This morning, I was greeted by a Firefox alert letting me know that version is available for installation. I decided to read the release notes, and found this gem among the info applicable to all systems:

When trying to print web pages with text areas, if the text area contains a misspelled word and spell checking is enabled, all the following content of the text area will not be printed. You can right-click in the text area and uncheck “Spell check this field” to turn off spell checking temporarily while you print.

Are you kidding me? I mean, we’re not talking about an edge case here — spellcheck is turned on in textarea fields by default, and there are a hell of a lot of people who print various forms they’re about to submit on the web as a form of recordkeeping. The folks at Mozilla decided that this rookie crap isn’t the sort of thing that should be fixed before releasing the browser upgrade? (And better still, it appears the bug was fixed back in December of 2006, but that nobody has deigned to include the fix in the current Firefox builds.) Awesome.

Andrew Sullivan has an entry over at The Atlantic Online that defies adequate excerpting — it’s a look at the Bush administration’s use of the term “enhanced interrogation” to describe the we-don’t-torture methods our country is using to extract information from the people we’ve rounded up and classified as terrorists. Most importantly, it’s also a historical look at how Nazi Germany coined the exact same (translated) term, to defend what turn out to be many of the exact same practices. And not to jump right to the punchline, the final paragraph of the piece is the anchor:

Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I’m not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.

There’s little to no doubt that as a nation, we will look back on what happened to liberty and security in post-9/11 America with shame and embarrassment; I’m just anxious for that collective realization to sink in and lead to enough institutional change up top to allow us to right the wrongs of the past four years.

One of the unfortunate facts that derives from not having been in my regular office for the past two weeks: my web browser history is blank, meaning that none of my usual URLs autocomplete in the address bar. Gah!

This weekend, the small project of patching and painting some screw anchor damage in one of our walls turned into the much larger project of also painting the banister that runs along our the hallway on our second floor. It’s something we’ve wanted to do pretty much since we moved into this house, but the idea of painting each of the little balusters made us consider jumping off the roof instead. I’m not sure what got into us this weekend, but we decided to tackle it — and wow, what a difference it makes!

the banister, before the banister, after

(The original motivation — the wall repair and repainting — became a minor footnote in these photos; it’s the wall on the left of the pix.)

OK, I’m not sure what crack Reihan Salam is smoking; Fletch was an awesome movie. I mean, just the scene with George Wyner (playing Fletch’s ex-wife’s divorce attorney) is comedy gold…

Oh, hallelujah — Google has finally released a version of Google Calendar that works on mobile phones! Shannon and I rely a lot on the online calendaring app, using it for everything from our own schedules to posting community and fundraising events for our Save Eastern Market website, and by far the #1 complaint I’ve had is that mobile access to the calendar has been damn near impossible to date. Now, though, I can both see my calendar and add events to it via the “Quick Add” functionality… looks like I’ll have to familiarize myself with the Quick Add syntax to get the most out of it. (And it’s sort of a bummer that there’s no ability to add an event to anything but the default calendar.)

Well, MSNBC has now joined the esteemed group of websites with home pages that play audio and video on page load, without any user intervention, one of the more user-hostile things I can imagine a site doing. When added to the awful embedded IntelliTXT ads that are now appearing throughout most news stories, it seems that the entire site took a major turn to brazen suckery sometime over the past few weeks. That actually makes me sad — I used to use CNN’s website as my default for news but moved to MSNBC when CNN decided on providing most of the news on the website via video snippets that can’t be played on non-PCs. The video-without-my-requesting-it problem was enough to get me to stop using ESPN’s website for all but a scant few things; now it looks like I’ll have to find a replacement for MSNBC, as well.

Am I the only person who didn’t know that the Addams Family started out as a series of cartoons in The New Yorker? In 1938?!? That’s pretty damn cool.

Given all the Motorola RAZR 2 hoopla I’ve seen on the various gadget and tech weblogs over the past day, I feel compelled to mention that my hopes for the phone would be exactly nil, given how large and stinking a piece of poop the RAZR is. It is, by far, the worst phone I’ve ever used, and I’ve probably had a dozen or more cellphones in the past decade — I typically now just leave it at home and forward it to my work phone, and there isn’t a day I decide to take it with me that I don’t end up wanting to throw it off the 14th Street Bridge.

That is all.

Jesus, as if there weren’t reason enough to think that our current White House has not one whit of respect for the rule of law, Dahlia Lithwick’s Slate column today about the attempt to coerce an ICU-bound John Ashcroft into certifying the legality of the NSA wiretapping program should be enough to cement that fact. It really does play like a Harrison Ford thriller — the acting Attorney General finding out that Bush’s Chief of Staff and the White House Counsel intended to take advantage of Ashcroft’s heavily medicate state and then racing, sirens ablaze, to the hospital to intervene, the President overtly being told that his program was illegal and then deciding to continue it despite that fact, the whole bit. The Post has more on the whole escapade, including a damning editorial and a piece about Alberto Gonzales refusing to retract a 2006 sworn statement that the NSA program had aroused no dissent or controversy within the Bush administration (leading to speculation that there are other surveillance programs we don’t know about).

While I don’t hold a lot of sympathy for those who have been willing to unquestioningly carry Bush’s water over these past six-plus years, I actually do feel a little bad for the rank and file Republicans — I suspect that their party will find it incredibly hard to avoid being defined for years to come by the abhorrent behavior, intransigent lawlessness, and reckless disregard for the truth that’s emanated from the Oval Office since 2001.

In the past 48 hours, I’ve had two very weird issues pop up on my MacBook Pro, issues that are so weird as to make me wonder what gremlin has made its way into the innards of my laptop.

want a bold font, lose a few letters!

First, two days ago, I noticed that anytime a string was displayed in a bold font, letters were dropped out of the string. Initially, I saw it happening on web pages in Firefox, and figured it was a bug in the app, but opening up Safari I saw the same exact issue. Then, I checked to see if was doing the same thing, and sure enough, there were dropped letters aplenty in the bold strings of HTML emails. Same thing in every other app I tested, and there was nothing running that could explain the weirdness. Rebooting the machine solved the issue.

Then, tonight, I noticed that I wasn’t hearing the “whoosh” of sent email in, nor was I hearing the new mail alert. Entourage was still making its noises, though, but Adium wasn’t; the Sound preference pane wasn’t playing samples of the sounds as I chose them as the default alert. Again, there was nothing running that would have caused the weirdness, and it persisted even when I quit all applications — and again, rebooting the machine solved the issue.

I thought that the era of rebooting your Mac every so often to keep things running right was long past, but might it be making a comeback?

It appears that a professor in one of Columbia College’s core curriculum courses (say that five times fast!) gave out the answers to the final exam during the class’s study session, something that came to light when a few questions on the test were changed and yet students still submitted the answers from the leaked version. After warning professors to watch out for the specific answer pattern that would indicate cheating students, and then asking for all the blue books to be submitted to the Core Curriculum office for central review, officials decided to nullify the exam entirely and offer students the option of dropping the test from their grades or retake the exam in the fall. The weblog of Columbia’s undergrad magazine, Bwog, has been on top of the scandal; it’s fun to read the comments on the Bwog post from students who don’t see this as cheating.

In the middle of all the Eastern Market-related activities this past weekend, one thing I did make time for was a little more woodworking — specifically, building the final set of shelves and another hanging shelf that make the basement workshop area complete (for now). You can see pix of the final setup here, including the totally, completely overengineered hanging shelf over my table saw. (I’m pretty sure that puppy will hold a couple of hundred pounds without blinking… so it should be fine for my drill and drill bits, a few battery chargers, and my laptop!)

Sorry for the quiet around here this past week — I’ve been busy as hell over at our Save Eastern Market news site. For now, things are looking good; the community has definitely rallied behind the Market, the District has already put a few good interim location proposals on the table for the merchants whose shops were destroyed, and the general vibe is that things are moving forward.

After walking around the still-smoldering Eastern Market yesterday evening, Shannon and I put a little time into starting up a new website, Save Eastern Market. We’re hoping to use it to provide a centralized resource for everything related to the fire and the rebuilding process; we remain cautiously optimistic that common sense and an overriding faithfulness to the character that made Eastern Market so tremendous will serve as guiding principles in the coming months, and wanted to be able to document that process as it moves forward.

So far, we’ve posted a welcome message, a bunch of news links, and a firsthand account of the Mayor’s press conference to the site, and we’re hoping to continue with news pointers, information about interim plans for the Market, notices of community meetings, and anything else that helps keep the neighborhood abreast of the rebuilding process. Hope to see you over there!