Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Curious EULAs

So I discovered a curious line in the Blood Bowl EULA:

This Agreement is effective from the day you install the Software. Your license continues for the shorter of: fifty years, or the duration of copyright protection for the Software

Most EULAs are perpetual licenses, if they're not yearly licenses. Why would you have a license expire in fifty years? And "or the duration of copyright protection" - wouldn't the license be unnecessary at that point, anyways?

Oh well. Guess I'll have to buy another copy in 2060.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stimulus Schimulus

I haven't seen anything really *wrong* with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, yet...

... but am I the only one who's noticed that when they want us to swallow a horse pill, they call it a "stimulus" bill?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Glen Beck's Nine Principles.

So, personality Glen Beck has proposed "Nine principles" of which you must believe in seven to be a good American.

Unfortunately for Glen, over half of them are irrelevant or invalid...

1. America is good. Invalid: a just-so argument. America is not good because America is good. America is only as good as we make it; thus, it is only as good as we are.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life. Invalid: The invocation of religious purpose into everyday life adds impassioned arguments and dogmatic blindness where otherwise cool heads would prevail. Additionaly this runs counter to constitutional principles.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday. Valid.

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government. Invalid. People do not magically become better people. Married people should not more equal under the law (even though, as the system stands now, they are).

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it. Valid (in constitution).

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results. Invalid. We have a government to protect and (inasmuch as is possible) facilitate our ability to carry on normal, free, happy lives.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable. Invalid. You can't run a first world nation on a third world budget.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion. Valid (in constitution).

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me. Valid. In fact, you could state it more strongly: The government has a duty to me; I have no duty to the government.

So of his nine points, only four are relevant (honesty, equality under the law, freedom of opinion and expression, and service government).

Sorry, Glen. I'll stick to the Scout Oath and Doc Savage Oath.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are we at war with Canada now?

Presidents have a history of leaving messes for following presidents to clean up if they're not of the same political party, but this takes the cake:
In his final days in power, President George W. Bush asserted U.S. military "sea power" over the oil-rich Arctic Monday, in another forceful rebuttal of Canada's claims of sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. . . . The Bush directive reiterates that the Northwest Passage is an international waterway -- a rebuttal of Canada's claim of sovereignty over what is emerging as a major global shipping route because of the shrinking polar ice cap -- and it highlights the boundary dispute in the resource-rich Beaufort Sea.
So in his last two weeks before leaving office, Bush claims Canada's territory as its own.

For the love of god, is he going to leave us at war?

Did Microsoft buy out Google?

Or vice versa, perhaps?

If you look at the image to the right, you'll see the new Google favicon. If you're thinking it looks mightily familiar, you're right: look at your Start button. It's the four colors of the Windows logo, rotated 90 degrees and with the Google lowercase 'g' superimposed thereupon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scientology: "We had no role in Travolta's death"

Amazingly enough, before I even heard the news about Jett Travolta dying, I heard about the denial from the Church of Scientology describing how they did not cause his death.

But with their quick assertion of innocence, though... well, as in so many cases, XKCD says it best.

The Year of Science

We've got some amazing anniversaries this year -- the 400-year anniversary of Galileo, and the 200-year anniversary of Charles Darwin. This has caused the International Astronomy Union to declare 2009 the Year of Astronomy, and the Coalition on Public Understanding of Science to declare 2009 the Year of Science.

I think that's a wonderful theme to carry through the year.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Today I came across a dinosaur of the World Wide Web: a site that required Java to run. And not a personal site, either -- this company actually required people to pay money to use their service, a mistake you can be sure I will not be making.

Most people will remember Java fondly as bloatware, along with such horrors as RealPlayer and Quicktime. What it proposed was a true object-oriented language running in small 'applets' in your browser: like miniature programs! People imagined entire office suites.

Except... Java sucked. Java was slow to develop, and even slower to run, with the Java Virtual Machine growing to expand any available process time or memory that the users had. If you were using a Java applet, you would not be able to do anything else while that thing clunked away. And when you were done, the Java VM stayed in memory, keeping your computer choked.

Even more unfortunately for website coders, there was a better Java than Java, which already existed -- JavaScript. Javascript, the key to Web 2.0 buzzword 'AJAX', ran much faster and with much less trouble than waiting for the Java VM to load and run each time.

Java has been succeeded by Flash and Javascript for 99% of uses, with the remaining 1% has been replaced by the free Silverlight (for the 1% of users who can't afford Flash but have the ethics not to download it somewhere).

Nowadays, requiring Java to view a page is like requiring the <blink> tag, or VRML -- a sign of the web designers working there having learned nothing since the 90s.

Speaking of the 90s, writing this blog post has made me feel old. I think I'll go hunt for my VHS tapes of Eek! The Cat and Power Rangers and study my old Algebra 2 homework.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Registry: It starts with suicide

This piece has hit the national news due to the tragedy of the suicide, but looking a little deeper reveals some harder issues.

First, let's look at what our system of education has done to the girl. The girl (who is unnamed due to the fact that she was 14 at the time) was found to have a 'sex diary', describing her various conquests. In a later interview, she declared:
Yes, I'm a victim. I was a victim who was deceived by my own emotions and ignorance, of misplaced confidence, a victim of my own fantasies . . . Yes, predator for I chase people who themselves were victims of misplaced confidence."
So, she's a victim because she consented to sex... but she's also a predator because she consented to sex? Typical of our our American legal system treats sex... consent is not defined by someone's wishes, but by what the legal system declares. Not to mention what having our system declare her both predator and victom must have done to her.

The boy, who was eighteen, pled guilty to 'seduction,' a very old charge; this was an admission of guilt that did not require jail time or registration (likely due to a Romeo-and-Juliet law). Now, let's go forwards five years in time to 2007:
But changes last year require those who pleaded guilty to seduction to appear on the list, said the county's Chief Deputy Prosecutor Deborah Carley.
Under most civilized jurisdictions, that's double jeopardy. He's already paid for his crime (a very public outing and a long probation), but now the system was going back to give him a permanant black mark that would ruin his life.

The tragedy is not that the boy committed suicide; the tragedy is that our system drove him to it.

And so ends my backlog of blog entries. I apologize for being slow with them, but I had the misfortune of being given Fallout 3 for Christmas, thus destroying my free time.

Religion and evolution: co-dependent?

Two news stories by two different groups have come out that are surprisingly amusing in their synergy.

First, we have news that religion evolved:
Self-control is critical for success in life, and a new study by University of Miami professor of Psychology Michael McCullough finds that religious people have more self-control than do their less religious counterparts. These findings imply that religious people may be better at pursuing and achieving long-term goals that are important to them and their religious groups.
And to go with it, we have this opinion piece that an understanding of evolution strengthens faith:
In my opinion the Darwinian worldview is not just compatible with religious faith but deepens it and makes aspects of it more intelligible.
Religion and evolution: Two great tastes that, apparently, taste great together.

Sarah Palin: Boy, did we dodge a bullet there

In the no-news category, we have news from a Christian site that Sarah Palin was even scarier than we thought:
"I believe in warfare. We were given an assignment in Alaska... we had the very liberal candidates running for governor, and we began to pray for God to give us a Christian ", declared Mary Glazier. At a three day religious conference held in Everett, Washington last summer, on June 13, 2008, Glazier described how, nearly two decades ago, her movement helped propel Alaska Independence Party candidate Walter J. Hickel, in an upset write-in campaign, into the Alaska governor's office: Glazier's new prayer group member, a 24 year old woman named Sarah Palin, would later follow.
Good thing she can't sanctify the US against us durn libruls.

Good wins for now, but we need to be careful of any other instances in which religions conspire against citizens to buy votes and subvert elections.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Free Internet for the masses?

Look out. It seems that the FCC's "free but censored internet" may be losing the "but censored" part:
Even though Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin is leaving in a matter of weeks, he still hopes to push through a major policy decision he’s been backing for months: One that would create a nationwide free wireless broadband network for use by all.

Until now, this ambitious proposal has met with resistance from everyone from incumbent wireless service providers such as T-Mobile USA, worried the new network would cause interference to its users to consumer advocacy groups, which have particularly objected to Martin’s idea of filtering adult content available on this public network. Well, in an interview published by Ars Technica on Dec. 29, Martin said that he has dropped his porn filtering idea in hopes of garnering more support for the open network proposal.
Unfortunately, the decision was not made because it's the right thing to do -- it was made because it would make it more popular and easier to support.

The end result, however, is the same -- making unrestricted and unfiltered access to the Internet, vital in this day and age to compete and to be able to communicate our ideas with the same ability as everyone else, just another public good.

The idea of being given access to all the Internet save the parts disapproved of by our government was hailed in some circles. Instead, if this measure passes, it'll be a strong blow to the same groups who promote a conservative Christian nanny-state.