Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Concise and Stupid Guide to The Concise Guide to Windows 3.1

Today while throwing things out, I came across:

A few facts:

The 'concise guide' is 195 pages.

Okay, so that is only one fact, but it is a strong enough fact that you should realize the guide is pretty far from concise.

Though it does look better between two sheep sheeping.
An example of the inanity: There are three and a half pages describing how to play solitaire.

I call bullshit!  Cards don't have a rank and Aces are high!

My arguably more concise version: It's frickin' solitaire!!

The guide is also a paradox: The person who can easily understand it won't need it, and the person who needs it will take one look at it, freeze, and call their computer literate family member or friend to come help them with whatever banal task they are doing that they don't understand.

Of course, as this operating system came out 18 years ago, no one this side of a dedicated member of the Cult of Weaver would be using Windows 3.1

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is Breast Cancer Awareness Stupid?

Answer: Yes.

How does buying tacky pink shit (likely produced by women being paid slave-wages in China or some shit) help to end breast cancer? It doesn’t.  The % of the profit that actually makes it back to research is minimal. 

As in, almost nothing.

Btw, we are all aware of breast cancer.  It isn’t 1980 anymore.  We get it, now please retire your industry or shift it into “ok, now letz doo sum research skillz and actually figure out what causes cancer and how to cure it, lol.”

A better solution:

Giving money directly for breast cancer research.  

On the other hand, nothing reminds you of the mortal dangers to women like some breast cancer awareness advocates.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

People Who Play the Lotto are Stupid

Level 1: The Stupid Tax. 

Everyone hates paying taxes.  This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the millions of people who hate taxes but love lottery scratch off tickets.  Lottery tickets are voluntary taxes paid by people who don’t understand math.  Let us look at some odds:

Typical odds of winning a scratch off ticket: 1 in 5, with the win typically being a break even or very small gain. You just give your money away 80% of the time.  If you want to pay $10 or more, these odds can improves all the way up to 1 in 3, making you a loser only 2/3rd of the time.  One math blog has calculated the return on investment (ROI) on multi-state lotteries at -82%. Conservatively, we can say your return on investment (lol) is likely to be -35% to -50% on scratch offs.

Which is to say, scratch off tickets are taxes.

One favorite rationalization of paying voluntary regressive taxes is that “you can’t win if you don’t play”.  My way of thinking of this phrase is “You can’t be a broke-ass gambooling dipshit voluntarily spewing taxes for temporary and ultimately unsatisfactory dopamine releases if you don’t play”.

I suppose I should appreciate the dark irony of shared needs like education being supported by the bad decisions of the disproportionately poor and stupid, but I’d rather have state governments rely on a more sophisticated plan than exploiting sucker bets when they figure out how to pay for fundamental needs.

Raising funds through other types of exploitative suckers bets would be permissible, however.

Of course, I could be wrong, as guides for “How to Win Scratch Off Tickets” do exist.  Somehow these guides neglect to mention the fact that all of these games have losing odds.

The analogous type here is people who play slot machines.  People actually get excited to spend their leisure time paying someone to press a button for machines who light up all pretty.  God, I’m in the wrong business.

Level 2: Dreaming Endlessly About the Impossible.

Depending on structure, the odds of winning a multi-state lotto like powerball is approximately 1 in the odds that your father is actually your mother.

Actually, the odds of your father actually being your mother is already probably higher than winning a multi-state lotto. Fucking Trans Men.

Compared to winning a multi-state lotto, you are**:

  • 800 times more likely to die from a bee sting.
  • 70 times more likely to die from a snake bite.
  • 20 Times more likely to die from a lightning strike than you would be to win the lottery.
  • You are 10 times more likely to die in a car wreck *the very next time you drive*.  Not just some time in your life, but any old routine trip to work or sauntering on down bar to forget your soul-crushing day afterwards (the odds go slightly up for the trip home). You are only at least 1 million times likely to die this way over your life course.
  • 10 times more likely to be in a group of four playing golf, and having two of you hit a hole in one on the same hole.
  • Over 100 times more likely to get dealt a royal flush from the first five cards of a randomly shuffled deck.
  • You are more likely to be executed by the government. As in, wrongfully executed when you are innocent. 
  • You are more likely to die falling out of bed, from accidental poisioning, from drowning in the bathtub, from taking aspirin, from drinking tap water, or from flesh eating bacteria. 
I flipped a coin on showing a picture of flesh eating bacteria in action or a picture of a Bonobo playing with a dog. Lucky you. Heart warming story wrapped in sadness found here.

Still, millions of people sit around spending countless hours dreaming of this impossibility.  Seriously, people, at least fantasize about banging a super model or writing a New York Times bestseller.  I mean, those are dreams that are 1000 times and 80000 times more likely to happen than winning a multi-state lotto, respectively.

Yes, even you have a chance to live the dream.

Level 3: People who actually achieve the impossible.

Over the last few years, the notion that wealth is more likely to be a destabilizing and isolating force for those who acquire it than a means to improve their lives subjectively has immensely intrigued me.  While depending heavily on circumstances, windfall gains, such as winning big lotteries, are a prime example how such wins often ruin lives.  Suddenly any new friend is a potential con artist or swindler, family and old friends will often think more about your money than your relationship to them, and human relationships and self-directing autonomy is all subsumed under the weight of worrying about new found wealth.

I could write more about it, but the following links give great examples:

In an awesome irony, winning millions in a lotto could be the biggest loss you ever have.  The only people in a position to win the lotto without it ruining their lives are those who are financially secure through sound planning.  Of course, if you have these skills, you probably would never do stupid shit like buy lotto tickets in the first place.

Note: The skilled rich do not include people who happen to be born to the right vagina and inherited everything they had no matter how stupid or unskilled they are.

But don’t worry, the massive unluck of a multi-million dollar lotto win will never happen to you =)

**Note, these odds are all approximations.  So, instead of saying, 'You are 5 to 25 more times likely to die in a car wreck the next time you die depending on the specific circumstances of the trip’, I approximated to make the writing smoother. If lack of literalist factist douchebaggery bothers you, you've missed the point, which is, you aren't going to win the fucking lotto so quit wasting your money. Of course, as a literalist, you probably always miss the point in life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stupid Solutions - Windows Media Center IR Hardware Not Detected

How to Bypass Windows Media Center IR Hardware Not Detected

Super quick explanation: Plug headphones into each empty slot of the infrared receiver.

More detail:

So, you are trying to watch TV through Windows Media Center on your TV. However, during set up, no matter what you do, you keep getting the error message:

"IR Hardware not detected"

After several hours of frustrated trying and searching forums, you might wind up under the impression that Windows is full of...

Because, well, it is.

Here is a simple solution that worked for me that I have not come across yet.

If your receiver looks like:

You will need to grab some headphones:

And plug those bitches into your Infrared Receiver:

Don't forget to plug both holes.

And leave your IR Device looking like:

There are about 743 responses a person could have to the last caption. If yours was "that's what she said", -10 points for being predictable.

This will bypass the dreaded, unskippable "IR Hardware Not Detected" screen. You will still need to fake several more steps and your setup won't work right. After your setup is complete, unplug your headphones.

Does this method work well to set up your Tivo and other media devices properly? No. If this is important, make sure you have all of the original hardware.

Will it let you bypass the "IR Hardware Not Detected" step, and hence avoid smashing your monitor to bits in a fit of pure, unadulterated rage, and just let you watch live TV? Yes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stupid Solutions - Youtube on PS3

If you are like me and you watch youtube videos on PS3, you probably realize the default youtube link from the default browser basically sucks and is only semi-functional at best. A much better use is to go to:


This is a better interface for televisions and typically has much better stability.

There you go, my first of several stupid solutions for simple problems that shouldn't exist in the first place.

If I'm not lazy, I'll soon post an extremely simple stupid solution for tricking Windows Media Center into actually letting you watch TV without "IR Hardware" being found. But, to be honest, I'll probably just be lazy.

Also, to all my zero readers out there...sorry for the long drought in posting. I've been working on a movie review for Bratz: The Movie which I'll try to post within the next few weeks.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stupidhead of the Week: Ken Salazar (Do you want to know what BP has really been doing? Part II)

If you want to know what BP has been doing, watch Ken Salazar. Salazar’s obvious evasiveness at answering basic questions clues us into basic truths of the situation. I’ve noticed this over and over again while watching him squirm under the congressional hot seat. Salazar pauses when he can’t tell the truth (a classic lying tell), uses weasel words and phrases over and over again, and has a response framework where he is typically telling you the truth about the situation specifically by what he doesn’t say and how he doesn’t say it.

The starkest example I’ve seen can be found on this video clip (starting at 0:17)

Here are the following lying tells that Salazar gives:

1) His ten second pause clearly demonstrates that Salazar can’t openly tell the truth. Lies take longer to think up than the truth, which is almost always immediately available. This immense pause alone is sufficient to make me think, “wow, obviously BP refused government requests or directives”.

2) During this pause, I personally feel that if you pay close attention to his eyes and facial expression, Salazar is thinking through examples of BP not cooperating while trying to formulate a response that is technically true by the literal words he says while omitting his known instances of their lack of cooperation.

3) His initial tense, tight lipped posture shows his defensiveness against the question. Defensiveness of this nature usually indicates deception. He is highly uncomfortable and doesn’t want to answer. This only makes sense if BP hasn’t cooperated. If they had cooperated at all times, Salazar could openly tell the truth with relative ease.

4) The shift of his head at 0:28, combined with his defeated look and evasive eye movements all show a type of defensiveness that belies his coming deception. He can’t just come out and tell the truth here, and is uncomfortable about how badly he wants to avoid blatantly lying.

5) “They have not refused anything that I have ordered them to do.” This is a classic weasel phrase. Instead of a simple yes or no followed by explanation, he redirects the question, giving an answer that sounds like a “no” but is much more likely a misdirected “yes”. If the answer was no, Salazar would say “no” and then explain any nuance if needed.

6) “But I am not in charge.” – Double weasel! This indicates there is something they have refused to do that Salazar knows of, but was not directly responsible for in an official sense. He just had to let this slip to ease the emotional discomfort of his first weasel response.

Video Bonus: Krauthammer taking him to task for his lack of preparation, not his obvious lying. Ken, you need to take time to prepare your lies of omission better! Actually, with your job, not being able to lie well is probably a good sign that you do it poorly.

If you are going to be this obvious when you lie and omit information, what is the point of the deception?

Now, the absence of such lying tells *do not mean* that a person is telling the truth. As Lee Atwater proved 20 years ago, an individual might just be an exceptionally good liar, able to advance their talking points in a sincere sounding way regardless of what reality actually is, never feeling the moral ambiguity or guilt the average person would. Objective evidence, insofar as it can be found, should 100% be given priority over such conversational cues.

On another note, there is a good side to all of this. Powerful politicians, government officials, and corporate executives lie often in the course of advancing and protecting their interests. To be honest, they have to or they would have never advanced to the position they are at. Quite surprisingly, many of them are *terrible at lying*. If you can pick up on the multitude of ways in which people expose their own lying in conversation, you have a great opportunity to see though the narratives of powerful actors and get useful (or at least interesting) information that it would otherwise be impossible for you to have access to.

Do you want to know what BP has really been doing? Part I

Want to know what BP has been doing? Step 1: When BP makes a claim, rule what they have said out of contention for being true.

This has to be tough for BP. Usually, when BP makes claims and uses PR to mask the reality of their daily operations, the narrative they create is seamlessly adopted by media and government. Well, here we have a problem too important with elements too transparent for such standard tactics to work. Their claims and PR are useful for us to understand the truth, however. On this issue, when BP executives make a claim or put out PR and ads, we should typically hold what they are saying as false. This, coupled with the evasiveness and lies of omission of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tell us a great deal about the more likely story regarding BP’s activity with the Gulf spill. More on that in a separate post.

For those of you that don't like reading, here is a great video on this, thanks to Keith Olbermann:

BP Claims That Turned Out to be Bullshit (or Will):

1) Claim: The total leak was only 5,000 barrels a day. Reality: The leak is much greater than this, probably at least over 20,000 barrels a day, perhaps as high as 50,000 barrels a day. Okay, so the estimates range greatly on this number, no doubt in large part due to the motivations of those comprising the statistic that informs this part of the narrative. However, the BP claim was laughably small. They delayed releasing video of the leak for several weeks. When they did, this 5,000 claim was quickly shown to be an unrealistically small number. It took our stupid government until June 7th to stop officially relying on BP for oil estimates.

2) Claim: There are no underwater oil plumes. Reality: There are multiple underwater oil plumes. The best part about this claim is that BP kept making it even after it was proven false this week! According to BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttle, "We haven’t found any large concentrations of oil under the sea. To my knowledge, no one has." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers from the University of South Florida, Southern Mississippi University, the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University would kindly like to disagree with Mr. Suttle.

3) Assorted claims: At first, there was no leak, then 1,000 barrels, then 5,000. Repeated initial claims that the environmental impact would be small to modest. Repeated claims to have the spill and leak under control, to have the oil reasonably well contained, that it is a “textbook” example of how to respond well to an oil spill emergency, etc. Pre-spill claims that an oil spill of this magnitude would be impossible due to advancements in technology and safety precautions. Bonus: The shift a few years ago from the British Petroleum name to Beyond Petroleum, with an advertising campaign that promoted a more or less green narrative for the company (ha!). Green narratives in general are bullshit, but this one takes the cake for how blatantly juxtaposed it was with reality.

4) Currently, BP promises it will, “meet its obligations in the Gulf of Mexico”. Shit.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Golden Benchmark of Stupidity.

I love the commercials selling gold coins.

Properly understood, they might articulate the dumbest argument a commercial has ever made. Let’s overlook the fact that the value of the coins they are selling in terms of the weight of gold is usually less than half of the value of just the gold itself (i.e. you could just buy or invest in gold directly and not immediately lose half your value). We will also ignore whether there is a conflict of interest with Infotainment personalities, err “news journalists” promoting investing in gold as a smart strategy while being directly sponsored by gold hawking businesses. No, we will consider the argument of the commercials themselves.

We will use a Rosland Capital commercial with spokesman G Gordon Liddy as an example.

Proposition 1: Beware! Because of the failing economy and bad government decisions, your money is getting to be worth less and less. Soon it could be worth next to nothing!

Proposition 2: Gold, on the other hand, is stable and retains its value no matter how bad things get. Gold will probably go way up in value. Gold is the perfect way to weather any economic storm.

Conclusion: So, would you like to give us some of your volatile worthless money for our extremely valuable secure gold?