Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bite me, Stephen Hawking

I hate to disagree with him, but, jeez.

Reminds me of the old Groucho joke, quoted by many, including Woody Allen: "I'd hate to be a member of a club that would have me as a member."

I'd hate to live in a Universe populated by the people who have populated this planet. Sure, we've developed Open Source software and milk that doesn't need refrigeration, but there's also the troubling propensity to Ethnic Cleansing.

My suggestion: enjoy whatever pleasures you have, be kind to as many people as possible, and try to limit the extent to which your pleasures come at the expense of the sufferings of uncountable millions.

In other words, God had the right idea with The Flood, and delivering Noah to another planet may not turn out to be such a great idea, again.

Re-reading too much Vonnegut these days (just finished 'Breakfast of Champions' last night). So it goes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

why floss?

Uh, oh. Siberia and northern Canada to become the new "Palm Beach".

Friday, November 24, 2006

hang onto your hat

Hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving - it was pretty successful here, with lots of amazing food (thankfully, many vegetarian dishes appeared), and good friends and good wine.

Now, as the glow wears off, it's time to get back to business, and the world of business have been trying to tell us something for a long time. The chickens let loose by the borrow-and-spend GOP are beginning to come home to roost. Why do I feel like I'm at the top of a roller-coaster?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

1:30 pm and everything's on track

Turkey's in the oven. Stuffing baked separately. Roasted veggies are 60% done. Final pie assembly underway. Potatoes are peeled and in water. 'Wilted Greens' dish about to be prepared. Table is set.

Just have to run the dishwasher and work on appetizers. Guests should start arriving in an hour.

Kitchen frenzy has been going on for 5 hours now. Good thing the prep work started three days ago.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Not bad for two hours

Instead of dwelling on the uselessness of the human race, I decided to do some groundwork for a new project, that may be starting up next week. It involves a SQL Server database, for which the client wishes to have a separate reporting/analysis front-end, from the public face (which is already handled by a canned application).

So, in the past 2 hours, I managed to:

1) Download and install Microsoft's free SQL Server Express and its separate management tool on my laptop.

2) Using the management tool, built a new database with one table.

3) Using Access wizards, built an html data access page that displays the table, permitting updates and deletions.

4) Built a separate Access application, with a standard Access form, to display the table and permit any kind of programatic manipulation that anyone could dream up.

5) Played around with Windows Services, to convince myself that I know all I need to do about starting and stopping SQL Server on my laptop.

6) Go to the Multnomah County Library web site, and put on hold 4 books about ASP.NET development.

Next step will be to start up Visual Studio and see how easy it is to do a VB application that does the same thing as the Access application. Once that's done, I feel like I'll have all the tools in place, to begin actual work on the new project, next week.

I feel better already - maybe it's the coffee in my bloodstream, and the Beethoven on the radio.

not going to get a lot done today

My work-load is very slim this week. Clients tend to slow down this time of year, and my list of tasks-still-to-be-completed is down to practically nothing.

So, as the cloudy, rainy day begins, I settle in, down here in my computer dungeon, scan the blogs, and think about bigger pictures than Michael Richards' recent failure to invoke Lenny Bruce.

I look at my species and I see Earth as a petri-dish, where one organism has been so successful in exploiting the local food and energy resources, that its unrestrained fertility now threatens the dish's environment with total collapse. Our ever-increasing demands on finite resources, and the growing detritus from our waste is poisoning the wells, and, unless we can manufacture our own agar, it is inevitable that many of us must die.

Biological reality is not something we can deal with by shouting "it ain't so" or holding our hands over our ears and humming loudly. Our ingenuity and engineering successes are amazing, but the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Cheap gas, fast cars, and electric hair-straighteners have been great, but what about their unintended consequences?

Last night, with my elderly mother-in-law arrived safely here for the holidays, we settled down in front of the TV for an hour. On PBS, they showed the salute to Neil Simon, who won the 2006 Mark Twain prize. It was mildly amusing, with one genuinely-wonderful film-clip (Jack Lemmon as Felix Ungar, clearing his sinuses in the resturant - need I say more?).

Mark Twain was certainly a sublimely funny guy, but Sam Clemens was a deeply angry, bitter pessimist, who saw his species as clueless buffoons and, I hasten to add, rightly so. Although many of the previous-winners of the Mark Twain prize are genuinely-funny people, there is really only one legitimate living heir to His true spirit, and I doubt he's on anyone's short-list of future recipients. It just wouldn't make for a cheery, bubbly hour of television.

Again, it's a nice idea (i.e. honoring Mark Twain) gone terribly awry, due to our confusing honesty with belly-laughs.

Legacy of the Bush years

This is just shameful. Are Americans the most self-centered, culturally-clueless, narrow-minded people on this planet, or do we just play it on TV?

Ultimate question - what about the flight crew? Aren't they supposed to have training in both detecting and calming passengers' unreasonable fears? I know it's not their job to be experts in Religions of the World, but, since 9/11 'changed everything', wouldn't it be reasonable for them to, by now, know what the alarmed passenger didn't know?

One often encounters statistics about Americans being the most 'God-fearing', religious people on the planet. I guess that only refers to the God with long brown hair, a white robe, and a nicely-groomed beard. You know, the commonly-displayed graven image.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Life After Death

I have a cell-phone plan with Cingular, whose original incarnation was my old Enron cell-phone (with AT&T). In fact, I still have that same cell-phone number I had, from the days when I was an (Excel-only) millionaire.

But I digress.

Now, I have three cell-phones on my account: mine, Ben's and Dylan's. Karen and I continue to pay for the boys' phones, for obvious reasons. The phones we have are two years old and all the same model - a very basic LG, with no special features. Plus, they were still on the old AT&T network and plan, which always causes the Cingular folks down the street to sigh whenever they look at my account.

My phone is still in great condition. However, the boys' phones have been dropped and abused beyond belief, and look battle-scarred. The other day, Dylan said he heard that, if we all go into the Cingular store together, they will upgrade all our phones for free. It sounded too good to be true, but, the other day, I happened to have both of them with me, so we stopped to inquire.

It took almost an hour, but all three of us now have new Cingular camera-phones, with a much better display and so many other goodies to be discovered. Plus, we got moved over to the Cingular network without increasing the monthly cost. Once we get the rebates, the total cost of the three new phones will be $30. Everyone is happy, and I have actually replaced the boring wall-paper with a photo I took while walking the dog in the park.

We plan to donate our old phones to a worthy cause (women's shelter, or something like that). So, the old phones were sitting on a table, having been stripped of their SIM cards. Discarded, worn-out, beat-up pieces of obsolescence.

We were going about our daily lives when we heard an odd buzzing. I walked around the house until the sound led me to the pile of old phones. I picked one of them up. It was Ben's phone - he had set a future appointment, reminding him of a haircut.

You know how they say that your fingernails keep growing after you die? That's how it seemed holding a brain-dead phone, that was desperately trying to deliver a message, calling out to be heard. A last gasp before expiring forever.

Too much coffee on a Sunday morning.

Thanksgiving preparations continue. We pick up the turkey tomorrow and Karen's mom arrives tomorrow afternoon. Today, I clean out the fridge.

Outside: rain, rain, rain.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

heard on Randi Rhodes yesterday

Randi's plan to end the War - it's breathtakingly simple.

Pass a one-line law, that any corporation doing business with the Military will be permitted to recover its costs, but ALL profits will be taxed at 99%.

That will put an end to the 'permanent War for permanent profits' that's been going on since WWII, reduce the Pentagon budget dramatically, free up whatever money is left in the Treasury (i.e. not much) for other priorities (there are a few), and put a lot of CEOs and upper managers out on the street, where they can see what it's like to work for minimum wage.

All in all, a win-win for the Earth (which could use a break).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

from Andy Borowitz today

U.S. Bombards Insurgents With Negative Ads
'Operation Relentless Smear' Is Launched In Iraq

In a bold change of strategy in the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush announced today that the U.S. had begun bombarding Iraqi insurgents with negative ads in the hopes of bringing the insurgency to its knees.

At a White House briefing today, spokesman Tony Snow said that the new military campaign, called Operation Relentless Smear, would focus on attacking the personal missteps and hypocrisies of key Iraqi insurgents on a twenty-four-hour basis. "This new strategy is playing to our strengths," Mr. Snow told reporters. "The insurgents are good at blowing things up and creating chaos, but no one is better than we are at creating negative ads."

According to Mr. Snow, Operation Relentless Smear will re-deploy thousands of negative ad producers, directors, and voiceover artists who were momentarily idle at the conclusion of the U.S.'s midterm election campaign. Masterminded by the White House's top political strategist Karl Rove, the bombardment of negative ads began at midnight Wednesday, interrupting all local Iraqi programming with a nonstop diet of half-truths, corrosive accusations and character assassination.

By Thursday morning, there were already signs that Operation Relentless Smear was working, as Iraqi insurgents in such key cities as Baghdad and Tikrit appeared worn out by the onslaught of slickly produced attack ads. "The air strikes and the curfews were one thing," said Hassan El-Medfaii, an insurgent who is based in Baghdad's Sadr City district. "But this is messing with my TV."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

uh oh...

Hate to see stuff like this.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

from Andy Borowitz today

Kerry Botches 'Yo Mama' Joke
Omits Words 'Mama' and 'Yo' in West Point Appearance

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) found himself in the middle of another botched joke controversy today as the 2004 Democratic nominee for president misread a classic "yo mama" joke while making a speech to military cadets at West Point.

After his failed attempt at humor one week before the midterm elections, many observers assumed that the Massachusetts senator would retire from the comedy field once and for all. But according to one of Mr. Kerry's aides, the former Democratic standard-bearer was determined to prove "just how funny he really can be."

Mr. Kerry decided to leave nothing to chance in his latest attempt at comedy, however, choosing a time-tested joke in the "yo mama" format and having it written on a large cue card which an aide held aloft just yards away from the podium.

According to the plan, the Massachusetts senator was to entertain the cadets by saying, "Yo mama so stupid, it take her an hour to cook Minute Rice."

But inexplicably, Mr. Kerry decided to depart from his prepared remarks and instead told the cadets, "You're so stupid, you're going to wind up stuck in Iraq."

According to a new Newsweek poll, a majority of Americans want Mr. Kerry to get out of comedy altogether.

The debate, so far

I am having an ongoing on-line 'debate' with a gent who has a contrary view on global climate change. Since he claims to be boycotting this site, I don't mind posting a link to the thread.

You, too, can follow the exciting give-and-take, here.

It would be more fun if the consequences of my view being correct weren't so dire.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Great to be home - many hours in airports and airplanes yesterday.

Good thing we can all relax, now that the elections are over, and there weren't any major oddities. Hang on, what do we see here?

Hmmmm - according to official Connecticut FEC postings, the number of people who voted for Ned Lamont in 2006 (2nd place to Lieberman) was the EXACT number of people who voted for Lieberman's REPUBLICAN challenger (who came in 2nd) in 2000.

Those wacky Connecticutians! You just never know.

Let me repeat: you just never know (and that's the point).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

heading home

Last morning in Milwaukee. There was quite a storm yesterday, commencing with heavy rain accompanied by amazing lightning, that turned into sleet, and finally into snow.

End result was just a couple of inches, and this morning is bright and sunny. I heard that Minneapolis got a bit more snow, but, by the time I get there, late this afternoon, I don't expect any major impact on air traffic.

Should be in Portland by 7, and at a friend's art show by 7:45. One more visit to Mom's place this morning before I head out. Yesterday I played piano for the crowd and, as always, it was pretty well received (and good for me, too).

Each visit shows her slowing down a little more, but, now approaching 93, she still reads the paper and takes a short walk outside every day, weather permitting. Her hearing isn't great, and her memory is fading, but she's still there keeping going. I should do so well, at that age.

Sure looking forward to being home - it's been an amazing week, with the election news. I almost feel like I'll be reborn, when I step off the plane in Portland.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Webb wins

Ah, the news is spreading quickly in blog-land. How sweet it is.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Sitting in my brother's living room in Milwaukee, watching the big-screen TV. CNN just announced that the Democrats have won the House.

Let's hope.

11:00 am at the airport

Getting ready to board the plane to Minneapolis - enjoying PDX's free wifi.

Scanning the blogs and news outlets shows a flood of voting-machine failures, not to mention outright voter intimidation in Virginia.

This is going to be a dirty election. The US has lost all credibility, in our efforts to 'spread Freedom thruout the world'. It is shameful.

Please, people, be patient. Stick it out no matter how long it takes, then, in the next Congress, let's pass vote-by-mail nationwide, as Ron Wyden is proposing. It's been working great here for a decade - no lines, no fuss, no touch-screens, and lots of paper, that can be examined again and again.

Will they steal it? Can't wait to get to Minneapolis to find out!

See y'all later.

More about Conquest Communications

Googling them is quite enlightening.

First of all, their 'About' page is, strangely, unavailable this morning, and their phone number was removed from their home page. Fortunately, you can see it here (fax number, too).

Going down the list of hits, we find this little piece from last month, that cited a poll claiming Marilyn Musgrave (the gay-bashing idiot from Colorado) was moving ahead. The poll, the article claims at the very bottom, was conducted by....wait for it....Conquest Communications.


Here's their list of funders in Virginia. All Republicans, of course, and look at the list of services being supplied.

Looks like the National Republican Congressional Committee pays about $3000 per candidate, for phone-bank services. Nice work if you can get it. If the violations of the 'Do Not Call List' are pursued ($500 per call), maybe we can bankrupt these guys by the end of the year.

Here's the guy behind it. Here's his home address and the fact that he gave $1000 to Bush.

Election Day message from an old friend

email received this morning from a college buddy, who lives in DC:

I think your present will arrive today!!!

We can only hope, although the reports of broken voting machines, long lines, and scrubbed lists are flooding in. On Air America this morning, Thom Hartmann revealed that the GOP-controlled company that is doing the cross-country annoying robo-calls is named 'Conquest Communications'.

I bet they all had a good laugh when they filed the incorporation papers. By the way, at their web site, here's their logo:

Can you read that tag line? "Guide Opinion, Lead People, Make History"

Seems a bit chilling to me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I think I'm gonna scream

Hearing all the reports of GOP robo-calls, intentionally designed to mislead the gullible into thinking they are being harrassed by Democrats.

Is there no end to the cynicism of these people? Their willingness to degrade our democracy, while proclaiming they are its champions (and the possibility of them getting away with it yet again), is truly depressing.

25 years of inadequate public education and media complicity has transformed large numbers of people into frightened self-righteous homophobes, very well trained to consistently vote against their real interests.

Meanwhile, the Treasury continues to be emptied and the US is viewed as the greatest threat to world peace. December 2000 will go down in history as the time when the American Republic tipped over to the road to fascism.

Who will rid us of this troublesome band of maniacs? I know you're out there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Election day TODAY (Sunday)!!!!

Well, in Nicaragua it's today. How reasonable, to do it on a weekend. You'd think that elected officials would realize that holding national elections on a TUESDAY would make it difficult for working folks to vote.


Today is my 55th birthday. Last night we had dinner with my best friends, and the food and wine were wonderful. I'm always slightly embarrased to be the center of attention in any non-musical setting (a notable exception), but this was fun. To top it off, the presents that my friends gave me truly showed that they know me well.

1) the complete (70,000+) New Yorker cartoons, on CD.
2) a book about Soccer as a metaphor for globalization
3) a book on the political genius of Lincoln

I am heading for Wisconsin Tuesday morning. I should get some election news running thru the Minneapolis airport between planes (it's always a long way to make this transfer). By the time I get to Milwaukee, polls west of the Rockies will be closed and projections ought to be starting to appear.

When we wake up Wednesday morning, we'll know a lot more about the shape of future American History textbooks. Will it be the morning 'America finally came to its senses', or will it be the morning when the re-education camps started 'accepting repentant dissidents'.

Maybe I should have been dropping hints, the past few weeks, that what I really wanted for my birthday is hand-grenades.

Friday, November 03, 2006

uh oh - fooled again!

George, you've got to be a better judge of people. Yes, I know, it's hard work.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

surprise, surprise...

The British "oh, My God, they're going to blow up airplanes with liquids" plot continues to be exposed as much ado about nothing.

Sure got us scared, though, didn't it?

Sure allowed the TSA to appear to be 'doing something to protect the Homeland', didn't it?

I'm flying to Wisconsin next week. I'm not scared.