Tuesday, October 18, 2005


The Bad News: I didn't win Powerball.
The Good News: Nobody else did either!

Now, I'm sucked in, and will have to continue playing until the jackpot is gone. It's up to $340 Million, next drawing on Wednesday.


Update - 10/24/05 - I'm not the guy from Oregon, thus am $2 poorer as opposed to $340 Million richer.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Now it's worth it

I don't play lotteries. Aside from the odds of winning, which are about as close to zero as you can get, mathematically, it just seems like tossing money into the fire. The not so dirty little secret of each state that runs a lottery is that those who have the least amount of disposable income end up spending the most of lottery tickets. I once saw a gentleman, who appeared to be of modest means, drop a hundred bucks on quick picks while I was buying a newspaper.

Having said that, have you noticed that Powerball is now up to like $300 Million? OK, now I'll take the plunge and plunk down my buck. When the jackpot is sitting at the tiny numbers like $10 million, $50 million, etc, what's the use? I can't even calculate how astronomical the odds are of winning this thing, but suffice to say that if you didn't buy a ticket at all, you would have just about the same chance as me.

I'll let you know how I did!

(Hmm....$300 mil, after taxes I'd clear about $160 mil...which would result in a lovely "I Quit" on Monday morning. Wish me luck.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hoodwinked By iTunes

I love iTunes. I recently was fortunate enough to win a free iPod mini, and find it to be just about the coolest thing in the world. I had tons of digital music on my hard drive, and if I wanted portability I was forced to tote my laptop around and plug headphones into it. Effective, yes, but not the best way to get the job done.

Each week, Apple puts a free single up in the itunes music store. This is a nice way to sample a new artist that you’ve likely never heard of, and if you like, maybe purchased some more music from them, or anyone else for that matter.

Anyway, the single of this week for this particular period was a song called “Let Go” by a group called BarlowGirl, who, surprise, I had not heard of. What the heck, let me take a chance. I grabbed the freebie song, listened to it, and immediately liked the guitar sound and the harmonies from the girls. Bear in mind I listened to it with the TV on, and two kids in the room, so I wasn’t able to detect the subtle nuances of the song, namely, any lyrics other than the chorus. I played it a ferw more times, and liked it more each time.

I did notice something odd when I saw the song in my iTunes list, though. Under “Genre”, where I expected to see something like “power pop” or “College” or something along those lines. This read “Inspirational”. Wha? I then popped in the ear buds and played the song, with no white noise or distractions. Holy crap, it’s freaking Christian Rock! The title refers to how the singer will “Let Go” and turn everything over to God.

Now, it would be terribly closed minded of me to dismiss a song outright because it was “Inspirational”, even though I have never made any attempt to listen to any of the various offshoots of Christian Music, from Stryper (remember them, the Christian Heavy Metal band?) to any other artists who exist outside the mainstream. I like this song, and since I am a Christian, really don’t have a problem with the message. What makes me think, however, is that nowhere in the description of the song on iTunes was it mentioned that this was an “Insprirational” song. I wonder how many people of other faiths grabbed the free download? I guess since the song never mentions which version of God things are being “Let Go” to, it can be used by just about any faith, and only an atheist would have a problem with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple received a small number of complaints, though.

I guess I learned something. I'm not sure what, but it was something.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Because They’ve Solved Every Other Problem…

Saw a story last week that the US Attorney General’s Office was instituting a new “War On Pornography”. Did I miss something? Isn’t this a legal, constitutionally protected industry? Oh, right, it’s “immoral”, thus the heroic watchdogs need to swoop in and protect us from ourselves, yet again. Didn’t they try this in the 80’s, with the Meese Commission? The big epiphany from that million dollar waste of time: Detective magazines from the 40’s and 50’s could maybe lead to people raping women. Huh?

Now, I could be cynical and call this for being a diversionary tactic from an Administration who is looking to get our attention away from other, more pertinent things. For example, the ongoing mess in Iraq, the bungling of the entire Katrina mess (of which blame can actually be shared by state and local governments), or the fresh (Tom DeLay) and pending (Karl Rove) indictments. It may in fact be exactly that, but only partially.

The real aim here, in my view, is a blatant pandering to the religious right. In that case, it’s a slam dunk: play up the immorality angle to win some good PR from the Christian Right. Good times all around. Maybe they can even entice leading Democrat Joseph Lieberman to join the fight, and make it a bipartisan effort. After all, ol’ God fearing Joe was at the forefront of the whole “War on Video Games”.

Let me see if I get this straight. The Republicans, champions of the free market, supply and demand economy, are going to somehow attempt to take on an industry which rakes in, literally, billions of dollars each year? Legally? It’s not as if the people who purchase porn, in any of its forms, are doing so outside the law. Obviously, there is a ridiculously large market for the stuff, with an equally large number of consumers willing to plunk down cash for it. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that it is possible that maybe, just maybe, a significant number of those in power, on both sides of the aisle, are porn consumers. Any group of 100 guys will contain at least 50 who go to strip bars, 20 who subscribe to Playboy, and 5 who have a stash in the closet.

Another issue which I think will doom this to failure (again), is the dirty little secret of many large corporations: they make a tidy little profit from porn too. All major hotel chains, at least every one I’ve ever stayed in, have the pay-per-view movie option on every TV in every room. Aside form the usual selection of recent mainstream films, there are usually quite a few adult choices as well. (This is a great racket – aimed mostly at males, at something like $9.95 a pop, and I’m reasonably certain nobody ever watches the whole movie, if you get my drift). Every cable system has an increasing number of pay-per-view “Spice” channels, “on demand”, which are over and above the monthly fees charged. These channels make boatloads of cash, otherwise they wouldn’t be there very long. Large corporate donations are paid out every election cycle, and I can’t imagine these politicos, who are addicted to free money like a crack whore, essentially biting the hands that feed them.

It should be noted that I am only referring to consenual, adult generated stuff here. Anything that features acts between anything otehr than consenting adults is a completely different story altogether. That is illegal, and with good reason.

Legislating morality has been attempted many times over the years, and in some cases, laws were enacted. Even amendments to the Constitution, such as the 18th which made Prohibition the law of the land, were made. Hmm…prohibition, well we know how well that turned out (see the 21st Amendment for details). The question, as always, is whose morality rules? Something you find repulsive, or distasteful (example: Christian Rap), might be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen or heard. Conversely, something I hold in the lowest regard (example: Gangsta Rap) could be the one thing that gets you through the day. Neither one should be banned, per the law.

The founding fathers thought long and hard about personal liberty when drawing up the constitution, and while they probably never anticipated the forms of entertainment we have today, they made the wording broad enough to be applied to just about everything. Something done in the privacy of ones own home, which is not seen nor heard by any other, and causes no harm to any person nor to any persons property, should be completely permitted. It’s also none of my business. Be afraid, be very afraid, that there (still) exists a large number of people in this country who would like nothing more that to take those rights away from us.