My Archives: November 2003

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Something of a milestone: last week I received over 2000 junk emails. Spam seems to be on an accelerating growth curve. What can be done? [more]

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

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Cartoons of the day: Tom Toles' Iraqopoly; and, Ann Telnaes' Free Speech Vultures [more]

Posted by mac @ 04:51 AM EST [Link]

Friday, November 28, 2003

An update: if you use Microsoft products for your business, no matter how small or large, you must read this article. It's a great summary of the business case for using, or not using, the next round of Microsoft software. Among the warnings:

"Microsoft's expressed goal is elimination of the traditional perpetual license in favor of a lease plan. Failure to renew your lease will render all your software unusable and your business data inaccessible. "

"Microsoft has the right to enter and examine your computer systems and software at any time and make changes, even to disable software -- it's already in the Windows XP and Windows 2000 SP2 EULAs (End User License Agreement)." [more]

Posted by brad @ 12:02 PM EST [Link]

Your cartoon fix: Tom Tomorrow hits one out of the ballpark with "Life in the Bubble"; and Ruben Bolling -- a new cartoonist for me -- offers "Presidential Revisionist Comics". [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:19 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Officials in Los Angeles have called on computer makers to stop using the long-established terms "master" and "slave." This is common usage in the technical world when one device controls a connection and another responds, but I suspect some disk drives have filed a complaint with the Cultural Sensitivity Office saying they feel discriminated against. Sadly, some computer manufacturers are taking this foolishness seriously and looking for alternative, politically-correct labels. I suggest "politician" and "taxpayer."

Here we go again: there's a new computer virus making the rounds. Sysbug-A pretends to be a misdirected email carrying a sexual picture; of course, the picture is really a program that will infect your computer. [more]

Posted by brad @ 05:51 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Cartoons of the Day: Mike Thompson's Buckingham Palace Guards Never Flinch; Tony Auth Recruiting Office"; Jeff Danziger's disturbing Your Tax Dollars at Work; and Ted Ral's subtle At HomeWith Joe Terrorist.And...this for those of you reading McBlog from work where you must be very bored to linger here ;-), here is a site that sends you on whimsical journeys of self discovery. For example, discover What Breed Of Dog Are You?, What's Your True Color?, What Color Is Your Aura?, What is Your Driver's Alter Ego?...and much more.

My hat is off once more to political activist extraordinaire Mary Lou Seymour. Okay, okay...*if* I wore a hat, I'd take it off! She is the antidote to my pessimism about the current political drift, especially in the United States. (BTW, I am not a generally pessimistic person, perhaps because my personal life is so very happy.) Mary Lou finds reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving Day by looking at the wondeful community of friends and fellow-travellers that is made possible by the Internet. And the lady is right. So many people -- including readers of McBlog -- enrich my life in a manner that would have been unimaginable to me six years ago. This is particularly important to me as I live in rural Ontario on a 40-acre farm with my husband, two dogs and five cats; in winter, we are sometimes snowbound and isolated for days on end. And, yet, I never feel cut off from the world, the swirl of friendship and family, the roller coaster ride of politics...because of the Internet community (or communities) which have become my second home. This community is not merely a sustaining force on a personal level, it is also a dynamic political force for freedom. As society in the macrocosm -- the institutions and laws that rule us -- grow ever more discouraging, it is the microcosm -- the blogs, the discussion lists, the rebellious sparks -- that offer encouragement and hope. Thank you. [more]

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

My favorite source for Information Technology news is The Register from the UK. Among other attractions is the sense of humor that occasionally surfaces, as in this farcical item about the US Patent Office allowing numbers to be patented.

More serious is the report that the recent Nachi worm successfully infected some automated teller machines. Fortunately the worm did not specifically target ATMs, and its propagation behavior tripped some security alarms. But this goes to show the vulnerability of computers on the network...even computers that aren't receiving email. This is because computers on the 'net expose a lot of "ports" for communication, and they can provide a point of attack for viruses. [more]

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

Monday, November 24, 2003

Today's cartoons: Gary Varvel's charming "W in a Hat"; and, Matt Davies' "Rush Job".

I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to Brad -- a new and regular contributor to McBlog -- who will bring technological savvy (especially with respect to computer science) to the libertarian opinions expressed here. [more]

Posted by mac @ 12:15 PM EST [Link]

In my previous post I referred to the Groklaw blog. This brings up the whole dreary subject of the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit, and its implications for free (libre) software and intellectual property rights.

Briefly: earlier this year a small software company, SCO (formerly Caldera), sued IBM for contributing software to the Linux operating system. Originally this was a contract dispute: IBM says they own the code they wrote, and SCO says their contract gives the code to them. But SCO has broadened their attack to include many ridiculous claims, e.g., that Linux is pirated from Unix (SCO owns the copyright to certain versions of Unix), or that the Linux software license is unconstitutional. After almost a year they've provided no credible evidence of copyright violation, and -- though I Am Not A Lawyer -- their legal arguments seem to me to be totally without merit.
[more]

Posted by brad @ 06:36 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Wendy has invited me to start contributing to McBlog. For those that only want to read Wendy's posts, mine will appear in a different color, so they'll be easy to identify. My focus is more on tech and science matters, but I've been known to vent my libertarian opinions, so occasionally I may comment about current events like The War. Today, however, a computer diatribe.

Those who are considering an upgrade to their Windows operating system -- or to Office 2003 -- may want to read this article, Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out, on the excellent Groklaw web site. It's lengthy and a bit technical, but the upshot is this: if you think it's difficult to move away from Microsoft now, you ain't seen nothing yet.
[more]

Posted by brad @ 09:01 PM EST [Link]

The blog of libertarian humorist Dave Barry is a hoot! His material appeals *so* directly to my sense of the "real" world as absurd, surreal, and unpredictable... For example, he links to an article under the titled "Modern Funerals" with the intro of: "Whose cell phone is ringing?" "Not mine!" "Not mine either!" "Ohmigod, you don't suppose...." Also, my thanks to Lee K. for forwarding a photo from a Socialist Worker protest that seems to cast Bush as a Social Worker. Lee's right; its funny.

The Nov. 22nd entry for Riverbend -- a "Girl Blog from Iraq" -- comments on yesterday's attacks on hotels that were facilitated by donkeys conveying rocket launchers in their carts. She writes... [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:47 AM EST [Link]

Friday, November 21, 2003

If you have several minutes -- there's a lot of questions! -- take the Geek Test. I scored 31.36095%.

To follow up on the 11/18 blog entry in which I mentioned CNN's curiously wrong reporting on Bush's planned visits to the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq... Bush finally opted to visit the families "privately," foregoing press coverage, undoubtedly because he knew the American families of dead soldiers would be outraged at his extending this courtesy to "foreigners" while utterly ignoring them. Of course, the "solution" wasn't either to cancel the visits or to make similar ones with American families; the solution was to slip the Brit visits in under the American public's awareness radar. The privacy tactic also defused accusations in the UK press about Bush making PR profit off corpses and mothers' tears. It was a smart move; the press that would have emerged from the visits might have been dicey. Some of the family members were already complaining to newspapers, blaming Bush for their sons' deaths and accusing him of selecting only families that wouldn't embarrass him on camera. Better to turn the cameras off than to risk comments that weren't scripted. At least, in its one-line report, CNN got it right yesterday: Bush visited the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, not civilians killed in 9-11. CNN's report on the protest march in the streets of London on Thursday was not so accurate... [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:51 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Don't plan to be raped, mugged, or murdered in Britain in the next few days because the police will be otherwise occupied. According to the Independent, "One in nine police officers in England and Wales will be protecting George Bush on his state visit to Britain...The bill will run to at least 7m, and the British taxpayer will pay for it." Doing the conversion...that's $11,921,020.57 USD at the current exchange rate. Words fail. Those who know me understand the uniqueness of this circumstance.

Fast...where are the cartoons!? Chuck Asay's latest The Economy Can Walk captures the Bush administration's joy at the least flicker of life-support in the economy they are killing; Jonik's Democracy -- Your Choice illustrates what I believe voting does about that or any other situation. Which leads me into the next section of my blog.... [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:52 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Cartoon Fix: Tom Toles' "Lightning May Strike" and Ann Telnaes' "Pass it Along" both comment on what appears to be a dramatic shift in Bush's attitude toward Iraq from 2003-2004. (Bush denies that he is planning to withdraw US troops from Iraq, BTW.) Dick Wright's latest cartoon "Trapped" offers insight into why the troops may be staying. For a touch of the surreal...an animation on economists.

Bush is in Buck House, safely sequestered from protestors and other inconvenient realities including Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, who has publicly called Bush the "greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen"... The next 24 hours should be eventful but, for the moment, I want to update some comments from my last two blogs. I mentioned that prominent British politicians are threatening to influence the 2004 US Presidential election by slapping tariffs on key swing states in an attempt to punish Bush for his tariff on British steel and to win those states for the Democrats who would, presumably, repeal the offending measure. Now... [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:14 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Fascinating. The last two blogs have ranted about Bush's high-profile planned visits with family members of British soldiers who have been killed in Iraq, an act of compassion that he has carefully and conspicuously*not* extended to American families. He doesn't want to even admit that "transfer tubes" -- Bush-speak for body bags -- are coming home and has virtually muzzled the press in that area. After posting today's earlier blog, I was slurping my morning coffee while listening to the 6:30 Headline News CNN/Atlanta (not the much superior CNN International) when a statement eliminated the need for caffeine. The broadcaster stated that Bush would be visiting the families of British victims of *9-11*! The British press is/was extremely clear; Bush would visit with families of soldiers killed in Iraq. Several explanations are possible: CNN got it wrong or whitewashed the story; the Bush administration sent out an inaccurate press release for domestic consumption; realizing how bad this makes Bush look, a quick shift of plans occurred. I'm going to follow this thread...

Posted by mac @ 07:30 AM EST [Link]

EARLIER POSTED BLOG

Can McBlog be far behind? Beat the rush and contribute to my legal defense fund right now at the paypal button on the front page! ;-)

Here's some questions I'd like to hear asked at Bush's next press conference. [more]

Posted by mac @ 04:13 AM EST [Link]

Monday, November 17, 2003

Cartoon fix for the day: Stuart Carlson's "Mission Accomplished"; and Tom Toles' take on the same subject.

The White House provided us with its own caricature a few days ago at a scheduled press conference. The Antic Muse advises, "This exchange between Scott McClelland and Helen Thomas [veteran journalist] really needs to be read in its entirety to grasp the deep, black cynicism that characterizes the Bush administration's view, but as a public service, we here at Muse HQ provide the following truncated version -- edited but not altered: You Can Say One Thing for the Man, He Stays on Message." [more]

Posted by mac @ 02:58 PM EST [Link]

Friday, November 14, 2003

I don't know why I consider the following story to be so funny...it may be nothing more than my being punchy from working through the wee hours of the morning. Or perhaps it is the stark contrast the story offers to the continuing demand that slave descendants in the U.S. receive restitution. Here goes: "Villagers in a remote Fijian community staged an elaborate ceremony of apology yesterday for the relatives of a British missionary killed and eaten here 136 years ago." I mean, what would such an apology sound like: "I'm sorry I ate your family member. Perhaps you will be comforted by the fact he was delicious."

The death toll in Iraq now exceeds that of the first 3 years in Vietnam. But, as the UK Independent notes, "Concern about fatalities among Western forces in Iraq tends to overlook another ghastly statistic: the spectacularly mounting toll of the severely wounded....America's invisible army of maimed and crippled servicemen." Meanwhile, the Bush administration shows its concern, as MSNBC reports. "Soldiers with the National Guard are already under the gun in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now a new government report claims that while the troops are fighting far from home, red tape is preventing many of them from being paid." [more]

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

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Cartoons to start your day....Paul Szep's latest, "Multi-Billion Dollar Double Dutch," comments on the vigorous opinions everyone seems to have of the Reagon "docudrama" even tho' next to no one has see it; and, Walt Handelsman's "Master and Commander in Chief" lampoons Bush's "perspective" on how the media is exaggerating the problem in Iraq. [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:00 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"With Veterans Day upon us, we should all pause and reflect on the carnage wrought in the US - Iraq War. Nearly 400 US soldiers are dead, and more than 7,500 have been medically evacuated. This means the total number of US casualties is nearly 8,000 in less than eight months ..." Although the original article by Esther Schrader that offers these figures appeared in the Los Angeles Times, I have linked to the information from the excellent Veterans for Common Sense site. (The Times requires registration and is ephemeral.) The VCS article proceeds from the summary directly into a separate article subtitled: "With the number of amputees and burn victims from Iraq, the military's medical system is waging its own war." It is a disturbing read that inspires almost automatic hostility toward the Bush administration and its professed concern for Americans in Iraq. No wonder the administration has a news black out on returning wounded, on returning coffins. No wonder blatantly false stories -- like the "heroism" of Jessica Lynch -- are widely circulated by White House officials. And, no, I am not bashing Lynch. It required a great deal of courage for her to stand up and contradict the glamorized version of her brutalization. Usually the lying takes place by omission, however, and that is far more difficult to correct. Those of us who have a satellite dish or other means of accessing both CNN/Atlanta and CNN International have known for many months that the news presented to Americans by the former is dramatically different than that broadcast abroad by the latter...both in quality and content. The quality of the US version is watered down and dissolves into pure entertainment as often as not. The content skirts anything too critical of Bush and many relevant stories go simply unreported. One of the brightest hopes for truth to emerge may well be the CIA -- (I can't believe I'm writing these words!) -- and the agency's disgust with how the administration has rejected its advice, outed an agent, shifted blame onto CIA shoulders, etc. etc. In an article in the UK Independent, Andrew Gumbel quotes Ray McGovern who worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years, as saying: "The intelligence process is a bit like virginity. Once you prostitute it, it's never the same. Your credibility never recovers. Watching what has happened with Iraq over the past several months has been like watching your daughter being raped." Gumbel comments, "Such is an indication of the extraordinary depth of feeling within the US intelligence community as the Bush administration's basis for the war in Iraq - the weapons of mass destruction, the dark hint of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida - has been shown to have been built on air." Maybe truth will rise out of the cracks widening between DC agencies. [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:02 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Delightful. Take the "Are You a Patriot?" quiz offered in cartoon form by Mark Fiore and find out where you score on a scale of 1-10. BTW, today's blog will be brief because, under my score, was a government order "to report to the nearest Federal Prosecutor's office to answer a few simple questions." [more]

Posted by mac @ 05:32 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Yesterday, I promised movie reviews and -- like the over-achiever I am -- I deliver movies instead! ;-) For example, download a free viewing of
Nosferatu (1922)-- the classic re-telling of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" -- courtesy of Lennane Communications and Jef Films, 80 minutes. Or Reefer Madness (1936) -- the hilarious campy classic, with clean-cut teenagers becoming criminal lunatics after taking several puffs of marijuana -- courtesy Moore Video, 64 minutes. [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:39 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

The media continues its blackout on wounded American soldiers and on the ones who are not so "lucky" -- the ones returning to their broken-hearted families in body bags. Oops...returning in "transfer tubes." That's how desperate the Bush administration is to hide the bodies of Americans who die making Iraq safe for Halliburton's profits; there are no more "body bags," only "transfer tubes." And, if you want to read how Americans like Charles H. Buehring finally came home you have to read independent or foreign new sources, like the Toronto Star. It reports on Buehring: "He arrived at the air force base in Dover, Del., in the middle of the night, in an aluminum shipping case draped in an American flag....America never saw Lt.-Col. Buehring's arrival, days after a rocket from a homemade launcher ended his life at age 40 in Baghdad's heavily fortified Rasheed Hotel last Monday. Americans have never seen any of the other 359 bodies returning from Iraq. Nor do they see the wounded cramming the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington or soldiers who say they are being treated inhumanely awaiting medical treatment at Fort Stewart, Ga. In order to continue to sell an increasingly unpopular Iraqi invasion to the American people, President George W. Bush's administration sweeps the messy parts of war the grieving families, the flag-draped coffins, the soldiers who have lost limbs into a far corner of the nation's attic. No television cameras are allowed at Dover. Bush does not attend the funerals of soldiers who gave their lives in his war on terrorism. Buehring of Winter Springs, Fla., described as "a great American" by his commanding officer, had two sons, 12 and 9, was active in the Boy Scouts and his church and had served his country for 18 years. No government official has said a word publicly about him." [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:06 AM EST [Link]

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