stAllio!'s way
Saturday, April 02, 2005 
daylight wasting
daylight saving time begins tonight. if you've been reading my stuff for long enough, you'll know that i find dst to be unfathomly stupid and irrational. as a hoosier, i'm proud that i live in a state (one out of only three) that is not so unbelievably stupid as to officially observe daylight saving time. of course, certain political forces keep trying to force it onto us for some god-awful reason, but generally we hoosiers have been smart enough to resist the push for dst every time. (will we keep on resisting or will our legislature eventually flip? i sure hope not.)

but with dst beginning tomorrow in the stupid states, it's a great opportunity for journalists and pundits outside indiana to discuss the idea. here is a review in the indianapolis star of a book called spring forward:

Downing writes that golfers, allied with an array of commercial interests, including Wall Street brokers, sports promoters and major banks and stock exchanges, were the true first boosters of DST, a public policy he calls "the most unscientific ever perpetuated."

Downing's history of daylight-saving time offers a thoughtful, provocative and often hilarious look at what he calls "the most sustained political controversy of the past 100 years." Beginning by debunking the myth that Ben Franklin invented DST, Downing conducts his readers through the "deliberate misrepresentation, preposterous piety and unfettered opportunism" that informs a controversy still raging to this day.

The modern plan to save daylight by altering clock time was first proposed in 1907 by William Willet, a British architect and golfer who wanted to give his friends more time for summer leisure. Germany adopted the idea; and in 1916 it became the first nation to advance clocks as part of an effort to conserve resources and win World War I.

Soon nations on both sides of the conflict had adopted DST. Downing writes, "The scheme's American advocates, who had long been dismissed as the caddies for the interests of the leisure class, shifted the battle from the golf links to the trenches. 'Millions of dollars will be saved by the people of the United States,' announced the newly elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 'and our preparedness along industrial lines will be augmented.' "

In truth, writes Downing, DST resembled an innovative strategy for boosting retail sales. After its passage, "Working girls were encouraged to stop on their way home to update their wardrobes with dresses specifically designed for the brighter summer evenings. Daylight specials offered discounts on garden spades, watering cans, even new homes . . .

"It was not exactly for nothing that chambers of commerce and other merchants' associations had figured among the earliest and staunchest supporters of daylight-saving time," Downing writes.

Politically, it was never an easy sell. But World War I gave advocates a window of opportunity. "Daylight's proponents wrapped themselves in the flag, appropriating the war effort, and successfully turned the House vote (on DST) in March 1918 into a loyalty test. And they won."

President Woodrow Wilson, an avid golfer, in 1918 signed into law the first federal legislation "to save daylight." Downing quotes a Washington Post sportswriter of the day: "If the government had especially desired to do something to foster and promote golf, it could not have made a better move than to turn the clock ahead."

so it's not really about farming at all... it's about golf? that makes sense, considering that contrary to conventional wisdom, it's not about farming. in fact farmers tend to hate dst, as national review columnist john j miller points out:

Well, it turns out that DST had nothing to do with farmers, who traditionally haven't cared much for it. They care a lot less nowadays, but when the first DST law was making its way through Congress, farmers actually lobbied against it. Dairy farmers were especially upset because their cows refused to accept humanity's tinkering with the hands of time. The obstinate cud-chewers wanted to be milked every twelve hours, and had absolutely no interest in resetting their biological clocks — even if the local creameries suddenly wanted their milk an hour earlier.

As Michael Downing points out in his new book, Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, urban businessmen were a major force behind the adoption of DST in the United States. They thought daylight would encourage workers to go shopping on their way home. They also tried to make a case for agriculture, though they didn't bother to consult any actual farmers. One pamphlet argued that DST would benefit the men and women who worked the land because "most farm products are better when gathered with dew on. They are firmer, crisper, than if the sun has dried the dew off." At least that was the claim of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, chaired by department-store magnate A. Lincoln Filene. This was utter nonsense. A lot of crops couldn't be harvested until the morning dew had evaporated. What's more, morning dew has no effect whatsoever on firmness or crispness.

it's not often you'll find me agreeing with the folks at conservative rags like NRO, but i definitely do here.

arizona is another state that doesn't observe dst: the arizona republic has an article about how the rest of the nation's silliness affects those of us who aren't so silly. cable tv watching is definitely confusing. but i don't have a lot of sympathy for those telemarketers and other (rare) businesses that must shift their schedules around.

there are a lot of reviews of downing's spring forward out right now. for example, this review on st louis today includes this convenient chart:

There are winners and losers associated with daylight-saving time, according to Michael Downing's new book "Spring Forward." Downing says proponents are businesses that benefit from extra evening daylight that encourages more outdoor activities. Opponents are people or businesses who benefit from indoor activities or want extra sunlight in the early morning. President Richard Nixon was a longtime opponent before the Middle East oil crisis convinced him to push for year-round daylight-saving time.

Garden equipment and seed sellers
Barbecue industry
Sporting goods industry
Major League Baseball
Richard Nixon

Electric utilities
Movie studios
Television broadcasters
Parents of school-age children
Richard Nixon

i think the fact that power utilities are against it explodes the myth that dst somehow actually conserves energy. indeed, while you might occasionally see references to the "1 percent" of energy saved by dst, if you think about it you'll realize it doesn't exist:

One of the few losers, Downing says, are electric utilities. AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said that demand drops about 1 percent immediately after the first Sunday in April. But that effect is dwarfed later, during the summer, by demand for air conditioning, she said.

you'll find a fair number of dst stories right now, and many of them demonstrate their authors' poor research habits by relying on the myths that downing disproved. i won't dignify them by quoting them.

still, there are forces in the indiana legislature that want to introduce it. so desperate are they to sell out to the golf and bbq industries that they even want indiana to adopt dst late this year, proposing that we begin on june 5 (because they couldn't sucker enough people into passing a resolution to switch this weekend). but despite all their exuberant (naive) support for the plan, it fix any of indiana's time-zone problems:

This legislation, which would bring Indiana in line with 47 other states and 40 other countries, would not change Hoosiers' time zones.

Currently, most of Indiana observes the Eastern time zone, with 77 counties observing Eastern Standard Time year-round. Fifteen counties, in the northwest, southwest and southeast corners of the state, observe daylight-saving time.

That has lawmakers from northwest Indiana upset because they're in the Central time zone, meaning the change would put them on a different time from Indianapolis year-round.

sheesh... so the only real problem about indiana's approach to dst--that certain fringe counties side with illinois or ohio and do observe it--would remain. brilliant. way to sell out to the business community, guys.

april boobs
one last april fool's post...

voyeurweb is an amateur erotic website (softcore). all the content is submitted by "real" people hoping to win prizes, so the quality can be super inconsistent. but some of it's pretty decent.

for april fool's day, they posted double versions of some of today's photo sets... with silly callouts. there's just something about looking at a photo of a nude woman with a big arrow pointing to her crotch and a callout that says "pussyhair". the pictures are here: check the april 1st pics. right now, each april 1st set is listed twice (though i can't guarantee the callout sets won't come down tomorrow), and the upper sets are the ones with callouts.

obviously not work safe, but there's no penetration or anything like that either.

p.s. as i feared, vw took down the callout-ed pix. but i've uploaded a few here so you can get a taste for some calloutomfoolery.

Friday, April 01, 2005 
my only schiavo post
so terri schiavo passed away yesterday. she can finally rest in peace after having been essentially held captive inside a brain-dead shell for the past 15 years. and the corporate media has a new morbid deathwatch to pursue mercilessly, as the pope is reportedly on his death bed and has received the sacrament of extreme unction (i always thought that was a cool-sounding name, but it's a bad sacrament to receive because it essentially means you're preparing for the possibility of death).

it was a disgusting display to watch, but a couple good things did come out of it:

anyway, a lot of people are linking to this eric boehlert article on salon about the schiavo media circus, and with good reason: it's awesome.

It was fitting that reporters were in danger of outnumbering pro-life supporters outside Terri Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., on Thursday morning. When one man began to play the trumpet moments after Schiavo's death was announced at 9:50 a.m., a gaggle of cameramen quickly surrounded him, two or three deep.

Has there ever been a set of protesters so small, so out of proportion, so outnumbered by the press, for a story that had supposedly set off a "furious debate" nationwide? That's how described the Schiavo story this week. Although it's not clear how a country can have a "furious debate" when two-thirds of its citizens agree on the issue or, in the case of some Schiavo poll questions (i.e., Were Congress and President Bush wrong to intervene?), four out of five Americans agree.

But the "furious debate" angle has been a crucial selling point in the Schiavo story in part because editors and producers could never justify the extraordinary amount of time and resources they set aside for the story if reporters made plain in covering it every day that the issue was being driven by a very small minority who were out of step with the mainstream.

that's just the lead... it's worth sitting through the salon ad to get a day pass for. (or if you adblock it just right, you might be able to get a day pass without actually seeing the ad itself.)

it even included this little tidbit that i hadn't heard before, but that makes the whole situation very clear:
The press also downplayed references to a 2000 trial at which Schiavo's extremely conservative Roman Catholic parents conceded that even if Terri had told them she would never want to be kept alive with a feeding tube, they would not have honored that request (an acknowledgment that goes a long way toward explaining their actions in the case). For the most part, the press portrayed Schiavo's parents, Terry and the hospice protesters as simply being overly concerned and vaguely conservative. And nothing more.

what a sad situation.

RFID kills, bugged = dead
connie passed this on to me.

WHAT: Tell the government you oppose spychips in passports
WHEN: By Monday, April 4th, at 5:00 PM EST

Add your protest comment to the hundreds that have already been filed.
Then forward this email and spread the word!


The US Department of State plans to put remotely readable radio frequency identification (RFID) spychips into all new passports. These tiny computer spychips will use radio waves to broadcast the information contained on our passports -- including name, date and place of birth, passport number and photograph -- right through our wallets, backpacks, pockets or purses, to nearby reader devices.

The data will not be encrypted or protected in any way. This reckless plan could put Americans traveling overseas at risk of attack by thieves, muggers, kidnappers, and even terrorists who could use portable reader devices to zero in on the radio signals emanating from our passports. Don't let the federal government put a spychip in *your* pocket!

NOTE: While the maximum legal read range of the passport chips is only a few inches, criminals can eavesdrop on official reader devices to capture your data from across a room or potentially even down the block.

(Even if you don't have a passport, this still impacts you. Passport chipping is a trial run for other documents. If we allow this to happen, drivers licenses will be next.)

yet another cockamamie plan that will endanger american lives if it isn't stopped. why would anyone traveling overseas want a tiny radio transmitter in their pocket, constantly broadcasting their personal information? and unencrypted?

the state department is accepting public comments until april 4 (monday). goto this site now and fill in the form; your comments will automatically be sent to the state department. if they get enough complaints, maybe they'll realize their mistake.

Our friends at RFIDKILLS.COM have put together a quick and easy way to submit your comments against spychipped passports directly to the US State Department.

There are four days left to inundate the State Department with complaints. Write a short note of opposition yourself (even something as simple as "I oppose RFID in passports" is fine.) Then ask five friends to do the same.

and in case they don't realize their mistake and you don't have a valid passport (like i don't), goto this site on for information how to get yourself one. i need to track down my old, expired passport to figure out whether i can "renew" or need to get another one. i'm faily certain it was issued less than 15 years ago, but i'm not sure if i was 16 years old (or older) at the time (i have a feeling i got it sophomore year in high school, which would've made me 15 at the time).

you know, i had half-planned to come up with some really hideous, obnoxious design for my blog today... you know, lots of overly bright colors and distracting animations. but then drbmd came over last night and we watched some tenacious d and a little movie called robo vampire, so i didn't have time to design it... and while i could throw something together now, i have limited site access (no sftp at work, only blogger) and can't create animations, plus it would distract too much from my busy day at work. so sorry, no fake new design for april fool's day.

but not everyone was so lazy. michelle malkin's... i mean roxanne's blog today is great: i love the pic of yosemite sam representing the arizona "minutemen". lovely.

if you find any good april fool's sites, why not post them to the comments? i'm sure there are more out there.

and remember, if you get an email from the head of your "label" saying that he's shutting the label down, be sure to check your calendar.

p.s. dammit, now i can't even post! blogger errors (specifically, it says it can't connect to srn). i am undone! it's a good thing i didn't waste any time this morning creating an ugly design that i couldn't even post!

p.p.s. the washington post has a nice summary of several online april fool's jokes, which is good because clearly i won't be compiling any such list here on my blog. it's been 6 hours and i still can't post. april fool's! you can't use your blog! i just hope it isn't down all weekend...

p.p.p.s. 7 hours... i'm at home and i can definitely connect to the site with my sftp client; maybe now magically i'll be able to post this also. but i'm not really counting on it.

Thursday, March 31, 2005 
interface? i just met her!
so i've been running windows xp at home for awhile now (still on win2k at the office). and i must admit, i rather like luna, which is the "new" interface introduced with xp, the one with the big rounded buttons and corners. i think it's a lot spiffier than the "classic" interface (though i much prefer the classic start menu and control panel, etc). but one thing that really truly sucks about luna is that there is no functionality built into the OS to customize it.

windows users have been spoiled since the days of 3.1 (maybe earlier) by an interface that was super easy to customize... even if you didn't download "power toys" such as microsoft's unsupported tweakUI (or a superior third-party product like tweakxp), windows always gave you tons of choices for tweaking out color choices, etc. if you wanted a black title bar, black windows, and black text, you could do it... it would be impossible to read, but hey, that's your problem.

however microsoft took a big step backward when designing the luna interface: there doesn't seem to be any built-in functionality to allow you to change your color scheme if you want to use luna. either you use one of the built-in color schemes (the default blue one, a silver one that's all gray [and admittedly better looking than the blue one], and a hideous olive one), or you must disable luna and go back to classic if you want to change your theme around any further. if you go back to classic, you can change the colors like always or even apply themes designed for older versions of windows... but you're stuck with all the quaint square boxes and such. if giving your money to microsoft really gets you excited, you can buy plus! for xp, which gives you a couple more xp themes, but still no tools for truly customizing the interface from what i can tell.

i find this to be extremely disappointing. we are living in the age of skins: programs like winamp have hundreds and hundreds of skins to choose from, with devoted fans designing new ones every day. same goes for browsers like mozilla or firefox. shit, even windows media player is skinnable, with many choices out there. so why doesn't microsoft provide a tool for users to customize luna? do they think we're too stupid to do it right?

fortunately, there are alternatives... and you don't even have to hack the system (though you can do that too, if you know how). i found a way when my search for xp themes took me to it's chock full... no, it's overflowing with themes for xp, icons, "visual styles", and much more. though, because microsoft has never provided a tool for doing this stuff, you must install a third-party program style xp from tgtsoft to get any of the themes to work.

i think it's worth it, though, because with style xp you get a level of customization that microsoft would never give you. i just wanted a visual style that looked like luna but with darker colors: black menu bars and such. and there are many such visual styles available on themexp (i think the one i installed is called "dark xp", though i can't find it there now... still, there are other black luna-esque options there). but using style xp you can change everything: colors, buttons, window shapes, and even add stuff like transparency. if you want your winxp machine to look like you're running mac os x panther, there is a visual style to do so. there's tons of stuff there: in fact there are currently 1,996 visual styles on the site! and that doesn't include the other neat stuff like icons, boot screens, wallpapers, etc. if none of those almost-2000 visual styles suit your fancy, you can customize your own. it's pretty neat.

i haven't had quite as much luck with firefox themes because there just aren't as many. i prefer "compact" browser themes that take up the absolute minimum amount of screen space, yet i also want one with dark colors. alas, there is no such theme available for firefox. for example i adore the silver skin firefox theme, but the damn thing's toolbars take up too much vertical space... that means i have to scroll through my pr0n or browse full-screen (and even at full screen with small icons, it still uses more space than i'd like).

i managed to find instructions on for how to design/customize themes (can't find a link because the developers section is currently down for maintenance), and you know, i could do that. it looks complicated, but not really that hard. i could build an awesomely complex theme with nice dark colors if i wanted to. but because it is complicated, that would probably be a big project. and i have too many other projects going on, what with web design, databending, and making new tracks for my audio projects. so i won't be building any firefox themes anytime soon. i'll just have to settle for what's available. maybe i should contact the silver skin designer about creating a more compact version; that would be pretty cool...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 
i'm brandin' it
one of my favorite duran duran duran songs has always been "pilldriver", which starts out with a ridiculous sample from a mcdonald's commercial: holla! mcdonald's big n tasty burger is a dolla! i was very glad to find that track on the new duran duran duran cd released by cock rock disco.

but future producers looking for samples with both hip-hop and mcdonald's flavor will have it easy. mcdonald's has begun a new marketing initiative to get product placement for big macs:

McDonald's has partnered with the marketing firm Maven Strategies in a plan to recruit hip-hop artists to mention the fast food chain's signature burger for pay, according to Advertising Age magazine's Web site.

The goal is to have a handful of songs flogging Big Macs on the air by summer, and Maven — which has reportedly had discussions with a number of artists, labels and producers — has already received an unidentified number of songs that are candidates for the promotion.

McDonald's will get final approval on the lyrics — which only need to mention the sandwich, not the parent company — but they'll have no involvement in writing the rhymes.

i know there's a school of thought in the hip-hop community that selling out is okay, or even to be encouraged... i recall seeing ice t on some movie or tv show saying that the idea of saying "no" to a paying job offer was alien to him, coming as he did from a life of poverty where legitimate paying work is near-non-existent. but how can any mc think this won't hurt their street cred?

i'm reminded of the destiny's child lyric: if your status ain't hood, i ain't checkin' for him. better be street if you're lookin' at me. which is supremely ironic, since not only is no group in all of hip-hop/r&b less street than destiny's child, but because destiny's child have officially signed on (sold out) as mcdonald's spokeswomen. i mean, i'll happily admit that i'm crazy in love with beyonce, but let's get serious, girlfriend. any guy who was truly "street" would not be able to get past your security entourage to get within 100 yards of you.

as soon as i saw this story i started thinking of busta's "pass the courvoisier", and i wasn't alone:

Product placement in hip-hop songs is not new: Busta Rhymes' management company famously reaped financial benefits for his hit song "Pass the Courvoisier" (see "Push The Courvoisier: Are Rappers Paid For Product Placement?"), and Kanye West's Grammy-winning The College Dropout plugged no less than 19 different brands.

Maven is one of the pioneers of this kind of embedded product placement. Last year, according to Ad Age, it scored placement for Seagram's gin in songs by artists including West, Twista and Petey Pablo. In Pablo's "Freek-A-Leek," one of the most played hip-hop songs of 2004, the rapper proclaims, "Now I got to give a shout-out to Seagram's Gin/ 'Cause I'm drinkin' it and they payin' me for it."

who would jesus exclude?
bush is currently touring the nation pimping his "plan" for social security (in fact he has offered no plan whatsoever, only the idea of "private accounts", which even he admits will not do jack to actually make social security solvent... the majority of the public knows this is a big swindle, and bush's numbers on social security are awful, hence the need for a tour in the first place).

if you've read anything at all about bush's "public" appearances, you'll surely know that although they are totally funded with taxpayer money, they aren't really public at all... they're meticulously screened and quintessentially private, and the gop can and will kick out anyone who strikes them as remotely non-reactionary. "young democrats" t-shirt? sorry, young democrats don't deserve to get to hear their president speak. anti-war bumper sticker? get outta here!

bush lives inside a bubble, shielded from those who so much as disagree with him on policy issues. this is probably why he was so awful during the presidential debates: it was the first time in four years that he'd actually been challenged face to face, and he didn't know how to cope with it.

dkos has a great letter from three people who were kicked out of a recent bush pep rally in denver... and who actually got some answers as to why they were booted:

The Secret Service revealed that we were "ID'ed" when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car we drove which said "No More Blood For Oil." Evidently, the free speech expressed on one bumper sticker is cause enough to eject three citizens from a presidential event. (Similarly, someone was ejected from Bush's Social Security privatization event in Arizona the same day simply for wearing a Democratic t-shirt.)

The Secret Service also revealed that ticket distribution and staffing of the Social Security event was run by the local Republican Party. They wanted us to be clear that it was a Republican staffer - not the Secret Service - who kicked us out of the presidential event. But this revealed something else that should be startling to all Americans.

who would jesus execute?
you might recall that i served in a jury a few months ago. it was not the most fun day in my life, but i was glad to be fulfilling my civic duty by participating in the judicial system.

when it was time for us to start deliberating, we were given very explicit directions on exactly what we were allowed to consider and what we weren't. basically, a jury is told "these are the questions you're supposed to answer, and these are the points of law that you're allowed to consider while you're answering them. don't consider anything else." and we most certainly were not supposed to bring in religious tracts like the bible during our deliberation.

Ruling that juries cannot turn to the Bible for advice during deliberations, a divided Colorado Supreme Court threw out the death penalty for a convicted murderer because jurors discussed Bible verses.
Harlan was sentenced to death in 1995, but defense lawyers learned that five jurors had looked up such Bible verses as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth," copied them and discussed them while deliberating behind closed doors.

as someone commented on dkos, the irony is that 'the jurors used the Bible...but didn't "err on the side of life."' it's interesting that the jurors apparently didn't bother to consult what jesus himself said about capital punishment (and the j-man was very clear about this): let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

naturally, the religious right is up in arms about this. for them (and really, for anyone who uses the term) "judicial activism" means "judges who make decisions we disagree with"... just as in the terri schiavo case, which i intentionally avoided blogging about because you can hear about that travesty everywhere. but let it be said: the radical right thought they really had something by pushing the schiavo issue, but the american people are almost uniformly disgusted by the gop's attempts to politicize this matter, and most people do not want to be trapped in a hospital bed with a good chunk of their brain turned to liquid while a bunch of hypocrites (and a few well-meaning but mistaken people, like her parents) deny them the right to die peacefully.

and then the hypocrites have the gall to sell the mailing list of schiavo supporters, further cheapening the story (as if that's possible) by transforming it into yet another opportunity to collect marketing info. how very christian-like.

Sunday, March 27, 2005 
the robot bunny rabbit will eat you up this easter
it's time for a new mp3 of the week... and because today is the easter holiday for many, i've posted a very special spring-themed track called "robot bunny rabbit". it's about a robot bunny rabbit.

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