Why is this keyboard interesting? Because each key has a tiny display in it that can be changed via software. This makes for a keyboard that easily supports foreign languages, games, or just plain context sensitivity. Imagine what it would be like if you held down Ctrl and all the keys showed what function they did. If the function keys said what they did. Etc. It has great potential.
I got my PMP packet from the Project Management Institute yesterday and I wasn't impressed. It came with a welcome letter, a special pin, a promise for a newsletter to arrive quarterly, a copy of the code of conduct to sign and keep in my folder, a CD with a copy of the PMP logo to be used only on business cards (not resumes or web sites), and a crumpled certificate.
I'll get the certificate replaced, but it wasn't the gold-plated experience I had hoped (warning, project management pun).
Looks like the Democrats are sending the most anti-gun Senators to their side of the Senate Judiciary Committee (per the Knox fcalerts list):
The Senate Democrats have already made their committee assignments and stacked the Judiciary Committee with the bottom of the anti-gun barrel - Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, Feinstein, Durbin, Biden, Feingold, Kohl, Cardin, and Whitehouse, but the Republicans are expected to handle that business over the next week or two.
There are some folks on that list that have always hated gun owners (and, in general, citizens that want to defend themselves). We need to make sure the GOP side of the committee is not anti-gun as well. Of those on the GOP side from before, we lost one anti-gunner, DeWine, and there are a few that are positively pro-gun. Fcalerts recommends this:
Please contact Senate Republican Leader Elect Mitch McConnell and Republican Whip Elect Trent Lott, and ask them to keep Coburn, Cornyn, and Sessions on the Judiciary Committee.
Coburn, you may recall, was also a significant porkbuster in his latest term. He's a good guy.
Announced over the weekend, we discover that since Peter Jackson decided to audit profits from The Lord of the Rings they are seeking another director for The Hobbit.
Peter did a really good job with LOTR, but they did take some liberties with the source material. One is left to speculate whether another director would take more liberties, since it was clear that Peter and his team were unabashed fans.
It seems that a great many people want continuity with the previous James Bond films when they go to see Casino Royale but the best way to approach it is to think of a variety of people are recruited to be James Bond in Her Majesty's Secret Service, and this latest blond-haired boy is just getting started. This movie was a refreshing look at a tough but human man becoming a double-0 agent and earning his chops. This was not supposed to be a continuation.
As a result, I like Judi Dench as M. I imagined that this M had recruited a few Bonds already and her tired and harassed demeanor had been earned through previous experiences. That Q and Moneypenny were missing did not bother me either, as this new Bond needed to prove himself first before having somewhere to grow.
The movie was a little long in some ways. I felt lost and at sea during a romantic interlude that was just a little long. I found myself annoyed at the oversold Sony placement in that same interlude. I generally pass it over when the movie is going well.
Even so, this was a great “learning” movie. Moviegoers love the plot of the young punk who gets downtrodden but learns to rise above it. From the Karate Kid to Star Wars, right? This Bond earns his luster as the movie progresses. I don't miss the easy humor of the Roger Moore era, because the Roger Moore Bond did not have the “learning” movie. He was already there, in his element.
This movie had top-notch gritty action sequences, beautiful locations and people, and at least one cool car. Gambling took center stage, for good reason, and it was handled well. I've read reviews that didn't like the gambling, but that's one of those things that Bond does, folks. Get used to it.
I give it four out of five stars, and rate it above most of the Bond movies I've seen. I just wonder how they'll follow it up.
Now that Milton is gone it would be best to honor his memory in some substantial way. Perhaps it would be best to right one wrong he wrought and make the United States better in the process. To that end I offer the Friedman Amendment:
Amendment XXVIII—Limiting Taxation and Voting to Specific Dates
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Second Amendment Foundation have joined forces to file suit against the Washington North-Central Library District over the filtering of content on its terminals used by the public to surf the web.
On information and belief, the NCRL has configured its SmartFilter software to block Web sites in the following categories, or in categories equivalent to the following categories: Alcohol, Anonymizers, Chat, Criminal Skills, Dating/Social, Drugs, Extreme, Gambling, Game/Cartoon Violence, Gruesome Content, Hacking, Hate Speech, Malicious Sites, Nudity, P2P/File Sharing, Personal Pages, Phishing, Pornography, Profanity, School Cheating Information, Sexual Materials, Spyware, Tobacco, Violence, Visual Search Engine and Weapons.
Looking at that laundry list, it's easy to see where people doing research would run afoul of the filter. The plaintiffs had good reasons to want to search for that kind of information. The SAF is involved primarily because of its publication that was filtered: Women and Guns.
It's ironic to see the ACLU helping a gun rights organization with a first amendment case, but I'm sure it will work out.
When you peer out from the terminal building in Montego Bay, Jamaica, this is what Freedom of the Seas looks like, towering over your head:
It's more than a little imposing.
The massive ship still doesn't feel all that crowded, except when you are leaving on the last day and the US Customs computers are having a problem…
Our bus ride for “Best of Jamaica” included a brief stop at a random Jamaican rest area. It was beautiful.
Sometimes white, sandy beaches get boring. I really like this shore:
Now, this particular tour was supposed to be a short guided tour bus trip taking us to a yacht that sailed down this coast to the foot of Dunn's River Falls. We were supposed to walk up the falls, lunch in Dolphin cove, perhaps do some shopping, and come back. Instead it turned into 2 hours of riding a bus to Dunn's River Falls, only an hour to walk them (we got rushed out, and as a result one of our party twisted her ankle), a few minutes to shop, a lunch at a hotel (which was nice, but we wanted Dolphin Cove), a short ride on a boat for no particular reason other than to sell us hair braiding, and another 2 hours in a bus to come back (late).
Shorex (Royal Caribbean's excursion partner) did partially refund our money, but we still came away from it with no pictures on Dunn's River Falls except a DVD they rush-printed for us while we visited the nurse to make sure the ankle wasn't broken.
The tour guide was very helpful, as were the rest of the staff, but I'd have to say it was a disappointing day in Jamaica.
Influential economist Milton Friedman has died. While he can be damned for inventing withholding he is to be lauded for his unabashed love for capitalism for enabling freedom. He was the founder of the Chicago School of monetary economics, in contrast to the Keynes and Austrian schools (among others).
I especially enjoyed his 1980 PBS series Free to Choose, which I've highlighted here before. Hopefully it will reappear on Google Video again soon.
Update: The Financial Times has a great biography up already.
Update: Some folks don't know about Friedman and withholding. This article explains it best.
In contrast to the previous entry, notice right away that Jamaica has mountains.
We didn't see much of Montego Bay, as we immediately boarded a bus to visit Dunn's River Falls and other items near Ocho Rios, where we had landed on our previous cruise.
Here's the terminal building which we whisked through in each direction. When we returned we had delayed the ship. Because we booked the tour through the ship they did not leave without us.
More on the particular tour, “Best of Jamaica,” later.
Unlike many of the other exotic locations we visited on this cruise, Grand Cayman is a flat island:
You'll see with upcoming posts how much more mountainous Jamaica and Haiti are.
Update: I forgot to mention that the structure hanging over the top of the picture is the starboard cantilevered hot tub which hangs out over the sea. Those were the only hot tubs I used on the cruise and I loved them. In addition, Freedom filters its pool, flowrider, and hot tub water, making it the only cruise ship afloat without salt water in its features.
Most of my pictures in Grand Cayman come from disposable underwater cameras, and my scanner software seems to be completely broken. I have no idea what broke it either, but it no longer works on any of my computers in the house.
So I offer you a picture of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, with Navigator of the Seas peeking out from behind it, with unfortunately gray skies (click for the full size picture).
I took this shot from the “Seven Mile Beach” where we ate lunch and played in the sand after visiting Stingray City and did some snorkeling on the coral reef.
The kids did not visit the stingrays in our last trip through Grand Cayman but we brought them out to see them this time. Everyone was afraid of them at first, but Alana quickly grew to like them. Ryan stepped on one and cut his foot, so he ended up not liking the experience.
If I ever fix my HP scanner software, I'll post underwater pictures. (I have more costume pictures, too!)
Today I passed the Project Management Institute's Project Management Professional exam, the final step in PMP certification. Therefore I may refer to myself as “Josh Poulson, PMP.”
It may not excite you folks, but I needed to do it to maintain my status at work.
Update: They quickly listed me as certified.
Ryan was only one of ten pirates in our crew (and we were hardly the only guests dressed as pirates). Here are the girls.
These shots are all from the parade of children in costume through the Royal Promenade on Freedom of the Seas.
As I said before, I'll work on getting group shots posted soon.
I'm having scanner problems at the moment or I'd post more from Freedom of the Seas's first Halloween cruise. For now I offer Ryan the Pirate:
I have plenty more pix, but I need the scanner for the group photo!
Dave Kopel has the scorecard.
A short summary:
Net gubernatorial results: -1.5.
Losses: Colorado, Maryland, and half of one in New York.
Net Senate results: -1.
Net House results: -14, which would drop to -15 if Reichert (WA 8) loses his lead.
I don't like the minuses, but those minuses aren't as bad as they were for the GOP.
Here's in Washington, however, the net loss was quite bad. Joe Waldron of Washington GOAL put it succinctly:
In Olympia it will get real interesting. A Senate split 32D-17R will mean reordering of committees. Senate Judiciary will likely switch from 5D-4R to 6D-3R. That means gun bills (plural) may come out of committee, leading to floor votes. With a 32-17 Senate, I'm not optimistic about holding bills there. The fight will shift to the House, where we have a number of pro-gun Dems. Will it be enough? Good question.
When we put out the call for people to come to Oly for hearings, you'd better come. Legislators are sensitive to this. When we put nearly 400 gunnies into the Senate Judiciary hearing room (and two overflow rooms) two years ago, people noticed.
Our strength is in grassroots. We'll have several opportunities to prove this in Olympia next year.
We shall live in interesting times.
Friend Howard Abrams writes about evolution and I felt a need to respond.
Are we so vain and arrogant that we can assert evolution is not God's plan in the first place? On what basis? It all boils down to definitions and the inadequacy of language and metaphor.
All living organisms on earth have traits dictated by a genetic structure. The theory of genetic drift explains that mutation and other factors can lead to random changes in genetic codes in offspring. The theory of speciation is that inheritable traits in species that can produce viable offspring eventually lead to new species from different ones. The theory of natural selection is that certain traits are more desirable in certain environments leading to the triumph of species good enough to thrive there over those other species who struggle to produce viable offspring. The theory of universal common descent is that because of the massive common sequences in the genetic code of current and historic species that all life on earth derives from a common ancestor (that appeared on Earth approximately 3.5 billion years ago). The theory of evolution takes these concepts together to conclude that the long life of the Earth and the diversity of environments has led to the diversity of species we have today.
Since all religious myths must be taken as metaphor, how could any religion not claim that God's plan to create the modern world was not accomplished in this way? The Bible says God created the beasts, why is it not possible that the way God created those beasts was through evolution? The Bible says God gave man dominion over the beasts, but why is not evolution of sentient tool-using man a way to implement that plan? The Bible says man is made in his image, but with the commonality of genetic code amongst all life is not all life in his image (with enough diversity to make things interesting)?
So, why is is distasteful for those who are religious to understand and acknowledge evolution as a suitable explanation for the diversity and change of species we now observe on Earth? Because the explanation offered above does not ascribe special meaning and uniqueness to human life. It is simply a variation that developed attributes that allowed it to thrive. This is what I feel is vanity and arrogance. We are God's chosen so we must be different than everything else around us. We must be special.
To me all life is special, and we are just as special as life. Treasure it more than the minor differences in genetic code that make us capable of being smart enough to argue about it. Treasure more the experiences that allow you to argue about it standing on the shoulders of giants that brought us this rich diversity of thought in the first place.
The GOP abandoned its libertarian wing and we sat it out, voted for gridlock, or just plain voted “L.” The Libertarian Party website has a long list of candidates that drew more than 1% of the vote, and I'm not sure yet how many covered the margin between a GOP win and a Democrat one.
Of course, LPers are notorious for stealing votes from the GOP, and I'm pretty sure in this round they may have stolen one or two from the Democrats, but I sure hope that the “tax less, spend less” side of the GOP listens a bit more for a while.
The Iraq war is being blamed for the GOP losses, but that's certainly not all of the story. I think alienating elements of the base had a lot to do with it as well. I'm sure we'll see Get Out The Vote analysis soon.
From Senator Tom Coburn's press release today:
The overriding theme of this election, however, is that voters are more interested in changing the culture in Washington than changing course in Washington, D.C. This election was not a rejection of conservative principles per se, but a rejection of corrupt, complacent and incompetent government.
I especially liked this part:
This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism.
The Republican Party now has an opportunity to rediscover its identity as a party for limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility. Most Americans still believe in these ideals, which reflect not merely the spirit of 1994 or the Reagan Revolution, but the vision of our founders. If Republicans present real ideas and solutions based on these principles we will do well in the future.
And he had a condemnation for pork, his pet peeve:
Republicans oversaw a seven-fold increase in pork projects since 1998. Republicans increased domestic spending by nearly 50 percent since 2001, increased the national debt to $9 trillion, passed a reckless Medicare expansion bill and neglected our oversight responsibilities. While some of these decisions may have helped secure specific seats in the short-term the totality of our excess did not secure our majority, but destroy it.
There should now be less doubt about whether overspending and pork projects are bad policy and bad politics. This year, in particular, pork did not save our vulnerable incumbents but helped drag them down. The challenges facing our country are too great and complex for members of Congress and their staff to continue to be distracted by endless earmarking.
Go get 'em Tom!
Glum Republicans might turn their attention to the Libertarian Party to vent their anger. Libertarians are a generally Republican-leaning constituency, but over the last few years, their discontent has grown plain. It isn't just the war, which some libertarians supported, but the corruption and insider dealing, and particularly the massive expansion of spending. Mr Bush's much-vaunted prescription drug benefit for seniors, they fume, has opened up another gaping hole in America's fiscal situation, while the only issue that really seemed to energise congress was passing special laws to keep a brain-damaged woman on life support.
In two of the seats where control looks likely to switch, Missouri and Montana, the Libertarian party pulled more votes than the Democratic margin of victory. Considerably more, in Montana. If the Libertarian party hadn't been on the ballot, and the three percent of voters who pulled the “Libertarian” lever had broken only moderately Republican, Mr Burns would now be in office.
We boarded Freedom of the Seas in Miami, Florida and our first stop was Cozumel, Mexico. We directly boarded a jetboat from the ship and zoomed over to Playa Del Carmen, and an hour later the bus dropped us off at the ruins of the Mayan temple at Tulum:
We got to wander around for a bit before a short trip to nearby Xel-Ha (pronounced “shell ha”) to play in the water:
Then we got back on the bus and zoomed back to the ship.
Of course, we were just getting started. He were on Freedom for its first Halloween. More on this later!
Royal Caribbean fixed things for us, we came home on Delta yesterday. Here's a taste of the upcoming review of the October 29, 2006 sailing of Freedom of the Seas:
It was the 22nd sailing of this latest largest cruise ship in the world…
There's a reason Miami International Airport has the code “MIA” and we're sitting here waiting on standby for some way to come home. More later.