Sunday! Plus, some ranting and raving.

Ate at Hot Diggity on South St. I imagined mouth-watering hot dogs, and I got one that was decent. Not amazing, but a pretty good buy. I wanted the dog to be a little bigger, since it looked like a Dog Jr. to me. It tasted fine, and the condiments on my Windy City were exactly as they should be – but not enough MEAT! Brian did not like his, and clearly, his wasn’t made properly as the “melted cheese” was in no way close to melting when he ate it.

Watched Easy A with C-dawg, who had this to say about the movie’s location: “I’ve been to Ojai, and it smells like cowsh*t.” Also the parents were crazy nice hippies, the kind that would probably smoke a bowl after dinner. We agreed on that because those parents were way too freakin nice; there’s no way they could have any real-life counterpart anywhere in the world… aside from NoCal! (Inspiration to watch was Emma Stone on cover of Vanity Fair. Like her better with the auburn hair. Go Lancaster!)

Here’s the rundown:

- Feds say marijuana has no accepted medical use. Mmhmm, that’s why it’s already being sold in so many states as medical marijuana. Sure, there’s a pill that doesn’t have the tar of smoking a doobie (so it’s ‘healthier’) but why take such a silly stance? It could bring in so much revenue, it’s being smoked anyways by a huge section of the population, and it’s MUCH less worse than smoking cigarettes or pounding beers. It’s also way less worse than some of the prescription drugs out there that people take like candy. Methinks it’s more about Big Pharma greasing pockets than the government having the public’s interest in mind. Plus, the Fed would then be able to move law enforcement money in the War on Drugs to fighting the drugs that are actually super harmful, like all your snorting powders and injectable fun times. Yeah?

Pittsburgh represent!

- As a result, America’s share of international arrivals has declined by 37% since 2000. Hahahahaha. Well duh, increased security means it takes longer for people to come in, less people eventually get in (whether it’s actual security threats or people who didn’t prepare documents properly, or just people who get their back up about security measures). At all times, countries wanting tourism need to balance out the need to be popular with the need for security, and they’re not always compatible. Yes, travelling to the US in the last 10 years from overseas has not been fun, and the documentation required plus the rudeness of airport and customs officials plus the extreme patdowns has probably turned off tons of potential visitors who don’t want their kids and wives raped by security equipment, or paying hundreds of dollars in fees for visas that may or may not get denied (not to mention the travel time and distance required to go to embassies where one can wait for dozens more hours for an embassy staff member to interrogate you with up to and sometimes including a waterboard), or would put up with it but don’t feel the need to do so. I mean, why go to New York when you can go to Ibiza for much less hassle, and possibly much less money? All these are issues which will have to be addressed. Making people feel comfortable with security again; improving customer relations among DHS and TSA staff (come on, even the Chinese have ‘rate your border agent’ questionnaires in the terminals and they all at least attempt to smile); combating an image problem (arrogant, with the ‘I don’t need you’ attitude but somehow still wanting your money); and finally, visa issues.

The last is probably most important to a lot of people I know. It is next to impossible to get a visa for anyone that isn’t European, and even Europeans have to put up with a hassle known as the ‘Visa Waiver Program,’ which requires you to pre-register and also prove intent to stay less than 90 days and not work. Another ‘duh’ is called for. If you make the registration process hard, then less people will want to do it. If they get interrogated and have to prove their whole life to a customs official, they are even less likely to do so. To some degree, the whole process is necessary (and unfortunately, so is the institutional racism due to many other factors), but those needs are your barrier to increasing the number of visitors and tourism dollars. To sum it up, being a “great country” doesn’t mean making visitors feel like the second-class citizens they, er, are… nobody wants to feel like that when they are on VACATION.

One other point: business conferences mean big money. And certain conferences choose to hold their shows in mainland Europe when they have more international attendees, just because the US is such a hassle to get into (including delays at the airports, even if they are on a visa waiver) and they don’t want attendance to drop for that reason. The UK is similarly unfriendly to get into and so also suffers a bit from this problem. DHS and State have to figure out how to get THAT money back, as conference money is perhaps a bit more important than casual visitor money.

PHILLY represent!

- DOJ is going nuts trying to freeze accounts in banks all across the world that are holding alleged gambling money. Because the US can’t figure out how to regulate online gambling, they are trying to stop it completely. Which is SO stupid and makes the government look completely beholden to gambling interests (and the Mob, it seems to me). Either that, or they’re broke and looking to freeze accounts and siphon off all the money to pay off the huge deficit. I mean, really? You can’t just require reporting of some sort from either the player or the casino or both if they want to operate with US customers? No, apparently Las Vegas and Atlantic City are too important, plus all the money flowing into newly built non-Indian-reservation physical casinos in states that have just opened the floodgates. And those all-important state lotteries who support an awfully large part of the education funds in many states… To me, Americans will find a way to gamble online regardless of what you try to do. The love of gambling is everywhere: everyone knows of illegal poker games (and they are all illegal, even your penny ante ones, as it’s for money and ‘unregulated’), and even babyface Tobey Maguire is a SHARK. People can’t afford to go to Vegas these days, and if they can’t gambline online, guess where they’re gonna do it. At home, with their poker buddies, and all winnings in cold, hard cash that doesn’t get reported anywhere. Oh yeah, baby.

Um, Mentor, Ohio represent… this video is just wack. The song’s fine tho.

- Mexican national executed by Texas without consular access. That kinda pissed me off, Texas saying BLEEP YOU everywhere else, we don’t care about international laws. Well, when a Texan gets executed by Mexico without access to US embassy staff, then you better keep your mouth shut. I mean, you have the UN calling Texas a terrorist state, essentially. Unless the US does something, the US will come off like a country that will ignore the Geneva Convention when it feels like, and will laugh in the face of the world when it feels like (and not pay their UN dues, either) and also has no control over their own people (can’t blame it on Texas being idiots, as the federal government is supposed to have SOME sway). Sure, he might have deserved it, but he needed to be prosecuted with the cooperation of Mexican authorities. I would want the same if I got in trouble in some other country myself, so I have to want that right for everyone else.

- That guy who fell to his death reaching for a ball pitched to him by a player… idiot. I feel really bad for his son, standing next to him. Not least of all because his dad was an idiot. Should I feel like a jerk thinking he’s an idiot? Idiot.

- To everybody that asked me what Pimm’s was whenever I mentioned it: How to make a Pimms’. Yes, it makes you a snobby Englishman.

- Slate says: ‘The easiest and most convenient way to see the movies or TV shows you want is to get them illegally.’ No lie. We need to see a new model at work, something where content creators can sell shows to consumers directly without networks taking cuts (and increasing costs) that don’t really have much to do with making the show or distributing the show. Aside from, say, ABC Studios shows that I watch on Hulu, a lot of shows are not being produced by the network and so when I watch them on Hulu, what network they come from matters not to me. I do get that networks are footing the bill for the shows, in the end, and can afford it due to their advertisers… but it’s this very model that suffocates it all. This is a model that’s as old as television is, and we live in a new age, so the system needs to be rebooted by some new idea. I am more than willing to pay for shows and movies, but they need to be delivered to me without extreme hassles. Movies are a hassle. While I won’t buy them at a $20 pricepoint, I am willing to pay a lesser amount for a copy that IS mine and I can do whatever with (aside from actually selling it to other people). So that kind of rules out Netflix and all the streaming services, as I want to own what I watch, especially if it’s good. Not to say I wouldn’t ever rent, because I do… Redbox is sometimes easier than waiting for torrents or ‘paying’ by reciprocating uploads, and I feel better doing it since I’m part of the legal distribution sphere. TV shows are the worst. There are a bunch of shows I’ve looked for, especially from the UK and Australia, that I want to purchase but cannot, because the production companies have deemed it not worthwhile. If they had some sort of online distribution system, even for dated content, then I would most likely be a customer. And even the ones that do have so many locking procedures and format types about to be made obsolete and built-in warnings and all sorts of other nonsense that I’d rather not. Like those DVDs which have unskippable trailers and do-not-copy warnings… ugh, I stopped buying from companies that did that. And closed media stores like iTunes, fuggedaboudit. What I get from Apple is never mine, and I don’t like that.

The stupid thing is that I could have made this rant years ago, and it would still apply.

Yo, these guys may be Czech but do they boogie woogie. And the title of the song refers to a pianist for the Will Bradley band, nicknamed “Daddy”, who set the boogie woogie beat for their faster songs by doing “eight to the bar.”

Pardon being a horndog… found this on the website of Ryan Astamendi, a beer ad photographer who did a YT video that used the Czech dude above as background music. Oy, Jessica Rabbit!

- Oh, how the mighty have fallen. If you’re a journalist who got your stories by hacking, it’s likely that your entire career was based on blackmail. I’m pretty sure that if you knowingly did it for any of Murdoch’s rags, you are personally guilty of blackmail despite having (possibly) done it on orders from the company. And that dude that got caught by Hugh Grant? Idiot. You never TELL people the crimes you did. God. Seriously, what kind of criminal are you? An idiot. And it’s on tape. And they can follow up on it. And take down a whole web of corrupt policemen, telecoms engineers, dirty blackmailing journalists and their even dirtier overlords, plus the politicians beholden to the rags for keeping quiet whatever crimes are being held over their heads otherwise. If you want to do illegal stuff like an intelligence service may have to do, then keep it SECRET. You don’t see MI-5 nancying around town boasting about how they’re doing what they do. Their mistake was not stopping with the usual celebrities who should expect a little backhanded games from their admirers; start messing with child victims and their families, and dead soldiers and their families, and you’re bound to get limitless public outrage. Now who’s scared of you in the UK, Murdoch? You pay almost no UK tax but seem to own all the UK media… I mean, that just doesn’t seem fair! How do you have a say in policy yet leave so little to it? Sure, you hire people and pay them salaries so you’re “contributing”, but after you cut out all the employees of News of the World, that’s no longer the golden excuse it might have been. Ruling by fear hardly works (oh no, you’ll make us look bad in the papers!) – when people find an out, they’ll all rush for the exits, and this here is the exit. Though over here, on this side of the pond, you still wield a very big stick. Yes, Fox News… sigh.

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