When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 January 2007

Shockingly, LA Times gets barbecue

This reverent appreciation of Allen and Son, one of the absolute temples of Eastern North Carolina barbecue gastronomy, was sent to me today by *three* different enrevanche readers, only two of whom have websites. ;-)
Blackwood Station, N.C. — The moon was high over the loblolly pines when Keith Allen arrived for work at 2 a.m. He built a fire of hickory logs, and a plume of rich blue smoke creased the black night sky.

When the fire had produced glowing red coals, Allen shoveled them into a pit below two dozen hog shoulders on a metal rack. For the next nine hours, he shoveled more coals, stoked the fire, and turned the shoulders as they cooked a ruddy, smoky brown.

Long after first light, he was still at it. With a cleaver in one hand and a knife in the other, he chopped the pork with a rhythmic whump, whump, whump. Then he plunged two gloved hands into the steaming meat to mix in a homemade sauce of vinegar, salt and red pepper.

And that, for purists, is the long, hard, wearying way of making genuine pit-cooked Eastern North Carolina chopped barbecue.
Barbecue done in rare form (Los Angeles Times, Jan 31, 2007)

A tip of the enrevanche John Deere cap to John, Greg, and anonymous.

Colby Nolan, MBA, CAT

In 2004, a housecat named Colby Nolan was awarded an "Executive MBA" by Texas-based Trinity Southern University. The cat belonged to a deputy attorney general looking into allegations of fraud by the school. The cat's application was originally for a Bachelor of Business Administration, but due to the cat's "qualifications" (including work experience in fast-food and as a paperboy) the school offered to upgrade the degree to an Executive MBA for an additional $100. As a result of this incident, the Pennsylvania attorney general has filed suit against the school.
Diploma Mills (Wikipedia article)


There's a large, cat-sized cardboard box from a recent mail-order delivery on the living room floor; I'm about to cut it down and take it to the recycling bin this morning.

Which is a bit of a pity, as it will put a temporary stop to the latest round of Gato's Favorite Game.

Mister Gato loves cardboard boxes; he loves sharpening his claws on them, sleeping on (or in) them, and so forth, but he *really* loves hiding in them and using them as protective cover from which to launch sudden ambushes.

boxed up and ready to go scaled
Not hiding, just snoozing.

Typical Favorite Game scenario:

(1) Cat is hunkered down in box, obscured from direct view, having squeezed through partly folded flaps. He has been there for some time, perhaps hours.

(2) Barry: "Where the hell is that cat?"

(3) (Cat, in box, quivers with delight, in utter silence.)

(4) Chow Chows, taking this as a serious inquiry and not a rhetorical question, helpfully snuffle around the living room and "locate" Gato in his box.

(5) (Cat, in box, is vibrating with sadistic anticipation at this point, still in absolute silence.)

(6) Somebody - dog or man - touches a flap of the box, at which point the cat EXPLODES out of the box, punching and swiping at the air with his front paws.

(7) Non-feline reacts with comic horror.

I am going to get videotape of this and post it. Promise.

30 January 2007

The online malware market

Microsoft says its new operating system, Windows Vista, is the most secure in the company’s history. Now the bounty hunters will test just how secure it is.

When its predecessor, Windows XP, was released five years ago, software bugs were typically hunted by hackers for fame and glory, not financial reward. But now software vulnerabilities — as with stolen credit-card numbers and spammable e-mail addresses — carry real financial value. They are commonly bought, sold and traded online, both by legitimate security companies, which say they are providing a service, and by nefarious hackers and thieves.
A Lively Market, Legal and Not, for Software Bugs (New York Times, 30 Jan 2007)

Mac and PC

Apple's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads (starring John Hodgman and Justin Long in the US) are running in other markets too, with local actors playing the Mac and the PC.

I don't speak a word of Japanese, which is one reason I may find the Japanese ads the best.

The UK ads are pretty good, too.

28 January 2007

Which science fiction writer are you?

I am:
Kurt Vonnegut
For years, this unique creator of absurd and haunting tales denied that he had anything to do with science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Hat tip: deVille

One good apple

Thought for the day:

"Ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name." - Henry Kissinger (who, let's face it, should know)

27 January 2007

The Krispy Kreme Challenge

Here's a charity event I can certainly get behind:

The Krispy Kreme Challenge, a road race to test both your cardiovascular and gastrointestinal fitness.

Here's how it works:

In 2004, NC State Sophomore Chris McCoy came up with a challenge. He would gather some friends at the NC State belltower and begin a run toward downtown Raleigh. His jog would take him two miles downhill to the Raleigh Krispy Kreme bakery. There they would each consume 1 dozen of the legendary hot glazed doughnuts. The group would then run back to the belltower to finish the race.

All in less than an hour.

The race has grown in the last three years and morphed into a charitable event; it's being run this morning, and over eight hundred participants are running. Funds raised via entry fees and the sale of T-shirts go to the North Carolina Childrens Hospital.

No word on how many are running in the Extra Krispy category, which is the Full Monty: downing a dozen doughnuts in no more than a minute each while running a couple of two-mile legs before and after on a 12-minute pace.

To Complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge is to:

1) Run from the NC State Belltower to the Krispy Kreme on Peace Street.
2) Eat one dozen donuts.
3) Run back to the Belltower.
4) Do all this in under one hour.

People always ask if puking is allowed. Don’t puke on purpose. That’s not fair to the rest of us. Keeping the doughnuts down is the real challenge, don’t cheat yourself!

Now, truth to tell, a 12-minute mile is barely a jog; a respectable racewalker could do that. Hell, I walk a fifteen-minute mile on crowded NYC sidewalks, and I'm a fat man.

I doubt I could do it after a dozen Krispy Kremes, though.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Krispy Kreme Challenge, my hat's off to you.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge

Mmmmm - 20051101_0047
Originally uploaded by EngelFish.

P.S. Here's the nutritional information:

Doughnuts: 12 Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

  • 2400 calories
  • 1200 fat calories
  • 144g of fat
  • 36g of saturated fat
  • 48g of trans fat
  • 60mg of Cholesterol
  • 1140mg of sodium
  • 120g of sugar
  • 24g of protein
And here's a photo of the famous neon sign outside the Krispy Kreme mothership at the corner of Peace and Person Streets in Raleigh, NC.

Krispy Kreme
Originally uploaded by beebo wallace.

Back in the early 1990s, I lived (with several roommates) in a charming old Victorian house in the Oakwood neighborhood of Raleigh, three blocks away from this 24-hour doughnut mecca.

Being an insomniac who was likely to start jonesing for doughnuts in the wee small hours of the morning, I met every cop, hooker, schizophrenic, and night-owl (and a few people who might have met more than one of these criteria) in the neighborhood over a very short period of time.

26 January 2007

Pencil Roving: Crafty Cat

Attention, Mister Gato fans:

Carrie's got the catblogging duty today.

Pencil Roving: Crafty Cat.

"Have a blessed day"

I grew up in the Bible Belt, and am used to people proselytizing in all kinds of different ways; some of them completely inoffensive, some of them merely annoying, some of them deeply intrusive.

In the last few months, however, I have noticed a new entry in the "merely annoying" category: on my monthly trips to Raleigh, service workers everywhere (the drugstore, the grocery store, the drive-thru window of the place I buy biscuits for breakfast) are urging me to "have a blessed day."

This is, again, a recent phenomenon in these parts, and it makes me wonder whether there is a coordinated effort of some kind by some local, regional or national organization to make this happen. I don't have time to research it right now, though, so I'm just reporting my field observation.

This morning, as I was loading up on country-ham biscuits at the drive-thru, the counterman smiled sweetly as he handed over my bag of cholesterol bombs and told me to "Have a blessed day."

He was a little nonplussed by my reply.

"Oh, thank you, but I have other plans. You have a good one, now."

Of lemurs, lorises and layups

A lovely and apposite travel story about the part of Piedmont North Carolina that I'm presently in, and our obsession with college basketball, in (of all places) the New York Times: A Triangle Equal to the Sum of Its Hoops:
The gentle hills of the Triangle region of North Carolina are spangled with the prim brick McMansions of migrant techies lured by opportunity and temperate weather — almost any day is good for squeezing in 18 holes. Out on the wandering back roads, tall pines still cast thin shadows, turning a sunny-day drive into a sparkling strobe-light show. Just roll down the window to air out your soul. The Triangle, bounded by the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, is an easy place to live and an even easier place to visit. Refill your sweet-tea glass and sit a while.

But at this time of year, an earlier immigrant from the North slices its pleasant homogeneity into three. The pulsating indoor game of college basketball takes over, dividing loyalties and generating friction. In the Triangle, even if you are not a fervent fan, you must share the deep regional certainty that basketball is really, really important.
Important? Ha. I've been living in NYC for ten years now, and I will, this year as always, arrange to take a vacation day on the opening Friday of the ACC Tournament.

In there amongst all the Tobacco Road and roundball references, writer Dave Caldwell even manages to work in an unexpected shoutout to one of my all-time favorite Triangle institutions, the Duke University Lemur Center, which works to study and preserve the earliest (evolutionarily speaking) surviving primates on the planet, the lemurs, lorises and other prosimian cousins of Madagascar.

Aye-aye, captain (picture of Aye-aye, Daubentonia madagascariensis,
courtesy Duke Lemur Center)

These cute little buggers are the ancient ancestors of monkeys, apes, and human beings (for those of you not into evolutionary "theory," relax... Satan put them on Madagascar to confuse us all and test our faith.)

Update: Do check out the Modulator's Friday Ark today - and later tonight, Carrie is going to please Mister Gato's large Internet fanbase with a bit of catblogging.

25 January 2007

Talk amongst yourselves

We are cautiously optimistic that Mom is doing better, but she's far from out of the woods yet.

While I'm preoccupied with this, why don't y'all try your hand at blogging for a while.

Here, I'll give you a topic:

"Political dynasties aren't healthy in a representative democracy."

Since January of 1989, we've had either a Bush or a Clinton in the White House.

We have a Clinton currently leading the pack for the Democratic nomination in '08, and conceivably another Bush waiting in the wings on the GOP side, though he almost certainly won't run next time around.

Political dynasties are nothing new in America. John Adams and John Quincy Adams; the Roosevelt cousins; the entire Kennedy family in their various capacities, and so on and so forth.

On balance, they are not healthy for our country.


Light blogging ahead

Down in Raleigh again, unexpectedly; family stuff. Mom is having some complications from her surgery, how bad, as yet unknown.

Will post more when/as I can.

(Carrie will, hopefully, take the family catblogging duty this week: the price of fame is that Mister Gato's audience must be served.)

24 January 2007

New in the sidebar: LibraryThing

Oh, man, I completely ripped this off from Doc.

New, in the sidebar: some randomly selected titles from my library, courtesy of LibraryThing. It's dead simple to load your recent Amazon.com orders into this database, and it also reads Delicious Library databases (a wonderful Macintosh media cataloging program.)

Full disclosure: The titles have our Amazon Associates code embedded in them, so if you click on a book that looks interesting, and then buy it, you automatically make a small donation to the Enrevanche Latte Habit Maintenance Fund.

And we appreciate it.

I liked LibraryThing enough that I've paid for a year's membership. If you're a booklover, check it out.

Pat Jordan: Looking for My Father in Las Vegas

I'm just now getting around to reading the Sunday New York Times, and writer Pat Jordan has a long, moving story about his father, the "degenerate gambler" (a phrase the old man used to describe himself) and the larger meaning and purpose of gambling for gamblers:

My father never worked a day in his life. He was a gambler and a con man and a grifter for all of the 65 years that I knew him. He gambled on pool, cards, dice, horses, sports events, two pigeons sitting on a fence, anything — as long as he could find an edge. Shaved dice. Marked cards. A drugged horse. And when he couldn’t find an edge, when the game was fixed against him, he gambled anyway, because, he told me, “it was the only game in town.” When he was 89, he gambled on a triple-bypass heart operation because he liked the odds. His doctor told him that if he survived the operation, he had a 60-40 chance of living six more years, and he did. He spent those last years in an assisted-living facility, where he booked bets on the pay phone in the lobby. I can imagine him now, in the midst of the playoffs, getting the line on the San Diego Chargers or the Philadelphia Eagles, scribbling it on a piece of paper he held against the wall, studying it, then placing his bet.

My father never knew his parents. He spent the first 15 years of his life in an orphanage, a good apprenticeship for a gambler and a swindler. He learned early how to con his custodians out of extra food and sometimes even affection. When he left the orphanage, he turned to gambling for his livelihood and his satisfactions. Gambling proved that he existed, that he was special, smarter than his marks, smarter even than God’s will.

Here’s what it was like to grow up a gambler’s son. I couldn’t listen to “The Lone Ranger” on the radio because my father had to listen to horse-racing results. I could never root for the Yankees and our heroes (DiMaggio, Berra, Raschi, Crosetti) when they played the Red Sox if Uncle Freddy was “down” on the Red Sox. Matchbooks were strewn everywhere throughout our house, yet my father didn’t smoke. When I was 7, I burned up a matchbook and was punished — not for almost starting a fire but for destroying my father’s betting line, which he always wrote on the inside covers of matchbooks...
Looking for My Father in Las Vegas (Pat Jordan, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Jan 21 2007)

23 January 2007

Hello, Dalí: Surrealist RINO Sightings

There's a new batch of RINO Sightings, hosted this week by Eric at Classical Values, in which Eric attempts to channel Salvador Dalí, but instead (I hate when this happens) Dalí winds up channeling Eric.

Considering Dali's hatred of politics, why drag him into the RINO carnival? For several reasons, the first of which is that Republican politics have become so surreal, and what could be more surreal than dissenters from surrealism? As a dissenter from surrealism (expelled from the Surrealist movement for being too surreal) Dali is the perfect symbol. Moreover, there's Dali's paranoiac obsession with all things rhino -- which this essay sums up pretty well:

Artists, all through history, have been tormenting themselves to grasp form and to reduce it to elementary geometrical volumes. Leonardo always tended to produce eggs ... Ingres preferred spheres, and Cézanne cubes and cylinders. But only Dalí... has found truth. All curved surfaces of the human body have the same geometric spot in common, the one found in this cone with the rounded tip curved toward heaven or toward the earth ... the rhinoceros horn!

After this initial discovery, Dalí surveyed his images and realised that all of them could be deconstructed to rhinoceros horns.

Which means that we RINOs are onto something.

Here's my Fun RINO-Related Dalí Fact for the day: when he made an appearance on The Tonight Show, "Dalí carried with him a leather rhinoceros and refused to sit upon anything else."

RINO Sightings Carnival -- Surrealistic RINOCEROTIC Edition! @ Classical Values

Related: Dalí Gallery


The on-again off-again Cruelty to Animals trial of two People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is back “on” … again. The Hertford County, North Carolina Superior Court has set the new trial date for January 22 -- over a year after the defendants, Andrew Cook and Adria Hinkle, were indicted on 21 counts of Cruelty to Animals and 3 counts of Obtaining Property By False Pretenses. The Honorable Cy Grant will be presiding.

22 January 2007

Red in tooth and claw, and sometimes blue of tongue

When I blogged about this last fall, some of you came right out and accused me of lying (in e-mail; no one was brave enough to attack me in the comments here in my own "house.")

Well, now I've got proof: Mister Gato is trying to teach the Chows to catch mice.

chows learning to catch mice -scaled
We bat him around some now, right?

Yep, Gato got another mouse last night, and immediately brought it over to teach the Chows how to be better mousers.

I got a picture this time.


You know, it's that time of year--the very heart of the college basketball season--and I have to say that we at enrevanche are hugely enjoying the ACC Basketblog, along with our ACC Select membership (online streaming of every basketball game that Raycom covers... and every damn one of them seems to feature Billy Packer; how in the world does he do that?)

Hey, when you live up North, you gotta do what you gotta do.

21 January 2007

Carnival of the Cats #148

Mister Gato welcomes you to the (hurriedly assembled due to Barry's travel delays) 148th Carnival of the Cats.

Gato on White Background
Oh, papa.
You're literally mailing this one in, aren't you.

With no further ado, commence au festival des chats!

Genevieve presents Casper the Climber posted at Prairie Bluestem.

gottagopractice presents Luke and Leia Playtime and Itty Bitty Kitty posted at If at first you don't succeed....

Elisson presents MORNING SUN posted at Blog d'Elisson.

Blueberry presents Catblogging - Alex is Sweet 16! posted at Texas Oasis.

jamsodonnell presents Ted posted at the Poor Mouth.

Ferdinand T. Cat presents Silent Movie: Catz vs. Dogz posted at Conservative Cat.

srp presents Shadow Cat and Belly Dancing posted at Mélange.

Ostara presents who's the boss? posted at stillpoint.

Russ presents Little Miss Chunkytux* and Gotcha posted at TacJammer.

M. Gato presents Gato the Mountaineer posted at enrevanche.

Chris Dolley presents Kittens Reunited: A Kitten's Guide to Tracing Long Lost Friends posted at Chris Dolley's Page.

Mr. David West writes in from his Yahoo.de account to inform us that he is a highly placed official in the Ugandan Federal Ministry of Finance, and that if we fax him our... whoops, that's not a catblogging entry.

Debra presents HiJinxs posted at MANX MNEWS.

KeesKennis presents I will destroy and others posted at KeesKennis.

Rahel presents Tuxedos posted at Elms in the Yard.

Annie presents Friday Cat Blogging: Stuck In Neutral posted at anniemiz.

Karen presents Cavecat posted at Rurality.

leucanthemum b presents Friday Catblog: SnuggleUpagus posted at composite drawlings.

Wes Phillips presents Stereophile: Rule #1 for Peaceful Coexistence and Stereophile: No, You Apologize posted at Stereophilia.

Omnibus Driver presents Traveling Companions posted at Leslie's Omnibus.

Da Nator presents Friday Cat Blog - Ol' Bald Belly posted at Delectatio Morosa.

Mog, host of next week's Carnival of the Cats, presents:
K T Cat presents Adrift at Sea posted at The Scratching Post.

Rondi presents Orloff Chillin' posted at Begin Each Day As If It Were on Purpose.

Rascal presents Tub Drink posted at Welcome to Rascal's World.

Catzee presents Drink posted at Little Cat Zee.

Kelly Cat presents Friday Cat Blogging: Nicky posted at It's all Good..

Karen Shanley presents Art is Everywhere posted at My Life as a Writer, Mom, Dog Nut.

Sissy Willis presents Worth two thousand words and "By the content of their character" posted at sisu.

willow presents I love tomatoes! posted at willow's cat blog.

China Cat presents Snow is Coming... posted at china cat's blog.

sammawow presents WCB with Winery Kitties posted at sammawow.

Kimberly presents Feline Friday: A good place to nap posted at Music and Cats.

keewee presents zzzzzzzzzz posted at keewee's corner.

Richard Miles presents Kittens posted at Shadowscope.

Callie (ArtsyCatsy Catministrative Assistant) presents What's your Cat Age? posted at ArtsyCatsy.

Leigh-Ann presents Pet Soup posted at The Blog Pound.

Gree presents NOT Pleased posted at House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.

Pernicious Q. Rhinoplasty presents Live! Cam! Girls! at... whoops, never mind. That's not a catblogging entry either.

pet campbell presents Timi posted at Pet's Garden.

Babeth presents Whoah !! Heavy load... posted at House of Chaos.

Susan presents I try not to discuss politics with my cats... posted at Susan.

jason presents Covered in kitty cocaine posted at xenogere.

john presents StrangeRanger: A Happy and Confident Cat posted at StrangeRanger.

Catblogfather Laurence Simon presents Dark-eyed and bushy-tailed posted at this blog is full of crap.

Mimi presents What's Out There? posted at Furry Paws.

Lissa presents Games Kitties Play posted at Oh, Really?

Laura Lee Donoho presents Captain Wins Another Battle posted at The Wide Awake Cafe.

Valerie presents Computer Trouble posted at Val's Bien.

SJ Reidhead presents SUN JAN 21 What Is Your Greatest Treasure posted at The Pink Flamingo.

Martin Lindeskog presents Hillary Clinton posted at EGO.

Be sure to visit all of these fine kitties and their people, and tune in next week, when the Carnival of the Cats is at Mind of Mog.

20 January 2007

Reconstructive barbering

Reconstructive barbering
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
Right before I came down to North Carolina, I went to the barbershop in New York for a trim.

My regular guy wasn't there, and so without giving it much thought, I placed myself at the mercy of a different barber.

And wound up with the worst haircut of my adult life. It didn't look so bad at the time, but the next morning, when I showered and washed my hair and then tried to comb and part it - well, it looked like an industrial accident had taken place on my scalp. A FloBee malfunction, perhaps.

I bore the snickers and fingerpointing for as long as I could, and when I got down to Raleigh, I took myself over to Man-Mur for some reconstructive barbering.

The only thing for it was to shave the hair close to the scalp and let Mother Nature start over from a nearly-clean slate, which took the barber about three minutes of actual work; with polite conversation and so forth, the entire thing was over in ten minutes.

The effect is not altogether unpleasing. One of the options available to you when you start to lose your hair in earnest is to keep what's left of it trimmed quite short. ;-)

What I've Learned: Jack Bauer

If you have to trust someone, make it a quirky computer genius.

Always carry at least one spare fully charged cell-phone battery.

If the president of the United States ever orders you to shoot your boss in the head at point-blank range in cold blood, take a deep breath, ask God to forgive you, and just do it.

"What I've Learned: Jack Bauer" - Esquire, via MSN

Hat tip: Rachel

19 January 2007

Wraparound shades

Mom styling in her postsurgical sunglasses
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.

Mom is recovering nicely from her cataract surgery, and is truly styling in these wraparound postsurgical shades.

She saw the doctor yesterday; he was very pleased with her progress so far.

New on the blogroll: Indexed

Have you seen Indexed?

It's mostly just Venn diagrams drawn on 3 x 5 index cards, but Jessica Hagy does it with wit and style and occasional flashes of genius.

Gato the Mountaineer

Where's Mister Gato?

Way up high.

An Entirely Too Comfortable Cat
Cat is topmost object in frame.

He's resting up to host the Carnival of the Cats, this Sunday, January 21, at enrevanche! Be sure to come by and visit us Sunday evening... and today, be sure to check out the Friday Ark at The Modulator's place.

(To submit your catblogging entry to the Carnival, use the Multi-Carnival Submission Form! Thanks.)

18 January 2007

Properly understood, it's kind of a giant brothel anyway

When asked about her show coming up empty tonight [at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's "Golden Globes" award ceremony], "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan tells me, "If I cared about the opinions of 90 foreign strangers, I'd be a hooker outside the U.N."
(The Envelope.com - LA Times)

Some quotes just can't be improved upon.

Snow day in Raleigh

The first snowfall of the year, and I'm seeing it in North Carolina. Ha!

17 January 2007

Tog on the iPhone

Interface designer extraordinaire Bruce Tognazzini takes a close look at the new iPhone:
I could go down through the other “innovations” in iPhone and slowly knock them off. Yes, it’s the first cell phone with a visual display of voicemail messages, so you can randomly move among voicemails, etc., etc. However, such lists have been displayed, in an identical fashion, on enterprise-level voicemail systems and, of course, such lists have been a standard feature in email for decades.

The origins of these bits and pieces, however, is not what’s important about the iPhone. What’s important is that, for the first time, so many great ideas and processes have been assembled in one device, iterated until they squeak, and made accessible to normal human beings. That’s the genius of Steve Jobs; that’s the genius of Apple.

It’s also speaks to the limited vision of the cell phone industry. Exactly why have we never had random-access voicemail on cell phones? We’re talking about hand-held devices with more computer power than the Apollo spacecraft that took us to the moon. We’re talking about devices with screens of more than sufficient resolution. Could nobody think of displaying the messages?

The Macintosh computer did not represent a technological breakthrough either. The mouse was already 20 years old. Pointing interfaces were 20 years old. The Mac was a direct, studied “rip-off” of Apple’s expensive Lisa computer, developed concurrently, but shipped three years earlier. That detracted nothing from the genius of the Mac, for what that team did was to take highly innovative technology and make it (relatively) inexpensive, attractive, and accessible.

That’s exactly what Apple has done again with iPhone. Multi-touch gestural interfaces have been hanging around in the laboratory, screaming for release, for as long as the mouse hung around. I’ve been pushing multi-touch gestural for over 20 years myself, beginning while I was still at Apple, incredulous that everyone has been ignoring it. Apple stopped ignoring it.

Fulton didn’t invent the steamboat. He just put in the hard work to make it practical. Apple didn’t invent the concept of the multi-touch interface. They’ve just, by all evidence, built the first one that, like the Mac before [it], is (relatively) inexpensive, attractive, and accessible.

The iPhone User Experience: A First Look

Hat tip: Laurie

Family health update

Mom had cataract surgery on her right eye this morning, and it went very well; she is now resting comfortably at home.

This procedure is so quick that I think they will soon be offering it at drive-thru windows: I went to buy a newspaper and a cup of coffee after they wheeled her back into the O.R., and had literally just settled into my seat in the waiting room when they called my name... the whole thing took less than 20 minutes, and she was on her way home about an hour after that.

Even with the most optimal outcome imaginable, Mom will not be able to see normally after the surgery, or see well enough to read or watch TV--she will still be legally blind--*but* her doctor is firmly convinced that the more light that hits what's left of her optic nerve, the better, and that the likelihood that this procedure *will* improve her vision somewhat is quite good.

In short, the potential payoff was good and the potential risk was very low, and I'm happy to report that the "risky" part seems to have gone without a hitch.

Bruce Bartlett on Iraq

...I have come to the conclusion that the situation could not be any worse and that the American presence in Iraq is causing as much conflict as it is preventing. Therefore, I think we should disengage as rapidly as possible. Adding additional troops, as Bush plans to do, simply means throwing good money after bad.

Perhaps if Bush still had any credibility, I would be willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, as I did four years ago. But since then, we have learned how incredibly poor the prewar intelligence was, how Bush essentially bullied intelligence analysts into giving him the reports he wanted, and how he undertook the war with insufficient forces and without giving any thought to postwar planning or an exit strategy.

At this point, it is obvious even to Bush that the status quo is untenable, and he has put the last of his chips on the table to try to salvage something he can call a victory. But there still is no realistic plan for achieving it — or even a definition of victory in the context of Iraq. Consequently, I don’t see how this troop surge can possibly succeed. All it will do is put off the inevitable pullout by another year or more, which means that hundreds more of our fighting men and women will die in vain.

Good Reasons to Leave Iraq (Bruce Bartlett, New York Times Blogs, Jan 17, 2007)

16 January 2007

CJR: Beyond News

Editors and news directors today fret about the Internet, as their predecessors worried about radio and TV, and all now see the huge threat the Web represents to the way they distribute their product. They have been slower to see the threat it represents to the product itself. In a day when information pours out of digital spigots, stories that package painstakingly gathered facts on current events — what happened, who said what, when — have lost much of their value. News now not only arrives astoundingly fast from an astounding number of directions, it arrives free of charge. Selling what is elsewhere available free is difficult, even if it isn’t nineteen hours stale. Just ask an encyclopedia salesman, if you can find one.

Mainstream journalists can, of course, try to keep retailing somewhat stale morning-print or evening-television roundups to people who manage to get through the day without any contact with Matt Drudge, Wolf Blitzer, or Robert Siegel. They can continue to attempt to establish themselves online as a kind of après AP — selling news that’s a little slower but a little smarter than what Yahoo displays, which is essentially what The Washington Post and The New York Times were up to when, about four or five hours after Chavez had left the UN podium, they published, online, their own accounts of his speech.

But another, more ambitious option is available to journalists: They could try to sell something besides news.

"Beyond News," Mitchell Stevens, Columbia Journalism Review, Jan/Feb 2007

14 January 2007

You're probably gonna turn gay, and that's only expected of you.

You could do great things; cure cancer, win multiple academy awards, sell ten million records, become the president of Zimbabwe. But when you completed any of these achievements, the headline in the newspaper the next day would read "Boy Who Swam Next To Alba Did Good."
An open letter to the kid in the background of the Jessica Alba bikini photo (DoubleViking.com.)

Hat tip: Cityrag.

Carnival of the Cats #147

Carnival of the Cats #147 is up at Pet's Garden Blog.

And don't forget, next week the carnival of feline wonderfulness is at enrevanche.

13 January 2007

Entirely unsurprising

The Brutally Honest Personality Test
Prick- ENTP

People love to hate you, because you love to argue. The strange thing is you probably took that as a compliment. Why, I bet you've already got a witty comeback all lined up ready to throw right back at me.

What you don't realise is that your inane obsession with debating pisses everyone off. Whatever happened to us all trying to get along? I mean, you're so annoying people disagree with you for the damn sake of it! NOBODY cares about your abundant opinions. Trust me.

Believe it or not, but there's more to life than your expansive knowledge and sharp repertoire. When was the last time you showered? Brushed your teeth?

While you're up in Nevernever land, getting excited over future possibilities and your crazy theories, WE have to put up with your awful stench. I can smell you from here.

Your personality is ideal for that of a future lawyer and because everyone already hates you, you have nothing to lose.


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...

Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving
Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging
Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving
Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging
Almost Perfect - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
Freak - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
Loser - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving
Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging
Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving
Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging
Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving
Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging
Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
Busybody - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
Dictator - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

The Brutally Honest Personality Test

Hat tip: Zoe Brain

A fundamental failure to grasp how the system works

If recent press reports are correct--if his remarks were reported accurately and in context--Charles D. Stimson needs to be shown the door, or better yet, thrown right out the damned thing and into the gutter:
The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.

The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble.

Official Attacks Top Law Firms Over Detainees (New York Times, 13 January 2007)

His remarks? Repellent, ignorant, and with more than a whiff of authoritarianism and tyranny about them.

Any CEO or board member who would seriously consider the outside activities of a law firm as a criterion for retaining them, rather than the competence of the firm in the relevant core practice areas to protect the corporation's interests, should be removed for malfeasance.

As should, and this should go without saying, Mr. Stimson, once someone snatches the swagger stick out of his hands and stuffs it up his ass.

To their eternal discredit, the Wall Street Journal's editorial page floated this same ugly trial balloon on Friday's editorial pages, billing Stimson as an unnamed "senior U.S. official."

Has the entire bloody country gone mad? This is a war on terrorism, not jurisprudence.

You see, gentlemen, a pimp's love is very different than a square's

2006 was the year in which one branch of Fox essentially refused to release Mike Judge's dark satire Idiocracy to theaters, while another arm of Fox was giving the full-court publicity press (until public backlash whiplashed all the way into visceral disgust) to OJ Simpson's If I Did It...

You've almost certainly heard of Mike Judge, the brilliant auteur behind Beavis and Butthead, Office Space, and King of the Hill, among others.

Unless you're a film geek, though, you may have never even heard of Idiocracy; Fox showed it in about 100 theaters nationwide, basically to fulfill their obligation for a "theatrical release" before putting it out on DVD.

Well, we just got our hands on one of those DVDs, and this is one funny movie.

Heavy-handed, harsh, and very, very funny.

Reihan Salam's review in Slate explains things nicely:

If Office Space is about taking responsibility for your own happiness, Idiocracy is about something larger, namely our responsibility for our shared future. Like all the best dystopian fables, Idiocracy is a scathing indictment of our own society. And so it begins in the present with a brief portrait of the villains who are destroying America, represented here by an affluent couple and an imbecile ne'er-do-well named Clevon. The two yuppies are shown agonizing over the decision to have a child. It's never the right time, until the right time finally comes—and the couple is infertile. The yuppies will leave no legacy behind. Clevon, in contrast, lustily and enthusiastically impregnates not only his wife but a bevy of gap-toothed harridans, each one dumber and uglier than the next. The screen slowly fills with his spawn, foreshadowing the nightmarish future to come.

What follows is a series of events, including an all-too-brief discussion of the distinction between a pimp's love and the love of a square, that send hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Rita (Maya Rudolph) and the extremely average Army Pvt. Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) into separate hibernation chambers for a supersecret military experiment. Like so many of us, Bowers has spent his life avoiding responsibility. Whenever his commanding officer tells him to "lead, follow, or get out of the way," he invariably chooses to "get out of the way." So, when he is tapped for this dubious honor, he's none too pleased.

Fully expecting to wake up after a year, Joe instead emerges from his icy casket in the year 2505, a nightmarish future populated exclusively by Clevon-like simpletons. The last geniuses died perfecting advanced methods for regrowing hair and sustaining erections, beautifully illustrated by a quick cutaway shot of a lab monkey with what looks to be a Jheri curl, a lit stogie, and a gigantic boner. As a result, the machines that have kept the masses of morons happy and fed are falling apart. Starvation looms as crops die across the land, all because Americans, or rather Uh-mericans, are too stupid to water them with anything besides a colorful sports drink rich in electrolytes.

We laughed, we winced, we're recommending it to everyone we know.

Buy it or rent it today.


12 January 2007

Gato in the High Castle

Mister Gato, above it all on a little stack of boxes (on top of a bookcase in the living room, a detail missing from the shot.)

Coming soon to enrevanche: Gato speaks! (and moves.) Full-motion video catblogging with audio. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Be sure to check out The Modulator's Friday Ark today, and this Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats is at Pet's Garden Blog.

(Sunday, January 21, the Carnival of the Cats returns to enrevanche!)

Mister Peanut and the Klan

This excerpt from OpinionJournal's Best of the Web yesterday is so good, I'm reproducing it here in its entirety:
Fourteen members of an advisory board at the Carter Center resigned today, concluding they could 'no longer in good conscience continue to serve' following publication of former President Jimmy Carter's controversial book, 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,' " The Wall Street Journal reports (link for WSJ.com subscribers):
"It seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy," the board members wrote in a letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. "We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately."

The advisory board is comprised of more than 200 members, including representatives from leading businesses and other groups in the Atlanta area.

Some of the Carter Center board members who quit in protest have known Mr. Carter for decades. William B. Schwartz Jr., whose name is on the list of those resigning today, was U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas during the Carter administration. S. Stephen Selig III, chairman and president of Atlanta real-estate developer Selig Enterprises Inc., was a top White House aide to Mr. Carter who led outreach to the business community. Mr. Selig was chairman of the host committee for the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.
The resignation letter is scathing. After enumerating various factual errors both in Carter's book and in his subsequent comments on it, the erstwhile advisers note that he has made some new "friends":
Your use of the word "Apartheid," regardless of your disclaimers, has already energized white supremacist groups who thrive on asserting Jewish control of government and foreign policy, an insinuation you made in your OPED to the LA Times on December 8, 2006: "For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts." According to Web site monitoring by the Anti-Defamation League, U.S. white supremacists have enthusiastically embraced your suggestion that the Israel lobby stifles debate in this country, saying it confirms Jewish control of government and foreign policy as well as and the inherently "evil" nature of Jews. If you doubt the support you are giving and receiving, please refer to [this link.] From there you can get to the postings of four different White Supremacist organizations that both support and make use of the contents of your book and what you have said in public.

11 January 2007

Just gimme some kind of sign...

Oh, my baby.

Why I recommend Applecare...

...to anyone who purchases an Apple product of any kind.

Saturday, January 6: I call Apple Tech Support and tell them that the plastic around my MacBook's keyboard is discolored and cracking. They authorize an immediate repair.

Monday, January 8: DHL delivers a protective shipping box direct to my door. I package up the MacBook per the directions and peel off the shipping label to reveal a correctly addressed priority overnight label.

Tuesday, January 9: Carrie drops off the packaged-up MacBook at a DHL pickup point.

Wednesday, January 10: Apple technicians perform the necessary repairs *and* get the MacBook back into the DHL system, same-day. DHL records indicate that the computer is in Apple's actual possession for less than 12 hours.

Thursday, January 11: A perfectly repaired MacBook in working order arrives at our door.

Elapsed time from initial phone call (on a Saturday!) until a repaired computer is back in my hands, five calendar days.

Service: Insanely great.

Charge: $0.00.

Jumpstart your career in 2007

Careers are easy to neglect. If the paychecks keep coming and the boss is tolerable, most people get into a routine and direct their attention elsewhere.

While that's an adequate way to put bread on the table, it probably won't win you any big raises or promotions.

So, whether you're hoping to stay at your current employer or thinking you'll move to another firm at some point, here are eight job resolutions to help you jumpstart your career in 2007.

Here's one tip that everyone in IT (and other industries, too) ought to memorize:

Take the time to review potential employers. Don't assume a company is growing - and therefore a good place to be - just because it has several tempting openings. The openings may exist because insiders were eager to jump ship.
Eight Resolutions to Enhance Your Career - Wall Street Journal Online via Yahoo! Finance

(Cross-posted at Knowledge Work.)

Homage to modern antibiotics

Wow, azithromycin is good stuff. Third day of treatment and I'm feeling about ten times better.

Thanks, Pfizer, for bringing it to the market (as Zithromax) and Sandoz US/Novartis for making such an affordable, high-quality generic.

(By the way, a comparison of the two stock charts might be illuminating. Looks like the money is in generics these days.)

Back in Baghdad

No, I'm not talking about the President's cunning plan to win the war; blogger Michael Yon is back in Baghdad, riding with the troops and reporting from a perspective that you're not going to find in Time, Newsweek, or the major newspapers, because their reporters never leave the Green Zone.
Excerpts from Part 2:

Apparently many of the EFPs ["explosively formed projectiles," or shaped-charge explosives - bc] are being factory-made in Iran, and shipped to Iraq. During 2005, I asked many American and Iraqi commanders if they were capturing Iranians. They were capturing foreigners, surely, but what about Iranians? Not a single commander, Iraqi or American, told me that his people were catching Iranians. Times have changed. Today, American commanders talk about capturing Iranians. Not rumored Iranians, but real ones; some of whom are believed to be involved in importing EFP technology into Iraq. To be sure, EFPs are deadly, but from a broader military perspective, they are merely a nuisance.


This does not look like a big or intense war to people at home. It doesn’t look like that because we have so few troops actually in combat. But for those who are truly fighting, this is a brutal death match where every mistake can get them killed, or make worldwide headlines. Yet when the enemy drills out eyes or tortures people with acid, it never resonates.

There is an explanation for why when some of these young soldiers and Marines go home and people are trying to talk with them they might be caught silently staring out a window. Many people back home seem to think they have an idea what is happening here, but most do not. And nobody is here to tell the story of our people in this war.

Whatever you may think of the War in Iraq, I guarantee that you will learn something by reading Michael Yon.

09 January 2007


iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers. So it ushers in an era of software power and sophistication never before seen in a mobile device, completely redefining what you can do on a mobile phone.
Apple - iPhone

Je le veux

This little beast runs OS X.

A phone, an iPod, and a computer in a small, slim package... it's not really a phone, but the MacBook Nano.

And come June, I think there are two of them in this family's future.

Return of the ick

Was feeling so much better, until suddenly I wasn't.

Tough night over here; I coughed until the muscles in my chest ached, got about three hours of sleep, was running a fever when I got up this morning.

Quick visit to the doctor confirmed that the bronchitis isn't cleared up and there's likely a secondary infection. He wrote me a 'scrip for a five-day course of azithromycin (which, if the accompanying pharmacy pamphlet can be believed, seems to cure everything from ear infections to gonorrhea) and also something to suppress the cough reflex.

Am now chasing the loading dose of antibiotics with a fiery plate of chicken vindaloo. I treat any congestion-related illness with the spiciest foods I can get my hands on, and judging from the sweat that has popped out on my forehead, the Indian food is having the desired effect.

(The day I lose my appetite, plan to wind me in my shroud.)

He wasn't kidding

Looks like Hugo Chávez wasn't kidding when he promised to move Venezuela further to the left after the recent elections: he's just announced plans to nationalize telecoms and the electric utilities, pushing his poor country even further down the road to socialism.

Mr. Chávez, who will be sworn in Wednesday to another six-year term, announced his plans at the swearing-in of his new cabinet to a cheering crowd of supporters, sending a chilling message to foreign investors.

American corporations, including Verizon Communications, have large stakes in Venezuela’s largest telecommunications company, CANTV, and its biggest publicly traded electricity company, Electricidad de Caracas.

“Let it be nationalized,” Mr. Chávez said of CANTV. “All that was privatized, let it be nationalized.”

Financial markets appeared to be caught off-guard by Mr. Chávez’s announcement, as speculators reacted with a sell-off of assets that would be affected by the decision. Shares in CANTV plunged 14 percent in New York trading. Venezuela’s currency, the bolívar, fell as much as 20 percent in black market trading here on Monday, traders said.

(Chávez Moves to Nationalize Two Industries, New York Times, January 9, 2007.)

Ordinarily, these kinds of economic policies act like neutron bombs on developing (or, for that matter, developed) economies.

Given Venezuela's massive oil reserves, however, the cashflow from foreign energy trade can likely prop up a considerable amount of boneheadedness for quite some time.

Global investors and especially the bond and currency markets are not thrilled with Chávismo, and given Hugo's habit of cozying up to foreign leaders spanning a moral spectrum from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, political observers are concerned as well.

At least (for now) few people in America are buying his rhetoric, despite his propaganda programs and enlistment of useful idiots like Joe Kennedy II to push his agenda.

07 January 2007

"We have helped to officiate at a human sacrifice."

In re the recent judicially-sanctioned lynching of Saddam Hussein, I somehow missed this piece in Slate by Christopher Hitchens last week, but thanks to Tata I can point you to it, too:
...The zoolike scenes in that dank, filthy shed (it seems that those attending were not even asked to turn off their cell phones or forbidden to use them to record souvenir film) were more like a lynching than an execution. At one point, one of the attending magistrates can be heard appealing for decency and calm, but otherwise the fact must be faced: In spite of his mad invective against "the Persians" and other traitors, the only character with a rag of dignity in the whole scene is the father of all hangmen, Saddam Hussein himself.

How could it have come to this? Did U.S. officials know that the designated "executioners" would be the unwashed goons of Muqtada Sadr's "Mahdi Army"—the same sort of thugs who killed Abdul Majid al-Khoei in Najaf just after the liberation and who indulge in extra-judicial murder of Iraqis every night and day? Did our envoys and representatives ask for any sort of assurances before turning over a prisoner who was being held under the Geneva Conventions? According to the New York Times, there do seem to have been a few insipid misgivings about the timing and the haste, but these appear to have been dissolved soon enough and replaced by a fatalistic passivity that amounts, in theory and practice, to acquiescence in a crude Shiite coup d'état. Thus, far from bringing anything like "closure," the hanging ensures that the poison of Saddamism will stay in the Iraqi bloodstream, mingling with other related infections such as confessional fanaticism and the sort of video sadism that has until now been the prerogative of al-Qaida's dehumanized ghouls. We have helped to officiate at a human sacrifice. For shame.

The Shameful Hanging of Saddam Hussein (Slate, January 2, 2007)

Here's an interesting related article in Saturday's New York Times: Before Hanging, a Push for Revenge and a Push Back from the U.S.:
The taunts Mr. Hussein endured from Shiite guards as he stood with the noose around his neck have made headlines around the world, and stirred angry protests among his fellow Iraqi Sunnis. But the story of how American commanders and diplomats fought to halt the execution until midnight on Friday, only six hours before Mr. Hussein was hanged, is only now coming into focus, as Iraqi and American officials, in the glare of international outrage over the hanging, compete with their versions of what happened.

Little Asia On The Hill

"Affirmative action," in the university setting, has traditionally meant making places in incoming freshman classes for disadvantaged minorities who might not have the same GPAs or test scores as other applicants, the argument being that this is necessary to level the playing field, create balance, and ensure diversity in university admissions after years of de facto and de jure racism.

Now, circumstances are forcing educators to ask some uncomfortable questions, one of which is, in the name of affirmative action, is it now necessary to actually hold some overachieving minorities back?

Check out the stats from the University of California system:

The revolution at Berkeley is a quiet one, a slow turning of the forces of immigration and demographics. What is troubling to some is that the big public school on the hill certainly does not look like the ethnic face of California, which is 12 percent Asian, more than twice the national average. But it is the new face of the state’s vaunted public university system. Asians make up the largest single ethnic group, 37 percent, at its nine undergraduate campuses.

The oft-cited goal of a public university is to be a microcosm — in this case, of the nation’s most populous, most demographically dynamic state — and to enrich the educational experience with a variety of cultures, economic backgrounds and viewpoints.

But 10 years after California passed Proposition 209, voting to eliminate racial preferences in the public sector, university administrators find such balance harder to attain. At the same time, affirmative action is being challenged on a number of new fronts, in court and at state ballot boxes. And elite colleges have recently come under attack for practicing it — specifically, for bypassing highly credentialed Asian applicants in favor of students of color with less stellar test scores and grades.

In California, the rise of the Asian campus, of the strict meritocracy, has come at the expense of historically underrepresented blacks and Hispanics. This year, in a class of 4809, there are only 100 black freshmen at the University of California at Los Angeles — the lowest number in 33 years. At Berkeley, 3.6 percent of freshmen are black, barely half the statewide proportion. (In 1997, just before the full force of Proposition 209 went into effect, the proportion of black freshmen matched the state population, 7 percent.) The percentage of Hispanic freshmen at Berkeley (11 percent) is not even a third of the state proportion (35 percent). White freshmen (29 percent) are also below the state average (44 percent).
Of course, no college admissions process is a pure meritocracy. If you're a good enough athlete applying to a school with a major sports program, basic literacy may not even be required of you, NCAA regulations notwithstanding; if you're a "legacy" (Mummy and/or Daddy went there before you), the university is more likely to admit you, with an eye on the family checkbook and the U's fundraising plans.

But the numbers in California (and elsewhere) speak for themselves; if you make college admissions meritocratic, then Asians will be admitted to the elite schools in disproportionate numbers, at the expense not only of minority groups traditionally viewed as being disadvantaged, but the presumably (by law) "advantaged" majority group as well:

Across the United States, at elite private and public universities, Asian enrollment is near an all-time high. Asian-Americans make up less than 5 percent of the population but typically make up 10 to 30 percent of students at the nation’s best colleges: in 2005, the last year with across-the-board numbers, Asians made up 24 percent of the undergraduate population at Carnegie Mellon and at Stanford, 27 percent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14 percent at Yale and 13 percent at Princeton.

And according to advocates of race-neutral admissions policies, those numbers should be even higher.

Complex questions rarely have simple answers, but in this case, I think that the answer is actually pretty clear: admissions policies should be about ability and a track record of achievement and hard work, not your ethnic background; make college admissions completely race-neutral, and let the chips fall where they may.

And if that means that elite colleges have incoming classes that are 50% Asian (or even higher), that's fine: perhaps stripping away the "man behind the curtain" admissions manipulation will force us, as a culture, to confront some uncomfortable questions ourselves.

Stanford University psychology professor Hazel Markus thinks the reasons for Asian success are blindingly obvious:
As for the rise in Asian enrollment, the reason “isn’t a mystery,” Dr. Markus says. “This needs to come out and we shouldn’t hide it,” she says. “In Asian families, the No. 1 job of a child is to be a student. Being educated — that’s the most honorable thing you can do.”
And if you work hard and do well, you should get what's coming to you.

There are plenty of colleges and universities in this country (the vast majority of them, in fact) where second- or third-rate students can get themselves an education; no one has a right to a brand-name degree.

Times article referenced above: Little Asia On The Hill (New York Times, January 8, 2007)

06 January 2007

My people, my people, episode #513

One thing about us Kentucky high-tech rednecks, we employ Southern Ingenuity to solve problems and have fun doing it. The problems?

1. Disabling old hard drives so that data connot be recovered.
2. Clay pigeons are boring.
3. We like to blow things up.

I’m not a gun enthusiast, but I did have an old iMac that I didn’t know what to do with. My brother offered to dispose of it for a price in an entertaining way. Watch the video for the entire story.
Computer Trap Shoot 2006

Related: To remove data from an old PC hard drive so that it cannot be recovered, *without* the use of explosives or firearms, enrevanche recommends Eraser or Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN); Macintosh users running OS X 10.3 or later can simply use the built-in Disk Utilities program or Secure Empty Trash command (earlier OS X versions: Permanent Eraser.)

None of these are as much fun as blowing shit up.

A tip of the enrevanche chapeau to Chap.

05 January 2007

Oh dear.

Please don't tell Mister Gato or he'll want one too.

You talking to me?

You talking to me?
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.

"You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the f*** do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? Huh? OK." - Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver, 1976

Be sure to check out The Modulator's Friday Ark today, and get on board for the first Carnival of the Cats of 2007 this Sunday, at Leslie's Omnibus.


By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The cost? It's all free of charge.

The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 and now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide, aims to disperse knowledge far beyond the ivy-clad walls of elite campuses to anyone who has an Internet connection and a desire to learn.

Intended as an act of "intellectual philanthropy," OpenCourseWare (OCW) provides free access to course materials such as syllabi, video or audio lectures, notes, homework assignments, illustrations, and so on. So far, by giving away their content, the universities aren't discouraging students from enrolling as students. Instead, the online materials appear to be only whetting appetites for more.
How to go to MIT for free (Christian Science Monitor, January 4, 2007, via Yahoo! News)

Related: OpenCourseWare@MIT

04 January 2007

This endless canapé war

David Brooks has a dream: that one day, the super-rich on both sides of the political aisle can join hands and, for once, set a good example for hoi polloi:
It pains me to see plutocrats fight, because it sets such a poor example for those of us in the lower orders who fly commercial. It pains me even more because politicians from the rival blueblood clans go to embarrassing lengths to try to prove they are most authentically connected with working Americans.

Think of John Kerry visiting a Wendy’s or Bill Frist impersonating a Bible thumper. This week, witness Pelosi going on her all-about-me inauguration tour, which is designed to rebrand her as a regular Catholic grandma from Baltimore. Members of the middle classes never have to mount campaign swings to prove how regular they are, but these upper-bracket types can’t help themselves, and they always lay it on too thick.

So I harbor my dreams of reconciliation, but in the meantime, why oh why can’t we have a decent overclass in this country — a group of highly attractive dimwits who spread bland but worthy stability over our political scene. Why oh why do we have to have this endless canapé war — the people of the vineyard against the people of the ranch.

A Snit In First Class (David Brooks, New York Times, January 4, 2007; behind TimesSelect firewall)

Immigration economics 101

Foreign-born entrepreneurs were behind one in four U.S. technology startups over the past decade, according to a study to be published Thursday.

A team of researchers at Duke University estimated that 25 percent of technology and engineering companies started from 1995 to 2005 had at least one senior executive — a founder, chief executive, president or chief technology officer — born outside the United States.

Immigrant entrepreneurs' companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in sales in 2005, according to the survey.

Their contributions to corporate coffers, employment and U.S. competitiveness in the global technology sector offer a counterpoint to the recent political debate over immigration and the economy, which largely centers on unskilled, illegal workers in low-wage jobs.

"It's one thing if your gardener gets deported," said the project's Delhi-born lead researcher, Vivek Wadhwa. "But if these entrepreneurs leave, we're really denting our intellectual property creation.

Wadhwa, Duke's executive in residence and the founder of two tech startups in North Carolina's Research Triangle, said the country should make the most of its ability to "get the best and brightest from around the world."

Immigrants behind 25 percent of startups (AP via Yahoo! News - January 4, 2007)

03 January 2007

And so it begins

the embaldening
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.

Got a haircut at lunchtime today; when the barber used the two-mirrors trick to show me the back of my head, I had to suppress an urge to scream like a little girl.

The embaldening... it begins.

Borrowed from TJ

Now, this is the neatest bit of political one-upsmanship I've seen in a long, long time:

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison's 5th District, was happy to help.

Jefferson's copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson's collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn't the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies -- the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Very, very nicely done.