Gray Flannel Dwarf


quagmire of cacophony

At Borders tonight, we were looking at books, music, etc… the price of CDs, even ones on sale, were selling for upwards of $17-20, some of them. It’s just insane. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t fully blame the record industry. I think both the consumer and record companies are to blame.

I believe piracy is rampant because prices are up and quality is down. For sure, 90% of the music out there isn’t worth my hard-earned dollar. Why would I pay for music that miserable?

But capitalism is a funny thing. Even though piracy is widespread, today’s dungpiles of cardboard-flavoured, day-glo albums still sell… mostly because people have no taste. Yes, most of the music out there is trash. But if people have no ear for music, they’ll buy whatever dogfood the record labels keep putting out.

So, yeah. I blame the record companies for their losses, you reap what you sow. It’s not worth paying for the stuff they put out. But at the same time, I blame the consumers for nonetheless indirectly supporting these junkyards by listening to what they create. In absolute terms, the record companies probably have just as many ears listening to the latest flavour of the week… and as long as they have that, they’ll never change.

Something’s gotta break. Prices have to come down, or people will have to develop a sense of taste; The record companies will have to learn to improve their wares, or people will have to start looking to the indie labels for quality elsewhere. Until one or more of these things happen, we’ll continue to sit in this den of din.

cswiii @ 9:43 pm


Ohh, now it all makes sense.

From the website of a nearby community:

Apparently about 10 years ago Cascades was part of some national fiber-to-the-curb experiment that fizzled out. The great paradox of the more modern fiber versus the venerable copper is that DSL today is a copper-based technology and does not work over fiber.

So it’s more than just an issue of a fibre switch.

It seems time to encourage someone — ma bell, or (oof) the gub’mint — to put some sort of money into the existing FTTC and FTTH deployment. I never knew those two were part of the so called “last-mile” connectivity. All things considered — regionally, technologically and corporately — I’ve never seen a nuttier irony in my life.

cswiii @ 12:32 pm

VA-Rt. 28 Blues

From Delegate Dick Black’s newsletter:


Last year, Delegate Black introduced House Bill 1287 to end gridlock on Rt. 28. The bill passed, allowing the massive $1.3 billion project to be constructed without further delay.

Contractors have already been selected to complete the ambitious project in the next five years. All traffic lights will be removed on the 14-mile stretch of Rt. 28 running from Rt. 7, into Fairfax County.

Ten new interchanges will replace stop-and-go commutes with uninterrupted traffic flow. Two new traffic lanes will permit high-speed travel even at peak commute periods.

“There will be no tolls on Rt. 28,” said Black. “This will be the fastest-built, major roadway project in Virginia’s history.”

I worry that he’s setting himself up for a fall with that kinda statement. Well, not a genuine worry for him. I just have my doubts. The arteries that feed into 28 still have a lot of cross-28 traffic; Trying to do so, one way or another, is by far the longest and most grueling part of my commute to and from work. If they make it a non-stop strip of highway, they gotta figure out some way for those arteries to cross, to do so in a well-planned manner, and within, according to Black’s words, a five-year timeframe.

More math…
10 Intersections. If it’s your typical intersection, that means four ramps per intersection. 10 * 4 = 40. So not even including any overpasses, forty ramps in five years = 8 ramps per year.

Good luck.

cswiii @ 10:38 am


This is one of those

This is one of those days where blastin’ Sgt. Pepper’s just seems perfect.

Also, I realized I’m kinda backwards in one sense — whereas everyone else shaves on the weekdays to look good for work, and kinda ignores it on the weekend, I find myself getting lazy during the week, and going to work completely unshaven and eventually get around to shaving on the weekends.

cswiii @ 3:16 pm



Thanks to kewlnonutz for this one.

It used to be a privilege to use the ATM at your own bank. Never any fees; Notices regarding these fees were always very evident. I dunno if regulations mandated them or not, but the banks always made them out to look like advertisements – “Become a member and don’t pay any fees!”

So let’s say I become a member. No ATM fees, that’s cool. But what makes them think that I want to watch commercials while I’m waiting for my damn money?

Dan Sullivan, a senior vice president at Bank of America, says the Charlotte, N.C., company hopes to offset some of the continuing expenses of upgrading its large ATM network. Bank of America says it operates more ATMs than any other bank — more than 14,000 at last count — and that it wants to add more. But upgrading them is costly, ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 per machine.

Ok, so let’s do some basic accounting.
Let’s say you have ten non-BoA customers using an ATM each day — and I’m pretty sure that’s conservative. Let’s say each person gets charged $1.50, which again, is on the lower end of the scale these days. Thus:

10 * $1.50 * 365 = $5475.00 per machine, each year, in ATM fees.

Granted a small fraction of that number might go to electricity and maintenance costs. But I’m pretty damn sure that banks aren’t upgrading those machines every two years… or if they are, there’s certainly a software-based solution that is a helluva lot cheaper.

What is an ATM, anyway? A networked computer with a money dispenser, right? Most of these things even naviate you, transparently, through the menus via an OS/2 interface. How much more difficult would it be to have a host-based solution, some sort of thin-client? X/Windows, anyone?

How lame.

cswiii @ 3:16 pm


Winging it.

“One wonders what might happen when news gets out that manufacturers of toys also directly target children. In fact many toy companies completely disregard adult consumers and try to pedal their wares entirely to youngsters. Moreover, there are some rumors that Black Entertainment Television uses targeted messages to minorities. So, come to think of it, does the Democratic party.”

–Jonah Goldberg, on claims that the food industry preys on children, minorities and developing countries (The National Review)

That quote cracked me up.

Tonight I (unintentionally) had a curious experience. Rather than read a lot of my book at the bookstore, I skimmed some magazines to supplement my reading. The first one I picked up was The National Review; The other was The Utne Reader, and I read through them in that order.

I imagine the experience isn’t too awful different from jumping into an icehole after sitting in a sauna.

There I was, reading this magazine that waxed pachydermal on public affairs, and then switched to the Utne Reader, filled with touchy-feely epochs of self-discovery. Curiously, I found the National Review more interesting than UR. Now, I suppose chances are that this is a fluke — I mean, I’ve tended to enjoy UR quite a bit in the past. However, it probably also had to something to do with the fact that I’ve got a measurable does of right-wing dogma in me. Despite everything I might say or do, I’ve got a strong desire for small government, individual responsibility and fiscal responsibility.

So why do you think I brought a subscription card home with me… for the Utne Reader.

In simple terms, it’s because, despite the quality material in NR, the utter smugness of some of the articles just took it over the edge. It is this same smugness that has permeated the right-wing, in my opinion, making the gun, tobacco and Christian Right contingents ever the more ugly, this same conceit that makes most of what comes out of the Republican party maw sound completely obnoxious.

It’s this same smugness that has blinded the right from seeing the benefits of any sort of feasible social agenda. I mean, I can believe in fiscal responsibility, but I can still have compassion for the plight of others. Unfortunately, this seems to have become an ennui, a thorn in the side of the right; Thus, they’ve succeeded in completely effacing any such concept from their worldview.

cswiii @ 9:48 pm

No love for Adelphia

John Rigas, the founder and former chairman and CEO of Adelphia Communications, and two of his sons were arrested in Manhattan Wednesday morning on federal fraud charges.

Let me be the first to post this prediction.
John Rigas is 77 years old. I will bet you dollars-to-donuts that that the elder Rigas will soon find himself in the company of General Augusto Pinochet and Clark Clifford. That is, I will not be surprised in the least when they manage to mysteriously find some sort of illness or weakness that makes him unfit to stand trial.

cswiii @ 11:16 am


Started reading John C. Maxwell’s

Started reading John C. Maxwell’s The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork once again, this evening. Law #6 is The Law of the Catalyst.

What makes a catalyst? According to Maxwell, there are nine qualities. I’m gonna try and rate myself on a 1-5 scale, five being the best. There is no such scale in the book; I’m just making it up as a self-assessment.

Intutive – 5. Really… at least in my field. I’ve been saying for years that you can’t learn computers — well, at least not in school or anything. You can learn how to work with computers, but you don’t learn how to make computers work for you. It takes intuition, and that can’t be taught in school.

Communicative – 2. Yeah, I suck at this.

Passionate – 3. Um, sometimes. I’ll have fits of energy to get things done, especially when I’m working on a fun bit of perl script, or sometimes I’ll even spend a whole day working on a mini-application. But overall, my “passion” is scattered. Just as often, I have a hard time being really motivated about something.

Talented – 5. I guess, all things considered, I’d have to be, to end up where I am. Even if I wouldn’t want to admit it myself, I’ve had too many people say it.

Creative – 3. A few years ago, this might have been a 4 or a 5. But I seem to have lost some creativity ever since I fell into the logical world of high tech. It sucks. Again, sometimes I will have a burst of creativity. But nothing like the flow I used to have.

Initiating – 2. I can’t seem to initiate a good conversation, much less a group outing, much less am I any good at getting people started doing anything productive at work. Lame.

Responsible – 3. Maybe. I am a lot more responsible than I used to be. I’m hardly organised though, and that can’t possibly help the cause.

Generous – 5. A lot of people will say this about me, probably more than anything else on this list. I do or give a lot to people. People tell me it’s too much, sometimes.

Influential – 1. This goes hand-in-hand with “Initiating”, I think. I don’t think I have an ounce of influence in me.

Total score: 29/45

If I’m a catalyst, then I’m leaving behind me one noxious cloud of pollution.

cswiii @ 9:35 pm

Wo xi huan la jiao! Ni xi huan ma?

Here are a few more pictures that focus on the true thrust of my gardening aims. Unfortunately, I still don’t have any more chiles on the plant that are large enough to photo. Click, if desired, as usual.

A multicoloured cayenne. I’ve pulled most of these green; I’ll let the rest go red.

Some fruits from my pitiful runt of a jalepeno plant.

Some immature, late-blooming tabascos…

…and a friend.

Unripe habaneros, with basil in the background.

cswiii @ 6:22 pm

For : Hamas leader killed

For spampy

Hamas leader killed
Can’t we all just get along?
Blood in the cafes.

cswiii @ 9:22 am


An update on this observation.

An update on this observation.

Walking through the shopping centre the other day, not only did I discover one that I hadn’t counted in the entry, I also found that one of the laundromats had closed – and was thus amazed that a new one had opened on the other side of the parking lot.

Also, the jewelry store that is/was in the other shopping centre is “reconsolidating” and is leaving that location.

What do you think is replacing it?

A Quizno’s.


cswiii @ 5:53 pm


A prime example of the

A prime example of the clueless, lemming-like behaviour that is far too prevalent online.

Addendum: Make that lemmings and trolls.

cswiii @ 4:37 pm


Major Harris wants a crack

Major Harris wants a crack at a QB position with the Bengals.

Wow. There’s a name I haven’t heard in years.

Of course, this is an older article and they’ve since picked up Bledsoe (no they haven’t). But isn’t that just crazy?

cswiii @ 11:09 pm

Talkin’ John Ashcroft Paranoid Blues

I may continue to work on this, if I get any creative ideas.

(with apologies to Bob Dylan)

Talkin’ John Ashcroft Paranoid Blues

Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue,
I didn’t know what in the world I was gonna do,
Them terrorists they was comin’ around,
They was in the air,
They was on the ground.
They wouldn’t gimme no peace. . .

So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the Tom Ridge Society,
I got me a Citizen Corps membership card
And started off a-walkin’ down the road.
Yee-hoo, I’m a real Op:TIPSter now!
Look out you Arabs!

Well, I was lookin’ everywhere for them gol-darned Rags.
I got up in the mornin’ ‘n’ looked in my bags,
Looked in the sink, behind the door,
Looked in the glove compartment of my car.
Couldn’t find ‘em . . .

I wus lookin’ high an’ low for them Rags everywhere,
I wus lookin’ in the sink an’ underneath the chair.
I looked way up my chimney hole,
I even looked deep inside my toilet bowl.
They got away . . .

Well, I wus sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat,
Figured they was in my T.V. set.
Peeked behind the picture frame,
Got a shock from my feet, hittin’ right up in the brain.
Them Rags caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core fundamentalist ones.

Well, I quit my job so I could work alone,
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes.
Remembered a clue I’d almost forgotten:
The ‘merican flag is made of cotton!
That ol’ Betty Ross . . .

Well, I search all the books on the library shelves
Cuz you can’t trust it as done by anyone else
I found some characters I didn’t understand.
Knew right away it had to be the Koran
I just hope no one saw me searchin’

Wouldn’t want them to think I was a terrorist lurchin’

Now Leiberman, he’s a Middle East spy,
Al Gore, Gephardt and them Democrat guys.
To my knowledge there’s just one man
That’s really a true American: Attorney General John Ashcroft.
I know for a fact he hates Arabs cus he’s born and raised in the midwest!

Well, I fin’ly started thinkin’ straight
When I run outta things to investigate.
Couldn’t imagine doin’ anything else,
So now I’m sittin’ home investigatin’ myself!
Hope I don’t find out anything . . . hmm, great God!

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 9:59 pm

Greens from the garden.

Here’s an artsy-fartsy image of stuff I’ve harvested, thus far this summer. As usual, click on the thumbnail image for a larger version; Click here for a labelled outline image.

garden variety

My housemate already used my newly-harvested chile, so it couldn’t be included; None of the other pepper plants have fruits ready to pick.

In other news, I have been playing with the idea of studying for an MBA or MIS degree. That’s fuzzy thinking right now, though. Is it really worth sitting through the GRE?

Then again, I’m always set myself up with roadblocks like that. The reason I never really got contacts before was because people told me that sometimes they slip down in your eye, etc., and you have to adjust them. A little thing like that scared me off, for whatever reason. I think I can equate the GRE to this unfounded fear. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet.

Of course, GWU Virginia has a neat Computer Security and Information Assurance graduate certificate, as well. If I could get in that program, perhaps it would satiate me, for the time being.

cswiii @ 11:14 am


Your neighbor is (gonna become) a spy

This story is pretty scary. Yes, I do realize that has a slant towards the radical, but the numbers speak for themselves.

One-million Americans involved in the pilot program for “Operation: TIPS” program who, per the “Citizen Corps” website, will be “well-positioned to recognize unusual events, to report suspicious activity.” The numbers come out to one in twenty-four Americans, most who probably couldn’t even pass a current events quiz, identifying and labeling people as terrorists.

Seriously… we have people in Florida who can’t even vote for their chosen candidate on a ballot, and we expect someone like that to make the determination that someone is participating in terrorist activity? If anything, and even if these government-appointed informants are merely one-quarter as dumb as the aforementioned worst-case scenario, this is just going to trigger any predetermined biases in the minds of those people. If racial profiling never existed before, you know it will after this.

I had a thought floating around my head earlier today, and this whole thing kinda confirms it… people are entirely too partisan. Look at it — the Republican party has long touted itself as the lone protector of “individual rights”. Now, this is all fine and good, believe what you want. Yet, when something this invasive is put in place, no-one bats an eye? Do the herds follow their political party that strongly, even when it obviously goes against everything it supposedly stands for?

cswiii @ 11:09 am


Your daily dose of CNN

* Dude, you’re gettin’ disciplined!

* Playboy is now looking for Women of WorldCom (wink wink, nudge nudge).

cswiii @ 3:06 pm

Spent a few minutes searching

Spent a few minutes searching the Yahoo! Groups for Northern Virginia or DC outdoor enthusiast groups. This was done, to little or no avail. In line with today’s trends of identifying with subcultures vs supercultures, there was plenty available along factional lines — “gay” or “jewish” and even “xterra owner” camping groups all existed. There was nothing, however, for the plain ole outdoor enthusiast who doesn’t care what someone else’s age, sex, gender, race or sexual preference is…. much less what they might drive.

Think I’m kidding about this culturally-fragmented mindset? Consider this excerpt from a group’s description:

This list is for single African American Christians who are vegetarian, vegan, or who are interested in becoming a vegetarian or vegan.

cswiii @ 11:06 am

I think that was the

I think that was the most uneventful weekend in a long time.

It wasn’t all that fun :/

Posted with Livelizard

cswiii @ 9:03 am


bling bling!

bling bling!

cswiii @ 11:10 am
Newer Posts »