Category Archives: Random

A Little Something About “Black Friday”

I work in retail. I am not ashamed of it either. A job is a job. Working in retail has exposed me to one of the most insane American traditions in existence: Black Friday. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when idiots flock to stores to buy cheap crap because it is such a good “deal”. Some of these people even go so far as to set up tents and camp out in front of their store of choice. That’s right, they are so pathetic that they choose to forgo Thanksgiving so that they can be the first to get their hands on junk they don’t need and likely wouldn’t want if it weren’t on super-duper, OMG sale!

I will step on that old lady's soul to get that $30 camera!

I suppose it is immediately apparent how I feel about Black Friday. If you did not get the gist of it in the previous paragraph, I will spell it out for you here: I hate it. There is nothing more vile than the annual lemming run known as Black Friday. This year some retailers are taking it to a whole new level though.

You see, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Kohl’s have all decided to open at midnight instead of the standard of 5:00 am. Wal-Mart is taking it even further by opening at 10:00 pm, but they are usually open 24 hours anyways. For those businesses that are opening at midnight, that means the employees have to be on scene by 10 or 11. So yeah, no Thanksgiving for them. To make matters even worse, most employees are expected to work a minimum of a 12 hour shift. It’s bad enough to ask them to be there before 5:00 am, but to ask them to be there from 10 at night to 10 in the morning is just ridiculous. Oh and don’t even think about calling in sick or even dead on Black Friday unless you want to lose your job. Seriously, try and find me a retail business that doesn’t consider working on Black Friday as being absolutely, 100% mandatory. No questions asked, no excuses accepted. If you don’t show, you forfeit your job. It really is that simple.

Kind of like this, but with way less compassion

Fortunately for me, I got lucky this year. I do work for one of the places that is opening at midnight, but my particular job is not needed until normal business hours. I don’t have to be in until noon on Black Friday. I get a nice normal shift, but a lot of people don’t. So while it may not directly affect me, it does affect a lot of my friends. For them, I am particularly pissed about this cash grab.

So here is what I am hoping: complete and utter failure. I hope that extra 5 hours that these stores are open costs them more than what they bring in. These businesses are treating their employees like serfs. They are being told this year that their time with their families is not important. What is important is getting those doors and selling crap specifically made to be sold on Black Friday. That’s right, most of that “too good to be true” stuff you buy on Black Friday is a lesser quality version than you can buy the day before or the day after. I have never seen a $300 laptop sold on Black Friday that was worth more than$250. Why? Because the specs on those things are deliberately made to be inferior in order to fleece morons. All the mindless sheep see is a computer with a perceived low price tag!

Look son, this one has 1.6 jiggawatts of memory. Only paid $300 for it!

So here is what I am asking from those who may happen to stumble across this post: don’t go! Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t go. Should this year’s extravaganza succeed, then all retailers will do it next year. Think about that for a second. To get all the really good “deals” you will have to go at midnight from now on. You can effectively kiss a decent Thanksgiving goodbye at that point.

What you have been reading is my opinion. I realize some of my language may have been harsh. I also realize that some people believe that a retail worker gets what’s coming to him. If you didn’t want to be a slave to market pressures blah, blah, blah. I know all the talking points. Should you want to spout them in the comments, that is fine. I would prefer decent, respectable conversations though.

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The War on Drugs or the War on Us?

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Read those words carefully. They mean something. I am about to write about something that I very rarely discuss in public. My stance on this subject is controversial especially in coming from a semi-conservative person in Texas.

I came across this article in the L.A. Times that has my blood boiling. Apparently going after users of medical marijuana and those who supply them is about to become a top priority for a government that can barely afford to run itself anymore. According to the federal government’s classification system, cannabis has no medical value and a high potential for abuse. This is contrary to the many, many, many studies showing otherwise.

The reason I posted the above two Amendments from the Bill of Rights is because they are what I believe should be the deciding factor on why states should have the right to legalize marijuana for medicinal and even non-medicinal purposes. Of course the Supreme Court of the United States disagrees with me.

In Gonzales v. Raich, the SCOTUS decided that since Congress could ban marijuana for recreational use, then they could also ban it for medicinal use so that people couldn’t use it as a recreational drug. Yeah, anyone with half a brain can see the flaw in this argument. By that same reasoning we should outlaw alcohol because minors might use it. In fact, the ruling gives way to outlawing anything legal simply because someone may use it for illegal purposes.

In United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, the SCOTUS ruled that since Congress did not include a medical exception in the Controlled Substances Act, then California had no right to legalize marijuana for medical use. They claimed that only Congress and not the courts could make the decision about whether or not there should be an exception. I will explain shortly why that reasoning is invalid in this case.

The Controlled Substances Act is a federal law passed in 1970 that created 5 extremely arbitrary (my opinion) classes for drugs. The reasoning behind it is that Congress can make this law based on the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution (Article 1, section 8). The SCOUTS rulings in both Gonzalez and Oakland points out that only Congress has the right to regulate commerce between states. Unfortunately, this argument falls flat when it comes to states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal usage.

They base this on the idea that having legal marijuana in California would affect prices in other states. Therefor it would have an effect on interstate commerce. The problem there is that marijuana trafficking is illegal. How can you justify banning the legality of something in one place because it will cause price fluctuations in places that it is still illegal? Wouldn’t that mean that Congress has a duty to outlaw gambling at the federal level? After all, odds in Las Vegas have a direct affect on bookies taking illegal bets in New York!

Now, why did I put the 9th and 10th Amendments at the beginning of this post? Well, I believe those are the two Constitutional clauses that really count in this matter. First, the people of California and of 15 other states as well as D.C. have decided that medical marijuana is a right retained by their voters. The 9th Amendment prevents the federal government for usurping their choice. The 10th Amendment explicitly allows those states and the people residing in them the right to make these laws. Drugs in general are never once mentioned in the Constitution and the federal government is damned sure never given any authority over their regulation especially when they are confined within the borders of one state or the other. So long as the marijuana does not cross state lines, they have no vested interest in the matter.

So, that’s my take on the issue. Obama has decided to follow in Bush’s footsteps on this matter. Both Presidents stated that they would not expend federal resources harassing cancer patients. Both back peddled and gave in to pressure from the multi-billion dollar industry that is appropriately called the war on drugs. This is a war that has been declared on the American people by their own government. A good deal of us just go along with it though because we have to protect our children. What a load of crap!

Anyways, I will get off my soapbox now. Any comments or concerns are always welcomed. You can be sure that your opinion will be valued and taken in to consideration. Thank you for reading.

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Great Moments in Internet History Part 1

Hello everyone! I have decided to start randomly chronicling great moments in internet history. These will not be important events, but rather they will be random and LOL worthy events in the history of the internet. So let’s go ahead and get this train rolling!

LiveJournal says “NO” to fanfic!

Way, way back (in technology and internet time) people used a service called LiveJournal. It was a veritable wasteland of crappy fan fiction, crappier “blogs” (if you count angsty teenager whining about how horrible life is as a blog), and the crappiest thing of all: furries. At one point someone over at LiveJournal, then owned by SixApart, wisely decided enough is enough!

In May of 2007, LiveJournal mods were given a mission. They were told to seek out and destroy all fan fiction, more specifically slash fiction, involving Harry Potter and underage characters in general. Now, it is important to understand that these journals were not devoted to people simply extending J.K. Rowlings stories or putting the characters in different scenarios. No, not at all. These people were writing these characters in to various sexual scenarios. Bad writing? Check! Copyright violations? Maybe, maybe not. Pedophilia? Oh yeah, you better believe it!

Anyways, the user base was sent in to an uproar. They believed they should have been given some sort of warning. I personally wonder what type of warning that would have been. Maybe something like this, “excuse me sir/miss, but we really need you to go ahead and back up your smut involving underage children. Yeah, we are going to delete your possibly illegal material.”

People furiously protested the move by…well, by posting on LiveJournal. Of course there were threats of deleting accounts that were never followed up on, threats of taking it to the media as if they would care, and the almighty threat to sue for violation of something or another. The really strange part came when LiveJournal backed down. If any entity was ever in the right for so-called censorship it was LiveJournal on this issue. Their own terms of service banned any material that would encourage or condone any illegal behavior. I would call pedophilia pretty damned illegal.

So in the end the people stayed. The content was mostly restored. The people of LiveJournal were able to continue writing fan fiction about the homosexual relationship Harry had with Dumbledore to their heart’s content.

Google Becomes Evil!

Ah Google! Everyone loves them, or do they? Since it’s beginning in 1998, Google has had an unofficial motto of “Don’t Be Evil”. Sounds simple, right? I mean it’s not like evil is a subjective term or anything. Well, in 2004 they went public. Today Google has the highest price for a single piece of stock. That’s right, not even Apple and Exxon stock, the two most valuable overall companies in the world, can touch Google’s per share price. That by itself is enough to send most hipsters and hippies running, but what they did in 2005 made a lot of people look twice.

Google China was founded in 2005 in an effort to expand Google’s already huge market share in to China. China has over a billion potential customers which makes it practically the largest market in the world. In order to get in to that market, Google immediately started censoring the internet in mainland China. Yes, evil, according to many people, had invaded Google. Google’s argument was a sound one though. They believed that by working with and being a part of the IT industry in China that they could help to open up and ease censorship. How wrong they were!

Eventually the honeymoon ended when Google found that government sponsored hacking had been going on. That’s when Google decided they had had enough of China’s crap and moved operations to Hong Kong. They were done censoring and were officially taking their ball and going home. There was much rejoicing by the hippie community.

Okay, that’s going to be it for this week. Check back later for more adventures with Great Moments in Internet History!

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Thunderbird Rules

I just want to give a little shout out to one of my new favorite programs: Thunderbird. I have used in the past, but I never really could quite get the hang of it. I would always wind up going back to Outlook. I am a big proponent of open source software, but I am still willing to pay the devil his dues if it means I can get the job done. Until recently Outlook and its calendar were light-years ahead of the competition. Well, that is no longer the case.

With the newest revision of Thunderbird, 6.0.2, the pendulum has definitely swung in Mozilla’s favor. With a few simple add-ons like Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar, this email client becomes more of a home base for email and calendar activities. Thunderbird makes it easier to do everything in one program than having to jump around on the internet. Also, it is customizable with skins made by users just like you. Basically, you can make it as pretty as you want! Sure, you could technically do the same thing with Outlook, but it was no easy task. Also, with the aforementioned Provider for Google Calendar, you can sync both ways with your Google Calendar as well. Again, doable with Outlook, but far from easy or reliable.

So, if you are looking for a good email/calendar for your desktop, give Thunderbird a try. Don’t forget to donate if you like it. I think it is important to support open source software when we can.

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The “Good” Old Days

Today I had a revelation! Well, I guess “idea that I had never thought of” would be more appropriate, but we will just call it a revelation for now. I realized that time just doesn’t freaking stop. Ever. It kind of pisses me off. Why can’t I freeze time for a little while? It would make things a lot easier. I could get things done when they need to get done. I would never have to worry about balancing my video game time with all the other necessities of life. It would be fantastic to say the least. Unfortunately, the direction of time seems to be one way for now. Always moving forward, never stopping, and definitely never reversing.

So, what’s my point? I wanted to share with everyone some of the things that were big back in my day. For some, this stuff will be all to familiar. For other, well, we think what you kids are in to these days is crazy too, so don’t judge!

Having been born in 1980, my heyday was the mid-nineties. The first thing that should pop in to mind when you think of that era is the music. It was all grunge, all day back then. We listened to music that actually kicked ass and had a meaning or didn’t have a meaning if you asked our parents! To be fair, the nineties also saw a re-emergence of classic rock. Yep, right after jamming to some Nirvana we popped in a Beatles CD. That’s how cool we were. So first thing I would like to do is present you with my favorite grunge era bands.

Nirvana – Yeah, you knew they were going to be here. How could they not? Nirvana may not have invented the grunge movement, but they sure as hell spread it outside of the Seattle coffee shops. They wrote an anthem for my generation and we played it loud and proud.

See, our anthem was a song of unintelligible lyrics that were penned by a dirty heroin addict from the northwest. Our parents hated it just like their parents hated their choices. The cycle continues today.

See, crap….

There were plenty of other bands out there that defined my generation Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam (that’s not an official Pearl Jam video, I just find it to be hilarious), Blind Melon, Collective Soul, Candlebox, and of course The Cranberries (I was absolutely in love with Dolores O’Riordan).

There are countless one hit wonders from back then as well. Too many to put here, but that’s not the point. The point is that our music had a theme that seemed to reverberate with us as a whole. With that said, on to the clothing!

Grunge was the style of the day. I personally embraced it wholeheartedly. I had the flannel, the ripped up jeans, the long hair that was pulled back in to a ponytail, a random band or tie dyed t-shirt, and of course an over sized anarchy necklace.

Me, rocking the 90s hardcore!

Today I see people running around with clothing straight out of the 80s. What the hell is wrong with these kids? Don’t they know they 80s sucked? I was certain that was common knowledge. Much like our ridiculous style I expect this to fad back in to obscurity as well. I can only hope that the kids will move on to the 90s though. I have a tie dye t-shirt and a badass flannel sitting in the closet just waiting for their chance to relive their former glory.

I guess that is it for now. There are a lot of things I could cover, but I am not sure of their appropriateness. I doubt a discussion on the re-emergence of certain mind altering substances and the rapid expanse in use of other more natural herbal remedies would go well with future employers. Eh, who knows, maybe I will change my mind, but until then let me leave you with this: “Here we are now, entertain us, acting stupid and contagious”, yeah, that was us.

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Quit Looking at Teh Pornos!

Alright damn it, I really, really, really wish people would stop telling me that they do not know where the virus on their computer came from. You and I both know that you know where it originated! There are two likely candidates and a third one that is iffy at best.

First, your virus came from some sort of file sharing program. I know this because I traced it to multiple infected files that reside in your “share” folder. I realize the temptation to download a “free” copy of MacGruber is simply too irresistible, but at least be smart about it and scan the damn thing before you open it! By the way, move those files after you have scanned them for the love of god! That’s how people get busted and sued. Music and movie companies don’t care about the people who download a movie or a song here and there; they want the people who are sharing those files. Just stop it. You know who you are and I hate you.

YOU!

The second most likely place you got that virus is from perusing sites that feature carnal recreation (which surprisingly returns rather tame pictures on Google image search). Now, I understand, I really do, but come on. Seriously, be smart about it. I promise you none of those ads will deliver on the promises they make. Stay away from them! Believe it or not, in most cases malicious software does not originate from most adult sites, it’s the ads that slip that stuff in. Learn to install ad and script blockers. A simple search on the magical eight ball known as Google will reveal all the answers. I promise. Really.

Uh, you should probably shake it again. Just sayin'.

Finally, the least likely place to get a virus, but the one people want to blame the most: Facebook. Okay old people, Facebook by itself is not a virus. It will not magically install a virus on your computer just because your granddaughter logged in that one time last year. No, the way you get that malicious software is by clicking on every little email or link that your “friend” sends you. Also, quit installing every single little game on there that catches your eye. I sincerely believe that virtual crops are about as much fun to water as real crops.

Woohoo!!!

Going back to clicking on links that show up from your “friends”. I am sure you are wondering why I am putting friends in quotations. See, here is the thing: your account as well as all of your friend’s accounts have likely been hacked at one point in time or another. Well, more likely you willingly gave your account information to some malcontents unwittingly when you signed in to play a “free” game. So now your friends are not these guys:

Awww, they're so old it makes them cute again!

Instead they are these guys:

Hello! I is pleased to meet you. I have matter of great confidentiality.

The bottom line is that malicious software is completely with in your control. Slap on some anti-virus software (the free stuff from your provider DOES NOT COUNT) and practice safe surfing. If you fail to heed my advice, that’s fine. I will be happy to take your money.

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Take Care of Yourself

So my school day ended on a very interesting note this morning. While walking back to the parking lot off Cooper Street I apparently passed out. The scary part is that I was on the staircase of the bridge that crosses over Mitchell. Three very kind people stopped to help me out.

Two of the guys were students and the third guy was a member of UTA’s wonderful landscaping/maintenance team. They stayed with me and called for help. I wish I knew who they were or how I could reach out to them to give them my heartfelt thanks. Sometimes it is easier to keep walking than it is to stop and help a complete stranger. Random acts of kindness are what truly make this world worth its while.

Anyways, I was apparently severely dehydrated. I had to ask myself how that can happen. I like to think I am a fairly healthy person. This whole event made me step back and think. I attend classes full-time. Since I only have seven classes left until I graduate it would be foolish to do anything less than 12 hours. I work damn near full-time hours in a retail location. I have 3 children one of which is slightly older than a month. To say life is stressful right now is putting it mildly. In all of the confusion I forgot one very important thing. I forgot to take care of myself. Drinking plenty of water and eating right are evidently important.

With all that being said, let this be a warning to everyone else. Take care of yourself. No matter how hard life gets or how big your responsibilities are you have to look out for yourself. If not then none of the rest of it matters.

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