Saturday, April 19, 2003

Weekly Wrap-Up

This one seemed fairly interesting to me, so...

1. What's your favorite method of travel? Why?

Car. Freedom and flexibility.

2. What's the longest road trip you've ever taken? Where?

1575 Mile drive to Ft. Myers, Florida, as far as a one way trip. My trip to P.E.I. and Nova Scotia almost five years ago ran up 3000 miles in an 11 day trip, so that probably counts more.

3. How many plane trips have you taken in your life?

Two? If each two-way overall trip counts as one.

My first flight was to Houston to go to Galveston for my cousin's wedding to her first husband. I gave her away, standing in for my late uncle. That was non-stop from Logan. Then on the way back my flight was cancelled for mechanical reasons, and I ended up bumped to an American flight that had a brief stop in Memphis.

My second flight was for work, where I went from being asked to go to North Carolina to being on the plane within about three hours or so. That was fun. The flight was supposed to be Logan to Atlanta to Wilmington, NC. Due to the flight being delayed, I missed the plane in Atlanta and the closest they could get me was a puddle jumper to Myrtle Beach the next morning. This is when I learned you always take with you a carry-on containing a basic change of clothes and anything else you'd prefer to have on an unexpected overnight. The airline put me up at a hotel and gave me one of those "RON" remain overnight kits. A few hours sleep and I was on the little plane, dying from the exhaust fumes, hopping to Myrtle Beach. The guy who did the installations met me there with the rental car, which he had me drive back up the coast (route 17 I think it was) to Wilmington. I got to shower, change, and then give a training class for the POS system. I was there most of a week, training, helping install the system in two locations, programming the menus, and putting out fires. We ended up not having to rent a second car, as the customer liked me so much he loaned me his Mercedes to drive, while he drove his daughter's Mercedes. She was away. The flight back was Wilmington to Charlotte, then on a bigger plane back to Boston.

4. What method of travel do you fear so much or intensely dislike that you avoid it? Why?

Hmmm... I can't really say I am afraid of flying or dislike it. I can't think of anything else even close. At this point the main reason I'd avoid flying is because the government has made it so tedious in the name of safety. For instance, if I go visit my brother in Ohio, there's virtually no chance I'd fly rather than drive. Unless I had enough time off, I'd probably fly to visit friends on the left coast. Ditto my cousin in the Houston area, though that's enough closer to ,ake driving more plausible.

5. Describe the worst travel experience you've ever had.

Probably the time, after sophmore year of college when wanderlust craziness struck me as sometimes happens, my Chevy Luv pickup, which had a Toyota engine, threw a rod when I was in Virginia. I ended up staying in my tent behind the garage that towed me, for a couple nights. I sold the dead truck for $50 to the garage owner, got a ride from him to nearby Winchester, Virginia, and drove a rental car home from there.

I found there was a Hertz agent in Winchester, so I called the main Hertz number and reserved a mid-size car at a certain price. I had never rented a car before. I did not get any kind of reservation number or anything. So I arrive at the place, which is a little hole in the wall garage that also rents cars and is manned by a wacko young guy who reminds me of my off the wall cousin. They don't know me from Adam, and at this point neither does Hertz, and even if they did, they have no small cars to rent, only a Lincoln Towncar. Which is a significantly higher price. So I gave them the $200 down and did the paperwork and all, drove back to the garage, loaded my stuff and was on my way. One good thing about such a big car, my bike fit in the trunk without any effort.

So I sucked down lots of gas and drove on home, then the next morning had my brother follow me to the dropoff Hertz agent, which also happened to be a travel agency. The guy who handled rentals wasn't there yet, so I dropped the paperwork on his desk. All of it. Stupid stupid stupid. I was due a refund of about $40 out of the $200 I'd put down, and I left all evidence of that with the agent, in an environment that looked as cluttered and messy as my apartment does right now. I never did get the balance of my money back, and to this day I will refuse to deal with Hertz if there's any way to avoid it.

A runner up worst trip might be the drive home from my six week stay in Florida. There was a snow/ice storm, and I drove all the way from Raleigh, NC to Massachusetts in one day. It turned out that Pennsylvania, which was where the ice storm was worst, didn't believe in doing anything to the roads. So most of the way north through Pennsylvania was at 20-25 miles per hour, very carefully, driving past cars and tractor trailers one after another spun off onto the sides of the highway. It was brutal. Then at the New York border it was like night and day; the roads were well plowed and sanded.


ScrappleFace has lots of goodies. In particular, though, you must see "U.S. Finds Contractor With No Iraq Ties." It's hysterical, and so in line with my thinking that the complaints were getting ridiculous. Thanks to Betsy's Page for the heads up before I had a chance to stumble over there on my own.

Dead Puppies

Frank at IMAO is having some fun at the expense of Glenn Reynolds and puppies. Fun continues in the comments, including new lyrics to "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun." Let it never be said I am incapable of being twisted and sick.

Private Space Program

A few posts ago I got all excited (Woohoo! Yes!!) and linked an MSNBC article about Burt Rutan's demo Friday of his space plane project, which is likely to become the X Prize winner and be a fully functional private space program. I knew this could be done. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I wanted nothing more than to go into the private launch business. I even had ideas on how to promote it and raise funds, so I was amused and astounded when I read Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold The Moon" later and it seemed so familiar, in a slightly over the top sort of way.

Anyhow, there's also a BBC article on this, which I got the link to from Jerry Pournelle. On Friday's View, Jerry has discussion and pictures, since he was a guest at the Mojave demo, and had confidentially known about it for some time.

I think this is just the coolest thing! But hey, if there's another contender who beats Rutan, or nearly ties him, and both systems work, all. the. better. Let NASA do research and distant scientific probes and get out of what should be private enterprise.

Oh, there's also a article which is via Jerry Pornelle's mail page. I used to read all the time, but then they kept changing and tweaking and making it fancier and more "commercial looking" and less usable. I never visit there any more unless I see a link from someone else like this. It wasn't even that much of a conscious decision so much as the site lost much of its original appeal. Indeed, it looks like they have made major changes again since last time I was there. It's possible the latest improvements are an improvement on the earlier improvements...

Blogs Around The World

Oscar Jr. is doing the cool project of gathering blog links geographically from around the world, to list by continent and country. I think this is cool, as I'd had similar notions. Go check it out, and give him any additions he might be missing. Lots of blanks still to go.

Asperger's Syndrome

A while back, Wired, to which I subscribe, had an issue with an article on "The Geek Syndrome." It was a fascinating look at Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism, on the autism spectrum of disorders; sometimes also called high functioning autism. People with it tend to lead a reasonably normal life, and tend to be disproportionately computer/programming/engineering oriented. Thus the article was looking at the idea that a high rate of autism in Silicon Valley and the Route 128 region might be a genetic result of the large number of geek, and therefore possibly Asperger, parents in those areas.

I was reminded of all this by a post on the topic at Dandelion Wine

The Wired article had a sidebar of an "Autism Quotient" test, which purports to measure where you fall on the spectrum. From what I have seen, many people don't think it's a particularly viable test. Nonetheless, I found it interesting and so I link to it here:
AQ Test

My score was 30. They say at the top of the test page that "Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher." Looks like I push the envelope a little.

Related to this, Dandelion Wine also points us to a brain quiz, ostensibly "how male or female is your brain."

I took the interactive EQ test and then, clicking from those results, the interactive SQ test. Both require Flash. There's an option for manual tests as well. From the test pages you can then go to this final page to work out what type of brain you have, using a grid to plot the results of EQ and SQ and see which shaded area you fall into.

For what it's worth, my scores were:
EQ of 41
SQ of 53
Overall brain type "Extreme Type S"


The original Wired article and AQ test led me to actually buy books on Asperger's and to read all about it online, because I seem to approach but not quite cross over to it myself, and I suspected my nephew was so afflicted. That and it was inherently intriguing, as I find anything to do with brain function to be, given my own history. That has always applied to IQ testing as well.

Friday, April 18, 2003

The French Were Ever So

I'm part of the way through John Adams, which is an amazingly good, tough to put down book. I can't help being struck by how very "French" the French were back at the time of the American Revolution. It appears we were fortunate to have any help at all from them.

Which LotR Villain Am I?

So which LOTR Villain are you? Hmm??

made by Michelle at EmptySpace.

Guilty Pleasure Movies

Great topic over at The Daily Rant! Jay Caruso posts on what films are his guilty pleasures. The audience joins in. Comments abound! Go check it out and add your 2 cents.

Gene Simmons Rocks

In more ways than one. I am totally impressed with what he has to say.

Woohoo! Yes!!

Bad News

So my younger brother gets all settled, things are pretty good, but you know that couldn't last. My older brother is staying at my grandmother's house while his wife has a restraining order. Now, if you knew them and the situation, you might find this a perversely reversed scenario. Had he gotten on the ball, he could have had her out long ago. He's worse off not acting to invoke major change, even if there's temporary untidyness as a result. Kind of like Bush geopolitical policy writ small.

This is why I sometimes am just as glad to be single and completely unattached. The aforementioned brother always tells me I'm the one who should have had all the kids, because I'd be a better father. He doesn't give himself enough credit.

Of course, it's easy to stay single when you go nine years without a date. When I say I'm shy, I really mean it. Nothing came of that date because she was too vacuous, but at least she was assertive enough to ask.

Sigh... my family wonders why I can be standoffish. Well, besides that I avoid the phone and the key to keeping in touch with me is e-mail.

Gotta go. Time for my Friday non-date with my female friends.

Collateral Damage

I watched Collateral Damage last night, during one of my wakeful spells. I enjoyed it a lot, but I can see why they didn't release it a month after 9/11/01 as planned. Terrorosm, a fireman, rescue and escape scenes in burning buildings, explosions; yeah, better to have waited just a little as they did.

"How Moore 'Blew It'"

Roger Ebert has a Q&A page that goes into some detail on Moore, starting with the Oscar speech but also covering other details. Kind of interesting, despite Ebert's high degree of sympathy for Moore.

Good News

My brother, who moved to Ohio a couple weeks back, got the job he was hoping for when he headed out there.

He's done cabling for a few years; network, video, alarm, phone, etc. The very small outfit he worked for got most of its work as a sub to national companies who service major retailers and so forth. One such company had them do some work in their headquarters, probably with the ulterior motive of seeing how my brother's boss behaved. He learned while he was there that they were hiring in the Cincinnati area and (wink, wink) hadn't seen any applications they liked yet.

So he grabbed an application and faxed them that and his resume from my office. Then he waited. And waited. and talked to someone. And waited. And exchanged e-mail. And waited. Eventually they got to the "we're not saying you're hired but you can pretty much assume that but we'll get back to you" stage, at which point he was due to move anyway. He got to where he figured he could take any $10 an hour job, and a side job, to make enough to scrape by and pay child support, but nobody would hire him until he was actually present in Ohio.

The place that had him stringing along, meantime, did more of the same. Finally when he called the right person, they cut through the bureaucracy and got him an official "start ASAP" offer. Woohoo! It's more per hour than the old job, but the old job was predicated on 50 hours a week. However, this job should have OT, the OT generated should actually be paid, there should be raises - which will be refreshing, and there's good health insurance instead of none. He'll officially start Monday. This is such great news!

Reverse Insomnia

Now I seem to have the opposite of insomnia; all I want to do is sleep. That's not good either!

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I Wonder...

Has any kind of a fund been established for this kid, and maybe others in like situations?

Interface Design

There is a post at The command Post that is of most interest for its comments. The announcement of the site redesign unleashed a bunch of people complaining about aspects of the design, as well as people countering; sensibly and civilly or otherwise in either case.

Michelle also announced the new design here earlier, to uniformly positive reviews. Go figure.

For her part, Robyn mentions it here, being dismayed at the sometimes downright silly critcisms of this and other designs. The comments at her site seem to be universally favorable as well.

As I said in my comments at The Command Post, my very first reaction was "Eeeww," put that was for the extra click (and the initial confusion of it appear like Command Post only had three visible posts, actually), not the look and feel otherwise. And as I go on to say, there's actually some sense in doing it that way, since any given major topic area, such as Iraq, may not remain the hottest. Then people would be saying "hey, why does it go to Iraq, we want it to default to the revolt in Nigeria!" (Or whatever; use your imaginations.)

It's as good a time as any to note that I am a big fan of Alan Cooper, and while a web site may note be a program exactly, it's kinda sorta something leaning in that direction, to one degree or another. Thus my reaction to any extra barriers (clicks) in an interface. IF they can be avoided and don't make sense or add anything.

This is Bizarre

In response to this situation, I think it'd be a great use for some of the contingency cash military units carry. Pay the works, help the works with our engineers, trace out the problem and get it working as soon as humanly possible. It's worth the goodwill, worth it to ensure hospitals function more fully, and worth it to ensure the flow of water. Sheesh.

Insomnia Sucks

Argh! A few hours ago I could barely stay awake.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

This is both funny and morbid

CNN accidentally released pre-prepared obituaries for public figures such as Ronald Reagan, Dick Ceney and Pope John Paul II today, long enough for people to notice. Link thanks to Jay Caruso.

Questions of Edumacation

First, go read this post by Philip Greenspun, which comes to us courtesy of Ernie the Attorney. I agree, Philip has other interesting posts too. In the post he questions why colleges still build dorms, and why they still give time off to go help on the farm in the summer.

You're done reading and you're back? In case you skipped the comments, here is what I had to say. I figured what the heck; why type the same basic thing twice...

Wow, good questions and ideas! I never lived in dorms, and in a way was happier not to, but I tell kids you're better off living at school and moving away from home for college. I feel I really missed out by commuting; less group study, less social experience, less sense of belonging at the school. I agree that an apartment or a private dorm-like space near school would have been at least as good as a dorm, and that dorms may be an anachronisim.

Working in groups is definitely better. I thrived on that when I was in my Cost Accounting and Strategic Management case study classes.

As for the time off, well... I worked. I paid for most of school myself, working sometimes in excess of 50 hours "part time" even during the school year, and more during the summers. I initially loved the suggestion of a full time schedule for college, over a shorter span. Then I realized that would be fine for a semi-traditional "parents pay everything and support the student" arrangement, in which the student need never work or earn any of his or her own money. But I daresay for most this would not be an option. For those who can spare some time in the summer, well, there's summer classes with which to boost the speed with which you finish, and there are un- or minimall-paid internships or volunteer opportunities that give work experience and supplement what you gain from the college years.

I do believe that in 10-20 years post-secondary education as we have known it will be barely recognizable, or at least far more diverse. One more thing it'll be interesting to watch.

Mmmm, hamm... and Humor too!

This is a must read. I was howling with laughter.

Wizard of Speed and Size

Rand Simberg links to this article about a newly developed ability to get stop motion imagery within atoms and molecules. Very cool stuff that will change our lives after a time.

Read Lileks Today

Lileks today has much to say about computer interfaces, and a proposed temporal interface versus the traditional desktop interface. In a way, on XP, Microsoft plays with the temporal idea by hiding things you haven't accessed recently enough. I hate that. If I put it on the desktop, I want it there. If it's on my Start menu or system tray, I want it to appear without any extra effort.

As for Agent Elrond, I could never watch Fellowship without hearing Smith's voice talking to Frodo like "Mr. Ahnnderson, how can you call a lawyer if you have no mouth?" I managed to get past that by the time I saw the DVD (which is now stuck in my 2 week old DVD player, which is dead, powerless, kaput - argh!), but in the theater, Elrond was Agent Smith to me. It was the one jarring thing about the movie.


This article at CRN highlights the vulnerability I see in Microsoft's Office cash cow. There have long been lower cost alternatives that could passably save into the appropriate formats. is impressively ready for prime time. Since it is essentially the same as Star Office, except the extras that require payments for licensed rights, I assume that makes Star Office a serious player. The biggest reasons to keep Microsoft Office seem to be inertia, skill base, macros, and custom or specialized third party programs that use OLE automation. The OpenOffice text editor can be automated, but it's completely different from VBA or (if you're stuck in the past) WordBasic code.

I am still a bit skeptical of online service "programs," as opposed to programs you install on your computer that are always there, relying on no bandwidth, no DNS resolution, and no servers being up. But this IBM thing is still cool. The effective, acceptable to the public price for an "office" suite is rapidly descending under $100 or so. Even Microsoft, with its "buy it, we won't verify you're reall a student or teacher" Office XP Academic Edition, has indicated some recognition of the new order. Last time I was in a CompUSA, that bargain edition was the only MS Office variant they had in stock, at something like $129.

Office suites are becoming a commodity. They've long since been "Good Enough". Microsoft has suffered in part from its own success. Office 97 was a magnum opus, just amazing, and their marketing skill made it ubiquitous. Then they wanted everyone to upgrade and upgrade again, but for what? It's not so compelling to move on up, not for the money involved.

Things should continue to be interesting in the next several years.

Global Civil War

John Ellis (no known relation) links to this fascinating analysis of the war and geopolitical situation.


Still on the CIO Magazine site, this time looking at the "12-Step Program" article. Item 5 really grabbed me:

5. Purple monkey water wrench. Got that? Exactly. Your customers no more understand your techno-speak than you understand the heading for this point. Never talk down to anyone. One condescending exchange can erase years of hard lobbying.

My first job doing support was supporting newly introduced PC-based POS systems for fast food restaurant. I interviewed with the VP in charge of support, who thought I was great. Then I interviewed with the supervisor of support, who was horrified at the idea of hiring someone with no fast food industry experience. She got overruled, but made my life difficult the entire time I was there as a result, eventually seeing that I was booted. Which followed by her being booted, when they figured out how much of a moronic hindrance to the team she was. But anyway...

At the same time I was hired, they also hired a guy who was experienced in fast food, but didn't know the first thing about a PC. He was the nicest guy in the world, great to work with, and someone I wish I still were in touch with. About a year after I was out of there, at which point so was he, I lost track of him.

Despite knowing nothing, he picked up on things well. To this day, I don't see knowing the industry as having been much of an advantage, compared to our both having to learn the system, and his having to learn some DOS and PC stuff to function.

To this day (almost 10 years later) I am mortified about the day, after we'd been there a substantial time, he asked me a simple DOS question and I was condescending in a "you don't know that!?" sort of way. He snapped something like "fine, I'll ask someone else" back at me and walked away, by which time I was already thinking "what have I done!" The "one condescending exchange..." sentence in the quoted material above is exactly right, whether it's a client or internal "customer," or a colleague whose knowledge set doesn't fully overlap yours. I try not to do that, even when I find it bizarre for the person in question to ask what they are asking. Sometimes I wobble, but I don't think I've ever been quite as rude - or at least not with anyone sensitive enough to be that pissed off - with anyone since then. I can intentionally do that to my partner and he'll tell me "f*ck you" and then we'll laugh while I actually answer the question, but I try not to be unthinkingly condescending.

That company we worked for is long since out of business, because of people like my supervisor, and their effort to make sure anyone clueful would leave, and their slowness to innovate. In retrospect, being there was an up close and personal experience being inside an imploding company.

On another note, as polite as it may be to speak clearly, without geek speak, to non-technical people, they should make an effort at the basics anyone should know. "Click the file menu" shouldn't result in "huh?" as a reply. It's really okay to learn that the pretty picture you see when everything is closed or minimized is "wallpaper." It is not the "screensaver." It's okay to learn that programs are all located on the Start menu, which you get to with the Start button, which is normally located on the lower left of the screen, unless you like to configure things weirdly. The monitor is not the computer. The computer is not "the hard drive." Most Windows programs have similarly configured menus, so if you're familiar with one, you ought to be less lost in another. The save and open dialogues (oops, technical term, "boxes" might be better) are generally the same in different programs, and should not provoke panic. Sheesh. Cars are a great analogy. If I step on the brakes and they don't work, so the car crashes, I don't need to know that I have rotors, drums, disks, power or non-power brakes, etc. Nor do I care if the mechanic yammers at me about such things; just fix it. But I can darn well know the brakes were involved in the crash! People drive their computers as if they don't need to know how to steer.

Best Crisis Practices

CIO Magazine describes Best Practices in a law enforcement crisis situation, learned from the D.C.-area sniper attacks.

Travel Agent Tribulations

Indigoinsights has some amusing travel agent humor, most of which was probably made up, but it remains funny. I first saw much of this list several years ago, as an e-mail humor item. It's the Bush aide one, obviously new, that made me consider that they might all be tall tales.

Blog Tour, Second Leg

Have you visited Besty's Page yet?

I know I've talked it up in brief before, but I really like the site. It's a graphics-light site so it loads fast. While I enjoy pictures and "pretty" blogs too, I tend to have a soft spot for the ones that are up and readable in no time flat.

She's mostly a link and cite site, but some of the stuff is different; not all the same war and political links you might see anywhere.

Perfect Day

I must live in the wrong part of the country.

It's 87° in the Brockton area, and on the radio they said 84° in Boston. When I saw the 87° I thought "it's a perfect day!"

Most people around here would think I was crazy, and agree that maybe 70-80 was ideal, but not this warm. Heh.

Geographic and Lingual Fossils

I have a dictionary from 1940. Also have one from 1937, but the 1940 one is far cooler.

The 1940 dictionary is from Publisher's Guild, Inc. of New York, NY. It is titled "Webster'sSuperior Dictionary" and has a subtitle/marketing blurb of "For Home, School and Office - With Atlas of the World."

It's that last that makes it a more intriguing artifact than the other old dictionary.

For instance, the map of Poland and Czechoslovakia specifies "Before 1938." The map of Germany incudes a portion of that, outlined, with the text "claimed by Germany." Austria is entirely a part of Germany.

Then there's the vast array of colonies that are now countries. It's amazing to look at Africa and southeast Asia. Oh, and there's a couple states missing. A huge chunk of northwest Africa is labeled "French West Africa." Sudan is labeled "Nubia" and "Anglo Egyptian Sudan." Except Somaliland (which needs to be recognized in its new incarnation), the Horn of Africa is "Italian East Africa." It's something, seeing the old maps.

All of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were still "French Indochina." Taiwan is labeled as owned by Japan. USSR doesn't include the Baltics yet. A big chunk of China is shown as Japan too.

In Canada, the former Northwest Territories is shown as three entities: Provisional District of Mackenzie, Provisional District of Keewatin, and Provisional District of Franklin. I believe the latter two combined are roughly what is now Nunavet.

The dictionary also contains fun sections like principal cities of the United States, the Presidents up through the current one, number 32, FDR of course, and a bunch of specialty dictionaries for things like various sports.

I haven't looked up any words to compare old and current definitions, as I couldn't think of likely candidates. That could be fun. Any suggestions?


I'm a little dismayed that someone rich bought up ALL my shares. I had figured I might buy some more of them myself. Oh well; at least the value went up significantly.


Silflay Hraka has lots of interesting SARS stuff, including notably this one primarily on vectors, suggesting locusts as a possibility.

Self-Directed Taxes and X-Prize Goal Incentives

BusinessPundit has a post I can relate to, on the topic of taxpayers being able to specify the allocation of some portion of their taxes in proportions and to areas of their preference. He has some links to other material. Related to that, he also discusses the idea of goal-oriented prizes for specific things, similar to the X-Prize

Good Analysis

I got a link to this article somewhere in my travels tonight, in which I have been opening a mess of my links at a time and catching up. By the time I got to the FT article window, I'd long since closed whoever had linked it. Sorry for the lack of credit! Worth reading, in any event.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Great War Psychological Trauma

James at Philosophical Blitzkrieg has a fascinating discussion on why the First World War was more psychologically traumatic than the Second. Go to the main page and look for the post titled "A Strange Phenomenon" on April 14, 2003 if the theoretical direct link doesn't work.

VB.NET Lepers

Scott Hanselman in his Programming blog has an interesting post titled Eight Ways to Earn More Money . In it he discusses the salary survey issue of Visual Studio Magazine, and his take on their advice. I think he makes some good points.


I think this is really awesome news.

Grrrr! Argh!

Blogsplat is going to drive me onto another venue sooner rather than later at this rate!


I forgot to set the VCR! Here I am, at the office, at almost 8:00, with my faithful VCR not set to tape Gilmore Girls and Smallville at 8:00 and 9:00. Argh. So I will flee momentarily and catch part of one and all of the other firsthand. Gilmore Girls is one of the best things on television, though I have seen marginal episodes. Smallville is remarkably well done. They could have ended up with total garbage, but they did a nice job.

I also tape Enterprise (despite my pun of "Empty Prize" at its expense) and The West Wing (despite my pun of "The Left Wing" at its expense), because I enjoy them as well. More recently I've been trying to catch John Doe on Fridays.

The one other thing I mean to tape and never remember is The Outer Limits, after midnight Saturday nights.

I don't have cable, so my selections are limited. And yes, I like Buffy, but I managed never to get sucked in like some people. So I can watch it and enjoy it, but I don't have to glue myself to the TV when it's on, and watch all the reruns over and over on whatever channels carry them. I actually look forward to seeing all the episodes someday on DVD.

I gave up on Andromeda. Is that even still on? I haven't noticed it lately. It turned into crap this year, after they pushed out the key writer and Sorbo apparently threw his weight around. It wasn't even worth making sure I saw it to admire Lexa Doig and Lisa Ryder any more.

Mark Twain

Sgt. Hook has some great Mark Twain quotes. If archives were working, the link would be here for the post, but as long as they're not and it's recent, go here and scroll to the post titled "Said Samuel Clemens..." from April 12, 2003.

Via Voice From the Commonwealth.

But Why?

Someone found my blog with the following Yahoo search:

sars virus pig islam

15 Hits, and mine is the fifth. But why that search? I can see the first three words together. I can see the last two words together. Or the first two. I dunno sometimes...


Weird. My valuation suddenly went up almost vertically and my blog went IPO, so I have the automatic 1000 shares and almost $240 more portfolio value as a result. But my portfolio value went from $580 last I looked to $1183 now, which is a lot more than $240. Someone must have spiked...

Aha! Bitter Girl went from 0¢ to 24¢ per share! And I had "bought" 1800 shares, then ditched 800 but kept 1000 in case. Cool! The gambit worked!

And almost everything else went up above my average cost. Yes! But Kim du Toit's stock is a slacker, which I can't understand, seeing how he is cool and popular. Strange.

If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done

I just got back from mailing taxes. Woohoo! I can decompress and become sane again, relatively speaking.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Go Visit Medpundit Today

Lots of good stuff there, including a piece on the SARS genome having been sequenced (I'd not yet mentioned how impressive that is) and what they've learned so far from that.

Oh, and light or no posting until probably late tonight or sometime tomorrow. Guess I am not doing a good job covering for Andrew Sullivan, whom I see came back just long enough to supplement his last post with an adorable bunny picture. But I digress.

Political Compass

Rand Simberg posted a link to this political quiz, on which he came out in the center of the right-libertarian quadrant. I came out similarly positioned:

Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: 6.75
Authoritarian/Libertarian: -4.00

Dead center of the quadrant would be 5 and -5 respectively.

Now on to China

Wow, it's a night for great posts I guess. Trent at Winds of Change posts something he wrote some time ago in correspondence with Jerry Pournelle, related to the "republic or empire?" theme Jerry is fond of discussing. I'd recommend reading it.

Our Friends the Saudis

Dean has an excellent post on the Saudi Problem. He also has an earlier post in which he mainly refers to another site on the same topic. Worth checking out Dean's main post at least; I haven't followed the link to the other site yet...

Spring Break

Andrew Sullivan just announced he is taking the week off. I guess people will have to come read me instead.

What, did I say something funny? Heh.

Sunday, April 13, 2003


I certainly hope that after what the Shi'a have gone through in Iraq, under a new government religious tolerance and freedom is an utmost consideration.


Blogshares seems to be having issues today. Is this how people spend their Sunday, playing the imaginary stocks? It acts overloaded with traffic.

Since most of what I bought went down, I've been trying to use dollar cost averaging to bring down my average cost per share and make it more worthwhile when the stocks go up. The big mistake was not buying more Instapundit and then not holding it even longer after the value almost doubled. I thought the share price of just over $20 was too much even for who it was, and being so much, I only bought 2 shares. Then it shot up to over $40! So I said "ooh, a spike, this can't last" and I sold it. Now at $53.86 it really is ridiculous in price.

Meanwhile, there was disappointment in most of the rest. I bought lots of Jen because she was such a bargain, no downside, but she hasn't budged even a cent. Gut Rumbles, LGF, and Rachel all tanked. Sheesh. JimSpot has almost doubled, but that's starting from a low, limited downside position. He's probably still a good investment at the current price. Samizdata did pretty well, almost doubling too, but starting from a higher base. Scrappleface barely went up and still seems like a good buy to me. I guess I can't complain too much. I still have slightly more in cash plus portfolio than what I started with in cash.

Unfortunately, I can't be bought. Apparently the IPO doesn't happen until you have a certain value in incoming links. That sucks.

Go Canada

Nicholas at The Ghost of a Flea comments on what it's all too easy to forget about Canada.


I forget to check out Scrappleface for a few days, and Scott goes and outdoes himself. Don't be a slacker like me; make sure you head on over there regularly.

And While I Was At It...

I decided to take the 2004 Presidential Selector too. At this time, it's based on anyone who might be a candidate, and you can tell it to exclude minor party, undeclared, or withdrawn candidates from your results. I let it include everyone. Here are my results, which have some shockingly high percentages for some surprising people, after the first two, whom I would expect to be there in that order...

1. Browne, Harry - Libertarian (100%)
2. Bush, George W. - US President (90%)
3. Buchanan, Patrick J. ? Reform/Republican (75%)
4. Clinton, Senator Hillary Rodham, NY - Democrat (69%)
5. Bayh, Sentator Evan, IN - Democrat (68%)
6. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (67%)
7. Gephardt, Cong. Dick, MO - Democrat (65%)
8. Jackson, Cong. Jesse Jr., IL - Democrat (61%)
9. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (60%)
10. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (59%)
11. Lieberman Senator Joe CT - Democrat (58%)
12. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (57%)
13. Daschle, Senate Minority Leader Tom, SD - Democrat (52%)
14. Nader, Ralph - Green Party (52%)
15. McCain, Sentator John, AZ- Republican (51%)
16. Feingold, Senator Russ, WI - Democrat (49%)
17. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (48%)
18. Biden, Senator Joe, DE - Democrat (48%)
19. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (45%)
20. Kaptur, Cong. Marcy, OH - Democrat (45%)
21. Dodd, Senator Chris, CT - Democrat (43%)
22. Leahy, Patrick Senator, Vermont - Democrat (42%)
23. Feinstein, Senator Dianne, CA - Democrat (38%)
24. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (37%)
25. Gore, Former Vice-President Al - Democrat (33%)
26. Bradley, Former Senator Bill NJ - Democrat (33%)
27. Socialist Candidate (31%)
28. Hagelin, John - Natural Law (21%)
29. Vilsack, Governor. Tom IA - Democrat (13%)
30. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol IL - Democrat (9%)
31. Hart, Former Sentator Gary, CO - Democrat (2%)
32. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (0%)
33. Clark, Retired Army General Wesley K "Wes" Arkansas - Democrat (0%)


Ethical Philosophy Selector

Here's my results:

1. John Stuart Mill (100%)

2. Ayn Rand (96%)

3. Jeremy Bentham (93%)

4. Epicureans (89%)

5. Aristotle (77%)

6. Cynics (76%)

7. Aquinas (74%)

8. Nietzsche (74%)

9. Jean-Paul Sartre (73%)

10. David Hume (72%)

11. Kant (70%)

12. Thomas Hobbes (70%)

13. Stoics (60%)

14. Spinoza (58%)

15. St. Augustine (53%)

16. Prescriptivism (53%)

17. Plato (51%)

18. Nel Noddings (47%)

19. Ockham (36%)

Kind of interesting. The info on each of the people/philosophies is at this page.