This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Walking Cans of Spam

I get to work today, and there are tons of people in costume.

I have become scared of my coworkers.

Bye Bye Stan

Merrill Begins C.E.O. Search
(Landon Thomas Jr, New York Times)

E. Stanley O’Neal, the embattled chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch, stepped down from the brokerage firm today, capping a tumultuous 10 days that included a significant quarterly loss and write-down.

“We would like to thank Stan for the contribution he has made leading a major transformation of Merrill Lynch into a global and diversified company with enormous potential ahead of it,” Mr. Cribiore said in the statement. “His commitment to the company, its clients, shareholders and employees has never wavered and the company will reap tremendous benefits in the future from his work.”

(via Consumerist)

One Year Ago

It has been one year since we lost Zuri. I still miss her so very much.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Waterboarding a Leopard

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Apple Stores
  • iPods
  • Mac OS X Leopard
  • Edwards on Patriotism
  • Guiliani on Waterboarding
  • Frontline on Iran
  • The Onion on GW Bush Inauguration
  • The Clinton and GHW Bush Administrations
  • GWB in 2000 vs GWB in Office

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CC Delayed Again

Curmudgeon’s Corner was indeed recorded Sunday morning, but after that, I did my Leopard upgrade, and as is typical with my luck, it did not go as smoothly as for some others. First I did one final backup of everything which took several hours. Then the installer detected a disk error after chugging away for a long long time (a couple of hours) while it was making sure my disk was ready to receive the update. That was followed by many hours of letting the computer chug and do disk repairs several times over again until it was finally happy. Then the install itself (which once it finally started worked pretty well). Then me figuring out that I needed to recreate my crons and that the upgraded apache kepts its prefs in a new place and a different way so I had to fight with that for awhile to get everything running again. And of course me playing with all the new stuff and adjusting settings and such. And then installing the various optional bits. Etc.

Anyway, it is now time for me to head to work, so getting the podcast out the door will have to wait until I get home from work. Sorry Ivan, and any others waiting for it. I’ll get it out tonight.

Election Prep: WA Referendum Measure 67

The text on the ballot:

The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5726 (ESSB 5726) concerning insurance fair conduct related to claims for coverage or benefits and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.

This bill would make it unlawful for insurers to unreasonably deny certain coverage claims, and permit treble damages plus attorney fees for that and other violations. Some health insurance carriers would be exempt.

Of course I also read the explanatory and pro/con statements and the full text.

On this one it seems the main effect is to allow for punitive damages and legal fees to be rewarded in cases where Insurance companies are being sued for denying claims. It would also somewhat expand the cases where such a suit was possible. The courts would of course retain the ability to decide on the merits of the cases and the exact penalties imposed, it just gives some wider latitude.

The counter case is that this will lead to lots of frivolous lawsuits etc and it is actually all just about giving trial lawyers more opportunity to make money.

I am OK with this balance. I’m going to vote “Approved” on this one.

My RSS Readers

Just looking at my logs for Friday it looks like I have:

  • 5 subscribers on Bloglines
  • 4 subscribers on Google Reader
  • 2 subscribers on Newsgator
  • 2 subscribers checking with Safari

There were a few more too that looked like they might possibly be real people, but I think it was more likely they were robots, so I ignored them. But in any case, at least 13 people subscribed via RSS. Kinda cool. Of course subscribers ≠ readers. Just like the 80-90 website visitors I get on an average day are not mostly actually regular readers of this blog, but rather are mostly people who stumble on old archived things via random searches. But the RSS reader to subscriber ratio is probably a bit higher than the visits ratio I would imagine. In any case, kinda interesting.

Election Prep: WA Initiative Measure 960

I thought I had registered too late for this election, but I got my absentee ballot in the mail a few days ago, so I guess I’m golden. This election is all state and local, so I pretty much know nothing about any of the issues or the people. So I need to educate myself. As I did for the last election I voted in (2004 in Melbourne, FL) I’ll post about each of the items as I decide how I am going to vote.

The first item on the ballot is Initiative 960. The summary text on the ballot itself is:

Initiative Measure No. 960 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government.

This measure would require two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval for tax increases, legislative approval of fee increases, certain published information on tax-increasing bills, and advisory votes on taxes enacted without voter approval.

But of course the summaries are not a good way to make a decision. I glanced over the pro/con statements in the voter info packet, but then went to the full text and spent 30 minutes or so reading it.

I started out with a fairly positive feeling about it. All about disclosure and making sure all proposed tax laws have the potential effects analyzed and published, etc. Good stuff in general I guess. Something that one would expect to be part of a reasoned process anyway. And I’m all for the requiring a 2/3 majority for tax increases. And for tightening some loopholes that were used to avoid this in the past. I’m not so sure about the ability to sometimes submit the tax increase proposals directly to a popular vote. I’m not sure that is really how such things should be done. But I was still in favor at that point in general. The ability to refer a tax increase to referendum is already current law. Right now that is optional.

But then they killed it by in cases where through one of several methods a tax increase happened WITHOUT a public vote an “advisory vote” would be required. That would be a vote to gauge the opinion of the people but which would be non-binding. If this requirement had been for a binding vote to determine if the increase stayed or went, I might have still been good. (Although I think I would still be on the edge.)

But non-binding votes are stupid and should just not happen. There are better ways to gauge public opinion. It is called a poll. There are better ways to raise awareness as well, which I think is the only real purpose of this section. Things which are put up on a ballot in a public election should always be binding, otherwise they are a huge waste of time.

I think this is also true of votes in legislatures. Every time they pass a “non-binding resolution” or “Sense of the Senate” or whatnot they are just showing their uselessness. Whatever though.

Hmmm.

There is still a balance here though. Yes, it adds the insanely stupid advisory votes… why not just make the referendums mandatory instead of optional if you really always want a vote… and make it binding… such that you need the 2/3 majority in both houses AND a majority referendum (or maybe even 2/3 there too) rather than just an “OR”. But on the other hand, it does add some additional transparency and close some loopholes that let tax increases happen without the 2/3 vote.

Grrr. Unfortunately most legislation is like this (and ballot initiatives I guess). Bundling things that make sense with things that are crap. The trap is if you vote for the good, you get the bad too.

I don’t think I am going to do that. Give me the same thing without the stupid advisory votes and I’ll consider it. In the mean time, I am voting “No”.

Annoying Blogspammers

When I started having issues with bloggspammers on this blog away back when, I started requiring registration to comment. Registration with email confirmation. That pretty much seemed to do the trick for a long time. But earlier this week there was a new registration, confirmed by email, and they started adding spam to a bunch of posts. I caught it within 15 minutes, deleted the account and deleted the spam comments. Then the same guy (or robot, or whatever) registered under a slightly different email a few minutes later and I just blocked the IP it was coming from. Since then nothing more.

Annoying though. This was the first one that has bothered to register with the email confirm though. If I start getting more I’ll have to add a capcha or something. But I hate those things. So I hope it won’t become needed, but it probably will.

Of course, if it wasn’t a robot but was actually a human, that won’t help. But hopefully the volume actual humans could do would be small enough I could handle it by hand.

Extra Kidney Stone TMI – Just for Greg