Slowly Returning to Live Blogging

Greenlee Gazette is slowly returning to live blogging after moving over 2000 miles across the country. Please bear with me while I reacclimate, and find a new schedule that allows for regular updates. Thanks!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jim Carrey Calls out FOX "News" For What it is

Image from source, Huffington Post
Really, could this be clearer, funnier, more truthful? FOX "News" is a cesspool.

[Excerpt]

Jim Carrey: Fox News 'A Media Colostomy Bag That Has Begun To Burst At The Seams' 

Jim Carrey has some harsh words for Fox News. Carrey released a statement on Friday blasting the conservative news network as "a media colostomy bag that has begun to burst at the seams. . ."

Read more at: Huffington Post

My Funeral (A Fantasy)

I have this bizarre fantasy that only occurs to me at odd times, like that little period between waking and sleeping, when you're pondering weird crap, and you have odd swimming shapes before your eyes. The time when if you glance at your bedroom doorway, you can see the shape of a goblin or an alien. And that fantasy is how I'd like my funeral to go. See, I'm an atheist, and have been a non-believer for a very long time. I don't want prayer or Bible verses, or "spirituality"--whatever that is--at my memorial service.

So, what do I want? Well, I'm really not sure. I think maybe that should be decided by my husband, with maybe some input from my family. None of them think I'm religious, and none of them really are either. But back to my fantasy. I have this image of me all laid out in repose--looking far better than I ever have of course, studious glasses perched on my nose, a nice suit, half a smirk on my face. And as the mourners (scores of them of course) file by to pay their last respects, a soft music starts to play. It would be pleasant, but not necessarily identifiable, but would eventually segue into a song called One by One, by Cher. Naturally, right? I mean, I'm gay after all. It's a nice, gentle song about loving one another. Perfect for a funeral, right?



They can even splice the song for length, if necessary, to let the line file by. But at some point, I want another segue. I want a little dramatic lighting. I want the soft song to fade into the dance remix! Maybe even a disco ball, and spotlights! Pulsing lights to the pulsing beat, and the line is played off with a driving, fun, boogieing  send-off! I can see the last batch of mourners dancing, twirling by, filing out of the service with smiles on their faces, and a spring in their step!



I can't think of a better send-off!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rick Santorum Thinks Gay Marriage Rights the Fault of Will & Grace

Rick (don't Google me) Santorum is an idiot. To be specific, he's a gay-obsessed, probably deeply sexually repressed, homophobic idiot. Not realizing that there is a symbiosis between pop culture and actual culture, Santorum believes that a comedy show about gay people is responsible for the gay rights movement. Santorum must not realize that there have been other developments in both pop and actual culture since (and concurrent with) "Just Jack!" A short list would include Queer as Folk, The "L" Word, The New Normal, Happy Endings, Rachel Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper. Plus, you have to throw in the fact that everybody and his brother is now comfortable enough to be out of the closet, and no longer hiding. So, you know, friends and family noticed, and had a V-8 moment, and kind of came around. Not so tough, Ricky.

Jon Stewart on the Supreme Court's Questions About Gay Marriage

I was struck by a few of the questions we got to hear, asked by some of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, regarding Prop 8 and DOMA.  I mean, the one about "gay marriage" being newer that cell phones or the internet? There is a generation of humans who have never known a world without cell phones and the internet, and not coincidentally, they have no problem with marriage equality! But more to the point, how is the newness of something a disqualifies to justice? Leave it to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to get to the heart of the matter in an entertaining way.

S'cuse Me, I's Bin Bizzy

Schedule has been crammed. . .no time to blog. Back later today! I hope!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lawrence O'Donnell Rewrites O'Reilly vs. Limbaugh

I don't usually post two clips from the same show in a row, but this one is too sweet to resist. And yes, we're still on the gay marriage subject. Don't worry, there will be other topics soon, and this one will back-burner until June. Probably. Anyway, enjoy this terrifically enjoyable dressing down of both Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. Who apparently hate each other!


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On The Alleged Biblically Ordained "One Man, One Woman Marriage"

From The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell comes this deliciously entertaining rip on conservatives, and their desperate attempt to claim that "one man/one woman marriage" is Biblically ordained. Forget that what the Bible says should be utterly irrelevant as it pertains to civil law, and civil marriage. The problem is, such a thing is not made clear within the Bible. Certainly not in The Ten Commandments as doofus Texas Governor Rick Perry states. In fact, the Bible is chock-a-block with appalling examples of marriage, not to mention polygamy and the like. Adam and Eve (genetically clones, raising all sorts of gender questions) aren't depicted having a wedding, and they had to have spawned incestuous kids, and/or spawned with them. Anyway, Lawrence does a fine job pointing all of this out.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ridiculous "Conservative" Arguments Against Marriage Equality

I put "conservative" in quotes on this intentionally, because I don't believe some of the outlandish statements to particularly fit the definition. It's just that the people saying them happen to be prominent people who self-identify as conservative. Most of them are using a form of the slippery slope argument, which is a logical fallacy. One of the big ones. It's even called that. Forget that in order to enter into a marriage contract, both parties have to be legally consenting adult humans, these folks seem to think that legal same-sex unions will lead to all sorts of implausible pairings.

Image from source, Media Matters
I'd first like to say how nice it is to have my husband (legally married for 5-years to The Other Half) compared to a dog, a donkey, a turtle, a cantaloupe, a minor child and a harem. At least in this batch, he's spared being compared to an inanimate object, usually a couch or a toaster. But oh! The things our marriage is supposedly going to cause! The destruction of marriage. Stock market collapse. Naziism. Legalized child rape. Smiting by God. Legalized underaged incestuous marriage. And my personal favorite, sexual anarchy!

I'd just like to point out a couple of things: first, for a political philosophy that is hemorrhaging  membership, insulting a quickly growing politically popular movement is probably not the best way to go. It isn't just insulting, it's also coming off as utterly batshit crazy. Secondly, my marriage isn't the only one out there, there are thousands of married same-sex couples. Some of us have been married since 2004. That's nearly a decade, and none of this slippery slope nonsense has come to pass. Anti-marriage equality folks like The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) are still arguing as though gay marriage is a hypothetical situation that hasn't happened yet. But guess what: we're here, we're queer, we're BORING.

[Excerpt]

30 Of The Most Offensive, Idiotic, And Bizarre Conservative Arguments Against Marriage Equality

As the Supreme Court hears arguments this week on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), conservative media figures have responded with their usual vitriol. Rush Limbaugh led the way by telling his listeners that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment was never intended to have anything to do with "gay marriage or animal marriage." Limbaugh later expanded on a caller's argument against marriage equality by pondering, "at some point who's to say that you cannot have sex with a child. . ."

Read more at: Media Matters


Ashley Judd Not Running for Senate

Image from MSNBC
Dang it. I really wanted to see Ashley Judd make a run for Senate. I think she's a sharp cookie, I like her as an actress (though I hated Bug), and seriously, anybody would be better than her competition. Honestly, I can't imagine even the most hardcore Republican looking to Mitch McConnell as an inspirational figure. In fact, I don't know how they look to him (and his House counterpart John Boehner) with anything other than head-shaking embarrassment. It just would have been sweet to see this pretty, accomplished woman-and sister/daughter to two of country music's biggest stars--take down the Senate Minority Leader.  Oh well, on to other dreams I guess.

[Excerpt]

We may be stuck with this guy.
Image from FreakOutNation
Ashley Judd: ‘Regretfully,’ I will not be a Senate candidate

Ashley Judd tweeted: After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate. I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. . .

Read more at: MSNBC

Newcastle Brown Ale Using Dawn of the Dead Music?

This is apropos of nothing, it's just that whenever this commercial comes on, I think of zombie mall shoppers, banging into glass windows and cruising on escalators! Can that possibly be what they expected?



Any horror fan worth their salt immediately knows that music. It's Herbert Chappell's 1965 composition "The Gonk," from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978), the first (and best) sequel to Night of the Living Dead. Listen:



Anyway, if you like zombies, and you haven't ever seen the original Dawn, buy it now. Hey, maybe pick up some Newcastle Brown Ale while you're at it!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

60 Best Signs Against DOMA and Prop. 8



As I said in the previous post, there are going to be a lot of gay posts and stories, not just here, but all over the internets for the next few days. But I have always been as much about frivolity as I am about serious matters, so here is one that will tickle your funny bone, and make you think. There's some great stuff here!

(Click these to embiggen)

See them all at: BuzzFeed

The Internets Go Gay for a Day (Or Two?)

I know what you've been thinking, if you've been online much today. Something like this:



Am I right? Yes, on any given day, unless you're a very sheltered person, you may be confronted with gay stories and subject matter in a variety of places. But because of the two very high profile cases before the Supreme Court--California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act--gay stuff is suddenly everywhere. And I have one thing to say to anyone who is overwhelmed or offended by the spectacle:

Suck it up! Now you know how gay people feel! Every day is straight people day, and we learn to live with it. Seriously though, you don't have to put up with it on this scale every day, so just keep calm, and carry on. And if you're still asking yourself the question, "why do the gays want to get married anyway?" I have another entertaining piece of video to show you that explains everything.



Oh and by the way? I'm not done with the subject by a long shot, so if you arrived here and don't like it? Come back in a few days, okay? On second thought, don't come back.

SCOTUS to Take Up DOMA and Prop 8

Image from source, Towleroad
Starting today, and through tomorrow, the Supreme Court will be discussing two of the biggest gay rights cases ever before them. This is a time of jangled nerves for many gay rights activists (and just ordinary gay people), because you never know what SCOTUS is going to do. Will they rule on the merits of the case, or will they bend like a legal pretzel in order to arrive at the decision they want to deliver? Honestly, it could go either way. But I believe that if they actually rule on the merits, we're in good shape.

One good sign is that the pro-marriage equality side has some of the best legal minds around arguing for it, and they are from both the left and the right side of the aisle. Meanwhile, it would seem that the badly named "protect marriage" side has a second-stringer running things. Not sure what that's about, but there you go. And much like their really pathetic case in the original Proposition 8 case, their arguments are really, really bad.

Legally "gay married" for 5 years. No kids.
What does this argument have to do with me?
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and their affiliated  groups have been all over the place with their arguments since all of this started, sometimes distancing themselves from true homophobia, and other times dripping with it. But they've recently thrown all of their eggs into one basket, and have pinned all of their hopes on one argument: that marriage is for the conception, rearing and development of children, period. According to this argument, gay people should not be allowed to get married, because they can't create children exclusively within their relationship. Also, according to this argument, letting gay people marry deprives children of either their mother or their father.

I know, it's a head-scratcher. First of all, it's a straw man, since nobody anywhere has claimed that gay couples can produce biological children without outside help. But there are just so many problems with the argument on so many different levels, it's difficult to get them all out. But I'm going to try:
• Infertile and older couples are allowed to marry.
• Many married couples have no intention of having children.
• People can have children without getting married.
• Many gay couples have no intention of having children.
• Many straight couples adopt children, or use in vitro, just as gay couples do.
• Not allowing same-sex couples to marry won't stop them from being couples.
• Not allowing same-sex couples to marry won't stop them from sometimes raising children.
• Not allowing same-sex couples to marry won't magically make those with children suddenly have opposite sex parents in the picture.
• Stopping gay marriages won't give all children two opposite sex parents.
• "Protecting marriage" from gay people does nothing to strengthen heterosexual marriages, prevent divorces, or do anything whatsoever for straight peoples' children.
• Same sex marriages are not some imaginary hypothetical. There already thousands of legally married gay couples in America. What harm have they done?

There are other problems with the argument, such as the fact that it is insulting to adoptive parents. It is also counter-intuitive that they make such a strong argument that marriage is good for children, while depriving the children of gay parents the same thing. It's a twisty, goofy argument, and I find it hard to believe they've put all of their stock into it. It is also an argument that failed already in California. Even their best experts--such as they were-couldn't sell it.

So, I'm hoping that the Supremes are not too beholden to Antonin Scalia or Samuel Alito, or rather, that maybe those guys aren't as party line as we expect them to be. Because the Defense of Marriage Act is so clearly unconstitutional, and Prop 8 was too. And there has to date been no logical or reasonable argument for either. The fact that we're down to "kids need a mommy and daddy" when the argument isn't even a good fit? It just seems desperate, and it would be appalling if it worked.

[Excerpt]

Supreme Court Preview: Roberts, Kennedy, and their Court - Some Final Thoughts on Impacts and Outcomes

On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court will hear more than 3 hours of arguments in the challenges to the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and the Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. United States). In a series of short posts, I will preview and summarize the legal issues that will be raised. In this post, some general questions to consider. . .

Read more: Towleroad

UPDATE: If the internets are to be believed, the likely date of the Supreme Court's decision on Prop 8 and DOMA will be on June 27, 2013. That, coincidentally, is my fifth wedding anniversary. How bizarre is that?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Michigan Bill Would Allow Refusal of Medical Treatment for Religious Reasons

Image from source, Addicting Info
I know that atheists, agnostics and other non-religious people get a bad rap for knocking religion, and sometimes making a spectacle of themselves. This is because it is so rare that they do it. Religious people have a hard time conceiving of a life without religion. So much so, that they will insist that atheism is itself a religion, despite it's very definition meaning "without religion." Many, if not most religious people see much of life through a religious lens. They think that people can't be moral without God (or at least, their idea of God). They think that among every religion that exists or has existed, theirs is the correct one. And though they'll find other religions to be false and frankly kind of weird, they see no weirdness in their own wacky religion (and they're all wacky from outside them, sports fans).

But you know what, that's cool. As an atheist, I really don't care if you believe in talking snakes, a somehow populated Land of Nod, that all of the animals on earth arrived in pairs in the Middle East in time for the great flood, or that a virgin got pregnant by a disembodied deity. But you can't make the rules for others who don't share (or even do share) your faith. You can't write laws based on your beliefs, when those laws affect the general public. If you are a doctor or a pharmacist or other healthcare provider, you don't get to withhold treatment to people based on your faith. If you're treating a patient, it's not about you!

This should be clear, but suddenly there is a mass confusion around "religious freedom" in this country. Suddenly a pharmacy is a church? An insurance company is a church? You've got florists, bakers, photographers and inns refusing to serve gay couples, because it violates their faith. . .what? How? Do they interview all of their customers to make sure their lives match up with the business owner's beliefs? It's bonkers. I've actually seen the argument made by The National Organization for Marriage (NOM)--an arm of the Catholic Church--that same-sex marriage violates religious freedom! Whose? How? You don't get the freedom to not be offended. If your religion bans pork, you don't get to outlaw it for others. It's long past time for religious people--particularly the very loud, very bitchy version--to stop pretending that they're persecuted in this country. And to stop trying to make us live by their rules.

[Excerpt]

Religious Beliefs Would Kill Patients’ Rights In New Michigan Bill

In December, the Republican dominated Michigan Senate slammed through a bill that would have allowed medical professionals to deny care to patients for religious reasons. The bill wound up going nowhere in the House and died after the legislative session ended. But now, a similar bill is once again making it’s way to the Senate floor for a vote. . .

Read more at: Addicting Info

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blast from the Past Civics Rocks!

This weekend has been a very full one, both with work and with obligations, leaving me little time for blogging. So, this week's Blast from the Past is a rerun, but a good one! Everyone remembers Schoolhouse Rock if they're of a certain age, but usually they remember the numbers songs or the parts of speech. Maybe though, you'll remember "I'm Just a Bill," and recall that they did a whole series on civics called "America Rock." I think our society could really use a refresher, don't you?


And that will do it for this week. Have a great Monday!

The Mac Experiment, Continued: The Cult of Mac is Trying to Convert Me. . .

No, nobody knocked on my door. They didn't stick a pamphlet in my door, or hang a tract on my gate. But the Apple Cult is working its magic on me. It's a slow creep, and it's taken 2-1/2 years, but I have to say, I'm at least partially in their thrall this week.

Last week was a different story--as I related here at the time--when my second (admittedly used) Macintosh laptop experienced a useability problem. My first try at the iUniverse was a PowerBook G4 that was insufferably and unusably slow. My second was a decent MacBook Pro (first generation), that had a video card meltdown. I was essentially the victim of an unrealized, and too late recall. And so, my little experiment in dabbling in the OS X side of things--while keeping my PC/Windows 7 main system--had experienced its second major roadblock.

Noooooooooooo!
The first time, I got my used Mac at 5+ years old, and for $300. The second time, I sold the old (plus some other computer equipment), and paid $650ish for an almost 4 year old system, almost breaking even overall price-wise. The third time, I was faced with a $550 repair, and instead bought a third Mac in less than 3 years for $860. This one is 3-3/4 years old refurb, and when you do the math of what it would have cost to fix the old one, plus the $200 I sold the broken one for, I actually came close to breaking even again, and got a newer/better computer.

How much better? Oh-so-much better! I didn't know what I did not know, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld. While my first-gen MacBook Pro was plenty useable before its "little problem," it wasn't a) as pretty as this newer one, nor b) as all-around better. I love the keyboard. I love the screen. I love the way the aluminum case looks. It is faster at almost everything. Setting it up right out of the box--and I'm a PC guy used to tweaking and fiddling for hours--was nearly effortless. Though I'm only moderately familiar with where and how to set up Mac stuff, I got all of my info entered and done within minutes. But that's not all.

My software isn't this obscure, but it seems
as unlikely to work on a Mac.
This system came with "Parallels" and Windows 7 installed and ready to go. I use a particular kind of software for my sign graphics business that is PC only. It couldn't possibly work on my Mac, right? Not even with emulation software. Wrong! It runs, and runs perfectly. I was able to copy all of my system files to a USB thumb drive, copy them over and set them up in no time. I was only hindered by the download time for the software, and that was only because I didn't feel like moving from one end of the house to the end my wireless router is in.

Next, I went back to my PC, to get my (very cumbersome, very unintuitive) iOmega Cloud Drive to communicate with the Mac. This is not a PC problem but an iOmega problem (which is now apparently Lenovo EMC's problem, since they've changed hands). Still, once I got the info sent to the Mac, it was smooth sailing. Bada-bing, bada-boom. And the icing on the cake? When I went to set up the MacBook Pro to my wireless all-in-one Lexmark printer? No joke, done in 10 seconds flat.

So now--as long as I'm thinking ahead and take the special USB fob my graphics software needs--I can travel with my MacBook Pro to anywhere in the world, access my files from my home cloud drive, and through Windows 7 work on any of my projects for either of my jobs! I'll never be free from work again! Yay?

Okay, I don't love my Mac this much. . .
Bottom line, this was the easiest setup of any computer ever in my career as "guru." How long until I'm as proficient on the Mac side as I am on the PC side? Soon, I hope. But it's the hardware side that worries me. While it's fair to say that all laptops are a challenge if something goes wrong with the hardware, I'm finding that Macs don't age particularly gracefully, and that Apple kind of washes their hands of them at a fairly young age (the hipster "genius" with the lensless glasses at the Apple Store barely disguised his contempt for my 5-year-old ailing Mac).  So it's not all unicorns and rainbows. Still, I'm impressed, and I have a smile on my face when I use my new(ish) Mac!

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Rainbow House" Owner Takes on Westboro Baptist Church

You've probably seen that guy Aaron Jackson, who bought a house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, the hate group run by Rev. Fred Phelps. Jackson runs a charity, and in this case is focusing on anti-bullying, and helping at-risk kids. The charity's new Topeka, Kansas headquarters will be in that house, which Jackson had painted to resemble the gay pride rainbow flag.
It's only fair when you consider that Phelps regularly displays banners that say charming things like "God Hates America," and "God Hates Fags" for all the neighborhood to have to see.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Michele Bachmann Runs from CNN

Haha. This reminds me of the days of Sharron Angle, here in Las Vegas, trying to outrun the press. Michele Bachmann--crazy eyes herself--made some wacky charges about the president's "lavish" lifestyle (which has been picked up throughout Right Wing World, hello, Dan!), which would seem to demand follow-up questions, like: is President Obama's treatment out of line with other Presidents? But Marcus Bachmann's more butch other half was having none of it, acting as though those kinds of questions are so frivolous because BENGHAZI!

Hal Sparks Hosting The Stephanie Miller Show

Current TV isn't long for this world, but it is still airing, and so is Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show. When Current gets replaced by Al Jazeera US, Steph will still have her usual 3-hour radio show, fortunately. More importantly, at least this week, the multi-talented, funny and adorable Hal Sparks (Queer as Folk, Lab Rats) is guest hosting this week. I know I'm late in pointing this out, but if you are up between 6 and 9 Pacific (9 - Noon Eastern) on Thursday and Friday this week, check out Hal and guest co-hostess Jacki Schechner. If it doesn't air in your town, seek out KTLK-AM on iheart.com. It's a hoot and a half (as is the usual show).


Frivolity Break: Awesome Floorplans of Your Favorite Shows

Bewitched floorplan from
Harpie's Bizarre, impossible
because some episodes show the
sink looking out over a yard.
Thanks to Kenneth in the (212), who posted a piece on a fantastic web site. Or rather, one that hits my pop culture sweet spot, dead center. Since I was a kid, I've pondered stage sets, floorplans and facades of television shows. Is that weird? Maybe it is, but the producers feature establishing shots of their characters' homes for a reason, right? They want you to get a feel for where these people live.

As long ago as the early 70s, I wondered why the house shown at the beginning of All in the Family didn't match the interior floor plan of the house. On the other hand, I also noticed the very well-done floor plan of the the house on Bewitched, and though it may not work 100% on paper, it's close enough to suspend reality. As the years rolled on, this little quirk of mine never went away. The establishing shot of the house on Grace Under Fire seemed preposterously small for the interior. The exterior of the Conner family house on Roseanne was impossible given the living room set. On Seinfeld, the refrigerator would have had to extend into the hallway. And how could The Golden Girls have a garage that shared a space with their bedrooms (not to mention the very short hallway that lead to them).
Sort of an unlikely apartment in real life.
Image from BlogHer

Some of it you have to willfully ignore, due to the necessity of laying out a stage. Real houses don't flare out like a ball diamond, but on a three-camera sitcom, they have to. Real apartments and homes aren't typically shaped like a gerrymandered Congressional district either, but that is another conceit of set design. And since most sets don't have a fourth wall, there always seems to be an infinite space in front of "the couch" area, where most of us would have a TV. And what about behind the couch, where even in the projects of Good Times, there's plenty of space to walk behind, and often even an unused sitting room (think One Day at a Time, All in the Family).

One of the many terrific renderings found at HiConsumption
Obviously, this bugs other people too, because several different creative people have tried their hand at creating sets that work. . .or almost work. . .for some of the most famous shows in TV Land. As you can see if you check out the plan for Seinfeld, there isn't only one way to imagine how a floorplan might exist in reality. And sometimes, you just have to pretend it works. Otherwise, you're forced to ponder why the apartment building on The Big Bang Theory seems to have just two mismatched apartments on each floor, with Penny's side implausibly suspended over the entryway.

You can find these renderings all over the internet, but the link below is a treasure trove of high quality imaginings. Check it out.

Source: HiConsumption, via Kenneth in the (212)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Mac Experiment, Take III

This was too common a
sight on my G4.
Over the course of this blog, I've recounted my experiment with branching out from my known world as a PC guru and graphic artist, into the Apple Macintosh realm. I know this sounds counter to how most computer artists have done things, but there are a bunch of us out here who grew up with PCs rather than Macs, particularly in the sign, engraving and embroidery industries. So, in August of 2010, when it was time to replace our wheezing old laptop (which functioned as our mobile, spare computer) I decided it was time to dip a toe into the iUniverse.

My first Mac was a PowerBook G4, a 2005 model. Though a five-year-old PC is a rather common thing to find in offices and dens everywhere, I soon found out that Apple expects you to upgrade by then. They had abandoned support and upgrades for the computer by the time I got it. And small wonder, the PowerBook--even maxed out for memory--was unusably slow, and just got slower as it aged. In those early days though, I familiarized myself with Adobe CS3 graphics suite, and forced myself to take and make lessons for myself.
Screen on my old MBP wigging out.

In the waning days of 2011, I'd had enough. Though the G4 had been top-of-the-line when new, a bargain basement PC of the same vintage would have run circles around it. So, I sold it (along with our old portable PC and some unused software), and bought a newer MacBook Pro on eBay. The difference was immense, and I really dug the new MBP, even though it had some cosmetic flaws. I continued with lessons (now on Adobe CS5.5), and ended up using the thing a heck of a lot more on a daily basis, even though my "real" computer is still my desktop PC. But my happy world was about to be rocked. Yes, as luck would have it, my MBP was one of a series with a defective graphics card, which went on the fritz about 10 weeks after Apple stopped willingly fixing them!

The new(ish) MacBook Pro
Faced with a $550 repair of my now almost five-year-old MBP, I hit eBay again, and this time got a 2009 MacBook Pro. This one is a refurbished model, and it came with all of the goodies (this time Adobe CS6). I'm prepping and boxing up the dying older model, and selling it for parts this weekend. I'm typing this blog post on the new one, and I've got to say, I'm grinning while I do. Don't worry, the Cult of Mac hasn't got me yet. But this system looks and feels brand new (and let's face it, it is four years newer than my first one, even if it's 3.5 years old itself), and also feels like a substantial upgrade, even if it's the same line of computers.

So, this is my third used Macintosh in the space of less than two-and-one-half years. I can't be sure that this one won't croak on me too at some point. And in that regard, I have to say that the luster is off the Apple for me. Problem-free, my eye! But I'm feeling that I now have to step up my game. Even considering the cost that repairs would have run me, and the potential cash back I'll get for selling the broken one, this computer was pricey. I can rationalize it by comparing the cost to a new MacBook Pro (boy howdy), but I think I need to step up my lessons again. Fortunately, it also came with Parallels and Windows 7, letting me toggle between Mac and PC! So, I have very little excuse for not being able to get my work done on this beauty.

By the way, I did the math, and this is my eleventh computer, including a generic 486DX, Pentium I, Pentium II, Pentium 4, Pentium 4D, Core2Duo, i5 [all PCs]; a Celeron PC laptop; and the three Macs from this article. Presently, four of them are still in use! But one is on its way out the door. [08/01/13 update] I've added another computer (my 12th) to the mix, a Windows 8 computer with an AMD something-or-other chip. It's zippy, but confusing. My third Mac is still chugging, still doing well, still used every day. But potentially threatened by the odd desire for an iPad. I sold the Pentium 4 to my boss' company, and the 4D is now going out the door.

Senate Dems Still Scared of NRA

Yes, I voted for him. The alternative was Sharron Angle.
Image from source, TPM.
Even though the NRA's pull these days is anemic, and their backed candidates mostly lost. . . Even though the American electorate is heavily for background checks, and at least rudimentary gun control legislation. . . Even though Wayne LaPierre and the bulk of vocal pro-gun voices are coming off batshit crazy and hyper reactionary. . . Even though the Sandy Hook mass shooting of children struck more of a lasting chord with Americans. . . Democrats are apparently still terrified of the NRA. I think it's kind of Pavlovian. Sort of a Stockholm Syndrome thing. I mean, when the polls are in the 90+ percentile for background checks, and politicians are still skittish? I just don't get it.

[Excerpt]

Assault Weapons Ban Dead In Senate, Gun Background Checks In Critical Condition

The assault weapons ban is all but dead, and mandatory background checks are touch and go. Three months after the Newtown shooting, prospects of Congress passing a broad gun control package have dimmed considerably. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

A Lie-By-Lie Deconstruction Of How We Got Into the Iraq War

Image from source, Mother Jones
What are the odds, do you think, that the real story of the run-up to the Iraq War becomes the official story? Will the history books rely on a he-said/she-said CNN transcript? Will it rely on press releases from the Dubya administration? Will the implausible-but-true rehabilitation of so many of the administration players color how the story is ultimately sold? I ask, because they continue to this day to try and polish this turd.

[Excerpt]

Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq

At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed "a very simple question" about the administration's manipulation of intelligence: "How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?" Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: "The vice president. . ."

Read more at: Mother Jones

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dying Iraq War Vet Pens Letter to Bush & Cheney

Even their picture still makes me wince.
Image from HuffPo.
I'm not sure George W. Bush has enough of a conscience to be disturbed by a letter from a dying veteran of his own misbegotten war. I'm positive Dick Cheney doesn't. But it's well worth a read. And now that we've passed the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of that war, it's worth repeating and remembering what a bad idea the whole thing was. How we were lied into it, knowingly and repeatedly. Years later, my Republican parents still insisted that it was a necessary response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. It wasn't, quite clearly. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks. But all of that lying, all of that faux patriotism, all of the posturing and snookering got my parents, even though they couldn't come close to explaining why the Iraq War was a response to 9/11. "We had to do something," they told me. Did we?

[Excerpt]

Tomas Young, Dying Iraq War Veteran, Pens 'Last Letter' To Bush, Cheney On War's 10th Anniversary

Days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Tomas Young, then a 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., made a decision repeated by many other Americans around the country: He was going to enlist in the military in hopes of getting even with the enemies who had helped coordinate the deaths of nearly 3,000 men, women and children. . .


Read more at: Huffington Post

Hillary Clinton for Gay Marriage

Thanks, Hill! I'll vote for you in 2016, don't worry. It was your tougher supporters here in Nevada who pushed me into the Obama camp at our caucus in 2008, but I'll brave them next time. Maybe I'll hire a bodyguard. . .

Sarah Palin: Comedienne

Iconic imagery from Twitchy
You know, everyone has to have a special talent, we've just long misjudged what Sarah Palin's is. Her political acumen rather sucks. Her extemporaneous responses are terrible. She's not particularly good at keeping her cool, or managing family scandals. But she is an excellent performer. We made a lot of fun of her mastery of the "pageant answer," the art of responding without exactly answering a question. And her word salad speeches are legendary. But this woman knows how to play to an audience, and more than that, to her specific audience.

In this "greatest hits" montage from Palin's CPAC performance, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell really displays her abilities. Her jokes aren't particularly good, but her delivery is, and her knowledge that these jokes will thrill this crowd. It's really a special kind of talent (though I don't doubt she had help), to wring "humor" out of the tired subjects that right wing world likes to rage about. She even made Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban part of her double-barreled assault on liberals, even though Bloomberg isn't a liberal! Even her sips of soda were well timed. Don't get me wrong, I still think she's a clod and a simpleton, but she does have talent.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Where right-wing world went wrong in their lionization of Palin is in their misguided notion that what they see in her translates to a general audience. It doesn't. The "sly" reference to Obama's citizenship is only funny to this small slice of the electorate that actually believes there's something to that. The mean-spirited jabs are only comedy gold to the mean-spirited right.

It will be interested to see how much further Sister Sarah can drag out this peculiar and limited brand of celebrity.

LBJ Knew Nixon Sabatoged End of Vietnam War

He was a crook. And a traitor? Image from The Atlantic
There have long been stories about the 1980 presidential election, and how Ronald Reagan engineered the release of the long-held Iranian hostages, but only after the election. The motive was that Jimmy Carter would be much less likely to win the election if the hostages were still held captive and/or that he'd get a boost if they were rescued. As it turned out, the hostages were freed immediately after Reagan was sworn in. I still remember the fuss made about it, though it was probably all kind of a setup.

As bad as that sounds, it would seem to be fairly small potatoes compared to what seems to have happened in 1968. Because preventing the end of a war, just to get elected sounds much worse than the nickname "Tricky Dick" is famous for. The Vietnam War went on for seven more years after that. Richard Nixon claimed to know how to end the war, but in truth seems to have deliberately sabotaged the early end of it when there was a chance. Lyndon Johnson thought Nixon's behavior was treasonous, but was restricted from saying anything due to the way the knowledge was obtained. Here's the big question: will history reflect this new knowledge? Or is it too unpleasant? And if Reagan and Nixon both pulled a fast one in order to get power, who else has?
Image from LibertyRoulette

[Excerpt]

Newly Released Secret Tapes Reveal LBJ Knew but Never Spoke Out About Nixon's 'Treason'Rumors and whispers of Richard Nixon's 'treason' -- sabotaging Vietnam peace talks to help his Presidential campaign -- have floated around for years, but newly released tapes from Lyndon Johnson's Presidency confirm that LBJ knew about Nixon's behaviour and didn't bother to report it.. .

Read more at: The Atlantic

And now, a purely ponderous sidebar: Aside from the lives that would have been saved, and everything else that would have been spared as a result of a much shorter war, consider the following. The sixties were a time of great upheaval, and an amazing amount of cultural and pop cultural change. Though much of that change came from the "British Invasion" in pop culture, and the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, Vietnam was a huge motivating factor. If the war had abruptly ended in 1968, what would be different about our history? Without protests, would the counter-culture and hippies have died out? How would the soundtrack of the war, the evolution of music have changed? If Nixon had lost, what would the entire 1970s have looked like? Without the post-Watergate years, and the following Carter malaise, would there have been a need for Reagan's "morning in America?"

I think it would make a great novel, the diverging path of history at that moment in 1968. Especially if it was written by someone who was really knowledgeable of not just the history but of politics at the time, and what really might have been. The only thing I'm sure of is that I'd have seen some of it, since I was born in 1966!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sarah Palin Reads Obama Teleprompter Joke. . .From a Teleprompter

Palin and Teleprompter, from Wonkette
I know that we liberals love to make fun of CPAC and especially Sarah Palin. And I know that Palin is largely a troll who exists (much like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh) to get a rise out of us.  But I simply can't resist this expertly written, fabulous and funny critique of Palin's performance at that conservative confab. Just terrific.

And on a side note, I have to comment on the shallow comedy/commentary "well" conservatives drink from. I've never understood the relevance nor the humor quotient of slamming President Obama for using a Teleprompter, something all modern Presidents use. And the Big Gulp? Isn't Bloomberg a Republican? I'll give Sarah this, she's an expert red-meat thrower, and her audience isn't fussy that much of it is fat and gristle.

[Excerpt]

Wonkette Infiltrates CPAC As Sarah Palin Reads Joke About Obama’s Teleprompter From Teleprompter

. . .The morning was full of how to take America back, but mostly the speechifiers were surprisingly quasi-sorta reasonable, with much in the way of hollow but appreciated gestures suggesting that hey, evil liberal democrats are people too, sort of, and we should maybe all maybe work together sometimes, to do something good for the country. All this was noticeably strange, considering they were all there as part of the the run up to the CPAC crowd favorite, and our favorite frumious bandersnatch ever, Sarah Palin.

Yes, the nastiest of nasty, most vile and reviled, wretched, snarky, winky, full of herself, queen of all idiotic smugness, Sarah Palin was our noon time “speaker. . .”

Read more at: Wonkette

Computer Woes: Mac Edition (and the Chaos at the Apple Store)

When people tell you that PCs are trouble, and that Macs are trouble-free, don't believe them. First of all, just check out the used ones on eBay, and see all of the issues some of the older ones have. Second, check out an Apple store some time. The one I visited today at Town Square in Las Vegas was sheer chaos. And they couldn't even help me. But let's back up.

I'm a "PC" from way back to the days of DOS 2.0. I'm self taught, and fairly competent as a computer Mr. Fixit, both with hardware and with software. I don't get down to soldering, but right up to that line. Still, I thought it was important to learn something about Macintosh computers. It was a glaring hole in my resume, and my reputation as a techie was suffering for it. So, when we wanted to replace our underpowered Celeron laptop--always our "extra" computer anyway--I decided it was time to dip a toe into the iUniverse.

I have this one.
The first one was a PowerMac G4 15" system. This was in 2010, and it was a 2005 computer, though it had been top-of-the-line when purchased. Even so, it was dreadfully slow, to the point of being useless for the Adobe graphics software it was bought to run, and it couldn't be upgraded at all. So, in 2011, I opted to upgrade the whole computer. I sold off all of our extraneous computer hardware and software (to justify the purchase), and bought a 2008 model MacBook Pro 15. It came with the Adobe CS5.5 Suite, a boatload of other software, and was upgradable to the newest version of OS X.

The newer system had some flaws, notably that the lid wouldn't latch, there was pitting to the aluminum case, and some bright splotches on the screen. Nothing I couldn't live with though, and otherwise I have really liked it. Other than a tenancy to get very warm, I had little complaint with the system. Programs opened with reasonable speed, everything worked fairly well, crashes were few (though they do happen), and "force closes" usually solved any issues. Until this weekend, when the screen flipped out.

Here's the craptastic screen when this happens.
In the middle of routine usage, the screen got scrambled with random noise, and no further work was possible. I had to power down by holding the power button in until it quit. Rebooting didn't solve the problem, though it would work normally while cool, and then freak out again. Online research turned up a video card problem, one that Apple knows about but which they don't fix for free anymore. Which is fine, I didn't expect free anyway. So after trying to sniff out the problem myself didn't yield a way to fix it, I did what apparently all Mac users do in such situations: I made an appointment with the "geniuses" at the Apple Store.

As I said before, the store itself was chaotic. First, it's enormous, and was filled with people, both employees and customers. Even though I had an appointment, there was no obvious place to queue up, no one seemingly in charge, no "take a number," no list of customer names. No one asked me if I had an appointment, or even acknowledged that I was on this physical plane. After sitting frustrated at the "Genius Bar" for a few minutes, I and some other customers made enough noise to suss out the girl with the appointment list. After that, I was waited on right away, and just as quickly told my computer would cost more to fix than it would be worth. Totaled, in other words. They gave me a list of authorized service centers, and I tried one with the same answer.

My self diagnosis of the graphics card was accurate. But it is such a weird problem. The card only fritzes out when the computer gets hot. And sometimes the screen comes back, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it will reboot normally, sometimes it won't. When I had it at Fry's for the second opinion, the screen did something new, acting like it had a short or something. And now that I have it home? Random issues still, though I got it to stay up longer. The situation is far weirder than any graphics card issue I've ever had on a PC.

My suspicion--which I asked the Apple Genius about, but he dismissed--is that I have either bad fans, or bad instructions being sent to the fans. I say this because that fan used to make a crapload of noise sometimes, and now the Mac is utterly silent. I don't think the fans are running. The question then is, can I replace the fans? If I do, is it already too late, has the graphics card been semi-toasted?

Working fine now? What?
I don't know. But I'm finding that used Macs on eBay have gone up in price since I was away, and the new ones? DAMN.

So, again, don't believe them when they tell you Apple products are trouble free.

UPDATE: Guess what? I turned the Mac on to get some stuff off of it (handy that I can do that, of course), and everything's peachy. No kidding, it's been up and running for--at last check--1 hour, 32 minutes. Without error. WTF? Is it having a last hurrah?

UPDATE: And then it gave up, about 2 hours in. Fuzzy again. I closed the lid, opened it later to a black screen, seemingly nothing. Then I noticed the perfectly clear spinning "beach ball." Which I can move around the screen. But I can't do anything else. Apple, this is a freaky, weird issue you've got going. I've had flawed hardware, but nothing that acts like this.

Blast from the Past: Old Computer Commercials

Bill Cosby image from ComputerCloset.org
I'm going through some computer woes with my MacBook Pro (more about that later), so I have been running through my past experience with the dreaded beasts. My experience with computing goes back to the Commodore 64 if you're talking hands-on experience with keyboarded computers. Prior to that, I had some exposure to my uncle's Commodore Vic-20, and the early home gaming units like Sears Tele-Systems (Atari) Pong, and the RCA Studio II gaming console. Of course, after that I've had some experience with countless gaming systems, and numerous other computers, to the point that I'm considered something of a guru, though sadly not with the Apple iUniverse.

Back in the early days, everyone was a novice. And picking which system to align yourself with was all guesswork. Commodore won out for a long time--at least with home systems--but eventually collapsed. Strong contenders were Atari, Texas Instruments and Radio Shack, all of which eventually died off. But it was a fun time, and there's a reason I included gaming systems. . .there was significant cross-over between them and dedicated computers, to the point that they usually took gaming cartridges.  Here are some of the commercials from the days when computers were nerdier versions of video games. See if you remember them. Or if you're too young, see what you missed!



#1 - Commodore 64 - This was the best of the bunch. A computer console with a scant 64K of memory, but endless expandability and creativity. They pushed this baby as far as it could go, and it was wildly successful for many years.

#2 - Atari 400 - This is a generic ad for an Atari computer from 1981, probably the 400. Atari tried so hard to capitalize on their arcade and home video game successes with a home computer. But they never really caught on. Noble effort though, and a great commercial.



#3 - TRS-80 - This commercial is from a later model. Radio Shack's little computer chugged along for years on fumes. I remember a friend touting the superiority of his first-generation TRS 80 to our Commodore 64. The truth was, his TRaSh 80 was little more than half-step past Pong.

#4 - Texas Instruments TI99/4a - TI made it big with calculators, and so they tried to get in on the home computer craze. The case was cheesy, and the computer was lame. But they got Bill Cosby for their ad!



#5 - Coleco Adam - Adam was the logical outgrowth of the popular ColecoVision, and both systems had adapters for the Atari 2600 game cartridges. Probably was a victim--like the others--of trying too hard too soon. Technology just wasn't there to make these things practical workhorses.

#6 - Apple II - Apple probably got to where it is today by insinuating itself into schools early. Every school with a computer lab in the early 80s had the Apple II, Apple IIc, Apple IIe or Apple III. I knew nobody who had them at home, but this was right before the first Macintosh, and really is where they got their start as a known entity.

Sadly, I couldn't find commercials for other early computers like the Timex Sinclair, and after that they get pretty obscure anyway. Of course. Atari, Commodore, Radio Shack and Texas Instruments tried other models, and some were moderately successful for a while. But when first the Mac and then Windows caught on as home systems, it was all she wrote for these other guys.

So, that's it for this weekend's edition. Have a great week, everyone. Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Over Time with Bill Maher, March 15, 2013

No way I could miss Real Time with Bill Maher, when my girl Rachel Maddow is on there, could I? Catch it if you can. Meanwhile, here's the internet-only portion. Enjoy.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Jindal's Full of Wind (Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

I can claim no credit for the wonderfulness of Rocky Mountain Mike's song and ad parodies, other than to say that sometimes there is an odd synchronicity between him making one, and me checking to see if he has made one. I can't tell you how often I think, "Let's see if Mike has made anything new," and I find out he just posted one. Trust me, my part is a hell of a lot easier. I must just have an antenna that tunes to his frequency. Good job, Mike! This one is to the tune of Elton John's Candle in the Wind.


CPAC Attendees React (Badly) to Portman's Pro-Gay Marriage Stance

You know, the freeze frame capture of the tea bagger for this video really says it all to me. Ridiculous, anachronistic, conservative drag. Plain and simple. Emphasis on the "simple."

Car Upgrade: Pioneer AVH-X2500BT Media Center

I just paid off my three-year loan on my 2009 Mitsubishi Galant. I bought it as a 1-year-old used car to replace my very aged 1998 Jeep Wrangler, which I'd owned for 9 years. My goal with this car is to keep it for nearly as long, to remain car-payment-free for as long as I can, or at least before non-warranty repairs start becoming annoying and expensive.

Photo of the X2500BT from Pioneer's page
The problem with keeping a car for a long time is that you get bored with it. It starts to look out of date and old, even if you take care of it. And you start to get new car lust. Not only do newer cars start to look sexy, but you start to notice the new features and toys available in newer cars that yours just doesn't have. With my Jeep, I had no air conditioning, no power windows or locks, no extra goodies whatsoever. I'd forestalled new car lust for a while by buying an MP3/CD player to replace the factory audio, but true to its nature, the Jeep just didn't have much "extra."

This is what Mitsubishi supplies
with higher end Galants. Mine
doesn't have the pop-up section.
But note the silver lower part.
That's why my seemingly pedestrian, boring family sedan purchase felt like buying a Lexus to me. Even in the basic "ES" trim, the car felt cushy by comparison. The automatic transmission was a pleasure after driving stick for so long. I had power windows and locks. All I lost was the convertible aspect, but I'd had enough of it, actually. What the car didn't have that later cars started to feature was traction control, bluetooth, back-up camera, USB-input, or any other kind of input besides CDs.

I actually started the "love your car" project when I still had eight months to go on the loan. The main aesthetic drawback to the design of my car was always the headlights. Though my car had been refreshed and updated from its 2003 design, they left the big honking headlights through each facelift the design received. It probably wouldn't bother most people, but it bugged me. So, I purchased "eyelids" for the car, and I think it vastly improved the car's appearance. The next step--which I stipulated only would happen after the payoff--was a new car stereo with all the goodies.

This is how it looks in my car.
Note the boring flat black.
I'll back up, and admit that I even prepared for this eventuality by purchasing a dash kit for the new, larger stereo. My car's dash--like most newer cars--had a dash insert that encompassed not just the stereo, but the climate controls. So, you need a kit that replaces the face of all that. Buying one in advance saves you the hassle and delay of having the retailer order one. There are only a couple of companies that make the kit, and they are decidedly low-frills. More on that in a bit. But anyway, I had that ready to go, and after some research headed off to Fry's Electronics to purchase the unit I had my eye on, which happened to be on sale.

The head unit I decided upon was the Pioneer AVH-X2500BT, a mid-range model from their DVD double DIN (that means double height) series. I didn't need a navigation system--having one in my phone and rarely needing it--and wasn't interested in HD radio. But, I figured, if I'm going to have a
display screen, I might as well get a back-up camera with it. This, of course, increases the installation price, but it all gets done at once. I opted for a $30 mounted camera, which seemed like the way to go. You can find them cheaper, but Fry's alternative was a license plate-mounted one which was much more expensive. Anyway, the difference in ability was minimal, so I just got the permanently mounted one.

One thing I'm learning about modern stereo/multi-function devices like this, is that they are not particularly user friendly. I'm a techie, and even I had to look things up online and in the manual, and discover just by trial and error. The Other Half recently bought a new car, which also has a Pioneer stereo, but it's single DIN, with a less advanced display. That one is very tricky and counter-intuitive. The X2500 is much easier to figure out. I was able to change the overall color scheme to match my dashboard lights (orange), change the background image, pair my phone with the bluetooth, set my radio stations and--most importantly to me on this project--attach my 64 GB USB drive, loaded with music!

I'd already made a 32 GB USB drive for The Other Half for his new car. I spent 10 hours or so paring down our massive music collection into individual folders (both by artist, and with some hodgepodge 60s/70s/80s/90s/00s groupings). What I'd discovered then, and forgotten how to do, was how to get the stereo to understand the proper order of the drive. It would seem that the default setup for these things is to group the music folders by date created. That would be the date that the folders and/or music was digitized in the first place. I copied the original drive on the new 64 GB drive, and discovered that  Taco - After Eight was my de facto first folder, period. Everything flowed after that, some in alphabetical order (because I'd apparently created them that way), and some in random order. It was a mess.

It comes with a remote, but
it's pretty pointless in
a sedan.

After a few fruitless Google searches, I found the secret. There is a simple program out there called MP3dirsorter. Find it and bookmark it. You don't even have to download it, per se. You find it online, bring it up, and it puts a window on your desktop. All you do, is access your USB drive (already loaded with music, of course), and drag the whole drive right into the window, and then wait. It will chug along, putting everything in alphabetical order, and will make your experience with your car stereo so much easier. If you add music to it later, you can just repeat the process. My 32 GB of music took just a few minutes.

The X2500 does not have front-panel access to the auxiliary ports, which as it turns out, is preferable, but be sure to pay attention if you're not installing it yourself. The unit has inputs available on the rear for a standard input (earphone jack size), USB, and iPhone (USB, but for use with a special, optional cable). This frees up your dash from having wires or drives sticking out of it, and puts the connection in your glove box or console. You have to specify where you want the connection to be, but you also have to specify how many connections you want. I asked for the USB, but didn't think to ask for the AUX. It's really okay, I don't need it, but you might want it.

A drawback to the X2500 is that it is iPhone/iPod-centric, but this is true of most advanced audio equipment, and even some low-end stuff. Attention electronics makers! Not everyone has Apple products! *Ahem* But even that issue is okay, it just makes some of the additional features of the unit beside the point. I am still able to listen to audio content on my phone through the unit with no problem at all. It also has Pandora built in, and takes no extra effort to use. It's awesome.

My next object of lust.
I haven't yet tried a DVD in the unit, and doubt that I'll really ever need that. I also haven't encountered a problem with the Nevada state-required law that has some features disabled unless your emergency brake is set.  Apparently, you have to double-set the brake in order to get some functions to cooperate, to make absolutely sure that you're sitting still. Also, after trial and error, I've discovered that I need to put the car into reverse, into neutral, and back into reverse in order to get the backup camera to show the measurement grid overlaid on the image.

Since Mitsubishi designed the dash to have the radio rather low in the center stack, placement of the backup image isn't optimal. Their plan (for their higher trim levels) was a screen at the top of the stack, but aftermarket units won't fit there. Fine with me, I think it would look rather clunky, as you can see. It just leaves me with a clock where my rudimentary radio display used to be, and an odd "E-Comm" message. I'm sure I'll get used to the placement.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with my purchase. Every time I've gotten out of the car since it was installed, I've got a smile on my face. I must've said, "have I mentioned how much I love my stereo?" a dozen times. I am very satisfied, and I'm now immune to new car lust, at least for the time being. The only thing I still want to buy to complete my car is a rear deck spoiler, to make the car look a little more sporty. Probably later this year. In the mean time, I'm set!




Pros
Cons
Attractive
Will not look like it came with the car
No delay when changing songs
Menus for large USB drive is sluggish (not surprising)
Bluetooth setup almost effortless
Non-intuitive setup for non-techies
Remembers what you were listening to last, even through blutooth.
No off button! Buttons not identifiable by touch.
Smooth, non-cluttered appearance
No volume knob (no knobs at all)
Sounds better than base factory stereo
Overwhelms factory speakers (duh)
Offers multiple choices for music, only limited by the size of input device
The listing order of the tracks on USB/MP3 drive requires special software
Bluetooth phone makes answering and calling legal!
Bluetooth phone requires that a visible microphone be installed
Multi-color programmable display lets you match your dashboard lights or set your own style
Animated wallpaper choices are limited, and curiously the animation is mostly obscured by album art icons

My added touch.
Now, a word about the dash kits. You can find them on Amazon or eBay, and there are basically just two manufacturers to choose from. There doesn't seem to be a radical difference between them, and they're not very expensive. But you'll need to be satisfied with a fairly bland looking end result, and hope that the "wow!" factor of the stereo erases the "meh" of the dash. With my car, I had to go from silver to matte black. A supplied little bezel/gasket snaps in around the unit, and it is flimsy and warped. It doesn't seat well, and just looks cheesy to me. Since I work in a sign shop, I may try to design something that obscures it a little. If I do, I'll upload it to the blog. Maybe there's a market for dressing these things up a little.

UPDATE: Tired of the look of the dash kit, I designed a simple fix at the sign shop. I matched the existing silver dash front to a satin silver applique (a plastic material used to make raised text on signs), and used it to make a frame. Because the Mitsubishi has a compound-curve and rotary knobs incorporated into the center stack, I needed to keep the design limited to the area around the head unit. So, I measured the maximum flat area, measured the opening (approximating the radius corners around the unit), then brought my dimensions in by 1/64" so that it wouldn't be too tight of a fit. The finished look isn't amazing or anything, but I think it looks better. If I had it to do again, I would have taken my cut piece of applique, and lightly sanded all of the edges with a fine-grit sandpaper, to blunt the edges. Otherwise, I'm happy with it. Every town has a sign shop, and a piece of applique shouldn't be too expensive. It's an idea if you hate the look of your after-market stereo!
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