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Monthly Archives: September 2003

So I’ve now been in…  §

So I’ve now been in Chicago long enough to sort of “settle in” and everything. Things throughout all of September were so busy that a million little details and a lot of people were delayed, forgotten or sort of put on the back burner. Now I begin to feel the sort of leftover regret about it all.

In the meantime, I have quite a bit more work to do than I thought I would at this early stage of the game. I’m not quite sure what to make of it or how flexible things are here. But I think I’ll soon find out. It’s always at the beginnings of enterprises like this that you wonder whether you’ve made a huge mistake.

September, so far, has been…  §

September, so far, has been nearly impossible to cope with. Revisions, weddings, travel, moving and now school. I still don’t have reasonable network access. I’m on wireless right now, but I’m in the basement to get it.

I had over 500 messages to cope with just from the five days I was offline. I am getting to dislike email. About 50% of it was SPAM of course, caught by spamassassin. But that still leaves 250 or so messages. Not pretty.

Temporary living quarters remain just that. I’m told things will get permanent before they were scheduled to (I’m supposed to be living temporary all the way to October) but no resolution yet. Bah.

$80 billion spent already on…  §

$80 billion spent already on the current Iraq war. $87 billion more just requested by the president. Divide this $167 billion bill for the Iraq war among every man, woman and child in the US and you get over $800 per person for this war and its aftermath. Has it been worth it to you? Of course, this calculation is made before considering the fact that children and people below the poverty line don’t pay taxes.

How much are you going to pay thanks to Mr. Bush and his folly? I suppose for those that believed that Saddam Hussein was secret best friend to Osama Bin Laden, or for those that still believe there’s a nuclear arsenal under Baghdad, it’s all worth it.

Just keep in mind that while you as a taxpayer likely owe $1000+ for this little war of ours, your share of the annual federal budget includes only $70 or so for NASA to support space exploration, only about $50 to try to ensure that children have proper nutrition, only $30 for AIDS research, only $2 to try to help stop violence against women and only about $0.25 (twenty five cents) on programs to rehabilitate youth offenders in hopes that they can be productive members of society someday. (Tell me again why those pesky Europeans call us warmongers?)

But don’t worry, the Iraq war isn’t the only big number in your personal share of the federal budget. Your share of the tax responsibility does include about $500 in corporate welfare.

In any case, I’m sure the Iraqis are all very inspired by this to get started building their American-style government. Well, as soon as we let them vote on something, that is. We can’t do that now because we don’t approve of the things we think they’d vote for… so we’re going to hold off on giving them democracy until they’ll vote “properly.”

Let freedom ring.

Had to buy Word XP…  §

Had to buy Word XP today for a writing project. First experience with Product Activation. I’m told Windows users have to deal with this kind of nonsense all the time. It made me feel dirty just thinking that after shelling out $$$ I still had to call Microsoft and let them “uniquely identify” my PC before the software I bought would run on it.

To make matters worse, I found out that there are limits to the number of activations… in a 30-day period as well as for the lifetime of the product… and if you surpass these, you have to re-license (i.e. pay again for the software you already bought) in order to be activated. I upgrade components regularly. It’s part of the business I’m in. My PC rarely stays the same for 30 days in a row. I soon realized that the $$$ I spent on the product aren’t likely to generate much return for me, since within a few months I’d run out of activations.

But the big “I should have known” came when I realized that virtual machines (I needed to run the software in Linux) are conveniently incompatible with this type of scheme, meaning that this brand-spanking-new program I’d just bought wouldn’t run— even though it was technically compatible– simply because the product activation would refuse to identify the PC. Microsoft doesn’t want Linux users running Office any longer (because naturally we haven’t paid our “Microsoft Tax” by buying copy after copy of Windows over the years).

All I can say is that I feel sorry for all of the Windows users out there. You pay $300 for the operating system, $500 for an office suite, $100 for a money manager, $100 for a virus scanner, $700 for an image editor for a grand total of $1700 in software and then have to call five companies and promise them you’re not a pirate every time you add a little RAM, replace a hard drive, etc… and eventually, when you’ve “upgraded enough,” they won’t re-activate you until you pay them again for what you already bought, just so that you can get at your files.

As a Linux user, I get all of the above for free. Linux: $0. OpenOffice: $0. GIMP: $0. GNUCash: $0. All legal. No need for a virus scanner, you can count on one finger the number of viruses and worms that have affected Linux in the last ten years. And here’s the kicker: I never have to activate. I can mix-and-match the parts of my PC all I want and my software won’t ever start popping up dialog boxes that say: “Either you replaced a system component or you’re a filthy pirate and will go to jail/hell. Call us now and we might let you see your data again someday (after you pay a second or third time). We’ll talk.”

Microsoft = low quality artificial scarcity from thieves.

Linux = high quality infinite bounty from shared work.

No wonder the big IP companies like Microsoft are freaked out about it. We’ll destroy the ownership of thought yet. And when we do, maybe Billy G. will be first against that bloody wall.

For anyone who doesn’t know…  §

For anyone who doesn’t know this already, always treat any lifetime warranty as a complete and utter scam. I have piles and piles of Meineke and Midas “lifetime warranty” packets in my files, each one representing new mufflers and brakes on the same vehicles. You see, the “lifetime warranty” never covers the type of wear you have actually experienced.

Latest liar: Safelite Auto Glass. Their windshield split horizontally on me from edge to edge in the space of about 10 minutes while driving across town. They claim to have a lifetime warranty as well. I just went in circles with their rep. An instant crack the entire length of the windshield is not condsidered a defect in workmanship, it is considered incidental damage or normal wear. After arguing with their rep for twenty minutes, I have been made to understand that a “defect in workmanship” that would get replaced under “warranty” occurs only if the installer brings a piece of glass that is already cracked, somehow doesn’t notice, installs it in your car anyway, and you manage to spot it before he leaves. That’s when the warranty kicks in. Careful, though… if you don’t happen to notice the crack until after he leaves, then too bad… they won’t cover it, because they won’t have any way to verify that you’re telling the truth about it being cracked from the start and that you didn’t put the crack there.

I got them to “escalate” me to another number, supposedly a direct line to the warranty people, but of course, it just gives me an answering machine.

Not that I really believed that Safelite’s “lifetime” warranty would be any better than the cut-rate muffler shops’ examples. I did, however, hope that a difficult-to-replace and rather expensive component like a windshield would last longer than something like a cut-rate muffler. But I was wrong… They each last exactly nine months before turning to shit.

Hippy, dippy, socialist Europe has tons of consumer protection laws for these situations… laws that we in this country hate. I’m so glad we’re not like them. In this country, we prefer that companies be allowed to make any claims they want, to offer worthless warranties to us for big bucks, and we don’t care if they really mean it— because the government is bad (even though it’s “of the people”) and more importantly, The Marketplace will make it all right in the end. If you’re rich, you deserve to be, and if you’ve been scammed, you deserved that too– The Marketplace knows what it is doing; it is never wrong. And in the meantime, we each can know that we’re doing our part for the economy and for freedom and the fight against terrorism by buying American.