Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hot Wheels Red Lines

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was thinking about eBaying my Hot Wheels collection once I found out how much they're potentially worth. I still haven't decided (and I still know very little about eBay) but as an experiment, I tried photographing these guys and let me tell you - it's damn hard! I think I'm actually going to be better off doing it outside, like on the front porch or something. These are the best two I came up with - the Beetle is in really good condition and I always liked that dragster. For those that don't know (and I didn't until I started looking into this) the "Red Line" refers to the redwall tires found on all the original Hot Wheels up to 1977. Since then all Hot Wheels have had blackwalls. Hey, who says you never learn anything from blogs?

My Neck Hurts

An article in the Chapel Hill section of the Durham Herald-Sun made me do so many double-takes that I think I've given myself whiplash. The space behind/below the Bank of America Plaza that was for years the Ram Triple cinema has for the last few years been a succession of less-than-successful nightclubs and it looks like someone is trying again with The Sandbar.
"We're going to have it like it's spring break every night," said Jason East, one of the owners of the club.
Drunk, mostly nekkid 19-year-olds pouring beer on each other? Okay sounds like the parties that I used to have... OK, that I used to crash... all right, that I used to hear about from other people, but need I remind these guys that the drinking age is 21 now?
"If you look on the Internet at clubs in big cities, the beach theme is the hottest theme in clubs around the world right now," said East.
And we all know how much people in Chapel Hill like to follow the backside of big-city trends.
East, who was also part owner of Kryptonite and a smaller club next door, Bedz, said the new theme would help attract more of the college crowd. He said both Kryptonite and Bedz--which is still open, but might be redone with a Moroccan theme -- foundered because they catered to a young professional crowd that does not really exist in Chapel Hill.
So he's right about there not being much of a young pro crowd in Chapel Hill - their place in the economic food chain is taken up by grad students who can't afford many nights out at the clubs and when they do, probably aren't going to be attracted to the kind of place Jason wants to have. And I'm sure the beach thing will work for a time with the younger crowd - it worked for a little while in the old Town Hall/Mad Hatter space on Franklin Street (am I the only person that remembers Jaspers Beach Party?) but need I say again that the drinking age is 21 now?
"As soon as school got out, the town was dead," said East. "We didn't realize Chapel Hill is strictly a college town."
This one caused half a cup of coffee to be violently ejected through my nose. No explanation necessary.
Dolan added that The Sandbar will feel "less dangerous" and "antiseptic" than Kryptonite, which had dark walls, leather couches and chrome and neon accents.
So if there was any question about whether I'm in his target demographic, that was answered in the preceding 'graph with a resounding "Hell, no!". Guess I should have checked out Kryptonite while it was still open.
East and Dolan both hope the new club will do a better job attracting college students.
Who, uh, won't be able to legally drink there of course until they're seniors. And then the kicker...
Women ages 18 and older and men 21 and older will be admitted.
First of all, is that even legal?!?! Second of all,... no, wait a minute, I'm not ready to move on yet - is that even legal?! Really. You're sure? And I didn't freakin' think of that when I owned a bar in Chapel Hill? Dammit!

All joking aside, I wish Jason and his partners much luck. Having been in that business myself, it's tough to even break even, much less make a living (so they say - I never even came close). You do have to have some kind of a hook and I know that there is a big difference between what attracts the townies and grad students (who were our main customers, even when the drinking age was 18) and the undergrads. This just sounds like a recipe for disaster, where either the intent is to sell to underage kids or they'll spend all their time and a lot of money trying to prevent sales to underage kids. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely believe that the drinking age ought to be 18 (maybe the subject of another post some day) but it's not. I'll be interested in seeing how long The Sandbar manages to hang on and maybe I'll put on my Corona jams and my puka shells and go check it out for myself. On second thought, I think I'll wait for the Moroccan makeover at Bedz. Think they'll rename it "Fez"?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Crimson Slide

With Chimpy having bought his MBA from Harvard and "Doctor" Frist having received his medical degree from Harvard Med, one begins to wonder about the true value of an Ivy League education. Or is it just Harvard?
"I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.

I don't even know what he meant that to mean, but it can't be good. And it doesn't really matter to me whether he really is that big an idiot or if he's just pandering to the toothless yokels again. The fact that the New York Times devoted any page space at all to the Intelligent Design "debate" is almost as disappointing as the obvious lack of academic rigor Harvard possesses these days. Uh, people - there is no debate! There is science and there is faith - you can't argue one against the other. ID doesn't even qualify as a good hypothesis, much less a theory. So just go back to watching Pat Robertson condone political assassination and stop interrupting while the adults are talking, m'kay?

Timewasters - Magazine Art

Occasionally I'll go back and look through my bookmarks for dead links and ran across these two that I hadn't looked at in awhile. The gallery of magazine art (like that of the Life humor magazine to the left) has some beautiful work from the days before all magazine covers had photos of Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt on them. The picture on the right is from the Tales of Future Past web museum from back when we actually thought the future was going to look dramatically different than the day, rather than just marginally changed. Both have some great images - an excellent way to spend some time in one of those boring conference calls!

UNC Men's Basketball Mob

Dad's been sending me his Carolina basketball recruiting links and while the team this season will certainly be lean, green and short, it appears from the recruiting news that we'll have somewhere around fifty-three scholarship players by next year. I guess what we lack in height, we'll make up in numbers...

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I'm in a hatin' mood right now, which is not like me. I can't tell whether I'm more hatin' on the fuckwads that write viruses and worms like the 87 variants of Zotob out there or on Microsoft for being so incredibly security unconscious. I sometimes get to hatin' on my own group for being too damn slow to respond to publication of exploits and the patches to secure them, but this time the malware came so fast and furious that it is unreasonable to think that we could have prevented the outbreak that has affected many of our customers, including the one that I support. I personally have only been inconvenienced, but many, maybe most, of the folks in my company have gone through sheer hell the last week, many logging as much as 100 hours in the week, and it ain't over yet.

Every time we go through one of these episodes (and this is turning out to be one of the worst), the question is raised as to whether we should continue to use/support Microsoft products. While I'm still not sure that Linux is ready for prime time as a user platform (I'm fully supportive of it as a server platform), I am thinking that moving from Microsoft applications is something that we could and probably should do today. Very few of my technically-inclined friends run MS browsers or email clients or productivity products at home. I've been running an old free version of StarOffice (the Sun version of OpenOffice) for a couple of years and it is almost indistinguishable from MS Office and does a tremendous job of converting from one to the other. I've been running Firefox and Thunderbird instead of IE and Outlook for months and there are only about 2 websites that I need to visit that don't format properly on Firefox and force me to use IE. So while I'm not quite ready to dump the Windows OS (there's no version of Dungeon Siege for Linux yet that I'm aware of), I'm fully supportive of dumping every other piece of crappy code they sell and will continue to suggest that my company and our customers do the same.

I know for some that it sounds like I'm blaming the victim (if you can imagine Microsoft as a victim) and I really do want to avoid that. The fuckwads (I can think of nothing else to call them) cost the global economy millions of dollars but what's even worse, they cause a lot of good innocent people to work their asses off, cancel vacations, miss their families, get stress-related illnesses and generally be miserable mostly for some dickhead's kicks. When they're caught, they should be punished commensurate with the crime - I'm thinking at least 30 years of hard time. If you just take one of our customers and add up the lost productivity of people who either had an infected PC taken off the network or a server that was critical to their work out of commission and add to that the hours spent remediating the problems caused by the malware or in preventing its further spread, you'd be up to 3.5 years of wasted time. And we had more than one customer affected. So maybe putting them away for life would be more appropriate. And it might save them from the angry mob of my fellows who would be more than willing to rip them apart limb from limb and hang them from butcher hooks in the town square.

Religion-Based Government

I typically don't read blogs any further to the right than Dan Drezner or Sully - not because I'm afraid to read a viewpoint that differs from mine, but because my system can only take so much bile, lies and snark at any one time. It's much safer to read LGF Watch or Media Matters than it is to actually read Little Green Footballs or listen to Rush Limbaugh. But just so that I don't get accused of parroting left-wing talking points, I do occasionally gird my loins (something you really don't want to see) and venture into asshat territory. So it was with some very large amount of amusement that I read on LGF how surprised and even hurt its denizens are in hearing (via that commie, pro-Muslim media outlet Reuters) that Islamic law (shari'a) is likely to be enshrined into the Iraqi constitution, making our bouncing little bundle of democratic joy another Iran-like religious state.

I find the reaction amusing on any number of levels, the most obvious one being: what the fuck did they THINK was going to happen when we came in, deposed the Baathists and then pushed for a quick constitution? Didn't we all say two years ago that this was the likely outcome? But these guys are feeling absolutely betrayed - how dare anyone try to write religion into a constitution?!?!? Oh, wait - unless it's THEIR religion and OUR constitution. I guess that would make it okay. At least some of the commenters are honest in their statements that Islam in general, not terrorists, is the enemy and the entity that must be defeated. They're asshats, but at least they're more honest asshats. I'm also curious about the continued calls for Muslim clerics to publicly state their opposition and non-support for terrorists - has anyone called on the AOG or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Pope to publicly denounce Eric Rudolf or state that anti-abortion extremists terrorizing young women in front of Planned Parenthood clinics are NOT doing the Lord's work?

The other aspect of the thread that I found quite amusing were the attacks on the State Department and former right-wing sweetheart Condi Rice and the excuses some of them were making for W - even suggesting that State's complicity (or at least tacit acceptance) in the writing of shari'a into the Iraq constitution was somehow happening behind the Prezzie's back while he's off mountain biking for 5 weeks in Crawford. You know, I'm sure Crawford's pretty isolated, but I'm guessing that there really is telephone and Internet access to W's place. It's apparently not so isolated that most media outlets in the world haven't been able to find Cindy Sheehan right outside the Prezzie's gate. But I guess it's isolated enough that the yayhoos worried about flag desecration somehow missed one of their own driving over a large number of American flags and crosses commemorating US military dead. (Sorry, starting to ramble...) But if Chimpy loses the LGFers, who the hell does he have left?