Archive for December, 2012

First impressions: Accept, Stalingrad

December 31, 2012

Picked this album up yesterday at Barnes and Noble. I had heard the title track and “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” when I saw these guys at the South Texas Rock Fest and was quite impressed, and I finally got around to picking up this album yesterday…

…and quite simply, it freaking destroys. Think Motorhead fronted by Brian Johnson with some Rob Halford-level screams here and there, and you get the general idea. I’ll admit I haven’t heard much of Accept’s music past “Balls to the Wall” and “Restless and Wild,” but even without that context this is a fantastic metal album in its own right. I don’t quite know what to say to those who would say “it’s not Accept without Udo Dirkschneider,” given that, again, I haven’t heard THAT much of their music — but if they’re going to just dismiss this album just on that basis, it’s definitely their loss. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Seems to me he’s not thinking at all.

December 30, 2012

Who? Well, just see for yourself:

“I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools,” he said. “And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem.”

We’ll see how that works, won’t we? Given what I saw today as we were out and about, somehow I don’t think the American people think we need fewer guns.

What did I see? Well, we went out to Bass Pro Shops here in San Antonio, and it was packed. We didn’t quite have to park in the outer reaches of the parking lot and hike in, but it was pretty full and people were streaming in. And once we got in there and got up to the gun department…well, to say the pickings were slim was quite the understatement. No semiautomatic rifles to be found, and the bolt gun selection wasn’t much better. The only things that were in plentiful supply were the higher-end production 1911s and a few Taurus pistols, and large-caliber revolvers.

Compare that to the scene at the Dick’s Sporting Goods in the same shopping center, which as you remember recently pulled their black rifles in response to the Newtown shooting. The parking lot was damn near empty, and from what I could tell by looking in the windows there it was a virtual ghost town in comparison to BPS. Which makes Tom Vilsack’s remarks about recognizing that “hunting is a way of life for millions of Americans” sound even dumber than they usually would.

Do Americans see things differently now? Somehow I don’t think so. Columbine didn’t help the chances for an “assault weapons” ban, and I don’t think Newtown is going to help these chances either. I could be wrong, but I still think that what Dianne Feinstein is pushing for — banning the manufacture, sale and transfer of semiautos and NFA registration of the ones in private hands now — is an overplay of the gun controllers’ hand just like the “assault weapons” ban was in 1994.

We’ll see what happens. But in the meantime, this is worth a read.

Sunday morning tech musings.

December 30, 2012

Borepatch links to one of the latest Downfall parodies, which brought to mind this bit from The Register:

Trust the cloud with my PRECIOUS? You gotta be joking

Violated, deleted… put your data up there and bad sh*t HAPPENS

That’s always been my take on cloud computing as well, albeit perhaps for different reasons. My biggest gripe with the whole cloud computing bit is that it requires an Internet connection. Granted, most of the time I’ve had high-speed  Internet the connection’s been pretty reliable, but there are still issues with certain things.

What comes to mind for me is streaming audio. One of the myriad benefits of cloud computing I’ve seen touted here and there is the fact that you can save all your music on a cloud service and stream it from there. Pretty cool, right? Yeah — when it works. Streaming audio takes up bandwidth, and with certain forms of high-speed Internet (i.e., cable), the more users are on the system the slower it goes — and there are gonna be times here and there when either the Internet connection or the cloud service is going to be down, and what are you gonna do then?

And then there’s the issue of not having a traditional connection and relying on your mobile network. That works pretty well too…but what happens when you reach your data limit with your provider and your speed gets throttled back? Streaming audio comes to a screaming halt, that’s what. And then you’re stuck there in silence.

No, for me local storage is where it’s at and very well will probably always be. Sure, it’s cool if people have an iPhone and can stream their 25,000 songs from iTunes Match on those long-ass road trips…but when they’re in an area that has, say, 2G service, or iCloud’s down, or they’ve reached their data limit, my iPod classic will still be going.

Speaking of the iPod vs. the phone…I don’t know if I mentioned it before other than this retroactive entry, but when we were staying at a certain San Antonio-area hotel, the housekeeping staff jacked my iPod classic, and I was only recently able to replace it (Amazon gift card from my folks FTW!). All my music was on my computer, and I was able to get it on my phone…but I still found the whole thing rather cumbersome for a couple of reasons:

1. It seemed to slow down the phone quite a bit when it was running. I have an Android and I was using the DoubleTwist app/program. Worked fine, but it was still annoying in several small ways, like when I was listening to an album where the ends of certain songs served as intros to the next song (think “Back in the Village”/Powerslave” on Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, or “Anarchy-X/Revolution Calling” on Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime), there would always be this small but annoying gap between the songs.

2. Not all my music would fit, so I had to go through my iTunes library and pick and choose what I wanted to put it on there. And stuff purchased from iTunes was a no-go, due to the fact that I had an Android. And even if I could have gotten an iPhone, there are still the issues with storage and sluggish performance that one very well might have to contend with.

3. What I didn’t want to sync to the phone with DoubleTwist, I had to manually delete from it. With about 1600 songs, that was a real pain in the ass. And when I imported a new cd to the computer, it would have to have been further manually imported from iTunes to DoubleTwist. Symphony X’s Paradise Lost, Queensryche’s Operation: Livecrime, and Corb Lund’s Cabin Fever never made it to the phone because of that.

I suppose some might call me hypocritical or whatnot because one of my favorite things to do on the phone is listen to Sirius, and I would concede that point but for the fact that I don’t think I should have to pay to listen to music that I bought outright. With local storage and backups, it’s all in your control, and free to boot. That is not so with cloud computing.

And then there are the issues of making your phone your go-to device for everything — more wear and tear, battery life, and all that good stuff. What to do when you drain the battery with games and music and need to make a phone call? I don’t know. Maybe I am reaching here. Maybe I just missed the hell out of my iPod after it was stolen. But that’s just what I think…

And another one bites the dust!

December 26, 2012

Another what, you ask? Another ex-boyfriend who wouldn’t move the fuck on, that’s what:

Abilene police say a 34-year-old man has been shot and killed by his estranged girlfriend after he barged into her home.

Police found Earnest Gonzales wounded early Wednesday in the front yard of the woman’s home. He died later at a hospital.

Authorities say Gonzales tried to break in Christmas night but fled. He returned hours later, forced open the door and assaulted the woman. She managed to retrieve a handgun and fired once, hitting him in the left side.

But hey, guns are bad news for women! Or something.

Just a note.

December 25, 2012

I most definitely do not condone gang rape. The post I just took down came from a visceral reaction that I don’t think could ever really be justified.

I do ask, though…how do you persuade someone of the utility of a gun if they steadfastly refuse to listen to you? Not only that, they go on to impugn your manhood? “He shouldn’t need a gun to feel like a real man.” Sorry, but no. I guess the only thing to say to that sort of thing is the same thing to say to everyone else who thinks you don’t need a gun:

“Come and take it. If you dare. And do it yourself, as opposed to sending someone else’s son or daughter to die.”

If you ever wondered…

December 23, 2012

…just how talented Merle Haggard is, take a look at this. Marty Robbins’ expression is absolutely priceless, a WTF expression if ever there was one…

Compare and contrast…

December 22, 2012

Harrold, Texas:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged school districts to review their plans to ensure they are prepared to respond to incidents such as the horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday.

David Thweatt, superintendent of the tiny Harrold school district in northwest Texas, believes his staff is ready.

Besides special locks and security cameras, an undisclosed number of staff members and teachers carry concealed handguns.

Thweatt said the “guardian plan,” which drew international attention when it was implemented in 2008, definitely enhances student safety.

“Is that 100 percent? No,” Thweatt said Friday in a telephone interview. “Nothing is 100 percent. But what we do know is that we’ve done all we can to protect our children.”

..and San Antonio:

(NRA President Wayne) LaPierre called on Congress to fund armed guards in every school and outlined a “National School Shield Program … for every school that wants it.”…

Edgewood Independent School District board president Joseph Guerra said the proposal amounts to “living in fear.”

He said he enjoys hunting but no longer belongs to the NRA, which he called “a clique that has become out of touch.”

“I think there does need to be some talk about restrictions, as I don’t need an AK-47 or AR-15 assault rifle to go hunting or protect myself,” Guerra said.

North East Superintendent Brian Gottardy said it was “insensitive for the NRA to pretend to know how to best protect our schools.”

NEISD has a response plan “for everything from an insect bite to what happened in Newtown, Conn.,” and is reviewing it for possible improvements — but schools can only do so much to thwart an attacking gunman, he said.

“There is not one cure-all solution for every school district … throughout the country,” Gottardy said. “There are no quick fixes.”

So, to recap:

Harrold school district: “Hey, let’s let the teachers with CHLs carry their guns. No plan is 100 percent foolproof, but we can say we did everything we could to protect the children, especially considering the nearest cop is about 10 minutes away.”

San Antonio school districts: “Putting armed people on campus living in fear! NRA cliquey and insensitive! Assault weapons bad! WHAAAARGARBL!”

And Jesus wept. BITTERLY.

Oh hey, chalk another one up!

December 20, 2012

Another what, you ask? Another anti-gunner lie exposed, yet again….

An 18-year-old was shot to death Wednesday night trying to break into a southeast Houston apartment, authorities said.

The armed man pushed his way into an apartment in the 3900 block of Wentworth about 8:20 p.m., said Houston Police Department officer Christopher Hassig.

A man, his girlfriend and a 2-year-old were in the apartment and heard a commotion in the back of the residence, the officer said.

The resident confronted the intruder and took his gun, Hassig said. The intruder was then shot to death.

“Don’t defend yourself with a gun. Your attacker will wrestle it away from you and shoot you with it!” I have observed before that it strikes me that there are actually many more instances of criminals having their guns taken away from them by their victims than the other way around. I can’t even remember the last time a citizen had his or her gun wrestled away by a criminal. But I have seen quite a few stories just like this one.

Anti-gunners full of shit? NAAAAAAHHHHHH…..

I had never shopped here before…

December 18, 2012

…and this pretty much guarantees I never will:

Dick’s Sporting Goods is pulling certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles off its shelves nationwide. The store said it’s also removing all guns from its store nearest to Newtown, Connecticut. They said the change comes out of respect for the victims and families of last week’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. It’s unclear how long the store will keep the suspension in place.

Way to cave to the antis, you morons. There are no words to fully express just how utterly craven this is. There’s at least one Dick’s Sporting Goods here, up at The Rim on the northwest side…but every time I am up in that part of town, it’s to go to Bass Pro Shops, which, incidentally, is still selling semiautomatic rifles and handguns. I had heard Dick’s catered largely to the Fudds among us. Something like this only seems to confirm that.

But if the reaction to Cheaper than Dirt suspending online gun sales is any indication, they’ll regret it, for sure.

Don’t drink the Insania! It’ll massacre your brain cells!

December 17, 2012

And here’s the proof:

Über Röck: And who do you think would throw the first punch?

(Geoff Tate): Throw the first punch? Well, probably me. Those guys can’t fight their way out of a paper bag. I’ve never seen such a bunch of… How can you be a man and not, like, defend yourself? How can you do that? I don’t understand it. I probably shouldn’t talk about that… I could get in trouble. [laughs] You know, Americans are really touchy about that stuff. I spit in Scott‘s [RockenfieldQUEENSRŸCHE drummer] face and that is an ancient act of defiance and contempt: it’s a symbolic gesture. It’s ancient, people have been doing that for centuries and Americans can’t wrap their head around that. They think it’s juvenile, like it’s something a kid does.

Well, you know, if the declarations are any indication, the guys’ tour manager, Fozzy O’Hare, pulled Tater off Michael Wilton as Wilton was trying to get the contact back in his eye. And I am sure Wilton was caught off guard. I certainly would have been. But who the hell knows, really? For all Tater himself knows, Whip and Scott were just giving him yet more rope to hang himself by not escalating things as opposed to responding to his juvenile provocations. Tater just chose to spin it as him showing everyone who’s the boss, I suppose. (For the iconic frontman of what became known as the “thinking man’s metal band,” he certainly doesn’t come off as very intelligent here.) Such isn’t surprising, though. Geoff Tate showed himself to be quite a vile creature long before now. It’s still pretty damn unnerving, though.

If I had to guess, though, he’s just pissed that they took the fight to him where it really mattered: the courtroom. Sure, he was the one who filed the lawsuit, but if you read the declarations of those on both sides, the ones written by the folks on the Queensryche side are much better written the absolutely destroy pretty much every argument Geoff, Susan and the others make. I would have been willing to bet last summer when all this came out that Whip, Scott and Eddie would have won, but I am even more sure now that they will.

And yeah, we do think spitting is “juvenile, like it’s something a kid does,” because, well, it is.