Bag of Crap Report

woot.com–one of my two favourite shopping sites on the Internet–will on rare and wonderful occasions sell something called a Bag of Crap. This is a random item that according to legend is often useless but sometimes very nice indeed. The Bag of Crap is the most popular item that woot sells, and it always sells out within a minute or so of appearing on the site.

Very cool wooters will roll their own Bags of Crap for friends for Christmas. Hopefully you’ve experienced this.

(woot.com also sells wine.)

I haven’t been as loyal a visitor to woot lately as I used to be, what with my being kind of busy, so it was total blind luck when I happened to show up earlier this month on a Bag of Crap night right at 10pm Pacific, when the item of the day goes on sale. I managed to get in before they sold out, and here’s what I got:


Crap.

Clockwise from top left:Samsonite photo video carry-all; Kensington casssette adapter/charger for iPod with Dock Connector; Counteraction Terror Vanguard remote control car (with 5 Separate Crash Zones!); strange little drunken chicken figurine

I’ve spent $8 on worse.

Can You Name the Ten Commandments?

If you can’t, it might not be a bad idea to post them somewhere you can easily refer to, like your place of employment. That’s what Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, Republican of Georgia, tried to do, so I can’t understand why everyone is giving him such a hard time about this Stephen Colbert interview.

“Congressman, thank you for taking time away from keeping the Sabbath day holy to talk to me.”

(via BoingBoing)

Link: Wikipedia, The Ten Commandments

Have a Better Day.

That’s what the cop said after he handed me the speeding ticket I’ve been more-or-less asking for for the last decade this morning.

Unfortunately, I was really asking for it today. I was just minding my own business, blowing by someone in the left lane to get to the left-hand turn lane before the light, so I wouldn’t have to wait behind them to move along when the light turned green. I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for the motorcycle cops speed-trapping foolios like myself near the intersection.

I’m guessing 67 in a 35 is going to have some financial pain attached, so I’m going to try to weasel out of this. I’ll be sure to post updates on how that’s working out.

Net Neutrality

An ill-advised invasion of a foreign country based on made-up information didn’t do it. Neither did the torture of POWs, nor the holding of so-called “enemy combatants” without trial indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay. I haven’t been moved enough by the USA PATRIOT F— Your Civil Liberties Up the A– Act, nor by the Digital Millenium Twist Copyright Into Something It Was Never Meant to Be Act. But finally, I did get around to writing my congressman about something. And so-called Net Neutrality. It’s surely less important than government sanctioned civil rights violations, but seems to have a greater impact on my comfort and convenience at the moment.

Long story short, it allows the big telecomm companies to sieze control of the way traffic is delivered over the internet so that they can double-charge content providers or discriminate in favor of their own content. A watered down act that includes provisions extending control by the telcos is under consideration as H.R. 5252 in the house. Acts under consideration intended to restore Net Neutrality are H.R. 5417 in the house and S. 2197 in the US Senate.

AskANinja.com has the most entertaining explanation of Net Neutrality to date, (but maybe that’s just because Vivan was a Hot Dog On A Stick Girl). You can see a more boring explanation from Lawrence Lessig here. And you can almost effortlessly e-mail your congressperson by going here.

Live Eels

We caught the Eels last Saturday night at the Hard Rock Cafe Planet Hollywood the House of Blues downtown.

The show started out a little low-fi–a three-piece with a large buff performance-art style fellow named Krazy Al doing a lot of other stuff, but not making much music. The players didn’t have much in the way of amps, and the whole setup seemed pretty low-budget. I get a little cranky when I pay full price for a stripped-down show, which dates back to when I paid about thirty bones to see Peter Murphy and a single guitar player belt a bunch of acoustic versions of his stuff, looked around at the hundreds of other suckers who did the same, and said to myself “christ, this guy is raping all of us.” It didn’t help that it wasn’t a good show, but even if it was, my enjoyment of it would have been tempered by the economics of the situation.

Luckily, this proved to be a different experience. Krazy Al strutted onstage in shades and a black “SECURITY” shirt, and for the first few songs it was tough to tell if he was in the band or just kind of hanging out. The lights went down between songs, and Krazy Al would bellow something random into the mic. Then, while the band was playing, he’d be jumping around the stage, dancing, or shadowboxing. His best gimmick, for my money, was when he called for some light between songs, put on a surgical glove, and high-fived fans in front of the crowd.


“Artist’s conception” of Krazy Al. Why yes, I’ve had a boring meeting or two this week.

Fortunately, E and crew kicked it up a couple of notches, the fidelity got better after the first couple of songs, and the setlist turned out to be a pretty close to perfect mix of old shit and new shit for this Eels fan. Al ended up taking over for E on guitar during a Mars Volta-ish ~20 minute version of Not Ready Yet and doing a creditable job. E hopped between keyboard and guitar with a quickness. The drummer, who was wearing shades and a Union Civil War uniform, was both entertaining and very good.

In conclusion, this turned out to be an excellent show–far better than that one time I saw watered-down-E-wannabe Beck. If you have the chance to catch the Eels on their current tour, give them a try.

Virtual Entrepreneur or Lazy Sack?

All right… I’ll admit it.  I’m fascinated with Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games like Everquest, World of Warcraft, Star Wars: Galaxies, and Eve-Online.  It’s a little embarrasing, like my “American Idol” addiction and my ear-picking habit.  My saving grace is I’ve never played a MMORPG.  Please like me.  The reason I’ve avoided them thus far, however, has more to do with fear than anything else. If I started playing these things, there’s non-zero probability that I would waste the rest of my life with my eyes glazed over, losing the ability to interact with the physical manifestations of people, wallowing in Pringle crumbs.  I might, however, still be able to make enough of an income in the burgeoning shadow-economies of MMORPGs to pay for rent and bandwidth.

In fact, the most fascinating thing about these games are the complex economies that have sprouted within them, bridging the virtual and real worlds.  People have long been selling Everquest gold, items, and characters on eBay and making real-life money.  This eventually lead to virtual sweatshops and virtual real-estate magnates like Anshe Chung whose “avatar” recently gave an interview to Business Week.  It’s insane, and I love it. 

The most evolved such developments seem to be occuring in the world of Eve-Online.  I’ve got an unusual attraction to that game because it bears a close resemblance to “Trade Wars,” a BBS game I was addicted to 15 years ago – back when I, er,  used to be geeky.  Bias aside, that game is seeing some craaaazy shit – including the recent IPO of an in-game, player-created company that generated the equivalent of over $8,000 in real-life money! JesusH!  Oddly, this kind of thing is possible because the company that runs the game has decided not to regulate.  Things like in-game scams are allowed within the rules, which has forced the players to develop their own protection and enforcement techniques.

Awesome.  I’ve wasted hours reading articles and news about these games I don’t play.  Others have described these issues much better than I, so I recommend you click on some of the links if you’ve got time to waste and are moderately pathetic.  I’m probably going to get dumped after my fiance reads this.  Then I’ll definitely sign up for an Eve Online account.