Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Aye, Carumba!

So I go in to my customer's site last week to find that they have reorganized again. They have shifted to Santa Rosa, California the managment responsibility for the product that I was documenting.

Now I am out on the streets again, prowling for a gig.

The economic climate is far better today than it was four years ago, or even last year, so I'm not despondant. Yet, there is the duty of re-examining the resumé, dusting off cover letters, and finding them rather dated, like pleated kahki pants. (Or are pleat fronts back in style? I can't quite keep up.)

I have a couple of months of invoices in the payment pipeline, so no cash crunch, but I do enjoy being with the grown-ups.

I imagine I'll have to eventually post a link to my resumé. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

2008 = 1968?

Over at TPMCafe, David Gelber looks to 2008 and sees 1968:

I’m beginning to think the Democratic Convention in 2008 could end up looking and sounding a lot like Chicago, 1968. If the leadership of the Democratic Party (other than Ted Kennedy) continues to resist setting a firm date for withdrawal from Iraq, you can be sure that a Gene McCarthy/Bobby Kennedy will emerge to mobilize a peace bloc determined to get us out. And, quite obviously, we’re not talking about a fringe group. You’ve probably heard by now that the Republican Congressman whose district includes Camp Lejeune came out today for setting a withdrawal date. The other day, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer asked its readers if it’s “time to begin the careful but quick withdrawal of American forces from Iraq”. 2,600 readers responded, and more than 90 percent answered in the affirmative. And, of course, polls are already saying that a majority of Americans think the war isn’t worth it. I can’t imagine those numbers turning the other way.

Will Hillary be Hubert?

For those of my readers who weren't alive in 1968, let me recap:

In 1964, civil rights workers from southern states responded to the Jim Crow policies of their state's Democratic parties by forming their own delegations to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. There, they precipitated a crisis by demanding to be seated in place of the delegations selected by the tainted elections process. LBJ, furious that his nomination be overshadowed by what he considered a sideshow, sent his V.P. selection, Hubert Humphrey to deal with the dissidents.

Hubert tried to get the civil rights workers to back off from their challenge and accept a pledge of good faith that the administration would make civil rights a priority. In the end, the delegates were not seated and many felt betrayed.

In 1968 this radicalized segment saw the nomination of Hubert Humphrey as a confirmation of the Democrat's lack of seriousness on civil rights. They joined radical anti-war protestors and filled Chicago's streets with a surging mass of people one step away from riot. The riot was kicked off by Democratic mayor Richard J. Daley when overworked Chicago police charged demonstrators on Michigan avenue and Daley was overheard giving the order, "Shoot to maim."

Chicago was a real landmark of the times, providing a brutal punctuation to the "Summer of Love." It showed a generation of idealistic volunteers how cynical their political bosses were. Young people carried banners that declared, "Keep the Country Hump-free." Nixon won the election.

By 1972, the debacle of Chicago swept in the goo-goo candidacy of George McGovern. Nixon won re-election. But Nixon's own paranoia in that campaign ensured that James Earl Carter would be the next elected president.

So Chicago was something of a "Perfect Storm" of politics. Without 1964 betrayal of the civil rights workers, LBJ would not have placed Humphrey as his vice-presidential choice. Without Humphrey running, the civil right community would not have been so up in arms. Without the civil rights delegates, the anti-war protestors would have stood alone. Without the hard hand of "Boss" Daley, the protests would not have spiraled into a "police riot."

I just don't think that fair-trade mocha-lattes can generate enough energy to get the MoveOn crowd up in arms about Hillary selling them out. I don't think that gay marriage activists will join the black-hood anarchists in a riot. And I don't think that any American mayor will be as stupid as Daley was in that hot August week back in 1968.

Not Really a Michael Jackson Post

I was sitting in the restaurant, a straggler of the lunch crowd. As she brought me my check, my waitress leaned over and confided, "Michael Jackson has just been found innocent on all counts."

Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she nodded her head to the TV set in the bar. CNN was running footage of crowds surging around the courthouse. I shrugged, "There's a mile of difference between 'innocent' and 'not proven guilty.' The people who should have been on trial are the parents who pimped their children for a chance to stand next to wealth and fame."

She nodded in an agreeable way and walked away with my Visa. The reason that I had looked puzzled was that I haven't given two minutes of thought to the Michael Jackson case since it started. At he only got those two minutes because that's the cumulative time I spent switching channels away from television shows that popped his mug on the screen.

So I don't have any opinion of the verdict in the case. Or, rather, my opinion of the verdict has nothing to do with the evidence (I don't know what the evidence is), or the personalities (please God, I'll never meet any of these creepy people) involved. No, my opinion is based on my certain knowledge and experience raising children.

What were these parents thinking? I am the father of two daughters and let me tell you, mister, you wouldn't have gotten within a mile of my girls if you were one-tenth as creepy as the Gloved One. I had a brother in law that would try to sit on the couch with them...very closely on the couch with them. Touching them close. That lasted about two minutes. We weren't insulting, but we made sure that when family came over we knew where everyone was at all times; and we made sure that he sat with his wife, or sat alone.

Now I'm not talking of the parents of the disadvantaged or handicapped kids that were invited to day excursions of Neverland. I'm talking about parents who, knowing the accusations made against Jackson in the early 1990s, allowed them to spend the night with Jackson and to sleep in the same bed as Jackson.

Now, having said all that, perhaps Michael Jackson is innocent of all that he is being accused of. If so, he has been acting in a manner guaranteed to raise eyebrows, if not fists.

Rich famous people are famously surrounded by enabling toadies. God save me from celebrity.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Apple and Intel. Are you too paranoid?

Or not paranoid enough?

Cringley says: Apple and Intel are going to merge, and it's Intel's Idea devised to screw Microsoft!

Shape of Days says: Apple has provided to developers an unlocked, Intel-compiled version of Mac OS 10.4 knowing that it would leak to warz sites to screw Microsoft!

I'm not saying that I believe either of these viewpoints, but they do follow the money trail. In the words of Jake Gittes, "You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which'll probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth."

It's remarkable that in a business based on rather cool, abstract logic, passions run so high.

Instant karma's gonna get yah.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sith Lords are no darker than your average Republicans

Darth Vader: The Exclusive Interview

DV:...The Emperor wasn't an Emperor, the Rebellion wasn't a Rebellion. It was all politics. Palpatine won a closely contested election, and the Jedi got ticked. The Sith may have controlled the Chancellorship and the Senate, but the Jedi had the damned media behind them. And the academics, and they're the ones who write the history books. The truth is, I started out with the Jedi, and Palpatine ultimately converted me to the Sith. The Sith political party, not some scary cult that went around lopping off people's hands....

MY: Wait a minute, wait a minute—are you saying that the Sith and Jedi are only political parties?

Lots of funny. Check it out.

Oww! That's gonna leave a scar...

Know why I laugh when I hear leaders of the Democratic party give stern warnings about how Republicans are goose-stepping in unison to rule the country?

Stuff like this:

Here's Geoffrey Norman in the American Spectator reacting to the nauseating (so to speak) comments by Bush's 'Drug Czar' on Raich:

"You would think a man with $35 billion to spend would have more important things on his agenda than doing an end-zone dance over the bodies of a few cancer patients looking for a little relief from the side-effects of chemo."


It's good to see some attention being focussed on the administration's role in this miserable fiasco. Yes, the court ruled in the way it did, but the case was pursued by Bush's administration, and the president should take responsibility for it. Reduce his efforts to their essence and you are left with two things: (1) a message to the sick that says 'drop dead, painfully'; and (2) the information that federalism is meaningless.

Some compassion. Some conservatism.

If criticism this robust takes place under the aegis of two of the U.S.'s premier conservative political publications, I rest easy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Struggle is Ended

The engineer who is creating the GUI for the product I am documenting responded to my questions with, "You not documenting that!? I'm rewriting the interface!"

Time to go home and play with my new grill.

On Buying a New Grill

David Brooks starts a piece on the new Exurbia phenomena with a howlingly funny vingnette:

I DON'T KNOW if you've ever noticed the expression of a man who is about to buy a first-class barbecue grill. He walks into a Home Depot or Lowe's or one of the other mega hardware complexes and his eyes are glistening with a faraway visionary zeal, like one of those old prophets gazing into the promised land. His lips are parted and twitching slightly. Inside the megastore, the grills are just past the racks of affordable-house plan books, in the yard-machinery section. They are arrayed magnificently next to the vehicles that used to be known as rider mowers but are now known as lawn tractors, because to call them rider mowers doesn't really convey the steroid-enhanced M-1 tank power of the things.

The man approaches the barbecue grills and his face bears a trance-like expression, suggesting that he has cast aside all the pains and imperfections of this world and is approaching the gateway to a higher dimension. In front of him are a number of massive steel-coated reactors with names like Broilmaster P3, The Thermidor, and the Weber Genesis, because in America it seems perfectly normal to name a backyard barbecue grill after a book of the Bible.

The items in this cooking arsenal flaunt enough metal to suggest they have been hardened to survive a direct nuclear assault, and Patio Man goes from machine to machine comparing their features--the cast iron/porcelain coated cooking surfaces, the 328,000-Btu heat-generating capacities, the 1,600-degree-tolerance linings, the multiple warming racks, the lava rock containment dishes, the built-in electrical meat thermometers, and so on. Certain profound questions flow through his mind. Is a 542-square-inch grilling surface really enough, considering that he might someday get the urge to roast an uncut buffalo steak? Though the matte steel overcoat resists scratching, doesn't he want a polished steel surface on his grill so he can glance down and admire his reflection as he is performing the suburban manliness rituals, such as brushing tangy sauce on meat slabs with his right hand while clutching a beer can in an NFL foam insulator ring in his left?

Pretty soon a large salesman in an orange vest who looks like a human SUV comes up to him and says, "Howyadoin'," which is, "May I help you?" in Home Depot talk. Patio Man, who has so much lust in his heart it is all he can do to keep from climbing up on one of these machines and whooping rodeo-style with joy, manages to respond appropriately. He grunts inarticulately and nods toward the machines. Careful not to make eye contact at any point, the two manly suburban men have a brief exchange of pseudo-scientific grill argot that neither of them understands, and pretty soon Patio Man has come to the reasoned conclusion that it really does make sense to pay a little extra for a grill with V-shaped metal baffles, ceramic rods, and a side-mounted smoker box. Plus the grill he selects has four insulated drink holders. All major choices of consumer durables these days ultimately come down to which model has the most impressive cup holders.

Last week I had need to go to the Island's new Home Depot. And there they were, the lawn tractors (I pointed out the cup holders to Mrs. Islander) and the gas grills. Now as much as I am weary of pushing my old, chugging lawnmower around the homestead, I really couldn't imagine paying $1.2K$ for the experience of riding. Those grills, however...

I have been using the same old Webber Kettle for over a decade. The aluminum vent controls corroded off a few years ago. 7 years ago, while moving the thing from a second story deck, I placed the lid on the balustrade. Sure enough, when I turned back I knocked it off and it fell 20 feet or so to asphalt. The fall knocked out a divot of the enamel, but it was still mostly round and kind of fit on the kettle, so I have been making do.

I just came back from a lunchtime trip to Costco, where I bought my new first-class grill. It is everything that David Brooks described. Minus the cup holders. I am torn between a wicked case of buyer's regret ("You haven't opened it! You could drive back and get a refund, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!") and sheer desire to cut out of work early, race home, set that thing up in the rain and grill enough food to feed the extended clan.

Stooping to Divisiveness

David Freddoso in National Review Online:

Republicans, Dean said this week in San Francisco, are “pretty much a monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It’s pretty much a white Christian party.” If you belong to the GOP, he said in Washington last week, then you “are all about suppressing votes: two voting machines if you live in a black district, ten voting machines if you live in a white district.” If you are a Republican, Dr. Dean says you offer a “dark, difficult and dishonest vision…for America.”

But Dean assures us, “We’re not going to stoop to the kind of divisiveness that the Republicans are doing.” Quite a relief!

There is much legitimate debate over what makes for a good party chairman, but one criterion that nearly everyone can agree on is that he should not be his party’s greatest liability. On that score, Howard Dean is really getting out of hand.

The only questions that I have are:

  1. How long until mainstream Democrats say, "Enough is enough," and can Dean?
  2. How big a rift will that create with the wing of the party?
  3. Will the Democrats be able to perfume the party enough to make another, more credible play for the center?
  4. Will Republican be able to beat the Dean Drum for as long as the Democrats beat the Gingrich Drum? (Unlikely.)

The problem with toxic speech like Dean's is that it stinks up the air long after the offender has been shown the door. From fantasy conversations with Evangelicals to crypto-Klan references, Dr. Dean has provided Republican with talking points a-plenty for the next mid-term election.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Thoughts on the failure of the EU Constitution to be ratified by the French

I choose to revise and extend my remarks:

Taleena expresses herself on the stumbles on the road to European Unification:
I have been watching the march to European Unification with an uncomprehending disbelief. The premise seems nice enough, being bound by common goals and needs a partnership to strengthen nations put into writ. The execution turning into a welter of over regulation and bureaucracy that replaces national identity with the faceless form.

If in fact the French and Dutch people reject the bloated nightmare of the EU Constitutional Treaty, how could a governing body ignore them? "It is ok little ducklings," croons Chirac and his cronies, "You must not be allowed to speak. Let us tell you what you really want." If that is what indeed happens the people will not need this they will need the American Method.
For a nation in the EU to rise up in it's hind legs and try "The American Method" (a code word for bloody revolution), several conditions would first be necessary. The first of these would be a re-embracing of the Enlightenment principal that the rights of the individual are building block of human affairs. Or, as it is so eloquently stated, "...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

I was so much provoked that I downloaded the European constitution to compare it with the Constitution of the United States. Sigh. I wonder how old one must be to have been required as a child to memorise the Preamble to the US Constitution?

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

52 words beginning with the statement declaring upon whose authority this constitution is based, "We the People."

So let's look at the first 171 words of the European constitution;


All titles of authority. Forgive the capitals, but they are capped in the original. Almost worse, the vague preamble is concluded with a list of the names of the prime and foreign ministers who signed off on this document.

Now I'm sure that these are all fine people, but, while I enjoy the royalist fantasies of Baroness Orczy and David Webber, I am bone-deep a republican. Were I ever to meet any of these people I would find myself standing, with Chauvelin, ill-clad, and refusing to bow.

Taleena replied:
You are making the assumption that I think Europeans have the gumption and moral clarity to use the American Method, that is in question. I do think that the need it though.
I just love a post that uses the word "gumption." Pure Americana.

And now The Telegraph posts its answer to the Euro constitution, a constitution for a Commonwealth.

An excerpt:
I The European Commonwealth shall be an association of parliamentary democracies that collaborate one with another for mutual benefit.

II The jurisdiction of common European institutions shall be confined to cross-border matters: that is, fields of policy where the actions of one Member State impact directly upon the internal affairs of another. These include: commerce between Member States (but not trade with Third Countries); cross-border environmental pollution; and the maintenance of a free market in goods, services, people and capital.

III For the avoidance of doubt, and as a defence against creative interpretation by European judges, a list of national Reserve Powers shall be drawn up in the Member States' constitutions (or by parliamentary statute in the United Kingdom). Such a list shall include: foreign affairs, defence, asylum and immigration, transport, energy, the powers of regional and local government, agriculture, fisheries, industry, social and employment policy, taxation, health, education, justice and home affairs. In these areas, the supremacy of national parliamentary and legal systems shall be guaranteed.

Common European policies shall come into effect only following a specific implementing decision by the national authorities.

IV Member States shall be free, if they wish, to adopt common policies in these areas. Such initiatives may happen bilaterally or multilaterally, without prejudice to the non-participating members.
While there is more, there is not too much. Nice, terse, and most importantly, it exists to state goals and restrict the power of the government.

Almost American.

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