June 30, 2004

A breath of fresh air

Michael moore is scoring a lot of points lately. I just found this video in which Michael Moore basically comes out and says he has no problem with people sharing his movie on the internet. He comes right out and says he doesn’t agree with the current copyright laws, and he says he makes his movies and books to create change, and that he sees this no differently than your friend loaning you a DVD of his movie. You aren’t paying him, but you’re watching the movie. How is that different?

I really can’t say much more than “wow.”

Posted by MrWonton at 6:33 pm | Comments (9)

Frustrated political ramblings

I haven’t gotten around to updating in awhile, so I suppose its time.

Friday, I went to Kalamazoo to watch Fahrenheit 9/11. Although there were 3 showtimes left for that day, only the 11:45 still had tickets for sale, after several hours at a local pool hall (god is pool fun) we were treated to about an hour of waiting just to get into the theater, as they were running way behind. It was very interesting to see the kinds of people waiting to get into the 11:45 showing of a movie like Fahrenheit 9/11. There were a surprising number of mohawks in the crowd to say the least.

The movie itself was terrific. A lot had changed since I saw it in April. (Warning, scene references and possible spoilers) Aside from the more polished feel, there was a considerable amount of new footage and less confusion. In perticular, the scene about people being harassed by the FBI under the patriot act used to have 3 stories woven together, instead of the 2 stories relatively seperate. While the former method was very confusing, I was surprised by the story he left out, as if I recall correctly, it was one of the most flagrant examples of a violation of the person’s rights. Apparantly Moore disagreed. A lot more was done to help the viewer make the connection between Bush’s relationship with the Saudis and his administrative decisions. It makes it much easier to realize how corrupt our current administration seems to be. There was more footage from Iraq, and it was more disturbing than I imagined it could be. It really makes me pity what our soldiers go through. I can’t even imagine trying to cope with what they deal with. Perticularly disturbing was the letter from the son in Iraq who had been killed saying how angry he had been to be there fighting a war he did not believe in. To be put through such hardships for something you don’t believe in is something I would not wish on my worst enemies. Finally, in the cut I saw in April, the song that closes the movie was “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. Moore asked us if we thought it was a bit too cliche and if we thought it undermined his argument by being such, and we, being a whole room full of staunch liberals, said no. Its too bad he didn’t leave it. I for one thought it summed up my feelings towards the administration nicely… not that I was really fooled in the first place.

The Reagan comic I posted June 17th has apparantly become quite popular. After being linked off a couple livejournals, its generated several hundred hits. It doesn’t bother me, as I never get near my bandwidth allotment anyways, but it is interesting.

Today was the original day Iraq was to be granted Sovereignty. Of course, in what may have been one of the best decisions made in the war in Iraq, this actually happened two days ago. What I found most telling about this wasn’t that it was necessary to be deceptive about the date to stop organized terrorist attacks, but that Paul Bremer, the man who had been in charge of Iraq before the handover, immediately got the hell out of the country after formerly signing off to the interim government. Who can blame him though? I’d have done the same thing. Iraq isn’t exactly the best place to be right now. Just don’t tell Cheney that, or he’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. One of Cheney’s representatives later labeled this a "frank exchange of view." Frank exchange of views? Well, at least that gives us some insight into some other frank exchanges our administration have had. What a friendly group of guys.

Posted by MrWonton at 5:45 pm | Comments (6)

June 24, 2004

Time Travel

Tuesday, on my way home from work, I had to get gas. I headed over to the Admiral station I usually go to when I’m commuting to or from work, as its right off the highway, and it generally has the cheapest prices along the path. I knew there was trouble as soon as it was in sight. Somehow, in the ~5 blocks between my office and the gas station, I’d traveled back in time 30 years!

It was a madhouse! Cars everywhere! 4 lines stretched out from each side of both rows of pumps, and snaked out of the parking lot and into the street. I had to pull a U-turn on Westnedge (a busy busy busy street, especially at 5 pm) just to get into the queue! What could possibly be going on? Had some disaster happened in the middle east while I was at work? Were we entering a new era devoid of the cheap and convenient source of energy known as fossil fuels? Or had I simply entered the 1970’s!?

Well, I was wrong when I figured that fear was the only motive that could drive so many people to wait in such a ridiculous line simply for a tank of gas. It turned out to be another common human attribute: greed. As it turned out, gas prices had risen about 30 cents that day. Admiral had been slow to adjust, and had hence lured every car to their station. Not that I should complain though, as I was nearly completely empty, and I would have paid nearly 2 dollars if I’d gone to any other station, in comparison to the $1.71 I payed. Capitalism at its finest.

Loose Ends:

  • tomorrow begins Fahrenheit 9/11
  • I started reading Insomnia
  • I’m going to Beaver Island July 2-6. Huzzah!
  • Posted by MrWonton at 1:56 pm | Comments (2)

    June 23, 2004

    Burning Chrome and Scything Commentary

    Ok, so I was a bit harsh on Burning Chrome to begin with. It gets better. I always feel very drawn to the dystopian settings William Gibson creates, and his short stories always leave me wanting more. He paints such vivid pictures, settings, and situations, then, as has become a staple of the cyber-punk genre, he stops halfway through and leaves you with no denouement. And yet it still works.

    I ran across an interesting sight today that really made me think. The site has a counter showing the cost of the war in Iraq thus far. It also lets you break it down by state or city, to see how much your area owes. Most shocking to me, however, was its comparison to how else the money could have been spent. As of the time I’m writing this, the investment in the war on Iraq could have been used to give every child in the world basic immunizations for 39 years, or fully fund global anti-hunger efforts for 4 years. It kind of makes me wonder about the compassion that our president claims to have. Can anyone imagine Bush proposing a plan to immunize children, or feed the starving? I can’t. Instead he spends a ludacris amount of money furthering his own interests in Iraq, an effor that does not save lives, but ends them. Also from the site is a very nice quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” I couldn’t have put it better myself Ike.

    Posted by MrWonton at 12:49 am | Comments (19)

    June 21, 2004

    Here comes trouble..

    The supreme court has ruled in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the state of Nevada, and the news is anything but good. The case centered around an old Cowboy in Nevada who refused to show ID or give his name when confronted by a cop while parked on the side of a highway.

    Hiibel had been in an argument with his teenage daughter, who was driving. His daughter god angry and hit him. Hiibel asked her to stop and let him out, which she did. He was standing next to the driver’s side window talking to her when a cop pulled up behind them and confronted Hiibel. Someone had apparantly seen Hiibel’s daughter strike him, and had told the police they saw a man strike a woman in a truck. Instead of telling Hiibel this, the officer repeatedly asked for ID. Hiibel asked what he was being charged with, as he assumed they were simply not far enough off the road. The officer refused to tell Hiibel what he was doing wrong, but instead continued to badger him to produce ID. Hiibel, still annoyed from his argument with his daughter, continued to refuse. After backup arrived, Hiibel was arrested, while cops held the door to his truck closed when his daughter tried to come to his aid. When she finally got out, officers pinned her to the ground. When this case first began, I happened to see the video of this transaction from the videocamera in the policeman’s cruiser. It seemed evident to me that Hiibel was doing nothing wrong, as the officer should have produced some sort of reason or evidence for questioning him.

    I’m fairly certain that no good will come from this ruling. We are losing our rights, and there are entirely too few objections.

    “A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither” - Thomas Jefferson

    Posted by MrWonton at 5:00 pm | Comments (6)

    Au revoir Harborfest

    My hometown has always been the friend I can’t trust. It’s been there through thick and thin, but it was as much a contribution to the former as the latter.

    To counter the apathy that invariably forms in towns such as mine, there are festivals, which like cheap perfume, merely masks problems with promises of the exotic and exciting. In South Haven, Harborfest amounts to a reason to wander aimlessly back and forth along the same couple blocks, wading past the oceans of people, young and old, but rarely in the middle, listening to a sickening mixture of bad blues, jazz, and 80’s rock, while hoping to stumble into some excitement. As a person who rarely goes into downtown South Haven, its a chance to see the familiar faces of those who do, and to catch up, through a string of nearly identical conversations outlining the last few years of our respective lives.

    It was indeed fun to see people I haven’t seen in a long time, especially those who no longer live here, but were in town specifically for the festivities. Its funny how high the correlation between people worth seeing and people who no longer live in South Haven is. Funny, but not surprising. To all I talked to, however, thanks, and good luck.

    Fahrenheit 9/11 opens Friday. From what I can tell, the closest theater that will be playing it is in Grand Rapids. Apparantly some theaters are being bullied into not showing the movie, with one theater owner in Indiana reporting to have received death threats. Regardless, I’d like to see the movie when it comes out. I’m sure its only gotten better since the preview of it I saw months ago. Anyone who’s interested in going, let me know.

    Posted by MrWonton at 11:15 am | Comments (3)

    June 17, 2004


    I almost forgot this Reagan Comic. Enjoy.

    Posted by MrWonton at 12:13 am | Comments (7)

    June 16, 2004


    T - 2 days till Harborfest, and as of now, it looks like it may actually be nice out. I’ll be bumming around all weekend for all those interestested in finding me.

    Again I worked from home today. I’m really much more efficient here. I got a lot done, but more importantly, I figured out some ways to just work better and faster. Between a few useful macros, and a few powerful subroutines, I can envision my work getting done noticeably faster now, not that I’m not already fast due to the repetative nature of my project.

    I’ve finally found a solution to the problem I generally have with getting hounded to help people with their computer issues: folks, your answer is here. If that can’t help you, try again. If still nothing, then you can come ask me. How many professionals in other fields do you get that from? Does your mechanic friend fix your car for free? People just don’t understand that this is really just doing our jobs for no pay.

    Alright, now that I’ve inveighed on that subject, I’ll turn, as I seemingly invariably do, to politics. I for one was sick of the flood of press blithering about how great Reagan was by the second news article to this affect that I witnessed. To my surprise, however, I finally found an article about Reagan worth reading, only its not really about President Reagan, its about his Son. In the article, Reagan continually denounces George W. Bush, and expresses his frustration with the Bush administration’s effort to liken George W. to President Reagan. Reagan has some really great quotes:

    “The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job… What’s his accomplishment? That he’s no longer an obnoxious drunk?”
    “My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush.”
    “Nine-11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda — and they didn’t hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, ‘Let’s hit Iraq.’ They’ve used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling.”
    “And the weapons of mass destruction? Whatever happened to them? I’m sure we’ll find some,” he laughs. “They’re being flown in right now in a C-130.”
    “The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he’s in now. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the ’80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father’s — these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don’t trust these people.”
    “My father was a man — that’s the difference between him and Bush.”

    How can I argue with that? Thats pure gold! I may not agree with some (read: the vast majority) of President Reagan’s policies, but here’s further proof that he wasn’t a bad person, just look at the son he raised!

    Of course, if you don’t believe me or Reagan, do yourself a favor and go watch Fahrenheit 9/11, which comes out next week I do believe. I plan on watching it again when it comes out. It will be interesting to see how it changed from the rough cut I saw months ago.

    William Gibson is a great author, as is evident in about half of the first few stories in his Burning Chrome anthology. Honestly, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. I usually love short stories, and I usually love everything Gibson writes, but some of these short stories just don’t do him much justice. I’ve only read the first few, but they’ve been a grab bag. It is, however, worth reading just for Johnny Mnemonic, which while short, is literary candy. The occurance of one of the characters from his opus Neuromancer only serves to make it more enjoyable, assuming of course you’ve read it (and if you haven’t, you should).

    Posted by MrWonton at 7:20 pm | Comments (19)

    June 11, 2004

    Rain rain rain

    Its been a long, relatively unpleasant week, but at least Friday arrives.

    I’ve written more lines of code this week then I thought I would ever in my life, but theres no end to the work that needs to be done, and since I’m farther along in my task than anyone else working on the project, I can’t really test my work. Feh!

    On the positive side, I’ve managed to finish Everything’s Eventual, a collection of short stories by Stephen King. I’m also on the last 50 pages of Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein. Both were worth all the time I spent on them too, despite the thick religious understones of the latter.

    In my office, there is a skylight. On nice days, there is a bright, glorious square of light that wanders lazily across my desk to my left. It reassures me that there is still a world other than this office waiting for me come 5 o’clock. Today, looking up at the world through my small boxed skylight window, I see only grey. Grey like the entire office I work in has entered a particularly depressing old low-contrast movie. When I leave, I fear I may be the only thing left in existence with any color.

    Yep, just another Friday.

    Posted by MrWonton at 10:50 am | Comments (5)

    June 07, 2004

    Burned Out


    Above is Evil. Know it when you see it.

    It looks almost like it belongs here doesn’t it? Ok, maybe not. I just can’t get enough of some of those cool (and creepy/spooky/post-apocalyptic) old SAC pictures.

    Being burned out on a Monday is never a good sign. Never a good sign at all.

    I spent the latter half of the workday trying to coax an infinitely dimensionally expandable multidimensional perl hash (associative array for the to work properly. It turned out being more tricky than I hoped. I know how to do it now, but I used my daily allotment of initiative getting that far.

    I found out today I’m supposed to be somewhere other than Harborfest the weekend of the 18-20. I really hope I can get out of it… there aren’t a lot of times I’m particularly happy to be in South Haven, but this is one of them… time will tell if I’m able to convince anyone else of this.

    This last weekend, I had a lot of time to think, for better or worse. I made a conscious effort to let my mind wander, and I came to a rather unexpected idea: I think I may want to write a book. Everyone probably thinks this at some time or another, and with my track record of half-finished (or more often un-started) projects, it will probably never get started or finished. I did have some startlingly clear pictures of how it could begin though. At least i know I can be creative when I have to be.

    Posted by MrWonton at 4:47 pm | Comments (16)

    June 04, 2004

    Bitter Bush

    Bush is not a friendly person. 75% of the campaign ads he has ran for this election have been negative, not to mention “highly misleading.” To put that into perspective, 27% of Kerry’s ads have been negative.

    One tidbit I found perticularly interesting, is that Cheney has stated on multiple occasions the Kerry “has voted some 350 times for higher taxes.” Sure, this is true if you count every time Kerry voted to leave taxes unchanged, or supported a tax cut smaller than others wanted. In the words of Gollum, tricksy incumbentses.

    Thank the powers that be that its Friday… now if only it were payday…

    Current thing broken on motorcycle: Tachometer.

    Posted by MrWonton at 3:23 pm | Comments (4)

    June 02, 2004

    Type, Shake, Repeat

    In case instant messaging, mobile phones, letters, e-mail, VOIP, voice, SMS Messaging, or any of the other plethora of means of communication weren’t enough for you, you’re in luck! Nokia’s forthcoming 3220 phone lets you write short (12 characters) messages in mid-air by waving your phone back and forth. A bank of LEDs on the cover light up (as dictated by a motion sensor) revealing your message. It could be pretty interesting to see what people do with this…

    Posted by MrWonton at 7:16 pm | Comments (9)

    June 01, 2004


    What a weekend. It only rained every single day, the sun only appearing briefly on Monday. I wanted to get out and do the whole South Haven summer schtick on the first extended weekend since I came back from school. When will this weather end?

    I was invited to Chris Woodham’s graduation party (on a side note, Chris is coming to U-Michigan, as well he should) on sunday, and despite the rain, it was pretty fun. As the Woodhams’ have been a staple of South Haven since around the dawn of time, everyone and their 2nd cousin seemed to make an appearance at the party. That was nice. I enjoyed sitting on the couch with a parade of familiar faces going by, with a plethora of similar conversations where we all stated how its been forever since we’d seen one another, and summed up what has happened to us in the last 2 years, which was often very little. The majority of the people I was very pleased to see, especially those who were from my class that have gone their seperate ways, and who I rarely, if ever, talk to anymore.

    After the more casual party-goers had left, me and a few others bummed around the living room ’till near midnight. We had ourselves a pretty interesting conversation to boot, covering everything from the South Haven High School Experience (with plenty of interesting stories about Mr. Stap and Mrs. Mein/Feldt) to the best books to read, to how to spell pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Yes Virginia, there is a word that long.

    I slept a bit longer than planned this morning. I made it in to work about an hour late. Granted, no one cares. The only effect is I don’t get payed for the hour I missed. Makes sense eh?

    I set two alarms every morning. I turn off two alarms every morning. Somehow, thats not enough though. I guess I’ll start setting alarms on my TV and computer as well as my two other alarms. Four should do it right? It doesn’t matter tomorrow. Tomorrow I work from home. Mmmm.

    Posted by MrWonton at 4:36 pm | Comments (17)

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