Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's your favorite color? Wrong!

Some stories you have to type quickly or they'll be forgotten before you get them out on the Internet tubes. This is one such story.

First lets talk about beauty contests.

Beauty contests are weird. It's kind of like sex through a fish bowl. You herd up some tall thin Aryans, shave everything below the eyebrows, tart them up to the nines and then pretend they've never had sex.

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with hot babes parading around for the ogling. If they had the "Top 50 Hottest Babes of any Medium Size Mall Take Off Their Tops and Wave at Dale" show, I'd probably watch. Breasts are god's way of saying mammals are cool.

Beauty contest are different. The women don't look like women, really. They're kind of like sexualise marshmallow peeps. Ya know?

They walk funny, they talk funny, they wave funny and they're all kind of, what's the best word? Shiny! They're all kind of shiny.

It's like you just bought a new "Stepford Wife" and she's fresh out of the crate and still smells like a new car. That's what beauty queens remind me of.

Unfortunately, promoters of such shows can't stick to the crux of the show: pulchritude. Instead, they try to bluff us by having things like a talent show and an IQ test.

A leggy blond shooting skeet while playing a saxophone may be Americana, but the IQ tests make my brainstem hurt.

The is current tempest in a tea pot is brewing over something that a Miss USA contestant said. Carrie Prejean is Miss California. Well, sorta. She's only Miss California according to the Miss USA Pageant. Jackie Geist is the Miss America Miss California. Maybe someday we'll step through all of this and Miss Corleone will unite all the Miss Californias on the day of her son's christening, but until then, we have Carrie Prejean to kick around.

Carrie was picked by the handicappers as the most likely to win this year. How they did that I don't know. Maybe they checked her teeth and rode her around the room a bit. I'm sure it was something scientific.

Alas, a well turned fetlock isn't enough. Part of the absurdity that is the Miss USA contest is "Current Events". I'm sure that they have a better name for it, but it's really just current events. It's supposed to show us that Miss USA has brains as well as brawn. We'll ignore the fact that double her IQ and add 10 lbs to her butt and any contestant is out on their tucus. Brains don't fill a swimsuit.

Anyway, Ms. Prejean was asked about current conservative bugaboo, gay marriage. She blew it. I mean comedicly. I mean, not a pretty sight comedicly. Post '60s Jerry Lewis is what we're talking here.

In the end, she lost the contest.

She blames, not the bad answering of the questions, not the fact that Kristen Dalton is a fine side of beef in her own right, but the fact that she wasn't wildly pro gay marriage.

She might be right. She's a bigot, but she might be right.

Does anyone really think that if she had given a brilliantly argued defense of hetero only marriage, with the oratory skills of, say, Frederick Douglas, that she would have come out of that unscathed?

It's academic because she answered like a gooney bird on Teflon, but the question is still there.
Is it OK to ask a contestant a pure opinion question and then nail them because it's not your opinion?
Obviously I believe the answer is "no". If you ask me my favorite color, and don't like the one I choose, then piss off.

If you ask me whether humans and dinosaurs lived together, and I say "yes", then you can gig me. Not because you disagree with me, but because my evidence is crap.

But if I say I'm against gay marriage because I'm a closet case and waking up at 3am with a junior chubby is scaring the dog, then I've answered your question. I haven't lied. I haven't selected part of a religious text to bash you with. I've done my job and should get a cookie. If some Z-level blogger (a blogger for god's sake!) doesn't like it, then maybe a better question is, "Who the hell cares about the opinion of a blogger?" Just ask a blogger, we're meaningless. (Did ya dig the irony there?)

Please don't think that I care about Miss USA. I think the entire contest could be done in a news break: Ladies, line up please. Thank you. Pop your tops. Very nice. Great rack Miss Vermont, here's your crown.

It's the farce I don't like.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ten-four Mr. Heston

Every once in a while someone decides to hang up the Ten Commandments in a court house to let us know who's really in charge.

This obviously violates the separation of church and state which is a no-no. To get around this, they often invoke the canard that the Ten Commandments are the basis of western law and therefore it's OK to post away.

Are they? The Ten Commandments I mean. I never gave it much though, and they never give specific examples. I think it's because they don't know what the Ten Commandments actually say. It's easier to thump a book than to read it.

No problem, I gots the Internet tubes and half an hour. How hard can it be? I decided to check it out myself.

First of all, it took me a few minutes to find the "real" Ten. By real I mean the stuff of Charlton Heston. I want "Thou shalt"s, not "You wills"!

Once I got them, I decided to check them out. Remember, I'm not talking whether the Ten Commandments are the word of god, or holy or even a good idea. I just want to see if they're the basis of our law. The law that you and I run into every day. That's what's being professed.

The Ten Commandments

1. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Not a good start. The United States Constitution is pretty hostile to the one true god bit. You can worship as many gods as you can carry and make up a few of your own for emergencies.

Also, god didn't bring the people of Japan out of Egypt. Just saying.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Whew! This one goes all over the place.

First, does it mean that you can't draw pictures of birds or fish? I know that in the next paragraph you're told not to worship the images, but the first paragraph clearly tells you not to draw them in the first place.

What happens if my Dad draws a fish? Does it mean I'm screwed for 3 more generations? No matter what I do I'm hosed? For poppa's fish picture?

Anyway, strike two. We can engrave our butts off and sell them on late night TV. Not part of the law of this land.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Nope. You may get fined by the FCC if you do it on TV. If you do it in certain mid-east countries you may get your monkey ass stabbed, but it ain't the law 'round these parts.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Submitted for your approval: Football.

Let's see a major politician come out against that.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
If you're a kid, then you have to listen to your folks, but you don't have to honour them. Once you're street legal then they can rot for all the state cares.

Damn few laws about parent honouring.

6. Thou shalt not kill.
We may have a winner here!

We do have lots of laws about killing. The problem is, so does everyone else. "Don't kill the locals." is probably the first rule that every culture comes up. Well, maybe second to "Do what the big guy with the stick says." Commandments are nice, but sticks hurt.

So, this commandment doesn't set law, it simply reflects a common law. No putting the cart before the horse. Sorry.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

I'm giving half a point for this. It's hardly the basis of western law, it's more to do with blood lines, but we do get a holier-than-thou boner over adultery.

Does anyone remember the Clinton impeachment? I need to correct you all about that some day.

8. Thou shalt not steal.
Same argument as "Thou shalt not kill." Sorry horse, back to the front of the cart.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Nope! We have this thing called a talk show. People make bags of cash bearing false witness and none of them go to the slammer!

If you do it in court you might get bit, but not on the streets.

You know where you really hear false witness being borne? Church! Church and politics. Misrepresenting an opponent's position? That's false witness, kids. Pretending to not remember something that we all know you do? More false witness. Pretending gay marriage will raise my taxes? Can you guess what that's called?

Is pretending that the Ten Commandments are the bases of western law a violation of the Ten Commandments? Whoo, irony!

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
At this point we hit "Epic Fail." My god, is there anything more American than coveting? Our entire economy is built on the covet. If I could sell covets I'd make a fortune! Oops!

How do we compare successful religion? Weirdness? Meanness? Miracles per square pew? Nope, size! It's mega-church penis envy covet.

Why do we care about Bill Gate's opinion on anything? Is he wise? Nope. Clever? Nah. Filthy stinking rich! Bingo!

Thou shalt not covet? Then death penalty for SUVs! Sheesh!


Adding it up, it doesn't look good for the Ten Commandments being the basis of our law. Oh, lets face it. It ain't!

What's kind of interesting, is that very few proponents of Commandment posting have gone through the list like I have. Do you think they know that they're bearing false witness? Can't be. My neighbor would never do that. It's not Christian.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phoning it Home.

I have a Samsung SGH-A707 cell phone. It's nothing amazing, but it has a few features that I like.

One of them is voice memo. I can hit a button and record a quick message on my phone. Later, using Samsung's crappy PC Studio, I can pull the sound files off my phone and onto my Windows box. From there it's a hop, skip and a Samba on to my beloved Linux box.

The problem I have is that the files are in a format called ".amr". Oy! God forbid they use something standard.

Fortunately it's not too hard to convert them to a format that the "sox" command can understand. From there you can go to .wav, .mp3 or .ogg.

First, get the sound file from your phone to your Linux box. I can't get the bitpim program to work on my Red Hat box so I go via Windows.

Once you have the file, I'll call it "foo.amr", on to your Linux box, use the program "amrnb-decoder" to convert it to raw format.

amrnb-decoder was already on my Red Hat box. You may have to hunt around for it.

Decode the file with:

amrnb-decoder foo.amr foo.raw

This produces a raw, signed, 2 byte word, audio file at 8000 hertz.

Convert it to an ogg file with:

sox -r 8000 -s -w foo.raw foo.ogg

You should be good to go. If you change foo.ogg to foo.wav you'll get a wave file. Creating an mp3 is left as an exorcise for the reader.

You can simplify this a little bit by naming the raw file "foo.sw". Sox sees files that end with ".sw" as being short hand for "raw, signed word" files so you don't have to include that info on the command line.

You could do the above as:

amrnb-decoder foo.amr foo.sw
sox -r 8000 foo.sw foo.ogg

If the volume of the final .ogg file is too low, use sox to increase it:

amrnb-decoder foo.amr foo.sw
sox -v 7 -r 8000 foo.sw foo.ogg

For some reason all the other instructions sets I've seen have had dumb little typos in them. Let me know if you find any here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How to Die a Virgin.

I've run into a lot of people are afraid to commit anything to the Internet tubes until they have it perfect. These people are idiots.

Nothing is ever going to be perfect. You just have to let it go. If you hold on too tight you'll never get any better.

It's like never dating until you get to be a great lay. The only thing that happens is you end up with blue balls and a right arm that looks like Popeye's.

Then you die a virgin.

In keeping with the tradition of leaping before looking, I'm going start publishing some of my short stories.

I'm not saying that they're good, but I'm having fun writing them.

Here's an example:

Why I Am an Atheist, by Dale Wiles

One day, while sitting in the park, I was bathed in a heavenly light.

"He who transcends time" himself descended on a beam of pure light and glory and spoke unto me.

"Dale", he said in all voices at once, "guess what."

"What?" I said.

"That's what!" he replied, and disappeared.

I've been a atheist ever since.
C'mon, it's not like I didn't warn you.