Friday, August 25, 2006

Website of the Week - Etsy.com

posted by Scott Roche

Apologies that this posted on Monday. Blogger was giving me fits.

If you're among the growing number of Americans that's exercising your craft muscles and want to make some money you could do worse than Etsy.com. They only charge you ten cents an item to list and a 3.5% fee on any sale. That's peanuts compared to eBay. But that's not why I listed this as a site worth noticing.

Look at how things like its search engines are designed. Click on search by color and you get a field of colors that blossom under your cursor. Once you click the one you want it gives you your results as a stack of virtual photos that you can toss around. Look at their time machine feature which shows you items based on when they were posted. Click on their Sampler and you get a random list of a hundred sellers. This is the way sites like this should be designed. This sort of thing is "the future" of the web. Or maybe not but it should be.

Time For Plan B...

Posted by codemorse

From Total Centrist:

This morning, the FDA has approved Plan B for over the counter sale to women over 18 after a three year politically charged battle. The Religious Right was unsuccessful in interdicting the product from being legally sold in America, and that is a solid victory for women.


A victory, indeed. Congratulations are in order to every woman and man who fought and lobbied and pushed to make Plan B available to women in the U.S.

It's gratifying to see that the religious right doesn't yet control our government as it would like to.

WOW.

Posted by codemorse

From The Shreveport Times:

Nine black children attending Red River Elementary School were directed last week to the back of the school bus by a white driver who designated the front seats for white children.

....After Richmond and Williams filed complaints with the School Board, Transportation Supervisor Jerry Carlisle asked Davis to make seat assignments for her passengers, Sessoms said."But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she added.And the nine children had to share only two seats, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps.

....A new solution reached Monday by School Board officials has a black bus driver driving across town to pick up the nine black children.




Honestly, what can I say to follow that?

....except to point out that the current "solution" is to have a black bus driver ship only the black children - seperately, but equally - across town.

Good Jesus, what is wrong with us?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Use Us

Posted by codemorse

Maybe you've noticed our daily tech posts, courtesy of Scott?

Maybe you're a secret luddite who can't tell the difference between an i/o port and an a hole?

Maybe you're a lot like me?

Then maybe you should click on Scott's name in the new "Contact Codemorse" section of the sidebar. He'll take your questions and comments on everything from the glitches in your Tivo to the state of software today.

While you're at it, you might want to contact me to let me know that when the revolution comes, the libs will be the first with their backs to the wall. My objections of Libertarianism aside, those comments are always appreciated.

Reading Is FUNdamental

Posted by codemorse

If you're like me, you wish that politics weren't an empty shell-game, designed to distract and stupify as the people of the government make off with our money in burlap sacks marked "$" on the side.

If you're like me, you've accepted that politics is an empty shell-game, and that George W. Bush is a craven, poll-driven man of decidedly average intelligence who has suddenly discovered that the ploy of acting as the rube-next-door (complete with swaggering attitude, smirk, and refusal to read...well...anything) has backfired on him.

So if you're like me, you aren't at all surprised to see that the White House has released a "Summer reading list" for Bush in order to show that, contrary to what he and his advisors have told us, he really is a thoughtful, intelligent guy:

Maybe it was the influence of his wife, Laura, a former librarian, or his mother, Barbara, a longtime promoter of literacy. Or perhaps he was just eager to dispel his image as an intellectual lightweight. But President Bush now wants it known that he is a man of letters.

In fact, Bush has entered a book-reading competition with Karl Rove, his political adviser. White House aides say the president has read 60 books so far this year (while the brainy Rove, to Bush's competitive delight, has racked up only 50).

Yea. Maybe.

Or maybe the President's advisors have realized that the "Big Dumb Cowboy" schtick doesn't work as well when you're unpopular.

What do you think the odds are that the President is winning a book reading competition with Karl Rove? And what do you think the odds are that any of this isn't a bald-faced attempt to rehabilitate the President's Man of No Letters approach to politicking?

Isn't the reading of big, thoughtful books the provence of liberals, who cannot see the real world from their Ivory Towers (copyright/TM, the RNC)? Or does that no longer apply, either?

Here's a partial list of the President's "Summer reading". Do you think he writes book reports?

Conservatives: Protecting America From Itself

Posted by codemorse

From Yahoo.com:

Pornographic movies now seem nearly as pervasive in America's hotel rooms as tiny shampoo bottles, and the lodging industry shows little concern as conservative activists rev up a protest campaign aimed at triggering a federal crackdown.

The coalition also is trying to draw attention to CleanHotels.com, a directory of hotels and motels nationwide that pledge to exclude adult offerings from their in-room entertainment service.


This is the way the free market should work: people who do not want to watch pornography - or who are threatened by the sheer fact of its existence within the magical boxes that bring our entertainment - have a DIRECTORY of hotels to frequent. Should the directory prove successful, it will grow.

But of course, that's not enough for today's Modern Conservative. Just like with every other issue they feel that they're "losing" on, they bring the federal government in to police their puritan, intolerant desires.

Speaking personally, I can't remember a time when porn wasn't available in hotel rooms. And speaking personally, I've never rented one (from a hotel room, he added, in the spirit of prurient disclosure).

It's absurd to argue that people cannot control themselves enough to block adult channels from their children, or to argue that because a minority of parents will not take the time to do so, then the choice to watch adult entertainment is therefore to be taken from all.

This is the modern conservative extremist in a nutshell. They aren't interested in democracy, they're interested in DeMYcracy. As in: "It's DeMycracy or the Highway."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Software Wednesday - Picasa

Looking for a way to upload and share your pictures? I talked about this a bit last week, but today I'll suggest just the right software to do it. It's called Picasa and it's a free download from Google.

It will scan your computer and give you an organized view of all of the pictures it finds. You can organize them into albums, give them descriptive tags, and rate them. It also includes a basic editor that lets you crop, deal with redeye, and do some cool effects. For you real camera buffs it can give you a list of all the information that gets uploaded with your picture including things like what camera was used and graph of the color intensity. Once you've done all that Picasa makes it easy to burn them to CD or DVD to give to friends and family.

While these features are great, there are two that I really like when it comes to sharing your pictures. If you use the Blogger service you can use the "Blog This" button in Picasa to send pictures to your blog and include a post about that picture. It's also very easy to use with Flickr, a free photo sharing service. The right settings in Picasa allow you to email your pictures to an address provided to you by Flickr with any descriptive tags you want to use in the subject, and it resizes the pictures to your specifications and posts them.

Reddy And The Cruise-ers

Posted by codemorse


From MSN:


It's Tom Cruise vs. Sumner Redstone in a case of I quit-you're fired at Hollywood's highest level. On one side is the chairman of Viacom, Inc., which owns Paramount Pictures. On the other is the industry's biggest and most bankable star, whose last seven films have each generated over $100 million.

Redstone said Tuesday that Paramount would sever its long and profitable relationship with Cruise/Wagner Productions, Cruise's company with producing partner Paula Wagner. Redstone told the Wall Street Journal that Cruise's "recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

But Wagner told The Associated Press that agents for Cruise/Wagner Productions stopped negotiating with Paramount over a week ago and since secured independent financing, effectively taking any contract-renewal deal off the table.

Interesting stuff.

Tom Cruise may be personally-insane, but I really don't see the problem here. His views are no more extreme than any mainstream Christian's - he just has a less-accepted belief system.

He hasn't threatened anyone. He hasn't hurt anyone. His wife is with him of her own free will.

On top of that, the guy's kind of a superhero. He's pulled people from burning cars/boats/other-things-which-are-burning.

In what world does Cruise get the boot, while Paris Hilton continues to conquer the multi-mediaverse?

On the other hand, it's a free country. If Paramount doesn't want to do business with Cruise, that's their right. It just seems sort of bewildering to punish a man for beliefs that don't do harm to anyone but perhaps his chosen friends.

In Defense Of...Nothing

Posted by codemorse

From the August 21st White House press conference, courtesy of the Daily Show:

President Bush (In response to the suggestion that the war in Iraq has weakened the "war on terror"): "The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens...before we started our freedom agenda in the middle-east. They were...(responding to an inaudible question)...What did Iraq have to do with what?

Reporter: "The attack on the World Trade Center."

Bush: "Nothing."

Chickenhawks, Revisited

Posted by codemorse

From CNN.com:

"Bush OKs involuntary Marine recall"

President Bush has authorized the U.S. Marine Corps to recall 2,500 troops to active duty because there are not enough volunteers returning for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, Marine commanders announced Tuesday.

The recall was authorized last month, and will begin in spring 2007 to fill positions for upcoming rotations, Marine officials said. The Marine Corps is currently picking volunteers from the Marine Individual Ready Reserve, the officials said.

....Though the initial recall is for 2,500 troops, there is no cap on how many could be called up in the future.

Remember when Elvis Presley joined the army? Or Jimmy Stewart? Despite enormously successful careers, they dropped them on a dime when they understood a need to serve their country - even if that wasn't as a foot-soldier.

The supporters of this war are not required to fight in it (that would be the "Chickenhawk" argument that Jabs hated so much). But when we're strapped for troops to the tune of 2,500, it is both legitimate and logical to ask why the ardent supporters of the war will not put down their powerbooks and their briefcases to sacrifice for their country.

What does "Support the Troops" mean?

Apparently, it means shipping them away again for involuntary tours of duty while sitting around watching "Serenity" over and over again on cable.

Jonah And The Whale

Posted by codemorse

From The Corner:





....it is striking what a conservative movie Serenity is. In the 1930s, when ideological content was deliberate and ideological deviationism was denounced, Serenity would be villified as "fascist" for its opposition to social planning. The upshot: a capitalistic freebooter opposes the egalitarian — democratic — "Parliament." It's übermenschy representative — a barely updated version of the HG Wellsian fascistic types parodied in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow — is beyond good and evil in his pursuit of a utopian world....

....Indeed, to the extent Mal Reynolds has an ideological agenda it is merely to stand in the way of Utopia and the desire of tyrants to impose happiness on people whether they like it or not. Beyond that, he simply believes in people living their lives as they see fit, so long as their interests don't collide with his.


It is striking how bizarre Goldberg's "interpretation" of Serenity is. I'm actually really glad Goldberg likes the movie. But he'll politicize it over my cold, dead fingers.

It's one whale of a leap to suggest that Reynolds' values are anything other than vaguely Libertarian; because Serenity's politics are Libertarian if they can be classified at all. Joss Whedon, the show's creator, has stated as much.

One imagines Goldberg on his couch, secretly imagining himself as Captain Mal - delivering frontier-style justice to the "establishment" with his anti-big-government attitude.

Except that Goldberg is big government. Any attempt to cast conservatives as the embattled minority fighting against the State is ludicrious, because at this point in time, they are the State.

Who supports warrantless wire-tapping of American citizens?
Conservatives.
Who supports the on-going, lawyer-less detention of suspected terrorists?
Conservatives.
Who urges Americans to shut up if they can't say something positive about the government?
Conservatives.

Whether right or wrong on these issues, it's fairly clear that being "anti-big government" (or, as Jonah puts it, "social planning") is something conservatives are clearly not at this time. Putting it otherwise is a willfull distortion of conservative belief.

Serenity's essential story - about a government that attempts to force peace on other worlds through iron-fisted, murderous, but supposedly altruistic means - is just as easily "interpreted" as a condemnation of Bush's foriegn policy. But what's the point of doing this? It's like trying to make "The Lord of the Rings" into an allegory for World War II. Tolkien despised allegory in his books, and would roll in his grave at the notion.

Oh, and, big surprise - Goldberg invokes the 1930's again. Because, as we've learned, you cannot make a statement that's "conservative" now without in some way implying that your philosophy is the one responsible for stopping Hitler.

*Oh, part II: Would someone please explain the definition of fascism to Jonah?

To wit:

Wikipedia: Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of extreme nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism.

Merriam-Webster: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Cambridge Online: (adj.) Someone who supports fascism - a person of the far right in politics. Someone who does not allow any opposition.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Microsoft Open Source Lab...

posted by Scott Roche

The idea that MS has an open source lab strikes me as more than a little funny. The notion that they would want to help Mozilla Corp. ensure that their products, Firefox (IE alternative) and Thunderbird (email client), will work with Windows Vista makes me a little suspicious. Nevertheless that's what's going on.

Sam Ramji, the director of the lab, said he had set aside office space for open-source developers and would make Microsoft engineers available to Firefox and Thunderbird coders.

"As part of my mission as an advocate for open source applications on Windows, I've gotten spaces set aside at the Windows Vista Readiness ISV Lab," wrote Ramji.

"The lab itself is a 4-day event held in Redmond every week through December 2006; we provide secure office space for 4 people, hardware, VPN access, and 1:1 access to product team developers and support staff," he added.

Ramji also said that although Microsoft had invited only commercial developers to such labs in the past, "I'm committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open source projects
- InformationWeek

I guess on the one hand they want to make sure that these products won't crash Windows (not that it needs any help). And I would imagine they would also want to shed their image as a greedy monopoly wannabe. Bravo to Ramji and I hope this sort of change continues.

So what're you waiting for? Go download the Mozilla stuff. You won't be sorry you did.

A Debate In 5/4 Time

Posted by codemorse

Over at Chud.com I've posted this week's Sunday Sermon, "God Is Jazz". The discussion that's resulted is really interesting to me, and if you're interested in things of a religious/spiritual nature, you'd do well to check it out. I warn you, while the discussion is interesting, immediately following my post is profanity. If you're sensitive to that sort of thing (or intentionally-inflammatory remarks like "I hate God! Ha Ha!"), then skip down past that crap.

Those without any interest in God at all can still enjoy a discussion of fundamentalist influence on American politics - ongoing throughout the same discussion.

Like An Incarcerated Rolling Stone

Posted by codemorse

Did you know that last week, a federal panel suggested loosening "regulations that severely limit the testing of pharmaceuticals on prison inmates...."?

If that wasn't enough to make your skin crawl, just a little, head out and purchase the Rolling Stone with Ms. Aguilera on the cover. Matt Taibi's recent report on the privatization of prison will add levels of liberal outrage to your layer-cake of paranoia.

These two things, taken together, will provide a curiously nauseous sensation to the belly.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fakes On A Plane?

Posted by codemorse

I recieved a link to the below-story from my brother a few days back, and due to being sick as a dog over the weekend (still recovering now, and I feel like death, warmed over), I just read it this morning. It's inflammatory stuff, and very thought-provoking. I caution our more "conservative" readers to take it with the salt they should. The authors are not saying that there is no terrorism. They are questioning our response to terrorism.

From The Register:

Now we have news of the recent, supposedly real-world, terrorist plot to destroy commercial airplanes by smuggling onboard the benign precursors to a deadly explosive, and mixing up a batch of liquid death in the lavatories. So, The Register has got to ask, were these guys for real, or have they, and the counterterrorist officials supposedly protecting us, been watching too many action movies?

We're told that the suspects were planning to use TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, a high explosive that supposedly can be made from common household chemicals unlikely to be caught by airport screeners. A little hair dye, drain cleaner, and paint thinner - all easily concealed in drinks bottles - and the forces of evil have effectively smuggled a deadly bomb onboard your plane.

Or at least that's what we're hearing, and loudly, through the mainstream media and its legions of so-called "terrorism experts." But what do these experts know about chemistry? Less than they know about lobbying for Homeland Security pork, which is what most of them do for a living. But they've seen the same movies that you and I have seen, and so the myth of binary liquid explosives dies hard.



There's much more, and it's backed up by what amounts to step-by-step instructions for creating binary liquid explosives. One hopes the authors of the piece have left out a couple of key steps, else there's a case to be made that they're acting incredibly irresponsibly. As regards the rest of the article, I think they make some excellent points about the severity of the actual threat posed, but most importantly, about the media's reaction to the event.

If what The Register reports is true, then the media has been actively lieing to us through omission. This should not come as any great surprise, but it should provoke a measure of outrage, no?

Gadget of the Week - Optimus Mini Three Keyboard



I've been waiting to see this as an actual product for quite a while now and I think it's got some potential. It's a USB hotkey device with three programmable buttons. But wait there's more. You get to decide what pictures each of those little displays... displays. And it can do animations (though the frame rate isn't very high at 3 fps).

It's a little pricey ($159.99 at ThinkGeek) and they aren't due in until mid-September so I'm not too worked up. What does interest me is the full sized keyboard mockup that I've seen. Imagine this on a larger scale as a teaching tool. Pretty dang cool.

Keys can be configured for the following functions:

  • Start an Application
  • Set as any keyboard combination
  • System Status with Free Memory and CPU Usage graph
  • Display webcam or other dynamic images pulled from the web
  • Display the Time and Weather in any city with animated analog or digital clock face
  • Control Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, Outlook Express and Windows Media Player

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Sermonizing

Join me over at Sunday Sermonizing this week for "God Is Jazz."

A brief excerpt:
You might say that religious folks can be divided into two camps: jazz fans and pop fans. For many folks, God is a pop song. Straightforward, clear, with a beat you can (reverently) dance to.

For others - a smaller group - God is jazz; complicated, confusing, beguiling, and elusive.

Get This Muthaf@%in' Movie Outta The Muthaf@%in' Way Already

Posted by codemorse

I speak with complete sincerity and without an ounce of (conscious) snotty hipsterism when I say that the hype around "Snakes On A Plane" is the entertainment-media equivalent of mass-hypnosis by ritualized beating with a 2x4.

What began as a sort of endearingly cheesy excitement around the idea of a movie being titled as simply, efficiently, and idiotically as "Snakes" has transmogrified into a terrifying juggernaut of marketing tie-ins (Snakes On A Plane the album! Snakes On A Plane the t-shirt! Snakes On A Plane the political party!), "hip" advertising, and more internet hyperbole than a "George Lucas raped my childhood" circle-jerk.

If you're genuinely excited to see Sam Jackson do his best Sam Jackson impression alongside the star of "Fat Albert" while battling reptiles at 30,000 feet, then I say more power to you. Enjoy yourself. Have some beers beforehand.

Personally, I think the following excerpt makes "Snakes" sound like the trailer for the end of the world, but then I suffer from professionally-diagnosed Cranky-Old-Man-Syndrome:


You see – this is a ridiculous movie. But one that is there for one single reason – to entertain you at all costs. You will see snakes bite every body part you’ve ever wanted to see a snake bite. You will see bloated fucked up corpses and wounds. You will see wounds cut open and beautiful women suck upon them. (which is totally not the right thing to do, btw)But who cares – these aren’t snakesperts – they’re fucking returning vacationers from Hawaii… and nobody fucking expects SNAKES ON A PLANE!

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, either. But that doesn't mean they're looking forward to the visit.

Speaking only for myself, I've never had a burning desire to see beautiful women sucking on wounds (though, given my love of "Buffy" and "Angel", perhaps that's not entirely true), nor a craving for the sight of bloated fucked up corpses. I know - I'm in the minority. You know what? I'm okay with that.

This isn't to say that the film doesn't look entertaining. It does. But in a flimsy, light-as-a-breeze sort of way, and the juggernaut of press has essentially destroyed my desire to see it.

Enough hype. Either the movie is entertaining, or it isn't (given the lack of press screenings, the Magic Eightball points to "isn't"). Either it's a good time, or it's not. Despite all advertising to the contrary, "Snakes On A Plane" will not cure cancer. It will not unite us all.

Though.....

Wouldn't it be cool/annoying if it did? What if "Snakes On A Plane" is such a powerfully unifying, globally-resonant film that it ends war? What if it convinces Kim Jong Il that he'd be better off focusing his energies on making films, not weapons?

What if, like Wyld Stallions, "Snakes On A Plane" results in a utopian Earth, where suffering is a thing of the ancient past?

San Dimas High School Football rules!