I finally broke down and put some ads on the site to try and recoup some of the hosting costs. Chances are that I’ll only make $2 or $3 a month from the ads, but it’s better than nothing. Sad thing is that Google doesn’t mail you a check until you’ve amassed more than $100 in your account. I have a feeling that’s gonna take a real long time.

Ken Jennings ended his 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy last night. His streak began back on June 2nd and continued on until yesterday. Jennings won $2,520,700–all cash–Jeopardy does not give away prizes like other game shows. Some statistics from his streak: Jennings’ average daily haul was $34,063.51. He toyed with the previous daily record of $52,000 — tying it four times — before shattering it with a $75,000 win in Game 38. He gave more than 2,700 correct responses. I think it’s fair to say that his records won’t be beaten for a long time.

Since it’s Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve gotten the chance to play Halo 2 over XBConnect for about 10 hours over the last couple of days and it’s been tons and tons of fun. Halo 2’s networking engine and packet sizes have been optimized so much for Xbox Live that there is no signs of slow down while playing over XBConnect, which uses System Link play. Of course this is only true as long as you can maintain less than 100-millisecond ping rates with other players, but that’s easy nowdays.

Having seen the game on Xbox Live and XBConnect, I can say that the game is just as fluid on XBConnect and it’s easier to get games started than on Xbox Live–which means a lot less waiting. Granted, Xbox Live has player rankings and organized tournaments that XBConnect does not. But if you don’t care about that junk, XBConnect is definitely the way to go. I do recommend picking up Xbox Live if only for the headset that you can use over XBConnect. Play on playa.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Nug readers–all 12 of you–you all know who you are. Here are some cool past Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade pictures I found on a Columbia student’s web site. I particularly like the one of Kermit the Frog coming around the corner. Anyway, enjoy the long weekend!

Meredith & Maria, Eliminated

In this leg of the race, teams had to make their way from Iceland to Oslo, Norway. Upon landing teams had to drive themselves to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump to find their next clue. Teams had $181 for this leg of the race and all teams were on the same flight to Norway from Iceland. I found it interesting that teams 2 through 6 were all only 2 minutes apart from each other, even though it didn’t appear that close in the episode, probably due to editing.

Immediately upon arriving at the ski jump, teams found a Roadblock which read “Who’s ready to perform an Olympian feat?” We were also informed of the new rule: no person may perform more than six Roadblocks for the duration of the race. This will make things a lot more interesting, since no one person can hog the Roadblocks for any particular team.

The Roadblock consisted of riding a zip line from the top of the ski lift to the bottom. Not surprisingly, Meredith & Maria had more difficulties. Not at the ski lift, but getting there. It seems that Maria could not drive a stick, and didn’t get any better at it as she continued to drive. Eventually, she was in tears because she continued to stall. The funniest moment though was reserved for Adam, who exclaimed, “I love my mom!” and cried like a little girl all the way down the zip line. What a pussy!

Read more

Okay, I’ve contained myself long enough. This is my fourth day out at Google and I just have to comment on the cafeteria. Like Butthead used to say, “It is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” The menu is outstanding and the price? Free. That’s right, after you load up on food there isn’t a cash register in sight. It’s amazing.

And if that isn’t enough, they just don’t serve lunch, they serve dinner too. Not that you’d be hungry in between. Each building has snack areas that are filled with every possible beverage and snack. It’s like having a high-end Whole Foods-like snack area with everything from potato chips to granola to fresh fruit. And to drink, they have everything from water and soda to Naked Juices to Starbuck Frappuccinos. Again, it’s all free.

Read more

Ron Artest, About to Fuck Some Fans Up

Unless you’ve been under a rock by now you’ve heard about the melee that erupted at the end of the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons basketball game on Friday night. Spectators began hurling chairs, drinks, and ice at the Pacers in one of the most violent exchanges between players and fans in U.S. sports history.

Ron Artest (pictured here) was suspended for the season for going into the stands and fighting with fans after being shoved by Ben Wallace in the final seconds of the game. Other suspensions include Stephen Jackson, 30 games, Jemaine O’Neal, 25 games, and Ben Wallace, who started this whole thing, with 6 games. Overall, the NBA issued some of the harshest penalties in its history by banning 9 players for more than 140 games.

What the hell is the world coming to!? Damn, you can’t even go to a basketball game anymore without fear of getting hit by someone and it may even be one of the players. Stern came down on these guys hard for a reason, the sacred line between the players and the fans should not be crossed. If the fans do it, shame on them, let’s arrest them and kick them out of the game. If the players do it, fuck ’em they’re done for the season. Maybe this will stop the insanity.

Avi & Joe, Eliminated

Although I watched this episode the night that it aired, I haven’t had a chance to write down a review until now. Luckily, the power of the DirecTiVo allows me to watch it as many times as I want. If you don’t have a DirecTiVo, I highly recommend getting one. But, I digress.

In the first episode of the race, teams were briefly introduced before starting the race. The first thing that strikes you while watching this is that everyone is much better looking than in previous races. However, I don’t think that they are so good looking as to alienate the Amazing Race core audience. At least that’s my opinion. We’ll see.

The race started in front of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park in Downtown Chicago. Mama and I were there a couple of years ago and I took some photos. Teams had to make their way from Downtown Chicago to Reykjavic, Iceland by taking the Blue Line rail to O’Hare International Airport. Almost immediately, Jonathan, of team Jonathan & Victoria, emerged as the villain of this race. This guy is arrogant, obnoxious, and treats his wife like shit. It is obvious that she is with him only for the money, since they are seen driving a Ferrari in the team introduction segment. Don’t get me wrong, I am not playa hatin’ because of the Ferrari, it’s just the behavior that is unacceptable.

Read more

Virgin Sandwich

A woman in Miami put up half of a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich for sale on eBay and claimed it bore the image of the Virgin Mary. Even more astounding, the sale was viewed over 100,000 times and garnered a bid of $22,000 before eBay pulled it off the site. The woman said she took a bite after making it 10 years ago and saw a face staring back at her from the bread. She put the sandwich in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and kept it on her night stand. The sandwich has never sprouted a spore of mold.

It is a sad state of affairs when people believe that they see the divine in food. Well, I guess when I eat a delicious In-n-Out Burger I feel like I am almost talking to God, but that’s not exactly the same thing. Selling a half-eaten sandwich on Ebay is not only only gross, but a whole lot of crazy. I certainly hope that this woman uses her proceeds from the sale, if any, to get the professional help she needs. Big ups to Steve Thompson for sending me the story.

The Amazing Race 6 starts tomorrow night at 9:00PM on CBS with a special two-hour premiere. This show has won the Best Outstanding Reality or Competition Program emmy two years in a row and is by far the best reality show in television. Sorry Survivor. Check it out.

The trial of spammer Jeremy Jaynes has revealed secrets of the trade. First off, Jaynes was able to run his business out of a small single family home outfitted with 16 high-speed (T1) lines, a multitude of servers, and little or no staff. Only his sister helped him run the operation at times. This server farm allowed him to send 10 million spam emails per day using stolen or purchased mailing lists. He would hawk porn and useless products and services, like an Internet history cleaner and work-at-home schemes that amounted to little more than a website for the buyers.

Most people ignore these emails, but even with a response rate of 1 in 30,000, he received $400,000 to $750,000 in credit card charges per month. His expenses for the high speed lines, servers, and electricity equated to roughly $50,000 per month. Which means that he was netting $350,000 to $700,000 each month!

This guys net worth is estimated at $24 million. He’s living hip-hop video large with big mansions and Bentleys and stuff. This all from spam. But, at the end, spam doesn’t pay. The judge in his case has recommended a nine-year sentence for him which is now under appeal. Due to the poor crafting of the anti-spam law and the first amendment, this guy may never actually see time behind bars.

Sadly, according to an expert witness in the case, there are more sophisticated spammers out there that use “zombie” servers off-shore to spam and are less likely to be caught. However, it is nice to know that we are finally starting to put pressure on spammers to stop.

A six-year-old was acting unruly in a principal’s office earlier today, decided to break a picture frame, and threaten to harm himself. Did the principal overpower the boy and then call police? No, the principal called the school guard who was held back by the boy waving a glass shard. Did I mention the kid is six?

Police later arrived, apparently called by staff. Now, there are three adults in the room that can overpower the kid–the principal, the school guard, and a police officer. Do the three adults overpower the kid and take the glass shard? No, they decided to continue to talk the kid down, who was apparently suicidal and had begun cutting himself with the piece of glass. The kid didn’t have a gun, it was just a piece of glass mind you. Since talking didn’t work, the police officer finally shot the kid with a taser gun.

Damn, how many people does it take to discipline a six-year-old? Was his name Damien? Was his head spinning aroung and throwing up green goo? Was he six feet all? No, six years old. This sounds like a ridiculous use of force, even if the kid was holding a sharp object. What do you think?

An 11-year-old girl was suspended from school when she ignored teachers that told her she couldn’t do cartwheels and handstands at lunch time. Meanwhile students are allowed to play basketball and football. Give me a break! Yeah, let’s stop kids from exercising altogether and let’s all be morbidly obese together. That’s a great idea!

“Would the FCC conclude that the movie has sufficient social, artistic, literary, historical or other kinds of value that would protect us from breaking the law…with the current FCC, we just don’t know.”
–Raymond Cole, President WOI-TV, Regarding Saving Private Ryan

ABC affiliates in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia said they would not air the network broadcast of Saving Private Ryan. The affiliates are fearful of running afoul with the FCC due to the scenes of violence and foul language depicted in the film.

How sad is this? Surely the film has social and historical value, since it depicts some of the harsh realities of World War II from an American perspective. Surely it has artistic and literary value, since it was directed by Spielberg. Also, surely, the Bush administration and the FCC are having a chilling effect on free speech. So much so, that media is censoring itself. Really sad.

Arafat, Rich Desert Thug

Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, died today at the age of 75 due to complications related to a blood disorder believed to be leukemia. As the head of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Arafat raised money from businesses, donations, and taxes for a nation without a homeland. It is widely known that Arafat purposely blurred the lines between money given to the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, and himself, so sorting out his true wealth after his death will be a difficult, if not impossible task.

There is huge speculation as to how much Arafat is personally worth. A recent Al-Jazeera article claimed his wealth was between $4.2 billion and $6.5 billion, although most believe that this is an estimate of all of the assets of the Palestinian Authority and Arafat’s wealth, not Arafat’s personal accounts. In 2003, U.S. officials estimated Arafat’s personal nest egg at between $1 billion and $3 billion, which most believe is more accurate. However, nobody can be certain of the exact amount.

The scary thing is that Arafat’s many accounts and bank codes may be in his head. If this is the case, there will be many Swiss bankers partying after his death, since this is where at least $1 billion is known to be deposited. Some of the money may be figuratively buried with him. Gee, and they say you can’t take it with you. Arafat apparently can.

Well, my work laptop is officially dead. Luckily, I saw the warning signs and backed up all of my data two days ago and I’ve been emailing myself important documents just in case. What does this mean? I am stuck with a crappy loaner until my new computer is approved, ordered, and delivered. My guess is that will be a couple of weeks. This sucks ass!

People Running Their Asses Off
(c) The Chronicle

Earlier today there was a huge explosion in Walnut Creek that killed three and injured six. A construction crew accidentally struck an underground petroleum pipeline that sent flames and smoke high into the air (pictured here). About 270 buildings, including businesses and homes, had to be evacuated due to the explosion and impending blaze which spread to nearby buildings. I don’t know why I think this picture is so funny. I guess I’ve never seen anyone running away from smoke at full speed. That’s just not right.

The ruptured pipe is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, a Houston-based distributor of refined petroleum products. It carries gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from Concord to San Jose. I hope this desn’t mean that gasoline prices in San Jose are going to skyrocket because of lack of supply. Hopefully that’s not the only pipeline to San Jose.

5 Stars

The Incredibles is truly an incredible film. Rarely do advancements in technology create a more profound artistic experience. I mean really, do we need cell phones with crappy cameras in them? But in this case, the advancement in technology has spurred artistic creativity to make something that transcends technology, animation, or computer graphics.

The world of Bob and Helen Parr is something truly special. It is beautiful, humorous, and even, dare I say, filled with human emotion. This from actors that are pixelated and created in server farms by a legion of computer artists. Several times during the film I forgot that I was watching animation because the characters acted so “human.” This is largely in part to the amazing voice talents of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jason Lee. But they can’t take all the credit. The visuals are stunning and the sound effects are fantastic. Lots of explosions and action, enough to make Jerry Bruckheimer jealous.

But what truly sets the film apart is its storyline, without which all the effects, voices, and graphics in the world would simply be meaningless. This is a world in which all superheroes are forced out of business by litigation from the citizens and forced to hang up their superhero suits for good. The story centers around the family of Bob Parr, who used to be Mr. Incredible, and includes Helen Parr, his wife, who used to be Elastigirl, and their three children.

Read more

“The country is split by what seem to be two mutually antagonistic and irreconcilable value systems, one urban, secular, liberal and postmodern, the other rural, religious, conservative and premodern…It is sad to see this happening in America, a country known in the past for the pragmatic, anti-ideological nature of its politics.”
–Hillel Halkin, Jerusalem Post

One week after the presidential election, the world reflects on the election and its meaning in the global community. This article collects points-of-view from scholars and journalists from around the world. A fascinating look at how the rest of the world perceives us. Check it out.

I finally installed the MT-Blacklist plugin to my Movable Type installation. This plugin will automatically delete comment spam and will allow me to return to unregistered and unmoderated comments on the blog. Needless to say, comment spammers can now all pucker up and kiss my ass.

One of the most awaited games of all time, Halo 2, will be released tonight at midnight in over 7,000 toy stores around the U.S. Xbox fans have been holding their collective breath for over two years and tonight it will all culminate in an amazing spectacle. The game is expected to sell $75 million in the first 24 hours alone. I pre-ordered my copy several months ago and will not be heading out to the stores. However, according to my UPS ground shipping number, my copy will be waiting for me when I get home tomorrow afternoon.

A man comitted suicide at the WTC site and his relatives told authorities that they believe it was because of the outcome of the presidential election. Hold up! Damn, that’s one less voting democrat to vote in the next election. We gotta suck it up people! I move for no more suicides until we’ve won the White House, the Senate, and the House. Get it together people!

You know everybody else, and you know who you are, can post an entry. You don’t have to wait until I am on vacation to post something. C’mon! Let’s post some “random shizzle on da internizzle” guys!

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, I admit, I was depressed at the results of the election. I went from denial, to wanting to move to another country, to trying to understand how 59 million people want Bush in the White House, to not caring, to heavy drinking, and finally the realization that four years won’t last forever. We’ll see how the village idiot handles himself for about another fifty months and then it will be over. Right!?

I was in Chicago last week for a manager orientation and training. Thankfully, my promotion and all the distractions that come along with it made the results of the presidential race a little more bearable. All of the training plus the evening dinners kept me from sitting in the hotel room brooding and pulling my hair out. I think that for now, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Real Time with Bill Maher are two shows that will keep me from going insane during this term. It doesn’t help that President Bush thinks that 51 percent of the vote is a “mandate.” Well, here’s to coping for four more years–good luck to all.

Election Day is here. Polling places officially opened at midnight on the East Coast, apparently to let the press get photos of the candidates. Everyone needs to get out and vote today, especially if you are voting for Kerry. Remember, we all made a pact last year to elect anyone but Bush. Let’s make it happen.