Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm hardly the first on this, but check out Google's directions from Columbia, MO to London. Pay particular attention to step 22.
This is not a poem to change your life
or even change your mind
it is just a glimpse
into my fractured head
standing in some university bookstore
listening to some woman in a headscarf
gossiping in Farsi on a shiny phone
wedged between head and hijab
with no self-consciousness at all
and for that, if nothing else,
I envy her.
magnolia blooming
snow draped kitchen window spring
my Missouri mind.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The hotel I'm staying at in Philly has wired internet access in the room with eye popping terms of service. For one, it contains the phrase "You agree that  (Insert Name of Large Hotel Chain and/or Slutty Heiress)  shall own all Information."

That's quite a claim, even with their limited definition of "Information", which is basically whatever they deem worthwhile to slurp out of my data stream. Including transaction data. Wow. Yikes. Not even remotely customer friendly.

The cereal bar on the corner, however, has free wifi, with no restrictions at all, and I'm close enough that I still get two bars, which is more than sufficient for my needs. And there are three or four other wireless networks within range as well, though admittedly with crappy signals. So yay for Cereality, guys!

Now, if you excuse me, I think I'm going to go have Captain Crunch for dinner.

Update: I forgot to mention the part of the user agreement that caught my attention in the first place, that the hotel claimed the right to use, publish, and disseminate, for any reason, said Information in perpetuity, throughout the universe. Those were their exact words. I can just imagine the lawyers sitting around getting stoned, watching Star Trek, and wondering what was going to happen to their intellectual property contracts after we discovered warp drive and were no longer confined to this planet.
I'm flying out today to Philadelphia. I thought about asking for restaurant recommendations, places to see, that sort of thing, but the fact is I'm going to be in town for a whopping 18 hours, and I'll be staying on the same block as the place I'm giving my presentation, which is just a few blocks from the train station. I'll get off the plane, get on the train, walk to my hotel, walk to the bookstore, and then reverse my steps.

This kind of trip is kind of disorienting, really. I look at the yard as I drive by and feel like I need to mow it before I go out of town, but then I remember that I'll actually be back home tomorrow, giving me plenty of time to get it done.

So I'm headed out, but does that mean more blogging or less? No clue. Depends partly on inspiration, and largely on net access on the road.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I'm not sure if you heard about this or not, but apparently a staffer at the Department of Justice has invoked the Fifth Amendment and is refusing to testify before Congress. This isn't entirely unprecedented, but it's mostly been used by mobsters and such in the past. Here's the thing, though: the Fifth Amendment only covers criminal proceedings. In other words, the only legitimate claim of Fifth Amendment immunity is in order to avoid testifying, under oath, about your own criminal conduct. If she didn't commit a crime, then there's no immunity.

This means that only one of two things can be true here: Either she believes she committed a crime, in which case there really is something to be investigated here (especially as she is a fairly low level staffer), or this is a bogus claim, proffered in a desperate attempt to get out of testifying.

General consensus is that it's option two
. Her lawyer's letter essentially says that she's afraid to testify because she'll be prosecuted for perjury afterwards.

I agree that she's got a lousy choice here: tell the truth and be punished by the White House, or lie under oath. She's wisely choosing option three, which is to delay as much as possible until the White House gets its story straight or some other low-level staffer goes out and takes one for the team.

Note to self: Never work for anyone named Bush.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Reading about Meg Cabot's cat totally made me feel better about ours. That's the Meg Cabot who wrote the Princess Diaries. So, yeah, she wrote a bestselling book. But on the other hand, her cat is a complete nutjob. Whereas I haven't written squat, and my three cats are only sort of nutjobs. So it's a tie, right?

Good geeky fun from xkcd. As usual.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Long, long day at work. You know how when you're building a house, and the framing goes up really quickly, and then there are walls, and you're thinking this is going to go really quickly, but then the distance between "almost done" and "done" ends up being almost as great as the distance between "barely started" and "almost done" was? Well, it turns out that building ecommerce sites is a lot like that. Either way, it's the finish work that kills you. So that's where my days are going.

Meanwhile, politics is getting entertaining again. If you're the type to get your political news from the TV, you're probably just starting to hear about it, but the Internet's been buzzing for a while now, knocking down each successive line of lies about why, exactly, the Bush White House decided to fire a handful of U.S. Attorneys.

Legally, the firings were fine, as were the appointments of politically connected supporters as replacements (thanks to a clause that snuck into the Patriot Act in the middle of the night). But Congress asked why, and the Attorney General lied. He lied about why they were fired, he lied about who was involved, and the proof that he lied has since been released to the public, where everyone can see that he did, in fact, lie.

Now, I can sympathize. Several of the attorney's fired were in the middle of high-profile investigations and prosecutions of Republicans. Others were rather obstinately refusing to prosecute Democrats because they felt the evidence was insufficient. They were, in other words, trying to do the jobs they'd been given to the best of their abilities. Obviously, they hadn't been reading the papers, or they'd have known that's not how this White House does things.

Did you know, for example, that in the sorts of local political corruption cases that don't generally make the national papers, that 10 times as many Democrats were prosecuted than Republicans? Well, the people doing that prosecuting were the ones who didn't get fired.

How is Gonzales supposed to defend that before Congress? He obviously can't get up there and say "They were making us look bad. So we fired them." No, he lied. The only problem is that lying to Congress is a crime. A big one.

And now Bush's response to the accusation that his White House has been lying to Congress is to get angry, and to offer up his aides to testify, provided no transcript is kept or released of what they say, and that they don't have to swear to tell the truth.

I've got a sweet tooth for this shit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

This one's for Christie, and for anyone else who likes to see the spaces where creative people do their thing:

Friday, March 16, 2007

FYI, I just futzed with the blogroll a bit. Updated a few links, added a few new ones, deleted a few old ones, and rearranged things to more clearly reflect the way I think about stuff.

Update: Linkchecking the blogroll led me to this gem from Ms. Smartypants:

"On the other hand, a woman with true class (in the etiquette-book, not socioeconomic, sense of the word) would probably not have taught her flu-stricken daughter to lick her wrist and then throw back the little cup of cough medicine like a tequila shot. Four-year-old Nora's dose is now too big for the baby syringe, and during this last illness I got tired of her taking eensy sip after eensy sip while complaining about the taste. So I demonstrated the proper technique with salt and my own wrist and a shot glass of water, and told her that "this is how people quickly drink something that tastes bad." (But tequila tastes GOOD! protested my brain. Be quiet brain, we're trying to parent over here.) Nora is a sucker for procedures and processes, so she learned the routine and now knocks 'em back like a big girl. We skip the lime, that's just empty vitamins."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm just pulling out of the Wendy's parking lot, munching on some fries and listening to Big Smith with the window down, enjoying the weather, and I pull up to the stop light. A car pulls up next to me and revs its engine. Not just an accidental rev, either, but a deliberate, 'wanna race' kinda rev. I look over, and sure enough, the guy in the next car is looking at me. He holds my gaze a beat, looking just a tetch hostile, then looks back at the road, revs his engine again, just in case I missed his point.

Here's the deal, though: there are five cars in front of him, and I've got three cars and a cement mixer. This is not exactly what I'd call a drag racing opportunity.

So what else is it? I don't have any bumper stickers, so it's not political. Can't be about race, since we're both white. That pretty much leaves class, and he might have something to prove as he's behind the wheel of a pimped out Honda Civic. But I'm in a freaking Ford Focus. What's the point?
This one's for my dad, or anyone else who's ever had a squirrel problem. Here's the solution.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Google Desktop 5.0

I'm very much grooving on Google Desktop 5.0. The analog clock, weather plug-in, and Google Calendar display are worth the download by themselves, and there are plenty of little plug-ins depending on what you most want to keep in front of your eyes at all time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

First off, this pictorial from This Old House may prove my earlier point about who's doing the Honey-Dos in the houses of America.

Secondly, here are two bits from Snopes that are too weird to be true, but nevertheless are.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New trend: Functional Fitness.
Since everybody else in the blogosphere is either talking about housework or not talking about housework, let's talk about housework.

I'm not, however, going to get into the issue of who does more or what. For one thing, it's just not productive.

For another, so what? Women have only been allowed to vote in federal elections since 1920, and it's been within my adult lifetime that Missouri has repealed some truly disgusting laws. (Did you know that until the nineties, it was not legally possible for a husband to rape his wife? Marriage was considered a lifetime of consent, no matter the circumstances.) It's not shocking to know that we have work still to do.

My issue with these studies is that they are so gender-biased in what they consider "housework". Dusting, laundry, dishes, and cooking are all considered housework, mowing the lawn, car maintenance, and home repair are not. There's a clear divide there between what have been traditionally labelled "men's work" and "women's work".

Now, if you look at Christie and I's domestic life, it'd look pretty gender typical. She cleans more than I do, and I fix more than she does. And we're even more traditional in the housework related program activities we engage in for our hobbies. For both of us, a happy weekend has me in the basement making sawdust and her in her sewing room making scraps. I might be fixing something that's been bothering me, and she might be doing the same, but most of the time we're just doing it for the fun of it.

I wonder about the future, though. I can pretty much count on one hand the number of guys my age I know that are into building and fixing things who don't do it, in some way, for a living. Their aren't too many young guys in the lumber aisle at Lowe's on a Saturday. At the fabric store, though, there are a ton of young women, and they tend to be the cool, edgy types more than the Laura Ashley types you'd expect if it was all about traditional gender roles. No, for these women, "women's work" manages to be transgressive and traditional at the same time.

Are we headed that way with "men's work" as well? I'm sort of thinking maybe not. Based on the incredibly lame methodology of watching a whole bunch of Ask This Old House episodes, I expect we'll see tasks like fixing the dripping faucet and putting up the back fence being taken over by women as well. There are those who would see that and feel sorry for the poor women who have even more work to do, but I feel sorry for the men. I don't know how I could make it through 5 days in cubicle-land if I didn't have the prospect of buckling on the toolbelt on Saturday to look forward to. Very little in my Monday through Friday life is as clear cut as a dripping faucet or rotting deckboard, so to be able to come home and concretely fix that one thing that's been bugging me, that's priceless.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I hate Illinois Nazis

So you may have heard that the Nazi Party is going to march in Columbia. Something about the University or something being run by Communists or something. Whatever. Now there's discussion of how we as a city should react. Personally, I think we should all dress up as the Blues Brothers.