It’s hard to take these guys seriously

Despicable Me
Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, directors

This is a strange little animated movie that is not great, but it just works.

Highly formulaic story line (bad guy brought back from the dark side by cute little kids – trust me, I’ve spoiled nothing), but is saved by wonderful animation, unbelievably imaginative characters and attention to detail.

The weapons used in this movie would make Wiley Coyote salivate – from freeze guns to squid shooters, and rockets galore.

This is a “rent it” movie. Good fun for all ages, but not something I’ll return to again (as I will with just about any Pixar title).

All movies

Well, the presidential election isn’t for another 18 months are so, but the jockeying has begun. Obviously, this is really only pronounced for the non-incumbent party (the Republicans).

OK, I can see trying to appeal to certain constituencies, but sometimes it gets so absurd that it makes candidates/king makers hard to take seriously.

Take Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who sat down for a radio interview with Bryan Fischer, a prominent voice of the religious right. They talked about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), and Barbour – a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2012 – had this to say:

“[I]t’s not necessarily over homosexuality. It’s over the fact that when you’re under fire and people are living and dying of split-second decisions you don’t need any kind of amorous mindset that can effect saving people’s lives and killing bad guys. […]

“I think it ought to be rolled back. I just don’t see how you can take any other position if the person you are trying to protect is the soldier who is actually in combat.”


Well, there is a lot wrong with Barbour’s statement, but – to me – what struck me was the “amorous mindset” phrase.

Here’s my thought – just as “there are no atheists in the foxholes” (William Thomas Cummings), there are “no amorous mindsets when under fire.” When you’re under fire (I have no experience with same), I would expect your thoughts are survival; saving your ass and those of your fellow soldiers – because if they are hit, your odds go down. With the bullets whizzing around, I don’t think there’s a lot of sexual tension. I don’t understand what Barbour was trying to say. I really don’t.

And how does re-instating DADT fix this “amorous mindset” problem? We’ll still have gays who are lusting after other gay/straight soldiers; but they’ll just be in the closet. And to really get rid of “amorous mindsets,” maybe we should get rid of women in the armed forces, as well, right? To keep the straight males focused.


And let’s back up to the radio program this was on – Bryan Fischer’s. His show has recently seen the likes of most Republican presidential hopefuls: Barbour, Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and so on.

He’s big with the religious right.

And what are Fisher’s opinions on government and religion?

“Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.”

[…] Fischer took it a step further, calling Islam a “treasonous ideology” and adding that “from a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked.”

Bryan Fischer: Muslims Have No First Amendment Rights,

Now, I support Fisher’s right to say such. I don’t agree with him, and – hopefully – he’d be OK with my right to say same.

But he’s a big hitter – do the candidates really want to associate with this kind of hate-mongering? Fischer didn’t even leave wiggle room for Jews – most of the times issues like this come up, the talking points are that the US is “Judea-Christian” nation. Are synagogues OK?

I am deeply saddened by polarizing rhetoric that passes for reasoned discourse these days. Part of it is the 24-hour news channels – a lot of feeding the beast – but some comes down to simple pandering, where it is easier to say “All Muslims are terrorists” than make that point that, yes, some terrorists are Muslims. And some Muslims are political/business leaders helping the country. Just not as easy to put on a bumper sticker.

One of my favorite musical groups today (I just discovered them a year or so ago) are The New Pornographers. They took their name from a declaration by some conservative religious leader who declared (I’m paraphrasing) that “rock and roll is the new pornography.” They were rock and rollers, hence, the new pornographers. The religious leader meant this as a bad thing; the musical group took it lightly.

To me, the new pornography – in the bad sense (pornography here as pejorative term) – is the accept-no-gray, America is the land of opportunity (but only if you’re like me/believe what I do…), self-righteous, fact-adverse political/religious discourse/diatribes.

It’s hurting everyone. It’s vitriolic.

Firefox 4.x – first impressions

Downloaded Firefox 4 this evening. First impressions:

  • Wicked fast – almost Chrome fast
  • Tabs on Top – doesn’t work for me. I’ll try for a while and see if it’s just me.
  • Setup didn’t get upgrades of my extensions, but another click (check for updates) did. Just a little clunky, un-Firefoxy…
  • No bugs, lost files/bookmarks and so on.
  • Status bar (at bottom) gone. This is an issue – can get it back, but does not behave as before (4.x). Hmm… Bad (to me)
  • Normal status stuff – what the link is etc. – is now NOT part of the status bar, instead, a “toaster” on the bottom left. Hmmm….
  • Last two comments seem to be Chrome issues (influenced in Firefiox). Maximize web pages; minimize the frame area (valid). So suppress (as default) the status bar. Interesting, but what does this do to add-ons, such as Firebug and Fox Weather(?) – They are currently in the status bar; how will they change/or not?

Again, first impressions.

I’ll have to see how it works with memory (Firefox 3.x could get piggy with memory…). Looking VERY good right now, but whatever.

Again, first impressions.

Update 3/24: If anything, 4.x is worse than 3.x with memory – CPU and RAM sucked up. Could be – in part – the new Flash I’ve installed, but it is still ugly.

Update 3/24 #2: Post-Flash install seems to have settled down things a bit. But need more days to draw true conclusions..

Silos and Sensibility


When the internet first rolled around, it was pretty open.

You had gopher, archie, veronica and – later – FTP. Get a picture? Get UUDecode.

Then came the web. AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy and so on.

In the beginning, one could only email a Prodigy account from, well, another Prodigy account. And so on.

The walls came down (relatively) quickly, but new walls quickly came up:

  • Windows vs. Apple incompatibilities (let’s leave Linux out for now)…
  • Netscape vs. IE incompatibilities (let’s leave Opera out for now, and treat Firefox as the successor to Netscape).
  • Lotus 1-2-3 vs. Excel
  • And so on…

Today, the walls have changed, but they still exist:

  • Still harder to network a Mac than a Windows machine
  • Different browser vendors have a different way of “implementing” the (unfinalized) HTML 5 spec
  • Different eReader format specs – can’t read that Nook eBook on the Kindle and so on
  • Smartphone apps that are different – and nontransferable – from one smartphone OS to another (got Angry Birds on your iPhone? Buy/download again for your Android phone)

The fragmentation into silos makes sense – it’s a point of differentiation (Apple: We’re more integrated; Android: We’re more open). And these are different technologies. Understood.

But – to the average consumer – it’s freakin’ impossible to understand. They don’t understand that, for example, if Amazon discontinues the Kindle, well, it might be a bad thing for them.

Silos are bad. Mebee…

Yet silos can be your friend.

Ten years ago people were horrified at the notion of Intel adding a unique ID to all of its processors. Today every phone has a unique ID, and yours is probably uploaded to apps’ servers multiple times a day. Not so long ago, people were outraged that Amazon could and did arbitrarily delete books from users’ Kindles; last week they clamored for Google to exercise essentially the same power.

— Jon Evans, The Walled Garden Has Won

He’s got a point. It’s part of the Facebook world, confirming Scott McNealy’s (in)famous quotation, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

But there are silos of privacy (almost gone), and silos of data (can I easily port my account to

The latter is still very difficult – and I’m a web dork. And it’s my data, dammit!

There need to be basic standards that – for example (and not picking on anyone) – blog hosting sites adhere to. So you can easily export your data to a different blog hosting site. Sure, may lose some functionality (think about saving that MS Word doc as RTF – yep, some formatting will be lost….), but, for the most part, intact/possible.

Or you can export your pics from site X to site Y- yeah, may lose the thumbnails/friends, but OK…

That’ll be a good thing.

We’re not there yet, and – for the most part – it’s gotten worse over the last few years, as every new startup does things differently. So porting your (pics/data/spreadsheets/etc) gets messier and messier.

I expect things to get a little worse before they get better – but that means some innovation is occurring, so that’s not a really bad thing.

But it’s frustrating at times.

The average web user has a Yahoo! email account.

Yahoo!, is, unfortunately, dying. It’ll stay afloat due to its large installed base (hey, all those email accounts – how many of you have free email accounts [that you still use]?).

But – tomorrow – is that enough for Yahoo to say alive? If not, what happens to (a bazillion) email accounts? Including your account, that you use just for X or Y (water bill notifications; kid’s school stuff…)

Silos. Good…bad…hmm…