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Thursday, August 11, 2005

I’m News and Media…

...Who the hell are you?

Bumper Stickers That Irritate Me, Part 56 (Or Something Like That)

It wasn’t the “Pro Choice, Latte Loving, Volvo Driving Liberal” sticker that got me. That just seemed like fair warning.

I didn’t even mind the little symbol proclaiming “No Patriotic Red, White, and Blue Elephants,” although I admit to being confused about the driver’s antagonistic attitude toward elephants. Apparently targeted animal cruelty is just fine (which doesn’t sound like something that a good PCLLVD Liberal would be saying, but I’m open minded about these things).

No, the sticker that got me was the “Pro Cure” sticker. I mean, it seems that “pro cure” would go without saying. The grand majority of American citizens are solidly in the corner of curing whatever it is that ails you. Cancer, AIDs, baldness, bad taste in music--we all hope that some day they find a cure for these things.

Anti Cure, on the other hand, would be pretty meaningful. Not a popular stance, but definitely brave.

So, anyway, thanks to the Pro Choice, Latte Loving, Volvo Driving, Redneck Hating, Michael Moore Worshipping, Elitist Liberal for sharing with the class. And, umm, I meant that in the good way, of course.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sports Thoughts

It’s late night, I’m still working over the venue question for the bash in my head, and I’m not ready for bed. So, sports it is.

  1. TO Isn’t Worth It. There is no way, in my mind, that Terrell Owens could possibly be worth the damage he does to team unity with his arrogant, mindless attitude. Without his salary, the Eagles would have the capacity to attract other talent at receiver. Yes, he is an amazing player, but, like Jeff George, he’s also a brutal presence on any team.
  2. Hejduk, on the other hand, is now and forever one of my favorite NHL players. Hejduk turned his back on a few million dollars so that he could both stay with the Avs and help the team sign more talent. Selfless, a hell of a player on the ice, and the kind of guy that you want to have playing on the same team.

    Hejduk had accepted a $4.3 million qualifying offer from the Avalanche but instead agreed to play for $3.7 million this season and $3.8 million next year as part of a five-year deal signed over the weekend. Under the new collective-bargaining agreement, Hejduk could have demanded $7.4 million next season.

    “I had a $4.3 [million] qualifying offer,” he said in a conference call Monday from the Czech Republic. “So basically I had two options—take the offer and next year become an unrestricted free agent, but I decided to stay in Denver and give [Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix] a little bit of a break these first two years so they can basically sign some other guys.

    “I just want to be in Denver, playing for the Avalanche. It’s just a great place to be. Me and my wife and kids, we are so happy to be there. So why not sign a five-year deal there?”

    Good guy.

  3. Bertuzzi convinces me that his suspension was too light. In a letter to fans and supporters, Bertuzzi manages to let everyone know how happy he is to be back. But he completely fails to squeeze in even an ounce of contrition or even a note of apology to the man whose neck he broke. Jerk.
  4. The best story of the pre-season for Broncos fans has to be Bradlee Van Pelt. Here’s hoping that the former CSU quarterback manages to win the back-up spot. Not that I’m rooting against Danny Kanell, mind, just that Van Pelt is turning out to be quite a surprise for the Broncos. Good for him.

So there.

More Or Less Credible

This is what I wrote a few months ago:

If President Bush doesn’t veto the highway bill, he will be giving up his last shred of credibility on spending issues. He will also lose leverage with the Senate because his domestic policy threat will have been proven to be completely without substance.

This is what’s in the news today:

President Bush opened the gates Wednesday for spending a whopping $286.4 billion on roads and bridges, rail and bus facilities, bike paths and recreational trails, saying the projects from coast to coast would spur the economy and save lives.

Critics said the 1,000-page transportation bill was weighed down with pet projects to benefit nearly every member of Congress. The bill’s price tag over six years was $30 billion more than Bush had recommended, but he said he was proud to sign it.

The bill ended up close to Bush’s $284 billion number (reflect on that number for just a moment) that was the President’s supposed cutoff point. It was close enough, in fact, that he didn’t feel the need to use his threatened veto.

As for me, though, I can’t find a way to be happy about this. I’m glad that he at least came close to holding the line--every billion saved is a billion that can actually stay in the more productive sectors of the economy instead of being gobbled up by bureaucracy. Still, the number is ridiculously high and doesn’t support the idea that there is actually a fiscal conservative left in Washington.

Three million dollars to “documentary about infrastructure advancements in Alaska?”

The President specified a number that he was unwilling to go past ($284 billion dollars), but it isn’t purely the dollar figure that is offensive (although that certainly plays a part). No, what is truly offensive is that the veto should have been as much for irresponsible spending as much as for that arbitrary high limit.

How about nearly a quarter billion dollars for a giant bridge to be built in Alaska? It will be built to link a tiny tourist town of 15,000 to an island with just a handful of inhabitants. Why? Right now the island can only be reached by a short ferry ride, which seems to serve the island’s 50 citizens just fine.

I’m moderating my comments, though, and my opinion about the veto-less President simply because, in context, it really is a vast improvement over the original versions of the bill. The original House bill weighed in at some $370 billion (and included a new five cent tax per gallon of gas), the original Senate version looked to top $318 billion, and the final bill looks downright slender at just $286.4 billion.

Of course, that’s like saying that the 300 pound man looks slender next to the 400 pound man; if those are the only choices, then the one that’s better still isn’t good.

And that’s what we the people got here: something better than it could have been, but it’s still no damned good.

Read the Rest...

Buddy, Could You Spare A Lot of Dimes?

Y’know, not a lot of money. Pocket change to some people.

Just a hundred million dollars or so.

Yeah, it’d be worth it…

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

In Case You Were Wondering… (III)

1. Andy, (possibly) Matt, and I will be deciding the location of the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash tomorrow night. So be looking for the announcement of the venue (along with directions and stuff) Thursday morning.

There is still time to let us know that you’ll be coming (especially if you plan to buy me shots--and I know you do).

2. “Carry Home.” If I ever write a screenplay, I want this song to be on the soundtrack of the multi-gazillion dollar mega hit that I’m sure to have penned. It’s a cover of the Gun Club song, although it takes on an entirely new feel in Mark Lanegan’s version. The rest of the CD, I’ll Take Care of You, is just as good and well worth the purchase.

I thought it would be nice to share.

3. I have fond memories of the ol’ blog-city version of ResurrectionSong. Which is only one of the reasons I’m going to point y’all to Combs Spouts Off--the other of which is that he engages in telling me how wrong I was about some of my Best of Heinlein picks and comes up with some good answers of his own.

4. So the Mayor Ito of Nagasaki thinks that nuclear deterrence as a strategy for keeping the peace is a bad thing. Man, I’m feeling a serious 80’s vibe on this one; it’s almost worth ignoring.

But he asks and I feel obligated to answer for myself (your mileage may vary).

“We understand your anger and anxiety over the memories of the horror of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Yet, is your security actually enhanced by your government’s policies of maintaining 10,000 nuclear weapons, of carrying out repeated subcritical nuclear tests, and of pursuing the development of new mini nuclear weapons?” Ito asked.

The answer, of course, is yes. Yes, I do feel safer knowing that my country has the power to project its will incrementally from diplomatic pressure in the UN to a single SEAL team involved in the most surgical of missions to the punishing air strikes that kept Libya quiet for so many years to the kind of military expedition that can topple the majority of the world’s governments in just a matter of weeks to the threat of nuclear devastation that ensures that people take our words seriously.

Honestly, there isn’t another country in the world that I would trust with that much power and I hope that Americans realize that it is always in our best interest to keep our government on the shortest possible leash. Using the right tool to support our international interests is vital; but the knowledge that we have an impressively stocked tool chest most certainly is a comfort.

For that matter, I think that it could be argued that the only thing that kept the Cold War from becoming hot enough to destroy Europe in another World War was the nuclear deterrent. 

Hot for Teacher

It’s one of those days where what I’ve worked on isn’t working the way I want it, new tasks aren’t as well-considered as I might have hoped, and where being completely and utterly ignored in a meeting left me on the edge of walking out. What turned out to be the prescription to help me keep going?

That’s right. Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.”

“Oh, man, I think the clock is slow...”

I needed that.

Big Gov’t…

...libertarian?

Surely, that’s not right…

Update: See, now, this makes an awful lot more sense to me.

Mr. Answer is Clueless On This One

Okay, the problem is this:

Create a good, useful layout for the navigation on a system with these traits:

  1. An infinite number of potential layers to the navigation, but the practical reality is that there are four layers with products potentially appearing at every level below the primary level.
  2. Most products don’t appear until after the fourth level.

    Click on a category, click on a department, click on a sub-department, click on a sub-sub department, click on a product, see a product description.
  3. There are, right now, 14 categories in the top level navigation.
  4. There are something near 3,000 standard products to display.
  5. There are two mixed systems of products to display. That is, two databases--one internal filled with books, tests, online courses, and such, the other is a database associated with a product that we use that displays its own online courses, web-based seminars, and the like.
  6. Customers who use that product will use the same catalog, but will have the capacity to add their own categories, sub-categories, and products. So this has to accomodate a ridiculous number of possible arrangements from one product in one category to 10,000 products in twenty main categories with six layers of navigation (chosen as a theoretical upper limit, although there will be no such actual limit on products, categories, or levels of navigation).

This is the task that was handed to me yesterday with the request to have the solution deployed by the end of the week.

Fuck.

Mr. Answer Doesn’t Know it All, But Still Knows Quite a Bit, III

The question that came through was about Steve Moore’s condition. For those of you who don’t remember, in 2004, Todd Bertuzzi attacked Steve Moore during a hockey game. The hit from behind left Moore bloody and unconscious on the ice, with a concussion and a broken neck. Without a doubt, it was one of the most brutal hits I’ve ever seen and the damage Bertuzzi caused was horrifying.

It wasn’t hockey, it was a criminal act.

Well, Bertuzzi is back. He was cleared to come back to the league after missing twenty games (13 regular season and 7 in the playoffs) and being banned from European leagues and competition last season while the NHL was on hold.

Steve Moore, though, is still out of the game. Doctors have yet to clear him to play and he may never have the opportunity to play again--which would mean that Bertuzzi missed out on about half a million in salary while Moore could miss out on having a career.

“He is quite disappointed, given he is unable to resume his NHL career and may never resume his NHL career,” Tim Danson, the lawyer representing Moore, told The Canadian Press. “It’s disappointing to him that Mr. Bertuzzi is able to resume his career at this particular time. Steve has an uncertain future. He’s got health challenges to deal with.

“While he maintains a very positive attitude . . . at this point, he really is in the hands of doctors who will have to make the determination whether or not he will be able to play again.”

As to whether the suspension was an acceptable punishment, I’m having a hard time with the answer. My emotional response is that Bertuzzi shouldn’t be allowed to play until Moore is medically cleared to take the ice again; that would be emotionally satisfying. But it might not be right.

Read the story.

Monday, August 08, 2005

HTML Woes

Microsoft Excel exports some of the nastiest HTML files you’ll ever see. The more complex the Excel file, the nastier the underlying code. Worse, trying to shoehorn their file into the framework of my company’s current site is proving to be nightmarish (surprisingly).

Now, the absolute worst part of the whole, irritating process: I don’t have a choice in the matter.

White Noise: 10 Point Review

  1. How lame was that? I mean, seriously, that has to rate as one of the worst “horror” movies of all time.
  2. When did Michael Keaton become Keanu Reeves? He runs the emotional gamut all the way from mildly confused to slightly removed with a few key looks of befuddlement thrown for good measure.
  3. The addition of gratuitous nudity wouldn’t have been enough to save this flaccid film.
  4. Unless it was a lot of high quality gratuitous nudity.
  5. Not scary.
  6. Not creepy.
  7. Not even the tiniest bit eery.
  8. Not really much of anything, and certainly not good.
  9. Another interesting concept with a great deal of potential completely ruined by a bad script, poor pace, uneven acting, and a decidedly predictable plot. To tie it all together, even the special effects were pedestrian (at best).
  10. And, just like this post, the end sucked.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On the Need for a National Identity

I offer this without much in the way of commentary except to note two things:

  1. The pleasure I felt in reading a piece that, essentially, mirrors my view on the need for a sense of national unity that should be taught to our children.
  2. The fact is that the writer is a touch over-kind to the system here in America. Not in the idealized view of that educational system, but in the uneven application by people who are essentially unfriendly to the idea that children should be taught that the American way (if you’ll pardon the expression) might have some advantage over systems in other parts of the world. Regardless of the evidence that our path does have tremendous advantage over, say, the overly-socialized government programs of “old Europe” or the theocracies of the Middle East, the actual expression of admiration for those advantages is often considered to be so crass, insensitive, and downright judgmental that it marks the commentary as being unenlightened.

    One of the greatest dangers facing the United States is that so many of her citizens no longer believe that she is special or worthy of admiration.

These things said, the writer of this piece in the Telegraph understands the need for a level of national pride and admiration in the citizens of the West. And a persuasive bit of writing it is.

...[A]s we have apparently now realised, being a country that absorbs migrants involves rather more than taking in lodgers and leaving them to get on with it. Multiculturalism may have been dressed up as cosmopolitan virtue but, at heart, it was a rationale for not really giving a damn, and a cover for the least attractive British traits - intellectual laziness, indifference to the needs of other people, complacency, and contempt for any sort of energetic commitment to a social ideal.

Well, the serious thinking starts now - as usual in Britain, at five minutes past midnight. The lodgers - or, more to the point, their children - clearly need to be offered a bit more than a key to the front door and a reminder not to leave the landing light on. Much has been made of this country’s failure to give any instruction to incomers on the essentials of Britishness - whatever that is - and their consequent lack of any sense of national identity. To this end, acres of newsprint and hours of broadcasting time have been devoted to producing a defining sense of what it means to be British.

Read the rest.

Update: Kindly linked by Iowa Voice.

Sudden (Stupid) Realization

Watching Rocky IV isn’t very fun.

Watching Rocky IV dubbed into Spanish with no subtitles when you speak precisely none of the language is an entirely different story.

I’m not entirely sure why, though…

Friday, August 05, 2005

Away Today

I’ll be out today and may well not be feeling that blogging spirit for the rest of the weekend.

Notes for while I’m away:

1- Spread the word about the Blogger Bash. We want this to be big and fun, and we want to see new faces at the event. Readers are as welcome as writers.

2- If you RSVP and don’t see yourself on the list immediately, don’t fret. I will be updating as soon as I get home.

3- Thanks again to everyone who expressed sympathy and congratulations over this last week. You’ve all been wonderful.

See ya soon.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

George Galloway: No Longer Amusing

George Galloway praises the terrorists who are doing their best to ensure that Iraq never becomes a nation with a representative government, never respects human life and freedom outside of the dictates of the most strict and punishing readings of Islamic law, and who have targeted Iraqi women, children, policemen, and politicians with no qualms about the blood shed.

“These poor Iraqis - ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable.

“We don’t know who they are, we don’t know their names, we never saw their faces, they don’t put up photographs of their martyrs, we don’t know the names of their leaders.”

Galloway is a treacherous, vile, and small man who is praising the murderers of coalition soldiers, regular Iraqi citizens, journalists, and diplomats from around the Middle East. Worse, he’s acting as a cheerleader for the people who would deny Iraqi’s the opportunity to govern themselves--and he’s doing it under the guise of rooting for the supposed liberators.

He may not have said anything legally actionable, but he has proven that he has no place amongst reasonable, intelligent people. There was a moment where I found him amusing in that Michael Moore kind of way--over the top, a buffoon, but essentially harmless. No more.

Now I realize how hateful he truly is.

Sickening little man.

Wow.

I’m just a little bit of a mess today.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Heinlein’s Best?

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
So Cutter got me thinking: what was Heinlein’s best novel?

Was it The Moon is a Harsh Mistress--a brilliant political and social commentary wrapped up in an exciting story about revolution? How about Stranger in a Strange Land, his best-known book? The amazingly wide-ranging Time Enough for Love is not only a massive book, but it encompasses so many different genres of fiction all tied up into a coherent science fiction theme.

Friday deserves mention as does Job: A Comedy of Justice. But many people prefer the earlier period where it would be foolish to ignore Starship Troopers. The g-phrase is partial to her battered and well-loved copy of The Door Into Summer. And Have Space Suit--Will Travel may have been my favorite book as a young teen--unless it was Tunnel in the Sky. Or Starman Jones.

Sadly, after all that, I’ve probably missed a book that could easily qualify as Heinlein’s best--and if that had bee all he’d written, it would have qualified as an amazing legacy.

As for me, my very favorite is still The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Unless it’s Time Enough for Love...

We’ll Miss You, Forsberg

A couple Stanley Cups, league MVP, seven-time All Star, and all around brilliant player, Peter Forsberg is leaving the Avalanche. I’ll miss watching him skate--his strength, speed, eyes, and puck handling made him one of the most exciting players on the ice.

We’ll miss you here and good luck with the Flyers.

Read the story.

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