Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hovering between SocialThing, ...

Hovering between SocialThing, FriendFeed, SecondBrain and good old Twitter. Wondering how long until SOMEbody does everything right.

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Creepy Miley Cyrus Picture with Billy Ray

My added commentary says it all on this one. This is the only picture in the recent brewhaha (sp??) that I had the slightest negative reaction to and I'm even exaggerating my reaction a bit, I think. Let's just say at any age, I'd never pose like this with my mom or my daughter.
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Federal Reserve Cuts Rates AGAIN

Just spied the above update in my stream at

So, let me get this straight. This is the *seventh* time they've cut rates in order to inspire more loan-taking in six months.

The *seventh* time.

I'm no economist, but I'm no idiot, either, but I think doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results is *probably* a waste of time.

Maybe it's time to stop spending money on wars and missile defense systems and start spending it on things at home?

See, too me, when people stop taking out loans it means they're uncertain they will be able to pay them back. Although very basic, this strikes me as a sign that people are suffering a crisis of faith in the system--aka a loss of confidence in the system.

Perhaps our leaders could try doing something other than cut interest rates to make us feel better about getting into more debt?

Or could it be that our system has finally peaked?
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OK, 1:30am and I'm settling in...

OK, 1:30am and I'm settling into do some more writing--in the midst of wrapping up a novel that I've been working on for 10 years, off & on.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley Cyrus Photos: Which Offends You More?

Personally, I'm very worried about our culture--our media seems to treat us like children while making our children look like adults.

I don't find the so-called "topless" photo of Miley Cyrus offensive. It's quite nice, actually. What I *do* find offensive is what her father has let her do.

1) He sold away her mostly normal childhood for what?

2) She goes "topless" for a photoshoot with a distinguished, well-known photographer, but she goes out to Hollywood events dressed in a baby-T, a yellow/plaid dinner napkin and knee-high socks that would make a priest do a double take.

I'm all for sex, mind you--I think we have an absurd attitude toward sexuality. In my opinion, it's sad how violence (even now) is so much more common than sexuality--yet sexuality is way more common in *life* than violence.

That said, I think we should limit the sexualization of both males and females to those WHO ARE OLD ENOUGH.

When 16-year-old boys have six pack abs and 15-year-old girls wear socks that cover more leg than their skirts do, we have a problem.

Yes, it's our job as adults to control ourselves, but is it right to raise our kids to think this kind of overt sexuality is good at that age?

OH and btw, saying Cyrus is topless in that picture is like saying she's topless all the time. Her boobs aren't even slightly exposed!

And what's with that romance novel cover Cyrus took with her dad? Damn creepy!
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Tech-karma following me from l...

Tech-karma following me from last night--my XO's keyboard flaked on me, now Terminal keeps crashing & SIM card on my SLVR won't register.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Fed's New Rulez (Scary!)

Sorry in advance, this is kind of a long one!

Recently, the US Treasury Department proposed a new plan to give the Federal Reserve "Wide New Power," according to a March 29, 2008 article at (capped above and available here: ). Here's a cutting from the article itself:

"The Treasury Department will propose on Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad new authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system."

This was enough to give me the chills. There's this thing that many people believe was the real reason the Civil War happened. Most people think it was because of slavery--many believe that it wasn't. The core issue was the federal government telling the states what to do--this is aka "states rights". What we're seeing here, assuming the new rules are implemented, is a financial equivalent of this.

The Federal Reserve, a semi-governmental body that loans money to the Treasury Department to be then printed as currency, would have the ability to tell banks what to do. While the NYTtimes article cited above goes on to talk about a bunch of things the Fed wouldn't be able to do, the usage of the phrase "SWAT teams" in the opening sentence of the article does suggest a lack of a bank's ability to make decisions for itself.

So, it seems to me that we as individuals are having our freedoms infringed upon and so are the banks. We're all beholden to the ultimate power-combo of the US Government and the Federal Reserve.

The semi-good news here is that banks are fighting back, according to an April 28, 2008 New York times article I found at (get it here: ), anyway. The reason this is only "semi" good news is because of how the argument is being couched:

"As the Federal Reserve completes work on rules designed to root out abuses by lenders, the plan has run into a buzz saw of criticism from bankers, mortgage brokers and other parts of the housing industry. One common industry criticism is that, at a time of tight credit, the rules could make many mortgages more expensive by creating more paperwork and potentially exposing lenders to more lawsuits.

To the chagrin of consumer groups, which have complained that the proposed rules are not strong enough, the industry criticism has prompted the Fed to consider whether to narrow the scope of the plan so that it applies to fewer loans."

So, it's either a "more regulation" issue or a "not-so-much regulation" issue. I think the problem is more about the system, itself. It's like the shark--if our financial system stops swimming, it will die. To be more specific, if our financial system stops *growing* it will die (apparently).

That's a pretty messed up system right there. Do you really think a system like that is safe? Or stable? Or the best option? What happens if it fails? Do we need to see a Greater Depression?

Shouldn't we have a system that doesn't put every last bit of emphasis on making money? Shouldn't we have a currency that actually represents something physical? I think our dollar represents a fraction of an hour's worth of work--not gold, silver or platinum. As a result, our entire economy is based on our labor--our labor.

If employment goes down or the value of the dollar goes down, who suffers first? The poorest. Then the not-so-poor and so on, up the ladder, until the rich barely feel it.

What's worse is that inflation just keeps growing and growing and growing and no one seems to think there's anything wrong with a currency that is designed to be worth less with every year that passes.

I'm no financial expert. I can't suggest any solutions. All I can do is point out what seems to be happening and how our government has bet all our money on this one system expecting it to never fail *ever*.

Or maybe they knew it would fail but didn't care?

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

From ThePete.Com: UK Schools T...

From ThePete.Com: UK Schools Too Sensitive to Feelings? Yep.: I was speaking with my mom..

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Most Recent Mugshot: http://ti...

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UK Schools Too Sensitive to Feelings? Yep.

I was speaking with my mom this afternoon and she asked me if I had heard about how UK schools weren't teaching about the holocaust. Instinctively, I explained that it probably wasn't as bad as some people are saying. Odds are, it's just UK teachers being too sensitive to any possible offense they could cause to their Muslim students. I doubted there was a systematic choice by the UK equivalent to the Board of Education saying "Teachers can't teach the holocaust because Muslim parents have complained."

See, because most Muslims don't believe the Holocaust didn't happen. And by "most" I mean, the majority. However, there's a right-wingish group of folks on the Internet that like to stir up shitstorms where there wasn't even feces in the first place. This is a good example of it in action.

As an April 2, 2008 article from BBC News (capped above, original here:…517359.stm ) illustrates, it's more of a case of teachers over-reacting to their own concerns with creating conflict in their classes. Turns out there was a study done that found this was going on--so it was not something the system forced on teachers.

What I don't get is why UK teachers don't do what NJ teachers did in my own public school growing up: Only teach history before 1900.

Problem solved!

See, my teachers did that I had to base my knowledge of World Wars One and Two, Korea, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, the Equal Rights Amendment, the Suffrage Movement, and a lot of other things on movies and TV shows made about those things.

For the longest time, I thought Korea was this not-so-bad war where funny doctors played tricks on jerks and hot blonds and saved lives.


I also remember the first time I learned about Vietnam. I was with my Mom--maybe 11 or 12-years-old--and we were coming out of a Caldor (like a Target or K-Mart) and I asked my mom the awkward question: "What's Vietnam?"

I'm not even sure what inspired the question--maybe I saw someone with an MIA T-shirt on or something? I don't know. But she explained it to me then. "It's a war that no one likes to talk about."

"Why's that?"

"Because we lost it."

My world view was shattered, but shouldn't I had known that the US doesn't win every war it starts? Isn't it more important for me to know what happened and have a discussion about it rather than have me mentally knocked on my ass in a Caldor?

In the end, I just wish teachers both in the UK and in the US would realize that the truth isn't politically correct and that the best place for people to learn that fact is...a *school*.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Big Brother is My Co-Pilot

Back on March 7, 2008 I posted on a subtle, but growing wave of Big Brothery behavior flowing across the US (read about it here:…g-brothery ). Back then I wrote, in part, about a woman I know who had her thumb drive scanned by a cop who had puled over the car she was in (she wasn't even driving, yet her personal belongings were subject to a search).

Well, here comes a supreme court ruling (as reported by an LATimes Blog post here:…lapto.html and an SF Chronical article here:…rticle.cgi ) that allows your laptop to be scanned any time you fly. Turns out some dude was on his way back from the Philippines and had some child porn on his laptop. He was pulled aside for a random search. The TSA dudes turned on his computer and started searching the directories and found the porn.

Forget that data can end up on your computer without your knowledge, thanks to hackers, bots and viruses--or even something as simple as stumbling across the wrong kind of porn site.

Forget that under the Constitution every human alive has the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure.

The United States government has now decided that every one of us is a criminal, without the right to a lawyer or a warrant before our data is searched. This is also an abridgment of our free speech rights since I might not want the government to know what I wrote about them in my private diary.

Now, when my friend got her thumb drive searched, she said it was because the cops were looking for evidence of involvement with Al Qaeda or child pornography. So, do cops just assume every person who gets pulled over might be Al Qaeda or a fan of child porn?

Apparently, it's now legal for the TSA to do exactly that. Now, I can almost accept them searching my computer for AQ-related stuff (hell, they search our bodies for weapons and anything that could allow us to hijack or blow up the plane already), but looking for evidence of other crimes? Why should that be relevant to flying? And what if the TSA person isn't trained to know the difference between pictures of one's own children in the bath and actual child porn? What if, for a joke my friend emails me an attachment with the file name "teensexring.jpg"? What if I have mp3s or movies on my hard drive? Will the TSA guy assume I've bootlegged them, even if I didn't?

This is what oppression feels like, folks. Oppression doesn't always come in the form of Nazis or uniformed men goose-stepping down the street. sometimes it's much more subtle--subtle but nonetheless, effective. Anyone of us who flies is now officially having their rights abridged.

Pretty fucking sad, if you ask me.

Sorry for the F-bomb, but I think our Freedoms are worth it. :)
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Friday, April 25, 2008

MicroBlogging Naysayers Can Now EAT IT

Since I started using Twitter and even Utterz, I've run into attitudes from the techiest of people that slammed micro and miniblogging as stupid and frivolous. Hell, even before I started using Twitter I thought that it seemed kind of idiotic. But here is an instance of using Twitter that may have saved an American's life. Turns out a UC Berkeley grad student was covering an anti-government protest and he got arrested. He Twittered from his mobile just the one word:


His Twitter followers at Berkeley knew what to do, immediately jumping on the phone and getting a lawyer on the case. Without Twitter and without the social network he had built up, he'd very likely still be in that Egyptian jail or worse.

This is just one case of Twitter being used as a life saving tool--last fall folks in San Diego Twittered news and information regarding the fires that displaced a large number of people.

Is Twitter still used for stupid crap that most of us don't care about? Sure--but if it can save even a single life, can't you naysayers just get over it?

The above screencap came from a article here:…index.html

I learned about this story from fellow-Twitterer Frederic ( ) of http://TheLastPodcast.Net/
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The 5 Minute Show Episode 22: BODILY MISHAPS!

IN this episode of The 5 Minute Show, ThePete and SiSi get visits from unwanted family members, Aunt Flow and Uncle Ralph. To make things worse, this episode's cooking segment involves raw meat and tender breasts.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

From ThePete.Com: New York Tim...

From ThePete.Com: New York Times Baits With Race: There was a time when the New York Tim..

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New York Times Baits With Race

There was a time when the New York Times was considered the "Paper of Record." This means that guys writing history books about America or the world would use the NYTimes as a reference. This means that we all grew up learning about the history of our country that was partially influenced by the reporting in the New York Times. So, when this paper makes mistakes, it means that history books will be reporting the inaccurate news as fact.

So, here comes the NYTimes today reporting in an April 24, 2008 article (screencapped above and available here: ) on how presidential candidate Barack Obama can't quite win over the Democrats. The writer of the piece, Adam Nagourney, dances around the premise like a ballerina, taking an entire article to ask a simple question:

Is American too racist to elect a black man to the White House?

This is one of those stupid questions the press asks over and over again because they know it can't be answered. They babble on and on about the debate that doesn't really exist--I don't see any anti Obama protests. I don't see any violence breaking out. These things, to me, are evidence of a real debate taking place in America. Remember the Civil Rights movement back int he 60s? There were protests, there was violence. THAT was a debate.

What we've got now is just a bunch of reporters trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. There's no way to know if we're ready for a black prezzie until November when the vote actually happens. This kind of article, to me, seems like a giant attempt to confuse people into thinking that whether or not we're ready is an issue.

Once again, we won't know until we try. Just because he's not winning in a landslide doesn't mean he's too black to be in the White House.

Meanwhile, there are food riots around the world, gas prices are astronomical, climate change is still a problem, and the validity and stability of our election systems is in serious question, but we need to stop and debate about whether race will prevent a black guy from getting in the White House.

Yeah! Let's talk about an unwinable debate. Not only that, let's confuse the issue. In the first paragraph, the article asks, regarding Obama:

"Why has he been unable to win over enough working-class and white voters to wrap up the Democratic nomination?"

Two paragraphs later, though:

"Mr. Obama remains ahead of Mrs. Clinton in delegates, in the popular vote and in national polls, and Mrs. Clinton certainly has her own problems trying to herd Democrats into her corner."

So, it sounds like he *has* wrapped up the nomination, doesn't it?

BUT WAIT, there's more--the very next paragraph says:

"But just when it seemed that the Democratic Party was close to anointing Mr. Obama as its nominee, he lost yet again in a big general election state, dragged down by his weakness among blue-collar voters, older voters and white voters."

But isn't that irrelevant thanks to your previous paragraph talking about how he's got more delegates than Clinton? Make up your mind, Adam!

See, it seems like you're just making all this shit up since Obama already has the delegates he needs. What's really funny about that last excerpt from the article is that it references Obama's "weakness among blue-collar voters, older voters and white voters."

So, according to this, he's weak among almost EVERYONE. Is that why he's got all those delegates???

WTF, man! Come on! No wonder my history class turned me off as a kid--it had the NY Times as a source!! To sell papers, you make a maze out of a straight line!!

Everyone knows race is an issue in America--it *always will be*. But after reading this article, I don't know if Obama is doing well or not. Being in the lead doesn't seem to be enough--I don't know why and this article does nothing to help me understand why.

I understand newspapers need to make money, but there's got to be some middle ground between creating news from the æther and giving us what we need to function in a democracy. Too many of us think that it's ok for newspapers to do what they have to in order to bring in the cash. The catch is that some things are actually more important than money.

I know, that's sacrilegious to say, but it's true. We need to know what's going on and we can't trust our political leaders to be honest. So, the media needs to tell us what is up, so we can vote appropriately. However, if they're too busy making drama where there isn't any (or isn't much), how can we know how to vote?

The whole system falls apart at this point. Not only does that effect us and our country but also, if indirectly, the entire world (since so much of what America does effects the rest of the world).
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From ThePete.Com: The 5 Minute...

From ThePete.Com: The 5 Minute Show Lucky Episode 21!!: The 5 Minute Show gets to LUCKY ..

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The 5 Minute Show Lucky Episode 21!!

The 5 Minute Show gets to LUCKY EPISODE 21!! Sadly, ThePete and SiSi don't get lucky in coming up with ideas for the 21st episode of the 5 Minute Show. Watch and see what they DO come up with! You should be moderately frustrated. :D

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

From ThePete.Com: Double Jeopa...

From ThePete.Com: Double Jeopardy is Illegal, but Triple Jeopardy?: Saw this on Breaking..

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Double Jeopardy is Illegal, but Triple Jeopardy?

Saw this on BreakingNewsOn's Twitterstream (…kingnewson ) this morning.

Now, I could have sworn that being put on trial for the same crime twice was illegal--let alone a third time.

What also makes me mad about this is that these guys were just freaks with large-sized dreams, not any real threat to the Sears Tower or anyone else.

According to an article (here: ) the Feds have run into two deadlocked juries. However, rather than just admit defeat, they are tying a third time to prove that these guys were serious.

If memory serves, they had no money, no resources and no guns. They asked the FBI informant (whom they believed was Al Qeada) for boots.

Nice to see our leaders in law enforcement *and* politics really know what they're doing when it comes to keeping us safe.

With leaders like these, who needs followers?
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From ThePete.Com: My Very Firs...

From ThePete.Com: My Very First Website EVER: OK, so this is a screencap of part of my o..

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From ThePete.Com: More...

From ThePete.Com: More Quality Reporting!: Earlier today while looking for news ..

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From ThePete.Com: Say, What WA...

From ThePete.Com: Say, What WAS Up with Twitter Late Last Night?: I caught this last nig..

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Say, What WAS Up with Twitter Late Last Night?

I caught this last night just before going to bed. I don't know if this has anything to do with the recent technical issues's been having behind the scenes, but it just really puzzled me. It even showed up in Growl upside-down.
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My Very First Website EVER

OK, so this is a screencap of part of my original site--the rest of the page was just too ugly to show--as if this part wasn't bad enough.

However, it's kind of neat to see how things started out for me way back in early 1997.

I hadn't met my wife in person yet (we had met on the Internet by then, however) and it was obvious what I was passionate about.

"Star Wars" - Check out the background image--it was a B&W scan of the collectors card I got from the "Star Wars Special Edition" screening i went to at the Chinese Theater.

"I Hate Frames Club" - Sure, I experimented with frames--I think we all did. The important thing is that I came to realize that frames are wrong and an abomination.

Horoscopes - OK, even then, I viewed these every day as a fun little thing to read. I believed then and still believe now that it's more or less random coincidence when they are accurate.

Star Trek Free-Speech Campaign - this was an online movement fighting Paramount's attacks on Trek fansites that would use logos and pictures from "Star Trek" without permission. Way to bite the hand that spends millions on your damn franchise every year, Paramount!

"Otis the Elevator" - My old comic strip character. Talking elevator. Dig it.

"CNN Interactive" - This was the only reputable news source on the web in 1997 as far as I was concerned. The idea that I could watch tiny, low-rez footage of the bombing of the US Olympics less than twenty minutes after watching the same footage on TV gives me shivers to this day.

"X-Files" - 'nuf said.

"Holodeck 3" - My favorite Trek fansite of the day--they had their whole site done up with the LCARS motif. Made me angry that touchscreen computers didn't exist yet.

You can also note that the baby head stayed with me all these years. That's a different baby head, of course. I took that from a newspaper ad for something that I can't recall. The idea was that some dude named his kid after every player in a soccer team. So, on the "Hello My Name Is" label, were like ten names. I thought it was a funny image, so I cut it out and used White-Out on the other names, replacing them with just mine. When my manager at the Kinko's I worked at for a time didn't supply me with my own official name tag, I used this.

When I got my first scanner, I decided it would make a good name tag for my site. Eventually I swapped out the non-me baby head for my own at the age of seven months.

So, there ya have it! This should be the last trip down ThePete.Com/memorylane unless I manage to find more old HTML laying around. I'm moving in a couple of weeks, so it just might happen!
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Orignal From: My Very First Website EVER More Quality Reporting!

Earlier today while looking for news on the earthquake in Taiwan, I saw a picture of a gas-price sign that looked really familiar. It was being used as proof that gas prices were out of control--coming in at $100/tank. Of course, the picture looked familiar to me because I had taken one of the exact same sign but from the opposite side for my photoseries on gas-price signs. Hey, I walk and take the bus a lot--I've got to pass the time somehow!

Anyway, so the picture I took was at an absurdly over priced gas station selling no-name brand gas for about 60¢ more than most other stations were at the time. Here comes CNN using a pic of the same sign a month later as though that station is representative of all prices here in Los Angeles.

In fact, I only know of one "Prena" brand gas station and that one is it--on the corner of Melrose and Fairfax. When I saw the prices they were charging I immediately wondered to myself if they were just a mob front. So, I'd like to thank CNN for sensationalizing news, one more time!

As if gas prices aren't bad enough all on their own!
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Sometimes My Mom Really Does "Get" Me

Got this email from my mom this afternoon.

Sometimes I feel like my parents have no clue who I am or what I'm trying to do with my life or what I go through every day.

Sometimes I don't.

Thanks, Mom! You rock!
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Glimpse Back in Time at ThePete.Com

So, when I switched over from and started using ThePete.Com, I didn't want to change the cool rotating banners. Something about confusing my site visitors appealed to me (don't ask me what that was--I've no idea now) and I liked the idea of reflecting the diversity of my interests through a banner that changed every time the page was loaded. So, that stayed. I wanted to be more color-coordinated, however. So, as you can see, the motif was red, white, black and blue.

The black background was something I stuck with for a very long time. Eventually, I decided my site's BG should be white, like paper. Every so often, if I'm feeling particularly depressed, I'll switch the BG back to black. The last time I did this was in 2004 the day after John Kerry conceded the election. I wasn't mourning him, I was mourning the political system which clearly wasn't working...

But I digress. These banners were around (I believe) in 1999 or possibly 2000. I think it was shortly after that when I started experimenting with a single logo that would eventually become the one I have today.

I've got one more post after this one regarding the olden times of ThePete.Com. Well, that is, unless I find more of my old html files laying around.
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TheAdmin Update for 20080422

Hello and welcome to ThePete.Com! There's plenty to look at. TheBlog (duh), videos, picts and more all updated DAILY. Click around and see what you can see. Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

What's Up with the XO and OLPC? Nothing Good IMO

If you checked out my blog back in November, you may have thought I was obsessed with the OLPC XO laptop--you would be wrong. I was just excited for it. I give my blind faith to nothing and when I see the writing on the wall, I'm perfectly willing to read it out loud for all to hear. I think that's how that metaphor is supposed to work, anyway...

For anyone just tuning in, the XO is a laptop designed to cost so little to build that 3rd world countries would want to buy One Laptop Per Child (hence OLPC) in their country. Originally intended for sale to only 3rd World countries, NGOs, and domestic government bodies, the OLPC non-profit decided to sell XO's to us in the 1st world, for just a few months, late last year. The only catch was that you had to pay for two at $200 each--one would go to a 3rd world kid and the other, to you. Pretty cool, really.

My XO was delivered on December 22 and for quite a while I was very excited to have it. However, over the following months I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with it. The hardware is brilliant--it's got the features of a full-sized laptop from about seven or eight years ago, but costs a fraction of a similarly-sized (9x9.5") laptop. When I thought back to what I could do on my old laptop from 1998, I thought "and it'll fit in a small bag? SWEET! I'd love one!"

Mind you, I'd not have even paid attention were it not for the charity aspect of the project.

The hardware also contained features that no other laptop has, even now. Mainly, these are power saving features that allow for a much lower power consumption. I remember reading that a regular laptop pulls something like 50 or 60 watts but the XO pulls 6. Plus there's a backlight to the LCD you can turn off and still use the display in a black-and-white mode that is completely visible in direct sunlight. Another cool feature in the XO that you won't find in any other lappie is the Mesh networking capabilities--each XO can connect to other XOs within a kilometer away and share activities and an Internet connection. Pretty damn clever, if you ask me.

Sadly, the hardware is about all the XO has going for it. The OS is a stupified version of Linux and actually seems to hobble the hardware. Despite that old laptop of mine from 1998 having crappier specs than the XO, I can do more on it than I can on the XO. The XO won't let me novel have my manuscript open and surf the web at the same time (I don't like to close my word processor just so I can research something on the web). In fact, once my latest manuscript got beyond about 350 pages, the XO's word processor would crash. I installed a full word processor and it didn't always crash--but inconsistent crashes are worse than consistent ones, if you ask me.

While the XO does make a passable media player (command line-comfy users only, please), e-book reader and hobby computer (installing other OSes is possible, but pretty challenging), I wanted a cheap, low-end UMPC--which is just not what SugarOS, the current operating system, will let it be. Until a later version of Sugar can handle memory better, the XO is simply not ready for prime-time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm completely behind the concepts of OLPC and providing cheap computers so everyone can have better access to education (and yes, porn). However, I think the software guys are trying to reconstruct the culture of computing by teaching kids NOT to multitask. While I think having kids learn about computers differently from the way we learned about them is a good idea, hobbling the machine so only one or two things (max) can be done at once I think ill-prepares kids of any country. The world multitasks and teaching any kid to do one thing at a time hobbles them, in my opinion.

Obviously, kids need to learn to do one thing at a time, first, but when they're ready to do two or three things at once, what do they do? Buy a new computer? Can they do that easily (or at all) if they live in the 3rd world or the inner city? Maybe these kids would be better at hacking the XO than me, but I don't think it's a good idea to expect this--I'm no slouch and it took me forever to get Xubuntu installed. Besides, how are they supposed to learn to instal another OS if they're only familiar with the XO's OS?

I'm not saying SugarOS has to be windows-based, I'm just saying it needs to be able to do more. If kids need truly dumb computers Radio Shack and Toys "R" Us has them for like $30. Those machines are much better suited to kids who have no experience with computers.

Again, don't get me wrong, I think where the software engineers were coming from was a good place--I just question their choices. Of course, a lot has changed since I stopped using my XO a couple of months back.

For one, Ivan Krstic resigned. He was the main guy behind XO security. quoted (here:…_olpc.html ) Krstić saying in a blog post (here:…ng-clarity ) that: "OLPC undertook a drastic internal restructuring coupled with what, despite official claims to the contrary, is a radical change in its goals and vision from those that were shared with me when I was invited to join the project.

Adding insult to injury, I was asked to stop working with Walter Bender, without a doubt one of the most stunningly thoughtful and competent people I%u2019ve ever worked with. Following Walter%u2019s demotion from OLPC presidency, I was to report instead to a manager with no technical or engineering background who was put in charge of all OLPC technology.

I cannot subscribe to the organization%u2019s new aims or structure in good faith, nor can I reconcile them with my personal ethic."


That's some seriously heavy stuff.

Then, Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of OLPC, said he would be changing his position in a way that made it sound like he was quitting OLPC entirely. It turned out he just wanted someone else to be CEO. So far, no one has officially taken over the spot. Still, when the CEO decides he's no longer the right guy for the job, you have to wonder.

Then, just today, I learned that Walter Bender, the president of Software and Content, has quit. reported it here:…_olpc.html and here:…r-transit/

The theory is that Negroponte's interest in becoming more like Micro$oft and using a version of Windows XP on the XO is at the core of Bender wanting to leave. Who knows, this might have been the real reason Krstic wanted to leave, as well.

So, things don't look so good for OLPC and the XO. Personally, I don't mind XP for or on the XO. I absolutely despise Windows XP and Micro$oft, but would welcome an OS that doesn't hobble the XO. I had hoped to see what the guys behind the SugarOS would come up with, but when two of the most visible guys behind the OS bail, you wonder who is next to leave the Good Ship OLPC and if said ship is sinking.

I really hope OLPC can correct its course and get back on track to helping get computers into the hands of kids. I have no idea what to suggest to get them back on that track aside from making Sugar handle memory better. The last I heard they were planning on retooling the graphics. I'm thinking they should get the code right, first. Then worry about what it looks like.

Back in the mid-twentieth century, a bunch of well-meaning educators thought it would be a good idea to try to teach kids practical life lessons by shooting short films that would be shown in classrooms around the country. I'm old enough to remember being subjected to some of them and even as a kid I remember finding them rather patronizing. As an adult, I realize that the people behind the movies meant well and truly thought they were doing a good thing. I'm concerned the XO will end up in a similar place in our culture. I hope I'm wrong, of course.

I do plan on using my XO again once I'm through with my current manuscript. I do want to keep my books a little shorter, anyway. ^_^
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First Photograph from 1839

Found this on (here:…-Cornelius ) via my friend cmiper's Twitterstream (here:…/793508139 ). Very fascinating stuff--the above pic was taken in 1839 and was a self-portrait of a dude called Robert Cornelius. Apparently, either they didn't have combs or class 171 years ago.

What? I do my best to comb my hair before my semi-daily visit to!!

ANYway, just thought this pic was fascinating. I mean, it was old when our grandparents were born! 171 years ago, there were still slaves and Martin Van Buren was president (he was the 8th!). According to (here: ) the phrase "OK" was new and the first law allowing women to own land in the US was put on the books in Mississippi.

And John McCain celebrated his sixth birthday!

To learn more about this photograph, head over to the post here:…-Cornelius
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wow--just cracked page 400 on ...

Wow--just cracked page 400 on my old novel. Over 100,000 words now. I'm expecting total pages will clock in around 500-550.

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Oil Hits $117, Effects Cost of Everything Else

Wow--oil has hit $117 a barrel??? That's according to an April 18, 2008 article at screencapped above (get the original here:…fd2ac.html )

Thanks to the fact that everything needs oil to function (machines AND the industries powered by them) it makes perfect sense that prices for all things are going up. We can expect this trend to continue until the price of oil drops or multiple oil alternatives get introduced and used on a wide scale.

My main question now is: Can we stop bothering with the war on terror now that high prices on everything are a bigger threat to us, PLEASE??

I'm seeing these absurd prices on everything as an attempt (intentional or not) to wipe out the middle class.

These prices have GOT to turn around or we ALL need to be making more money. In fact, both probably need to happen.

If neither does, we're going to see two classes in America--the Haves and the Have-nots.
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Hey, My Pic Got on an Utterz Banner!


Sadly, it's for a post where I admit my own lame-sexism, but hey, I still appreciate the fact that a photo I took of George Lucas holding a sexist picket-sign will be seen by more people.

No, that's not really George Lucas!

Check out my Utter here:…NQ/utt.php
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More Pre-ThePete.Com Fun: BANNERS!

The above is a sampling of some of the banners I used before my site took on the name "ThePete.Com". I had a random-image script that would throw up a random banner every time you loaded the page. These were the earlier ones. You can tell because my Photoshop skillz weren't quite mad yet.

My idea was to represent the varied content you'd find on my site. Frankly, I think it was probably a little confusing for people.
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sony Brings the Blu-Ray & Hard Drive-Based DVR

Way back in December of 2003, my dad bought my wife and I a DVR. It was a Sony and it was a DVD-based DVR and only recorded to DVD. It had a flaw when it came to cutting out commercials (I had been slicing out TV ads on VHS since the 1980s). If memory serves, it wouldn't actually let you cut out the commercials. Even when recording onto an RW disk, I couldn't transfer the video onto my Mac to then cut out the commercials. So, I asked my dad if he'd mind if I exchanged the Sony for a DVR with a bit more flexibility. He said it was fine and anticipated it by giving me the receipt along with the DVR in the first place.

At my local Good Guys electronics store (now a Guitar Center) I found a Panasonic that looked like it was everything I had ever wanted in a DVR--almost. It was the DMR-E80H and it came with an 80 gig hard drive (that Sony had *no* hard drive at all) and allowed for easy commercial-removal. The only draw back to the E80H has been that the only rewritable disk it can use is a DVD-RAM. Sadly, they're not widely compatible with DVD drives on computers, so I haven't done that much RAM burning. However, when my mom decided to look into a DVR, she asked me for my advice. I told her to look for something like my Panasonic.

Of course, there was a catch--Panasonic didn't seem to make mine anymore.

I knew my sister-in-law, Lisa ( ), had bought a descendant of the E80H, but that was the only other Panasonic DVR like mine that I was aware of. I visited a couple different Best Buy stores and checked out one of the three Fry's Electronics within driving distance of my apartment, here in LA--all with no luck finding anything even remotely resembling my E80H. Finally, I just asked a Best Buy employee if they carried anything like my Panasonic--I even described the exact features:

Big hard drive (for the time)

burns to DVD

records to the hard drive or a DVD

Not much to ask from electronics makers you would think.

The BB employee replied saying that cable and minidish companies are doing deals with electronics companies to force consumers to only get DVRs when you subscribe to cable or minidish companies. Highly lame, in my mind, but it explained why my beautiful E80H had sparse offspring.

Then, a couple weeks back, I stumbled across an April 8, 2008 post at talking about Sony's Blu-ray-DVD/hard-drive-based DVRs (…rders.html ). Knowing devices like these are out there makes me so happy. Here's a bit from the Ubergizmo post:

"Sony certainly aims to solidify its place in the living room by launching a new BDZ series of Blu-ray recorders, with the A70 and high-end T90 being capable of picking up unprotected HDTV feeds, relying on AVC (H.264) encoding in order to record shows for future viewing on their respective 320GB and 500GB hard drives. You can choose to record videos to Blu-ray directly if the need arises, and it can also convert videos straight into portable-friendly formats. Sony PSP and other H.264-capable player owners, are you listening yet?"

Keeeryst, am I listening or WHAT!!


Sadly, the A70 and its high-end cousin the T90 will drop April 30 but only in Japan and prices *start* at $1600 . When I head over to Nippon, I'm going to have to find a job fast so I can pick up one of these bad boys. .5TB HDs with transfers to PSP??


Oh and the other theory I had, thanks to this new line of BD and HD-based DVRs coming out is that perhaps DVR-makers wanted to hold off introducing any new DVR models to see which next-gen DVD format would win the format wars. Not that Blu-ray will be around long as a format, but soon BDs will be as cheep as SD DVDs and will function as throw-away media, like current DVD-Rs do.
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Found this one right near UCLA. Part of my ongoing series on gas prices:…617910345/
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Stretch Hummer in Hollywood

It's not enough to have a Hummer--a huge, obnoxious, bad-ass-of-a-vehicle, somebody has to go and stretch it out. Why???

It's this kind of thinking that is melting ice at the ends of the Earth.

Sad, really...
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Outside the Kodak for Hillary V. Barack in Hwood

I don't think I managed to post this yet, so I thought I'd do it just to be safe. It's also on my Flickrstream here:…424774846/

This is footage I shot outside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood the night of the (not so) big Clinton/Obama debate. Protesters were out, I was happy to see. :)
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Early Look at my Pre-ThePete.Com Website

Obviously, I wasn't thinking about the rainbow being connected to the whole gay thing (I don't think it even occurred to me, which is ironic considering I was living in West Hollywood at the time). I was more interested in using it as a way of representing the diversity of my site.

The really cool thing about this page is that you could easily see all of the things I was passionate about at the time. Fiction, comics, complaining, scifi, and a few other random things. This was still pre-the-word-blog, so I didn't have to worry about presenting any content on the main page of my site. Though, if you did click through to The Bitch Page, you'd see a page layout not dissimilar to a modern blog.

Oh yeah--and there's even an add for my old comic character Captain Caffeine. I need to do more with him one of these days.
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New UK Law Will Force Psychics to Prove It

The above screencap comes from an April 18, 2008 article at (find it here:…8720080418 )

Apparently, the UK has passed a new law that will force psychics, healers, and the like, to prove they're for real or use disclaimers that explain away their services as being entertainment. This has prompted a protest outside the UKPM's house and it's prompted Carole McEntee-Taylor, a professional "healer," to say: "If I'm giving a healing to someone, I don't want to have to stand there and say I don't believe in what I'm doing."

Hm, laws that make them prove they're for real or admit they're for entertainment purposes only? I think the US should pass laws like that for politicians.

Of course, some critics of the law in the UK do raise an interesting point, that this flips the old "innocent until proven guilty" thing on its ass. This new law demands that they prove they are innocent of fraud. The thing is, wouldn't they have to repeal all laws requiring permits and licenses if this were true?

For instance, a drivers license is required to prove that you're not guilty of being untrained behind the wheel of a car. It proves that you are the safe driver you claim to be. You are assumed to be clueless about driving until you get a license.

What about permits for protests in public places like parks or on sidewalks? It's assumed that you will commit a crime, like start a riot or something, and therefore they need to have contact information for you so they can come and arrest you for the crime you will commit.

Sure, all of these requirements for licenses and permits do seem reasonable, but they do violate that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing, don't they?

Personally, I think psychics and all business people should be required by law to provide what they promise to provide, whether it's predictions about the future or a beer that really does taste great and is less filling.

Of course, if laws forcing businesses to do that were passed, we'd see the end of all corporations.
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