World Boxing Association’s heavyweight division fight

Nikolay Valuev, a Russian heavyweight boxer, and David Haye, a British heavyweight boxer, are going to go at it for the World Boxing Association title on November 7th in Germany.

According to Nikolay’s Wikipedia page, his total number of fights is currently 52. Of those, 50 were wins, 34 by KO, 1 no contest, and only 1 loss.

According to David’s Wikipedia page
, his total number of fights is currently 23. Of those, 22 were wins, 21 by KO, and only 1 loss.

David Haye is 6′ 3″ tall.

Nikolay Valuev is 7′ 2″.

World Boxing Association Title Bout for Nov. 7

World Boxing Association Title Bout for Nov. 7

Oh yeah. I gotta see this one.

And, uh, David? You might want to pack an axe. Just sayin’.

Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”

I just saw a quote from Michael Moore’s site about his new movie “Capitalism: A Love Story”

“…the ‘love’ refers to how the wealthy love their money, except this has a new twist: They not only love their money now, they love our money. And they want our money.”

Right.

Sooooo Mike. Quick question. You planning on giving away the tickets to see your movie?

Canned. Whole. Chicken.

So there I was, minding my business at the local HEB (that’s a big Texas supermarket chain for you folks up North) when I saw this in the canned meat isle.

Sweet Sues Canned Whole Chicken

Sweet Sue's Canned Whole Chicken

Sweet Sue’s Canned Whole Chicken.

Seriously? There’s a need?

Flavored cigarettes are now illegal

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced, effective today, a “ban on cigarettes with flavors characterizing fruit, candy, or clove.”

It’s good to know that the world is finally calm and quiet enough for the US government to focus on minutiae like this!

The gist of the law is that you can still have flavored cigarettes in your possession, but you can’t sell or buy them. Go figure.

The official FDA press release goes on to say “the ban, authorized by the new Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is part of a national effort by the FDA to reduce smoking in America.”

To paraphrase a popular quote… That oughta do it. Thanks very much, FDA.

Cloves and flavored cigarettes are fringe smokes at best. The popular cigarettes? Offhand I would say Marlboro, Camel, Lucky Strike, and Winston. Those are the ones I see moving at gas stations and convenience stores. If the government really wanted to “reduce smoking in America”, why didn’t they target the cigarettes that are actually popular? I would think the smoking level would drastically plummet in America if you banned the top 5 sellers. You would have a massive group of really unhappy, cranky, and twitchy voters to answer to, though.

Ah… I think I answered my own question.

My favorite quote in the FDA’s press release is this one… “”Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction.”

So the real reason for this ban is to remove the “attractiveness” of a gateway product that leads to an addiction. Right. Sooooo why not ban other “gateway” drugs while we’re at it?

Alcoholism still kills a lot of people. So how about banning wine coolers? Mike’s Hard Lemonade? Anything that’s served with a foofy little umbrella in it? Shouldn’t the government be working on this as well if it is really concerned about our health? After all, Time magazine said alcoholism is now a global problem.

By the same logic, removing appetizers on restaurant menus could prevent food addiction. Removing playing cards could stop gambling addiction. Removing caffeinated colas could prevent adrenaline addiction. And if you really wanted to make a massive change, removing cars from highways could prevent a nationwide oil addiction.

A bit far? Yeah. But the point I’m trying to make is that simply removing a gateway drug doesn’t get rid of the core problem. It just moves the location of the gateway.

Now that the cloves are banned, smokers will start with milds or mentols. If you banned wine coolers, something like Keystone Light would take it’s place as the gateway. The definition of what is or is not a gateway to an addiction is amorphous at best. And, ultimately, who is to decide what addictions warrant government intervention?

The real solution to this problem is to make smoking a social stigmata, stop subsidizing tobacco companies with taxpayer money, and heavily fine the parents of underage kids who are smoking.

And, for the record, I think anything in excess is bad for you. Even government.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson : mini book review

10 words or less : Absolutely brilliant. Best comic ever. Still fun after multiple readings.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Long Version : I love the complete Calvin and Hobbes collection. I’ve read it cover to cover many times already, but I still flip open this collection’s books and scan ten to twenty pages a week. I finished another umpteenth re-reading last night, and even though it’s not a new book, it still merits reviewing.

Calvin and Hobbes became something far more than ink on newsprint in the short time it was published. I still can not think of any other strip that I couldn’t wait to read in the newspaper. Bloom County, which ran around the same time as Calvin and Hobbes, did have its’ moments, but I thought it was eventually dragged down by heavy handed preaching and outlandish scenarios. Calvin and Hobbes was always fun to read. It never beat me over the head with its’ views, never took itself too seriously, and seemed to be perfectly centered for both kids and adults to enjoy. This series still genuinely makes me laugh, and leaves me with a little more appreciation of the everyday things in life.

If you haven’t read it, you need to. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t have any “used” versions of this series, but that also says a lot about this collection.

Fortunately, Bill Watterson walked away before Calvin and Hobbes were commercialized and “cheapened“. The result of his then-unheard of act is a perfectly preserved work of art. There are no studio actors’ voices to muddle your thoughts when reading this. There are no slick but soulless animations to glaze over on a television set. There are no stuffed animals that cement in reality what each character looks like. Everything is still alive and up to your imagination with every reading.

Bill Watterson? Thank you.

Five out of five stars.

News stories the mainstream media missed 09/19/09

Here are some news stories from this week that I think the mainstream media completely missed out on. All links are from legitimate news sources and not the fringe / wacko sites.

* Olestra, the calorie free fat substitute in potato chips , is making a comeback as… are you ready for this…. paint! And as a as a lube that keeps polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from sticking to molds. Yeah. I can see that. The taste was a dead giveaway. [FORBES]

* A credit crisis is now brewing between two major Saudi families, Algosaibi and al-Sanea. Both owe 80 banks “at least $15.7 billion”, and a small “family feud” has come out in public because of it. Billion dollar feuds between very powerful families in a fragile economy usually ends with a musical dance number. Right? [BLOOMBERG]

* Belgium Milk is being poured out in fields by the semi-sized tank fulls because milk prices are collapsing. Not good. [BBC.CO.UK]

* The next big thing? Media Liability insurance. For when your posted comments come back to bite you. (Ask Courtney Love about this.) [INSURE NEW MEDIA and BLOOMBERG]

* The backlash against soda pop is beginning. “Calling soda the new tobacco, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will introduce legislation this fall that would charge a fee to retailers that sell sugary beverages.” Great. Whenever California gets an idea like this, the rest of the US eventually follows. [SFGATE]

Sony E-reader Cover with Light for the 505 series

I’ve been very, very happy with my Sony E-reader 505 and am still chewing through my first ebook on the device. (American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I’ll post a quick review it when I’m done) Yesterday I got lucky and found a lot of accessories for the Sony 505 e-reader on clearance at a local store and grabbed everything I could.

The big find was a “Sony E-reader cover with light for the 505 series”. The new cover is black on the outside, which is a much better look than the muted brown cover that initially came with the 505. Inside the new cover is a small glass-like square that just covers the LCD screen of the 505. It’s not actually a light in itself, but illuminated from a light source inside the spine of the cover. It works by sending light into the glass and not illuminating from it… kind of like putting a flashlight under bottled water.

The light pane can be moved out of the way to the left side just like a page of a book, and has two intensities to select from, depending on how much light you want to frame the LCD screen with. I found the first intensity setting perfectly acceptable for both low light and complete darkness.

This is how the 505 looks with the new cover in very low light…

Sony 505 e-reader in dim light

Sony 505 e-reader in dim light

…and this is how the 505 looks in complete darkness.

Sony 505 e-reader in complete darkness

Sony 505 e-reader in complete darkness

Not bad at all!

The cover with light does add a little weight to the overall feel of the e-reader, but it’s not enough to change how I’ve been using it. It still fits in the same dimensions the previous cover did, and the light pane is barely noticeable if left in position while it is powered off. The new cover uses AA batteries, but it has a 30 hour runtime estimate.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic accessory for the 505. Even though the newer and touchscreen-enabled versions of Sony’s e-reader are hitting the store shelves, you can’t go wrong picking up a “previous generation” 505 and one of these cover lights if you can find them. Four and a half out of five stars.

How to make a secure remote-access system to take on the road

This faded from the mainstream news pretty quick, but I thought it was important enough to mention again.

Back in 2008, an appeals court held up the legality of searching and impounding laptops at airportsWired and other major websites reported on this, and even the EFF posted an article about it.

Not content with just the old “just open the lid and make sure it’s not a bomb” procedure of the last decade, the hillbilly idiots working at most airports now get to keep and search everything on your laptop any time they feel like it.

Let me say that again. Keep. And search. Everything.

Every email. Every website in your cache file. Every document you have written. Every image your friends have sent you. Every PDF. Every ad that displayed on your computer screen while you were web browsing. Every email you have sent. Every inappropriate joke sent from your co-workers. Every password you have saved.

Everything.

Are you comfortable with a full audit of your laptop? Of having a complete stranger who thinks they themselves are the law go through your entire personal life as they see fit?

I know I’m not. Not because I have committed any crime or have anything to hide, but because it’s absolutely none of their damn business what I do. And since they can not and will not offer any guarantee my information will remain safely in their possession at all times, who is to say my personal information won’t eventually wind up in criminally unscrupulous hands?

To get around this, I made a secure remote-access system to take on the road with me. You can make the same thing  so you can remote control your work (or home) machine securely, and without any technical hassle. The best part is that it will be 100% expendable.

It’s surprisingly easy to do.

All you will need is…

* A machine (PC or Mac) at work (or home) that’s always connected to the internet through Cable, DSL, or satellite.

* A cheap laptop with built in wifi from Ebay or a local pawn shop.

Step one is to get a cheap laptop. Anything that runs XP (or Vista) and has built in WiFi should be fine. Once you get it, clean out any files it may still have on it. If the laptop came with the original factory restore CD/DVD, go ahead and use them to erase and restore the laptop to its’ original configuration. Then follow the directions in this previous post to scrub the laptop’s free space.

After scrubbing the laptop, put a few files on the laptop you wouldn’t mind your worst enemy seeing. A PDF of a popular website. A grocery list. A to do list. A game or puzzle you have. Maybe even install a copy of Open Office (It’s an open source (free) copy of Microsoft Office). You want just a few things on there to make it look like you were really using this laptop.

Step two is to set up your work (or home) machine so that the laptop can access it from remote. I’ve been using logmein.com for about a year now, and their free service is outstanding, so I’ll use them in this example.

Go to logmein.com on the work (or home) machine you want to access from remote and click on the CREATE AN ACCOUNT link. From the SELECT PRODUCT GROUP, choose the LOGMEIN ACCESS, MANAGEMENT AND NETWORKING option. From there, choose the FREE package and complete their signup procedure.

Once you have signed up for their free service, it should take you to a page to set up your work (or home) machine. Follow their instructions to get the service up and running on your machine.

The last step is to go to the secure.logmein.com website from the laptop. This time, you just need to sign in with the credentials you used on the work (or home) machine.  There’s nothing to install this time. VERY VERY IMPORTANT PART: When you sign in, if the web browser on the laptop asks if you want it to remember the password for logmein.com, say NO.

After you sign in on the laptop, you will see under MY COMPUTERS the home machine you just installed their software on. Click the REMOTE CONTROL icon, and in a few moments you should see your work (or home) machine appear in the laptop’s screen.

That’s all there is to it.

You can now work through your laptop just like you were sitting directly in front of your work (or home) machine from any available wifi connection.

When you are ready to travel, just leave your work (or home) machine powered on. Logmein.com will automatically do all the technical work in the background. All you need to do to get back to your home machine is to go to logmein.com from your laptop or any public wifi spot that has free internet access.

Just remember, that laptop’s middle name is “gone”. Don’t download or save anything on there. Don’t even surf the internet on it.

In the worst case, if that laptop does get impounded, they can’t access your home PC because they don’t know your password to logmein.com. And it looks like that laptop was the real deal because of the files you put on there earlier. But there’s no history in the web browsers, no emails to read, and nothing for them to tie you up with.