15 December 2009

QotD for 15 Dec., 2009

On the occasion of the birthday of the creator of Esperanto...
"I am profoundly convinced that every nationalism offers humanity only the greatest unhappiness... It is true that the nationalism of oppressed peoples -- as a natural self-defensive reaction -- is much more excusable than the nationalism of peoples who oppress; but, if the nationalism of the strong is ignoble, the nationalism of the weak is imprudent; both give birth to and support each other..." ---L. L. Zamenhof

11 December 2009

QotD for 11 Dec., 2009

"XML is like violence - if it doesn’t solve your problems, you are not using enough of it." --- quote from the Nokogiri XML parser documentation

[tip o' the hat to Graham Glass]

08 December 2009

QotD for 8 Dec., 2009

With all the furor from the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning the recent election of a certain suffragan bishop in the Dio. of Los Angeles fresh on our minds, I couldn't help but recall a famous quotation:
"I wouldn't go to Lambeth if Jesus himself was there handing out $1,000 bills. I went once before, and if assholes had wings Lambeth would be an airport!" --- the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, first female bishop in the Anglican Communion

15 November 2009

Windows 7 and Sound Blaster Live! cards

Ran into my first problem with Windows 7 right after the initial install. No sound. Nada. Zippo. Silencio.

Turns out that Creative - the company that mfg. the soundcard - doesn't have drivers for the Sound Blaster Live! under Vista or Windows 7. Probably want you to spend money on a new soundcard instead :P

But a bit of Googling revealed the somewhat tedious workaround.

  1. Goto Creative's support website and download the WinXP driver for the Sound Blaster Live! The filename is LiveDrvUni-Pack(ENG).exe

  2. Before you run the file, right-click on it and choose "Troubleshoot compatibility." Then select "Troubleshoot program."

  3. Select "Program worked in earlier versions of Windows..." and click "Next."

  4. Select "Windows XP (SP2)" and click "Next."

  5. Select "Start the program" and click "Next."

  6. Select "Yes to save" and click "close."

Now the driver install program will successfully run, and when you restart - you should have sound. Yes, all that work because Creative got greedy and decided they'd try to force you to buy a new soundcard ;)

Update: There is also an independent project to write a WDM-type driver which supports the Live! and any, other EMU10K1 and EMU10K2-based soundcard - the kX Project. Word has it that this requires some tweaking once installed, but they do list Windows 7 as a supported OS.

13 November 2009

QotD for 13 Nov., 2009

The megachurches are mall-like villages or gated communities with Wednesday nite karaoke and movies and Sunday 'prosperity gospel'. Faith is not between you and God, it's 'your team' and flag and get out of jail free card; virtue is a concept, not practice; sacrifice is for chumps and "I'm a special case, with extenuating circumstances, but I'm still a good person cuz I say the right things about God and Country and you don't." ---Mark Brady, in a comment on Bob Carlton's Facebook

Lord 'o mercy, but I do love a good, righteous rant. Amen.

04 November 2009

Great Deal on a Macbook

If you know anyone in the market for Apple's least expensive Macbook, Microcenter is running a rebate deal until 11/15/09 that gets you $200 off list price ($799 after rebate - the form is in a link to a PDF file at the bottom of the page)

The rebate is a $200 Visa giftcard - usable anywhere that takes Visa, but can't be converted to cash at an ATM. I've got a slightly older version of this laptop and it's a perfectly pleasant, usable machine.

Pass the word around to anyone you know who might be interested...

30 October 2009

QotD for 30 Oct., 2009

“I would love to change the world, but they won’t give me the source code.” ---Jesper Rønn-Jensen

26 October 2009

I should know better...

::sigh:: Yes, I should know better, but I got into an argument with an extreme right-winger over in the comment section of someone's Facebook page about the Matthew Shepard Act.

It's just that the disdain positively dripped off of this woman's comments. And every comment of her's was a piece of misinformation lifted straight out of a list of Fox News / Glenn Beck talking points. How Judy Shepard manages to encounter this garbage all the time after losing her son and stay sane & rational is beyond me.

I swear, it's like trying to argue with a Holocaust denier...

21 October 2009

QotD for 21 Oct., 2009

Anglicanism: Offering personal ordinariates for disaffected Roman Catholics since 1549. ---the Rev. Jan Nunley

19 October 2009

So Tired of This Nonsense...

I can't even begin to describe how sick and tired I am of the personal nastiness being directed at the office of the President of the U.S. Just this morning I was subjected to photos on someone's iPhone of a black, dept. store manikin, dressed up in hospital scrubs, being abused next to a sign about "Obama care." This guy thought it was the most hilarious thing he'd ever seen and couldn't wait to show it around to everyone. Not only completely disrespectful of our President, but absolute racist crap to boot, and nobody around here said a damn thing about it.

Or how about the posts of several "friends of a friend" on Facebook who were going off about how Pres. Obama is trying to DESTROY THE CONSTITUTION (their caps, not mine) because he, wait for it... plans to accept the Nobel Prize.

Welcome to good, old patriotic Texas. We hope you enjoy your stay... :P

04 October 2009

A Franciscan Blessing

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart...

It would be well worth your time to read the rest over on the Monastic Mumblings blog.

25 September 2009

QotD for 25 Sept., 2009

Concerning the disparity of drug prices in the U.S. vs. other countries:
Dividing up the world economy into individual markets to benefit only businesses and not consumers is a big BS sandwich. They [Big Pharma] argue for their freedom to manufacture it in Mexico but want to deny you the freedom to purchase it from Mexico through political means. I do not understand how so many Americans walk around believing this is actually in their best interests and support these people by calling them "Free Marketers", which they most definitely are not. They are Selective Protectionists supporting economic and political protections for themselves but not the rest of us.---Anonymous, in the comment thread of Off My Meds on the Real Live Preacher blog

23 September 2009

The Fourth Law of Thermodynamics

Original Axiom:

Murphy's Law - "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."


Murphy's Extended Law - "If a series of events can go wrong, they will do so in the worst possible sequence."
Finagle's Law - "Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment."
Hofstadter's Law - "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law."
Silverman's Paradox - "If Murphy's Law can go wrong, it will."
Flanagan's Precept - "Murphy and Finagle were incurable optimists."

And if you're not feeling cheered up yet, there's always the Murphy's Law Site.

15 September 2009

Selectively run Adobe Flash under Mac OSX

Oh now this is sweet. The Adobe Flash player plugin has always been a real CPU hog on Mac OSX machines. There's no way to heat up your Macbook faster than playing a Flash movie on YouTube...

Well I've discovered an OSX add-in called ClickToFlash which fixes all that:
Ever wanted to get rid of the scourge of the web that is Adobe Flash, but still retain the ability to view Flash whenever you want? With ClickToFlash, you can! Using ClickToFlash, all of those icky Flash bits that have infected most webpages on the internets are replaced with a nice, smooth gradient and the word "Flash" set in a nice, pleasing font. When you want to view the Flash, just click on it!

The advantages of ClickToFlash are numerous. Since Flash isn't loaded until you specifically ask for it, your CPU usage will stay at normal levels when browsing the web. This has tons of benefits: web browsing stays speedy, your Mac laptop won't get as hot, and your Mac's fan won't come on as often. In fact, we guarantee* that ClickToFlash will quintuple your battery life and that it will protect those precious parts of your body on which you rest your laptop! (*note: not actually guaranteed)

Best of all, ClickToFlash even supports viewing all those ADORABLE meowing cat videos, annoying dog videos, and hilarious rickrolls from YouTube without using Flash at all! That's because YouTube also offers H.264 videos, which are used when viewing YouTube on the iPhone. With ClickToFlash, you get access to those same, higher quality videos.

Oh happy day!

13 September 2009

Zombie Conservatives

Interesting piece in the Sunday Dallas Morning News by, surprise, conservative columnist Rod Dreher:
Last week, the president delivered an education speech that fell somewhat short of the standard set by Lenin in his address at the Finland Station, launching the Bolshevik Revolution. In fact, Barack Obama told America's schoolchildren to work hard, respect their teachers and take responsibility for their own success. Which, in the language of the tinfoil-hatters, reads: Allahu akbar, comrades. ---Rod Dreher, Zombie Conservatives at the schoolhouse door

Lately, Dreher seems to be "getting it" when it comes to the dissolution of the GOP. But there's one more Rubicon for him to cross if he really takes his Libertarian-ish conservatism seriously. That being, no matter how much of a social/religious conservative you are (and Dreher identifies himself that way), you need to be willing to keep a lot of that to yourself and not be willing to use the power of government to force it on others.

That's where Dreher and many like-minded thinkers still fall flat.

11 September 2009


Words actually mean things, and despite persistent attempts by many on the right to make it so, “socialism” does not mean either “any government activity that is not a tax cut or an attempt to kill swarthy people with weapons” or “whatever it is Obama happens to be doing at the moment.” ---John Scalzi

The best, as well as “squirt milk out your nose funny”, commentary on current events can usually be found on Scalzi's blog Whatever. All hail Scalzi!

10 September 2009

QotD for 10 Sept., 2009

Stinginess creates a hard knot deep within the soul. Beware of hardness of heart: you can suffer from it without any awareness that you do until caught in the grips of spiritual thrombosis. ---Louie Crew

[thanks to JCF who, over at Mad Priest's, linked to the entry by Dr. Crew which contained this gem]

03 September 2009

Stirring the Pot

Great Googly Moogly! A status update I posted on my Facebook page is getting more comment action than anything I've ever posted here :D So I'm gonna try and leech off of it...

"I believe that no one should die because they can't afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick."


01 September 2009

Best.T-Shirt. Ever.

Buy it here. [all credit to the folks at Mental Floss]

28 August 2009

How Low Can They Go ?

There's been a lot of misinformation flung about RE: health care reform, but this really takes the cake:
In a "poll" mailed to supporters, the RNC is actually suggesting that health insurance reform is a Democratic plot to deny health care to Republicans using voter registration data: Documents Obtained Show GOP Tricks

Geez Louise! And the sad thing is, there are people out there who'll believe this and start shouting about it at Congressional "town hall" meetings :P

What's it gonna take to get a rational discussion of health care reform started ?!

24 August 2009

Everyone Rations Health Care

If we have any hope of a rational discussion on health care reform in the U.S., we need to get past the lies and the spin being flung about with such great abandon. Here's a big one: "Socialized" medicine, a misnomer in its own right applied to current attempts at reform in the U.S., will cause health care rationing.

Here's the truth - every country rations health care. Every. one. The difference is that the U.S. uses a criteria different from every, other First World country. We don't base it on medical effectiveness, or any, other sort of good science.

No, we de facto ration based on how wealthy you are. If you can afford it, the sky's the limit. If not, well....you get rationing. And the poorer you are, the more your access is rationed.

So can we please ditch the "rationing" shibboleth ? and have both a rational and heartfelt discussion about whether this is the direction in which we want our society to evolve ?

21 August 2009

The One We Feed

One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, “There are two wolves fighting inside all of us – the wolf of fear and hate, and the wolf of love and peace.”

The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, “Which one will win?”

The grandfather replied, “The one we feed.”

From a comment on the excellent blog The Mudflats.

20 August 2009

QotD for 20 Aug., 2009

This debate over health care goes to the heart of who we are as a people. I believe that nobody in America should be denied basic health care because he or she lacks health insurance. --- Pres. Barack Obama

Further in his appeal to faith-based groups to spread the truth about health care reform, the President urged listeners to reject misinformation about his plans, noting, "There are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness."

And yet self-professed Christians continue to lie about "death panels" and other outrageous nonsense. To say nothing about ignoring our Lord's injunction to care for the sick (and the hungry, and the orphans, and the needy,...).

Hey conservatives, news flash - "I got mine, screw you" can in no way be justified as a Biblical stance.

Update: When confronted by yet another ridiculous claim at a townhall meeting from a right-wing shill, Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Florida) responded, "When someone sends you something on the Internet that sounds crazy, how about just checking it a little bit?" Golly, ya think ?!

CNN's Health Care Fact Check site.

19 August 2009

QotD for 19 Aug., 2009

Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me. --- Frederick Buechner

[shamelessly stolen from the charming Stephy of Stuff Christian Culture Likes fame]

09 July 2009

Sullivan Rounds Up Palin's Lies

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish compiles all the various lies of Sarah Palin in one helpful place: The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin: A Round-Up.
I asked an intern to re-fact-check all of them to make sure new details hadn't emerged that might debunk some. And I also asked to get any subsequent statements by Palin that acknowledged that she had erred in any of these statements that are easily rebuttable by facts in the public record and apologized and corrected. She has not.

Just think - this fruitbat, bless her heart, could have been one stroke away from being sworn in as President of the United States...

13 June 2009

The only way towards a liberal anarchy

You know what my main objection is to Libertarianism ? It's that I don't trust enough people to be egalitarian and, well... just plain good in a moral sense. Given human nature, a completely free, laissez-faire system would rapidly devolve into an oligarchy of the rich.

"But, but...we'd protect individual freedom!" Uh, yeah...right. When your values are primarily materialistic, power concentrates where material wealth does - in the hands of the (rich) elite.

But what if we lived in a post-scarcity society, like The Culture of Scottish SF writer Iain M. Banks ? Where society is governed by extremely powerful AI "Minds" that administer this affluence for the benefit of all and maintain an almost totally egalitarian, stable society without the use of any form of force or compulsion, except where necessary to protect others.
"In vesting all power in his individualistic, sometime eccentric, but always benign, AI Minds, Banks knew what he was doing; this is the only way a liberal anarchy could be achieved, by taking what is best in humans and placing it beyond corruption, which means out of human control." --- Chris Brown, Journal of International Studies, 2001

Indeed, Banks does know what he is doing, and apparently knows human nature pretty well, too. But until we can place "what is best in humans" outside of any chance of corruption, well...you'll have to forgive me if I don't get too excited by the more fringey forms of anarcho-capitalism.

08 May 2009

A Zen Koan for the Financial Crisis

Will Dana, editor of Rolling Stone, encouraged blogger Douglas Rushkoff "to come up with one-liners that tell the truth about the economic/banking fiasco - but that do it in almost zen-koan fashion."

   Debt is not a good product

And, like I'm arguing in my book, this whole scheme [finance] was arranged by 14th Century monarchs as a way of making money by having money, rather than providing value. So "Debt is not a good product" helps encourage that line of thinking, sound-byte style.

07 May 2009

The Clayton iHouse

This may be the coolest thing I've ever seen in the realm of affordable housing - to say nothing of it being manufactured housing as well:

the Clayton iHouse

There's also a good article about it on Yahoo! News and a blog devoted to it as well. And guess who thinks it's such a good idea that he bought the parent company ? Warren Buffet.

I want one out in the Hill Country on the West side of Austin :)

06 May 2009

You May Live in Texas If...

Here is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about folks from Texas . . .

  • If you find 60 degrees "a little chilly," you may live in Texas.
  • If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph -- you're going 80 and everybody is passing you, you may live in Texas.
  • If "Vacation" means going anywhere south of Dallas for the weekend, you may live in Texas
  • If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Texas.
  • If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Texas.
  • If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you may live in Texas.
  • If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Texas.
  • If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, you may live in Texas.
  • If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you may live in Texas.
  • If someone in a Lowe's store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you may live in Texas.
  • If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your Texas friends & others, you definitely live in Texas.

04 May 2009

QotD for 4 May, 2009

I submit to you that cynics are critical to society's function. You see, cynics rarely start wars, we leave that to religion. Cynics end wars. Cynics are all around you, challenging society, the church and the powers that be. Cynics do what idealists talk about doing. --- Trevor Buvyer

Shamelessly stolen from the delightful Stephanie Hill Drury. Her blog Stuff Christian Culture Likes is endlessly amusing and insightful.

30 April 2009

QotD for 30 Apr., 2009

We have enough youth. We need a fountain of smart. --- seen on a t-shirt at ThinkGeek

GMail Guide

PC Magazine has a handy guide to Google's GMail up on their site. See An Unofficial User's Guide to Gmail for a good place to get started with this popular, eternally in Beta, service.

16 April 2009

Wallis and a Christian Mistake

The Religious Right was a Christian mistake. It was a movement that sought to implement a “Christian agenda” by tying the faithful to one political option—the right-wing of the Republican Party. The politicizing of faith in such a partisan way is always a theological mistake. But the rapid decline of the Religious Right now offers us a new opportunity to re-think the role of faith in American public life. ---Jim Wallis, in his Newsweek blog A Christian Nation

09 April 2009

Why I Hate U2

Wanna know why I hate U2 ? No, it's not because I think Bono is a bit pretentious ;) No, it's not the :: shudder :: U2charist thing.

It's garbage like this that really gets to me...

31 March 2009

QotD for 31 Mar., 2009

On the brouhaha by some authors and publishers over copyright & ebooks in general, and Amazon's Kindle specifically:
Maybe I'm right and maybe I'm wrong, but the important thing is, we don't need new theories about copyright law to test the proposition. The existing, totally non-controversial aspect of copyright law that says, "Amazon can't publish and sell my book without my permission" covers the territory nicely. ---Cory Doctorow

Simple, huh ? Now, if Kindle books:

  • Didn't have odious and burdensome DRM attached (so I could make decent backups),
  • Didn't cost so bloomin' much (make 'em the price of a paperback minus a buck or so to make up for the lack of printing costs), and
  • Were compatible with other ebook readers & software

then you'd really have something... But as it is ? Meh.

[via boing boing]

27 March 2009

26 March 2009

The Big Takeover

Matt Taibbi has a take-no-prisoners article in Rolling Stone on Wall Street insiders and the global economic crisis:
So it's time to admit it: We're fools, protagonists in a kind of gruesome comedy about the marriage of greed and stupidity. And the worst part about it is that we're still in denial — we still think this is some kind of unfortunate accident, not something that was created by the group of psychopaths on Wall Street whom we allowed to gang-rape the American Dream.

11 March 2009

Whither the Evangelicals ?

Michael Spencer predicts the the coming evangelical collapse in an article yesterday on the Christian Science Monitor website:
Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

Now I'll admit that Spencer goes off the rails when he additionally suggests that wide-spread intolerance of Christians will also result, but the conservative evangelicals have always had a bit of persecution complex. However, the article is well worth your while and is overall a pretty thoughtful piece of self-examination. You'll want to check out the commentary in Rod Dreher's section of Beliefnet as well. Another conservative Christian who, even though I have plenty to argue with him about, has lately been taking a hard look at their role in the culture wars.

10 March 2009

Book! It's Got an Intuitive, Touch-based Interface!

What with all the Kindle 2 release brouhaha, I got a real laugh out of yesterday's comic over at Penny Arcade. ;)

06 March 2009

We Need a New Dream

It's obviously been hard not to think about the greed and short-sightedness that's got us in to the current economic predicament. But something really crystallized for me while reading a quote from the graphic novel The Watchmen (the same dialog is in the movie, too -'natch).

As they attempt to quell a riot, the Nightowl and the Comedian have the following short conversation in the midst of the chaos:

Nightowl: But the country's disintegrating. What's happened to America ? What's happened to the American dream ?

Comedian: It came true. You're lookin' at it.

We need a new American Dream. One that's not dreamt by spoiled, shallow, greedy children.

17 February 2009

Someone's a Fast Learner

Our new president is demonstrating that he learns quickly...very quickly:

Lessons Obama learned from stimulus deal.

  • Take your case right to the American people.
  • Don't let bipartisanship become the barometer of your success.
  • Face up to criticism, be pragmatic without being unprincipled.

Yep, sounds like a good start to me.

22 January 2009

But Really, He Loves America

Conservative bloviator Rush Limbaugh has told a publication regarding Pres. Obama, “I hope he fails.” The sordid details can be found on Joe Garofoli's blog in the San Francisco Gate.

Just another example of how much conservatives love America...

21 January 2009

Jan. 20, 2009 - the End of an Error

Yes, we did :) [and BTW, the Whitehouse website just got a lot more useful]

Patrick Farley sums it up nicely in The Bush Years: All Circus, No Bread:
“Trying to explain what was wrong with the Bush Era feels like trying to vomit up a cannonball. I don't think my jaw can stretch that wide.”

16 January 2009

Parker in the Wilderness

Kathleen Parker, one of the only halfway decent writers the Republicans had, has been cast into the outer darkness. Yes, she's lost her position at the National Review, to wander "the wilderness in rags and swaddling cloths, lamenting the loss of her soul and shaking her chains like Jacob Marley." [Wonkette]

Parker was one of the only conservative writers I thought had a decent handle on one of the main issues which caused the Republican implosion during the 2008 election. So of course it's no surprise that the conservatives expelled her. Hey, the truth hurts!

Luckily, you can still read Parker in the Washington Post.

07 January 2009

QotD for 7 Jan., 2009

On the fate of the Church in the West, Counterlight writes in a comment thread over on Preludium:
I think that as goes Spain these days, so goes the rest of the West (including the USA); a greatly shrunken church dominated by fanatics who accelerate shrinking church attendance by alienating the rest of the population; a church that wears a heavy millstone of rightwing and reactionary politics around its neck in an increasingly cosmopolitan country.

Pretty much sums it up as far as I'm concerned. And although I'm quite certain TEC will stand as a thoughtful and liberal-minded counterpoint to that, I fear that thoughtful and liberal-minded Christianity will remain a smaller sect within a small sect.

The New York Times Mocks Absinthe

Eric Konigsberg of The New York Times says Care for an Absinthe? Ptooey!
If absinthe were a band, it would be Interpol, third-hand piffle masquerading as transgressive pop culture. If absinthe were sneakers, it would be a pair of laceless Chuck Taylors designed by John Varvatos for Converse. If it were facial hair, it would be the soul patch...You could say that absinthe is a kindred spirit of so many falsely subversive things: ear piercing for men, tattoos on women, those cigar bars, pole-dancing-aerobics classes, mind erasers, blogging about one’s bikini grooming...

02 January 2009

QotD for 2 Jan., 2009

Sol Short once told me that mankind is divided into two basic sorts: those who find the unknown future threatening and those who find it thrilling. He says the rupture between those two sides has been responsible for most of the bloodshed in history. If change threatens you, you become conservative in self-defense. If change thrills you, you become liberal in self-liberation. He says the Threateneds are frequently more successful in the short run, because they always fight dirty. But in the long run, they always lose, because Thrilled people learn and thus accomplish more. ---Joel Johnston, lead character in Robert Heinlein & Spider Robinson's novel Variable Star