Saturday, April 30, 2005

[music] scads o' trad

Hard-rocking trad, that is. Okay, I shouldn't've, but I did. So there. I enjoyed my last musical purchase so much, I went and bought some more stuff from Omnium Recordings. First off was a compilation named Shite n' Onions - Celtic punk - think a rougher-edged version of the Pogues and you'll have a very good sense of what's on tap here.

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There're a couple of turds on the CD (or would that be lumps o' shite?), but hey - it's a compilation, right? Most of it's great... For more info about the bands, check out the Boston-based website named, naturally, Shite n' Onions. I'm eagerly awaiting the implied volume #2... Next up, Vengeance by Garmarna.

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Gothy-without-being-gothic electronica, a mix of medieval Scandinavian tunes and contemporary pieces (albeit with the same feel) - not unlike the album by Hedningarna that I wrote about here, but with a much less primal feel to it. Primal isn't quite right, nor is menacing - I wrote both, deleted both, and settled on primal... Whatever it is, there's an overlap with Hedningarna as far as inspiration, but there are definite differences in execution.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

[geek][c#] Baby steps with .NET 2.0

Okay, so after installing Visual C# 2005 Express Edition (Beta 2), I decided to do something a little more, uh... challenging than mucking around with the Managed DirectX game sample from Coding4Fun... I mean, don't get me wrong - I'm no DirectX expert by any stretch of the imagination... What I mean is taking a production app written in Visual C# 2003 (.NET v1.1) and seeing what (if anything) breaks. Guess what? Nothing broke. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration - there were a couple of Windows Forms properties that are no longer supported, one event/event handler pair didn't get ported over by the wizard (I'm guessing that the name of the event was too close to a keyword, but that's really and truly a wild-ass guess. It ain't even a sophisticated wild-ass guess), and the solution had some minor trouble reconciling references between projects, but it was a matter of 15 - 20 minutes of mucking around to eliminate the errors. There are still some warnings that I'd like to get rid of, but I can't until there's a real version of MSDN out there so that I can understand how I should replace a deprecated boolean property with a property that uses an enum (thanks, guys...). But really, that's it. There are a couple of things that have clearly changed with the way that repainting window surfaces is handled (there are some boxes around our custom controls, and there appears to be some kind of default mouse-over behavior that makes the UI respond slightly differently, but there's been no substantial changes in the behavior of the app. Except for one. It's fast. Like, really fast. Snappy, even. It takes longer to load the app in debug mode, and it's a little twitchy unloading, but form-to-form transitions that used to border on Internet-browser-over-dialup-slow are now barely perceptible. This is good. If Beta 2 is any indication of what the release version of Visual Studio 2005 and v2.0 of the CLR is going to look like, they've done some really nice stuff by way of addressing the shortcomings of WinForm apps. Oh, and if anyone else out there notices a problem with the Members Window of the Object Browser (not the project/assembly TreeView, but the window that displays the actual members of the selected object), please leave me a comment...

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

[geek][politics] Goodbye, Mr. Smith

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us, and copyrighted by Warner Bros. among others, I'm sure...

Okay, not that Mr. Smith... Howzabout Brad Smith, Microsoft's General Counsel who is directly responsible for this FUBAR'd situation with HB 1515? Yeah, I'll take his head on a stick for $400, Alex. It appears as if Mr. Smith can't keep his stories straight (as it were):
It's funny how both sides, the gays and the evil pastor, seem to agree on one thing - Microsoft General Counsil Brad Smith is the bad guy in this whole affair. He's the one who supposedly told both that he had just recently changed Microsoft's position on the bill to "neutral" partly as a result of pressure from the preacher. Amazing how numerous witnesses at separate meetings with Smith supposedly got the story wrong but SMITH got it right in both cases. Oh but there's more...
Indeed there is more. Lots more.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jane Hamsher said...

Yeah, if I wasn't firmly in the Apple camp before, I sure am now.

Bastards.

4/29/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

Unfortunately, my livelihood explicitly depends upon their corporate largesse... and the dev skills I've acquired for the past decade+ are all Windows-centric. But yeah, that largely sums up my feelings at this point.

4/29/2005 12:22:00 PM  

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

[geek][politics] The non-tech press notices...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Still feeling the tremors from Microsoft's refusal to support HB 1515... This screenshot was taken at approx. 3:30 PM PDT, and is from a personalized Google news setting that looks for articles containing the word 'Microsoft'. (BTW, that's "174 Related" at the bottom of that JPEG...)

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[geek][politics] All Microsoft, all the time

At the risk of becoming a Microsoft-only site, I would like to point out that the fallout continues... I first noticed this on WashBlog, who in turn got it from AMERICABlog (as promised - keep up the good work, John): Microsoft has been in bed with Ralph Reed (again) to the tune of 20K USD/month. Twenty thousand bucks. Per month. Kinda odd that they'd be consulting someone who lobbies around "family issues" (which is really right-wing bigot-speak for "attacking queers, feminists, liberals, and anyone else who stands in the way of our theocratic politics"), and not corporate regulation or taxation or employment. So odd, in fact, that the technical press is picking up on it - first CNet, then ZDNet published the same article. Bill, I know this isn't your style - Steve, I don't know. I understand Microsoft's support of the GOP from a purely pragmatic view - monopolistic practices, regulation, taxation and all that. I don't agree with it, but I understand why you'd align yourself with the pseudo-free-marketeers of the Republican Party. But why they'd choose to be in bed with the far Right, the Dominionist wing of the GOP, is still a mystery to me. Wake up, guys - part of what makes Seattle such a great place to be is the tolerant atmosphere. You were a large part in the creation of that atmosphere - don't fuck it up. How many educated, cosmopolitan, skilled workers are you going to attract to a rigid theocratic state?

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Monday, April 25, 2005

[random] There are 3 kinds of people

I'd like to wish everyone reading this a (belated) Happy Pesach - as stated elsewhere, I'm an atheist and a lapsed Catholic, but I really like Passover. It's a pretty radical celebration of freedom, and as such should be a welcome addition to the family traditions of anyone who practices one of the religions of Abraham. Given the lack of a central governing body in Judaism, you have a lot of freedom in the script that you choose for your seder: queer, feminist, radical, liberal, pagan (I shit you not)... Even a mainstream hagaddah (the book with the readings and songs for the seder) is going to have some pretty intense stuff in it - the title of this blog entry is a reference to one of these gems:
There are 3 kinds of people: those who are not free, those who do not care about the freedoms of others, and those who are free and who work for the freedom of others.
Quibble with the number of categories if you will, but still... Pretty powerful stuff the nonce. And how can you not like an excuse to get together with like-minded people, eat food, drink lots of wine, and discuss politics? So, we drove down to Portland for Passover with the in-laws - Powell's Books did not emerge unscathed, and I finally made it to their technical bookstore on Burnside... sigh I'm still wiped out from the trip, and it is excruciatingly slow at work today... I'm waiting for a client to get their act together so I can actually start working on the contract that they're already paying us for, but until then... I mess around. I'm fooling around with some of the (beta) Visual Studio 2005 Express editions and getting excited about .NET 2.0 (generics rock!). I'm also getting acquainted with JavaScript (I'm a desktop guy, so scripting is not exactly my strong suit), and I'm, well... blogging. (I think I'm pretty close to a client-side JavaScript-based hack that'll let me implement post categories, though! Woo-hoo! If it works, I'll post the details once I get the implementation done right... I'm gonna do some tweaking of my post titles - it should make the code a little more straightforward.)

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[geek, politics] My own thoughts on HB 1515

Mostly I've been collecting the thoughts and rants of others, but I wanted to get some of my own ideas committed to pixels before I forgot. I'm really angry with Microsoft - their actions set a tone, and their example sets a lead. This was cowardly, particularly if they are committed to non-discrimination internally. In the end, what does that mean if a random manager decides that they don't want someone openly queer working for or with them? If they fire that person for being queer, that person'd probably have some legal recourse since non-discrimination is part of Microsoft's contractual obligation with that employee. But here's the kicker - there's no guarantee that any such recourse would be upheld by the courts without an explicit statewide ban on discrimination over sexual orientation. That's exactly the kind of thing an activist judgeright-thinking Christian jurist would come up with. I'm angry with the professional homo-haters like Rev. Hutcherson. Hey, Rev.! You show me where Jesus said this bullshit is okay, then I might give you some grounds. I'm a seriously lapsed Catholic, but I do remember enough Scripture to know that you're picking and choosing your Bible verses when it comes to justifying this hateful pablum. I'm angry with the 'moderate' GOP fag-bashers in this state who decided that appeasing Rev. Hutcherson was more important than actually doing what their constitutents want. The DINOs from Eastern Washington? This crap I expected from them - we'll get them sooner or later. The fake socially-liberal-fiscally-conservative bastards? We'll get them sooner. You hear me, Finkbeiner? You're up in 2006, right? Overall I'm hopeful, though - HB 1515 passed the House 67-31, with 6 Republicans voting 'yea', and only failed in the Senate by one vote. There are worse places to live, and frankly everything I've read suggests that barring some kind of massive reactionary social upheaval (the millenium is still young, after all), time is on our side nationally. We will win.

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[geek][politics] Microsoft - the story has legs

The fallout from Microsoft's cowardly (cravenly?) actions vis a vis HB 1515 keeps on coming. (Again, my own editorial remarks are in brackets and are tagged with a "ps:"). In the order that I found 'em, we have: 1. From MSNBC (I love the irony inherent in typing that):
...Friday, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, which presented Microsoft with its Corporate Vision Award four years ago, asked the company to return the award. "Because of Microsoft’s apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it’s no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor," Darrell Cummings, the center’s chief of staff, said in a statement. The Human Rights Campaign said in a letter to Microsoft that "the strong stance of Microsoft on behalf of the GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered] community and our partnership with the organization in the past makes this feel like even more of a betrayal."
(You listening, GLAAD? Or does the money from Microsoft matter even more than their actions?) 2. John @ AMERICABlog is promising good things (we're hoping for documents, personally) in a footnote to a piece on the FOIA documents about the fake White House reporter, Gannon/Guckert/Bulldog the Wonder Escort. 3. John also pointed me to the Scobelizer! Scoble! You rock, man! I don't read your site nearly often enough, but you've just been added to my aggregator! One of Microsoft's best-known bloggers writes this:
I got permission from PR to post Steve's email. [ps: Steve Ballmer] Steve, I personally am not happy with what it appears went down in this case -- even the APPEARANCE that a church is pushing around Microsoft is just wrong in my view (and, when the pastor makes claims that we buckled because of his pressure then I'm left trying to figure out who to believe: a CEO of a company, or a religious guy. Most people I know will pick the religious guy, sorry). One of the reasons I came to Microsoft is because of its very strong stance on human rights. The fact that Microsoft is even in this position makes me want to leave and join a different company that won't be pushed around by religious folks. Is that the message you want to send?
4. Gary Cornell, publisher of APress (good technical books) has a slightly different take here:
...here's what bothers me. He [ps:Steve Ballmer] also says:
"On this particular matter, both Bill [ps:Gates] and I actually both personally support this legislation that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me.[ps:"]
So, Steve why didn't you and Bill hightail it over to Olympia and testify as follows to the legislature: "While Microsoft can and will have no positions on this issue I want you know that Bill Gates and I feel very strongly that this bill is a good bill, a necessary bill. And since we personally both want it to pass, we have decided to put the necessary money where out mouths are. Ergo, he and I have set up a PAC with (feel free to put some significant amount of money here--whatever is needed I am sure isn't even a days interest on their combined wealth*) at its disposal to help pass this truly excellent and necessary bill." In other words Steve if you are going to say you personally talk the talk, how 'bout personally walking the walk? *Using a reasonable level for the possible interest rate they could obtain nowadays, one days interest on their combined wealth is 3 million dollars or so.
The hits keep on comin'... Microsoft, you listening? How about you, Waggner Edstrom? Figured out how you're going to spin this yet? What message do you guys want to send, anyway?

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Friday, April 22, 2005

[geek][politics]Why Microsoft's 'neutrality' matters

From 365Gay.com:
The district where Microsoft is located is represented by Sen. Luke Esser (R-Bellevue) who said he was going to vote against the bill anyway. But, he said, having the largest employer in his district come out neutral on the issue "strengthened the case for the no vote I was already going to cast."
Did you hear that Bill? How about you, Waggner Edstrom? I know you're taking the pulse of the blogosphere... How're you gonna spin the HB 1515 fuckup for your Redmond-based client, particularly since Microsoft is still touting their participation in GLAAD's upcoming Media Awards event on their corporate diversity website?

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

[politics] Friends and allies

Someone on Daily Kos rightly pointed out that some Senators who voted 'yea' on the ill-fated anti-discrimination bill HB 1515 did so at great peril to their political futures. One such Senator is Marilyn Rasmussen (D-2), a Democrat representing a very rural district. Here's the email I sent her this evening.
Sen. Rasmussen -- Thank you for your 'yea' vote on HB 1515. It is easy for Seattle liberals to forget that the legislative world does not revolve around us; it is easy for us to forget that there are other Democrats out there beyond the 'safe' borders of King County. I moved to Seattle in part because of its safety - I'm bisexual, and when my family was looking at career options, Washington State was high on our list because of the safety represented by the Seattle area. HB 1515 would have, in some small measure, extended that bubble of safety... I grew up in a rural area, and I know that you will be taking heat for your decision. This vote will be difficult to 'sell' to many of your constituents. Should you decide to run for re-election, please add me to your list of potential donors: hard decisions such as yours are greatly appreciated. Thank you again.
She (and others like her) deserve our support.

1 Comments:

Blogger Carnacki said...

Good email to her. It's all in how the issue is framed apparently. If she presents it as a civil rights issue, she should be fine. I'll keep my fingers crossed. We need good representatives willing to stand on principle.

4/25/2005 12:47:00 AM  

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[geek][politics] More on Microsoft's betrayal

Here's the full article at The Stranger - I don't know what else to add other than a.) I agree with the last 2 paragraphs from from the article (additions noted with 'ps' are mine, not The Stranger's):
As for [ps : Washington State Rep. Ed] Murray, he believes the company was faced with a "profound" moral test, which it failed. The backpedaling "sends an incredible message of weakness and shows a lack of moral backbone," he says. "I mean, what is this? Is this the 1930s, and are they Krups?" After meeting with [ps : Ken] Hutcherson [ps : (pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond and professional gay-basher)], Microsoft had to make a choice: Maintain its long-standing, progressive support for civil rights or side with reactionary forces advocating discrimination. The company chose the latter. The gay Microsoft employee who spoke to The Stranger concluded, "Microsoft needs to feel the pain of a bad decision here."
and b.) this feels like a kick in the stomach. As with so many other employees of all the small companies in the Seattle-metro area that do a lot of business with Microsoft, my livelihood depends upon our company maintaining a good relationship with the mothership in Redmond - my boss, while he will probably be sympathetic to my POV, won't want to disturb that relationship. I'm having trouble working up the courage to call Microsoft...

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

[geek][politics] I've got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach...

John at AMERICAblog has a story that Microsoft has quietly yanked their support for HB 1515, the pro-gay, anti-discrimination bill stuck in the state legislature... Quoting John who is in turn quoting from The Stranger (online tomorrow - I almost picked one up today but didn't...), we have this:
The pastor, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay rights activists and a Microsoft employee who attended a subsequent April 4 meeting where Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, told a group of gay staffers about Hutcherson's threat.... At the April 4 meeting, Smith told members of GLEAM, the gay and lesbian employees group at Microsoft, that the company had switched its official stance to "neutral" on the bill, and took personal responsibility for the decision. He characterized the shift as part of a broader general review of company policy designed to more precisely formulate criteria for determining when Microsoft should involve itself in "social issues," but also disclosed the pressure that had been brought to bear on him by Hutcherson....
WTF? "[B]roader general review of company policy"? I'm at a loss for words. I won't be at a loss tomorrow when I call Microsoft... I'll let you know how it goes.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

[music] trad punk

Those who know me probably know my taste in music: I like punk, hardcore, Oi!, goth, industrial, EBM, some ska, some emo, with my roots in heavy metal... But I also like some classical, folk, world, and traditional, particularly Celtic-flavored. And I really like it when I find a band that manages to successfully combine hard rock/electronica with traditional/folk. Some bhangra comes close to this, but tends to be a little more influenced by electronic dance or hip-hop than I prefer - I like it, but I like something with a little more of an edge. Today, however, I really scored: not one, but two bands that fit this bill! There's this little record label in Minneapolis, MN - Omnium - that bills themselves as purveyors of 'hard trad'. I was already familiar with them through the band Boiled in Lead, one of the sources of inspiration mentioned in Emma Bull's modern rock n' roll fantasy novel War for the Oaks. I liked their stuff, but I didn't love it - but recently I stumbled across the website of Jane Yolen's son, Adam Stemple - and he's one of the founding members of BiL. This in turn led me back to Omnium, which in turn led me to: Viking punk! Okay, that isn't a fair description - but this album by Hedningarna mixes rock n' roll, electronic music, traditional instruments, samples (a chainsaw!?), and traditional Scandinavian tunes run through a decidedly un-folky filter. Think something kind of like Celtic folk, only darker. Much, much darker. Think dancing naked in a ring under a full moon, waiting for something... ancient to come. A very beautiful but not-necessarily nice something. This album would make an excellent soundtrack for just such a tableau. The next? Cossack punk! Unlike my use of 'viking punk' above, this is actually a dead on: take some traditional Ukrainian tunes (and some new ones heavily influenced by trad music), translate some Sex Pistols covers into Ukrainian, and get some brilliant musicians to play 'em, and you have The Ukrainians (this surprises you?) Seriously, this band is a side-project of the long-time UK progressive rockers The Wedding Present (in town for a show this past week - though I'm not so fond of their most recent stuff), and this album is a non-stop kick-ass punk rock stomp! In Ukrainian. Think 'Pretty Vacant' as you might imagine hearing it in a grungy little underground bar in Odessa or Kiev... Lots of fun. I ordered up a third album from them - the debut EP from a band named Felonious Bosch - it isn't as hard-hitting as the previous two, but still, it mixes medieval and Middle Eastern melodies with a smokey, bluesy-ish rock sensibility, and makes for an excellent listen. Almost all of Omnium's artists (and those of their sister companies) have MP3 and RA files (the MP3s are full-length tracks, while the Real files tend to be excerpts) for your perusal... Take a listen, and let me know what you think. Looking through the hardcopy catalog that came with the disks, I'm seeing a bunch of stuff that looks quite interesting. Categories: ; ; ;

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

[geek][politics] Was it something I said?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us It's kind of hard to see (damn that template issue - the full-size jpg is too wide to display properly), but there were 3 visits by IP addresses from jmsmucker.net to this site this morning. Nah, I won't flatter myself - but it does look like the folks from J.M.Smuckers were/are taking the pulse of the blogosphere: 2 of these hits were referred by Google, searching on "uncrustable" and "blog"... the other was on "uncrustable" and "patent". Categories: ; ; ;

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[geek][politics] ...wherein a crust portion [...] has been removed

Who writes this stuff? Take a minute to read the actual text of U.S. Patent 6,004,596, aka The Uncrustable ®. I find their refutation of the prior art quite interesting:
While these sandwiches may be suitable for the particular purpose to which they address, they are not as suitable for providing a convenient sandwich without an outer crust which can be stored for long periods of time without a central filling from leaking outwardly. The prior art does not teach a sandwich without an outer crust which sealably retains an inner filling for extended periods of time. In these respects, the sealed crustless sandwich according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in so doing provides a sandwich primarily developed for the purpose of providing a convenient sandwich without an outer crust which can be stored for long periods of time without a central filling from leaking outwardly.
Coz' everyone knows a Pop-Tart ® doesn't stay sealed for extended periods of time... Oh wait - my bad... That's pastry, not a sandwich... So no one's ever come up with a crustless sealed sandwich before. Jamaican or Cornish pasties? Samosas? Nope, all crust, no bread... Egg rolls? Spring rolls? Nope, that's all pasta-based. Hum bow? Um... Get back to me. I can wait. Must be the peanut butter that makes it special then, right? Oh, no... they explicitly mention meat, cheese, fruit, honey, and vegetable oil (oil!?) in their patent, too... Let's try a little experiment then, shall we? It's the geeky thing to do: let's Google "smuckers" and "uncrustable", shall we? Back? Good. Notice anything? Like the overwhelming number of school menus featuring these things? I wonder how much more an Uncrustable ® costs per serving than a plain-'ol PB&J... Categories: ; ; ;

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Monday, April 11, 2005

[politics][geek] Sex, death, and the mystery of hyperlinks...

I don't feel up to the task of commenting on the passing of Andrea Dworkin - as a radical, as a visionary, as a purist she definitely shook things up and made a lot of things possible... Unfortunately, some of what she made possible was the oppression of women and queers, particularly when she and McKinnon got Canada to enact their sweeping anti-obscenity laws... Who did Canada go after? The mainstream purveyors of porn, the oft-cited targets of Dworkin and McKinnon's rage? No. Short answer: they went after lesbian porn and erotica first. Susie Bright has an interesting meditation on Dworkin's untimely passing. Bittersweet, but definitely interesting. I'm with Bright on this one. No question. But then, what do I know? I have a penis, after all... And the hot links mysterious hyperlinks part? In the comments attached to her Dworkin piece, Susie Bright links to a Daily Kos diary as a good example of the debate over Dworkin's legacy... a diary which pointed me to Bright's blog in the first place. Ain't the Internets grand? [12 April 2005 15:56 PDT - update: changed the title from "Sex, death, and hot links" so all you pervs surfing technorati's "sex" tag aren't disappointed... Sorry guys - no quivering flesh here. Go google it, wontch'a?] Categories: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

[blogger] Mystery solved

Evidently, if an image is too wide, it screws up the templates... The JPEG of Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination that I linked to was too big for the template. Adding border="0" width="250" to the img tag fixed it. FYI. Category:

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Friday, April 08, 2005

[blogger]No, really... WTF has happened to my template?

Okay, I've applied a bunch of default templates to this blog, and I'm still seeing things farged up... I have a hunch it's the stupid way blogger formats centered images. Again, I'm left with: Arrrggghhh!!! Category:

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[politics] Rock. On. Orcinus.

Orcinus, excellent as ever. Given that GOP and DINO political and procedural maneuvering in the WA Senate has apparently killed our state's latest attempt at banning discrimination based on sexual orientation (grrr...), Orcinus has a modest proposal that directly confronts the hypocrisy of the Christian Right on this matter: Strip religion from anti-discrimination laws. Let that sink in for a minute... Yup - legalize discrimination on the basis of religion. Why? I'll let him explain:
It's the [...] reason given by many evangelicals -- and particularly black and minority evangelicals, and people who claim they support civil rights -- for not supporting gays and lesbians in hate-crime protections: "You can't compare being gay to being black. One's immutable, one's chosen." Well, yes, this is true when it comes to race. And even ethnicity. These are, after all, two of the three main legs of anti-discrimination and hate-crimes laws. But it's not true of the third leg of these laws: religion. Last I checked, this too was a "chosen behavior." In RCW 49.60, the matter of faith is defined more broadly as "creed." This thus includes atheism, agnosticism, and other belief systems.
Chosen behavior? In your FACE!!! Hee... (And he keeps insisting that he's a moderate - if he's a moderate, I'm a flaming radic... Oh. Er. Never mind. Still, it's sad to think that the political landscape has shifted so far to the Right that a rational, decent thought can seem far-Left.) Catgories: , , , , , ,

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

[blogger]WTF has happened to my template?

Have I changed it? No... Yet all of a sudden, my sidebar is displaying down below my posts - but when I click on the absolute URL under 'recent posts', it displays properly... Arrrggghhh!!! Catgories:

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[geek][politics] Boy, they'll let anyone patent anything, won't they...

Would you believe... the venerable PB&J sandwich? Please. Read that again. It'll sink in, I promise... J.M.Smucker has a patent on the m0th3r-fscking PEANUT BUTTER AND FSCK ME GENTLY WITH A CHAINSAW JELLY SANDWICH!!!! There isn't a font big enough to convey how wrong I think this is. There aren't enough electrons in the known Universe to display the exclaimation points (and the profanity) that this merits. Turns out, for once, the Patent Office is having second thoughts about protecting this, uh, industrial marvel. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you... the "Uncrustable":
The company says it's worth U.S. government protection because of the way it keeps its famous jelly from leaking out. How do they do it? They surround the jelly completely with peanut butter, then put that on two pieces of bread, cut off the crusts and crimp the edges together. Smuckers actually has a patent on the peanut butter shield, to stop the jelly from soaking into the bread, unlike a sandwich with peanut butter on just one side, which gets soggy when the jelly gets through.
Finally, though, a glimmer of hope from the Feds:
Putting the jelly inside the peanut butter, the U.S. Trademark Office now says, would have been obvious for one of ordinary skill.
No kidding... Now if we can just get them to look at, oh... business process and software patents with that same incisive, laser-like moral and intellectual clarity. But I'm not holding my breath. Catgories: ;

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Monday, April 04, 2005

[politics] whitewash

It happened when I was 4 years old. I was younger than my son when I first used the word 'nigger'. I was still living in Rhode Island at the time, and I moved to Massachusetts the summer I turned 5, so I must have been 4 years old. I actually remember it pretty vividly. I spent part of the summer I was 4 at my grandmother's house - one of the days I was down at the lake (Lake Watuppa, in Westport, MA) one of my cousins was singing a silly (but racist... oh, so racist...) song. Something about seeing a nigger and he tried to pee on me or some such crap. I remember it quite vividly, actually. I don't remember the circumstances under which I actually said the word 'nigger' - I think I was alone with my mother, my sister must have been nearby since she would have only been a year old - but I remember my mother's reaction quite well. [she paused - I can only imagine what she was thinking] "Do you know what that word means?" "No." "It's a not nice word that some people use to describe people like your friend Brian. It's a word people use to mean that people that look like your friend Brian aren't good people. Do you think Brian's a good person?" "Yes." "Then I don't want to hear you use that word again." I haven't since... But man, do we have a long way to still go... Hell, I know I still have a long way to go. I'm a programmer, I work in a field that loves to believe that it's a pure meritocracy, that if you're good, you'll be recognized as good. What a crock of shit. In St. Louis, I worked for the sole certified minority-owned, female-owned IT business in the city. I worked with a Black programmer, slightly younger than me, who probably overall was a better programmer than I was. You'd never know it from the other white developers I worked with (I was sub-contracted to another IT firm). He had to be at least twice as good in order to be acknowledged as competent. I saw the way they talked about our firm... The irony was that they worked for a Black-owned business as well - but the guy who owned it let a white guy call all the shots and run the business while he raked in the money. It was definitely a minority enterprise in name only - a good means of winning contracts, but once they were won, see ya... They never hired a Black programmer until they were forced to by the City of St. Louis. And even then, they dragged their heels and hired some naive girl straight out of some small Christian college - they set her off in a corner cube and had her teach herself Access 97 VBA macros - that's how much they valued her as a programmer. I want my son to see that this is a crock of shit, too... While I'll hold off on teaching him that exact phrase, I want him to know exactly what it means to be a pale-skinned boy in a society that values Whiteness and Maleness over all. I hope to go beyond my mother's simple object lesson in close-to-home right and wrong - I want him to see the wounds that we inflict, the barriers that we raise, the fists that we raise... and I want him to understand that sometimes we do it for reasons that are even dumber than skin color. But I'd never be able to want any of this without that first lesson. I hope I never hear 'nigger' from my son's lips. I never want to hear 'faggot' or 'kike' or 'dago' or 'spic' or 'chink' or 'jap' or 'towelhead' or any of the other wonderful names that we come up with to devalue those who differ from us. Yet I know, at some point, I probably will. He's a sweet boy; I know that when he does, he will do so without intending malice. But when it happens, I hope my first reaction can be at least as calm and measured as my mother's was over 30 years ago. Catgories: , ,

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[politics] Strange fruit

So, I'd been ruminating on this earlier today, but a TV show (of all things) got me to actually post this. Yup, Cold Case had a story about a Black Philly teen killed (beaten and lynched) while trying to get to Dr. King's March on Washington. Sad, isn't it? That a TV show needs to deal with something we should be remembering unprompted, yet our corporatist media sees fit to ignore, pursuing dead pontiffs and bullshit he-said/she-said coverage of a poor, brain-dead woman's lingering undeath with an unseemly abandon. The Lorraine Motel ring any bells for anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Any one? You know - the one across from that boarding house? In Memphis, TN?

April 3, 1968

The boarding house where James Earl Ray (probably) fired a single high-velocity round through the neck of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

April 4, 1968

Anyone? So, this white kid, who was only a 6-month fetus when this happened, is blogging about this why? Because too bloody many people forgot, that's why... I know - people want to remember his birth, not his death. They want to remember the positive, not the negative. They don't want to dwell on another murky assassination from the '60's that might raise some truly ugly questions about this country and the way we choose to define 'equality'. But some stories still need to be told... Because not only Southern trees bear strange fruit.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

[geek] 30-second science blogging - planets r us

No April Fool's joke here... The first confirmed photo of a planet outside our solar system: Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Again, I am left with: How cool is that? Categories:

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