I know I’m late to the ballgame on this one, but I’m enjoying the hell out of True Porn Clerk Stories.

Just as an alert, on the off chance that someone cares: I probably won’t be posting for most of next week. Instead, I get to spend the week swimming, making crafts, hiking, cooking, and playing with any and all of our oncology patients that are well enough to take a summer break. I wasn’t able to make it to camp at all last year; I cannot wait for Sunday to roll around.

I’m pretty sure, thanks to Anil, that I know what my next desktop computer will look like. It’s the first computer that I’ve found that has everything I want — onboard networking, FireWire, USB 2.0, ATA/133 disk support, and good audio — and it’s itty bitty to boot. I’m eagerly anticipating it going on sale… (For a few better reviews, try here and here.)

Oh, please, for the love of God and all that’s holy, don’t start sending video email, no matter what c|net has to say about it.

I think it’s soooo awesome that scientists have found a new species of centipede, and in Central Park, no less. Even cooler, it’s unique enough that it’s being classified as the only species within its very own genus. I’d bet that there’ll be more than the usual number of kids and parents hunting around the Park this weekend, hoping to catch a glimpse of the creepy crawly.

I have started the leg (and keyboard) work for moving off of Manila for this site (to Ben and Mena’s fabuloso Movable Type), and have started to put together the list of functionalities for which I need to find replacements or methods of implementing.

  • Search engine: I want to find a search engine that runs locally, and works with Movable Type’s MySQL database-driven format. It would be nice if I could have it index multiple sites, so that the other people I host can use it, as well.
  • Pseudo-static pages: Most sites like this have pages that are more static in nature (e.g., an about page, or a site map). Movable Type is phenomenal when it comes to weblog-type entries, but for pages that are more static and that I want wrapped in the site’s template, I need to figure out the best solution.
  • Log and referrer browsing: I built custom Manila plugins for both, and I’d like to continue having the information when I move to Apache on Linux. My referrer browser is pretty simple, just showing the various referrers and the number of times per day that they’ve sent people this way; my log browser (which isn’t available to anyone but myself) is pretty complex, showing pretty much all the data available for each individual hit to the webserver.

I’d appreciate any ideas that anyone has — pointers to tools that you’ve found to work well, tips as to things to watch out for, and whatever other expert advice that you’ve all accumulated.

I gotta say, I’m proud of Jeffrey Dvorkin and the entirety of NPR, both for changing their linking policy and for being big enough to admit that they didn’t understand the medium to begin with.

I had a wonderful weekend in Washington D.C., escaping the hospital and any other distractions for a few days. The two highlights were the International Spy Museummuch bigger than I thought it’d be, and despite the wait and the crowds, fascinating pretty much from start to finish — and seeing Julie again. The lowlight? Waking up at 3:30 AM today with a raging pain in my throat and nausea to beat the band, and not being able to go back to sleep. I can only imagine that I caught something from a child that I saw during last week’s stint in the emergency room; I am at least happy that it didn’t catch up to me until the end of my weekend visiting Shannon.

What’s my definition of a sad day in the ER? Having the sister of one of my favorite oncology patients sent in by her doctor for new-onset trembling of her hands, and diagnosing her with a big intracranial mass. Now, their mother has two children with cancer, a two and a half year-old with metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma and a four year-old with a brain tumor, and needless to say, she was on the verge of a total breakdown when my shift ended. Despite my additional hour in the hospital (spent running interference between the neurologists, the neurosurgeons, and the intensive care team who was preparing for her transfer to their unit), I still left trying to put myself in their family’s shoes; I can’t begin to fathom what they must be feeling right now.

Anyone who’s ever spent any time on the lower West Side of Manhattan and wondered what’s up on the abandoned elevated rails that start in the 30s and meander southward needs to take a look at Rosecrans Baldwin’s The High Line, a photo essay capturing images from one end of the line to the other.

(The tracks were once called the High Line, and they supported the railway cars that brought supplies into the factories and meat packing plants that lined Chelsea’s western border. As with anything else in New York City, there are a lot of dreamers who have ideas for reuse of the old structures.)

I mean, it’s amazing to me that a man can still be so embittered by the fact that someone didn’t give him enough credit in her essay on the history of weblogs. Or, I should say, it would be amazing to me if that man weren’t Dave Winer, and it wasn’t in-your-face obvious that his definition of “respect for the story” is “willingness to make specific mention of Dave Winer and UserLand.”

If you’re looking for what is, in my opinion, a fair review of Rebecca’s book, try here.

A couple classically idiotic bugs that I have run into over the past week:

  • If you have Windows XP’s Welcome Screen enabled, and you turn on auditing of all logon and logoff events, then XP logs a failure for every account listed on the Welcome Screen every time that the Welcome Screen is displayed. According to the MS Knowledge Base, “this behavior is by design,” which I’d have to vote is one of the more moronic design choices that’s been made in XP.
  • If you have a Manila server, and have a search engine set up, creating a new story on your Manila site does not submit the page to the search engine for indexing. While a legitimate bug (rather than a design decision), it’s a bug that was submitted to UserLand seven months ago, and their response was that the architecture of Manila prevents them from fixing it. A while ago, I’d have been shocked that they’d be willing to just let a bug like this go unfixed; that sort of thing doesn’t surprise me anymore.

Seth Schoen has some detailed and thoughtprovoking notes on Palladium, the secure platform that’s been proposed by Microsoft and a few hardware vendors. If you’re looking for the rare exception to the typical fearmongering and kneejerk, reactionary drivel that predictably dominates the press, check out Seth’s impressions — by my read, Palladium looks to be an incredibly well thought-out architecture, and has the potential to bring computing to an entirely new level of security.

I spent a little over an hour tonight trying to solve a bug that was causing the occasional corruption of mail messages sent to me. Once I found what I was looking for, I decided to scribble down a few notes on the problem and potential solutions; I figured that I had been unable to find the solution via search engines, and as a consequence, others may not be able to do so either. Hopefully, now they will. smiley

Maggie strikes gold again with a look at towns which have been decimated by single events. For me, the stories of Centralia, Pennsylvania and Lake Nyos in Cameroon are totally astounding; in the case of Lake Nyos, it’s equally astounding that there is currently more carbon dioxide dissolved in it than there was at the time of the disaster, and that even if current attempts to degas the lake are fully implemented, it will take three to five years to dissipate enough CO2 to make the lake safe.

A little update for those who asked about my little patient with the belly mass: things are looking good. She went to the operating room, where the mass was found to be large but solitary; that meant that they were able to remove it in its entirety. By all accounts thus far, it looks to be a Wilms’ Tumor, treatment of which is one of the great successes of pediatric oncology. (For a real warm and fuzzy feeling, take a look at some of the pages about kids with Wilms’ tumors.) Last night, I got the awesome pleasure of extubating her, and seeing her smile (and her parents smile!) for the first time in days.

A few nights ago, in the pediatric ICU, I got a glimmer of my future…

How can I have considered myself a good New Yorker without knowing anything about the Pizza-Subway Connection? Apparently, common wisdom has it that the price of a subway token in NYC is tightly linked to the price of a slice of pizza, and since pizza prices have risen over the past few years, there’s talk of the inevitable subway fare hike that’ll come after this fall’s elections. How funny!

It stuns me that our President is urging “stiff corporate penalties for crooked executives” despite himself being the alleged perpetrator of corporate fraud on the order of four times as large as that which has Martha Stewart lined up for the gallows. Thankfully, a series of ads are going to run on the East coast starting this week are calling Bush and Cheney out on their hypocrisy when it came to Harken Energy and Halliburton.

What a great, great interview with Alfred Goodwin, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge who issued last week’s decision in Newdow v. US Congress (the decision which ruled the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional). I like when judges are seemingly unaffected by the public reaction to their legal rulings; for the most part, our legal system is supposed to care less about public opinion than it does about whether something is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

The pro se pleadings by Zacarias Moussaoui (the ostensible twentieth hijacker) are slowly being unsealed and released by the U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia, and I’m fascinated by them. From the Motion to Stop Leona Brinkema DJ Playing Game With My Life to the Motion to Phone and Contact Freely The European Court of Justice, The European Parliament, The International Court of Justice, The British House of Common, The British High Court, The German Parliament, The German High Court, The Deutch Parliament, The Deutch High Court without the FBI Prosecution Listening and Reading My Communication, there’s a frenetic mania that virtually pours out of his handwritten pleas.

Examples: here, he argues strenuously that he should be allowed to enter a nolo contendere plea, despite apparently not understanding that such a plea is the functional equivalent of a guilty plea and would be one of the quickest ways for the government to get him into the death chamber. Here, he demands “certification” that no information about him was placed on the “National Computer Crime System,” a demand that’s repeated in a few other pleadings without much further explanation.

There are gems in all of the motions, and I’m finding that I check daily for new ones to be unsealed. This isn’t healthy, I tell you…

I’m not sure how I missed it, but thanks be to my brother for pointing out that Walter Dellinger and Dahlia Lithwick sat at Slate’s Breakfast Table last week. They discussed Atkins v. Virginia (in which the Supreme Court held that executions of mentally retarded people are cruel and unusual), the Ninth Circuit ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance, and Hispanic hitting streaks. Great stuff, it is. (For those who don’t know, Dellinger was Solicitor General from 1996 to 1997, and Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel for the three years prior to that; Lithwick is a Slate senior editor, writing their Supreme Court Dispatches and covering most other notable legal issues.)

I’ve gotta tell you, it’s freaky seeing the place you grew up, the highways you drove daily being totally overwhelmed with floodwater. I remember driving along 281 on the section that crosses the Olmos flood control basin, always wondering how water could possibly get high enough to cause trouble; the pictures on the news today made it a little clearer to me. As you’d expect, the local coverage has the best pictures.

Am I permitted to say “ditto”? Maybe not.

One year ago this past weekend, Shannon and I met face-to-face for the very first time. We had had a few months’ time talking before that — initially, in the geekiest of ways (email, AIM), and then on the phone into the latest hours of the night — but then she had to come to New York City to lay the foundations for her eventual move here, and that meant that we finally got to meet.

My memories of the weekend reflect my myriad of emotions at the time — the tension of the “what if she hates me!?!”, the happiness of “she really is as cute as she looks in her pictures!”, the intimidation of “wow, she’s smart”, and the sheer pleasure of “this is really, really comfortable.” My memories of the few months that passed between that weekend and our eventual decision to give a relationship a try are a lot blurrier — there was a great deal of hesitation, fear, and worry on both sides. My memories of the past ten months, though, are crystal-clear, and I couldn’t be happier that things have worked out. We’re both the same kind of dork, we’re better with each other around, and I can honestly say that I am happy.

Does anyone else get the sense that a lot of civil liberties are being rolled back in the name of the war on terrorism? Today’s example is the newly-proposed Homeland Security Department, which our President wishes to be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, as well as from Federal whistleblower protection laws.

As to the first sought exemption, it’s pretty clear that the FOIA already contains pretty strong precautions against the release of sensitive information. Quoting from House Report 106-050 (“A Citizen’s Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records”), emphasis added by me:

An agency may refuse to disclose an agency record that falls within any of the FOIA’s nine statutory exemptions. The exemptions protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national defense or foreign policy, privacy of individuals, proprietary interests of business, functioning of the government, and other important interests.

As to the second exemption, does anyone remember the fact that it was a whistleblower that brought to light the inadequacies of the current system? Allowing people to alert oversight committees when bureaucracy is getting in the way of actual work seems to be a good idea to me; after all, the protection only applies when the whistleblower alerts the Office of Special Counsel, not the general public, and one would hope that the OSC can then prevent anything that it deems sensitive from reaching the public.

We went and saw Y Tu Mamá También tonight, and I have to put it up there on my highly-recommended list. It’s pretty pornographic at times, and really crass at others, but thoroughly enjoyable. I only wish I knew better Spanish, since it was clear that there was a lot that went unsubtitled.

Scott Rosenberg has a pretty well-written column about the Pledge of Allegiance controversy, highlighting the relatively inane notion that the rights of Americans are derived from a grant by God, an idea being furthered by many of those who wish our children to be honoring the Judeo-Christian Supreme Being every morning. I mean, really — people with actual educations believe that rights, including the right to a free practice of any (or no) religion, were granted to us by the singluar head of a handful of specific religions? This honestly scares me, and the thought that these people are then in charge of creating logically-consistent laws (and amendments to the document explaining those rights) is even more frightening.

Another thing that scares me is all the posturing being done by all sides in Washington right now, and the fact that there isn’t a single Congressman (hell, a single politician anywhere!) who is willing to stand up and defend the Constitutional protection against state-enforced allegiance to religion. It’s enough to make you think it’s an election year…

Rabbit rabbit! (And with extra luck for my birth month…)