Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Apple = Lemon

A year and a half ago I placed high in a bowling tournament and got enough cash to buy an Ipod. What I bought was an Ipod 40gig clickwheel. Since the day it arrived it has been a complete problem child, and knowing what I know now I would be very hisitant to buy another one in the future.

I am a PC user, though according to the Apple propaganda this should not be an issue. I use my ipod heavily--when it is working--listening to very large audiobooks and leaving it running for hours at at time. Still, this should not matter. I keep it well protected, the battery well charged, and it gets better care than my laptop. Still, I have sent it to Apple 2 times now and just ordered the box for time number 3. All for the same problem: hard drive failure. In fact the Ipod I have now that just crashed on me is one that I got as a replacement only a couple weeks ago.

Apple touts itself as a crash-proof manufacturer. Don't believe it. They have a lemon in the 40gig clickwheel, they have to know it, and even their tech support aren't allowed to admit that it is a design failure. According to this study the 40gig clickwheel has almost a 30% fail rate, with some reported problems being repitious. Notice that they no longer put out a 40gig version.

I paid the extra $60 for the Applecare plan, which is going to buy me another year of replacement Ipods, but I fully expect them to fail one after another until Apple gives me the finger and refuses to replace it anymore (this Feb).

...and when that day comes the odds of me buying another Apple product are slim to none.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Politics: The State of Bias

The nation is polarized.

You hear this so much these days. Democrats will blame Bush for this, or Fox News, or some conservative bombthrowers that appear on AM radio. Republicans blamed Clinton for the same thing a few years ago, the media, special interest groups like Democrats blame the war and Bush's unwillingness to get international approval before acting on foreign policy (read: Iraq). Republicans point to ... hell it doesn't really matter. It's all the same bullshit.

Here is the scoop, so listen good. The nation is polarized because YOU make it that way. Polarization goes both ways, by definition. Saying the other side is polarizing the debate is like blaming your children for not calling you that often: the phone lines go both ways.

The hard and true fact is that politics in America is polarized because people LIKE IT THAT WAY. Politics is the new fan-based sports entertainment. Who would want to go to a football game and agree. That is not the american way. We fight. We boo the bad calls the ump makes against our team and cheer the bad calls the ump makes in our favor. If there happens to be a bench-clearing brawl, we stand up and cheer and then blame the other team for starting it. Same thing with politics, we just put on fake aires and pretend to be thoughtfull about it all.

If you are on the left, you think that the right are dim-witted foggy-eyed corrupt jerks who think that waving an american flag and a cross is all the thinking necessary. You read the papers, especially LA and NY times op ed, you think that Air America is a great idea, agree that Cindy Sheehan is the only one qualified to have an opinon on the Iraq war, and you probably paid to see Farehneit 9/11 in the theatres. You have lots of opinions about Fox News, but you have never really watched it, and you can quote lots of bad things about the Oreily Factor, another show you have never seen. The only AM radio you can stomach is Air America, if you can get it. You get the newletter, and your mailbox is filled with campaign fundraising mail from liberal causes.

If you are on the right, you think that the left is trying to take God out of the nation and replace it with a loose set of athiestic morals. You blame the Media for a lot of this, even though the only media you really get consists of Fox News and various AM Radio programs. You have lots of opinions about the NY times, something you have never read, hate that guy Michael Moore and his pet Cindy Sheehan, though you didn't see Farenheit 9/11 except the clips they showed on the Oreily Factor.

If you are a moderate you feel like a lonely person at a football game with two teams you dislike equally.

I really hope you don't fit either of my stereotypes above. But look into your behaviors and see the facts. When was the last time you spent the time to thoroughly read through something that you disagreed with? Even if you don't claim to be a liberal or conservative, where do you get your news, and do you think that "your" choices are unbiased? I sumbit that all the news out there is biased, and if that you think you are getting both sides from one organization you are fooling yourself.

I have tried hard to break out of this mold. I try to have political discussions with people that disagree with me about religion and politics. Because of this I have few of these discussions; people don't like to talk about stuff like that and think its rude. People that do talk about it tend to be convinced believers, and are as fun to talk to as missionaries that knock on your door at 9am Saturday mornings. But I try, and some of my friends, even the extremist believers, tend to at least try to talk. They all (both the right and the left) think I am whatever they are not. That is the way it goes when you are a professional contrarian like me. But at the end of each discussion I have learned something, and so have they, even if it is only more ammunition for their cause.

Politics is trench warfare in America because we have made it that way. It is unpolite to talk about religion or politics because we are all fans, and the only polite way to deal with a fan is to be a fan too.

  • We get all our information from sources that have a bias we agree with
  • We consider our point of view fundementally more intellectual or morally superior than the opposing side
  • We carry strong opinions of the other side with little or no accurate information about what they really believe
  • We are comfortable

Next time you hear someone say that so-and-so is a polarizing figure, think about it and try to work out who is really being the polarizer.

It goes both ways.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My First Time

Well, after about 25 years of writing, I have finally had the guts to make an offical submission of one of my stories to a literary magazine. I know this may sound silly, but for some reason I have never had the balls to take this step with any of my stories or poems. Well, when it comes to my poems there is good reason: they suck hard. But some of my writing is not all that bad.

My goal is to be an author and not just a writer. Writing is something you are, like being white or being straight--you can't do anything about it. I write because not writing is harder. But attempting to write well has taken something that I have very little of: discipline. I am one lazy bastard when it comes to the hard work of getting my stories polished up enough to let them out of the house.

The story I am currently trying to sell is "Cowboy Up," which some of you may have read in a previous version. I have more projects in the works and am trying hard to start getting paid for writing so I don't have to get a real job. This way I can be lazy and successful at the same time.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Update from the Duncan Clan

Here is some news from our house. Like most of my thoughts, it is a hodpodge of random tidbits of trivia that I find extremely important, and you probably won't. But you are the one reading it, so get a life.

I am now a Grandfather

Well, technically I won't be one for a few more months, but James is pregnant. He is currently engaged to a woman named Deanna and is helping to raise her 3yo boy named Donovan (I am sure I mispelled both of those names). We went up to see them in San Jose earlier this month, and they came down last week to visit.

It was a little sureal. So there I was with a little three-year-old on my lap, trying to figure out what my name was. Am I Grandpa or Papa or Nano, or just plain Jim? It was something of a crisis for me. I settled on Nano, which carries on a "Susan's family" tradition, since my family really has few traditions to speak of. Deanna is due in February of next year with James' progeny, which will make the whole Nano thing official for me.

Sticking with the strange qwerkiness of my family, everyone has chosen a strange name to be called. There will be precious few "Aunts" and "Uncles." Don't ask me who is who--I honestly have no clue and have to ask them constantly--but there is a Lala, a Nini, and I think a Tia or Shala thrown in for good measure. Susan is of course Nani, which made it an easier choice for me to be Nano. The murder of the Italian language goes on unabated in our family it seems.

James is doing well. He got his HS diploma (not GED), has enrolled in a local SJ community college, is on the football team as a defensive lineman, has his driver's license and a job. After achieving all of that in the space of a few months, hearing "oh, and we are having a baby" seemed to be anticlimactic. He has a tatoo on his ankle that says "Sobriety" and a date. I think this is the turnaround we have been waiting for as he seems to have decided to grow up all at once. Donovan and the new baby will finish that job for certain; it sure worked for me.

He and Deanna are engaged and plan to get married this September in a very small ceremony, with the big wedding ceremony planned next year when they can afford it.

Susan Quits her job

Finally tiring of her status as wipping-girl for the Case Management team, Susan gave her bosses the bird and handed in her resignation letter. It took her a lot of effort and guts to do it, but she was finally out from under the fat thumb of The Man (who in this case happens to be a woman, go figger).

... at least for a few days.

The Man didn't want her to leave, so he made her an offer she couldn't refuse. She is still working at the same place but under vastly different working arrangements, making her a lot like Michael Corleone: she tries to get out but they pull her back in. She is officially The Woman, now.

The Simpons in the Castle Club?

There is an episode of the Simpons where Marge says "...that night we joined the Castle Club." What I want to know is this: who let them in? I thought that required a point-of-order vote from the permanent members! Anyways, it was the episode where she and Homer get down and sloppy in a miniature golf course castle. Still, our club seems to be growing.

I was going to say that I saw a scene inspired by the Castle in a movie, but for the life of me I can't remember which movie it was. There is a mountain road with a long tunnel and a bridge that is the Castle bridge, except it is right in front of a large waterfall. Anyways, all of you Castle Club Members (at least the old ones who have actually been there) will know it when you see it. When my senior moment passes and I remember which movie we are in, I'll repost.

I am really earning my "Nano" title. If this is senility, I think I'll enjoy it.

Take care!


Friday, January 06, 2006

Does Anyone Even Listen to this Guy?

Pat Robinson has done it again. In his never-ending battle to get bad publicity for himself, he has continued his brazen practice of one-upmanship with his nearest reactionary competitor: himself.

Here is a link sent to me by a reader of this blog (the reader?):

The significant remark:

Sharon “was dividing God’s land and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU (European Union), the United Nations, or the United States of America,” Robertson said.

So, here is a tally of Good-ole Pat's recent remarks:

  • He implied that God struck down Israeli president Sheron with stroke because of Sheron's unilateral peace policies with Palestine
  • He called for the American-sponsored assassination of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuala
  • He called for a meteor to hit Florida because Disneyworld had a Gay Day
  • He suggested it would be poetic justice if a nuke would be tested out on the State Department building

I know people out there watch this guy, listen to this guy, even revere this guy. This scares me more than the Taliban or Osama ever could. Stuff like this is not fit for print in America. Their paying audience should universally shun people like Pat Robinson If Christians can't police themselves and show a unified front against bigots like Pat Robinson, then woe unto them.

But maybe I'm wrong? Maybe there is a strong section of the USA that believes his crap?

Okay, now I'm really scared.