Larry Gets Curly with Officer Moe

As soon as you have to explain how your “wide stance” while pooping shows that you were not propositioning an under cover police officer in a Minneapolis restroom your politcal career is over. Especially in Idaho.

Between Foley, Haggard and Craig we have three fifths of The Republican Village Prople: Foley is The Empty Suit, Haggard is The Evangelical, Craig is The Cranky Old Guy…. Perhaps Mary Cheney could be The Draft Deferment Baby.

Class Warfare

Why doesn’t the government just step in and take over all of the ARMs that are causing people to foreclose to solve the mortgage crisis and leave them with their same payment?

Oh, wait. That’s not the mortgage crisis. The mortgage crisis is that stupid peons who wanted a house (that American dream thing) and couldn’t read the fine print are defaulting and its causing hedge funds to go broke and making it hard for people who invested in those stupid peons’ mortgages to make any money off of them.

Silly me. I forgot. And the government’s not even handling that. The Fed, you see, isn’t really part of the government–it’s basically a private bank. And I read today that the Fed might not even give a shit about this.

You see, it’s a crisis when Wall Street is in trouble; not Main Street. Cue the preachy “personal responsibility” talking points; cue the “I don’t want my taxes to bailout people who made dumb loans” rhetoric. All of those rules that apply to you and me, but not the financial companies and investors who create the game.

Of course there is merit in the point that a Wall Street meltdown impacts far more people than just the people who made the bad investments or the bad loans. That’s true. But if we are giving people access to financial weapons of mass destruction and they are unsafely playing with them, the consequences should be severe.

Maybe they should lose their house.

The Move to Linux

I’ve been using computers for 25 years, at least. I’m somewhat of an expert.

Which is why it’s frustrating that it took me all day to get what is supposed to be the easy Linux up and running with full functionality. I like Ubuntu a lot, and it ran wonderfully as a virtual machine, but running it on the bare metal presented a few problems.

On my standard, bought at Costco HP laptop, here were the things I noted:

(1) Couldn’t automatically get my nVidia drivers installed. wtf?
(2) Installed touchpad driver automatically, but not control panel for it. wtf?
(3) Doesn’t come with the standard c and c++ libraries installed. This is UNIX?
(4) Keeps trying to read the install CD for packages, and won’t stop until I text edit a file.
(5) It’s still a pain in the ass to install software sometimes. Everything should be GUI installable, no matter which Linux you have.

There is still simply too much text file editing and command line mode stuff for this to be ready for prime time. You almost never have to touch the command line in Mac OS X, yet it’s just as much of a UNIX–more even–than Linux.

Keep working, Ubuntu–you’re almost there.

The Verdict on Vista is In

I’ve been using Microsoft Vista on a test system for over a year now, and in a production setting since about a month before the official release. I have also been using Microsoft Office 2007 for a similarly long period of time.

I strongly dislike both. First, I will explain my gripes; second, I’ll say what this means for Microsoft and the computer world.

Much of what Office had going for it was that almost everybody has been using Word for 15 years, and the other apps in it for almost as long. PowerPoint is essentially a way of life for some people. So it took a lot of balls for MS to completely change the interface on these programs and make people relearn them. I wonder how many people took that opportunity to give the free OpenOffice a shot? Furthermore, MS has to maintain a critical mass of users, because if a truly open document standard ever became the de facto standard, Microsoft would have to compete.

Even in my office, where we do not use Word as our main production software, we have it because most of our clients use it. If letter-perfect imports worked on any word processor, I would not use Word, I like OpenOffice Writer fine. I would use Keynote instead of PowerPoint.

Outlook, though, is still where it’s at. Until somebody comes up with a similar pushy folder-based hotsynced solution to things, Exchange for all of its clunkiness is still what I prefer, though I am starting to prefer off-site management for that. If I keep it onsite, Exchange will run in a VM, and I probably will never move to 2007 server.

What I can’t believe is that Outlook 2007 handicaps HTML e-mail. E-mail as an application in general is broken badly because of spam. HTML e-mail presents some security issues, but only if your HTML rendering engine is vulnerable. Since Outlook use(d) Internet Explorer to do that, naturally it is. (I believe it now uses Word.) That’s cutting of your nose to spite your face.

But this biggest problem is, there is no feature of Word that’s been added since 97 that I actually use. Every new license was in hopes that there was some real improvement, but it’s never materialized.

That’s a perfect segue to Windows, which has not improved much at all since Windows 2000. Forcing game manufacturers to use their 3D solution and making Windows XP was nice to unify the platform, but this is still a VMS legacy OS that, by its nature, isn’t really all that great. Vista is just more of the same with a ton of inefficient bells and whistles that suck up computer resources in an effort to get you to buy more hardware.

Vista’s Aero is pastiche of Mac’s Quartz, and the window manager is a ripoff of Mac’s Aqua. Why, then, on the same machine does Mac OS X boot in 15 seconds and Vista in 2.5 minutes? Why does the screen struggle in Vista and pop in OS X? (Dell Inspiron 9100 512mb, 3.2MHz Prescott Pentium IV, ATI Mobile Radeon 9700 128mb)

Because Vista wastes resources to get you to buy more hardware, the same way that new version numbers without features or killer apps get you to buy new versions of Windows and Office. It doesn’t really do more. It doesn’t help you get work done faster. Yet Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux, and *BSD can deliver on most of what Vista was supposed to be in the first place, and Mac has it all. Leopard will have even more.

For these reasons I am moving away from any Windows platform as my default production environment. For most of my machines, it will be Ubuntu Linux. When I need Windows for Windows only applications, like Outlook or the Oxford English Dictionary, I’ll pull up an XP virtual machine. I will do the same on my Macs. If there ever comes a point where Vista is required for any of these things, I will do the same. With no data on the VM, if something goes wrong with it, I just restore it to its fresh state.

The fundamental point here is that Microsoft cannot compete in a fair marketplace. Its products are inferior and money wasting. If open standards ever do take over in office apps, and especially in e-mail (something beyond the aged POP and IMAP), they’re done.

I am not an Apple evangelist. I dropped the Mac like a bad habit in 1995 when it no longer made sense to run their old OS on expensive hardware that didn’t run enough programs. I also wasn’t a fan of Linux until recently, with Ubuntu. Linux’s creator Linus is running around criticizing the desktop interface on Linux because he can’t customize it enough. He might be a great coder, but he’s a marketing idiot. Mac OS X shows a unix system can avoid the command line 99.9% of the time. If Linux ever can do that–and they’re getting close with Ubuntu–their market share will explode. I also feel that Linux’s architecture isn’t as sound as BSD, but in situations mostly only relevant to non-desktop applications. BSD and Solaris lack enough apps and hardware support to enter this race as non-niche competitors, but I like them both a lot.

Al Qaeda Is No Longer The Biggest Threat To The US

It’s not as if the Bush administration ever took al Qaeda to be the biggest threat to the US, August 6, 2001, warnings aside. Even after the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden was pursued with less than post-Pearl Harbor fury. Instead of sending in the army or marines immediately, the CIA was sent in and basically relied on drug/warlords to pursue AQ and OBL. After the fact, the country did not implement the 9/11 commissions recommendations until this year, still has porous security in most aspects, and has done anything of substance to combat terrorism. Indeed, the problem has only been exacerbated by subsequent events.

But even assuming for the sake of the argument that there was a time when AQ was the biggest threat, that time has passed. It has been six years since a stateside operation. Meanwhile, we are bogged down in Iraq, the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Pakistanis still have nuclear arsenals capable of making 9/11 look like a traffic accident.

Yet, we have done almost nothing since 9/11 to move the ball forward in the nuclear proliferation realm, other than out a CIA agent working on it for political reasons, and invade a country that was not actually working on a nuclear program.

Remember what Condi Rice said: we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. Truer words were never spoken in a falser context.

Iraq is the commonality that prevents progress on all of these fronts.

Worst Blog Post of the Week

And the winner is: Lisa Wade at the Huffington Post. Her insanely titled post “Knocked Up: Misogynist Dope-Smoking Morons Know That Abortion is Wrong. . . Do You?”

Dr. Wade, I don’t know what the weather is like on your planet, but this is not a conclusion I drew from watching that movie: “Our objection is this: Knocked Up is not just a silly movie, it’s pro-life ideology disguised by dick jokes.” No, you are not reading a quote from The Onion. This is serious.

According to Dr. Wade:

Knocked Up and pro-life activists share the idea that it is always better to raise a child than have an abortion. We learn this from the movie because they (1) associate a pro-abortion stance with unlikable characters (such as the pregnant woman’s mother) and (2) romanticize a man’s choice to be a father after going (way) out of their way to demonstrate that he is a terrible candidate for fatherhood.

I’m left in the ironic position of having to speak on what is 90% a women’s issue to a woman. First, it’s quite obvious from reading this that, Dr. Wade has herself never faced the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy, or, if she has she faces so much subconscious guilt from it that she sees everything in that frame.

The decision to have a baby is not a political one. I have yet to hear of anyone who said, “Gee, I am going to have an abortion because I’m a liberal, just to demonstrate my politics.” People that find abortion wrong don’t bear the child as a political act either, but as a moral one. If you believe, as I do, that abortion is the correct choice in some circumstances, you do not factor your politics into that decision. You consider your ability to be a parent, your ability to, perhaps, stay with the other parent, your financial means, the health or potential health defects of the child, and you also consider where you are in your life and your personality.

But I don’t think you check your voter registration card. And just because there isn’t anything morally or legally wrong with making that choice doesn’t make it easy. You will live with some guilt for your entire life. Not, necessarily–though for some–because you believe you committed a murder, but because you get a glimpse of a certain future, of you and the other parent and the child having a life together, of being happy, of wathcing the child grow up and go to school, and marry and have its own kids. You lose that vision. You lose it, hopefully, because you know it’s bullshit, and the true vision you are looking at is one of strife and ruin, and, if you’re lucky, just a lot of therapist bills.

Dr. Wade is a sociologist. She should stick to her day job, because she’s dreadfully bad at literary/film criticism. The movie was not about pregnancy–it was the classic tale of a ne’er-do-well getting his shit together, the tale of growing up. The rest was window dressing. Once the decision was made to sketch the story as such, the rest just follows. (How funny is an abortion? The going to the hospital scenes are usually the funniest in any pregnancy movie. Even Seth Rogen is not ready to make aborted fetus humor.)

Seth Rogen is not part of the vast right wing conspiracy. Give me a break. The unlikeable characters were aganst the pregnancy because they represented the judgment that Seth Rogen’s character was a loser incapable of change. The people he had to prove wrong. If we’re supposed to accept the loserdom of all movie characters, then we lose the fantasy of fiction, and movies and literature are pointless. The point is they are not our life.

Dr. Wade probably eats at restaurants that advertise “home cookin’.” Me, personally, I want something I can’t get when I go out. Something different than normal life. Same with my movies.

STFU: Elissa Harris-Lacewell (sp?)

I usually count on Republicans to say stupid shit that makes me pissed. I almost never expect it on Bill Moyer’s Journal.

But when Ms. Princeton professor opined that Katrina was more important than Iraq–not in a metaphorical, search for our national soul kind of way (with which I would still disagree)–but in an honest, serious, future implication concrete way.

You have to be fucking kidding me. Ms. Lacewell made a lot about her black heritage (she mentioned it about as many times as Rudy mentions 9/11), but it pretty much sounded to me like that’s all she cared about. I am not making light of Katrina, but Iraq is a incipient genocide of almost 1m people created by our willful choice, not our negligence. It is several orders of magnitude grander in scale, just in terms of deaths. It is an event that has destabilized the entire world–billions, not hundreds of thousands. Iraq, I believe, is the beginning of the end of Greater America. This would be similar to me saying that the bridge collapse in Minneapolis is worse than Katrina. It too was bad, and reflects a lot of bad shit about America, but it’s scope and scale are minuscule compared to Katrina.

As if that wasn’t self-centered, ethnocentric, ignorant, and narrow enough, she went on to blame the Democrats for making Iraq the most important issue instead of Katrina.

Never mind that that’s what people FELT was important! No, they should have taken Katrina more seriously.

That Democrats-aren’t-doing-good-enough shit is the same thing that’s elected every Republican since Nixon, and they do worse. When we had Clinton, every natural disaster and terrorist attack was responded to, places were rebuilt, and people were prosecuted (even executed) without repealing our Constitution. But, hey, they passed welfare reform, so let’s elect Republicans. That’s the logic of a spoiled brat child.

If you’re so politically naive, then don’t talk politics.