Sunday, July 31, 2005


I saw "Bamboozled," and I think I missed the point.

The plot features a black man (who acts white) who creates a TV show for a white boss (who acts black) in which black performers wear blackface and act like idiots. I've heard that the director has remarked that the only black people TV audiences are comfortable with are buffoons. There are no dramas with an all-black cast, only comedies.

Maybe that was the point of the movie, and no more.

The movie seemed a bit preoccupied with history. It showed artifacts of the time when blackface was popular, and it took care to show how blackface was originally made (by burning cork).

This is the first movie by Spike Lee that I've seen, so maybe there's some underlying theme to his movies that I'd understand if I saw more of them.

In any case, the movie seems to be some obvious comment about racism and/or race relations. The fact that I don't understand it makes me wonder if I'm missing something important.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

For the birds.

While my wife vacations with a friend, I'm caring for the friend's bird, Booger. This morning I have confirmed that Booger will carry out those threats to bite any finger near the cage. And that's a sharp beak.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fafblog on flypaper.

I've written about fly paper before. It's the idea that we fight in Iraq to keep terrorists from attacking here. There's been quite a bit more attention paid to that idea since the recent attacks in London. I'm not going to go over it again, but Fafblog has an excellent post on the topic. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Roberts and the Federalist Society

I haven't paid close attention to the Roberts nomination, but I finally found an idea about it that I feel like propagating. It's this:
We're talking about the moral and intellectual caliber of a nominee to the highest court in the land. If he really has forgotten so many details about his association with the Federalist Society, he is suffering from some form of premature dementia, which surely disqualifies him for this position. If he's compos mentis, he is lying.

Sorry, weaseling.
(Found via this post at Feministe.)

As a part of my not paying much attention to this story, I haven't cared much whether Roberts was a member of the Federalist Society. This says that it's like being a member of, but I've always thought the eeeeevil of that organization has been exaggerated too. Let me reiterate, however, I'm writing from ignorance. I'm not proud.

In any case, the "I don't remember" lie doesn't cut it. I can accept having someone in the court who agrees more with President Bush than with me; I didn't win an election. What I can't stand is having a judge who can't be honest with us about himself.

How sleepy am I?

There is potentially Too Much Information (TMI) ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you.

We got up kind of early this morning to get to the ultrasound appointment. I've been foggy ever since. I didn't realize how foggy until I went to the bathroom and discovered I have my underwear on inside out.

A white board announcement


The doctor who did the ultrasound this morning is 95% sure we're having a boy. So that narrows down the name search, and we can go full steam ahead on the clothing selection.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Where the sun does shine after all.

My helpful daughter came with me to the basement to move clothes from the washer to the drier. She brought with her a small flashlight she'd been playing with. When the time came to handle clothes, she stuck the flashlight between her legs to hold it there while she helped. With that in mind, I bring you...

Top ten reasons for that spot of light on the floor behind my helpful daughter
  1. She ate a Halloween light stick.
  2. That alien tongue she spoke before English was her natural language, and this is just another part of her natural beauty.
  3. The sugar, spice, and vast quantities of nice things have mixed in a way to create a luminescent reaction.
  4. The mice in the rafters can't aim the spotlight very well.
  5. A lightning bug conspiracy whose true nature, if understood, would topple civilization as we know it.
  6. The beams of Daddy's pride have finally found physical manifestation.
  7. She's animatronic.
  8. It's a figment of your hallucination.
  9. She really is full of sunshine, and it's leaking.
  10. Well, there is that flashlight...
I just can't forget the sight of my little girl clenching her knees together and projecting a spot of light on the ground behind her as if her fanny had a halo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Expecting to be sick tomorrow.

My wife had it over the weekend, and my daughter caught it on Monday. If I follow the pattern, I'll have it tomorrow. My manager laughed when I told him I expected to be sick.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The iRiver replacement

My iRiver iHP-120 died. I got in the car, turned it on, plugged it in, started the car, fastened my seat belt, grabbed it to see how the bootup was doing, and a circuit-frying bolt of static electricity jumped from my finger to the play button. I heard a loud pop through the car speakers as the jolt passed out the headphone jack. From then on, it would power on and complain that it couldn't contact its built-in hard drive.

Luckily, I bought a warranty. Sadly, the one I had is no longer made. I had to spend $14 on an upgrade to an iRiver H320, which is functionally identical with the exception of photo viewing, which I haven't tried.

I'm here to tell you what's good and bad about the new gadget.
  • Good
    • Pretty color screen!
    • All the controls are on the face.
    • It charges off a USB connection, so I can leave the blocky charger at home.

  • Bad
    • When the display turns off, the first button you hit does nothing but turn the display on. It makes eyes-free operation harder.
    • Case covers up the data port (so I have to take it out to plug it in). The case isn't really necessary, but I figure it might offer a little protection from pavement plunges.
    • No power indicator. I ran the battery dry not knowing I'd left it on.
All in all, I really like it. Its faults are minor enough to get used to, and it still has what I really liked about the old one.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Safe Personal Backups

Schneier on Security: Safe Personal Computing

Schneier lists things you can do to keep your computer safe.

One thing that caught my eye was backups. He says to backup regularly, and I agree, but he also says to store an off-site backup in a safe-deposit box and to destroy old backups. I'm assuming these measures are to prevent data theft.

I've been encrypting my backups for a while, and I think it handles the problem nicely. I can store my off-site backups at work, and the worst that can happen is they're destroyed. I can chuck an old CD-ROM in the trash with confidence that a dumpster diver won't be reading my email.

There's the problem of how to back up the key used to encrypt the backups, but that's the same as the general problem of how to back up any encryption key.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

No Hero

Here are some lyrics from a sad song that's been rattling around in my head.
I should have known you went through it alone
I wonder why did you even try?
You could have come to me
I would have helped you see
You could have found a way to carry on
Second guess
Did I do my best?
There was a friend I had...

Johnny's strange behavior was a tip-off, they say
But I ain't no fucking savior
I'm just living day by day
The Offpsring deliver this sadness with their characteristic ferocious intensity. If you don't listen to the lyrics, the song is very angry. I think that goes along with the guilt and blame in it, but I always hear the loss when I listen to this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Boys vs. Girls, to the death.

I heard a commercial on TV say, "heart disease is the leading cause of death among women."

I thought to myself, "Self, isn't heart disease the leading cause of death among everyone?" So, I asked Google, and it lead me to a PDF with 2002 statistics, and I learned a thing or two.
  1. Indeed, heart disease is the number one killer, taking 28.5 percent of lives lost.
  2. Three men die of it for every two women.
  3. The only thing that affects women more than men is Alzheimer's.
  4. Women still live longer than men, but the gap is getting smaller.
  5. Whites live longer than blacks.
  6. Black women live longer than white men by just a little bit.
I find it hard to believe that there are really seven men dying for every five women in a year, so I wonder if I'm reading this wrong. On the other hand, I completely believe that 22 men suicide for every 5 women and 17 men are murdered for every 5 women, so maybe it's true.

Anyway, insert own joke about taxes here.

There's too much music.

I look at Friday Random Ten, the music section of Mininova, and even Billboard, and it's all so unfamiliar. There is so much music, so much more than I remember there being when I was a kid. I guess back then I had my head stuck in the top 40, and as far as I was concerned, that's all there was.

I used to think I could keep up with current music, but no more. I no longer listen to the radio because during commuting hours, it's too thick with commercials for me to stand. I don't find artists from watching late night TV anymore because we always watch via TiVo and just skip any artist we haven't already heard of. It's looking more and more like the only way to find what I like is through recommendations and just plain random chance.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hold your fire.

This article seems to be about web sites that track martyr deaths in Iraq. To be honest, I didn't read it all, but there was this part...
On April 11, he died as a suicide bomber, part of a coordinated insurgent attack on a U.S. Marine base in the western Iraq city of Qaim. Just two days later, "the Martyrdom" of Hadi bin Mubarak Qahtani was announced on the Internet, the latest requiem for a young Saudi man who had clamored to follow "those 19 heroes" of Sept. 11 and had found in Iraq an accessible way to die.
It made me think that there will be no lasting peace until war is long gone. Everyone who's been through some atrocity must have passed from this Earth. As long as there's someone who's experienced a September 11 or a March 11 or a July 7, there's someone potentially willing to create another one. That radicals create more radicals is not a new idea, but I never looked at it from the other direction.

Perhaps it's optimistic to think that our violent problems are over when the last victim of violence dies. There will still be people angry about the holocaust after the people who witnessed it are gone. There are people who never saw slavery who think there's still something owed for that (though I don't see them detonating themselves over it). Still, I can dream that all we have to do is hold our fire for a few generations, and it will be over.

A New York photo.

This picture was taken while waiting for the Staten Island Ferry. We rode the ferry just to get a better look at the Statue of Liberty, since its ferry was closed for the day.

Part of the reason for taking this picture was that as we were standing there, a guy with an expensive looking camera started photographing our daughter. I found it flattering. After we were on the boat, I thought it was a shame he didn't get any with her beautiful blue eyes.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The dark white returns.

My white board reads:
Note, I still haven't seen "Batman Begins."

A few Treo 650 links for our mutual enjoyment.

In my research into getting a Treo 650, I encountered a few links I'd like to save, and I've decided to store them in your brain. Just relax and continue to scan your eyes over the text. This won't hurt a bit.

This says that I can get my beloved Voice Memo feature on the Treo 650 just by copying the application from my Zire 72 (using FileZ). I was going to try that anyway, but it's nice to see someone saying it'll work.

Pocket Tunes is allegedly the very finest of mp3 player applications for palms. It plays my beloved Ogg Vorbis files, so if I ever consider loading up the SD card with music for a non-iRiver-having emergency, I'll want this 'ware. It's $15, which isn't so bad.

The Missing Sync is supposed to be damn fine Mac-specific synchronization application. It's what Palm Desktop shoulda ougtha been. What really rolled my socks up and down is the claim that it will mount the SD memory card on the Mac OS X desktop. I'll have a freaking wireless card reader, you USB-tethered chuckleheads! It costs $40, which I consider to be overpriced, but I'm splurging big time on this gadget anyway, so it's time to go all out while the goin' is good.

Verily, the only question I have now is whether it would be worth it to buy Internet access for this modern marvel or if I should save my monthly money.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

July 7 London attacks.

My wife called me to tell me about the attacks in London earlier today. I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said. The attacks were barbaric, my heart goes out to the people there, and I'll be paying attention to the news coverage.

Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

Republicans want to speed up death penalty (via Fafblog).

I'll restrain my remarks on how I think this relates to earlier issues raised by republicans and say merely that I'm against this idea.

On-the-fly blog composure.

What she said:
If, as you live your life, you find yourself mentally composing blog entries about it, post this exact same sentence in your weblog.
I think for me this is a slightly different statement than it is for other bloggers. I don't write about my life much here (deliberately), so this is kind of rare for me. More often I'm at an idle time (typically in my awful commute) and composing something in my head, sometimes about my life, but rarely about the present. Maybe it doesn't apply to me at all since, at those times, one might say I'm not really "living my life" but just waiting for it to resume while on hold.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More on why republicans are considered anti-gay.

After my earlier post connecting opposition to gay marriage to a general anti-gay sentiment, I posted a comment in the thread that inspired the post. Since then I've gotten two great replies from people who take this position even more seriously than I do. Start here to read my comment and replies.

(One thing I found interesting about the replies is that in both cases, I think they may have mistaken me for a republican trying to understand the opposition rather than what I consider myself: the opposition trying to explain itself to republicans.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

On Hillary

There's been some talk of Hillary Clinton running for President of the United States. I doubt I have a lot to add to the discussion, but here are a few points that come to mind:
  • It's appealing to vote in the first female President.
  • It's not appealing to vote in another "dynasty" candidate. We've had two Bushes. Two Clintons now?
  • It's not appealing to have another divisive President that half the nation will hate with a passion.
  • If she ran, I'd probably vote for her, but I'd have to know the other candidate to know for sure.

Opposition to same-sex marriage comes from republicans.

(In a thread on, someone took offense to the idea that republicans are "anti-gay," among other things. This post is a short explanation of that perception.)

There's a poll that says 70% of republicans oppose gay marriage (21% approve). Meanwhile, 53% of democrats approve and 31% disapprove. The margin of error is 3.6 for this, so it's possible that democrats don't really quite approve, but it's obvious that republicans really do disapprove.

Independents disapprove (49%) more than they approve (34%) also. Among all polled, 50% disapprove and 37% approve, so the country as a whole is more against it than for it.

Since gay marriage proponents often see this as an equal rights issue for gays (very similar to interracial marriage), they probably see opposition as a sign of a broader anti-gay sentiment. That is, if one supports equal rights for gays, one must also support gay marriage. Therefore, if one does not support gay marriage, one does not support equal rights for gays.

Republicans would say they are not prejudiced against gays, but they still oppose gay marriage. That would be fine but for the equal rights problem. I haven't heard any good explanation of how homosexuals can be considered to have equal rights to heterosexuals (I don't buy the "marriage is already open to all" argument, though I admit it sounds good before analysis).

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Rove and Plame

When I first saw someone saying that Karl Rove is the one who betrayed Valerie Plame, I thought it was a joke, a troll. It's too juicy, I thought. Well, it's true, and this post at Obsidian Wings, lays out the implications:
If Bush knew that Rove leaked Plame's identity, he could have revealed this fact, or, if he didn't want to turn Rove in, he could have asked Rove to resign and allowed him to drift off into the sunset. If, instead, he knowingly kept someone who broke the law and harmed our national security for purely political reasons as one of his advisors, then I can't see how to avoid the conclusion that he just doesn't care about our national security, moral responsibility, integrity, or his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. If Bush didn't know that Rove leaked Plame's name because he didn't really try to find out, then that same conclusion follows. The only option that allows us to conclude that Bush really does take the outing of a CIA agent seriously is to suppose that he didn't know despite having really tried to find out the identity of the leaker. But, besides being implausible on its face, that raises fairly serious questions about the degree to which Bush is in charge of his own administration.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I'm cool.

Standing in a tent at the "Taste of Lombard" today, a man next to me asked if I had change for a $100 bill. I almost said "no" without even checking, but before I got it out of my mouth I realized that I probably did have five $20 bills and enough more not to worry about being stuck with the $100 bill later.

So I counted out the five crisp twenties I'd gotten from an ATM only hours earlier, probably with sequential serial numbers, and I traded them for a crisp hundred.

The guy said to his friend, "See, he's cool. I couldn't do that in Detroit."

I've been smirking over that comment all day.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The joy of Bloglines

Bloglines is a service that (without getting too technical) tells me when blogs I'm interested in post something new. To me, it's like a web-based USENET news reader for blogs.

It's really good for keeping up to date with things that don't update frequently (I call this "tracking glaciers"). I can hit Slashdot whenever, and it will usually have something hew. Some other places have really good posts but only update a few times a week. With Bloglines, I don't waste a lot of time polling all those sites to see when they change. I just poll Bloglines alone, and as a result I can track a lot more sites.

The other thing about following a site this way is that I hardly notice if someone falls off the face of the Earth for a while. Every so often I see a post from someone that says, "hey sorry I haven't posted in so many months" and it's funny to me because I didn't spend those months reloading their unchanging page over and over, and I might never have known there was a long break if they hadn't told me.

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

Corp. policy changed this year such that we had to take all our vacation days by the end of June. Thusly, I've been on vacation the majority of this week, "using or losing" the days I had left.

I'm surprised I didn't write anything in that time. Or even take the time to post the numerous things I've already written but not posted. Abject apologies if I've disappointed my handful of gentle readers.

On Monday, the family and I went to Hurricane Harbor and had a good ol' time. I could have spent all day on their lazy river, and it seemed like I spent all day waiting in line to rent a blue tube so that I wouldn't have to wait in line for the lazy river.

On Tuesdae, I did some laundry.

On Wednesday, I helped a friend move. Believe it or not, I like helping people move. It's not stressful when they're not my boxes I'm hauling around, and people are always very grateful. At the end of the day, I feel like I've done something worthwhile and helped someone else, and they're often buying me food as a result. I was fortunate on Wednesday that there was also hired help there to do the really heavy lifting. My sedentary programming job has left me with no endurance to speak of. I thought continuing to carry around my 40 lb. daughter from time to time would keep me strong, but I still had more trouble just plain lifting than I thought I would.

Anyway, the break from blogging was kind of nice too, but I have an urge to catch up now. We'll see if that sticks with me or not.