Quick Question

I have a video in .avi format (and one in Xvid) that I want to burn so I can watch it in a DVD player.

What programs do I need (freeware preferrable), and how do I do it (please be explicit with the instructions).








The Holiday for the Rest of Us

Partially inspired by this, and wholly inspired by Seinfeld, it is time for the First Annual Airing of Grievances at Balloon Juice:


(Thanks to whoever made this screen capture originally)

The Airing of Grievances is the traditional time of the year when families gather together and tell one another how they have disappointed them in the past year. Thus begins my disappointments:

1.) The Republican Party– I will never forgive the shameless display during the Schiavo affair, elevating a personal family tragedy into a cruel farce loosely reported to be concern for the ‘culture of life.’ Hands down the most disappointing thing that happened this year, and the event that finally made me see the current GOP for what they are- shrill opportunists who think divisiveness, intrusion into personal matters, and cheap demagoguery are core leadership principles. And I don’t want to get started on the spending.

2.) The Torture Advocates– For taking every opportunity to paint those opposed to state sanctioned torture as little more than terrorist coddlers or people whose position is not one of principle but one of moral preening. You know who you are. You can go to hell.

3.) The House Republican Leadership– The House GOP started the year in a blatant attempt to loosen ethics standards to save their embattled leader, and ended the year with the reputation of the GOP in tatters, as much of the leadership is embroiled in the Abramoff mess, DeLay is under indictment, and “Duke” Cunningham is a felon. Well done.

4.) The Bush Administration– For failing to articulate any coherent policy, and in the rare cases they do embrace a coherent policy, having it be the wrong one. Add to that the Libby/Rove/Plame mess, and the idea that governance comes on the cheap (just get people fighting enough and no one will know what we are really up to), and you can see why I am disappointed.

5.) The Democrats– A full accounting of the gross incompetence of this party would require more bandwidth than I am willing to purchase, but what can be said about a bunch of partisan nitwits so inept that the GOP self-destructs in front of them, and all they can do is triumph the loony views of Cindy Sheehan and advocate for immediate withdrawal from Iraq?

6.) The MSM– Utterly incapable of covering any story with any depth, meaning or insight, the MSM spent the entire year pumping stupid stories like Natalie Holloway and the run-away bride, and continued to portray all political stories in the framework of a horse race. A policy, in the eyes of the MSM, is not wrong because it is wrong or destructive or stupid, but wrong because of the polling data and the possible electoral impact. Add to it their willingness to treat every issue ‘fairly,’ providing both sides of the story as if they were both legitimate (think the ridiculous ID debate- there are not two legitimate sides), and their total inability to get basic facts right (think of the Katrina coverage, of which basically everything that was reported is now turning out to be wrong), and the MSM has once again been a major disappointment.

7.) The blogosphere– For, in many cases, turning out to be little more than the grassroots arm of the DNC and RNC spin machines, and in some cases turning out to be paid shills for the major parties.

8.) Hollywood– For another craptacular year, with Serenity and Cinderella Man as rare exceptions. And for failing to restart Firefly as a show. (*** Update *** I forgot Baman Begins, which was also excellent.)

9.) The Steelers– For failing to draft or sign a legitimate pass rusher, and for thinking we could replenish the deep threat of P. Burress witha couple of receivers under 6’0″ (Wilson and Moragn, who are good receivers, but not what we need).

10.) The Pirates– For not having the decency to just let Jack Wilson and Jason Bay go, so I can really get on with my life and stop watching them.

11.) My friends and family– For, despite all the evidence, continuing to be supportive and decent to me. Really, I am not worth it.

12.) My cat, Tunch– For waking me at all hours, shredding the couch, vomiting on papers I am trying to grade, and running from me every time I try to get a second of attention on my terms.

13.) Earth– Enough already with the tsunamis, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, and the disaster du jour.

14.) HBO– For making the best programming out there (The Wire, Entourage, Rome, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm), and having the seasons run for only 12-14 episodes and taking two years in between seasons

I am sure I will have more as the day goes on, but this is a rough list. Add yours in the comments (to include a trackback so I can add yours, should you put it up).

Happy Festivus!

Others airing their grievances:

DC’s Toad Time:

The Daily Oklahoman newspaper, for refusing to accept NO for an answer. I had a paperman show up on my porch on Halloween night trying to get money from me for a subscription I cancelled three months earlier. They call my home phone constantly, sometimes via telemarketers in New Jersey. Enough already.

Running Scared:

The Democrats. Finding myself in opposition to the party in power, I was forced to root, in many cases, for the opposition party. What a disappointment you turned out to be. You constantly fracture into single issue, internecine warfare tribes, slitting your own throats when so many opportunities presented themselves. And by the way… while he had a lot of great, revolutionary ideas, Howard Dean is a loon and he’s only making you look bad. I can only imagine (and weep for) what the party might look like if you’d made John Edwards the head of your party.

In Search of Utopia calls out his wife and his co-bloggers (ed.- DELICIOUS!):

9. My wife, for abandoning me at Christmas time, to spend time with her mother on our farm, and for putting about as much effort into choosing my Christmas gift, as she does determining how much sugar to put in her coffee.

10. My guest bloggers, who all volunteered to guest blog, and when I needed them the most, went MIA.

The World According to Pooh:

Sony and the RIAA. Putting the (my) “comp”(uter) in your incompetence. Whatever happened to ‘you break it, you buy it?’ And the RIAA, thanks for running creativity in main-stream music into the ground. I might just start having to listen to techno, just to hear some variety. Thanks for Ashleeeeeeeeeigh Simpson too.

SineQuaNon’s list is too extensive to choose just one.

Our favorite libertarian, Radley Balko, joins in with three specific grievances.

Matt McInosh is mad at all of us. Really:

The public at large: I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s for your own good: this is your fault. In any market, the preferences of the consumer are the primary driver of everything else. I believe this holds true in democratic politics as well — flaws in the system are a large part of it, but at the end of the day we have bad policy because voters don’t want good policy. Frankly most of you wouldn’t know good policy if it bit you in the ass, but then nobody should resonably expect you to.

I agree. We are a sorry lot of, this public of ours.

More as they become available.








Kwanzukahmas Shopping

BoingBoing has a link to one of my favorite gift suppliers, Archie McPhee.

In addition to the spinning unicorn- and ninja-themed decision folders, you can get cool magic eight balls (the ‘devil ball’ has a few dozen answers encouraging you to do whatever it is you were planning to do), the Jane Austen action figure (plus Jesus, assorted scientists and about a dozen classical composers), a Sigmund Freud bobblehead, meat-flavored air fresheners, nihilist chewing gum (‘Nihilists don’t believe in flavor.’) and lawn flamingoes.

I should also give a shout-out to the cthulu plush slippers that a commenter pointed out a while back.

Use this thread to share gift ideas great and terrible. Bad gift and regifting stories are also welcome.

***Update***

The War on Christmas based on faulty intelligence? Expect subpoenas.








Let It Snow, Damnit

We have been promised all sorts of inclement weather, and it refuses to show up. I want some snow, damnit.








Holiday Goodness

Just took my Thanksgiving turkey carcass out of the freezer this afternoon and made some delicious turkey rice soup. Ingredients:

1 lb carrots
1 lb celery
2 onions
1 bag frozen peas
1 lb mushrooms
turkey carcass
2 cups wild rice

I assume you all know how to make soup, so I will not waste time giving you specific instructions. Iwill say this, though- yuou need very little salt and pepper to make a grreat soup. After you boil the carcass for a while, pull it out of the pot, let it cool, and you will have a great broth for your soup already. Pick the meat off the carcass, throw it in the put with the other ingredients, and that is really it. Super simple, and I will be able to eat it for over a week. Just warm, tasty goodness for cold days. For dessert I am making baked apples stuffed with cinnamon and raisins.

For some good Holiday Cheer, I recommend visiting this website, F**k Christmas, which takes on the chowderheads pushing this tedious ‘War on Christmas’ crap. I can’t figure out who annoys me more- the folks who try to remove every manger from a public place, or the folks who are fighting this mythical ‘War on Christmas.’

Personally, I just want some nog with rum.