lovehate: Vegas (Part 2)

Having lost more money, eaten more buffet food, cursed more expletives, taken every god's (and even a few goddesses) names in vain, my first comped Escalade limo rides to and from the airport (see below), walked up and down the Strip in heat that is only suitable for fallen angels, seen thousands of octogenarians "become one" with a slot machine (not often a pretty sight), wanted to hit a dozen twenty-something guys for standing on 12 when the dealer was showing a face card because their "expert" buddy told them they could bust if they take a card, aghast (yet often transfixed) on what passes as a "clubbing" dress for twenty-something women these days, felt pitied for my luck by several dealers and looked at with a "you stupid bastard - take the rest of your money and go to bed" look by others, been awoken by a fire alarm in my Strip hotel at 7:30am (after getting to bed at 5:00am) only to have it sporadically go off another dozen or so times over the next two hours, each time prompting me to scan the Nevada skyline for a mushroom cloud that may indicated re-instated atomic testing or expecting to hear "DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!" in U-boat fashion, and, finally, sat on a discount airline across from a screaming baby for 4.5 hours while trying to find 11 on my Nano's volume setting, I am still unsure about whether to love or hate Las Vegas.

I will try to refine my opinion after my visit in December.

* please don't think that a comped room and limo indicates that I'm a high roller of any sort.  They seem to get more of my money every time and I believe my official status in their eyes has moved from "low-roller" to "not-so-low-roller".

thinglets: Easter Island

Desk sweep (right to left): DVD boxset of every Star Trek film, Hewlett Packard printer manual, stack of old invoices and utility statements, unused disconnected inkjet printer, 200 CD/DVD binder (full), right-channel speaker, three stacks of compact discs, one stack of cassette tapes, three VHS tapes, scattered burned CDs and DVDs (some on spindles, some not), ball-point pen / AM/FM radio, CD/DVD labelling device, PC tower case (dual core, 500GB, 2GB RAM, DVD, DVDR), 7 port USB hub, external 800GB HD, wireless FM audio transmitter, All-in-one printer/scanner/copier (see aforementioned manual), USB cords (digital camera, 2GB I-pod shuffle, 8GB I-pod nano (3rd gen.), Motorola KRZR cellphone), 17” flatscreen monitor, cheap plastic hologram refraction simulator, property tax bill, digital camera mount, old but enduring stereo amplifier, cable modem, 3 CD spindle tops upturned and filled with assorted crap, cordless phone, box of business cards, two more stacks of CDs, left stereo speaker, spindle of REALLY old software CDs, a final stack of files, books, magazines and assorted papers topped with the Season One DVD boxset of The West Wing, and a box of Kleenex cleverly disguised by a plastic cover that resembles a stone head statue from Easter Island.

lovehate: Digg Obsession

Okay, I like Digg... I guess you could say I dig Digg, mostly because I can often find stuff that's kind of interesting while only wading through 90% crap instead of 99.9%, but there's a certain point where one just has to give up on thinking that any type of aggregator, whether user-driven or automated by some crazy algorithm, is responsible for some sort of journalistic integrity.  I really couldn't care less whether I ever get an article on the front page of Digg or not.  Sure, I've sent in a couple of things in fits of boredom, but linking people to an article with an accompanying blurb isn't reporting or publishing or being creative.  In fact, me getting my ya-yas out rambling and ranting about things I love and hate barely meets that threshold (but it helps keep the cobwebs out).  If submitting a link to Digg becomes anything more than a hobby and studying back issues of the New York Post to come up with the perfectly crafted, yet scandalous headline becomes a second job - take a critical look at yourself in the mirror, then go lie down and listen to Timewind by Klaus Schulze.

People are sending open letters to Kevin Rose about how Digg's algorithm is somehow part of some vast conspiracy to shut certain people out.  Guess what? If I send a letter to the New York Times, they don't have to publish it. In the same way, Digg doesn't have to "front page" anything it doesn't want to.  The Dark Tipper came up with a great idea to make money on the web, and he's doing just that.  Digg is not an autonomous collective where anyone and everyone gets a say about everything.  Sure, you'll get to vote on things, but face it folks, Digg is a business.  If they can generate a front page that will drive more banner ad pops, that's what they're going to do. More power to them. If you don't like it, code your own social news aggregator.

I know this isn't a new phenomenon.  Our ancestors were bickering about media gatekeepers back to when fights broke out over who got the biggest piece of charred driftwood to draw on the best-lit section of the cave wall.  Why should Digg be any different than any radio or television station that you don't like? If you think the Digg algorithm is conspiratorial, delete your bookmark and spend your time in a more noble pursuit: finding any mass medium that is unbiased.  When it comes to obsession over expected integrity of Digg or mass media in general...


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thinglets: bacon

A casual flirtation with the wireless mouse incites drop-down menus and radial buttons and pop-up advertisements about male enhancements while I ponder an inexhaustible list of options upon choices upon combinations made even more exasperating by the 56"-inch television that's insisting upon a choice between a sappy police drama or the PIP baseball game that's going to the seventh-inning stretch when I finally punch the send button and am devastated twenty minutes later when my large pizza has bacon instead of Italian sausage.

lovehate: Concept Cars

"An air-car you could see in 2009"

So I know that I'm supposed to be all "Rah-Rah" for vehicles that reduce my carbon footprint... or skid mark... or whatever the hell it's called when a BF Goodrich steel-belted radial is involved.  And it's not that I don't think a car that runs on air or water or manure or vinegar or corn isn't a good idea.  I was born, grew up and still live in a city where people have to throw out their ice cream because of toxic particles descending from the heavens. I breathe in more crap before 8am than an Olympic athlete in Beijing... well... maybe 10am.

And it's not that all of my sci-fi geek hopes were dashed when the writer of the article had me believing for at least the 5 seconds I was waiting for the page to load that I was going to be able to fly the particle-filled skies like George Jetson.

What it really is the time that gets wasted every year filling my head with the promise that these bizarrely-shaped vehicles will ever make it to the road.  No, it's not that I don't believe some of the technology will not incorporated into the average 2009 coupe. It's just that the focus of every car show are these crazy, bubble-shaped, alien fishhooks that we drool over on lame CNN reports by Miles O'Brien with an accompanying piece on the threats of future vehicle lumbar support by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They've been showcasing these concept cars for years on revolving gameshow turntables while vacuous models strike weather-vane poses to the drones of Yello's "Oh Yeah".  I've never seen one of these death traps on the street. 

And for all of you Car and Driver aficionados who achieve post-coital shudder whenever there's a back cover fold-out ad for the new Ford Mustang, don't get all up in arms and quip "that's why they call them concept cars". Maybe you'll be exciting to test pilot the new "concept" food additive yet-to-be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  Maybe you'd like to mount the turntable while the aforementioned "vacuous model" injects you a new "concept" Viagra that may or may not make your testicles fall off.  Maybe you'd like to buy front row seat at a test range in the Nevada desert as they try out a new "concept" warhead.

If they can make a car that runs on air - MAKE IT! Don't get my hopes up then dash them as I'm still inhaling petroleum exhaust 20 years from now.

Until then, I'm waiting for The Homer by Powell Motors.


lovehate: Las Vegas

The waste is absolutely incredible.

They've got a lightbulb that planes can see from Los Angeles. They've killed thousands of trees a year to produce laminated cards that seedy characters whack on their leg, advertising silicon-laden escorts that'll do the macarena or the Dirty Sanchez. They've totally thrown scale to the wind by creating hotel/casinos that are measured in square miles and when the MGM Grand's 5000 rooms seemed insurmountable, the Venetian built a second tower (The Palazzo) to bring its total to a mere 7000!

You can lose your 20, 50, or 100 dollar bill in the time it takes to steal a glance at the scantilly-clad cocktail waitress that is bringing your free mojito as the blackjack dealer draws a 5 on her 16 after you've doubled down your 11 and pulled a 9.  You inhale the second hand smoke from an entire carton of Kools while walking 10 feet through the Gold Spike's penny slot aisles. You can play golf at an 18 hole course ON THE FREAKIN' STRIP while over the property wall homeless Las Vegans beg for change.

The city is a sauna.  This Friday it's going to be 40 degrees celsius. That's like a billion degrees fahrenheit! You better be gambling and drinking free or you'll end up looking like Phyllis Diller after traipsing nary a block down the Strip.

There is no quick way to get up and down the Strip unless you're willing to walk six blocks to and from near vacant Monorail stations reminiscent of Brockway, North Haverbrook and Ogdenville.

There's so much wrong with the place that for the sake of the residents I would like to say I "like" Las Vegas - instead...


lovehate: New Facebook Profiles

While Twitter has achieved a certain mainstream appeal in the geek-savvy community, the omnipresent whale stands to make players out of Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, while denying Twitter any hope of crossing into general societal mainstream use.  The same mainstream use that Facebook has had for some time now – put it this way, if one of your parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents has a Facebook profile, you know we've "crossed the breach".

While I've certainly loved the open approach that Facebook has taken with letting developers create some fantastic (and a whole slew of absolutely craptastic) apps and profile boxes, my biggest complaint for the past year has been wading through the endless Fun Walls, Super Walls, Scrabulous stats, Compare People lists, Super Pokes, and ILike icons to find something on MY OWN PROFILE. (Yeah, I know I could click those little icons up at the top left to get to the widget I want, but I've got half of them buried)

The preview build of the new Facebook profile template has become more portal-like, reminding me of i-Google ability to have tabs for different content, allowing for the front page to contain your wall and some of the other vital profile stats.  While I'm sure there will be some purists who will complain that their friends will now have to expend energies that extend beyond a scrollwheel to "give you more cowbell", the redesign is sure to cure some of my persistent scrolling headaches.  I don't know how customizable they plan on making the tabs, but I'm betting that Facebook (with its MS funding) is going to try and take a run at being your new homepage/portal.  When they make it simple to create your own RSS feed widget, like in I-Google, the game will be afoot.