Thursday, December 22, 2011


I'll let Homer and Lisa explain the term:

And that leads to these two stories:
Obama's approval rating among Twitter users is over 60% has been bought by a Democratic SuperPAC

Thus, the crisis and the opportunity for the Republican party.  The crisis: the GOP, by and large, is not working the internet and social media, and indeed seems not to understand how.  They're ripe for the picking off, or at least the picking on, by prank-minded Democrats such as those who bought Gingrich's namesake website.  The opportunity: if one of the Republican candidates (or their campaign management/staff) can figure out how to use "new-fangled" technology and social media correctly, there's a small but vocal left-wing base out there who can either be converted or marginalized.  At the very least, Republicans can add their voice to a platform that is largely a monotonous drone of Obama support right now, and in this election year, that can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Missing The Point

CNN, via Entertainment Weekly, has a story up today detailing's list of the all-time top 10 most pirated movies, to contrast with Netflix's list of the all-time top 10 most rented movies through their service.  There's not a whole lot that they can really do with this story, but the author gamely tries to pad it out by using the lists to draw a conclusion about Americans' movie tastes as a whole, and pirates' taste as a subset, and comes up with this:

Apparently Netflix users favor Oscar bait while Internet thieves go for tentpole popcorn movies, with the Venn Diagram overlap between those two strangely being Leonardo DiCaprio.
 There probably is a certain amount of truth to this; after all, your average internet pirate is demographically younger and more male than the general population, and this is the group that the big-budget action flicks are after as an audience.  But to brush this off as the only cause is to miss another point: a much higher percentage of these "Oscar-bait" films are or have been available on Netflix Instant Play for quite a while than the "tentpole popcorn movies".  Of the top 10 most pirated titles, the only one to ever have been available on Netflix Instant was Kick-Ass, and that wasn't made available until nearly a year after its DVD release.  This could be coincidence...or it could not be.  In this day and age, people want convenience, and it's more than possible that some of the non-overlap is due to the fact that some people will take to BitTorrent to get their hands on titles that aren't available to stream to their TVs, via internet or on-demand TV.  It's a simple equation, studio execs: Greater streaming availability at a reasonable price = less piracy of your company's titles = bigger sacks with dollar signs on them crammed into the trunks of your Audis.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hell Just Froze Over

Because I'm sticking up for a reality show.  A reality show I've never seen, and yet, whether rationally or irrationally, I despise.  And in doing so, I'm going against one of my absolute favorite politicians, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

You see, earlier this week, Gov. Christie blocked Jersey Shore from receiving a small (just under half a million dollars) tax credit that's designed to entice film and TV to come to the state and spend money.  And that's what this reality show did--along with countless other vapid twentysomethings who want to party with Snooki and the Situation and a bunch of other people whose names I don't know but everyone else seems to.  And their dollars are worth the same as everyone else's.  Not so fast, say Christie (and other N.J. leaders).  This show spreads "misconceptions about the state and its citizens."

Imagine, for a moment, if Boardwalk Empire were shot in Jersey (it's not), and Christie made a similar statement against it--saying it spread misconceptions about the state and its politicians.  Let's even take a real leap and assume that such a statement would be true.  Now let's imagine the reaction to Christie pulling the tax credit from the show, hoping that the reaction would be to shut down production, or at least force it to move.  There would be outcry, because this would be government censorship--a state government stifling creativity.

Now, I don't know if trying to shut down Jersey Shore is stifling creativity--quite the opposite, in fact--but the simple fact is that it's government censorship, plain and simple.  Would the world be a better place without drivel like this on our TVs?  Probably, but that's something for the market to decide, not the governor, judiciary, or legislature.  In a situation like this, I'm with Voltaire (as channeled through Evelyn Beatrice Hall): "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Of course, Snooki and company could always pack up and head on down the road to Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania for the next season of their nonsense.  That, even I might tune in to watch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Salt and "Bathery"

This is why I hate my local paper.  It would be one thing if this story were an isolated incident, but it's sadly typical agenda-driven pablum:

Story on "bath salts" used to get high

Reading this story and its sympathetic tone, you would think that someone had kidnapped these "users" and gotten them high and addicted against their will.  That would be a reason to pity them.  They didn't even use them for their stated purpose as bath salts.  That would be perfectly reasonable.  They didn't use them for an innocent-but-incorrect purpose (like potpourri) and accidentally get themselves high.  That would be understandable and forgivable, if stupid.  No, in the first line of the story, the intended object of our pity admits to putting the chemical into a syringe and injecting it into herself.  Unless she's a diabetic and mistook the "salts" for some off-brand of insulin, that means that she was a drug user whose sole aim was to get high, and that, to me, is deserving of nothing but heaps of society's scorn and contempt.  But that's not even the most offensive part: it seems to me, and several people who commented on the story, that the News-Journal is using "high on bath salts" as an excuse to defend a piece of garbage cop-killer who should have been squashed like a bug before he ever had the chance to see the inside of a jail cell, let alone a courtroom.  It's painful to see my only substantial source for truly local news taking such a soft stance and treating criminals as people to be pitied and coddled, instead of feared and punished.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Beast's Cookbook: Chicken with Cashews, Peppers, and Broccoli

Haven't done one of these in a while, but here's the recipe for an easy stir-fry that's become a Saturday night post-Scotch favorite. Of course the kernel of the recipe came from some website (I've forgotten which), but I've added enough unique touches that I'm comfortable claiming this as my own. This serves enough for the whole family, or for a big eater like me to eat the leftovers for the rest of the week.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (I use the thin-sliced)
1 large broccoli crown
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 handfuls of cashews (I have pretty big hands)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (just enough to coat the skillet or wok)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (approximate)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 teaspoons corn starch

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and the bell pepper into strips. Pull the broccoli florets off the crown. Coarsely chop the onion. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth and cornstarch and whisk until combined.

Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Add the broccoli and peppers and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and onions and stir-fry another 1-2 minutes, until the onions just become translucent.

Add chicken, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and sugar, and stir-fry, combining, about 5-7 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add broth/cornstarch mixture and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring, until sauce thickens. Add the cashews and cook another minute until the cashews are hot and browned. Serve over white rice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Netflix Everyone The Bird

Netflix forces subscribers to buy separate DVD, stream subscriptions

Actually, despite my clever headline, I don't think Netflix had much of a choice here. Rather, they've pretty much been forced into it due to the maneuverings of the movie industry, who doesn't understand that streaming video is here to stay, is superior to physical media (my Roku box streams most Netflix titles in 1080p resolution--that's higher than DVD), and is far more convenient. Let me say that again, and in bold print this time: it's far more convenient. It's far more convenient to have a movie ready to go at your fingertips on a little (or big) box attached to your TV screen than it is to wait for a video to arrive in the mail or to run out to the local store or kiosk box to pick it up. And if it starts to get too expensive to stream the movies, or if there's a limited selection available for streaming, well, there's another way to put a movie right on a hard drive on your home media network, ready to watch at a moment's notice, and it doesn't cost a dime: piracy. Just wait and watch, in a year or so, stories will come out that movie piracy rates have hit an all-time high, the movie studios will feign cluelessness (or maybe just be clueless) over why this is happening to them, and worthless vulture law firms like Righthaven will be raking in the fat cash like never before. Can you think of another non-entertainment industry that thinks suing their customers is a good standard business practice? Look how well that worked for the music industry, MPAA. It's a cliche, but it's a cliche because it's true: those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pujols' Progress

Cardinals star Albert Pujols is headed to the DL with a wrist fracture. It's going to cost him his well-deserved annual trip to the All-Star Game....and it's going to cost him a good deal more than that. See, Albert is in his walk year, hitting the free agent market after this season wraps up, and you just know that he's hoping for a big-time contract, but it's just not going to happen. He's going to be 32 years old next season, and this is the second major injury of his career (he had elbow surgery in 2008). That's going to make teams reluctant to lock him up long-term (usually one of the conditions of a blockbuster contract). What's more, none of the big-market teams will be looking for a first baseman--Boston, the Yankees, and Philadelphia are all set with Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixiera, and Ryan Howard, respectively, and two of the next three biggest markets (the Dodgers and Mets) are in such dire financial straits that there's no way they'll be able to offer him a blockbuster deal. That leaves the Cubs as the only "big-market" team in the running, and without a bidding war, there's no way Pujols gets an Alex Rodriguez/Mark Teixiera/Ryan Howard-level contract, no matter how much he deserves it.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I Hate To Say It, But...

I told you so.
I fucking told you so.
Didn't I tell you?

Wait...I don't hate to say it at all. This actually feels pretty good.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Congressman Anthony('s) Weiner

So, Congressman Weiner, you can't say "with certitude" that the picture that "someone" sent to a young lady via Twitter wasn't of "Little Anthony". Sounds like an excuse to me. If something like this ever happened to me, I'd be covered and issuing a much stronger denial than that. You know why? Because I NEVER TOOK A PICTURE OF MY DICK BULGING THROUGH MY UNDERWEAR. The fact that he can't say for sure that the picture isn't him means that SOMEWHERE OUT THERE IS A PICTURE THAT IS OF HIM THAT LOOKS ENOUGH LIKE THIS THAT HE CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. I can't believe I'm the only one who's putting this together, but I just haven't seen it anywhere in the news coverage.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Trouble With Open Sores Source

Caution: technical geek-speak ahead

I have three production MySQL servers on our farm here at work, scheduled to dump their contents nightly to a backup server (which in turn gets written to a tape and taken offsite in case of catastrophe). But as it turns out, only two of the three were actually writing their backups, probably because I was using an outdated version of the administrator tools. No problem, I thought, I'll just upgrade to the newer MySQL Workbench and set up the backups from there. Having no experience with the Workbench platform, my first step was to check the internet's manual (a.k.a. Google) for some instructions, where I came up with this piece of helpful advice:

[Workbench] does not have the "Schedule" feature [for backups]. We are hoping for a community plugin to do that.
Translation: We didn't put this critical feature into our product; we're hoping our customers do that for us. That's some fine way to run a business. I can just imagine the cacophonous shriek from the *nix community if Microsoft did something like that. Why is one of the larger corporations in the open-source market (MySQL is owned by Oracle) immune from similar criticism?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


About two weeks ago, I got an "Important Customer Notification" e-mail from Sony's Online Entertainment division. At first, I dismissed it as spam, but as my mouse pointer headed for the delete button, I read the preview, and discovered that it was, in fact, a legitimate e-mail. Its purpose was to inform me that my account was one of the ones potentially accessed by the black hats in the recent highly publicized breach of Sony's systems.

At first, I couldn't remember why or how Sony would have any information of mine to give away. I don't own a PlayStation (at least not one with network connectivity; I do have an original PSX gathering dust in a box in my house somewhere), so how could my data be on Sony's servers?...Wait a minute. Back in the day, my gaming group was part of the beta test for Planetside, sometime around 2002 or so. (The game came out in retail form in 2003; I opted out at that point.) And then I thought even further back, and remembered my brief experimentation in my early 20s--not with chemicals or sexuality, but a brief three-month dip into Everquest.

At that point, I relaxed considerably. The information Sony had on me was completely obsolete--since that time, my home address, phone number, and any credit card data they may still have on file are completely changed and obsolete. But the bigger question here is why did they still have this information? How much money are they spending to warehouse out-of-date customer data that's doing them virtually no good? And how much business are they going to lose in the future when a customer like me, when deciding between a Sony and a competing product, remembers that moment of panic when they get the notification that Sony might have put my personal information at risk? To be sure, Sony should be getting all of the criticism they're receiving about their security practices. But their data retention policies appear to be getting overlooked here, and we all know what happens to people who don't learn from history.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 MLB Season Predictions

Just about 24 hours until maybe my favorite day of the year, MLB's Opening Day. So without further adieu, here's my exclusive look at the upcoming season, division by division, for everyone to laud my prophetic gift of foresight or (more likely) ridicule my inane fantasies in November, after the season is over.

AL East: There's no question that the hated Red Sox made the biggest splash in the division with their offseason acquisitions. They're the team to beat, provided they can stay healthy and Beckett and Lackey pitch well enough to solidify the rotation. My beloved Yankees will run neck and neck with them all season, though, again, provided that the back end of their rotation congeals, and Curtis Granderson and A-Rod deliver the redeeming seasons that their spring training performances have promised. The Blue Jays will finish in third, with their mix of power and solid pitching. The decimated Rays' bullpen will push them down to fourth. And the Orioles will completely suck whenever Jeremy Guthrie isn't pitching, which will include every game after the trade deadline.

AL Central: A two-team race between the Twins and the Tigers. I'm calling it for Minnesota based on the belief that Mauer, Morneau, and Joe Nathan are primed for a comeback from varying degrees of injury, with Detroit a close second. Chicago is a solid third place, with the Royals and Indians battling it out for last place. I'm picking KC to finish in fourth with a post-deadline run after the Indians trade away Fausto Carmona.

AL West: It's almost impossible to predict the reigning league champion, Texas, as anything less than the division champ. True, they lost Cliff Lee, but they were doing just fine without him in the first part of last year. Oakland's young arms will propel them to a very close second place, and put them into contention for the wild card--they're just a bat or two away from overtaking Texas outright. Seattle finishes third, provided they don't trade away King Felix at the deadline, and Anaheim finishes last, albeit with the best record of any last-place team.

NL East: This is the Phillies' division to lose. Their rotation is so good that it doesn't matter (much) how injury question marks like Lidge and Utley recover. The Braves are much improved, and will keep it close, but the rotation at C.B. Park is just too good this year. The Marlins will take third in front of 2,000 fans per game, the Nats will finish 4th, flirting with .500, and the Mets will finish dead last, assuming they haven't been dissolved by a bankruptcy court during the season.

NL Central: I like the Reds to take the division again this year. The Cardinals' rotation suffers from the injury to Wainwright, the Brewers' rotation is a mess (Sergio Mitre is the answer? Really?), the Cubs' whole roster is a mess, the Astros are rebuilding, and the Pirates are continuing to serve as a farm system for the rest of the league.

NL West: The Giants can pretty much walk their way to the title here. Colorado comes on to take second and contends for the wild card. San Diego falls to third without Adrian Gonzalez, even if Heath Bell gets his contract extension. Rookie managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson battle it out for last place with rebuilding teams. L.A. is a bit more rebuilt than Arizona, so Donnie Baseball manages to salvage 4th place.

Playoff Picture:
AL Wild Card:
NL Wild Card: Braves

ALDS: Red Sox over Twins, Rangers over Yankees
NLDS: Phillies over Reds, Giants over Braves
ALCS: Red Sox over Rangers
NLCS: Phillies over Giants
World Series: Boston's new bats just aren't quite enough to overcome the Phillies' playoff rotation, featuring Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton out of the bullpen--Phillies over Red Sox, 4 games to 2.

Friday, March 04, 2011

1 > 2

Self-important much? Check out this quote from Wisconsin state senator Lena Taylor (a Democrat, though she's not identified as such in the MSNBC article):

"If the senators have decided to hold someone in contempt, I would think they would hold themselves and our governor, I wish we could, in contempt for failing to listen to a half million people who have come to Madison."
So let me get this straight, Senator. You want the government to listen to half a million demonstrators...and ignore the 1,128,159 voters who elected Scott Walker governor? That sure doesn't sound like the principles of democracy and majority rule to me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's A Mad House!

Humankind is doomed. Check out this video:

Not only is that gorilla walking on his hind legs, he's carrying something in his hand--something that could be the first step toward apes using tools.

Somebody, anybody, double up the security on the Statue of Liberty--quick!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Blogroll Link: Self-Petting Zoo

Self-Petting Zoo: Animals, um, taking care of business. By themselves. In the unlikely event that the nutjobs over at the Westboro Baptist Church are right, and God really does "hate fags", then I'm REALLY scared to see what He thinks about anyone who looks at this site. (Hat tip to Bill Schulz of Fox News's Red Eye.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mixed Messages

I haven't personally seen these two commercials back to back here in the Philadelphia TV market, but I'm sure if it hasn't happened already, it's just a matter of time.

Witness first, a State Farm insurance commercial, wherein our intrepid heroes use State Farm to turn a broken pane of glass into a hot tub in their living room:

Now check out this one, telling you NOT to use State Farm to turn your old Magnetbox tube set into a 46" plasma:

Although the second commercial isn't directly produced by the insurance companies themselves, it sure seems like the industry is talking out both sides of their mouth on this one.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Blogroll Link: This Is Why You're Huge

I love me some food porn. As a fan of the popular site "This Is Why You're Fat", I've been disappointed the last couple of months by the lack of updates, and as of this writing, the writers of the site appear to called it quits altogether. That's why I'm pleased to have found its successor-in-waiting, "This Is Why You're Huge". From the delicious to the excessive to the just-plain-bizarre, this site provides the appetite stimulation that dangerously underweight individuals such as myself need on a daily basis. I'm pleased to make it the newest recommended read on my blogroll.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Apologies in advance for the long video, but watch the 30 seconds or so beginning at about 3:05.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I just hear Bill Maher call the Second Amendment "bullshit" and the exercise of one of our most basic freedoms "a vice"? Hey Bill, the Constitution is not an a la carte menu that you get to pick and choose from. I wonder how you'd react if I said the 4th Amendment was "bullshit" and endangered innocents by hampering police investigations. You'd probably call me a hypocritical windbag--which is pretty much the same way I'm reacting to what you said.