Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wheel of Fortune and Identity Theft and more!

Tonight must have been airhead night on Wheel of Fortune. In one single game I saw a contestant attempt to buy a vowel that the player to her left had just attempted (unsuccessfully) to buy only moments ago ("I'd like to buy an 'E';" "Sorry, no 'E's;"
On another note, a virtual friend and I were amicably arguing about the appropriate punishment for identity thieves. He kept arguing "kill 'em!"... but I think I have a much better punishment.

  1. The "stuff" that the identity thief bought using the stolen identities is given to the victims, and the identity thief is responsible for paying for the merchandise.
  2. For those victims who do not want the "stuff" the thief bought, the associated items will be sold and the money distributed to the victims as compensation for the identity theft.
  3. All possessions, businesses, etc. belonging to the thief are then sold as initial payment for the "stuff" that was illegally bought.
  4. The identity thief is then locked up doing hard (or otherwise profitable labor) to continue to pay for the illegally purchased items. During this incarceration the thief is NOT allowed access to the internet, mail, or outside contact (in order to prevent further perpetrations of identity theft).
  5. Once the entirety of the balance due for the illegally purchased goods has been paid, the thief will CONTINUE to do hard (or otherwise profitable) labor for LIFE, with the proceeds being split three ways:
    • 1/3 is used to support the local prison system
    • 1/3 is used to support the local school system
    • 1/3 is paid to the victims in a continual compensation for the identity theft
  6. In deference to my virtual friend, I agreed that, once the thief is no longer capable of doing hard (or otherwise profitable) labor, he can be killed... and his organs sold for that last little bit of profit.
I think that this sort of punishment for identity theft would provide a great deterrent for future potential identity thieves; consider:

  • If the sentence is death, the thief might think, "What's the big deal? If I get caught, I get killed, and that's the end of it."
  • If the sentence is according to current sentencing standards (cf. Wiki Article and news article), the thief might think, "What's the big deal? If I get caught, I get two to ten of state-sponsored bed & breakfast... and I can probably continue my identity theft practices while the state's paying to feed me so that, when I get out, I'll have a lot of 'stuff' waiting on me!"
  • If the sentence is LIFE of HARD (or otherwise profitable) LABOR with NO OUTSIDE CONTACT, the thief might think, "Whoa! Maybe I don't want to be doing this 'cause, if I'm caught, I'm going to be paying for it for a LONG time!"
So there you go, my recommendation for the sentencing of identity thieves.

Totally unrelated (or is it?), are you familiar with Google's Street View? Surely you are. This guy is... and he's making his own version, cheap (check out the article, then come back here for more amazing insights!). On top of that, it would be possible to add a second "Google street-view-like cam system" mounted vertically above the first, leading to stereoscopic panoramic imaging. What good is that, you might ask? 3D. With the stereoscopic imaging, you could generate three-dimensional panoramic views. Add to this the fact that you could conceivably conceal the equipment in, say, a hat band, and suddenly you have for some really impressive spy-like (private investigator) work... tie it in with GPS positioning data, and you suddenly have geotagged (that is, location aware), three-dimensional, panoramic imagery.

Cool, yes? Just wait; there's more. If you haven't already, check out Picasa, Google's photo indexing and editing software (a free "rival" to Adobe's Photoshop - while not in the same category as Photoshop, for the casual user, Picasa probably offers all the functionality you'd need, and it's free). Guess what Picasa does now? Face recognition. That's right - you let it search your photos, and it'll say, "There are #### unidentified people in your photos." You then start tagging the faces and Picasa starts recognizing the tagged people in other photos. It's not perfect, but the more you tag (and untag when it guesses wrong), the better it gets. In fact, it will even pick up "faces" that you would otherwise have ignored... like the face of your son on an ornament hanging on the Christmas tree which is the backdrop of some photo or other. Even when that face is tiny, out of focus, and partially obstructed.

Now... mix THAT in with the aforementioned panoramic, location-aware, three-dimensional imagery, and suddenly you have some pretty sophisticated spyware... the ability to recreate the moments, including tagging and identifying the people in your imagery. And since you have 3D, location-aware imagery, you can identify not only the people in the photos, but also the when and where of their locations. All automatically (once it's built up a database of people, of course... or a concise database of "intended targets" that you want to try to track for whatever reason).

Pretty scary stuff. Almost makes you long for the days when you actually had to see someone to shoot them... you know, like 30 years ago.

'sall for now!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Dog Likes Peanuts

OK, so in lieu of anything interesting, I offer the following video of my dog eating peanuts (note: video taken with my Nokia E-71 phone in not-so-well-lit conditions, hence the poor quality):

video

Now that's out of the way, here are some pictures of random vehicles (ok, they're really pictures of the sky, with random vehicles littering the scenery; note: you can on any of the following pictures to see them larger!):








And here's one of a pretty rainbow (note: this one was taken at a different time than the preceding sky/random vehicle pictures):



Now, I don't know if you do this, but I like to look for neat patterns in my odometer. Here is one that I saw while taking the pictures of the sky and random vehicles (this is the odo in my 2006 Kia Sedona LX, which I rarely get to see neat odo readings in because my wife's driving it, but I caught this one, and here's unretouched proof):


Finally (weird: the font just turned blue!), here's a picture of a sign in the parking lot near the theatre where we saw "9" the other day (I would say it's a disappointing film, but since I had no expectations going in, I couldn't very well be disappointed, now, could I?). Note that, among all things prohibited, you will NOT find "football," "dueling" (either with guns or really long, thin, whippy knives), "cattle roping," or "streaking," so I guess those things are all OK to do in this particular parking lot.


That's all, folks... later!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random At Last!

To those of you disappointed in the quality, content, length, and (in-)frequency of my recent blog posts, I hope to appease you with this one. Well, it'll be hard to satisfy that "freqyency" thing in a single post, of course, but I'll try to do better.

First, how about a picture or two (or three)?

This one (<---left), which you probably can't make out very well, was taken from the sunroof of my car on Monday; it was POURING rain (the "blurred spots" in the picture), and yet the sun (that bright spot in the upper left corner) was shining brightly, to the point that it was heating my arm in the window. I've seen sun and rain simultaneously, but NOT like this! It was weird. This one (right--->) was taken on the way home from work on Tuesday; it was just a strange looking sky. Click the image to see it enlarged, and you'll see what looks like "streaming sun from the horizon" coming from just left of center... it appears that the point of origin is over the horizon, but the sun is actually behind me - I'm heading east in the evening. Not really sure what caused that odd light display.

Finally, this (right--->) was my dinner last night (picture taken up close w/ my Nokia E71 phone's camera and its built-in flash, causing the oversaturation and the odd coloring): my wife's AWESOME salmon (of which I have NEVER tasted its equal, ever, anywhere; not even at O'Charley's or anything!), some broccoli, and black-eyed peas mixed with couscous. "Couscous" - sounds funny, actually tastes pretty good, which is good if you're doing the South Beach Diet (like I am) since you're not supposed to eat white rice. Couscous is kind of like "midget rice" - but with a slightly different texture. I like it. I think I'd have preferred the peas separately, but it was good in the couscous, too.

So... I think I've determined my ideal job: Emperor of Japan. No power, no real responsibilities, just lots of free time and really good, healthy food. The week I spent in Japan (2007, I think) I had MUCH fewer issues with my acid reflux (as compared to my usual acid reflux issues eating unhealthily American). I know, "King of England" would suit nearly as well, and not have as much of an earthquake problem, and while the Irish food is pretty good, too, I really prefer Japanese cuisine. I wonder where I need to apply for "Emperor of Japan"?

Speaking of dreams... I had a really weird one last night. In the dream there was something wrong with me, cancer or something (don't know what; I think I knew in the dream, but apparently my subconscious thought that wasn't a part I needed to know for the story), and after eating I had something stuck in my teeth (that's a common problem I have; in fact, I keep a package of floss in my car for just such issues after lunch at work). Anyway, we were at someone else's house, and so I went into the bathroom to see if I could find some floss, and all I could find were some floss-picks. So I grabbed one and went to town on the white "stuff" between two of my upper-right molars... and eventually managed to work this "thing" loose, and pulled it out... and it was a tooth! Somehow, there was a one-inch-long, one-centimeter-square molar "stuck" in my teeth, like it was a "rogue molar" that had somehow formed there. Anyway, I pulled this thing out (don't ask me how - it doesn't even make sense that it could BE there, or that it, given its size, could be "stuck" between my teeth in the first place!), and it was all bloody, but it was dried blood, and there wasn't a lot of blood nor a huge, noticeable hole in my gum. I swished some water around, expecting some stinging pain from an open wound, but no pain, and I couldn't even really feel any hole in my gum with my tongue or anything, just relief from the "stuff stuck in my teeth." My wife said, "Come on, we need to get you to the hospital," but I was arguing that it didn't hurt and wasn't bleeding so obviously I was fine.

Weird, huh? I think I've had someone comment on a dream on here before, so come on, you dream interpreters, give me an explanation on this one!

Anyway, that's all for now... if you want something else to read, feel free to check out these stories (which I found interesting):

And, once you're done with those, please consider visiting The Give Worship Project - a project founded by a semi-acquaintance of mine, whose goal is to "to help equip and encourage [indigenous worship leaders throughout the world]" by providing both instruction, encouragement, and equipment "as they help to 'make His praise glorious...'"

Until next time... a topato! (If you don't get that, search this blog for "topato"...)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Look!

Spent yesterday and today ... and not just a little money ... on costumes for the kids, who wore them to a costume birthday party tonight. Looks like my bluetooth OBDII reader to have my phone scan my car's (or cars') check engine light codes will have to wait until next paycheck. :) But they are cute, aren't they?

Really?

At the thrift store, found this: "Windows User's Guide to DOS" ... Just in case you wanted to go backward in your computing... :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cinnamon

My favorite "flavor" of things is, I think cinnamon. For example:
  • Cinnamon flavored/topped oatmeal
  • Red Hots (little candies)
  • Cinnamon gum
  • Cinnamon breath mints
  • Cinnamon Tic Tacs
  • Cinnamon ice cream (from Marble Slab)
  • Hot Tamales
  • Hot Tamales Popsicles
  • Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks
  • Hard cinnamon candies
Etc. So... I was thinking... why not a cinnamon flavored soda? I mean, they have ginger flavored soda ("ginger ale"), so why not a cinnamon flavored one? Maybe even a cinnamon flavored ginger ale.

I like cinnamon! If you happen to come across or create a cinnamon flavored soda, let me know!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sea Salt

So, what's up with the recent sea salt craze? I love the blue corn tortilla chips (yes, I'd marry them, but I'm already married to the greatest female God ever graced the earth with, and I'm not really into that whole polygamy thing) - they are lighter and not as overly salty as the regular chips. Anyway, you'll notice they are made with sea salt. And the other day I noticed at Sam's Club that all the Planters nuts (I got one tin of cashews and one of dry roasted peanuts - they didn't have a mere peanut/cashew mix, so I figured I'd get handfuls from each tin and mix them myself) were made using sea salt. And I've seen sea Salt scrubs and stuff at those center-of-the-mall selling stands. So, what's up with all the sea salt fascination these days? After all the global warming and save the old growth tree huggers and PETA and green this and save the world that, don't we realize what we're doing with this sea salt craze? We're going to completely desalinate the ocean! Maybe not today or tomorrow, and eventually the salt will go into people and then into the ground when the people die and eventually back into the ocean from erosion of the ground where the bodies decayed, but that will take generations, and the earth's ecosystem may not survive long enough to support 100% fresh water oceans. Yes, it will be beneficial for shipwrecked sailors, but what about the salt water marine life? I mean, sure, no more shark attacks, and maybe no more jellies in the gulf, but we'll lose a lot of beneficial things, like tuna. I like tuna (it really upset me when O'Charley's quit selling their grilled tuna meal!). I like it a lot. Grilled, flaked, salad, you name it. And when all the varieties of salt water marine life are gone, coastal fishermen will be out of work (until the fresh water species realize their world just got a lot bigger). And if the sea algae and plankton can't survive in the fresh water environment, well, there's a huge CO2 sink gone... And that might REALLY lead to some human-induced global warming. We could unintentionally lead to the collapse of the global ecosystem and the elimination of all life on earth, just because we want to put a little sea salt on all our stuff (food, bodies, etc.) instead of regular old salt.

Please, for the sake of all life on earth, start boycotting products that make use of sea salt now! This public service message has been brought to you by Tostitos Blue Corn chips, featuring sea salt.