I watched The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy last night and was rewarded with campy science fiction fun. While there were a few surprises, notably the changes in the storyline, it was a lot of fun. My wife had never read the book or seen any previous material so it was quite new to her. I was worried because she had talked to a friend who said the movie was horrible. I determine that the friend was talking about the old rendition, not the movie that was released into the theaters yesterday.
The parts I liked were the surprisingly good special effects and notably British humor. I especially liked Alan Rickman voicing our depressed robot, Marvin. The parts I didn't like are when I felt the story drag a little and the jumps away from the storyline I remembered that felt tacked on for universal appeal. There were only a few places where I felt the film was padded, but my wife mentioned that the movie felt short. Some have said the movie was more a set of skits tacked together. Of course, Douglas Adams used to write for TV, so his books read a bit like a serial anyway, so that's part of the appeal. I liked who they picked for Arthur and Trillian, Ford and Zaphod were passable.
The emphasis on the Trillian romance was expected in order to widen the appeal of this book to more people, but I heard teenagers in the audience who were bored. They didn't grow up with The Hitchhiker's Guide as a permanent resident of the private collection like I did. I'm not sure if the other books of the trilogy will make it to the big screen, but they left the opening there for sure.
Someone get me a Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster.
5/2/2005 Update: Captain Ed has posted his review at Captain's Quarters.
Many, many interpretations of George W. Bush's proposals for reforming the Social Security system are floating around the Press and the Blogosphere. They all seem to be arguing points that are different than what I saw last night.
Number one: Dubya is proposing that benefits be paid on the basis of means-testing. If you paid in a lot then you probably don't need as much back from the existing system. This sends me this message: “Don't count on significant benefits when you retire.” I've maxed out the system for years. No one currently retired, or about to retire in the next few years would face this.
Number two: If you put aside money sent to SS into a private investment account then it cannot be used to support pay-as-you-go, nor can it be reduced by the above scheme, instead it can bring me an appropriate rate of return ranging from T-bills to aggressive stock plans with corresponding risk. You don't have to do this, but it's a good idea. No one currently retired, or about to retire in the next few years is affected by this. The reduction to pay-as-you-go is partially offset by the lowered future payout (SS does not pay out the benefits of personal accounts) and is also partially offset by the slanted payout of point number one.
So there it is. Number one eases the pressure on the system as the number of retirees per works increases. Number two also eases the pressure because the money put aside for personal accounts reduces the future payouts of the SS system.
People seem to be harping about point one or point two, but they're not looking at them together. I believe Dubya's insistence that the two be combined into a single system is the key here. It gets government out of the SS game a little bit, and partially reforms the system so it can remain solvent longer.
Imagine if they went a step further and just said, “the American people will pay off the benefits of those still in the system and from now on you are forced to invest 6% of your income and not collect the benefits of that investment until you reach the age of 70 or you die and the benefits are distributed to your heirs. In return, we will lower your taxable income by 6%.” That's even better, but it would hardly pass the bread and circuses crowd in DC.
Since the Democrats have no plan (hat tip to Blogs for Bush) and everyone's know this would be a problem, Dubya should be applauded for making it a key agenda item to fix this in his second term and making a serious try.
Let's we what trickles out of the debate.
I've done so many “happy” shots of Atticus I figured it's time for me to throw in an evil one.
We've had a request for more Bingo. Here she is in the back yard, cropped from a shot where she was helping Ryan play catch with me.
From Wendell and Hobbit's wedding, we have a fine goat.
Backpack takes a fresh look at email. However, instead of just sending email to someone else’s email address, Backpack will receive an email and turn it into something useful on the web. This isn’t just about posting flat content to the web via email, it’s about turning flat emails into functional web pages.
Judging by how much email I get (approximate 1000 messages a day between work and home) this sounds like a great idea.
Backpack will launch this coming Tuesday, it appears. While that day will be dominated by a massive group presentation for MST 523, it'll be fun to look at that evening.
A couple weeks ago someone from Dell called us up and said that Comcast indicated that broadband was available in our area, and as valued Dell customers were we interested? Regular readers will note that I've been using satellite broadband from DirecWay for a couple years now and it's not exactly as good as the DSL I used to have in downtown Portland. In fact, the one second plus latency of the system is miserable for VPN.
Well, we jumped at the chance, especially when they said that it was only a $50 fee for “professional installation.” They needed some information for renting the modem and so on, but we went ahead.
Later, supposedly someone from Comcast called us, but we missed the call. So my wife called Comcast up and tried to figure out where we were in the system. They had no record of us and, in fact, the closest address that could get broadband from them was over two miles away.
So, I have to decide now between the possibilities that someone in Dell is both an aggressive seller and an incompetent executor or that I just got scammed by a pretty smart cookie. All the ticket information I took down, except the 800 numbers to call, are bogus, so I'm leaning towards “scam.” I don't see any charges on my credit card, yet, so I'm still not sure what the deal is.
Anyone else out there get nailed by this?
Looks like we captured Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's laptop. Not as good as getting the terrorist mastermind himself, but let's see what we can find inside.
U.S. intelligence officials who were briefed on data gleaned from a computer taken after a Feb. 20 U.S. Special Forces ambush in Iraq—in which Zarqawi narrowly escaped—told the [New York] Post that they have discovered shocking new details about the growing threat to U.S. and Western interests posed by Zarqawi, who they say is rapidly eclipsing bin Laden in importance.
“He's becoming the new bin Laden. He's the man out there carrying out attacks on Americans every day while bin Laden, who is heavily pressured and having difficulty communicating on a regular basis, is in the shadows and becoming more of a symbolic figure,” former CIA counterterrorism director Vincent Cannistraro told the Post.
That's a little disingenuous. Bin Laden has been more of a CEO for Al Quaeda. He works on getting money. He approves major ops. He was more of an operational person when they were working in Afghanistan. Ther person really being eclipsed by Zarqawi is Ayman al-Zawahiri.
But a U.S. official told FOX News that while Zarqawi's movement extends beyond Iraq, the official cast doubt on reports such as those in the Post that the terrorist has now eclipsed Usama bin Laden (search) in stature within Al Qaeda.
This official pointed out that the Zarqawi network has struck in Jordan, for example, where Zarqawi associates were blamed for the 2002 assassination of U.S. Agency for International Development officer Lawrence Foley. But sources point out that as his near capture in February illustrates, Zarqawi has got his hands full already in Iraq. Yes, Zarqawi's organization has gone outside Iraq before but the U.S. official would not characterize Zarqawi as now emerging as Al Qaeda's new leader.
Golly! Do we have another case of a CIA official talking out of school (this time to the New York Post) only to get smacked down by another official in the US government? How long before Porter Goss has to fire another rogue director in the CIA?
The data in his computer reveals Zarqawi is directing scores of fanatics from Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states who volunteered for “martyrdom” missions in Iraq and other countries, sources said.
“The information has given us new insight into the scope of his operations outside of Iraq that we did not know about previously,” a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the analysis told the Post.
Safe to talk about what we've found on the laptop since Zarqawi knows what we have already. I suspect he's already working hard to protect those assets now exposed by this find. In addition, he will have to change how he operates since so much detail was gleaned from this source. Every time he changes what's worse he has an opportunity to make a mistake.
We've missed Zarqawi so many times that it's certainly getting frustrating, but I suspect that every time we make sure we learn our lessons. Zarqawi has to keep being more innovative than us at every turn, and we have more people working on it than he does.
Today's Wall Street Journal has an editorial about the latest developments in the Abu Ghraib investigations. It's more of a condemnation of those who continue to spread Abu Ghraib conspiracy theories since the JFK assassination is moving out of the national consciousness.
We'd have thought every American would be relieved to learn that 10 major inquiries, sworn statements from 37 high-level officials, and information gleaned from dozens of courts martial and criminal investigations have cleared most senior civilian and military leaders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal and other Iraq prisoner abuses.
I'm glad that millions of dollars have been spent tracking all of this down. If there really was a problem at high levels I wanted it rooted out and all the participants to be jailed. Now, however, it seems it was just a few idiots with poor judgment.
The media and Congressional Democrats flogged the Abu Ghraib story for months throughout the 2004 election year, with a goal of stripping the Iraq War of moral authority and turning President Bush into another LBJ. But now that their worst chain-of-command conspiracy hypotheses haven't panned out, they refuse to admit it.
Yes, what was done last year was clearly overblown from the beginning because the cries of “cover-up” and “whitewash” didn't mesh with the facts that were clearly available on the net for folks the find.
The abuse reports went up the chain of command on January 13 last year; within a day an Army criminal probe had started. Two days after that, Central Command issued a press release notifying the world of that investigation; on March 20 it was announced in Baghdad that criminal charges had been brought against six of the soldiers involved. A month earlier, meanwhile, Major General Antonio Taguba had completed an internal investigation of what had happened. This is all before the infamous photos were leaked to the press one year ago this week.
What made it sensational was the release of photographs. It just reminds us all that taking pictures of (criminal) stupidity is a bad idea.
Senator Ted Kennedy all but blew a gasket yesterday, essentially accusing both the U.S. military and Bush Administration of moral perfidy. “Our nation will continue to be harmed by the reports of abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, the failure by top officials to take action, and the abandonment of our basic rules and traditions on human rights,” he said. He even stooped to the moral-equivalence canard that some in the U.S. chose “to stoop to the level of the terrorists” and “deserve to be held fully accountable.”
Apparently it's okay to be stupid in the Senate.
No evidence has been produced to support allegations that the abuses were “systematic” or that they were inspired or condoned by superiors up the chain of command. As Mr. Schlesinger also noted, by any statistical measure—such as the rate of reported abuse incidents per detainee—treatment of detainees in the overall war on terror has been exemplary. In short, the so-called “torture narrative” that was so hyped by the media last year was entirely false.
I wonder how much more of a landslide the election would have been if all of this garbage hadn't been spread around in hopes of undermining the War on Terror? Unlike the Swift Boat Vets, who had evidence and who are still waiting for John Kerry to sign the 180 to release his records, there has been no truth to the rumors that the CIA has been torturing Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. I wonder how long before other conspiracy theories about torturing terrorists fall by the wayside in the next few years?
Update: I'm adding this one to the Beltway Traffic Jam.
Just got an offer for “unbeatable interest rats.” There's no way my cat or dog would tolerate a rat that's unbeatable, even if it was interesting, so I'll have to say no.
Anyone else get a funny spam email? How about “penal enhancement” for your jailbird that doesn't want to leave his institution?
Trust the client operating system platform monopolist to demonstrate vaporware:
Microsoft on Monday plans to show off pretty much the dream portable computer—a tiny tablet computer as thin as 10 sheets of paper with a camera, a battery that lasts all day and a price of about $800.
The only problem is that it's still several years from reality.
Microsoft commissioned the 6-inch-screen prototype, but still doesn't know exactly when it will be commercially feasible. It will probably come at least a year or two after the arrival of Longhorn, the new version of Windows set to ship at the end of next year.
It's always fun to demonstrate something cool, but why talk about a price point when you're years away from shipping in volume? Well, in order to stifle the development efforts of your competitors, that's why.
Today Microsoft finally ships a 64-bit operating system platform so many years after it killed its DEC Alpha program. I'll be the first to admit I as enabling 64-bit database engines over six years ago when I was at Informix, and I was hardly the first to do it. About time Microsoft joined the party. We'll see if they follow up with a 64-bit SQL Server right away.
Let's test it's readability with the Readability Test from Juicy Studio:
|Average words per Sentence||7.18|
|Words with 1 Syllable||2,089|
|Words with 2 Syllables||680|
|Words with 3 Syllables||336|
|Words with 4 or more Syllables||125|
|Percentage of word with three or more syllables||14.27%|
|Average Syllables per Word||1.53|
|Gunning Fog Index||8.58|
|Flesch Reading Ease||69.72|
My Fog index falls into the “Most popular novels” category.
My Gunning Fox index indicates an eighth to ninth grade required reading level.
My Flesch Reading Ease falls into the recommended 60 to 70 score.
However, my Flesch-Kincaid reading level is fifth grade!
That's an awful lot of variation. I'll have to look into the statistics behind the numbers…
(Hat tip to Ann Althouse.)
Groklaw has collected a page full of patent resources. There's far more there than you may really want to read, but it's good to look through.
Jacqueline Passey observed a march through her neighborhood called “Take Back the Night,” apparently yet another egregious male-bashing public display. Her own comments?
Personally, I believe that there are two key ingredients for women's empowerment: handguns and birth control. Those two things neutralize the general advantage that men have over women.
I have been doing reading on career management, as well. As a rule, women should also push for the solid development jobs that get them experience with breadth. Women are already far better at networking than men, in my experience, but they don't do as good a job at properly pacing their career development or selecting jobs with the appropriate stretch goals.
If feminists are serious about empowering women against violence and sexual assault, their time and money would be far better spent organizing (and advertising widely!) subsidized defensive handgun classes for women than putting on hostile, exclusionary marches.
Hear, hear. Some of us down in Portland have been doing break-even (or even below cost) firearms instruction for women for years!
Update: I'm adding this post to the Beltway Traffic Jam.
Atticus appears to have found a fuzzy unicorn. He was a big fan of fuzzy.
Wendell Joost's Angus of the Leonberger clan. Unfortunately Angus is no longer with us.
This week's “It's Blogcess” is about living la vida luna:
This week there have been a few news articles about countries who hope to travel to the moon within the next decade. These types of articles always make me wonder what is taking everyone else so long to get there since the US was there in the late 60’s—or were we? This week “It’s Blogcess” is all about the moon.
Let's go to the moon!
1) Do you believe the moon landing was faked?
No, I don't.
2) Why or why not?
I haven't found the discussions about strange lighting to be all that compelling. The deep dark blacks of the shadows and the obvious reflections from silvery lander modules and white space suits work pretty well for me. The only diffusion I see comes from the silvered and smoked faceplates of the astronauts' helmets.
The sheer number of people who would have to be “in” on a conspiracy big enough to fake the moon landings would be impossible to contain. This is the Achilles Heel of any large conspiracy.
Beyond this, all of the advances that appeared in aerospace as well as computer science that can track their lineage back to the Apollo program (for example, FMEA) point to a heck of a lot of work for just a conspiracy. One could say that NASA seems to not use FMEA now, though, so it may have come from some Air Force UFO program instead.
3) Let’s say they finally get it right and we are able to travel to the Moon and you are chosen to go along for the ride. They tell you they will provide everything you need, but they will allow you to take one personal item, one grooming item and one food item of choice.
What would you take?
Personal item: hacky-sack or juggling balls, I have to know!
Grooming item: purple listerine for Klingon space blood recreations
Food item: Tang!
4) Let’s spread some “It’s Blogcess” linky love?
I thought I’d share some moon sites for those interested in reading more about the hoax – nonhoax theories:
After reading the attached websites, I realize I forgot an obvious source of “extra” light: the surrounding lunar landscape!
Today Josh's Weblog has been featured as the Blog of the Day.
In the Houston Chronicle Gerald Nunziato (former head of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms' National Tracing Center) started off sounding reasonable, albeit with poor punctuation:
By shutting down shady dealers, police could stop many illegal gun sales, said Gerald Nunziato… Nunziato is now a partner in Crime Gun Solutions, a firm that consults with local law enforcement groups to try to prevent gun violence.
But the NRA's stance on limiting the weapons purchase information government agencies can obtain and share with one another impedes those crackdowns, Nunziato said.
Liberty versus security strikes again. Because the fanatical police state machinations of ATF administrations have given many law-abiding Americans pause they have lashed back at the organization by limiting its ability to pry into people's personal lives.
Is it simply a dispute over where to draw the line? Who are the real extremists here?
…former ATF officials say the NRA's policies actually protect criminal gun purchases because they are the bread and butter of the U.S. gun industry. Since a gun lasts about 100 years, most law-abiding gun owners buy only one or a few in their lifetime, Nunziato said.
Criminals, on the other hand, buy new firearms every few years, he said.
“If it wasn't for criminals, there wouldn't be a gun industry in this country,” Nunziato said, adding that the claims of the NRA and other gun-rights groups that they are protecting law-abiding citizens with their policies are false.
“The only people it's protecting are criminals.”
Ah. That clears it up. Nunziato is the extremist here. If I was Penn & Teller, I'd be using the famous title of their hit series on Showtime right now.
He doesn't understand that a large number of Americans are gun collectors. I have a large collection, but that is primarily because I like to shoot a variety of different kinds of guns and I even have a few that I bought solely so I could teach others how to use them.
He doesn't understand that so long as people are using them for lawful purposes it's none of his business that they buy one or a hundred.
People have long assumed that a goal of gun banners has been collect a list of firearms owners so they can more easily arrange the inevitable confiscation efforts later on. It's this kind of bluster from a overpaid ex-bureaucrat that firms up that belief. If an ATF official can be so clueless as to why lawful gun owners buy guns, and how many they may buy, why should we trust him about anything?
Alan Gottlieb of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) had strong words for Nunziato:
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb fired back: “If it wasn't for remarks like Nunziato's, perhaps law-abiding American gun owners would not consider ATF an adversarial agency when it comes to Second Amendment rights. His comment is nothing short of slanderous. I guess in his opinion, we're all criminals.”
“We sincerely hope that Nunziato's statements do not reflect the philosophy of the ATF today,” Gottlieb concluded. “This kind of anti-gun bigotry has no place in an agency that deals with firearms manufacturers, distributors, retailers and American gun owners on a daily basis.”
It's interesting that this kind of bigotry gets big press whenever the NRA has it's annual members' meeting. Why didn't the fact that the anti-gun juggernaut could only muster two protesters for the meeting make the news?
I guess if you're Gerald a former badge of office is enough to get you attention if you say things the mainstream media wants to hear. He's certainly beneath notice now.
I forgot to mention that this past weekend was the annual NRA members' meeting, which means elections. Sandra Froman was elected president of the organization. She is best known for Refuse to be a Victim and Women on Target. I think she'll be a good president, although Wayne LaPierre is still calling the shots as EVP.
The following were elected as officers of the National Rifle Association by the Board of Directors: Sandra S. Froman, president; Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice-President; John C. Sigler, 1st Vice President; Ronald L. Schmeits, 2nd Vice-President; Edward J. Land, Jr., Secretary and Wilson H. Phillips, Treasurer.
Upon re-election, Wayne LaPierre re-appointed Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of Institute for Legislative Action and Craig D. Sandler, Executive Director, General Operations.
And the following slate was elected to the Board of Directors:
Mr. Sanford M. Abrams
Dr. Thomas P. Arvas
Dr. David E. Bennett, III
Chief J. William Carter
Ms. Patricia A. Clark
Mr. Allan D. Cors
Mr. Charles L. Cotton
Professor David G. Coy
Mr. John L. Cushman
Mr. William H. Dailey
Mr. Joel Friedman
Governor James S. Gilmore, III
Mr. Roy Innis
Mr. John F. Milius
Senator Zell Miller
Sheriff Peter J. Printz
Mr. Todd J. Rathner
Chief Kayne B. Robinson
Chief Carl T. Rowan, Jr.
Mr. Harold W. Schroeder
Mr. Tom Selleck
Mr. Bruce E. Stern
Mr. Don Turner
Mr. Howard J. Walter
Detective Lieutenant Dennis L. Willing
There's some familiar names in there, but I made that commentary months ago when I reported the results of the Nominating Committee.
Now that the Members' Meeting is over, I can start collecting signatures to run for the board next year.
Via Daily Pundit we find this article about the statistical analysis given by the GOP to the courts over the 2004 election for governor in the State of Washington:
Without ballots cast by felons, dead voters and non-citizens, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire would have lost the 2004 election to Republican Dino Rossi by about 100 votes, according to a statistical report cited by the GOP in its legal challenge to Gregoire's victory.
All well and good, but will it matter at this point?
But it's uncertain if the courts will buy the statistical arguments, which are a key to the GOP effort to overturn Gregoire's 129-vote win. Democrats say state law doesn't allow such arguments.
Weird. I remember them saying that the court challenge couldn't succeed unless it was shown that the improper voting could have changed the result! In fact, the judge said so:
In pretrial rulings, Judge John Bridges has said it won't be enough for Rossi to show the number of improper votes exceeded Gregoire's margin of victory. According to state law and previous court cases, the GOP will have to demonstrate that Gregoire owes her win to illegal votes, Bridges said.
I'll believe the judge and not the Democrats, thank you.
So, how did we get to this +100 number? After all, earlier allegations claimed over 1000 improper votes, but post-analysis the margin changed by approximately 250. Well, they were smart:
Two political science professors—Jonathan Katz of the California Institute of Technology and Anthony Gill of the University of Washington—broke down the data for the GOP.
Both subtracted improper votes from the candidates in proportion to the overall vote each received. When possible, precinct returns were used to establish the pattern; otherwise, county results set the percentages. For example, if Gregoire received 60 percent of a vote in Precinct A and Rossi 40 percent, and there were 100 improper votes from that precinct, Gregoire's total would be reduced by 60 votes and Rossi's by 40.
Sounds fair to me.
According to Wizbang a man spat tobacco in Hanoi Jane's face and got arrested for it. One of the commenters wryly wondered that if it had been a pie the man would have walked.
I'm one of those folks that thinks Jane Fonda hasn't really apologized for her activities during the Vietnam War, but I have trouble agreeing with spitting in someone's face, just like I don't think people should have been spitting on the veterans returning from that conflict.
Poking around the Basecamp blog I came across a reference to Basecode, a Firefox extension that automatically inserts formatting commands into Basecamp messages. In fact, it also has a time log tool that can enter time logs into your messages:
The fact that Basecode generated that inside Movable Type's entry screen is an added bonus.
If you like Basecamp, check it out for free for thirty days. After that it'll cost you 10 Euro to use.
Cardinal Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pontiff. Pity they like to change the name. “Pope Ratzinger” is pretty jazzy.
Pope Benedict XVI nee Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is not a friend to moral relativism:
Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching,” looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards.
So, in his opinion, not all points of view are valid. I agree, but I find it hard to define how I judge what points of view are valid, and which are not. Since Pope Benedict XVI has the luxury of having been the “Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith” for the Catholic Church, he's had many, many years to make his definitions clear.
Far be it for government and insurance companies to tell us what to do. Whoops! That was alternate reality speaking. The government is looking out for us again, with new dietary guidelines.
The old food pyramid is gone, along with the four food groups (what were they? salt, sugar, grease, and caffeine, right?). Now we have a new pyramid that allows people to make an individually targeted plan. We have more than four groups now:
Clearly vegans aren't going to like the “milk” group, but at least they can go to beans instead of meat. I'm not a vegan, but I do dislike cheese in a very significant way.
I stuffed in the settings for a 36-year-old moderately active male and got a 2600 calorie program (much more than the 1700 Bally's Total Fitness wants me to eat) letting me eat 9 ounces of grains (4.5 ounces of which should be whole grains), 3.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of milk and 6.5 ounces of meat and beans per day. It also wants me to limit my oils and discretionary foods to 8 ounces a day.
While this system is better than the old one, perhaps, it still is not targeted very well. It does not take into account my height, muscle mass, genetics, stress level, and many other aspects of health that affect the efficacy of their plan for me. Hopefully the insurance companies won't be considering mandating compliance with these guidelines.
So, today is the anniversary of the start of the American Revolution (Battle of Lexington and Concord), the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 (started today and fought on for four weeks), the fire at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993 (in order to save the children they burned them alive while shooting into the compound) and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 (supposedly as revenge for Waco, but the BATF office was empty and the Murrah Federal Building's daycare center was not).
If there's a “repeating day of death” today is a front-runner.
I am posting a late entry to “It's Blogcess.”
1) When it comes to filing your taxes are you?
2) When getting your taxes ready to go are you?
3) Share a tax fact, tip, tidbit or secret?
It's not worth killing yourself to get bigger deductions, it's far better to reduce your realized income than pay full price to deduct from your realized income.
4) There is no number 4?
I guess we're a question short this week.
5) Let’s spread some “It’s Blogcess” linky love?
I already mentioned that I use BaseCamp from 37signals for some simple project management around the house. Those same folks are working on a new tool called “Backpack.” We recently got another preview of this coming attraction. I'm interested in this comment:
Note: For all those people who dig the Getting Things Done system, you’ll especially like Backpack reminders. They are structured like a 43 folders tickler system.
Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen on how to better organize your commitments. Those 43 folders are for the days of the month and the months of the year. I'm using BaseCamp for a lot of that related to school, so maybe BackPack will better address the more calendar-y aspects of my life's projects…
I've upgraded to Movable Type 3.16. So far I don't see much that's changed, and I did pull out the “nofollow” plugin immediately. The two changes that interest me the most are
I've also heard that there were more security fixes in this latest upgrade. I've certaily been nervous about the security of pun.org running all of this unknown code, but so far things hve been pretty benign, except for the notification hijack we experienced. So changes went into the email notification code on this release, because the patch they released with 3.15 broke a few people.
What's even more exciting to me is my recent installation of SpamLookup. Even Jay Allen has turned off MT-Blacklist and switched. I also turned off MT-DBSL. So far this new tool appears to be working well. Maybe Kira will quit complaining about the server load of my comments script. SpamLookup uses MT-Moderate, so I left that installed.
According to Wizbang scientists have discovered a way to “decode previously unreadable texts” using a special infrared technique.
There are thousands of ancient documents written on paper that has turned into mush. This technique could make it possible to recover many interesting antiquities:
The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view.
Some ancient Egyptian must have done what Misty wants to do to my own library:
The papyrus fragments were discovered in historic dumps outside the Graeco-Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus (“city of the sharp-nosed fish”) in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. Running to 400,000 fragments, stored in 800 boxes at Oxford's Sackler Library, it is the biggest hoard of classical manuscripts in the world.
I only have about 90 boxes of books, and they're stored in an airplane hanger, not a garbage dump.
Atticus loved my fireplace. If he had something to lean against he'd be on the carpet near it.
Task: Post every day
Resolution: Get done with MST 573 work, transition from one job to another at IBM, and get more sleep.
I slow down my posting for a few days and the spammers come out of the woodwork. They've been trying pretty hard to get just a single post on here advocating their mortgage broker, or worse.
I've changed what I do at work. Instead of managing a team I'm now managing projects for a much larger team. This is actually a lateral promotion more than increased responsibilty since I don't have to do the “people” thing anymore. My old team has been split across two other managers.
As you might expect, this has made me extremely busy and it cuts down on my opportunities to post. I haven't even read the news in a couple days, let alone seen something worth commenting on. I know my stock price is down and that gas prices are ugly, but that's about it.
However, I haven't let a spam comment or trackback onto the site. They've certainly been trying, hundreds of times a day.
I was going to say something pithy or prophetic for my 500th post, and I ended up not posting all weekend. Whoops!
I was pretty heads down getting a lot of work done for school this past weekend. I want MST 573 work to be over now, thank you. Wrote a paper, submitted the draft. Worked on the team project for MST 523. Got my week's worth of work submitted for MST 520 (now all I have to do is keep up with the online conversation).
Far various still-private reasons I did a lot of soul-searching this past weekend, and Misty was a great supporter of my ego. I suspect I was not fun to be around. If there was any doubt, I love you Misty.
At this point I am focused on deadlines, milestones and end dates. My father Barry reminded me that the family needs a "low oil" plan by 2012. We have a windmill but we haven't set it up. The house relies heavily on natural gas now, which, so far, isn't saving us as much as we hoped. Better insulation is required in the attic.
I've been using Basecamp to manage my various little projects around the house and at school. So far it's a great little tool. I recommend it. You can track one project for free with it. They have some new tool called Backpack in development, but there have been no details as to what it might be.
Carnival of the Cats #55 is up at enrevanche. Grandma Wendy's Makiko is in it.
Carnival of the Dogs is up at Mickey's Musings. Bingo is in that.
The Friday Ark at The Modulator features all of the pictures I posted on Friday.
Carnival of Cordite #8 is up at Resistance is futile! I didn't submit anything this time around.
If I missed anything else exciting this weekend, it's not your fault. I was pretty busy.
On March 10th we had baby chicks. This is what they look like on April 8th:
You'll notice the feathery feet of silkies in this batch.
However, we do have grown-up chickens too. For example, the current ruler of the roost:
That's a more traditional chicken than a silkie.
Can't have a ruler without a roost:
The middle rooster is in this pack. He likes to beat up the youngest rooster:
This little guy was born last June and his voice still breaks when he crows.
Feeling reflective today, I wandered around catching more pictures. Horses get their own entry, next will be the chickens.
Family dog Bingo, satisfied with the success of barking at crows and waking up the house. I was happy to get a clear shot of her face despite the fact that she was trotting back to the house in hopes of receiving her triumph, laurels, parade and Senate seat.
Makiko, family friend Wendy Fleming's gato, image by Grandma Wendy as well.
From the reading for MST 520 for next week:
Autocratic culture and personal ambition conspire to support behavior that is strategic, cautious, and indirect—in other words, manipulative.
(Peter Block, The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1987. Page 22.)
More on this subject later.
Uptown Girl has been running “It's Blogcess” for a long time now, and I've been tempted to join in. Since she included me in her “linky love” section I suppose I should try and participate.
As she says, this week “It’s Blogcess” is all about the last time you did something.
1) The last time you filled up your automobile how much did you pay per gallon?
$2.62 a gallon, yesterday.
2) What was the last piece of clothing you purchased for yourself?
Some jeans at Target.
3) What was the last thing you bought at the grocery?
One Liter bottles of Diet Coke. I drink two or three a day.
4) What did you do on the last night you went out with friends?
The last night we did stuff with friends was Easter dinner. They came over, we ate, and we watched Aliens and an episode or two from the La Femme Nikita TV series.
5) Let’s spread some “It’s Blogcess” linky love?
Since I'm in the list, I'll include the other ones.
The Carnival of Cordite now has a permanent home.
A press release from the Second Amendment Foundation, of which I am a life member…
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today released the results of a recent poll it commissioned, conducted by Zogby International, which shows overwhelming rejection by likely American voters of the notion that banning guns would be effective in the fight against terrorism.
Asked whether they agreed or disagreed that banning guns would reduce the threat from terrorists, respondents to the poll disagreed by a margin of 75 percent. Only one in five respondents supported the notion, and five percent were not sure. Zogby polled 1,009 likely voters chosen at random nationwide with a margin error of plus/minus 3.2 percent. Polling occurred between March 30 and April 1.
SAF Founder Alan Gottlieb said the results of this poll clearly show that anti-gunners trying to use terrorism as an excuse to pass more restrictive gun laws are out of step with the American public.
“It's been pretty clear for a long time,” Gottlieb observed, “that gun grabbers don't have a clue. All they want to do is take guns away from people, any guns, all guns, and they don't care how much blood they dance through or how much false hysteria they spread to get the job done.
“Look at their track record,” he said. “Anti-gunners have used every excuse, every tragic event, to demand increasingly restrictive gun laws. They pushed gun bans to stop urban crime, but look how that has failed in places like Washington, DC and Chicago. They pressed for a gun free school zones law but that hasn't stopped tragedies like Columbine and, more recently, Red Lake High School in Minnesota. And lately they've tried to gull America into supporting bans on certain firearms as a way to thwart terrorism.
“America,” he said, “has finally awakened to what is essentially a one-note campaign being waged against their gun rights. Present anti-gunners with a problem and their only solution is to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Well, that's not a solution, it's a sham. Whatever else terrorists happen to be, they are criminals, and you do not stop criminals by disarming their intended victims. Average Americans have figured this out, and we can only wonder why the gun control crowd hasn't.”
The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation's oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 600,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control. SAF has previously funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, CT; and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners, a lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers & an amicus brief & fund for the Emerson case holding the Second Amendment as an individual right.
Watts S. Humphrey was awarded the National Medal of Technology for his contributions to the discipline of Software Engineering. He is best known for the Software Capability Maturity Model (SW-CMM), the Personal Software Process and the Team Software Process.
The National Medal of Technology is the highest honor awarded by the President of the United States to America's leading innovators. A formal ceremony took place March 14, 2005, at the White House.
The National Medal of Technology is given to individuals, teams, and/or companies for their outstanding contributions to the nation's economic, environmental, and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technology products, processes, and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the nation's technological expertise.
Humphrey's books were always clearly written but were considered “overhead” by far too many programmers and considered “userful” by far too few software engineers. It's good to see that he has been recognized for pushing the limits of software quality, even if most shops seem to support the idea of “good enough.”
(Hat tip to Grady Booch.)
Today's “Political Diary” from OpinionJournal is particularly full of good tidbits. This one is for those who like to cruise and hear the news (I prefer to avoid the news when I cruise):
Liberal talk show hosts are gnashing their teeth over the latest evidence that the Fox News Channel is becoming ubiquitous. Cruise ships are finally crying uncle after years of listening to passengers complain about the unavailability of Fox News on shipboard TV. The Maritime Telecommunications Network plans to put Fox News on its global satellite system, where it will be available to 119 cruise ships.
I don't remember if they had Fox News one a half years ago when I last cruised, but I remember looking for the camera showing the prow of the ship when I used the TV.
I waited a while to report on this in case of April Foolery, but it appears to be true. 93 more unopened absentee ballots have appeared in King County, Washington. Even OpinionJournal's John Fund agrees this looks bad for the Democrats fighting against invalidating the election. He wrote in today's “Political Diary:”
The lawsuit's contentions certainly received a boost with the discovery of the 93 extra ballots in the “archives” of King County Election Director Dean Logan. The response was immediate. Six council members, all Republicans, signed a letter asking U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to investigate the election. Democrats called for an outside audit of Mr. Logan's office and expressed anger that they had only learned about the magical ballots in the press. Council Chairman Larry Phillips, a Democrat, told reporters it would be “premature” for him to call for Mr. Logan's resignation. Bob Ferguson, another Democratic council member, accused Mr. Logan of badly misjudging how to handle the bombshell news.
Regular readers of Sound Politics will note that Pierce County also found some uncounted ballots.
King County, however, always wins the prizes. The quote of most interest comes from an email from Donald Porter:
On my instructions, all untabulated ballots found during this investigation have been secured in the same manner as untabulated ballots are secured during the course of an election. I have instructed that no list of voters names associated with these ballots is to be released, nor, of course, are the ballots to be opened and counted absent a court order.
I had intended to release this information to you as soon as the investigation was completed so that we wouldn't have another situation of changing numbers. I expected that to be this afternoon. In any case, even if the investigation were not complete by this afternoon it was my intention to brief you all on this no later than Monday so that you would have the information before Tuesday's status hearing. Now, it appears that someone made a call to the media and REALS is responding to press inquiries on this, so I wanted you to have this much information immediately.
Will we ever get to know the names of the disenfranchised voters?
4/6/05 Update: I'm adding this post to the Beltway Traffic Jam.
I added quite a few more links to the Neolibertarian Blogroll today. There must have been an influx of folks wanting to be involved after the first issue of The New Libertarian went out. Now I have 45 links in that roll.
I still haven't made a blogroll of the McCain-Feingold Insurrection. That's a pretty hefty list too.
I waited until April 2nd so people wouldn't think I was posting an April Fools.
Sandy Berger is finally pleading guilty to a lesser charge over the events where he stole classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed them. Not only was it deliberate that he took the documents in question—he hid them in his pants—but that he later destroyed three earlier drafts of intelligence documents related to a plot to bomb the LAX airport during the millennium celebrations.
Originally, Berger was only accessing the documents in order to refresh his memory before testifying to the 9/11 Commission. Supposedly he had only mistakenly taken the classified documents home and shredded them. The big stink over this theft and destruction of evidence comes from the fact that various administration officials had written notes in the margins of the intelligence memo drafts in question. They might have been extremely important evidence concerning the thinking of anti-terror officials during the Clinton administration. Now we'll never know.
Fox News has a source that apparently saw what was in those documents.
One source told FOX News that the report was critical of how the Clinton administration handled Al Qaeda threats to the U.S. homeland and that the missing report made security recommendations that were never implemented.
That particular information was buried at the bottom of the Fox News story. I suspect they don't consider that information very credible.
Back to the plea bargain. It's an good tactic to plead guilty to a minor offense than to face Contempt of Congress and Obstruction of Justice. Obstruction of Justice is a felony for little people like you and me. Only Bill Clinton can get away with it under full public scrutiny. Sandy Berger is able to borrow some of the teflon to get a plea bargain down to a misdemeanor and a fine:
The charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
However, under a plea agreement that Robinson must accept, instead of jail, Berger would pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators.
It's not just the memo drafts that were taken by the way, but also personal notes.
“In his plea, Berger also admitted that he concealed and removed his handwritten notes from the Archives prior to a classification review, in violation of Archives rules and procedures,” reads the DOJ statement. “Those notes have been returned to the government.”
At least the notes were returned. I think that removing his notes from the archives (notes about classified material, after all, become classified themselves) might qualify as a misdemeanor, but facilitating the misrepresentation of the Clinton administration as hard on terror is the felonious crime here.
Carnival of Cordite #7 is up! I didn't submit anything this time around. If I had more time this week I would have highlighted some new web sites from Beretta.
Some people have monitor lizards (I use to have one, too). I've also had monitor crabs, monitor whales, and, of course, a monitor cat. Atticus loved the warmth of CRT tubes. I suspect he'd hate my modern flat panel if he was still around.
Update: This picture made it into the Friday Ark.