Elton John on American Idol

After the big shocker on American Idol last week (yes, now that I no longer live alone, I watch American Idol) Elton John felt the need to comment. Basically they are down to 7 contestants, and 3 of what many consider to be the best candidates, ended up as the bottom 3 (they got the fewest votes). I was immediately reminded of last year (ok, I have no excuse for watching last year) when Ruben was in the bottom 2 at one point near the end. Ruben went on to win the competition last year.

This year, 3 of the best singers are black women, and Elton John thinks that the fact that they ended up in the bottom 3 is nothing short of “incredibly racist.” This quote is classic:

“The three people I was really impressed with, and they just happened to be black, young female singers, and they all seem to be landing in the bottom three […]”

Even if you ignore the suggestion that the bottom 3 has been made up of all black men/women more than once (which it hasn’t), his suggestion of racism in American Idol is moronic for a number of reasons.

  1. Of the 12 finalists, the first 5 voted off were caucasian. None were black and/or African-American.
  2. Last year’s winner was black.
  3. The winner the year before was female.
  4. The majority of the remaining contestants are black. There is only one white male even left in the competition (and he’s due to go any day now).
  5. The absolute worst part of his statement is this line: “and they just happened to be black.”

    What he’s saying is that his favorites all just happen to be black. Just coincidentally, there is a group of people he considers to be the best, and they all have the same skin color. However, should that same group of people be considered the worst, no longer can that be considered a coincidence. Oh no, that must be racism.

It’s really amazing.

Stern is a Hypocrite

I’ve been a Howard Stern fan for a long time – a very long time. When I was younger, I used to have a taped copy of his 1987 album “Crucified by the FCC.”

As I’ve posted before, I’m no fan of the FCC. But if you’ve read the news lately, Howard has basically turned the better part of his show into yelling about the government. I still listen, because it’s still more entertaining than the rest of morning radio, but it certainly is frustrating.

The reason his continuous rants are driving me crazy is as follows:

  1. More than 15 years ago he put out a full album ranting about how he was “crucified” by the FCC. He has never stopped fighting against the FCC. This battle is not new.
  2. He claims this is an assault on free speech (and he’s right), but over the years I’ve heard him (a) Laugh and make fun of Bill Mahr when he was thrown off the air for “indecent” talk during 9/11, and (b) Laugh and make fun of Opie and Anthony when they were thrown off the air by the religious right threating the FCC. Now that the attention is on Howard, he’s pissed. When the same thing was happening to other people, he thought it was a joke.
  3. He’s endorsing a candidate that would do the same thing, if he were president. Rather than endorsing a party that actually cares about free speech (ahem, the Libertarians), he’s endorsing Kerry. He’s even stated that he’s not endorsing Kerry because he likes Kerry, he’s just endorsing him so Bush doesn’t win and he “sends a message.” I personally don’t think that’s a bright move.

    It would be much easier to “send a message” if you were taking votes from Bush and giving them to a third party candidate. Even if they didn’t win, you could demonstrate how you created for Bush what Nader was to Gore. If Kerry wins, not only will it be difficult to show that you really affected this (since he’s so well known already) but once he takes office, he’ll continue with the same policies which have only gotten worse over the past decades. Stern supporters have even called the Kerry campaign and been laughed at. The Kerry campaign wants nothing to do with them.

In the meantime, Howard’s show has gone downhill and is practially half political now. He said he was going to be off the air before his Vegas trip, but now that’s just around the corner and he’s stopped saying that. I’m not saying he won’t be off the air at some point, or that the FCC is right in any way, but for now the show is weak, and putting Kerry in office certainly doesn’t seem like a solution.

GMail under Fire

So, a few weeks ago Google announced a new webmail system people could sign up for called Gmail. It is free, web-based, and has 2 features that make it unique:
1) You get a full Gigabyte of storage space
2) They scan your e-mail for keywords so they can target ads in the browser.

Naturally this has become controversial… even the stupid government is excited about it.

“We think it’s an absolute invasion of privacy. It’s like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home,” said Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Fremont, Calif.

Let me save the government a whole lot of time and taxpayer dollars – shut up and go away. If people don’t want advertisements based on the contents of their e-mail, they won’t sign up. I guess they’ll have to live with Hotmail, or Yahoo!, or the mail account that comes with their ISP, or work, or one of hundreds of other places you can get a free e-mail account.

Of course, since those have ads too (albeit not targeted based on e-mail contents) I guess that would be considered like having a massive billboard in my home. The difference being, I might actually be interested in the billboard from GMail. Let me tell you, if word got out that -based on the contents of my e-mails- I was interested in computers, and I got advertisements for products I might be interested in buying, I would feel totally violated. Particularly when I voluntarily signed up.

I must be in the minority, because based on the two candidates we have to choose from for president, it looks like no one in America is really interested in smaller government.

How to Waste Time

Callahan’s recent blog post reminded me of a lot of the ways I waste time. Some of them being moderately amusing.

Basically, I feel kind of like those guys (usually married) who have numerous weekend projects and live for Home Depot. The difference is that my projects are much more frivolous and require minimal manual labor.

  • The MythTV Project. This is the one I mentioned in an earlier post which I eventually got working on my normal TV (picture here). In theory, this was a good idea. I got to play around with Linux and wound up with what is effectively a TiVo without service fees. The problem is that, as with any “project”, it doesn’t come out quite as expected. The thing locks up when it’s on the TV screen and I try anything as sophisticated as “fast forward” (even though it works fine on the computer screen). This is not to mention the fact that I generally watch less than an hour of TV a day.
  • The Linux Answering Machine Project. This was another great waste of time. My intention was to have all of my calls answered by a Linux computer running VCOP with a normal internal modem. It turns out that all of those cheap modems you see are windows-only (sometimes called “Winmodems”). After buying, trying, and returning no less than 3 modems from Best Buy, I was unwilling to actually by a serial modem which surely would have worked (but would have cost $60).
  • VoIP. After giving up on the answering machine, I went with yet another solution that would allow me to receive voicemail notifications in my e-mail – Voice over IP. This was another blogworthy adventure. The part I didn’t mention is that I make and receive no more than 3-5 phone calls a month from my apartment.
  • Linux Router. Most people who want to share an Internet connection amongst multiple computers at home buy a home router from someone like Linksys or Netgear. That was me too, until I decided that I could put an old computer to use and make it into a router, replacing my trusty Netgear box and saving a little space under the desk. After purchasing a free network card and spending hours reading various documents on how to set one up, I’ve now chucked out the Netgear router. What have I gained in terms of functionality you might ask? Well, for most intents and purposes, nothing.
  • X10. After getting a starter kit for X10 stuff, I was convinced I could automate various things around my apartment and operate them all via remote control and/or the computer. What things might you ask? Well, I really should have thought that through. The first thing to try (naturally) are lights. That’s cool and all, until you realize if you use X10 to control a light, you can no longer use your lightswitch unless you buy some extra components and install them for your switch (which I’m not about to do in an apartment). At the time, I also found my cable modem was cutting out from time to time. So I decided to hook it up to the X10 lamp module so I could easily reset it. It worked once, then it blew out the modem and I had to buy a new one. Eventually the one thing I got working was a fan, which I used to turn on at specific times and cool the apartment for when I get home. That’s helpful for a few months out of the year. I have another module on an unswitched lamp, but it only works intermittently.
  • This blog. Okay, it doesn’t take much time, but the time it does take is clearly wasted.

New Cell Phone Number

I got a new cell phone (Motorola v600), and with it a new number. Apparently the number transfer was going to be a headache, so I’m not going to do it.

The new area code is 508 rather than 603.

For those who know my old number, my new number is this:
First digit: Old-6
Second digit: Old-3
Third digit: Old+8
Fourth digit: Old-7
Fifth digit: Old-6
Sixth digit: Same as old
Seventh digit: Old+4

Maybe I’ll send an e-mail too, for people who don’t like arithmetic. At least this way if I forget to e-mail anyone who reads this blog, they can figure it out.

And yes, I fully expect Schulte will post the decoded number in the comments.

Posted in me |