Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beach Blogging In Biloxi, Briefly

I forgot my camera or I’d give you a picture out the window of the hotel. I have a room on the West side looking along the Gulf beach. The thing that strikes me is that Katrina took the buildings and left the trees. Huge old live oaks in rows along streets that used to have buildings. Mid rise casino/hotels stick up every half mile or so.

Gambling funds are down, but losing is leisurely and enjoyable. Five of us came down from Atlanta. The consensus is Biloxi is nice. It isn’t Vegas; but, that is good. We’re staying at the Grand Biloxi, owned by Harrahs. Everyone that works here is friendly as they take your money.

Two drawbacks. First, my AT&T broadband wireless internet is slooooooow. The normal 3G network isn’t here. I’m on EDGE, a bit faster than dial up. Second, it is Sunday morning and the only newspaper available is the Sun Herald, “South Mississippi’s Newspaper.” It’s about an inch and a half thick, most of which looks to be ads.

Enjoy your day, my goal is to lose more money while having fun. Big Rick swears he isn’t down too much.

Good News Update! The hotel wireless isn't restricted. I zoomed to the blog.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Big Rick Says It's Me

I’m betting it’s you. Rick and I had a beer at the neighborhood place today. I asked him if he’d read my post about taxing personal use of company cell phone use. He had. He went on to tell me that no one was commenting on my posts, something that I’d noticed. “You’ve lost all twelve of your readers.”

As it turns out, no I haven’t. I went to for the first time in awhile. All of you are visiting the site at exactly the same rate you have for the last five or six months, just over 30 hits a day.

You just have nothing to say. Or, if you have something to say, what I’m writing isn’t inspiring you to say it.

I learned from my visit to Sitemeter that my 15,000th visitor was here late last week. I thank you, whomever you are.

So, thanks for stopping by, quite regularly. I understand not leaving a comment. I read most of you regularly and don’t say anything. Sometimes, often, I love what you’ve written, I just have nothing to add, doesn’t mean I’m not here and appreciating what you have to say. That’s why you’re not talking to me, it is isn’t it?

Braves, Booze and Bombast

Since Fermi (Cosmic Cat, Recommended sidebar) is on vacation, I'm going to have to do her yearly rant on Georgia's Sunday ban of retail alcohol sales.

Here in our fair state you can go to a sporting event, a restaurant or a bar and drink adult beverages on Sunday; but, you can't buy them at retail and take them home.

Each year our Legislators and the Governor wrangle over Sunday sales. Our Governor, Sunny Perdue, a Southern Baptist, doesn't drink and doesn't have much use for anyone that does. Last year he weighed in on the debate saying that Sunday sales weren't necessary - people just had to be better time managers and buy their booze ahead of time.

This year the debate is spiced up a bit by two factors. Gwinnett County (north-metro Atlanta) is building a new baseball stadium to house one of the Atlanta Brave's farm teams. It needs a Sunday liquor license but doesn't qualify under any of the current exemptions. So our Legislators and Sonny Perdue are on board for a special statute to allow the stadium to sell booze on Sunday. Ditto with a special statute to let limousine companies sell booze to their patrons.

The Speaker of the House and the Governor don't get along. The former tacked a Sunday sales amendment onto the special baseball law. The Guv is threatening to veto it, which will piss off Gwinnett County and the Braves.

This year the Governor's theme is safety. He cites a study that examined New Mexico in the five years after it allowed Sunday retail alcohol sales and found an increased incidence of alcohol related accidents and deaths. Given his mandate to protect our safety, he has to give short shrift to his "Republican principle of individual freedom" and can't entrust us to choose for ourselves (unless we are Gwinnett County, the Atlanta Braves or a limo company).

The Nanny State is not the exclusive property of liberals. When coupled with religion, it's alive and well in Republican Georgia.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Everything Is Income

Back when I took tax law in law school (I had to, I didn’t want to) I took from the class the one rule of taxes in this our United States – everything is income.

I was reminded of this by a news story that reported that the IRS is going after companies that provide cell phones for their employees. In the event you didn’t know it, if you make a call on your company cell phone for a personal purpose, you must report the value of the call as income.

My bet is that most of us don't report that "income."

Companies can avoid being hit for not reporting their employee’s personal use one of two ways. They can monitor the bills and file W-something-or-other on each employee for each phone call made. Or they can implement a plan that forbids their employees from using their company cellphone for personal calls.

If they mess up, the IRS is hitting the company for the taxes that should have been paid by the employees. Go after the easier target I guess.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Risk Averse

"Said of an investor who, given the same return and different risk alternatives, will choose the security with the least amount of risk." From some site found by a Google search.

My definition is winning is not as important as not losing. This is probably not a formula for success in life.

Were I to win a thousand dollars, I'd be pleased; but, that pleasure is outweighed by the unhappiness I'd feel if I lost a thousand dollars. Winning or losing the money would make no difference in my life; but, I "value" one more than the other, seeing it as having greater utility.

I almost always look for the outcome in any situation that is "acceptable." Not a big score; but, not a big loss.

Given my personality, it's interesting that I play a form of "table stakes" poker for a living. Litigating and negotiating for large sums of money, not mine, my clients. There, the goal is usually to gain the best result under the circumstances. The best result can be losing, but losing less than could be possible in the circumstances. In practice, my personality is often a plus. I don't give advice that I think carries great risk (or better put, I include that advise and make clear the risks it involves).

Clients often want to hit a home run, until they understand the cost of hitting it. "Sue the bastards!" "What do you mean the fees are $X and chances are we can't get $Y?" "So what are the other alternatives?"

This weekend I'm going to Biloxi, the low rent Vegas. It has its pluses: one hour plane flight, no recovering from the three hour time difference experienced in Vegas.

With my personality, what am I going to do, you ask. Nothing that requires much thinking. No blackjack or poker (other than video which doesn't require counting or people reading and which actually has the worst house advantage). Some slots and roulette. The latter is a great way to win or lose slowly while being served "free" drinks. I know, it has one of the worst rates of return in the casino. But, I don't have to think. Five bucks on red, black or odd or even. Five bucks on one of the "third" bets - 1 - 12, 13 - 24, 25 - 36. It pays even money on the first five bucks and two to one on the second five bucks, though the odds are a bit worse than that because of the green 0 and 00, hence the house advantage. Or, eight single chip bets on interior numbers with two bucks split between 0 and 00. Pays 35 to 1 against odds of 38 to 1. Which is 35 to 10 or 3 1/2 to 1 given my bet, a little better than the 3 to 2 payoff on my, a bit safer, outside bets. Slow but sure losses are the probable outcome, with the chance of keeping some of the casino's money.

If I win, I'll let you know. I suppose that means that if you don't hear what happens, you'll know anyway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wall Street Journal access

Click on this link to get free. There are two ways, one if you have Firefox and the other through Google News:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Atlanta's Other Green

If you’ve ever flown into Atlanta during the day, on a day that smog isn’t suffocating, you know that we are a city of trees. Other than the long, long, long strip of high-rises along Peachtree from Downtown, Midtown, Lenox, the granite of Stone Mountain, the more recent high-rises on the Perimeter: the rest is trees.

There are trees and there are trees. We’ve just started the season of flowering trees. It will continue into April and cover every surface in town with yellow-green pollen. Interestingly, what we see is from pine. The rest we don’t see we just feel and breath.

I’ve had the windows open for weeks; but, I’ll have to close them soon or wake up choking. I washed the car for the last time last week for another six or so weeks. It’s a waste of time, water and money until late April.

But, we are entering one of the prettiest times to live in Atlanta. All of the fruit trees are about to bloom. Azaleas and all of their friends are on their way.

If you live in Atlanta, take a drive along Lullwater or the other residential streets near Emory University in ten days to two weeks. Budding heaven.

Then there is the most beautiful place on earth the first week of April. Augusta National Golf Club during the week of the Masters Tournament. The club has people that time the flowers when they can. If the weather is too cold, they use super dryers to warm the bushes to encourage the blooms. You don’t have to love or even like golf to love the views on CBS’s broadcasts.

Here’s a sample of the wonders that God and the greens keepers have wrought:

After realizing my pictures of the course are on the other computer and then going on line and seeing that my pictures are better, you have to wait. I'll update the post with a picture or two soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do Two People Make A Difference?

The Georgia House of Representatives thinks so.

In Georgia there are two phases to a murder trial: Guilt deliberations and penalty deliberations. Currently, two unanimous votes are required, one on guilt and one on the penalty to be imposed. The Georgia House wants the second vote to only require a 10 to 2 vote to impose the death penalty. Our esteemed representatives don't want a couple of do-gooders to prevent "justice" from being served. Prosecutors' efforts (the "Peoples' representatives") to execute people are being foiled by hold out jurors.

If passed, Georgia would be the only state with such a statute. (Delaware and Montana judges decide sentences; and, Alabama and Florida juries make recommendations to the judge, who decides the sentence.)

If you think that a less than unanimous vote is morally sufficient to execute someone who has been unanimously found to be guilty, why not 9 -3, 8 -4, or 7-5? It seems less of a good idea with each reduced ratio doesn't it?

Here in Georgia a unanimous jury has to decide that you are negligent in an auto accident and what damages you should pay (several states allow split verdicts); but, our representatives would reduce that burden when if comes to the most serious penalty the government can impose. Does that make sense?

Even if you are in favor of the death penalty, do you really want to make it easy?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Justice Kennedy and The Sentence

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday about the Second Amendment. From the articles I've read, it appears ready to declare some form of individual right to bear arms, not beholden to "militia" needs.

The Courts' current "fifth vote" on closely decided cases, Anthony Kennedy, from his questions and comments, is firmly on the individual right side of the question.

His route to getting there is humorous.

The Second Amendment reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

According to Justice Kennedy the first two clauses about the Militia and security are surplusage: legal nothings there to reaffirm the existence and importance of state militias, divorced from the rest of the Amendment. He then reads the third and fourth clauses as if there was no comma between them (which I guess you have to do if you don't want them to be subjunctive), finding them to create a general right to keep and bear arms.

This is not English as I learned it in school, and I don't think it is English as used in the Eighteenth Century.

The good news, from my side of the fence - everyone, Justices and litigants, agreed that government can regulate firearms. The question becomes how much and how. We'll leave that for a decade or two of litigation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Interesting, But Without Much Practical Meaning

That's what the eventual result of the Supreme Court's initial resolution of the meaning of the Second Amendment will be. Interesting from a legal scholarship point of view; without practical result across the country.

Why you say?

Oral argument is being held tomorrow on whether the District of Columbia's very strict gun law is constitutional. Put too starkly, does the Second Amendment protect an individual's unfetter right to keep and bear arms of any type; or, on the other side of the fence, is the right to bear arms connected to the need to have a militia, along the lines of today's National Guard?

The obvious answers are no and to some extent. No one argues that the Second Amendment allows me to build and arm a nuclear weapon. I can't drive an armed tank down the street. Currently, I can't have a fully automatic rifle.

But I have all of those rights when they are connected to defense of the country or a state.

The question becomes where the line will be drawn by the Court. It will likely split several babies and create constitutional litigation for years to come. In the interim, 44 states have language in their constitutions protecting the right of individual gun ownership. Whatever the Court decides, it won't invalidate those provisions.

Charlton Heston, James Brady and their respective supporters will have plenty to argue about in the years to come.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

'“When a yacht is over 328 feet, it’s so big that you lose the intimacy,' says Tork Buckley, editor of The Yacht Report."

From an article in The New York Times about super yachts. The newest is 531.5 feet long.

Make up your own joke or social or political comment.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Two Recommendations

Having fixed the video connection from the home theater to the TV, I just finished a movie I started a couple of weeks ago, Love Always. Do rent it. It’s a series of sweet, bittersweet, and wonderful vignettes of people and their interactions with other people. None connected, except at the end. Kind of a Crash, without the violence and message.

The final scene is all of the stories coming together, put to the music of the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows, one of the prettiest songs ever written.

That led me to YouTube and a few versions of it. Here’s one coupled to the movie. The sound is pretty good.

That got me wandering Google for cuts from one of the best albums of all time (Doc and Pos), Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys which you can read about (at interminable length) here.

All and all, a successful audio and video evening.

New AV - The Final Post

When last I reported to you, everything with the new HD satellite and TV was working fine, with two exceptions.

The first, that the receiver would not talk to the computer so as to allow it to talk to the Internet so as to allow it to do whatever it is that it wants to do, still isn’t fixed. But no one at the satellite company knows how to make it work. My current plan is to ignore it.

The second exception was that the DVD player in the home theater would send audio to its speakers but wouldn’t send video to the TV. After much messing around, I found the problem – the installer had hooked the audio out on the home theater to the satellite receiver which would then require a connection from the receiver to the TV, something that wasn't there. I hooked it to the TV and it works fine. Standard definition DVD’s look great on the screen.

That’s it, two weeks have passed, and I’m ready to go on with my life.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cat People Needed

I live in a complex. Lots of doors. For the past month or two there's been a little cat, mostly black with white feet hanging around the doors nearby. It used to run when I came near. I think I know where its owner lives, if it has an owner.

About an hour ago I ran out to get something I'd forgotten to make some dinner. When I opened the door, there it was, on the mat laying against the door.

I've always said hello to the cat before it ran away as I approached. Tonight, it didn't run away. As I talked to it and held out my hand, it approached and I rubbed its back as it meowed. It seemed distinctly unhappy as I left.

Here's my problem. If it is now approaching me, I'm thinking that it is not being cared for by its owner.

If I feed it, I'm gaining a cat. If I ignore it, I'm feeling guilty. I don't want a cat; but, I don't want it to suffer. Or, am I entirely misunderstanding the dynamics of cats and their owners?

Fermi? Thomas?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eating Their Young

Geraldine Ferraro just resigned from Hillary Clinton’s finance committee so as to not be a distraction after her recent comments about Barack Obama’s current success being because, at least in part, he’s black.

I’ll get back to her in a minute; but, I find her campaign’s reaction to be amusing. Howard Wolfson, her spokesman said “she ‘made clear she disagreed with them and she rejected them.’” This is of course a riff on her criticism of Obama’s mere “denouncing” of Louis Farrakhan’s comments in a debate. She insisted he should reject them. Obama responded "There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce." AP. I thought Obama had the better of the silly exchange.

Farrakhan after the fact said he didn’t care if Obama rejected and denounced him. Rep. Ferraro is making similar comments about Clinton’s rejection.

The Old Guard of the Left just doesn’t know what to do about this race.

Rep. John Lewis (Dem. Ga.) got his start with Martin Luther King. He’s a super delegate. He was pledged to Clinton. A few weeks ago he told a reporter he would switch to Obama. When the story broke, he retreated. He was inaccurately quoted. He was silent and not available. Recently, he officially switched to Obama.

Jessie Jackson has endorsed Obama; but, you don’t hear much from him. I’d give you odds, Obama has asked him to lay low. Al Sharpton hasn’t endorsed; and, again, I bet Obama hopes he doesn’t.

Bill isn’t a liberal icon; but, his involvement back in South Carolina, taking some subtle racial shots, didn’t help his wife.

Interestingly, Clinton’s remaining core supporters are blue-collar, white, union – groups that might respond to the subtle racial slams. Clinton counted on fealty from White Liberals and Black America. She and the White Liberal and Black, Old Guards now find themselves in the uncomfortable, and dicey position of trying to find wedge issues, but not issues that will totally alienate the other traditional constituencies if she pulls the nomination off.

You can’t really use young as an adjective for Senator McCain; but, he’s a problematic candidate for his party too. He’s in the process of trying to pander, but not too much, to the religious right wing of his party, at the risk of alienating the moderates and independents that are attracted to him.

The powers that were have been thrown some curves this year. They’ve spawned people that they don’t control; and, they’re not at all happy about it. They’re trying to figure out whether to just eat them and hope for the best; or, to let them grow and hope for the best; or, conclude that they don't really have any control any more and hope for the best.

Help Wanted. Experience Necessary?

In any single metric comparison you get an unenlightening result.

Though raised by Hillary Clinton to slam Barack Obama, John McCain "wins" the experience contest. He, quite simply has been around longer in public life.

I have 21 years of experience as a lawyer; but, that doesn't tell you a thing. There are lawyers around with less and more experience that are better and worse than I am.

Let's add a factor. Experience as an indicator of ability to defend our country, and for drama who's best at 3:00 a.m. Here you have to go beyond time in grade and judge what the contestant was doing while gaining the experience. Put differently, does the contestant's background indicate that he or she will make a good decision at 3:00 a.m. in the morning?

Looking at the contestants on stage, the winner is less clear. All are Senators, a collaborative position. None have spent any time as an executive charged with real time decision making. As far as exposure to foreign affairs and defense matters, McCain would appear to be the winner, with Clinton trailing by a good bit and Obama even further in the rear.

Next you get to what their time and exposure to the issues has led them to conclude. For our purposes, let's look at their views on Iraq. McCain plans to stay the course and "win." Clinton and Obama favor varying plans of withdrawal over a shorter period of time.

On this test there is no objective winner. We have to use our subjective views of the issue to choose a winner. If you like the Iraq war, think there is a chance of winning it, stabilizing the region, improving our security by being there, McCain's your winner. If you never liked the war, came to believe it was a bad idea, have no idea what "winning" it means, view the region as inherently unstable and not tied to our security interests, your winner is? Clinton or Obama; but then you're back to using another metric. Which do you think will do a better job of withdrawal and which do you think will deal with the resulting situation in the region better? Or, does the last question throw McCain back in to the race based on the "we're in a mess, what can be salvaged" line of thinking?

We can play this game, adding factors until November. But we won't be helped by the contestants. They will continue their single word and pithy sound-bite campaigning. Experience! Change! False Promises! In the end, for better or worse, we will go with our guts feelings about them.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What I Was Trying To Say

I like my post from earlier today; but, I played with it all day, clicking "Publish Now" finally, feeling that I hadn't pulled together and typed what was wandering around in my head.

As is often the case, there's a blogger out there that nails what I am trying and failing to say. He's also deadly with a short, perfectly crafted essay.

His name is Thomas. If you want the thesis and conclusion to my playful exposition earlier today go here to read what Thomas has to say about it (though I'd disagree with the murderous and lapdog adjectives he uses):

Breaking News


Vatican releases new sins.

From RTW News Service (Atlanta):

The Sins, more accurately described as "sinful behaviors" (drug use, pollution, DNA manipulation and social and economic injustice (fraternal twins)), discovered late last week trapped in a closet in a lower basement in the Vatican's Dogma Department, expressed relief at their release. In a statement they said "we weren't used much back in the old days, just no call for us in those simpler times. We were wandering around without much to do back just before the turn of the last century when a janitor accidently locked us in a closet and put a wardrobe in front of the door." Two other "sinful acts," abortion and pedophilia were also found in the closet. A Vatican spokesman described them as matters that the Vatican was concerned about, but refused to discuss issues of venality and mortality with respect to any of the rediscovered group.

In other news:

Apple Records has re-released the Beatles' catalogue, adding twenty songs composed by Ringo in an attempt to stave off foreclosure sale of Neverland.

Kepler, Newton and Einstein have dusted off The Four Laws, adding six more to keep up with Moses, only to be disappointed by Vatican's apparent escalation attempt.

From The Onion:

"Scoops of the New Century" is the title of a piece about the recent hard hitting investigative journalism being practiced by upstart RTW News Service headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I Just Watched A Movie

It’s called “The Chamber.” A Klan member died in Mississippi’s Parchman Prison gas chamber at the end. He had bombed a Jewish lawyer’s office, and according to the story, with help from another Klan member, accidentally killed the lawyer’s two young sons.

The movie, based on a novel by John Grisham, was a story of mitigation. The killer, played by Gene Hackman, did not intend for the kids to die; but, he was a bad man. He was a partial shill for the then Mississippi Sovereignty Commission and the higher ups in the Klan.

All of the elements are in place for you to feel sympathetic. Should we?

No. But should we kill people because they have killed others?

In this instance, a drama, set up to make the killer less than an evil man, the inclination is to say wait a minute. Over the course of the movie, faced with his grandson who returned to Mississippi as a lawyer to defend him in the last month of his life, he learned that he had done wrong.

To return to the last question, should we kill people who have killed others? Based on none of the above, my answer is no.

One, there’s a book in the lobby of my office published by the Innocence Project. It was put out over five years ago. It contains the stories of over a hundred people that were convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison or death; and it turned out they did not do what they were accused of. DNA established that they had not committed the crime.

Here in the state of Georgia, DNA has resulted in the last year alone, the release of three men imprisoned for rape.

We make mistakes. Our mistakes should not result in the death of an innocent person.

Two, killing people “legally” costs an enormous amount of money, and pain. Again here in Georgia, the state is trying to kill Brian Nichols. There is little question that he killed a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy and a DEA agent he happened upon. He’s a bad man. His entire defense, costing millions of dollars, coupled with millions of dollars that the prosecution has spent trying to kill him devolves to should he be put to death. His attorneys have put out feelers many times about life in prison. The prosecutor says no, fry him at the cost of millions.

Three, which is a worse punishment for the ultimate crimes? The Unibomber, the Olympic bomber, the Kansas City bomber are all sitting in a “supermax prison” and complaining about the deprivation they face, and will face for the rest of their lives. I don’t have any sympathy.
Am I in any way more vindicated in my hatred of murder or rape if they were dead at a cost of many more millions and on the chance that one or more of them didn’t do it? To me, no.

I won’t go into the Eighth Amendment and the current debate about whether the electric chair, the gas chamber or lethal injection constitute cruel and unusual punishment. If you have decided it’s a good idea to kill someone, I’m not at all sure how it matters if you’re cruel in doing so.

Your thoughts?

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Corporate Practice That I Don't Understand

As you know I’ve got a new spiffy TV with HD capability. I still have not solved the inability to see (versus hear, which I can) DVD’s but that’s another story.

I had DirecTv and have switched to Dish. I didn’t cancel the DirecTv until today and I predicted to friends how that would go. I waited a week to make sure there wasn’t some huge problem with the new service, and there wasn’t.

A couple of weeks ago I’d gone online to check on upgrading to an HD dish and receiver. I then called. The rep confirmed what I’d read online, though I’d been a DirecTv customer for about five years, it wanted to charge me $220 bucks for the dish and receiver and about $6 more a month for the roughly equivalent programming that Dish offered.

I like what I had with DirecTv, so I asked if they would waive the $220, several times in several different ways. Nope. I pointed out that if they didn’t I would move to the competition. Sorry to hear that but nope.

So I moved. Today, the first thing the nice lady asked was why I was leaving. I briefly told her. She started to offer the switch to the new dish and receiver at no charge. I cut her off and explained in more detail that I had asked for what she was offering at length and had been denied.

I understand that companies are in business to make money; but, there’s a point that they are dumb. When it’s clear that you are going to lose a client that it makes economic sense to keep, don’t you bite the bullet and make a bit less money? The stupid thing is, if I had been a Dish or cable customer and called DirecTv for the service, they would have installed the stuff free and given me a break on pricing just like Dish did because I was new to it.

Oh, and the HD stuff is cool. You’ve never seen golf until you’ve seen it in HD. I have to figure out how to have someone carry around an HD camera when I’m playing. Then I could watch the replay as I line up and be able to see the individual grains of grass that will govern the break of the ball as I hit it. Amazing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Should I Feel Guilty?

As I’m typing, I’m watching (really listening to) a PBS broadcast of a Moody Blues concert recorded back in 1991. A few minutes ago, thanks to the wonder that is DVR (I do miss TiVo on DirecTv, not available on Dish), I fast-forwarded through the pitch for “new and renewing” members.

I probably should have done some research before writing this to find out if I’m right; but, don’t Public TV and Public Radio have just as many “commercials” as commercial stations? Yes, the “commercials” are a bit different.

“This program is brought to you by generous grants from General Motors, IBM, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Public Broadcasting Corporation, and viewers like you.” I’d, by the way, like to know the MacArthurs, they seem to have a lot of money, they sponsor most every thing on WABE in Atlanta.

Then there are the flat out commercials, especially on Public TV.

I don’t donate to either. I did for years, some years ago. I quit for a couple of reasons. The main one being what I said above, they are commercial TV/radio, with a bit of a different advertising model. Then there was the continuous junk mail and junk calls. “Hi Dave, we have you down on our list as someone who we can guilt into giving us more and more money, how much can we grab today?”

Finally, for the most part, Public TV is not very good anymore. Every good idea it had got grabbed by cable TV and made better. Food shows? Food Network. Nova? All the nature shows? The Discovery family of channels. Masterpiece Theater? BBC.

PBS is left with showing 17 year old recordings of the Moody Blues and breaking them up with guilt trips aimed at the Boomers that are watching.

I do listen to NPR in spurts on a regular basis. It doesn’t seem to have as much advertising. Should I send them an anonymous money order every now and again?

I Hate Agreeing With Her

Though she professes that she is just about to, maybe, release her tax returns, though she is quite busy now (like she has to root through the closet to find them), I know she doesn’t want to; and, I agree with her.

Anyone but an idiot knows she and Bill have made a bunch of money. When you can loan your campaign $5 Mil, you are quite comfortable.

That established, what’s the point? If she played fast and loose with her payments, I’m sure the IRS has already looked at it and blessed it.

Bill has been paid a lot of money by a lot of corporations, foreign and domestic. We already know that. Does the publication of the 1099’s naming the payers change her qualifications to be the President? I don’t think so.

I don’t want her to be the President; but, it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s rich.

If Obama, and God forbid, McCain in a general election, want to tar her with her and her husband’s big money connections, there’s plenty of public record out there to base the attack upon. The oriental guy from a few years ago. Whitewater.

Go further, maybe she, Obama and McCain should give sworn depositions about their pasts, hooked up to a polygraph machine. Interesting, but not relevant to the matters that should matter to voters. How many of you could pass those tests? I couldn’t.

In conclusion, I hate agreeing with her.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My Subcontinent Odyssey

We’ll see how quickly and calmly I can whip this out.

I realized today that an exchange of Emails was not going to work to make my computer not go to the Netgear site about 80% of the time when I clicked to go to a URL. So I called Netgear customer service. I spent about forty-five minutes with a “level one support engineer.” She didn’t have a clue what I was saying. I had to ask her to repeat about every third response. For the entire time, she did not understand that I connected to the internet on an aircard. Not DSL. Not cable. When she asked me how I connected for the fifth time. I tried to politely ask her that I be connected with someone else. She ignored me. She went back to another theme of her half of our conversation: if I could not find a Netgear Icon, I had no Netgear software on my computer.

I used my “big boy” voice and told her that I didn’t care if there was an icon, could she explain why my browser went to one of your blogs and then redirected to the Netgear welcome page if I didn’t have any of its software on my computer? She had no answer and said she couldn’t help me. She would transfer me to her supervisor. Alvin came on the line and solved the problem, I thought, in about five minutes.

When I went on the internet this evening the problem was back. I called again. After an hour of back and forth with a “level two support engineer” I said, “I don’t care if the router ever works, tell me how to make the browser go to the site I send it to.” He insisted that I’d been given bad advice from the others and that he would fix it. I said no. He said if I unplugged the router, I wouldn’t have the problem. I did so and tried some sites while I was online with him. They all went were I planned to go to. After I hung up, I tried a bunch more. So far so good.

Oh, and while this problem was going on, my start page on Google that was customized to give me various news sources had gone back to the generic page that invited me to customize it. Router on its way to the trash and the customized start page is back. Makes no sense; but, facts are facts I guess.

Now I have to figure out, again, how to let the satellite receiver talk to the computer.

I’ll keep you updated, unless I get a significant number of comments telling me not to bother you with this boring garbage. Pandering I know, but Pos says that people are reading but not commenting.

Thank God I Don't Do This For A Living:

mess with electronics and computers.

As regular readers know, I spent my weekend playing with a new TV and satellite service.
TV hookup and the resulting experience have been a dream.

If you’re looking for a flat panel, I highly recommend a Samsung 4071F LCD. Even if you aren’t watching HD, the picture is amazing, if anything, better than the display in the store where everything is set up to wow you.

But, after the fact I found out that I’m an early adopter of a system that the provider doesn’t know how to hook up: my DishTv receiver can be hooked up to a phone line or a high speed computer. I got rid of my phone line a couple of years back. As an aside, I’m a bit strange when it comes to phones. I don’t have much use for just talking on one. In person, talking is fine. On a phone, say what needs to be said and move along. Even before I dumped the phone, I had it forwarded to my office so as to not get calls. I now turn my cell phone off when I get home.

Anyway, when I ordered the service I confirmed with the sales rep that it would work hooked through my laptop which connects by “air/express card” to the Internet. I also have a friend that is an engineer for Dish and confirmed it with him. He said I needed an Ethernet cable and needed to allow “internet sharing” on the laptop.

The installer got there and started to hook up the box to the phone jack. I explained that he needed to make the connection to the laptop, pointing to it. “Does the installation package have an Ethernet cable?” He had a puzzled look on his face. I looked through the box, nope. I told him to forget it, I’d get a cable and do it later.

Later was the next morning. I got a cable and hooked it up. No connection. I called my friend and we spent the day back and forth on the phone and by Email. We established that a cable would not be enough, we needed to establish a gateway that would allow the box to top to the laptop and thus reach the Internet.

As I had a wireless router that I’d bought about a year ago but hadn’t used, I got it and realized I didn’t have the installation CD. So I went online and downloaded the software from Netgear’s support section. No connection. Further back and forth with my friend, and I learned that I could use the wireless router as a wired router and provide the needed gateway. It worked.

Then I found out that the Netgear software had insinuated its way into my browser, part of the time. I’d click on a site in my Favorites and instead of taking me there, it would send me to a Netgear registration site or to a Netgear page that told me that the URL was not one supported by the “Netgear support server.”

I’ve uninstalled the software, but that hasn’t solved the problem. I’m now exchanging Emails with Syed on the Subcontinent.

When that’s resolved I’ll move on to figuring out why the home theater will send audio to the box but not video.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I got some comment spam. Who thinks I'm going to click on a link to "warlock gold?" So I turned on the stupid letter verification thing. Sorry.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Original Remote Control Needs A Replacement

I think I’ve done a comment on a post, or a comment on one of your posts about the original remote control. If you read it and now have to read through it again, I apologize.

So when I was a kid, I was the oldest of three brothers. As the oldest, I had certain chores, especially in the early days, as the two younger brothers just weren’t old enough to do them. I cut the grass and shoveled the sidewalk and driveway. A lesser assigned chore was to serve as the household’s TV remote control.

Picture our living room. Hardwood floors with an area rug. As you entered the front door, the couch was immediately to your left. To its left along the “side” wall was my Dad’s and Mom’s chairs, then the bookshelves. They moved on into the dining room; but, if you looked to the right you’d see the television. A big console. I’m not sure what the size of the screen was, 15”, 18”? Tiny by today’s standards.

When settling in TV time began, Mom sat on the couch or “her” chair. My Dad in his. Us kids, for the most part laid on the area rug in the middle of the room.

“David, channel seven.” Twenty or so minutes later, “channel two.” I was an non-electronic remote control. It worked fine. There was only ABC, CBS, NBC and a Windsor, Ontario, Canada independent channel in the early years. Later on we got a couple of independent UHF channels.

Well, I’ve had my new TV since late morning yesterday. By physical count, I now have five operative remotes. I’m in the process of consolidation, but it’s slow. I need me a nine year old kid. Not to tell to change the channel. Rather, to accomplish the accommodation.

“David, make the home theater remote give the TV not just the audio from the DVD, add the video.”

“David, you know what I want to watch, create a favorites list without the shopping, religious, ethnic and porn channels.” Did you know that Jenna Jamison has her own porn channel?

“David, make the satellite receiver talk to the wireless broadband Internet. It won’t? Go to the store and buy an Ethernet cable, and when that doesn’t work, buy a crossover Ethernet cable and then pull out the wireless router that I couldn’t get to work a year or so ago. Can’t find the installation CD? Go on line and download it. For some strange reason it’s going to take an hour to open the compressed file? OK, I’ll do a post and watch the golf tournament in HD. If I want to watch individual blades of grass growing, I can see them."

So, how have all ya'll spent your weekend?