Monday, December 17, 2007

Iraq and oil

I do not believe that an endless military, economic and political commitment to Iraq makes sense. It only makes sense if we are determined to occupy the Middle East indefinitely to secure oil supplies. But the rational response to oil dependence is not to entrench it, but to try and move away from it.

Andrew Sullivan in his endorsement of Ron Paul for President.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gain without pain

Republican presidential rivals called Wednesday for deep cuts in federal spending, and said the reductions need not require painful sacrifice by the millions of Americans who receive government services. (AP)

Oh brother.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

barnesandnoble.com

A big fan of Amazon, I strayed to Barnes & Noble this morning because the former did not have a book in stock. I discovered two things I didn't know before:

  • Barnes & Noble's free shipping kicks in at the same $25 level, but your purchases are "expedited" with a three-day delivery instead of Amazon's 5-9 days. And your purchases may actually be shipped within 24 hours (as opposed to Amazon waiting 5 or 6 days to send "free shipped" items).
  • Barnes & Noble lets you pay through Paypal.
Cool.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is it Christmas?

Given that "holiday" ads start up Thanksgiving weekend, you might have a hard time tracking when it actually is Christmas. Here is a helpful website:

isitchristmas.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Diesel vs. hybrid vs. ethanol

According to a new study, diesel tops hybrids and ethanol isn't even really in the game. Researchers at the Rand Corporation did a cost-benefit analysis of the top near-term alternatives to standard gasoline power-trains that looked at fuel savings, technology costs and performance. They also factored in societal costs in the form of noxious pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions and energy security costs.

AutoblogGreen

Children and Big Pharma

In Eugene Jarecki's documentary film Why We Fight, about the U.S. military-industrial complex, U.S. foreign policy critic Chalmers Johnson states: "I guarantee you when war becomes that profitable, you are going to see more of it." Similarly, as mental illness has become extremely profitable, we are seeing more of it.

On September 4, 2007, the New York Times reported, "The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003 ... Drug makers and company-sponsored psychiatrists have been encouraging doctors to look for the disorder."

Not too long ago, a child who was irritable, moody, and distractible and who at times sounded grandiose or acted without regard for consequences was considered a "handful." In the U.S. by the 1980s, that child was labeled with a "behavioral disorder" and today that child is being diagnosed as "bipolar" and "psychotic" -- and prescribed expensive antipsychotic drugs. Bloomberg News, also on September 4, 2007, reported, "The expanded use of bipolar as a pediatric diagnosis has made children the fastest-growing part of the $11.5 billion U.S. market for antipsychotic drugs."

AlterNet

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Husbands & wives

Jay Carson, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said Mr. Clinton’s point was that his wife had the mettle to deal with tough challenges.

“President Clinton knows that she can handle and win any fight,” Mr. Carson said. (NY Times)

I think we can assume President Clinton has personal experience in the matter.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Robertson backs Giuliani

I've said the evangelical uncomfortable with adulterers has an out (Romney). But it appears this evangelical has no problem!

I find this a curious endorsement. Thinking back to his 1988 run for the presidency, I don't know if he emphasized his anti-abortion views or not. If he did, what's changed since then? If anti-terrorism is his most important issue of the day, is he now saying that our lives are more important than the unborn's? Or does Robertson trust that Giuliani will appoint pro-life judges despite the latter's pro-choice views?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Password attacks

Why you might consider lengthening your password beyond 8 characters.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Google Health features

In her Web 2.0 Summit speech unveiling some of the projects Google Health has in the works, Marissa Mayer launched her presentation with a few jokes. Her tongue-in-cheek top 10 list of things you might see from Google Health (abridged):

  • Google's cookie expiration is now based on your expiration date.
  • An "I'm Feeling Yucky" button.
  • Viagra spam only goes to users who actually need it.
  • Typing in symptoms returns "Did you mean estate planning?"
  • Google paternity search.

Wired

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The spirit of materialism

Why begin marketing a holiday store in early October, seven weeks before the official start of the season and 12 weeks before Christmas?

“Everyone can use a little Christmas right now, after a summer of toy recalls,” Ms. Waugh said. “It’s time to remember what toys are all about.”

NY Times

Monday, October 08, 2007

Making credit freezes difficult

In the ongoing story of credit reporting agencies and protecting your credit history,

Credit bureau Experian has joined rival TransUnion in allowing people in all 50 states to freeze their credit reports. The third major credit agency, Equifax, says it will soon join as well.

[...]

But don’t start applauding yet.

Credit bureaus don’t release the number of security freezes in place, but have said that it is low. It’s not surprising: the process of freezing and unfreezing your credit is complicated and aggravating. (NY Times)

Credit reporting agencies have no incentive to make this easier for the consumer unless it involves putting money in their pockets. They have every incentive to dissuade you from using this service.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Serenity 2?

Everybody in the Firefly crew – and that includes the ones who died in the movie – are excited about the prospect of doing another.

Alan Tudyk on how Serenity DVD sales may have convinced Universal to do sequel (via Looking Closer).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Atheist lobby

Embracing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories does not seem the most effective way for atheists to expand their influence, at least not in America. Besides, to what end exactly does Dawkins seek to expand atheists' influence? Does he want to create a homeland for atheists, à la Israel? But there already was one -- it was called the Soviet Union -- and we all remember how well that worked out.

Best of the Web on Richard Dawkin's designs for an atheist lobby (via Mere Comments).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

VW Up!


Volkwagen may be working on an electric or hybrid version of its Up! concept car. Check out the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. (Wired)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

McCain's voting preferences

Several Jewish organizations criticized John McCain on Monday after the Republican candidate said he would prefer a Christian president over someone of a different faith.

[...]

The American Jewish Committee, an international think tank and advocacy organization based in New York, issued a statement criticizing the Arizona senator, arguing that McCain should know that the United States is a democratic society without a religious test for public office.

Yikes. McCain wasn't arguing for a "religious test for public office". He was expressing a personal preference. And, last I checked, a voter could apply whatever "test" he wants to when considering whom to vote for.

And is this Jewish organization going on record as saying they wouldn't prefer a Jewish president? It's unbelievable the nit-picking politicians are put through these days.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Catholics prolonging life

More on whether "Catholics are enjoined to pursue all means to prolong life":

The Time article sets up the case for John Paul II’s alleged hypocrisy with this statement: “Catholics are enjoined to pursue all means to prolong life.”

This is false. It’s good for the story, but it’s not true. Time magazine will never find such a pronouncement in any official teaching of the Catholic Church. On the contrary. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, commissioned and approved by Pope John Paul II, clarifies that our moral obligation to preserve life in its last stages does not include applying extraordinary or disproportional means:

Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. (#2278)

Father Jonathan Morris via GetReligion.org.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gateway One vs. iMac


Gateway is releasing an all-in-one PC called "One".

In its official press release Thursday, Gateway said it plans ship the One series in late October with two retail models and a single online-only version. Pricing for the retail line is slated to start at $1,300 for a model that includes a 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, and Intel X3100 graphics. A high-end model ($1800) will boost the processor speed to 2GHz, memory to 3GB, hard disk space to 500GB, and add a Mobility Radeon HD 2600 dedicated video card.

The online model ($1,500) sits in between the two store models with the same hardware as the base PC save for a 400GB hard drive and Radeon HD 2600 chipset. (AppleInsider)

Compare this to the current iMac:

Apple's new aluminum iMac line starts at $1200 for a 20-inch model with a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB of memory, 250GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, and ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128MB memory. For the same $1500 as Gateway's online One model, Apple also offers an iMac with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 320GB hard drive, and ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory.

Jumping up to the $1800 price point, Apple buyers get an addition 5-inch of screen real-estate (24-inchs) compared to Gateway's high-end One model, which remains at just 19-inches.

The Gateways come with more base RAM and hard disk space.

The iMacs come with 20-33% faster CPU, dedicated graphics card even on the low-end, and a bigger screen.

And people still say Macs are more expensive than PCs?



UPDATE

And the Gateways are easy to open(*) and have wireless keyboard & mouse.

It's not exact comparison. But the Gateways are not a better deal based on components alone. It depends on what pieces you value more and what would be more easy to upgrade if necessary.

----

(*) My iMac G5 is also easy to open. Apple designed them to let users replace components (even the monitor). But subsequent iMacs are harder to work with, I hear.

Big business "conservatism"

Rod writes:

It's a fairly common belief among the left, I find, that big business is conservative. It's a total myth -- if by "conservative" you're talking about moral and cultural issues. A reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog writes in to talk about how big business in Indiana got behind a successful move to defeat a state gay marriage ban. This is not surprising in the least. Corporations are quite progressive, in general, on issues related to race, ethnicity, gender and homosexuality. They conclude that doing so is good for business, which is ultimately their bottom line.

I guess the only thing I'd say differently is that corporations are now quite progressive. Since their interest is the bottom line, it shouldn't be surprising that it used to help the bottom line to be culturally conservative. But it is silly to continue to label them so.

Reminds me how it's also silly to call the Republican party "pro-family".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OpenOffice 2.3

OK, here's something cool included in the latest OpenOffice release (2.3): Extentions (aka "plug-ins").

Some cool sounding ones:

This release does work on the Mac, but only the ugly X11 version. If you want something more usable, wait for NeoOffice or the official Aqua port to catch up.

VW Dieselution

Volkswagen of America, Inc. is launching the Dieselution Tour, a mobile marketing exhibit, to educate the media and the public on advances in clean diesel technology and alternative fuels.

[...]

The Dieselution Tour will also feature the 2009 Jetta TDI, Volkswagen’s new, 50-state clean diesel offering. The vehicle is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in spring of 2008. Also on display, a 3.0-liter V6 TDI Touareg, the Polo Blue Motion and the oldest Volkswagen diesel in America, a 1977 Rabbit. (VW Vortex)

What a bunch of teases. They won't sell the Polo in the US but they'll display it? Pffft.



UPDATE

Oh, since everyone knows I'm into carbon offsets, I suppose I should include this.

Signifying Volkswagen’s environmental concern, the Dieselution Tour will be certified as CarbonFree by Carbonfund.org. Volkswagen and Carbonfund.org recently announced a partnership to offset one year of carbon emission from each new Volkswagen sold in the U.S. from September, 2007 through January 2, 2008. In return, Volkswagen is working with Carbonfund.org to reforest land in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV) in northern Louisiana, a wetland ecosystem that had been largely converted to farmland.

Ah well. I guess, whatever one thinks about purchasing carbon offsets, reforesting land is not a bad thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MS Office 2008 for Mac pricing

Perhaps the most interesting edition is the Home and Student version, which includes all the apps of the standard edition, but lacks the ability to connect to Exchange Servers, as well as some bundled Automator actions. The Home and Student edition will retail for the (relative) bargain price of $150, which leads to the inevitable question — does Microsoft really think Exchange Server access is worth $250? (Wired Compiler)

That's what I'd like to know. To be honest, Entourage with Exchange Server access is the biggest draw for me. I don't need the other "office" functionality -- I have iWork and NeoOffice. But I also work at a place that uses Exchange Server. If I want my Mac fully integrated (and not have to use Parallels to do the Exchange thing), I need Entourage. But the only way for me to get it is to buy Office for $150. No, wait -- $400. It was a tough sell at the previous price; it's impossible now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

John Paul II Euthanized?

In an article about speculation that Pope John Paul II was euthanized, Jeff Israely says, "Catholics are enjoined to pursue all means to prolong life."

Surely this is not true in all cases. I can think of a number of exceptions. Like when an abortion is required to save the life of the mother. Or when treatment requires embryonic stem cells or other unethical actions or research.

There are definitely points where a "pro-life" stance can be perverted into sin in the eyes of the Church. Like when a couple creates and destroys (or freezes) nine embryos in the hope of giving birth to one. In this case, a couple can "love" children too much. "Love" that is willing to kill nine children is something entirely different. It is selfishness and a rebellion against God's will.

"Life" here on earth is not the end-all be-all. The point is not to "pursue all means to prolong life" or have that big family -- it is to involve God in the decision. Yes, that means not ending a life where it can continue and allowing children to join the family. But at some stage it also means acknowledging that God may have something in mind different from what you assumed. He may not want that couple to have children. He may calling that person home and we should let them go.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Prayers for atheists

“There are even those in my community who come to Shabbat worship each week who don’t believe in God,” said Rabbi Frishman, who leads the Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, N.J. “How do we help them resonate with the language of prayer, which is very God-centric and evokes a personal God, a God that talks to you in a sense?"

On the new new Reform Jewish prayer book, “Mishkan T’filah".

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Owning a hybrid

"Owning a hybrid is all about saying 'Look at what I'm doing for the world,'" says auto analyst John Wolkonowicz of Global Insight. "If you can't say that, the whole purchase is a waste of time."

Grist

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sexuality bad for kids, violence OK

Put simply, the United States Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution as allowing states broad leeway in regulating minors' access to sexually explicit material. That is why it is illegal around the country to sell pornography to children. Courts have not, however, said that states have a similar right to regulate media based on violence. (NY Times)

I guess that answers my question. Kind of.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oldest VW diesel


Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced that, as part of its diesel heritage search, it has located the oldest operating Volkswagen diesel vehicle in America, a 1977 Rabbit owned by Clint Wilson of Tehachapi, Calif.

[...]

In recognition [...], Volkswagen has provided Wilson with a new Touareg V10 TDI to drive for six-months. (VW Vortex)

Wow, that'll be a change. 50 horsepower to 310? Granted, the Touareg is a wee bit heavier, but still.

AppleWorks RIP


So AppleWorks is officially dead. Good riddance. I've never liked its interface, ever since I got my first Mac in 2000 with OS 9. It got left further in the dust with the migration to OS X.

I like a word processor that gets out of the way. I want to be able to turn most everything off, including the rulers, how the text is going to lay out against the margins on the printed page, everything. I just want to see the text with minimal interruption. AW didn't let you do that.

I've picked up a copy of the latest Pages. Here's hoping it lets you do something like that in its word processor mode.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dollar coin MIA


So has anyone actually seen one of these coins? It's been six months since the release of the Washington coin and I haven't. The Madison coin was released in May. The Jefferson coin will be released tomorrow.

By having a rotating design on the new dollar coins, the Mint is hoping to keep interest high and avoid the famous flops of two previous dollar coins - the Susan B. Anthony, introduced in 1979, and the Sacagawea, introduced in 2000.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

When worms attack

Gotta love this article title: "New Worm Attacks Mac OS X".

The first sentence of the piece? "An anonymous hacker claims to have created a worm that targets Intel versions of Mac OS X."

Anyone else see a disconnect?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hybrids wane, diesels gain


the number of customers considering buying a hybrid has declined over the past year, partly due to a realization of the actual mileage that hybrid cars are likely to achieve. [...] J.D. Power also attributes the drop in hybrid interest to an increase in the number of clean diesel vehicles; the study found that the number of new car buyers considering a diesel had nearly doubled over the past year.

With fleets of new diesel cars bound for the U.S. over the next few years and the demise of some hybrid models, is this the beginning of a gear-change in the alternative-fuel economy? (Crave)

One's gotta hope! I think hybrids are fine, but the enthusiasm given to ethanol ("flex-fuel") vehicles at the expensive of infinitely more flexible and efficient diesel automobiles here in America has been an absolute crime.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eco prizes

There's something wrong with an eco contest that has an SUV as the prize.

I don't care if it's a hybrid. SUVs still pollute more than autos. Which pollute more than a bus.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eliminating trialware

Dell on Tuesday became the first big computer maker to try to address customer frustration and anger over “trialware” – the often superfluous and frequently unwanted software that comes pre-installed on most PCs. (Financial Times)

You mean the first big computer maker other than Apple? There are usually a couple trials on a new Mac, like Microsoft Office or iWork, but it's not the mess that the common PC buyer has to put up with. It seems at least one Windows PC maker is waking up to the fact that the out-of-the-box experience matters.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Live Earth


The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert.

The Who's Roger Daltrey

Friday, June 22, 2007

Have You Prayed for bin Laden Today?


Speaking as a Christian, they are not our enemies. God loves the world. And in my new book, Secret Believers, we propose the question, "Have you prayed for bin Laden today?" That question should shock a lot of Christians. Of course we haven't! That is why he is what he is. We have an evangelical black list of people we don't want to see in heaven and put bin Laden on top. Saddam Hussein is probably second.

[...]

We in the West are following or believing in the God of revenge as much as every Muslim does. So there's no need for us to sit on a pedestal. We have to come down to the foot of the Cross and learn from Jesus. He came to forgive, and he came to die. I have seen this attitude in many Christians in Gaza. It gives me hope for the future.

Brother Andrew

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Domestic partnerships & health care

Would domestic partner benefits matter so much to people if health care wasn't so expensive?  I'm inclined to think not.  If it didn't cost so much to shoulder health care costs on one's own, who cares whether the government (or your employer) considers your relationship legit?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hilton on the media

"I was shocked to see all of the attention devoted to the amount of time I would spend in jail for what I had done -- by the media, public and city officials," [Paris Hilton] said.

"I would hope going forward that the public and the media will focus on more important things like the men and women serving our country in Iraq and other places around the world." (AFP)

Hear hear.

For an example of how nuts the media has gone, check out this Jay Leno clip commenting on the MSNBC coverage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Coulter on Falwell & Tinky Winky


Ann Coulter does some research in Nexis, finding pre-Falwell references to gay Tinky Winky:

Beginning in early 1998, the news was bristling with stories about a children's cartoon PBS was importing from Britain that featured a gay cartoon character, Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubbie with a male voice and a red handbag.

People magazine gleefully reported that Teletubbies was "aimed at Telebabies as young as 1 year. But teenage club kids love the products' kitsch value, and gay men have made the purse-toting Tinky Winky a camp icon."

In the Nexis archives for 1998 alone, there are dozens and dozens of mentions of Tinky Winky being gay — in periodicals such as Newsweek, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post (twice!), The New York Times and Time magazine (also twice).

In its Jan. 8, 1999, issue, USA Today accused The Washington Post of "outing" Tinky Winky, with a "recent Washington Post In/Out list putting T.W. opposite Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, essentially 'outing' the kids' show character."

Michael Musto of The Village Voice boasted that Tinky Winky was "out and proud," noting that it was "a great message to kids — not only that it's OK to be gay, but the importance of being well accessorized."

All this appeared before Falwell made his first mention of Tinky Winky.

After one year of the mainstream media laughing at having put one over on stupid bourgeois Americans by promoting a gay cartoon character in a TV show for children, when Falwell criticized the cartoon in February 1999, that same mainstream media howled with derision that Falwell thought a cartoon character could be gay. (Jewish World Review)

Unfortunately, she didn't do enough research to discover that Teletubbies is not a cartoon.

US muslims & suicide bombings



If you read a story that said 25% of younger and 13% of all US Muslims think suicide bombings are justified in some circumstances and that 5% have a favorable view of al-Qaida, what headline would you pick?

Most U.S. Muslims reject suicide bombings (AP) *

Oh. Well. That's a relief!

----

* Disclaimer: Headline may have changed since I posted this. Let me know!

----

Update Already happened! It's now "Some US Muslims justify suicide attacks".

----

Update And this regarding how many Muslims view al-Qaida favorably:

a significant number of Muslims -- 19 percent of 18-29s, 29 percent of over 30s -- declined to answer that question one way or the other; if you held an unfavorable opinion of al-Qaeda, why wouldn't you say so? (Rod Dreher)

I'm thinking the number of Muslims who view al-Qaida favorably is somewhat higher than 5%.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gay Tinky Winky


What am I reminded of today, the day Jerry Falwell died? His unfairly being "ridiculed for pointing out what is common knowledge in the gay community".

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, who has been ridiculed by some in the establishment press for saying one of the "Teletubbies" is meant to depict a homosexual toddler, appears to have found some unlikely corroborators among the gay media.

Falwell caught his share of flack for suggesting that Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby who carries a purse and has a triangle protruding from his head, is homosexual.

In telling his supporters about his concerns regarding the Teletubbies, Falwell warned that Tinky Winky promoted homosexual messages, making note of the triangle – a common gay-pride symbol – and the purse the character carries.

However, in a number of media outlets, there is no doubt about the "gayness" of Tinky Winky, one of four fuzzy Teletubbies in a TV show for toddlers. "Tinky Winky is the unofficial gay Teletubby, in the opinion of myself and many others," reads the Gay Teletubby page on the Internet web site LesBiGay, Etc, a web site that calls itself "the place for youth-friendly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight sexual orientation information and resources."

Read more about it. The only thing I'd add is that the gay press aren't merely "corroborators" -- they're the ones that pointed out the "gayness" of Tinky Winky in the first place. But it's the fundamentalist that is accused of having a sick mind, attributing sexuality to a children's show.

Street smart tour

Speaking of smarts, the "street smart" tour schedule has been posted!

Filing electronically

A record 77 million taxpayers have filed their tax returns electronically this year, the Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday.

Can someone tell me why anyone does this?  If it's free (through your tax preparer, because your income qualifies, etc.), sure.  But why does everyone else have to pay $15 or $20 for the privilege of saving the IRS money?

Friday, May 11, 2007

New Lupo?


Two items about VW's next generation of the Lupo: a rendering of what the 2010 model might look like and the rumor that

the new entry level car VW is working on may be more like the original Beetle than the Lupo that it was supposed to replace. The baby VeeDub could turn out to have it's engine sitting on top of the rear axle much like the Smart ForTwo and come in Beetle-esque and sedan body styles.

Yeah, a bit contradictory, but they're both fun.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Down with cliffhangers


OK, almost to the end of season 1 and I'm still watching Heroes. Here's one reason I know I'll be happy with the season closing episode:

A modern TV creator like Kring can't think about just the next episode. He has to think about a world audience and plan several seasons out. "A big complaint for Lost was that you had to wade through too many shows before something happened," Kring says. He is committed to wrapping up story lines each season instead of sinking too deeply into a meandering mythology. "The apocalyptic event in Heroes will be resolved in season one, and we'll move on to something else in season two." (Wired)

Yes! This is exactly what I've been telling people I wish TV shows would start doing. What I like about shorter-run British shows vs. American series, the latter which feel the need to draw major plot lines out over years. (Never mind if you really know how long the American show will last or whether it'll be cancelled before the plot lines are wrapped up.)

I don't need everything wrapped up each season. But don't end a season mid-episode. Take a lesson from book serials, like Harry Potter.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Promoting killers

In an interview last night on MSNBC, Mr. Williams said NBC had been concerned about the sensitivities of broadcasting as much of the material as it did.

“This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this,” he said. (NY Times)

Why did you do it then? What was the news value in seeing photos and videos of the killer?

Is this going to be a regular thing now? Mass murderers write up essays, take some photo and video, knowing they will be broadcast nationally after their crime?

How is this any different than Al Jazeera broadcasting Al Qaeda propaganda?

It doesn't seem too long ago that media outlets didn't give murderous wackos a forum in which to spew their bile. I guess those days are over.

Update:
You know, there will always be people who go crazy and kill a couple of people around them. But one reason why a guy like this decides he’s going to go somewhere and kill dozens of people is because he knows that he can then access a national stage, and an international stage. He’s on the front page of newspapers all over the world. And I think in a sense, to make a crazy guy, to upgrade him from kind of small town burlesque to planetary wide superstar, which is what NBC is colluding in here, I think is terrible. I mean, in a sense, they’ve upgraded the show business aspect of the crime, and that is disgraceful. (Mark Steyn)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Scion xB


News about the next generation Scion xB comes from the New York auto show.

At the request of current xB owners, the next generation xB dimensions grow significantly in comparison to the current model. [...] xB owners asked for a more powerful engine. (Autoblog)

My question is, who are these owners? If they wanted a bigger car with a more powerful engine, why didn't they avail themselves of other cars on the market that fit the bill? Silly me, I thought the smallness of the first generation model was part of its charm.

Ah well, at least there's the smart in 2008.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Satellite imagery


With all this talk about Google maps updating its New Orleans imagery, why is the picture of my house more than 5 years old? (It's right there, just to the left of the arrow.)

iTunes & EMI


I stand by what I said earlier: $10 is too much for a downloaded album. I think it's great that iTunes is going to start selling EMI tracks without copy protection. But for 30% more? That'd be what -- $13 an album? What I can pay for an actual hardcopy CD? What's the advantage?

EMI thinks that a majority of buyers are willing to pay the price. Steve Jobs thinks half of iTunes purchases in a year will be without DRM. I dunno, not at those prices.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Most efficient form of transportation

If you are looking for the most efficient form transportation propelled by an internal combustion engine, you won't find it at a Toyota or Honda dealership. Or any other car dealer for that matter. In a study funded by the American Bus Association, it was found that the most fuel efficient transportation in the United States was by motorcoach. Based on mileage and passengers in 2004, highway buses achieved an average of 148.4 passenger miles per gallon. That's more than double achieved by intercity trains which achieved 74.1 passenger miles per gallon. Airlines managed 40.9 passenger miles per gallon, while cars came in last at 35.4 mpg.

AutoblogGreen

Thursday, March 15, 2007

No opinion

Asked on ABC News on Wednesday if she agreed with General Pace’s view that homosexuality was immoral, Mrs. Clinton said, “Well, I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.”

[...]

A rival of Mrs. Clinton for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois was asked the same question three times on Wednesday and sidestepped the issue, according to an article in Newsday. (NY Times)

Do people need to completely agree with a politician's views on morality to vote for him? Do we need a politician's full approval of our lifestyle? Why are we asking these questions? Don't a politician's policies speak for themselves? Would it be possible, say, for a politician to think homosexuality is immoral but also believe people have the right to act immorally in this case?

As it is, Clinton and Obama's spokesmen cleared up the issue for us.

a spokesman for Mr. Obama said last night that the senator disagreed with General Pace’s remarks and believed that homosexuality was not immoral.

[...]

a spokesman released a statement from Mrs. Clinton responding to the question: “I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple,” she said. “It is inappropriate to inject such personal views into this public policy matter, especially at a time in which there are young men and women in such grave circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in other dangerous places around the world.”

That last part I can agree with. General Pace expressed regret for sharing his personal views. The press should not be pressing politicians to share their personal views.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Immoral opinions

Senior aides to the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that Marine Gen. Peter Pace won't apologize for calling homosexuality immoral — an opinion that gay advocacy groups deplored. (Time)

You know, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that think being a military general is immoral (and aren't afraid to say so). I don't see calls on them to apologize. So Pace has a "deplorable" personal opinion. So be it!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Gingrich repents

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential Republican presidential candidate, will appear on James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio show and describe getting on his knees and seeking God's forgiveness for his moral failures, according to excerpts released Wednesday by the evangelical group.

Gingrich talked to Dobson by phone for a two-part installment to air today and Friday. (Denver Post)

Of course, inquiring minds want to know if this repentence occurred while he was single, or on wife #1, 2 or 3. Is all forgiven?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Multiple marriages

Well, maybe the Republican nominee for president won't be an adulterer and divorcé after all. But that doesn't mean he won't have multiple marriages in his past.

So the evangelical uncomfortable with adulterers has an out -- he can support Mitt Romney. But will he?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Americans against dollar coin

An AP-Ipsos poll found that three-fourths of people surveyed oppose replacing the dollar bill, featuring George Washington, with a dollar coin. People are split evenly on the idea of having both a dollar bill and a dollar coin.

A new version of the coin, paying tribute to American presidents, goes into general circulation Thursday. Even though doing away with the bill could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year in printing costs, there is no plan to scrap the bill coiin favor of the more durable coin. (AP)

How many of these Americans have actually used a dollar coin? Having spent a couple weeks in Canada, I found their dollar (and 2-dollar) coins vastly superior in ease of use than our 1-dollar bills. (Ditto for England and their 1- and 2-pound coins.) It's easier to tip, easier to make small purchases (don't have to open your wallet) and you don't have your wallet overly stuffed with bills. They also work well in vending machines (no worries about damaged bills).

What exactly is the reason for staying with 1-dollar bills? Other than ignorance and inertia?

"I really don't see any use for it," Larry Ashbaugh, a retiree from Bristolville, Ohio, said of the dollar coin. "We tried it before. It didn't fly."

Ah, that would because the idiots at the mint created a dollar coin that was barely larger than the quarter. Hello? It's not like we don't have hundreds of examples in other countries on how to do it right. Make the dollar coins different than all the other denominations. I'm not a coin expert and I have to tell you that?

Oh, and if you want the 1-dollar coin succeed, don't keep the 1-dollar bill around. There's no real good reason for it. (Ditto for the penny.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union 2007

It's interesting to review last year's speech, where Bush said America was addicted to oil and set a goal of reducing America's dependence on the Middle East by 75% by 2025.

This year

President Bush called on Tuesday for a huge government-mandated increase in renewable fuels — mainly ethanol — and tougher mileage standards for cars and light trucks.

[...]

The centerpiece of Mr. Bush’s proposal, which he said would cut the projected use of gasoline by 20 percent over the next decade, was a nearly fivefold mandatory increase in the production of ethanol and other alternative fuels for cars and trucks. (NY Times)

A 10-year plan started in the last two years of Bush's presidency (in addition to last year's 20-year plan). Pity he didn't start something like this 6 years ago.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Subsidizing billionaires II


Another city may lose a sports team in 2010: New Orleans. The Saints' lease of the Superdome ends in 2010. There's lots of talk of the owner going to greener pastures unless someone (read: government) coughs up a lot of money to stay.

The Saints face formidable obstacles. Not the least is whether local and state governments, with enormous rebuilding priorities, can, or should, help finance a new stadium or let Benson move elsewhere.

[...]

“We hope to sit down with the team and discuss an extension beyond 2010, and that would include inducement payments,” said Larry Roedel, counsel to the Louisiana Sports and Exposition District, a state-appointed commission that oversees the Superdome and other facilities. “I don’t know if they’ll want more than what they’re getting.”

Imagine that. With all the ways money could be spent rebuilding New Orleans, hiring better cops, and so on, we may see millions given to one man, who's already pretty well off, thank you. Wait and see.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Netflix & the internet

A raspberry goes to Netflix for only offering their streaming view to Windows users. They've been planning on some sort of web delivery forever -- it was part of their original business plan. This sounds like a good way for them to start providing the service, but I hope they don't plan on exluding Mac users forever.


On a related note, kudos to NBC for offering Heroes episodes online, free (and viewable on a Mac). I completely missed the first run and catching up to this Monday's new episode helped pass the time during a recent illness. I'll be following it from now on!

Update MacFixIt reports:

We've now received unconfirmed word that a Mac OS X version of the service is in the works, though we're not sure what DRM scheme will be used. Verification from Netflix officials on these plans is pending.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Islam & the Christian

I am afraid that every Christian is going to be increasingly challenged by violent Islam, in ways that will be harder and harder to tacitly ignore. Ironically, much of what Islam hates about America are things that Christians ought to likewise resist: gluttonous consumption, recreational shopping, celebrity culture, trashing of the environment, the trivializing of sex, the sexualizing of children, the killing of unborn children, artificializing women’s bodies, depriving boys and men of a coherent and worthy identity, jingoism, any belief that being “American” takes precedence over membership in the body of Christ. If we are going to face the threat of death for what we believe (as Christians have been doing for 1300 years in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East), let it truly be for what we believe, and not for Angelina Jolie, the “4th Meal,” and extra cupholders.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

Spinning what is pro-life

we believe that in the case of embryonic stem cell research, being pro-life means that one supports the quest for better treatments and cures for the 100 million Americans who suffer from cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injuries and other debilitating diseases and disorders for which stem cell research provides great hope. (Sean Tipton, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research.)

By that definition, I suppose we could define war as "pro-life". And maybe some cases of genocide. As long as some lives are saved in the snuffing out of others?

Perhaps the only people in history we can define as not pro-life are pacifists not willing to kill in defense of themselves or others?

This would all make sense as we already know that, in the abortion debate, it's the abortionists that are the true pro-lifers.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Crusades

whenever you hear someone griping about cruel the Crusades were to Muslims, remember the 300 years of slave raids in coastal Europe conducted by Muslims

Rod Dreher

Apple TV disappointment


Well, this is a little disappointing. I had been looking forward to the new Apple TV device that would allow me to easily stream videos from my computer to my TV. (Yeah, yeah, I know other devices exist but [a] they're not Mac-friendly and [b] I want something that'll "just work", preferably with iTunes.) I don't have cable and download more shows than I watch over broadcast. But look at one of the requirements:

Widescreen (16:9) enhanced definition or high definition television with an HDMI, DVI, or component video input

Maybe I'm on the only one on the planet that would be willing to pay $300 for this device but only has a TV with composite inputs? If a Macbook can output to an analog TV, why can't this thing?

Not to say that I wasn't going to have to think about it. $300 is quite a bit to pay for the convenience of not having to hook my notebook computer to the TV. But I did have some gift money saved up and would probably have gone for it. Oh well, guess I'll have to find a more honorable use for the money (because, no, I'm not going to plunk down over $1000 for a new TV).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wal-Mart & compact fluorescent bulbs


Wal-Mart is pushing compact fluorescent bulbs. Why? Because it's good for the environment, big time. Oh, and if that helps its image, who am I to complain?

If it succeeds in selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs a year by 2008, total sales of the bulbs in the United States would increase by 50 percent, saving Americans $3 billion in electricity costs and avoiding the need to build additional power plants for the equivalent of 450,000 new homes.

Wow. More power to ya.

The bulbs are also available practically everywhere else, including Home Depot and Amazon. Not at my grocery store, though.