April 30, 2004

A Poor Man's Bleat

The people around me at the moment must think I'm some sort of pretentious idiot. I'm sitting at a metal picnic table next to the soccer fields of a local elementary school. It's my daughter's night for soccer practice. As my daughter and nine other eight-year-olds are put thropugh their paces, I sit here typing away on my shiny 17 inch PowerBook listening to Pink Floyd on the iPod. If I had a cup Starbucks sitting next to me, I'd be making myself nauseous.

The sad truth is I could really use a cup of coffee and if their had been time to stop and get some without making my daughter late I probably would have. What's next for me a luxury mini-van?

If I were James Lileks this would be the point in the post where I seamlessly tie all of that into a meaning full and insightful commentary on international politics or American culture. But I'm not. So I'll just dive in.

I have decided that the next computer I buy for myself will be a PowerBook. In truth it will be whatever fantastic new thing has supplanted the laptop by the time I can afford to replace my G4 cube. Why? One word. One word that sums up the Wow factor of cool technology. One word that serves as a digital metaphor for freedom. My new favorite word. WIRELESS

I'm not actually new to wireless. We've had a wireless router and card for my wife's PC laptop for a while. But though the system gets heavy use from the kids it is essentially a desktop machine. Wireless was a solution for networking it, without wires!

The PowerBook my employer bought for me changed my feeling about wireless. Every day I unplug from the office network, close the lid and slip it into the nifty backpack case they bought to go along with it. I get home, open the screen and the Airport card finds the router and I am on line again. If I want, I can open a VPN connection to the office and it's like I never left. (O.K. that part kind of sucks.)

Tuesday I was at a photo-shoot. While the photographer was busy perfecting the lighting and shooting test shots, I noticed the Airport Base Station mounted to the studio wall. I hooked into the company network and as he tweaked shots, he sent them to me. I dropped the shots into the layout and sent jpegs to my marketing contact. I got feedback, we changed the shot and a new jpeg went out.

This was particularly good since the vast majority of the marketers I work with have zero visualization skills. If I had showed them the shot and said picture this in the layout I would be met the same blank stare I would expect if I asked my daughter to define Pi. (Right before she asked if I meant apple or blueberry.)

I love wireless. I pretty fond of pie too.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:42 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

The Parade of the Waffle King

This is about sixth or seventh post in this series with the same title. It started out as a mission but has turned out to be so easy I do them as filler posts when I can't find a good quiz.

How do you construct the perfect waffle? First you say something like this

George Bush sold us on going to war with Iraq based on the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But we still haven't found them. ... We were misled about weapons of mass destruction.
Then you say something like this
It appears, as they peel away the weapons of mass destruction issue - and we may yet find them. Look, I want to make it clear. Who knows if a month from now, three months from now, you find some weapons? You may.
Add butter and syrup.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:36 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

April 28, 2004

That's Life

When the demands of life collide at full speed with OCBD (Obsessive Compulsive Blogging Disorder). Nothing happens here, but the chaos here is something to behold.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:10 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

April 27, 2004

The Bush Question

When I wrote about the nature of debate in the digital environment I mentioned a comment debate I had with a gentleman named Bill. That post came out of a comment he made in which he included the question that inspired this post

So moving on to meatier matters. What is your opinion on George W. Bush?
I responded via email that my personal opinion of President Bush rather closely mirrored the national polls. Which is to say I give him about a 50-60% approval rating.

There is a long list of things for which the Bush administration claims credit, that I would more accurately say I blame them for.

No Child Left Behind. Anyone who has taken even a quick look at the history of public education in this country can see that a chart showing the decline in educational quality would closely parallel a chart showing the loss of local control over education. The decline of American public education began in the late 50's and early 60's when states began to take control of education away from cities and towns. In response to the decline in education the federal government began to take control away from the states in the 80's an 90's. Beginning with the establishment of the U.S. Department of Education in 1980, the federal grip over public education has been tightening. No Child Left Behind. is just another step in the process of the complete federalization of public schools.

Campaign Finance Reform Having sworn the he would

faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
I fail to see how Bush could have signed such an outright assault on the first amendment. That the Supreme Court upheld this travesty is subject for another post. How an act of legislation that explicitly limits (i.e. abridges) freedom of speech is not in violation of the first amendment truly defies logic.

Faith Based Initiatives President wants to take my money and donate it to charities. Let him donate his own damned money. He seems to have forgotten that old saying "charity begins at home." I'll just cut to the chase. Bush wants to hand tax dollars to politically connected conservative Christian Charities. What does he expect to get in return? What every politician expects in return for our tax dollars well spent - votes.

Medicare Prescription Drugs Plain and simple more vote buying. Buy the votes of aging baby boomers with the tax dollars of everyone young enough to still hold a job.

Immigration Policy What we need is not a policy that says "Congratulations. You made it in illegally and got a job illegally. To reward your violation of our immigration laws, we're going to go ahead and give you a legal status." There's really no way that kind of policy would encourage even more border jumping is there. Bush needs to articulate a policy far closer to what he said regarding states supporting terrorism. Something along the lines of "You're either here legally or you're gone."

The one caveat I can put on most of these complaints is that these are things Bush said he would do. As much as I disagree with the policies, I have to credit him with being true to his word.

All of this though, is only one part of the Bush Presidency. And in my view a very small part. There are a good number of entries on the other side of the ledger as well.

Tax Cuts I am not rich by any scale other than the U.S. tax code. I live a comfortable life in a nice neighborhood in a relatively upscale town with good schools. I worked very hard to get to where I am, and I work very hard to keep what I have. Any reduction in what the government takes away from the money that I earn is welcome. I have no enmity for anyone who earns or has more than I do and I do not begrudge them the same relief from the burden of taxation that I received. It does not bother me that a cut in the tax rates results in a larger dollar savings for them than it does for me.

September 11, 2001 In the first hours after the 9/11 attacks when no one really knew what was going on and what was going to happen, I sat staring at the images of disaster and murder on the television and hoped that when the smoke cleared and America officially responded that it would not be with speeches of condemnation, calls for sanctions and pleas to the United Nations. When the response came, it was one of strength, resolve and anger. George bush spoke the words that Americans needed to hear. And then those words were followed with force.

Afghanistan Yes, George Bush went to the United Nations between the attacks of 9/11 and the start of action in Afghanistan. But he did not go hat in hand begging for the UN to solve the problem. He did not go asking their permission to act. He went to issue a challenge. To say that we and those who oppose terrorism are taking offensive military action against terrorists and their state sponsors. That we and those who oppose terrorism will take whatever financial and diplomatic actions necessary to defeat terrorism and the states that support it.

When the time for action came George Bush showed well that he had indeed learned the important lessons of Vietnam. He establish the objectives and the goals and left the strategy to the military. He said this is what I want done, tell me how you can do it. And it was done. It was done with a speed and efficiency and care that defied all of the predictions of armchair generals of months of fruitless battles and hundreds of thousands of civilian dead.

Iraq Many people have mistakenly confused the war on terror with a war on Al Quiada or even more simplistically a war on Ossama Bin Laden. In Iraq, the administration saw a growing threat. They saw a brutal dictator with a history of invading neighboring countries. A brutal dictator who had a history of using chemical weapons both in his war against Iran and against Iraqi Kurds. A brutal dictator who was known to give sanctuary to terrorists and pay rewards to the families of Palestinian terrorists. A brutal dictator who repeatedly defied world opinion and played cat and mouse games with weapons inspectors before finally just throwing them out. This growing threat had to be stopped before it was realized in the form of thousands more dead Americans. It was stopped.

ABM Treaty The end of the cold war did not bring an end to threat of a missile attack on this country. There are still missiles in Russia and China targeted at the United States. Nations like North Korea are aggressively developing missiles capable of reaching the U.S The ABM Treaty is the product of a time when it was felt that the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction of two superpowers was the best way to ensure that destruction never happened. The world has changed and it was time for the ABM Treaty to go.

Kyoto A bad treaty based in incomplete science and suspect predictions. Kyoto is more about politics than science. It is an effort to create a global egalitarianism by shackling the strong and the prosperous. It is the politics of envy played out on a global scale.

Is 100% perfection too much to ask for in a President? I suppose it is, unless I am some how elected! I would have to put my approval of rating of george Bush at somewhere around 58%. This clearly puts him ahead of any candidate for the office since Ronald Reagan who probably topped out at about 70%.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:10 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

April 26, 2004

Virus Alert #672,987

Allan E. Brain has a detailed post on new virus that hit his system. He also has very detailed instructions for how to deal with it. They involve something called a "Task Manager." You'll have to read it there, I don't understand all this virus stuff.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:03 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

April 24, 2004

Read'em and Weap

I found this at It's All About De. Who found it somewhere else, from someone who found it somewhere else. That's how these things work.

It's in the extended entry. If I read it, its bold. more...

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:21 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

April 21, 2004

Stupid Blog Stuff

Since I started this little adventure I have become at times obsessed with the SiteMeter. Which particular stats I'm focused on varies with time but I focus on it entirely too much.

Recently I figured out that the site meter was not properly installed. I wasn't counting people who followed links or searches to archived posts. I was only counting the main page. As it turns out I was only counting about a third of the site's traffic.

Since fixing that, I have hit at least one SiteMeter milestone, my first 1000 visit month.

As of 8:15 p.m. EDT I am on track to hit two more. I'm 2 hits away from my first 100 hit day, and a few short hours away from a day without a zero hour. (A day with at least one hit in each hour).

Of course I realize that by writing and posting this it is likely that I will not get another hit for the rest of the day. But most addictive behavior is self destructive so its no surprise that a SiteMeter addict would shoot himself in the foot.

Other Bloggy Goodness

Have you chosen sides? More importantly have you given?

If you answered "No" DO IT NOW

UPDATE: 100 hit day as of 8:43. YaY!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:29 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

April 20, 2004

Breaking Waffle News

What's better than a big plate of waffles? A second serving of warm sweet waffles.

John Kerry offered up a delicious serving of waffles when he told Tim Russert that his entire military file was available for review at his campaign headquarters. However when a reporter from the Boston Globe went to Kerry HQ to review the files he was denied access.

Now, according to breaking news alert from NewsMax Kerry is serving seconds.

Senator Kerry requested from the U.S. Navy his military records. The Kerry Campaign announced today that it will post the military records that the U.S. Navy provided Kerry on his active military service from 1966-1970 on his campaign web site at johnkerry.com. They will be posted on the website beginning later this evening as the campaign completes the process of scanning them in for the website.

The part of me that hasn't been completely smothered by cynicism secretly hopes that the record will show that Kerry is everything he claims to be. However they cynical side has been well fed with generous servings of waffles and isn't expecting much.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:32 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Prepare To Die.

Inigo Montoya

Which Princess Bride Character are You?
this quiz was made by mysti

Seen first here, then here, and here

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

April 19, 2004

Getting Off Easy.

18 year old Sarah Waddle, a freshman at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield CT, got a traffic ticket. The fine was $128. The offense was making an unsafe lane change. If you think for a moment that's a lot of cash for a minor infraction, consider this.

In the process of making what a State Police spokesman called an "unsafe lane movement Waddle collided with a tanker truck. The resulting fuel spill explosion and fire melted a section of a newly constructed highway overpass and closed down one of the busiest stretched of road in the northeast corridor for several days.

Still think $128 is a steep fine?

Art Gruhn, chief engineer for the Connecticut Department of Transportation told the Connecticut Post that the state would try to collect dammages from Waddle's insurance company.Anything we recover would have to go to reimburse the federal government for their emergency funds Costs for the repairs including overtime for construction crews and police is being covered by $13 million in emergency federal funds.

Somehow I don't think a $128 dollar ticket and whatever her insurance company does to her is adequate. Personally, I'd like to see Miss Waddle Standing by the side of the highway with a big that says "Sorry."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:27 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

April 18, 2004

Digital Cannot Change Debate

I wrote a post earlier in the election season about the Al Franken incident at a Howard Dean campaign appearance. I didn't comment on what happened, I focused on the very different accounts of the event from different news outlets. In the comments someone asked

Some people are claiming that it was Al who was the aggressor and should be booked for assault. What do you make of that?
To which I responded
Should Franken be arrested for assault? If what he did fits the definition of assault, absolutely.
This lead to an exchange between myself and a commenter named Bill. Bill felt that I had judged Franken guilty. After a few exchanges I pointed out that what I wrote was that if Franken's actions could be classified as assault then his celebrity status should not prevent his arrest. Bill's last comment was

Well said, and yes I do think that anyone who commits assault should be subject to the full weight of the law. I must admit that this is the first rational interchange I have ever had on the net. I had heard so much about the value of the internet in the exchange of views - pretty disappointing at most sites. So moving on to meatier matters. What is your opinion on George W. Bush?


I responded to Bill in email noting that he had given me topics for two posts. What's wrong with debate on the internet? and what do I think of George Bush? Today I'll tackle internet debate.

There is the belief that because it is in a written form, online debate will somehow be more rational and more civilized. That people will be more thoughtful before they hit the "post button" than they might be before opening their mouths. The truth is, that the medium will not change the messenger. An irrational idiot in a verbal debate will be an irrational idiot in a written debate. What the internet does for debate is to open it up a larger number of people. From what I, and Bill, have seen there are a good number of irrational idiots on-line.

Ad to this a level of anonymity that is impossible in a face to face debate and there is a bit of a sense of anything goes. With the shield of a screen name, almost anyone can say any outrageous thing that pops into their head. Before you know it, the whole debate has become a massive digital parody of the O'Rielly Factor. With almost everyone seeking not to advance the debate but to slam the person 4 comments prior.

Debate on the internet becomes irrational, mean spirited and meaningless because there are people out there who make it that way - on purpose. We call them Trolls. A month or so ago I was reading through the comments on a post over at Eject! Eject! Eject!. It was not one of Bill Whittle's major posts, it was a short note saying a new series would be starting soon. There were over 150 comments! Interspersed throughout all the anticipatory comments from those looking forward to the new series, there was one guy posting a series of rants about Richard Pearle. It was interesting to watch the reactions. At first people just ignored the guy and posted what they came to say. But as he persisted people began to get offended and responded accordingly. Eventually the idiots comments were deleted. He had changed IP addresses several times during the episode so blocking him was difficult.

The bottom line is, debate on the internet is not as rational and civilized as we might like it to be because people are not as rational and civilized as we might like them to be. The fact that the debate is taking place on-line is not going to change that. The challenge is to find the places where rational debate happens and where civilized people go.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:37 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment

April 17, 2004

When You Wish Upon a Star...

The Israeli military today granted the wish of terrorist leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

During the mourning period for Yassin, Rantisi was defiant about Israel's threats against him. "We will all die one day. Nothing will change. If by Apache or by cardiac arrest, I prefer Apache," he said.
Consider it done.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:04 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

Helping the Economy

I mentioned a while back that we were doing our bit to boost the economy by adding on to the house. Construction is going to start soon. I worked up a quick mock-up of what the house should look like when done.

Before 2.jpg

AFTER (Sort of)

I will be documenting the construction as it proceeds. When its all done I'll post a comparison of my version to the finished reality.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:33 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment

Oppositional Democratic Disorder

New York Presbyterian Hospital had developed a clinical diagnosis that explains large segments of the Democratic Party

What is ODD?
ODD is a persistent pattern (lasting for at least six months) of negativistic, hostile, disobedient, and defiant behavior in a child or teen without serious violation of the basic rights of others.

What are the symptoms of ODD?
Symptoms of ODD may include the following behaviors when they occur more often than normal for your age group:

  • losing your temper
  • arguing with adults; defying adults or refusing adult requests or rules
  • deliberately annoying others
  • blaming others for your own mistakes or misbehavior
  • being touchy or easily annoyed
  • being angry and resentful
  • being spiteful or vindictive
  • swearing or using obscene language
  • having a low opinion of yourself
  • Unfortunately the only know cure - granting them absolute power over the lives of everyone - is far more dangerous than the disease.

    Hat Tip to Scott Burgess

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:45 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

    April 16, 2004

    The Parade of the Waffle King

    After Groking this from Sarah, I flashed back to a little snack-bar I used to visit as a boy. One of my favorite treats on a warm summer night was thing they called the Awful Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich.

    It started with two freshly made waffles still warm off the waffle iron. A thick slab of ice cream was sliced of a half gallon of Neopolitan and placed between the waffles. There was never any guarantee what flavor, or combination of flavors you would get, unless you were lucky enough to get the first slice of a new carton and could pick which end they started from. It didn't matter though, even if you got mostly vanilla and strawberry, any ice cream nestled between two warm waffles was good.

    The truly brave or truly fast eaters, would pick up their Awful Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich and try to eat it before the warm waffles melted the ice cream. I tried but was never able to eat one fast enough. Once the waffles started the melting process there was nothing to do but put the Awful Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich back on the plate and pick up a fork. Not much was lost from the experience. Waffles swimming in melted ice cream was treat worthy of worship in its own right.

    So fire up those waffle irons, mix up a batch of your favorite waffle batter, have plenty of Neopolitan Ice Cream and napkins on hand and enjoy an Awful Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich.

    NOTE: If you make your Awful Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich with those round frozen waffles instead of making your own waffles ice cream in a round package might be more fitting.

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:07 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

    April 15, 2004

    One For You Nineteen For Me

    Neal Boortz offers this bit of sound advice for tax day


    And just how do you identify your own personal tax idiot?  Everybody has one, you have to find yours.  It's really very simple.  You just walk to some friend or coworker and ask "How much did you have to pay in income taxes this year?"  If they answer "I didn't have to pay anything, I'm getting some back!" You have found your own personal tax idiot.  Please take care of them for they are stupid and incapable of survival without your help.

    He writes a lot of other things worth reading too.

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:12 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

    April 14, 2004

    Darwin Award Winner of the Week

    ROSE HILL, Va. -- A preacher bitten by a rattlesnake as he handled it during an Easter service at a rural church died after refusing medical treatment, authorities said.

    The Rev. Dwayne Long died a day after being bitten on a finger during a service at his church, where members believe ritual serpent-handling is a form of obedience to God, said Sheriff Gary Parsons.

    "We don't anticipate any charges," he said. "That's their belief."

    No one attending the service at the Pentecostal church sought medical help, Parsons said. Members believe when people die from a snakebite during a service, it is a sign that it was their time to go.

    From WFTV.com Florida.

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:19 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

    Dead Air America

    There are three basic ways to create a radio network. One is to buy a bunch of radio stations and you've got yourself a network. The other is to sign affiliate agreements with radio stations willing to pay you for your content. The third is to pay radio stations for the time to broadcast your content on their station.

    Liberal radio network start-up Air America went the third route. It's a reasonable business model. Invest in getting your message out to a broad audience without having to buy individual stations. Attract enough listeners to your product that other stations start to want your content badly enough to pay you for it.

    It probably works a little better if you pay the bills.

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:04 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

    The View From Afar

    Conrad at Gwielo Diaries takes a close look at the 9/11 commission from a great distance. His take

    The reality is, bullshit from both sides notwithstanding, terrorism was neither administration's top priority prior to the September attacks. And it was neither administration's top priority because it was not a priority for the American people. Confronted with news about terrorism, the average American's response was "Osama bin-what? The Tali-who? Where's Lou Dobbs? Tell me where the Nasdaq closed?" The relative moderate casualties inflicted by the terrorists were deemed acceptable. Bin Laden declared war on the US and the US collectively responded "get out of here you pipsqueak, Survivor's on."
    The rest is just as good.

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:38 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

    eTalkinghead Post

    Grasping at Straws to Blame Bush

    Since the release of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing some on the left have had the courtesy to drop the line that the Bush Administration had clear warning of 9/11 and did nothing about it. They have not had the decency to admit they were wrong or to apologize but at least some have stopped repeating it.

    What they have done is move on to grasping at even thinner straws to blame Bush.

    Keep Reading

    Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:17 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

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