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October 26, 2003

Privacy and Trust

I think many Americans are willing to allow the government to increasingly invade their privacy because at some fundamental level, they trust that the government's intentions are noble and that the information that is gathered will be used only to make their lives better and/or safer.

We're slowly moving towards a constant surveillance society, not unlike the one portended by Orwell's 1984. In that novel, the government clearly cannot be trusted with the information it is able to gather through surveillance. It is a repressive regime bent on using any means necessary to control the population and retain power.

What most people do not think about when drawing parallels between such legislation as the Patriot Act and works of fiction like 1984 is that the society presented in 1984 was once like our society. It takes a perilous journey down a long, slippery slope to get to that state, but we are on that path at this very moment.

I also find it ironic that people like John Ashcroft sell these laws to us by saying that "law abiding citizens" will not have to sacrifice any of their freedoms. Aside from the fact that this is a circular statement (think of the extreme case: if you change the law so that everyone except for yourself is a criminal, then of course you're not sacrificing freedom yourself), it is also not true in practicality. The more power we give to the government to intrude on our privacy, the more we sacrifice. Today it's Arabs or Muslims... tomorrow it's Asians, next Africans, then people who write things they disagree with, then pro-choice activists, and people who wear green pants... The point is, if we are sacrificing one group's freedoms, or one set of freedoms, we are sacrificing them all. America is slowly becoming the least free of all the countries in the world. It's a slow process, one that is masked carefully and orchestrated so that the majority of us don't see it happening until it's too late. Again, I ask my fellow citizens to open their eyes.

There is no condition upon which sacrificing any measure of our freedom as a society is worth it. This has never been more true than the present day, with a tyrannical government in power that is willing to do anything to stay in power.

PGP Signed Entry

October 17, 2003

Chicago Lament, Jet Edition

Well, it looks like there'll be no cheer for Chicago sports fans this October. I'm still getting over it, but as hope springs eternal, the loser's motto does likewise: "there's always next year."

So things weren't so hot for my horses this year... good thing I didn't put any money on these (well, okay, I put some money down on the Illini when I was in Vegas)... The Cubs didn't win the World Series. Neither did the BoSox. The US Women didn't win the World Cup. The Illini didn't make the Final Four. The Bears... suck.

Things are, pretty much, as they should be. The order of the Universe is restored. A comet will not be striking the Earth, obliterating all life as we know it. See, there's a bright side to everything.

PGP Signed Entry

October 12, 2003

Thanks for the memories, Mia

The USA beat Canada 3-1 in the 3rd place match of the Women's World Cup today. It was widely rumored to be Mia Hamm's last international match, and the symbolic end of an era in soccer.

I've been a Mia fan since high school, when I played goalkeeper for my school's team. That was a long time ago in the history of soccer in the United States. There really weren't a lot of role models for a soccer player, male or female, in the US at that time. I remember being a Tony Meola fan, because he was a fellow keeper. But I don't remember any of the other men on the US national team from those days. I do remember Mia Hamm, though. She was, in my mind, the first US soccer player in recent history to really energize people, not just other players, but the fans. But as a player, I really appreciated the pioneering role she played for soccer in the US. The attention she garnered, and the efforts she made to encourage young people to play soccer and follow their dreams, were contributions that really changed the perception of the game in the US.

I've been a soccer player since grade school. I never played in little league, and my experience with American football never got past the pickup game level. Whereas other kids had figures like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Walter Payton, and Dick Butkus in whose footsteps to dream of following, soccer players didn't have a real American icon to dream of following. Kids growing up today have that now, in Mia Hamm. I am so envious of those kids.

So thanks, Mia, for everything you've given to soccer. But more importantly, thanks for your contribution to so many dreams yet to be fulfilled. Thanks for everything you're still giving, and will give, to young people all over the world.

PGP Signed Entry


I'd like to nominate SunnComm for Most Idiotic Company honors.

Their product apparently relies on the Windows autorun feature to prevent the music on a disc to be copied on the computer. Note that I didn't say "compact disc" because their product is in violation of the compact disc standard, and thus any disc utilizing their product cannot be called a "compact disc." Alright, first of all, how the hell did these guys manage to convince record labels that this would somehow stop music on one of these discs from getting ripped and copied? I've never had autorun turned on, and most of my friends don't either. Yeah, sure, we're all geeks and we aren't the typical user. But guess what? All it takes is one or two people who don't have it turned on to rip the music and put it on the P2P network. I mean, clearly, these people think that everyone out there is just as dumb as they are.

Now as if that didn't demonstrate their idiocy, some kid this week published a paper about how their product could be further circumvented by holding the shift key down while inserting the disc, thus disabling the autorun feature temporarily. Apparently, the courts are the last refuge of the idiots in this country, because SunnComm is now suing the kid.

Look, I don't give a god damn what the letter of the law says in this case, because the fact that these morons even think they have a case means that the law is written poorly. This is just wrong. Everyone who knows even the most miniscule iota about security knows that security through obscurity is not security at all. They have a poor product. Period. The court needs to throw this case out immediately. Companies should not be able to use the court to hide from their own inferiority and incompetence.

Let's punish these people. I know that by suing this kid they're trying to send some kind of message to other people... to intimidate them. But let's not let that happen. In fact, let's turn the tables and intimidate them. Don't buy their products, don't buy music from labels that use their product. Stop letting these companies have their way with you in the courts and in our government. Wake up people, and realize that you are the most powerful person in our economy: you are a consumer.

PGP Signed Entry

October 9, 2003

Advertising Rates

My web log is a forum for my random thoughts and non-commercial, individual responses to those thoughts. This vision does not include commercial advertising, and therefore, the "comment spam" that seems to be going around the 'net these days is not welcome here.

Therefore, I have decided to publish rates for advertising on my web log. By posting a commercial advertisement to my blog, you are agreeing to these terms.

The rate for advertising is $100,000 (one hundred thousand US Dollars) per word (or partial word), per hour (or partial hour) that your advertisement is on the blog. Time is calculated from the moment the Movable Type engine accepts your post.

Even if you do not provide billing information, you authorize me, or a designated agent, to use any legal means necessary to determine your identity and billing information.

You release me from any responsibility arising from your use of the blog, including availability of your advertisement. I reserve the right to remove or alter your post at any time, without recourse to you.

PGP Signed Entry

The View from FL370

There's something quite beautiful about the earth as one watches its forests, mountains, rivers, and oceans pass by from the tranquility of thirty-seven thousand feet. Especially more so when one's destination is the City of Light, where the only other person in the whole world awaits.

PGP Signed Entry

October 6, 2003

Congratulations, Dr. Lauterbur

When I was an undergraduate, I worked in the Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Lab under Dr. Paul Lauterbur. It was my life's plan to conduct research in MRI and/or neurosurgery. I knew it at the time, but today received confirmation that I was working with the best there was. He has been awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Now this makes me feel honored to have worked with such an accomplished individual, but at the same time I feel a little bit like I let myself down. Maybe others could say that they're not persuing their dreams today because they never got a good chance to develop their abilities. You know, that they never had good teachers or role models. I guess I can't use that excuse. Not that I ever did, or wanted to. But a part of me kind of wonders where I took my eyes off the ball. Where I lost the trail. Where the intense passion went. Why I'm not staying up late in the lab and sacrificing the comforts of life to a great cause. Why there just don't seem to be those kinds of causes in my life anymore.

Regardless, I am proud to have worked with Dr. Lauterbur. After all, he's the first Nobel Laureate I've met before they were a Nobel Laureate. Congratulations.

PGP Signed Entry

Cubs Win!

Holy cow!!!!!!!

Cubs Win!!!!!!!!! Cubs Win!!!!!! Cubs Win!!!!!!!!!!

PGP Signed Entry

October 5, 2003


I can't begin to quantify how frustrating the Cubs' loss yesterday was. Aside from the fact that they're killing us with the suspense, their loss and subsequent necessity for game five means two very annoying, very irritating things to me, personally.

First, as mentioned previously, it means I have to sit through one more game on Fox. Let me just say that from here on out, I would like the Cubs to sweep since the games will all be on Fox now. Watching the games on ESPN is like a breath of air after being dead for thirteen centuries. Watching the games on Fox is like being gang raped by a race of tentacle aliens and then finding out that your girlfriend is in love with one of them.

Second, and more importantly, Fox decided to schedule the Cubs game at the same time as the USA-Germany semi-final game of the Women's World Cup. These are both critical games, and I'm equally vested in both of them. The only positive aspect of this, perhaps, is that I'll be able to just switch to the soccer game during all the Fox commercial breaks.

So, Go USA! Go Mia, Shannon, and Briana!

Go Cubbies! Go Sammy! And Go Kerry!

PGP Signed Entry

The Pain

Watching the Cubs' divisional playoff games on Fox is sooooo PAINFUL!!!!!!

Not because the Cubbies win or lose, or because of anything going on on the field.

Because I have to sit through mind-numbing advertisements for Fox shows that turn people's brains to a slurry of mashed up maggots mixed with fecal matter from elephants. These shows, every single one of them, make me want to secede from society. I can't believe people watch this shit. They're dispicable.

PGP Signed Entry

October 3, 2003

Racist Rush

Rush Limbaugh got into some trouble this week with some racist remarks made about Donovan McNabb. He later defended his comments by saying that he was not making a racist remark, but rather a comment on the media.

See, that's not a defense to me at all, much less an apology that somehow exonerates him. What this shows me is that the brand of racism ingrained into this man is the most insidious kind: he's such a bigot that he doesn't even know when he's being racist! So insensitive and ignorant is he that he does not know what is right or wrong, much less what is decent versus offensive.

It really saddens me that people like this have national attention. Don't get me wrong: I respect their right to have these views, but I certainly do not agree with them, and it is my hope that people tune people like this out of their lives.

PGP Signed Entry

October 2, 2003


I thought maybe I'd provide a little more background on the photos in the latest art pane. The first (top) photograph is a summer shot of one of the lifts in Park City, Utah, backlit by the sun. I don't do a lot of black and white photography, so it was a challenge to find good shots, and this was really the only shot on that roll that I was happy with. This photo was taken on my Nikon N6006 on Kodak Plus-X.

The second photograph is of the 520 bridge over Lake Washington east of Seattle. Going under the bridge, I turned the camera on the spur of the moment, and ended up with an unconventional perspective shot. This photo was shot with my Canon PowerShot S110 digital camera.

The third photo is a cropped shot of me, taken by my friend Bob at a lake in California. Shot on my Nikon N6006 on Plus-X.

The last photo is a shadow "self-portrait" shot in the blazing sun at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This was shot on the Canon PowerShot S110.

PGP Signed Entry

October 1, 2003


It'll be a great match tonight as the USA takes on arch-rivals Norway in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup.

Go USA! Go Mia! Go Shannon! And of course a special cheer for my fellow goalkeeper, Go Briana!

PGP Signed Entry