Thanks to KK, we now have this additional bit of evidence.
It's discouraging that this is still "breaking news" to some, but we'll try to have patience for the slow learners.
Today's Week In Review section of the NY Times has an excellent piece, by Jeffrey Gettleman, titled "Redirecting Bullets in Baghdad."
Gettleman writes about Iraq from the perspective of a reporter who has just returned after being away for a year. It's likely that the piece won't surprise you overall, but the degree to which the situation has decayed is really nothing short of astounding.
While Dick Cheney continues to rant that perceptions are being skewed by the media, and things are really getting better, and if only we'd all just watch Fox News . . ., it's hard to believe that even he could rebut this one.
This is making me crazy.
I'm sure that I had this conversation by email with someone recently, but I can't remember who it was. An exhaustive search on my archived email has proved fruitless.
Anyway, the topic was: Who said this? The quote: "Moderation in all things. Especially moderation."
I vaguely remembered my mother attributing it to Aristotle. My correspondent begged to differ. A search of bartleby.com resolved nothing. We moved on.
So, I'm randomly surfing, and I come across the following:
Everything in moderation -- including moderation.
-- Harvey Steiman
No, this isn't a whine column.
I just updated to the latest version of the Mozilla Thunderbird email program. While fiddling with the settings to make it present the way that I like, I opened the menu that allows one to modify the column arrangement for the messages pane.
The last choice is labeled "Restore Natural Order."
Should I click it?
And if I do, how would we feed all of those suddenly jobless Republicans?
If you have recently tried to post a comment on this blog, and had problems with the Verification Word (VW) step, or anything related, it seems that Blogger had a bit of a problem with a bad router recently. (Poetic and photographic details are available.)
Anyway, things seem to be fixed. If you still have a problem, try clearing your cookies, and then repost the comment, it says here.
If that doesn't work, or you don't want to mess with your cookies, this is what worked for me: post the comment, get the error message about incorrect typing of the VW, click the Reload button on the browser toolbar, and click "OK" (or "Yes") in the pop-up window asking about resubmitting POSTDATA. You should get a new VW (along with the error message that you mistyped the last one. Type the new VW. Done. (This sequence will only need to be performed once.)
Feel free to put up a test comment, if you like, and please let me know if you have any problems.
Thanks to Clare for initially noticing the problem.
I recently ordered a KVM switch. A Keyboard, Video, Mouse switch is a box into which I will plug one K, one V, one M, and two or more computers. Thus, I will be able to have many CPUs happily whirring away at the same time. I won't need to do anything more than push a button to see what each one is up to, and my desk won't look quite so much like Mission Control.
But KVM, in this post, means Kurt Vonnegut Musings.
I was up very late, last night. And then, when I was supposed to start going to sleep, I started reading a new (to me) book by KV.
I woke up today, squinted through the sunlight at the dim digital clock. Shit. 1:42. Oh, well.
I tottered out to the kitchen to brew coffee and peel oranges. Drank and ate same. Then I started feeling really tired, and despite the already advanced hour, I couldn't help but go lie down again. I picked up the book that I had started the night before, read about two more pages, and fell right back to sleep.
I have just woken up, and I feel vastly refreshed, and I am surprised to see that it is still sunny out. I just wandered out to the kitchen to feed the felines, and looked at the clock out there. 12:42.
Now, it's possible that I mis-read the dim clock when I first woke up, and that it really had said 7:42.
But get this: The title of the book that I was reading is Timequake. It concerns the universe contracting for a short bit, so that everyone has to relive the years 1991-2001 over again, doing exactly the same things the second time around.
I was just at the part where the expansion has restarted, 2001 rolls around for the second time, and free will is beginning to take hold again.
I want to leave you with this fine line:
Then again, I am a monopolar depressive descended from monopolar depressives. That's how come I write so good.
-- Kurt Vonnegut
There's an excellent article on the American Prospect Online site, "The New New Gore."
If you're like me, you bought too heavily into the MSM portrayal of Al Gore in 2000, and all too quickly, lived to regret that. Al Franken's phenomenal book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, was the first good rebuttal to this image that I came across. Since then, I have been amazed at how much I like the new Al Gore.
Like many people, I have frequently mused over the past five years, "Boy, if he had only been like this when he was running for President . . ." The article in the American Prospect does a really nice job of articulating and exploring this zeitgeist.
Access to the web version of the article is free, and without registration requirements. It's long, but well worth your time.
BTW, I came across the article from a link on The New Republic's web site, where TNR's writer said that the AP article had it wrong about Gore trying to buy TNR at one point. Probably you'd have read right over that, or not cared, but it seems worth repeating.
From the NY Times's coverage of President Bush's recent press conference:
"I did notice that nobody from the Democratic Party has actually stood up and called for getting rid of the terrorist surveillance program," Mr. Bush said. He added, in a formulation similar to his campaign speeches portraying Democrats as soft on terrorism, that "they ought to stand up and say the tools we're using to protect the American people shouldn't be used."
This brings to nearly two the number of times that I have agreed with something that Bush has said.
W's remarks are not entirely true. I suspect someone with Lexis/Nexis access could quickly offer some counterexamples. But the overall sense is correct, and I have no doubt that there is a wide perception of the minority party in just this light.
Time to get up off the mat, Dems. The bully is calling you out.
Request For Questions, Comments, and Criticisms
I have posted some notes on spyware removal (for Windows machines) on my web site.
Please feel free to comment on them, either from the persective of a regular user, or as someone with more smarts on the matter than I have. (There is a link back to this post at the end of the notes.)
As always, I'm also seeking input from the wordsmiths and wessons among you.
Yet Another Really Obscure Computer Thing
So, I was ranting to KK about the "broken" Tab key behavior in Firefox on the Mac, in that the Tab key doesn't let me navigate around a given Web page when I'm surfing on my Mac, the way it does when I'm surfing on my PC. Most commonly, this annoyance presents when logging into a site that has text boxes for username and password, and then a button or link that needs to be clicked to actually complete the login.
On the PC, I can almost always tab to this button/link and hit the space bar, and never have to grope the rodent.
So, I go on for like nine pages about this to KK, and having shoved the cart thus, I calm down enough to check on the horse.
It turns out, as a search on the Mozilla forums will show, that this annoyance has been plaguing the developers of Firefox since pre-1.0 days. And by "annoyance" I mean, the gurus are annoyed at stupid users like me ranting about this.
The way to enable Tab key navigation in Firefox on a Mac is not through Firefox > Preferences, but through Mac > System Preferences. That is, click on the apple icon in the menu bar, click on "System Preferences ...," click on "Keyboard and Mouse," click on "Keyboard Shortcuts," and check the radio button labeled "All controls" under the heading "Full keyboard access." Close the preferences window. Restart Firefox. Boom.
Now that I've cleared that up, world peace ought to be a snap.
I have no idea whether this is true or not, but it's too good to worry about such nonsense as fact-checking:*
On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis, Maryland, at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at AU, was requested to testify.
At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"
Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."
The room erupted into applause.
Thanks for the email, AMP!
* Raskin is evidently running for State Senate in Maryland, and this site has the punchline featured prominently on the home page, so maybe this really happened.
The incredible Molly Ivins has a piece out called "Enough of the D.C. Dems."
The piece, originally published in The Progressive, is posted on the commondreams.org web site, which doesn't require registration. So, there's no excuse not to read it right now.
This woman can purely write.
Today's Boston Globe has a nice article by Charlie Savage, titled Change of Heartland.
The piece starts off with the numbers:
This month, the Indianapolis Star released poll findings that Bush's approval rating among Indiana voters stood at 37 percent -- a drop of 18 points over the past year. The numbers echoed national polls, but were particularly shocking in a state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, and where Democratic presidential contenders often do not bother to campaign.
Most of the rest of Savage's article consists of snippets of conversations with people who live in Indiana. Ordinarily, I hate newspaper stories that use the vox populi approach, but this one is different. Savage is not really trying to prove the case with examples (the numbers, after all, speak for themselves), and the quotes are more thoughtful and complex than is usual in this kind of article.
You'll likely have to go through the usual nonsense of registering to read the whole thing, but it's worth it.
Jinnet, who runs several fine blogs and web sites, recently posted a nice link. How can you not click on something called "Aphorisms Galore!"?
When I clicked on the AG link, I first saw:
Ever notice that "what the hell" is always the right decision?
Links to Jinnet's sites may be found in her profile. Click 'em and weep.
A while back, I posted some remarks about the (don't) tax (the rich) and spend (wildly) guy currently posing as POTUS.
It gets worse.
In an analysis piece in today's NY Times, we learn some details about the Senate's recent unsurprising supersizing of the legal cap on federal deficits.
The analysis piece indulges in the familiar MSM fetish of "balance," and takes pains to point out that some
Republican-Lites Democrats are among those who deserve blame for fouling up your future, and your kids' future, and your grandkids' future, and . . .
But you have to read stories like this closely. Especially on Saturday. Sometimes some truth might sneak in:
Almost lost in all the budget and spending activity was that House and Senate negotiators continue to try to hammer out an agreement for new tax cuts that could cost an additional $70 billion over five years.
Anyone with half a brain knows that "House and Senate negotiators" has meant, for the past six years, "guys who talk in rooms to which the minority party is not privy."
Mid-term elections are less than half a year away. Please check your voter registration status.
Ah, crap. Maybe it's a little early for campaigning on this blog. Let's move on to fun stuff. Everybody loves surveys, right?
My good friend Robert sent me an email today. Mostly, he was chortling about William Shatner's recent History Channel program.
Don't lie. I know you taped it.
Well, at least I hope you did. I don't have cable.
But he finished up with an interesting observation, something at which he has always been especially gifted:
By the way, I have noticed something here in McMinnville, and I am curious to see if it is a subtle trend that is occurring across the country. Although Portland is very much a hotbed of the anti-Bush insurgency, here in McMinnville much of the town is very conservative and redneck. We are just on the Red side of the Red State / Blue State divide being this far out of the big city. What dawned on me one day was that all the W bumper stickers have started to disappear from off of the back of the pickup trucks. Even here in McMinnville, you are more likely to see leftover Kerry bumper stickers than anything related to Bush/Cheney. This was not true even a few months ago.As I told him in response:
Have you noticed this too? I am curious if your friends from other parts of the US are seeing a change as well.
Since I live in the People's Republic of Northampton, Bush stickers were never apparent around here. The construction guys and other closet Republicans, back in 2004, made do with flags on the antennae and "Support Our Troops" on the bumpers.
We're both curious. How say you? Please leave a comment.
Check out this story in today's NY Times.
It concerns a ruling by a federal appeals court against the E.P.A. (formerly, the Enviromental Protection Agency, now better referred to as Every Polluter Applauded).
The court disallowed a recent Bush Administration "regulation" that gave power plants and other spewers permission to avoid installing newer emissions controls. The court wrote, "[O]nly in a Humpty-Dumpty world" could anyone interpret the Clean Air Act the way that W and his cronies had.
"We decline such a world view," said the unanimous opinion.
The spin from the energy companies, according to the Times, boils down to support for this regulation because "it would help them expand energy supplies at lower cost to consumers." Given that the regulation was issued in 2003, I can only ask, how's that been working out?
By the way, one of the three judges on the court is Janice Rogers Brown. Yes, that Judge Brown.
You can read the full text of the opinion (PDF format), if you're interested in such things as an eight-page discussion about the definition of the word "any."
So, I'm working away at my desk here when the bulb burns out in the desk lamp. After the headache of staring at the computer in the dark starts to pound, I go out to the kitchen to grab a new bulb.
As I am in the habit of buying whatever light bulbs are on sale, I have a fresh package of a brand that I have not tried before. These are the new "SmartLife" bulbs, from some company that I've never heard of.
I've screwed in one of these "SmartLife" bulbs, and it's been burning for about an hour now. I gotta say, it doesn't seem to be working.
I mean, it's glowing and all, but I don't feel any different.
Who can I sue?
I came across an interesting item while looking for something else on the Scripting News blog.
Apparently, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor gave a somewhat fiery speech at Georgetown University a few days ago, in which she warned of attacks by the (Republican-dominated) Congress on the independent judiciary. She apparently went so far as to use the word "dictatorship," and though she did not mention specific Republicans by name, she quoted some of the heinous statements that they have made lately.
There seems to be some concern in the blogosphere that the speech was not heavily covered by the MSM. NPR's Nina Totenberg did cover it, however, and I am sorry to say that I missed the story when it originally aired.
I suppose one reason that there wasn't so much coverage is that the speech was not recorded on video- or audiotape. Still, it seems an important enough moment to justify the complaints that we haven't heard this story.
There's a nice write-up of the furor over the lack of furor, by Jack Shafer on Slate.com.
And let's hope the entire transcript of O'Connor's speech makes it out into the open, soon. I'm talking to you, Nina. We know you have it.
The always excellent Jonathan Chait had a nice line in the LA Times on 12 March 2006:
When you lack power, the best you can do is prevent bad ideas from being enacted. That's not the same thing as failing to have new ideas.
Okay, making excuses for the minority party is getting to be mighty tiresome these days. But, a nice line, nonetheless.
I subscribe to a couple of Microsoft newsletters, one of them called the Microsoft Security Newsletter. Mostly, the appearance of these newsletters in my Inbox merely reminds me to check for the latest patches from Microsoft, and I delete them after a quick glance.
But once in a while, I read them a little more carefully.
And now I agree with what you're already saying . . . why?
Today's newsletter trumpeted something called "Strider HoneyMonkey" which is a Microsoft Research project to detect and analyze Web sites hosting malicious code.
Click on the link to read more, and you first get a puff piece from some suit in PR about an important new research technology . . . presented this week by Microsoft Research in a technical report and a subsequent presentation during the USENIX Security Symposium.
The bulk of the introductory article is filled with the usual boilerplate: Microsoft considers the security of customers' computers and networks a top priority . . . committed . . . innovation . . . industry partnership . . . investing in new solutions . . . innovative thinking . . .
Okay, no prob. They're in business to make money. Let's just kill this intro and go to the actual technical report.
Clickety-click . . . hmmm. A PDF file? Well, as hard as it is to believe, many companies still aren't clued in about how annoying it is to get PDF files when the equivalent HTML content would be just fine. Never mind, let's just download the bugger (it's too annoying to deal with the Acrobat plugin for browsers).
The tech report downloads just fine, we fire up AcroRead, load the PDF, and see this on the opening page:
First Version: June 4, 2005
Last Updated: July 27, 2005
Yes. 2005. And they're presenting it this week.
The paper itself wasn't completely horrible. Mostly, it was unimpressive, and it lost what little credibility that it might have had with its attempts to hint at the "superiority" of MSN Search over Google.
The real point is this: 2005.
Still breathlessly awaiting
Noah, how long can you tread water?
Have you heard of RFIDs?
RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tags are cheap little computer chips that can be embedded in virtually everything, from clothing to cows' ears, from TV dinners to EZ-Passes. They can be scanned more easily, and from farther away, than bar codes. They can also hold more data.
Big retailers love them, as do livestock managers, way too many government officials, and not a few over-protective pet owners.
Sane people, of course, are in despair about RFIDs, seeing them as yet another invasion of privacy. Worse, RFIDs will soon provide a new means for identity theft, assuming that the gummint's plan to place them in passports is implemented -- it's pretty easy to build a scanner and hang out at the airport.
Not to worry, though. Your FDA (now a wholly-owned subsidiary of James Dobson Enterprises) has only approved one such device for injection into humans.
Hang in there. It gets even worse.
It turns out that RFIDs can be infected with computer viruses, and that these viruses can propogate through databases that are connected to the scanners. And since many databases are connected to still other databases . . . well, you get the picture.
After reading a story in today's NY Times, I Googled Andrew S. Tannenbaum, one of the researchers who exposed this flaw. His web site gives the link to the group's published work on this susceptibility. It is a fascinating and frightening read. (There is also a companion web site that deals with the privacy issues related to RFIDs.)
What to do, with the certain end of civilization looming? Flee these sober sites and start randomly surfing, of course!
Here are a couple of mood-lighteners that I came across:
First, remember that former Bush Administration domestic policy adviser and nominee for the United States Court of Appeals, Claude Allen? The guy who was recently busted for stealing stuff from Target and other stores, and then trying to return it for refunds?
Today's NY Times's editorial page had this to say about the matter:
If the current Congress had been called on to intervene in the case of Mr. Allen, it would probably have tried to legalize shoplifting.
And second, a bumper sticker for the chemist in all of us:
It was the first art opening that I've ever been to where the cheese was not served as little cubes impaled on toothpicks.
It was the first art opening that I've ever been to where they had a playroom set up for the kids.
It was the first art opening that I've ever been to where almost no one wore black.
I have known Justin Kimball for some years now, and he has shown me samples of his work from time to time.
The first thing I ever thought when I saw his photographs was, "How does anyone take pictures that are so in focus?"
The second thing I thought was, "Boy, there sure are a lot of ugly people in this country."
The third thing I thought was, "At least I'm not that fat. (Phew.)"
It has been said that all good art should offer a challenge, and there is no doubt that Justin's work meets that standard.
Justin takes pictures of people who are, most decidedly, not beautiful. These people are captured in natural settings that are, most decidedly, stunning. There is something surreal about the pictures in their crispness and their contrast. The people have bad clothes, worse hair, and big flabby bellies. They are often frowning or slack-jawed, or looking at each other with suspicion. The children in the pictures are marginally more fetching, but they usually aren't cute. To look at them is to remember feeling all knees and elbows, tugging at a sand-filled bathing suit that never quite fit.
At first glance, the people in the pictures look like intruders, as welcome as an oil spill on a beach. I used to wonder if Justin saw H. sapiens as an infestation of Mother Earth.
After I found a few that I liked a little more than the rest, and was able to take a longer look, I became of the opinion that Justin knows, far better than I, how to see the good in ordinary people. It is probably not too much of a stretch to say that he can see the extraordinary.
Like most Americans of the early 21st century, I am used to looking at only a few kinds of photos of people: snaps of friends and family (warm and familiar), glossies of athletes and actors (obvious hotties), and comical shots of puppies and kittens (pure candy).
Every now and then, I'll catch a look at some horrific scenes of war, or natural disaster, or desperate poverty, and of course, I'll feel something. But these photographs, too, are immediately accessible in their own way. I know that I'm looking at something that is supposed to be dramatic.
Mine, I have come to realize from looking at Justin's pictures, is an unschooled and lazy eye. I only have experience looking at the familiar, the immediately attractive, the patently visceral.
It is a bit disturbing to be well into the second half of life, and to suddenly realize: Wow, I sure have a lot to learn.
It is also, curiously, somewhat comforting.
You can see some samples and learn more at JustinKimballPhotography.com.
As nice as Justin's web site is, it's worth making a trip to see his work full-size. Go to the Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photo and Video, at Hampshire College, (Sun-Thur 1-9, Fri and Sat 1-6, through March 31, ph: 413-549-4600), or the Arcadia Coffee Company in Old Greenwich, CT (9am-8pm, through March 17, ph: 203-637-8766).
Justin has just released a monograph of his work, called Where We Find Ourselves. You can buy it from Amazon, and at a couple of bookstores in New England: Jeffery Amherst Bookshop (ph: 413-253-3381), and Just Books, Too (ph: 203-637-0707).
You missed last night's book signing, but there will be another one at the Arcadia Coffee Company, on March 11, at 3:30. If you miss that one, too, and want your copy signed, just get in touch with him through his web site, and I'm sure he'll take care of you.
He's a good guy.
"Extensions" are a touted feature of Mozilla's Firefox web browser. While I admire the philosophy of keeping the main program lean, and adding features as you want them, I have never had occasion to add an extension.
The Flashblock extension to Firefox blocks Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Shockwave, and Macromedia Authorware content from appearing. The overwhelming majority of animated ads these days are Flash or Shockwave things, and blocking these swirly nuisances makes surfing a lot better. Pages load faster and they are more pleasant to read.
Flashblock replaces what would have appeared with a box that borders the area containing the Macromedia content. Inside the box is a "play" button, in case you want to see the content.
Installing Flashblock is a snap. It's only 48 KB in size. You click on the install link and restart Firefox when prompted.
If you have Firefox set to block automatic installation of extensions, as I do, there is a FAQ that gives clear guidance on how to deal with this. It's easy.
After you restart Firefox, you can confirm that Flashblock is installed by clicking Tools > Extensions. The Extensions window also lets you specify selected sites whose Macromedia content should be permitted, via the Options button. And if you change your mind, this same window has buttons to disable or uninstall the Flashblock extension.
Suddenly, reading Yahoo web mail and nytimes.com is much more enjoyable.Links:
Clare says in today's email:
I don't want to give away the last line of "Why We Fight," but it did leap to mind today with the report that the "independent" Republicans have agreed to allow Bush 45 days of unfettered wiretapping. In that time, he can go to the special court to see [about] a warrant, if he feels like it. If he doesn't, he just needs to check in with a special 7-member panel of Congress every 45 days. As if those 7 members could do anything?!
Where's the fucking outrage!?
Why are we handing this nincompoop all these tools?
Very well said, although I think tools is an unfortunate euphemism for additional illegal weapons in the ongoing war against the American people's right to be left alone.
I also think saying nincompoop is vastly more polite than this president merits.
Every time something creepy surfaces about George Bush and his administration's undercover activities, it turns out that it really is just the tip of yet another iceberg.
According to a recent post on tnr.com, The New Republic's web site:
Wow, is it a good thing Alberto Gonzales didn't give sworn testimony when he testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month about President Bush's controversial warrantless surveillance program. Of the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program, the administration will say only that it targets communications between someone in the United States and someone overseas when one party is believed to be a member or affiliate of a terrorist organization. But it defends the program--which flouts the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's requirement of warrants for domestic surveillance--as an inherent presidential power. In his February 6 testimony to the Committee, Gonzales also attempted to mollify critics by pointing out that the allegedly limited program was "all that [Bush] has authorized." That made little sense to several senators and legal analysts, who wondered why Bush would restrict the program to international communications if he was claiming such broad authority.
It turns out that, indeed, he may not have. This week, Gonzales wrote the Committee a letter "clarify[ing]" his earlier testimony. "I did not and could not address ... any other classified intelligence activities," the attorney general wrote. "I was confining my remarks to the Terrorist Surveillance Program as described by the President." Wait--other classified intelligence activities? Bruce Fein, a former Justice Department official in both Democratic and Republican administrations, told The Washington Post, "It seems to me he is conceding that there are other NSA surveillance programs ongoing that the president hasn't told anyone about." If so, that would make a mockery of forthcoming legislative attempts to authorize surveillance on terrorist communications, since Bush might simply go around the law. It wouldn't be the first time. In April 2004, Bush told a Buffalo, New York, audience that "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires--a wiretap requires a court order," when in fact the Terrorist Surveillance Program was at that very moment circumventing court orders. Gonzales needs to go back before the Senate panel--this time, with his hand on a Bible.
-- tnr.com's Notebook, posted 8 Mar 2006
When I read stuff like this, I tell myself, "Hang in there. It's less than eight months till the mid-term elections."
Whereupon the other half of me immediately chimes in, "Assuming that they will, in fact, be held . . ."
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Subscribing to Salon.com is worth it.
Go there now, watch an ad, and get free access to the site (for a while).
No, I get no money from them if you sign up. I just think they have really good writing.
And having sat through my commercial, I offer the following quotes as your reward.
Newt Gingrich is living proof that you can acquire a reputation as a man of ideas merely by insisting with sufficient repetitiveness that you care deeply about ideas. (It helps to occasionally cite some semi-obscure author as a seminal influence. Actually understanding said author is unnecessary.)
-- Jonathan Chait
I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.
-- Bjarne Stroustrup
There are only two things in the world -- nothing and semantics.
-- Werner Erhard
Computers drop in value quicker than anything except milk.
-- Lincoln Spector
More quotes here.