What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Is It Real, Or Is It Memorex?

Filed under: Just Stuff,Politics — dave @ 11:01 am 2009/09/28

This is a hoot, and just a little creepy/scary…

Barack Obama’s amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.


Ladies and gentlemen, your President is a robot. Or a wax sculpture. Maybe a cardboard cutout. All I know is no human being has a photo smile this amazingly consistent.

On Wednesday, the Obamas hosted a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, during which they stood for 130 photographs with visiting foreign dignitaries in town for the UN meeting. The President has exactly the same smile in every single shot. See for yourself — the pictures are up on the State Department’s flickr (link). And, of course, compressed into 20 seconds for your viewing pleasure.

Music is “Cold Hands” by the Black Lips. Go buy it now!

I saw this first on Neatorama, and some people were calling ‘Photoshop’… But if you look through the State Department’s Flickr set, the photos are for real. It looks like the Vimeo guy (Eric Spiegelman) just cropped the photos so Obama’s face ended up in the same spot in the video… Nothing else. Wonder how much time Rahm Emanuel spent with him getting that look just right…

Hey, another thought; this is just in time for Halloween! Somebody could make some money producing lifelike masks from one of those photos. Maybe an upcoming protest could feature everybody wearing a mask, like in V for Vendetta. Now wouldn’t that be interesting!

Monks

Filed under: Favorite Things,Just Stuff,sioux falls — dave @ 10:11 pm 2009/09/21

I just heard about a new (to me, anyway) establishment in Sioux Falls that I might have to try out; Monks House Of Ale Repute. The website says they’ve been around since late 2007, but I just saw a link to it over on the Minus Car Project tonight and clicked through. Sounds like my kinda place!

  • Non-Smoking
  • Friendly service
  • 17 Tap Beers
  • Great Patio
  • Wonderful Ambiance
  • Cozy Fireplace
  • Tasty Food Menu
  • Sunday Movies
  • Art Gallery


I’m no beer aficionado by any stretch of the imagination… In fact I can’t even remember the last time I imbibed any kind of adult beverage, but I do enjoy a good beer, and don’t consider most American beers to be in that category. In my pre-family days, while I was a member of the SDANG (ok, the 114th Tactical Fighter Wing), we did an extended deployment to Waddington RAF Base in Lincolnshire, England. While there, many of us spent considerable time at a nearby pub, The Horse & Jockey (they even have a website!) It was there I developed a taste for finer beers, and lost any respect I had for the likes of Miller High Life, Budweiser, et al. My favorite was a pint of stout with a splash of lime in it. And a pint was about all I could handle!

But since then, I rarely drink. I don’t enjoy going to most bars/pubs because most allow (encourage) smoking. I don’t smoke, don’t enjoy breathing others’ smoke, and detest walking out of a place smelling like smoke. Very cool that Monks is smoke free! And with that many beers on tap, each serving costing $3.50-$6.00, I can make multiple visits and sample one each time. Just one, mind you.

Another Teen Driver In The House

Filed under: Family — dave @ 9:25 pm

A banner day for Ian. He just got his real driver’s license this weekend, and took his first solo drive tonight. And he brought the van back unscathed (at least on the body panels!)

Some days I feel really, really old. Then Caleb bounces into the room.

GTM Supercar

Filed under: Cars! — Tags: , , — dave @ 12:00 pm 2009/09/19

Just Your Basic Black $40,000 Ferrari Slayer

gtm_k.jpg

Jalopnik made mention of this car last week; I’d never heard about it before, but… Wow!

It’s built by Factory Five Racing, a company better known for its Cobra replicas, but has extended its offerings to include this beauty. Unlike most supercars that are priced way, way out of the reach of mere mortals, the GTM is available only as a kit at a base price under $20,000. Of course, the kit is far from all-inclusive; you provide essentials like the engine, transmission, wheels & tires, etc… But the bodywork & interior is included, as is a well designed tube frame, suspension, steering… basically everything you need to build the car without having to fabricate anything.

I’ve had this idea in the back of my head that it’d be a fun exercise to take the mechanicals from an existing car — driveline, suspension & brakes, etc… — hang them on a frame designed and dimensioned around those parts, and end up with something like the Ariel Atom, but for a lot less money. Similar in concept to the LoCost 7, but doing it the hard way! But Factory Five went and did the hard work, and you’d only need a decent set of hand tools to do the job. A lot of money too, but at least you wouldn’t need your own machine shop.

In the end the cost will probably push the $40,000 envelope, but the resulting car is something pretty exclusive and pretty impressive, both in the looks department and in the performance department. It uses a lot of mechanicals from a 1997-2004 Corvette C5, and a transaxle from a 1987-1998 Porsche 911, hence the total cost estimate ending up around twice the kit cost.

That’s in today’s dollars. By the time I’d be able to get into one… Ugh. Don’t even want to think about it. But a guy can dream, right?

gtm_top_left.jpg

UPDATE: I first wrote this post back in November, 2007, and dredged it up from the past because I saw one in the flesh today, probably the same one Caleb & I saw a year ago. Very striking looking car. This one was black, and though I again only caught a few seconds’ glimpse as it turned a corner past me at an intersection, that was enough to recognize it and make me want it all over again. Now, how to come up with a spare $40k…

The Jumanji Stampede

Filed under: Just Stuff,Old Things — dave @ 9:55 pm 2009/09/18

The family & I just finished watching Jumanji again — that is a fun movie, and one of my all-time favorites! But the scene that gets me is the first stampede… Alan (Robin Williams), Sarah (Bonnie Hunt), Judy (Kirsten Dunst) & Peter (Bradley Pierce) duck down a hallway to get out of the way of the stampeding animals, allowing us, the audience, a view of the animals running past the hallway.

Every time I see that scene reminds me of a fevered dream when I was a kid. I was sick with the flu or something and had a fever. Sleep was sporadic, and I kept dreaming — or more likely hallucinating — that huge animals were running down the hallway past my room making an enormous racket. It seems to me that I had this dream more than just once as a kid… And I know of at least one time as an adult having a fever and getting that déjà vu feeling. Very unnerving. But this movie scene is as close to what I saw in my mind’s eye as anything else.

Pardon the crappy video; it’s all I could find online, and looks like someone stuck a video camera in front of a TV to capture it. If you really want to experience it, rent the movie; it’s worth it!

The Differential; Now I Get It!

Filed under: Cars!,Cool Technology,Gadgets — dave @ 9:24 pm

I know my way around mechanical things pretty well, but an automobile’s differential is one of those things that I never quite understood… I knew what it did, and that it involved gears and whatnot, but the principles of operation were never laid out in terms that helped me to really get it. But this video changed all that. I now get it!

Thanks to Deane for posting about it on Gadgetopia. I think I owe you lunch!

“… Great Only In Power, In Size And In Cost.”

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , , — dave @ 3:52 pm 2009/09/15

Saw this on today’s Patriot Post, and thought it interesting in light of the President’s proposed healthcare ‘reform’. Emphasis mine.

We warned of things to come, of the danger inherent in unwarranted government involvement in things not its proper province. What we warned against has come to pass. And today more than two-thirds of our citizens are telling us, and each other, that social engineering by the federal government has failed. The Great Society is great only in power, in size and in cost. And so are the problems it set out to solve. Freedom has been diminished and we stand on the brink of economic ruin. Our task now is not to sell a philosophy, but to make the majority of Americans, who already share that philosophy, see that modern conservatism offers them a political home. We are not a cult, we are members of a majority. Let’s act and talk like it. The job is ours and the job must be done. If not by us, who? If not now, when? Our party must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group. No greater challenge faces our society today than ensuring that each one of us can maintain his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex, centralized society. Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, galloping inflation, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite. Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people.

Ronald Reagan

The speech from which that quote was taken was given on February 6, 1977, but you’d think that he was looking through time to today. I guess what it really means is that the initiatives being promoted by Barack Obama and his sidekicks in Congress are nothing new; it’s all been tried before. One side note: Reagan referred “our party” two times in this quote, referencing of course the Republican Party. These days it seems as though the Republicans are trying harder to be the me-too, “Democrat-lite” party than anything resembling what Reagan envisioned. In trying to build the fabled “big tent” the party has abandoned anything resembling principled positions, running around with one finger in the wind and another somewhere else trying to woo one demographic or another. Reagan was a conservative in principle and in practice, something we haven’t seen in the leadership of the Republican Party for a good decade. Who will be this generation’s Ronald Reagan?

Why is it so difficult to understand that conservatism works every time it’s tried?

WordPress 2.8.4

Filed under: About This Site,Cool Technology,Geek — Tags: , , — dave @ 4:31 pm 2009/09/11

How about a break from politics today…

wordpress

I took the dive yesterday & updated my WordPress install. I’ve been a little lazy about that lately… Came to rely on Powweb’s InstallCentral to do the updates, but that method tends to lag pretty far behind. When I updated yesterday, InstallCentral only took it to v.2.7. While there was an interface improvement over the 2.6.x install I had been using for a while, it was still months behind the current version; with the security holes in earlier versions I wasn’t eager to find out how bad things could get, especially after the trouble the sfgroove.us website had a month or so ago — hackers completely took it over twice before we got the Joomla install updated & locked down. I’ll take their advice & stick to taking my vitamins and avoid the open heart surgery.
The upgrade wasn’t without glitches though; since upgrading, Google and the other search engines seem to have forgotten me. According to Sitemeter, yesterday saw 41 unique visitors and 78 page views; today, 5 and 5. Since most traffic here is from search engine referrals, things have been a bit quiet. Once I update the code for Google Adsense and all that, things should improve. Until then it’s just the handful of faithful direct hits from various places and the RSS subscribers; thanks for clicking, people!

The other glitch was with the Akismet antispam plugin for WordPress; it was deactivated by default after the upgrade, but when I activated it, all the admin pages came up totally blank. The site was working fine, but being able to see things on the admin side is somewhat important. Things were working fine before I clicked to activate Akismet, so I figured that wasn’t up to date, so I had to go in via ftp and kill the plugin folder for Akismet before I could get back in and see anything. Very pleased that it wasn’t any more complicated than that! And installing it again was again, easy.

One of the beautiful features introduced in v.2.7 is the one-click upgrades; inside the dashboard, WordPress will throw up a flag when an update is available, and present an Upgrade Automatically button that will do the hard work to bring an installation up to date. You can also download the update from the same screen, but why bother? Of course, it’s a good idea to use the Export Tool in the dashboard to back up all the data that makes my blog mine… Just in case, you know. Hopefully future upgrades won’t include surprises like today’s did.

Just for fun, I downloaded the current version and put a second install on my (hosted) server; had I realized it was that easy I wouldn’t have bothered with the InstallCentral dance… Why did I wait so long? And that’s another one of the goofy things with Powweb’s InstallCentral control panel; it will only do one WordPress installation for you. That second install is for testing and setting up a replacement for the Joomla-driven Groove website; I’m getting tired of wrestling with Joomla just trying to put up the simplest content, so I’m making the executive decision to move the site to WordPress. A couple of weeks ago I tried adding some YouTube videos to an article on the site, and for some reason Joomla decided after I pasted in the code to link the videos that one line of that code wasn’t needed. That would be fine if the embedded video would show up in the article, but it doesn’t. I tried every trick I could think of and searched around to no avail. Other articles with embedded videos continue to work fine… Anyway, I’m moving the site to WordPress because using Joomla is like having a bureaucracy the size of the Federal Government to manage a small company; way too complex and way too many hoops to jump through just to accomplish something simple. WordPress is a great tool with lots of expansion possibilities, and I think it’ll be perfect for Groove.

Another Speech From The Golden Teleprompter And Its Talking Head

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , , , — dave @ 4:37 pm 2009/09/09

President “Tennis Match” Obama is prepping right now for a speech to a joint session of Congress, which will of course be beamed far & wide for all of us to see. The purpose, according to the President, is to help us all to know…

… exactly what I think will solve our healthcare crisis, they will have a lot of clarity about what I think is the best to move forward. So the intent of the speech is to, A, make sure that the American people know exactly what it is we are proposing, B, to make sure that Democrats and Republicans understand that I am open to new ideas, that not being rigid and ideological, but we do intend to get something done this year.

So, “what I think will solve our healthcare crisis” and “what I think is the best to move forward”… Thus far since taking office, what he thinks is best doesn’t line up very well with what history has proven to be best for the country. I hope he does better than that. And is it just me, or does B contradict A just a little bit? I mean, if he’s gonna let us know exactly what it is that’s being proposed, is it safe to assume that the leaders of the House and Senate are going to get it right and not throw their pet projects in there? I don’t think that’s a safe assumption at all. He seemed to be pretty clueless about what was in HB 3200; will his dulcet tones make all the difference and soothe us into complacency so we’ll just bend over and take it in the rear? Or will those tones convince Congress that they need to just ignore public opinion and pass what he thinks is best for us?

I won’t likely be listening in — I’ll just read the transcript of it later. Listening to that voice for that long will definitely exceed my ewww factor for the day, and besides, what he’s going to say is pretty predictable, judging by what I’ve read from people who’ve been given a preview of what he’s going to say.

The problem is that the guy hasn’t got much credibility left; HB 3200 is the only legislation that has been made public, and there are huge inconsistencies between it and what he says is “in the plan”. I just don’t buy anything he has to say on the subject.

He’s already telegraphed what he ultimately wants to see in healthcare reform legislation, and that’s a state-controlled healthcare industry with a massive bureaucracy overseeing it and huge tax increases to pay for it. I’ll be the first to admit that there are problems with the healthcare system, but it’s not so broken that we need this kind of cure. And he may be telling the truth in saying that he’ll settle for less, but that’s what he and the rest of the statists in Congress will be working toward, if only through small increments. They say there are 40-some million people in the US without healthcare insurance; even if that’s true (and those figures are highly questionable) is it worth screwing up the system that works pretty darned well for the other 260 million of us who do? Even the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says they can’t pull it off the way they’d like to; any healthcare reform they pass now will leave more people uninsured in five years than we have now, and will cost far more than Congress and the President say it will; in the end we’ll have tax increases and healthcare rationing. There’s no way around it. And I for one do NOT want some bureaucrat deciding whether my kid is worth the expenditure of the Government’s precious and limited healthcare resources. And the President has the temerity to tell us the idea of “death panels” is ridiculous… It’s only a logical next step down the path he wants us to go.

I think President Obama suffers from a bit of guilt that he wants to assuage on a grand scale; he says that, “… the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough.” I admire his desire to help those who need help, but this plan of his won’t. And there is plenty of evidence to show this plan to be little more than a pretext for other things he wants to accomplish that will work just as poorly, and leave a terrible legacy for us all to endure.

Barack’s Schooltime Address — Meh.

Filed under: Just Stuff,Media Bias,Politics — dave @ 3:57 pm 2009/09/08

There was a lot of hullaballoo over President Barack Obama’s webcast address to schoolkids that was scheduled for today. Lots of people on the right decided to keep their kids home from school to keep them from being made to hear what he had to say — one talk show host made mention that today was “Take Your Kid To The Doctor” day — and still others of the opposite political persuasion (no trackbacks or links from me) chose to blast the Right for voicing concerns about it.

I just listened to Obama’s speech, read through the text of what was on his teleprompter as he went, and all I can say is, ‘meh’. He followed the script pretty well, but I still don’t see why all the fuss over his oratory style. Double-meh. It was filled with good advice, and was the kind of rah-rah speech that kids in school get all the time (or they should); stay in school, respect your teachers, pay attention, etc… The same sort of things I tell my boys when they start slacking & letting their grades slide. This one stands apart in that it’s coming from the President of the United States and was intended to be piped in everywhere via webcast; can’t recall any previous president doing anything other than visiting a handful of schools & delivering the same type of speech in person.

This one also stands out in that it showcases our Glorious President’s narcissism; he uses the personal pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’ no less than 60 times in the speech. He seemed to set himself up as the example of how far someone can get in life through hard work, discipline and a dedicated family. And don’t forget that in spite of the knowledge that kids get the same type of pep talk from their parents and teachers, he somehow thinks that telling kids,

… I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

… will make them do better? As if his golden voice and rapturous tones will make the difference, and get the kids to perform. If it works to inspire some kids to do better, great. But it’s just a little too creepy for me, and I’d say the same if it was George W. Bush that was doing the talking (Reagan? I would be ok with that though!) I have to admit that when I tell my own kids those same things they often don’t listen; hearing it come from a respected teacher or family member usually has more traction. But since when did this become the purview of the POTUS? There seems to be someone who thinks the President can pull off what so many others can’t; it’s either a bit of narcissism on Obama’s part, or his staff and the adoring crowds that fill the bureaucratic positions in school systems across the country thinking a little too highly of him.

I just hope this doesn’t become a regular thing; Obama’s image being beamed into every US classroom on a regular basis is just a little too reminiscent of the portrait of Saddam Hussein or Fidel Castro being displayed in classrooms and homes. Add to that the thought of something like the ridiculous I Pledge video being shown along with it an address from Obama… (shivvvverrrrr) Too creepy for me, thanks.

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