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  • Michael Krakovskiy 6:38 am on November 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Asterisk, audio-cock technology, , Blacklist, , , France, , , , , Modem, New Zealand, PBX, Phonespamfilter technology, , , , ,   

    Paid ReviewMe Post: Phone Spam Filter 

    These days a controversial company RevieMe.com became downright unethical – they make it abundantly clear that they became a link purchasing company. On the other hand Phone Spam Filter is a site I don’t mind sharing Google juice with, so it’s a quick and fun way to add a 50 bucks to my Kindle fund. Here’s my review:

    The goal of this site is pretty simple: Phone Spam Filter is asking you to snitch on telemarketers. You search for a phone number that you received a marketing call from and then complain about it. Besides getting a little relief from venting at the phone spammers, you get a bit of satisfaction from knowing that you added them to a blacklist. Nothing good can come out of this for the dinner-interrupting bastards. Meanwhile it’s a good place to find out if mysterious phone numbers that show up on your phone are from run of the mill telemarketers or not.

    The even cooler thing is that they have an API that can help you block calls from this blacklist if you have an Asterisk PBX or are willing to install some Windows software and have a modem connected to a phone line. While Asterisk is pretty awesome, running Windows and having a modem connected to a phone line is a horrible idea these days – there are dozens of viruses that want nothing more than make a few 1-900 phonecalls. In the future Phone Spam Filter guys are hoping to add integration with VOIP providers.

    The Phonespamfilter technology is not as cool as JWZ-endorsed audio-cock technology (“their computer’s speakers should create some sort of cock-shaped soundwave and plunge it repeatedly through their skulls”), but I guess it’s a start.

    They also have sites in Australia, New Zealand, France, and UK

  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:51 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christopher Hodapp, Christopher L. Hodapp, Dan Brown, France, Freemasonry, Indianapolis, Knights Templar, National Treasure, the Grand Lodge magazine,   

    Freemasons For Dummies (For Dummies (History, Biography & Politics)) 

    At last, a plain-English guide to Freemasonry-the secret society that’s reportedly at the center of Dan Brown’s forthcoming novel The Solomon Key

    With Freemasonry featured prominently in The Da Vinci Code as well as the hit movie National Treasure, it’s no wonder that more and more people are curious about this ancient organization, and interest is sure to intensify when Dan Brown’s new blockbuster appears. This balanced, eye-opening guide demystifies Freemasonry, explaining everything from its elaborate rituals and cryptic rites to the veiled symbols and their meanings. The book profiles famous Freemasons throughout history including many of America’s Founding Fathers as well as prominent politicians and business leaders offers a balanced assessment of the many controversies and conspiracy theories that continue to swirl around Freemasonry. For anyone who wants an evenhanded overview of Freemasonry’s past, present, and future, this guide is the key.

    Christopher Hodapp (Indianapolis, IN) is a Mason who has traveled extensively reporting on Masonic practices in Great Britain, France, and elsewhere. He is currently a Past Master and a Master of his lodge. Hodapp edits the lodge newsletter and has written for the Grand Lodge magazine, the Indiana Freemason.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:15 am on December 20, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alcohol distilling technology, ambassador, , basement of Broadway Presbyterian Church, Beatrice, Brandy, Broadway Presbyterian Church, , Cognac, De gustibus non est disputandum, , Ennesâ, , former Soviet Union, France, gourmet food, gourmet soup kitchen chef, Jose Terrero, Machivenyika Mapuranga, Meal, Michael Ennes, , , olive oil roux, , , , , , , Zimbabwe, Zimbabwian politician   

    De gustibus non est disputandum 

    In the former Soviet Union, cognac was the expensive booze of choice, while whiskey was relatively unknown. Technically, you can only call cognac the brandy from Cognac in France, but the Soviets did not care much about that, already abusing Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée with Soviet Champagne.

    In any case, high end Armenian brandy was considered the ultimate drink. Armenians were one of the first to invent the alcohol distilling technology, and Armenian brandy, by the way was the very same drink that Odysseus used to knock out the Cyclops.

    The reason I remembered all this, is because two news articles reminded me of a Russian saying: to a pessimist cognac smells like bedbugs, to an optimist – bedbugs smell like cognac. Good cognac has a rather peculiar smell, and some say that it smells exactly like squashed bedbugs. Although I smelled cognac often enough, I’ve never smelled squashed bedbugs. Thus I can’t really say if the saying is true, or just an artifact of crappy Soviet cognac.

    Consider the contrasts:

    In Zimbabwe people are eating rats:

    “Twelve-year-old Beatrice returns from the fields with small animals she’s caught for dinner.

    Her mother, Elizabeth, prepares the meat and cooks it on a grill made of three stones supporting a wood fire. It’s just enough food, she says, to feed her starving family of six.

    Tonight, they dine on rats.

    “Look what we’ve been reduced to eating?” she said. “How can my children eat rats in a country that used to export food? This is a tragedy.””

    Zimbabwe’s ambassador to United States, Machivenyika Mapuranga, told CNN on Tuesday that reports of people eating rats unfairly represented the situation, adding that at times while he grew up his family ate rodents.

    “The eating of the field mice — Zimbabweans do that. It is a delicacy,” he said. “It is misleading to portray the eating of field mice as an act of desperation. It is not.” “

    It’s hard to be optimistic about rat eating, but I guess it’s not as difficult for Mr. Mapuranga.

    On the other hand, it’s probably pretty hard to be pessimistic about gourmet food served in some Manhattan soup kitchens:

    “The multicourse lunch that Michael Ennes cooked in the basement of Broadway Presbyterian Church last week started with a light soup of savoy and napa cabbages. The endive salad was dressed with basil vinaigrette. For the main course, Mr. Ennes simmered New Jersey bison in wine and stock flavored with fennel and thickened with olive oil roux.

    But some diners thought the bison was a little tough, and the menu discordant.

    “He’s good, but sometimes I think the experimentation gets in the way of good taste,” said Jose Terrero, 54. Last year, Mr. Terrero made a series of what he called inappropriate financial decisions, including not paying his rent. He now sleeps at a shelter. He has eaten at several New York City soup kitchens, and highly recommends Mr. Ennes’s food.”

    The gourmet soup kitchen chef is an optimist though:

    “Despite the care he puts into his cooking, he doesn’t mind a little criticism.

    “They’re still customers, whether they’re paying $100 a plate or nothing,” Mr. Ennes said. “One thing we do here is listen to people and let them complain. Where else can a homeless person get someone to listen to them?” “

    I grew up with the Soviet media feeding me horror stories about life in America, and I know that indeed, looking at the world through the eyes of reporters is “looking through a glass darkly“. I trust the CNN reporter over the Zimbabwian politician because the latter has a much keener interest in misrepresenting the reality. But on the other hand, the efforts of the New York Times reporter to find the several homeless critiquing the free gourmet cuisine seem a little artificial. I bet 99% of them were rather grateful for tasty meals. But then, I don’t doubt that the New York City homeless can be rather picky — I’ve seen some refusing and even throwing offered food at the would be Good Samaritans.

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