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Why Verizon has still not made money on me

I see the fiber hanging on my pole that my phone comes off of, so I figure I can order it. My brother, 3 poles closer to town, just got his, so we know it is live. I can’t order it. It’s “not yet available in my area”. Oh, I get it. My house number is 2 poles down the road, and the fiber stops before that.

Continue reading "Why Verizon has still not made money on me"
09:38 | Link | Reply | Track


What do you think of the iPad?

It’s close to what I was hoping for, as I alluded in here. It’s basically an iPhone with a bigger screen and real (optional) keyboard. (I think it even permits an external display, although I don’t know if you can do keyboard and display simultaneously).

I think it has the potential to be the ideal computer for 90% of the people in the world who really only use a computer to read email and surf the web. The one catch: it seems (as far as I can tell), you still need an “iTunes base station”, albeit only occasionally. I understand that there are people who have iPhones that have never connected them to their PC, so, perhaps the iPad can also run stand-alone (once activated)?

I am angling to get my company to buy one (because I think we can make some hay on Steve’s anti-Flash stance and OpenLaszlo’s ability to deliver to Flash and HTML from the same source). If they won’t, I will surely buy one myself, rabid fanboy that I am.

If “grampa” were not such a technophobe, I would say it would be the perfect computer for him, because it should be simple enough to operate that even he could read email. Even if he never replied, at least he could see email, see pictures his children and grandchildren send him, etc.

For the student (for any casual user who mostly takes notes, looks things up on the web, and maybe has a few job-specific applications) I can see it replacing the laptop they carry now. Modulo the concern above that you need an “iTunes base station”. Maybe the Mac mini will be repurposed to be that?

For the geek household, I see it as replacing the hand-me-down laptop that you keep rather than sell, just so you have one you can browse with from the breakfast nook, or loan to visitors so they don’t accidentally peek at your bank statement that is open on your machine in your office. I don’t see it replacing my laptop. Although I wonder how long it will take for someone to package Emacs as an app?

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Silverlight != Apple Pie

Wow. How can MS be so stupid? They bundle Flash with Windows and not Silverlight? Doh!

First, baseball wanted Microsoft to make it possible for users to download Silverlight without having to possess administrative rights. When people are at work, it’s often the company that possesses those rights and employees would need authorization to download the player. That frustrated plenty of subscribers, according to the sources.

Why Major League Baseball dumped Microsoft’s Silverlight | The Industry Standard

Posted via email from PTWithy

08:04 | Link | Reply | Track


Using your iPhone overseas without getting screwed

We all know about turning off data roaming (Settings/General/Network/Data Roaming), so our phone doesn’t run up our bill checking email when traveling out of your service area, but recently someone asked me how they could turn off the phone altogether (so they don’t make a phone call @ $2.00/minute or text @ $0.50/message by mistake), but also they wanted to keep the Wireless on, so they can still email, etc., if they are in a wireless hot spot. Initially, I thought you couldn’t do that, because going into Airplane Mode (Settings/Airplane Mode) by default turns off the phone and the wireless. But actually what you want to do is perfectly obvious (once Google helped me):

First go into your Settings - Turn on Airplane Mode - and then turn your Wi-Fi connection (back) on.


I just checked it out and it works perfectly. If you try to make a phone call or text, it tells you you have to turn off Airplane Mode, and gives you choice of not making the call or turning the phone back on. Ditto if you try to text. But I can still surf, email, use AIM, etc. Nice!

How To: Turn on WiFi While the iPhone 3G/EDGE Radio is Off | The iPhone Blog

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Label me 'optimistic'

Are the record labels finally realizing that treating your best customers as criminals is not the way to make money?

… it sounds like the labels are, for the first time, interested in having the right discussion.

Labels Open to Collective Licensing on Campus | Electronic Frontier Foundation

15:48 | Link


Loose-lose proposition

If noose minus ‘o’ rhymes with hose,
Why does loose minus ‘o’ rhyme with shoes?
Loose noose, or lose nose? You choose.

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The first Internet Election

The internet has enabled people to communicate and cooperate with a new freedom. Unfettered communication has allowed people to find we are not as different as the pundits would have us believe, that we do have common interests, and that we can work together to support a leader who will lead with our interests at heart, not the special interests of the few. It used to be that only the rich and powerful could get ‘connected’ with our government, but the internet allows us all to be connected with our government.

I am extremely excited to see our country choose a leader that we can all respect as articulate, intelligent, and compassionate. The reaction of the world to our choice shows that when the american people work together, we can reclaim our position of respect as a light leading the world forward for liberty, equality, and peace for all.

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Who's got the password?

So, in addition to my bizarre experience where I started selling DVDs on ebay that I did not own, I just had a company that I used to do business with email me and tell me that the company they use to manage their user accounts had had all their data stolen. And that in that data was my email address and my password (yes, the usual password that I have used for years for everything, since I can’t remember passwords and it seems insecure to record them all on my laptop, which could be stolen).

Their bad for storing passwords ‘in the clear’. The very least they could do would be to use the well-known mechanisms for storing passwords through a ‘one-way encryption’ that makes it easy to check that the right password is being given, but very hard to figure out what that password is. [Don’t ask me to explain more than that. It’s some deep mathematical magic that has to do with bits of math beyond my fuzzy brain, and the fact that computers are still relatively slow, although if enough money is at stake, you shouldn’t rely on that.]

What to do… In theory, the people with this stolen data could just go round the internet connecting to the usual places like Amazon, PayPal, EBay, etc. enter the email and password they have stolen and wreak all sorts of havoc on me. Luckily, I don’t keep my credit card on file at these places. I force myself to enter it each time I buy something. Slows down the outflow of cash from my wallet — a little bit.

But, now seemed as good a time as any to try to be a little more cautious about the internet. So, what I have been laboriously doing is going through my Keychain, searching for accounts where the login is my email address. If you right click on one, you get a menu with a ‘Go There’ action, which should take you to the site, where Safari should auto-fill in your login and password (assuming you have told Safari that it can do that). Once logged in, I find the ‘change my password’ page, then go back to Keychain and use File/New and click on the little Key symbol to get the Password Assistant. I pick Letters&Numbers and a length of 12, and copy that string. I paste it into the new password field on the website, then I log out, and log back in (with my new password). Safari should notice that you have a new password, and offer to save the new password for the web site.

Other than having to do this for every bleeping account I can think of that might cause me pain if someone broke into it, its a pretty simple procedure.

Now all my passwords are different, so I have less to worry about if one of these sites is as stupid as the one that gave away my old password. It just means that I can’t log in to any of these accounts from someone else’s computer, since there is no way in the world I can remember these passwords any more… Maybe if I am lucky, the iPhone will eventually get a keychain app that can sync to my computer.

If you are using Firefox instead of Safari, Firefox has its own keychain, under Preferences/Security/Passwords. If you haven’t already done it, you need to tell it to use a Master Password, or anyone who can get to your computer can see all your passwords. Once you do that, you should do a similar dance to give yourself different passwords for each site.

07:18 | Link | Reply | Track


GMail IMAP on my iPhone

Here’s how I did it. Slight variation on GMail’s instructions:

In Apple Mail, set my gmail/POP account to inactive. Create a new gmail/IMAP account. Under Preferences/Accounts/Mailbox Behaviors uncheck all the boxes to store messages on the server. (Because mail sent through GMail is automatically saved on the server, so Mail does not need to do it. Drafts will get saved over and over as you write a message and not deleted [a bug Google should fix, IMO], Junk see below, and Trash you don’t want, since that will permanently delete messages [you might as well keep them all since Google allows it, you never know when you might want to search and find something you deleted].)

The easiest way to create the correct account on your iPhone is to re-sync your iPhone, under Info/Mail selecting your new GMail/IMAP account and under Info/Advanced selecting Replace for Mail Accounts. This will correctly create a GMail/IMAP account on your phone. You should double-check under Settings/Mail/(your GMail account)/Advanced that your Mailbox Behaviors all say On My iPhone, for the same reasons given above on why Apple Mail should be set to not save to the server.

Finally, Google does such a good job of junk mail filtering, I turn off Apple Mail’s junk mail filtering. (This is my main reason for switching to GMail. The iPhone does no spam filtering — by sending all my mail through GMail, I see nearly no spam on my iPhone now.) If a message does sneak through, you can inform Google about it by moving the message from your InBox to the [GMail]/Spam folder. Similarly, if you really want to delete a message (not just archive it), you can move it to the [GMail]/Trash folder.

09:06 | Link | Reply | Track | Comments (1)


EMI gets it

Apple and EMI announced today that they will be offering music without DRM protection for an extra 30 cents. Huzzah! Someone finally gets it. Give your customer a fairly-valued product and you don’t have to treat them as criminals.

iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song

Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store

12:45 | Link | Reply


Dear Petey

A reader from New Jersey asks:

Is limewire legal? I heard on the news that the recording companies are going after folks for downloading songs that don’t have documentation, such as ordered thru iTunes. $750 per song.

You should read my blog! :) Sharing != Stealing

Here’s the deal: Downloading is not illegal, even though the record companies would like you to believe it is. (Think about it: if downloading copyrighted material was illegal, you would not be able to go to most of the websites in the world. Nearly every web site is copyrighted, but you can’t read it without downloading that copyrighted information into your computer!)

What is illegal is making songs that you bought (which are licensed to you for your personal use) or songs that you stole (which you have no right to at all), available for downloading. That is the same as making copies of a movie or a book — even if you are giving them away, you are infringing on the owner’s “copy” right. That’s the law today. The record companies would like you to believe that it is downloading that is illegal, because when you download a song for free, they lose money. But that is not what is illegal under current law. The only people they have successfully sued are people who are “publishers”, who are making huge numbers of songs available for downloading by others.

So, Limewire (et al.) are not strictly illegal. But if you operate Limewire in its default mode, it automatically shares all the songs that you have downloaded. That’s what could get you into trouble. You can turn that sharing off, and not get into trouble; but then you become a “leech” in the Limewire community, and most people won’t share with you any more.

The simplest solution: Tell your kids to use iTunes or some equivalent legal service for purchasing their military-industrial complex endorsed pop pap. That is legal, and the songs can be shared legally on up to 5 computers, and you won’t get in trouble. Although you will have very poor taste in music.

There are lots and lots of legal downloads out there, although not of the current “Top 10”. Many of the newer bands put a lot of their concerts up for download for free. Lots of bands put up singles for free on their own web site. iTunes has a free download of the week. Salon has a “Daily Download” where they review new bands and always give one free sample. And if you want to turn your kids into “Dead Heads”, every concert the Grateful Dead ever did is available on line for free.

So, you shouldn’t have to use Limewire to build up your music collection.

[I admit that when I have a single song that I want, and it is not available as a legal download, I do fire up Limewire and look for it there. I try to get it legally first, but if the copyright holder thinks they are going to force me into buying an 18-dollar CD for one song, they are deluding themselves.]

Oh, one other reason not to use Limewire: Several of the record companies routinely “poison” Limewire by putting out files with titles that match the most popular songs. But these files are not songs at all. They are sometimes just warnings (like Madonna screeching “Don’t steal my f*cking music!” over and over), sometimes they are viruses that report back to the record company on your activity, and sometimes they are pornography with a handy web link to suck you into a porno web site… Not always, but all of these things have been reported.

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Why Fi (part II)

Boston will tap a nonprofit corporation to blanket the city with “open access” wireless Internet connections, under a plan to be unveiled today by Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Hub sets citywide WiFi plan - The Boston Globe

Hm… It seems the non-profit will create the infrastructure, but the actual connection to the internet will still be through third parties, most likely ‘for profits’. Still, it is an interesting idea that the city will take on the cost of the infrastructure, so access should be able to be provided for a much lower price. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

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Bad 2 Verse

What do you think of your antivirus company, the one that didn’t notice Sony’s rootkit as it infected half a million computers? And this isn’t one of those lightning-fast internet worms; this one has been spreading since mid-2004. Because it spread through infected CDs, not through internet connections, they didn’t notice? This is exactly the kind of thing we’re paying those companies to detect — especially because the rootkit was phoning home.

Wired News: Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit

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Did you feel it?

If you felt the earthquake in Plymouth, MA today, the USGS would like to know what you felt:

Event fnbb_05 Questionnaire

[I wasn’t home, so I missed the excitement. I thought these were only supposed to happen on the left coast? But this makes the second quake in my blog.]

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Different Thinker

Amidst all of the regular university degrees granted during this season there are always a scattering of honorary awards for special lifetime achievements. One particular honorary doctorate, awarded on May 15 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, honors a man who more than any other single human being made the Apollo lunar landings possible. And unless today’s space experts learn to emulate his vision, courage, and soft-spoken stubbornness, the grandiose ‘Vision for Space Exploration’ plans for resuming human flight beyond low Earth orbit may fail to be realized.

The Space Review: Academic honors for a spaceflight prophet

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Dark Matter

Oh, I can hear it now. “So, what do you think about Steve going over to the dark side?”

Well, it’s true. I love to hate Intel (what is it with that lazy e?) almost as much as I love to hate Micro$oft. Yes, there’s a lot to admire. But the x86 architecture is so lame. I guess that is why I am glad there are compilers. I more deeply regret their hand in the death of the DEC Alpha architecture. Apparently some of the goodness that was Alpha has made it into Pentium.

But I digress. O’Grady expresses much of my opinion. We all knew that Darwin was running on x86 platforms. We all know that BSD (Free, Net, and Open), the underlying technology of many large ISP’s and the flavor of Unix that Darwin is based upon, runs on most platforms. We all knew that Next, the basis for Cocoa, ran on x86. We all know that gcc compiles to practically every instruction set in the universe. So, how hard could it be?

Apparently not hard at all. And they’ve been doing it all along.

Rosetta was a bit of a surprise. But advances in dynamic recompilation have been happening for a while. The x86 is a popular target. The PowerPC has a very regular architecture, much like a typical virtual machine.

So, what do I think? I think that by admitting that they can retarget to the x86, Apple is in a very powerful position to use whatever ISA (instruction set architecture) suits. Right now, Intel has more bang per watt, and that is what us laptop users crave. But if the Power architecture is better for something else (like your server farm, or your car dashboard) they can target that instead. Application developers who buy into the ‘universal binary’ will have the same benefit.

Where it gets interesting is — what happens with Virtual PC? It should become very fast on an x86 mac. It becomes a way to sandbox your essential Windows apps so you can run them without risking your entire computer. (Gee, Darwin’s Mach micro-kernel was actually meant to run several operating systems simultaneously…)

And what about becoming a software-only company? Like the 47th biggest company in the world? Would that be a good thing? Maybe. I still think there is an advantage in knowing the platform the software is going to run on. The reliability should be better. But for those who prefer an unreliable but cheap platform, should they be denied? Maybe they should.

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Watching the Detectives

Google wants to be your proxy.

I assume this is so they can accumulate a more comprehensive dossier on your surfing habits. Not that they get to see anything your ISP doesn’t, but, they are a whole lot smarter than your ISP at making hay out of it.

Now, if their accelerator uses a tunnel to their proxy, I would probably use it anyways, to evade my ISP’s horrendously slow caching proxy.

What I don’t get is why they need to have the luser download anything. They should be able to just configure your browser to talk directly to the proxy and be completely platform neutral.

Wonder how long before Google buys Akamai and gets the middle-man out of the loop? I mean, why should Goog have to spider other companies’ caching edge servers? Why not just go into the caching edge server business and index them directly?

Oh, and if they were really smart, they would know what I was going to look at in the morning before I woke up and push copies of every page I will browse for the day into my browser’s cache so they can be called up instantly. I mean, really: anyone can figure out what I looked at after I fetch the pages. I want them to tell me what I am going to look at before I do.

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P2P = FM?

Is P2P the new radio?

Moreover, as much as the RIAA would argue the opposite, some suggest that the idea of an album getting on the Internet for illegal downloads actually boosts its overall sales. The last major artist this phenomenon of an “unauthorized pre-release on the net” happened to was Eminem and his record sold like hotcakes.

The Big Picture: Was U2’s P2P release a Marketing Ploy?

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High life

Now we know why chubby people are always cheery. They are naturally high:

Rimonabant works by blocking a receptor called CB1, which is bound to by compounds called cannabinoids. These are produced both naturally in the body and in plants such as cannabis. The receptor is present on the surfaces of many cells throughout the body, including fat cells and those in the hypothalamus, the brain region that is thought to determine appetite (hence the famous ‘munchies’ experienced by cannabis smokers).

Drug eases cravings for food and cigarettes

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Red, Purple and Blue

Here’s a map that’s not as funny as the previous maps. Because of that, it will probably not make it onto national TV. But it is a useful map to look at. It shows the counties of the US colored according to the percentage of red and blue votes (so 50/50 would be purple), and with their area adjusted for the number of those votes. It does a better job of showing how nearly evenly split the country is than the red and blue maps that have been appearing.


Election result maps

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What Would Johnny Do?

At least the Red Sox won.

Hailing from the bluest state of the union, I lack perspective on what the majority think. But from what I have heard it is not that Bush is conservative, it is that God chose him (well, his did, at least). 384 years after people fled here for religious freedom, 218 years after establishing a constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom to choose (or not) your religion and separation of church and state, we appear to be devolving into a church-state. Apparently religion, in the guise of ‘morality’, trumps all other concerns.

I am told that I should read “What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America” by Thomas Frank for enlightenment. It is next on my Audible reading list.

As the author of the blog I found the picture below in says: “My official position is that this sort of talk is unseemly, unpatriotic, and counterproductive. Unofficially, it’s pretty funny. … I didn’t create this graphic, and I’m not responsible for the decision to call Red America ‘Jesusland’. It’s just something my aunt forwarded me that someone forwarded to her.”

Perhaps it will make you laugh too.

United States of Canada/Jesusland

Matthew Yglesias: A Modest Proposal

This one is pretty funny too:

Canada 2.0

Not A Dollarshort: Canada 2.0

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Bully for you?

This is an excerpt from the website of a computer scientist whom I highly respect. He is an American, living abroad. I think he has an interesting insight on how America is perceived by the rest of the world. I voted today to try to change that perception. (Click on the citation to read the full article.)

Let me tell you a short story. When I was in elementary school, the school was plagued by a bully. He was the biggest, strongest kid around and would beat up anyone he didn’t like. We were all exceedingly polite to his face, but hated his guts behind his back. One day he was chasing some poor kid and he tripped and skidded a considerable distance, scraping his face on the rough asphalt of the playground. He was bleeding and in pain, screaming for help. But nobody came to help him. We all just walked away. George Bush is the world’s playground bully. The world sees him—and by inference, America—as arrogant, self-centered, and mean. I spoke to Americans from dozens of countries at the DA caucus. Everyone told the same story—the world hates America. When talking to foreigners, I can tell them about the Bill of Rights or freedom or World War II, or whatever I want, but all they see is this big, stupid, arrogant, playground bully and a stolen election in Florida last time. I think America deserves better. I want America to be respected in the world again, and John Kerry can restore the respect America deserves.

Don’t believe me that the world hates us? The Guardian, one of Britain’s most respected newspapers, ran a column by Charlie Brooker last week ending with this paragaph: “On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed …” Then it gets so bad that I refuse to quote it. Maybe Brooker is a nut and maybe it was a joke, but the fact that a serious newspaper would publish this piece shows how deep the hatred of George Bush runs. And this comes from our closest ally. Imagine what people in Spain or Indonesia or the Arab world think.

Now you might be thinking: Who the hell cares if America is the world’s pariah, along with, say, North Korea and Zimbabwe? Well, I care, for one, and I think most Americans want to be respected for being a democracy rather than simply being feared because we have more nuclear weapons than anybody else. You can’t make the world love you by running commercials full of snarling wolves on worldwide TV.

The Votemaster FAQ

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Voting machines

Computers have influenced our elections for a long time:

There was another election season, back in 1952, when a presidential contest seemed too close to call, America worried it was vulnerable to attack, and a single company dominated computing.

Those circumstances set the stage for the election night dramatics of the Univac - perhaps the most significant live TV performance ever by a computer. It might just be technology’s equivalent of the first Elvis appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Except parents didn’t worry that computers were going to destroy the moral fiber of the nation’s youth, which shows you how much parents know.

In a few hours on Nov. 4, 1952, Univac altered politics, changed the world’s perception of computers and upended the tech industry’s status quo. Along the way, it embarrassed CBS long before Dan Rather could do that all by himself.

The Republican candidate was Dwight Eisenhower. The Democrat, Adlai Stevenson. Polls showed them in a dead heat.

Their most pressing issue: an epic global struggle between democracy and communism. The Korean War had begun two years before. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare was in full swing, aimed at alleged communists. Several nations were testing nuclear bombs. In Denmark, George “Christine” Jorgensen had the first sex-change operation.

No telling which of those most horrified Americans.

Yahoo! News - In ‘52, huge computer called Univac changed election night

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How to Vote

[From a left-wing, pinko, commie, organization that I am a member of; but presumably useful to everyone.]

Here are a few pointers to help make sure your voting experience is a good one:

  • Find your polling place ahead of time. Having this information ahead of time will help make sure that you can zip to the polls and back during that half-hour lunch break. You can locate your local polling place using your zip code at In most cases, the site will tell you what kind of voting machines to expect and how they work. (By the way, if conflicts with information you’ve received from your county or state election officials, use the official information.)

  • When in doubt, ASK. Poll workers are there to help you. They’ll show you how to work the machines, and if you’re at the wrong polling place, they should tell you how to get to the right one. Every polling place should also have a posted list of your voting rights, and instructions for filing a complaint if your rights have been violated.

  • Know your rights. If you’re an eligible voter, you have the following rights:

    • If your name is not on the official voter list but you believe you are eligible to vote in that precinct, even if an election official challenges your vote, you have the right to cast a “provisional ballot.”
    • If you’re in line when the polls close, you should stay in line because you’re entitled to vote.
    • In many states, your employer must allow you time to vote at some point during the day. You can’t be fired for being late due to long polling lines.
    • You have the right to vote without being intimidated by anyone.
    • For your rights in your own state, check out this website:
  • Bring photo ID, preferably government-issued ID or a utility bill, phone bill, or paycheck with your name and current street address. If you’re a new registrant, it may be required.

  • Vote in the morning. In a great majority of polling places, everything will go smoothly, but by going early you can help prevent lines later in the day.

  • A regular ballot is better than a provisional ballot. If your eligibility to vote is questioned, ask if you can cast a regular ballot by providing additional ID or by going to another polling place. Only cast a provisional ballot if there’s no alternative available.

So, what if something does go wrong?

First, document it. If there are specific individuals involved who are challenging your right to vote, intimidating voters, or interfering with the process, try to get their names. Write down exactly what happened, including the time of day, descriptions of the people involved, and any other details you can remember.

Then, report it. There are lots of organizations that will be working to respond quickly to complaints of voter intimidation, suppression, and fraud. Here’s who to call:

  • Common Cause: Call 1-866-MYVOTE1. Common Cause has set up a hotline that you can call to report any problems you have voting. They’ll document where problems are occuring, watch for wide-spread voter suppression, and provide real-time legal help to the hot spots.

  • 1-866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline has been set up by a coalition of nonpartisan groups to deal with the most serious problems on election day. They have hundreds of lawyers standing by to immediately respond to the most egregious problems. 1-866-OUR-VOTE is the “911” of voter suppression hotlines. Please don’t call unless your problem is serious enough that you have to talk to a lawyer immediately.

15:01 | Link | Reply | Track


Why I Won't Vote for Bush

Too many people who are way smarter than I am think he is just plain wrong:

The prosperity, health, environment, and security of Americans depend on Presidential leadership to sustain our vibrant science and technology; to encourage education at home and attract talented scientists and engineers from abroad; and to nurture a business environment that transforms new knowledge into new opportunities for creating quality jobs and reaching shared goals.

President Bush and his administration are compromising our future on each of these counts. By reducing funding for scientific research, they are undermining the foundation of America’s future. By setting unwarranted restrictions on stem cell research, they are impeding medical advances. By employing inappropriate immigration practices, they are turning critical scientific talent away from our shores. And by ignoring scientific consensus on critical issues such as global warming, they are threatening the earth’s future. Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare.

Scientists and Engineers For Change - The Nobel Letter

12:53 | Link | Reply | Track


leg- (to choose)

From a email list I receive:

In just two weeks, United States citizens will vote for their next president. The US presidential election is one event that determines the fate of not just one country but also of much of the rest of the world.

If you think about it, it’s astounding how one office can have so much power over the lives of so many — power that can be used as the winner chooses: to make a difference in the people’s lives or to brush them aside.

The word election comes from the Indo-European root leg- (to choose) that is also the source of such words as intelligent, diligent, logic, dialog, and legal. In fact, that’s probably not a bad way to choose a candidate: one who is intelligent, one who is diligent in solving problems, one who uses logic, one who prefers to engage in a dialog, and one who employs legal means.

If you’re a United States citizen, make your vote count this November 2. Be informed. Think of the country. Think of the world. And vote with your conscience. In the meantime, enjoy this week’s words from the world of politics and elections.

My name is Anu Garg and I approve of this message.

A.Word.A.Day — Archives

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Finally an actual use for text messaging. If you send a text message to 46645 (GOOGL), like

define quisling

Google will text you back with the answer.

Google SMS

12:36 | Link | Reply | Track | Comments (1)



Here’s to the Flip-Flop

By Lee Felsenstein and Lena Diethelm Sept. 8, 2004

In the current presidential campaign much has been said about “flip-flops”, with jeering partisans waving rubber beach sandals to curse the challenger for having seemed to change some position or other over the years. The incumbent counters with his image of steely, unflinching resolve. “FLIP-FLOP! FLIP-FLOP!” shout the accusing supporters at the right moments in the speech.

But there’s a serious problem — a “flip-flop” is more than a rubber sandal. The original flip-flop is a humble but universally employed technological building block whose characteristics illustrate an important divide within politics today.

Invented by Eccles and Jordan in 1919, the “bi-stable latch circuit” came to be called the “flip-flop” at the very beginning of the computer age, in the 1940’s, when beach sandals were just beach sandals. The flip-flop circuit has an output that maintains its setting indefinitely — until instructed to change it. Pulse it, and it “flips” — pulse it again and it “flops”.

Prior to the advent of the flip-flop, electronic decision-making circuits could only deal with things as they were at the instant the decision was made. Punched-card sorting machines could make decisions about only one card at a time, with each card having no effect on subsequent ones. Electronic control was a simplistic, dogmatic and brute-force matter, with no subtleties and no sense of history.

History, in fact, is what the flip-flop introduced to the technology of control. With it, computers became possible to the extent that today our lives and livelihoods depend upon them.

One flip-flop can remember two possible conditions, or “states”. Add another flip-flop and the number of possible states doubles. String sixteen of them nose-to-tail and you create a counter that can assume — wait for it — 65,536 states. Smear enough microscopic flip-flops onto a bit of silicon and you’ve created a memory chip. Coffee makers, ignition systems, music synthesizers and the mysteries of the Web emerge as a result. Facts, patterns, shades of meaning can now be held for reference and communicated.

“No, no!” cry the incumbent’s partisans, “We need steadfastness, strength, determination! All this stuff about shades of meaning will weaken us!”

But the stolid flip-flop, implemented over generations in every technology used for control, bears witness to the past occurrence of a single event, its flag raised or lowered. It stands, ranked with its innumerable fellows, holding patterns that express letters or numbers, currency or vital statistics, images, sounds, transactions — all the things that make our present-day economy move, or exist at all. Not only does the flip-flop deserve respect, it should be held in the highest esteem.

Were we to abolish the flip-flop we would revert from an interactive age to an age of belief. Machinery could still be created that responds to its surroundings, to be sure, but the rules for these transactions would be “hard-wired” into them, changeable only by an act of surgery, best carried out without witnesses. “That’s the way the system works,” the self-satisfied explainers would say, “trust us on this.”

But we have moved beyond that, thanks to the flip-flop — the Eccles-Jordan invention which, with its multitudes of offspring, bestows upon us a panoply of machines that remember, that adapt, that empower our thoughts and ideas with global reach via the Internet.

Those who fear subtlety, nuance, dissent and individualism can continue to chant and wave beach sandals. We ask those who value the power of the common flip-flop to reclaim its name from those who would, in a sense, do away with its benefits.

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Something to say

If you want to hear an inspiring speech, have a listen to this:


[If clicking on the link does not work, open it in RealOne Player. For you Republicans, just ignore the fact that he is endorsing John Kerry. The speech is inspirational.]

15:05 | Link | Reply | Comments (1)


Your vote doesn't count

At least in some states.

Remember the Supreme Court deciding the last election? Part of their decision is pretty interesting:

The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States," the court said, "unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.
Usurping the Voters (
16:53 | Link | Reply | Comments (1)


Even Microsoft sez MSIE is bad 4U

This article: Are the Browser Wars Back? - How Mozilla's Firefox trumps Internet Explorer. By Paul Boutin, published by Slate (an on-line magazine owned by Microsoft) advises that you not use Internet Explorer and recommends Mozilla Firefox instead.

It's interesting that Firefox is a descendant of Netscape, which Microsoft essentially wiped out a decade ago. The article admits that installing Firefox takes a little effort, but suggests that it may be worth your while to protect yourself against evil doers.

As the article says, the problem is that Internet Explorer is too successful. Its success makes it the target of crackers, who are constantly finding holes in its security system. The latest hole allowed a Russian site to actually monitor every key you typed, even after you had long since left the site.

Read the full article for more details.

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US Gov sez MSIE Bad 4U

The U.S. government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) is warning Web surfers to stop using Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser.
US-CERT: Beware of IE
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e-Voting e-Vents

After announcing that they were rejecting Diebold Elections Systems' cease and desist orders and initiating a campaign of legal electronic civil disobedience, Why War? and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons (SCDC) held a public meeting yesterday. In attendance were representatives of Swarthmore College, where both organizations are based and the site of the first hosting of the documents in this campaign. Overnight, word had spread of this action and Dean Bob Gross had received over 250 emails of support from individuals throughout the world including "tech celebrities" and Swarthmore College alumni. [...]
Diebold Civil Disobedience Campaign Continues
Responding to a raft of reports detailing flaws in electronic voting systems, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley today announced that he is requiring all electronic voting systems purchased by California counties to provide a paper printout to allow voters to verify their votes and auditors to verify election results. [...]
Secretary of State Shelley Announces Electronic Voting Machine Requirement
[...] you don't have to believe in a central conspiracy to worry that partisans will take advantage of an insecure, unverifiable voting system to manipulate election results. Why expose them to temptation?
Hack the Vote
[...] So, how do you know that the machine actually counted your vote? You don't! Oh sure, you may see a screen at the end of the process that shows you what you selected ... but how do you know that those choices are actually tabulated? The answer: trust the companies that make the machines. But that attitude, if it ever made sense, has been shown to be not just wrong but foolhardy in the past several months. [...]
Electronic Voting Debacle
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Freeway of Speech

Freeway Blogger records an interesting exercise in freedom of speech:
Poster on Freeway reading 'We‘re All Wearing The Blue Dress Now.'
09:01 | Link


A Sense of Balance

Why, when I am carrying a full cup of coffee, do I spill less if I don’t look at it; yet, to balance on one leg, I do best if I focus on a fixed spot?

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Electronic disobedience

A group of students are practicing “electronic civil disobedience” to raise awareness of issues with both electronic voting and abuse of the DMCA as a tool for censorship.

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Walking in the moonlight

I had a chance to reflect today on the events reported in Shoot the Moon. One of the most important aspects of what Dr. Houbolt did was that he stuck to his guns, and did not let the momentum of the NASA bureaucracy take it down the wrong path. Too many people today just go with the flow, leaving us with a load of mediocrity.

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Do you think playing cowboy songs all day was the trick? What’s your favorite cowboy song?

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Saddle Sox

I’m listening to “cowboy” music today, hoping it will help the Sox get back in the saddle…

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Shoot the Moon1

I’m travelling today to Champaign, Illinois to the University to participate in a celebration of my father-in-law, Dr. John C. Houbolt, who is donating his papers to the university library. John (whose pronounces his last name as if it rhymes with cobalt, despite what the university site says) is an unassuming man, his name is not the first that comes to mind when thinking about the moon landing2, but he was actually a key figure in our getting there.

Dr. Houbolt did not invent the concept of “Lunar Orbit Rendezvous”3, but he was an avid mathematician, and in researching and teaching himself orbital mechanics (in order to teach others, including the astronauts), he realized that the concept of orbital rendezvous (Earth or Lunar) had far-reaching ramifications in simplifying the task and reducing the cost of getting to the moon. He felt this idea was so important that it became his mission to champion the idea.

Dr. Houbolt promoted the concept of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous by demonstrating the weight and cost savings that would permit using existing booster technology, as opposed to the “direct ascent”4 method which relied on developing new boosters, or the Earth Orbit Rendezvous5, which required twice as many conventional boosters. Although he was mathematically sure his plan was the best, bureaucracy, politics, and fear (of losing the astronauts should the rendezvous in lunar orbit fail) hindered his proposal.

Eventually Dr. Houbolt had to resort to going around the chain-of-command to get his point across. Coincidentally, his actions occurred just as President Kennedy set the challenge to America to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Through Dr. Houbolt’s persistence, the bureaucracy was finally turned in the right direction, and at 16:17EDT on 20 July 1969, mankind first set foot on the Moon, using Houbolt’s Lunar Orbit Rendezvous plan.6

While John’s promotion of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous is perhaps his most well-known accomplishment, his career as Chief Aeronautical Scientist at NASA was long and productive. We have been told by the University, that his papers represent the foremost modern historical collection of their library.

1. Shoot-the-Moon is a game where you try to accelerate a metal ball up an inclined pair of rods, fixed at one end, by maneuvering the free end of rods apart and together, using gravity to accelerate the ball on its trajectory up the incline. It is aptly named, because our lunar excursions relied on the same principal: utilizing gravity to accelerate (and decelerate) the spacecraft for free.

2. The Moon Landing? Wasn't that a hoax? It may seem so to younger generations. After all, the first landing happened so long ago, you cannot even express it as a Unix date (which is defined as seconds since midnight, January 1, 1970). But we did send 12 astronauts to the moon in the late sixties and early seventies. We got so good at it, we even sent them up with a little “dune buggy” so they could tool around the craters and check things out.

3. The concept of using a staged vehicle to reduce the energy requirements for travelling between the planets goes back at least to the 1800's when a Russian mathematician described the process.

4. Direct ascent relied on building a gigantic rocket (code named Nova, never built) and essentially firing it directly at the moon, turning around half way out, and trying to slow down before you hit it. Just as Jules Verne had described in “From the Earth to the Moon”.

5. Earth Orbit Rendezvous involved making two or more flights from Earth that would be used to assemble (in orbit) a rocket to reach the Moon. This rocket would still approach the Moon as in direct ascent, but smaller boosters would suffice to escape the Earth's gravity, because the payload would initially be split in two.

6. A detailed review of Dr. Houbolt's contribution to the moon landing is available as NASA Monographs in Aerospace History Series #4 Enchanted Rendezvous.

00:24 | Link | Reply | Track | Comments (2)


Microsoft’s Lumper Crop

Just as agricultural monocultures have resulted in disaster1 when a disease wipes out an entire crop, the ubiquity of Windows threatens the resilience of the internet2 because viruses targeted at Windows can spread so rapidly.

16:01 | Link | Reply | Comments (2)


The Boy Who Cried Werewolf

Warren Zevon
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Homelan(d) Security

The Department of Homeland Security is all het up about Microsoft’s latest security flaws. What's a poor home user to do? One simple and safe solution is to not connect to the internet, but that’s probably too Draconian for the average user. If you have a dial-up connection, you are safe as long as you are not connected. But if you are like more and more people, you have an always-on, high-speed connection to the internet, and your PeeCee is plugged right into it. Might as well leave your front door open with a note on how to find your sugar jar taped to the jamb.

One solution is to put something between your cable/DSL modem and your computer. There are lots of routers available whose main purpose is to allow you to have several computers at home accessing the internet while only paying your ISP for one connection. A pleasant side-effect to many of these routers is that they stop most worms cold because they are not a PeeCee — they act as a firewall between you and the internet.

A router is in fact a computer, it typically has an operating system, but it has only one job to do, so there is a much better chance that its programmers have gotten it right. Much better than a general purpose computer running a general purpose operating system with half a billion lines of code any one of which might be wrong.

You can buy a “personal firewall”, a piece of software that runs on your computer and tries to do the same job, but it is not quite as good, because it is depending on your operating system to be working right, and this was the source of the problem in the first place.

That's why I suggest getting a hardware firewall, a dedicated box that has only one job to do. The best firewalls implement something called stateful packet inspection (SPI), which looks at every packet of information going in and out of your house to make sure it is something that you asked for.

A firewall does not protect you against viruses that you receive in email and are fooled into opening, so you still need good anti-virus software on your machine, but it can save you from malicious crackers invading your machine over the internet.

Macs are less likely to be affected by these worms and viruses. They are such a small share of the market, the worm and virus “vendors” usually don't bother to make a Mac-compatible version of their wares. Nevertheless, if you have a Mac plugged into an always-on internet connection, it is likely getting probed by worms just to see whether it is a PC or not, so a hardware firewall can still be of use to stop the worms from wasting your time (your computer does waste time looking at the probes, even if only to ignore them).

[The router/firewall that I use personally is the Linksys BEFSR41. If you are using wireless internet in your house, there are combination router/firewall/wireless gateways too. If you are a Mac user, the Apple Airport is one such device.]

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Voting right

Our right to vote has two important principles: anonymity (so your vote cannot be coerced) and accountability (so your vote cannot be miscounted). Paper ballots work because the ballot is accountable (it is a physical token that represents your right to vote — counted when you identify yourself as a voter, counted when you vote, and counted when the vote is tallied), and the ballot is anonymous (you mark your ballot privately, the marks are tallied separately from your identity).

There is a possibility for fraud: extra ballots could be introduced, or ballots not counted — this is controlled by comparing the count of voters to the count of ballots; or the votes on the ballots could be incorrectly counted — this is controlled by recounting the physical ballots if something seems amiss.

So-called “electronic voting” threatens this system because there is no physical representation of each ballot. (Actually, there is a physical representation in the electronic charge of certain atoms in a RAM chip or the magnetic polarity of crystals on a hard drive; but these are hardly inspectable in the clear fashion that a physical paper ballot is.)

Independent of the issue of computers being complex and unreliable, without a physical token representing each vote that can be inspected directly by humans, there is tremendous opportunity for voter fraud, both intentional and unintentional.

If you want to know more about the issues surrounding electronic voting machines, you should read this article by Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, professor of computer science at Bryn Mawr. If you want to be frightened, read Lynn Landes' page on Voting Security.

Two recent events prompted me to think about this issue: First, a report in the Boston Globe regarding a push to use touch-screen voting machines in Massachusetts. Thankfully, Secretary Galvin is taking a careful approach. Second, a report from Scoop regarding Dr. Mercuri being ejected from an elections conference. Now, why would they want to do that?

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John Peter Zenger

Today is the anniversary of the verdict in the trial of John Peter Zenger, considered by many the germ of our right to freedom of speech.

The outcome of the trial hinged on the (today) little-known principle of Jury Nullification. The jury's verdict of “not guilty”, against the judge's instructions, effectively nullified the application of the English seditious libel laws in the Colonies, paving the way for our freedom of the press.

[On a personal note, Lewis Morris, who was removed from the case by the royal governor, is an ancestor of my spouse. His great-grandson, Gouvenor Morris, penned the preamble to the constitution and noted the influence of the Zenger trial on our first amendment: “The trial of Zenger in 1735 was the germ of American freedom, the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized America.”

[A full account of the trial by Douglas Linder, Professor of Law at University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School is available at Zenger Trial.]

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Good news: Conservatives are not psychopaths!

[...] conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs, but that "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled."

[Full article at UC Berkeley]

18:41 | Link


Pods Unite

For a limited time, buyers of new Volkswagen Beetles will receive a free 15 GB Apple iPod.

Continue reading "Pods Unite"
14:31 | Link



The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Continue reading "Independence"
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"Horses sweat, Men perspire, Ladies glow."


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"The greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today, is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and walk out the door and deny Him by their life style. That, is what an unbelieving world, simply finds, unbelievable."

dc Talk

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French do something right

The French consumer association (Union Federale des Consommateurs - Que Choisir) is taking the major record labels as well as two large distributors to court. UFC's complaint is that audio CD copy protection is abusive and overly restricts fair use, particularly as the record labels are already paid a levy on all blank CD-ROM sales. UFC picks its battles carefully, and rarely loses, so the outcome should be interesting. The story was reported in most French media yesterday evening and this morning. The national radio-station-of-record, France Inter, used a Mac user for its man-on-the-street interview ;)

[From MacInTouch]

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The new math: War = Peace

Blair and Bush nominated for Nobel prize:

08:54 | Link



Malice aforethought

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Hanlon's Razor

06:46 | Link | Reply



[This is the new Honda commercial (extended version), inspired by Mouse Trap!, and pretty cool. It apparently took them 605 takes to make! Will take a loooong time to download if you are on a modem. —ptw]

A single cog sets off a chain reaction that sets component parts of a Honda Accord in elaborate and orchestrated motion. Quite unlike any car commercial you’ve likely seen.


Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Production Company: Partizan Midi Minuit
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Agency Producer: Rob Steiner
Agency Creatives: Matt Gooden & Ben Walker
Post Production: The Mill
Producer: Fi Kilroe
Flame: Barnsley
Flame Assistant: Dave Birkill

13:44 | Link | Reply | Comments (3)


Uh oh! :-{


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... not war

"Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties."

Jules Renard, writer (1864-1910)

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Jury Nullification

"The fact that the judge says it is not the jury's responsibility to judge the law should not be confused with believing that it is not the jury's responsiblity to judge the law.

"The jury is the final safeguard built into our system to prevent our citizens from being stripped of their rights by unjust laws. You cannot punish a juror for voting with his conscience.

"Few history books give juries the credit they're due--for stopping the Salem witch trials, for overturning slavery in state after state before the Civil War, and for ending Prohibition--all by refusing to convict because they thought the law itself was wrong.

"These days, trial by jury often doesn't accomplish all that it should. And the usurpation continues: trial judges now falsely tell jurors that their only job is to decide if the "facts" are sufficient to convict, and that if so, they "should" or "must" convict. Defense attorneys can face contempt of court charges if they urge jurors to acquit if they think the law is unconstitutional or unjust. And self-defenders are usually stopped and rebuked if they even mention their motives, or why they disagree with the law, to the jury."

Jury Veto Power, from The Fully Informed Jury Association

19:48 | Link | Reply | Comments (2)




"Never ask what sort of computer a guy drives. If he's a Mac user, he'll tell you. If not, why embarrass him?"

Tom Clancy

08:53 | Link | Reply

Billions and billions

"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers."

Richard Feynman

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"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he created mothers."

Jewish proverb

07:22 | Link | Reply


Macs, Big and Apple

Claiming that the Macintosh is inferior to Windows because most people use
Windows, is like saying that all other restaurants serve food that is
inferior to McDonalds.

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New words

Winners of the Washington Post New Word Contest

1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie. (That's unforgivable if you're a male)

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.

13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.

14. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Pokemon (n), A Jamaican proctologist.

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Intelligent Life

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

Calvin (Bill Watterson)

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"Why is it so easy to throw caution to the wind? Shouldn't it be heavier and shaped like an anvil?"

Jon Anderson

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Did you feel it?

It seems there was a second quake at 7:05 too.

If you felt the quake and want to help the USGS map out the physical effects (and correlate them to their seismo readings) you can go to:

and report your experience.

I have to say it was rather weird feeling the quake. I turned on the TV thinking there would be some mention of it there. When there wasn't, I turned to the web and found that I could see the real-time output of all the USGS seismographs, and sure enough, just a bit before 7 am, there is a big green shake going on... Phew, I wasn't hallucinating.

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Anyone else feel the earth shake at around 7 am this morning?

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"I know a number of women (I count myself one of them) who I refer to as 'Reverse Circes'. We go through life attempting to turn the swine back into men!"

K. C. Rourke (

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Douglas Adams on Humans

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

Douglas Adams

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Battleground God

Thought provoking:

Battleground God

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Loving children

"To understand your parents' love, bear your own children."

Chinese saying

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Life in the fast lane

"The trouble with life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end in an awful hurry."

John Jensen

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Gandalf on capital punishment

"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement."

Gandalf (J. R. R. Tolkien)

18:09 | Link | Reply | Comments (1)


Palindromic Dates

2001-10-02 is a palindrome.

1380-08-31 may have been the most recent previous one, but the next one is just 8 years away...

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My personal thoughts

I have received several emails suggesting putting a candle in your window, wearing red, white and blue; to express solidarity. I am doing both, but I had my own idea, which you can take for what it is worth.

I know we need to seek out and stop the people who were responsible for these crimes; we need to prevent them from further atrocities. But to my mind the best retribution the USA can inflict is to demonstrate to them and the world, just what President Bush said: you may shake the foundations of our buildings, but you will not shake the foundation of our country. We need to show them and the world that Freedom and Democracy (and the capitalist economy that they permit) are only strengthened by adversity. We need to carry on doing what we do, each our own little bit that makes this country what it is.

One freelance photographer who was interviewed on Tuesday because he happened to have footage of one of the attacks expressed a sentiment I agree with strongly. He called it an "act of ignorance", because the USA is the most enthicly, culturally, religiously diverse country in the world, with freedom and opportunity for everyone, these attacks were attacks on everyone, and misguided. In addition to preventing immediate future atrocities, we need to understand how people could form the misconception that Freedom and Democracy are their enemy, and educate and include them.

Let Freedom ring in our land of Liberty,


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Fat Cans

[Seen in a .sig]

Size of a single-serving bottle of Coca-Cola in 1955: 185ml
Size of a single-serving bottle of Coca-Cola in 2001: 568ml

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Annie Oakley and the Kaiser

In the late 'teens Annie Oakley maintained that she could have prevented World War I. Years earlier she'd been touring in Germany and at one of her shows the not-yet-Kaiser Wilhelm insisted she shoot a cigarette he was smoking. She felt that if she'd missed, just that once, the War might not have happened. Who knows? Perhaps she was right.

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Full Marx

"The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

Groucho Marx

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Bill loves Mac

"To create a new standard, it takes something that's not just a little bit different. It takes something that's really new--and really captures peoples imagination. The Macintosh, of all the machines I've ever seen, is the only one that meets that standard.

Bill Gates, c. 1984, at the introduction of the Macintosh

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"Math anxiety: an intense lifelong fear of two trains approaching each other at speeds of 60 and 80 MPH."

Rick Bayan

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Ode to a Scarecrow

"Hey, be seedy! He effigy, hate-shy, jakey yellow man. Oh pique! You are rusty, you've edible, you ex-wise he."


[Read it aloud. I remember seeing this, I believe in Time, many years ago. It stuck in my head.]

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"If I were punished for every pun I shed, there would not be left a puny shed of my punnish head."

Samuel Johnson

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Kid's say the darndest things

Went to Apollo 13 with the kids last week. When asked how she liked it, my oldest replied: "Gee, Dad. It was awfully predictable!"

Guess I should've told them it was a true story first...

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