Saturday, March 22, 2003


I experimentally added comment functionality, courtesy of Enetation. We'll see how it goes.

This is a Great Speech

Times Online article incorporating a brilliant speech to the troops by Colonel Collins.

Welcome Warbloggers and Others

I noticed my hits were accumulating at a surprising rate, so I checked it out and found a bunch recently from Blogs of War. I was rereading my mostly long, rambling post in which I set out to explain why I believe Bush isn't stupid (or any synonym of that either). I idly wondered if anyone might cite my final paragraph, as that's where it gets fairly well written, and to the point. Heh. Turns out Blogs of War did just that. I appreciate it. I hope I can write enough non-lame stuff to keep people visiting.

Unbearable Lightness of Blogging

If I am doing my job properly, blogging will be lighter than might otherwise be the case for the rest of this weekend and however long after it takes me to get the business taxes done. I might post late or early or as a quick break from it, but I will try to avoid getting really sucked in. Too addictively distracting.


I went to dinner to celebrate the birthday of two friends, then we went to Barnes & Noble to hang out there as often happens. I ended up buying books by Heinlein, Hogan, Bova and Baxter in the SF department. I also finally bought David McCullough's John Adams, which everyone recommends. Last but not least, I finally made a point to get Peggy Noonan's When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan. Now I can read about my hero, written by someone whose writing I love. I read almost two chapters before I got it out of the store, and will probably drop all other possible reading to finish it first. I was about to start reading Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb, the second book in the Liveship Traders trilogy. Only got as far as the first few pages, with the sea serpent's point of view. The first book in this particular Hobb trilogy was very good, the trilogy that starts with Assassin's Apprentice was more gripping.

At least I didn't buy any more language tomes. On one recent book run I bought, if I recall the title correctly (can't go look without disturbing my brother, who is sleeping, just as I should be), Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cool book. Not a read cover to cover book; more of a "thumb through and prod mental sticks at intriguing topics of your choice" book. There was a matching volume that was on language in general, which I also wouldn't mind getting. I didn't see those or any similar books anywhere near where they used to be, which struck me as strange. It was the hunt for the linguistics books that made me happen by the huge biography section, which made me think "Peggy Noonan!" So I found her book, and in perusing others saw and thus was reminded of the Adams book. That one is fitting, since I drive by the Adams national historical site almost every day.


MSNBC has a couple articles on this:
More Possible SARS Cases in U.S.
SARS: The Microbial Menace

This is good news, a test nearly ready, from for this article:
Scientists develop test to diagnose mystery illness, considered crucial step

Why I Know Bush is not Stupid

I was born with a club foot, which meant being in a series of casts, changed as often as twice weekly, for the first 14 months of my life. Then at the tender age of 17 days old, I developed meningitis. Luckily I had an awesome doctor who actually admitted he didn't know what it was and sent me along to others. Had he been a later doctor I had, he might have said "eh, just a fever, have some aspirin and lots of water." So with no thanks to work being done of the highway, and much thanks to an anonymous cabbie who, instead of simply giving directions, had my parents follow him through a maze of back alleys and obscure streets to get there, I ended up at Children's Floating Hospital in Boston.

I was there for 11 days. Had a 107° temperature. Had spinal fluid too dried up for a spinal tap. I'm told it was scary seeing me with a bunch of needles sticking in my head. There wasn't much they could do for me in 1961. Medical technology notwithstanding, on the night I was expected to die, I recovered for no apparent reason. Just like that. But they thought I would be mentally retarded as a result of the experience. Not even close.

I was left with nerve damage that affected my coordination. Gym was torture, as I simply couldn't do what normal kids could do, and the elementary school gym teacher couldn't stand it. I moved a little differently in general. I couldn't hold a pen or pencil the "correct" way, so I hold a pen "funny." I couldn't throw, catch, build things that needed finer coordination; anything like that. And I talked... in... slow... motion. Or even fumbled words. Up through 6th grade or so, I had trouble taking tests, in that I'd be unable to finish in the allotted time, but everything I finished would be correct.

There was nothing mentally retarded, or stupid, about me. I learned to read so long before I ever started school that I can't remember ever being unable to read. My experience in first grade was funny. There was a placement test, which I apparently did very badly on. They put me in the "slow" class, with a great teacher who was in her very first, green year. The normal kids in the class looked up to me and tried harder. That eventually affected the policy, so they started mixing kids of different levels in the same classes.

I still talked slowly, and was relatively shy. Or introverted anyway. The casual observer could easily think I was indeed "a little slow" mentally. When I was in 6th grade and went for a checkup with a neurologist at New England Medical Center, I was still nerve damaged and uncoordinated enough that after a little testing he ran out of the room excitedly to fetch a colleague; a "you gotta come see this!" kind of thing. That was after it had diminished significantly. The main reason we went, besides that it had been too long and was a good idea, was due to the gym teacher tormenting me. She would pull me out of regular class for special sessions to try to fix me, or whatever she was thinking.

In any event, with puberty came change. In my case it included coordination improving dramatically. I still talked slowly, but it wasn't as pronounced. I didn't magically become able to throw, catch, bat, etc. without looking ridiculous. Nor did I magically become able to fix all things mechanical like my older brother, who completely dismantled a lawn mower at the age of five. I went through my entire youth being told I wasn't "mechanical" or "mechanically inclined." Mistaking a poorly coordinated person who tests high on the mechanical aptitude and spatial relations tests is like mistaking a person who isn't glib, fumbles words or speaks dyslexically for someone lacking in mental ability. After a while I talked more normally, and more gradually I became more coordinated to the point of overt normality. I still couldn't do sports, nor was I interested in them. I wasn't glib. I couldn't easily do something like learn to type.

Glibness was something I decided to practice at when I was in college. I was out of high school for three years before I started college. By the time I finished high school I was so disgusted with the education system, more school was the last thing on my mind. A few factors nudged me along. My friends were in college, which made me eventually think about what I was missing. When I got the GED results, the test administrator planted the seed by taking the time to write a note saying "PS - Very high scores, continue your education." I came to see that I wouldn't advance much beyond where I was at the book bindery where I worked, unless I had a degree. What really pushed me over the edge was reading the book 1984. It gave me nightmares, which were not a normal thing for me, adn threw me into a severe depression. That made me question my life. Reading Atlas Shrugged cheered me up and brought me out of the distraught state. By then I'd decided.

I ended up majoring in accounting. Technically management science with a concentration in finance and accounting, but it was all the same material as an accounting degree elsewhere. My socialist accounting and business law professor, whom I had to tolerate for Accounting II, Business Law II, Federal Taxation, Auditing, and Advanced Accounting, loved to use the socratic method no matter how inappropriate to the class. My rival for top, favored accounting student was an impressively glib guy whose goal was to be both a CPA and a lawyer, just like our socialist professor. I was just not good, still, at rapid fire conversion of my thoughts to the requisite spoken words, and certainly not at sounding spontaneously clever. It was that rivalry of sorts that made me actively try to cultivate that. I not only don't speak slowly any more, I also can be relatively quick and spontaneous. People get annoyed with my punning, but that is a related skill.

Both my rival and I got sideswiped when we were in the same Accounting Theory class, with three other students. That was the final required accounting course, and was taught by my superb but tough Cost Accounting professor. She had been amazing at teaching Cost, but I never had to work so hard for a class. On the other hand, I had a 96 average for my trouble; best among the half of us who got through without dropping or flunking the class. Anyhow, she also taught Theory, which had one female student. I helped the female classmate get through the semester, helping her understand things, briefing her before class on what she ought have studied (it was always freaky when she'd repeat my words verbatim in answer to a question in class), even looking at her cheesy paper to see if it was okay. The paper was a big part of the grade for the semester. Mine was on the theory of "value" and money, and it was great except for being more of an economics treatise that didn't get related enough to accounting. I may as well have not bothered to help, since she was clearly favored by the professor for being female. The cumulative effect of subjective parts of grading, including an A on the girl's paper, which I had read and knew was modest, was to give fellow student I helped an A- for the semester, while my rival and I each got a B+, and the other two were something like B- and C. I lost most of my respect for my formerly favorite professor. And learned some kind of lesson about helping others. As for the rival, I believe he didn't think much of me prior to that class, and it may have been the deliberateness making me appear less than I am. While we were never buddies, his perception changed. That class was good practice at being faster on my proverbial feet.

To cut to the chase, many people seemed to decide early that George W. Bush had to be stupid because he was not always glib, and often mangled what he was trying to say. Anyone who thinks that is indicative of a lack of intelligence is the worst kind of prejudiced moron. By now it's a belief by rote, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, you do not get through college and then obtain an MBA without something there backing it up. Whatever foibles he may have, he is not stupid. He is not a puppet of his advisors. Perhaps he's not an avid reader. Perhaps he's not curious about absolutely everything like some of us. Perhaps a moral compass, focus, diligence, and knowing how to pick the right staff are useful in making the difference between being merely intelligent and hyperintelligent. But jeez, he is not stupid. No way. And every time I see someone starting from that assumption, I automatically tune them out, as nothing else they might say from that basis can be valid.


Letter From Gotham has some good stuff generally, so go there and poke around. I'll have to add her to the blogroll. In particular she's keeping tabs on Salam Pax and his blog.


I notice that Glenn Reynolds is known for his use of "heh." You may notice that I use it as well. For the record, I started using the expression regularly in AIM chats before Instapundit even existed, then my usage spread. I thought it was cool to see him using "my" expression so frequently. Indeed. It seems he also uses "indeed" exactly the way I long have.

Therefore, if you see me using either expression without paying homage to the bloglord in the process, well, I have no reason to do so. Just so you know.

Turks Gone Mad?

Links shamelessly snagged from Real Geek...
Turkey's Iraq Dilemma
Who's Who in Iraqi Kurdistan

What a mess, if Turkey has sent, or proceeds to send, troops into northern Iraq to tangle with the Kurds, or mucks around in other ways. There's a right and a wrong way to deal with their Kurdish minority and neighbors, and this can't possibly be the right way. Not even if the plan were to carve an independent Kurdistan out of northern Iraq, which ostensibly is not what the Kurds there expect.

There is also this article via The Command Post.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Keyboards Revisited

A while back, I ranted about some keyboards I bought from a supplier. They have an extremely tiny left shift key, because they have two identical backslash/pipe keys on that row. In the catalog it is pictured with a normal left shift key, and only one backslash/pipe key.

I spoke with the sales rep at that company a little while ago, ordering a few items. When I told him what happened, he was concerned, as he'd not like that design either. So he's actually having one pulled from the warehouse to look at it. Very nice.

Kurds Away

Real Geek has a list of Kurdish links, and correctly observes how fascinating some of the side politics are.


This is a fun site to read, comparing the credentials of celebs and our leaders. I found it interesting that Colin Powell has a BS in Geology. I considered majoring in that, and my sister was seriously interested in it. My brother in law built a cool coffee table that holds her rock collection with a glass cover over it.

I got this URL from somewhere, but I forget where so I can't give credit. Might have been Jerry Pournelle's letters page.

Betsy's Page

I was just reading Betsy's Page and thinking how great her collection of brief comments and associated links was today. Enough so that I was thinking of posting to say so and send people there. Then lo and behold, there's a post she made last night referring people to my French jokes! She also links to some others from herself and Scrappleface.

Betsy Newmark is well worth checking out. Go see!


Lots of fun explosions on the TV behind me. Saddam's whole world is coming down around him. Or around his corpse, as the case may be.

What about those uppety Turks? We do not need them to occupy northern Iraq. No way. I think the map needs to be redrawn. Leave Turkey intact, but move from a de facto to a de jure Kurdistan in the predominantly Kurdish area of northern Iraq. Let them keep ruling themselves, being democratic, entrepreneurial and productive as I understand they've been being these recent years.

There might be a case to be made for further redrawing in the rest of Iraq as well. On the other hand, if you're going to divide by ethnicity or religious faction, then Afghanistan would be redrawn into little pieces too.

Shocked and Odd

That would be the French, non?

Hi Doc, Are You Single?

Had my visit with the doctor this morning, as mentioned in a previous post. Unlike the nice blood pressure yesterday, this morning when I checked it I got 133/92. Kind of makes sense, since I can feel how stressed and nervous I am, and I feel crappy. The nurse, who shares my grandniece Emily's name, had as much trouble hearing my pulse as most people usually have drawing blood. I never donate because it's so hard to draw my blood. Which is sad, because otherwise I have nothing to prevent my blood from being used. My friend who's a birthday girl today can't give blood any more because she spent a year in England several years ago. Really bugs her. See how good I am at digressing from tangent to tangent? Eventually she got readings of 120/98 and 120/92. The doctor got a similar reading, but before we were done I'd gone down to 90. He swore at me! He said "exercise." Ick.

Usually the doctor has a medical student with him, and today was no exception. This is the first time he's had a female student. She was gorgeous! I had to make a point not to stare. She needs to practice her handshakes too, but I found that with most of the med students. Very limp, brief, and unenthusiastic. Come on; you're happy to see the patient, not shy, not preferring to be elsewhere, not doing it just because you have to. It was nice to see a woman there, anyway, however she looked. I've never had one as my regular, official doctor, but I've seen female doctors a number of times and found I generally preferred them to male doctors. It's like an empathy or bedside manner kind of thing.

While I was there, the doctor gagged me with a swab to get a throat culture. My throat isn't that sore, so I was surprised. Then again, I've been laid low for things that started out this mild. I also got a prescription to treat toenail fungus. That was optional, but I've had it for a few years and it offends me. What's scary is having to get tested periodically for liver damage while taking those pills. Nasty stuff, apparently.

Ironically, yesterday morning when I got the great blood pressure reading, I'd consumed two mugs of coffee. Today I was decaffienated.

No more appointments until June, which is cool.


Sydney Smith of Medpundit has a TCS article today on SARS; why it's scary and why there's hope.

A Little Bit of Heaven
Or, I may be way too easy to please...

Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. Cinnamon ice cream is not as weird as it sounds. Chunks of oatmeal cookies are better than you could imagine. Chunks of fudge are not overbearing as they so often are, but add a nice balance to the other flavors and textures. This stuff is un-effing-believable! Please please don't let it stay a "limited batch."

My more usual favorites:
Peach - not available in stores, so I've only had it at the tourst factory up in Stowe, VT. Or whatever town is next to Stowe; I forget, but it's right down the road from Cold Hollow Cider Mill, which is a nifty place. Ah, looks like Waterbury, based on Cold Hollow's web site.

White Russian - Which they have conspired to keep from me by no longer selling it in stores.

Butter Pecan - Drool...

Mint Chocolate Cookie - Yummy, but it still surprises me I like it so much. One of my long time best friends, the one who came up with Jay Solo, loves mint chocolate chip. Period. He eats no other ice cream flavors, like some kind of mutant. Except he also likes mint chocolate cookie and introduced me to it. I can barely tolerate mint chocolate chip, but they're like two different things.

I'm probably forgetting a flavor or six that I could list as one of my top few favorites, but those four definitely deserve to be on the list.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Or, take a quick break from war and politics...

This is Jake as an unbearably cute puppy in 1992. He was my stepsister's first (and best) of six golden retrievers, and one of my favorite dogs ever. Jake was one of the most intelligent dogs I've encountered, and fairly quickly became a champion show dog. He also became a champion at obedience and was working on agility. Or maybe it was vice-versa.

Jake died last year of extensive cancer. I lived in the same house from the time he was three months old until he was 7 1/2 years old, so he was like my baby. I was very upset when he died, so I can only imagine how crushed my stepsister must have been. No matter how much you know a dog will only live so long, it'll always be traumatic when their time comes.

If I can find them, or scan some, I'll put more picture from time to time, and ones of other dogs as well.

Another link

I just noticed Mapchic has linked to me. Cool! I definitely have to stop commenting on every one of these I find; they're starting to add up.

And I was reminded, looking at her links, that I had forgotten to include Dissident Frogman in my blogroll. How rude of me. Soon to be corrected...


Just heard the TV station that's on announce a probable SARS case in Rhode Island. Close to home...

Ricin to the Occasion

It seems rather curious for Ricin to show up in Paris, of all places. Who would be pulling that crap there, and why? Doesn't the French Shield of Ambivalence protect them?

Was it protest?

My brother had to go to New Hampshire for work today. That was a disaster, as route 3 up toward NH was completely choked up. At one point it took an hour to get the distance between two exits.

The cause? Someone was on an overpass dropping something on cars as they went under. The cops gave chase and eventually caught whoever it was. After seeing what happened in San Francisco, I wondered if it might be a gesture of protest. Probably not; doesn't fit the profile I'd expect. More likely just a random criminal act. Still... I'd be curious to know.

Bias Can Be Subtle

I have a 5" TV on in the background in the office. It's amusingly annoying listening to Tom Brokaw talk on and on, sounding neutral enough on the surface, then periodically slipping in a subtle bit of condescension toward the president, war, country, or facts. The one that inspired me to comment on it was the way he worded and intoned about the President's references to Islam in his speeches.

Sad that I don't have cable.

On another note, my brother and friend I mentioned a post or two ago are somewhat in the "Bush is stupid" camp. One of these days I plan to post on why I completely disagree.

Dixie Chicks

Well, yesterday I said to my brother and one of my friends, "Bob hadn't heard about the Dixie Chicks thing!"

Blank looks. "What Dixie Chicks thing?"

I explained, as I had done for Bob the night before. Whereas Bob went into "well, I used to like them. What a stupid move!" mode, the other two reacted more like "so?"

It's easy to forget that some people out there don't follow the news and things like this closely, and that they aren't bothered by (even if they think it was wrong or foolish) a celebrity doing that sort of thing. I actually gave my incurious friend a bit of a history lesson; who the Kurds are, that they'd been gassed, things like the people-eating plastic shredder, until she objected to hearing anything else graphic.

Ooh, another link

If this keeps up, I'll have to stop noting each one as I notice them. Xrlq (damnum absque injuria) has not only linked to me, but also credited me in a post. Cool! (I sound like such a newbie, don't I?)


In his regular mailing to customers, the rep at one of my vendors had this to say today:

Not to start a political debate. Not making any comment on what's
happening in IRAQ, pro or con. I do want to make a comment about
President Bush.

It's a great thing to have a real leader in the White house after all
these years.
To have a man that tells us what he is going to do and then does what he
said he is going to do. It makes me feel good about the government
again, compared to the previous administrations
we had to put up with.

Not a surprise, as I already had a good idea how he sees things from the reaction to 9/11, but it still pleases me to see it.

"Get your own international lawyer."

I particularly enjoyed that response in the part of the White House press conference I saw a little while ago.

Time Warp

Stephen Green has an observation on war protesters that my mind had flirted with, but had never formulated into coherent words. In part he writes:

So why are these fools protesting?

In one word: Habit. America is off to war in a foreign land. It was bad then, so it somehow must be bad now. Some might not agree with this war, but no serious claim can be made that this one is anything like Vietnam.

Yet the songs remain the same.

They had a point in '68. Today it's just habitual anti-Americanism

Read the whole thing.

Blood Pressure

Just for the record, my blood pressure this morning is 117/67. I have an appointment tomorrow morning to have it checked by the doctor, and at that point I can fully expect it to be higher than it should, like 124/96 or whatever. Argh. My cold is worse today. It was better and I skipped taking any "safe for high blood pressure" Coricidin last night. Coricidin is actually a product successfully marketed to me through TV advertising, entirely because of the blood pressure thing. Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow morning when I have scrambled to rush to the doctor's through idiot-laden traffic, then walked up two flights of stairs, then waited nervously in a reception area full of of strangers. Sigh...

This Post Brought to You by the Letter D

After Howard Dean had announced for President, before much of anyone else had yet, my father told me to tell everyone how bad he was. Since this is a great forum for doing so, I have asked my father to e-mail me specifics that I can post here. He lives in the real world part of Vermont, as opposed to the socialist Burlington area that skews things in the state. Many people like him are horrified by the idea of Dean being promoted. Kind of the way more of us than you might expect were horrified by Dukakis here in Massachusetts. I'm still not sure whether to think of Dukakis more as evil, or merely preposterous, and I still can't believe he ever got the nomination. I think my father considers Dean worse.

Here's a little Dukakis story. Once upon a time, when he was governor and wanted to tell us all what to do so we wouldn't hurt our helpwess wittle selves, he was on a radio talk show taking calls. The big issue of the time was the initial attempt at imposing a mandatory seatbelt law. Even my socialist accounting and business law professor disagreed with the government doing that. My stepmother called the show, and ended up talking with the governor, but not on the air. It at the end of the show or during ads or whatever. She went after him vociferously, in her inimitable way, as to what made him think he could do this. Finally he snapped "because I'm the governor!" and hung up on her. That was his reason; because he could. It's all about power in the end.

Woohoo! Another Link!

I know, I'm way too easy to please. Rachel has added a link to me, on her full list page. On the bizarre chance you're actually reading my site and have never seen hers, you really should go there and enjoy. She's in my handful of top favorites.

Will the Real Blogs of War Please Stand Up

I just added "Blogs of War" to my blogroll, thinking it was strange I'd not done so before. Then I noticed I have two by that name now, but they are different both in URL and content. Um... oops?

Alrighty then...

Yet another goofy quiz with a twisted result:

Snuffy's Suicide Attempts

Poor baby, life is rough for you, huh? No one
seems to see you, no one notices your pain--
except for your friend Big Bird, but he's alway
off hanging out with his other friends. You
wish you were him, all happy and curious and
popular and bright yellow. You feel like his
shadow anymore, like the only reason you exist
is to amuse him. It's hard being somebody's
imaginary friend. But stop trying to kill
yourself--imaginary people can't kill
themselves. Sorry. And hey, maybe tomorrow
you'll feel better!
Someday people will see you, I promise.

Which Sesame Street Muppet's Dark Secret Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


I've finished reading the book Voyage by Stephen Baxter, originally mentioned here. I have to say it was superlative to say the least.

As I described, it's an alternate history SF novel depicting an alternate space program following the 1969 moon landing. Rather than losing all momentum for true, manned exploration, going with low earth orbit shuttles, the right people and politics happen to put into place a Mars landing program. This book gives a look at what it might have taken to accomplish it both politically and technically. It culminates in a Mars landing in 1986. It gets there with alternating, convergent storylines. One covers snippets of the actual voyage, culminating in the landing. The other covers what it took to achieve the voyage, culminating in the launch.

In a way that feels real, as if you'd lived it, the book goes into how the decisions are arrived at, the problems along the way, the personal and professional sacrifices people make, and what might have been sacrificed from the space program as we knew it by going that way instead. Particularly poignant to me was the investigation of accidents along the way, so much like the current investigation and recent accident.

Highly recommended reading. Not, mind you, the recommended way of doing things (as depicted in the book), but that wouldn't be possible now except in a general sense anyway. To me a more sensible approach was the one used in the books by Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars. Yet Baxter's book is more readable, and goes into some of the type of details Robinson's do not.

Sentiment on France

I knew the negative sentiments toward France had become mainstream when I started receiving jokes and negative items forwarded in e-mail from my father. For instance, on the 15th I received this one:

Not My Problem! (This is a very simplistic story, but a powerful message.)

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package; what food might it contain?

He was aghast to discover that it was a mousetrap! Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, "There is a mouse trap in the house, there is a mouse trap in the house."

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell you this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me; I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mouse trap in the house."

"I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray; be assured that you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow, who replied, "Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mouse trap; am I in grave danger, Duh?"

So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer's mouse trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught.

In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed he to the hospital. She returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's mainingredient.

His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well, in fact, she died, and so many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

And so it may be with Germany, France and Belgium one day...........

Then there was this one I received the same day:


March 4, 2003. Today it was reported that a severe earthquakes have occurred in 10 different locations in France. The severity was measured in excess of 10 on the Richter Scale. The cause was the 56,681 dead American soldiers buried in French soil rolling over in their graves. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission there are 26,255 Yankee dead from World War I buried in 4 cemeteries in France.

There are 30,426 American dead from World War II buried in 6 cemeteries in France. These 56,681 brave American heroes died in their youth to liberate a country which is guilty of shameful unspeakable behavior in the 21st century. May the United States of America never forget their sacrifice as we find ways to forcefully deal with the Godforsaken unappreciative, forgetful country of France!

PASS THIS AROUND! Maybe it will get to someone in France!!!

The next one was an urge to boycott French companies, with an extensive list.

Then this one I had seen before, long before current events, which had a subject of "gotta hate the French":

The train was very crowded, the exhausted US soldier walked the full length of the train, searching for an empty seat. The only unoccupied seat was next to a middle aged, very well dressed French woman and was being used by a well coiffured Poodle. The war weary soldier asked, "Ma'am, may I please have that seat?"

The French woman looked down her nose at the soldier, sniffed and said, "You Americans are so rude. Can't you see my little Fifi is using that seat?"

The soldier walked away, limping on his wounded leg, looking for a place to rest, after walking the full length of the train found himself standing before the same lady with the dog. Again he asked, "Please, lady, May I sit there? I am exhausted."

The French woman wrinkled her nose and snorted, "You Americans are not only rude but you are also arrogant and disrespectful." With this the weary soldier calmly reached down, picked up the dog and threw it out the window of the moving train then sat down in the empty seat.

The woman shrieked and railed, and demanded that someone defend her and chastise the soldier.

An English gentleman sitting across the aisle spoke in a very calm, strong voice. "You know sir, you Americans do seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You eat with the wrong hand, you drive on the wrong side of the road, and now sir, you have thrown the wrong Bitch out of the window."

Finally, there was an e-mail with this graphic embedded in it. And all this in a four day period, passed along by my father, zooming around between people who don't even read blogs. Heh.

Maps in the Media

Mapchic, whose writing I instantly fell in love with, has good commentary here about bad map usage by the media.

Cronkite Loses It

This link courtesy of Transterrestrial Musings. The most disturbing part:

"He said that the smartest president he ever met was Jimmy Carter."

This is so Utterly Wrong

CNN reports that cell phone numbers will be made available via directory assistance and will no longer be automatically private. Wrong. So wrong.

What a Maroon!

The Future and Its Copy Protection

There's a good article on TCS today that casts copy protection by the music industry in dynamist versus stasist terms. It has lots of referential links to other resources, which is even better. That includes a link to this U.S. site that tracks which CD releases are corrupted by copy protection.

Aren't You a Little Young to Be a Stormtrooper

Glenn has this great picture of very attractive young women in the air force, but I can't help thinking the one in the lower right looks just plain too young to be there. I must be getting old.

I am not the only one!


I got this year's insurance policy on my Sentra. I have a perfect record, so on paper I get a "discount" of $312 on fairly modest insurance coverage, making the total $433. To me, $433 is excessive, but it's like a tax you pay for driving. I just can't imagine ever losing that "discount" and paying over $700 a year. Of course, it was also pretty shocking when my insurance went up 45% on moving from the boonies to Quincy. When I got the second car, one of them ended up parked in the boonies as a spare, so the insurance on it went down... but not all the way back down of course.

Lights, Action!

Most of the time you drive up to a set of traffic lights, and it's clearly either on a rational timer or it detects the presence of cars. Once in a while one with a detector will go haywire, but usually they just work.

In Quincy, Massachusetts there's a set of lights on Burgin Parkway at the intersection of Concourse Street, which needs serious fixing. Whenever I've seen a light dramatically off in its car detection ability or rhythm, it has been promptly fixed. Not this one, and completion of the bridge over the MBTA tracks, making this a four way intersection, made it far worse than it was. Burgin Parkway carries easily 90% or more of the traffic. The cross traffic is mainly for the benefit of the Supermarket on the corner. If anything moves well down the road from the light on the low traffic side, the light slams into red for the high traffic side. Sometimes it does this for no reason, with no traffic coming that way to have detected. Cars will sit at the light on Burgin Parkway, getting farther and farther backed up, while it doesn't react at all, despite nothing coming the other direction. It sometimes backs it up through the next set of lights during the day. In the middle of the night a few cars can sit there for a couple minutes just waiting, waiting, grumbling, waiting, talking at the light, waiting, creeping forward trying to be detected, waiting, wasting gas, waiting... and finally, with no traffic having taken advantage of the green the other way the entire time, it wakes up and changes.

Why make the light so stubborn and so short the direction of the massive volume, while it's so sensitive and so generous the direction of little traffic? What were they thinking? Worse, why is it still like that? I can't imagine nobody has complained! In fact, when it was three way still, it got increasingly out of hand, then I noticed it was better for a while. Not this time. It's ridiculous.


Well, this MSNBC article says we now know it's a form of pneumonia virus and not likely to spread as readily as flu, so that's good news.

This is just mean

Natalie at Pickle Juice has this story of a poor kid being tormented in an effort to make him overcome his terror of strangers and public speaking. It is so not pretty. I can relate. I'm terrified of public speaking, even though I have a good voice for it. I'm not so much terrified of strangers as simply reticent about speaking with them. Once I know you, I'll readily talk your ear off. I love to sing, more than most things, but I can't do so in front of other people; unlike my songwriting brother the ham. I tend to be terrified of authority figures, though I have never figured out why. And the biggest way my shyness manifests itself is with the opposite sex, but only if I'm interested. The more I'm interested, the worse I am. It's completely pathetic.

One of these days I'll do a post about phone phobia, which is related to the shyness thing, but also seems fairly common in people who have done phone support. I liked talking on the phone before I ever did support. Now I still avoid it, and I still freak a little any time the phone rings. I know I'm not alone. Actually, that's the gist of the phone phobia post, so there you have it. Anyone else who's done phone support notice this phone burnout reaction?

Before I forget, the link to Pickle Juice was courtsesy of Little Tiny Lies (whose name I inverted and need to fix in my blogroll).

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Quality Depression Revisited

I think Joshua Zader of Mudita Journal may have addressed the "quality depression" theory better than I did here.


I think not. uBlog takes the graphical approach to showing as much. Via Balloon Juice, with additional commentary there, and that was via Vodka guy.


Juan Gato has a fun and useful glossary of terms. Via A Small Victory.

Latest Stuff on SARS

I found it disturbing to read last night that China has had cases of this mystery illness for months without disclosing the fact.

Anyway, there's an MSNBC article with decent info, including kind of an interactive FAQ of the sort they always come up with for things like this. Seems it's now spread to five more countries, and a virus rather than bacteria is suspected due to the experience treating it with antibiotics and the way it drops white blood cell counts.

There's a BBC article, via SciTech Daily. They say 150 cases and 4 deaths outside China so far, but that it's not yet anything comparable to 1918.

Medpundit has a good roundup on it.

Winds of Change is not looking for donations, but is looking for readers. They're over in my blogroll, and definitely worthy of your attention. Look especially for the Winds of War feature.

On a related note, someone has finally linked to me! Or at least, I have finally noticed someone linking to me. On the Third Hand is also worthy of your attention. Now I know why I am getting noticable hits to my modest site.

Candy for Troops

One of the lawyers I work for has taken up a small collection to send some candy bars, the fundraising kind from Hilliard's, to the group her secretary's son is staioned with. I think it's a great idea! The hope was to drum up enough money in the firm for an entire box of 40 bars. Looks like we're up to 100 in the week since the idea was proposed. Go team!

Having a Cold Sucks

At least it's pretty mild.

Monday, March 17, 2003


Little Tiny Lies has an excellent article on smoking, and his experience with it in his family.

I had the fun experience of becoming chronically sick from my grandfather's smoking during the latter part of high school, which caused me not to graduate (scored 95th percentile overall on GED instead). That was shortly before it became accepted that second hand smoke is a problem. At the time, I would go to the doctor's office or New England Medical Center and in the waiting rooms people would be smoking. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with me, and when I had an inkling and suggested it, I was laughed at. The sickness started within days of exposure starting, and ended - but never completely - after I stopped being exposed to smoke.

My take on smoking is that it's stupid to take it up, and not to try anything to stop if you already have the habit. It's a sign of poor judgment and risk-taking tendencies. It shouldn't necessarily be regulated or taxed. However, putting another person in a position to breath in your smoke without their consent is and ought to be taken the same way as stepping up and punching another person without provocation would be. I consider it initiating aggression. If I go into a restaurant where I know smoking is allowed, then I am consenting. If I work in a non-smoking building and someone smokes inside because it's too cold to huddle ouside, they are attacking me. Period. That's the side of me that sees things as they could be, with something resembling a theory of strict liability in a libertarian world. And yet, it's easy to wonder if things could get twisted too far that way, or what would happen with things not proven to be harmful.

Switching to the world as it is, I can relate to a desire to tax cigarettes into submission, and to regulate them and their usage. When I see smoking being banned in all restaurants in a state, I think "yes! I can eat in comfort." Mind you, some of the coolest people I have known have been smokers. So I end up worrying about them, knowing they're killing themselves. They can also be difficult to be around, even if it's the residual odor from their clothes. To their credit, most of the smoking friends I've had have been nothing but considerate about their smoking. The ones who are as Steve at Little Tiny Lies describes have mainly been my late uncle, my stepsister, and my sister in law, that I can think of offhand.

Read the linked post, if you haven't already. This is a big hot button issue for me, and I can feel for what he's saying.

CDC Info on SARS

That's "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome," the aforementioned outbreak that made me wonder if it's time for another 1918. Thought having a link to the CDC page on it might be useful.

Courtesy Flirting

I've been a victim of this, to the point where I tend to ignore it even if it might be more concrete. If you're interested you pretty much have to bludgeon me with the fact.

More On That Bad Pneumonia

There's an update on the mystery illness at Geek Press. Via Noodle Food.

More On That Bad Pneumonia

There's an update on the mystery illness at Geek Press. Via Noodle Food.


Looks like things are acting up again. Currently my page is truncating maybe halfway down - in mid-word no less - and thus not showing a link to archives at the bottom.

Dixie Chicks

I wonder how long the outrage will last. I never listened to them in the first place; couldn't name one of their songs. It reminds me of Cat Stevens speaking out in support of the Rushdie death sentence. There was some initial shock and album burning, as I recall, but people got over it. I still avoid listening to Cat Stevens to this day, right down to usually changing the station if he comes on the radio. I always liked his music, at least enough to own a greatest hits album.

Those Goofy Quizzes

take the antisocial test.

and go to because laura's feeling social.

I'm not sure how to take this...

what decade does your personality live in?

quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd

Considering I was born during the Kennedy administration. Was it because I chose a burger and shake over Chinese takeout? (It was a tossup so I picked the former to see what would happen.) This is what happens when there are tossup questions.

Well, since this timed out and wouldn't post anyway, I will add that my retake of the test with some second choices resulted in the nineties instead. Go figure.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

All I can say is this means spring is near! About damn time, and we better not have any April snow this year.

I never make a particular fuss about this day. Sometimes I wear something green if I have anything or I think of it. I have a green sweater that someone brought me from Ireland, but it never fit very well, and it's almost too feminine or something like that. There is a wee bit of Irish blood in there somewhere. If you take the English and Scottish blood, followed by an unfortunate bit of Greater Weasel blood, there's not room for much else. But it's in there; apparently Irish, Lesser Weasel, Dutch, and a smidgeon of Wampanoag fill out the rest of the mongrel mixture, but it all adds up to proud American in the end.

My father was always disproportionately proud of his Irish heritage, and loves Irish music of the sort they used to play on a boston radio station every Saturday. That's what was on the radio in the shop on Saturdays. He wasn't really deterred when I pointed out that he's only something like and eighth Irish. But then I'm not sure how accurate that is, as I am relying on my atavistically fanatical amateur genealogist mother plus the likely source of n-great something surnames.

Irish accents are always cool. My landlord is an older guy with a wonderful Irish accent. I worked with some Irish guys in tech support, and eons ago during college with a kid who was on the Cape on a summer work program because at the time in Ireland jobs were mythic.

Bloody Friday

This is a rather graphic page of photos and descriptions of the gas attack aftermath in March 1988.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

My eventual downfall?

I think this is a strange result...

Your eventual downfall is ... gambling!
What's YOUR Eventual Downfall?

brought to you by Quizilla

Gap and Core

From the aforementioned Mapchic comes a link to this fascinating geopolitical article. It discusses security and intervention in terms of the gap versus core countries or areas of the world.

Cool new blog

I just discovered Geographica, by Mapchic. Did I mention I have a thing for maps? I'm strange that way. Must add this site to links next time I update them.

French Army knife

Quality Depression

This article by Shane McChesney, describing our current economic situation as a "quality depression," reminded me of similar thoughts I have had. We're in a glut of "good enough" computers, with less urgency about upgrading. Cars leave older ones in the quality dust. Software that's at least good enough can either be had free, or bought once and never upgraded because there's no compelling reason.

That last item is a big problem for Microsoft. They worked up to a magnum opus with Office 97, achieved almost total market penatration, made it the standard, gave it decently functional versions of most of the features any of us could ever want. And then they wanted everyone to upgrade to Office 2000. Office XP. Keep the gravy ladling into Redmond! Now as they take measures to make upgrading harder to avoid, as they try to move to a paradigm of predictable cashflow through software rental or something close, as they raise prices in a down economy, there's more opportunity for alternatives to Office, in particular, than there has been in years.

My first car was a 1969 Nova, which I got in late 1978. My mother had driven it before me, and before her the car had belonged to my aunt for all or most of its previous life. At that age it was already a piece of crap, falling apart, barely alive. If my father hadn't owned a body shop, and done most of the work and/or spending to keep the car going, I'd not have had it long. It seems like I had it forever, but in fact it was replaced in 1981. All my earlier cars weren't much better, or were worse. I grew used to knowing that when a car reached 130,000 miles, it was about to die.

Five years ago I bought a 1988 Nisaan Sentra with 51,400 miles on it for $2000. It had been totaled, partially repaired, sat for a couple years, then been finished. In that time I have had to spend about $2000 in work on it, of which $500 was the year I bought it and $600 was a few months ago. It is starting to look ratty and has foibles, but it purrs and is absolutely reliable. At 146,000 miles and counting. It still freaks me out a little to see that I am driving a car with that many miles, but it's fine. The year I bought it, I drove 3000 miles in one trip to and around P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. I might like to fix a few foibles like the dead radio first, but yeah, I'd trust it to do that trip again. I figure the car is good for a couple more years of part time driving.

By comparison to the Sentra, I bought a 1993 Plymouth Voyager two years ago with 88,000 miles on it for $2500. It has required more than $2000 spent on maintenance in those two years, and it needs more that can be put off for a while. I am more nervous about it letting me down than the Sentra. Yet even the van beats the old Nova at the same age in years. As one of my friends observed on seeing it for the first time, it looks almost new.

All that said, are these things causing the economy to fail? I don't think we can really go that far. They are definitely a factor somewhere along the line, but is it to the bad? Should we go back to making crappy quality cars, slow computers, feature poor software? Must we have market growth through planned obsolescence?

If a company can buy a batch of computers and use them for seven years instead of three, don't they now have extra money to spend or invest in other ways on average over that time? Is this not something like the typical "piece of the pie" image of the economy and distribution? You can't assume a fixed pie size.

It's an interesting discussion in any event.

The New Cold War

Rand Simberg has a nice essay on the new cold war at Transterrestrial Musings.

Of course, he also has this! It reminds me of the South Park movie, which must mean Chirac is Satan.

Bots of the Dark Side

Little Green Footballs has this interesting item on's evil bot falling into its trap. Many good comments in the LGF post too, including that related technical info can be found here.

The Other Side of the Coin

As opposed to this, we have Pep Boys going the other way in how they treat reserve employees. Via the Rottweiler.

What Blogging Archetype Am I?

Via Ghost of a Flea.

You are a David Weinberger.

You are smart, savvy, interested in why people do what they do,
enjoy questioning yourself and are not balding.

Take the What Blogging Archetype Are You test at

Hmmm... never heard of him! Must check it out.

Doing Things Right The First Time

Funny, I was planning a post related to this one at Random Nuclear Strikes.

Didn't the elder Bush back off and not take out Sadam in the Gulf War because the UN or coalition didn't support it? Because of a lack of unilateralism? At the time, and since, I thought it was a moronic decision. Yet we're letting ourselves be bogged down again? No way.

Shocking NY Times Behavior

Medpundit has this piece on unethical behavior by management at the NY Times.