My Archives: February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

Radley Balko's personal blog is well worth checking out. For one thing, it led me to the transcript of an extremely insightful speech by Crispin Sartwell on the soul of current Democrats. Sartwell stated, "I hate the Bush administration. But let me utter a few words of praise for Bush's campaign. Bush spoke plainly and took definite and controversial positions. In many cases, these were positions that were polling in the minority." By contrast, John Kerry "on the Patriot Act, on No Child Left Behind, on war, on gay marriage, on whatever: in every case he voted and spoke with one goal: getting elected president."

Posted by mac @ 01:43 PM EST [Link]

This item comes courtesy of Claire Wolfe's blog. Brad Igou writes, "Many people think the Amish do not pay taxes. They do. But they have been exempted from paying Social Security. This story is little known to the general public today. It is full of drama, clashes with the government, issues of religious freedom, politics, and much more. For writing this 5-part series, I was privileged to have access to many original materials and personal letters." To access the 5-part series, click here.

Posted by mac @ 12:13 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Cartoons: Stuart Carlson's "The Budgeteer"; Tom Toles' "White House Calendar"; Steve Sacks' "First Steps"; and, Mike Luckovich's "Smoking Pot".

Posted by mac @ 03:25 PM EST [Link]

Thanks to Hugh B. for sending along this item. It seems that the FCC has mandated that new digital TV equipment recognize a "broadcast flag" in the data...allowing Digital Rights Management for non-broadcast data. "This would include TVs, set top boxes, PC tuner cards, VCRs, DVD players, and similar devices." Some federal judges are looking askance at this, but it may yet survive the legal challenge. "Those thinking of buying DTV-related gear might want to make their purchases sooner rather than later, in hopes that some non-compliant devices are still available."     —brad

Posted by brad @ 07:24 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Michael Crane, Editor of The Political Junkie Handbook, is circulating the attached email on Bush's Social Security Privatization Proposal. [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:37 PM EST [Link]

Claire Wolfe has a fascinating blog entry about her quest to avoid becoming a "government number" rather than a free human being. Her entry was inspired by Brian Doherty's recent and excellent Reason article The Beast is Back: "Real I.D." for an all too real world which analyzes H.R. 418, the "Real I.D. Act". (For earlier McBlog analysis of HR 418, please see entries A Class Above the Law and Ron Paul on HR 418. [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:03 PM EST [Link]

Quote of the Day: "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," he [Bush] stated in a press conference at the headquarters of the European Union. But, he added forcefully, "Having said that, all options are on the table."

Posted by mac @ 11:03 AM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes, Fascinating and somewhat disturbing article on a method for artificially inducing "savant like" abilities in a subject's brain by temporarily "shutting off" some of their higher cognitive functions using transcranial magnetic stimulation. I am disturbingly reminded of Vernon Vinge's novel "A Deepness in the Sky," in which the totalitarian megalomaniac "Emergents" converted a large portion of the Qeng Ho fleet's crew into autistic savants and forced them to service their New Cosmic Order.

Posted by mac @ 10:55 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Media Watch: According to the media watchdog RatherBiased, "Maurice Hinchey, a Democratic congressman from the Ithaca, New York area stated...that he believes Karl Rove covertly gave the fake Burkett documents to CBS in the hopes that the discovery of their inauthenticity would discredit Dan Rather and insulate President Bush from charges that he evaded the draft." (I remember Brad floated the same theory the day news that the memo was faux memo broke.) [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:56 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons on the recent onslaught and growing influence of bloggers on politics and the media: Pat Oliphant's "At the Gates", Ben Sargent "Headlines", Tony auth's "Bush's Ideal Press Conference", and, Stuart Carlson's "White House Press Corps", And while you're in the mood for humor, sing the Gannon Song "Who Did He Do?"

Posted by mac @ 01:38 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P., our resident expert on all things scientific, responds to my entry of yesterday on the new strain of HIV: 3DCR. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:54 PM EST [Link]

Monday, February 21, 2005

Media Watch: A new rumor is floating courtesy of The Gawker: actor and liberal "Hardball" guest Ron Silver and ultra-right-wing pundit Ann Coulter have been recently spotted dining together twice. Romance has been denied by each of them but neither has commented on the rumor that they may be co-hosting a television show.

Posted by mac @ 01:33 PM EST [Link]

I have been following reports of the new strain of HIV, which has been dubbed “3-DCR HIV", which does not seem to respond to 3 of the 4 currently available anti-retroviral medications "and also appears to greatly shorten the interval between HIV infection and the onset of AIDS." [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:27 PM EST [Link]

Joe Farah, publisher and editor of WorldNetDaily, reports on being Googlebombed by the The Googlebomb Project which is dedicated to "exposing the hard right." Other targets: Karl Rove, Tammy Bruce, and Ruddy/NewsMax. Farah includes a link to a fascinating painting (be sure to click to enlarge) by Joel Pelletier entitled Christ's Entry into Washington 2008, which parodies an 1888 one by Ensor.

Posted by mac @ 11:14 AM EST [Link]

Is it just my imagination, or are software companies becoming more rapacious and less scrupulous? This EFF analysis of End User License Agreements (EULAs) describes EULA conditions in their naked essence: "Do not criticize this product publicly." "Using this product means you will be monitored." "Do not use this product with other vendor's products." "By signing this contract, you also agree to every change in future versions of it. Oh yes, and EULAs are subject to change without notice."

Time for consumer action: boycott objectionable EULAs, and complain loudly. Ed Foster's Gripelog seems like a good resource.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 07:21 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Cartoons: Clay Bennett's "Welcoming the New Chief", Stuart Carlson's "Issues", and Tom Toles' "Krazy Kim's. Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 10:57 AM EST [Link]

Media Watch: Buzzflash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week is...Howard Kurtz, "alleged media critic for the Washington Post, took to the Wolf Blitzer CNN show to indignantly defend the faux journalist with a pseudonym, Jeff Gannon. " [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:07 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 19, 2005

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am looking forward to reading James Valliant's just-released book "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens" which, for the first time, offers Rand's perspective (via never before published passages from her journals) on the behind-the-scenes behavior and scandals that have been hitherto known only through Rand's two biographers - Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:03 PM EST [Link]

Correspondent Paul R. sends a report of "CD Ripping" that may be of interest to readers. He writes, RTFDSS. That is what my buddy grumbles after hanging up with clueless customers. It means: Read The Fucking Data Sheet Stupid. Yes, a lot of people call for help and they haven't even read the datasheet for the part they are calling about. I almost did the same. I have been ripping my 400 CDs to MP3s while I have been been blissfully unemployed. [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:59 AM EST [Link]

Gordon P. speculates, there may have been a "War between Googlebombers," yesterday, because when I attempted to verify Brad's blog that the top entry in a Google "I'm feeling lucky" search for "bastards" was the SCO site, I instead found that Evil GOP Bastards had floated back to the top. However, today it's SCO again, which I suppose means "Don't mess With LINUS"... :-/ It might have been interesting to watch the "page rank" of the two websites as a function of time --- and even more interesting to watch a graph of how many webpage references are contributing to the those pageranks...(I have to wonder: How exactly does one start and coordinate a googlebombing campaign ??? I doubt a googlebombing can be carried out by a single person; it would seem to require a concerted effort by an entire web community...)

Posted by mac @ 11:49 AM EST [Link]

Linux AntiVirus Update: I got BitDefender to scan mail, I got ClamAV installed, and I've learned how to update F-Prot. [more]

Posted by brad @ 10:10 AM EST [Link]

Friday, February 18, 2005

Go to Google, type the word "bastards", and click "I'm feeling lucky" to take the first result. No, it's not the Bush Administration, nor It's SCO, "the most hated company in tech." The moral: don't piss off the open-source community.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 03:32 PM EST [Link]

Good news, via Slashdot: the European Parliament has rejected the software patents proposal! You might recall that Poland (thanks, Poland) blocked this from being railroaded last month. Then the European Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted to restart the approval procedure. Now the Parliament has sent it back to square one.

This despite the rather heavy-handed attempt by Sir Bill of the Blue Screen to strong-arm the Danish government. Basically, "support software patents or we're terminating 800 jobs in Denmark." Still think Sir Bill is a champion of the free market?     —brad

Posted by brad @ 10:50 AM EST [Link]

Thanks to Paul R. for this item. ABBOTT and COSTELLO Buy A Computer In today's world, Bud ABBOTT and Lou COSTELLO's famous sketch "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like this.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:35 AM EST [Link]

I've now done eleven out of twelve computer security resolutions. This week I installed anti-virus software on our Linux computers. (If I had a Windows box connected to the Internet, I wouldn't have gone a day without AV software, but Linux users get a bit complacent about viruses.)

Actually, I've tried three free Linux AV packages. Two I had mentioned previously: BitDefender and F-Prot, commercial products that are available free for home Linux users. I've also attempted ClamAV, an open-source project. (A version of ClamAV is also available for Windows.)

To make a long story short, I'm recommending F-Prot. [more]

Posted by brad @ 09:33 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I was intrigued by the Iran-Syria mutual defense pact that was announced on CNN this morning, especially since I couldn't discern any of the terms of the pact from the shoddy reporting. (The US has demanded that Syria withdraw troops from Lebanon and has accused Iran of running a covert nuclear weapons program.) Is this a paper tiger alliance? I began to research and here's the scant information I've uncovered so far on the pact and surrounding matters... [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:33 PM EST [Link]

Bloggers are having a lot of fun with the whole Jeff Gannon flap. Gannon (a pseudonym) is the faux- journalist and Bush stooge who was outed by bloggers' persistent research. Now there is the Jeff Gannon Blog which declares "Jeff Gannon is not my name and I am in no way pretending to be anyone else whose name isn't really Jeff Gannon." It is hilarious.

Posted by mac @ 12:27 PM EST [Link]

My favorite commentary to date on the proposed new Intelligence Czar comes from the Wonkette who writes, Talk about finding the right man for the job! Former Ambassador to Honduras and other funny foreign places, John Negroponte -- better known as Mr. "Honduran death squads? La la la, I don't see any Honduran death squads!" -- to supervise 15 intelligence agencies. Awesome, the dude who gives new meaning to the phrase "couldn't find ass with both hands." Also: we have 15 intelligence agencies? Who knew?

Posted by mac @ 12:12 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons: Mark Fiore's latest animation "Torture Time", Clay Bennett's "The Snake Charmer", Tom Toles' "Game of Chicken", Ben Sargent's "Steroid Scandal", Jeff Danziger's "Bush's Budget Math", and Wiley Miller's "Nice Try Award". Enjoy!

Posted by mac @ 11:42 AM EST [Link]

It is always fun to see the mainstream media (MSMers) react to bloggers. Apoplexy is not too strong a word! Peggy Noonan opens her Wall Street Journal article, "The Blogs Must Be Crazy" with these words, "Salivating morons." "Scalp hunters." "Moon howlers." "Trophy hunters." "Sons of Sen. McCarthy." "Rabid." "Blogswarm." "These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people." This is excellent invective. It must come from bloggers. But wait, it was the mainstream media and their maidservants in the elite journalism reviews, and they were talking about bloggers!... [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:09 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Occasionally the folks at Working for Change come up with a hilarious Quote of the Day:

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; it's conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?


Posted by brad @ 11:07 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes, Proving once again that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, State Governments across the country are responding to losses in revenue caused by improved automobile fuel economy by proposing to tax automobiles _by the mile_, in addition to taxing gasoline by the gallon...... [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:29 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I am looking forward to reading the much-anticipated book "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics," which will be published in March by Durban House and shipped in April. [BTW, how Randian is the author's name -- James Valliant!?] Press Release here. The Durban House online announcement reads... [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:11 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons: Chuck Asay "Jefferson meets Professor [Ward] Churchill"; and, Tom Tomorrow's "Turning the corner". This commentary comes from The Wonkette: Al Jazeera: Now Hiring in D.C. Seriously. The Wonkette writes, "On the plus side: Get to work in 'real' news; will enjoy the look of fear in people's eyes; none of those annoying people in the White House briefing room will bother you. On the down side: The office Christmas parties really suck. We might apply just because we love Secret Service strip searches."

Posted by mac @ 12:34 PM EST [Link]

Ron Paul's address to the U.S. House of Representatives on H.R. 418 -- called the Real ID Act, which he evocatively retitles "A National ID Bill Masquerading as Immigration Reform," is well worth reading. One passage... [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:07 PM EST [Link]

Monday, February 14, 2005

Although the resignation of CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan should be news to no one at this point, the New York Times puts an interesting spin on it in a piece published today entitled Resignation at CNN Shows the Growing Influence of Blogs.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:00 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. advises, Venezuela's "left-wing leader" Hugo Chavez is apparently moving Venezuela toward "one-man" totalitarian rule, and Bush appears to be responding by rattling sabres in his general direction. It also just happens to be the case that Venzeula happens to also supply roughly 15% of the U.S.'s imported oil...Given that Condi Rice has _already_ publicly described Venezuela's government as "a negative force in the region," might one reasonably expect the Official Addition of Venezuela to Bush's "Axis of Evil" in the very near future ??? Jacob Hornberger offers an interesting analysis of recent CIA machinations in Latin America in his article "An Anti-Democracy Foreign Policy: Guatemala," published in the latest online FFF.

Posted by mac @ 12:23 PM EST [Link]

I heard an engineering story once about how several useful innovations, coupled together, can create ridiculous unintended consequences. (The original story involved a flow-restricting showerhead, a temperature regulator, and a high-efficiency water heater.) Well, now I have my own story.

Good idea: our web host watches for computers sending large numbers of email viruses, and blocks email from them. Good idea: our web host has an excellent spam filter. Good idea: mail forwarding allows us to have "public" and "private" email addresses. Good idea: I can forward Wendy's public email address (at to the web host with the excellent spam filter.

Bzzzzzt. An idea too far. That public email address gets lots of viral emails, as well as lots of spam, from all over the place. By forwarding that email, we convince our web host that one computer (the forwarder) is sending lots of viruses. Zap! Onto the blacklist with it. This blocks all email from Wendy's public address.

Fortunately this happened yesterday, a light email day. I've redirected Wendy's public address so the email is flowing again, but now the spam is flowing again too. That's life on the Internet.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:48 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cartoons: Dick Locher "Reducing the Deficit"; Lalo Alcaraz "Playing with Blocks; Jeff Danziger's {{link "New Directions in Diplomacy"}}; and, Gary Varvel's "Social Security".

Posted by mac @ 04:20 PM EST [Link]

Compliments of Gordon P., a glossary: Understanding Plannerspeak. For example, affordable housing -- housing subsidized with your gasoline, property, income, and other taxes. Or automobiles -- devices of the devil that people shouldn't be allowed to use. But it is more than a glossary because it offers the underlying rationale of the definitions. Under automobiles, it explains, "New Urbanist James Kunstler refers to the auto-centered world as 'the evil empire.' Metro advocates such as Portland City Commissioner Charles Hales often talk of people having a 'love affair with' or being 'addicted to' their cars, as if use of the auto was somehow irrational. Planners just cannot believe that people use cars because for many purposes they are more efficient and more convenient than any other form of transportation."

Posted by mac @ 04:06 PM EST [Link]

Okay, Windows users. You know that this year you need to protect your computer like never before. I've just stumbled across a series of articles at CastleCops, a computer security firm, that spells out "how" in some detail.

Part 1: Firewalls and Antivirus Applications
Part 2: To Do and Do Not
Part 3: Safe at Any Speed Online
Part 4: Securing Your Network
Part 5: Are Cookies Really Guid for You?
Part 6: Invisible Internet Browsing
Part 7: HOSTS File: Wholesale Blocking
Part 8: IM Insecure
Part 9: Batting Clean-up
Part 10: PC Pesticides

Of course, they're doing this for the advertising, and you'll see repeated references to their services. I can't vouch for them personally, having never employed them, but they do seem to know what they're talking about.

For more information and downloads, I still recommend the Home PC Firewall Guide.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 10:05 AM EST [Link]

Friday, February 11, 2005

A sign of the changing times: I just received my first junk email advertising a Linux product. I'm used to daily offers of Windows or Office XP at dubious prices, but Linux IT management software? And it's honest-to-goodness spam -- it came to one of my public email addresses, not to the email address I use to subscribe to Linux newsletters. Sorry guys, but that was a marketing blunder. As a matter of policy, I never give business to anyone who advertises with unsolicited commercial email.

But wow, the market for Linux must really be growing.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 05:32 PM EST [Link]

I had the misfortune to walk by a TV set the other day when Generalissimo El Busho was pontificating that he would "listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer" in place of his vague Social Security notions. (It's hardly a "plan" at this stage.)

I have no staff of advisers, nor a degree in economics....but at the risk of being branded a gradualist, let me offer this modest proposal:

1. Immediately require that all Social Security benefits be paid entirely from FICA "contributions," and that should there be a shortfall, either benefits must decrease or the FICA tax must be raised. 2. Allow anyone at any time to immediately opt out of the Social Security plan, at which time that person will no longer be required to pay FICA tax, will forfeit all past "contributions," and will forfeit all claim to future Social Security benefits.

Posted by brad @ 12:06 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cartoons: Gary Varvel's "Dean Scream"; Glenn McCoy's "Getting Ugly"; Ted Rall's "Democracy v. Dictatorship"; and Mark Fiore's latest animation "Crazy George".

Posted by mac @ 10:08 AM EST [Link]

Regarding computer backups, a good friend (and computer pro) wrote in to remind me that, if you have a USB port, there are many external USB drives that you can connect to your computer. He uses a 160GB USB hard drive for backup, but I believe you can also find USB CD writers and even USB Zip drives. One nice aspect of a USB hard drive is that you can carry it around to back up several different computers.

He also mentions that it's a good idea to periodically back up your data to a removable medium (like CD-ROM) and store it safely "off-site" (e.g. in a safe deposit box). I quite agree! But first you need to develop the backup habit.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:36 AM EST [Link]

Yet another browser spoofing bug, affecting Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, and Konqueror, but not Internet Explorer. This uses international character sets to display a phony address in the address bar. Test your browser here. Until a fix is available, don't follow links from untrusted sources to banks, eBay, PayPal, etc. Always use your own bookmarks -- or type the address yourself -- to visit such sites.     —brad

P.S. Windows users should not be complacent: Microsoft just released eight "critical" updates. Get patchin', folks.

Posted by brad @ 09:27 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

OMB Watch reports, "A bill [H.R.418, the Real ID Act] to establish national identification card standards and restrict asylum claims also contains a controversial provision to empower the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any and all laws in the course of securing the borders from illegal immigration. The provision also includes an exemption from judicial review that not only shields the waiver decisions from court scrutiny but also strips courts of any power to order remedies for anyone harmed by the consequences of such decisions." To quote the provision... [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:58 PM EST [Link]

You wouldn't have noticed, but Wendy's hard drive failed about ten days ago, making her computer unable to even boot the operating system.

Fortunately I'd just done her weekly backup to CD-ROM, and I was ready with Plan A: restore her files to our laptop so she could keep working. But she really prefers her desktop to the laptop, so she took a few hours' break while I proceeded to Plan B. This involved using a Linux Crash Recovery Kit to format some spare partitions on her hard drive (which I had prudently left available), installing Linux on a new partition (upgrading to Xandros 3 in the process), and then copying her (still-readable) personal files from the old partition to the new. (Plan C involves a new hard drive, which I've bought and will install any day now, because the old drive's days seem to be numbered.)

The reason I indulge in this orgy of self-congratulation is that we just heard from one of our correspondents that his hard drive failed. No backups. No contingency plan. In a word: screwed.

He claims to have been unable to afford even the most inexpensive backup device for his computer. So, on the assumption that there are others in similar straits, let me outline a variety of backup devices and techniques that are very light on the pocketbook. Some of them do require a bit of effort; this of course is always the tradeoff. [more]

Posted by brad @ 11:50 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

I;ve just been alerted to an interesting blog: Kama: Devadasi Escort, which describes itself as "the personal diary and commentary of an Indian Devadasi escort living and working in the UK. I am hoping that this Blog will let me record my experiences and feelings about being young, foreign, and selling sex in the UK." As someone who has interviewed hundreds of sex workers, the blog has a feeling of being real to me. [BTW, EE WG means Eastern Europe Working Girl.]

Posted by mac @ 02:53 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. sends along the following alert from the organization "DownsizeDC". Hmm...the goal of downsizing to "zero" has a nice ring about it. Since people were urged to pass it along, the alert is reproduced in full... [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:46 PM EST [Link]

The irreplaceable Claire Wolfe announces a new blog by a young libertarian woman of whom we will be hearing much in the future. At least, it is to be devoutly hoped. Welcome aboard the Freedom Train Lightning and forgive my arrogance/ignorance if you've been a co-rider for some time. The blog is called The Freedom Outlaw.

Posted by mac @ 02:32 PM EST [Link]

Harry Browne - not the former LP Presidential candidate but a lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Technology - has an article in the most recent CounterPunch (one of my favorite ezines), which is entitled "Don't Get Back on that Plane". It reports on a situation of which I was unaware. Namely, the attempt by Irish peace activists to convince American military personel "to seek official refuge while their planes refuel and they are let wander through the lounges" of Shannon Airport, a small civilian airport in Ireland where American military planes routinely land. Last year, 158,549 US troops passed through the airport. According to Browne, "The invitation for some of these troops effectively to desert comes from members of the Irish parliament and even a former Irish army commandant, Ed Horgan." Meanwhile, no news on Jeremy Hinzman, the American deserter who is seeking asylum in Canada from returning to Iraq. His case is still pending.

Posted by mac @ 02:18 PM EST [Link]

Cartoons!: Ben Sargent's "Death Threat"; Ted Rall's "Once they Are Us?"; and, Dan Wasserman's "American Education".

Posted by mac @ 01:50 PM EST [Link]

Apparently upset that the U.S. has taken the lead in the Total Surveillance Olympics, the Germans have decided to go Big Brother, big time, for the 2006 World Cup.

To apply for a ticket you have to give your name, address, nationality, which team you want to support and your bank details. You must also supply your ID or passport number and your birth date.

Assuming you are successful, you receive a fully personalized ticket containing an RFID chip; this enables authorities to check the ticket against your passport. Very little information resides on the chip: the identity check is conducted against a database at the German Football Association (DFB).

Ostensibly this is because of the "delicate security concerns" (read: terrorist bugaboos) of the event. I'd guess it's more likely intended to kill any aftermarket for ticket resale. Either way, that's not the kind of information I'd want the DFB to have in their computers-of-doubtful-security.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 12:45 PM EST [Link]

Monday, February 7, 2005

Firefox/Thunderbird followup... a reader wrote me to report of the problems he's had with Firefox:

It moves so slowly that it reminds me of AOL on dialup 7 years ago. Also, it frequently (more than 1/2 the time) 'can not find' the webpages I have been visiting for years. It usually will 'find' them when I hit 'refresh'.

I don't know if that's the Linux, Mac, or Windows version. All I can say is, there's a reason "YMMV" (Your Mileage May Vary) became an acronym. Try both Opera and Firefox, and use the one that works best for you.

Posted by brad @ 05:02 PM EST [Link]

And, just because I like to post one absurd item a day, this comes from the Gawker: Smelly Panties (In a Good Way! [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:44 PM EST [Link]

"Juan Cole looks like a professor and acts like a professor, but don't let that fool you--he actually is a professor. But that doesn't mean he's incapable of administering a righteous punk smackdown. Get his glasses steamed, and he'll punt you into the next time zone, as Jonah Goldberg has just learned to his bruised chagrin..." [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:55 AM EST [Link]

The following list of Libertarian Talk Radio comes courtesy of Thomas Knapp: [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:03 AM EST [Link]

Tom Tomorrow's latest cartoon "Mr. Bobo". For the political junkies: Kerry makes his first major media appearance since the election in a five-page interview for the Boston Globe. Read his version of what went wrong.

Baghdad Burning, a blog I've mentioned repeatedly, is maintained by a woman in her 20s who resides in that city. It provides an invaluable window into the living conditions endured by Iraqis even years after the war's destruction of infrastructures that were supposed to have been rebuilt long ago. The most recent blog entry opens: Water Anxiety...I have to make this fast. We have about two hours of electricity- hopefully. The water came back yesterday evening. It's just a little drizzle but it's certainly better than nothing. E. was the first to hear it. We were sitting in the living room and he suddenly jumped up, alert, "Do you hear that?" He asked. I strained my ears for either the sound of a plane or helicopter or gun shots. Nothing... except, wait... something... like a small stream of... water? Could it be? Was it back? We both ran into the bathroom where we had the faucets turned on for the last eight days in anticipation of water. Sure enough, there it was- a little stream of water that kept coming and going as if undecided. E. and I did a little victory dance in front of the sink with some celebratory hoots and clapping. For the entire blog entry, click here.

Posted by mac @ 09:38 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 6, 2005

A libertarian professor, Hans-Hermann Hoppe of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas needs your support against a politically-correct denial of his freedom of speech which could damage his standing at UNLV. I reproduce, with permission, the alert offered on Stephan Kinsella's personal blog.

Posted by mac @ 08:56 PM EST [Link]

I am currently reading Stephen Cox's biography of Isabel Paterson "The Woman and the Dynamo" from Transaction Publishers and it is a remarkable book that I recommend to anyone interested in intellectual history, individualist feminism or libertarianism. One of the remarkable aspects of the work is how damned well written it is. I was originally drawn to the work... [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:53 AM EST [Link]

First IBM, now Novell is developing a sense of humor. In the wake of Microsoft's termination of support for Windows NT, Novell produced this Flash video (broadband connection recommended). Thanks to Steve C. for sending us this.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:23 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, February 5, 2005

When I was skimming the background briefing on the Bush Social Security plan, I missed a major gotcha:

Now, the way that election is structured, the person comes out ahead if their personal account exceeds a 3 percent real rate of return, which is the rate of return that the trust fund bonds receive. So, basically, the net effect on an individual's benefits would be zero if his personal account earned a 3 percent real rate of return. To the extent that his personal account gets a higher rate of return, his net benefit would increase as a consequence of making that decision.

"Real rate of return" means that your investments have to pay 3% above inflation in order for you to receive the same level of benefits. But when they quote the numbers for their investment funds, they quote nominal returns (not counting inflation). Bear in mind that we're entering a period of high inflation...and that the inflation rate is (to some extent) under the control of the feds. If they need to reduce the amount they pay out of your "personal" retirement account, all they need to do is crank inflation up a notch. (This is offset by the fact the conventional SS benefits are inflation-adjusted, so they'll incur a cost there.)

So that's at least four ways I've seen that they can rip off your "personal account" savings: reduce your principal by a 3%-compounded amount, tax your investment returns, extend the annuity duration, and hike the inflation rate. Plus of course they keep your unspent annuity, and reserve the right to change the rules unilaterally later.

Don't call it "privatization." It's nothing of the kind.     —brad

Posted by brad @ 09:12 AM EST [Link]

Microsoft has announced that this year, owners of bootleg copies of Windows will no longer be allowed to download patches and security fixes.

Now, Sir Bill is certainly within his rights to do this. But it gives the lie to his oft-stated (but little-evidenced) claim that Microsoft makes security its top priority. Clearly Microsoft is willing to see hordes of unpatched systems, running their badly-designed software, polluting the Internet with viruses and spam. Remember this the next time you hear their PR spin.

What does this mean for you, the everyday computer user? [more]

Posted by brad @ 08:47 AM EST [Link]

Friday, February 4, 2005

Cartoons: Clay Bennett's "Rebuilding Iraq"; Steve Sack's "Getting Sucked In"; Ben Sargent's "No Self Control"; Tom Toles' "You Never Know"; and, my favorite, Jeff Danziger's "Election Returns".

Posted by mac @ 11:42 PM EST [Link]

Gordon P. writes, "Lawrence Vance fills out a "Report Card" on the 489 pieces of legislation passed by the 108th Congress --- whose acts, arrogance, irresponsibility, and profligance are mind-boggling, appalling, and often revolting. I can summarize my reaction as: <*!grrr*!> :-( <*sigh*> Oh, for a return to the relatively halcyon days of "gridlock"...

Posted by mac @ 02:31 PM EST [Link]

Wendy's blog entry about the Bush Social Security plan prompted my curiosity. Is the proposed deal as shady as it sounds? So I took some time to wade through the lengthy background briefing to see if it offered more detail. [more]

Posted by brad @ 12:39 PM EST [Link]

This insight on the proposed "privatization" of Social Security comes from a post by Matt Stoller on the MyDD blog. Key words: "benefit offset." [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:35 AM EST [Link]

The original artwork on The Free Speech Zone site -- which is free-for-use -- is sometimes comical, sometimes heartbreaking, and often both at once. The slant is antiwar, anti-Bush.

Posted by mac @ 09:24 AM EST [Link]

The following commentary in yesterday's WorldNetDaily should give everyone pause about their investment in U.S. dollars... [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:48 AM EST [Link]

I have a theory: the British Empire conquered and grew because the Brits were searching for edible food. Indeed, they stopped with India because there they found really great curry. When they had to surrender India as a colony, the Brits compensated by passing a law that required an Indian restaurant at every major intersection in England.

I trust a similarly sane motive underlies what otherwise is utter madness on the part of WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah who advocates the conquest of Mexico in today's edition of WND. [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:57 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 3, 2005

The gawker is a mind-candy site that I thoroughly enjoy. One item from today: Janet Jackson’s Breast: What Have You Done For Me Lately? Frank Rich looks at the post-Superbowl XXXVIII career of Janet Jackson’s breast in his Times ‘Arts & Leisure’ column this weekend. According to Rich, it’s been one busy mammary gland: This repressive cultural environment was officially ratified on Nov. 2, when Ms. Jackson’s breast pulled off its greatest coup of all: the re-election of President Bush. Or so it was decreed by the media horde that retroactively declared “moral values” the campaign’s decisive issue and the Super Bowl the blue states’ Waterloo. And then after it got Bush re-elected, it went on to poison Viktor Yushenko. After that, it destroyed the career of Bernie Kerik, followed by snubbing Paul Giamatti for Best Actor. What’s next for this evil breast? Only Nostradamus knows. (Cue: thunder clap, scary music.) The article is entitled "The Year of Living Indecently" [NYT].

And now, in repetence for all that intellectual tooth-decay, here's several substantive sites courtesy of Thomas Knapp... [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:46 PM EST [Link]

Hmmm...the Wonkette reports on an apparent overhaul of the Examiner's identifying eagle. On the front page, it clutches "the traditional left-side olive branches in its talons"; "on the paper's opinion's solely clutching the right-side half-quiver of arrows."

Posted by mac @ 01:15 PM EST [Link]

For those who want to waste some time, here's an addictive shockwave-flash Web Application. Or, in the wake of the POTUS' State of Union address (SOUA), check out the frequency with which Bush used certain words (like Osama) and compare that frequency with former SOUAs since 2001: State of the Union Parsing Tool

Posted by mac @ 11:42 AM EST [Link]

For years I have argued against the idea that "the Personal is Political"; this is the concept that there is no meaningful line between the private and public realms because so-called personal matters (like the uttering a sexist joke) have cumulative political impact on the lives and welfare of others. Therefore, so-called private matters are correctly targets of others in society who a "right" to protect themselves. In some arenas -- e.g. academia -- the concept has been used to eliminate freedom of speech, privacy rights, and the right to free association (aka discrimination). It is with the need for some explanation, therefore, that I make the statement "I consider my personal life to now be a political act." [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:37 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Something about the new year prompts me to start upgrading software. So in the last week, I've downloaded and installed the Thunderbird email program, the Firefox web browser, and the latest Opera web broswer. Here are my initial reactions. [more]

Posted by brad @ 01:17 PM EST [Link]

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