Legalizing Torture?

There are so many things wrong with this post by Katherine at Obsidian Wings that I don’t quite know where to begin.

No, it’s not that the post is flawed, it’s just what is reported it so wrong in so many ways it makes one’s head spin.

Read. Be very dismayed. This is a bill – giving all but implicit approval to torture (so long as it’s not done by us…that would, of course, be wrong…) that specifically exempts itself from judicial oversight.

That old Marbury vs. Madison thingee??? Ancient history; dusty.

It’s also designed to be retroactive, which is troubling as well. Again, musty old ex post facto laws…

And this wonderous bill is sponsored by the third highest ranking Republican in the US: Dennis Hastert. Yes, the same Hastert who intimated – and refused to repudate his comment – that George Soros was being funneled money from drug cartels.

And Kerry’s losing?????

Be Afraid…Very Afraid…

I just installed WinXP SP2.

I’m either very brave…or very stooopid.

Actually, I have positive results to report.

  • Caveats first: I’m a computer geek and get this stuff; the download is huge, my broadband pipe (cable) is huge, and it still took about 20 minutes; this is a new box, with little installed (fewer chances of conflicts).
  • Install was pretty painless; the only conflict was with Norton Anti-Virus, and it was not a “conflict” – MS sorta recommends getting another virus protection program. Which? I dunno. Didn’t care.
  • So far, everything came back after the second reboot (first for install completion, second my own choice to see if it all took).
  • As noted in caveats, not a lot installed here, but the Apache server and so on that I do have here are behaving nicely.
  • The update attempted to block start of an FTP server I have running here; I allowed to run and the second reboot honored this request. Good.

Bottom Line: Big honkin’ update, but went extremely well as far as I can see (in 20 or so minutes…).

This surprises me, but in a good way.

Keep your fingers crossed….


FirefoxAs I’ve finally (finally!) gotten around to setting up my new (sigh…Windoze) box, I finally also go around to downloading Firefox.

Hey, it’s a full release – OK, v1-PR, but let’s not get picky.

Impressions, having never used it before:

  • Wow, it looks just like IE! But that might be a good thing, as that’s what people are used to.
  • It’s a much better look than Mozilla – I always used Mozilla with the classic (i.e. Netscape) skin. Just worked better. But this is nice
  • Having not really read anything about Firefox, it’s fun to see the almost Easter Egg like items. The RSS and style switching items in the status bar and so on. Not incredibly useful right now, but points towards good things in the future.
  • I have tab issues – I think Mozilla handled this better. I like Mozilla, where you had the icon on the left to “add new tab” instead of having to right-click on the tab bar. In Mozilla you could right-click, as well, but had the option of the icon. I personally miss that. One click, instead of right-click | menu selection. Hope this is addressed. (see Update)
  • All the other tab goodness from Mozilla seems intact. Excellent.
  • Yay! The Javascript console is retained. This is something that just kicks IE’s ass all over the place. Indispensible for Web developers (uh, like me….)
  • Can’t really say how standards’ compliant this is, other than to say I haven’t run into any sites where weirdness showed.
  • Alt text not displayed; interesting. I’m sure that’ll be fixed. Weird that it does not display….(see update)

Well done Mozillians!


Trying to add a picture (the Firefox logo) to this post, I found a bug: Through Blogger, the upload doesn’t work. (JS error, but works in Mozilla. Odd.) Update 9/23/2004: I’m an idiot. Firefox was blocking pop-ups ( the JS window to load pictures). Allow pop-ups on this site and all works fine. MY bad.

Alt tags don’t display, but title tags do. While this may be standards compliant, still seems a serious oversight: Title tags are, to most, new and/or optional. Alt tags have been around for a decade. Don’t ignore the mass of the current web just to stick to principles. Bend a bit where necessay, as it is here…

Still – after one day – my firm browser of choice.

Update Deux

Once I bothered to look, I found there is a keystroke for new window: Ctrl-T – excellent; I’m all about keyboard shortcuts (which is one of the reasons I’ve really dug Gmail).

This browser keeps getting better and better in my estimation.

Dude, I Got a Dell

As Kasia has noted, the new computers just are not as exciting as the old ones.

The updates are pretty much incremental, nothing like in the past.

Two computers ago, I went from a 368 with about, oh, 1M (yes, one frickin’ MEG) of RAM to a smokin’ 128M, 200 Mhz Pentium Pro. Now that was a jump worth getting excited about.

And my last computer – hit the 1Ghz mark. With 512M RAM – and a 80 GIG hard drive. Wowzers Batman!

I just recently bought another computer – a *sigh* Windoze box (why? One word: Photoshop. Gimp doesn’t cut it yet….).

Yet it’s sitting in three boxes, right behind my current work station. Too much work to do this weekend (yes – and it’s a weekend and I’m not diving into the boxes) and – to be honest – not enough excitement about the new box to warrant going there.

It’s a nice system, will last a few years, but…it’s the same as my current system, with each area a little bit better. I did spring for a flat screen this time, so that’s worth getting excited about, but that’s about it.

Basically, I got the new one to get more room, some more speed and more backup capability (RAID 1).

But no sea change. No paradigm shift blah blah.


I guess computers really are becoming mainstream, when even computer dorks don’t get excited about new hardware.

Debate THIS!

Mudanin Kata
David Darling & The Wulu Bunun

Vocal music of a Taiwanese tribe with a master cello player.

Sounds odd; it is. Sonic, atmospheric.

I heard about it on NPR; had to get.

Got it today; glad I purchased same. I won’t play this every day/week, but this is a great CD. In a “sounds of the whales” type way.


All music

OK, here is my concept for what could be at least one of the presidential debates.

Yes, it’ll never happen, but … I can dream can’t I?

And I don’t think it’s really a bad concept.

Basic rules of the debate:

  • Panel must ask questions that can be answered with either Yes, No or Pass – This eliminates the question within a question question that is sometimes necessary but still a pain in the ass overall. Example: “Mr. President, you recently said X and Mr. Y said Z. How do you respond? And how does this affect the thickness of ice on the Antarctic’s Ross Shelf?”
  • The first word out of the candidate’s mouth must be Yes, No or Pass – Obviously, allowances will be made for “Can you please repeat the question” or whatever, but – basically – answer the question Yes, No or Pass (a blanket I can’t / don’t want to answer response, which is fine and an answer in itself).
  • If – and only if – a candidate answers either Yes or No, the candidate can then qualify/defend this answer – This allows someone, for example, to go on record as favoring abortion but quickly following up with “Only in the case of incest/mother’s life in danger yada…”.
  • If the candidate answers Pass, that’s it – mike cut off or whatever – Hey dude, you passed on the question. So shut up!

What’s gained from this? Mainly an avoidance of the following (completely made-up and yet totally believable exchange):

Q: Do you support a woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy?

A:Now [panelist], that’s a great question. This touches upon the whole role of the child in our society. Under the Education Plan I’ve published, it makes it possible for…..

Yes, where is the answer?

Not there.


It’s also a good method for our sound-bite, attention-deficit generation(s): A quick score card can show what was Yes, what was No, what was Pass for each candidate.

And it can apply some pressure to the candidates – if one keeps doing a Pass, the other can start answering Yes or No and sort of force the other(s) to put something on the record.

I dunno; not great concept, but makes it easier for the average voter, whomever that may be…

A Day in the Country


Well, not exactly a day in the county, but off the beaten path.

As part of this holiday weekend’s festivities (actually, the only festivity), we went to a garden center we had heard about outside of Benton Harbor, MI – Amber Waves Gardens.

Doesn’t seem that impressive, just a farm house surrounded by beds of grasses, but, wow, nice grasses.

And – at this time of the year, the seed heads of many of plants were out, which is a great sight.

The pictures – samples on the right, more in the gallery – really don’t do the plants justice. Part of this is the light at the time – not enough contrast, part was that the digital camera I had makes it hard to capture what you want (great little camera, however).

They’ll give you an idea of what they have.

I love ornamental grasses – easy to maintain, great summer, fall and winter interest (very unusual for most perennials).

I’ve a feeling the front yard is going to see less and less of fescue/rye grass and more oranamental grass.

Works for me…