Pistol LighterSpent some time recently with an ex-cop. Great guy, smart, expansive. He brought along some fine cigars to the gathering, for those who appreciated such things. Not I, thanks {cough}. Not to worry, he confided, once I’d confirmed my disinterest… He’d brought along a couple of “throw-downs,” in case any non-cigar-lovers wanted to play (puff) along.

Of course, I had to ask…

It’s a (historical) police term. For a Very Bad Thing, as it happens.

I guess shooting somebody can turn into a real headache, for a cop. Especially once you figure out that the guy was unarmed… [Jon Stewart voice] Awk-ward…! [/Jon Stewart voice] Well, that’s where the throw-down would come in. A throw-down is a cheap handgun, clean, untraceable, kept handy for just such occasions. Blow away an unarmed assailant? Voila! He is (was) an armed assailant! You did what you had to do. Move along.

Of course, today � with all the sophisticated chemical analysis used in such cases � such hamfisted subterfuge no longer holds. But I can’t help but love the simple, blunt utility of the phrase… Something to toss into the mix, just to keep things going smoothly. Like, say, if I were to leave in certain “problems,” on a design job… For a client to “fix” (i.e., piss on, leave a mark). They focus on the throw-down (misspelled word, wrong color, whatever), and leave the important stuff alone! Not that I would ever, {cough} ever do such a thing.

amazon’s evil plan

XenaMy wife was looking through Permission Marketing today, a c.1999 peek at “the future” (i.e., “now”). In it, the author brilliantly* extrapolated, then announced what’s real plan must be. Made sense, at the time, as they’d not yet turned a profit, (nor become the Vendors Of Everything), and, well, cash flow can only go the wrong way for so long. Wanna know what it is? It’s a plan that only a Harvard MBA would think of (and print). Here it is:

Amazon is/was acquiring a “permission base” of users. Stay with me. See, Amazon shoppers (myself happily included) willingly allow their preferences to be tracked in return for… Whatever it is we get back. Suggestions? Anyway, this ever-building list of tracked and measured shoppers is only marginally useful, until Amazon pulls their coo-day-grah: They Become A Publisher! Here’s how that works: How many colons can I use in one post? Let’s see:

Say Amazon tracks a million shoppers who love Mystery novels. They cut an exclusive deal with a top Mystery writer, then direct-market to (you know, spam) those million shoppers. Say only 1/3 of them actually buy (gotta love that “only” — 33% is a hell of a low-ball, eh?)… Anyway, without the warehousing/print overruns/etc., etc. expenses, and with every middle man going hungry, each sale is almost entirely profit! Amazon can offer the writer an unheard-of fee, and pocket an unheard-of percentage!

Problem is, when “unheard-of” is a part of a $ prediction, there’s usually a reason you haven’t heard it. And lo, to this day, *we have yet to hear of Amazon’s dubious plan to go toe-to-toe with all publishers, everywhere. Hmm, wonder what that would’ve done to supplier relations? Oh, predictions. How fun you can be, looking back at you.


SupermanOkay, let me get this straight: Superman’s been gone for 5 years, before which he and Lois Lane met, fell in love, and ultimately {spoiler, I suppose} conceived a child {/spoiler}. Okay. Never mind the technical difficulties, there’s another problem. Portraying a rather wooden Lois is Kate Bosworth, looking (and acting) every minute of her actual 23 years of age. Let’s see, 23… That makes Lois 17 when all this went down. Ya don’t say. Oh, and immediately after that, she nabbed a Pulitzer. Am I missing anything?

I guess that’s “screwing skewing young.” Good God, people. X-Men, and now Superman… Two “franchise” tentpoles that wound up made for children. Not “children of all ages,” mind you, children. Like, 0 – 10. Eleven, maybe, and that’s pushing it.

Yeah. Paper-thin “drama” stretched even thinner between action sequences that amuse as often as they amaze. Yes, you can make it look “real.” Now somebody, somewhere needs to demand: Can you please make it compelling? Occurring in some discernable context? Having to do with SOMETHING other than “we had the budget” or “wow! lookit that!”


my phone is cooler than yours

Okay, probably not. But it’s pretty nifty, and I got it for free (this is the follow up to the post on that adventure). Anyway, wow. I can take pictures, then email them… And I don’t even have the overpriced “VCast” service (which I’m reminded of, with an annoying little movie that plays every time I power on the phone). Verizon has it set up so you can do one-off emails for a dime (or quarter, for attached pix or sounds) a pop. Sweet. (more…)

what a shrill, bitter c*nt

Damn, I’d never really checked her out before (other than briefly, guest-punditing as the Conservative Hotness on news programs). But while linking to her website, I stopped and read a little. Wow. So you can make a career out of shrieking insults across an imaginary cultural divide… Reading Anne’s rants, one pictures a pitched battle between Thinking People (conservatives) and rabid, mindless, bloodthirsty LIBERALS who believe in nothing, stand for nothing, know nothing, and are worth even less.

I wonder if Anne is getting laid. I mean, really laid. Doubtful. That seems to be the catch, with her team… I mean, “Sexy” doesn’t really jibe with “Conservative,” does it? Be honest. But from the looks of things, Anne’s desperately certainly trying. Check the touselled, bed-hair photo she uses on her home page (above). Jesus, back it off a notch, Coulter! We got it, you’re “hot.” You “don’t care” what we think of you. But mostly, you stand by your words, no matter how dubious.

we have republican friends!

Winding up our idyllic stay in Charlottesville, a dinner that began as a “Southern” barbeque (Krispy Kreme bread pudding for dessert — I’m not kidding) ended up a quasi-heated political discussion. Our hosts, it seems, are Republicans. Vocal Republicans. Discussion ranged from Global Warming (nonexistent!) to Gay Marriage (okay, a ploy catering to the Religious Right).

The great thing was, no matter how frenzied conversation got, we managed to remain quite civil and light-hearted about it… The Very Gay couple from Miami, the Liberal-tarian couple from LA (us), and the Very Republican couple (Anne Coulter‘s book featured prominently on the shelf, next to Bill O’Reilly, et al). All sincerely exploring each others beliefs and opinions, and amazingly, still sincerely looking forward to seeing each other again, returning the favor with extended stays in Florida and California. It’s all very Adult, and reminds me why the US is ultimately in pretty damn good shape.


MonticelloWe’re out visiting friends in Charlottesville, VA. Thanks to their wireless setup, being here is a lot like being home… Except all I need to think about is our next meal/activity and whether or not there’s such thing as Too Much Natural Beauty. Trees everywhere, lush rolling hills, Blue Mountains in the distance (blue, exactly as advertised).

And, of course, Jefferson’s fancy crib (which we just toured). It seems so quintessentially American to me that this founding father — whose credits at age 33 included being principal author of the Declaration of Independence — also has the dubious distinction of having “abhorred” the idea of slavery, yet owned over 600 in his lifetime. To top it off, he apparently only “freed” 7 of them, ever, and that was mainly to help pay off the enormous debts he accumulated by the end of his life. Flawed, human… A brilliant mess, and so very American. A tall, skinny, redheaded rich kid who went on to have his face � and yes, his fancy-assed crib � etched on the humble yet ubiquitous U.S. Nickel.

geek, cont.

Okay, so I’m back in OSX (Tiger, iBook G4 pre-USB trackpad). Still, I’m tinkering. No, no, Apple’s amazing OSX 10.4 is just not enough for me. I’ve got to f*ck with it. At least on this poor little laptop.

SideTrackSidetrack, the one utility I found indispensible (so much so I paid for it, and sent the author laudatory emails), has been dispensed with — for the time being. In its place, I’ve installed iScroll2, the eagerly-named rival to said utility, which also replaces the default trackpad driver with a tweak that enables scrolling and right-clicking (in a sense) from the trackpad. In a sense, because the right-click is achieved via the Button itself, cued by leaving two fingers resting on the trackpad when you click it. Differentiating the right-click like this is intriguing (i.e., using the Button, which I never, ever use).

iScroll2I actually had one of the newer PowerBooks, for a while… 29 days, to be exact. I returned it (gotta love Amazon), since my laptop serves as a writing machine, and I found the trackpad (touchpad, whatever) unusable. Like I said, I never, ever use the Button (I prefer to tap-click), and the tapping just wasn’t clicking with this guy, at least not with any predictable accuracy. Selecting text became a maddening exercise, and repeated emails to Apple and others produced “yeah, me too” comments, but no assurances it was being taken seriously.

But I did like the two-finger scrolling, though… Using the one damn finger (index) for everything is tedious, and feels like a setup to some sort of RSI. With the two-finger solution, different fingers (middle/ring) do the scrolling. So now, it would seem, I have the best of both worlds. Time will tell. It’s when I’m actually working that problems are laid bare (see “Ubuntu,” below). When all the geeking is said and done, all I really wanna do is capture ideas in writing with as little interference as possible from my tool. Yeah, that’s right. I said “my tool.”

sidetrackAnd it’s SideTrack, by a nose. A little more than that, actually… Spent some time working/playing, configuring iScroll2 to my liking, then put the iBook to sleep. Later, upon waking, functionality was gone… No scrolling. Tweaking, deactivating/activating didn’t help. Sent a note to the author, we’ll see, but there was a nagging problem with the “click button with two fingers on the pad” right-click solution: Trying to right-click links meant holding those two fingers VERY steady, to aim the cursor precisely. Rocking my hand down slightly to use my thumb to click usually moved the cursor enough to miss the target. Use two hands? I don’t think so. Uninstall, put in the new SideTrack, lovin’ it. Okay.

ubuntu iBook

I’m writing this post running Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper) on my iBook G4 (1.2Ghz, 768mb, 30GB), with dual-boot to Tiger. Yay for me. Here’s what I did, and how:

  • Partitioning the drive: I wanted to repartition my wee 30GB drive without forcing a complete reinstall of OSX (Tiger) and all my apps/etc. Using this guide I was able to accomplish this, and keep everything unscathed. Impressive. Just follow directions (see clarification note sent in, further down page… Partition sizes are listed in simple MB and GB). Back up anything important first, of course.
  • Installing: Dead simple, download the latest disk .iso for PPC, burn with Toast or Disk Utility. Reboot while holding “c” and follow directions.
  • Airport Extreme: First, beware this guide! Following these steps (admittedly for an older release, but still) sent my healthy install into an endless boot loop. Success came when I used this guide, simply followed every step to the letter, and voila, there it was. Warning: at the “Bookmark this page and reboot” instruction, please know that what may happen is you lose your ethernet connection (I assume this happened to me because my Airport is assigned “eth0” and superceded my Ethernet (eth1). When I restarted, no internet! DOH, until I realized Airport was up and running. Nice.
  • Keyboard/Trackpad: This guy has a simple explanation for how to tweak the “Right Mouse Click” default (F12??) to a more intuitive key/combo… (Hint: Typing “xev” in the terminal will launch a handy utility for determining what key codes are). Successfully remapped right-click to occur when I press “Fn-Ctrl,” much better. Also: Made my “Command” (Apple) keys equivalent to “Control” with tips in this thread. Makes it more familiar to my Mac sense-memories (always hated the pinky stretch Ctrl-Anything requires).

All else (close lid=sleep, battery usage, etc.) seems fine “out of the box.” Trackpad tweaks remain on the to do list, something to get it to “behave” more like it does in OSX, but I’m happy.

ubuntu nudeThis just in: So yeah. Kickin’ it in Ubuntu. Had a moment of doubt, a piece of writing that made me wanna reboot into OSX to finish. So I did. Now I’m back, fiddlin’… See, I’m pretty addicted to an awesome little utility that enables scrolling and right-clicking via taps on the trackpad (on “older” iBooks, like mine). When/if someone writes a similar hack that works in Ubuntu, that will seal the deal. For now, it’s pretty damn smooth sailing… Less and less reason to use OSX (on the laptop, at least; I have a desktop for work stuff, along with a few Win2K workstations).

Okay, so that was overstating things a bit… I mean, I use a network printer. And need clear, crisp fonts. And apps that aren’t (yet) ported to Linux. But besides all that, it’s a hell of a tinker… And a very cool way to make older hardward relevant. Mine isn’t that old yet, tho (running latest Tiger smoothly). A friend is sending a (currently) useless old powerbook, and I’m looking forward to setting that thing straight with some Ubuntu lovin’.

george carlin hates you

George CarlinI caught a bit of George Carlin’s standup recently on HBO. Jesus Christ, is that man bitter. The whole thing consisted of variations on “People are assholes.” Nitwits, jerkoffs, you name it, we’re it. Or wait, he did mention something about “audience members excluded.”

What a bitter freak.

I suppose there’s an audience for this crap… Who doesn’t enjoy a good humanity-bashing rant now and then? I’m just not sure if he ever was, actually, funny. I do seem to recall laughing at his stuff, years ago… But maybe I’m mistaken? See, that’s what being a hater will get you, George. I guess somewhere along the line, your cup runneth over. With bile. And I know, it’s all our fault.