Archive for October, 2005

Bush Nominates… That Guy????

Monday, October 31st, 2005

President Bush has nominated Judge Alito for the Supreme Court.

I’m not so sure about this guy. Can we really trust a judge with the highest court in the land after the mess he made of the O.J. Simpson case?

That time of year….

Friday, October 28th, 2005

For those of you who have never perused the rest of this website, I present for your reading pleasure, A Hallowe’en Treat.

… but first, a small taste….

The Nightlife was packed that night. A flood of warm young bodies, gyrating to the pulse-pounding music, filled the dance floor from one wood-paneled wall all the way over to the polished brass railing which separated that province from the bar area. Near the bar, carousers filled the sea of tables – those who had tired of dancing, those who preferred to drink and shout at each other over the music, and those who simply came to admire the atmosphere. The bar itself was massive, built out of solid oak and topped off with a single continuous slab of gray and black marble. The whole thing had been liberated years before from an old shut-down men’s club just before the wrecking ball turned it all to rubble.

The man behind the bar was not massive, but he managed nonetheless to fill the space. Sam was known to all comers, and was personable enough and dexterous enough to keep all the patrons happy. He was blonde and well-muscled, and older than he looked. Nobody but Sam himself knew just how old he was, but a few of the more faithful patrons of The Nightlife knew firsthand that Sam had been there for many years and through several renovations ever since the club had first opened as Scooter’s back in the sixties.

It’s called Daybreak. Go read. (And have a good weekend!)

Update: Changed the excerpt.

The Doomsday Amendment

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

I have believed in guns rights for many years, and in recent years have become more and more of an active advocate of those rights, (I have joined the NRA, for example), largely as a result of reading Kevin Baker’s excellent blog, called The Smallest Minority, among other influences on my growing political maturity.

Cerberus, another blogger I read regularly, has just posted what is perhaps the best layman’s explanation of the meaning and significance of the 2nd Amendment that I have ever read. If you are one of those who just can’t understand how anybody could think we should allow people to own all those dangerous guns, go read “The Doomsday Amendment”. (Hint: the government is supposed to fear the people, not the other way around.)

(FYI — Cerberus is a police officer, so don’t think for a second that he doesn’t understand issues of criminality and the misuse of illegal weapons.)

It’s the little things…

Monday, October 17th, 2005

I feel like a total dork even writing these words, but…

I really love my stapler.

It’s a Stanley Bostitch Model B2000 Black Executive Desktop Stapler. Everyone else in the office has crappy Swinglines — they jam all the time, and you have to put them down on the table to use them without hurting your hand. The Bostitch has never jammed on me in years of use, and though it’s a desktop model, it has a great grippable bottom for picking it up and using it that way. Oh, and the stock Stanley staples punch right through things that reduce the thinner Swingline staples to twisted ruin.

Sometimes I feel like that guy from the movie Office Space who obsessed over his fire engine red stapler that everyong kept stealing off his desk. That was a Swingline though, so beyond the color, I really can’t see the attraction.

(At least I’m not Gollum, cooing over and petting “My Precious”. ‘Cuz that would just be weird.)

I suppose in the end I’m a person who really just appreciates when something is well designed and well made. It’s why I use a Mac, it’s why I spent $500 on a Miele vacuum cleaner (okay, that and allergies…), and it’s why if I ever leave my job, I’m taking the stapler with me!

It has begun

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

I’ve been saying to people for weeks that the disaster in the Gulf Coast might in the long run be good for Louisiana and New Orleans, because (among other reasons), it would be the hammer blow necessary to start breaking up the deeply entrenched crooked politics in the area. In other words, people who have historically voted for the crooked pols have been slapped hard enough in the face with the consequences of doing so, that the next time they’ll insist on someone who has a bit of integrity.

Well… what can I say except this is no surprise whatsoever.

Hat Tip: Cerberus

The Next Big Thing?

Friday, October 14th, 2005

I can think back to about 8 or 10 years ago, when somebody gave me a handheld electronic phonebook. It had a tiny screen at the top, and a qwerty-style keyboard for input. I tried using the thing, but beyond a brief novelty phase, stopped, because it was just too cumbersome to use. It gave you fields for entering a name, an address, and two phone numbers. For alphabetization, I entered names as “Lastname, Firstname” which worked well enough, but most people I knew, even before the days of ubiquitous cell phones, had more than two numbers. Many people also have multiple addresses. Further, the thing didn’t let me label a number, which made it even harder to use. Cel phone? fax? email address? work? home? Yeah right.

I started imagining such a device that would actually be something I would want to use. It would have more number fields, for one. I would have to be able to label them individually. Give me room for multiple addresses. An easier input method. Room for notes or other “flexible” information. Since this was basically a “dream device”, I went wild and came up with a laundry list of features that this device would have to have.

Not too long after this, U.S. Robotics released the Pilot 1000* and hit it out of the park. This was almost precisely the device I had described in my technological musings. If I had had the chance to invest in this company before they had released it, I would have bet a lot of money on it (and as history has shown, I would have made a lot more.) Almost ten years later I use a device that in its basic design is fundamentally unchanged from that original model Palm. (Better screen, more memory, new programs… basic upgrades, but the function of the address book and calendar is virtually the same as that original model). Reportedly the man who invented it, in the process of designing that first PalmPilot, carried a small block of wood around with him. He would pull it out and pretend to type on it. He would talk to it. He was playacting using a device that didn’t yet exist, to figure out how people would want to use such a thing.

Over time, or course, the Palm grew into something that does a lot more than hold addresses. The reason that was able to happen, was that in creating that initial device, he created a technological Blank Slate on which other developers were free to “draw”. Before long there were over 10,000 programs available for the thing, made by developers all over the world. The blank screen, the intuitive and flexible input methodology, combined with portability, cross-platform communication, and a relatively cheap price all combined in a way that revolutionized computing. In the “elegant design” department, these guys beat Apple at their own game, which is really saying something. (Apple of course had attempted a similar device with its Newton, which was way too big and lacked an intuitive input method…)

Some very large companies today are trying to create that same technological “lightning strike” — Microsoft with their Tablet PCs (which are… what… really big PalmPilots? See “Newton”, above.) Microsoft and several others with TV set-top do-it-all devices.

Proving that the idea and execution is more important than the money you throw at it.

I recently had the opportunity to invest in a company that has created what I believe is a “blank slate” environment very similar to what Palm created in the 90s. They have taken a very simple concept — the type of thing that computer geeks for years have been talking about in the sense of “Somebody ought to do this…”, but nobody actually did — and found a way to make it very workable. They have developed it in a way that, much like the Palm Pilot, can be picked up by the independent developer and made to do new things far beyond what the originating company ever imagined.

I feel almost as though I own part of the patent for the original Palm. I might even take it so far as to say that it’s like owning the rights to the computer mouse itself. It’s potentially very, very big.

I’ll say no more, except that I’m very happy to have invested with these guys. Go check it out. (And if you’re puzzled as to why I’m so excited about DJ software… I’m not. That’s just the superficial trimmings.)

Update: A friend asked why I don’t further discuss what specifically I like about the software, after tossing out the link. The three word answer is: “Non-Disclosure Agreement”. Obviously a good portion of the cat was let out of the bag when they put up the website, but I know things that are not revealed there, and choose the better part of valor when weighing the choice between letting their site speak for itself or possibly saying more than I should. I actually wrote most of this post a month or two back, but did not post it until confirming it was okay to do so.

*Correction — originally I said it was the “Palm Pilot 1000″, but the first models were the Pilot 1000 and (I think) the Pilot 5000. Later models were called PalmPilot, and after being sued by Pilot Pens, the company went with Palm.

Synchronicity

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

A NOLA expatriate friend sent me this shot she took in Montgomery, Alabama:

[photo: a leather goods store next door to a steakhouse][D]

Her email reads: “I think my steak might be a little chewy….”

(In case you can’t quite make out the sign on the right, it’s one of these places:
[Outback Steakhouse])

Note: It’s fixed I ‘ve realized just how horizontally squished the picture is — it’s because of the page layout. To see it clearly, open the image in a new window. I’ll fix it when I get a chance.

Chicken Little Strikes Again!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Somehow recent news stories keep bringing me back to one piece I wrote over a year ago.

The story:

A California judge has ruled that San Diego’s Proposition A, a voter initiative to preserve the Mt. Soledad War Memorial by transferring the property to the National Parks Service, is “unconstitutional.”

In response to a lawsuit brought by an atheist organization, the judge overturned a decision agreed upon by 76% of the voters in California. Judicial activism at its most blatant.

Avoiding the active support of religion is notthe same thing as being actively anti-religion. Put another way, government avoiding the official support of any particular religion is not the same thing as government choosing atheism as its own official religion. This is the point that these folks want to obscure in their anti-religious crusade.

(Incidentally, I am an atheist, but I publicly and completely disavow any association with these idiots.)

A year ago, I said….

I can[...] point to the atheists who run around suing towns for putting up Christmas displays, or the Ten Commandments. “Church and State! Church and State!” they cry, sounding not so much like ["the Boy Who Cried Wolf"] as Chicken Little, and down come the displays; (and lest you’ve forgotten, Chicken Little was eaten for his trouble).

One can only hope.

Hat Tip: Darleen

Blurgh

Friday, October 7th, 2005

Did you know it was possible to cough so hard you trigger the vomit reflex?

‘strue.

I’ve had a respiratory infection for the last couple weeks., (as briefly chronicled here.) Basically, I got sick with what felt like a chest cold (a lot of coughing and yuck, and the first day I was totally wiped out). After a week, I decided it was time to go see the doctor. Worked my way through a regimen of antibiotics — got better, but not well. That is, no longer coughing so hard that I can’t sleep, but still tight in the chest and coughing once in a while.

Yesterday the doc prescribed another round with a different medicine. Took my first one around noon today. The first thing I can say is… it’s Different. I’ve been barking like a seal all day. (Though seals don’t make a habit of spitting descreetly into a plastic bag after saying their piece.) In a way it feels as though I’m ripping loose a whole lot of stuff that was deeply entrenched, so even though the symptoms are far, far worse than they were yesterday, I think they’re a sign of getting better.

The bad part is that, as you may recall, I’m a trained singer, and have really strong abdominal muscles (from all that deep breathing and breath support). When my body decides to take over control of said muscles and put them to use repeatedly slamming them together as hard and long as possible (a.k.a. a “cough”), things can get a bit dicey.

On the good side, I made it to the bathroom. On the bad side, I reached the sink and not the toilet.

And on the really good side, I have officially not yet given myself a hernia.

What a weekend to take vacation time. There’s a big swing dance festival in Chicago this weekend, and this is was the first time in several years I could actually make it. Even if I did feel up to it physically, it is (shall we say) impolite to ask a lady to dance when you’ve just loudly hacked up a lump of phlegm and spit a river into a trashcan.

And with that image, Have a Nice Weekend!

Update: Darleen’s not doing much better.

Bennett and the Blacks

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

In light of the recent imbroglio surrounding Bill Bennett’s remarks, I thought I’d link to a very pertinent post I wrote last year.

In a way the discussion surrounding Bennett’s remarks is one of the most important political debates in years. Forget the war; forget whatever else the media is crapping out these days. If people in our society cannot even speak frankly without being shouted down by the self-appointed Guardians of Delicate Egos, we are lost. We are destroyed from within.

I’m far from the best blogger out there, but once in a while I think I come up with something pretty worthwhile. That post is, I think, one of the best things I’ve written here. Please go read:
What Goes Around, Comes Around