Can I Kiss Eliot Spitzer?

Can I vote for him for President?

Can I vote for him for President?

Seriously, this is clearly an ambitious man with his finger squarely on the pulse of what’s making people feel crazy. He takes the pulse, he prosecutes cases against the bad buys. It’s great. I wish I had a politician so responsive in California. I predict that state attorney general is not the highest office he will ever hold.

Now, can I sign up to be on the jury?

Channel-Specific RSS Feeds

For those of you who may not be interested in everything I write (hi Mom, sorry about all the technology stuff), here are some channel-specific RSS feeds.

For those of you who may not be interested in everything I write (hi Mom, sorry about all the technology stuff), here are some channel-specific RSS feeds:

Life Tech
Self
Rochelle
Food
Travel
The Cats
The House
The Job
Haightlife
I Like
Politics & Law
Media
Miscellaneous
  Mac OS X
Anti-Spam
Technology
About This Site

Kim Jong Il speaks! Uh, I mean, IMs!

Modern discourse between two dictators. Uh, I mean, world leaders. Now we know what has replaced the Red Phone in the White House. Looks like the “W” key has been fixed on at least one computer keyboard there, too.

Modern discourse between two dictators. Uh, I mean, world leaders.

Now we know what has replaced the Red Phone in the White House. Looks like the “W” key has been fixed on at least one computer keyboard there, too. Ain’t technology grand!

Stop Stealing Feed

Not too long ago a big media executive whined about how people who used TiVo were stealing. I love my TiVo, and I skip stupid commercials, so I guess that makes me a thief. There’s a way to stop all this larceny: make better commercials.

Not too long ago a big media executive whined about how people who used TiVo were stealing. I love my TiVo, and I skip stupid commercials, so I guess that makes me a thief.

There is an antidote to that, for the networks and their advertisers. Stop showing stupid commercials. Show good ones instead. A new Honda ad is a great example. This commercial is so good, the opposite of skipping it is happening. I’m recommending it here, and in e-mails to friends. And I’m not the only one.

So stop your stinkin’ whining, Mr. Kellner, and start turning out stuff people want to watch.

C’est Fromage

We just ate cheese for dinner. Four really fucking good cheeses, air shipped to us from France. Rochelle read about Fromages.com in the New York Times, and talked Hilda into splitting a shipment with us. Our selection arrived this morning.

We just ate cheese for dinner. Four really fucking good cheeses, air shipped to us from France. Rochelle read about Fromages.com in the New York Times, and talked Hilda into splitting a shipment with us. So they ordered a selection of nine cheeses, which arrived this morning.

It’s a really cool service. You tell them on what day you want the cheeses to arrive, and they will ship it overnight the day prior, for delivery the day you select. So if you’re taking the cheeses to a party, or throwing your own, it’s easy to schedule it so they’ll be at the peak of ripeness when you get them.

We ate a lot of phenomenal cheeses while we were in France last year. Yes, there’s great cheese available right here in the Bay Area, but there’s really nothing like the cheeses we enjoyed overseas. So, while it’s a little expensive, it’s worth doing from time to time.

It also seems like a great way to thank France for their courageous stand against the pressure of the US to launch an attack on Iraq. We’ll be eating French cheese, and drinking as much French champagne as we can in the coming weeks.

That’ll be a hardship.

Make Margaritas, Not War

I’ll spare you the politics, and just say once again that we’re huuuuge fans of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, on Geary between 23rd and 24th. They have, hands down, game over, the best margaritas in the Bay Area, and probably in the United States. There’s more than 200 premium tequilas available, and a deep and abiding love for the spirit that makes you love it too.

I’ll spare you the politics, and just say once again that we’re huuuuge fans of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, on Geary between 23rd and 24th. They have, hands down, game over, the best margaritas in the Bay Area, and probably in the United States. There’s more than 200 premium tequilas available, and a deep and abiding love for the spirit that makes you love it too.

Rochelle and I are spending most of our Sunday afternoons there between now and the end of May, working on our Ph. D. in tequila, timed for completion with Rochelle’s birthday. Come by and drink with us!

DHI 51-54

Daily Home Improvements: Computer hardware installation, software installation, a little home safety, and a little world safety.

DHI 51: We ordered a new LCD display for Rochelle’s PC, but to make the most of it, you need to connect it to a digital video interface on the graphics card. Rochelle’s existing graphics card was too old to have even heard of DVI, so I bought her a new one off of eBay. It came today (before the new display!), and I installed it in her PC. So now she can use her computer in 800×600 pixels, at 16 colors (that’s colors, not bits), and 60Hz refresh rate.

In other words, it currently sucks to be using the new card. I am trying to download the correct drivers from the ATI Technologies web site, but they’re totally fucked up, and every download link gives the same two-word error message: “Not Found”. Not helpful. Not impressed. ATI sucks. (For now, anyway.)

DHI 52: More computer work for Rochelle, installing Quicken 2003 onto her system. Another DHI will surely be getting together this weekend to work on initial configuration of our accounts, especially for online access and automatic downloading of information.

DHI 53: I reattached the smoke detector to the wall. We had detached it for the paint stripping work, because the heat gun kept setting off the alarm. We’ve been done with the paint stripping for weeks, but only this morning remembered we’d detached the detector. Oops.

DHI 54: I made a contribution to fund ads advocating inspections over war. If I help improve our country, my little corner of it will be better, too.

I’m not done with the week, yet, but wanted to post the link to MoveOn.org earlier, in case you wanted to help fund those ads, too.

DHI 44-50

Daily Home Improvements: The water closet is finished, a VCR hookup, debt service ends, this blog officially moves, window washing, and undoing a previous DHI.

DHI 44: I moved a few dozen books from other bookcases to the new shelves in the water closet. We’ve decided on themes for two of our three shelves, but neither theme completely fills its shelf, so there will need to be some rethinking done.

DHI 45: I connected the TiVo and the VCR, so that we can transfer shows off of the TiVo to tape, for long term storage. Strictly for personal use, of course.

DHI 46: I paid $300 to the MasterCard, which sounds like a daily chore, except we just transfered all bill-paying responsibilities to Rochelle, and that $300 will completely pay off our credit card, leaving us with no non-real estate debt for the first time since our wedding/honeymoon/bathroom remodel (which was followed closely by the stock options fiasco/stock market meltdown, which was followed by 3 months of unemployment each). Now that’s a home improvement!

DHI 47: I finished moving this weblog to aldoblog.com, moving the appropriate files from one location to another, and setting up some redirects in Apache to make links to the old site continue to work. In the process I discovered I had not completed the DNS configuration for the aldoblog.com domain, so I finished doing that, too.

DHI 48: I collected more books to move into the water closet, this time all of our travel books. I found a couple more SF and food books to move, too.

DHI 49: I stripped off an old photo that had fused to our front window, cleaned with Windex, and then scrapped off the glue residue and the accumulated grime of 11 years on Haight Street with a razor blade. The front windows are now about 90% more clear — I can’t wait until tomorrow afternoon when the sun is shining through them, and I can see the improvements the best!

DHI 50: After much research (scanning log files), and even more dithering, I turned off my server-side spam filtering software, because it is apparently occasionally dropping random messages. This basically undoes one of my prior DHIs, where I implemented the anti-spam measures. Which kinda sucks, but then, how often do you get every home improvement right the first time?

Phoenix From the Ashes

Lawrence Lessig appears to be taking the Eldred vs. Ashcroft defeat and turning it towards victory, with a proposal that would move the great majority of material affected into the public domain, while still allowing copyright holders who are actively using their rights to publish commercially valuable works to keep those copyrights. There’s a FAQ about the proposal, and I’m exceptionally proud to have suggested question #3 to Prof. Lessig.

If you’re familiar with the ongoing debate over copyrights, you probably know that the Supreme Court ruled, in Eldred vs. Ashcroft, that Congress could extend copyrights essentially indefinitely. This is a case that a lot of people wanted to win.

The lawyer who lead the case, Lawrence Lessig, appears to be taking the defeat and turning it towards victory, with a proposal that would move the great majority of material affected into the public domain, while still allowing copyright holders who are actively using their rights to publish commercially valuable works to keep those copyrights:

Here is something you can do right now. In this NYT op-ed, I describe a proposal that would move more work into the public domain than a total victory in the Supreme Court would have. The basic idea is this: 50 years after a work has been “published,” a copyright owner would be required to pay a copyright tax. That tax should be extremely low–this proposal says $50, but it could be $1. If the copyright holder does not pay the tax for 3 years, then the work is forfeit to the public domain. If the copyright holder does pay the tax, then its contacting agent would be made a matter of public record. Very quickly we would have a cheap, searchable record, of what work is controlled and what work is free.

If Justice Breyer is right that only 2% of the work from the initial period affected by the Sonny Bono Act continues to have any commercial value at all, then this proposal would mean that all but 2% will move into the public domain within three years. And as the proposal applies to all work that is more than 50 years old, it would apply to a much larger range of work than would have been affected had we prevailed in the Supreme Court. This could give us (almost) everything we wanted–98% of the public domain that our framers intended. Not bad for government work.

It’s a great proposal, and one that deserves broad support, even from the giant media companies that fought so hard to extend their copyrights. There’s a FAQ about the proposal. I’m exceptionally proud to have suggested question #3 to Prof. Lessig. (I do not know if I was the only one with that suggestion, but it’s exciting to have made a contribution, no matter how small.)

The Religious Right [sic]

“You believe in believing in God far more than you believe in God.” — Episcopalian bishop and author John S. Spong, describing religious fundamentalism

“You believe in believing in God far more than you believe in God.”

— Episcopalian bishop and author John S. Spong, describing religious fundamentalism

Who Reads Warning Labels

When I was a kid we got a VCR with an early model remote control — with a wire! (This obviously dates me.) When watching movies, the kids would want to fast-forward past the FBI warnings, and our father would make us stop.

Like a lot of people over a certain age, I remember my first VCR. My father bought an “advanced” model with a “remote control” for the family, back when a remote was a novel idea. The control had a thick wire that ran between the remote and the VCR itself — none of that infrared stuff back then!

And we’d have family movie nights pretty regularly, where we’d get a couple videos for the weekend, and watch them all together in the family room. It was a fairly big production — there’s eight of us, and some nights would have everyone watching. We’d have popcorn, sodas, or ice cream, and everyone would run around getting their favorite movie-watching items together, grabbing a good seat, etc.

So then we’d finally sit down to actually start the movie, with the house lights turned off, our anticipation would be very high…and the first thing we’d see on-screen would be the FBI warning about making illegal copies.

Now, these were exciting for the first few times, I suppose — remember, once upon a time, you couldn’t watch unedited movies at home, so for a while this was a Big Deal — but it quickly became boring, something in the way of getting on with the movie.

I or one of the other kids would attempt to fast-forward through them, and my father would yell at us for fucking around with the remote. Sometimes he’d even make us rewind the movie! More to make a point about playing around with the machine, rather than to actually see the warning, one presumes.

Anyway, I guess that kind of behavior pisses off the folks in Hollywood, too, because with DVDs, the Fast Forward button is disabled during the display of the FBI warning.