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neurotwitch

Saturday, January 18, 2003

shopping discount codes

Naughtycodes.com has a list of discount codes for a LOT of stores. Handy. It only has discount codes -- if you're looking for more deals, go to DealHunting.com.

Note: on each of these sites, I had problems linking to the sites listed. I'm not sure if it was at my end or if the PHP code these sites use is somehow screwed up.
posted by lee on 01/18/03 at 01:04 PM

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Wednesday, January 15, 2003

A nice review on Bloggy Opinions!

Bloggy Opinions v4 - Blog [Weblog, Diary, Journal] Review Service gave neurotwitch a very nice review. Here is the archive page if it's rolled off the front page already. I'd be dishonest if I said I didn't care about the review, or any review, for that matter. I do care!

Bloggy Opnions needs more reviewers--they've got a backlog to get through before they start taking on any more blogs to review.

About the background graphics on this page: they are images of Fresnel lenses -- lighthouse lights -- that I took at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum a couple of summers ago. This museum is one of my favorite places. I love Great Lakes lighthouses, and have a goal of seeing all of the lighthouses on all of the coasts of Michigan. I've made some good progress, but have a lot to go. Stanley doesn't seem to mind this obsession since he likes to see new places anyway and doesn't object when I drag him to the remote corners of Michigan. One of these days I'll put up a page or two with the photos we've taken of the beautiful places in Michigan.
posted by lee on 01/15/03 at 09:09 PM

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Find out why so many SUV drivers seem to be such jerkoffs

Are Hummer Owners Idiots? / More delightful proof positive that most SUVs are, in fact, morally repugnant. Go, America! by Mark Morford, SF Gate.com (San Francisco Chronicle)

There are so many things about SUVs that are just so wrong. Now there's some proof.

[snip]
SUVs are owned, by and large (but not, of course, exclusively), by complete assholes.

You know it's true. SUV drivers tend, more than any others on the road, to be aggressive jerks. And New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher's new book, "High and Mighty: SUVs -- The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way," proves it.

As reported in a superlative Washington Monthly article that quotes extensively from Bradsher's book, SUV owners tend to be, in part, more selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, insecure and vain than their car-driving brethren. Oh yes they do. And the research backs it up.

They are frequently "nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors and communities. They are more restless, more sybaritic and less social than most Americans are."

Oh but it doesn't stop there. Only a small fraction of SUVs are ever used for actual work, or for their off-road capabilities, or by people who actually need them for incliment weather or for their hauling utility. And SUVs are, as Bradsher points out, intentionally designed to appear more reptilian and threatening, in an attempt to instill a false sense of ruggedness and menace and a get-outta-my-way machismo. And, of course, they succeed. Sort of.

Furthermore, SUVs are marketed, and widely accepted, as more safe, more solid and protective, which is of course one of the industry's biggest and most contemptible lies.

In truth, SUVs kill a great many more passengers than they save. They crush other cars, and study after study proves they themselves have shockingly high fatal rollover rates and lethal side-impact dangers. And, given the horrible visibility from SUVs, their drivers have a rather unfortunate habit of running over their own children in the driveway. True.

This, combined with how their false sense of ruggedness encourages their owners to drive them like maniacs, makes for one of the biggest and most dangerous mass delusions in modern American culture.

In fact, the "kill rate" for SUVs is truly appalling. To paraphrase the Washington Monthly article, for every one life saved by driving an SUV, five others will be taken. And research has proved that a tank like the four-ton Chevy Tahoe kills 122 people for every 1 million models on the road; by comparison, the Honda Accord kills only 21 per 1 million such vehicles.

In other words, SUVs aren't the slightest bit safe for you, or your children or other drivers -- especially other drivers. And to own an SUV, Bradsher asserts, essentially places the driver's own ego above the health and safety of those around him, not to mention the health of the environment.
[snip]

But read the whole thing. And the article it mentions. And if you drive an SUV, get rid of it and buy a station wagon.
posted by lee on 01/15/03 at 11:40 AM

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maybe they’ll add google

I checked out ZapMeta.com - All Results, One Engine just because it was named Cool Site of the Day (I don't know why I still go to CSOTD -- it has so many annoying popups, popunders, and backdoor popups that the site displayed is rarely worth the aggravation. Habit, I guess.)

At any rate, zapMeta is a pretty interesting search engine. It doesn't (yet?) include Google, but it does Yahoo. You can set your preferences, such as how many listings per page, whether you want a preview, open in new window, etc. Speaking of preview, that's a feature I kinda like as it opens up the page in an iframe (it looks like it's an iframe, anyway) very quickly, so it's faster to scan than opening it up with the hyperlink. You can also maximize the iframe to see the entire page. What else is cool is that you can click "bookmark" to add it to your favorites list right from the zapMeta -- that's a great touch. Also, ZapMeta is pretty fast.

What I'd like to see is for Google to acquire ZapMeta and incorporate these features into Google to make it even better than I think it already is.

ZapMeta has ambitions: in addition to searching for websites and mp3s, it also list the Open Directory Project directories and has currently grayed-out buttons for the following: jobs, videos, images, news, and shopping.

The one thing that bothers me, though, is there is no "about us" to be found. Nothing about the founder(s), developers, etc. The domain is registered in Stafford, Texas. I would be more inclined to follow the progress of the venture if I at least knew a little about the people behind ZapMeta. As it stands right now, it's so anonymous I just don't really care. The interface is pretty cold, too -- I would design something warmer, more welcoming and friendly. If there's no real reason to use it, the developers better think about inducing people to WANT to use it "just because."
posted by lee on 01/15/03 at 08:40 AM

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Monday, January 13, 2003

more accident stuff

This evening, a Norwalk PD lieutenant (I didn't get his name -- he said he's Sgt. Couture's boss) stopped in front of our house to examine the scene of the accident. He stopped twice -- once around 5ish and then again shortly after 7 p.m. The second time there were two cop cars and flashing lights, so I was curious and decided the dog needed to go out. I mean, really, it's not that complicated of an accident -- the lying jerkoff's tire tracks are still visible along with the broken hedge branches.

When I got outside, this lieutenant asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted to see what's going on and that I was the one who was hit last Friday.

He said he was there trying to determine the cause of the accident and the responsibility of each of the parties involved in the accident.

He also said he was trying to figure out the purpose of the white line that is painted on Strawberry Hill Avenue -- a line, he said, that means you cannot cross it and if you can't cross it, he wondered, how do you get into your driveway? (This took my breath away.)

He said that there are circumstances in which it's legal to pass on the right but refused to specify whether they apply in front of our house. He asked where my car was as I was turning (I told him in the traffic lane, between the double yellow line and the solid white line). He asked this, but when I also told him my right-turn indicator was on, he said he didn't want to hear it because that has no bearing on the accident. Why one "fact" has bearing and the other doesn't, I have no idea.

I asked him what I should have done differently to avoid the accident -- trying to figure out how they're going to try to pin this one on me (I hope I'm being overly cynical) -- but he didn't say anything in response to this other than he's trying to determine the cause of the accident.

He said Officer Page admitted he said something he shouldn't have.

As far as I know, the lieutenant didn't look at my car to see what happened to it.

The second time the lieutenant arrived, he was accompanied by two other officers and another patrol car, with one of the other officers directing traffic around the police car parked in the traffic lane.

I am happy that they seem to be taking my complaint seriously but wonder about the confusion regarding passing on the right and what the white line means on my street -- if the cops don't know the law/reason, how are WE supposed to know what to do?

I'm also wondering why it's taking so much manpower to do the follow-up. Just imagine how much money this investigation is costing the city (and me, ultimately) which could've been avoided if Officer Page had just done his job to begin with. The lieutenant told me the accident report is nowhere near being ready. Because I filed a complaint.

I do know that if they somehow figure out how to hang the fault, or any part of the responsibility, of this accident around my neck they'd better be damned clear in explaining precisely what I did wrong and why it was wrong as well as giving me precise instructions on how to make a right turn into my driveway without breaking the law or getting creamed by another idiot.

It would be really nice if they did something about the dangerous traffic on Strawberry Hill Avenue BEFORE a child is murdered by a speeding driver or another pet is killed by some asshole going 50mph on a 25mph street.

Meanwhile, my car is seriously out of whack. It's not so much that it travels down the road like a crab, but that turning, in either direction, is now an adventure. If I turn left, such as into a parking spot, the tire scrapes and the front end dips. If I turn right, the car does an interesting balancing act -- it feels like it's going to keel over.

Tomorrow I take it to the insurance company's auto repair place to get an estimate on repairing the damage and have them determine liability. How they can determine that, I don't know, except maybe they look at the scrapes or something. Didn't see anything about this on CSI ...

It's pretty amazing, the extent of the damage that was done by a car supposedly legally passing me on the right going 25mph while the driver was leaning on his horn. Yeah, sure it was.

The letter to the Mayor should arrive tomorrw, as I'm sending it via email tonight. I wonder what Mayor Knopp will have to say. I wonder if he'll have anything to say.
posted by lee on 01/13/03 at 05:30 PM

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Liebermouth set to waste more taxpayer dollars

Optimum Online - News - Lieberman to Seek White House in 2004

Lieberman told the crowd at Stamford High - where he graduated in 1960 - that he intends "to talk straight to the American people and to show them that I am a different kind of Democrat."

Yeah -- it's called a REPUBLICAN in ass's clothing.

So once again we lose 50% of our representation in the Senate.
posted by lee on 01/13/03 at 01:45 PM

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Sunday, January 12, 2003

when are we going to care about real threats?

AIDS Hasn't Peaked Yet -- and That's Not The Worst of It (washingtonpost.com)

[snip]
Tuberculosis and malaria kill more than 3 million people per year, and AIDS kills another 3 million. These numbers are growing rapidly, dwarfing the number of people who could conceivably die from terrorism or conventional warfare. These three diseases are taking many countries backward, back to life expectancies and mortality rates the world hasn't seen since the early 1900s. Each of them can be prevented, if not cured. Yet we spend billions trying to prevent terrorism and pennies on fighting these much bigger killers. In 2001, for every person who died of war and violence, seven people died of one of these three diseases, nearly all of them children or young adults.
[snip]

There is a lot more information in this column -- very troubling information -- about threats to you and to me that are real threats more urgent, and affecting more people, than terroristism of any stripe.
posted by lee on 01/12/03 at 10:33 AM

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Saturday, January 11, 2003

incompetent driver + incompetent cop = lousy friday evening

Strawberry Hill Avenue in Norwalk, CT is a one-lane residential street posted 25mph. This street is about 1.5 lanes wide in each direction, but it is still a one-lane street. There are three schools on this street (we live right next door to one of them). The time was between 6:45 and 7:00 pm. Traffic was heavy in both directions. I was making a right turn into our driveway. Or trying to. It was not to be.

Behind me, in a reddish (I think -- it was dark) Grand Am, was Damon Grant, Incompetent Driver and Drummer. Also in this car was Blond Stupid Man (BSM).

Grant, for whatever reason, decides to pass me on the right. Stanley thinks it was because he was following too close, too fast and wasn't paying attention and tried to swerve around me. At any rate, this incompetent driver struck my right front fender as I was turning into my driveway. Grant's car ended up on top of the sidewalk, two piles of ice, and our hedge. I am really glad there were no pedestrians on the sidewalk there or this would have been a tragedy instead of just an extreme annoyance.

So, cursing and shaking, I pulled up alongside Incompetent Driver Grant's car, and turned on the hazard lights. When I could, I got out of the car and asked Grant what the hell was thinking, what kind of a dumbass move was that, etc.

ID Grant: I didn't know what you were doing. You just stopped.
Me: well of course I stopped -- I was turning into my driveway.
SBM: we didn't know what you were doing.
Me: (wondering why SBM needed to know what I was doing as he was not driving) I had my turn indicator on, I was turning ...

More conversation ... I forget it all.

ID Grant and SBM climb out of Grant's car.
ID Grant: What do you want to do?
Me: Call the cops. Do you have a phone, or should I go into my house and call (while writing down the license plate number lest they decide to be totally stupid and bolt -- which ID Grant did not do). SBM digs out a cellphone.
SBM: What's the phone number for the police?
Me: (amazed, then speaking slowly and carefully) 9 - 1 - 1
SBM: But that's the number for emergencies, I can't use that number, blah blah blah
Me: Give me the phone, I'll make the call
SBM finally dialed 911, giving them our address.

We're waiting for one of Norwalk's Finest to show up.
Me: why were you passing me on the right?
ID Grant and SBM: We didn't know what you were doing -- you had your left turn indicator on and pulled over and stopped.
Me: What the hell are you talking about? I had my right turn indicator on and, at any rate, even if I had no turn indicator on, it's still illegal to pass on the right. And I didn't pull over anywhere -- there's nowhere TO pull.
ID Grant the liar: No, you had your left turn indicator on, and we didn't pass you on the right.

And so this non-conversation went. It was clear Grant wasn't enough of an adult to admit that he made a mistake and decided, abetted by SBM, that he would take the dishonorable route of lying and blaming me.

I concluded that he was too childish to deal with further, decided to wait for the cop, and then went to get Stanley -- and asked him to bring the camera for pictures.

Finally, a cop, one Officer Page, shows up. He asked for the story. I tell him my side. Liar Grant tells him his story. Cop doesn't ask any questions, just gets our papers, goes back to his car and begins writing and whatever. Stanley took some pictures, but there was really nothing to see -- my car was knocked out of alignment but no visible damage.

Page finally finishes whatever he needed to do, comes back to us, hands us our papers and says, "You both have the same insurance, so it'll be a wash." That's it? I said something like, "What's the story here? You're not issuing a ticket?" Page said there are conflicting stories, so no ticket. I said "whatever the stories are, it's illegal to pass on the right, so he was wrong." Page said to me: "How many years did you spend in the police academy?"

I was shocked. I gave a lame reply, like "I went to driver's ed." But I was profoundly shocked. Mostly by his rudeness, but also by his incompetence. If I were wrong about the law, he could've just pointed it out. Or he could've just said nothing. But what he did was insult me and, even worse, let this incompetent, lying driver Grant get away without even knowing he did something wrong.

Officer Page did not do his job. He failed in two areas: investigation and prevention. ID Liar Grant lives in my neighborhood, on Lockwood Lane, and will likely be driving on Strawberry Hill Avenue again, and will think it's okay to try to pass on the right. And a couple of minutes of actual investigation by Page would have turned up the fact that MY RIGHT-TURN INDICATOR WAS STILL ON.

I did nothing wrong. But I was the one insulted by a person whose salary I pay.

I REFUSE TO TOLERATE THIS BULLSHIT -- THAT'S FOR CHUMPS
When I got back in to the house, I called the Norwalk Police Department and asked how I could file a complaint against a police officer. The guy who answered the phone said I needed to speak with a supervisor, and transferred me to the front desk, where Officer Front Desk told me the supervisor would call me back because they were all busy doing something or other. She took my name and number.

I expected to have to call back, but I was wrong: a supervisor, Sgt. Stephen Couture, called me back within the hour. I asked him how to file a formal complaint, and he told me I should come down to the police station before 11:00pm while he and Page were still on duty.

If he hoped that asking me to show up at the police station instead of filing over the phone would somehow avoid the whole thing, he was wrong. Maybe I'm being overly cynical about it, but I doubt it.

Stanley drove me over to the police station. We waited for about ten minutes, and then Sgt. Couture met us and escorted us back to a report room, where I told him my story and my concerns. He said he understood that I feel reprimanded even though I was not at fault, that I was indeed right about it being illegal to pass on the right (and explained the circumstances where it is legal, though on most of Strawberry Hill Avenue, there are no circumstances where it is legal), and that Officer Page was wrong to have said what he said.

Couture said he hadn't seen the accident report yet, but based on what we'd told him, it should've been fairly obvious what had happened. He gave me a copy of the statute regarding passing on the right. He talked to us for a bit about our concerns about the traffic on Strawberry Hill Avenue and my observation that I rarely see the police doing anything about it, and that I didn't think anything will be done until a child is killed on the way to school.

He then told us that Page has been at a call where an old woman was stroking out and had spent a long time there trying to resuscitate her (successfully), etc. I told him that was no excuse for rudeness, that when I had to work in an emergency room if we'd been rude to anyone for any reason we would've been fired on the spot, and that despite the fact that I'd just had my new car (well, it is new to me) hit and I was upset, I was not rude to Page, and that we pay way, way too much in taxes (we pay more than $4,000 a year in property taxes -- and we don't live in a mansion on a huge plot of land, not by a long shot) to take any abuse from any Norwalk employee.

If Page didn't think before he shot off his mouth, that makes me VERY concerned. This man carries a gun -- he MUST think before he does ANYTHING.

While Sgt. Couture was very sympathetic and a pleasant man to deal with, I wasn't mollified. There needs to be consequences for bad behavior, whether it's an illegal pass or a smart-ass comment by an officer of the law. ID Liar Grant's consequence is that his pretty car has some ugly damage (including a torn-off side mirror and some dandy scratches from the hedge), and his insurance rates are likely to go up. But the only way there could be consequences for Page's bad behavior is if I filed a formal complaint.

So I did. I don't know exactly what is supposed to happen, but I have a receipt and instruction from Sgt. Couture to call him if I haven't heard anything in about a week.

Stanley wasn't so crazy about the fact that I did this -- like most people, he's afraid of repercussions by Page or by the Norwalk police in general. That innocent citizens should fear their police department offends me to my very American core. That police officers should get away with bad behavior -- whether it's a smart-ass, rude comment by a cop or even more serious offenses -- because of this fear is even more appalling. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke) It seems like a trivial matter, not worthy of all this effort. But it's a slippery slope -- where does one draw the line? If a cop is having a bad day, will that justify anything?

My next step is to write to Mayor Alex Knopp.

What I would like is a written apology from Page, with a copy of the complaint and the letter of apology placed into his personnel jacket, some more training for Page since he obviously needs it, and for the Norwalk PD to contact ID Liar Damon Grant and let him know that he really did do something wrong -- and I want proof that they did this.

Stay tuned ...
posted by lee on 01/11/03 at 11:42 AM

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Thursday, January 09, 2003

Senator Liebermouth Emits more hot air

Senators McCain and Gasbag Offer Bill to Require Cuts in Gases, New York Times, By Katherine Q. Seelye

Lieberman said the administration's approach would "allow greenhouse-gas emissions to keep increasing indefinitely, presenting this country and the world with a bigger and bigger environmental crisis to tackle down the road," hurting the economy and America's stature in the world.

What Lieberjerk failed to mention is that if he were to shut the frell up rather than shoving his face in front of any available camera and/or microphone and yammering away while saying absolutely nothing, the United States's production of greenhouse gases (or gasses) would fall by 75%.

Last night our friend George referred to Liebermouth as another version of Al Sharpton. I think George is right -- though I think Liebermouth is worse because he has more money (not his -- taxpayer money) to use to fuel his flapping facetime minutes. Sharpton at least picks causes he knows something about. Not Liebermouth. Doesn't matter, as long as he gets that facetime in. He pretends he's a democrat. Yeah, right.

Let's see, next week he'll probably announce a bid for the presidency. So he'll have a chance to waste even more taxpayers dollars and waste another two years of his term not being a senator for Connecticut. He wasted two years running for vice president already. I want him to refund his salary along with two-thirds of his staff's salaries -- I figure they'll maybe work for us a grand total of two years out of his six-year term.

Funny, but despite all the time Joe Blowhard spends spouting word after word on the telly, I can't think of one single thing he's done for his consituents.
posted by lee on 01/09/03 at 08:48 PM

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Wednesday, January 08, 2003

your atmosphere-killer is funding terrorists. dump that suv now!

Arianna Huffington's current column, Road Outrage: How Corporate Greed And Political Corruption Paved The Way For The SUV Explosion (January 6, 2003) shines a light on the money Detroit has spent on pushing SUVs: "the auto industry spent close to $37 million on lobbying in 2000. And you can bet that money wasn't spent trying to convince Congress to designate a "Windshield Wiper Appreciation Week." Although I'm sure Congress would have been glad to oblige if its deep-pocket pals in Detroit had only asked. After all, the industry has donated over $77 million to federal candidates and the political parties since the 1990 election -- with $12.5 million doled out during the 2002 election cycle." That's for LOBBYING. How much has the Detroit auto industry spent on advertising and financing deals for these rolling obscenities?

She wrote, "How ironic that if American car buyers want to do something truly patriotic, they have to buy Japanese to do it."

In October, Arianna first wrote in Salon about what's now called The Detroit Project: 'So how about using the same shock-value tactics the administration uses in the drug war to confront the public with the ultimate -- and much more linearly linked -- consequences of their energy wastefulness? Imagine a soccer mom in a Ford Excursion (11 mpg city, 15 mpg highway) saying, "I'm building a nuclear bomb for Saddam Hussein." Or a mob of solo drivers toodling down the freeway at 75 mph shouting in unison, "We're buying weapons that will kill American soldiers, Marines and sailors! Yahoo!"'

Huffington and others put together The Detroit Project, an organization called Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars. Get involved, join them, make a donation on The Detroit Project website: http://www.americansforfuelefficientcars.org/. Get rid of your SUV -- nobody, absolutely nobody, needs an SUV.
posted by lee on 01/08/03 at 08:52 PM

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