Given the latest IE security glitch, which other browser for Windows has the best features? If I switch, what should I switch to? (If you say Mozilla, remind me to go back to this article for a useful tip about loading Java).
If you're just used to IE, btw, here's a nifty tool which allows you to determine what browser "helpers" are currently on your machine.
Digging deeper for help in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is recalling to active duty about 5,600 people who recently left the service and still have a reserve obligation.
What was that guy's name again? Shinseki? Whatever happened to him? Oh, that's right: he disagreed with Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld.
Welcome to the Middle Ages: the FDA this week granted approval to a French firm for the use of leeches to draw blood.
If you remember your Harry Potter, one of the suspicious things about Scabbers the rat was that he'd lived for twelve years, while normal rat life cycles are about three years. So what does one make of Yoda the mouse? He's now over four and has buried two of his life companions. Poor guy.
Having gotten all that card installation done, I was enthused. I went down to Verizon again and signed on the dotted line for DSL service (it's a good deal now, too...$29.95/month for life). Then came the bad news: the DSL modem has to be shipped to me, and service won't start till July 6. It's irrational to be annoyed about a delay in getting something I could have had months ago, but irrational I am. Pfui.
Oh, is anyone reading this in Mozilla? I got an e-mail from Scott as follows:
It seems there's a CSS problem with your blog. The right sidebar div overlaps the content div if the browser window isn't sized properly. I'm attaching a screenshot from Safari (Apple's browser). It does the same thing in Mozilla Firefox and Omniweb.
Here's the screenshot:
Anyone else see the overlap?
I managed to get my CD drive re-installed, so it can now be read. I had to puzzle for a while as to how to cable a slave CD drive onto a secondary IDE drive, but I figured it out eventually. I plugged a PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter (D-Link DFE-530TX+) into an empty slot (after loading drivers from the CD, per instructions). I could see it in the control panel, but when I tried to load the drivers, it couldn't find the right files, and suggested a Win98 CD (something I haven't got). After much frustration and considerable use of the "Find" function, I was able to locate the missing files (in two different folders on the hard drive, and on the CD disc). So now Monday I can go down to acquire the Verizon modem and sign up for the service, and then we'll see
how if this works.
Oh, and at the moment (maybe because I pushed at it a little while I was mucking around inside the box) the sound card works. I don't have an audio cable from the CD drive to the sound card, for reasons I can't explain, but that's probably easily gotten.
Here we go again. The Administration says no scientist on its payroll can talk to the World Health Organization without getting a political appointee's approval first.
"Except under very limited circumstances, U.S. government experts do not and cannot participate in WHO consultations in their individual capacity," Steiger wrote. [Steiger is an assistant to HHS Director Thompson and the godson of G.H.W.B.] Civil service and other regulations "require HHS experts to serve as representatives of the U.S. government at all times and advocate U.S. government policies."
And to hell with honest scientific inquiry and freedom of discussion with your peers.
Forget all the partisan blathering about Fahrenheit 911. Just read Frank Rich's review from a month ago.
Also, if you thought the best poker game you'd ever heard of was on "The World Series of Poker" or maybe "Cincinnati Kid," try this one, with Dick Cheney as one of the players.
From one of today's e-mail scam letters: "Forgive my indignation if this message comes to you as a surprise and if it might offend you without your prior consent."
Right. I'll forgive your indignation if you'll forgive mine.
Taking Christina's advice (see comments below), I went out and picked up an Ethernet card ($14). I forgot to pick up a can of compressed air, though, so I stopped at a different store to get one on the way back from another errand. I decided to forego the purchase when I saw that the only ones available were 10-oz cans from a company which shall rename nameless (you'd know it if you heard it, though: "Is it live, or...") It wasn't the volume that I thought was over-the-top, it was the price. $9.95 for a can of air? You gotta be kidding me! I'll get the house brand from Office Depot, thanks.
I'm feeling put-upon. As if these other issues weren't enough, my sound card seems to have lost its drivers somewhere, too. I found a site called Driver Guide which seems to offer compatible drivers, but it helps to know the model and serial number of your card. Pfui.
Update: I've found the drivers on the hard drive, so why would they not work? Is the card dead, I wonder? I noticed that a comparable sound card sells for $19 at the neighborhood Office Depot; I suppose if I'm digging around inside the machine anyway, I could spring for a new audio card too. Damn. You'd think I'd stolen rocks from Kilauea or something.
I walked into Verizon's sales office this afternoon to inquire about DSL service. I had enough presence of mind to ask how you get the DSL modem hooked up to the computer, and learned that the box needs either an Ethernet card or a USB port. Wonderful. I have neither. So now I'm faced with taking the box apart to install a $24 Ethernet card (and reinstall the CD-ROM drive), or buying a new machine which has that stuff already installed (and has a larger hard drive capacity and a newer OS than the Win98 I'm currently using). I'm leaning towards the new machine to solve those other two problems, but my budget is saying if you can avoid that, maybe you should. Rats.
In bookish news, I got to the library to pick up my reserved copy of The Price of Loyalty, Paul O'Neill's memoir of his life as Treasury Secretary in the Bush Administration. Even having watched the misbegotten policies he describes as they played out, reading this (I'm 2/3 through already) is like being an observer at a particularly nasty car crash and its aftermath.
I also stopped at the neighborhood Waldenbooks and got a copy of the Clinton autobiography, but Mom snagged it first, so my report will have to wait (maybe quite a while--957 pages!). There was no line, but sales seemed to be steady. Oh, if you want some amusement and some confirmation that the man is either loved or hated, go read the reviews at Amazon.
Here's the Library Journal's Most Borrowed list:
Fiction top five:
Non-fiction top five:
Here's the NYT Bestsellers list:
Fiction top five:
Non-fiction top five:
I don't have a point here; it just seems interesting. A spokesperson from Library Journal was on NPR's Talk of the Nation today and suggested it might be that their list was what people were actually reading as distinct from what people were buying.
Once again, the Bush Administration is pandering to its conservative base in an election year by attempting to destroy the UN Population Fund. Not content with withholding funding as it has the past two years, now it's attempting to isolate the organization by telling other UN funds like UNICEF that the United States may not support them because their funds "could" be commingled with UNFPA.
Pressed by opponents of abortion, the administration withdrew its support from a major international conference on health issues this month and has privately warned other groups, like Unicef, that address health issues that their financing could be jeopardized if they insist on working with the agency, the United Nations Population Fund.
What seems to be needed here is another Joseph Welch, who famously asked Senator McCarthy at the Army hearings in 1954 (50 years ago last week): "Until this moment, senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or recklessness....Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
The idiocy of the Administration's policy seems apparent: by refusing funding, more women in the developing world will have no access to family planning instruction, including contraception and abstinence, thus inadvertently creating an atmosphere where more abortions are likely, not fewer.
The women of the world deserve better.
Happiness is your guys beating the Yankees in the rubber match of a three-game series, thus taking two of three from the ancient rival.
I was too young to remember the World Series disappointments of the early 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers, but not too young to relish the 1963 sweep of the Yanks, nor to snarl in anger at the losses in 1977 and 1978 (Damn that Reggie Jackson!). Retribution came in 1981, when the Dodgers beat 'em in six games.
It's hard to believe that the two teams haven't met in a meaningful game in 23 years; what on earth were the schedulers thinking when they left this one off the charts for the 13 years or so the interleague games have been in place?
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought this should have been done sooner; over 165,000 people filled the seats at Dodger Stadium this weekend, and they were treated to some great baseball.
It would be a wonderful thing if there were a rematch in October.
In a fit of annoyance with finger oil on this monitor, I just used some Windex on it. It's amazing how much everyone's spelling and grammar has improved.
There are potential spoilers ahead, so avert your eyes if you haven't yet seen the movie.
I just saw Prisoner of Azkaban, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I understand the difficulties of cutting a book that size down to a two-hour film, but there sure was a lot left out. I thought there needed to be more explanation of Sirius' sudden turnaround from the Ministry's Most Wanted to long-lost friend and godfather, as well as his escape from the prison and his Animagus properties. I dunno, maybe that's just me.
Did anyone else see the gag at the beginning of the film, when Harry gets off the Knight Bus (I seriously want a bus like that, by the way) and enters the Leaky Caldron? He walks past a crone, hag, or whatever who's sitting at a table reading a book. What's the book? Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Given the premise of the ending, I thought that was hilarious.
I have some gratuitous advice for you, President Bush. I doubt you'll listen, but really, I have your best interests in mind. If you hope to be re-elected:
We hear the phrase "Potemkin village" thrown about a lot. Here's the derivation: "A Potemkin village is so called after Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, who had elaborate fake villages built in order to impress Catherine the Great on her tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea in the 18th century."
If these were my results, I'd be damned embarrassed.
Banned biological and chemical weapons: none yet found. Percentage of Iraqis who view American-led forces as liberators: 2, according to a poll commissioned last month by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Number of possible Al Qaeda associates known to have been in Iraq in recent years: one, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose links to the terrorist group and Mr. Hussein's government remain sketchy.
One devoutly hopes the rest of the electorate will feel as angry as I do about this. The Administration's credibility should be at or near zero, if measured only by its false claims about Iraq and its ineptitude in planning for the postwar period for that country.
As for Iraq, the commission's staff said its investigation showed that the government of Mr. Hussein had rebuffed or ignored requests from Qaeda leaders for help in the 1990's, a conclusion that directly contradicts a series of public statements President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made before and after last year's invasion of Iraq in justifying the war.
As the NYT says in its lead editorial today:
Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world.
To which I'll add, he doesn't deserve to be in office either way.
I'm late to the party, but in case you haven't run across this in your blog ramblings, Six Apart has updated its pricing structure after much study of all the feedback it received the first time it announced it.
- There are now no limits on the number of weblogs you can create with a paid license of Movable Type. The free license remains limited.
- All paid options include support directly from us, through our online ticket system.
- Our licenses are perpetual, meaning there are no annual subscription fees. Larger commercial licenses require a 20% maintenance fee after the first year if continued support is desired.
- Paid licenses will include free updates and bug fixes. For example: 3.x release are free to any 3.x licensee. Paid licenses are also eligible for discounts on major upgrades to the software, so 3.x paid licensees will receive a discount on 4.x versions of Movable Type.
- All of the pricing mentioned below is the standard price, so the numbers published on our site are no longer introductory pricing.
- In the next couple of months we are planning a general release of Movable Type 3.x with compelling new features, which will be a free update for Developer Edition users.
That's just part of it; your mileage will vary, so go read the announcement carefully.
So you think you're literate, huh? Go take this LOTR pastiche recognition quiz and find humility.
This is why one should always check the bargain bin at even the chain bookstores: I managed to get Halberstam's War in a Time of Peace for a measly $4.99 at my neighborhood Waldenbooks (soon to be a Borders Express, apparently). Similarly, I found Bechloss's The Conquerors there for only $5.99.
If you're interested in second-hand CDs, videos or DVDs, you should try Second Spin. It's an online version of a used bookstore; you can sell ones you no longer want to them, and they'll turn around and sell them to those who do.
Update: Josh at Talking Points Memo has followed up on his early discussion; he's found an earlier article from the WaPo which is even more blatant. Check out the remarks he found in that article.
How's the old outrage meter? Pegged? Try this:
During his June 4 visit, Bush asked the Vatican to push the American Catholic bishops to be more aggressive politically on family and life issues, especially a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
A Vatican official told NCR [National Catholic Reporter] June 9 that in his meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano and other Vatican officials, Bush said, “Not all the American bishops are with me” on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism.
Other sources in the meeting said that while they could not recall the president’s exact words, he did pledge aggressive efforts on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican’s help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken.
According to sources, Sodano did not respond to the request.
Sources say Bush made the remark after Sodano thanked him for his stand on the issues of family and life. They also said that while Bush was focusing primarily on the marriage question, he also had in mind other concerns such as abortion and stem cell research.
That's from the Vatican correspondent in the June 11 issue.
By comparison, here's a speech given by JFK in 1960:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
I don't know about you, but the idea of asking the Pope to recruit campaign help from American bishops is so far out of line with the intent of the Constitution that I'm hard pressed to believe it. In 1960 JFK had to assert to a skeptical American public that he would take no orders from Rome; in 2004 we have GWB asking for Rome's help. (Story first seen at Scott's place).
What movie have you seen repeatedly? How often? In my case, it's probably It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, six times (I think). Here's a convenient link (hey, we aim to please!) to the Internet Movie Database for you to find that one you never tire of.
What I remember about "World" is the number of sight gags; from Durante "kicking the bucket" at the beginning of the film to the two black taxi drivers flying off the fire truck ladder and landing in Abraham Lincoln's lap at the end, I had to see it a number of times to learn what I'd missed in the previous viewings.
So how 'bout it?
Somehow I suspect that guiltily, in the back of their minds, the city fathers of Simi Valley are watching the burial of Ronald Reagan and thinking, "Thank God we won't have to be remembered for the Rodney King trial any longer."
I just started reading Soul Made Flesh, a book about the discovery of the brain written by Carl Zimmer. It starts you off with ancient Greeks suffering a distinct disadvantage; for cultural reasons they wouldn't dissect humans, so there were all sorts of misconceptions about what the brain looked like. Zimmer cites an example: a doctor in the 1500s discovered that over 200 of the anatomical descriptions laid out by one of those Greek docs were actually based on animal organs rather than those of humans. It's an interesting study, and it has a wonderful cast of characters, from Aristotle through Descartes and beyond.
Elsewhere on the intelligence front, meet Rico. Rico is a border collie, and his ability to grasp new words is borderline human.
The researchers decided to test whether Rico's ability was based on understanding and if he could learn and remember new words. They placed a new toy among his favourites and asked Rico to fetch it, using the unfamiliar name. The dog nearly always did.Read that story; the statistics boggle the (human) mind. In one experiment, he was asked to fetch two toys from a different room twenty different times; he got the right ones in 37 out of 40 attempts. That might be better than I'd do, given my attention span.
Memo to: Hawai'i State Tax Collector
Re: Cash Management
On April 19, 2004 I sent you form N-11 along with a check for the amount of state income tax due as recorded on that form. I assume you received it within a week. Why, then, did it take your department until June 8, 2004 to deposit said check?
The State has been telling its citizens ad nauseam how poor it is; may I suggest that if you instituted better cash management practices the State might in fact have a smaller problem? Here are some recommendations:
That last item is the key; if you do that, you will undoubtedly increase the flow of cash into State coffers on a timely basis.
Linkmeister the Taxpayer
I like ceremony as much as the next guy, but I think the media has gone a little overboard. I've concluded that the only way to get images and remembrances of President Reagan off our news programs is with something like this:
Copy boy (bursting onto studio set): Stop! We have Breaking News!
Anchorman: But we have a new retrospective on President Reagan scheduled, and for this one we got exclusive access to the shoeshine guy who polished them on the set of Hellcats of the Navy! We can't stop now!
Copy boy: I don't care! This can't wait! A train, a train...(trails off breathlessly)
Anchorman: A train? What the hell's with a train?
Copy boy: It's derailed in Iowa somewhere, and it had a cargo of seeds on board! It's a mile long, and the whole cargo spilled onto the ground!
Anchorman: Seed? Who the hell cares about seed?
Copy boy: You don't understand! All that seed is bio-engineered stuff from Monsanto! If it spreads across the state, it'll germinate! Then all of Iowa will have to be quarantined to keep the entire corn crop isolated, and it can't be done!
Anchorman: You mean...?
Copy boy: That's right! There's no National Guardsmen left in the state! The governor'll have to call out Superchicken!
Anchorman: But Superchicken only shows up every 17 years! How's the governor going to reach him?
Copy boy: I dunno, but if he don't, the entire country's agricultural supply will be doomed!
Anchorman: There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. We'll have to reschedule the Reagan retrospective while we follow up this breaking story. We hope to get a crew on scene shortly, and we should have pictures at eleven. (Exits studio set)
Cut to tight shot of business card which reads Jubilation T. Cornpone, Governor
Copy boy: Here's the governor's number! You want me to get him on the phone?
Anchorman: Yeah, boy, and if you're wrong about this, I'll have your hide!
Administration lawyers say President can ignore torture laws and treaties.
After defining torture and other prohibited acts, the memo presents "legal doctrines ... that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful." Foremost, the lawyers rely on the "commander-in-chief authority," concluding that "without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president's ultimate authority" to wage war. Moreover, "any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of unlawful combatants would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president," the lawyers advised.
From Lee Greenwood's song "God Bless the U.S.A.":
Sorry, Mr. Greenwood, but with this revelation my pride has been diminished a bit.
I stumbled out to the mailbox this morning, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but (no, not reindeer, wrong poem) but a completely-changed newspaper! The paper's whiter (and, the publisher claims, cleaner...I'll believe that when it doesn't come off on my hands), the typefaces are different, and the colors are brighter. This was a helluva shock before I'd even poured a cup of coffee, I'll tell you.
Now if they'd pour the same amount of energy into their website, particularly their weak-to-useless search engine...
Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the US, died today at 93, after a 10-year battle with Alzheimers disease.
My thoughts are with the family.
Update: Here's the obituary from the Washington Post, written by Lou Cannon, who wrote what's apparently considered the best biography of the man.
For those who have an interest in how the press covers political campaigns, I've pointed you to CampaignDesk and FactCheck in the past; I'd be remiss if I didn't also remind you of PressThink, particularly this post, which discusses the apparent recovery of the institutional voice (using its "reputational capital," Jay Rosen calls it) in the recent WaPo article about the Bush campaign's abundance of negative ads. Rosen approves, and so do I. If a candidate lies and the press knows it, the press should say so. If the candidate tells the truth, the press should say that too.
Reputational capital is an interesting concept; the NYT bills itself as "the paper of record," and it wants to be just that. Sometimes it lives up to that goal, sometimes it doesn't. The WaPo has a certain cachet for those of us old enough to remember its Watergate coverage, but its lack of critical thinking about the Whitewater business and the leadup to war in Iraq has tarnished that image, at least for me. Any outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch (the NY Post, Fox News, and a zillion others) leads me to look for an agenda which may slant the coverage; I might even be predisposed to find a slant where there may be none. It carries over to the blogging world, too; if I see something at Talking Points Memo or Kevin Drum's Political Animal I'm liable to believe it a little more than if I see it at some site I've never heard of. Even links can have a rep; if I'm referred somewhere from a site I consider credible I'm more likely to trust the information than if I find it through Google or whatever.
In this month of commencement speeches, I guess what I'm saying is one should always remember those critical thinking skills the teachers tried to instill back in high school.
Now the spammers have gone too far. I just got a comment from one of them to a post called "Incoming Spam."
Heard in a commentary by this guy on NPR today: "Just because some of my favorite characters have horns shouldn't make me a social pariah."
We've heard the phrase "who gets it when you go" when death comes up in conversations, right? Well, what about the data on your hard drive? There's no case law yet, but there's gonna be; count on it.
One of the issues discussed in the article mentioned above is that of passwords; suppose the inheritor can't get into the machine? Well, sometimes they're written onto hard drives. This poses problems, of course, but for the poor schmuck who's trying to figure out what Uncle Fred left on his machine it may solve the difficulty. Technology giveth and technology taketh away.
Here's a fun list: Honolulu Magazine's 50 Greatest Hawai'i Albums. Note that the magazine has a junk web policy of not letting you read the story online, but the second link is to MountainApple, which will sell you those records/cds which remain in print. The criteria for selection was broad: any music from Hawai'i, whether the artist was born here or not.
I make my living reading material online, but I can't imagine reading an entire book that way. A lot of people do, it seems. There are an estimated 25-30,000 pirated books online, one outfit guesses. Huh.
Whoo boy. This sounds familiar. If you've ever thought of paying a fee for information from one of those ubiquitous people search outfits, read this amusing tale first, and check your wallet after.
Speaking of wallets, I heard somebody say that part of the reason for George Tenet's departure from CIA today was financial; he has a son who's about to enter college. Now, c'mon. The Director of Central Intelligence may not be getting paid as much as an executive VP at a Forbes 500 company, but the salary has to be in the six-digit range (update: Larry Johnson, who's ex-CIA, just said on Talk of the Nation that it's $150K/year); there's an awful lot of people who manage to send their kids to school on far less.
If there's anything more frustrating (in page layout) than trying to get text and an image to work together, please keep it to yourself. I spent two hours today trying to insert a company logo into the body of an e-mail message, getting it right-justified, and then trying to get the text to left-justify below it. I ended up posting a message at the e-mail users group at Google and living with the damned thing left-justified all the way. This was not what we had in mind. Sheesh.
Lobbyists turned regulators: how bad is it? Well, the Denver Post studied the issue, and found that there are over 100 former lobbyists now working in agencies they once tried to influence. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em and subvert 'em, huh? The Post cites some truly egregious examples, too. For example:
The EPA official, a lawyer, formerly worked for a firm that represents utility companies, which are among the biggest air polluters.
When the Environmental Protection Agency issued proposed changes to air pollution rules Jan. 30, the wording troubled Martha Keating, a scientist with environmental advocacy group Clear the Air.
"It struck me that I had seen this before," Keating said.
At least 12 paragraphs were identical to or closely resembled a Sept. 4, 2003, proposal given to the Bush administration by Latham & Watkins, a law firm that represents utility companies.
The EPA official overseeing the proposed changes is Jeffrey Holmstead, who until he joined the EPA in October 2001 had worked as a lawyer at Latham & Watkins. His clients included a chemical company and a trade group for utility companies. Power plants are among the biggest air polluters.
Holmstead oversees the EPA division that governs air pollution.
Holmstead declined to comment.
If a conflict of interest is to be avoided, these guys fail the test. (Link via Colorado Luis).