Theocratic Fools

TPM links to a poll:

(Republicans) Do you believe in global warming or not?
Believe in global warming …………………………. 25%
Do not believe in global warming ……………….. 66%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 10%

(Republicans) Do you believe in evolution or not?
Believe in evolution………………………………….. 37%
Do not believe in evolution………………………… 49%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 13%

(Republicans) Would you support or oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion?
Support establishing Christianity as the national religion……………………………………….. 57%
Oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion……………………………………….. 30%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 13%

And these aren’t even the stupid “Tea Party” Republicans:

(Republicans) Do you consider yourself to be a member of the Tea Party?
Yes………………………………………………………… 27%
No …………………………………………………………. 60%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 12%

We are fucked.

Road House

A couple of weeks ago, we went out to the new house site to check out the progress. While we were there, we met one of the neighbors. We talked about the neighborhood, etc., and he mentioned how the trucks for our build were starting to tear up the road. This was a problem because the road is owned and maintained by the residents. So, we were costing everyone money. Now, the damage in question was some crumbling of the asphalt on the edge of the road where our driveway will attach. So, it looked like something that could probably be fixed when we pour the concrete for the driveway.

Then, we get an email from the HOA telling us our road maintenance fees are due soon: $200 per lot (some people there own multiple lots, for privacy). There are about ten houses on this half-mile road. I don’t know how many lots, but a couple thousand dollars doesn’t buy a lot of road work.

Then we get an email from the HOA’s “Architectural Review Board” telling us that they’ve approved our house plan and its location on the lot. Yay. In that email, they complained about the road and how the builder should work to minimize damage, yada yada yada. It’s a fair request, obviously. But here’s the thing: the road is already in pretty lousy shape; in some places it’s all torn up and buckling with gravel heaving out through big holes in the black top, and in those spots the shoulder is rutted and worn out by people trying to avoid the holes. And it’s been like that since before we bought the property. So, that’s not our problem. But we’re getting the feeling that they would like it to be.

Our builder, who was one of the recipients, replied to that email very diplomatically, saying he would tell all his sub-contractors to avoid parking on the edges of the road and to try to clean up any mud, etc., etc., but the road is in bad shape as it is (and went into some details about road construction and repairs). And then, the bit that made my morning bright: he closed saying he’ll take some pictures of the road in its current condition, “just so everyone is on the same page” (and then sent us an email telling us to take pics too). Yesssss! It’s so nice to have someone take our side in this crap.

On the other hand, in the past month they’ve only been able to do one or two days work on the site because the weather has been either too wet or too cold or both.

One Down

49 to go!

Last time my father was in town, we went to the Fearrington House. It was, as always, truly awesome. WE’d been thir twice before, for anniversaries. We go to their far-less-fancy restaurant semi-frequently, and went there for Wife’s birthday earlier this month. We’ve been to a few of their summertime Saturday evening concerts for beers.

The Fearrington Village complex may actually be the closest place for us to eat (besides the Grill n Go). I think it’s 5 miles from our house.

de-DRM

So, I’ve decided to put a Sonos system into the new house. For now, anyway – it will be many months before I have to actually buy any components. Maybe I’ll find something else. Maybe not. Can’t never tell.

From what I’ve read, Sonos can use your iTunes library. And since that lives on a NAS it will be available 24/7. So that’s awesome. What it can’t do is read songs that have been ‘protected’ by Apple’s DRM stuff – it doesn’t use your iTunes account, so it can’t unlock any protected songs. It can only read the DRM-free songs.

Luckily, Apple stopped using DRM on music in 2009, so I only needed to worry about stuff purchased through iTunes before then.

iTunes can show you if a song is protected or not, and you can sort the songs using that as the criteria. Doing that showed 3,700 protected songs – out of 22000.

The easiest way to strip the DRM from a song is to burn it to an audio CD then import the song back into iTunes. But, 3,700 songs, average 4 minutes each is 14,800 minutes. That’s 185 80 min CDRs to burn and rip. With a burner/reader that averages 10x, that’s more than 24 hours of burner time. Drag.

But, Apple has this thing called “Match” which is a way to get your music library into Apple’s ‘cloud’ so you can play it on any iOS device. It scans your library, figures out which songs you actually have and makes a downloadable version available for you, on any device you authorize. $24.99/year. So, sign up for Match, let it scan your library, identify the DRM’d songs and delete them from your library (not the actual files, just the entries in the library). Then, tell Match to download new copies of the songs you deleted and … voila ! DRM-free songs ! Takes forever with a library of that size, and since it’s iTunes there were many freezes, false-starts and failures before it actually worked. Sometimes iTunes is smart enough to do work in the background, and it can show you ‘progress’ messages. Sometimes it puts all the work on the same thread that’s doing the UI, so it just freezes, and you can’t tell if it’s working or if it’s dead unless you let it sit for an hour or so. But in the end, after a couple of days of fighting with it, it worked.

It worked for most of them. In some cases, the record company never released non-DRM versions so Apple can’t provide them. In other cases, Match couldn’t identify the song so it couldn’t provide a non-DRM version. In other cases, Saturn’s moons weren’t aligned properly so random songs from an album couldn’t be identified even though all the other songs on the album could. But, in the end, I was left with 460 songs that Match couldn’t handle; and that’s only ~23 CDs. So, I did the burn and rip thing for those, then deleted all the protected songs for real. And now, all my music is DRM free.

An Argument In Favor Of The Estate Tax

James Jameson, heir to the Jameson Irish Whiskey company, once bought a 10-year-old slave girl for six handkerchiefs because he wanted to sketch the event as cannibals killed, mutilated, and finally, ate her

According to a report from The New York Times, Jameson had a fascination with cannibalism and wanted to experience the act firsthand.

Jameson was on a trip in Africa in 1890 when an opportunity to fulfill his sick fantasy presented itself because he and his translator happened upon a cannibalistic tribe. Jameson consulted the tribe’s chiefs who told him if he wanted to witness the event, he’d have to buy a slave girl to be killed.

The fewer idle rich in the world, the better.

h/t FB Modesto

Erykah Badu

Saw Erykah Badu, in Durham, on Valentine’s Day.


iPhone

The show started pretty late because that crazy wind storm that beat up the east coast delayed her plane. They delayed the start by a half hour (and sent an email to tell us that) – which gave us more time to linger over dinner. After the opener, an announcer got on the stage and told us that her plane had landed, and again to tell us that she was in the car, and again that she was in the building. She probably didn’t start until 10:15 or so. And then the venue cut it off at 12:15 (turned on the house lights in the middle of a song). But she played a good set. Really, it was fantastic. She’s so engaging, and so cleva. Her band was great and she kept them on a short leash: starting and stopping them with flips of her hand, making them do tricks.

It was a seated show, so there was some drama when a woman in front of us wouldn’t sit down. Rows and rows of people yelling at her to sit, but she wouldn’t. And then she turned around and told us all to fuck off. That got things cookin. Then there were three visits from the usher, once with a policeman in tow. They eventually moved her up way up front, and everyone was happy after that.

Sound was good. The songs were a bit stripped down from what they were on the records, but that just left more room for her to shine.

I thought I had all her records, but I guess not, because it seemed like I didn’t know about half the songs. Still, she’s good enough at what she does that they were fun all anyway. And now I know there’s more Badu to purchase.

“Mali Music” opened. That’s the stage name for Kortney Jamaal Pollard (and his band, I guess). His stuff ranged from reggae-flavored rap to contemporary Christian to jazzy piano ballads. He’s a good pianist and has really nice singing voice, so I liked the piano stuff the best. Plus, being so simple, it sounded the best – given the traditional opening-band sound handicap. He was nominated for a couple of Grammys.

Grindy Munchy Mulchy


iPhone

The excavator has attracted a giant mulcher to help it digest the trees.

We met one of our future neighbors when we were at the lot. He said, as have all the others we’ve met out there, that he was sad to see us cut down the trees on the lot. The next person who says that is going to have to answer a simple question: If you liked the trees so much, why didn’t you just buy the lot yourself?! Everybody there apparently owns multiple lots just for that reason. Why you gotta make us feel bad?