Friday, April 15, 2005

So now we know.

John McCain, Senator (D-AZ) made it known last night on which side of the aisle he stands. To him I say good riddance. Ever since he has exploded on the scene with his 2000 presidential run, I've been leery. Always struck me as a liberal in Republican's clothing. And just in case the debacle that is McCain-Fiengold wasn't enough, I'm now willing to firmly affix this one in the "Yes, I was right all along" column. Go ahead and let the Democrats run wild and use every underhanded tactic in the book; that's what democracy is all about, right?

Thursday, April 14, 2005


First, I would feel remiss if I did not make some mention of the fact that...BASEBALL HAS RETURNED! Thank God. My security blanket is back. I attended the Ranger's home opener on Monday making it official. Hot dogs were consumed. Cotton candy became epoxy on the face of accompanying youngster. A spirited cry of “CHARGE!” exited my lips. Also, the Rangers lost said opener and my fantasy team is in 8th place, this rubber-stamping the official notification. So I say,"Hello baseball!"

Next, In the past I have noted bathroom oddities (Yes, he's still around...and yes, I still hear the song) but some recent events compel me to share. I’m starting to wonder if I the weird one. First, (less odd of the two) a guy using the stall, and I mean "USING THE STALL", chose not to lock the door. Was the lock broken? No. Just couldn't be troubled, I guess. Also, he didn't seem bothered at all when a Director walked in on him. The director in question was bothered, or at minimum shocked, by pushing open an unlocked stall door and finding it occupied, but he had no reaction to the event. Then a couple days later, as I "stand at the wall" I hear a digitized female voice behind me (that's where the stalls are). I realize that someone who is "using the stall" is also involved in a phone conversation! With a woman! Now, I'm no longer shocked running across the "stall sleeper" or the guy using the time to update his Blackberry or play games on a cell phone, but actually taking a call? But I must ask, "I'm the only one bothered by such behavior?"

Finally, can we go ahead and tag you as "bitter elitist" if after losing an election for the highest political office in the land you blame it on the fact that, "Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote." Huh? Yep, he said it. John F. Kerry thinks people are so dumb, that is, he thinks the people who were going to vote for him are so dumb that they thought the election was on Wednesday. Or that a traffic ticket deemed them ineligible to vote. Obviously, it doesn't, but I willing to say believing such things should. If you have to ask the question, "Can I still vote if I got caught for doing 42 in a 35?” the answer is, "No. May I have your ballot please?" End of story. Kerry voters...the Wednesday majority.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Breaking News...Apple Still Sucks

So, for Christmas I acquired an MP3 player. One with a 30 gig capacity. With it I now have the capability to carry around my entire music collection (approx. 650 CD's) in something that will fit into my pocket. I quite like it. It's nice to be able to go from home to car to work to car to home and be able to listen to any song I have. Plus I can use the CD holder in the console of my car to hold potpourri.

One major distinction, though. I did not buy an iPod. Not that I was inherently anti-iPod. I think they're quite stylish and know, nifty. What I could not get my head around is why I should pay 40% more for 33% less capacity while losing little, if any, functionality. Some have even said that the sound quality of the one I purchased is better than that of the venerable iPod. I might even be talked into the fact that the iPod is a somewhat superior product, but not by a wide margin. Even if it is, the facts remaining true, I have to wonder why anyone would buy an iPod today. This is not so for those have been carrying one around for a couple of years. Back then, this was a cutting edge product whose competitors were priced similarly. Why not go with the iPod? But now? Now doesn't it just come down to the "cult of cool"? Is this not just the Members Only jacket and parachute pant for the Oughts' techno literate/music lover?

I guess it's just not cool to get value. But how else do you explain that iPods are still out selling all comers when I was able to get a 30 gig jukebox, a smaller, 128mb player for jogging and such (with an FM tuner and recorder. Take that Shuffle!) and an FM Transmitter for less than the cost of said 20 gig iPod? But all of this is not even my point. "If you want to be gay and deaf and go have deaf babies, have at it."

Despite the fact I believe iPods are currently a rip-off, I do not deny that Apple has made a good product. A product people like. One that I'm sure I could enjoy if given one. This had me softening on my stance that Apple wasn't all that bad. Every once and while they could get off their high-horse and make something which all us hoi polloi could enjoy. Along with the iPod came iTunes. In the wake of the death of Napster, it was also quite popular. Selling digital songs for 99 cents. What's so bad about that? Nothing I would say. I've had the iTunes software downloaded for quite some time, and found it quite functional as well. After downloading the software comes the obligatory avalanche of email. iTunes features a free (FREE? I love FREE!) download each week. The events of me actually reading the email and seeing a song that might interest me finally collided. I dutifully opened up iTunes and after having to set up an account; I downloaded my first track from iTunes. How easy was that!? Don't we all love Apple?

Skip ahead a couple of days. Time to add said (FREE!) track to my juke for listening at my leisure. I go into the software that accompanied the player (because iTunes only recognizes iPods, of course) and can't find the song. There's the directory. There's the folder. No song. Huh. Go back to Explorer (Alert! I'm working in a Windows environment here) and there's the song. OK...? What format is this in? Oh, AAC (A.K.A. M4p)? I bet I need to just set my software to recognize that format. Not there. Dangit. Ok, I just need to change the format of the file to Mp3. iTunes gives me the option. I take it. STOP! "iTunes cannot complete task because Apple sucks and wants you to assimilate... I mean... the file is protected." Yes, of course. Any song you download from iTunes is in a protected AAC format. One that iTunes cannot reformat. Genius. Of course. If you've got this great software and this huge catalogue of songs you would obviously want to set it up where only people who purchase your over-priced product can use it.

I can still do this. I will not give up. I am not a quitter. I know! Google will rescue me. Search for "Format ACC to Mp3" and I bet it will take me to some freeware that will fix me right up. (Slumps at keyboard)...Or not. It just takes me to dozens of other sites where guys are having the same problem as me. With it I find that I am left with 3 options. (1) Download this very odd software that runs in DOS mode and takes (reportedly) 2-3 times longer than ripping a song off a CD to reformat the files. DOS and long delays, sign me up! (2) Burn songs from iTunes onto a CD and then rip them back in Mp3 format. That seems efficient. Why don't I just listen to the song and then hum it into a microphone attached to my computer? (3) Devoid my computer and mind of ever using iTunes (and most likely any other Apple product) again. Guess which way I'm leaning.

This all brings up one other question. Why is Microsoft, which I'm honestly not a huge fan of, always demonized for being a "monopoly" when Apple builds machines that use a singular operating system that only they produce? Then they create a music service that sells music, but only in a format that the machines they produce will recognize. How are Apple's practices less anti-competition than Microsoft's? And besides, Apple sucks.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Land of Shifty Canucks

In breaking news you probably won't find anywhere in the mainstream media, Canada's not real big on freedom of the press. Quick rundown, Canada's Liberal party is finding out that containing the details of a gigantic scandal is rather tricky business. It would seem that they've been funneling money to select advertising companies, and said companies do little or no work for their share of approximately $250 million before they kick-back about half of that to the Liberal party for campaign purposes. The obligatory ties to the mob or other organized crime are also involved. In addition, the threat of snap elections to offset any political fall-out was rumored. Fun stuff.

To investigate said activities, the Gomery Commission was created. Almost all testimony heard by the Commission has been made public, but then it was decided to enact a publication ban on the testimony of three pivotal witnesses: Jean Brault, president of the ad agency Groupaction, Charles Guité, an officer of the Public Works ministry who worked on the Sponsorship Program, and Paul Coffin, president of the ad agency Coffin Communications. After the contents of the testimony of Jean Brault was reported by this blog, their attempt at keep a lid on the scandal resulted in threats that any Canadian publication that reported on barred testimony or any website linking to above blog could be held in contempt of court. To clue you in on the imagination of those involved, this quote from Inquiry official Francois Perreault: "We never thought someone would violate the publication ban," Perreault said. "Maybe we were more confident than we should have been." Never thought that someone would find out the details of explosive testimony and then publish it? If you say so. For a rundown of the events, go here(start at the bottom and go up).