Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

OK, so I'm a few hours early. Sue me.

First, I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas to Amazon who just saw their cash cow, the Kindle e-book reader, get hacked. Kindle books can now be transferred to other devices at will. Once again, there is no copy protection or DRM scheme that cannot be hacked or bypassed by someone sufficiently intelligent and/or determined, Hollywood's efforts to "plug the analog hole" by legislative fiat notwithstanding. Thus it has always been and thus it will always be as long as humans (or some subset of humans) are analog, intelligent and determined

And Merry Christmas to the 8th-grader undergoing facial reconstruction after being beaten by a group of other 8th-graders because someone was accidentally hit with a basketball. But, as the article takes great pains to point out, at least it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It could have been racially motivated. Whew. Glad we dodged that bullet. Just another mixed race group beating the living hell out of some spic kid. Move along. Nothing to see here. Just a big "misunderstanding."

Merry Christmas to those who own oil stocks as oil sneaks past $77/barrel. I love the green-shoot spin:
Crude has jumped from $69 a barrel last week on investor expectations that global crude demand, especially from Asia, will rebound next year and help boost prices.

So Merry Christmas to everyone as gas prices continue to rise. And just remember while you are feeding the grocery budget into the gas tank that this is a good thing.

And just in time for the holidays, John Greer finishes up his three-part series on our current political collapse. He focuses on the implosion at Copenhagen, but it applies equally well to health care or our national debt (which just had its ceiling raised to $12.4 trillion or $40,000 per person), or any of the other political footballs that have been consistently punted down field by every administration and Congress since JFK. And if you haven't already, read part one and part two just to really make your holiday bright.

One of Jerry Pounelle's readers states what he mistakenly thinks is an irrefutable summary of the global cooling deniers' consensus position. Notice how easily someone outside the field of climatology who possesses above average intelligence can disassemble the consensus. (shrug) Not that it matters. Our political masters have decided that Something Must Be Done, so we will do something that will be a complete failure at reducing CO2 levels but will be wildly successful in turning congressional offices into lifetime appointments and enriching the enlightened souls who hold their leashes.

A follow-up to yesterday's post: The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights has already warned both houses of congress that their respective bills are discriminatory. In what I'm sure will come as a shock to no one, the warning has been completely ignored and the bills are larded with discrimination against white men and Asians. Nothing really new there other than how blatant it is. I guess one could be optimistic that this bill will be immediately challenged in court before it can even be implemented, and that the Supreme Court will make a sweeping ruling that flushes government-instituted racism down the toilet and at long last, ushers in the truly color-blind society envisioned by Martin Luther King. (giggle, snort) OK, OK, I'll stop. Just trying to lighten up a rather depressing blog post.

Cnet News is reporting that internet users are online an average of 13 hours a week. A week? Really? I'm on more than that a day. I smell some serious flaw here. First, it relies on self-reporting, which as we all know consistently under-states reality when there is social pressure in that direction (TV watching, internet usage, playing video games) and over-states reality for "good" things (reading books, visiting museums, female virginity [male virginity is a condition to be cured; see the movie 40-year-old Virgin]). Second, how do you define being online with an always-on internet connection? My PC runs 24/7 and is only disconnected from the internet if Road Runner goes down. I turn on the TV/42" monitor when I get out of bed, log into Facebook and Twitter and don't log out until I go to bed. Am I "online" 24 hours a day? 18 hours a day? Only when I'm sitting with the keyboard in my lap? What about iPhones, Androids and the rest of the whole gamut of smart phones and pocket PC's? What counts as "being online"? Having the device powered on or only when physically typing in a Twitter or Facebook ap? I love that the study excludes e-mail? E-what? You mean that Yahoo web app that alerts me when something happens on Twitter or Facebook if I happen to be logged out of those? Seriously; other than "forward monkeys", does anyone spend more than a few minutes a day on e-mail?

To dig a little deeper, what do we mean by "being online"? I'm being serious here. Ten years ago, it was easy. The only way to be online was sitting at a keyboard in front of a PC and dialed into an ISP. Now, even entry-level cell phones have the ability to do internet-ish things. Is sending a text message from one cell phone to another "being online"? Why not? If I send that same text message to my Facebook or Twitter account, is that "being online"? How is that fundamentally different from the previous scenario? How is texting between two cell phones any different than IMing between two iPhones? Am I "online" when I pay for stuff with a credit card? The verification is done over VPN, isn't it? My point: the internet is now a fully integrated utility. Not "going to be in ten or twenty years". IS. NOW. Asking how many hours a week I spend "online" is like asking how many hours a week I spend using electricity. The answer is, "Always. Whether I realize it or not."

So anyway, our Christmas plans are simple: sit in the apartment and watch the rain/freezing rain/snow over the weekend while watching as many movies and reading as many books as possible. We may even do a little organizing in the office (which needs it badly), but I wouldn't bet money on it. So I'll just finish off this uplifting bit with a hearty "Ho! Ho!".... Ooo. That reminds me of a Tiger Woods joke:

How is Santa different from Tiger Woods? Santa stops at three ho's.

Merry Christmas!

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