Saturday, April 21, 2007

God isn't the Only One Who Moves In Mysterious Ways

Things I Found On The Way to Looking Up Other Things

Odd Googles

God really isn't the only one who works in strange and mysterious ways. It seems the internet does also.

A couple of days ago I was in the process of completing a sale of some small arms ammunition. It was an interstate transaction and while ammunition seems to be only mildly regulated I thought it wise to check on the laws for the state to which I was sending the ammo.

For those who get into this kind of thing, you know that it is very difficult to prove a negative. In the same way, when searching the internet, it can be very difficult to pin down what is not out there. In other words, if there are no laws regulating the sale and shipment of small arms ammunition, it is going to be very hard to find that out for sure. Very few writers or researchers make it a habit to comment on what doesn't exist.

What I did find was what seemed to be a very good, very complete site regarding state firearms laws. It was surprisingly extensive and detailed. While it didn't have anything to say about ammunition, sometimes that's the best you can hope for. If a site is extensive and complete about gun laws, you can mildly infer that if there were any wild or onerous laws restricting ammunition, these laws would be mentioned as being of interest. At least one hopes.

Be patient. We're coming to it.

As to how internet searches can move in wild and mysterious ways; as I was reading the gun laws for the state I was interested in, I noticed that the site had quite prominently given the state a Grade for its gun laws. I hardly noticed this at first, but then it struck me. The grade was a D-. Yet I found the laws to be eminently reasonable. I was surprised by the D- and my attention was diverted from my study of the laws to a quick look at just what kind of a website this was.

As it happens, if you haven't noticed, internet searches can be rather narrow. I'd searched for a concise report on the gun laws of a particular state and that's what I got. It just turns out that this site was not listing those laws for the convenience of firearms owners, the laws were listed and graded for the use of anti-gun advocates. The site was These are the founders of "Hand Gun Control" the, I believe now defunct, first organization started by the Bradys. Naturally, they gave the state's gun laws a grade which was exactly the opposite of the one I had in mind. (If that's seriously disturbing to anyone reading this, fear not. My sister's vote on these matters balances out mine.)

Anyway, the lesson to be learned here is that information is where you find it. Even organizations that are at cross purposes to your goal can be of use when searching for fact. Don't be so slow to investigate the opposition. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

A Great Tragedy

You Wonder How the Families Can Bear Such a Thing

The author would like to extend, without comment, his most heartfelt sympathies to the students, faculty and staff of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and their families on their grievous loss. What could even the greatest writer or orator say at a time like this?

These events sear the mind.

How could a young man be so angry as to do such a thing?

How will the families go on with their hopes crushed?

We humbly offer you our prayers and our hopes for your solace.

- © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

DSL and The Phone Company

Is It My Imagination, Or We Getting Hosed?

Or is that, Hosed Again?!

Once again, my DSL "contract" expired. And once again, to let me know that it was time to put myself on the hook again for a year, AT&T raised my rates. I put "contract" in quotes because the phone company calls it a contract. It is as much a contract as the GOP's Contract With America was a few years back. To refresh your memory from Business Law 101, a contract has to between 2 competent parties. That means both parties are capable of choice. When the phone company puts a piece of paper in front of you and says "sign it or we'll cut off your phone service," that's not a contract. That's called coercion.

Of course when you call and complain, they "don't know nothin from nothin" because they have changed their name again. From SBC (Suck Blood Corporation) to ATT (All the Money Corporation) or something like that. Funny, when rates dropped a couple of years ago, they didn't make a peep to let me know that my "contract" had expired.

My question is, "Just how badly is the Phone Company ripping us off?" Forget about the Clinton era when the government gave the phone company billions in breaks so they (ThePhoneCo) would wire the US for cheap broadband internet and TPC took the money and ran. Those billions are gone and we still pay 10 times what they pay in Finland and Japan for cell phone and internet service.

I'm just talking about this service level nonsense.

I was getting level 2 (of about 6 levels) for $13/month. Now they've changed the rate and that same service costs $19/month. So I told them to drop it to level one to keep it as cheap as I can. $14/month. Naturally, they warned me of the dire consequences of running my life at lower internet speeds, but I decided to take my chances.

Well what do you know. The first couple of days I thought I noticed a barely perceptible slow down. Now a week later it is either gone or I just don't notice it any more.

I'm sure the TPC is offering various levels of service at various prices. But I'm also sure as taxes that TPC is running their business the way they always do. They are operating the lines to produce maximum revenue for themselves.

That means my little home use which rarely has any background operations fits right into the flow of internet traffic un-noticed.
Robert X. Cringely in his April 12, 2007 blog writes that Comcast isn't living up to their promised through put. He says Comcast laughed at him when he complained. No surprise. No matter what they claim, it looks to me like they're liars. No matter what they say, they do what's best for them and let you sort out your own problems.

The example is hardware and software help lines. Does anyone call a help line anymore? I learned 2 things about help lines long ago: First, I know 10 times more about all aspects of computing than the person on the other end of the line. And second, their strategy is to get you off the line at all costs. That's why they first ask you to check all your settings and change one that doesn't affect anything. Because you have to reboot for the change to take effect and they get you off the line. Their hope is between the wait to be connected to another help rep and a few more reboots will get you to go ask one of your friends or co-workers and stop bothering the help line.

So it seems to be with TPC. They offer you what you need and want and make you become satisfied with what you get.

These things seem evident to me:

When anyone first orders a broadband line of any kind, it behooves them to test their need against the service. Either start at the most expensive service and keep downgrading as long as service is acceptable, or start at the cheapest and continue to upgrade until things work out.

Go with the cheapest provider you can to begin with. I'm waiting to see, but I think people who don't evaluate their service because they have gobs of money will support the high end lines. Cable and dish. More and more people are dropping hard line phone service. Even for voice service. This says to me that the cable, dish and cell systems will become more crowded and the ordinary phone lines will become vacant. Look what's happening to pay phones.

DSL service has operated at nominal speed since the day I first got it years ago. The first thing I did when I got DSL was to download Linux. I clocked the downloads of the Linux CDs and the speed was right at nominal. As long as a net service has a lot of slack, your packets will come to you as fast as physically possible. Why would TPC slow them down unnecessarily just to conform to Service Level Agreements? - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Who is Fred Dalton Thompson

Why Am I Scared to Death That He Might Run for President?

The First Actor/President We Had Didn't Teach Us a Lesson?

The actor, Fred Dalton Thompson wants to run for President. Believe me he wants to. There never has been a Draft 'InsertNameHere' Campaign that wasn't run without the blessing of 'InsertNameHere'. 'InsertNameHere' may be smart enough to never, ever admit to the fact that he really wants to run, but believe me, people don't write blogs and sell T-shirts for nothing.

The first thing that scares the bejesus out of me is that Thompson has a history of getting into the race at the last minute and winning.

Late entry is a smart strategy. It allows all the other candidates to make all kinds of mistakes, point the finger at each other and then the newcomer makes hay from the barn that's already on fire without getting his own fingers burned. So I'll admit it. Thompson is smart.

The second thing that scares me about Fred Dalton Thompson, is that he's an actor.

Every politician is a shill to a certain extent. At the very least, at the heart of things, they're supposed to be shilling for the interests of the American people. And there's no shill like a man who learned his craft as an actor.

That's why politicians who are less than perfect are the good ones. Gerald Ford used to trip all over himself. He was a human being, he had all the failings of a human being and he understood what it was to be human.

Politicians who don't make mistakes aren't human: They're actors. They're staged. They're lines are written for them and at heart they have no feeling for their constituents. They're playing a part and doing a job.

I started this piece back in April '07 just around the time Thompson finally threw his hat into the ring. I'm finishing it in September '08 with great relief that, for this election at least, Fred Dalton Thompson has come and gone.

But like the Ghost of Christmas Past, I saw him give his speech at the Republican Presidential Convention this month. I fear we haven't heard the last of Fred Dalton Thompson. I fear what other mischief he may be up to. (If you haven't heard, it seems Fred Dalton Thompson was more or less the architect or the Savings and Loan debacle which cost tens of thousands of American senior citizens their retirement savings and cost the US taxpayers around $300 Billion Dollars.) - © 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

“Wine and The Informed Palate” by Seamus O'Bròg

And They’re Off! The contest has begun.

Contest Details: How to Win a Free Copy of the Book:

Wine and The Informed PalateSo if you read my last blog, you’re dying to read my book. But you’re not dying to pay the freight and you can’t wait for the book to hit your local library. What to do, what to do?…………….

Well don’t be all down in the mouth, Bunkie. I’ll tell you want I’m gonna do. I’ll give you the book, not for $100. Not for $50. Not even for $40 or $30 or $20 or $10 or even the low, the rock bottom, the Ronco Ron the Pocket Fisherman Popeil price of 95 cents.

You can win one of 5 copies for free. It’s as easy as falling off a log. Just

  1. go to my website,
  2. read the excerpt from my book you’ll find there,
  3. read the three questions and
  4. eMail me.
    1. eMail me the 3 answers with
    2. your name and
    3. address.

The winners will get free copies of the eBook.

Right now the contest is for 5 books. I’m sure if substantial interest in the contest develops that number will increase.

Ties will be decided by random drawing. The contest will end May 15, 2007. Winner’s First Names only will be posted here on the blog. Naturally, the author, the publisher and their immediate family are not eligible to win the contest.

The book is sold with a limited 100% money back guarantee. The limit is on the guarantee period, not the price. See Guarantee details here.

Please be assured that we never, never, ever sell your address. The only thing we use your information for is to contact you about your purchase of the book.- © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

    His money back guaranteed newsletter "The Pitfalls of Unlocked Cell Phones and SIM Card Cloning" can be purchased by clicking here.