MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
Visit me at my new blog, MsGeek.Org v3.0

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More good news: According to Dr. Gilbert, if I didn't take the Final Exam, I would still get a B+. OK, this suggests that all my work so far has been A-grade stuff. "It's a pleasure to read papers you write" was her comment.

So I know that I'm on an A-grade trajectory for Abnormal Psych. So far my work has also been good in Psych of Aging, and I have a great deal of confidence about the paper I submitted on Monday. I find out where I stand in Cross-Cultural Psych tonight. Which leaves two classes up in the air: Math 149 and Family Systems.

Family Systems has required a hell of a lot of writing, and I'm currently behind the 8 ball on that. The book I am reading for it is dry as a bone and annoyingly written to boot. Also the required research for one of the papers that's due has been hard to come by.

However, one thing I have in my favor is that the slate is clean here at Woodbury. I'm not swimming upstream against a GPA I received 22 years ago when I didn't take things seriously enough. What I do now determines the GPA I get now. It might not kill me to get a couple of B grades in amongst the As. However, it is likely that Math 149 will yield my traditional C. That C might actually be a "Gentleman's C" if I really suck ass on the third test, which I haven't received back yet, and the final. If I don't pass Math 149, I'll have a D or an F to live down and have to cull two of my classes that I'm currently signed up for. The reason why I'm saying that I will have to cull two of them is that if I fail Math 149 this semester, it will be proven that is unwise for me to take a 15 unit load when 3 of those units are Math.

One thing: usually when I start thinking of worst case scenarios vis a vis my classes I don't usually see them come to pass. You need only go back through this blog and my previous Slashdot Journal to see that every time I have pondered failure in a Math class and less than an A grade in other classes I've been wrong. I know that sounds horribly arrogant but you have my track record since returning to LAVC to go on. Then again, this is upper-division work at a 4-year University as opposed to finishing lower-division work at a 2-year Community College. I'm in the Big Leagues now. ^_^;;;

Update 11:39PM PST: I am on an A trajectory in Cross-Cultural Psych as well. Groovy.

Monday, November 28, 2005

First day back at school...found out that I actually got an A on my Psych of Aging presentation. Hmmm...did the "When I'm 64" slideshow get me t3h w1n? Maybe. ;-)

I'm wiped out because I had to take the bus home today. Have I mentioned that I hate the bus? Of course I have.

Tomorrow's my long day. Hopefully I'll be fine. The winds blew in a whole world of allergenic crap this weekend, and perhaps that's why I feel like the cold still is hanging on. All that's left is nasal and sinus congestion and fatigue, and that could be either the cold or allergies.

I think I'm going to turn in early tonight.

Friday, November 25, 2005

So much for "Buy Nothing Day..."

The malls were alive with the sound of shopaholics today as the annual consumer frenzy began.

In Orlando, Florida, home of 1/3 of The Cartoon Geeks, police were called to break up a fight in a Wal*Mart. They were fighting over $378 crappy HP Pavillion lappies. Heck, I'd take a refurbished Thinkpad over a brand new HP Pavillion. Arrests were made. Fights over XBox 360s and toys also happened in several places around the US. Fry's shoppers at their City Of Industry store got their cars towed when the Fry's lot got too packed and people started parking on surrounding streets.

Oh well, at least I spared myself grievous bodily injury today. Tomorrow is another day, of course.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

(crossposted at Daily Kos)

In response to whether I'm homesick for the holidays...

A Hobbit who hasn't been far from the Shire...

Often times I regret the fact I haven't traveled very far from where I was born. I was born in Hollywood, California, and raised in the San Fernando Valley. I've lived outside the Valley exactly two other places: near Portland, OR for about six months, and in West Los Angeles for three years.

The Valley really doesn't have much to recommend it. The most history we have has to do with the brutal Mission System and the Spanish Land Grants. I can't go to San Fernando Mission and not feel the presence of angry, sad spirits. The Mission System made slaves out of the original people of this place, the Tataviam-Tongva people.

Aside from the Missions what else do we have? Cal State Northridge hangs onto the mournful, diseased remnants of one of the last orange groves. William Mulholland plundered Mono Lake and other lakes in North-east California to bring water to the desert-dry Valley. The California Aqueduct is the only reason why the Valley was an agricultural powerhouse in the early 20th Century. By the '60s, the land rush for agriculture had ebbed, and agriculture yielded to a new land rush: to make the Valley the bedroom community for Downtown LA and the Studios of Hollywood and Burbank.

Most of the Valley was developed as exactly that: bedroom communities, without any sort of industry that could employ people in the community aside from retail, food service, pumping gas and so on.

I am proud to say I live now in an area that was designed from its beginnings as something different. When Panorama City was on Fritz Burns' drawing board at the close of World War II, he envisioned a different kind of place, where people would live and work in their neighborhoods. Today, the idea of the "Urban Village" seems novel. It was downright revolutionary when Burns proposed it and later built it. It was financed by aluminum tycoon Henry J. Kaiser, later most famous for the Kaiser Permanente health chain he started for his employees.

Panorama City not only was a residential community, it was a full-service city of its own. General Motors, Schlitz Brewery, Anheuser Busch Brewery, The Carnation Company, Litton and a few other defense contractors all built plants in Panorama City. Anheuser Busch even built Busch Gardens, an amusement park, on part of land it owned and later took back to expand the brewery.

The shopping district between Parthenia West to the north, Roscoe to the south, Van Nuys Boulevard to the east and the 405 Freeway to the West was, in its prime, a showplace. You still can buy a Ford or a Jaguar or a Saturn at Galpin Motors, although Montgomery Ward, The Broadway, Orbachs, and The May Company are long gone. The massive stand-alone Broadway is now a massive Wal*Mart, anchoring the Panorama Mall with the Latino-oriented department store La Curacao.

We used to have one of the first multiplex movie theatres in the Americana 5, a little north of the shopping district and right next to a bowling alley which is now an ice skating rink. The Americana is now divided in two: an indoor Futbol arena where the locals play pickup soccer matches; and a beauty school where local girls (and the occasional boy) study to get their cosmetology licenses and hope they lead to a better life.

Anyway, enough prattle about the Panorama City of yore. Let's be blunt: right now it's a place to live for people who can't really afford to live anyplace else. It's not quite a slum. The closest thing to a slum in the Valley is Pacoima, which had a bad name as far back as the 1950s if you remember from the movie La Bamba. Pacoima has housing projects, Panorama City has modest "starter" homes built for returning GIs and mile upon mile of apartment buildings, all built in the "lanai" style with an interior courtyard and apartments surrounding the courtyard. The courtyard usually has a pool, but the one in our building is now a big planter for rose bushes and palm trees. It's primarily populated by working class Latinos, some here legally, some not. We have a good-sized Filipino population here too, with a smattering of Black, White, Thai and Korean families.

I'd like to be able to say I've traveled the world, seen all the exotic places I've dreamed of. In my neighborhood, the only way people go off to see places beyond home is in the Armed Forces. Some go back and forth between their ancestral countries and home, but most pretty much stay put.

All of my family has pretty much settled in West Los Angeles. Those who lived in the Valley wanted to get out of it as quickly as they could. The Valley, to them, is the home of the loser. As far as they are concerned, we're losers for staying here. And I suppose we're losers for not being able to afford anyplace else. We've been in this particular building since 1989, and pay a ridiculously low rent thanks to moving in during a renter's market and the landlord only being allowed to raise the rent 3%/year thanks to "Rent Stabilization." If we were to move we couldn't afford the rent elsewhere. So here we stay.

I'm home, sick, for the holidays. I'm currently trying to shake a cold. However, I can't say I'm homesick. I am home. This is home. No matter how humble, Panorama City's home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Still a sickie. This is getting very old very quickly. Thankfully I won't be missing any more school unless I am still sick next Monday.

Yesterday I took advantage of the fact that I was home sick to break in our new roaster oven with a turkey. Did my usual Southwestern-inspired seasonings. Not half bad. I'm sure it would have been tastier had my nose not been olfactorily challenged. Stand-alone roaster ovens have been around for a while, and they are actually not a bad alternative for cooking. Imagine a huge crock pot. That's what a roaster oven is like. However, a roaster oven can be run at 450 degrees as well.

I posted about yesterday's meal on a friend's Live Journal. Here's what I wrote.

The night before I skinned the bird (when you do it this way the skin doesn't get crisped, so what's the point of having the skin on except for making the fat content go up) and rubbed it all over with dry spices:
Sazon Goya Achiote y Cilantro flavor
Garlic Powder
then sprinkled it with red pepper flakes. It sat, covered, in the fridge until it was "ready for its closeup." The Achiote in the Sazon Goya gave it a lovely orange hue.

The bird was put in to the roaster oven after preheating it to 300 degrees. Then I backed off the temperature to 250 degrees. 4 hours later it was done and ready to be carved. It got the occasional dousing of lemon juice during the roasting period. I carved the bird, poured the juices out, then put the carved slices of turkey back into the roaster oven to keep warm at 150 degrees.

The results were really killer. Moist, juicy and tasty. The juices were thickened with Knorr turkey gravy powdered mix, the only gravy mix worth using, for a nice spicy gravy. I went with my cornbread southwestern-flavored "Tamale Stuffing" and a classic green bean casserole as sides. I had a pumpkin I was going to cook for mashed pumpkin but I realized that would be overkill. I'll do that some other time. I also took canned whole-berry cranberry sauce and transformed it into spicy cranberry chutney with the addition of chiles, onions, garlic and cilantro.

I'm going to have turkey soup tonight. Hopefully that will do me some good. At least it wouldn't hurt.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I think I overdid it, and now I've got another cold. It's getting close to the end of the semester, though, and I'm sweating it. I've got papers left to do, and I'm way behind on my math.

I might wind up missing a couple more days of classes. Not good.

I haven't been able to blog because I've been feeling very wooly-headed and's now obvious that it's because I had a cold coming on.

Will someone tell me where I misplaced my marbles? :-(

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Turn it up...bring the meme...

This is a neat little meme I picked up visiting Last Left Turn Before Hooterville, a blog run by another Valley liberal.

Quoth Alicia: "Find your 23rd blog post ever. Find the fifth sentence of that 23rd post and tell us what it is just to see how relevant it's remained."

Neat, and it's also very Discordian too. I approve. Here goes...

From MsGeek.Org, 1/14/2004:

"A barefoot-and-pregnant woman having babies every 9 months is also likely to be tied down to home and hearth, with none of the "uppity" ambitions that give these (mostly) men fits. She's also likely to die young, too."

Regrettably, this fifth sentence continues to be relevant, 1 1/2 years later. (Mas o menos) Especially with Chief Justice Roberts (gak!) in, and Judge Alito looking like a shoo-in to become Associate Justice Alito. (gak!) Excuse me while I barf....ah, that's better.

I have heard more than a few people on Daily Kos talk about how we should be inclusive of anti-choicers who are otherwise congenial to Democratic ideals. They cite the example of Senator Harry Reid, who is at once anti-choice but also pro-everything else we Dems are for, and has been effective in his leadership of Senate Dems. However, the issue of choice, of reproductive freedom and female autonomy, is a big one.

For one of my political heroines, Emma Goldman, it was a central issue. Yeah, this image is huge and the writing is a little hard to read, but this scan from a defunct LA newspaper, and I like the historical connection.

Emma Goldman speaks about Birth Control in Los Angeles, 6/1/1916.

"Every woman should have the right to say whether she shall have a child or not. Motherhood should be a voluntary act; not the act of a slave." -- from the article.

Motherhood should be a voluntary act. However, if you are poor in America, particularly poor in America and in a Red State, Roe v. Wade might as well be already struck down. Gabriela Flores went to jail for four months after causing a miscarriage by ingesting misoprostol, a cancer drug related to RU-486. South Carolina has laws against "illegal abortions." Ostensibly the law was passed to punish back-alley abortionists. However, it was in this case used as a club to beat down a poor, undocumented immigrant. Because a legal abortion at her stage of pregnancy was illegal in the state of South Carolina, she would have to travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, three hours away from where she lived, and pay $700 for the procedure. $700 which is like $7 Million for a poor woman with no health insurance and a $150/week gross salary. She was sprung from jail, but the charges are still current, and she could be put back in jail if convicted.

This is happening right here, right now, in America. WAKE THE FUCK UP, grrls! Alito -- or should I say Scalito because he and Scalia are two of a kind -- is an UNACCEPTABLE choice to sit in the same chair as the retiring Justice O'Connor. He is too extreme. He is an "extraordinary circumstance" and should have the shit filibustered out of him. And every other candidate for the court should be filibustered until an acceptable moderate candidate is proposed. Hey, the longer we drag this out, the longer O'Connor continues to sit on the court. If the GOoPers pull their "nuclear option" bullshit, the public will not be with them. The bastards will all be outtahere come 2006 anyway, Goddess willing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

OK. I really did do badly on the last Math test. However, it's not too late to pull my grade up, thankfully. And since I got an 82 on the first test, I'm still just hovering above a pass. I will settle for a C, just as I settled for a C for the three math classes I took at LAVC.

I also stayed up burning the midnight oil on yet another paper. This time it was for Cross-Cultural Psychology, which is my night class on Tuesdays. I also find out how I did on the midterm. I think I did ok but who knows.

This is the hardest work I've ever had to do in college. There is a rigor to the courses here that you simply don't see at a Community College, with the exception of Education 203 with Doc Rosow. The reason why Doc Rosow is so hated on sites like "Rate My Professor" is that she really does expect you to do upper division quality work. You can't just skate by. None of my profs here let you skate by. You have to do the work and do it to a high standard. If I make it through Woodbury alive, I will be well-prepared to move on to grad school.

Monday, November 14, 2005

First off, thank you, Blogger, for giving us advance warning of the outage. Good, one less distraction to distract me from the stuff I need to do this evening.

Second: I have been thinking about how to solve the problem Proposition 77 was ostensibly written to solve but unable to solve. We do need a way of addressing the horrible situation that is the gerrymandering of California State Senate/Assembly/Federal House of Representatives districts. I will agree with those who were pro-Prop 77 (Including Kos from DailyKos) on one thing: the status quo sucks. However, appointees or elected commissioners can be unduly swayed by partisan considerations to commit a screw job on the public and give us yet another tortured map.

Here's my idea. Empanel a group of programmers, who pledge to remain non-partisan, to build a networked cluster computer system (it would be isolated from local area, wide area and internetworks and only communicate within the cluster) and write Free/Open Source software to create a completely unbiased system for creating districts which will be the best compromise between these factors:

1.) Diversity: all districts should be as integrated as possible.
2.) Political Partisan Diversity: all districts should be as balanced as possible between the Democratic and Republican Parties. Let's get real folks, adding third parties into this bipartisan mix would serve only to confuse.
3.) Geography: all districts should make as much geographic sense as possible.

The F/OSS solution would run on a F/OSS operating system like Linux. Linux currently is the operating system of four of the top five supercomputing networked computer clusters so it is definitely up to this task.
Because the solution for crunching demographic data to create districts will be licensed with a F/OSS license like the GPL v.2 and written with F/OSS tools and run on a F/OSS clustering operating system, all aspects of the new system could be audited by teams of computer scientists picked by the political parties and by non-partisan political organizations like the California League of Women Voters and California Common Cause.

There would be plenty of time to shake out the bugs before it does its job: crunching the California results from Census 2010 to establish the new districts.

After the Census 2010 results are processed, and three alternate versions of a California redistricting map were created, each one would be put up to a vote by duly registered voters of the State of California. The version of the map that gets the most votes would be the version that would prevail until 2021, when the next redistricting cycle would run. The process of creating a new supercomputing cluster and writing new software for the purpose would begin anew a few years before the fact, and will be ready for the next round of redistricting. As such, the system would never run more than a few years behind the state-of-the-art and would be continuously improved between redistricting cycles.

So basically this process:

  • would be completely nonpartisan

  • rely on impartial computers, not biased human beings

  • would use objective criteria for creating districts

  • would be continuously improved

Sounds good, doesn't it? Email me to let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

LA Crimes: ditching Scheer, going the Faux News route...

It used to be that the Los Angeles Times was the paper of record in this town. No more. It seems like the Tribune Company has finally decided that the LA Times had better toe the company political line, and one way they did it was to get rid of Robert Scheer.

Scheer spoke, in a reasoned, eloquent way, for the Left, particularly during the Reagan Administration. He did not just blindly bash for bashing's sake. He gave fully reasoned and immaculately researched criticism of Nixon, Reagan, Bush the Elder, and Bush the Idiot Son.

Well, that's one less reason to try to make an end run around the super-soul-sucking registration requirements of the Times site. Michael Ramirez being cut as editorial cartoonist is another, even though, oddly enough, he was more Libertarian-center-right in his views. There will be no more staff editorial cartoonist in the Crimes anymore.

When Otis and Chandler ran the LA Times, it was a very, very conservative newspaper. It made the Daily News seem like the LA Weekly by comparison. The Times began drifting to the left-of-center in the '40s. The Times support of the Schwarzenegger propositions should have been a tip off...The Times is now your "Fair And Balanced" (tm) newspaper. Maybe it should merge with the Daily News, the Orange County Register and the San Diego Union Leader now.

At least we can get our dose of Scheer in The Huffington Post, and Scheer will have his own news site, up by the end of the month.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Darth Cheney mocks the troops.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fat flabby Ah-nuld!
"I operate under a different mentality than most people do."
-- Arnold der Gropenfuhrer

We won!

Yeah, I know that this is overdue, but I've been crazy busy with schoolwork. Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein, nein, nein, nein, all down the line. We did it, it's over, we won. Herr Gropinator has been humbled. Soon he will be removed.

The Sony rootkit story not only refuses to die, it's getting worse. Now there is a California and a New York State Class Action lawsuit in the works, and the 20 CDs that Sony issued in the United States and Canada with the offending rootkit have been named. Do you have any of these Sony/BMG/RCA CDs?

  • Trey Anastasio - Shine

  • Celine Dion - On ne Change Pas

  • Neil Diamond - 12 Songs

  • Our Lady Peace - Healthy in Paranoid Times

  • Chris Botti - To Love Again

  • Van Zant - Get Right with the Man

  • Switchfoot - Nothing is Sound

  • The Coral - The Invisible Invasion

  • Acceptance - Phantoms

  • Susie Suh - Susie Suh

  • Amerie - Touch

  • Life of Agony - Broken Valley

  • Horace Silver Quintet - Silver's Blue

  • Gerry Mulligan - Jeru

  • Dexter Gordon - Manhattan Symphonie

  • The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity

  • The Dead 60s - The Dead 60s

  • Dion - The Essential Dion

  • Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten

  • Ricky Martin - Life

Note that these are not just new releases and not just pop music you'd hear on KIIS FM and its wretched ilk. There's a few oldies releases on this list, as are a few Jazz releases. This article on the EFF website has a field guide to how to recognize the bogus CDs. Note also that the familiar "Compact Disc Audio" logo does not appear on these CDs either...CDs like these violate the specification for CDs in the "Red Book" issued by Sony and Philips back when CDs were first introduced in the '80s.

If you got stuck with one of these turkeys and you live in either California or New York State, get in touch with the EFF and get on board the lawsuit. And even if you don't and you don't, send EFF a little something. Lastly, if you still run Windows, use these instructions to disable Autorun and prevent your CDs from leaving little presents on your hard drive.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

...which is precisely what I did. Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow morning with all of the "sucky six" handily defeated.

Hasta la vista, baby...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The training for the Victims' Advocate program at Woodbury was OK, I suppose. It was a rough 8 hours to sit through, though. And we're not through. There's another training session next Sunday. And I have my 8 AM-Noon class on Saturday, too. And transportation worries were another added wrinkle. Richie will be playing in San Francisco with Saccharine Trust this coming weekend, so my normal transportation situation is not an option.

I had several Hobson's choices in his absence: 1.) get up ridiculously early to take the hated Metro buses there; 2.) take hideously expensive cab rides -- $25! -- to Woodbury; or 3.) get a cheesy motel room for the princely sum of $51/night on Friday and Saturday nearby to Woodbury. Fortunately I don't have to deal with any of these situations: one of the people taking the training also is one of my fellow students in the Saturday class, and she lives pretty close to here. So I have rides both days.

The band'll be leaving LA Friday night, and back Sunday night or Monday morning. The one gig which the band will be playing that I have information for will be Saturday Night, 11/12, at the Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco. Admission is $7. There's a Sunday Afternoon gig at some gallery somewhere in Oakland but I don't have the info. If any of you reading this are up in the East Bay area and want to check out the Sunday gig, I suspect the local freebie paper should have updated info.

However, before that, Richie will also be playing with FreeHead in Hollywood. Here are the particulars:

6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
7522 Sunset Blvd LA CA 90046 (323)-851-7223
Featuring an outdoor rock concert by JIM SMITH’s band FREEHEAD.

Since we have been having cooler nights of late, dress warmly. Hopefully there won't be a rainout. Apparently the experts are hedging their bets on their "La Nada" predictions for an absolutely normal Winter rainy season in Los Angeles this year, and are now saying that there may be increased "tropical fetch" activity bringing the so-called "pineapple express" rains up from the South Pacific. Confused yet? Me too. Here's a little more info.

Oh yeah, how was my birthday? OK, I guess. The Star Wars costume exhibit was pretty amazing, and it's interesting to see how cheesy the props for the first movie (Episode IV) looked by comparison to the opulent costumes and props for the Prequel Trilogy. On the latter stuff, they did a lot of detail work that you really can't see well on screen. Seeing it all up close was a thrilling experience for this old-school Star Wars geek. There was even a life-sized XWing fighter on display, apparently from Episode IV. Yeah, it was a bit cheesy, but it was cool. It looked ready to do another run on the Death Star. Or maybe on Darth Cheney's Undisclosed Location. (just kidding!)

Since the costuming and propmaking workshops at Anime LA this year are Star Wars inspired, I was looking at the Jedi robes for a bit of inspiration. The originals have a wool over robe and homespun-looking linen for the under robes. I think that I will instead go with crinkly Madras cotton for mine. All the fabrics used for Jedi robes (and the Darth Sidious and Darth Maul Sith robes, for that matter) had a "homespun" look to them, and so does the stuff I'm thinking of. Imagine trying to wear woolen robes at Comic-Con in July! Not a good idea. Cotton's better. The drive to FIDM for the exhibit also revealed just how cool the fabric bazaars in the shmatte district of Downtown LA are. I should definitely visit there when I look for the 11 yards of fabric I need for this project.

Oh yeah: another reminder to end this entry:

Vote Nein on everything.

NO on EVERYTHING. This is all about rubbing Herr Gropenfuhrer's nose in this big brown stinky mess of an election. Don't express your disgust by staying away from the polls...that is precisely what the Gropinator wants us libs to do. Show your disgust by turning up at the polls and vote everything down. We need more comprehensive solutions to the Health Care and Energy issues...the piecemeal approach won't do. That's for another election at another time. And the rest of 'em...everyone knows they are pure evil, from the revenant "Squeal Rule" of Prop 73 to the Big Pharma giveaway of Prop 78. Don't just nix the first six...tell Ah-nuld NEIN by nuking the whole lot of them.

I'm not sure whether I'll get a chance to write in here before the election, so there you go.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

As of 7:03pm tonight, I will have reached the geek-significant age of 42. It's also the age at which Elvis died. I knew a couple of people who were sure they would die at age 27 because that's the age at which both Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison died. However, both of those folks were world-class poly-addicted drug abusers, and even though these people I knew were partiers neither one was in Hendrix or Morrison's league. Both of them survived well beyond that age. Actually there's quite a list of entertainers who died in their 20s on Wikipedia.

This is a really 'bad mojo' number for the Japanese. The numerals four and two can be pronounced as shi-ni in Japanese, which is a homonym for the verb "to die." If I'm not mistaken it's the Chinese-inflected reading, so there is probably a similar anti-42 superstition in China.

Anyway, hopefully this will be a fairly decent birthday. I have been taking it easy this morning and afternoon because...well, just because. Once Richie gets back home we will be first going out to Little Tokyo to grab some grub, then going to FIDM for the Star Wars costume exhibit, then going back to the Valley for an SFVLUG meeting.

Tomorrow I will be taking the first of two days of training to be a Rape Crisis Advocate. I think it will be quite a feather in my cap to do this. It directly relates to my major and is a way of making amends for being too chicken to report being raped when I was younger. If I didn't have the guts to do it I should stand by someone in a similar situation and help her find the strength to make the bastard pay. There is a bit more protection for the rights of the victim now than there was in the late-'70s early-'80s, but I'm sure it's still like walking into hell.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A little late on this, but better late than never...I'm putting this up in a first-ever bilingual post, because I want the folks at Sony in Japan to know exactly what I am saying here.

Are you ready?

Here it is:
SONY is foolish.

Translation: Sony is foolish. Or to be more anime/manga/Japanese colloquial: Sony are baka. Thank you very much, Google language tools.

Let me get into the etymology of the word baka. It comes from a Chinese proverb that was so consonant with the Japanese culture it has become familiar to all there. "He points to a deer and says it's a horse." Baka literally means "deer-horse" in the Chinese-inflected readings of the component words. This can have one of two connotations. One, the person is so stupid he doesn't know the difference between a deer and a horse. Or two, the person is deliberately trying to deceive you by telling you a deer is a horse. Or to use more familiar terms, by way of Judge Judy: "Don't pish on my leg and tell me it's raining." Baka can mean stupid or a willfully deceptive bastard. Sony is both stupid and willfully deceptive.

Sony has been two-faced in their dealings with technology ever since the technology company also became the owner of Big Media companies in their purchases of CBS/Columbia/Epic Music, RCA/BMG Music, Columbia Pictures, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. CBS Music was first, of course. Then Columbia. Then RCA/BMG. Then most recently, the hollow shell that is MGM. From the technology first, technology only company that successfully and muscularly defended its Betamax home video recorder from the onslaughts of the MPAA and MPAA signatory Universal Pictures in the early '80s, Sony has now become sufferers of corporate Dissociative Identity Disorder.

The technology personality of Sony still makes pretty decent technology. I have become an enthusiast for the minidisc recorder since Tom Reed introduced me to them. They're cute, they're cool, they sound better than cassette, and people look at them and scratch their heads because they never really caught on here but they are actually technology from back when people still talked about megabytes for hard drive space. However, I will never buy one new, and I am going to avoid buying Sony-made media for them. Because the content-owner/Big Media Company personality of Sony has managed to make life miserable for all of us.

Sony has released Digital Rights Manglement infested CDs before, using content control technologies like Suncomm and Cactus and even offerings from Macrovision, the bane of all videogeeks. Those systems were annoyances, making it hard for legitimate CD buyers to enjoy their music on any player they wish, but not tying the hands of the big organized crime-connected piracy rings who counterfeit CDs (Pressed, not burnt, folks!) and distribute them to sellers at flea markets, swap meets and people who sell on blankets on Santee Avenue downtown. And certainly the massive operations in Asia who flood the region with cheap counterfeit CDs go on as if nothing was stopping them.

However, now Sony has stooped to using a content control system that actually installs, as part of the system, a way of concealing the rest of the content. It's known as "stealthing" or "rootkit" technology in anti-virus/spyware/malware/crookware parlance. And this concealment technology can be further put to use by script kiddies and worm writers to improve their ability to fsck your system over.

This infernal malware (Yes, it's malware and I won't couch it in more delicate terms!) was written by a British company called First4Internet. And apparently it's written so badly it can bog down performance on Windows systems, to the point of even bluescreening some installations when the system cannot find the now-indispensable "aries.sys" driver that is doing the concealment part of the malware's dirty work.

So far this particular malware has been found on one CD by Van Zant and another by Switchfoot. I am sure that if this is showing up here in the US there are several European CDs that have been using this system for months. Usually the Four Families of the Record Industry test DRM schemes on the European market before putting them out in the US and Canada.

Sony has issued a so-called "service pack" for this system, but apparently all that does is get rid of the concealment scheme. The other programs installed by First4Internet interfere with the ASPI layer that is used to control CD-ROM drives and other kinds of optical drives, and if you yank them out by the roots you will apparently lose the ability to use your CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM or DVD-/+RW drive.

I will not gloat, but this malware is all very Windows-centric and doesn't run under alternative operating systems on x86 hardware like Linux and FreeBSD. And it certainly doesn't run on a Mac. I needn't give you the rap on software monocultures and the vulnerability of Windows-only enterprises, offices, households and schools, I'm sure you've heard it before.

Anyway, here is more information on the story.

Security Now! with Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson, episode 12
WFMU "Beware of the Blog" on Sony DRM CDs
C|Net: Sony CD protection (sic) sparks security concerns
Freedom To Tinker: Mysterious software update from Sony and First4Internet
And the article that started it all -- Sysinternals: Sony, Rootkits and DRM gone too far

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh yeah: I hate the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority. Utterly and completely.

I had to drop off a little half-broken boombox with someone who made a request on the Freecycle list. I figured, "Hell, I'll go pick up my College/Vocational bus pass sticker on the way there or on the way back."

Guess what, sunshine? All of the usual places one used to be able to get this in my neighborhood either are no longer MTA bus pass outlets or are such new MTA bus pass outlets that they don't have the merchandise yet.

Irony of ironies: I likely might have to pick up my Col/Voc sticker at Los Angeles Valley College tomorrow. Rah rah alma mater. :P

Judge Alito winks at Conflict of Interest, fails to recuse himself -- Boston Globe.

Forget filibustering...the Loyal Opposition now has grounds to see Judge Alito disqualified.

I'm sending a link to this article to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is on the Judiciary Committee. Hopefully this is just the ammo she needs to keep this raving wingnut off the SCOTUS.

Here's the DailyKos discussion.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lock the US system up, it's Certifiable.

1.) Toyota was considering opening another plant in Alabama. Instead, it opted to build the plant in Canada. Why? Health Insurance.

2.) The Delphi auto accessory company just went Tango Uniform. Thousands of people will be laid off. Why have they opted to shut down? Health Insurance costs.

3.) California has a perennial problem with Worker's Compensation. They have tried everything to prune this tangled mess. It's sapping the life out of businesses here. Why is this an issue? Health Insurance. Lots of people don't have it, and when they get injured, they sue.

4.) Personal Injury lawsuits continue to be epidemic. Why are most people sue-happy after an accident? Health Insurance.

5.) Why can't my 53 year old husband get hired at a living-wage job? Why is it that even minimum wage jobs are not willing to hire him, when they'll gladly hire a 65-year-old? Health Insurance. A 65-year-old has Medicare, for what that's worth. A 53-year-old will cost a bomb to insure. Worker's Comp costs for older workers are murderous. We are literally financially up a creek without a paddle because my husband's too young for Medicare and too old to get insured privately.


It's time for the US to join the civilized world and create a single-payer health care plan with one big risk pool that will cover the healthy and the sick. What the GOP is hiding and what the Dems need to hit them over the head with is that A NATIONAL HEALTH PLAN IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS. There are so many headaches surrounding health care that most companies simply won't deal with it. If they were freed up to concentrate on the business of business and not the monkey business of Big Insurance, Big Medical and Big Pharma, we'd have a better and stronger economy and less companies going belly-up.

The ultimate thing that chaps my hide right now is the idea that George W. Bush wants to make sure every man, woman and child in Iraq has universal health care. Think about that. Let that sink in. Health care for Iraq but not at home. Now think back to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Think back to how one of the reasons why help from the National Guard could not get through was because personnel and materiel were tied up half a world away in Iraq.

We. Are. So. Screwed. It's. Not. Funny.

Lock our current "rich get richly cared for, poor get nothing" system up in the nearest looney bin, because it's not only nuts, it's criminally insane.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

He. Got. Game.

It's days like these when I'm damn proud to be a Democrat. Suddenly things look a little brighter, life seems a bit happier, and there seems to be a little hope that maybe things are going to change soon.

Anyway, a little dedication for my man Harry...a Beastie Boys classic...

I can't stand it I know you planned it
But I'm gonna set it straight, this Watergate
I can't stand rockin' when I'm in here
Because your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear
So while you sit back and wonder why
I got this fuckin' thorn in my side
Oh my God, it's a mirage
I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage

So listen up 'cause you can't say nothin'
You'll shut me down with a push of your button?
But I'm out, and I'm gone
I'll tell you now I keep it on and on

Cause what you see you might not get
And we can't bet so don't you get souped yet
You're schemin' on a thing that's a mirage
I'm trying to tell you now it's sabotage

Our backs are now against the wall
Listen all y'all it's sabotage

I can't stand it, I know you planned it
But I'm gonna set it straight this Watergate
I can't stand rockin' when I'm in this place
Because I feel disgrace because you're all in my face
But make no mistakes and switch up my channel
I'm Buddy Rich when I fly off the handle
What could it be, it's a mirage
You're schemin' on a thing; that's sabotage