July 2005 Archives

Still More on Red Sox DVDs

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Well, I am glad I have them, but they were not worth the price for the quality. I already mentioned they are not widescreen, but it gets worse. It's not even in surround sound. They don't even put the Dolby Surround encoded track on there, just plain stereo. And even worse, on my 60-inch TV at 13 feet or so, I can clearly see digital compression artifacts all over the place.

And on some of the DVDs, there's a "Fox 5 NY" logo in the bottom right.

The quality is basically about as good as if someone gave you a videotape with the commercials cut out. The audio (with no surround sound) and video (with significant compression artifacts) quality both are worse than what I recorded off DirecTV onto my DirecTiVo.

The menus are also kinda crummy, with even worse compression on the video. But crummy DVD menus are common: I just got Alison Krauss + Union Station Live, and while the quality of the audio* and video of the program are some of the best I've seen, the menus are nauseatingly bad.

This should be Dolby Digital 5.1, anamorphic widescreen, with a very crisp picture. Is that asking too much for something that I want to last a long time, watch over and over, and that costs this much?

Oh, and the bonus DVD is just the World Series film I already bought, plus some extra stuff like press conferences and celebrations (different from the extras on the one I already bought).

*The audio sounds great, and comes in three formats: stereo PCM (i.e., WAV), and multichannel Dolby Digital and DTS. I use all three: PCM for ripping to my music collection, DTS for normal use, and Dolby Digital if I want to listen at night, so I can use the dynamic compression on my amp and not wake anyone up. use.perl.org

That Answers That

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Re: PowerBook woes, since I got the PowerBook back, I've had five kernel panics, two on Thursday, three on Friday. Funny thing, but I wasn't getting kernel panics before I sent it in for repair. Also, I can no longer mount DVD Video discs. [Update: Now I can. Temporary glitch fixed by the kernel panic which forced a restart?] I am thinking they seriously messed something up with this computer when fixing rhe broken sound. Or maybe they just stuffed a known broken logic board in here until they could get me a good one. :-)

Regardless, I guess I'll have a broken PowerBook at OSCON, which is better than none. slashdot.org

PowerBook Woes

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Around June, the audio in my 17" PowerBook G4/1GHz went bad. It stopped coming out of the sound card, either headphones or speakers. USB devices still worked.

I figured this might be a larger problem than just a sound card, but I left it alone for a little while, being busy, since I have an iMic and that can give me audio on the road, with some small headphones. And at home, I plug into speakers.

But soon it was beyond just no audio, and I was getting bad audio I could not shut off: high-pitched squealing that could only be addressed by plugging in some headphones. Muting, using external audio device, didn't matter. I had a pair of such I was about to throw away anyway, so I cut off its plug and inserted that into the jack.

I called up Apple and set up a repair. I sent it in a couple of weeks later, when I had a few weeks where I could be without it. They got it the next and promptly put it on Hold because of a needed part. Two weeks passed, and finally, last Tuesday, they started repairing it. Except it went back into Hold. I called and asked what was up, they said, oh, we are waiting for a logic board.

Long story short, I am going to OSCON next week and need it back. They said you still have to pay for shipping and labor (it's out of warranty). I said, no, I don't: you didn't actually do the work, and it has been too long. The next day I called back to say "this is the day, send it back now," and that guy was nicer: no charge required.

I get it back today, and the sound card is working. They replaced part 630-4691 PCBA,MLB,PB17". My account shows no charges. I don't know if they finished the job, or if they found a problem with the logic board after fixing the sound problem, and it still needs to be fixed. (Note: they did not clean the screen or fix the rubber feet, as they usually do before returning laptops, which could have been because they didn't finish the job, or because they wanted to rush it out to me after finishing the job. There was also a round yellow sticker on the inside of the case.)

I could call and ask if it still needs to be repaired, but then I risk them saying, "oh no, we finished it, and ... oh, we still haven't charged you yet. We'll take care of that RIGHT NOW!"

Anyway, over the last few years, I am increasingly dissatisfied both with Apple hardware quality, and with their customer support. Both are woefully inadequate. slashdot.org

I Love use.perl.org

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w00t! use.perl.org
I was going to here announce my candidacy for public office, for the Charter Review Commission of Snohomish County. Every ten years, three residents from each of the five Council districts are elected for an unpaid one-year term to propose changes to county charter. The local GOP had only two names to put on the ballot for my district (the seats are nonpartisan, but the parties are still involved), and so I was recommended for the position by various people. On Monday I agreed, and on Tuesday I filled out the paperwork, and on Wednesday I prepared to file it.

But before I did, I was reviewing some documents, and discovered that elected county officials must be three-year residents of the county. I've lived here since June 2003. I wish someone had thought about that before I filled out the paperwork, but it was an educational experience, and at least I didn't actually file anything or announce my candidacy. Or opened a bank account, or ordered any campaign materials. That would've sucked. slashdot.org

More on Red Sox DVDs

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I ordered the DVDs from Amazon, but I was bummed to learn they are in 4:3 ratio. Just like all my other sports DVDs. Why don't they take the HD 16:9 ratio and use that for the DVDs? Seems stupid not to.

However, I was pleased to see the picture on the MLB web site, because I was thinking, "I should print up box scores for when I watch the games," but I saw each DVD has the complete box score on the back of its individual case. Smarties! use.perl.org

Best DVD Set Evar

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I have been waiting for this DVD set for many months. Finally they are releasing it. I kinda wish they could split up the ALCS and World Series into two separate collections, because, frankly, I really only care about having the ALCS. But then again, in 50 years, when the Sox still haven't won again, it will be nice to have the World Series discs too.

Twelve discs, 35 hours, every minute from every game of the 2004 ALCS and World Series. Just awesome. Although -- and this is a given -- I really wish I could overdub the audio with something sane and reasonable. If I had an infinite amount of time, I would download the audio from MLB radio, rip the DVDs, and replace Buck and Tim. use.perl.org

New England Pessimism

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That Reverend Dimmesdale-Hester Prynne jazz in The Scarlet Letter isn't just romantic bullshit. There is a very real streak of dour pessimism in the New England character, and it runs right down into the bedrock. We buy new cars expecting them to be lemons. We put in new heating systems and expect them not just to go tits-up but to do it stealthily, thereby suffocating the kiddies in their beds (but leaving us, their parents, to grieve and blame ourselves for at least fifty years). We understand we're never going to win the lottery, we know we'll get that unpassable and exquisitely painful gallstone on a hunting or snowmobiling trip far from medical help, and that Robert Frost was fucking-A right when he said that good fences make good neighbors. We expect the snow to turn to freezing rain, rich relatives to die leaving us nothing, and the kids (assuming they escape the Black Furnace Death) to get refused by the college of their choice. And we expect the Red Sox to lose. It's the curse, all right, but it has nothing to do with the Bambino; it's the curse of living here, in New England, just up that Christing potholed I-84 deathroad from the goddamn Yankees.
-- Stephen King, "Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season," July 13, 2004 use.perl.org

No, I Am Exactly Correct

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Red Warrior is angry with the political parties in Washington. He says, "The government (meaning the taxpayers) should not have to pay for the internal functions of political parties."

While this is true -- and in fact, no one ever said that they HAVE to, including the political parties -- what he apparenrly means is that they SHOULD NOT pay for those internal functions (in this case, a nominating primary). I stated the obvious:

The nominating primary was *always* a "private political party function", even when it was a blanket primary.

He responded, incorrectly:

Simply put, you lie. It was NOT a "private political party function". That was specifically why it was overturned in the courts a few years back, leading to I-872. Honest, look up the court case and the arguements made.

He is, simply put, wrong. The reason it was overturned was precisely because it was a private political party function, which the government was exercising undue control over. Because it was a private political party function, the party gets to say how it is done, and the state therefore lost the case.

Every public nominating primary, that exists in (IIRC) 49 states, is *by definition* a private political party function, that the public pays for. That's what it is. They are all, every one of them, by definition, private political party functions that the public pays for, that the state and the parties compromise on in order for both to get some sort of public participation in the nominating process.

And it is therefore unreasonable to say you don't like one type of public nominating primary because the public pays for it, but that other kinds of public nominating primaries are OK. slashdot.org

Re: Leading

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Quoth TorgoX, via (who else?) the Guardian:

[Bush] said America was "leading the world when it comes to helping Africa", despite the fact that it gives only 0.2% of its GDP in overseas aid - well below the UN's 0.7% target.

What is this "despite" doing here? There's no obvious -- and indeed, no actual -- connection between leading the world when it comes to helping Africa, and the UN target. It's a target for 2015, one that only five countries have reached, including none of those mentioned in the article. The EU as a whole gives 0.39 percent of GDP currently, and have an additional 2010 target of 0.56 percent, something that many of them probably won't reach.

If the editorialist wanted to be informative and fair, they would have compared the U.S. contributions as a percentage of GDP to the current EU contributions, not to their as-yet unattained 10-year targets, or discussed the lack of U.S. committment to such targets. And of course, the article would have mentioned that the U.S. gives more in dollar amounts than anyone else, which was Bush's point. use.perl.org

Re: Morons.gov

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Quoth TorgoX: "I tell ya, I couldn't make this up if I tried."

Ah, but you did. use.perl.org


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I'll be hosting a BOF for jamming on Wednesday night at OSCON. Bring an instrument, or just come and hang out. Bring some song ideas. Whatever you want to do. I plan to bring my acoustic guitar and some harps, maybe a small USB keyboard to plug into GarageBand. slashdot.org

Top Two Defeated

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The "Top Two" primary was defeated in a preliminary injunction last week. HA!

The decision says that, "In all constitutionally relevant respects, Initiative 872 is identical to the blanket primary invalidated in Reed."

I previously argued that it was not severable, because this is an initiative where the parts are all essential to the whole: without being able to restrict the party affiliations on the ballot, you can't presume the rest makes any sense to the voters. That is also what the court found.

Oh, happy day. No Top Two primary this year.

The next step may be for attempts to make all elections nonpartisan. I don't know the law on that, but it's a bad idea. The question remains: what is your real goal, and do you accept cutting off your nose to spite your face?

If your goal is simply to have primaries open to everyone, then you lost. You can't have it, and you should stop trying. The people who put a candidate on the ballot get to choose who that candidate is, period. The previous blanket primary forced parties to abide by the will of the people, illegally. So they instead tried to take the parties out by allowing their names to be illegally appropriated.

So next, they will try to remove parties altogether. So who puts up the resources to get candidates on the ballot, then? To campaign for them? To get out the information, to get out the vote? And get rid of all that just so you can have a say in who those candidates are, when you *already* have that right? It's ludicrous. slashdot.org

Nice Job There Woodstein

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A NY Times story claims Bush has backtracked: that he previously said he would dismiss anyone involved with the Plame leak, and now he is saying he would only dismiss someone who broke the law.

Oddly -- perhaps tellingly? and at the least, incompetently -- the article does not actually quote Bush saying this previous statement.

Does anyone have a quote to provide, to fill out this story? I cannot recall any time where Bush said he would fire someone involved with the Plame leak. Maybe it happened, but I just can't recall it. I've asked a few people, all of whom say they recall such quotes, but not specifically, and have not provided me with any citations or links. slashdot.org

Signed, Podesta's Mother

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John Podesta didn't do his homework very well last week. The former Clinton Chief of Staff and current head of Center for American Progress said last Wednesday on NewsHour:

And the underlying facts, could you talk a lot about Mr. Wilson, but Mr. Wilson was right. When he went to Niger, he found there was no yellow cake uranium going to Iraq as the president said in the State of the Union. CIA directors admitted that was wrong; Condi Rice admitted that was wrong and it turns out Joe Wilson was right.

OK, so Podesta says that Wilson found no yellowcake was going to Iraq, and that Bush said it was, and that Rice and Tenet said that was incorrect. Fast forward to a few days later on Meet the Press:

And Mr. Wilson never said [Tenet's memo was conclusive on whether Niger was trying to sell uranium to Iraq]. Mr. Wilson said that he was asked to go to Niger by CIA officials, that he went to Niger. He found that the allegations that Niger supplying Iraq with yellow cake uranium was not credible. In fact, George Tenet apologized for having that phrase put into the president's State of the Union address. Condoleezza Rice apologized. Ari Fleischer, on behalf of the White House, apologized.

So now Podesta says that Wilson did not find there was no yellowcake going to Iraq, only that he could not conclude there was. And no longer are Bush's words wrong, but they merely should not have been included in the speech.

At least Podesta did his homework before Sunday, but it was several days late. And he still incorrectly implies a connection between the Wilson trip (which were about the flawed U.S. intelligence) and the 16 words (which were based on separate British intelligence). I give him a D+. slashdot.org

Giving up on Jon Stewart

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For the second night in a row, Jon Stewart has told his guest that what he was interested in was not important, was irrelevant.

With Bernard Goldberg, he said Goldberg's book -- a slightly tongue-in-cheek, but serious, book about how various people (mostly liberals) harm the country -- was bad because there are so many more important things to care about. And yet interviewing a guy because he feels he is shut out from being a porn star because he is Asian is of primary importance.

Something tells me if the book were about conservatives who harm America, Jon wouldn't have been so combative and defensive. He might have even said the book actually was important.

Last night, he told Michael Isikoff that it was irrelevant who broke the law, that all that matters if that Rove or McClellan lied to the public. The rest doesn't matter.

When on Crossfire awhile back, Jon went after the hosts, saying he was not just a monkey to dance for us. Well, you know what? That's all I want you to be. You're a smart guy, but you're not brilliant, and I neither need nor want you to be a pundit. I just want you to entertain me.

When did you start believing your own hype? Get over yourself and dance, monkey, because I can get far more intelligent and rational and informative news elsewhere. I don't watch you to get your opinion. slashdot.org

PowerBook and Apple Repair

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A month or so ago, my PowerBook sound card died.

Two weeks ago, I called Apple to get a repair done.

Monday, I sent them my PowerBook.

Tuesday, they received it.

Tuesday, they put it on hold because they didn't have the part. It remains on hold. I remain without my computer.

Because obviously two weeks was not long enough for them to get my part to the repair facility. use.perl.org

Re: President/Dean Wormer

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Many people think it is essentially fact that Karl Rove broke the law. Well, it's not. Not even close.

Most importantly, there's no evidence that Rove knew Plame was undercover (if indeed she was: that still is not publicly known, though it seems likely, else why investigate it?). The Cooper e-mail says only that Rove identified Wilson's wife as working for the CIA on WMD, not that she was undercover. There's simply no reason to think Rove certainly knew she was undercover.

There's also the possibility that Rove didn't even tell Cooper until he knew Novak had the information and was going to have it published. So in this possible scenario, Rove didn't know she was undercover, and told Cooper only that information which was already essentially in the public domain (that is, it certainly would be in the public domain by the time Cooper's story ran).

There is certainly a lot more to this story than any of us know. The Island of Conclusions may look good from afar, but it is less attractive once you get there. use.perl.org

Rove Is A Bad Bad Man

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Many people are ready to string up Karl Rove and send him to prison. For what, exactly?

Let's take a quick look at the facts as we know them:

It is a crime to knowingly reveal the identity of a covert agent.

Karl Rove essentially identified Valerie Plame to Matt Cooper, according to email dated July 11. He did not identify her as covert, and we do not know he knew she was covert, if indeed she was covert (we will assume for the sake of argument that she was).

Matt Cooper wrote his story on July 13. Bob Novak published his infamous story on July 14.

Rove said in public he did not say identify Plame until after Novak published his story.

I am not omitting or misrepresenting any salient fact to the question of criminal wrongdoing, that I am aware of.

Neither of the two parts of the crime are satisfied thus far. We don't know he knew she was covert. But more importantly at this stage, we don't know if he even revealed her identity. Yes, Novak published three days later, but maybe Novak contacted the WH for confirmation, and got to Rove, and at that point Rove reasonably considered her to be already revealed. You can't reveal what is already revealed.

And quite possible, the only reason Rove even knew about Plame *at all* is because Novak told him. You can't convict someone for releasing information he got from a reporter, that he has no reason to suspect is secret.

The important facts here would be to find out when Novak knew, and whether he contacted the White House for confirmation, and who caught wind of it there, and when.

[Update: Apparently Cooper wrote his story the day before Novak's was published, but Cooper's story mentions Novak's story specifically. Did Cooper know Novak knew before Novak's story was published, or was that added to the story later? If he did know, how did he know?]

That Rove said he didn't say her name until after Novak's publication is mostly irrelevant, even if he was lying and not merely mistaken: he wasn't under oath, and the legal distinction between before and after is slight, if it exists at all, as long as Novak already had, and disclosed to the White House, the information.

That said, if events did play out like this, Rove will likely have to resign anyway, despite not violating any laws, even if he had no idea she was covert, because it just looks bad to people who either just hate Rove and assume (or pretend to assume) the worst, or who don't understand the important nuances of the actual facts.

It could very well be that Rove was entirely in the wrong here and did violate the law. I suspect we will find out soon enough. I'm just saying there are several plausible explanations, some that completely exonerate him and some that completely condemn him, and I have little respect for those opinions offered from the Island of Conclusions. slashdot.org

Chuck Schumer and The Supremes

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Chuck Schumer once again, on Meet the Press yesterday, revived the lie that Bush has some obligation, either in law or in tradition, to consult with the minority opposition Senators before selecting a Supreme Court nominee.

Now, Bush is doing so, but he has no obligation to. He's doing it as a courtesy, one I think he shouldn't do, just because the Democrats are lying and bullying him into it.

First, the Constitution does not require it. It's never been held that "with the Advice and Consent of the Senate" puts a prior requirement on the Senate. You can choose to read it that way, but it's always been taken to mean that the Senate acts on the nominee, not before the nominee.

Second, even if it did require it, it says "the Senate," not "the minority opposition members of the Senate." The Senate is, to the Constitution, a single unit, not lots of little factions, and it is represented by whoever controls the majority of the Senate. Seeking the advice of a majority party of the Senate would certainly, indisputably, meet any Constitutional requirement of advice, if one existed.

Schumer dishonestly noted that Clinton spoke to the Republicans when he was putting up his nominees, but that's because the Republicans were the majority party in the Senate.

Schumer told other lies, as he usually does. My favorite is that when criticized for demanding answers to how he would rule on specific cases, he says, "it's our obligation to understand their judicial philosophy." But he goes far beyond merely understanding their judicial philosophy, and demands answers to specific examples of caselaw.

Then he called Scalia extreme, and said extremists should not be on the court, or if they are, there should only be one extremist on "each" side, liberal and conservative. An extremist, he says, is someone who makes up law, instead of interprets it.

Funny, to me, that's the definition of a liberal.

I saw Justice Stevens on CSPAN this weekend, and he basically said he feels it is his responsibility to make up new laws. Oh sure, he didn't put it in those words. But he brought up various cases, such as the Ten Commandments issue, where the law didn't actually say something because it didn't occur to the legislators to consider it, but the principle involved obviously, to Stevens, should be extended to cover the present case. But that is the job of legislators, not courts.

Liberals disagree with that, of course, but there's no getting around that this is what liberals do: they make up new law when they feel it is appropriate to do so. If we took Schumer at his word, he would exclude pretty much every liberal justice you could name. slashdot.org

Yankees Suck

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Let's remember just how much the Yankees suck. The Red Sox are only a couple of games ahead of them, but ... they suck, and the we rule.

I made a video using footage from the 27-hit game the Sox put about a month ago at Yankee Stadium, as a reminder of these basic facts. use.perl.org

Valid HTML

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Awhile back I made it so every new story, comment, etc. would be valid HTML. Now, I've done gone and made all old stories and comments are valid HTML. If you see anything broken, please do let me know.

The surrounding HTML will, hopefully soon, follow. use.perl.org

Federalist No. 11

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I know commerce is a dirty word among some people, but it was all-important to the Framers. Without commerce, the new nation could not survive, and this meant not only securing commercial oppportunity for the nation, but also controlling those opportunities as much as possible, and protecting them from other nations who rightfully saw those emerging commercial interests as a threat to their own.

Hamilton writes: "the importance of the Union, in a commercial light, is one of those points about which there is least room to entertain a difference of opinion, and which has, in fact, commanded the most general assent of men who have any acquaintance with the subject."

A modern translation familiar to Slashdot readers would be thus: "there's no room for disagreement on the importance of the Union in commerce. Anyone who knows what they are talking about agrees with what I am saying."

The next time you see someone use this poorly regarded rhetorical style, note to yourself that they are, at least, in favorable company.

Regardless, Hamilton was correct, pretty much everyone agreed on the point. Union provides the opportunity to pool their resources for the sake of more effective commerce, such that they all would be more likely to be able to flourish on their own, without the aid of the Europeans.

The most clear benefit would be a mutual trade agreement with the British. Commerce means power. The British want our money and goods, so they have a relationship with us, which gives us standing.

Another tool for so influencing European conduct toward America is having a navy. A navy would give us standing in conflicts arising between other nations along shipping routes, turning the tide to one side or the other, and such leverage gives us more commercial opportunity. Hamilton wisely notes, "a price would be set not only upon our friendship, but out neutrality." And without such adequate power as a navy would provide, "a nation, despicable by its weakeness, forfetis even the privilege of being neutral."

Hamilton closes with a screed against European egotism, noting "the superiority she has long maintained has tempted her to plume herself as the Mistress of the World, and to consider the rest of mankind as created for her benefit. ... It belongs to us to vindicate the honor of the human race, and to teach that assuming brother, moderation. Union will enable us to do it. Disunion will will add another victim to his triumphs. Let Americans disdain to be the instruments of European greatness!"

Another modern translation for the Slashdot reader: "The Nazis wanted disunion, too."

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist . slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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