Archive for November, 2005

High Crimes in Low Places

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

According the chief of the investigative team, the original [New Orleans levee] design was â??robustâ? and would have probably held back the water in the canalâ?¦if it had actually been built as designed.

This just in: Kickbacks and corruption to blame for Destruction of New Orleans.

So what exactly is the legal penalty for destroying a US City? Life in Prison? Death Sentence?

I can understand the motivations behind taking kickbacks and such — people like money. A lot. But if you are actively and directly responsible for something that prevents the destruction of a major city, and you choose to line your pockets at the direct expense of fulfilling your duties…

…well, the penalty should be far greater than simple corruption charges.

Because when you really look at it, somewhere there is a person who was in charge of seeing that the levees were built the way they were supposed to be. Somewhere is a person who chose to look the other way when they were not; knowing Louisiana the motivation for this act was based in some sort of corruption.

Somewhere, someone knows he is directly responsible for the destruction of the City of New Orleans. Though corruption of this sort probably happened on multiple levels, in the end it came down to a very few people who could have made the difference. Even though they will rebuild, the city will never be the same — as things are transpiring, it appears that NOLA will forevermore be more of a theme park than a real city. Mardi Gras Land. Vegas with jazz.

I swear — some people desperately need to be dragged behind a damned truck

Discipline and “Tough Love”

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Okay we’ve all heard about the mom who made her bratty kid stand on the street corner holding a sign saying she acts up in school and her parent are preparing her for the future, “… will work for food.”

I say kudos to the mom for drawing the line and acting when the kid continued to cross it. This story immediately reminded me of the story back in April about the kindergartener who was such an out of control brat that the school had to call the police. In the former case, the kid had issues, and the mother (no daddy mentioned) was unwilling to admit that her little angel could possibly do wrong. Thus, no discipline, no authority = child who will have problems for the rest of her life.

Here, the mother took a stand to at least try to set her kid on the right path. It looks as though it might have worked, too.

As far as I can see, she did the right thing.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

Wow, Sony just doesn’t seem to know security from a hole in the ground these days.

A couple weeks ago I pointed out a story about Sony’s faulty copy protection scheme that they’ve been putting on recent music CDs. The software was really pretty egregious, in terms of invading they users’ computers, opening up several security holes, potentially disabling the computers completely, and several other problems that major tech companies really, really shouldn’t be secretly inflicting on their customers.

Well, if you thought it wasn’t possible for them to be this stupid, they went and made it worse. They’ve released a software tool for customers who already have the first program embedded in their systems to remove said offender. Unfortunately, the new program has even worse flaws that, in the words of a Princeton University professor and one of his students, is “about as serious as a security flaw can get.”

The Wall Street Journal quotes them thus:

“The consequences of the flaw are severe,” Felten and Halderman wrote in a blog posting Tuesday. “It allows any Web page you visit to download, install, and run any code it likes on your computer. Any Web page can seize control of your computer; then it can do anything it likes.”

Mind you, this new problem is a fundamental design flaw in the program designed to remove the other security-hole-riddled copy protection software. Sony has broken the First Rule of Holes: “When you find yourself in one, Stop Digging.”

At least they have issued a recall of the original copy-protected CDs. Hey, you can hardly go wrong with getting rid of the damned things.

Can’t waste that one.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

I shot this off in a footnote, and thought it was too good to let slip by unremarked. A new entry in Strider’s Dictionary:

li•ber•al
n.: Any person who, especially in the course of a political discussion or debate, publicly claims to not know what a liberal is. Usage: I am not a liberal! In fact, I don’t even know what a “liberal” is.

See also: BURP

Update 28 Feb 2006: Added usage note.

Not terribly long now…

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

There seems to be a spate of newspaper editorials lately regarding the Bush/TexANG fake memo scandal that ultimately brought low such media luminaries as Dan Rather and his producer, Mary “I am not a Democrat”* Mapes. [Update: to clarify, I’m speaking of recent editorials defending Mapes and Rather by stating that the documents were”never proven to be fakes”.] It just may have something to do with Mapes’ new book describing her tragic journey through victimhood at the hands of legions of anonymous right-wing bloggers working in lockstep to the drumbeat of the Rove Bush administration.*

Unfortunately for Mapes, people seem to understand that “You can’t prove they’re fake” is a bogus argument. Anyone relying on such an argument would be forced to accept all kinds of completely absurd assertions as truth — which would make for a poor news reporting indeed — especially when the very experts you use as your proof of your assertions insist they didn’t say what you say they said.

Beyond that, one if those “anonymous” bloggers is pointing out that they really aren’t all that anonymous. And as anyone who has ever read blogs can attest, bloggers are never unanimous.

The day will come when the people who believe that the Killan memos are real are looked upon with the same critical eye normally reserved for those who insist the moon landings were fake.

* Actually, she says she doesn’t know if she’s a Democrat or not. In fact, this seasoned newswoman claims to not even know what a “liberal” is! Strider’s dictionary defines “liberal” as “n. — any person who, especially in the course of a political discussion or debate, publicly claims to not know what a liberal is”.

* For those of you who believe I exaggerate my description of Mapes’ book, I present the following direct quote:

Within minutes of (blogger) Buckhead’s original posting, Freepers began to repeat and embellish Buckhead’s thoughts. [“Freeper” is, among leftists, a generally derogatory term for right wing extremists, similar to “leftard” on the right. — strider] Not surprisingly, they all agreed with him, they all agreed with one another, and they all agreed this should be pursued aggressively. Freethinkers they are not. The Freepers and their lockstep like-minded fellow travelers moved as a group, like a school of sharks sweeping toward an unaware and unarmed victim. […]

On Web sites such as Powerline, INDC Journal, Allahpundit, and Spacetownusa, the bravehearts of the blogging world worked anonymously in what appeared to be huge numbers, in unison, to destroy the Bush-Guard story, to uphold one another’s wild and hateful claims, to outshout, outargue, and outblog anyone who dared to disagree. And on their Web sites there is no disagreement. They hate in unison, they speak with one angry voice, they each make themselves bigger by staying as close together as possible.

Okay, so I made the “Rove” bit up. Sue me.

h/t to INDC Journal for the excerpt.

“Dah…” *blinks stupidly*

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Monday morning and I’ve already commited the hands-down brainfart of the week.

Hot water. Teabag. One packet sugar. Check.

Cheeze-baked bagel. Check.

Teabag in the water. Check.

Big knife out of the drawer. Cut bagel. Bagel goes in the toaster. Lever down. Check.

Paper towel. Wipe off knife over trash can. Knife goes in the can. Che… Crap.

Giving Thanks

Friday, November 11th, 2005

This is my friend Allen (on the right).

photo: Allen in uniform

The picture was taken a few years ago when I went to a party at his local American Legion in Wisconsin. As you might guess, he fought in The Big One*.

An open letter to Allen, cc: all U.S. military, past and present, alive or dead:

There are a few days every year when most Americans get out their flags and wave them, and make a show of patriotism. I have always felt it a bit odd to only show your colors a handful of times a year. When in Wisconsin I never fail to fly the flag every morning, and to take it down, as I should, at dusk or when it rains. In my old apartment in Chicago, on a busy stretch of Lincoln Ave., I displayed a flag year round in my front window — it filled the window like a curtain (facing out). I wear a small flag pin on the lapel of my jacket.

These symbolic displays are not enough.

I say “Thank You” to soldiers and veterans when given the opportunity. A drop in the bucket, but not enough.

I buy a poppy.

I speak out, on this website and in person, in defense of our country, in defense of justice, and of truth, and in defense of the individual freedoms for which you and your comrades fought.

I cringe when I hear of another solder’s death, and say a silent “thank you” that they are over there doing what they must. I cringe when Americans crow over these deaths, and use them as a bludgeon to attack our country’s honor, and its intentions. Do they not realize that their words inspire our enemies and hurt our own? Do they not realize that our soldiers are fighting to prevent “over there” from becoming “right here”?

I strain to find the words to express the depth of my appreciation for the sacrifices made by our soldiers in the past, and being made now by the best of our generation. Every freedom I have ever known was won with the blood of patriots.

So I say “thank you”, and hope that those hearing it recognize the passion behind the words. Thank you; and thank you again.

Oh, and one more thing. One more small drop in the bucket.

Allen, I will make a donation in your name to any non-political veterans’ or soldiers’ support organization of your choice. Let me know your preference.

Your friend,

Stephen

To anyone else reading this, especially those who never served directly, I challenge you to do the same. This isn’t a “who gives the most” pissing contest, this is a Call to Action.

Give to the VFW and support those who fought in the past. Give to Soldiers’ Angels and support those who are fighting today. There are many such organizations around, and they could all use our support.

And to our veterans: Thank You.

Update: My wife points out… if you can’t donate money, donate some kind words at www.americasupportsyou.mil.

Update Nov. 29, 2005: The party was at the American Legion, not the VFW. I’ve corrected the text above.

* That is, World War II.

Bloggery Hackery

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

I was recently asked by a school to make a web based calendar application. Practically my first impulse was that This could be done quite nicely by adapting WordPress, the program I use to run this blog. WordPress already has quite flexible and well-designed calendar functions, so it seemed that from this start I would be 90% there already.

With a bit of hunting, I also found a pre-existing plugin called EventCalendar, which does part of what I needed. The biggest difference with what I wanted and what this plugin gives is that it essentially turns one category out of a blog into a calendar, while I wanted nothing but calendar.

What I have so far is pretty rough, but it’s functional. Mainly, I would have to majorly adapt the “Add entry” function so that it makes sense as a Calendar application — it’s pretty kludgy as such right now, as the forms were designed for a different use. Further down the road, I would hope to re-implement categories, as right now there is only one: “events”.

Anyway… Here’s the Readme, and here’s where you can take a look at what I have so far. I’ll keep you updated if this advances any further. Go play.

Oh yeah… you’ll probably want the corresponding WordPress Theme

Open your mouth and sing “Ahhhhhhh”

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

This is truly cool. My friend Z pointed me towards a Podcast dedicated to college acappella: Acappella U.

It’s a slow download, but check out the first episode — the group “Off the Beat” does a rendition of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” that is absolutely outstanding. This is great stuff.

And if you like what you hear, I suggest you take a look at the BOCA CDs.

Gentlemen, Start your lawsuits!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Sony is now in the spyware business.

Time to sell that SNY stock, I think.

More DRM madness here

Hat Tip: Wizbang via Instapundit