some Bics digger than others?

Excellent question, A-man.

 

It's genetic.
 
Thanks for playing!
Gordo

So keep those questions coming.  Gordo knows all, sees all.

GORDON  |  6:51 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030616_1

 

June 13, 2003

  What is, "Because he's so damned smart?"

In a continuing effort to improve the world, I will now be taking questions needing answers.  Anything and everything.  Seriously.

This is advice and general knowledge, not "Stump Gordo."  If I get some good ones, they'll be posted.  If I get enough questions, they'll be catalogued and indexed and will have their own page.

 

Confused?  Lost?  Stumped?  

Just ask

WWGD

What Would Gordo Do?

When you need to know, ask Gordo.

No, seriously.  What's the point of being the smartest human on the planet if you can't use your powers for Good?

Trust Gordo.  Gordo is good; Gordo is wise.

 
GORDON  |  5:19 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030613_1

 

June 12, 2003

  We're holding out for a Kevin Bacon.

Apparently, the movie Footloose hasn't been shown in Dearborn, Michigan in awhile.

Random surfing found this:

 

Arab students seek prom balance

Thursday, June 12, 2003 Posted: 10:11 AM EDT (1411 GMT)

Fatimah Ajami, left, dances with friends during the Fordson High School prom in Dearborn, Michigan.
Fatimah Ajami, left, dances with friends during the Fordson High School prom in Dearborn, Michigan.

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) -- A hip-hop song ends, and as the throbbing beats of a traditional Middle Eastern line dance fill the room, the Fordson High School seniors form a less-than-stellar line and begin to dance.

Across the room, 23-year-old Hassan Makkad slouches in his chair with his arms across his chest. Though he doesn't care for slinky gowns and coifed hairdos, it's the women wearing the traditional Muslim hijab, or head scarf, who receive the brunt of his disapproval.

"It's not for me to judge," says Makkad, who is Lebanese but has been in the United States for five years. "But in my opinion, if you take the hijab, you shouldn't be out there dancing."
CNN.com

First of all, in my whiteness, I find this...odd.  Prom, in my experience, was nothing more than a celebration of the end of school.  There weren't any politics, religion, guilt, or duty involved with it.  It was just prom; no big deal.  All of this to do over nothing just seems strange.  The fact that a culture can be so uptight is stranger.  The fact that it's cultural, and the reason most of these people originally immigrated in order to enjoy greater freedoms than in their homelands is strangest.  If you want to live in Iran, then why come to America?

The article continues.

 

The prom at Fordson High, where the enrollment of about 2,300 is 95 percent Arab, underscores key dilemmas confronting Arab-American youth -- balancing assimilation and acceptance, and being American without being too Americanized.

Yes, what a horrible thing to become Americanized.  To paraphrase Dennis Miller, "Welcome to the American melting pot.  Now MELT, mother fuckers."

 

Wafa Shuragdi, one of Fordson's bilingual teachers, says many parents won't allow their daughter to go to the prom for fear word will get out she was with a boy.

"It doesn't matter if they were just friends," said Shuragdi, who holds a doctorate in gender studies from Detroit's Wayne State University. "After the prom, they become the talk of the town. That kind of talk lessens her chances of having someone come and ask for her hand in marriage."

Yes, becoming Americanized is a frightening thing.  What would you do unless you could stigmatize a teenager for acting like a teenager?  Damned shame that stoning is illegal in the Unites States.  These unchaperoned girls are obviously committing adultery.  And I don't even want to contemplate why a man would ask for a girl's hand in marriage that he's never dated.  I don't want to believe that such things happen in this country, in this century.

 

"We don't want him to go," says Naziha al-Hanodi, Suheib's mother. "More importantly, even if we approved, he wouldn't want to go. He didn't even tell us about it. He's been raised from childhood to know the difference between right and wrong."

This kid must be in the top 5% of uptight students in the country.  He "knows the difference between right and wrong."  But apparently not enough self control to not go to the prom and....well, control himself when a girl shows a bare ankle on the dance floor.

 

"Outside our country, or an Islamic country, there is always concern about bad influences," she says.

Again, self control.

 

Belquis Al-Khateeb, an 18-year-old Yemeni born in the United States, is married, wears the hijab and is seven months pregnant. Her husband dropped her off at the prom but didn't attend.

Good grief.

 
GORDON  |  10:18 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030612_2

 

  Make sure nobody touches my vehicle.  Sir.

As a former enlisted man, this article on Sgt. Stryker left me smiling.

 

His grand vision and elevated status are a cause for amusement among other troops. One sergeant joked that when Mr Wirges went for a meeting with senior bankers, his commanding officers stood outside guarding his vehicle.

Go read it....quite interesting.

Good thing he was Army, though.  I hate to admit it, but I think if he had been a Marine, his specialized skill set would probably have been overlooked.

 
GORDON  |  1:45 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030612_1

June 11, 2003

  Sneaking this one in just under the wire.

 
GORDON  |  11:26 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030611_1

June 10, 2003

  Don't look for the needle in the haystack.  That way lies lawsuit.

Always a work in progress, I was thinking of writing a search script for the pages in the DTMan network.  This would enable visitors (and me) to quickly find old articles for reference, or just to reminisce in how moronic I can be at times.

Simple search engine.  No problem, right?  Legal and stuff?  No.

 

On April 3, 19-year-old Jesse Jordan received a call that changed his life. 

The freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., learned he was being sued by one of the most powerful trade groups in the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America.

Jordan, an information technology major, created ChewPlastic.com, the second most popular search directory on the RPI campus.

"You go to the site, you type in a search term, and it finds files on the network," Jordan said. Jordan compares his site to Google, the popular Internet search engine.

But the RIAA likens Jordan's site to Napster, the now defunct song-swap service that revolutionized the distribution of music.

"The service was no different than Napster," said Amy Weiss, senior vice president of communications for the RIAA. "With one click of a mouse, you can get music, you can get anything you wanted."
ABCNEWS.com

Apparently, this search engine would only be lawsuit-proof if I hard coded it to omit any and all media files.  Assuming said files weren't encrypted.

 

But Jordan did agree to pony up $12,000, his entire savings account, to the RIAA. Jordan and his father, Andy Jordan, felt the settlement was their best option.

So, the precedent has been set....forfeiture of my life savings gets me out of trouble.

Cool.

I ain't got none.

 
GORDON  |  9:33 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030610_1

June 9, 2003

  Nerd Tax.

And now...from the same people who brought you the Capital Gains Tax, Death Tax, and the Marriage Penalty....we have Cable Modem Tax!

The FCC is considering levying an additional tax of up to 9.1 percent on the revenue of cable modem providers. In theory, a cable provider is not required to pass the tax increase along to customers, but in practice, companies tend to do just that. EarthLink said last week that it would raise prices because of digital subscriber line (DSL) taxes imposed by state governments.

[...]

So far, few people have paid attention to the FCC's proposal, which began in typical bureaucratic fashion with a reference on paragraph 78 of a 58-page filing in February 2002. Even the FCC has mostly ignored it, spending the past 16 months focusing on broadband deregulation and media ownership rules.

But now that those hotly contested votes are over, the FCC is planning to return to its February 2002 proposal, with D.C. buzz predicting formal regulations by the end of the summer.
CNet News.com

A lot of folks I know don't mind paying more taxes as long as they are going toward what, in their minds, are "worthy programs," or some such thing.  I leave your own conclusions to be drawn:

 

About 85 percent of the fund's revenues are split between two causes: the "e-rate" program (40 percent), which subsidizes school and library Internet connections, and rural telephone companies (45 percent), which might otherwise end up paying more for telephone service than city dwellers. The remaining 15 percent goes toward discounts to low-income subscribers and funds rural health care.

Personally...I think a 9.1% increase on my cable modem bill...currently $45 per month, would be rounded up from approximately $4 to $5, in only because it keeps the rate Time Warner charges nice and round.  But hey, for some reason my government feels I need to subsidize phone lines for people who choose to live out in the middle of nowhere.

Whatever.

 
GORDON  |  10:13 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030609_1

June 6, 2003

  Tha move.

Just relocated, to any casual browsers just passing through.  1700 miles from Nebraska to coastal North Carolina can only mean one thing....fun fun fun.  Through six states.  States like Missouri, and Arkansas.

The DTMan Army was mobilized.  

We did the drive in four days.  The first day was the fun fun packing of the moving van.

Forum members UnkBill in the foreground, Cakedaddy in the back.

 

Unk and his s.o., my s.o. in the truck. I was supervising.

We loaded the truck and hit the road at approximately 9pm...we had hotel reservations in Kansas City, Kansas.  Little farther away than I thought; we didn't check in until after midnight.  I think what I underestimated was how it would be driving a 25' moving truck which was hauling a Ford Ranger.  Nerve wracking, at first.

The hotel in KC is not memorable.  We all collapsed in exhaustion, except for me who stood guard Terminator II-style.

The next morning I sounded reveille bright and early, and we hit the road to Memphis; there to pick up Vince and eat barbecue.  Both missions we accomplished.  Vince stood guard that night in order to give me some down-time.

Up again bright and early for Raleigh, North Carolina.  It is only a couple hours from our final destination, but we'd anticipated hitting Raleigh by about 8pm, there to meet Thibodeaux and TheCatt for dinner, both high ranking NCO's in the DTMan Army.  As it is, we didn't get there until after midnight...as such we couldn't join up with them.

The hotel.

The hotel was the Howard Johnson, at 3120 New Bern Avenue  Raleigh, NC, 27610, 919-231-3000.  I've stayed a lot of places in a lot of countries, and this hotel was easily the nastiest place I ever paid money for.  It was 1am when we checked in, and almost 2am before the truck was buttoned up for the night, so we were just too weary to change rooms.

Here, in no particular order, are the features of our adjoining rooms.

Random crap on the floor next to the partially-made beds.

Random grit and crap in the bathrooms.

Empty condom wrapper near another bed.

Questionable fluid on the floor near the bed and empty condom wrapper.

Unused condom near the phone.  Now that's convenience!

Here's all that existed of one of the remote controls.  A battery cover.

I didn't get a picture of what looked like a train of queen ants crawling up the wall near my bed.

We got up extra early to get out of that nastiness....then we realized that where we parked the moving van was a no-outlet area.  We had to unhook the pickup truck and turn the van around, and reconnect everything.  

It was a relatively short two hour jaunt to our final destination.

Arriving at the house, we discovered how close we pay attention to important things like making sure the truck is attached to the trailer dolly:

The main strap has come off the tire, and the subsystem chain around the axle is the only thing that held the truck on the trailer.  Yikes.

But, we arrived without incident (not counting the basketball hoop outside Vince's house), and unloaded the truck in about half the time it took to load.  Vince had to go on a mission back to Tennessee the next morning, but the rest of us went to the beach and watched Cakedaddy build a sand castle, somewhere between the low and high tide lines.

His tactical trench actually did protect the main structure through quite a few wave strikes before finally being overrun by the encroaching ocean.  Cursed moon, harsh mistress and seductive attraction.

 
GORDON  |  6:07 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030606_1

June 5, 2003

  Whew, I almost had to write my own update, today..

I spent most of today in the sauna.  Meaning, I was doing work outside around the new house.  I was sweating before I finished putting gas in the lawn mower.  Slightly different weather than in Nebraska.

Had a hard day, and as such I have not much creative energy with which to write an update.  Thankfully, forum regular TheCatt made a pretty good post today, which I will now use in its entirety.

 

So I've been thinking about health insurance lately, especially since I recently lost mine.  Prior to losing mine, I paid $500/month for my wife and myself.  As such, I felt like I should get MRIs, XRays, or whatever else I needed.  I took Claritin even though I only have mild allergies, cuz it did help some, and was cheap with insurance.  Since I had to pay for my own health insurance, I felt like I should get my money's worth.  Now, I have $100/month catastrophic insurance, and nothing else.  I cut down my medicines from 3 to 1, and replaced that 1 with a generic.  Why?  Cuz I pay for it directly.

As I watch commercials for medicine, I know that people are going to their doctor and asking specifically for the medicine they saw on TV.  They don't know it costs $150/month, and they don't care.  To them it's just $10-$40/month.  When they visit the doctor, they don't think "This is $120", they think it's a $10/20 copay.  As long as the true costs of medical care are not passed directly to the consumer, then we will not see meaningful reductions in the cost of health care.

As seniors complain about the high costs of medicine, and companies increasingly pass along costs to consumers, people are becoming fed up with health care costs.  They call for the government to act, or for their employers to act.  But what they really need to do is act themselves.  Ask their doctors about cheaper alternatives, find out information about the different treatments that are available and use the power of the market and competition to drive down costs.

If costs are the responsibility of the consumer, they will demand better and cheaper alternatives.  Of course, pharmaceutical companies will complain about their research (and advertising) costs and "limited" patent protection.  Given the length of the FDA trial process, drugs often lose a significant portion of their protection waiting for approval.  Perhaps costs could be reduced by shortening the FDA trial process, allowing for European approval to be equivalent to American approval or making trial drugs available to patients who may need them.  Additional changes could be to protect drug manufacturers from most lawsuits if they drugs has received FDA approval, reserving the courts for gross negligence or similar incidents.

Of course, these changes could be expensive to some individuals, especially those who are having children or have a chronic situation.  While the costs of health care insurance would theoretically be passed on to the employees, this still leaves out several groups.  Comprehensive health care could be available through normal market means.  Meanwhile, catastrophic health care could be provided through socialized means as well as maternal care as well.

These are only ideas, but I think they could help.  As it is, the current situation is becoming less and less tenable, and complaints are only rising.  By re-introducing market forces, reducing the burden of health insurance companies and instituting FDA reform, however, the problem could be helped.

Thoughts?

I'm a big fan of leaving market forces be, so I couldn't have said it better myself.  President Reagan also had a few things to say somewhat relating to this subject:


Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

October 27, 1964

We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.

September 29, 1981

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.

October 27, 1964

 
GORDON  |  8:36 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030605_1

June 3, 2003

  Back to the beach.

All happily relocated, hopefully to never set foot again in Nebraska.  After the hellish year I've just had, I am extremely pleased to be back in the path of most of the hurricanes that hit the east coast.

"Once I thought I was dead.  Turns out I was only in Nebraska." - Little Bill, Unforgiven.

The vacationy bits were fun, but living there was like just giving up on life.  It was like...giving up.  Screw that.  Nebraska and France suck.

Lots of this where I now live:

The most mediocre view of the ocean beats anything Nebraska has to offer.

Some pics and stories from the 5 days of the move...coming soon.

Thanks to Leisher for updating in my absence.  And props to him for untangling my HTML.  He and my code are crazy old school.

Side note not relating to anything:  I'm presently reading a biography of Thomas Jefferson.  Fun fact: sometimes in personal and professional correspondence, he signed his name, "Th. Jefferson."  Got me to thinking I should start referring to myself, Steve Gordon, as, "St. Gordon."  Doesn't really apply, but every dictator needs a title.

I'm coming at you correct.

 
GORDON  |  10:20 pm EDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030603_1

June 2, 2003

  Best Buy Quality

This afternoon, I took a trip to Best Buy to look at Car Stereos for the wife. I walked into the Car Audio section and went immediately to the computer they have there to punch in her car type so I could find out which stereos were compatible. I got the list and hit "Print" to get a hard copy and immediately received an error that the printer was out of paper. At this point, the person working the Car Audio section came over and said something along the lines of "How can I help?"

Just for ease of reading, let's call him Chuck. So you can picture him: Chuck is a young man with bleached blonde hair and a large necklace hanging around his neck. He is only about 18-20 and he talks like he's a street thug.

Anyway, I asked him to get me a printout of the list on screen. Chuck explained that he needed to run over to Home Audio to do that because that's the only printer with paper.

What? Excuse me, but this is Best Buy. Are you telling me that this company is hurting so badly financially that they can't afford to put paper in the printers so their customers can get what they need?

Anyway, Chuck came back with a sheet of paper missing half of the entries on the screen. I asked him where the rest were and he said, "Well, that's how it came off." At this point, I knew Chuck wasn't going to be as helpful as I wanted him to be, but I decided to stay and see if I could get more information. Chuck asked me what kind of stereo I was looking for and I explained that I simply wanted a CD player to put into her car. Chuck asked what I was looking to spend. I explained that my wife had received several gift certificates at Christmas and we wanted to keep the price low. After all, its just a CD player for the car, and really how good of a system does one need in their car? The longest trip she takes is to our lake on the weekends and that's only an hour.

Chuck and I walked towards the wall of stereos and he asked the limits of my price range. I again explained that we wanted to keep it on the cheap side, and she wouldn't have a need for a car stereo worth $500. Chuck then asked, "Does she mind if it skips?" At this point, I just looked at Chuck like he was an idiot. He smiled and responded that he was serious. He went on to explain that if I didn't want a CD player that skipped, then I should stick to the stereos that were $120 and up. While Chuck is explaining all of this, I'm still pondering his statement about the skipping. I stopped Chuck and asked him if he meant skipping on a bumpy road, which I would expect, or during normal driving. Chuck chuckled, and said during normal driving.

At this point I had to ask Chuck if he was being serious. He stated he was and discussed how the cheaper players skip during normal driving down normal roads. I asked Chuck why Best Buy would stock inferior CD players. He explained, "We acquire all players for anyone." I thought I understood what he just said and responded by saying they shouldn't stock such products as it brings down their name. How would you feel if you bought a CD player and it skipped as you drove down a normal road?

Again, Chucks told me, "We acquire all players for anyone." I didn't think Chuck was speaking English, let alone following me, so I changed the subject back to getting a CD player for my wife. After a few more questions, I thought back to the cheaper ones and told that I just couldn't believe Best Buy would stock something like that when they have the market power to demand better.

Chuck then said, "You'll find the same ones at Circuit City, Car Stereo One, and Meijer's." I told Chuck that I'd expect it of Meijer's, but would expect the other stores to use their influence to demand better.

Chuck looked at me and appeared to be a bit upset when he responded, "We don't stereotype." Huh? He then again repeated, "We acquire all players for anyone." Double Huh? At this point, I thanked Chuck for his time and left.

So Chuck, if you happen to read this, follow along with me here. You're an idiot. Pull your head out of your ass and listen when someone speaks. You obviously have no grasp of the English language, so let me help you out.

I was implying that Best Buy should use its market power to force the makers of inferior car stereos to fix their cheaper products so that they perform better. Best Buy shouldn't want its customers to purchase faulty products because those same customers and the people they complain to will equate those faulty products with Best Buy. Then they'll take their business elsewhere. I was not implying that Best Buy shouldn't stock cheap products to keep the riff raff out, which is what I believe you thought I was saying.

Of course, I also believe if Best Buy wants to win over their customers then they should also hire employees who are capable of normal human conversation.

All was not lost though as the guy working the Computer department was extremely helpful in my search for a new 3D card. Every other word out of his mouth was "Sir" and he told me exactly how I could get a hold of the hard to find card I was after. Maybe Chuck will take some lessons from this guy before I return.

To cap my Best Buy experience off, I passed by a new PC on display as I was leaving the Computer department. Being a PC guy myself, I stopped to check out the setup. Under the PC being displayed were packs of printer paper, $3.99.

Leisher  |  7:13 pm EDT  Feedback.

 
May 29, 2003

  Slow News Day

I am completely unmotivated to write a post today, mainly due to being busy as hell here at work. Iím going to post something anyway as I promised little Gordo I would do while he was away. The bastard already gives me enough grief about not posting often enough when heís around. I donít need to hear him bitching about the lack of posting when heís gone.

I was actually working on a longer post for today concerning voyeurism and exhibitionism (yeah, that got your attention didnít it?), but I didnít like how it was turning out. Iíve filled it and will try and bring it back out next week.

For now, enjoy these random thoughts:

This news must piss off certain congressmen who believe the future of our country lies in censorship and not good parenting.

The Amazing Race 4 starts tonight at 8 p.m. EST. Its the only reality show that I can get into. The host isnít annoying, the show isnít over-hyped, there really arenít any alliances, the people arenít all greedy backstabbers, and they travel the world experiencing new cultures. The human drama is more true to life as teams of two are made up of people who know each other, like a father/son, or best friends, or a married couple. I encourage anyone to give the show a try, even if you hate reality TV, this show might be the exception.

While youíre visiting, check out our forums. Youíll have to register to postÖpossibly even to see them all, but weíre quite proud of the collection of people we have posting.

Have you ever seen Michael Mooreís Bowling for Columbine? It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Problem: It wasnít a documentary. Now some people are trying to get the oscar revoked. I fully support their movement. Not because heís a democrat or because heís anti-war, but because heís a liar. Someone who makes a documentary should be fiercely dedicated to the truth. Hell, there are enough people in this country who believe normal motion pictures represent the truth, we donít need documentaries telling them how to think.

Boy it sucked to be the Redís starting pitcher last night. The first three Braves up to bat in the game all hit home runs.

Ok, Iím really grasping for straws here and something new Iíve got to deal with just dropped into my lap, so Iíll leave you with this final note:

Gordon and I had toyed with the idea of putting webcams up on the site like other sites have done. Nothing pornographic, just putting a face on things. We even talked about linking other peopleís cams. Click Feedback below to tell us what you think of that idea.

Leisher  |  2:29 pm EST  Feedback.

 
May 27, 2003

  Relief Pitching

Yes, I am filling in for the Gordon as he treks across the U.S. to find a new home. Actually, filling in is probably the wrong word. As a co-founder of this site Iíve posted many times before, but since Gordon does most of the posting it seems like a one-man site. Letís just say Iím picking up some slack. 

After a nice long weekend, there really isnít a lot that is pissing me off today so Iíll simply make this a post of links and some random thoughts. Iíll do it Larry King style and just ramble from statement to statement. For your ease in reading, each paragraph will be a new subject. Enjoy.

To the girls over at Right We Are, you can add Kelsey Grammer to your list of celebrities. Check out the June issue of FHM or Stuff (I forget which) to see his interview for more details. 

A little story for gaming geeks, non-geeks can skip ahead: I was at EBGames last Sunday tagging along as a cousin picked up Lost Kingdoms 2. I noticed that Enter the Matrix had been released for all systems and asked the clerk if he had heard anything about the PC version. For those gamers reading this, youíll probably understand that certain genres play better on the PC than the consoles, and vice versa. I want to try this game, but donít want to deal with bad graphics or bad controls. Anyway, this gaming ďexpertĒ that EBGames hired told me he had heard mixed reviews, then proceeded to go into a long rant about how the X-Box is the superior gaming system to them all. His diatribe included gems such as how the X-Box is ďdestroyingĒ the other consoles in the console wars, and how the X-Boxís graphics are far superior to anything the PC can churn out. I looked at this person like he was the stupidest human alive on the planet, and he may very be. I explained to him that the PS2 has sold 30 million units while the X-Box and Gamecube have sold about 2-3 million each. I also explained how the graphics cards in the consoles were 2 years old and couldnít hold a candle to PCs, which new graphics cards come out for every few months. Not to mention that any console connected to a TV is going to be severely limited right from the get go due to the TVís limitations. This ďexpertísĒ responses were basically that the X-Box was winning because he sold more of them in his store, and the X-Box has better graphics because you can plug it into a High Definition TVÖ

Speaking of gaming, Penny Arcade! is my favorite online comic and I encourage any gamers to visit there frequently (new comics: Mon, Wed, Fri). Most of the comics will remind you of you and your group of gaming friends, while the site news will keep you informed on some upcoming titles that may not get covered in so much detail elsewhere. 

This may be a bit late, but Iím sick of hearing about how Anika Sorrenstam ďproved she could play with the menĒ. How the hell did she do that? Anika did not qualify to play at The Colonial. Anika also did not make the cut. Anika finished tied for 96th out of the 111 people who made it to the second day. Keep in mind, this was on the PGAís shortest course that was soaked with rain making it play much, much easier than it normally does. Donít get me wrong, Iím not a woman hater trying to keep a woman off the menís tour. I simply HATE hype. Babe Zaharias was a woman that played golf on the menís touryears ago, and I support her right to play. She qualified to play in menís events and thus earned the right. Anika is an exceptional golfer and I have no doubt that she could easily earn the right to play on the menís tour by qualifying. Iím actually more pissed off at the fact that the LPGA wonít let a man play on their tour. Where is the equality? If Anika could come to the menís tour to test her skills, why couldnít a Tiger Woods go play on a ladiesí event and test his skills? Why is this society so intent on tearing down sexual and racial ďbarriersĒ for certain groups, yet leave them standing for others? As a final note, how pissed off do you think feminists were at Anikaís comments about her performance? If you missed them: ďIt was a great week but I've got to go back to my tour, where I belong,Ē she said. ďI'm glad I did it, but this is way over my head.Ē 

Speaking of stereotypes, if people were really trying to make this country more ďequalĒ then shouldnít we be doing something about these

Well that should be enough of a post to tide you all over for now. I have no idea when Gordon will return. Until then, Iíll try to do a post a day or every other day, depending on my mood and how busy I am at work.

Leisher  |  12:03 pm EST  Feedback.

 
May 22, 2003

  Gone again.

Welp, time for the big move.  As soon as I put this post online, I'm tearing down my system.  When you next see me, I will blessedly be out of this godforsaken hellhole of a state.  I'll hit the forum on Sunday night from Vince's, in Memphis.

Minimum downtime is until Tuesday, but possibly up to two weeks while I get the new house straightened out.  I've given Leisher the keys to the site, and if he can figure out my tangled HTML he'll be updating in my absence.  I give him 3:5 odds, against. ;)

Take care, Godspeed.

 
GORDON  |  4:40 pm CDT  Feedback. Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030522_2

  Laci Peterson.

I've not done any speculating either way since this ordeal started, not only because I didn't have enough evidence to have an opinion either way, but because I saw plenty of Scott Peterson (her husband) bashing plenty of other places around the blogosphere.  All of it I saw had the guy convicted and were calling for the death penalty.

Because cops never ever screw up, apparently.

Scott Peterson's defense team says they have found the mystery woman who can provide information about the real killers of the California murder suspect's 8-months-pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn child.

The sources told Fox News they're working to transport the woman to a safe location because they fear retaliation against her if her identity is revealed.

Petersonís lawyers have been talking for weeks about evidence they say will prove someone else kidnapped and murdered Laci.

Now, the defense team says they are only days Ė if not hours Ė from locating the people who they believe are responsible for the killing.
FoxNews

Whether the guy is guilty or not, only a handful of people know the truth.  Stop forgetting "innocent until proven guilty."  It could be you unjustly accused, next time.

 
GORDON  |  3:03 pm CDT  Feedback. Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030522_1

 

May 21, 2003

  The truth comes out.

Here's some of the nuggets of wisdom I've been exposed to lately from somebody's mother.

There's still a couple days left in the visit and this may be premature, but I'm seething with anger at the moment and need to vent.  I'll post more nuggets in the feedback thread as they occur.

 

"We were happier when I was younger. The country was a better place then.  People didn't get divorced, and families spent time together."

+++

"People looked down on you back then if your parents were divorced. Some parents wouldn't let their kids play with me because of my parents being divorced.

"And that's better than the way things are now?

"Yes.

"Do you think there's still that horrible stigma attached to divorce these days?

"Yes."

+++

"Computers don't really speed up the world. In the old days I could just walk into a store and buy something. Now, every other time the computer is down and I have to wait.

"Yeah, well, the computer is still doing the work of 5 people, in inventory 
management alone.

"Yeah, well, everybody had a job back then, too.

"Today unemployment is about 5%. During the Great Depression it was about 30%.

"I wasn't alive then. And nobody was lazy then, everybody worked."

+++

"Computer programming doesn't really require you to be smart. Most everything is done off disks someone else already created.

"Actually, I wrote programs to disk every day.

"You actually created the disk?

"Yes.

"You created the disk in the factory?

"Oh, errr, well no. But I wrote the programs that went on the disks.

"See?"

++++


"Things were better in the old days.

"Well, you guys had Polio.

"Your generation has AIDS.

"So, your generation was better because your disease only killed kids?"

++++

"Sitting in front of a computer all day isn't work. It's just being lazy."

++++

"Autoworkers are smarter than computer people, because they make more money. My 
husband made more than you do."

 
GORDON  |  5:19 pm CDT  Feedback. Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030521_2

 

  Acropolis: Reloaded.

On May 10th I told a story about what I did a long time ago in Athens, Greece.  Thibodeaux, a forum regular, said, "Hey, I'll be in Athens next week!"  So, I called him out, and challenged him to repeat my performance.

This is his story.

We spent our last two nights of our Greek Odyssey in Athens. We dedicated one morning to visiting the Acropolis and other antiquities. With Gordon's challenge in mind, I had planned to try to come as close as I could to recreating his notorious pose. The night before we were to visit the site, I recalled Zetleft's suggestion to get a DTMAN.COM sign in the scene. But how to improvise such a sign with the meager materials I had on hand?

I had several sheets of standard letter-size paper, but I didn't think that a single sheet would be big enough, and I had no tape to create an aggregated sheet. Perhaps I could find something in the hotel room...aha! A long sheet of toilet paper might allow me to form letters large enough to be read. But how could I write on the paper? A pen or pencil would likely shred it. Finally it hit me: the wife had some nail polish in her kit.

Just the thing!

A spent a few minutes carefully marking out DTMAN.COM on a long sheet of toilet paper, using only straight lines for that classic Greek letter look.  The polish soaked through, but quickly dried. Soon I had what I thought would be a decent sign, that folded up into a nice compact package to boot.

The next morning, we set off for the heart of ancient Greece's glory. The wife, who would be snapping the shoot, would not only cooperate if I agreed not to jump any barriers. Recalling Gordon's brush with the law, I readily agreed. As we neared the summit of the Acropolis, I noticed a sign outlining the ground rules: no touching of marble, no picking up of any rocks, no video cameras or tripods, and no (I'm going from memory here) "obscene or defamatory" acts to be photographed. Hmmm...would holding up a toilet paper banner with a URL count?

We made our rounds of the Acropolis marveling at the remains of Pericles's golden age. I had identified Gordon's photo site as the Erectheum, and arranged our tour to pass it last. The Acropolis was crowded with tourists, so I knew I would need to be circumspect, although perhaps the throng would provide some cover. As we came near the porch of the Erectheum, I noticed with joy that there was hardly anyone standing nearby. I quickly glanced around for The Man as my wife got into position. I unfurled the banner, but disaster nearly struck.

A stiff breeze was blowing, and was making it difficult for me to maintain the banner in a readable configuration. I was worried that the tensile strength of the (admittedly low-grade motel quality) toilet paper might be exceeded. As I struggled with the banner, I hoped that my good wife would be quick to snap a few quality shots.

Suddenly, a short, round Greek woman came running up, blowing a whistle.  She was telling me that I wasn't allowed to take a picture holding a sign.  She asked what it said. I told her it was a website, and I was very sorry, that I didn't know this wasn't allowed. She made me throw the sign away, and then she started pointing at my wife's camera. I feared that she might try to confiscate it. Fortunately, she only wanted to make sure it was not a video camera. We apologized profusely and moved along.

Fortunately, my wife managed to get a shot that is about 95% of what I was looking for. And so, here I am, Damning the Man from the cradle of Western Civilization.

 
GORDON  |  4:48 pm CDT  Feedback. Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030521_1

 

May 20, 2003

  Black Hills: Reloaded.

Back in '99 right before I left North Sioux City, SD for Memphis, TN I took a very relaxing four day weekend in the Black Hills.  I decided I'd better see it before I left that part of the country.  Since then, many of you know I moved to Nebraska for a time...and as I'm again leaving this region for the east coast, I decided I'd better go see it again.

But this time I had a digital camera.

The map said it would be about a seven hour drive, so I left early...I also wanted to take a scenic route on which there would be light traffic.  Vacations are no fun if you get stressed on busy interstates.

I know I mentioned a police chase in the teaser....and there was....but I'm not sure how much detail I should give.  I don't want to end up as a Fark entry, "Asshat evades police, brags about it on the internet, jailarity ensues."  Let's just say that I didn't break any laws, but I did some things that to a lesser mortal might have been deemed "reckless," and I did it in front of some sort of public employee who was deliberately pissing me off.  1.  The Bandit would have been proud.  2.  I'm very impressed with the solid construction of my Pontiac.  As rough as it ended up being, I was certain I'd have at least bent something underneath....but I didn't.  Yahoo.  Note to any law-enforcement types: this is fiction, as far as you know.

But I digress.

Last year I was in a hotel in western Nebraska, and took a trip to a local attraction, Carhenge.  Wrote about it.  So of course I could pass through that area again without taking a ganders.

Stud.

Still a bit overcast...I can't seem to find that place on a clear day.

Now, this part of Nebraska is pretty desolate.  Hours and hundreds of miles from anything that could be properly called a city, the locals have made due with whatever was available to them, carving their homes out of the rough stuff of the High Plains.  But, they never forget to show the proper hospitality to weary travelers.

For you citified types, those are bales of hay.

Local avian residents, however, are less welcoming to visitors.  As the car door was opened to snap those pics, we were dive-bombed.

Crap.

When I realized I needed a picture for posterity, it had started raining.

Finally, before dusk, we arrived at our destination, Custer State Park.  We'd rented a cabin right inside the park.  It was quite a scenic drive in...we saw lots of critters right alongside the road.

Prairie dogs, the bane of cattle ranchers.

Goats.

Deer.

And of course, American Bison.

When I came here in '99, I noticed an interesting phenomenon: when one encounters jackasses in this park, they aren't shy like the other animals....they'll stick their head right inside the car with you.  This lesson wasn't lost on me. 

Ahead on the right side of the road, I spied a herd (flock?  pod?) of jackasses.  My mother-in-law was in the passenger's seat.

Slowing to a stop, I pushed the button to roll down her window, and slowly turned on my camera.... and began to laugh, because the jackasses haven't changed.

Owned.

She's cowering in fear.  I'm snapping pictures.  Little woman's in the back laughing nervously.  I'm laughing whole heartedly, having difficulty holding the camera steady.  I only stayed there for three or four minutes, though.  I'm not a completely heartless bastard.

Many mountain roads later, we arrived at the main lodge to check-in.  There's a few rooms and a nice restaurant in this "State Game Lodge," but we wanted a private cabin.  Here's the sign hanging on the front of the lodge.

It says that President Coolidge moved the White House here in 1927, and President Eisenhower stayed here in June, 1950.  Eventually it will amended to also list President-for-Life Gordon.

Got the cabin, went to the nearby general store for firewood, dodged the bison, and relaxed a bit.

There are bison everywhere, including all around the cabins.  Picture is deceiving; the buffalo in the background aren't more than 50 meters away.  No fences.  There was not a thing stopping those animals in the background from charging and goring me.  In fact, the next morning there was one sleeping outside our door.  Directly outside the door.  My wife's screams made it leave.

She was caught somewhat unawares.

Next day, we decided to hit Mt. Rushmore, and the under-construction Crazy Horse Monument.  We took a leisurely drive through the park, and found lots of panoramic lookouts as we approached.

And, as always, it was humbling to stand before it and be dwarfed by the mountain itself, and the reason it was built.  Because this is the most incredible nation in the history of the planet, and I get to live here.  It's hard to take that for granted in this place.

And I crushed it.

Spent a couple hours there, and we had some lunch while overlooking it.  Then we headed toward Crazy Horse.

Their hook is that the Indians want the white man to know that the Indians "have heroes, too."  They are carving up this mountain with only private donations....they have refused money from the federal government more than once. 

When I visited here in 1999, it was small and rough.  It was free to park, and they just recommended you donate once you were in the simple information center with the deck overlooking the mountain.  I picked up a free rock from the mountain, and dropped $20 in the tip jar.  As simple as the "overhead" was, I felt like the majority of my money would go into the carving of the mountain.  This is a good thing.

When I was there last week, I saw where a big chunk of my money must have gone: the new huge multi-million dollar visitor center.  Oh, and it now costs $20 to park your car.  And to be honest, I saw some, but not a lot of progress on the mountain.  It felt a lot more like being tricked by a tourist trap than it did visiting a monument.

After the $20 cover charge, I took my rock and avoided the tip jar, this time.  Damned shame.

Of course, I had to crush it.

The next day we decided to drive into Wyoming and visit Devil's Tower.  Least populous state in the Union, you know.

If the drive through western Nebraska could be considered desolate, then Wyoming is like....a thing even more desolate.

Passed a llama farm somewhere after the state line.

Crushed them.

We took a scenic route and stopped for gas somewhere, so the entire drive was between two and three hours.

At the park entrance, we were told by a nice ranger lady that a climber had just fallen off the tower, and to please give way for emergency vehicles.  Yikes.

I got the ambulance rigs in this picture.  They had a part of the trail circumnavigating the tower blocked off from rubberneckers, and I loitered in that visitor center area for a couple hours, but I never saw anyone...or any corpses...being brought down.  I don't know if the climber lived or died, but the scuttlebutt down there at base camp said it was a girl that fell.

The size of the thing is ridiculous.  Here's a picture for scale...the two dark specks near the middle are two climbers standing on a ledge.

STOP THE INSANITY!

Oh, and I crushed it.

On the way back into South Dakota, I crushed both the "welcome to" sign, and my two passengers.

Our last day in the park we decided to go horseback riding, and to take a long drive down the scenic Needles Highway.  On which there are lots of rock formations known as "needles."

I don't have anything to show scale, but they really are more impressive than I can show in this picture.

There are three one-lane tunnels on this highway, and the story is told that the main engineer wanted all the tunnels to center on Mt. Rushmore in the distance.  He was told it was impossible.  He said, "Nigga, please."

Hard to tell in that image, but that is Rushmore on the horizon.

Here's the actual "Eye of the Needle" formation.

Ignore the edge of my thumb.  Accidental near-crush.

Horsie pictures will need to come later...due to some camera restriction, those pics are on real film.

And, that was the trip.

On the way back I avoided the town in which I caused some trouble, and I didn't get pulled over.  However, if I had I imagine it would look something like this:

Is there a problem, officer?  You JACKASS.

A few more pictures are in a folder accessible through the Feedback thread.

 
GORDON  |  8:51 pm CDT  Feedback. Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030520_2

May 20, 2003

  Teaser.

Got back this evening, but too physically and emotionally drained to tell the story that needs to be told.

There was another police chase.

Story after I get some sleep.

 
GORDON  |  12:10 am CDT   Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030520_1

 

DATA LOSS, HERE.

 

 

ont>Me:  Did you hear me ask for jelly only?
Woman:  You wanted just jelly on bread?  I thought you meant no peanut butter.  Nobody eats just plain jelly sandwiches without butter.

Men and women are two species set apart by a common language.

 
GORDON  |  7:41 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030512_1

 

May 11, 2003

  Happy Mother's Day.

To those to whom it applies.

You mothers.

 
GORDON  |  3:10 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030511_1

 

May 10, 2003

  The statute of limitations has expired.  The story can finally be told.

Once upon a time, I almost got thrown in jail in Greece.

A few coworkers and I were in Athens on "business."  This particular day we closed the deal early, so we cleaned and stowed the weapons and decided to do the tourist-thing.

We started down in the marina district.  We had some lunch at a place on the waterfront called "American Pizza," and after had a few adult beverages while enjoying the sights.  Of the topless beach.  On which we were the only men, for some reason.

Ahhhh, Athens.

After a few hours we started walking, heading generally toward the city center, or what seemed like it.  A few hours and about 10 miles later found us in a market district, and we had a steak dinner (with tomatoes and onions on the side) in an open-air restaurant and did some shopping.  I found a great shirt with lots of hidden pockets, but still nice enough to wear to the discothŤque.  Chatted with the proprietor a bit, and found out one of her suppliers was in Ohio, not far from where I grew up.  Or...not far from where up I grew.  Whatever.  At any rate, I went to Greece and bought a shirt that was probably made in Fremont, Ohio.  Small world.

All of a sudden, we were at the base of a decently sized hill.  We checked the map, and realized we were at the base of the Acropolis...from our position it looked like nothing more than a big pile of rocks.  Up we went.

It's actually a decent hike to the top, reminiscent of Mount Motherfucker in California.  Yes, I believe that's the official name of that particular hill....  anyway, we passed through a massive entrance thousands of years old, and I beheld the Parthenon for the first time.

I was appropriately impressed.  Underneath the sterile skeletal facade, it was easy for me to feel the antiquity of the place.  I could see Greeks in the world's first Democracy overseeing the construction of this place as part of a large public works project.  I imagined invaders from Rome and Turkey and Germany and Germany once more using this position as a high vantage point from which to keep an eye on the surrounding territory.  And, as I'd been drinking a lot that day, I wondered how cool it would be to pee off the side.

As I was busy looking around, I failed to notice how portions of the stone path were so worn with the treading of feet over thousands of years that they were smooth as glass.

I wasn't paying attention and I slipped and fell on my ass, much to the amusement of me mates.

ANYWAY...all of the structures were, at that time, cordoned off by ropes.  No touchy allowed.  This pissed me off.  I didn't come millions of miles to the cradle of democracy to be stopped by a freaking rope fence...and hell, I've infiltrated tougher places than this.

There were antiquities police (or whatever) everywhere we looked, so we'd have to recon a bit for a quiet corner...and we found one, or so we thought.  It was around a smaller structure in a deserted alcove of the hilltop...perfect for what I had in mind.  The finger points to the location.

I gave my camera to one of the guys.  I said, "Ok...I'm going to jump this fence, sprint up the stairs, get next to a column, turn around and lean against it.  Snap the picture the second I turn around, don't lollygag.  Then I'm going to get my ass off before someone sees me.  Four seconds from start to finish."   This seemed like a good plan, so we had a little countdown, and I was off.

Leaped the fence easily, and was bounding up the marble steps.  I was focusing hard on the task at hand, but was somewhat surprised to see the guard at the top of the stairs but back a bit, where none of us had seen him.  I didn't hesitate a micron as I watched the surprise register on his face...his second of hesitation saved me.  As I turned around and leaned against the pillar for the picture, his hand was bringing a whistle to his lips, and he was getting his mass in motion in my direction.  I saw Tillman snap the picture, and got myself moving back down the steps...waiting for a hand to fall on my shoulder.  It crossed my mind that if I felt him grab me, I shouldn't throw him forward as it was a long drop down some hard steps...fortunately he didn't catch me.

I got down the steps and jumped the barrier.  Ran the few feet to my buddies and turned around to see what we were facing.  For some reason he didn't blow his whistle...but I guess he hesitated to chase me when he saw he faced three not-out-of-shape guys.  He stood at the top of the steps where I had just been and jabbered for about 15 seconds in Greek.  I waited for a pause in his tirade and attempted to be diplomatic...adding a lilt of apology in my voice, I told him that I apologized for desecrating this national shrine, but I wanted a picture, and that now we'd be going.  He launched into another fit, sounding even angrier.  

Now, the guy who took the picture of me was my associate, who we'll call Tillman.  He is a large black man...one of the ones with a bald head....and he has a pretty short temper.  About now he says to this guard, "Hey, he already apologized.  You'd better just calm yourself down," and actually starts taking a step at this guy.  REALLY not wanting to cause an international incident, and not forgetting how close help was for this guy if he blew his whistle, I caught Tillman to check his progress, and Schmitty helped me get him turned into our desired direction.  It was time to "ass-out the area," as we used to say.

We walked briskly but calmly toward the stairs out and down.

We left when we chose to.

And I have a great picture.

The guard is directly behind the pillar against which I'm leaning.  Almost sad that we didn't get him in the picture, too.

And here's me leaving the country a few days later.

 
GORDON  |  10:58 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030510_1

 

May 4, 2003

  You kids be good.

Had a road trip appear unexpectedly, so no new posts this week.  I'll appear in the forum as often as possible.

Until next weekend be good, damn the man, and click the GuestMap button in the right column.  

 
GORDON  |  9:42 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030504_2

 

  Hacked by RIAA.

Last year I wrote about the RIAA's attempt to get laws passed that would allow them to hack into private computer systems to hunt and destroy media files.  I wrote my Congressman asking his opinion, and a month later got a form letter thanking me for my interest.  Apparently my inability to fly him in on my corporate jet for an expensive dinner and prostitute means I'm not worth listening to.

More recent was my post about the RIAA allegedly hacking private peer to peer file sharing systems.  They popped up messages to the users that they were breaking the law, whether or not the person had ever actually downloaded an "illegal" media file.  Popular rumor has it that this is only the most public of the RIAA's hacking practices; Madonna's latest debacle is only the tip of the iceberg in the practice of flooding the networks with "spoofed" files.  And, the fact remains that more than one file-sharing network has been getting continually DOS attacked (speculations are deep into the thread) to the point of uselessness, and nobody seems to be able to track the source.

Well, it seems that they've been developing attack plans before they've even had a chance to be made legal.

 

Some of the world's biggest record companies, facing rampant online piracy, are quietly financing the development and testing of software programs that would sabotage the computers and Internet connections of people who download pirated music, according to industry executives.

The record companies are exploring options on new countermeasures, which some experts say have varying degrees of legality, to deter online theft: from attacking personal Internet connections so as to slow or halt downloads of pirated music to overwhelming the distribution networks with potentially malicious programs that masquerade as music files.

The covert campaign, parts of which may never be carried out because they could be illegal under state and federal wiretap laws, is being developed and tested by a cadre of small technology companies, the executives said.
New York Times

"Varying degrees of legality?"  That's a new one on me.  I guess something can be somewhat illegal, but kind of not.

Before you start thinking, "well how bad could it be," well...

 

Among the more benign approaches being developed is one program, considered a Trojan horse rather than a virus, that simply redirects users to Web sites where they can legitimately buy the song they tried to download.

A more malicious program, dubbed "freeze," locks up a computer system for a certain duration ó minutes or possibly even hours ó risking the loss of data that was unsaved if the computer is restarted. It also displays a warning about downloading pirated music. Another program under development, called "silence," scans a computer's hard drive for pirated music files and attempts to delete them. One of the executives briefed on the silence program said that it did not work properly and was being reworked because it was deleting legitimate music files, too.

Other approaches that are being tested include launching an attack on personal Internet connections, often called "interdiction," to prevent a person from using a network while attempting to download pirated music or offer it to others.

In summary, they want to send you a virus to redirect you to content they decide you should see, they want to lock up your computer system no matter how else it's being used, and they want to deny you use of the internet.  Because your nine year old daughter wanted to hear the latest crappy N*Sync single.

Question:  say you're on a cable modem, and the RIAA decides to DOS your cable modem using, file trading neighbor.  Wouldn't the fact that you and your neighbor are on the same network node mean that the entire neighborhood gets DOS'd along with the alleged file trader?  Not to the same extent that particular IP will get attacked, but still I can't imagine there not being an overall reduction of throughput.

And keep in mind, this is indeed all alleged.  Without a search warrant, the RIAA has absolutely no way to determine whether or not I don't already own the vinyl or cassette version of the mp3 copy I'm trying to obtain, which makes my file download perfectly legal.  All you can do if unlawfully attacked by the RIAA is fork over a few thousand dollars to a lawyer.  And the RIAA has deeper pockets than you.

 
GORDON  |  4:26 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030504_1

 
May 3, 2003

  X-Women.

Saw X-Men 2 last night; excellent flick.  Spoiler alert:  there was this one guy who went like BAMF! and did a bunch of kickass stuff.  Like, totally cool.

During the movie, whenever Mystique had a protracted scene, damned if I didn't have a hard time focusing on the dialogue.  Here's some Rebecca.


Rebecca Romijn-Stamos

But then when I found pictures of the X-Women in street clothes, I thought Jean Grey was the most attractive.


Famke Janssen

And then there's Storm, who appeared topless in that other movie with Wolverine, and also that one with Slingblade:


Halle Berry

And of course, there's tragic Rogue.  Can't skip her.


Anna Paquin

And it just wouldn't be right if I didn't include the woman who had the kitty claws.  She's a bad girl.  Bad girls are dirty.  Dirty girls need baths...


Kelly Hu

What can I say, I like the ladies.  I do.  I can't rant about stupid morons all the time...

Ladies, if you want to see scantily clad X-Men, post them yourself.  I can't on principle.

Most of these pics are clickable, by the way.

 
GORDON  |  11:14 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030503_3

 

  Why Dick and Jane are morons.

Because that's how they're being taught.  On purpose.

 

'Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings and call off Christmas!"

You'll never read that delicious line from "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves"--or even its components "lepers," "orphans," "beheadings" and "Christmas"--in America's textbooks and standardized school tests. The sensitivity police of American educational publishing, as rigid and ill-tempered as the sheriff of Nottingham, won't allow it. To them those words are just too controversial.

Nor will you see in your children's textbooks such things as "birthday cake," "hot dog," "fireman," "brotherhood," "you and your wife," "England ruled the seas, her navy was huge," "the deaf," "mentally ill," "the elderly," "bitch" (in reference to a female dog), "first baseman," "Chief Sitting Bull" and even "bookworm." Why, you can't refer to Africans as slaves or Jews as classical musicians.

You can't mention George Washington Carver's work with peanuts or Mary McLeod Bethune's National Association for Colored Women. You can't breathe a word about magic, witchcraft, family conflict, sexuality, satanism, evolution, the supernatural, Mount Rushmore, owls, God, or Harry Potter.
suntimes.com

Long time readers know my position on political correctness, but for you three new people who have visited since Christmas, I feel it is nothing more than policing thoughts.  Forbidden phrases and unwords are simply Orwellian shades of 1984.  There is a difference between walking up to a person in a wheelchair and saying "you are a worthless cripple," and using the word "cripple" in its alternate and otherwise completely valid sense, for example, "American students' chances for success are being crippled by frivolous litigation and the desire to be inoffensive at the expense of accuracy."  If any handicapped folks are offended at the word "crippled" in that sense, then you better just stay indoors.  The world has too many rough edges for you.

But it isn't just political correctness making the children stupid, it's the too often ignorant school administrative layer, more concerned with avoiding lawsuits than making sure they actually teach someone something.

After all, colleges and universities are, before all other things, businesses.

 

A's are common as dirt in universities nowadays because it's almost impossible for a professor to grade honestly. If I sprinkle my classroom with the C's some students deserve, my class will suffer from declining enrollments in future years. In the marketplace mentality of higher education, low enrollments are taken as a sign of poor-quality instruction. I don't have any interest in being known as a failure.

Parents and students want high grades. Given that students are consumers of an educational product for which they pay dearly, I am expected to cater to their desires not just to be educated well but to receive a positive reward for their enrollment. So I don't give C's anymore, and neither do most of my colleagues. And I can easily imagine a time when I'll say the same thing about B's.
washingtonpost.com

And even when an instructor takes his or her job seriously and will not give away grades, they are punished.

 

Brooklyn College has a proud tradition of serving economically disadvantaged young adults. It has, over the years, earned a strong reputation for offering a rigorous, high-quality education to a largely working-class student population. Many of those students are the first in their families to go to college. Many have not had access to the best schools, and many arrive at BC with educational deficits that need remediation. It has been the mission of the college to make it possible for those students to improve their lot in life by providing them with a first-class education. Frederick Lang--who is himself from a background very like those of his students--believes that the best way to open doors for these students is to train them as well as it is possible to train them: even if it means hurting their feelings by giving them honest assessments, even if it means being the first person ever to tell them that their writing isn't up to snuff, even if it means slowing their time to degree by making them repeat a writing course that they should not pass. Brooklyn College administrators disagree with Lang: They say he is too harsh, too exacting, and that he harms his students' self-esteem. They cite as examples the fact that he counts off for poor spelling (instead of giving credit for spellings that get the general idea across), that he covers students' papers with red ink (instead of just pointing out one or two problems so that students won't get overwhelmed), and that he compels students who can't do the coursework to repeat the class (instead of just passing them on to the next level if they complete all the assignments and appear to try hard).
Critical Mass

That instructor, Frederick Lang, has been suspended from teaching in part because he docks points for spelling.

Dick and Jane are screwed.

 
GORDON  |  9:25 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030503_2

 

  "It's all Israel's Fault!".

Remember that time when I said I wouldn't be posting on weekends anymore?  Yeah, that was cool.  Well, it turns out that for the next month or so I'm traveling a lot, and when not traveling I'll be moving half way across the country to an ocean.  As such, there will be frequent gaps in posting during the week, so until things settle down I'll just post whenever I can to compensate for dead air.

++++

Gulf II gave the Arab world a big reality check.  Not only did Allah not intervene and crush infidel Americans who dared trod on ancient Mesopotamia, but one of the biggest armies in the region was flicked away like a booger from a nine year old finger, and there was no uprising by the people, either, in any country.  My guess is that more people protest US Iraqi involvement in San Francisco and Hollywood than do in Iraq as a whole.

I stumbled upon this editorial the other day in Arab media:

 

As the dust settles over Iraq and the cacophony of excited voices on our television screens dies down, the Arab world has begun to stir from the confusion into which the swift fall of Baghdad had thrown it, to take a good look at itself and take stock.

The political repercussions, as ever in the Arab world, are not easy to ascertain, but the fallout for the media is all too evident. To put it bluntly: A great many journalists and media outlets have been left with egg on their face. From accepting the wild claims of Iraqi minister of information Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf, to wildly predicting a jihad among the Iraqi people, very little the Arab media speculated on had, when push came to shove, anything to do with reality.
ArabNews

I agree with what the author has to say, and disagree with what he omits.  He states that the Arab world cannot continue to blame Israel for their problems.  This is obvious to most people outside of that particular argument.  He goes on to state that Arab media was wildly biased and too willing to accept falsehoods as fact, while still managing to slip in a jab at western media.  

What I feel he omitted was a flat statement that the United States isn't the cause of all their problems, either, but I guess that would be asking for too much.  I guess they need to work on not wanting to blame/destroy a smaller country before than can stop wanting to blame/destroy the most powerful country in the history on the Earth.

 
GORDON  |  4:15 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030503_1

 

May 2, 2003

  France getting uppity.

It's week-old news now, but I've needed time to contemplate it:

 

Four anti-war states to create EU army

BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 29 (UPI) -- Four European states that opposed the war on Iraq agreed Tuesday to pool their armed forces and set up a military headquarters independent of NATO in a move dismissed as unnecessary by Britain.

Meeting in Brussels, the leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg signed up to a raft of measures that could lead to a fully fledged European Security and Defense Union by the end of next year.
United Press International

My knee-jerk response to this news was, "What, they're setting up an opposing force, ala Warsaw Pact?  So I stopped to think about it.  And yes, I think they're setting up a force to oppose United States "unilateral" action.

This brings up a number of points:

  1. What do "no war at any cost" countries need with a combined military force in conjunction with their own national armed forces?
  2. Aren't these countries pretty broke right now?  No way this will work without the United States paying the lion's share, as usual.
  3. What happens in, say, Iran if the United States decides they need a regime change, and this fledgling little club answers a call from Tehran to defend the borders from US "aggression?"

The conclusion of these questions is, to me, "Nothing good can come of this."  In my opinion this force is being created to thwart any actions by the United States in which they see fit to disrupt.  France is a wannabe Soviet Union in all other respects, they might as well have their baby Warsaw Pact, too.

This is almost comical, considering their countries' ability to wage war compared to that of the United States.  But what if they had another country join their little club, who had a little firepower?  Might the hub of the Axis of Weasel side with North Korea?  No.  Well, not yet.

M. Chirac returned from Moscow soon before making this announcement.  Interesting coincidence.  One wonders if he was recruiting.  Putin so far hasn't suggested he'd join the Force of Weasel, but he is making more pro-U.N. noises.  Nobody wants to be left out, I suppose.

France sucks.

 
GORDON  |  4:48 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030502_2

 

  Tennessee.  Again.

For those who don't know, I lived in Memphis for a few years, and was exposed to a lot of the idiocy of the State Government.

Every six month or so, the Governor, who ran on a platform of never instituting a state income tax, would rally the state lawmakers in attempt to impose an income tax.  Every time this would happen, it seemed everyone in Nashville stormed the statehouse in protest.  Near riot conditions.  Right before I left, it was reported in the news that to avoid public protest, his latest attempt had been held at the governor's mansion, which is off limits to the public.  

Every other week there was a new story in the news about state spending.  One day it was the fact the state's fleet of vehicles was going to be replaced with hundreds of the sport models of Ford Tauruses.  Upgraded to include cd player.  Another time it was when the governor's wife went to Paris with their son for a week.  At taxpayer expense.

Which leads me to another article I found.

 

In recent years, the federal government has pumped millions of dollars into highway safety advertising in Tennessee

The goal: to combat images of death and destruction on the highways with eye-opening images like those from the highly acclaimed, "Booze It & Lose It" campaign

But that money also bought bobbleheads.

"I bought a bobblehead?" asks one taxpayer.

"Taxpayers' money?" another asks.

It's all part of a campaign aimed at Nashville Predators' fans. The state not only paid for advertising in the arena, but 10,000 Preds fans also received Scott Hartnell bobbleheads... at taxpayer expense.

Total cost: $40,000 dollars.
NewsChannel5.com

Yay, Tennessee!

If the people of Tennessee let this slide next election time, my opinion of all southerners will drop in general.  (Interesting info upper right on that page)

 
GORDON  |  4:21 pm CDT  Feedback Link to: http://www.dtman.com/archives.htm#20030502_1

 Yet more archives!!!!!!!!!!