Category: WTF

A system of checks and balances


So let me be upfront about it: I support Barack Obama’s candidacy.

It’s not because of his platform. I’ve ignored the platforms of all the candidates because pragmatism will force them to renege on a lot of promises. It’s not because I find him inspiring. I don’t have an opinion about that because I don’t care to form one. It’s not because I toe the Democrat party line. I’ve voted for Republicans in the past.

I support Obama’s candidacy out of pragmatism (that word again) and history.

It’s all too easy to get swallowed up in the echo chamber that is political coverage in the media. And it’s all too easy to perceive no progress being made when opposing forces continually butt heads. But that’s how a system of checks and balances is supposed to work. The last eight years has been a spectacular display of that system pretty much breaking down.

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All signs point to yes


The next Mercury Retrograde is supposed to happen at the end of this month (January 2008.) But this past weekend felt as if the Retrograde started early. Everything just seemed to be breaking down.

  • First, the heat sink in my desktop computer goes berserk. I diagnosed the problem incorrectly as a faulty hard drive and spent $30 more than I originally paid to get a new drive. Then I ended up spending another $27 to get a new heat sink. Since it’s going to take a few days to get here, I spent much of this weekend setting up my laptop as a substitute.
  • The weather went from extremely cold to extremely warm, so I turned on my air conditioning to cool down the apartment a little bit. After half an hour, the a/c started blowing hot air. My attempts to turn it off failed. So I had to cut off the power using the circuit breaker. Since the breaker isn’t labeled, I tried each one till the a/c stopped. As a result, the computer connected to my wireless access point rebooted. I don’t know how that affected the access point, but it did.
  • When I rebooted the access point from its web interface, I lost access to the interface after the reboot. So I had to reset it to the factory default and reconfigure it.
  • My laptop all of sudden dropped its connection to the wireless access point, and even after reconnecting it, I could not establish an Internet connection. Numerous attempts failed, so I renamed the wireless access point. Now it’s working.

I would say, "I’m glad [blank] didn’t break," but I’m not tempting fate.

Missed it by that much


I knew it was around the time of the year for my credit card to get charged for my hosting. I’ve been a Dreamhost customer since 1998, and my plan was grandfathered in with a number of rate changes from many, many years back.

So I logged into my account to see when the charge would happen, and I discovered the hosting plans have changed — or rather, hosting plan. Dreamhost did away with all the various programs to offer one hosting solution for a price significantly less than what I’m paying for right now — $10.95/month, with discounts for paying in advance.

Good news, right? It would have been had I heard about it earlier.

My current plan had already been auto-renewed, and my credit card was days away from being charged my six-month grandfathered rate, rather than for the single cheaper plan. So I changed to the One Plan to Rule Them All but still got charged for the two weeks I was under the old plan. It came to about $13, which isn’t too bad, but it’s $13 more than $0, which I could have saved if I knew about the damn change. And that’s roughly $3 more than the monthly price I get for paying a year in advance ($9.95/month.) Two weeks of service under the old plan > one month of service under the new plan. Suck, no?

At least now the charge on my credit card will be for an entire year of service, which means a total savings of $156. The plans changed back in September 2007, so I didn’t really miss out. Had the plan changed after May 2007, when I was last charged at the six-month rate, I would have cried foul.

The occassional odd musing concerning an omniscient diety


One thing that amuses me about devout Christians is the fear of God. I remember the "Christian vs. Athiest" episode of Morgan Spurlock’s show 30 Days. The beefy Christian guy on the show was fretting so much about the well-being of his atheist guest’s soul, it made him sound … like a sissy.

Dude — if she’s hellbent, why stand in her way?

It makes me wonder something cruel. If God is someone to be feared, what would happen if it turned out he really didn’t care? Do you continue fearing a higher being who wouldn’t give you the time of day anyway?

God is all-powerful, so I was taught in grade school. In college, it was pointed out that part of his all-encompassing power was an ability to abandon his creations. His followers can’t deny him the free will granted onto them.

I would think ambivalence would be something to fear more than wrath.

These are a few of my favorite fonts


Inspired by a previous article about Helvetica, Slate asked a bunch of authors about their favorite fonts. Andrew Vachss uses Courier? Fascinating. I stick with Times New Roman when I fire up a word processor because I’m just too lazy to change the default, but for things web, I’ve pretty much stuck with Verdana, Tahoma or Trebuchet MS. Yeah, I know — so 2002.

With the cover art for Eponymous 4, I use the fonts that come with Microsoft Windows, particularly the system fonts used in software interfaces. Chalk that up to laziness as well, but I like the idea of putting system fonts in another context.

Restraint employs Lucida Console, which is the font used for the Blue Screen of Death, while Imprint uses Lucida Sans Unicode. I believe Lucida Sans Unicode is the default font when you launch Notepad. A Ghost in My Shadow features 20th Century (Tw Cen MT), while Revulsion makes do with Century Gothic. I think the only non-Microsoft font I use with any regularity is Friz Quadrata, most famously featured as the typeface on Law & Order.

I’m particularly fascinated by the typeface used in the New York City subway system. According to this debate, Helvetica is used for the more recent signs, but a variation of Akzidenz-Grotesk named Standard Medium was used in the ’60s and ’70s. (Link actually points to Standard.)

When I was a kid — had to be when I was around 4 or 5 years old — I was endlessly fascinated by street signs. Back then, the way color conveyed message spoke to me somehow, and I have a strange fondness for the typeface of highway signs. There is no actual typeface for highway signs, just a a set of federally-mandated specifications. Blue Highway is often cited as the computer font of choice to emulate a highway sign, but back in 2004, the federal government sanctioned ClearviewHwy as an official alternative.

I’m no typegeek by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure if other things didn’t distract me, I could very well have become one.

It doesn’t taste like chicken?


Since I have never questioned my homosexuality, I have never had to ponder this taste. I was, however, conned into licking a 9V battery when I was in fourth grade, and that experience is forever etched into my mind. Is that what it really tastes like?

Yes, I have put on a few pounds


This article has nothing to do with the holidays, but it does mention fruitcake. I figure that’s a tenuous enough reason to post it.

I’ve been working the past year in the localization department of my office, where I’m the token American in a group of French, German, Japanese and Korean staffers. I think some of the Germans are rubbing off on me.

One of the Germans, in fact, e-mailed the link to that article to the group, and that blunt form of communication appeals to me. I’m no fan of small talk. I have this long-standing belief that anyone who asks "How are you?" doesn’t really want to know the answer. You might have the runs and a 102-degree fever, but the answer will always be, "I’m fine."

Some days, I’m flat out lying when I have to give that reply. The extended answer would be, "I’m fine — we can’t stop this conversation now." That question would be so much easier to answer the German way. A negative reply would just be taken at face value. I bet if you’ve ever been greeted with a negative reply to "How are you?" a judgmental trigger goes off in your head. "Oh, you poor thing."

Subtlety would go out the window with such brutal honesty, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Money speaks louder than protests


So a boycott against Wal-Mart protesting the company’s outreach to the gay community is called off. Did the threat of a boycott work? Or are conservative groups taking credit for action that’s has nothing to do with them?

Similar boycotts were initiated against companies who advertised on gay-themed television shows, and those companies said they would stop. The boycotts were averted, but no one checked to see whether those advertisers followed through, which they didn’t.

In contrast, Ford Motor Co. announced it would pull ads from gay publications a number of years back, and the outcry from that decision made the company backpedal. What could possibly be the incentive for companies to appease gay audiences? Duh — money.

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