Want to know why I'm angry with Bruce and Wally? Bruce works for American Express Financial Advisors. 80% of the trust fund money is in AXP--American Express--mutual funds. So let's see, my unsuspecting, elderly, distraught Grandmother who hasn't lived in the US her whole life and who still can't write in English beyond a first grade level comes to them in 1995, not having a clue how much money she has in her various investments and annuities. They take her in and take care of everything.
So now $400,000 ends up invested in AXP funds, and furthermore the money has to stay there until the children are sixty-five and the grandchildren are forty, and "preservation of principle" is of the utmost importance, and none of the beneficiaries have a bit of say about where the money gets invested. So what's the future value of all the money they'll collect in cash interest, fees, commissions, etc. over the ten to twenty-five years they'll have our money tied up in their own funds? They played an innocent old lady for their own financial benefit.
It's no wonder they've been unwilling to talk about any kind of distribution--Bruce probably believes he has a fiduciary duty to his employer to make sure we're kept in the dark and can't touch their precious income-generating investments--and he has "preservation of principle" and these silly arbitrary ages that they convinced Grandma to sign to to hide behind!
From CNN.com comes THIS little article. Most of it is about a link between Saddam and bin Laden, not too surprising. But at the bottom is a note that we have proof that Paris was actively undermining the US by sharing data about private talks between DC and Paris with the Saddam regime. This follows the discovery of all kinds of French and German weapons in Iraq, of course.
We're just now finding out how close France and Iraq really were. They accused us of inventing "liberation of the Iraqi people" as a reason for invading to cover our true intent... I say THEY invented "concern for Iraqi civilian casualties" as a reason NOT to invade to cover the fact that they were actively engaged in taking Saddam's money for anything he wanted. Do YOU really believe the French gave a flying fuck about the Iraqi citizenry? Of course not, it was all about the Euros (the currency).
I heard about some show on Fox (of course) where the bachelors have to wear different colored masks like the gimp from Pulp Fiction so the slut/bachelorette can't see their faces and she'll have to "fall in love" based on something other than their faces. I don't make this stuff up, and more than one person knew about it, so I think it's real.
The Stars are down 0-2 to the Mighty Ducks. The first game went into five (5) overtimes!
What I'm doing now, since I have probably fifty albums on CD I haven't ever gotten into, is I'm recording one per week as high-quality MP3s and sticking them on my desktop at home and in the Trading Room. It's so much easier and more convenient to listen to stuff as MP3s, even if you're listening to the whole album. This week, I recorded The Posies' Success. I've never really listened to it, so maybe I'll be able to discover some great tunes using this technique.
Recording good MP3s isn't that hard, it just takes some reading, some experimenting, some time (and so it seems no one is willing to invest the time or effort to learn). If you're going to do 128s, it's a good idea to use a low pass filter to cut the very high frequencies which are tough to encode well at low bit rates. Using this technique one day, I was able to go all the way down to 32 (using a lower frequency for the filter cut at each step) and still have a reasonably good-sounding track with none of the terrible "windchime" sound effects you usually hear at that bit rate (just go to Amazon's music department and sample any track for an example of an awful 32k recording). My 128s sound very good, like a very strong FM signal (without the compression or noise) instead of like a tinny, metallic-distorted status quo MP3. Most of the 128s from the net sound ugly if you're listening with a hi-fi or headphones. People are in a hurry to get it done and so just shove it through some third-rate software at the maximum speed without thinking twice.
It helps to have high quality software--Exact Audio Copy and RazorLame are the best tandem on the market (EAC for extracting from CD to .wav and editing, Lame for encoding to MP3). For the Posies album I just recorded (which I'll delete after a week and replace with something else), I extracted using secure error-checking (one step down from the max), then used VBR 256 to 192 with all other settings (ATH control, disable short blocks, strictly enforce minimum bit rate, quality level = 0, which is best, etc.) as high as they'll go, and a steep lowpass filter at 18 KHz. It takes longer to find the right settings and do it in a two-step process like this, and encoding my way takes three times longer than normal. But what's the hurry? I seriously doubt I could tell any difference between the CD and these recordings, even on my father's system with six-foot tall electrostatic speakers.
A judge on Friday ruled that file-sharing services are breaking no laws--they are just like VCR or copy machine manufacturers (or even gun manufacturers), and the company itself cannot be held liable for any actions undertaken by the users of such services or devices. For me, there are limits. I would never buy or obtain a bootlegged PS2 game, for instance, but I have no problem having a hundred SNES ROMS on my system. Just try and locate those SNES games now. And who gets the money if you do? Not Nintendo, not the software company. I also do not buy new CDs (the last one was a Sloan CD a couple years ago), only used. I generally only use freeware software, and I make a big distinction personally between "pirating" a song and pirating actual software.
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