It’s heap-of-politics-links day here on Q… if you hate politics, feel free to tune out of today’s program.

Let’s start with a Tom Paine editorial on the many, many things wrong with Dubya’s proclamation of a Jesus Day in Texas. Dabbles a bit in the Constitution, recognition of minority groups, and plain religious doctrine.

Now, on to a Chicago Tribune story on how the young Texan is finding it difficult to defend his tax proposal. It appears that part of the reason Dubya wanted to stay in a character debate is that he wasn’t prepared to defend the policies he was suggesting to the American people; as I’ve talked about before, Gore’s ability to push Bush off-message is reaping benefits such as this.

Does anyone really believe that Cheney is upset about the current state of the U.S. military, seeing as he started the process of cuts and he has personally profited from the missions that he’s claiming have ruined the forces? (Oh, yeah, and by the way, Cheney is now conceding that the point made by Dubya at the Republican convention about the state of readiness of the military was wrong.)

Next comes a Bob Herbert op-ed piece on Dubya’s incredible penchant for malapropisms (regular readers of Q know what I think of his language skills). One I hadn’t read before, and possibly my current favorite: “I know how hard it is to put food on your family.”

And probably related to his limited ability to string words into sentences, Bush continues to duck a real debate schedule with Gore. Personally, my favorite aspect of all of this is the little clock in the lefthand navbar of the Gore/Lieberman site showing how long Bush has been avoiding debates.

There’s a MetaFilter thread that has started about the fact that the Anti-Defamation League has asked Lieberman to stop talking so much about religion, yet nobody has stepped in to shut Dick Cheney the hell up. To me, this is actually logical — the groups that care what the Democrats are talking about also care about whether or not they are offending others, whereas the groups that care what the Republicans are talking about seem to not care about alienating people who don’t agree with everything they’re saying. (Remember, Dubya is the guy who said that Jews can’t get into heaven…)

I signed up for the Davenetics mailing list a few weeks back, and have really been enjoying it — it’s written by Dave Pell, and it’s just a half-dozen or so links every day to news pieces related to the tech industry. Not bad, not bad at all.

Well, doesn’t this make FreeCell a hell of a lot less challenging.

This thread on MetaFilter had me rolling with laughter today; I love when pseudointellectual religious zealots try to do battle with a bunch of people who have no qualms mocking the zealotry openly. I’m hoping the thread ain’t finished.

Salon has two good “Mothers Who Think” columns in their recent stack of archives. First is Richard Knows Best, a pretty damn great column about the scheming guy who won Survivor and the disservice the schmuck did to his child by exposing the kid’s past on a national television show. And second, there’s Bosom Buddies, written by a self-described feminist mom who wonders if she can want breast implants and represent what is good and right in womanhood at the same time. Both good reads.

I dunno where I spotted this, but check out this actual snippet from the ABC NewsWire. Could you imagine if this hadn’t been caught? Liability, liability, liability…

Something which could come in handy for my upcoming trip to Alaska: the ABCs of bear & human conflict resolution. (Of course, it’s not going to hurt to visit the REI in Anchorage and stock up on pepper spray and bear bells.)

How funny — apparently, TRUSTe violated its own policy regarding the notification duty of a website that has contracted with a third-party which is gathering data about visitors to that website. Slowly, it’s becoming clear that the self-policing privacy model sucks.

I’m not sure why, but this story about a flight attendant who was victimized by a large-breasted woman and a malfunctioning airline door amused me.

William Saletan has an interesting analysis of the current strategies of both political parties, concluding that Bush moving from stressing issues of character to issues of policy is what will eventually undermine people’s belief in his past, and future, ability to lead.

What a horrible situation — a judge in England has ruled that one conjoined twin must die in order to save the other, against the wishes of the parents. The crux of the problem is that there’s no way to separate them and have both live; they share only one set of lungs and one heart, an unusual variation on the “normal” conjoined twin anatomy. I’m not sure how something like this would play out in the United States.

Over the past eight years, Clinton has designated over four million acres of land as national monument territory, including groves of redwoods and sequoias older than our nation, sections of the Grand Canyon, and Indian ruins. This week, Dicky Cheney remarked that, under a Dubya administration, many of these monument designations would be subject to review and possible rescinding. Business wins again; damn the environment.

I’m sick of reading news articles and opinion pieces in the computer trade press that include a sentence parenthetically saying something like, “Inevitably, the Microsoft/DOJ case will end up before the Supreme Court no matter how the current issue plays out.” Does anyone have any proof of this? I find it pretty hard to believe that the Supreme Court will get involved in this; it seems more to be a case of the press believing their own hype. Just because writers and editors are devoting billions of inches of column space to the story doesn’t make it as Earth-shattering as they want it to be…

I don’t know why, but I have really been enjoying repairing lacerations in the ER. Last night, I had a kid who had unsuccessfully tried to jump a chain-link fence and ended up with a nasty gash on the back of his leg; it was a complicated repair in that the wound was rectangular, and thus the skin edges couldn’t just be pulled together (or else there would have been weird bunched-up skin at each end). What do you do in that case? Anesthetize and actually extend the laceration to make it elliptical, which makes it much easier to repair and leaves a much better cosmetic result.

It’s pretty typical that Dave Winer put a huge complaint on Scripting News about O’Reilly’s investment in Pyra, but then neglected to point equally as prominently to Tim O’Reilly’s response to that complaint. This is the same man who proclaims that personal attacks should be kept on one’s own site yet has felt just fine about contributing his own brand of nastiness to the discussion group here; I’m with Dan and Cam on this one.

I can’t express how offensive it is that, in the year 2000, shit like this continues to occur. At least the Dodgers responded adequately; I hope that it’s all the other ushers that have to go through sensitivity training, since the usher involved should have been fired outright.

I want this.

Good and bad evening in the ER tonight; I sewed up a lower eyelid (the poor kid pulled a baby carriage over on himself) and a forehead (tripped and hit a metal-rimmed stair), both cool things to have done, but I also dealt with an eight year-old who had been discovered by her grandmother being forced to perform nastiness on a neighborhood boy. All things considered, she was actually doing great, and it worked out that we have no reason to be concerned for her physical health, so I guess that’s one less thing to worry about for her parents. Ugliness, though, and makes me wonder what kind of parents raised this neighborhood boy.

I’m very confused — how does Newtella intend to make money? What will differentiate their product from Gnutella, Gnotella, or any of the other clones? Their only press release has no information in it (surprise!), except that they “address the security issues inherent in the gnutella protocol and provide stability.” Huh?

Finally, the government has implemented guidelines that allow for human embryonic cell research. Much of the pool of embryonic cells is made up of a very special class of cells — stem cells, which are far enough “back” in the developmental ladder that they can differentiate into almost any kind of cell in the human body. A single cell can become a pancreatic islet cell, a muscle cell, a neuron, you name it. Being able to research how these cells differentiate, and how they could be used to replace diseased tissue, will most likely lead to a few breakthroughs in the medical world.

The Boy Scouts’ decision to fight for the right to be intolerant pigs is coming back to bite them, as expected — organizations and public bodies are stemming their support of the Scouts, and there is now a bill before Congress to revoke the Scouts’ Congressional charter. I’d love to see a suit brought at the Federal level, across multiple jurisdictions, which challenges any public organization’s right to fund the Scouts.

Dubya: “We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.” Does anything go on in this man’s head?

Looks like Cam and Damien have been screwed by the worst company, bar none, ever to grace the face of Earth Verizon for the billionth time in their quest to get DSL. Because of the plight of the Barrett twins, Brad, and Dan (among others), every time a friend asks about getting DSL, I explain what a poor, poor choice that would be.

Last night was a weird night in the ER; most of my cases were a far stretch from the normal asthma, stomach pain, and headache that we normally get. I had a kid who had been hit in the eyelid with a baseball bat (five stitches), a young girl who had a breast abscess (conscious sedation, aspiration of abscess), a little boy who knocked his head against a desk (two staples), a toddler who had big swollen lips and tongue (reassurance that gingivostomatitis goes away quickly), and a young boy who had nearly sliced off the tip of his finger in a can (finger nerve block, four stitches, and followup to orthopedics). The nine hours flew by, feeling like about 20 minutes.

Hi Jason,

Had to LOL about the AOLiza thing… there used to be a version of Eliza for the C64 in BASIC. Then I got a Forth cartridge and rewrote it in Forth on a lark. Called it Fliza, of course. :o) The wierd thing was that the size of the source code kept getting smaller as I worked on it, beyond what I’d have thought was possible (except for the string literals).

RE ManilaWebsites.root, IMHO it’s not such a bad thing — it doesn’t make a _huge_ difference to portablity, and it keeps the number of open files down too. Overall, I think it’s a reasonable design choice — it’s not hard to uninstall the site, copy it to another GDB and reinstall it on the same machine or a different one.

I am very, very, very sad today. Ben, Bryan, Lane, Courtney, Tempy: from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the fabulous product that you produced, the time and creative energy that you put into making the web a better place, and the endurance that you displayed in the face of obstacles that won. DeepLeap will be missed immensely.

This week’s Diary on Slate could turn out interesting — a telephone psychic, talking about her work.

Something just hit me — why has “television” come to be abbreviated “TV”, but “telephone” isn’t “TP”? Let’s start a national movement to call our telephones TPs. Come one, you all with me?

I worked my first evening shift in the pediatric ER tonight (5 PM to 2 AM), and it felt like about 2 hours went by before it was time to go home. It’s strange medicine, seeing each patient for an hour, tops, and then possibly never seeing them again. I like more continuity than that. But all that being said, it’s also pretty cool medicine — come in, spill your medical story out, get treated, and go home well again, or at least better than when you came in and on the road to wellness.

Warner Bros. has chosen the three people who’ll star in the upcoming Harry Potter movie — being that I love the books, I hope that the movie doesn’t suck.

Well, if I have to drink 120 gallons of beer every day…

If you haven’t already seen it (what, with tons of media coverage), you must download and watch 405 The Movie. Be sure to watch the movie first, and then check out the “making of” pages afterwards. Amazing.

The only thing the Verizon settlement means is that 50,000 people can go back to doing no work and being paid for it.

Writ (quickly becoming one of my favorite legal reads on the web) has a short piece on why the Twelfth Amendment may, in fact, prohibit Dubya and Cheney from running together (or more precisely, why it prohibits Texan voters from voting for both of them on the same ticket). The words: “The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.”

The second Rainier Web-Index survey is out, and the results aren’t encouraging. (The people responsible for the survey email the 200 companies in the Fortune 100 and the FTSE 100, using contact information available on their websites, and then record how long it takes to get an actual reply back from them. Some companies never responded.)

I love the melding of the old computer world with the new computer world — and that’s why I’m getting a kick out of AOLiza. This guy has hooked the old ELIZA online analyst software up with AOL Instant Messenger, and for every random chat request he gets, ELIZA answers. Much hilarity ensues.

Oxymoron of the day: Catholic Woodstock.

I’m still trying to digest the way-too-long Atlantic Monthly article by Charles Mann about Napster and music on the net. My reaction so far — it’s very thorough and deals with the issue mostly fairly, but it peddles out the same arguments that drive me crazy about most articles on the subject. Just because there are artists that support Napster doesn’t mean those who don’t should lose their ability to control distribution of their music; just because artists sign terrible contracts with recording studios doesn’t mean that I should break the law to somehow right that wrong.

I love when Linus Torvalds shows his irritable side, and makes a lot of sense in the process. The best quote in the email: “It’s also realizing that maybe, just maybe, UNIX didn’t invent every clever idea out there.”

This article about HIV disbelievers scares the hell out of me. The fact that this total loon not only believes that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS isn’t as bad as the fact that there are people listening to her. And more disgusting is that her pediatrician hasn’t called child services on her, seeing as she’s HIV positive and breastfeeding her child; I’m truly appalled.

Some resources that will help people refute people who deny the HIV-AIDS connection (if you even want to engage them in an argument):

  • the NIH has a detailed fact sheet on the evidence that’s been amassed to date; this is possibly the most thorough single resource, and it’s updated regularly.
  • Science magazine published a five-part series on HIV dissenters, going to great lengths to provide all the available evidence. They have made access to these articles free forever, based on their fear that the dissenters will actually convince people because of a lack of credible refuting evidence on the web.
  • Current Opinion in Immunology published an article in 1996 demonstrating how the HIV-AIDS link now fulfills all of Koch’s Postulates, the litmus test in science for causation.
  • AIDS Treatment News has a brief how-to-respond article which lists the most common points made by HIV denialists.
  • the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has put together a bibliography of further resources, and it appears to be regularly updated.

Unrelated but still medical, Arthur Allen has a good article in Salon about conflicts of interest in medical research. As federal medical research money dries up, private money fills the vacuum — and sometimes, it buys positive studies, studies that help shape enormous parts of medical policy. (That’s why it’s so important that our government continue to fund medical research.)

When did Manila start adding newly-created sites to a GDB named “manilaWebsites” rather than to their own individual GDBs? This decreases the portability of the sites; I don’t know why they did this.

Take a warm coat. I was in Anchorage on labor day, 30 and snowing. Very pretty.

I’m pretty damn excited now. My brother and I are in the middle of finalizing our vacation plans for a few weeks from now; on tap, Alaska. Specifically, Anchorage, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Denali National Park and Preserve, and the Prince William Sound. To name a few destinations…

Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest national park in the U.S. — it would fit six Yellowstones inside it, or to put it differently, it’s bigger than Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island put together. Check out this map for a sense of its size; it’s unfathomable. It contains the second-tallest mountain in the U.S. (Mt. St. Elias) and a glacier larger than Rhode Island (Malaspina Glacier); there aren’t any paved roads in it at all. (I think that I should get a GPS receiver, so we can find our way back to our camping gear.)

Denali, of course, contains North America’s tallest mountain, Mt. McKinley. (Denali is actually the name given to the mountain by the native Alaskans; the word is a transliteration of a Koyukon word which generally means “great one.”) I don’t imagine we’ll be trekking up the mountain.

Found at peterme: the strangely intriguing and startling screenshots. Go there. Now.

I’m sad — today’s my next-to-last day of playing with newborns in the nursery. Of course, part of my clinic is that I get a newborn every week, so it won’t be THAT bad…

Uh oh, I’m in trouble; the 2000-2001 Ikea catalog came today. Must… resist… temptation.

Wow, are high school students in for a lot of spam. I can’t believe that the College Board can get away with this; I envision many, many college admission offices finding themselves on the MAPS realtime blackhole list over the spam they send out.

It’s funny — Microsoft gets lambasted because the company recognized how much better their operating system would be with the HTML browser integrated into it, but when Eazel looks to do the same thing for Linux, they’re lauded?

Wired has a funny, but not so funny, story about how technology is ruining handwriting skills in the U.S. — and how it starts with elementary schools which aren’t even stressing the importance of handwriting anymore due to a belief that technology is making writing obsolete.

Small update on my Nomad II MP3 player — it appears to have come with a bad SmartMedia card, so I had to exchange it at the store. I didn’t have any problems, and actually, Creative’s tech support people were awesome. Also, my review led Dan Budiac to buy his own Nomad II, and he appears to like it as well.

Wowzers — Steve Martin is putting together a half-hour show for NBC. I’m salivating… he’s awesome, and I think that this should be a neat thing.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again — banning journalists who happen to work for net-only media sources from the Olympics is incredibly stupid. In 1996, and possibly even in 1998, the IOC could do this knowing that most people would still probably turn on their TV to get the stories. In 2000, though, so many more people rely on the web for their news; I have a feeling that a ton of people will probably just forego the stories and find something else of interest. (Of course, media sources that exist both on and off the web will still get their credentials, and will still cross-pollinate their websites with the stories from their off-web publications, so it’s not like there’ll be nothing for Olympic fans online.)

Articles like this demonstrate that many Linux users don’t understand what it will take to bring Linux into the mainstream. Linux needs AOL in order to be able to threaten Microsoft’s lock on the desktop; without AOL (and the users that it brings), Linux is just another tech geek’s playtoy.

I finished the fourth Harry Potter over the weekend, and the little twist/goof that I mentioned earlier is driving me crazy. Personally, I think it’s meant to introduce a twist into the plot; there are way too many other instances of Rowling doing things like this throughout the four-book series so far.

And another reflexive hello to Jairus (and Jessica).

I bought a Creative Nomad II MP3 player this past weekend, and have spent the better part of three days getting to know it well. So far, I like it a lot (although that may be the well-known Jason Plus New Toy Effect), but of course, there are things that I don’t like or would change if I had the power. Here’s a brief review of both classes of observations.

Things I Like

First, the size. At 2.6” by 3.7” by 0.8”, it’s small, light, and fits into any pocket or bag without you noticing it’s really there. And since it comes with a little clip-on remote, you don’t even need to fish it out when someone starts talking to you or when you get where you’re going.

Next, the sound. It’s crisp and clean, and there are six or seven DSP options to chose from. High and low ranges are very well-represented — I’ve listened to a lot of my jazz collection on the Nomad II, and the shrill trumpet blasts and deep bass thumps sound great.

Next, the display. It’s a very readible backlit LCD which is fully graphical. This means that the menu has little icons next to all the choices, and features are represented by logical little graphics along the top of the display; it also means that it’s probably trivial for Creative engineers to add future display features and whatnot.

Next, the software. Creative uses their own software to get songs onto the Nomad II, and it works very well. (Some other MP3 players require RealJukebox or MusicMatch to function, and my track record with both of these products is a little sketchy at best.) A nice surprise, too, was a WinAmp plug-in that installed with the Nomad II Manager software on my machine — it allows me to manage the player from completely within WinAmp. (There are some minor problems with the plug-in, though, like the fact that it was slightly off on calculating how much music I could fit onto the SmartMedia card.)

Next, the USB interface. No passthrough parallel port docks (which are never truly passthrough), no slow serial connections; instead, there’s a simple, standard USB cable which connects directly between the Nomad II and my computer. Creative’s software immediately recognizes that I’m plugged in and runs the manager application (you can disable this if you want), and I’m off and running.

Next, the power requirements. Seeing as there are no moving parts, the Nomad II can run on one AA battery for 8-10 hours, which is great.

Lastly, the reprogrammibility. The Nomad II firmware was written in order to be both flashable and expandable; this means that Creative is able to fix problems with units already in the public, and is able to add new features as they deem necessary. One problem that’s already been fixed: Windows 2000 and Mac support. One feature that’s already been added: support for files in the Windows Media format.

Things I Don’t Like

OK, enough with the glow-fest. There are some things that I don’t like about the Nomad II, as well.

First, no multitasking abilities. When the Nomad II is doing something (say, playing music), you can’t do anything else with it, like look at the time, choose the next song to play, or look at the list of other songs. The damn thing’s a computer, and it should be able to let me browse my MP3 directory while I’m listening to one of them.

Next, the menu navigation. For example: on the front of the Nomad II is a circular “button” that’s actually four buttons (see the picture of the player on the main Creative site). In looking at the circle, it looks like it should behave as an up button, a down button, a left button, and a right button when you’re in menus. And, in fact, 75% of it does — left moves left, right moves right, and down moves down. But up (which is also the play button) chooses the currently-flashing menu choice instead of moving up — a bad break in expected functionality. Other examples of this aren’t hard to find; in some menus, the volume buttons serve increment/decrement functions, and the record button serves as a “set” button. Strange.

Next, no use of external or USB power. When you’re hooked up to your computer via the USB cable, power stays on to the Nomad II, draining your battery. Why didn’t Creative choose to either allow an external power source, or better yet, take power from the USB bus (500 milliamps per port on most controllers) while the Nomad is plugged in?

Next, it doesn’t remember where you left off in your playlist. I have 15 songs on my Nomad II right now; every time I power it off, I start back at song number one when I turn it on. (I may be spoiled in this respect, though, seeing as my portable CD player has this feature.)

Next, the volume limit is too low. In NYC, we have to deal with some loud environmental noise (trucks driving by on the street, subways speeding through stations, gypsy cabs honking at everything with a pulse); the Nomad can be swamped at (albeit rare) times. In addition, the volume selection goes from 0 to 25; why did they choose a scale that ends at 25? Seems weird.

Lastly, the use of SmartMedia. CompactFlash is cheaper, available in larger sizes (192 Mb vs. 64 Mb), and is what many digital cameras are using. In addition, companies are doing remarkably cool things with CF (like building USB controllers into the media itself), making the whole transferring-music thing much easier. But try as I did, I was completely unable to find a decent MP3 player that uses CF, so I ended up deciding to suck it up and buy a SmartMedia-based player.

Two big stories in the news today, one horrible and one inspiring.

After playing with my Nomad II MP3 player for a few days, I’ve written out some of the things I like and don’t like about it. (I guess you could call it a review…)

Why have I not seen these three Nike TV commercials before? They’re absolute genius… pure genius.

Factovision, a site I discovered yesterday in a fit of post-Harry Potter websurfing, gives a nod to the great Cecil Adams column recounting Indiana’s attempt to pass a law rounding the value of pi. I particularly love the response letter, calling Cecil a heathen for not recognizing the Biblical reasons why pi equals exactly 3.

OK, Nikolai, I’ll play along… but does your link here officially break your promise (made on a #blogirc session a few months back) to never, ever link to a Manila site?

Two good Dubya perspectives comin’ atcha. First, William Saletan:

“A true man of purpose does not speak constantly of having a purpose — much less a series of purposes. “Purpose,” like “dignity” or “confidence,” is a word invoked compulsively by those who lack it. They know they’re supposed to have it, but they don’t quite know what it is. They don’t understand that mouthing the word is not the same as having the thing to which it refers. Nor do they realize that the more promiscuously they assert it, the less it means.”

Next, Paul Chaplin:

When I started writing, this is where I was headed: “I donít believe W has ever had a serious political thought in his life. The practical result of his Jesus-renovated heart is that it gave him a renewed determination to pursue life exactly as prescribed by his background ó namely, to more effectively and proudly and smirkingly use all the prestige with which he was born to procure as much money as possible as effortlessly as possible. For W, becoming president would mean that his life is not a wasted one. Rather, W is close to matching Dad as the Most Successful Yale Man ever.”

Cintra Wilson has a hilarious recap (made up, I think?) of the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston wedding ceremony. “I was one of the first in on the orgy; Salma Hayek and I spilled hot wine all over each other and allowed it to be licked off by several Dalmatian dogs.”

I hope that Dave’s statements about Jakob Nielsen’s lack of permalinks isn’t an insult, but instead is a mild poke to get Jakob to add the feature to his site; after all, it took a similar poke by this site before Dave added the feature to Manila and Scripting News.

I went down to J&R Music World yesterday to pick up a rave:MP 2200, and ended up walking out with a Nomad II. Why? I like the interface a lot more, I like the fact that you can manage your playlists completely within WinAmp, and I like that the company’s big enough that I can feel somewhat secure that I’ll get support a few years from now.

A little while ago, I noted the release of ShareZilla, a tool written to facilitate advertising and spam on the Gnutella network. Now, has an article on the resulting flap that it’s caused among those who have come to use Gnutella. My favorite quote comes from Rob Smith, one of the authors of ShareZilla: “People are upset that they have to look at an ad because it gets in the way of stealing music. It’s a little laughable.” Similar sentiments are expressed in this Slashdot posting; of course, Slashdotters have rated it as a troll, as they do anything that doesn’t fall into line behind their information-must-be-free beliefs.

Wow! One of the biggest pains in the ass about Windows NT has been that you can’t create MS-DOS boot disks with it… or so I thought. It turns out, though, that you can; this should make my life a little easier!

Ivy Meeropol has a good article in Feed Magazine on the current status of RU-486 (mifepristone) approval and manufacture in the U.S.. Meanwhile, methotrexate (along with misprostol) is a safe alternative, and the kicker is that it’s perfectly legal in the U.S. and is already used at times to terminate hydatiform mole pregnancies.

I’m wondering if there’s anyone out there that really wants to know about Kathie Lee Gifford’s first lay. (The Onion also covered Kathie Lee recently, with a history of her 15 years on Live!.)

What a great photo.

Damn UrbanFetch — despite having the option unchecked which would allow them to send me ads via email, they sent one out today. I called, and they said it won’t happen again…

In my quest for a nice MP3 player, I’m now looking at the Sensory Science rave:MP 2200, which looks pretty cool. (I’ve given up on looking for a good one that uses CompactFlash, since it doesn’t seem that one exists.) has two great articles this week on the intersections of law and medicine.

The first is about a labor and delivery nurse whose religion prevents her from assisting in the termination of a pregnancy, and a court’s refusal to allow her to proceed in a lawsuit against UMDNJ for failure to accomodate her religious beliefs. The court’s position: that people in her position can’t make unilateral demands for special treatment, but instead themselves need to be accomodating in a solution to their problem. My feeling: if you hold beliefs such as these, then you have no right to make demands about what your job entails. Instead, you need to find yourself a job that doesn’t conflict with your beliefs.

The second article details a study that demonstrated the inability of judges to tell scientifically-valid studies and testimony from junk science. This is pretty scary, and is why things like silicone breast implants have legal verdicts against them despite the lack of any good data linking them to harm; it is also the shield behind which crackpot websites that spread misinformation and potential harm to millions of web surfers do their dirty work.

The Dinkism of the Week:

“I want you to know that farmers are not going to be secondary thoughts to a Bush administration. They will be in the forethought of our thinking.”

Mental note: think about whether or not to disable Frontier’s auto-update feature, since this week’s security alert and fix broke two of my installed Frontier applications. Didn’t take long to fix, but still…

If a browser fell onto the web and nobody were there to use it, would it make a difference?

It seems as if being a lesbian is a bad thing unless you’re Dick Cheney’s daughter. Do you think that he and his wife spend most of their family holidays lecturing Mary about her immorality and heathen nature? I love that Lynne Cheney flatly denied her homosexuality in an interview last week, despite Mary’s overwhelmingly open sexuality. I love hypocrites.

The photographer who took the uber-famous picture of Che Guevara in 1960 is suing Smirnoff vodka, who used the picture in ads without asking him or paying him royalties. Of course, if he wrote and performed a song rather than took a photo, his work would be swapped on Napster a million times a minute, with bunches of otherwise-intellectual folks trying to justify the violation of his copyright.

Does it seem to you like $250,000 isn’t close to enough of a fine for Verizon to have to pay? After all, they sent over 10,000 postcards to legislators lobbying them, and made them look as if they came from customers who never consented to the use of their name. Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy.

If you previously followed my link to the PalmPilot Growth Charts application (which lets you enter age, weight, height, and head circumference and computes percentiles based on the CDC’s year 2000 stats), you will want to download the latest version, which fixes a few bugs and improves the UI a slight bit.

David Cone finally won a friggin’ game, stopping his eight-game losing streak. Jose Canseco, new pickup for the Yanks, didn’t hurt either with his home run and three RBIs.

Happiness is having a slow day in the newborn nursery, and thus ending up feeding a 14-hour old girl her afternoon formula.

Of course anti-Semites are going to worm their way out of the woodwork now that Joseph Lieberman has been chosen as the Democratic VP candidate, but I don’t know if it helps anything that the media keeps referring to him only as “that Jew who’s running for office.” I wish we were past crap like that in this country.

Lieberman is the source for one of the funniest quotes I’ve ever read, too. When asked about the Bush campaign’s suggestion that the VP choice has more in common with Dubya than he does with Gore, Lieberman replied:

“With all due respect, I think that’s like saying that the veterinarian and the taxidermist are in the same business because either way you get your dog back.”

In a pretty huge victory for musicians, today all sides agreed that sound recordings are not “works for hire” under copyright law, and thus, artists recapture copyrights to their works after 35 years. The Copyright Act of 1976 gave musical artists the ability to take copyright of their music back from recording studios after 35 years; under an amendment quietly slipped into a budget bill last year (this is one of the big issues raised by Courtney Love in her rant against the recording industry), all sound recordings would be deemed works for hire, which would have stripped artists of the 35-year reclaimation right. Today’s agreement will nullify that amendment.

Unixheads will want to read Let’s Make Unix Not Suck, a pretty damn interesting article by Miguel de Icaza. He actually defends some of the decisions that companies like Microsoft have made with certain aspects of code design (e.g., highly-reusable components), and proposes changes to the base mentality of Unix programming.

And in a similar vein, Joel Spolsky rocks again with a great article on his 12 rules for better code. Having moved offices recently, I can personally attest to the need-for-quiet-workspace rule; my old office was not conducive to personal reflection upon programming errors.

Followup on the huge gaping Netscape wound mentioned a few days ago: BugTraq now has two pages (1, 2) which go into pretty good detail about the bugs in Netscape’s Java implementation. Why two pages? Because Brown Orifice (the name of the exploit) actually takes advantage of two separate bugs to do its dirty work.

Thank God for the UN; in all honesty, my life just felt unfulfilling with controlled by hooligans.

One of the biggest arguements the creators of Napster have for keeping it aorund is that there is not money involved, unless you count money from advertisements on their website, but i dont think the even do that.

Who would be benefitting from Napsters use, the Music Industry, but lets not get into that…Napster people dont make money, how? no ads, free to use, free to trade. Im sure if they began charging, or started charging from the beginning, they would be drastically fewer people using it and switching to one of the many other means of getting mp3 over the net.

Classic movie that I haven’t seen: Raging Bull. Remedy: Film Forum, 1:30 PM today, 20th anniversary showing. UPDATE: the movie was awesome, but I don’t know which was cooler, sitting in the movie theater a seat away from Spike Lee, or watching someone shush Spike Lee as the movie was about to roll.

In a bit of word trickery rivaling anything Clinton has mustered, Dubya got caught in a major lie about military readiness this week. In claiming that two divisions of the military aren’t “ready for duty,” Dubya failed to understand exactly what that term means, and why the divisions fit into their specific readiness categories. (The C-4 readiness category, to which both the 1st Infantry Division and the 10th Mountain Division downgraded themselves temporarily, indicates that they would not be able to report to two major theatres of war, in separate parts of the world, at the same time. The reason for both divisions downgrading themselves is that they were already stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo, on military missions.) The Army News Service explained the exact meaning of all this way back in November — one would think that Dubya should have been paying attention.

For all those who rant and rave about Internet Explorer and its various security issues, you may want to level your guns at Netscape Navigator right about now… but not after turning off Java in Netscape, since Brown Orifice is a huge gaping wound.

There’s an interesting patch, IP Personality, available for the 2.4.X line of Linux kernels. It allows your Linux box to masquerade as another type of machine at the network level; this fools network probe programs that try to identify machine types (like nmap) into thinking that your Linux box is something else. Why would you do this? Knowing what operating system a box runs helps hackers begin to plan an attack on that box; if you can legitimatly fool them, then you’re one step further from being hacked.

I hadn’t realized that the genius site was a Jessamyn product. I love her idea of just tacking a “.COM” onto the end of all of the offensive lawn signs, which will bring people to her website and to the more level-headed side of the issue.

I missed a WSJ article last week about Napster’s two-faced approach to intellectual property — the company’s officers don’t mind encouraging the sharing of other’s copyrighted works, but come down with a strong fist on anyone who tries to share in the company’s own labors. Meanwhile, Rafe Colburn doesn’t like the fact that Napster is trying to make money on the backs of other’s creative works.

There’s a Napster-related MSNBC article today that annoys me, because it both spreads misinformation about the law and still uses a pretty untenable rationalization to try to justify theft of music.

First, the woman claims that she’s been making audio tapes of her favorite music for friends, claiming “thanks to the Audio Home Recording Act, that’s not illegal.” Actually, it is illegal; the AHRA only covers personal home use, and mostly covers serial digital recording devices and copies. In perusing the law, I haven’t been able to find a case where distributing copies, even to one’s friends, is legal. (For more on the AHRA, read the law or an OK summary of what it covers.)

(The worst part of this is that the woman is a journalist, and could have done some research about the AHRA before writing her little offhand comment about how it allows her to distribute music.)

Second, it seems that her position is that it’s OK to steal music if it’s not available at her record store (i.e., concert bootlegs). Yet the person who made that recording agreed to a ban on recording when he or she entered the concert; this is the same as agreeing to a non-disclosure agreement before a computer company will let you beta test their software. And just as I’m not allowed to distribute that software (e.g., updates to Pike or Radio Userland — see the licenses for each — or the Windows Me betas that I get every month), I’m also not allowed to distribute bootleg music. And if I receive said things, then I too have violated someone’s copyright.

Someone asked me a few days ago why it is that I so adamant about all of this. My response is that it’s because I, too, create things on which I hold a copyright in full or part (software, scientific papers, photographs). If I want other people to respect my copyrights, then I should damn well respect everyone else’s.

What is interesting to me is that there are some pretty high-profile people out there — columnists, software authors, news reporters — that are supporting Napster, yet most would probably be the first in line to file suit if someone started distributing their copyrighted works. Of course, that’s just an assumption, and I could be wrong about that. Maybe someone out there should test the theory.

There’s a Napster-related MSNBC article today that annoys me, because it both spreads misinformation about the law and still uses a pretty untenable rationalization to try to justify theft of music. I’ve thrown my feelings about this into the discussion group, so those of you who are Napstered out can avoid them.

The other night, I went out with a bunch of old friends in NYC, and the recent New York Magazine article about the incomes of New Yorkers, and how everyone’s stretched to their limits, kept coming up in conversation. I tell you, though, I have a very, very hard time feeling bad for anyone making seven figures, no matter where they live.

From Karl Martino comes a DNC-created site, I Know What You Did In Texas, all about Dubya’s sketchy legacy in the South. I haven’t had time to pore through it yet…

Verizon workers are striking; being that it’s the worst service company in the history of Earth, I wonder if anyone will notice. I have a feeling that even replacing the workers with trained chinchillas would result in more customer satisfaction. I can see the news stories now:

“Jack Smith, who ordered DSL 1,423 days ago but has yet to receive the service, was shocked yesterday when two squirrels and a hedgehog showed up at his door and claimed to be there to install the DSL line. Yet today, he’s surfing the web incredibly fast, and has nothing bad to say about the new frontline at Verizon.”

What a fantastic story — a family was flying back from the Bahamas in a small airplane, and after the pilot died at the controls, the father took over, sent out a call for help, and successfully landed the plane. When the life of your family is at stake, you can do anything…

I went to see Sonny Rollins play at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors free concert series tonight; it was terrific. Rollins is a legend of jazz, and it’s clear why — he’s a virtuoso on the sax, and his music has an uplifting beat that keeps everyone tapping their feet (except for the annoying woman four or five down from me, on her cellphone).

MSNBC has a neat article about the elusive quest for proof that prions are the cause of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a.k.a. mad cow disease). For those less-scientific out there, the big problem with the theory is that it’s been a well-accepted notion for centuries that only organisms with genes — viruses, bacteria, etc. — can spread disease; prions are just proteins. It’s fascinating work trying to prove or disprove the prion theory.

Genius. The only thing it needs is a randomizer. (Credit to MetaFilter for the link…)

Props to Dan for the pretty swanky redesign.

It’s about time — Verio is being sued by, alleging that the ISP harvested information out of the WHOIS database and used it for marketing, cold-calls, and solicitations. Every time I get a call that’s clearly based on the information I was required to give to register domains, I wish that I had perfected that button that I press that vaporizes the person at the other end of the phone.

It appears that AOL has decided to remove the spyware features from SmartDownload.

Steve Ross throws out the conjecture that nobody’s proven that sharing copyrighted music is illegal, so thus the media’s biased against Napster by repeatedly referring to the predominant use of it as “piracy.” I’d love to respond to this, and do so on his site, but he’s been so kind as to disable posting by members, thus leaving his word as manna, uncontestable, so I’m doing so here. My response: my message from three days ago. Why does Steve believe that intellectual property belongs to him, and to all of society? Can I take his site, copy its contents exactly, and reproduce them here? Does he claim rights to the code that I’ve written? Artists create their music, and they get to determine what to do with it. If they determine to sign a contract that then gives recording companies the right to determine the future of the music, then that’s their choice; it’s also the law.

Over $90 million of the $137 million raised by Dubya so far comes from only 739 people. While I don’t know the equivalent stats for the Dems, this seems astounding. We live in a country with well over a quarter of a billion people, and less than 0.0003% of those people (you’re reading that right) have contributed 66% of the money going to try to elect the Republican candidate to the Presidency. Makes you wonder how much of a democracy this is…

Oh, and nevermind that Dick Cheney’s company, and Cheney personally, have contributed significant money to the candidates who are cosponsoring legislation limiting workers’ abilities to sue for asbestos-related health problems. I really believe that Dubya’s best quality was his lack of any real national political record, and that he is shooting himself in the foot by running with someone with an atrocious record in many different areas.

Louisiana is being taken to court over a vanity license plate template that contains “Choose Life” across the top. What’s worse, the money people spend to buy the plates is banned by state law from going to any organization that offers counseling or referrals to abortion clinics.

For those of you who didn’t already know, Jennifer Ringley, of JenniCam fame, recently stole the fiancee of one of her best friends, and ended up having sex with him on the JenniCam numerous times. For a while, outrage over the treachery was confined to weblogs and fan forums; now, however, the national media is on board, which means that Jenni gets a renewal on her 15 minutes of fame.

Lest you be cavalier while fishing, be very careful of the swordfish at the end of your line…

Microsoft has started a Knowledge Base article about the known issues with Windows 2000 Service Pack 1. In addition, it turns out that MS has listened to system admins and put together a way for you to build an installer that contains both Win2K and Service Pack 1 together; instructions are in the deployment guide.

Brigham Young did decide to kick Julie Stoffer out of school. Julie’s the woman who appeared on the current season of MTV’s Real World, and apparently, BYU believes that living with guys in the New Orleans house violates their honor code. I like Julie’s response — “I am happy to no longer be affiliated with BYU.”

Strangely, I just became addicted to the stupid little video games that Snapple has on their website. I truly am a freak sometimes.

A few days ago, Jim Roepcke started a thread here, asking questions about how you guarantee the honesty of the people who are taking music from you via Napster; it’s turned into an interesting conversation, at least in a quasi-rationalizing-mindset kind of way.

Another small victory for Charles Darwin, John Scopes, and people with brains…

I like the idea furthered by one of the people interviewed for this article on cell phone rage: if someone’s talking on their phone in a place where it’s clearly annoying, whip out a notebook and visibly take notes on the conversation. (Of course, I also feel that people get all bent out of shape about many cellphone conversations when they wouldn’t even notice the same conversation going on between the same two people if they were both present and standing next to the complainer.)

Interesting, in an academic sort of way: the 22nd Amendment would permit a Gore-Clinton election ticket. (Of course, I think that laws against suicide would prevent it, but…)

Writ has a sociologic look at Survivor, harkening back to the Milgram Experiment, Machiavelli, alliances, and politics. It’s actually the first interesting read I’ve found on the show, and it made me realize that it’s the first time someone’s pegged exactly why the show’s so interesting — this shit is deeply embedded in a lot of people.

I have a blind date tonight; I’m being set up with a woman by my attending doctor up at the newborn nursery. Ack.

Dick Cheney, the man who wants us to elect him to the Vice Presidency on a ticket of integrity and straight-talk, Sunday dismissed questions about his voting record as “trivia.” What “trivia” was it the reporters were asking about? Cheney’s vote in 1985 against a resolution urging the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. He also consistently voted against sanctions against the overwhelmingly racist South African government. Colin Powell must have been real proud to be speaking yesterday at the convention in which Cheney will be nominated.

Dahlia Lithwick lashes into Laura Bush, and the rest of the “GOP slumber party,” gently reminding the world that women voters demand more than the lipservice and pirouetting that has taken place at the convention thus far. (Have I mentioned how much I like Dahlia’s writing? Oh, yeah… many times.)

Sports Illustrated takes a well-deserved beating for its cover of Anna Kournikova a month back. The week she was on the cover, the NBA Finals were going strong, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens pitched near-perfect games against each other, and Kournikova got swept out of the second round of the French Open. Bah.

I installed Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 on all my computers over the past two days, with no problems. At this point, I would recommend that others start moving towards it, at least on non-essential computers that at least resemble the production machines in your environment (the better to test it with your particular application and networking needs).