In yet another example of hubris and arrogance, our boys have decided that the world needs us more than we need the world.
So lemme see if I got this straight. I post something like "kd has installed the new MT trackback feature on the main Surreally site," and if I tell it to ping, it becomes a reference to that post? I think I'm unclear on the concept here.
This is my (well, the essayist's) last word on the Pledge of Allegiance flap.
Proposed Homeland Security Legislation. Acrobat required. It deserves a close reading. Something else which deserves close reading is the cover story of Fortune magazine for June 24. It offers seven things which should be done to restore honesty to corporate behavior.
Has patent law gone too far? Commentary from the Christian Science Monitor. Many of us would agree that "pop-up" ads have gone too far: now several major publishers have sued one of the perps. But if the pop-ups become waste, there may be hope for them yet: history records many instances where innovation resulted from a garbage problem.
DJIA, NASDAQ, FTSI, Nikkei and DAX all move up on news.
If anyone wants to read the unfiltered 9th Circuit Court's Pledge of Allegiance opinion, look for "Newdow v. U.S. Congress" dated 6/26/2002. You'll need Acrobat. I'm a little surprised that it took 48 years for somebody to take the issue to court; I don't think it's worth all the angry rhetoric we will soon hear, and I shudder to think how many trees will be cut to get the paper necessary to print all the unbridled commentary that is forthcoming. As a practical matter, if this decision holds, imagine all the currency which will have to be pulled and re-engraved. Don't think it's gonna happen.
Now here's an idea whose time may have come: in the grand tradition of F*cked Company and F*cked Weblogs, somebody is collecting old dot.com business plans and other detritus from the bubble.
There are several good links at Corante's policy pages today, including one pointing to a site which lets you see if your credit card number is being used by crooks. One would think you could check your statement to determine the same thing, but what do I know?
Emblazon your name throughout space for years to come: your name here!
"The FBI is visiting libraries nationwide and checking the reading records of people it suspects of having ties to terrorists or plotting an attack, library officials say. The USA Patriot Act that President Bush signed in October both authorizes such searches and makes it a criminal offense for librarians to reveal the details or extent of the probes." (Thanks to Skarlet, who posted this charming piece of news in a comment to this post at Matt's place. The italics are mine). Does this remind anyone else of Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451?
This action thoroughly tramples the spirit, if not the letter, of the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Of 535 members of the House and Senate, 217 are lawyers, according to C-Span. One would think at least some of that number would remember their Constitutional Law courses.
Are the anti-virus companies actually falsely identifying threats? E-commerce Times weighs in following the JPEG claim last week. Stop using ISP-provided e-mail addresses? How? Well. . . Here's some further discussion about ICANN's upcoming meeting agenda; there's apparently a push by European, South African and US politicians to try to control it.
Speaking of politicians, if you can believe the Washington Times, the proposed legislation to create the new Homeland Security cabinet department specifically denies whistleblower protection to the department's employees. The Administration just can't stand the thought of another Colleen Rowley or a Phoenix memo, it appears.
In his comment on Sunday, Scott pointed me towards a list of cd's; not to be outdone, I created one of my own. It's over there on the right under Books & Music; the music page follows the initial page you see, so scroll down to the right hand corner and click the Music link. (Scott's is much more lengthy and impressive; it's also prettier.)
Creating a table of 32 cd's is one thing; creating a spreadsheet of my approximately 300 vinyl LP collection is quite another!
Is this the wave of the future for e-commerce fans? E-bay plans to offer a group health plan to those of its sellers who gross more than $1,000/month. In perhaps equally far-reaching news, Verisign is giving up control of the dot.org domain, and there are a slew of bidders. Access to websites for the blind and deaf is the subject of this commentary by a British computer consultant. Oh, and is Wimbledon wired? You bet!
It's music day! No, I don't know why. I'm showing my age, here, but so what. Have a few websites for artists I like.* First, Bonnie Raitt, who proved 30 years ago that women could play the blues as well as sing them. This is the new "under construction" site, but it's got links to the old one. Discography, links to music and cause sites; good stuff. Crosby Stills Nash & Young; official site which needs a lot of work. Hardly comprehensive. Neil Young. A work in progress; mostly promoting his new album. However, he's got an EZ-board community. Joni Mitchell. This is a very comprehensive site, including discography, writings, a discussion forum, links to sites of interest (musicians and otherwise), and selected art. James Taylor. Official site. Discography, bio, message board. Carole King. Official site. Under construction, but getting there. Message board, news, new album clips, discography and timeline (still to come). Jackson Browne. News, discography, tour info, and a flavor of his activism through reproduced letters and columns with which he obviously agrees. Finally (and why does this not surprise me?), by far the most comprehensive and amusing site of all: Arlo Guthrie. If you don't look at any other of these sites, look at Arlo's; he's got all manner of material up. News, lyrics/tablature for music, message boards, photos...sheesh! Enjoy!
*These site links were all good 10 days ago; presumably they still are.
I've said it before: I am way behind in reading my copies of The Atlantic. Today I picked up the January issue while eating lunch, and found a whole group of thought-provoking essays in the Agenda section; all of them are online and free (in fact, the only thing not free online is a half-page reminiscence by Richard Rubin. I've read it in hard copy; you won't miss it). I recommend them. In fact, the issue is almost entirely devoted to the "War on Terrorism" and "Homeland Security." Go graze the link; Michael Kelly has some thoughts on a possible resurgence of small-l liberalism, by which he means a belief that government can accomplish things. Jonathan Rauch wonders how the far left seemed to come around to the same view as the radical mullahs in the days immediately following September 11. David Brooks puts forth an interesting idea about the character-building aspects of suburban American life as distinct from the "horny-handed son of the land" ideal. There's an essay by Bernard Lewis, the author of What Went Wrong, a monumental book which attempts to explain why Muslim civilizations have not modernized with most of the Western world, despite a head start in the Middle Ages.
Inside: Grey Bear successors, NPR, and a Polish legend
Can this be a successor in fame to the Peruvian Grey Bear? (If the bears have no resonance for you, go ask Jon). More frivolity: cartoonists with blogs (toonblogs? blogcars?). London's Financial Times weighs in on blogs; hasn't everyone else?
NPR's ombudsman tries to explain its "no-link without permission policy." Wired has several interesting stories today; this one intrigues me because Watergate has always struck me as a completely unnecessary burglary. Nixon was well on his way to a landslide victory over McGovern, so what the hell did those guys want at DNC HQ? They also interview Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland and leader of Solidarity. Apparently he drops in to political chatrooms occasionally.
This is a cute picture of Tigger, and she’s a wonderful dog, but boy has she caused some trouble in her time. A few years back she managed to cut her ear on a sharp piece of chain-link fence at the bottom of our yard, and that resulted in $25,000 worth of surgery, 10 weeks of life in a plaster cast, and 3 agonizing weeks of physical therapy. Not for her, mind you; for me.
From the driveway, one enters our house into a playroom (originally planned as the carport, but the house was one of the models, so the space was turned into a sales office). The next room is the family room, where the principal amount of living is done. There was a sliding glass door between the family room and the kitchen, rarely if ever shut. On this night, however, we had called the vet because the dog was bleeding from the cut ear, and, since she recognized his van, we’d shut the door to give her only two rooms in which to hide. All well and good, but. . .the ear was hurting her, and she began to shake her head violently, spraying blood all over the carpet as she did so. Not wanting to have a permanently bloodstained carpet, I went out to the kitchen for a damp paper towel. I did so at full speed.
I hit the (closed) glass door with my forehead (I later discovered a huge scratch across one lens of my glasses; I can only imagine what might have happened to my eye had I not been wearing them). The glass in this door was not the newer safety glass; this was the old plate style. It did not shatter into thousands of little shards, as the newer stuff reputedly does. It broke into several large pieces, one of which came down from above directly onto my right leg just below the knee. It completely severed my patellar tendon.
I fell down across the door jamb in a pile of glass and a pool of blood. Just at that moment, the vet arrived, and this is where it started to become funny. Here’s the poor animal doctor arriving on an emergency house call at 9:00 pm, expecting to find a dog with a cut ear, and instead he sees a human lying half-in and half-out of a doorway in obvious distress. He took one look and asked me where he could find a belt to be used as a tourniquet. When I’d directed him towards the back room to get one, he came back, tied off my leg, and then picked up the telephone to call 911. He got through to the EMS people, but then had to ask me for the street address of the house and the other pertinent details so the ambulance would know where to come. Apparently I was pretty lucid; they got to the house in a hurry. As they put me on the gurney I started yelling to find my wallet with the insurance card; evidently the horror stories about "no treatment without insurance" had stayed with me.
Fortunately for me, the nearest emergency room was (and still is) right at the bottom of our hill, so it took very little time for me to arrive there. While that was going on, my mother called my sister and brother-in-law, who lived only one hill over from us. My sister then drove my mother to the hospital, while my poor brother-in-law got the lovely chore of having to pick up the glass and mop up the blood, all the while calming my two very young nieces, who had come with him to our house.
Surgery was obviously needed to repair my tendon, but I’d had about a six-pack of beer prior to all this, and the hospital people felt that the combination of anesthesia and the beer would not be a good idea; thus I was "stabilized" overnight. The surgery was performed the following day; they put a long wire into the kneecap and re-hooked the tendon into the wire, put me into a flexible leg brace, and sent me home.
Unfortunately, neither the doctor nor I realized that my habit of sitting on a straight-backed chair in the evenings was not the best idea for someone whose leg didn’t bend. At some point during that evening, I slipped off the chair and re-separated the tendon. There was no pain, and I didn’t realize I’d reinjured it, so I just got back into the chair and thought nothing of it. However, the following morning there was plenty of evidence that it had been hurt again, so off I went to the hospital for yet another round of exactly the same surgery that had been performed the day before. This time the doctor didn’t trust me; he put me into an ankle-to-hip cast, which I kept on for the next 10 weeks. (The dog was luckier; she had some stitches in her ear and was home the next day).
The first shower one takes after a cast is removed is unquestionably the best shower/bath of one’s lifetime; even the pain of riding an exercise bicycle to recover range of motion in the knee was tolerable, knowing that a shower afterwards was imminent.
The knee is still stiff, and the wire broke into at least four pieces (I’ve seen them on X-rays), but I have full motion. I was never much of a threat in the 40-yard dash anyway. All of this because of that cute dog’s cut ear!
Requiescat in pace, Jack Buck. If you're not a sports fan, you may not recognize the name; if you are a sports fan, you know.
The Nigerian scam is broadening its reach, in case you hadn't noticed. Now it might be drug money found in Afghanistan by a U.S. Special Forces soldier.
Here's an interesting story about software and its myriad failings; I admit I've written many programs using the "code and fix" technique described in the article. Speaking of software, Wal-Mart is rolling out cut-rate Microtel PC's equipped with a Linux-based OS; that should be interesting, perhaps particularly for the first customers.
Stay tuned for a hilariously gory story, maybe tomorrow. (Or should that be gorily hilarious?) You decide. Tomorrow or the next day.
Apparently my host's servers got hacked over the weekend, and that crashed my site and a whole slew of other folks' sites as well. Every customer who had signed up within the last month has had to recreate his/her site and reload his/her data. Fortunately for me, I had backups of all my web pages, and I make these entries in Notepad and then cut/paste into MT, so I had it relatively easy.
Anyone looking for new blogs? Try some of the links here. Blogs from Iran, no less.
Yesterday's mail brought one of those lovely items which starts out:
"You are hereby summoned by the FIRST CIRCUIT COURT, State of Hawaii to appear for JURY SERVICE."
This is not the first time. It's a different court this time (hey, maybe parking is better than the other time!), but still....twice in ten years?
On the bright side, I took the beastie in to have her stitches removed this morning. She's getting much better about hopping into cars without prodding.
Write your name in Mayan glyphs. Lifted from Becky. More oddities: I'd like to have been here! And, in keeping with Jen's fun in Boston, if you're in/near Philly, check this out. Digital son et lumière in Independence Historical National Park.
If anyone thinks I'm paranoid about Ashcroft and DOJ, please go read this and its related articles. The FBI destroyed a lot of careers in its time. The famous quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" has become a cliché, but there's a reason phrases become clichés; they've borne fruit time and again.
Aha! Here's a follow-up to yesterday's story about GOP activist's targeting Democratic lobbyists. And a follow-up to the password search story from Norway, too. If you're in the market for a new PC, wait a month or so; instant rebates may be on the way.
A call for action on the part of web designers: make your site easily convertible by text-to-speech software.
After reading Batty's description of prowling about the Smithsonian this week, and Jen's description of wandering about the MFA last weekend, I am reminded of a long-ago summer I spent in museums. I think it was after my sophomore year in high school; the family lived just ten miles outside Washington D.C. Every Saturday morning that summer I caught a bus from the suburbs and visited one of the Smithsonian's galleries, or one of the capital's many other cultural venues.
I hiked up and down the Washington Monument (all 565 feet of it), I went to the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, I even went into the Corcoran and Freer. I saw samples of taxidermy at the Museum of Natural History; I was bemused by the size of the then-new Air and Space Museum (the building, let alone the contents); and I saw copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Ever since then, I have been enamored of museums. I've waited in line at the Louvre; I've worn my feet down to the ankles walking around the British and the V&A; I've been known to stop in places like Fort Sumner, NM to see the Billy the Kid museum (the web site says it's open seven days a week; well, not in 1992. The place was closed on Mondays when I went by). I've seen museums in Astoria, Honolulu, Vienna, Los Angeles and Phoenix; in Massachusetts, Munich, Edinburgh and Maui. I've visited maritime museums, military museums, and transport museums; I've seen modern art and 17th century art. I've marveled at marble and stared slack-jawed at sculpture; goggled at cubists and been awed by impressionists.
I wonder if there's a need for museum reviewers?
We've all heard of GIGO, right? Garbage in, garbage out? Apparently the FBI goes a step beyond that; good data in, no data out without looking in a dozen dumpsters. Speaking of computers, here's some pictures of the first one I ever worked on/with. Schism in 2002! "Warblogs" vs. other blogs? Methinks the NYT is making much of very little, or, as Gertrude Stein said, "There is no there there."
Many questionable (in my mind, anyway) behaviors can be found on both sides of the political divide in Washington. That being said, this one seems entirely beyond the pale. Apparently the Republican party faithful, led by Grover Nyquist (he who espouses, among other things, naming at least one public building in every county in America after Ronald Reagan), are compiling lists of lobbyists and their party affiliations with an eye toward pressuring trade associations into firing Democratic employees and replacing them with Republicans. Did I mention McCarthyism a few days ago? If it looks like a blacklist, smells like a blacklist. . .
On a lighter note, if you like political satire, go read Mr. Kurtz today; he's not aiming at anyone in particular, just the thought of consolidating all those departments in general.
Mail header decoding techniques can be found here. More 'Net news: the Mozilla browser is now available in a non-Beta version at Mozilla's website. More digital news: want to try your hand at legal password cracking? Go here. Here's a nice overview of the coming digital copying battle between content providers and tech manufacturers.
Howard Kurtz quotes a Salon column (regrettably, premium content) taking on the sudden enthusiasm for restricting civil liberties. This issue was addressed by the ACLU in a letter quoted at surreally yesterday. In another example of the Feds behaving less than responsibly, the Aussies are now following our lead in rejecting the Kyoto deal.
Here's a nice graphic showing what this consolidation of agencies into the new Cabinet department would look like, with numbers of dollars and employees. Quoting Howard Kurtz in the Post, "One roadblock, of course, is that all of this must be approved by Congress. And guess what? There are 88 Hill panels that have jurisdiction." Can anyone say "turf warfare?" Oh, and the hot gossip story out of DC appears to be an upcoming Esquire interview with Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff (excerpted here).
Oh, boy. Tomorrow a.m. I will be taking Tigger to the vet for surgery. Besides the already-described trauma of the car ride, she has to fast from 9:00pm tonight forward. This, mind you, is a dog whose 6:30am modus operandi is to lick whatever part of my body happens to be hanging off the side of the bed, arm, leg, toe, or whatever in order to get her breakfast.
"I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," Mr. Bush says, regarding yesterday's report that human activity is indeed having an impact on global warming. Hmm...is that an implication that the "faceless bureaucrats" are off the reservation? Speaking of spin, Howard Kurtz cites a new article positively lambasting Ari Fleischer for this (perceived) tendency: "Rather than tell a little fib...he often tells a big one." My goodness!
I'm not worried, necessarily, but the possible havoc inherent in the road trip broached here might give one pause. Imagine a pink Caddy (scroll down) transporting Faith, Batty, Skarlet, at least one more lady, and Boris. All of them meeting in Vegas for BlogCon, then being joined by kd for the drive to San Diego. Truly an awesome idea, I'd say (though fraught with potential madness, mayhap?).
Note to readers: do not take this idea as gospel or a fait accompli.
It's OK to caress that old Underwood, Royal, or IBM Selectric, really. Honest, it is. You are not alone. However, your computer-processed blog may soon have an opportunity to earn you some cash; I speak of (gasp) advertising! Bleah.
"If an alien answers. . ." What happens if SETI works? Given I have 3,583 computer hours put into the project, I'd like to know. Oh, when I signed up, they asked for my e-mail address, "in case ET calls on your shift."
Tigger the dog is doing well; she shows no symptoms of anything other than her usual terminal bounciness, and she thanks you all for asking. She's scheduled for surgery Thursday. The vet (he makes house calls, but obviously not for operations) suggested we could save a few bucks (read, $85 or so) by driving her to his office ourselves, and we agreed. However, the dog has only been in a moving vehicle once since she arrived in this house Christmas Day, 1992, and that round-trip was in the vet's van to fix a cut ear (on the same day I had the patellar tendon of my right knee sliced open, but that's another story). That being the case, yesterday I thought I'd give her a ride to acclimatize to the car (you know, like travel agents get familiarization trips?). I figured we'd just go up the hill and back down, maybe a half-mile total. I had to push her into the car; she had no desire to get in (note: find aerosolized milk-bone scent before Thursday), and even less desire to stay in. However, finally Tigger is ensconced in the back seat, and into reverse I go. Within two minutes she has squirmed her way into the front seat; fine, I think, that's normal. But then! Does she stick her nose out the open window to breathe and smell all the lovely fragrances in the air (we're 1000 feet above sea level)? Nope. Instead she curls up on the passenger-side floor of the car, and huddles there for the remainder of the trip, trembling. So I pull back into the driveway about ten minutes later, feeling awfully guilty at my mistreatment of a faithful friend. It took her about 15 minutes to calm down and forgive me.
Now, on the one hand, if she wants to huddle next to the firewall for the entire 12-mile trip to the vet's place, that means no distractions for me, the driver. But by the time we get there, I may be carrying such a load of guilt I'll need to be treated myself. I think I'll try her in the car again a couple of times before Thursday, in hopes she'll relax. Anyone have similar experiences?
US personnel and civilians are urged to leave India; they were urged to leave Pakistan back in December. Randomly, I always wonder what happens to the self-esteem of government employees who are deemed "non-essential" for evacuation purposes, be it natural disaster or threat of war. Does one look to his future employment hole card?