Erin Andrews Hotel Verdict

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

A jury has found that the hotel in which Erin Andrews was staying was 49% at fault for her being recorded through a peephole.  The remaining 51% was attributed to the person who did the recording.  This story isn’t one that I had much interest in until reading the verdict.  I was interested to some degree because I have traveled a lot for work in the past and stayed in a lot of hotel rooms and wondered about the relative security of the rooms.  I have felt relatively secure but also know that it’s different for me as a man than it would be for a woman.  Also, there were claims that the hotel enabled this to happen somehow through adjoining rooms and that stuck out to me because I have had my fair share of noise coming from the closed door to an adjoining room and wondered if there was any security issue with it.  So when the verdict came in saying that the hotel was nearly half to blame, I wanted to know more about what it is they did wrong.  And frankly, after reading the details of the case, I’m not sure how the jury got to 49%.

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Castro Is Dead; Let It Go

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

So Ariel Castro is dead (CNN).  No not Fidel, but that wouldn’t be all bad.  No, this Castro is the freak who kept women as property.  Apparently he killed himself in prison.  I heard that report and shrugged.  I figured probably the best for everyone.

But now there’s controversy about whether Ohio prison authorities erred in not having him on suicide watch.  Authorities claim they didn’t think he was suicidal but critics say that they should have known and should have protected him.  No, that would be silly.  This freak confessed to his crime and was convicted of it.  He will never get out of prison with a life sentence +1000 years for good measure.   So his choice was to live out his days in prison and live off taxpayer money for all that time or shorten everyone’s pain by ending his own life.  Sounds like he chose well and thank goodness the prison authorities didn’t have him on suicide watch.

Islam’s Growing Pains

| by Ken | in News, Politics No Comments »

I don’t get why people are hating on the US for this “Innocence Of Muslims” film. So some guy went off and made a film that defamed a religion and their prophet. Seems absolutely justifiable that there would be a fatwa on him. But why our country? Setting aside the fact that we have freedom of speech and other countries do not, even if we didn’t have freedom of speech, why would the country be responsible for some nutjob’s actions?

That being said, for an interesting perspective on the situation, Daily Show correspondent John Oliver compares Islam’s current over-reaction to when Catholicism was in their days of over-reacting:

Actual Democalypse 2012 – Islam’s Growing Pains

I’m not a Boxee user and in truth I don’t really know what Boxee does. But I do know that Boxee is some sort of TV device that uses a signal feed of either over-the-air antenna (OTA) or unencrypted cable-TV (clear QAM). And Boxee as well as many other high-tech and some low-tech setups would be significantly marginalized if the FCC has their way. That’s right, the FCC whose purpose is to serve the people of the United States has somehow been co-opted by the cable companies (Big Cable) and is pushing for a measure to force you to have a cable box at every outlet. (Yes, technically, you could use a CableCard at an outlet instead of a full cable box but to be realistic, cable cards are not going to be mainstream devices. Besides, it is still a device you need to get from Big Cable, so there’s not much difference for this discussion from a full cable box.) Ars Technica has a good write up that summarizes the issues.

In their proposal, near the top of page 3, the FCC states that “77 percent of cable subscribers have at least one digital cable set-top box or retail CableCARD device in their home”. That may be true but ignores the fact that there are likely other outlets in the house that do not have a cable box. It also ignores the fact that it’s very likely that a good portion of that 77 percent isn’t very happy about even having that one cable box in the house. So what’s the percentage of all outlets where a cable box is desired? And even if you assume for a minute that there are no other outlets in those 77 percent of households and that all 77 percent of those households are happy having a cable box, what about the other 23 percent? That’s not a trivial amount of households!!! We aren’t talking about a small isolated group of Americans. Even in the most favorable view of that statistic, the FCC is saying they propose that a nearly quarter of all American cable subscribing households will be mandated to add special equipment rented from the cable company!!!

It was only two and a half years ago that Big Cable started this attack by moving all the channels that they were allowed to off of the “cable ready” channels and onto the digital broadcast spectrum. So as I feared then, it was the opening salvo in the war to fully control every television tuner with a Big Cable provided device. The cable provider makes more money on rental and the cable hardware manufacturer makes money on the sale of the device to the cable provider. So everyone is happy. Except for the consumer. That the FCC is supposed to be watching out for.

I think it’s amazing that the FCC thinks it’s important to protect me from a 30 millisecond view of MIA’s middle finger but doesn’t think it’s important to protect the country from an onslaught of corporate takeover of our television equipment.

RIP Steve Jobs

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

Wow, hard to believe how soon after Steve Jobs stepped down from Apple that he died. Details don’t appear to be available yet, but Apple, as you’d expect, is recognizing Jobs on their web site. I suppose it is fitting that Jobs, who seemed to be able to see the future sometimes, was able to foresee that his time was near an end and step down.

What a pioneer Jobs was. It was a sad day for everyone – even the Apple haters – when Jobs stepped down from Apple because it was a sign that he needed to withdraw. And today is once again a sad day because Jobs’ inventive mind is lost.

A Good Day For America

| by Ken | in News 1 Comment »

With presumed apologies to Craig Ferguson, President Obama said today “I think we can all agree this is a good day for America”. I agree that bin Laden’s demise is a net positive for the country. But there’s a lot that goes into figuring out the net.

First there is the obvious “we got ’em” mentality. I’m not above feeling some sense of jubilation for being able to go all “24” on the terrorists – even if it did take us nearly 9 and a half years. Constructing a mock compound so the SEALs could practice taking bin Laden out is bad-ass and I’m a proud American that we have people that can do this and did do this.

Then there is the justice factor. As commentator Jon Keller succinctly described, bin Laden had become a genocidal loon and there was no question of his guilt since he had publicly claimed responsibility for mass murder. Therefore, his death is all the justice anyone could hope to get from him and avoiding a trial and the nonsense that would go with it is the best way to minimize his martyrdom.

But there are some mitigating factors too. I wonder if taking him alive, but secretly, would have allowed us any opportunity to glean any more about what made him tick or would have helped dismantle al Qaeda. Perhaps not since bin Laden would have been unlikely to cooperate knowing that his death was imminent and we probably wouldn’t have gotten much truth out of him even if Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques” were employed. I do hope that the US forces got all kinds of good stuff from bin Laden’s compound and then thoroughly torched it so there is no trace of what we did or did not get.

I suppose the biggest question is what the world will think of us now. Are we thugs merely exacting our revenge or did we successfully neutralize an active threat to our nation’s safety? I happen to think the latter, but one could make a valid point that his recent actions had very little to do with active threats to our country. By all accounts, he was really more a figurehead than he was an active participant in current threats. I suspect most of the world that doesn’t have much of a stake in the matter (e.g. Europe, Russia, China, etc.) probably just see it as neutralizing a threat.

But how do we score from a PR perspective? I think this is probably the biggest issue all around. Bigger than any threat he currently posed and bigger than any sense of justice or revenge. On the plus side, we do send a message that we can find our enemies, even in places like Pakistan, and that anyone who becomes an enemy of our country will never be safe anywhere. That is a good disincentive for potential al Qaeda recruits. But those same recruits no longer need to imagine a marginalized bin Laden in a cave and can instead imagine bin Laden to have been greater than he was. Of course he will be considered a martyr, regardless of whether the specific circumstances surrounding his death are inline with the rules of martyrdom. But perhaps now, those pictures of bin Laden that are inevitably hanging in the rooms of potential terrorists now have a more Christ-like sense to them than they did before. bin Laden wasn’t just the guy who previously did some jihad stuff – he died at the hands of the infidel because of his heroic deeds. That’s a pretty easy thing to believe for somebody who is already mentally susceptible to becoming a terrorist. So by this measure, have we given the al Qaeda cause more ammunition? (sorry, no pun intended)

The manner of his death is a potential point of contention too. But once you determine that bin Laden is going to be captured and that he will eventually die, a quick burial at sea seems like the best move. No place for him to be mourned, no drawn out questions of location of the body, and yet the quick action dictated by Islam is honored. PR-wise, it may not be perfect, but I think it is the least of all evils.

Then there is the question of potential payback. I’m actually not worried about this issue so much. I don’t imagine that the al Qaeda powers-that-be are sitting around in a hookah bar somewhere thinking “some day we’ll get around to more Death To America but right now, I’m really enjoying just chilling with the new Britney Spears” and then they find out that bin Laden is dead and suddenly perk up going “well, that’s it, now I’m mad; back to the lair to plan more evil”. I do imagine that the terrorists who hate us and are already trying to plan an attack are going to continue that planning that attack. As I wrote in the previous paragraph, they may have a few new recruits or better recruit retention, but I don’t feel like this one American success will suddenly put us more at risk. I also don’t think it will mitigate much risk because I don’t think bin Laden was that active in the planning of anything right now anyway.

So payback is a non-issue and we’re definitely better off with bin Laden sleeping with the fishes. But the PR thing is the big question. There are pros and cons but I think we come down on the net positive side here with the US looking better for being able to (eventually) defeat an enemy than the knocks we’ll take by those that disagree with the outcome and the hastening of the martyrdom for which bin Laden was destined already.

Et tu, Tiger?

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

Just when you think somebody famous is above the usual celebrity nonsense, UsWeekly to the rescue. And the fact that it is so surprising is exactly what is going to give this story legs despite Tiger’s attempts to the contrary.

2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

I don’t know how many billions of dollars it cost to put together the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony. Nor do I know how that money could have been better used by the government, for say, social programs. But it was one hell of a show. Pretty easy to say it beat any European or North American Olympic opening ceremony in concept and very easy to say that it beat any other ceremony for technical prowess and choreographing.

Also a hoot to see the Bushes and the Putins just hanging out in the stands as though they were regular people. I imagine the conversation: “did you see that Vladdy?, they made a boat of out people with sticks! by the way, how about you not order any air raids on Georgia? too late? ooo, look at that big TV on the floor – gotta get me one of them for the ranch.”

GM’s market cap below Bed Bath Beyond

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

The headline says it all. GM’s market cap is now less than Bed Bath & Beyond (Forbes). The mighty General is now worth less than a chain of retail store that sells sheets. GM is responding by planning layoffs. But fundamentally, what GM needs, and has needed for about 40 years, is some quality product. A couple of winners have snuck out of the GM fold in the past few years but by and large, they keep making the same crap they always have and the American public knows that buying GM is no longer the only way to buy American. Honda and Toyota make better American cars and have for years. Car companies like Chrysler have reinvented themselves three times while GM merely looked on. GM’s new internal mantra should be “it’s the product stupid” and get some people that can program, design, engineer, and product quality product – no time to waste.

Dennis Farina’s gun charges

| by Ken | in News No Comments »

Last month, the actor Dennis Farina was picked up in LA for bringing a .22 caliber pistol with him to the LAX security checkpoint. (story: Reuters) His explanation: he forgot that he put it in his briefcase.

Although, I can’t find a report that confirms this, I seem to remember that he didn’t have a license for that gun. And that should be worrisome enough. But the gun was also loaded. And he brought it to the airport. What was he thinking?

The answer is clearly he was not thinking about the gun. And that’s my biggest problem with this incident. He says that he forgot he had put the (loaded) gun into his briefcase. Now, if he is lying about that and he intended to bring the gun to on the plane then a serious situation was fortunately averted. But Farina is an unlikely participant in a hijacking so his story is probably the truth however to forget he had the gun is not that much better. Responsible gun owners know where their firearms are at all times, don’t keep them loaded except when they plan to use them, and generally keep them secure. Farina may have been a cop at one time, but now, as an actor, he doesn’t need an armed weapon on his waist. (Unless my impression of the acting profession is way off.)

My point is this: If a person is caught with a gun at a security checkpoint, or any other place where a gun is not permitted, and their excuse is that they forgot they had the gun, then their right to own a firearm should be revoked immediately. Clearly they have lost the respect that the firearm deserves and have proven themselves unfit of that privilege.

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