Musings of a Philosophical Scrivener...
Idle ramblings of an intermittently philosophical nature... Apologies to Martin Gardner, whose The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener is one of the best books you've (probably) never read.

An Idle Thought...
What a misfortune, and injustice, for the University of Tennessee College of Law that [Glenn "InstaPundit"] Reynolds should now be their best-known faculty member.
--Brian Leiter, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin

About Me (the condensed version)
A member of the tail end of the boomers; a middle aged recovering lawyer turned professional computer geek. Native of St. Louis, Missouri, transplanted to Memphis, Tennessee. Avid reader, amateur philosopher, St. Louis Cardinals fan, one of the last Renaissance men.

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A bit about me (The uncondensed version) Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything
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Listed on Blogwise

And in case you're interested, here's how many other 'net denizens need a life, or at least more compelling reading:

A blog worth reading:

Bloggus Caesari (Julius Caesar's Warblog)

Two blogs worth reading that I'll plug because the blogger is another Linux geek and a fellow Cardinals fan besides:

Frankly, I'd Rather Not

Other links of interest (to me, at least), in no particular order:

The Daily Howler
Bill Maher Blog
The Progressive
The O'Franken Factor
Majority Report Radio
The Gadflyer
Daily Kos
Steve Gilliard's Blog
Whiskey Bar
Just a Bump in the Beltway
The Village Gate (formerly The Right Christians)
Juan Cole *Informed Comment*
Christopher Orlet
The Online Gadfly
The Crisis Papers
Ted Rall Online
The Smirking Chimp
Talking Points Memo
Molly Ivins
This Modern World, By Tom Tomorrow
Tom the Dancing Bug, by Reuben Bolling
Bob the Angry Flower
Conservatively Incorrect, by Rack Jite
Media Whores Online
Butterflies and Wheels
The Leiter Reports
Nathan Newman
Brief Intelligence
Half the Sins of Mankind
The Swing State Project
Glorfindel of Gondolin
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Missouri Liberal
different strings
Shock and Awe
Gotham City 13
Pen-Elayne on the Web
Empty Days
Censored Story of the Day
Roger's Profanisaurus
Rhonda & Jane present: 525 Reasons to Dump Bush
The Bush Scorecard of Evil
Sherman P. Wright's Moderate Weblog
Quaker in a Basement
World Phamous
NLSO Subic Bay (Navy unit alumni blog.)
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Bracing against the wind
Rants Vitriol and Spleen – JRI
Apostate's Weekly
Redbird Nation
Go Cardinals
The Cardinals' Birdhouse
The Birdhouse Minor League Report
The Cardinals Fan Site
St. Louis Cardinals Ultimate Fan Site
RedBird Central
Get Up, Baby!
Royalties and Cardinalate (an all-MO baseball blog)
Pro Sports Daily: St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals news
Rob Neyer's column
The Hardball Times
The Baseball Widow
Management by Baseball
The Nashville Files (RTB member in waiting?)
Madeleine Begun Kane's Notables Weblog
The Select Group of Toys
Pesky the Rat
I, Cringely
The Gripe Line Weblog, by Ed Foster
The Register
Evil Empire
Watching Microsoft Like a Hawk
Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil
Public Defender Dude
Punishment Theory
Savage Cruel Bigots
Treason Online
Hell for Halliburton
Hollywood Lost and Found
Popdex Citations

Rocky Top Brigade:

RTB Lounge
NationStates Region

A Little More to the Right
A Moveable Beast
A Smoky Mountain Journal
Beyond the Whispers
Big Stupid Tommy
Bjorn, Again
Bully Pulpit
Busy Mom
Celtic Grove
Classless Warfare Jane
Conservative Zone
Dagley Dagley Daily
Damn Art Diary
Damn Foreigner
Democratic Veteran
Doc B
Doug McDaniel
Drawing Dead
Elephant Rants
Filthy Hippy Speak
Frank Cagle
Free Speech News
Granny Rant
Growth Spurt
Guy Montag
Hypotheses Non Fingo
In a Mays
Inn of the Last Home
Jaded Journal
Johnson City Stories
Lay Lines
Lean Left
Les Jones
Loco Parentis
Long Pauses
Mike Hollihan
Mike Reed
Mind Warp
Missives Anonymous
Mr. Lawson
My Quiet Life
Newton's Kumquat
No Quarters
One Hand Clapping
Pathetic Earthlings
Philosophical Scrivener
Queen Medb's Castle
Rebel Yell
Rex Hammock
Rich Hailey
Road Warrior
Sick of Bush
South Knox Bubba
Southern Reporter
Straight White Guy
Team Rock
The Golden Calf
Up For Anything
Voluntarily in China
Wandering Hillbilly
William Burton
InstaPundit (link removed, because I think Reynolds is an idiot, and he doesn't need the linkage. If you really want to waste your time reading his drivel, you know where to find him.)
Adam Groves (MIA)
Fat Ass Politics (MIA)
Oz's Lion (MIA)
Rapmaster (MIA)
Rush Limbaughtomy (MIA)
Secret City Scene (MIA)
Twelfth Parsec (MIA)
Uncommon Sense (KIA)
Underground Man (MIA)
Xyon's Rambles (MIA)

Memphis Blogs not in the Rocky Top Brigade

Signifying Nothing
m e m p h i s . c o o l (Jon W. Sparks's personal blog)
Sparks on Memphis (Jon W. Sparks's CA blog)
Peggy Phillip
Tread lightly on the things of earth
Rachel and the City
Well, I think I'm funny
Voice of Golden Eagle
when you're 21, you're no fun

The League of Liberals:

Democratic Veteran
The Spy Game
Cosmic Iguana
People's Republic of Seabrook
Philosophical Scrivener
The Mahablog
WTF is it NOW?
blunted on reality
Happy Furry Puppy Story Time
All Facts and Opinions
Dubya's Daily Diary
ARMACT Action Alerts
Cup O' Joe
Grateful Dread on the Web
The Poison Kitchen
Indigo Ocean
The Felonious Elephant
Sick of Bush
Arms and the Man
Rick's Cafe Americain
A-Changin' Times(ACT)
Estimated Prophet
Gotham City 13
Officially Unofficial
The Gunther Concept
The Mudshark
Screaming Points
Ink from the Squid
Left Is Right
Byte Back
The Huck Upchuck
The Sesquipedalian
DeanLand - Dean Landsman's Weblog
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Wilson's Blogmanac
Ayn Clouter
Anarchy Xero

The Liberal Coalition

01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004

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Saturday, May 31, 2003

Thought for the day:
Frankincense, one reads, has historically been used in Christian and other religious rituals to "purify the air." This was obviously written by someone with very limited experience of religious rituals. When I was an altar boy, the most coveted job (which I had) was to be "thurifer," or incense hassler. This job was great because you got to (a) light the charcoal in the thurible (incense burner) before the service, which gave my natural desire to play with matches a religious significance that I still feel when lighting coals in the Weber; and (b) you could ladle in all the incense you wanted. The result was not purer air; on the contrary, I routinely produced enough smoke to make it look like the church was on fire. In my case this merely annoyed the priest. But in the old days, you're talking about a congregation that slept with camels and didn't have the benefit of refrigerated mortuaries. No doubt smelling frankincense was preferable to smelling anything else.
--Cecil Adams

Friday, May 30, 2003

Very interesting analysis...
Of the SCO lawsuit situation by Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringely at his PBS website. Go read the whole thing it's worth it; Cringely thinks there's some devious maneuvering by Microsoft going on here:

What about Microsoft? A week ago, I saw them strictly as a spoiler, suckering SCO into this suicide play. But now I find myself wondering if there isn't some deeper story here. Microsoft says its Unix license was just like any number of similar licenses they have taken in the past to avoid any possible violation of another company's intellectual property rights. Yeah, right. I can't find anyone who can name such a Microsoft license that was not taken as part of an out-of-court settlement. It is more the truth that Microsoft takes licenses only when it is forced to.

SCO doesn't appear to be forcing Microsoft, so I can only come to the conclusion that Redmond is thinking of actually using that license, selling its own version of Unix. I wrote about something very similar to this a few months ago, only then I speculated that Microsoft might build a new OS atop Linux. But why use Linux when they could claim Unix, instead? The key here, I think, is the Windows emulation technology Microsoft got when it bought Connectix. Originally aimed at server consolidation, that code could be used by Microsoft to create and sell a Unix/Windows hybrid that would be a big success if Linux is killed by SCO. And the new Microsoft OS would even be a viable competitor to Linux if SCO loses, since it would offer Windows application compatibility. Microsoft could certainly use a sturdy server operating system for a change.

I'd call it "Windex." Or do you think some other company has already trademarked that name?

And you wonder why I think Microsoft sucks?
Randy Nieland's Lockergnome Tech Specialist newsletter for today has a note about the formation of Microsoft's Security Engineering Strategy Team. Apparently their mission is to make us forget about security. As Randy points out in his article, not a good idea. We want security to be easy, but interactive.

Can there be such a thing...
as too much security? Sure, says a former CIA analyst, when your security is geared to risk exclusion, rather than risk avoidal...

In all the excitement yesterday, I forgot to mention....
that Microsoft hit us with four--count' 'em, four--security related patches yesterday. Or as La Reg put it: "Wakey, wakey, it's patching day again".

Thought for the day:
Village Boy 2: We're ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards.
O'Reilly: Don't you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there's nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery.
--"The Magnificent Seven" [film]

Thursday, May 29, 2003

"Well, some people need practical advice." --George Carlin
From a random rambling comment posted to (scroll down about a little over halfway):

Guys, avoid strip clubs at all costs. Here is why: You walk into these places with sixty bucks, telling yourself that you will only get one lap dance and have a drink. Then you see this beautiful 17-year old stripper named Amber and you convince yourself that if you keep getting lap dances from her she will realize that you are a "pretty cool guy" and maybe you can secure a date with her and take her out of this life that she is forced to live so she can feed her four kids. You go to the ATM (conveniently located in the club), get out $100 more and get another 3 lap dances, each one an exact replica of the one before. Then she tells you about the back room. It’s $100 for one dance in the back room. At this point you must realize that you will not be getting a number, will not be rescuing this girl from anything, and you will overdraw your checking account. This is when it’s time to walk away. You have no chance. She is dating the bartender, bouncer or cop and unless you get that dumbass haircut (more on that later) you just blew $160 to see what you could have seen for free on Kazaa. Save your money and take that nice little girl from Dunkin’ Donuts on a date. You know, the one with the sideburns.

I think the only thing that this guy missed is that when you go to the ATM (conveniently located in the club) the ATM is going to charge you about $30 in fees to get that $100 you need for the extra three lap dances. However, while you've just blown $160 to see what you could have seen for free on KaZaA, at least you'll see it up close, a bit more personally, and the resolution won't suck nearly as badly.

KaZaA becomes download king....
I hope the RIAA is crapping down both legs at that news....

And the Tux Juggernaut rolls on....
Two reports today that MS has lost a significant battle in Germany: the city of Munich is going to defenestrate itself and go Linux. The whole story, from La Reg, and from e-Week.

More interesting happenings on the SCO lawsuit front:
La Reg points us to this, wherein Bruce Perens reveals that Novell has now jumped into the controversy; according to Novell:

Importantly, and contrary to SCO's assertions, SCO is not the owner of the UNIX copyrights. Not only would a quick check of U.S. Copyright Office records reveal this fact, but a review of the asset transfer agreement between Novell and SCO confirms it. To Novell's knowledge, the 1995 agreement governing SCO's purchase of UNIX from Novell does not convey to SCO the associated copyrights. We believe it unlikely that SCO can demonstrate that it has any ownership interest whatsoever in those copyrights. Apparently, you share this view, since over the last few months you have repeatedly asked Novell to transfer the copyrights to SCO, requests that Novell has rejected. Finally, we find it telling that SCO failed to assert a claim for copyright or patent infringement against IBM.

SCO's response to Novell's shot back? According to CBS Marketwatch, they'll sue Linus.

Things can only get more interesting from here...

More of Microsoft being Microsoft....
Numerous reports come filtering into my in-box today of the bug in Microsoft's L2TP/IPSec NAT-T Update for Windows XP and Windows 2000 which wound up hosing users of firewall products by third party vendors (most notably Symantec, according to La Reg. Randy Nieland's Lockergnome Tech Specialist for today also has a mention, as did MS-BS. Nice to know that Microsoft still holds true to some traditions, such as letting their paying customers in on the thrills and chills of being beta testers...

Thought of the Day:
We seem to have a compulsion these days to bury time capsules in order to give those people living in the next century or so some idea of what we are like. I have prepared one of my own. In it, I have placed some rather large samples of dynamite, gunpowder, and nitroglycerin. My time capsule is set to go off in the year 3000. It will show them what we are really like.
--Alfred Hitchcock

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

This is a test...
of the Konqueror Web Browser with Blogger. So far, no surprises.

The [mis]Administration is starting to cover its ass....:
From the International Herald Tribune: U.S. says Iraq may have junked toxic arms

Hmmmmmmm... Now the question is, were they lying, or were they honestly mistaken when they told us that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction"?

I'm sure you know my opinion there.

One of our greatest presidents....
may have been an atheist. Will wonders never cease?

On the SKEPTIC list, one of the members referred us to a page containing excerpts from several of William Herndon's letters. Herndon, for those of you who are a bit historically challenged, was one of Abraham Lincoln's closest friends, and was Lincoln's law partner in Springfield, Illinois from about 1834 or so until Lincoln's election to the Presidency--or arguably, until Lincoln's death, since the partnership was never formally dissolved when Lincoln entered the White House. In these letters, Herndon addresses Lincoln's religious beliefs--or lack thereof, since Herndon points out that for at least parts of his life, Lincoln was an atheist, and most assuredly Lincoln had been since his youth a definite non-Christian. The page I link to is well worth a read, but here are som interesting excerpts:

In 1835 he wrote out a small work on Infidelity, and intended to have it published. This book was an attack upon the whole grounds of Christianity, and especially was it an attack upon the idea that Jesus was the Christ, the true and only-begotten son of God, as the Christian world contends... His argument was grounded on the internal mistakes of the Old and New Testaments, and on reason and on the experiences and observations of men. The criticisms from internal defects were sharp, strong, and manly.

From what I know of Mr. Lincoln, and from what I have heard and verily believe, I can say, first, that he did not believe in special creation, his idea being that all creation was an evolution under law; secondly, that he did not believe that the Bible was a special revelation from God, as the Christian world contends; thirdly, he did not believe in miracles as understood by Christians; fourthly, he believed in universal inspiration and miracles under law; fifthly, he did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, the son of God, as the Christian church contends; sixthly, he believed that all things, both matter and mind, were governed by laws, universal, absolute and eternal. All his speeches and remarks in Washington conclusively prove this. Law was to Lincoln everything, and special interferences, shams and delusions.

At one moment of his life I know that he was an Atheist. I was preparing a speech on Kansas, and in it, like nearly all reformers, I invoked God. He made me wipe out that word and substitute the word Maker, affirming that said Maker was a principle of the universe. When he went to Washington he did the same to a friend there.

I have often said to you, and now repeat it, that Lincoln was a scientific materialist, i.e., that this was his tendency as opposed to the Spiritualistic idea. Lincoln always contended that general and universal laws ruled the Universe -- always did -- do now -- and ever will. He was an Agnostic generally, sometimes an Atheist.

That Mr. Lincoln was an Infidel from 1834 to 1661 [sic], I know, and that he remained one to the day of his death, I honestly believe. I always understood that he was an Infidel, sometimes bordering on Atheism. I never saw any change in the man, and the change could not have escaped my observation had it happened.

I see frequently quoted a supposed speech made by Mr. Lincoln to the colored people of Baltimore, on the presentation of a Bible to him. This supposed speech contains the following: "All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book." This idea is false and foolish. What becomes of nine-tenths of the life of Jesus of which we have no history -- nine-tenths of the great facts of this grand man's life not recorded in this book? Mr. Lincoln was full and exact in his language. He never used the word Saviour, unless in a conventional sense; in fact, he never used the word at all. Again, he is made to say: "But for this book, we could not know right from wrong." The lowest organized life, I was about to say, knows right from wrong in its particular sphere. Every good dog that comes in possession of a bone, knows that the bone belongs to him, and he knows that it is wrong for another dog to rob him of it. He protests with bristling hair and glistening teeth against such dog robbery. It requires no revelation to teach him right from wrong in the dog world; yet it requires a special revelation from God to teach us right from wrong in the human world. According to this speech, the dog has the advantage. But Mr. Lincoln never uttered such nonsense.

And they told us the iLoo was a hoax...
Apparently, a genius at MIT is working on a cyber-urinal, called "You're in Control" (pun intended). Of course that meant that Andrew Orlowski at La Reg just couldn't resist....

Linux heats up enterprise apps space...

Apparently, Linux is the fastest growing of all operating systems, with a cumulative annual growth rate of 34%. In so doing, it is taking away market share from both Windows and Unix. According to IBM, Microsoft will never again achieve the annual growth rate of 40% for Windows that it previously enjoyed. But what about software and applications? Here, Linux is playing catch-up, with Linux software growing at an annual rate of 65%.

Go Tux!!!!

Thought for the day:
The missing verse from the book of Genesis:

And on the 8th day God said, "Ok Murphy, you take over."

So near, and yet so far....
From today's Baseball Hall of Fame mailing. And I thought my life sucks sometimes...

Harvey Haddix Perfect for 12 Innings

May 26, 1959 was a warm, humid evening in Milwaukee. Thirty-three year-old left hander Harvey Haddix took the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates to face the Braves and Lew Burdette. In August 1952, Haddix beat the Braves and Burdette for his first major league victory. This time the result would be heartbreakingly different.

As the game progressed "Kitten," fighting a nasty cough that night, knew he hadn't allowed a run or a hit, but was unsure whether or not he had walked anyone. He hadn't. After nine innings, Haddix retired 27 consecutive Braves, a perfect game. But Pittsburgh couldn't muster a run against Burdette despite several opportunities. The game went into extra innings. In the tenth, Pirates pinch hitter Dick Stuart drove a ball to the center field fence, where it was caught. Kitten pitched a perfect tenth, eleventh, and twelfth innings - 36 consecutive Braves mowed down.

Pittsburgh remained scoreless against Burdette, despite 12 hits. Felix Mantilla reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the thirteenth. After a sacrifice and an intentional walk to Henry Aaron, first baseman Joe Adcock drove one over the right-centerfield fence. What appeared to be a three-run homer was, in fact, a one-RBI double because of
a base running gaff by Aaron.

"It was just another loss, but it hurt a little more," said the diminutive lefty after his 115-pitch, 1-0 defeat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

And one last entry...
Discovered the hard way that Blogger is apparently not compatible with Opera for Linux... tried to publish the last entry through Opera, and the login window for the Blogger FTP client didn't show up. Hmmmmmm. I hate being restricted in my browser selections.

(Which reminds me; I should check compatibily with Konqueror, since I spend a lot of time in that browser, too.)

Had to get this entry in....
which is going to be shorter than I planned, since I somehow closed Opera in the middle of writing this the first time.

I have Mandrake 9.1!!!! Even better, while I'd ordered the ProSuite package of DVD/CDs only (i.e., no documentation), I received the package with the manuals. As it turned out, that was good, since I managed to hose X trying to get to 1024 x 768 resolution, and the "troubleshooting" section of the starter's guide got me right on track.

Anyway, I generally like the KDE 3.1 interface, though I wonder if I'm not being fair to Microsoft: there are things about KDE 3.1 that remind me of the Windows XP GUI, which I always put down as having been "designed by f*cking Fisher-Price". Ok. Maybe I'm biased, but I think the KDE project managed to get it right....

More later, though. It's pushing midnight, and I have to get to bed. Typical of when I have a new software toy, though...

After weeks of waiting, and days of screwing around with DHL Express (don't ask!) I now have Mandrake Linux 9.1 in my hot little hands, and soon, it should be on my box at home.... I really don't have the time to screw around with it, but I'll probably waste tonight upgrading my linux box... *sigh* The things I go through to get the latest and greatest build of KDE....

Thought for the Day:
It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money.
--H.L. Mencken

Monday, May 26, 2003

It's the American way....
THE DEPART­MENT OF Homeland Security made headlines when they urged Americans to buy duct tape to survive a terrorist attack. Needless to say, the Department Stores of Homeland Security sold every roll of sticky gray canvas laminate in their national stockpile.

I swear, you gotta love the American psyche. We yankees revel in our mass hysteria. (In fact, if you think about it, you'll realize Vmyths carved an ironic niche from mass hysteria.)

--Rob Rosenbeger

Follow the link, and see how Rob is protecting his laptop from cyberterrorism. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and see the picture; it's worth the price of admission....

Sometimes, there's noone so immoral as a "moral" man...
I do know that the only leader threatening the world with nuclear weapons and pre-emptive attack is George W. Bush. It gives me no pleasure to point that out. But it is not the role of an American citizen to be a sheep. It has become apparent that those of us who supported Bush made a mistake. I'm beginning to believe that a philanderer and a liar is less dangerous than an upright but ignorant man who thinks God has appointed him to rule the world.
--Charley Reese

United States Planning Death Camp at Gitmo:
So reports the Courier-Mail, of Queensland, Austrailia.

Bush the murderer plans to add more blood to his hands.

Thought for the day:
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. so I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" He said, "Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"

I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.
--Emo Philips

Friday, May 23, 2003

Thought for the Day:
The second thing our sniper did was change forever the lives of every person close to his victims. In three weeks, with thirteen shots, a pair of pathetic drifters caused, to hundreds of people, pain and loss and suffering that will never go away, while the Internet suffered the worst attack in its history and absolutely nothing came of it. I'd like to hear Clarke or Schmidt or one of their fellow cyber-alarmist bureaucrats explain publicly what a so-called cyber-terrorist can accomplish that even approaches this sort of damage. I'd like to see one of these superior creatures address the friends and families of the sniper's victims and explain to them the devastating horrors of Internet mischief and cyber-terrorism.
--Thomas C. Greene []

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Canada and the U.S: Diverging Values
An opinion piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail. A short excerpt:

Values do matter most.

And the large and widening gap between the values of ordinary Canadians and Americans — and between the governments both societies elect or choose — have never been more apparent than in the post-9/11 world.

The minority of Canadians who say "Ready, aye, ready" in support of America's global Monroe Doctrine will remain a minority and are fortunate to live in a country where minority opinion is encouraged.

Floor Remarks of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, May 21, 2003
Copied here without permission, in the interest of wider dissemination of these important remarks. The original can be found at Sen. Byrd's official website.

Truth Will Emerge

"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again, --
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers."

Truth has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it. Distortion only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually.

But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter. The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently in vogue. We see a lot of this today in politics. I see a lot of it -- more than I would ever have believed -- right on this Senate Floor.

Regarding the situation in Iraq, it appears to this Senator that the American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing International law, under false premises. There is ample evidence that the horrific events of September 11 have been carefully manipulated to switch public focus from Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda who masterminded the September 11th attacks, to Saddam Hussein who did not. The run up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ laden death in our major cities. We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911. It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger.

Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation which has seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed aside. Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet will. But, our costly and destructive bunker busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do, indeed, exist. Meanwhile Bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has come up missing.

The Administration assured the U.S. public and the world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to protect our people and the world from terrorism. It assiduously worked to alarm the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden until they virtually became one.

What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the U.S. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's threatening death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string. Their missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range. Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well trained troops.

Presently our loyal military personnel continue their mission of diligently searching for WMD. They have so far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons, and the occasional buried swimming pool. They are misused on such a mission and they continue to be at grave risk. But, the Bush team's extensive hype of WMD in Iraq as justification for a preemptive invasion has become more than embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of power. Were our troops needlessly put at risk? Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary? Was the American public deliberately misled? Was the world?

What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators." The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but "liberation" implies the follow up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of "liberation," we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years.

Despite our high-blown claims of a better life for the Iraqi people, water is scarce, and often foul, electricity is a sometime thing, food is in short supply, hospitals are stacked with the wounded and maimed, historic treasures of the region and of the Iraqi people have been looted, and nuclear material may have been disseminated to heaven knows where, while U.S. troops, on orders, looked on and guarded the oil supply.

Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies, without benefit of competitive bidding, and the U.S. steadfastly resists offers of U.N. assistance to participate. Is there any wonder that the real motives of the U.S. government are the subject of worldwide speculation and mistrust?

And in what may be the most damaging development, the U.S. appears to be pushing off Iraq's clamor for self-government. Jay Garner has been summarily replaced, and it is becoming all too clear that the smiling face of the U.S. as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl of an occupier. The image of the boot on the throat has replaced the beckoning hand of freedom. Chaos and rioting only exacerbate that image, as U.S. soldiers try to sustain order in a land ravaged by poverty and disease. "Regime change" in Iraq has so far meant anarchy, curbed only by an occupying military force and a U.S. administrative presence that is evasive about if and when it intends to depart.

Democracy and Freedom cannot be force fed at the point of an occupier's gun. To think otherwise is folly. One has to stop and ponder. How could we have been so impossibly naive? How could we expect to easily plant a clone of U.S. culture, values, and government in a country so riven with religious, territorial, and tribal rivalries, so suspicious of U.S. motives, and so at odds with the galloping materialism which drives the western-style economies?

As so many warned this Administration before it launched its misguided war on Iraq, there is evidence that our crack down in Iraq is likely to convince 1,000 new Bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the type we have seen in the past several days. Instead of damaging the terrorists, we have given them new fuel for their fury. We did not complete our mission in Afghanistan because we were so eager to attack Iraq. Now it appears that Al Queda is back with a vengeance. We have returned to orange alert in the U.S., and we may well have destabilized the Mideast region, a region we have never fully understood. We have alienated friends around the globe with our dissembling and our haughty insistence on punishing former friends who may not see things quite our way.

The path of diplomacy and reason have gone out the window to be replaced by force, unilateralism, and punishment for transgressions. I read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey, our longtime friend and strategic ally. It is astonishing that our government is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its affairs in accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic institutions.

Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race as countries move ahead to develop WMD as a last ditch attempt to ward off a possible preemptive strike from a newly belligerent U.S. which claims the right to hit where it wants. In fact, there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will.

As if that were not bad enough, members of Congress are reluctant to ask questions which are begging to be asked. How long will we occupy Iraq? We have already heard disputes on the numbers of troops which will be needed to retain order. What is the truth? How costly will the occupation and rebuilding be? No one has given a straight answer. How will we afford this long-term massive commitment, fight terrorism at home, address a serious crisis in domestic healthcare, afford behemoth military spending and give away billions in tax cuts amidst a deficit which has climbed to over $340 billion for this year alone? If the President's tax cut passes it will be $400 billion. We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly.

But, I contend that, through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin, and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood -- when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie -- not oil, not revenge, not reelection, not somebody's grand pipedream of a democratic domino theory.

And mark my words, the calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.

SCO Sue Me....
I know, bad pun. Not only that, but I plagiarized it. Anyway....

A number of disgruntled Linux users have put together a petition to SCO that basically says, "Drop dead!". Interested in signing?

"SCO Sue Me" petition

Adventures in Geekland
That's what the author called it. Alternative Operating Systems for the Masses is the subtitle. Fascinating. This links to the techie version of this paper; there's a less techie version on the author's blog.

It appears Orwell was right....
just off by a few years. From La Reg: DARPA dabbles in real-world "Matrix"

Should we get scared now and avoid the rush?

More on "WWJD":
A propos of the "What Would Judas Do?" website.

I forwarded a reference to "What Would Judas Do?" to the Xianity mailing list (list charter: discussion of the "truth" of Christianity; contact me for more particulars if you're interested), in part I admit to get the goat of a few of the Christians on the list. Needless to say, the troll worked, and someone did rise to the bait (in fairness to him, he has been very polite about the issue, and he's not gotten into vicious name calling). In case it's relevant, here's an excerpt from the relevant emails (his original comments and my responses thereto):

>As far as the website for "What Would Judas Do?", my opinion is that the
>argument of Judas making a bigger and more noble sacrifice than Jesus was
>born out of a shallow minded mockery of Christians and what they (and I)
>believe. (Please read from that particular page if you don't agree or know
>what I'm referring to.)

Depends on what you consider "shallow minded mockery". The point that
strikes me is that Judas winds up being vilified, and is (in the orthodox
opinion, at least) condemned to eternal punishment for playing a critical
role in what was supposed to be THE required act of atonement by Jesus.
Without Judas, there would be no passion and crucifixion, and therefore no
salvation. And look at the thanks he gets; without him you'd be doomed to
spend eternity in hell with me, bucko (and if spending eternity with me
ain't hell, I don't know what else is :-) ). On the contrary, as a few
others have pointed out, Jesus didn't go through *that* much (compared to
the suffering some folks go through in their lives), and *he* got to take
it back less than three days later.

I don't think that's "shallow-minded"; I think there definitely some points
to consider carefully there.

>I suppose that is part of what I found disturbing.
>I hope that you also don't condone or support those sorts of
>put-down-mockery-efforts towards Christianity. :-)

Well, based on the Webster's definition of "condone":

>to pardon or overlook voluntarily; especially : to treat as if trivial,
>harmless, or of no importance

(from I suppose I'll have to plead guilty. Part of that is
sort of an ignoble revenge motif; I've been on the receiving end of a fair
amount of put-down-mockery efforts myself (both directed personally and
generally towards non-believers) from Christians, as well as being the
target of some not-exactly-mocking vandalism (I've had my tires slashed for
sporting a Darwinfish on my car; I think I'm safe in assuming that it was
more likely a Christian than a Lysenkoist that did that). The other part
was better expressed by H.L. Mencken: "There is, in fact, nothing about
religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other
opinions get. On the contrary, they tend to be noticeably silly."

So no, I didn't find the "Judas vs. Jesus" comparison particularly odious,
but I can see where some people might.


Len Cleavelin

Contemplating this exchange on the drive to work, though, I realize there's something more to it here, at least for me. Roger Ebert, commenting on the school prayer issue (for those of you that don't know, Roger doesn't just review movies; the Sun-Times lets him pen some quite incisive social and political commentary from time to time), once wrote:

This is really an argument between two kinds of prayer--vertical and
horizontal. I don't have the slightest problem with vertical prayer. It
is horizontal prayer that frightens me. Vertical prayer is private,
directed upward toward heaven. It need not be spoken aloud, because God
is a spirit and has no ears. Horizontal prayer must always be audible,
because its purpose is not to be heard by God, but to be heard by fellow
men standing within earshot.

The thing that bothers me about "WWJD?" bracelets and necklaces is that they represent a form of horizontal prayer. If you really think that Jesus is such a good role model (I'll concede the point is arguable, though a good close read of the Gospels leaves me with the impression that there are certain aspects of his personality that you definitely don't want to emulate), then trying to decide what Jesus would do in any given situation and doing the same thing is probably natural. But what on earth makes you think that I want to know that this is what you're up to? Is the bracelet really necessary as a reminder? I don't think so; if you're really serious about your "WWJD?" program you'll remember to factor that into your daily life without needing to wear some silly bracelet as a "reminder". No, I think the bracelet isn't there to remind you to think about what Jesus would do. It's there to rub my nose into the fact that you think you're holier than me.

Thanks, but no thanks....

Thought for the day:
This one is a propos of the recent problems with Microsoft's "Passport" single sign-on service. As you may remember, part of the "functionality" of Passport is supposedly that you give them your credit card numbers and other financial information that can then be used at participating businesses which use Passport for authentication services. That, as you may remember, was part of a larger Microsoft initiative (codenamed "Hailstorm") to get all your personal information online and under Microsoft's control.

You know what I hate? It's all the 'My' stuff these days. Hailstorm has MyProfile, MyNotifications, MyContacts (I lose them all the time), MyWallet, MyUsage. . . Please! I'm not a three year-old or a Jack Russell Terrier. I'm not mesmerized by the first person singular possessive pronoun. I know that if it's in Hailstorm it's not mine; Microsoft has it and charges me to use it. I'm old-fashioned; I keep MyWallet in MyPants, next to MyAss. And guess what you can do, MyCrosoft?
--Frank Willison

(Frank Willison was, until his untimely death, editor at O'Reilly.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

More excellent analysis:
By Molly Ivins this time: "Yes, Virginia, the idea of a lying government is serious"

From the column:

Nonexistent WMDs also present us with a huge international credibility problem -- particularly given that the Bush administration now feels entitled to "punish" those countries that did not join the "coalition of the willing," as we so preciously called those who caved in to our threats to cut off foreign aid.

Come on, think about this. The Bush administration apparently feels entitled to take actions punishing close old friends, including Mexico and Canada -- not to mention the Europeans -- for not siding with us in a war that we may have lied about?

This is not going to sit well with the rest of the world.

Thought for the day:
Q. Should I get my JD? What is your advice for someone thinking about going into law school?

A. Do you want to waste three years of your life debating stupid and utterly irrelevant minutia? Then yes, get your JD. Do you want to get a degree that allows you work the rest of your life in a tedious, shitty, unrewarding job? Then yes, get your JD. Are you a boring, facile, socially retarded whore, desperate for the illusion of money and success, regardless of the cost to your life and the lives of those you love? Then yes, get your JD. Do you want to squander your existence sitting in a lifeless office, churning out ultimately meaningless paperwork? Then yes, get your JD. LISTEN TO ME PEOPLE: There is a reason that lawyers have the LOWEST job satisfaction of any profession in America. THE JOB SUCKS. It is horrible. If you know any lawyers, ask yourself: Are they happy with their job or their life? 90% of the time, the answer will be no. If the answer to that question is yes, then ask yourself, "Do I like that person." The answer will be almost always be no. The only lawyers who like their jobs are the sketchy ones that are the reason lawyers jokes are so prevalent and popular. Do you want to be that person? If so, then yes, get your fucking JD.
--Tucker Max [, FAQs]

New department: a pseudo-random walk through the quote file.
Since my quote file has more entries than I'll ever use at the rate of one per box per week (I set up my mail clients with a different .sig quote each, change them every week, and I have one mail client per computer), I figure I'll post a quote a day here too. It's a "pseudo-random" walk because I'm picking a quote a day as I see fit; because I'm actually choosing the quotes they can't be said to be chosen at random, but since I'm not exercising any conscious control over the choice of quote (more of a "Gee, that looks good" gut level choice algorithm) it's not exactly deterministic, either. So there you go.

A most excellent analysis...
by Mike Hersh: Bush is doing exactly what Bin Laden wants

From Mike's article: When a Democrat debates Bush in 2004 -- if Bush even has the courage to debate -- the central question should be: "Do you feel safer today than you did four years ago?" Any honest person must say, because of two generations of failed Bush policies, the answer is emphatically no.

The new Bush economic recovery plan?
See Tom The Dancing Bug. Given what we've read about Dumbya's tendencies towards prevarication, I expect that this is the Administration's economic recovery plan.

I think I need a WWJD bracelet....
Though mine would stand for "What Would Judas Do?"

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Gartner savages Passport....
listen to Microsoft whine in protest.

PeopleSoft CEO:
"Microsoft is .NET asbestos". From the article:

"The answer to the death grip Microsoft has on the industry is an alternative operating system," [PeopleSoft President/CEO Craig Conway] told an audience of over 200 customers and partners. "That's why PeopleSoft has decided to port all our applications to Linux," he said, adding that the operating system now enjoys sufficiently broad support to be ready for applications that are key to a company's goals.

Tell it like it is, Craig!!!

Lots of fallout....
Over the SCO Linux lawsuit against IBM. Rather than try to link to everything, we'll refer you to MS-BS, which has a number of pertinent links.

Product activation takes a big hit....
This story by Ed Foster, similar story this morning from Randy Nieland in the Lockergnome Tech Specialist newsletter mailing....

The Fizzer worm: overrated?
According to Thomas C. Greene, of La Reg:

Looking at the fizzer worm, one has some difficulty defining it clearly. It uses various means of propagation such as e-mail and P2P shares and attempts several destructive activities, but it doesn't get all of its core business quite right.

Perhaps it tries to do too much. It propagates via e-mail; it finds the KaZaA directory and infects files to be shared; it floods IRC with bots that so far have done little but flood IRC, though they do have destructive potential; it logs the host's keystrokes, saves them to an encrypted file and opens a backdoor; it attempts to disable anti-virus software; and it tries to update itself automatically. If it had been fully debugged and polished before being released for the first time, it might now be making a mess of the Internet and inspiring the US Department of Homeland Security to action, or at least to holding several press conferences in which action would be discussed.

The chief weakness is that the worm hasn't got an efficient e-mail routine and requires user interaction to propagate. While this guarantees that it will spread because there are people who will open e-mail attachments no matter how many times they're warned, this is not the the way to achieve the sort of instant 'market penetration' that Code Red or Nimda did by automatically exploiting software vulnerabilities. It's been reported that the virus mails itself to everyone in a host's Windows address book, but this appears to be untrue. It does mail itself to randomly-generated e-mail addresses, which helps explain its rather slow spread. Beyond that, it was designed to update itself by reaching out to a single Web site, in this case one that was closed promptly. Interestingly, it has its own un-install routine, distinguishing its author as one of the more thoughtful virus writers.

And the question is....
Does this represent a promotion for the chimps, or a demotion for humans?

Chimpanzees Should Be Classified in Same Genus as Humans, Researchers Say

Prime Wastes of Good Diskspace Department:

Judging from the homepage of the maintainer, this is in the nature of a joke. A rather unfunny one, I think, but still a joke:

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About

Just a sample (Margret, as the context makes clear, is the author's girlfriend, with whom he's constantly arguing):

We're staying at a German friend's flat in Berlin and he brings out the photo album, as people do when conversational desperation has set in. It's largely pictures of a holiday he went on with Margret and a few friends several years previously. And consists pretty much entirely of shots of Margret naked. 'Hah! So, here's another photo of your girlfriend nude! Good breasts, no?' I sat on the sofa for hours of this - I think I actually bit through my tongue at one point. Fortunately, though, everything turned out all right because Margret, me and one careful and considered exchange of views revealed it was, '...just (my) hang-up.' Great. I'm sooooo English, apparently.

I really don't know how I managed to live without it.....

A word to the wise should be sufficient...
Probably best not to buy from Best Buy until this gets straightened out, or at any rate check one's receipts very, very carefully for unexpected charges. This is from the column of Robert X. "Not The Real Bob" Cringley (for an explanation of "Not The Real Bob", see the website) in InfoWorld:

Microsoft + Best Buy = Scam

Two weeks ago reports emerged that Microsoft and Best Buy are being accused of a scam in which customers wind up getting charged -- unknowingly -- for MSN service. Well, one of my moles is victim of that scam and testified to me about problems the companies caused him. He bought a camera -- a camera -- at Best Buy for one of his staffers last year using a corporate American Express card and got more than he bargained before, as in an MSN account. To have the charges removed, my mole had to sit and sit on the phone with MSN.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Yes it's true, I can't even begin to make this shit up....
This is an honest-to-God ad on a random BlogSpot blog I just happened to take a gander at:

Learn about Nasal Drip

I had to include the link. I just had to. In spite of my fervent assurances that I'm serious, someone will accuse me of making this up. But remember: Of course truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense.

Ok, so I'm a bleeding heart liberal, but....
I really don't think that this represents an acceptable standard of law enforcement professionalism.

After all, what did these two do but go somewhere and try to get their rocks off? Granted, they didn't exactly exercise the best of judgement in selecting the venue for consummating their relationship (and go look at those pictures there; we're obviously not talking the brightest bulbs in the chandelier here). But is it necessary for the police to hold them out to public ridicule. God only knows everyone else in the community was lining up to take their best shots at it....

Ah, but nobody has any sympathy with common criiminals anymore.

Great dates in history department:
Today is the birthday of black activist Malcolm X. I sincerely regret not seeing the Spike Lee biopic when it came out a few years ago, and it's been a project on my to-do list to do some research into the development of the Black Muslim movement, in particular the generally successful effort by both Wallace Muhammad and Malcolm X to guide the movement towards becoming a more orthodox version of Islam rather than the hate filled paranoiac fantasies of Wallace Fard and Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm's life, in particular, demonstrates that just occasionally someone can, on his own initiative and using his own gifts, occasionally lead himself out of ignorance to some approximation of good judgment.

Rob Rosenberger continues...
his excellent series of rants about infrastructure protection issues. Keep in mind as you read this that critical infrastructure, as has been demonstrated a number of times in the past couple years, is much more vulnerable to acts of God than to cyber-attacks..... But on the good news side, at least the State Department doesn't have its head stuck up its ass when it comes to assessing real terrorist threats.

Oh my God, did Microsoft....
forget to pay David "noted Microsoft shill" Coursey his bribe? Coursey had a not bad article in today's AnchorDesk actually touting the Mac for small business computing. Of course, he doesn't think Linux should be considered for business desktops, but hey, it's a start....

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Interesting development in Unitarian Universalism
According to an article in the New York Times, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association is attempting to "guide" the denomination towards a more conventionally religious (i.e., more explicitly theist) orientation, threatening to alienate less conventionally religious members of the denomination.

This news struck me as being very interesting (I know, I've got a weird sense of what constitutes "interesting"). One of the "problems" I've had with the UUA (and why I've never seriously contemplated membership there) is its "all things to all people" orientation. After all, any religious organization that can somehow manage to encompass a membership consisting of Christians, Jews, non-Judeo-Christian theists, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists can hardly be accused of being doctrinally hardline. While the push to recapture a traditional "vocabulary of reverence" might alienate a large percentage of the UUA's membership, it still strikes me that it might not be a bad idea to make the UUA stand for something, rather than trying to let it be everything to everyone.

It would be interesting to see if the UUA would lose membership over the issue. Other "winners" in such a move might well be the American Ethical Union, the American Humanist Association, and other more explicitly humanist, rationalist, freethought and secularist organizations.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Another notion debunked
Not every mathematician is washed up by age 30.

Damn weather....
interfered with my adding to this august publication yesterday. Before I could mention

The X-Men Movie
Went to see X2: X-Men United a couple weeks ago. What can I say that hasn't been said already, and much better, by most of the critics?

It is about what you would expect for the sequel to the original X-Men. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart were perfect, as in the first one. Halle Berry improved, Famke Jannsen seems to have grown into the role, Alan Cumming was very good , and Sir Ian McKellan was masterful as Magneto. The plot moved a bit quicker, since we didn't have to worry about background, and it was good to see expanded roles for some of the minor characters from the first movie. Not great cinema, but a very good summer popcorn movie.

Another treat was seeing the trailer from Hulk. What little we saw of the CG effects of the Hulk looked good (of course, that's the point of a trailer, so we'll have to see how the real movie plays out), so it was very tantalizing. I hope it pans out as well as the teaser trailer suggests it will. We'll find out soon....

Friday, May 16, 2003

Stupid, but....
why not do one of those idiotic Quizilla quiz things, just because I can? And because I like the result, even if it isn't accurate.

professor x
You are Professor X!

You are a very effective teacher, and you are very
committed to those who learn from you. You put
your all into everything you do, to some extent
because you fear failure more than anything
else. You are always seeking self-improvement,
even in areas where there is nothing you can do
to improve.

Which X-Men character are you most like?
brought to you by Quizilla

A new kind of labor "union" for the service economy?
And interestingly enough it's an employer who is taking the lead in organizing it.....


Ballmer on Linux...
From The Reg:

Overall the day indicated that Microsoft is now happy to recognise that the influence of Linux is growing. It is clear that we can now expect Microsoft to attempt to build its case for Windows as an operating system based on rational arguments rather than a simple dismissal.

It will be interesting to see how the company sets about promoting its qualities versus those of open source. It will be even more fascinating to monitor the response of customers, OSS advocates and the world at large.

Meanwhile, some good news on the Microsoft front....
I'm hearing word that the European Union is considering asking Microsoft to cough up Orlando Ayala's email (cc'd to Ballmer, btw...) authorizing salesdroids to discount Windows all the way down to free, if necessary, to keep customers/potential customers to go with other operating systems. At least Gates can't buy off the Europeans, and hopefully the US has angered the EC enough that the EC will decide to castrate Microsoft. GO EUROPE!!!!!!

Things that make you go "hmmmmmmm....."
More Details on SCO Linux Lawsuit. I don't know what quite to make of this (thank Ghod I never practiced corporate law), save that I'm never sure that taking on IBM in litigation is a good idea.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Thought for the day:
From Despair, Inc.:
None of us is as dumb as all of us.

Maybe, just maybe....
the FTC can do what the Department of (in)Justice and our corporate subsidiary "president" don't have the balls to do: hit Microsoft where it hurts the most, their pocketbook. The recent .Net Passport security vulnerability is apparently in violation of a consent decree entered into between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission, for which the FTC could potentially fine Microsoft trillions of dollars....

Oh but wait. Microsoft has bought Our Liar in Chief (check the articles for the week of May 12) outright. The FTC will probably wind up laying down and dying, just like the DOJ did.

There is no justice.

More proof that Microsoft got off way too easily:
The International Herald Tribune reports that Orlando Ayala, formerly head sales exec at Microsoft, sent a confidential email to senior MS managers authorizing them to tap into a special fund allowing them to offer Windows to large organizations and governments at deep discounts (discounted all the way to free!!! if need be) to prevent these organizations/governments from moving to competitors, especially Linux.

Doesn't anyone remember why heroin dealers give away the stuff for free at first? Once MS has you hooked, then it's not going to be easy to break your addiction. JUST SAY NO to Microsoft!!!!!

Required reading list:
This week (the week of May 12, 2003) Bob Somerby's excellent website The Daily Howler is running a series about "A Culture of Lying", a scathing demonstration that Richard M. Nixon may have been a more truthful man than George W. Bush.

Tip: Don't bookmark the site directly in Internet Explorer 6; I discovered the hard way that the URL redirects you to the URL for the page of the day, which isn't bad at all, EXCEPT that when you bookmark it it bookmarks the URL for that day's page. I spent the last 36 hours thinking Bob hadn't done an entry for Wednesday and today until it dawned on me, and I just opened up the site directly... If someone knows how I can directly edit my IE "favorites" in order to get around that annoying habit please drop me a line.

Some light amusement....
Bush or Chimp?

Gartner study:
Or rather, Gartner combined ten separate research notes, and came up with what looks to be a dandy little whitepaper: "A look at alternatives to Microsoft." And of course, no penguinista will be shocked to learn that the number one threat to the Redmond hegemony is Linux. See also Businesses Look to Bypass Microsoft.

And as long as we're making fun of names....
This classic is posted permanently on the web in a bunch of places, but I think I'll trot it out right now because, frankly, I can use a good laugh:

The World's Greatest List of Actual Email Addresses
Many colleges and businesses tend to strip the last name down to 6 characters and add the first and last initial to either the beginning or end to make up an e-mail address.

For example, Mary L. Ferguson = mlfergus or fergusml. They are just now beginning to realize the problems that may happen when you have a large and diverse pool of people to choose from.

Add to that a large database of company/college Acronyms and you have some very funny addresses. Probably not funny to the individual involved, however:

TOP TEN Actual E-mail Addresses

10. Helen Thomas Eatons (Duke University) -

9. Mary Ellen Dickinson (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) -

8. Francis Kevin Kissinger (Las Verdes University) -

7. Amanda Sue Pickering (Purdue University) -

6. Ida Beatrice Ballinger (Ball State University) -

5. Bradley Thomas Kissering (Brady Electrical, Northern Division, Overton Canada) -

4. Isabelle Haydon Adcock (Toys "R" Us) -

3. Martha Elizibeth Cummins (Fresno University) -

2. George David Blowmer (Drop Front Drawers & Cabinets Inc.) -

...but at No 1, it had to be...

1. Barbara Joan Beeranger (Myplace Home Decorating) -

I know these aren't real addresses (well, at least two aren't; I looked at and it isn't "Myplace Home Decorating", at least not anymore, and "" is most definitely not the correct domain for Duke University), but it still makes me laugh when I need it. Enjoy...

Not so great names department...
Chinese couple name their baby son Saddam SARS

Just like putting 50 lawyers in a bus, and driving it off the bridge into the Mississippi River...
it's a start:

Buffalo spammer arrested.

And while I'm on the subject....
From my immediately preceding post, below:

With the increase in anti-Americanism in Saudi Arabia, the United States has begun transferring its troops out of the country. Almost 5000 soldiers are due to be removed by the end of the summer.

Ok... Refresh my recollection here; I seem to recall that one of Osama Bin Laden's stated grievances leading to the leveling of the Twin Towers back on 9/11/2001 was the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. Now, we're pulling them out.

Hmmmmmm... Bin Laden got what he wanted. Am I just a hardened cynic, or shall we dare to say it? "The terrorists won."

Do you feel safer than you did two months ago?
I don't.

This was posted to the SKEPTIC mailing list (info on request; just email me) by an expat Canadian who works as a teacher of English as a second language in Finland:

Terrorism is no respecter of nationalities. At least two Finnish families were also killed in the terrorist attack, ostensibly committed by al-Qaida, in Saudi Arabia earlier this week. Thought you might be interested in the local press reaction. This is a free, abridged translation (therefore not in infringement of copyright) of the lead editorial in yesterday's "Turun Sanomat" (Finland's third largest independent newspaper):

U.S. President George W Bush has regarded the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as a great step in the battle against terror. Now when terrorists once again succeeded in surprising the Americans -- this time in Saudi Arabia -- the question inevitably arises as to whether the latter are off-course in their war against terrorism -- since hotly pursued weapons of mass destruction have not been uncovered to any greater extent than true evidence of contacts with the al-Qaida network.

The devastating events in Riyadh during the night between Monday and Tuesday appear to be the work of al-Qaida. They are reminiscent of the bomb attacks a few years ago in Kenya and Tanzania. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has indicated the same.

The suicidal onslaught which occurred on the very threshold of Powell's visit to the country acted as a ponderous fresh blow to the work of U.S. intelligence personnel. American intelligence confirmed that "something" was being planned against U.S. citizens residing in Saudi Arabia. A warning of this was made at the beginning of May. Regardless of this, it was not possible to guard against the actual attacks. The trucks, filled with explosives, obtained surprisingly easy access to the foreign quarter.

The bomb offensive in Riyadh in fact showed, in an appalling manner, that the real means to stop terror have not been found. Terrorists are still quite capable of taking action and striking as they wish with deadly force.

With the increase in anti-Americanism in Saudi Arabia, the United States has begun transferring its troops out of the country. Almost 5000 soldiers are due to be removed by the end of the summer.

Nevertheless, tens of thousands of Americans and other foreigners will remain in Saudi Arabia after the departure of military personnel. These live in isolated residential neighborhoods in the western style -- which cannot fail but irritate Saudi fundamentalists who observe a strict rendering of Islam.

Bush has the same problem before him as Russian president Vladimir Putin has in Chechnya: the fact is that raw military power does not appear to vanquish terrorism. Both leaders would have good reason to consider much more deeply the reasons behind the growth of terrorism.

More tales of Microsoft "innovation"....
According to the latest breaking (well, breaking yesterday) news, the iLoo was not a hoax after all. My suspicions (see the May 13 entry, below) may have been correct: Microsoft was originally behind the idea, until they saw the ridicule it produced in the media, then backpedaled and tried to claim it was a hoax. And probably well that they did so, sooner or later Randy Cassingham's comment was going to stick:

Suggested slogan: "When you think of crap, think Microsoft."

Historical tidbit o'the day....
My usually impeachable sources tell me that today is the birthday of L. Frank Baum.

Go Google the name if you don't recognize it, I know you'll recognize his most famous work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Well, it seems even Microsoft "innovation" has its limits.....
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the infamous "iLoo" is a hoax. Apparently Microsoft's British offices came up with the plans as a joke, and they somehow managed to get released....

Either the Brits need to have the concept of "April Fool's Day" explained to them (the iLoo story, having been released on April 30th, was 29 days too late to be a true AFJ), or else Microsoft got too much crap from commentators and the public, and decided to kill the idea.

Why I'd rather pay higher taxes and spend a little for social welfare:
According to a story in La Reg this morning, a Cleveland man who was a bit mentally disturbed "went postal" and attacked a number of folks at Case Western Reserve University, supposedly seeking revenge against a "hacker" at CWRU who'd supposedly defaced the disturbed man's website.

From the closing paragraph of The Reg's article: He had been living on a disability pension for some years; unfortunately, his income was inadequate to afford him psychiatric treatment. Perhaps, if we were taking care of our people here at home, and not "liberating" Iraqis, there's be one less corpse in Cleveland....

To quote a bumper sticker I saw several times during the Clinton Administration: "Where is Lee Harvey Oswald now that we need him?" (and we need him much more desperately than we did in Bill's administration).

Smacking myself for not thinking of this one...
Randy Cassingham's This is True mailing had the best commentary on Microsoft's "iLoo" "innovation" (see May 5th entry, below or in archives):

Suggested slogan: "When you think of crap, think Microsoft."

Monday, May 12, 2003

And while we're on the subject....
of Linux v. Windows, here's a good article from LinuxWorld which casts some doubt on the claim that Windows is holding on to its market share against Linux. Note that Windows "market share" includes all those unsold boxes of XP sitting on computer store shelves, and all those computers sold with Windows preinstalled, even if the user wipes the hard drive and installs Linux instead....

Yes, you can trust Microsoft....
to be Microsoft. According to a story in LinuxWorld, it's true: Windows 2003 Server is faster than Linux/Samba when it comes to file serving....if you fudge the benchmarks like Microsoft did.

Now that the antitrust trial seems over....
Bill Gates is back to his old arrogant self. God damn President Bush and Attorney General Asshole for interfering with what should have happened.... Microsoft should have been broken up (if not put out of business completely).

Interesting historical coincidences department:
According to the Dr. Science newsletter, today is the mutual birthday of Yogi Berra and George Carlin. Interesting juxtaposition, that.

Heartwarming moments: young love finally triumphs
According to a report on NPR this morning, Carol Channing will be marrying her junior high school sweetheart shortly (if she hasn't already; my short term memory sucks before I'm adequately caffeinated). Supposedly the soon-to-be proud groom was quoted as saying, when told that Carol was still carrying a torch for him, "I thought she was dead."

Obviously, he's not a frequent user of The Dead People Server.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Great moments in history
Today is the 42nd anniversary of then FCC Chairman Newton Minow's characterization of television as "a vast wasteland".

42 years after the complaint, and the only change in the landscape is that, with cable and satellite TV, it's an even vaster wasteland.

I think this is what they call "progress".

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

And more significant historical happenings on this date...
My usually impeachable sources tell me that today it the birthday of both Sigmund Freud and Orson Welles. Since I've received two "notices" that it's Freud's birthday, I'll take that as given (for now, at least), and I verified Welles's birthdate with the Internet Movie Database. The IMDB states that Welles was born on the same day that Babe Ruth hit "his very first home run"... Of course, one wonders what they mean by "very first"? Major league? Minor League? Little League (I think we can safely assume that Babe Ruth League baseball wasn't around when the Bambino was a kid....)? Since Welles was born in 1915, that would seem to mean "first major league home run", so that's what we'll go with, but if you think about it, I'm rather sure that the Babe's first major league homer wasn't exactly his first home run ever.

Great moments in St. Louis baseball history...
Ok, so it's the Browns, and not the Cards, but it did happen in St. Louis. Note to young 'uns: The "Busch Stadium" referred to below is the "original" Busch Stadium (i.e., Sportsman's Park after Gussie acquired it (and the Cardinals) and changed the name).

The story below is from today's email newsletter from the National Baseball Hall of Fame:

Holloman Hurls No-Hitter in His Debut

A rookie pitcher making his first major league start did the unthinkable: ­he tossed a no-hitter.

The freshman in question was Alva Lee “Bobo” Holloman, a 27-year-old righthander with the St. Louis Browns who held the visiting Philadelphia Athletics without a safety in a 6-0 triumph on May 6, 1953. Due to intermittent rain that afternoon, only 2,473 fans were on hand at Busch Stadium that night, but those who ventured out witnessed one of the game’s greatest feats.

According to Browns manager Marty Marion, Holloman had been asking for a starting assignment for some time before he finally relented. “Some people would call him a screwball I guess,” said Marion after the game. “But I’m mighty happy that he pestered me into giving him his chance to start that game. He proved to me that he’s just about as good as he thinks he is.”

Prior to his first big league starting assignment, Holloman had been used in relief four times, his only decision a loss. The high hopes that his no-no brought soon dissipated when on July 23, with a 3-7 record, Holloman was sold to Toronto of the International League. He would never pitch in the major leagues again.

Holloman’s effort is the only no-hitter in modern history hurled by a pitcher in his first major league start. Theodore Breitenstein did it for St. Louis against Louisville in an American Association game, 8-0, on October 4, 1891, and Charles (Bumpus) Jones followed up the next season for Cincinnati against Pittsburgh in a 7-1 victory on October 15, 1892.

Monday, May 05, 2003

If they come with a web cam, I'll just shit in my pants, thank you
Yes, Microsoft is the great innovator. And here's their latest innovation: the Internet connected porta-potty.

Yes, it is true. Trust me; I can't make shit like this up.....

Go ahead, click the link (and click on the picture to see all the detail; the picture of the thing is worth the price of admission all by itself). I promise I'll be here when you get back.

Looks to me like just the right ticket.... NOT
Got this link from it appears that while Windows 2003 Server is out there now, apparently nobody thought to tell Microsoft's server development teams that it was important to have server programs out there for the OS to run. So while you can upgrade to Windows 2003 Server, you can't run your old server programs on it, and there are only two Microsoft server products that will run on it (and one of them is a patch: SQL Server w/ Service Pack 3).

Brilliant marketing, Bill and Steve. Push another OS at us, then force us to upgrade our server software (because our old servers won't run on the blasted thing)... and that'll probably force us to upgrade our hardware too. I know you megabillionaires don'r realize this, since you are rolling around in your money every evening, but some of us just don't have the simoleons to spread around on new hardware....