Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.
network solutions made me a child pornographer!
The sordid details...
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Saturday, December 07, 2002
Just a couple things...
Lots of stuff to do today; I'm off for New York for two weeks tomorrow. Just have time for:
The most appalling website I've encountered in a while. Make certain you read all of it.
Friday, December 06, 2002
Our options have changed. You have none.
The cable internet at my Chicago apartment wasn't working (again) last night, so I watched an interesting documentary on filmmaker Roger Corman and fell asleep about 8 pm.
When I awoke at 4 am, the broadband connection was still down. I knew it wasn't the cable itself, since I was watching World News Now, and I knew it wasn't the modem, since all the status lights were green. Something was wrong with RCN's server, since I couldn't get a DHCP address.
So, at 4:01 am, I called their customer service number.
If you are an existing RCN customer, please press one. Hmm, it's a bit early in the morning to indulge in Descartian epistemology, but what the heck. I pressed one, and wondered how non-existent customers push the buttons on their phones
Due to the unusual high call volume, you may experience a long wait time. At 4 am? If this is not of an urgent nature, please call back the next business day between 11 am and 3 pm. Hmm. The next business day is Monday, and I'm going to be in Manhattan. Not an option. ...or you may visit us online at www.rcnchicago.com. Don't taunt me at this hour of the morning, you cretinous oafs. If I could visit you online, I wouldn't be sitting here in my underwear at 4 am.
We have recently changed our menu. Please listen to all options. No, you haven't, you lying scum. The last time I called you, three months ago, I wrote down your menu options. They haven't changed at all. Screw you. I'm pressing "0" for a human.
All of our representatives are assisting other callers at this time. Sure. I'm sure your crack outsourced staff at some callbank in a northeastern prison are really inundated with calls from Chicago cable subscribers.
After about a minute, "Jose" answers and tells me that the people in Internet support don't start work until 6 am. Could I call back then?
I could, but I'm not going to. I get dressed, wait for my wife's 4:45 am call (it's 5:45 am east coast time; she's on her way for her cardiac therapy session), brave the 10 degree temperature and head into the office.
What do I do at the office?
Why, I'm a customer support representative.
And I just forwarded all my calls to RCN.
I saw a television news report last night which featured the Navy's aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.
Note the period after the "S". I was always taught that there wasn't supposed to be one.
The full story is here.
Bummer. Tex Henson, 78, the guy who animated the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, has died after being hit by a pickup truck. The New York Post story is here.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Oh Canada. You whining little twerps.
You seem familiar, yet somehow strange?are you by any chance Canadian?-(New Yorker cartoon caption)
I'm not surprised that America's popularity is slipping. It's inevitable. When you're the only superpower left in the world, everything you do is going to torque someone off somewhere.
I'm not even particularly bothered by the fact 90% of the world's Muslims despise the U.S.
But what really gets me is, according to the AP story, "Next door, only 25 percent of Canadians said America is a considerate world citizen."
Oh, bite me.
Aside from hockey and the cold fronts they send south to screw up our morning rush hours, name something distinctive about Canada.
Can't think of anything, can you?
Canadians constantly complain about the "Americanization" of their culture, yet more than 80% of its population lives within 200 miles of the American border. They boast about the number of talented Canadians, especially in the entertainment industry, yet the only reason these talented individuals are known at all is because they got the hell out of Canada and made names for themselves in the United States.
While lecturing the U.S. about our politically incorrect immigration policies post-9/11, they continue to allow Saudis and other potential terrorists into their country without visas, where they can, for the most part, just mosey across the largest unprotected border in the world.
I had to spend time in Canada this past summer. While there, I was accosted by an individual who was incensed because I possessed the obscene nationalistic bad taste to have a small U.S. flag pin on my backpack.
"Why do you Americans constantly display your flag everywhere?" he asked, barely disguising his distaste with my very existence.
"I wear it to identify myself as an American," I explained, "so terrorists won't waste ammo shooting at Canadians."
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
And wear a white carnation in your lapel...
I registered the kgb.com domain name back in 1993, prior to the explosive growth of the World Wide Web, and two years after the Soviet Union's collapse. The reds' secret police (KGB) also went out of business then, or at least changed its name.
I ran a company named KGB Consulting at the time, and it seemed like a great address: short, easy to remember, and a bit droll, especially for espionage enthusiasts.
It didn't take long for e-mails to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to start showing up in my mailbox. But every so often I get e-mail from people who apparently think email@example.com is where Russian spy wannabes should direct their missives. They could be jokes, but the content and tone of the mail appear to be serious.
I usually send a reply along the lines of "Wrong KGB, Skippy," and never hear from the sender again.
But there's this persistent fella in Germany who keeps sending me stuff- specifically, detailed descriptions of a neighbor's activities. This Smersh-head apparently believes the guy down the street is a clear and present danger to the well-being of the the Eastern bloc, but it sounds to me like this alleged subversive has a lifestyle that would bore the good folks in Mayberry.
Since the "Skippy" approach didn't work, I sent him an e-mail stating that kgb.com was a commercial website in the United States and that I had no connection whatsoever to the Russians. I even sent him to the specific page on my website that I had to create to deal with all the KGB crud.
I understand Comrade need for discression (sic). Will continue per schedule.
Okay, if he wants to play... I sent him the following:
With FBI and CIA use of Carnivore e-mail not secure. For next report (Wednesday 1500 hours), write report on paper. Line hat with aluminum foil. Make sure ears are covered by foil. Exit building, turn left, go to corner. Place paper in teeth. Insert right finger into left nostril. Wiggle pinky. Wait for instructions.
Worst case, he amuses the neighbors. Best case, he attracts attention and gets some professional help.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
The reason I talk to myself is that I'm the only one whose answers I accept.-George Carlin
Ok, I have exactly ten minutes to write this, so hold on to your eyeballs.
One thing I miss about not driving when I'm in Chicago is the opportunity to talk to myself.
You know what I mean. Look closely when you're on the road, and you'll see a fair number of people having rather animated conversations; soliloquies, actually, since there's no one else in their cars.
I've always talked to myself. Part of it stems from being an only child, but since my teens the habit's acquired a practical utility: to hone arguments and to improve my writing.
Unfortunately, it's rather hard to do that when you walk to work in a herd of commuters. They have a tendency to look at you strangely and offer you loose change.
The solution: the cell phone. I keep one stuck to my ear during my daily travels. Fellow pedestrians no longer think I'm psychotic.
Unless they actually listen to what I'm saying.
When you're stuck in a crowd and need to clear a path quickly, the most effective method is to yell, "Oh God, I'm gonna puke!"
Monday, December 02, 2002
Thin Skin, Thick Heads
It's not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone with them.-Isabel Colegate
Some things that have irritated me lately:
Those Heinz ketchup bottles in restaurants that are painted red, so they always look full. It makes me wonder what other shortcuts are being used by the restaurant to simulate attention to detail. Maybe they ScotchGuard the plates.
McDonalds' new "healthy" fries. They've removed the beef flavoring, and they just don't taste right. And I have it from an unimpeachable source: my dog won't eat them any more.
How can you be expected to take aircraft security and safety procedures seriously when you know some of them are just plain wrong?
Take cell phones, for instance. There is no supporting evidence their onboard use interferes with any aircraft systems. In the mid-90s the FAA reviewed thousands of flight reports and couldn't find any instances of interference. Boeing and Airbus have loaded their jumbo jets with hundreds of cell phones and not a single aircraft communication or navigation device was affected.
The FCC, not the FAA, has banned the use of cell phones in flight, for good reason. Cellular networks are designed to be used from the ground, where the phone is in contact with one cellular repeater at a time. A cell phone used in-flight "hits" many cellular sites simultaneously, reducing the available capacity of the network. It also makes it difficult for the cellular providers to accurately track and bill the call. And, of course, the airlines hope you'll use their $6 a minute Airfones.
Okay, an air ban I can understand. But when you're stuck on the ground because another aircraft is in your gate? Don't give me that "interference with navigational systems" malarkey. If the pilot can't find the gate from here without using his navigation system, you have worse problems than rogue Nokia users. And what about the fact that 100 feet away, inside the terminal building, there are about 10,000 active cell phones all beaming their deadly signals into the skies above the airport?
"Available" instead of "optional" in automobile advertising. Another perfectly good word ruined for the sake of deceptive communication. With optional, you knew it was available, but you had to pay for it. "Available" is non-specific. "Yeah, babe, it's available... and so am I. Heh heh. Let's go in the back room and do some paperwork..."
Right now. "MSNBC News... right now!" As opposed to when? You're re-running yesterday's news?
Wild turkeys.Something's happened to them, at least in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Those suckers have started flying. In the past week I saw a dozen of them in mid-air and one nearly became a hood ornament on my car. This is an unsettling development, especially around Thanksgiving. I think they're planning something.
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The firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address is now something other than email@example.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used firstname.lastname@example.org as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that email@example.com was no longer firstname.lastname@example.org but rather email@example.com which is longer than firstname.lastname@example.org and more letters to type than email@example.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than firstname.lastname@example.org but actually just as functional as email@example.com? I sent e-mails from the firstname.lastname@example.org address to just about everybody I knew who had used email@example.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the firstname.lastname@example.org change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which email@example.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for firstname.lastname@example.org would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that email@example.com no longer is the firstname.lastname@example.org they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. email@example.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...
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