Thursday, December 20, 2007

Forums: Can we actually have intelligent discussions and debates?

I've seen this off and on since I've been a part of Internet forums and chat-rooms (I used AOL for DOS and BBSs before that). What I'm referring to is the fact that intelligent responses to a topic are often ignored in favor of emotionally charged ones.

I'm not suggesting that there is no room for emotionally charged responses in forums and the like, but they overwhelm the intelligent well thought out ones.

Being a Buddhist (though certainly not a requirement) I tend to shoot for the middle ground and offer thoughtful insight into the topic or defend one side or the other with intelligence. I keep the emotions in check as best as I can and do not encourage or start flame-wars. Yet my comments are virtually ignored and the thread continues down it's course. Usually these kind of threads die because other forum users derail the thread or moderators lock it.

I'm not the only one I've seen this happen to either. Other well thought-out comments are often ignored. I don't have to agree with an author to respect his/her thoughts but apparently I'm in the minority with that frame of mind.

It's easy to blame this all on the anonymous nature of the Internet. To a point that may be correct, but I've seen it IRL (In Real Life) also. Many people just don't want to think and are fine responding to events with virtually unfiltered emotion. People want their perspective respected but they have not earned it. Why should I respect a point of view that you cannot even adequately express?

I'm not guiltless of this I'm sure. There seems to be an unhealthy cultural shift here. Are we headed into a new dark ages where the intellectuals are largely ignored? I certainly hope not, but things don't look so good.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Daily Soap Box - Salaries Vs. Increasing Prices

I keep hearing about how much the cost of normal every day goods are going up. Things like, food, fuel and shelter. Basic needs.

Then I hear about how salaries are not increasing at the same rate that these basic needs are.

This is simply ridiculous. As much money as there is flowing around Wall Street and other markets and we don't have enough to pay reasonable rates? When some CEOs are raking home millions in salary, options and other benefits?

This situation only increases the divide between the rich and poor and significantly hurts the middle-class.

Why do you think so many people are in credit pinches? Why did so many people buy homes as investments? Because they don't make enough money under traditional methods. Sure a lot of people spend money on stuff they don't NEED, we all do that, but the economy as a whole, as it's been built, hurts when people aren't buying those needs. So now what? Recession as everyone keeps saying...perhaps.

The cause? I believe it's the stock market. It focuses primarily on business growth and profitability at the expense of everything else. Customer service? Naw, too expensive! Pay reasonable rates? Why? These people need jobs and they'll work hard for what we pay them, because what other choice do they have?

We middle-class workers are nothing but serfs to the dukes and earls of big business. The only thing to change it would be for the stock market to completely fall apart and for people to be paid what they are worth. A recession won't do that though. The rich won't be hurt by that, only the lower and middle classes. The rich will allow us to suckle on a bit of their money until we get enough ahead to start making and spending our own money again. It'll start all over.

We need a fundamental change, but only something big and scary will make that happen. Who knows what and when that'll be.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Daily Soap Box - Pre-Orders and Gifts

The idea of pre-ordering an item prior to it's official release is not uncommon in these days of online purchasing. I've heard about problems with it in the past, but nothing too terrible. Typically it would be some company who was small and just being dumb. Unfortunately for me my first experience with a bad pre-order situation was with one of the largest online retailers out there---Amazon.

I won't say what I tried to pre-order because I may still be able to buy it at a local store and it is intended to be a Christmas gift. That said, it was a highly anticipated product that many people have had pre-ordered for nearly two months in some cases. The release date was pretty firm and many had planned this item as a Christmas gift.

So lo and behold...the release date comes and goes, I had just expected it to be delivered by the UPS man and not worry about watching the tracking number, and yet it never arrived. Then yesterday morning I get the following email:
We're writing about your recent order for the following item:
{snipped Product Name}

Unfortunately, we've learned that we will not be receiving the
quantity we expected from our supplier. As a result, we have cancelled
this item from your order. You will NOT be charged for this item, as
we only charge you for items at the time we ship them to you.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused by this
cancellation. An unexpected manufacturer delay has meant that
availability of this title has been severely limited for all

However, we hope to be able to offer this game again during the first
two months of the new year.

No warning, no "Would you like to wait until stock has been replenished?"

The email blames the manufacturer but other local big-box stores say they'll have it next week. Personally I think they over sold and now are unable to full-fill their pre-order obligations.

It would have been much better to just own up to the mistake and try to make amends. Instead they alienate all of us.

I'll likely still order from Amazon again but I won't consider pre-ordering anything from them ever again. Clearly their sense of customer service under those circumstances is to pass the blame rather than try to keep their customers satisfied.

It's not all Amazons' fault here either. The manufacturer may have under forecasted demand. And the annual, "Let's release everything right before Christmas," marketing blitz always creates heavy demand. It also risks back-firing when the product is delayed, as in this case.

It's "On-Demand" economics for the retailers and manufacturers. No one wants to have over stock any more. It's too expensive. That requires very tight control of goods. Loose that control and it's a cascade of failure. This failure could hurt a lot of retailers, not just Amazon.

Bottom-line, I won't be buying any anticipated good like this right before a gift giving situation again. Better to buy something established and in stock.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

StarGate TRS-1

StarGate TRS-1, originally uploaded by TNVWBOY. (click for better view)

Yet another Photoshop of the Totally Rad Show guys. This one didn't turn out quite as good as the first too but it's not bad. Dan looks the best in this case. Jeff turned out ok. I was surprised the skin color matching wasn't a bigger issue. Alex is the one that I'm not too happy with. I think it's the glare in the glasses that throws it off.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Rad-in-Pink, originally uploaded by TNVWBOY.

Another Photoshop edit for The Totally Rad Show. The Three Stooges one is a better fit, but this one turned out pretty good too.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Three Stooges or Rad Dudes?

Three-Totally-Rad-Dudes, originally uploaded by TNVWBOY.

If you don't know about The Totally Rad Show, you need to head over to ( and watch some episodes. They talk about all stuff rad but most often; movies, video games, TV, Comics, etc.

In the forums there have been numerous Photoshop projects. Above is my first such image. I think it turned out really well. You can join the Flickr group and see more at:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Daily Soap Box - HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray

First off I'm not an early adopter type. Second I've never actually witnessed either format.

Those things said, who cares?! More HDTVs are being sold but a also know a lot of people older than 40 who don't care about HD. Sure there are some who do but many who don't. Even those of us with HD don't care. I'm one. I have an HDTV.

Here is the bottom line that no one supporting either of these formats is stating... Most people do not and will not for years have the home entertainment systems to take advantage of these high-def movies! My TV doesn't support 1080p, and it's really too small (42in) to make a HD movie worth while. If I had a 60+ inch TV that'd be a different story, but those are STILL very expensive and well out of the range of a vast majority of consumers.

Another factor that is putting a lot of people off is the fact that many movie lovers have huge DVD collections and now if they want HD they have to upgrade. UGH! Sorry, I'm not rebuying all my movies again. Perhaps if there was a GOOD trade-in program. Say you get 60-75% off if you can trade-in the old DVD version, otherwise why bother?

I can hear the marketing people already talking about all the interactive extras on the HD format. Umm...sorry but I don't care again. Sometimes I'll watch the making of or director commentary but more often than not I ignore it. That's not a selling point for me.

So what is the solution? Easy, an up-converting DVD player. I just got a Samsung up-converting DVD player for my birthday. It's great. It blows away my old DVD player in terms of picture quality. Now why, given my entertainment setup would I want to go to HD? Where is the benefit to me? Why should I waste my money on either format when I have an existing format that works just fine? I mean how much more 'definition' and audio channels can they give us before it's just absurd?

Unless you have money to burn and/or an early adopter, stay out of this format war. It's not worth your time or money.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Daily Soap Box - U.S.A. != Enemy of Russia

OK the Cold War has been over for almost 20 years now. Are we clear on that part? OK. Good. So what is with Putin trying to paint the U.S.A. as the primary enemy of Russia?


I know the last few years we've not agreed on a number of issues but... ENEMY?? Come on!

We may be a competitor but certainly not an enemy. With the exception of older Americans who've lived through the Cold War and are still suspicious, I'd bet that most Americans would look at a number of other countries that are a bigger threat than Russia.

That is not to suggest Russia shouldn't be respected as a country. What I'm saying is that we don't see Russians as a people with an ideology that is against our own. I have no personal issue against Russians. I am wondering what Putin is up to but I don't have any problem with Russia. The U.S.A. is arrogant in its global policies. I realize this will piss off some countries, but does that make enemies?

My opinion is that Putin doesn't like what Bush has been doing and is pushing his personal disappointment onto the entire country.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Daily Soap Box - Dog Breeding

There may be legitimate and good reasons for certain types of dog breeding, but I can't think of any. I saw a news clip last night regarding 'backyard breeders'. It upset me to see the conditions in which these animals were kept but that's only part of the issue. The real problem, in my mind, are the people who insist in buying bred animals.

WTF!?! There is always an over population of pets at local animal shelters. Good animals that need homes, but these people insist on having a specific breed or some dumb shit like that. Come on people, do something good with your money. You can adopt a shelter dog for a lot less and then if you insist on spending that $1000 anyway, give it to the shelter to help them continue the good work they are doing.

If people stopped buying those, literally, retarded toy dogs, then breeders, especially backyard breeders, would no longer have incentive to breed.

The news article goes into requiring licenses and such and I think that would help, but at the end of the day until the buyers stop, the breeders will keep supplying.

Rescue an animal for crying out loud! - The Humane Society
Hell just Google "Dog rescue" or "Animal Shelter" and you'll find many many links to all kinds of organizations that will help you find a companion. They are happy, you are happy and you've saved an animal!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Up In Arms over Google Street View

First, if you don't know what Google Street View is, go to and click the button labeled Street View.
You'll notice a few camera icons pop up on the map. These are cities that have street view enabled. I won't go into the full details of how to use it, it's pretty easy.

Google will be rolling out more Street View cameras to capture more roads. Likely they'll focus on major cities first. They'll also probably focus on the United States first. But other countries are probably going to be done too, depending on privacy laws.

And that is the issue that seems to keep coming up. Over on DIGG about 25% (by my rough guess) were up in arms about this whole project. As if taking pictures of streets was a real threat to privacy. Really I doubt it has anything to do with the streets or even the houses but the fact that the cameras capture people too. All doing a variety of things. It's not like they couldn't have been seen any other time by people driving down the street but now they are on the Internet for the whole world to see.

I can't help but think, "So what!?" Oh no, Google my drive by my house when I have neglected to cut the lawn so there will be a scruffy picture of my lawn on Google for possibly YEARS! Umm, so? Sure I'd like my house to look better but that's far from a privacy problem or really any problem at all. If someone is trying to find my house I can direct them to the Street View of my house and they'll be able to find me quickly and easily. THAT is the point of Street View.

Some people can read maps easily and translate that to the roads as they drive. I'm one of those people. I have a great sense of direction and my place in the spacial world. Other people have trouble with maps and are better with landmarks. Google Street View provides that. Hell even I would like to see a picture of the place I'm going. Sure I can get to the general location from my map but what does the building look like?

I understand that people are upset with the current government and some of the over reaching activities that have taken place in recent years in the name of The War on Terror. I think many of those activities were and are unnecessary to the security and safety of the U.S. Google is not some evil corporation for doing this. Focus your anger at real problems.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Global Warming

Ok, it's a loaded title, I know.

I've thought long about this topic. I believe that as a global community, as a human race, we should be doing things to reduce our waste and just generally be more energy efficient.

Are we causing Global Warming. No, I don't believe so. Are we helping? No we're not. I personally believe that we are going through a natural weather situation, not unlike the ice ages. Is there anything we can do? Nope. We can't do much to stop weather, we are insignificant in comparison.

Here is why I don't think we are doing this:
  1. Cars pollute, but not as much as the media likes to present. Industry and power plants put out, literately, TONS more carbon and greenhouse gases than cars do.
  2. Volcanoes put out HUGE amounts of greenhouse gases and the like when they go off. It hasn't killed the planet yet (nor will it).
Here is why I don't think we are helping:
  1. Cutting down huge swaths of rain forest that help regulate temperature.
  2. Even if our pollution is a small fraction of the green house effect, it still isn't good.
We could be doing more, but not to change Global Climate Change. (much more accurate title)
The bottom line is that it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I mean the changes will be more dramatic. Some areas will benefit from the changes, others will not. Coastlines will change as the oceans rise. Some islands will disappear. There will be stronger storms, longer droughts, stronger floods.

There will be death and loss of entire species of plants and animals. Those that cannot adapt will parish. This is just a reverse ice age. Hell it may even swing the other direction too.

We humans can and will survive. How well depends on how willing we are to face the truth and just be prepared. I mean come on, like we are going to change the planet from rising a few degrees over the next decade or two? HIGHLY doubtful. We'd be better off figuring out how we can sustain our crops in adverse weather conditions and moving out of coastal cities or prepping them for rising ocean levels. New Orleans...sorry, your days are numbered, like it or not.

Friday, June 01, 2007

New charts

I've been using for awhile now. It's a great service and hopefully it'll remain great even though CBS has purchased it.

Anyway, I've had my most recently listened and weekly charts displayed on the right here on my blog for awhile now but today I noticed that there were new scripts for embedding the information on a blog. WOW! What a difference. It's SO much nicer. If the title is longer than the box it'll scroll. You can click on the tracks or artists to get more information (takes you to Also if you hover over the artist you get a neat little thumb nail of the artists' picture.

Frivolous? Yup. Cool? You betcha!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I really don't write here as much as I should

I spend too much time on Digg. Not that Digg is bad but I end up commenting on there instead of writing something more worth while here. I guess the reason for that is I get comments there when I write. Well sometimes. It's like a bar full of patrons watching the news together and making comments. Most are worthless but there are some good ones. Mine are better than 50% good but I've my share of dumb comments.

The point is that I read, watch and listen to news and have a voice yet I rarely use it. Not that my blog is anything but my own personal soap box, that no one reads, but it'd still be a good outlet for my thoughts. Writing helps one refine ones thoughts. There have been things I've written that I looked back on and thought, "Well that sounds stupid." Other times I simply think harder before writing and stop myself realizing that my feelings/thoughts on the subject are poorly developed or without merit.

The 'without merit' thought pops in a lot when thinking about political topics. It's easy to criticize a bill in Congress based on the misinformation in the media. It's a lot harder to go find a copy of the bill, read it and make your own informed comments. I hope I'm wrong but I suspect that many don't think any further than the media for the information that they get all worked up on. I'm sure there are advocates on both sides who are actually informed, but they'll spin the information based on their own biases, that's human nature.

The climate of the world, from my limit scope, seems to be ripe for major change. There is a lot of shit hitting the fan, but only people on the Internet seem able to see it and say something. I'm sure others see it also but prefer to keep the status quo, not wanting to 'rock the boat'. But the boat is being rocked by the sea it sits on.

  • Gas prices going way up. (I'll be buying a hybrid or advanced diesel engine car very soon)
  • An increasingly unpopular executive branch in power in the USA. (Too many issues to even begin discussing. The 2008 elections could either be the biggest turn out in a long time because everyone is sick of Bush and his crew OR it'll be a bust since everyone knows that Bush will be out anyway and anyone will be better than him.)
  • The war on terror that is a futile as the war on drugs. (We can never eliminate terrorists any more than we can drugs. At least with drugs we have a viable option. Make them legal and heavily taxed.)
  • Global warming. (Again a huge topic but one that the whole world is starting to wake up to.)
  • Corrupt businesses and organizations. (SOX, DMCA, RIAA, MPAA, Decode the acronyms but cover your eyes so that their evil does not burn out your soul, a la "Indian Jones".
It sure would be nice if the US government was once again, "We the People" instead of "We the Business People".

Friday, February 16, 2007

iTunes...Why? Why must you hurt me so?

First I have to say I like iTunes. I don't buy any music through it from Apple but I do like the free podcasts. I also like the music player, specifically the ease of building custom play lists. However...

iTunes lost all my settings...again! Yes again. And I've had this happen on multiple machines. I notice it when I've left my computer on over night, with iTunes minimized and a Windows Update reboots my computer. As soon as I fire things up in the morning...poof! Nothing! I'm sorry that sucks.

Sure we could blame Microsoft for rebooting, but I set it up that way. I want critical security updates to fix and reboot my system. I blame iTunes for not properly saving my settings. Even if I lost the changes from the last time I opened iTunes that would be acceptable, but it resets it as if I'd never used iTunes on this computer before. Bad bad Apple.

I'm afraid it's time to reevaluate the alternatives. I've downloaded and installed Microsoft Media Player 11. I'm not a huge fan but if it doesn't loose my settings that's a plus. I'm also looking for Podcast aggregators. I'm trying Democracy for my video podcasts but I'm not sure if it does audio too. I like listening to a few audio-only 'casts.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Crusades

These videos are too damn funny. I'm friends with their Dad and I've known them since they were little so that probably adds to the comedy for me, but I think it's still funny for everyone.

Here are the four Crusades as depicted by the young minds of teens. Enjoy this for the comedy not the history. Gotta love the Blair Witch Project type filming.

Crusade 1

Crusade 2

Crusade 3

Crusade 4

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Odd Ice Formation

We keep a bowl of water outside for the cats to drink. I recently bought a bowl that said it was resistant to algae and other growth. Since it's been raining a lot recently it was full to the top.

Last night we actually got pretty cold, below freezing. This morning when I took the dog out I noticed the cat's water bowl looked like it had something stuck in it. Upon closer inspection I found that it had an ice spike growing out of it. I thought maybe a leaf or stick blew into the bowl but no it was clear ice.

I'm guessing a combination of the bowl's plastic properties, the fact that it wouldn't break (like many of the past bowls we used) and how the temperature did it's thing last night created this oddity.

I don't doubt there are chemists who could easily explain this, but it's still pretty cool.

Below are pictures: