Can you believe?

Can you believe pets displaced by Hurricane Katrina still are homeless and waiting in shelters for rescue?  That’s one cat among how many?  And how many dogs?  And ferrets, and snakes, and gerbils, and horses, and HOW MANY FUCKING MORE are still waiting and hoping and slowly dying from euthanasia, abandonment, loneliness, or any number of associated maladies stemming from one single natural disaster?

Oh, and that’s a blog run by folks at the Conway Area Humane Society shelter in Conway, NH.  That far away and still they languish in destitute despair one year after the event.

There should never be another catastrophe of any magnitude that leaves so many animals in utter misery and rejection.  Next time, save them all.  What has happened to these is unforgivable and has undoubtedly broken a great many spirits.  If all that can be accommodated are humans, don’t bother.

Open thread

I and the Bird #31 is online for your birding and bird watching pleasure.

Tangled Bank #61 has the best science writing from across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

The 42nd Skeptics’ Circle is available.

I’ve not shopped at Radio Shack in many years.  Given recent events, I will never shop there again.  Their approach to laying off about 400 employees were as dehumanizing as they were offensive.  What did they do?  They sent e-mails to all those being laid off to tell them they were fired immediately.  The messages began with the following: “The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately, your position is one that has been eliminated.”  After that, it was essentially “pack your things and get the hell out, and don’t forget to drop your security badge off on your way to your car”.  Any company that would act so callously toward its own employees deserves no business from me.  Let them fail, I say, and let their executives burn in the court of public opinion for being such assholes who couldn’t take a few minutes per employee to let them know in person they were being let go.  Pathetic.

This is absolutely hysterical.  What a great way to describe friendship.

Surprise!  The DOJ admits it’s been ignoring domestic law enforcement in favor of the War on Terror™ — and we know how well that’s been working.  “‘I’m well aware that there are many needs and desires on the part of law enforcement that we have not been able to serve well,’ [Deputy Attorney General Paul J.] McNulty said at the national crime summit organized by the Police Executive Research Forum.”  Considering violent crime is increasing dramatically across the US, and many local law enforcement agencies and organizations blatantly declare the federal government has ignored their needs and requests for help, it utterly shocks me to hear this administration admit it long ago stopped caring about domestic issues so it could divert its resources to international disputes while our country falls apart.

I wish our president cared as much.  “Like heads of state everywhere, [Uruguay President] Tabaré Vázquez spends most of his workday in meetings at the presidential offices, reading reports or making speeches. But one morning each week, in a luxury perhaps available only to the president of a country of 3.3 million people, he reverts to his original career and heads off to a clinic to practice medicine.”  He’s an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer.  And what does Dubya do?  Vacation.  A lot.  Especially when natural disasters and other critical events are taking place.  He could learn a great deal from President Vázquez.

This is when elephants weep: African Elephants Slaughtered in Herds Near Chad Wildlife Park.  “Poachers hack off the animal’s face to remove its ivory tusks—which are all the illegal hunters value—and leave the massive carcass where it lies. Herds of such kills are piling up on the borders of one of the elephants’ last central African strongholds, Chad’s Zakouma National Park, according to a disturbing new report.”  More than a hundred recent kills have been discovered in the last year alone.  There is a short gallery of photos related to the report; look at them despite how disturbing they are.

Self-Criticism, American and otherwise, from Scott Adams of The Dilbert Blog (and cartoon).  I strenuously suggest you read it.

Why do I need an ad campaign to remind me about September 11?  I agree with the answer John provides.

Yet another reason you should do whatever it takes to reduce stress in your life.  We already know it kills, maims, greatly diminishes life’s pleasures, and otherwise disrupts normalcy and contentment.  Now we know it “rapidly [exacerbates] the formation of brain lesions that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease”.

Get your invertebrate on at Circus of the Spineless #12.

With me, there is no love lost with Wal-Mart.  That should be clear by now.  Here’s something along those lines: Wal-Mart censors the books it carries so they don’t end up with anything on the shelves that might offend the WASP and conservative majority of their clientele.  Thanks to PZ, we now have a way to help them further this goal of editorializing everything ever written so people aren’t subjected to contrary opinions: the Wal-Mart bible letter.  Among a great many other incitements to violence and hatred and other very bad things, the bible endorses and recommends people “murder hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees” since they work on the sabbath, “demands that readers discriminate against women”, “fully endorses slavery” and even promotes “the beating of slaves”, requires that everyone “murder homosexual men” and commit “hate crimes against innocent citizens”, and orders followers of the ‘good book’ to “murder those who do not believe in the ‘god’ of the Bible”.  It’s obvious this book is yet another text the Wal-Mart employees missed in their determination of what is right and what is wrong, and therefore it should not be available to the stores’ customers.  Go sign the petition today.  Either Wal-Mart supports this declaration of and demand for evil, or it agrees any such material must be removed immediately from store shelves.  Let’s not forget it’s a crime to incite some of these activities.

Admission admittance

I was forced yesterday to find a way of admitting myself to my own home after I locked myself out.  I’m admitting I broke in to my own home.

I won’t say how I became stranded outside, and I won’t say precisely how I eventually was able to procure a way back inside.

I will say this: I was creative.  Very creative.  I will not reveal, for obvious reasons, the exact procedure I used, but I will say that there are very few people on this planet who could duplicate my method.  It took me almost 30 minutes to locate the supplies necessary to break in, and that because I was shirtless, barefoot, keyless (both to home and car), and essentially without instrument in my quest.  Once I was in possession of everything I needed, it took all of five minutes to complete the steps necessary.  Originally, I was convinced “screwed” could not properly encapsulate my predicament (all the doors and windows were locked, I had nothing in my possession save the pair of shorts I was wearing, and the security locks [not accessible from outside] were intact on all but one of the exterior doors).  Also originally, I suspected I might be forced to break something (a window, for instance).  Despite the concerns, I knew I could MacGyver a solution given enough time and the correct paraphernalia.  I was right.

Converting videos… perhaps… ?

I’ve decided to convert all of my online videos to one of the two major video streaming services: Google Video and YouTube.  The only question is which one…

Anyway, I thought it would be easier to post in one of those formats since it’s player independent.  Well, almost, but it’s more so than posting a specific format.

I currently post in three formats: WMV, MOV, and AVI.  That covers every player available since all players generally support AVI, and WMV and MOV cover the two major platforms (PC and MAC).

So now I’m confused.  More than normal, that is.

Carrying my own video files is a big bandwidth hog, and carrying them in multiple formats greatly increases bandwidth usage.  It also provides for theft of the files.  I’ve already hunted down and stopped three people from carrying them as their own, and those instances fell in my lap.  I’m not posting porn or unusually valuable films.  In fact, they’re relatively low quality compared to so much other content out there.  I don’t get it.

Anyway, converting to an online video service allows me to better control the files, offer them in a more accessible version, disable almost all potential theft (certainly more than I can right now), and saves me some bandwidth.  There are ‘buts’ to the conversion though, as one would and should suspect.

There will be a new watermark on each video that shows the hosting service’s name.  Is that so bad?  I’m not uploading anything worth much in the way of profit, so is a small logo in one corner really that much of a deterrent?

Clicking on the video will link you back to the hosting service page where you can view it at their site, and that page undoubtedly will have advertisements and other crap on it, including links to other videos they think are related to the one you’re watching at that time.  Again, is any of that bad?

Submitting the videos to either of those services will add it to a hemorrhaging database of such works and make it available to anyone browsing that particular site.  While they can stumble upon the videos here using a good search site and the right terms, or using the all videos link in the sidebar, or searching this site using criteria that match a video post, or any number of other methods, does it make a difference that they’d be available using a site I can’t track or monitor to the degree I prefer?

I absolutely will lose some rights by uploading videos to any online service.  Some are worse than others.  All promises that such a reduction in rights doesn’t actually take place are false.  That’s corporate America, a place where you can lie to your heart’s content—without worry of repercussions—so long as you provide a disclaimer somewhere written in legalese and therefore rendered incomprehensible to most humans.  Consider this: once an object leaves your hands and enters those of another, you lose control, and that means you lose rights under the law.  That’s undeniable.  Those rights the particular service in use admits to pilfering beyond that is the proverbial icing.

If I go with Google Video, I am faced with yet another bit of my personal security that becomes added digital fodder in their growing records about me.  I have GMail, I manage GMail for other people and have protected their privacy by using my own information, I have the Google Toolbar for Firefox (although I use hacks to disable many of the tracking functions), I use Google Search (again, ditto on the hacks), I am testing Google Analytics in addition to several other analytic software packages, and there are unoubtedly other Google applications and services I am using with or without my direct knowledge.  When is it too much?  Do the videos really make a difference in all of that?

If I go with YouTube, I’ve seen a lot of problems with their ability to serve the number of users requesting their services.  Sometimes videos don’t load and you have to keep refreshing, sometimes you get a 500 error from the server and have to keep refreshing, sometimes you have to give up entirely because a video won’t load no matter how hard you try, and I have a litany of other complaints.  Do I entrust video service to a company that appears unable to keep up with demand?  Are these just growing pains that will ultimately lead to the superior and incontestable leader of online video services?

If I do go with one of these services (or even another I’ve not looked at yet), do I go with the company that is public (and, therefore, more transparent) and has a proven infrastructure (Google), ubiquitous in this particular online segment yet privately funded (meaning less transparent; that’s YouTube), or something else entirely?

Using an online service like those mentioned does not guarantee videos can not be stolen.  There are plenty of applications available that allow people to capture and locally save streaming videos, even those offered by online service providers, so such use certainly isn’t assurance that your videos won’t be misused.

I have concerns about quality.  I should test each of them on past videos and see which one impacts that less.  What if they both suck?  Stick with what I’m doing or change for the other benefits?

I started this post with a decision on the overall question already in mind.  Now I don’t know.  I feel like I may have talked myself out of considering and utilizing any of these services — at least right now.  On the other hand, none of these concerns are new or unconsidered, yet I’m left with the feeling that this could be a road down which I don’t want to travel.

Let’s be honest.  Maybe I’m being paranoid, or scrutinizing this choice a little too closely, or trying to force a modification on something that works like it is.

And I’d already convinced myself I’d made a decision…


I’m going to find something for lunch.  This is giving me a headache despite the fact that I’ve not done anything other than consider it and write this post.

Once more, ugh.