Friday, November 30, 2007

Picture Glitch

(Updated below)

You know how you can usually click on pictures to see bigger ones, here on this blog? That won't work for the moment. Blogger/Blogspot is having a bit of trouble right now -- if you click on the picture, you'll be offered the chance to download the picture (or open it with some other application, depending on how you've got your browser configured). They say they're working on it.

Nothing to worry about -- I'm not trying to stuff malware down your throat or anything. You're welcome to download any picture, of course, as always.

Sorry for the inconvenience. I'll try to note when this problem is resolved.


2007-12-02 11:25

I've used Blogger's workaround on the most recent post with a picture, so you can click on that one to enlarge it. The rest will, for the moment, still cause a download dialog box to appear. Sorry, again, for the inconvenience.

The Sadness of King Chuck

(Updated: workaround for picture glitch)


The original caption's pretty good, too.

Lines of the Day: 2007-11-30

From today's Achenblog, in a post titled "The Politics of Nastiness:"

As for Obama, who was it who came up with that great line about "he has an instinct for the capillary"?

(I think it was Glenn Reynolds.) Not that I wish Obama were meaner, and not that I care for Glenn Reynolds at all, but it's a good line.

Also from Joel:

Kucinich couldn't instill fear in a squirrel.
Romney's as authentic as a Twinkie.
... and Broder, who's seen a candidate or two in his day, described Rudy as having the personal warmth of Voldemort.

As for myself, I woke up this morning thinking we ought to call the Black Helicopter types, who support the doctor from Texas, The Appauled.

Middle East Laughs

No, really.

Apparently told at a Brookings Institution gathering by Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, in the wake of all that didn't happen at Annapolis:

An Israeli and a Palestinian are watching a Western. In the movie, a cowboy is riding bareback on a particularly wild horse. The Israeli, being aggressive, says to the Palestinian, "I'll bet you 10 shekels he falls." The Palestinian, being impulsive, replies immediately, "I'll bet you he doesn't."

The cowboy falls, and the Palestinian forks over 10 shekels. The Israeli, feeling that famous Israeli guilt, refuses them. Then he admits, "I've seen this movie before."

The Palestinian replies, "So have I. But I thought he would learn from his mistake."

(h/t: Andrew)

IDiots Rule

The lede:

The state's director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.

Imagine that. Someone in charge of science education has a bias -- wait, appears to have a bias -- against pseudoscience. The horror!

Former Texan Nick Anthis has a good open letter that I urge you to read, with plenty of useful links. Me, I'm out of gas. The Creationist movement has sapped me of hope for the future of this country.

Found on Fark

Phil Plait [updated link] has a nice post about some wingnut swearing off Starbucks because one cup that she got had printed upon it a thought that offended her "faith."

I'm with Phil on this one:

That's her right, of course, but I wonder out loud that her faith is so shaky that it is disturbed by a paper coffee cup.

Phil finished up by pointing to a Fark thread reacting to this bit of minor hysteria, where I found this delightful image:


Political cartooning via pie charts! How geeky cool is that?

I love the suggestion of the gobbling Pacman, too.

[Update 2011-11-18 00:21] Phil Plait link updated. Realized it was stale when checking links after this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hard to Believe Anyone Would Pony Up The Money to Register This Domain

I am not making this up. There's a web site out there (and I do mean out there) called Save Tucker Carlson.

The alleged proprietors have posted their phone numbers right on the home page, if you'd like to repeat to them what Jon Stewart so memorably said directly to Tucker. (The line I'm thinking about starts at 12:28, or -1:44, as the timer shows here, but it's probably worth watching the whole thing.)

(h/t: TRex)

The Real FemiNazi?

In case you haven't been browsing the rightwing blogs lately, I present the next centerfold of the American Aryan Movement:

The real feminazi

Never mind how drugged-up this probably otherwise nice young woman looks, and how I hope that explains her willingness to pose as seen. Here's my sop for bipartisanship: I think we can all agree that we'd like to see her take her shirt off.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


(Updated: minor wordsmithing)

So, my hard disk drive started making a weird noise this morning.

I do automatic backups daily to an external HDD, and I have written a couple of scripts that create archive files suitable for storage on various web mail accounts that I run whenever I think of it, but I decided to do something that I probably should have done a while ago: sign up for one of the free online backup services. I had looked into them briefly a few months ago, and based on my memory, I decided to give Mozy a try.

I signed up for the free account. I got 2 GB of space, along with a very nice interface program to configure the backup process. Other plans are available if you want more space, or if you're running a business, or if you think you might need some of the other premium options, but the free one seems good for the moment, for my purposes. Once I downloaded, installed, and launched the interface program, I was impressed at the guesses that Mozy made about which files should be backed up and which shouldn't. (The idea is to avoid backing up program files -- these can be reinstalled from CD or re-downloaded. What you care about is the content you've created yourself.) It was easy to tweak the choices to save space. For example, I keep every email message I get because I'm a pack rat, but I don't really need a second backup of every last funny video clip I've ever received. If my HDD and external HDD both fail, you all can send them again, if you like.

I ended up selecting about 1.1 GB worth of files for backup and started the process. It took most of the day for everything to be uploaded. (Home broadband connections, as you probably know, are much faster at downloading than uploading.) From now on, backups won't take anywhere near as long, as Mozy will in the future only back up changes to the files and folders that I've marked. I ran a second backup a couple of hours later to confirm this, and only the expected few files got uploaded. From now on, the claim is, Mozy will run automatically, on a daily basis. The frequency of backups can be adjusted, and you can force a backup whenever you'd like.

During the initial backup process, my (aging) computer was slightly sluggish. You can tweak Mozy to adjust this -- a more responsive computer at the expense of slower backing up -- but I wanted the backup to go as fast as possible, so I left that setting alone. Part of the sluggishness is due to the fact that Mozy encrypts all files before uploading. They also say they never look at your files once they're on their servers. There's no real way to be sure about this. My attitude is that I'm using a Windows machine, so it's inherently insecure, so I don't have anything sensitive on it in the first place. I'm more paranoid about losing my notes, pictures, and email than I am about someone viewing them, so I'm happy to take them at their word.

As far as I can tell, everything is where it should be on their servers. Part of the interface goodness is the addition of a "virtual folder" that lets you see what you've backed up, that you can access through Windows Explorer or whatever else you use to manage your files. (You can also access your backed-up files through the interface program, or by surfing to your Mozy account.) I just tested restoring a single file, and although it wasn't obvious what was going on, the file did get restored. Three times, in fact, by the time I got around to looking to see if the file was actually there. This is a nice feature -- an inadvertent restore won't overwrite a possibly newer file.

I won't go on and on about it. Ask me if you want some more details. The short version is: setting up the account and doing the backup seemed easy. There are only a few tiny rough edges left: the restore process could be made a little more obvious, and some of the informational messages could maybe use some dumbing down. For example, this is what you see for a few seconds when you start backing up (emph. added):

Mozy status window

I recommend you give Mozy a shot, if you don't already have a good backup system in place. And remember, a good backup plan includes off-site storage.

Oh, and by the way, my hard disk drive is no longer making funny noises. The umbrella principle works once again.

Acronym Expanded: Yahoo

The claim is, the name for the exclamatory web site came from one of pages of bookmarked links to the rest of the brand-new World Wide Web, back in April 1994. According to page 2 of PC Advisor's "The 15 most important days in web history:"

Some hobbies take on a life of their own; others change the world. In early 1994, Stanford PhD students Jerry Yang and David Filo posted a list of their favourite sites on the web. The exact date they posted the links is lost to history, but we do know the list's original name: "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web."

By April '94 it had a new tongue-in-cheek name: "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," …

A page on Yahoo's PR site provides verification.

If you win a bar bet with this one, I want a cut.


Check out today's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Almost looks like a planet worth saving, doesn't it?

More skeye-candy in the APOD archives, if you hadn't already figured that out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thoughts About the Kindle

You've heard about the Kindle, right? I kind of want one. (You might remember my past lust for another one of these things.) The Kindle sounds better than the Sony Reader, but at $400, it's just a little too much for me. If I were traveling as much as I used to, maybe. I really like the feature that allows you to download new books (and other content) from any location with cell phone coverage.

Three thoughts, besides wishing it cost a little less:

  • I'd love it if you could "rent" books. Rather than $10 for a permanent copy, how about $1 for a lease of, say, two weeks? Ideally, a future version would work just like a library (read: free loans), but I wouldn't mind paying a buck for the convenience.

  • Can you use this thing on an airplane? That is, can the wireless feature be temporarily disabled, or does it only come on when you try to shop?

  • What's going to happen when someone buys one of these, loads it up with purchased ebooks, and then wants to sell it for more than $400? Sanity would say this should be no different from selling a bookcase and the books upon it. DRM lawyers, however, are not often accused of sanity.

Fun With Google Trends

(Updated: minor wordsmithing)

I'd explain this chart by saying it's all due to the fact that Jesus has less new content.

I do wonder what caused that spike in the red line in late 2005. Any guesses?

For more fun, try this one, and note the breakdowns by region and language.

Bonus question: can you come up with a term for the blue line that will make it appear above the red line? I came up with "bush," which momentarily rises above, but there are too many obvious jokes to be made at this point.

(h/t: Farhad Manjoo)

Thanks, PZ

(Updated below)

If Paul Davies's op-ed in Saturday's NYT irritated you as much as it did me, you might like PZ Myers's rebuttal.


2007-11-26 20:23

Doghouse Riley starts with the same annoyance, but quickly expands his curmudgeonliness. As usual, brilliantly.

When Facts Are Partisan

In a brief piece reporting Trent Lott's planned resignation from the Senate, Adam Nossiter and David M. Herszenhorn saw fit to include this paragraph:

By resigning before the end of the year, Mr. Lott would beat the effective date for new ethics rules that double to two years the amount of time former Senators must wait before they can join a firm to lobby former colleagues. The new rule applies to those who leave office "on or after" Dec. 31.

I'm sure rightwingers who read the NYT just to complain about it will have plenty to say about this, but I think it merited inclusion.

I had a little more trouble with the lede:

Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, who was forced to step down as majority leader in 2002 after making a remark that seemed to support segregation, announced today that he will resign by the end of the year.

This is something important in Lott's career, and deserved mention, but I wouldn't have put it in the first sentence. I would have started with something like "Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, former Majority Leader and current second-ranking Republican, announced …" and reviewed later in the article why he lost the Majority Leader slot.

In defense of Nossiter and Herszenhorn, there was no speculation about the expected massive slump in sales of men's hair spray in the D.C. area.

(photo credit: Alex Brandon/Associated Press, my crop)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Good. The sex scandals were getting a little repetitive.

Dateline: OK!

For many, the resignation of Oral Roberts University's embattled president, Richard Roberts, seemed to be a question of when, not if, amid the financial scandal that hit the school nearly two months ago.

Roberts, facing accusations in the lawsuit that he misspent school funds to support a lavish lifestyle, resigned Friday.


The recent lawsuit, filed Oct. 2, includes allegations of a $39,000 shopping tab at one store for Richard Roberts' wife, Lindsay, a $29,411 Bahamas senior trip on the university jet for one of Roberts' daughters, and a stable of horses for the Roberts children.

The professors also alleged that Richard Roberts required students in a government class to work on 2006 Tulsa mayoral candidate Randi Miller's campaign.

Yes, that's Oral Roberts's kid. No, we are not suprised. Yes, we are amused.

(h/t: Roger Ailes)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Geography Quiz: Reflections

Looking at the comments under the recent geography quiz, I retract the blame I assigned to my mouse. I'm impressed, y'all. And embarrassed.

Continuing in the self-flagellation mode, I guess there's no sense keeping this a secret any longer:

cash advance

I've been telling myself that this result was a compliment to the clarity of my prose, but that's seeming less plausible. Ten years of college, wasted.

In my own defense, Althouse rates at the junior high school level.

(h/t for the scoring link: Crankyprof)

Liberal Smugness at Its Finest

My favorite way to say I told you so, up until five minutes ago, was the old bumper sticker: "Don't Blame Me. I'm From Massachusetts." Here's my new favorite, which Paul Krugman says he has on a T-shirt:

I disapproved before it was fashioable

(click pic to zoom)

I think the plot title is superfluous, so I edited it out, but if you don't recognize the data, it was "George W. Bush: Approval Ratings."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fun Geography Quiz

Play here.

I just missed getting to level 5 on my first attempt, which I blame mostly on my mouse, and not at all on my vast knowledge.

Thanks, Jinnet. (Who claims to have gotten to level 6, but does not deign to say how many tries it took.)


Too long ago, I was tagged by John. Here are my answers.

4 jobs I have had:

  • Caddy
  • Chauffeur
  • Computer Programmer
  • Carpenter

4 movies I love to watch over and over:

  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Jackie Brown
  • Galaxy Quest

4 places I have lived:

  • New York, NY
  • New Milford, CT
  • Narragansett, RI
  • Northampton, MA

4 TV shows I enjoy watching:

  • The Daily Show
  • The Colbert Report
  • The West Wing
  • The NBA

4 places I have been:

  • Chichen Itza
  • Stonehenge
  • Sistene Chapel
  • Joshua Tree National Park

4 Websites I visit daily:

4 favorite foods:

  • A particular Steak au Poivre
  • Tom's salad
  • Robert's pasta
  • Anything made by Maura or Clare or Belinda or Rieke or Nancy or that Nancy or that other Nancy

4 places I’d rather be:

  • In a semi-sleazy bar, arguing politics with Christopher Hitchens
  • In a semi-dusty classroom, listening to Richard Feynman talking about physics
  • In a semi-gloomy dungeon, watching Dick Cheney beg a hooded figure to stop the waterboarding
  • The Moon

Typically, when one is meme-tagged, one is supposed to tag others. I don't like to impose in this fashion, because as much as I like to get tagged, it turns out most other people don't share my enthusiasm. So, if you'd like to consider yourself tagged, please do so. Add a link in the commments, if you like, and I'll update this post to indicate that I tagged you. (Massive incentive: First four only!) This is kind of like preparing documents for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, I think.

Turkey Poll

The new poll is up (over there in the sidebar).

Last poll results: The question was: "Stephen Colbert's plan to run for president in South Carolina is:"

The winner, in a landslide, was: "A perfect commentary on the state of presidential campaigns."

Thanks for voting!

Hate the restrictions of multiple-choice questions? Please feel free to expand upon your vote in the Comments.

Glad To Know ...

... I'm not the only one who makes fun of his previous government-funded job. Here's PK, ruminating on the bad old days, same as the bad new days:

And one of my jobs was to go to international meetings, where I helped draw up communiques. These communiques were, by design, bland and uninformative — because consensus, not insight, was the goal, so anything controversial was fuzzed over.

It was, in short, extremely boring: well-dressed important-looking men sitting around tables, saying nothing.

And reading reports on the latest G20 meeting brings it all back:
G20 finance ministers and central bankers conceded that the extent of the global economic slowdown following this summer’s turmoil in financial markets is difficult to predict.
Profound, isn’t it? Equally exciting:
In their communique, the G20 said recent events have ‘emphasised the need for greater effectiveness of financial supervision and the management of financial risks as well as to increase transparency among financial institutions’.
And grown men spend their time doing this.

His blog is at least as good as his column. I hope he keeps it up once the book-pimping is done with.

Lines of the Day: 2007-11-21

From a good post arguing against Giuliani:

Republican blogs are trying to convince me that Mike Huckabee is surging even though nobody in the country can adequately describe him to a police sketch artist.
-- Eric Berlin

From the referring post:

I don't know how, in a time when the United States desperately needs unity, we wound up with the nation's two most polarizing figures as front runners in a Presidential election.
-- Matthew Baldwin

But really, all you need for today is one word, from Jon Swift: Thankstaking. Read it and weep. With laughter.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can't Anybody Here Write a Simple Memo?

According to Yahoo's version of the AP report, Frances Townsend gave notice earlier today of her plans to resign as Homeland Security Advisor. Part of her resignation letter read:

It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I have decided to take a respite from public service.

I'd be glad to be allowed out of that White House, too, but that's probably not what she meant.

At my old office job, we used to get memos when the latest quarterly reports for the pension plan were available. They always began:

As required by law, I am pleased to notify you that ...

Communications majors, every last one of them, no doubt.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sullivan on Obama

If you're like me, and the bloom has come off the rose a little bit, Andrew Sullivan's article on Barack Obama should help. Even if you're not like me, I encourage you to read it. It's a powerful argument for why Obama is the best choice for president.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Impossible to Take Them Seriously

Kyklops is hosting a video that I think should be the only campaign commercial the Democrats show for the next year.

Sometimes It's Better Not To Use a Logarithmic Axis

Here is a bar chart titled "2007 United States Research and Development Investments in Different Types of Energy Compared to the Cost of the War in Iraq."

You will not believe the amount of scrolling required.

(h/t: Sean)

The Republican Governing Philosophy In a Nutshell

Here's Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, speaking in response to a colleague's request that a vote on a bill be delayed until possible unintended consequences were more fully explored:

We get bound up here all the time on "we don't understand this." Well, there's a lot of things we vote on that we don't understand, but I would rather stand on the principle of "let's go for it."

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

(h/t: Clif)

Further Proof of the Sinister Pelosi Agenda

Via Peter Sagal, here's an excerpt from Katie Mingle's acceptance speech at the Seventh Annual Third Coast International Audio Festival Awards:

When I was a kid, I used to listen to public radio when my parents played it, and I'd think, "That's so gay." Now I'm making stuff for public radio, and, I am gay.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be documentarians.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bridging the Yap

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but the rightwing blogosphere is just outraged, outraged about bridge players using signs. The noise level leads me to believe that the follow-on story will feature a certain New York real estate magnate suing the players for invoking his name during bidding without paying royalties.

Thank goodness there's a reasonable conservative around when you need one. Jon Swift nails it, once again.

Be sure to note the email response posted as an update. Is it possible that no one on the right knows the meaning of the word satire?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Punchline Not Required. Maybe Not Possible.

Just got back from the grocery store. Guess who's on the cover of this month's Ebony?

Cover of Ebony mag 12/2007

Turns out Copernicus was wrong ...

... the Earth apparently orbits the Moon!

Kyklops has a nice video up on his blog: Earthrise and Earthset, as imaged by the high-def camera mounted on JAXA's Kaguya lunar explorer, with a little background music added by some kind YouTuber. Short and sweet.

Kaguya, it seems, is Japanese for Selene. Or maybe, Japanese for Heather Has Two Mommies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Political Unendorsement of the Day: 2007-11-13

The suspension of disbelief required to support Rudy Giuliani for president is not unlike watching a porn film and thinking, "You know, maybe if I deliver pizza to that hot chick down the street when she didn't order any …"

The above is from the Rude Pundit, so you can probably imagine what happens after the ellipsis. I'm not usually a language prude (I'll cop to language scold); I just think the line is funnier as excerpted.

If you don't mind an excess of Anglo-Saxonisms, the whole thing is worth a read. I also liked the way the RP characterized Giuliani's book: "a literary combover."

Conservative Neurology

You've probably gotten this advice a few times during this millenium:

Is this user 'piscivorous'?

I finally decided to take them up on it, and found one, right on the Liberals page of Conservapedia. Click to zoom.

liberal brain

I particularly like the frontal lobe labeled "Smarter Than Thou Tumor." Not too hard to tell what the wingnuts are most worried about, is it?

They hate us because they can't understand our jokes.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Who's This? Answer.

That is a recent picture of Wayne Rogers, best known for playing Trapper John on the TV version of M*A*S*H.

The picture comes from a "where are they now" thing that Joel said he found "weirdly compelling." For me, not so much. But the picture of Rogers was kind of fun.

Congratulations to Don McArthur for getting it right.

Not Really One For The Clippings File

From Manohla Dargis's review of Lions for Lambs:

Mr. Cruise pours on his characteristic intensity and lights up the board with alternating flashes of charm, sincerity, gravity, indignation and outrage. Every mood feels phony, a total put-on …


Maybe not so bad. He is, after all, portraying a U.S. Senator. Here's the rest of that last sentence:

… which works well for a character delivering a self-conscious, constructed performance.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

License to Call

When the "Do Not Call" program started, certain groups were permitted to ignore the restrictions, among them, political advocacy groups.

At the time, this seemed reasonable to me. In fact, it seemed like a good thing. But I now want to propose an additional restriction: automated calls do not qualify for exemption.

I've gotten at least one robo-call every day this week. It would appear that NY Republicans have no other issue to campaign on besides the driver's license nonsense. You want to have a real person call me, fine. But no automated calls.

Who's This?

Place your guesses in the Comments, if you like. If you're sure you know, obfuscate, please. Answers in a few days.

Holy Trinity!

Probably you've seen this. But if not, enjoy. I think the announcers add a lot, which is a uncommon thing these days.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Line of the Day: 2007-11-02

(Updated below)

Doghouse Riley, moved to sentimentalism (not really) over the departure of Karen "Who?" Hughes, looks forward to nostalgia for the Bush Administration's time in office:

... a kitschy, sentimental small-town parade where all the floats are constructed of horseshit, with a couple of local disc jockeys babbling on the PA about how fresh the air seemed that morning.

Read the whole thing.

You might also like the Arab News's take on the resignation. It starts with the headline: "Karen Hughes Resigns After Failing to Improve the US’ Image Abroad," and gets harsher farther down.


2007-11-03 03:23

On The Media has a nice piece on the Hughes resignation, too. Most of it is an interview with Price Floyd, the erstwhile State Department director of media affairs who served under Hughes.

New Poll: Colbert 2008!


The new poll is up (over there in the sidebar).

Results from the last one: Rudy Giuliani won in a landslide for most creepy Republican candidate. "All are equally creepy" finished second, and Mitt Romney bought himself earned a third-place finish.

Thanks for voting!

Photo credit: AP, part of a good LAT article on the campaign

Hate the restrictions of multiple-choice questions? Please feel free to expand upon your vote in the Comments.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

His Royal Cluelessness

Not a day goes by without something else happening that makes you wonder just what the hell George W. Bush was doing for the half-century before he got into the White House.

Here's today's jaw-dropper, the last sentence from a NYT story describing Bush's attempts to rehabilitate the image of his choice for the next Torturer-General:

Dana M. Perino, the press secretary, said aides to Mr. Bush had been discussing ways to make him more accessible to the press, and settled upon the Oval Office idea after Mr. Bush saw a photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower conducting a news conference there.

No word from the press secretary as to whether Bush actually knew who that old bald guy was. I do have my suspicions he was heard to remark, "The colors seem a little faded in that pitcher."

Evidence of Sanity Reawakening

From David Kirkpatrick's piece in last Sunday's NYT mag:

Today the president's support among evangelicals, still among his most loyal constituents, has crumbled. Once close to 90 percent, the president's approval rating among white evangelicals has fallen to a recent low below 45 percent, according to polls by the Pew Research Center. White evangelicals under 30 -- the future of the church -- were once Bush's biggest fans; now they are less supportive than their elders. And the dissatisfaction extends beyond Bush. For the first time in many years, white evangelical identification with the Republican Party has dipped below 50 percent, with the sharpest falloff again among the young, according to John C. Green, a senior fellow at Pew and an expert on religion and politics.

Welcome to the reality-based community, y'all.