So, I’m told to send an e-mail to a third party. Microsoft Outlook conveniently highlights the e-mail address, so that I could click on it to end an e-mail. But the e-mail I’m sending is actually based on another e-mail, so I’d rather forward.
So, I right-click. Can I add the e-mail to my contacts list? No. So, I pull up contacts window. I put the guy’s first name in and drag the e-mail hyperlink to the e-mail address field. Close and some annoying dialogue pops up and I click it away without reading it because I don’t care what silly advice Outlook has for me.
So, I can not find the contact in my contacts list. Okay … I keep clicking away trying to make the search work right because I tell it to search all lists but it keeps switching to “search global list” but whatever.
So, instead of searching for the contact I guess I screwed up when I entered merely a first name and e-mail address, I go and drag the little blue e-mail address to the To: field in my message composer. Edit edit edit proof-read double-check contacts hey … why is the To: address prefixed with mailto:? Edit that …
Edit that … I mean … each time I try to edit the To: address it only let’s me select all or none. I can not edit an e-mail address. Can I right-click on it? Yes, but unlike, say, the file browser, there is no “rename” or other “edit the fucking e-mail address option.”
Stuff like this drives me crazy. Why do we put all these features in the software when none of the features are actually useful, and we actually have less ability to do things than we did in the evil bad old days when software was “hard” to use?
So, I delete the mailto: address, highlight the blue blob from the other message, right-click, and paste a well-formed e-mail address into the To: field.
I just have to rant sometimes. I’m usually a very easy-going guy, but over-engineering that interferes with my ability to do simple and obvious things I take for granted, like editing an e-mail address … that stuff makes me really really irritated. Dang.
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Geese and ducks on the ice at Indian Boundary Park, February 29, 2004. The ice is melting, but the water fowl are still on “solid ground”. Note that many of the ducks are standing on one foot, because the ice is cold. A few others are huddled with their heads tucked closely against their bodies.
Many of the fish — carp — were dead, or moving very sluggishly where the ice had melted. Some seemed dead but were in fact still moving very slowly, their metabolisms drastically reduced to survive the winter. The weather’s been very nice in Chicago lately, after what has qualified as a genuine winter, with oppressive cold, and snow on the ground for months at a time.
Happy Birthday, Sister Girl!
So, my car is now compliant with Chicago emissions. I’ve been neglecting to take it in since the last time it failed, after which I got it tuned up, and started working full-time, with a long-ass commute of about thirty feet. Yeah, well, it failed the second test, at which point they gave me a booklet with a list of shops in Chicago, sorted by their success rate at fixing emissions problems. Since I’m in a new neighborhood, I took the beast over by Car X. Now, normally I’m a bit wary of big chain stores when there’s plenty of greasy guys around willing to do a perfectly good job in a local garage, where the money will stay in the city, and not be siphoned off to some offshore, or at least suburban tax shelter. Yeah, well, the guy figured out my catalytic converters were shot – I mean, they were fifteen years old, right? So, for $475 those were replaced. And it was a slow last Friday over there so you know what they took it by the emissions testing station and passed me through the test!
I am in love. They fixed my car, and they saved me a boat load of time. Car X rocks!
What else? Ah, you may have noticed this funny little strip on the right-hand side of my home page, of little photos. Check it out — You can leave comments and stuff, and I’ll read them. And it is easy for me as sending an e-mail. Hopefully this adds a touch of … whatever.
Other fun things, in case you need to waste some time:
The New York Times has an an article with a plainly funny graph showing optimism, to the point of “no, wait, you guys are so obviously full of Bullsh!t” in the Bush administration’s job projection figures. Every year the administration’s graph goes stright up at a steep angle. Every year the reality graph goes down at a very soft angle, and every year the administration has to move their steep line over to the right …
A Moveon web site called Daily Mislead points out that Bushs’ new campaign ads, which I haven’t seen, which feature the image of firefighters carrying a body bag from Ground Zero, are all the more hypocritical given the administration’s ban on filming body bags returning from the War on Terror.
But it is not all grim, depressing politics. The New York Times has a fun, insightful article on pickpocketing research. A study posted by BBC reports that teens who take a vow of celibacy have less sex, but the same rate of STDs as their morally loose peers, in large part because they are not prepared, with condoms, when they do succumb to their hormones. I heard an NPR story about the abstinence curriculum that schools do in many places, and the main reason to be “abstain” is to avoid STDs … but … well … I don’t know, this just sort of shoots that side of the argument all to heck. Maybe we’re better off with the advice “you needn’t rush into a sexual relationship, but if you’re going to do it, get a damned condom first! Promise me you’ll carry a condom with you, just in case your sex drive overpowers your good judgement! Thanks!”
What else? It’s been some windy times in Illinois. In fact, back in Champaign-Urbana, an MTD bus took a fall off a bridge. That’s some wind! It turns out that eBay has been spanked by New York State because PayPal plays a little too fast and loose with “the truth.” Silly PayPal! Bad PayPal! Hooray for Eliot Spitzer!
And, for your grinning pleasure, a piece on how Californians see United States geography.
Last, but not least, I was really productive at work yesterday. (7MB AVI file, but the paper shredder is fine.)
I try to be as Theist-positive as I can. But that “under God” stuff has always bugged the heck outta me, and I’ve been omitting those two words from my Pledge since the sixth grade. The money can trust in God all it wants, because, really, money is an act of faith anyway, and I don’t pledge allegiance to it, but my allegiance to my country should not require an appeal to the Invisible Man in the Sky to be sincere.
I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Michael Newdow will be pleading his case before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, explaining why those two little words have no place in our nation’s “Pledge of Allegiance”. I hope his arguments prove convincing. We’ll see how our government works. You can read more about what’s up at the New York Times.
Okay, if you have any interest in Microsoft and/or European anti-trust regulation, check out this New York Times article. It gets good on page two.
The background is that Europe has told Microsoft that they will need to offer a version of Windows that does not include Media Player, so that computer vendors can sell a version of Windows with competing media playing software.
A colleague at Microsoft ranted yesterday that this was a massive imposition, because after removing Media Player, they would have to test Windows, which would take months of time and thousands of employees. This complaint seemed strange to me, as Microsoft is frequently making revisions to its operating system, and distributing these changes via Windows Update, so, it surely has some mechanism for testing Windows? And it is not like this need to change Windows is entirely unanticipated, as they’ve been working towards it for five years.
Anyway, to the first quote:
“Microsoft … said the commission’s ruling would stifle innovation and deprive consumers of choices.”
What charms me about Microsoft is that any threat of government regulation will always deprive them of the ability to innovate. (They don’t really seem to do much “innovation” themselves anyway, they mostly just copy or co-opt the innovations of others.) In this case, they are being compelled to innovate, by changing their software so as to offer consumers more choices.
I wonder if whomever issued their objection stopped to consider whether they needed a more innovative objection? If only there were other consumer software monopolies haunted by the specter of government regulation after which Microsoft could model innovative rebuttals to the specter of government regulation!
Oh, but it gets better. Next quote:
“Once regulators get their bit in their teeth and realize they can regulate, they may not stop with the bad actors,” said Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley research firm.
Yes … once regulators figure out that they can regulate, they might start regulating! The implications of this could be spectacularly regulatory!
From the New York Times:
“Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to strike America, to attack us, I would have used every resource, every asset, every power of this government to protect the American people,” Mr. Bush said to a burst of applause.
“Of course, since I had no idea what was going on, I didn’t do anything, and blithely allowed 3,000 Americans to die,” I annotate mentally.
In that same article, you read the Condaleeza Rice will be happy to testify before the 9/11 committee, in private, and not under oath. This is fantastic. In order to rebut that guy who has served every whitehouse since Reagan, who has sworn, under oath, that he will not accept a job with John Kerry … they send in Condy Rice to … not swear that she isn’t lying in her testimony …
I hope this means the administration is unravelling and will go down in a massive lump in November. Of course, that doesn’t bode well considering that they have important things to do, like fix the mess in Iraq, fix the mess in Afghanistan, fix the mess of our economy and corporate governance, and keep North Korea from going completely apeshit, while improving our counter-terrorism security …
Okay, I’m a whining liberal.
Clarke is, however, a Republican. Later in that article we read the words of a Republican consultant, on Bush’s accuser:
“I saw the parade of the victim’s families on the morning shows who all applauded him. He was the first person who took any responsibility. What that does is underscore his perception as a truth teller. I think the American people are paying attention to this episode.”
This is a stark contrast to Bush’s words that opened this piece, where he said of course he’d have done something had he known to do anything, whereas Clarke said that we didn’t do enough, that he didn’t do enough, that 9/11 was his fault.
We need more responsible people running our government.
Okay, so as mentioned previously, I was pretty excited at the prospect of Michael Newdow arguing over the Constitutionality of “under God” before the Supreme Court, which happened Wednesday. He’s a Doctor with a law degree, though he is not a practicing lawyer. He did the ballsy thing of representing his case himself, and by all accounts, he represented himself, and the rest of us Atheists, quite well. I have a new hero.
The New York Times published excerpts from Wednesdays hearing which are an invigorating read. I’ll excerpt a few excerpts here:
JUSTICE DAVID H. SOUTER: What do you make of this argument? I will assume that if you read the pledge carefully, the reference to under God means something more than a mere description of how somebody else once thought. We’re pledging allegiance to the flag and to the republic. The republic is then described as being under God, and I think a fair reading of that would — would be I think that’s the way the republic ought to be conceived, as under God. So I think — I think there’s some affirmation there. I will grant you that.
What do you make of the argument that in actual practice the affirmation in the midst of this civic exercise as a religious affirmation is so tepid, so diluted then so far, let’s say, from a compulsory prayer that in fact it should be, in effect, beneath the constitutional radar. It’s sometimes, you know the phrase, the Rostow phrase, the ceremonial deism.
What do you make of that argument, even assuming that, as I do, that there is some affirmation involved when the child says this as a technical matter?
MR. NEWDOW: I think that that whole concept goes completely against the ideals underlying the Establishment Clause. We saw in Minersville v. Gobitis and West Virginia v. Barnette something that most people don’t consider to be religious at all to be of essential religious value to those Jehovah’s Witnesses who objected. And for the Government to come in and say, we’ve decided for you this is inconsequential or unimportant is an arrogant pretension, said James Madison. He said in his memorial —
JUSTICE SOUTER: Well, I think the argument is not that the Government is saying, we are defining this as inconsequential for you. I think the argument is that simply the way we live and think and work in schools and in civic society in which the pledge is made, that the — that whatever is distinctively religious as an affirmation is simply lost. It — it’s not that the — that the Government is saying, you’ve got to pretend that it’s lost. The argument is that it is lost, that the religious, as distinct from a civic content, is close to disappearing here.
MR. NEWDOW: And again, I — I don’t mean to go back, but it seems to me that is a view that you may choose to take and the majority of Americans may choose to take, but it doesn’t — it’s not the view I take, and when I see the flag and I think of pledging allegiance, I — it’s like I’m getting slapped in the face every time, bam, you — you know, this is a nation under God, your religious belief system is wrong.
And here, I want to be able to tell my child that I have a very valid religious belief system. Go to church with your mother, go see Buddhists, do anything you want, I love that — the idea that she’s being exposed to other things, but I want my religious belief system to be given the same weight as everybody else’s. And the Government comes in here and says, no, Newdow, your religious belief system is wrong and the mother’s is right and anyone else who believes in God is right, and this Court —
JUSTICE GINSBURG: If you had her here in this courtroom and she stood up when the Justices entered and she heard the words, God save the United States and this honorable Court, wouldn’t the injury that you’re complaining about be exactly the same, so you would have equal standing on your account of things to challenge that as you do to challenge what the school district does here?
MR. NEWDOW: I don’t think the injury would be even close to the same. She’s not being asked to stand up, place her hand on her heart, and say, I affirm this belief, and I think that can easily distinguish this case from all those other situations. Here she is being asked to stand and say that there exists a God. Government can’t ever impose that —
JUSTICE GINSBURG: If she’s asked to repeat or to sing, as the Chief Justice suggested, God Bless America, then she is speaking those words.
MR. NEWDOW: Again, if it were a situation where we said, let’s only do nothing else in this classroom, all right, we’ll say God bless America and let’s just say those words or something, I think that would violate the Constitution as well. If it’s just, let’s sing one song a day and once a month we get God Bless America, no, that would be certainly fine. We don’t want to be hostile to religion.
But here we’re not — it’s not a question of being hostile to religion. It’s indoctrinating children and Congress said that was the purpose.
Amen, Mr. Newdow. On the one hand, if you argue that the phrase “under God” is “ceremonial deism” there are some hard-core pious folk that would take offense at you uttering the name of the Lord without due reverence. To take the Lord’s name without reverence is blashpemy. No good. You can not say that “under God” doesn’t really mean anything, especially when uttering the phrase is anti-thetical to us Atheists.
When I was a child we would stand every morning, place out hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In the ears of every American is a chorus of young schoolchildren drilling on a core belief system every morning. Before it became a bad word, we viewed the pledge as “indoctrination” … repeat these words, and you will come to live by them.
I’ve never been a “religious” person, and the more I thought about it, the less this “under God” business made any sense to me. For years, I’d utter the Pledge of Allegiance, every last word. Every word means something to me … except those two words. I have not come to know God, so who am I to bring it into my pledge of national allegiance? Isn’t that sort of dishonest?
In my youth I was also a Boy Scout. Ostensibly the Boy Scouts of America do not allow Atheists, but none of us really cared so much. One of the Scout Laws that I did stumble on was that a Scout is Reverent. What is Reverence? Well, the “Boy Scout Handbook” explained that Reverence is respect for God, and respect for the belief systems of others. Well, what do I know about God? Nothing. I do know that other people make a very big deal out of their professed knowledge of God. I concluded that, for these purposes, I was an Atheist. I could respect God by not making false pronouncements about it, and I could respect others by not giving them a hard time about their beliefs. Reverence achieved.
Eventually I’d drop that phrase, those two words, from my daily recitations. It wasn’t that I was rejecting God so much as I could not profess — I could not make a false claim — to its nature and its relationship with my nation. To do so would be impious, irreverent, and dishonest with regards to my own belief system.
To see the mentality … the theocratic bigotry, if you will, from out nations leaders, we can turn to Justice Breyer:
JUSTICE BREYER: So it’s not perfect, it’s not perfect, but it serves a purpose of unification at the price of offending a small number of people like you. So tell me from ground one why — why the country cannot do that?
MR. NEWDOW: Well, first of all, for 62 years this pledge did serve the purpose of unification and it did do it perfectly. It didn’t include some religious dogma that separated out some —
… Again, the Pledge of Allegiance did absolutely fine and with — got us through two world wars, got us through the Depression, got us through everything without God, and Congress stuck God in there for that particular reason, and the idea that it’s not divisive I think is somewhat, you know, shown to be questionable at least by what happened in the result of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. The country went berserk because people were so upset that God was going to be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Now, I’m really proud of Michael Newdow here for not losing his cool in the face of … well, whatever that was. He pulled us right to the point — we got along perfectly well without those words, without alienating “a small number of people” like me. So, if someone points out, however politely, that this imposition is … well .. kind of rude, right? Does Religion teach us to be rude? To belittle the beliefs of others? If so, then that might explain why a few of us avoid religion.
Now, here is perhaps the one highlight you may have heard from the whole exchange:
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST: Do we know — do we know what the vote was in Congress apropos of divisiveness to adopt the under God phrase?
MR. NEWDOW: In 1954?
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST: Yes.
MR. NEWDOW: It was apparently unanimous. There was no objection. There’s no count of the vote.
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST: Well, that doesn’t sound divisive.
MR. NEWDOW: That’s only because no atheist can get elected to public office.
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST: The courtroom will be cleared if there’s any more clapping. Proceed, Mr. Newdow.
On NPR, Nina Totenberg reported that “those words provoked an amazing reaction from the courtroom — applause from spectators.” I later read in the Chicago Tribune:
When Newdow said the vote was unanimous, the chief justice responded, “That doesn’t sound divisive.” Newdow shot back with a quick rejoinder: “That’s only because no atheist can get elected to public office.” The remark prompted laughter and applause from his supporters in the courtroom.
Now, I cast a wide net on Google News and haven’t been able to corroborate the claim that it was Atheists cheering this assertion. I read that applause the other way, that the religious folk in the audience were cheering against Newdow, though a lot of articles imply that his supporters were cheering a particularly witty, if depressing comeback. I found the Tribune piece re-hashed in the Salt Lake Tribune with a different by-line. I found the following elaboration at law.com:
That triggered applause from the audience, which is almost never heard in the Supreme Court chamber. It was unclear whether the applause was for Newdow’s rejoinder or for the fact that atheists don’t get elected, but in any event Rehnquist angrily admonished the audience that the courtroom would be cleared if any more clapping occurred.
As the courtroom settled down, Newdow resumed his attack, telling the Court that, in fact, eight states still have laws against atheists holding office — another point that an advocate other than Newdow might not have made.
At any rate, the treatment of the outburst triggered a brief missive from my Hiptop to the Chicago Tribune, who have not responded:
Is this accurate? I recall hearing about this on NPR yesterday and interpreting that the Theists in the audience were applauding the assertion that an atheist could not get elected to public office. I don’t see why an Atheist would cheer such a depressing assertion.
If Mr. Neikirk got this detail wrong he might wish to apologise to your Atheist readers, because in his telling of the story it was an audience of rowdy, cynical, smarmy Atheists disrupting the court proceedings. If he was right then I must make amends for assuming that the court was filled with disruptive, Theist bigots cheering at such a dark notion in an effort to crush one brave, lonely dissenting citizen as he stood before our government, asking them to change two little words that trample on his religious freedom.
Heck, let’s just figure it was a few rowdy Atheists and their detractors.
Mr Newdow? A final word?
I’m hoping the Court will uphold this principle so that we can finally go back and have every American want to stand up, face the flag, place their hand over their heart and pledge to one nation, indivisible, not divided by religion, with liberty and justice for all.
Amen, Mr. Newdow.
For two long days last week, Lorie Van Auken sat in a stiff, armless chair in the 9/11 commission hearing room, right behind the witness table, listening as one government official after another tried to explain how things had gone so wrong. As the hours wore on, Auken, whose husband, Kenneth, was killed in the World Trade Center, was becoming irritated. “We had been sitting here listening to all these people tell us what a great job they had done,” she says. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief, pulled up to the microphone. Turning around to face the family members who had died, Clarke issued a blunt apology. “Those entrusted with protecting you failed you,” he said. “And I failed you.” Clarke asked their forgiveness. Van Auken, like many of the family members in the gallery, began to cry. “I cried hysterically, and I couldn’t stop. Here was somebody, at last, telling the truth.”
_Bonds of Steel_
April 5, 2004
Go ahead, Bush administration, rebut Clarke’s accusations by going after his credibility. I watched his hour-long “Meet the Press” interview Sunday, and I was really impressed with the guy. I trust him more in the White House than Bush, Kerry, or Clinton. It is reassuring to know that he has been there as a public servant so long, and it is sad to see him chased out by the Iraq-obsessed ideologues in the White House.
Errr, what I mean to say, is Bravo, Pat Wingert, for writing such a gripping lead paragraph. It rocked!
Please visit http://www.livejournal.com/users/dannyman/667.html and follow the instructions for adding the syndication from this web site to your friends list. This should lower the cost of the syndication sufficiently to allow non-paid subscribers to add the syndication to their own friends lists.
You would basically be “sponsoring” the access of freeloading fans to this website via Livejournal.
Oh, and, thank you.
<dman> I had a passing desire just now to be in FRANCE.
<lotus> hopefully it was for the ass
<lotus> that’s a good reason to go
<lotus> they have good ass there
<dman> No. I wanted to wander down the hill from Vieux Lyon and lose myself in the twisty ancient streets.
<dman> Maybe buy some chocolate.
<dman> Eat a baguette and drink a few bottles of wine, and curl up in a gutter, blanketed by warm rain and horse piss.
<dman> Must be the pining of some medieval ancestor of prior life in me.
<dman> Ah, sweet melancholy.
It has been a busy busy week at work. And just now at noon on Friday it has started to calm down a bit. I figure I can spend some slack time. It is not just that I feel tired, but I do this clever thing of keeping a log of all the stuff I do at work. Based on the size of this week’s log, I have evidence that this has been the busiest week I’ve had at work so far.
Especially because the sun has come out the past few days, warming Chicago up to a pleasing 70 degrees, I start to lament the virtuality of my existance. During the Winter or during the Summer, it is not so bad to be cooped up in a climate-controlled environment, taking it easy, whiling the season away. But you know, doing computers eight hours a day, five days a week … there’s less interest in the virtual work hobby after hours. And especially when the sun comes out … it is just time to take a nice long walk and smell the grass.
Things have been moving around at work, and things will be moving around more. I’m stepping more into the role of “manager” and one of the things I’ve had very little time to work on is a job req for some introductory-level first-tier support representatives. There is a lot of work to be done. It is actually somewhat intimidating, but then that is good because it is nice to have a challenge. Anyway, can’t talk much about that.
Yayoi’s Mom is coming in from Japan for a week, starting Wednesday. I’ll be surrendering my bedroom to our honored guest. Yayoi seems a little cheerier lately. I think she feels more secure in her relationship with me, and the weather it is not winter any more … there’s that feeling of liberation when you can just step on out of your house without wrapping yourself in layers and layers of stuff.
And it is nice when your Mom can appear in the flesh from 10,000 miles away. It is tough to be a stranger in a strange land where none of the words are pronounced as they are spelled.
Though, she does like Chicago. We went out last night with a whole bunch of strangers that she knows through an association with a cooking club she joined online. She likes that we can go out to a fancy sushi restaurant and rap with a gaggle of intelligent young professionals. We shared our table last night with a loud-mouthed young doctor lady, and a quiet British-Canadian from Toronto who is working for a video game company, thanks in no small part to NAFTA. Champaign-Urbana is not the same.
One thing I’ve done lately is move back to FreeBSD. Windows is nice when you don’t feel much urgency about getting work done. But if I want sheer productivity, it is hard to beat a crisp, clean fvwm2 desktop. Where Windows lends me alt+tab, and tends to run out of memory and sit around swapping, fvwm2 with a 3×3 grid of nine virtual desktops lets me jump around from screen to screen. It is actually more visual than windows … it lets me spread out, but the real estate is in part a cerebral one. The rest of the guys at work have twin flat-screen monitors. I’ve appropriated a single, large 20″ CRT … I have nine very large work screens that I can swap through, and my workstation can keep up. I’m such a freak.
Still, it is a bit painful in that it is not easy to work with Word documents, and I have to figure out how to configure Java to work in the web browser, and Flash, as well as the little bits of glue that would let me click on something in the e-mail client, and have it open in the web browser. And then there’s the web sites — and we have a lot of “control panel” stuff at work — that only work in Internet Explorer, so I have to turn and talk to the old laptop waiting at my side.
Well, there’s still plenty of work to do …
Meanwhile, just down the block …
… aint exactly Mister Roger’s neighborhood.
Busy week at work. More stress than I think I like but then maybe it is just enough stress that after work I feel pretty good about work. The nice touch is that it is tech support. Helping folks makes me feel good, though the truth is the few nuts in the bunch who demand too much attention … well they’re easy to forget about after work.
I’m not paid as much as I have been. And I feel that a bit more because I’m going from zero to outfitting a pretty nice apartment and Yayoi too. But then she enhances quality of life, while also taking up my time.
Truth is between work and homelife I have very little idleness. But its all pretty much quality time. Work could be better, yeah, but then if it were less of a chaotic small company then it would suck in other ways. I think the suck factor in a small company is actually easier for a human to deal with because it better approximates the same sort of troubles you encounter in a family or a clan. We are more adapted, each of us, to this level of suck, than to the suck of a larger institution.
So maybe I’m not paid as well as I’d be elsewhere and yeah I am pretty busy these past couple of weeks and it aint soon to let up, but all in all I’m pretty happy. And while the company itself may be less stable than a larger company, I feel personally a bit more stable because of the greater relative magnitude of my personal contribution.
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