Tuesday, March 2, 2010
So, Focus on the Family gets its ad pulled from the NCAA website, and the American Family Association throws a hissy fit. "The censorship of Christians continues," blah blah blah.
But, of course, that's not what's happening here. As the AFA states, the ad was taken down "for one simple reason: Focus on the Family supports natural marriage, believing that marriage is the union of one man and one woman." Now, that may or may not be true (I've learned not to trust the AFA to accurately report the facts), but if it is, then it's hardly Christians that are being "censored," just bigots. But apparently the AFA has a hard time telling the difference.
And just as a thought experiment, can you imagine the AFA running an ad on its website in favor of gay marraige? Yeah, I didn't think so. Who's the censor now?
Freedom of speech means the freedom not to say certain things, as the AFA itself has argued in the past. But now, they conveniently forget that logic, and all in the name of discrimination. Nice work.
Monday, January 4, 2010
With all the news coming out of Yemen, it good to know that our nation's decision to spend upwards of $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan to deny terrorists a "safe haven" from which to launch attacks on the US appears to be a huge success.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today began particularly unpleasantly. After yesterday's repeated vomiting (and cats do vomit on occasion), Mary noticed early this morning that — how can I put this — our cat Mirabella had about two inches of holiday package ribbon protruding from her butt. Needless to say, Bella was not happy about this, and managed to drag her poo-covered ribbon all around the house.
Once we saw what was going on, we packed her up and drove her to the vet. We explained that our cat likes to eat things, like paper, string, and apparently, ribbons. And they explained to us that the initial tests indicated some problematic blood work, and probable blockage in the small intestine. They recommended surgery.
We signed off on the procedure, and then we waited. The surgery wasn't scheduled until the afternoon. At 5pm we couldn't bear it any longer and called — she was in surgery then, and we were told we should hear back from the doctor once she comes out of the anesthetic. We waited until 8:30pm and called the emergency line at the vet.
To our vet's credit, we got a call back within five minutes, and got the word that everything went almost as well as could be expected. The best-case scenario wouldn't have involved incision into the intestine, but apparently there wasn't a resection of the intestine, and there shouldn't be any lasting issues. Mary and I will most likely pick her up in the morning.
Our New Years plans for a trip to the beach have been cancelled; we will be spending the holiday in Charlotte tending to a recovering cat, making sure that all ribbons are accounted for. We'll keep you posted. Have a Happy New Year.
Friday, December 25, 2009
My day was good, so I hope yours was too. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all.
As you've noticed, my blogging here has been reduced to a bare minimum. If you care to follow my random rantings, they are now to be found almost exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. Time to join the 21st Century on the eve of its second decade.
At some point, I will update this blog's software so that it is more usable by me, and used more by me, I promise. Well, it's a new year's resolution, so whatever that is worth these days.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The kitchen is busy at Chez Folley, as we perpare for my family's arrival. The lamb is in the oven, and the cranberry upside down cake is looking lovely. I hope everyone has a great holiday!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Off to a Late Start
According to the email I received yesterday from the American Family Association, "the first battle of the 2009 Christmas culture war is here!" Obviously, this is good news for the AFA, since I bet they do quite nicely raising money to battle the "militant atheists" in our midst.
It strikes me, though, that this year's Christmas culture war is off to a rather late start. Last year, I think it started in August. The question that demands to be answered here is whether there is less hatred of Jesus this season, or whether the AFA has fallen down on the job. Or maybe everyone has been too distracted preparing for the death panels that the Christmas culture war just got lost in the shuffle.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Back from Canada
Mary and I just spent the last 10 days in the Great White North, specifically the French-speaking portion thereof. We started in Montreal, took the train to Quebec City for a couple of days, and then returned to Montreal for a final night before our flight home. Lots of good food, lots of good wine, and lots of good pictures; if we ever get organized, we might even put some of the pictures up online somewhere.
No idea where we are headed for next year, but I've made an early New Year's resolution to work on my Italian, just in case.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Not Sure This Helps
In SC, the Republican gubernatorial candidates are concerned about the reputation of their state:
"The fact that we are a joke now nationally is a problem," Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said.
Said state Sen. Larry Grooms, "I am sick and I am tired of us being a laughingstock."
All well and good. However, I'm not sure taking stances like these will do much to repair the state's good name:
[Attorney General Henry] McMaster invoked John C. Calhoun and states rights to nullify federal laws as he talked about the importance of fighting the federal government's spending requirements as he answered a question about building a state militia to keep federal authority in check.
"And I think we have to fight it every turn. I wouldn't fight it with bullets, but I'd fight it with everything else we have," McMaster said.
Or like this:
Republican candidates for years have faced questions about the Confederate flag that now flies at a monument on Statehouse grounds. On Tuesday were asked if they would reopen the debate on removing the banner that's at the center of a nine-year-old NAACP state boycott.
"That debate as far as I am concerned is settled," Grooms said. "I want to lead us on a path of prosperity instead of dredging up old wounds."
States' rights and the Confederate flag... really? You'd think a bloody Civil War and 140 years would have put those things behind us.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I Agree With All of This
Matthew Yglesias says:
How to deal with long-term deficits is, of course, complicated and controversial. And yet it’s also in a way quite simple. We need to reform health care to slow the cost growth of Medicare and Medicaid. We need to steadily reduce defense spending as a share of GDP. We need higher taxes. And we need to reform the tax code to make it more efficient so that the higher taxes are economically viable. Given continued economic growth, future Americans will enjoy both more public services and more private consumption than current Americans. The politics, of course, is a different and more difficult matter.
Raise my taxes, for heaven's sake. Really. I'm not completely selfish.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Better Senate Wanted
I can understand the desire to make health care reform a "bipartisan" effort. I disagree with it tremendously, but I can understand where the impulse comes from. However, I really do have to wonder why the Senate Democrats decided that this clown needed to be a key part of the process.
Then again, if you've already decided that bipartisanship is a priority, then there aren't really a lot of "better" Republicans to negotiate with. Given that key members of the GOP leadership have said in no uncertain terms that their goal is to kill health insurance reform dead dead dead, who do you talk to? At most, you can expect that one, maybe two Senate Republicans will vote in favor of a reform bill, no matter how watered down it is. So, in practical terms, most of the people you are "negotiating" with aren't going to vote in favor of the compromise they worked on.
The Senate is a truly weird institution.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Weekend Reading Assignment
I'm a little late to the Taibbi/Goldman Sachs party, but if you are like I was yesterday and haven't read the article yet, please do. Normally, I would include a pithy quote as an incentive, but given that I kept revising my idea of what that quote should be every third paragraph, I recommend that you just read the whole thing.
When you're done, you might want to stop by the Columbia Journalism Review and read Dean Starkman's review of Taibbi's article. He takes a good look at the reaction in the last month to Taibbi's article, and the results are instructive.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Stay Classy, Kay
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson's run for Texas governor is off to a smooth start:
A web site for the gubernatorial campaign of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) included hidden phrases including "rick perry gay," a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman discovered today.
This promises to be a very nasty campaign. I can't wait.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Shatner Does Palin
While it bothers me that NBC forced YouTube to take down its copy of this video, Shatner reciting Sarah Palin's resignation speech as a piece of beat poetry nevertheless deserves a wide audience.
The Shat makes everything better, doesn't he?
Friday, July 3, 2009
You've heard the news by now that Sarah Palin is stepping down as governor of Alaska. If you haven't seen her announcement, however, take a look and see if you can make any sense out of what she's saying. I'm not having much luck.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Obligatory June Post
So, anything interesting happen this month?
Nothing much to report here, but I didn't want to dis June by passing over it entirely without popping up from below to say "Hi." Everyone's still happy, healthy, and gainfully employed, and the cat continues to extend her level of dominance over us. (Sunday, Mary caught Bella trying to open a closet door, up on her hind legs with her paws on the doorknob. We're doomed.)
Have a good 4th, everyone!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Keeping up with the state of the Sotomayor nomination is difficult. Who just called her a racist? Was that the same person who said she spoke "illegal alien?" And who's jumped on board the "summa cum laude from Princeton means she's stupid" train? It's hard to tell the players without a scorecard. Fortunately, the folks at Media Matters have launched a new subsite to help you track the day's highlights (or lowlights). Good stuff.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Fact of the Day
According to Matthew Yglesias, a foreign policy writer by vocation, and an urbanist by avocation, "almost 30 percent of traffic in crowded urban areas is people circling for parking." Wow, that's a lot.
Monday, May 25, 2009
When I was a kid, I spent a summer reading everything I could on nuclear reactors and nuclear energy. Power was supposed to be too cheap to meter, the reactors were supposed to be super-safe, and technology would solve the waste problem. The future looked good.
Needless to say, things didn't work out that way. Nuclear power turned out to be expensive, reactors weren't as safe as advertised, and the waste problem is still with us. Oh well.
Should global warming cause the US to reconsider the nuclear option in our post-Three Mile Island world? A report just out from MIT says no: too slow, too expensive, too many problems. The situation for Europe, historically more pro-nuclear than here, is no different. Says Dr. Steven Thomas at the University of Greenwich:
It seems to me highly unlikely that [investing in nuclear power] is the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Put that money in other sources, such as energy efficiency and renewables, and get a much better return on your money.
I'm willing to give up my childhood obession with atomic power for the good of the planet, but I still have my heart set on a flying car. How's that coming?
So why would Dick Cheney, the man behind the curtain, who was perfectly happy to hang out in an undisclosed location for much of the last eight years, suddenly decide to hit the talk show circuit? Theories abound, but here's a new wrinkle: he's apparently shopping for a publisher for his memoirs. There's nothing like a bit of controversy to increase interest, eh?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Welcome to Summer
As all of my beloved TV series head into reruns for the next several months, what is there to look forward to watching on the boob tube? Not much, according to Entertainment Weekly. One of its "picks of the week" is a spelling bee. Now, I'm a big geek, but somehow I just can't get psyched for this.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Taking Away My Miles?
Yesterday in the NYT, there was a dire warning about what would happen if credit card reform legislation was passed.
"It will be a different business," said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, which has been lobbying Congress for more lenient legislation on behalf of the nation's biggest banks. "Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems."
In order to recoup profits lost because of the new regulations, companies would be forced to increase annual fees and cut back on rewards programs. These companies don't want to take these steps, industry analysts assure us, but their hands will be tied by the bumbling bureaucrats of big government. Tragic, no?
Now, my first reaction to this story was to call bullshit, because what the industry is really saying is that right now, it's voluntarily passing up profits that it could be generating from its customers because it doesn't need the money. But seriously, does anyone really believe that the credit card companies are leaving money on the table out of the goodness of their corporate hearts? Of course not. If they would see additional profits by making these changes, they will make them whether or not the reform bill becomes law.
It was therefore good to see that the Times followed up today with a piece by columnist Ron Lieber that describes these threats by the credit card industry as just so much "sabre-rattling." It's worth a read.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Clean Air Act
Who would have thunk it, but the NC House yesterday passed a smoking ban in bars and restaurants. The bill now goes to the Governor, who has said she will sign it. Hurray!
The ban will take effect January 2, 2010. I wish it were sooner, but just a few months ago, I wouldn't have bet we'd get anything like this for at least another five years. Old "habits" die hard in a state as tied to tobacco as this one is.
As a bonus, the bill also allows local governments to enact more stringent anti-smoking rules. Some of the narrow exceptions contained in the state-wide law could potentially be closed in Charlotte by the City Council. More hurray!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
More Golf, Less Talk About Golf
I admit it, I love the Golf Channel, especially on Thursday and Friday when I can watch the European and PGA tours as I slave away at my day job.
I realize that liking to watch golf makes me a bit of an oddball. Many people find it boring, but I don't. However, what I do find boring in the endless talk about golf that the Golf Channel fills their day with. Enough already.
There is a lot of golf out there, so show more of it. I, and I suspect most fans, don't really care what Tiger had for breakfast, and don't want to spend ten minutes watching people speculate about Phil Mickelson's head cold. We'd rather watch what's happening on the Nationwide Tour, or the LPGA, or the Asian Tour, or any number of other tours that play each week around the world. And unfortunately, a lot of that play just isn't broadcast.
CBS and NBC, I'm talking to you, too. And Johnny Miller, especially, you should really think about shutting up a lot of the time.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Inez Tenenbaum to the CPSC
The first person I ever worked for in politics, Inez Tenenbaum, has been nominated to head up the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Obama pledged to increase the funding for the agency and end the cosy relationship that it's had with industry during the Bush years. This nomination proves he's serious.
Best of luck, Inez!
I'm not sure how long it's been around, but I recently discovered Wordplay, the NYT's crossword blog. Resident cruciverbalist Jim Horne writes about each day's puzzle with a mix of commentary and interesting tidbits (e.g. today's puzzle is the first Will Shortz puzzle to use DANGER as an answer). Spoiler alert — answers are revealed, so make sure you do the puzzle before reading the corresponding entry.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Over Their Heads
I really don't know what to say about this new study that shows that conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe that Steven Colbert is actually a real right-winger.
Then again, I imagine that I'm more likely than conservatives to think that many right-wingers lack the mental capacity to recognize satire when they see it.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
On Twitter, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) announced that during a recent hearing, he "baffled the Energy Sec with a basic question — Where does oil come from?" Barton then posted this video as proof of his claim.
Now, it's hard to explain Barton's reaction to Chu's answer without noting that Barton seems to be completely ignorant of modern geology. I suspect that Barton, who doesn't know much about climate science either, was trying to make some point about global warming not being a big deal, since, um, the Arctic was once tropical, or something.
Now, Congressmen say dumb stuff all the time in extemporaneous contexts — we all do. But I have to wonder where the hell Barton's staff was afterwards? A key part of their job is to keep their boss from looking (more) like an idiot, but either no one saw the problem, or Barton is as stubborn as he is stupid and ordered them to promote an episode that is actually the opposite of what he thinks it is. Either way, I kind of feel sorry for everyone in that office.
Monday, April 20, 2009
"The Good of the Company"
This seems to be a concept that top Chrysler executives don't really understand. According to the Washington Post:
Top officials at Chrysler Financial turned away a $750 million government loan because executives didn't want to abide by new federal limits on pay, sources familiar with the matter say. [...]
In forgoing the loan, Chrysler Financial opted to use more expensive financing from private banks, adding to the burdens of the already fragile automaker and its financing company.
In a way, I can understand the reluctance on the part of these executives to agree to compensation limits. On the other hand, if I had helped drive my company into the ground, I wouldn't expect to have any compensation because I would expect to have been already fired. But the rules are clearly different at the top of the totem pole where there are apparently no performance reviews. Or any accountability, really.
Stop Making Sense
Via Kevin Drum, is this story from New Scientist on "13 things that do not make sense." And if you watched "60 Minutes" last night, you won't be surprised to find cold fusion clocking in at #13. Apparently, there is some there there, only no one can explain why or how.
Jane and Fredo
I'm not sure what the final version of this story will look like, but the first draft is pretty damning to everyone involved. In it, we have Democrat Jane Harman getting caught on an NSA wiretap doing a little national-security quid pro quo with an Israeli "agent," and Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzales kicking the resulting investigation to the curb in return for Harman agreeing to become a defender of the administration's illegal wiretapping.
There seems to be some serious questions about whether the "agent" was actually an agent of Israel or just a well-connected private citizen. And Harman's always been a national security hawk, so it suprised no one at the time when she defended the NSA program -- she didn't need Gonzales to convince her. Lots of unresolved issues here.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
It pains me a little to say this, since I have family in Texas, but this list of reasons why a Texas-less US would be a better place is pretty compelling.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Dancing on the Grave
With Microsoft due to release Internet Explorer 8 at the end of the month, the web development world is getting all excited about what we will finally be able to do once IE6 dips below the market-share threshold that makes it safe to ignore. And after reading stuff like this, I got a little excited, too.
But then reality kicked in, on a couple of different levels. First, I don't think we'll be saying goodbye to IE6 anytime soon. It still has around 20% market share, and while that's going down, it probably has more to do with people getting rid of old PCs than it does with people upgrading. Some people don't upgrade ever; others are locked in with what their corporate IT department gives them. My personal guess? It will be a year before we get below 5%, and another year until we hit 1%, which is my personal "ignore it" threshold.
Second, most of the "cool things" mentioned in that list I linked to above are already doable, just not doable as easily as they should be. The only item that really makes sense is the time savings from not having to support this frustrating browser. The last 12 hours spent on my day job has been browser testing 4 new client sites, with 90% of that time being spent on fixing bugs in IE6. Not a great way to spend a day and a half, but given the amount of time dedicated to this project, it probably amounts to around 2% of the total development time. Not that big a deal.
A few years ago, the webdev community had a similar experience with the death of IE5. As a result, my CSS was cleaner, and I saved some time with browser testing, but it didn't really expand my creative universe all that much. The thing is, I work in a distributed community with lots of very smart people, who are good at finding ways around limitations. And so, when IE6 finally dies, it just really won't be a big deal. I won't miss it, mind you, but I'm not losing any sleep because of it now.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Calm, Cool, Collected
That's not an apt description of my Senator, Richard Burr (R-NC). Here's his response to the start of the financial crisis last fall, in his own words:
"On Friday night, I called my wife and I said, 'Brooke, I am not coming home this weekend. I will call you on Monday. Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take," Burr said, according to the Hendersonville Times-News. "And I want you to tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday.' I was convinced on Friday night that if you put a plastic card in an ATM machine the last thing you were going to get was cash."
Apparently, the Senator was unaware of the FDIC. He also seemed to be unaware that crazy talk about banks by a US Senator might spur the a run on those banks, the exact reaction that he was so afraid might happen. So basically, Senator Burr is unaware. Fortuntely, he's up in 2010. I think it's time for him to go.
Quote of the Day
David Schuster of MSNBC, talking about Wednesday's absurd TEA parties, brought up an important logistical issue:
...if you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around the country, you’re going to need a Dick Armey.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
It's been another long weekend working on the software for this site. And let me just say that authentication is a lot harder than it should be. But hey, bygones.
I still have comments and trackbacks to do, plus some backend reporting, if I'm going to get this thing back to where it was. But maybe I'm not. Looking back, I spent a lot of time and energy working on some stuff that wasn't too important. It's probably time to get leaner and meaner.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Happy Passover everyone!
Due to some scheduling problems, we're late to the table. But tonight we're going to dine on matzo ball soup, a nice leg of lamb, and some potato kugel. I don't know if Elijah likes Oregon pinots, but we've got a nice bottle we plan to open for the occasion. I just finished lunch, but I'm hungry already.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
ASU has invited Obama to be its commencement speaker, but there's a catch:
ASU Media Relations Director Sharon Keeler says, unlike other universities, the processes for selecting commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients are independent. She says that honorary degrees are given "for an achievement of eminence" and that Obama was not considered for an honorary degree because his body of achievements, at this time, does not fit within that criteria.
Clearly, ASU can have whatever standards it wants for the awarding of honorary degrees. It might be useful, however, if it would choose standards that aren't nonsensical.
Last night I drove out to my sister's place for the evening to do a little digital handy-manning. She had gotten a new bundle from Time Warner — TV, phone, and internet — but the internet part wasn't working. My first guess was that her computer was the problem — it's so loaded up with junk that it takes minutes to start, and even then never runs right. So I took Mary's laptop to double-check the connection.
Hmmm... plugged in the laptop, nothing. Power-cycled the modem, nothing. So I call TW's support line. After a few minutes of repeating the stuff I had already tried, was given an interesting task: unplug the ethernet cable from the modem and the laptop and plug them back together with the cable reversed. Bingo!
While I'm thankful that I got an answer, this just seems like awful design. There is nothing on the cable that indicates which end goes where, and obviously the tech who installed it — and he does this for a living — plugged it in "backwards". (He screwed up lots of other things, too, but that's another story.) I guess I have one more tool in my network trouble-shooting shed, but really, can't everyone just standardize this stuff? Please?
(Oh, and I restored my sister's PC to it's factory settings — now it runs great.)
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Looking out my office window, I see some not-so-excited children being taken to Discovery Place (Charlotte's science/children's museum) to keep those mental gears grinding during Spring Break. The parents don't look all that excited either, probably picking up the mood of the kids, but also because they just spent 10 minutes driving around looking for parking. (Here's a secret: Charlotte is filled with big parking garages. You don't have to park on the street.)
No Spring Break for me, however, just more work. Not even a beer bong to pass the time. Such are the perils of growing old.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
A Lazy Weekend
Maybe I should be working on this site. Maybe I should be doing some day-job work to get more caught up. Maybe I should be out playing golf, or at least hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range. Maybe I should be taking a walk, going to the store, or doing some chores around the house.
But you know what? I really don't feel like doing much of anything. I did the Sunday crossword, so I'm done for the day. When my work-to-life ratio gets in better balance, I'll probably do a bit more with my free time, but right now, doing nothing feels pretty good. And about all I'm up for.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Kinda Sorta Back
Welcome back, it's been a while.
For those of you who have missed all the excitement, my server died a few weeks ago, and this site went dark for a while. And before I go any further, thanks to Chuq Yang for hosting my server in his at-home server room for close to 4 years. His help and support goes way beyond what anyone should expect, so thank you.
I've decided to continue my discredited practice of avoiding actual data centers for hosting, so this site now lives on a box about 2 feet away, under my desk. But instead of just reinstalling the old software on the new machine (which didn't look exactly easy — four years is a long time), I decided to take the hobbyist approach and rewrite it from scratch. For those who care, I'm now using CGI::Application, Class::DBI, chewing gum, and bailing wire. And, of course, it kinda sucks.
Not that any of you kind readers will do any such thing, but: the links here will be changing as I bring the old content back online, so don't bookmark anything except the homepage. There, that feels better.