They're Tearing the Labor Camps Down 
Monday, October 29, 2007, 05:56 PM
As I was listening to an old Merle Haggard song, They're Tearing the Labor Camps Down, where he states in his introduction: "I couldn't help but wonder what's going to happen to the farm workers, to the fruit pickers who move from town to town, the man with the big family who can't afford the ol' high standard of living..." I realized that as I concern myself with petty details, millions of people around the world are preoccupied with the very struggle for existence. As I worry about whether I'll get home in time to watch my favorite TV show, they wonder whether they'll even get their next meal. These people don't just exist overseas in the ads we see on TV, they're the immigrants in our backyard who we're trying to drive back across the border. I've always rationalized my support for supporting a more liberal immigration policy because these people's presence in this country means that things I want cost less -- with little to no negative impact on my life. This was the first time that I seriously considered the humanitarian side of this. So many are so eager to talk about the need to help others overseas, but when it comes to people here -- NIMBY.

Oh they're tearing the labor camps down
And I feel a little sentimental shame.
Where's a hungry man going to live at in this town?
Oh they're tearing the labor camps down.

I think I'm a far cry from a "bleeding heart liberal" but I think even liberals in this debate have forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the humanitarian side of this debate. After all, sympathy is well in good, until the object of your sympathy moves into your town and becomes an eyesore.
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Watch the Office at Your Office 
Sunday, October 28, 2007, 04:52 PM
Episodes of The Office from this season are now available online (along with several other shows) -- for your convenient viewing at work when you boss is gone just in case you missed them the night before. Nice try guys, but it would be a lot better if it didn't constantly crash my browser when going into full-screen mode.
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Skype Texting 
Thursday, October 25, 2007, 11:18 AM
Skype, the free internet phone service, now allows you to send text messages from your computer to real cell phones (for a small price). Although there are many free services that perform similar functions, Skype is nice because of the clean, easy-to-use interface and the fact that I already have it installed (my skype SN is astarf -- call me sometime). The biggest question I have is on their pricing list, where it costs more money to text someone in the United States than Uganda or Ukraine. I mean, seriously? American cell companies must really be making a killing on text messaging.
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Comcast Filters Internet Traffic 
Friday, October 19, 2007, 11:00 AM
The cable and Internet giant, who is fond of claiming that it's services are faster than DSL, has recently been exposed for filtering internet traffic that uses the popular file sharing protocol, bittorrent. Time and NYT both carry the AP story, who performed some technical research and confirmed the issue, which has been reported for some time over at

What makes this case especially is galling is firstly that Comast does not disclose this to subscribers and won't even confirm that they engage in the practice when queried about it by the AP. Secondly, this filtering is accomplished using extremely deceptive practices, where the Comcast server masquerades as your computer and tell the computer you're connected to that you are no longer interested in sharing data. As the AP explains:
Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer ó it comes from Comcast. If it were a telephone conversation, it would be like the operator breaking into the conversation, telling each talker in the voice of the other: "Sorry, I have to hang up. Good bye."

The DSLR website also has ways to partially circumvent the filtering so that you can have the freedom to do what you want with the Internet connection you're paying so much money for.
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Bionic Woman 
Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 09:30 PM
Adding to my conviction that TV is going down the tubes is NBC's latest TV show Bionic Woman. It's a fabulous concept that had me excited not just because the network was promoting something other than a reality show, but also over the possibility that a clever science fiction show could gain mainstream acceptance. Unfortunately, the show is cursed by terrible acting and even worse writing. It really amazes me that a network executive, being paid millions of dollars, could watch the pilot for Bionic Woman and then arrange his entire Wednesday lineup around such a terrible show. Yet another case of executive pay not being deserved.
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Inherited Wealth 
Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 04:14 PM
Selena Roberts over at the New York Times has an excellent column where she explores the bizarre, irrational, and exceptionally hostile work environment over at Madison Square Garden. She details how the owner, James L. Dolan, was placed there by has father and has since embarked on a campaign of managerial ineptitude.

While not directly mentioned, this does an excellent job of making the point that inherited wealth is really a scourge on our society. Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the richest man of his time, despised inherited wealth, going so far as to say:
It were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy

By the time he died, he had given away 90 percent of his fortune.

He, as I do, advocated a heavy estate tax that provides the rich with the option of either giving a large portion of their money away in their lifetime, or handing a significant portion of it over to the government when they die. The recent drive by certain senators to eradicate the estate tax stands in firm opposition to efforts to build a more merit based society. In fact, this campaign is almost entirely funded by a group of the 18 wealthiest families in the country who have invested over $200 million in this effort to ensure that their money is not used for the public good.
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Monday, October 1, 2007, 06:09 PM
Has anyone else noticed that two of the front runners in the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, both run highly disciplined campaigns that stay on message and minimize past baggage? Both rarely speak off the cuff, stick to firm talking points, and have managed to minimize rather significant baggage. In Hillary's case it's the nastier side of her tenure as First Lady; in Romney's case it's his Mormon faith that evangelical Christians are none too found off. In essence, by properly marketing a "perfect" imagine and avoided too much humanism, these two have vaulted themselves into first place (or very close, in Romney's case).
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Halo 3 
Monday, September 24, 2007, 08:48 PM
Halo 3, possibly the most anticipated video game EVER, will hit stores several hours from now. My own obsession extends to the level that I've considered staying up an extra couple hours until midnight when the nearby Best Buy starts selling the game, conveniently stumbling distance from my couch. There are, however, a couple fights I would like to pick with their sales team.

To be specific, first of all, is it really necessary to release a game at midnight in a manner that is likely to decrease the enrollment of many a Wednesday high school class? But thoughts that concern other people aside, do they know this is premier week? Not that I'm such a huge nerd that I actually care what's on television or would write about it in a blog or anything, but did they really have to wait this long? Think about it, the TV is used by both xbox and regular network programming. Why would you possibly create a conflict? Why not release Halo 3 during the dead period of summer when there was absolutely nothing to watch on TV, when reality programming clogged the airways with its filth. Seriously, why create scheduling conflicts when they're absolutely no reason to do so?

Then again, why create a bug-clogged operating system when you're a multi-million dollar software corporation who can most certainly do better.
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Spam Comments 
Friday, September 14, 2007, 08:53 AM
Some sort of bot has located my blog and is leaving spam comments containing links to various web pages. Does my blog really have a decent enough page rank to make that worth someone's time? I doubt it.
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In the Words of a General 
Thursday, September 13, 2007, 04:57 PM
President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

Yet another reason why I think he was one of the truly great presidents of the 20th century.
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