Tuesday, November 30, 2004

President Bush in Canada

Remember when I said that the Bush administration produced headlines that resembled The Onion?

Remember when I said that Bush is not too popular in the rest of the world?

Today, President Bush is quoted as saying, "I'd like to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave, with all five fingers, for their hospitality."

A wise guy once said, "There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you."

Batteries I track.

Here's a list of devices I use regularly that have rechargeable batteries.
  1. Dell laptop for my job.
  2. Mac laptop for myself.
  3. Wireless mouse
  4. Portable music player to listen to in the car
  5. Palm
  6. Cell phone
  7. Digital camera
For each of these, I have an idea in my head about how charged the battery is and how long before I need to charge it. They have a variety of their own indicators that I can use to help.
  • The Mac does the best. Its menu meter shows me an icon of how much battery there is, and an estimate of how long it will last. When it's charging, it tells me how long until it's fully charged.
  • The Dell has an icon, but it appears to have only three states (full, half, empty), and I need to hover on it to get details. When it's charging, I don't even get the three states; I have to hover to see how full it is.
  • The Palm has a full resolution battery icon. It has no time estimate, but it doesn't need one since I only use it a minute at a time.
  • The music player, cell phone, and the camera all have a battery icon with multiple bars to indicate charge. The cell phone (and maybe others) has "extra empty" indicators that come after all the bars are gone. I can never decide if this is a nice psychological effect (get the user to charge before the phone is really empty) or dishonest somehow (tell the user time's up when it's not).
  • The mouse has just one LED to indicate three states (low, charging, charged), and that's really all it needs.
The Mac, the mouse, and the Palm have the best indicators, in my opinion. The displays on the music player, the phone, and the camera are all good enough to show higher resolution graphics of how the battery is doing, but they don't. Perhaps the battery sensor doesn't have any better resolution than that, but I have trouble believing the battery in my Palm is that much different from the others.

What really led me to sit up and take notice of all these batteries is all the chargers that go with them. Every one of those devices has its own charger, incompatible with all the others. The phone is worse than that. I expect it to have separate chargers for car and wall socket, but those chargers use different ports on the phone itself. Perhaps this is so the phone can be charged with the same power meant for other devices, but I can't tell. To me it's two chargers for one device.

The camera's battery is probably the worst of all. It has the lowest resolution indicator, and charging it requires taking the battery out of the camera. The best I can say about it is that it allows you to replace the battery if it wears out before you decide to replace the camera. Would it be hard to put the charger (for the removable battery) in the camera?

Anyway, I'm hoping that in the future, I'll have fewer wireless devices doing more jobs and that those devices will accept power in some standard way so I don't need a whole power strip in my house just for chargers. Also, I won't have so many hazy battery states floating around in my memory, keeping me from focusing on more important things.

Monday, November 29, 2004

How to Fold a Shirt

Joho the Blog has an English translation of how to fold a shirt.

I saw the video a while back, but I didn't take the time to watch it closely and learn its secrets. With the translation, I finally sat down with a shirt and figured it out.

I don't know if it will replace my old "fold into quarters" method, but I'm glad I did it anyway.

A Sensible Elected Official

Schneier on Security: A Sensible Elected Official links to Huntsville Times, which says:
Atallo says the City Hall visitors log - another recent addition - also annoys people and doesn't do anything to make Madison safer. To prove it, he's been signing the names of famous terrorists - "O.B. Laden," "Carlos T. Jackal" - in the book.

No one's caught it.
I think it's cool that he did that. It reminds me of a crackpot idea I had on my long drive home.

I imagine that I'm President of the United States, and I'd like to improve national security by inspecting more of the containers coming into our country. Some American citizens object, citing higher costs to commerce.

I set a date three months away and offer amnesty to any foreign national who sneaks into the country in a container before that date. Make sure the folks in other countries know what we're doing, and when it's all over, do a commercial with all the refugees together to show how large the problem really is. You could even have them tell how easy they thought it was to make it across in a container they're 98% sure won't be checked.

Then I ask the people how much security they want to trade for commerce. Don't get me wrong; commerce is important. I just think that no one has really figured out exactly how much insecurity is costing us.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

How to explain DNA to a three-year-old?

Her: Is your hair brown or black?
Me: My hair's brown.
Her: Why your hair brown?

I don't remember what I said. In retrospect, a good answer might have been, "my Mommy and Daddy gave it to me." I've tried to point out to her before that she and I have the same eyes (though hers draw infinitely more compliments than mine), but how exactly we "come from" our parents is still over her head.

Her: Jesus made your hair brown?

This is a new one on me. She must have picked this up in Sunday school or some of the other church things she attends. I've seen the crafts that she comes home with, but I haven't thought much about what she's been taught. Lacking an answer in the time it takes her attention to waver, I reply in a way to confirm that I heard her.

Me: Jesus made my hair brown?
Her: Jesus made you and me and Mommy
Me: Jesus made our family?
Her: Jesus made me special.
Me: You're very special, dear.
Her: Jesus made my hair...

She doesn't know how to describe her hair, and I don't know how to describe her origin. We've talked a lot about bringing her a sibling "in Mommy's tummy." She's seen pregnant women, and she knows that's where babies come from, but not how they get there.

I wonder how she really understands this stuff. It's simple for her to repeat that Jesus made her, but I don't know how much she understands what she's saying. We can talk about Mommy's tummy till we're blue in the face, but what does that mean to her?

It's getting close to Christmas, and it will be time to talk about Santa. I'm anxious about that, about being a reliable and honest voice for her, but that's just peanuts compared to explaining that other prominent Christmas figure.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Black out vs. white out.

"Blacked Out" talks about something that was floating around the net a while back. In a court case about government abuse of power, a government censor blacked out something that talked about government abuse of power. Two things about the article stood out to me. One is this:
Geoffrey Stone, a former dean and provost of the University of Chicago law school, has a theory. "If you look at the whole letter, you see that they probably had some flunky go through and censor every reference to 'security' or 'national security,'"
It's not really a conspiracy. No one took the time to do a good job, so it was made into monkey work. Don't attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

That's reassuring. It's also confirmed by what I consider the story's punchline:
However, the government has made some changes in the way it goes about marking up documents. "We're finding that in other cases the censors are apparently realizing that it looks really bad when they delete large sections with that black Magic Marker," the A.C.L.U.'s Beeson said. "So now they are starting to use whiteout instead."
Nyuck nyuck nyuck! Don't have time to censor with a brain, so we get a monkey to do it instead! Black marks look bad, so we start using white marks instead! It's almost like solving the problem, but with less work.

My Space IQ

Fact vs. Fiction: 10 Questions to Test Your Space IQ

Darn, I got one wrong. Knowing that, "Some organisms can survive in space for years -- without any kind of protective enclosure.", I also thought that, "We now have evidence that some form of life exists beyond Earth, at least in primitive form." Turns out, that's just speculation.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Tipping is not a cow in China.

I'm not sure why tipping is such a hot topic, but it is. People get very worked up over the right way to tip. How much do you tip? Do you tip on tax or not?

In my early days, I thought tipping was a bad idea, but I went along most of the time with a very large variance in how I tipped. I basically agreed with Mr. Pink's opinion expressed in "Reservoir Dogs."

What I didn't know at the time was that it's legal for restaurant owners to pay less than minimum wage, counting on tips to make up the difference. In this light, tipping is not so optional.

The question I run into most often is whether to tip on tax or not. The Straight Dope answered this question in "Should a restaurant tip be based on the check before or after tax?" It says, basically:
  • You don't know what the waiter is expecting.
  • It's better to (perhaps) overtip a little than (perhaps) disappoint.
  • The cash difference is minor.
Do the math. On a $100 bill, with 7% tax, and a 15% tip, the difference between tipping on the tax or without the tax included is $1.05. I just bought a $100 meal, and I'm trying to save a buck-oh-five in tip by leaving out the tax?

Here are a few other pages with still more to say about this hot topic:Happy dining!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Legislators declare Justice corrupt.

The back story, briefly.
  1. There's a rule that says indicted House leaders must leave.
  2. A Republican is about to be indicted.
  3. Republicans voted to get rid of the rule.
I've been reading about this sporadically over at TPM, and I've gotten a little bored of the scandal of it. Scoundrels in power try to keep their power. Yawn. I now think there's a more fundamental problem here.
"It's a recognition that the rules of politics have changed," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands. "The courts and judges and prosecutors are all now part of what used to be the voters' decision. We're in an ugly world."
Indeed, it's an ugly world. Justice is supposed to be blind, but Congress now says it's political.
In Austin, Mr. Earle said the rule change would not affect his investigation. "But," he said, "it should be alarming to the public to see their leaders substitute their judgment for that of the law enforcement process."
This is the disconnect: I see the justice system as blind, fair. The GOP lawmakers see it as biased, partisan. In other words, the people who are part of the government don't believe in it.

If they honestly don't think that indicted members of Congress should face any penalty for that, fine, change the rule. What I hear from our lawmakers, however, is that they believe it puts power in a place they don't consider worthy of it, and that place is our justice system.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My unoriginal white board.


More on DRM in the market.

The argument goes that DRM is good for the market because the music industry refuses to sell on the Internet without it. DRM is good because it enables the market.

I said before that this is like saying that the huge dent in my car helped sell it because otherwise I wouldn't have put it up for sale.

The other problem I have with the market argument is that copyright grants the music companies a monopoly on what they're selling. When a monopolist puts a lousy product into the market, I can't justify the product with its obvious popularity.

Any color you want, so long as it's DRM.

Third of Americans Say Evidence Supports Evolution

When I first saw the title of this Gallup poll, it didn't strike me much. "Yeah, so," I thought, "evidence has supported Darwin's theory of evolution. What's new?" Then I noticed that it said one third agreed with that. Over half of Americans don't know that evidence supports Darwin's theory.

I notice that Gallup says this on a page that invites me to pay to get more information, so I wonder if this is the most outrageous way they could find to say something that's otherwise not controversial enough to induce readers to become customers. For instance, perhaps the poll's definitions of "evidence" and/or "Darwin's Evolution Theory" are such that even I could agree that "evidence" does not support "Darwin's Evolution Theory." Still, it's troubling.

I think it's possible to believe in both evolution as a process and in creation as an origin. It's possible to witness the process of evolution, and I can't imagine saying it just doesn't happen. I could imagine someone saying that evolution does happen but that it's not the origin of life. That is, life on Earth was created (in whatever form you imagine), and it evolved after that.

In 1992, Popular Science had a poll that showed that some startlingly large number of Americans thought they could make radioactive milk safe by boiling it. The poll also picked out some other scientifically unsound beliefs in the populace, perhaps even this same disbelief in evolution. So, I think this Gallup poll isn't really news, but it's good to keep tabs on this. I'll be interested to see if anything's changed in another ten years, but by then I'm sure I'll be less concerned with what's in the country's head as with what's in my teenage daughter's head.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

TiVo to add banner ads to service when fast forwarding

PVRblog tells us that TiVo will soon add banner ads when fast forwarding. TiVo says it will be unobtrusive, but TiVo fans say it's no longer "TV your way" (TiVo's slogan). I'm withholding judgement, but it reminds me of TBS putting their ads after the commercial break, presumably to foil fast forwarding. Advertisers just can't stand to be ignored, but it's not personal. It's strictly business.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Terrorist Strategy 101: a quiz

"Terrorist Strategy 101: a quiz" makes a point that I'd heard before but hadn't really thought about in relation to today's world. The basic point is that violent extremists on opposite sides of some conflict actually derive power from each other. Applied to today's world, Bush has power because Bin Laden attacked the US. Likewise, Bin Laden has power because the US attacked the middle east. Essentially, each is working toward an ultimate conflict where one or the other's civilization is obliterated.
Naive observers frequently decry the apparent counter-productivity of extremist attacks. Don't the leaders of Hamas understand that every suicide bombing makes the Israelis that much more determined not to give the Palestinians a state? Don't they realize that the Israeli government will strike back even harder, and inflict even more suffering on the Palestinian people? Of course they do; they're not idiots. The Israeli response is exactly what they're counting on. More airstrikes, more repression, more poverty -- fewer opportunities for normal life to get in the way of the Great Struggle.

The cycle of violence may be vicious, but it is not pointless. Each round of strike-and-counterstrike makes the political center less tenable. The surviving radical leaders on each side energize their respective bases and cement their respective holds on power. The first round of the playoffs is always the two extremes against the center. Only after the center is vanquished will you meet your radical counterparts in the championship round.
The article goes on to discuss what Bin Laden wants (a topic I discussed a while back) and how he plans to go about getting it.

I highly recommend reading the quiz. I'm not sure I agree with all of it, but it's interesting, entertaining, and relevant regardless.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fun with signs.

CORPORATE FUN! is a list of phony signs to put in corporate workplaces. It reminds me of a piece of the Illuminatus Trilogy in which a group would put up signs purportedly from 'THE MGT' that said slightly offensive things like "don't spit on the floors" for subversive reasons I can't recall.

This list is the kind of thing to keep around for years until one of them actually happens. Then point out that years ago it was a joke. My favorite of the bunch is this:

Refrain from bringing toys, food, photographs, music CD's, books, magazines, mugs and other personal belongings with you. Your desk must be kept clean at all times and any unauthorized object found in your individual space after office hours will be thrown away. Not following the dress code previously provided while on office grounds can result in immediate termination of contract.
I like this one because it reminds me of a place I actually worked. There was a night shift that came in and used the same desks as the day shift, so everyone either shared space or just didn't use it. In some cases, the day people would own a desk and keep the night people from personalizing it. As a member of the night shift, it very much looked as though "the office is not your home."

Meanwhile, here's a real sign that's nearly as bad.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Revelation at the vending machine.

The choice before me:
  1. Sprite (12oz.)
  2. Tropicana grape "juice" (16oz.)
I look at the Sprite can through the glass, and it says 140 calories. On the Tropicana, it says 150 calories. I know juice is loaded with calories, but I'm surprised it outpaces a can of sugar water. Calories per ounce, the juice is still ahead, but I still expect to drink all 150 calories by the end of the day. I buy the juice anyway since that's what I feel like having, and a few other things jump out at me once I get it back to my desk.
  • There are two servings in the bottle, so I'm really holding 300 calories.
  • Below the big "grape" label, it says, in smaller print, "flavored juice beverage from concentrate." It reminds me of Dad making fun of "pasteurized processed cheese food."
  • Near the top of the bottle, there's a stamp that says "JUL 21 04"
Oh yeah, and the "juice" was more expensive.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Badly behaved RSS readers gobble bandwidth

Boing Boing: Badly behaved RSS readers gobble bandwidth

I'd been wondering about this for a while. Since RSS gets its updates by polling, how much bandwidth does all that polling take? Someone has looked into this question, and it turns out that supplying a popular RSS feed can be expensive.

I've always thought that I help solve this problem by using Bloglines because that one service polls for many people.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Researchers trying to determine if stem cell activity can be used in ALS, Parkinson's

Researchers trying to determine if stem cell activity can be used in ALS, Parkinson's

This is a general stem cell article that mentions ALS.

An election night memory.

Shortly after Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California, Conan O'Brien did a bit where a Clutch Cargo mock up of the Governor discussed his victory. There had been talk about a connection to Nazis, and there had been talk about sexual harassment. The simulated Schwarzenegger commented on the election, "the people of California have spoken. And they have said a resounding yes to the groping and a resounding yes to Hitler!"

That bit is what I kept thinking about when I saw a state go to President Bush. They said yes to the torture and yes to the groping and yes to the scare tactics and yes to the flip-flopping and yes to the dodging.

Voting for Bush tells the world, "yes, we wanted that to happen."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The pets have got it good.

Since the vet told us to lay off the pellets, our rabbit, Vanilla, has gotten nothing but fresh vegetables and hay. The diet FAQ at the House Rabbit Society site says our Vanilla should have unlimited hay, so we just shovel it in there for her.

Tonight I found her lounging around on a pile of the stuff. So, again we have a pet sleeping in a bed of food. The dogs might be envious if they considered hay food.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

My problem solving daughter.

While visiting Grandma's house, my brilliant daughter wanted to let the cats out of their room so she could visit with them too. Bingo, the more-balls-than-brains member of the cat herd, is her favorite. When she asked me if Bingo could come out, I told her, as I had before, that the cats don't like our dogs (that's why they're in their room in the first place).

She pauses a moment and says to me, "put the dogs outside."

This amazed me. Not only did she solve the problem put before her, but she did it by making a request she'd never made before. She's probably heard her parents say, "put the dogs outside," but I've never heard her say it to us.

She just keeps surprising me.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Fun with correlation

Since the election, I keep seeing maps of how places voted and other correlations. I'll get to that in a minute.

Before the election, I heard Zogby say that the biggest predictor of how someone will vote is whether that person is married or single (never married). This leaves out people who used to be married, but set that aside. It just makes my head spin that that is what really sets Bush voters from Kerry voters. I quote:
In a blue state, you are seven points more likely to be single, never married, and, let me tell you, we talk about a gender gap in politics, but it's minuscule compared to the married-single gap.
Of course, correlation is not causation, but that didn't stop someone from trying to correlate red states with low IQ, which was then debunked. Then someone correlated red states with generosity. I also saw a table showing that states with the highest mean income voted mostly for Kerry, but I can't find it again, so you don't get the benefit of a link.

I haven't even gotten to the fun part yet.

"Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results" starts with the usual red/blue map one might see on a national news broadcast and then proceeds to twist that map in various ways, such as making the sizes of states on the map proportional to their populations. I also saw similar maps here, here, and here.

And finally, the biggest stretch from correlation to causation, a map comparing states that voted for Bush to states that had slaves before the Civil War.

Mary Poppins

If Mary Poppins were a movie made today, there would soon be a spin-off on TV. There'd be a Saturday morning cartoon series. There'd be plush dolls and toys. There would be direct-to-video sequels. Disney would exploit the success of their masterpiece to the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious extreme, until the market was frankly sick of it.

I don't mean to be down on capitalism, and I sure can't attest to some good old days that took place nearly a decade before I was born, but I'm glad Mary was made back then, and not today. We'd have had better special effects today, but I don't think that would add enough to make up for the exploitation.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

ALS Drug Candidate Myogane

Phytopharm plc; Fast Track Designation Granted by the FDA for ALS Drug Candidate Myogane

This is garden variety:
  1. Delays onset.
  2. Extends survival.
  3. Approved for testing.
  4. Prominently mentions the company involved, complete with NASDAQ ID.
Light on details, of course.

Electronic Voting

I don't have anything new to add to this topic. Two things popped up recently that I thought worth sharing.
  1. Schneier on Security: The Problem with Electronic Voting Machines - Schneier gives a good account of what the problem is and why it's hard.
  2. This mock ballot receipt gives an idea of what some people would like to see implemented.
The first article is long and detailed. The second is a quick easy to digest picture.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The smell of defeat.

We're both in the living room on our respective laptops, soaked in Wi-Fi and fatigue.

"I stink," she says.

It's true. Our ailing daughter just threw up on her, and even after a change of clothes, the smell is on her skin. I don't say anything, and time passes.

"I stink," she says.

It's still true, and it will probably continue to be true. During the vomit clean-up effort, we discovered we no longer have hot water. Further investigation revealed a wet trail running from the water heater to the basement drain.

"I stink," she says.

It's well into the day after the day I woke into, and comprehension has halted. I suggest we go to bed.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A marijuana breakthrough?

This article talks about possibly using cannabinoids, the class of chemicals that give marijuana users a high, to help ALS patients (among others).

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Why ask why.

For a couple of weeks now, my inquisitive daughter has taken to the magic question: why. It's the childish question of legends, the bane of parents everywhere, the mightiest of the three-letter words in a three-year-old's vocabulary.

My curious daughter has a variation on this common behavior. Instead of merely "why" over and over, she asks full questions each time.

"Why the bees buzzzz?"
"Why the bees fly?"
"Why the bees go to the flowers?"
"Why the bees make honey?"
"Why the bees eat?"
"Why the bees hungry?"
"Why that's the way it is?"

Somehow, getting a full question like that really takes the sting out of the conversation.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Gloating rights.

I lurked on IRC while watching the election coverage, and someone threw out a link to this post which says, "it's all about gloating rights." It goes on to say that if Bush wins, "the Right Wing Bullshit Cannons" will say, among other things:
The Forces of Liberalism, EVEN WITH their millions of dollars, their unfair Media Monopoly, their celebrity endorsements, their slanderous documentaries, and their arsenal of dirty tricks, were UNABLE to keep a Good Man down.
I found it humorous. I figured it was only slightly exaggerated from what the most over-the-top commentators would say. I already don't take them seriously. Then I came across "Four More Years! AKA: Take That, You Sons of Bitches." I quote:
All of the resources they had accumulated over a generation of struggle were thrown into this battle: and they have failed. Despite all of their tricks, despite all of their lies, the people have rejected them.
Despite all of the books, movies, television shows: despite the seeming involvement of all of Hollywood and all of Academia, they lost. They used every trick in the book against us: and they lost.
More than once in the last four years, I saw real headlines that looked as if they came from The Onion, and I heard others remark similarly. Here again we have people seriously writing what otherwise sounds exactly like satire. I hope that in the time it takes my daughter to go from 3.5 to 7.5 years of age, I'll be able to see the humor in the clowns running the country. The fact that I voted helps with that; I feel no guilt, no shame.

So, here's to four more years of comedy.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Zen white board

I finally got a compliment on my last white board, so I guess it's time to change it. Now the very top reads:


Below that, it's blank.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The meaning of birthdays.

On my way home from work, on a rainy night, I'd been on the road over 90 minutes when my loving daughter got on the phone and started talking to me about my birthday, which was the following night. I couldn't quite make out what she was telling me, but it involved a party at home, and some surprise. In our conversation, we had this exchange.

Me: Do you know what Daddy wants for his birthday?
Her: Yes.
Me: You do! What do you think Daddy wants for his birthday?
Her: Cake!

You may now marvel at my daughter's brilliance. I did.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

From unity, division.

After September 11, America was united. Today, we're deeply divided. What happened?

We were attacked, and that united us. We looked at each other, and we knew we were all thinking the same thoughts. We were united in our sorrow, fear, anger, and even pride.

Time passed, and differences arose, as differences do, but they seemed greater because of our solidarity. Compared to our unity, differences felt like betrayal as they never had before. Hey, we thought, aren't we all in this together?

I think that may be part of why feelings are still running so high lately. It's not merely differences of opinion, though those are there. It's not merely that we're frightened, though I do think there's a lot of fear in the decisions people are making. It's also that we feel betrayed by those who stood with us at an unspeakable time in our lives.

E pluribus unum, folks.

An ideal President

I asked for a new President for my birthday, and a concerned reader asked, "do you want an off the shelf choice or something more idealized?"

It's a good question. The one that came to my mind first was Jeff Bridges's in "The Contender". It's a small part of the movie, but I liked it. Then there are a few easy choices: Kevin Kline's imposter in "Dave", Michael Douglas's widower in "The American President", and Martin Sheen's President Bartlett in "The West Wing". I didn't see that asteroid movie with Morgan Freeman as the President, but it makes me think of someone else who I wish were on the ballot: Barack Obama.

I could stop there, but I'd also like to propose Superman for President. I know he can't really run because he wasn't born in America, but that's beside my point. Superman is a man of integrity, a man of action, and a man of steel. The Secret Service wouldn't have to worry about snipers during his term; they'd just have to collect all the kryptonite in the world. Superman comes with his own indestructable security.

Finally, if you can't get behind Superman for President, I can only assume your favorite candidate would be Cthulhu.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Political roundup: summarizing my summaries.

Here's a collection of all the stuff I've written so far about Iraq and other political stuff. This is more-or-less a list of things that may be on my mind as I wait in line to vote tomorrow.

Sorry about the glut.

Since I still had a number of political posts in my queue, and the election is tomorrow, I flushed them onto you, my unsuspecting readers, formerly used to no more than three posts in a day.

I have a couple more lightly political items to push out tomorrow, and then I should be back to talking about digital calamity, ALS, movies, etc.

Where's Osama bin Hidin'?

So, if he's not in China, and he's not dead, obviously, he's in Pakistan, getting help from the United Arab Emirates and high-ranking ministers inside Saudi Arabia, and making tapes.

The President said on Sep. 20, 2001, "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." Given that, I wonder what we'll be doing about this little problem.

Apologies to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for stealing the name of their bit for my title.

John Kerry's faith guides him, except when it doesn't

I saw "John Kerry's faith guides him, except when it doesn't" as a link off of some blog I hit with the Next Blog button that Blogger puts at the top of my blog. I'm going to quote a few bits here and then try to refute them.
So, let me get this straight. Fighting for the environment, equality and education—in the name of God—is righteously doing the Lord's work, but abortion must be kept legal because otherwise we'd be legislating religion?

I suppose liberals would say, "Yes, because banning abortion would be coercive."

Public schools get built by taking away money from the people who earned it. The environment gets cleaned up by imposing regulations, seizing land, and taxing people.
Believe it or not, taxes are not coerced. We choose our taxes for ourselves in as much as we vote for the people who write tax law. (As an asside, what I enjoyed most about this argument is that it erects a straw man and then fails to tear it down.) Likewise, we control (indirectly) those who would ban abortion.
It seems to me that you shouldn't pick and choose at all. You shouldn't infringe on, say, the property rights of citizens out of religious convictions about a clean environment and then conveniently fall back on the argument that it would be outrageous to invoke religion when it comes to abortion. Either your faith informs your views or it doesn't.
I fail to see the contradiction. Faith guides without controlling. Kerry is saying that faith is a good start without being the last Word.
But what does offend me is the selective invocation of God. George Bush is basically consistent. He says God guides him in everything he does. John Kerry says that, too, but it's hard to see how he's not lying.
George Bush is consistent, you say? Someone else said it better than I could. Yeah, That's what Jesus would do. Jesus would bomb Afghanistan. Yeah.

I frankly don't like faith being brought into an argument as reasoning. People have values, and I think that's good. Some values are derived from faith, and that's good too. I don't blame the politicians for making their decisions based on their values, and I don't blame them for basing their values on their faith. What bothers me is when they attribute their decisions to God. It's one thing to say, "my values are God's values" just as one might say, "my values are Kerry's values." It's something else to say, "my decisions are God's decisions."

Liberators, not occupiers.

Remember those bases we took out of Saudi Arabia (perhaps to make it easier to bomb the place later)? We're basically moving them to Iraq. I don't see how the people in Iraq can get a feeling of independence with American troops building themselves long-term housing inside Iraq.

(For the record, I'm not saying that bases in Iraq are a bad idea generally, merely that they run counter to what's perceived to be a main reason for being there.)

100 Facts and 1 Opinion

I saw "100 Facts and 1 Opinion" not too long ago. I think one could argue with some of the facts there, but not all of them. In any case, I think the same about this that I thought about Fahrenheit 9/11: even if not all of them really are as they appear, there are enough true charges against Bush to make me think he's been a lousy President.

Things I can do with my eyes closed.

  1. Tie shoelaces.
  2. Buckle my daughter into her car seat (I can often do this one without her cooperation too).
  3. Sleep.
  4. Distinguish our two dogs by their bark.
  5. Touch type.
  6. Trip over obstacles, nearly breaking my neck.
  7. Visualize making this list ten items long (but not actually do it).
  8. Sign my name (but not at the X).
  9. Open my eyes.