Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Static and Noise

Black Friday: is coming up. I plan on staying home. I've never been much of a holiday shopper--I will usually go out once during the year to walk a mall just to see if there's anything new and exciting that I've missed, but it's usually just more trouble than it's worth. (Also, the fact that I can't go to the grocery store and back in an hour when I'm at work the first week of December just kind of horks me off. It's a grocery store! Not a Christmas Food Store!) And while I might keep my eye out for specific deals, I ain't getting up at three in the morning. It's too damn cold and I'm too damn lazy. Hopefully I'll get to spend the weekend playing board games and watching movies with my wife.

Don't Grope Me, Bro: I've been more or less silent about the entire TSA/body search issue because I more or less don't know what to think about it. On the one hand, I hate the airline industry; I think it is a broken system that no one is even attempting to fix. The government just wants to make sure it puts on a good security theater show and doesn't really care about delays or profits. The airports are mismanaged, clumsy quasi-public monstrosities that can't seem to get anything right. And the airlines are trying an endless and thankless task of juggling stupid government mandates, poor customer service, labor issues, airport interference, weather, and profits all at the same time. My civil libertarian heart also palpitates at the invasive tactics--whether it be getting my nuts massaged by some rent-a-cop dropout or letting the dick-measuring device radiate my body. Of course, I also know that there isn't an easy solution for security, since materials can be smuggled onboard in any number of new and creative ways--such as shoe bombs and explosives hidden in printers. The only solution--which if the population knew about would probably not accept--is a tacit admission of profiling (no more fondling grandmas and six year olds, but looking pretty close if your name has lots of A's, H's, and syllables) and a certain level of tolerance for, um, airline deaths by terrorism. If given these options, most people would probably put up with the new policies. If you frame the question as "Would you be willing to have one terrorist attack per decade but not have to put up with searches?" most people would pick C) Please Don't Make Me Answer That.

Maximum Verbosity: While researching (i.e., randomly clicking on web sites) my post yesterday, I found out that someone did a documentary about Infocom called "Get Lamp." I cannot wait to see this; unfortunately, right now, it appears to be a small-scare independent effort with little access to view it (and a rather high price to purchase outright). I presume it will show up on Netflix or something similar eventually, but it sounds fascinating. You have a pretty obscure corner of the computing world and a dramatic tale of what happened to the company (there were a lot of bad business decisions, corporate takeovers, etc.) Plus I'm always fascinated by these early-year software stories, about how small inside jokes become massive pop culture phenomena. One of the most interesting books I have ever read is The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven Kent. Don't let the garish cover of the book fool you: it's an extensively researched book about the beginnings of the video game industry, specifically Atari. As with most burgeoning industries, in retrospect one wonders how the entire workforce didn't end up in prison or dead.

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