Sunday, August 31

does this meaning Wednesday's tornado siren test is cancelled?

The National Weather Service says:






Saturday, August 30

poor choice of words

I had to laugh when I read the headline for Peter Baker's column in today's New York Times: Choice of Palin Is a Bold Move by McCain, With Risks.

Now, I don't blame Peter because he didn't use the word "bold" in the article; thus, the error was induced by one of the editors.

You see, the correct term to use is not bold, but reckless. Contemptible, perhaps. John Sidney McCain has sunk so low in his quest for power that he's willing to risk America to the likes of a FAR right-wing female, whose claim to fame is that she looks like the proverbial "naughty librarian" of porn star fame. I suspect Reckless John thinks he'll snag some disaffected Hillary voters.

The only amusing part of this whole charade was watching Reckless John trying to sneak a peek at Palin's tits when he stood alongside her in Dayton. Maybe he was fantasizing about Wife 3.0 (Cindy has surely bitch-slapped him by now)

We don't deserve this. If, by some perverted fluke of fate, Reckless John were to be elected in November, followed by his inevitable death a few months later, we'd be left with this IDiot who denies global warming, evolution, and even the right of the Alaskan polar bears to survive.

It's not all Reckless John's fault, mind you. If Sarah Palin had an ounce of pride for her country, she would have (politely, of course) told McCain NO when he asked her to be his running mate. She knows she's unqualified, yet she (apparently) shares McCain's contempt for America, and said yes. Hell, there are sixteen (16) US cities with a larger population than Alaska .. why couldn't Reckless John pick one of their mayors instead?

While watching The Charade In Dayton, I had a flashback to 1988 when King George I introduced Dan Quayle as his running mate. I'll be the first to acknowledge that my first impression of J. Danforth was completely off the mark; I suspected Quayle would be a good choice and it wasn't until later that the extent of his buffoonery became apparent (his stupidity is legendary).

In about 65 days, I'm hoping this will fade away to just a bad memory. With far better access to archival information now, and The Blogosphere (not to mention The Daily Show), I suspect the extent of Sarah Palin's inner self will quickly become obvious. The Republic Party fully deserves the landslide it's about to face.

Friday, August 29

is this what they mean by a "Hail Sarah" ?

The First Big Test for the POTUS nominees is often their choice of running mate.

Barack Obama chose a sane, seasoned foreign policy guru.

John McCain chose an ex-beauty queen who was part-time mayor of an Alaskan village two years ago. And she could have her pretty little French Nails on the "nucular trigger" when John McCain dies early next year.

Rumor has it that even Dan Quayle and Geraldine Ferraro are baffled.

I'm guessing John Sidney McCain watched Obama's speech in Denver and threw Tim Pawlenty under the bus at the Very Last Second.

Worth noting:
The population of Alaska was 663,661 (2005).
Even Collin County, Texas (Plano, etc) is larger - at 748,050.
The population of Dallas (city) is 1,300,350 .. about double that of ALL of Alaska.

Wednesday, August 27

the faces of evil

A week ago, religious cult leader Rick Warren asked Obama and McCain about evil; wisely, they both acknowledged that it exists (wow! how controversial! what a lame question!).

Today, there are various Faces Of Evil:

# 1 - meth head assassins

I wonder if these White Christian Republicans [Tharin Robert Gartrell, 28; Nathan Johnson, 32; and Shawn Adolf, 33] knew they'd be famous more than 48 hours ahead of the time they planned to assassinate Senator Obama? I wonder how long it'll be before Gartrell and his gang are linked to Karl Christian Rove, and whether he financed them?

# 2 - swiftboat bigots

They may also wish to look for financial links from alleged white supremacist misunderstood tycoon Harold C. Simmons, who lives here in Dallas.

Simmons is the billionaire scumbag Texas sweetheart who's financing this year's swiftboat ad about Barack Obama. He has practice; he did the same thing to John Kerry in 2004 which is why we got Four More Years of George W. Bush.

At least Simmons is following Republic Golden Rule #3: Lie, then lie some more. He understands that the small-minded fools who make up the base of the Republic Party will believe most anything.

# 3 - Karl Christian Rove (and his co-conspirators at Fox "News")

I look forward to the day when the US version of The Nuremberg Trials are held, with these defendants getting the same fate as the Nazi leaders.

If we still had The Fairness Doctrine, they'd all be off the air by now.

Tuesday, August 26

the impartince of good speling

On one of the mailing lists I'm on, the following "conversation" took place yesterday:
... sent out a memo about using there name as a generic name for air ambulance. At our place the reporters were told to use "Air Ambilance"

then someone asked what an "Ambilance" was.

A third person chimed in with "So now we're complaining about spelling error's??"
Oy, vey.

Part of the reason the rest of the world (rightly so) sees Texas as a hillbilly backwater is because the vast majority of natives here can't spell (or grammar) their way out of a wet paper bag. In the first two sentences above, there are two errors. In the last sentence, there is one. I didn't see the use in correcting "error's" but couldn't help but feel sorry for the writer.

When I read something (whether online or in print) it's distracting to deal with the near-constant grammar errors, misspelling and misuse of punctuation. I don't understand how students can get a diploma when they can't complete even one sentence without an error that those of us with half a brain will trip over as we try to understand what they're saying.

Then, as seen in the second sentence above, someone else has the audacity to defend these errors under the guise that "smart people can figure out what he's trying to say". It's enough to make me want to take away "they're diploma" [sic] until they can converse like rational adults.

Perhaps they were home schooled, and their parents were incapable of correcting the errors, or didn't want Little Joe Bob to have poor self esteem, so they gave them a passing score although it was undeserved.

All of us make occasional typos, but with the ubiquity of spell checkers and grammar checkers, there's no excuse for such clumsiness; it simply breeds more and more bad behavior, until communication devolves into what passes for Acceptable via Text Messaging.

Monday, August 25

advice for Tuesday: DO NOT BREATHE


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued a Level Red Air Pollution Watch for the Dallas-Fort Worth area for Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

Atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for producing high levels of ozone air pollution in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Tuesday. Ozone levels could reach the Level Red "Unhealthy" category.

Elevated concentrations of ozone can act as a lung irritant. Individuals with chronic lung disease, such as asthma and emphysema, as well as the elderly and young children, are particularly sensitive to ozone and should attempt to avoid exposure. To avoid exposure, minimize exertion outdoors during the mid-day to early evening hours or stay indoors in an air-conditioned room during this time.

Saturday, August 23

John McCain: "a noun, a verb, and P.O.W."

I think I'm gonna like what Joe Biden adds to The Race, especially if he makes a slight modification to his comment that sunk Rudy Giuliani's campaign:

Related: Maureen Dowd's column: Too Much of a Bad Thing

Also, a quick comment about how John Sidney McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns: well, duh. Most of them are million-dollar condos that (2nd) wife Cindy bought; he's probably never even been in half of them.

Just like Cindy bought John McCain himself; she wanted a Trophy Husband (think: airhead) and that's what she got. As I've told people over-and-over-and-over: FOLLOW THE MONEY.

The one who pulls John McCain's strings is his chief financial backer: CINDY. That's what makes this a must-read article: Made Man - How Cindy Hensley invented John McCain, even if it is on the long side.

Thursday, August 21

A fable about Russia and Georgia

I know millions (billions?) of you are hanging by your fingertips, waiting on my opinion regarding the Russian invasion of Georgia. If you expect me to back John McCain, whose mantra is "War! War! Invade! Invade!" .. well, you're sadly mistaken.

Kindly allow me to paint a picture for you:
  1. Let's assume the USA decides to make Georgia a strategic ally.
  2. The USA sells lots of arms to the Georgians. Yes, they know Russia is next door.
  3. Separately, the USA announces plans to put missiles in Poland.
  4. Next, two of the 11 Georgian states (with large numbers of Russian expats) say they no longer want to be part of Georgia.
  5. Georgia sends in federal troops to prevent that from happening.
  6. In order to "protect the Russian expats", Russia invades Georgia.
  7. Now, the UN blames Russia for invading.
  8. A war-first US Senator (running for President) pledges his support for Georgia.
  9. Meanwhile, the USA sits back, ready to sell Georgia more weapons as soon as the coast is clear.
Now, for purposes of argument, let's switch the names of the players:

USA -> Russia
Georgia -> Mexico
Poland -> Cuba
Russia -> USA
  1. Let's assume Russia decides to make Mexico a strategic ally.
  2. Russia sells lots of arms to the Mexicans. Yes, they know the USA is next door.
  3. Separately, Russia announces plans to put missiles in Cuba.
  4. Next, two of the 31 Mexican states (with large numbers of US expats) say they no longer want to be part of Mexico.
  5. Mexico sends in federal troops to prevent that from happening.
  6. In order to "protect the US expats", the USA invades Mexico.
  7. Now, the UN blames the USA for invading.
  8. A war-first Russian Senator (running for President) pledges his support for Mexico.
  9. Meanwhile, the Russians sit back, ready to sell Mexico more weapons as soon as the coast is clear.
Now, what do you think? Still think this is worth (maybe nuclear) war?

Tuesday, August 19

Progressive Sockpuppetry 101

In the next 76 days or so, increasing numbers of progressives/liberals/Democrats will be called upon to perform sockpuppetry -- pretending to be someone you're not. This blog entry will explain the basics, so that you don't get busted immediately.
It's worth noting that regressives/conservatives/Republic(an)s have been sockpuppeting for years, although they're still not very good at it. It's not their fault; it's much more difficult for someone stupid to appear smart, than vice-versa.
Naturally, it's best to observe first, before jumping head-first into this (but don't observe too long; the election's only a few weeks away). Fortunately, there are millions of blogs; videos and media columns Out There, with comments enabled. Read and learn, then have some fun.

Progressives who wish to participate in this charade (presumably while commenting on a news column, or a blog) may find this list useful:
  1. Decide upon a right-wing sounding name. Republics love to think of themselves as Defenders of The Faith, so anything that reminds the viewer of that trait will give you an advantage. Examples: flagwaver911; jesuslovesyou316; proudirishgal (note that none of these use UCC) are all good examples that will be immediately accepted by the Right Wing Sociopaths. Names such as LiberalLenny or SatanWorshipper will get you busted before you can say "Gimme a Bud".

  2. Don't use your real email address. Almost anything with an @ sign in the middle will pass The Stupid Filter that's in use on most sites. Occasionally, clear your history by repeatedly pressing the [Delete] key while in the Name/Email field.

  3. It's probably best to leave the website field blank. If you must, I suggest you use one of the many "fake news" sites out there, like; or even

  4. (Optional, for the paranoid among us:) If you really want to be crafty, use an ISP with dynamic IP addresses (and reboot after each posting, being sure to set your DHCP lease to 10 minutes or so) ... or ... use one of the sites/plugins which masks your IP address.

  5. Even though most Republics are in the middle class, they fancy themselves as being Rich Rich Rich. This is one of the accomplishments of Karl Rove; he's convinced them to vote against their own best interests, to enact policies that help the richest 1% become even richer, while Royally Screwing everyone else. Very few Republics have discovered this fraud. Some Republics are spammers who live from one Get Rich Quick scheme to the next and live in single-wide trailers or their uncle's basement. Their diet consists of pork rinds and Easy Cheese. Yet, I digress.

  6. Turn off your spell checker and/or grammar checkers. Republics never learned how to spell or use correct grammar and view anyone who can do so as "elitist" (i.e. "smart"), which is immediate cause for suspicion. Be sure to misuse homonyms* such as "too/two/to"; "there/thair/theyre [sic]"; "hear/here"; ; "wear/ware"; "are/our". Try not to misspell too many words; even Republics can spell a few words. You might also trying writing like a 13-year old girl would text message ("OMG!! I M GNA B L8")
    * they think homonym means "Gay Word"
  7. Never use a word that would force a 10+ year old to consult a dictionary. If you're using "big people words" you'll be instantly spotted as a fraud.

  8. Use lots of exclamation marks, and capitalize the wrong words. Example: "Hear in AMERICA We love Freedom!!!!!!!!!!!" Complete throw out everything you every learned about punctuation, run-on sentences, etc.

  9. For American sites: use lots of Christian religious references, especially when they have no bearing on the topic. Example: "OMG!!!! It says in REVELATION thet the Antichrist will come from Lithuaina!!!!" It's best to avoid citing specific passages because some of Them have memorized everything, like Muslims who memorize the Quran. Sprinkle in an occasional "Bless your heart" or "Praise the Lord!!!" for added effect. Even They aren't stupid enough to think that "John 6:66" is a real reference, so don't attempt such a juvenile tactic.

  10. Above all, try to remember what it was like to argue with a 7-year old. Since the bulk of school bullies will grow up to be Republics, if you argue like a 7-year old bully, odds are nobody will out you. Don't forget to demean your opponent. Example: "Why doesn't Barry HUSSANE Osama ware a Flag!?!?! He must be a muslum who hats AMERICA!!!!" .. or .. "Are you stopid or WHAT!!!". This will endear you to White Christian Republics, who generally have an IQ around 75 - the median in their Grand Old Party. Be careful not to use reasoning in any argument; you'll be wasting your time. It would be easier to teach a pig to sing.

  11. Keep your comments brief. Republics have a very limited attention span and no ability to read more than a few lines without wishing for a cold Bud, or talkin' about theyre dream team, or what gun to use to Kill a Libreal, etc. Their distraction threshold is very low. As you've noticed with John McCain, you should avoid multi-part questions altogether.

Sometimes it's good fun to post a random stupidity to one of their websites/blogs, since the odds of being discovered are slim-to-none. That said, this gets boring fast as there's little challenge involved. Going onto Bill O'Reilly's site and telling him "I watch yo show every Night and YOU KICK LIBEREL ASS!!!! I want to half your Baby!!!" will undoubtedly be approved by their screeners without a second glance.

Here's something that may annoy the sane people among us, so please don't overdo it: post nonsense to a sane website, sockpuppeting as A Republic. Example: when a scientist has explained string theory, comment (as flagwaver911) that "Yer String Thoery is NOT in The Bible and you will shirly BURN IN HELL!!!!!" which is both a non sequitur as well as a way for that site's sane humans to prejudge all White Christian Republics to be morons, saving them valuable time in the future when they encounter such oafs (oaves?).

Sunday, August 17

ordeal at the drive-thru

Last night, I moseyed over to a local store to fetch some CFLs that were priced at 59c each (I bought 6 of them - for me, that's a lifetime supply of these low-wattage bulbs).

Afterwards, I stopped at a local drive-thru for a sandwich and a drink, and that's when things got interesting.

I happened to arrive moments after two guys in a small white pickup attempted to place their order. Alternating ordering through their window, and opening the truck's door to talk .. they ordered about $30 worth of fast food (it wasn't hard to hear their order - lots of sandwiches with each condiment specified - e.g. "hamburger with lettuce, ketchup and onions .. (long pause) ... cheeseburger with mustard and tomato .." etc.) This should've told me that I was in for a long wait, but .. I decided to stay, since this was the last thing on My Agenda For The Night.

Next, they pulled up to the window and the clerk handed their four (4) drinks to the driver, then waited for the money. Another long pause. I guess Company Policy is that if someone leaves without paying, they didn't lose much since the profit on soda is about 96%. The driver handed two folded bills - one by one - out the window, over his left shoulder, without looking .. since he and the passenger were by then anxiously searching for something inside the cab. I mentally noted their license plate number.

Next, the passenger's door opens halfway, enough for him to stick his legs outside while continuing to search for something inside the truck. Then, the driver exited the cab, presumably to see if he'd been sitting on Whatever. It was then I could see he was wearing knee-length red satin trunks - something a Pimp Basketball team would wear.

Next, the driver got out of the truck completely and proceeded to walk past my car very slowly until he reached the drive-thru's order board. Still not finding what he was looking for, he came alongside my side of the car (by then I had locked the doors) and got back inside the truck, still searching.

At that point, I decided to cut my losses and backup .. perhaps leave. Once I'd backed up, the driver made another inspection of the drive-thru lane, a bit more meticulously than at first.

Now, this is the only drive-thru in Dallas with two lanes (like the In-N-Out Burgers on the west coast). Rather than leave, I decided to switch lanes, even if it meant stretching across the front seat to handle my transaction through the passenger window. Only then could I see that there were two SUVs in front of me. Lovely .. this had already turned into a 10-minute ordeal and was likely to be longer. Backing up from the left lane would be much more challenging. Now, I was stuck.

Eventually (another 5 minutes passed) I reached the window, and handed my cash out the passenger window, explaining to the clerk that I'd switched. "Yes, I noticed" he said, "... sorry about that". He then explained that the two guys in the pickup were Very Drunk and "had been smoking something they shouldn't have". Ah, that explained a lot.

So, the two guys in the little white pickup were drunk and stoned (hence the munchies), and had lost their bag-o-weed, hence the frantic search inside the cab.

This made me wonder what responsibility - if any - the fast food clerk had, to call the police and turn these drunk stoners over before they kill someone. Then again, they may still be at the drive-thru today, searching for Whatever.

Saturday, August 16

Republic Party Credo, pre-convention update

It appears the Republic Party Credo missed two items .. so, numbers 8 and 9 have been added:
  1. Never, EVER take responsibility.
  2. Always blame the Democrats - for everything.
  3. Lie, then lie some more. Everybody Knows™ that if you repeat something 3 times, it becomes True! You may even start believing the lies yourself.
  4. Learn how to speak out of both sides of your mouth, without flinching. Develop a negative twist to everything your opponent does, even if it's just walking across the street.
  5. Trivialize everything your opponent says. Take a seemingly-insignificant phrase out of context, and tell your audience that was the primary message. Say it with a sneer, if possible.
  6. If you're an elected Republic, learn how to obfuscate and delay - those are GOP SOP (2007-8 Republic senators have filibustered more bills than any Congress in history)
  7. Never forget that most voters do not follow politics, so pander to them, always. You are there to get their vote, not educate them.
  8. Distract the voters! When they ask about the economy, or the war, or health care, ask them why they're not wearing an American flag lapel pin, or why they hate America.
  9. Never admit you're wrong; that is a sign of weakness.

As I explained to LWB:
One thing you have to understand about Republicans in general : they are simple people. They want easy, simple answers to life's problems and get confused whenever the answer is even mildly complex. If you try to argue with them, they'll become frustrated and angry, because they've already concluded that the simple answer is logical.

I've found it easier to talk to them if I pretend i'm talking to an 8-year old, and explain things in very simple ways. Many of them made it through school either because their rich parents asked for favors, or .. just the problem with education in general where there's significant pressure to pass students.

Haven't you noticed how few Texans can read/write without making frequent spelling and grammar errors? Their priorities are all wrong; they put more emphasis on the weekly football game, or how the cheerleader's hair looks, than education. There are exceptions, of course; those are called "Democrats".

It would be funny if it weren't so serious. Republicans vote like they're selecting a next-door neighbor. Democrats vote like they're selecting someone for a JOB - as US President, in this case.

Originally posted on 8 July 2008

Friday, August 15

upcoming feature: The Bay of Pigs II

Doesn't anyone in Washington know how to read a history book?

After I read this in The Australian: Poland, US reach missile shield deal, I started counting how long it will take for the Russians to place some "defensive missiles" in Cuba, just like they did in 1962.

Now: lather, rinse, repeat.

For those of you who don't remember, read about the Cuban Missile Crisis, paying special attention to the part about the US missiles in Turkey.

George Dubya Bush, June 2001, on Vladimir Putin:
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul."
Well, golly, I feel better already. Guess it's time to update my will, not that there will be anyone left to inherit ...

Thursday, August 14

Wednesday, August 13

guilt-free in Arkansas

One thing that will probably not come out in the story about Timothy Dale Johnson (the Arkansas man who assassinated* Democratic super delegate Bill Gwatney (Arkansas Democratic Chairman)) earlier today:
What radio station was he listening to (in his blue pickup)?
I'd bet dollars-to-doughnuts that it was Ann Coulter, commanding him (and anyone else who would listen) to murder as many "Libbberals" as possible. The fact that he didn't use Coulter's designated implement - the baseball bat - is mostly irrelevant. Why he chose not to murder a security guard at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention office (a few minutes after Gwatney's assassination) remains a mystery.
Oddly, had he not threatened that security guard, he might have gotten away with the crime. That worker provided the man's vehicle description, as documented on The Arkansas Times' blog.
This comes just over two weeks after another Coulter disciple, Jim David Adkisson, murdered two (and wounded seven) people at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, which was known for daring to be inclusive/tolerant - something that Coulter (and her millionaire accomplices - Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, etc) - find abhorrent.

As I understand it, Johnson was fired from his job after he wrote graffiti on a wall at the Target grocery in Conway, Arkansas. He went home, loaded his guns and proceeded to find the state's top Democrat and assassinate him. Ann Coulter must be very, very proud of her henchman.

* The fact that he asked for Gwatney by name makes this an assassination.

Friday update: looks like there are others advocating the killing of Democrats: The Right

Monday, August 11

history repeats itself ?

While watching the news of Russia's invasion of Georgia, I can't help but be reminded of the German invasion of Poland in 1939, which started World War II.

Both started with fabricated "reasons" for the invasion, with both resulting in the capture of the (formerly) sovereign nation. Yes, I know Putin hasn't completed the capture of the Georgian capital yet - that's only a matter of time.

What am I missing with this parallel?

Tuesday update: McCain is "too dangerous and unstable to be president", says Josh Marshall.

Thursday, August 7

Fox "News" : even more unfair and unbalanced

News item: Bill Orally O'Reilly of Fox "News" threatens Barack Obama. The world yawns.

Bill O'Reilly Warns Obama About "Investigative" Campaign Coverage (with appropriate continued kudos to the News Hounds)

Wednesday, August 6

Hi, I'm Pete Sessions and I'm your moron

"Ignorance can be cured through education, but there is no cure for stupid."
- anonymous
For the past several days, I've been targeted by a thinly-veiled "auto-dialer to re-elect Pete Sessions" -- in theory, he's my US Congressman. In truth, he's just another Republic Party Moron, who only reaches out to us constituents when it's election time.

This one was a fairly typical Republic survey (lasting about three (3) minutes) where they ask loaded questions designed to pander to the Republic Party base. Only yes or no answers are accepted - so if you'd like to reply "maybe" or "it depends" then you're out of luck. In this one, he repeats "Pete Sessions, your congressman" at least 4 times. I suspect that's because surveys show he has virtually no name recognition, and does nothing other than vote the way his Republic Party leaders order him. Pete Sessions is incapable/unwilling to think for himself.

Sessions' claim to fame is that he's the one responsible for gerrymandering the district and taking away our real Congressman, Martin Frost, in a Karl Rove-inspired slander campaign. Since then, we've been without real representation.

The twist on this call is that it was recorded by the candidate, so it was almost like (golly!) he was talking to me. Of course, in real life that doesn't happen.
Two of the questions concerned nuclear energy, which Pete Sessions calls "NUCULAR" (just like his bootlicker, George Dubya Bush). One of my first insights into whether a person has an IQ above 100 is their ability to pronounce the word NUCLEAR and .. no surprise .. Sessions fails that test.
I've blogged about this before, but it bears repeating: my two US senators (Hutchison and Cornyn) and my US congressman (Sessions) are all Bush-licking Republics, which means that I have no representation. All three of these clowns are there to support Big Oil and other large donors, and couldn't care less about the people who live here, except in the few weeks preceding any election where they use their franking (free mail) and auto-dialers to give the illusion that they're doing something.

Sadly, most Texan voters are poorly educated and will re-elect these clowns year after year (none of the three have any discernable skills, other than pandering).

Monday, August 4

hot? that ain't hot!

One of the advantages of my conversion (years ago) to Celsius: in the summertime, it doesn't seem as hot when "the mercury" never hits 100 degrees.

So, just for Texans, here's a Simplificated Celsius Tempricher Chart:

40damn hot

Sunday, August 3

hello, digital TV

News item:
"full-power analog (NTSC) signals cease in the USA on February 17, 2009"
Stuart Smalley would want to know how that affects him and the answer is "maybe not at all". If you have existing cable or satellite service, your analog TV will be fine. If you've bought a TV in the past few years, odds are it already has a digital tuner, so that's okay. The changes coming in February only affect those of us with an analog TV that gets over-the-air [OTA] signals.

The bulk of my TV watching is either via satellite or DVDs. I have an old TV in the bedroom that my dog used to watch, but I dropped the satellite feed to that set so it's now just a dust magnet. I decided to experiment with digital TV on that box, which means I need to buy a CECB - Coupon Eligible Converter Box.

Weeks ago, I ordered the (free) $40 coupon; a few days ago, I noticed the VALID THRU date (eek!) on my TV Converter Box Coupon, so I decided it was Time To Research. Ideally, my needs are simple:
  • perform the analog:digital conversion
  • have the analog pass-thru feature
  • relatively small
  • decent remote control
  • built-in antenna
  • not cost an arm and a leg
Turns out that NONE of these include a built-in antenna, so I'll have to spring for "rabbit ears" -- the cheapest/basic ones with a coax connector are $6.

Next, I quickly found that only 16 of the available converters have the analog pass-through feature -- which allows me to continue watching analog channels until 17/2/9. The first CECBs that shipped lacked the pass-thru. The list of CECBs that I would thus consider are on the website, but I'll repeat it here:
  1. APEX DT250
  2. Artec T3AP Pro
  3. CRAIG Electronics International Ltd. CVD506
  7. DISH Network DTVPal
  8. Insignia NS-DXA1-APT
  9. Magnavox TB-100MG9
  10. Memorex MVCB1000
  11. Philco TB100HH9
  12. Philco TB150HH9
  13. RCA DTA800B1
  14. Winegard RCDT09A
  15. Zenith DTT901
  16. Zinwell ZAT-970A
It turns out the only one that's readily available locally is the Zenith DTT901, and the various online reviews were generally favorable, so I waddled over to Circuit City and bought one. After the $40 coupon and sales tax, my out-of-pocket cost was $21.44.

According to I should get 26 stations - some with multiple digital feeds. So, I connected the cables, turned the CECB on and got exactly ONE digital channel (KTVT-11). Argh! In a way, this doesn't surprise me because I frequently drive past their station and see the antenna (even though most of the local stations planted their towers in Cedar Hill, Texas .. the highest elevation in the area).

It turns out the antenna coming from the wall (presumably hooked to the Giant Antenna in the attic) apparently isn't connected, and the rat's nest of wiring means that debugging could/would be a royal PITA. I decide "life's too short; I'll buy rabbit ears!" tells me that 21 channels will be available if I spring for a "small multidirectional antenna", so .. it's off to the B&M store (probably Fry's for the best selection) in the morning.

Alternate resource: Antenna

Abbreviations I encountered:
ATSC Advanced Television Systems Committee
CECB Coupon Eligible Converter Box
DTV Digital Television
EPG Electronic Program Guide
NTSC National Television System Committee
OTA Over The Air
PSIP Program and System Information Protocol
TVGOS TV Guide on Screen
useful: FAQ: The $40 Coupon Digital TV Converter Boxes

Saturday, August 2

McCain - now synonymous with LIAR

(click for larger image, suitable for framing)

Kudos to, naturally.

Friday, August 1

Britney and Paris! Britney and Paris!

Just Say No To McBush
How bad does John McCain want to avoid talking about real issues? He's running ads with Britney and Paris.

Is that what Americans are concerned about? Britney and Paris?

Do you want to know how we are going to right the ship of our economy? Or do you want to hear about Britney and Paris?

Want to talk about how we are going to extract our troops from Iraq? Or do you want to hear about Britney and Paris?

(no, I didn't write this .. kudos to Talking Points Memo)

Update: Ed Cognoski agrees, in this scathing blog: Race and politics