I’m just starting to put this together about an hour after I’m usually done. I spent the early morning trying to catch up on email with only partial success. I’ve got a full day of work ahead of me, and I just don’t think I’m going to find much to link to today. Sorry for the lameness. I’d feel worse about it if I wasn’t busy putting out so many fires just now.
- Last night, Jim and I went to the presentation on Transit Workers’ Struggles, Past and Present. We both took a lot of notes, and mean to write it up one of these days. I’m also still waiting for the time to write up the weekend in Toronto, and the fix I found for my problems with my VPN hardware yesterday afternoon. I guess I’’ve just been too busy doing stuff to blog about it lately.
- The transit Strike delays LRT opening, but work - and debate - continues. The interesting thing that this article points out is that the LRT is contractually obligated to open before the year is done as part of the federal funding that was received for it. While I’d hate to see a strike go on that long, that might give the union some leverage if things drag out. [daily]
- Says here the strike is hurting business, but only a few businesses so far. [press-patch]
- Twins Geek reports on the The Victory Sports One Conflict and also mentions (in an article that I can’t find a permalink for) that he’ll be writing for the Strib sometime before the start of the season. Congrats!
- ADHOC now has a blog. There’s not much content there yet, but we’ve got it running so we can add stuff. Woo? Setting that up was another one of the things that got in the way of the normal blogging-time yesterday.
- Ireland’s smoking Ban has Emerald Isle seeing red. And Turly suggests (via Jim, but not that Jim) the following anagrams for “The smoking ban in Ireland”
- Irishman knelt in bondage…
- Banned Irish kin go mental!
- Irish inn mob take England!
- Irishmen gonna TALK in bed???
- Kinsmen lighten. NO bad air!
- Inhaling debt: sinner amok!
- Amen ash! Binge lit on drink.
- Drinks be: AMEN to inhaling!
- I’m English! Drink tea on ban?
- Nation blames drinking, eh?
- Dining mate? Bonk inhalers!
- No dinner-table ash. I’m KING!
- Inhalation men beg drinks!
- Mankind on isle breathing?
I’m back. I spent the weekend up in Toronto, aka YYZ, aka T.O., aka Accordion City. I needed to get away from a bunch of things around home, and while it was far from the perfect time to leave, it was exactly the perfect time to leave, if you get what I’m saying.
The quick summary is that on Thursday, I went up the CN Tower (and saw about the only sunshine the entire time I was in Toronto — there was a five-minute time in there when I had good views before the clouds covered everything up again), and then out for a lovely evening with Joey, Eldon, and Eldon’s flexible objectivist lust-object. Friday saw me taking a vacation from my vacation. I walked to the Royal Ontario Museum, and then the combination of being tired from the walk and seeing the huge crowd of school-children entering the museum made me decide to bag that and take the subway back to the hotel for a nap. About the only thing of note on Friday was heading to the Distillery District, which isn’t all that exciting in the middle of a dreary afternoon. Saturday, I went to the museum for real, some shopping on Queen St. W., Cory’s book signing at Bakka Books, the Toronto blogger gathering at ¿C’est What? followed by a number of other bars with Joey. Sunday I was hungover and flying home.
Thanks to Joey for a good time in Accordion City, and I’ll be posting pictures and more details once I’ve finished catching up on everything around here. Based on the list of things I’m staring at right now, it feels like that might be next winter. I got away from things, but that didn’t stop them from existing. At least I feel better about life for now.
- Donncha points to an article on Beating the Photography Blues. During my weekend in T.O., I did pretty much everything on the list, and still only took a dozen photos. My heart just wasn’t in it. [holy schmoly]
- Metro Transit users voice their strike concerns covers one student who’s thinking of changing schools, since the transit strike has left him biking to the U every day. [daily]
- At the high-school level, Charter schools scramble to get students to class, since many charter school students were dependent on the city buses. [press-patch]
- This evening at 7:30 in St. Paul there’s a program on Transit Workers’ Struggles, Past and Present. It sounds interesting and I might try to find a way to get over there. Bet I can drag Jim along, too.
I've been pretty grumpy around here lately and have decided it's time for a break. I’m going to take a long weekend away from blogging beginning just after I save this. I’ll probably be back with something on Monday to start out the work-week again, but don’t expect to see anything here until then. That way when I break down and post something, you can be happily surprised.
- More on the SSRI news-front: F.D.A. Seeks Suicide Caution for Ten Antidepressants and Regulators Want Antidepressants to List Warning on SSRIs so physicians will be more careful about prescribing them. Now maybe it’s just me, but I always figured that sort of information would be in something like the PDR, but what do I know? This also isn’t exactly new.
In 1990, a Harvard psychiatrist wrote a paper suggesting that some of his patients had become acutely suicidal after taking Prozac.[nyt]
- In this article about Hard-Disk Risk from last year, Simson Garfinkle took a look at what kind of goodies he could find on used hard drives. Fewer than 10 percent had been properly sanitized.
In most cases, easily available software will scrub the drive, but if you’re really paranoid, run the drive through a metal-chipper. That’ll take care of it for sure. [boing boing]
Much of the data we found was truly shocking. One of the drives once lived in an ATM. It contained a year’s worth of financial transactions—including account numbers and withdrawal amounts—from a organization that had a legal requirement to not divulge such information. Two other drives contained more than 5,000 credit card numbers—it looked as if one had been inside a cash register. Another had e-mail and personal financial records of a 45-year-old fellow in Georgia. The man is divorced, paying child support and dating a woman he met in Savannah. And, oh yeah, he’s really into pornography.
- Says here Ridge announces new rail and transit security measures, which means that travelling by train won’t keep you from getting wanded and such. Is it time to travel before a guy can’t, or should a guy just stay home to wait for the black helicopters? Tough call. I think letting terrorists at Amtrak might result in a couple people realizing that it’s actually possible to travel by train. I can see the news story now:
Yeah, I feel much safer now. [endwar]
In other news, an Amtrak train exploded as the result of a terrorist bomb last week outside Jamestown, North Dakota. Amtrak became aware of the bombing four days after the train was scheduled to reach Seattle. The engineer, porter and terrorist were killed. There were no other passengers. Two acres of sugarbeets were destroyed, ruining one one-hundredth of a percent of a farmer’s harvest.
- The Daily editorial U fans’ arson crimes should not be rewarded with victory looks back at the aftermath of the hockey riots last year, and hopes the Gophers lose this year so Minneapolis won’t be burning again this year. [daily]
- A new Neighborhood group looks to its future as the University neighborhood moves closer to having an officially recognized association. [daily]
- In non-strike transit news, Midway transit link gets a push. It’s the place that made most sense to me for a light-rail line, but there are plenty of difficulties in putting in a line there, since parts of the route are built up and they’ll either end up taking away lanes or knocking down buildings. [press-patch]
- I’m not the only one feeling grumpy about spam. Dan over at Flutterby had a fine quote of the day yesterday that I think is a better solution than any I’ve mentioned so far. [flutterby]
I’m feeling a little cranky this morning. I woke up to over sixty emails since 10 pm last night, of which six were good, and four were automated notices I expect to get every night. The other fifty-some were either spam, bounces from spams that had forged my address in their reply-to, or notices about spam having overflowed a mailbox for one of my clients (for whom I forward mail), because her webmail-box on one of those free servers has filled up with spam, so I’ve got nowhere to forward the mail to anymore. I’ve had to shut that forwarding off for now.
It makes me wonder if we’ve become too civilized or too complacent. I was talking with another friend over the weekend, and we were trying to figure out why it is that Alan Ralsky is still able to send spam. I don’t condone murder or capital punishment, but there are people out there who are a bit unbalanced. Hell, some guy killed a rock star to get attention and another whack-job tried to kill Reagan to impress a movie star. I find it hard to believe that there’s not some nut who’s so pissed off about spam he wouldn’t make a trip to Michigan. If Ralsky lived in my neighborhood, I’d think awfully hard about at least cutting his phone line.
I’ll keep trying technological solutions though. I keep tweaking SpamAssassin, and am looking into other answers (more on that below). I’m also thinking of switching email clients to one that supports IMAP so I can flag spam on my client machine, and get that information (easily) propagated back to my server so it can do better filtering in the future. But it’s going to take a while to get any solution in place, and meanwhile I have to deal with over ¾ of my mail being spam. Ugh.
- Here’s a handy how-to on Installing the Greylisting Milter “RelayDelay” on OpenBSD 3.4. Sounds useful, but I’m still looking at doing the filtering with spamd, too. [openbsd]
- Did you know E-mail and snail mail are united in India? They’re taken the system of mail-runners (formally started in 1854, but around long before that) and use email to send messages over longer distances. I’m betting they don’t hump a lot of messages touting v14gr4 over the mountains. [slashdot]
- On Monday, Brewster Kahle, who runs the Internet Archive and the Internet Bookmobile filed Kahle v. Ashcroft claiming that:
the Berne Convention Implementation Act (BCIA) — is unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, and that the BCIA and Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) together create an “effectively perpetual” term with respect to works first published after January 1, 1964 and before January 1, 1978, in violation of the Constitution’s Progress Clause. The complaint asks the court for a declaratory judgement ruling, stating that copyright restrictions on orphaned works — works whose copyright has not expired but which are no longer available — violates the constitution.
- Dudley Hiibel’s case has gone to the Supreme Court, and the Wired News: Supremes Weigh In on ID Debate. The outcome of the case will decide whether or not you can be required to show ID just because the cops ask you, whether or not you’ve done anything illegal. [wired]
- The Daily says the Met Council is wasting time with negotiations if they’re not going to actually, well, negotiate. [daily]
- The Commuter Connection has a Transit Strike Emergency Kit which knocked me out of number 1 on google. It’s a handy set of links.
- Soucheray says Cable dispute could have Twins fans heading for the bars. Victory Sports, the new
networkstarted by Carl Pohlad to show Twins games, hasn’t been picked up by any of the local cable systems, and wants $2.20 per month for it. I don’t watch all that many Twins games myself, since I’m often over in St. Paul watching the Saints, but I can see where many folks are going to get twitchy if this isn’t resolved soon. I also wonder what will happen to attendance if folks can’t watch a game on the TV once in a while. I expect it’ll hurt, and then we’ll hear a sob-story about how the evil cable companies are combining with the people who are against buying Pohlad a new stadium to force the Twins to move out of town. Did I mention that I’m feeling cranky this morning? [press-patch]
- Looking for some artwork to put on your walls? Zazzle has Fine Art, Historical Maps, & Old Photos from Museums, Libraries, & Famous Artists, and the prices don’t look half-bad. Plus you can order the posters on archival-quality paper with UV-resistant inks, which isn’t something you find everywhere. [reed]
- The Lilly Suicides takes a strong look at SSRI s, and the results aren’t good. I know a few folks on SSRIs, and sometimes worry. The ugliest side-effect is akathisia, but Paxil Withdrawal is pretty nasty, too, and has a whole slew of symptoms to worry about. I’m not usually the kind of person to make a big stink about medication (or fluoridation of municipal water), but when folks I know are having problems that might be because of their medicine, I decided I needed to know more.
- Meanwhile, here in the US, Suicide Caution Sought for Antidepressants by the FDA. They’re finally admitting that there might be some problems with SSRIs. [fark!]
- Fundrace 2004’s Neighbor Search lets you enter your address and zip code and see what presidential candidates your neighbors have contributed to. As Scott says:
Kinda neat. Kinda creepy.[scottk]
- In the latest news on the bus-strike, despite talks, still no deal. The big news (to me) is that the union actually made an offer including
a change to wages and retiree health-care benefits, but not to current health care.The other big news is that some legislators are going to try and get the Met Council more money for transit, which would allow them to meet the drivers’ demands. The PiPress has a similar story saying that the talks resolve nothing. [daily]
- Isn’t it about time that Max Headroom made a comeback? After all, if you did some math based on Bryce’s date of birth and age, you’d find that the show was set in 2004. The only real problem is that a lot of it doesn’t sound much like science fiction any more. [fark!]
- As I mentioned yesterday, I hauled out a bunch of carpet. It was chunks, each between two and four feet wide, and between six and twelve feet long. Apparently someone around here really needed some carpet scraps, since all four rolls were gone by the time I finished eating lunch.
- There’s Pressure Mounting to Ensure Ethical Behavior in the House.
Nobody on the outside can bring a complaint, nobody on the inside will bring a complaint, and the ethics committee has abdicated its responsibility.To me it seems there ought to be some sort of checks and balances thing to deal with this sort of situation. Or maybe we ought to vote them out of office, but that only leads to a different politician in the seat. [nyt]
- There’s A Bush Surprise: Fright-Wing Support from conservative punks and GOPunk. It makes some sense. After all,
punk came out of a frustration with what many urban youths saw as the ineffectualness of hippie-style liberalism.[nyt]
- Yahoo says that Eisenhower Letters Show Secret Government Plans for setting up a shadow government. I wonder if Ike planned on using black helicopters back then, too (and yes, I know they’re really just very dark green). In any case, it’s the kind of planning that still happens today. [fark!]
- Today, Lileks has a fine Bleat about the protests commemorating the start of the war to remove Saddam Hussein. I liked it, even though it was a trifle over the top. [lileks]
- Here are some Suggestions for Healthy Living in a a world gone insane with statism. Many of the suggestions are generally applicable, like
- There’s some mediation planned for this afternoon in the transit strike. The parties are going to sit down together for the first time at 1pm. Also, since there are no buses running, Minneapolis has decided to allow bicycles on Nicollet Mall beginning at 6am today. Only took them two and a half weeks to do that. Not bad for a government decision, I guess.
- And why don’t people ride the buses more? Many factors have driven bus ridership down, but this article seems to think they can all be solved by throwing more money at the problem. But there are two problems with that. The first is that they never actually show that overall ridership is down, just that the MTC’s ridership is down (the article doesn’t show totals for the suburban commuter buses that gained a lot of ridership during the 1995 strike), and the second is that the transit system here may or may not be a very good value for the dollar. If you were to make it entirely private, fares would be about three times what they were before the strike, and it’s not clear to me that they should be that high. I’d really be interested to find out what kind of prices a private (or semi-public) company would have to charge to make money, but with the government-granted monopoly, there’s no easy way to know. [press-patch]
Noontime update at the end of the day…
- In its latest move to alienate everyone everyone in the world and try to collect money for products it didn’t create, SCO targets federal supercomputer users, trying to collect license fees for Linux, especially when it’s running on Beowulf clusters.
- Trademark owners are telling people to Get Out of My Namespace. The intersection of trademarks and domain names is a real mess, and it’s unlikely to get better any time sooner. And it’s really an awfully good headline for geeks like me. [nyt]
- Speaking of good headlines, McPaper McFires McPlagiarist covers the case of the USA Today writer who did fiction, and then sold it as journalism.
- Here’s a site that features some fairly intricate Pencil Carving. Apparently there are at least a few Japanese folk who make pretty shapes out of common #2 pencils. [boing boing]
- Workday Minnesota has an archive of their coverage of the Twin Cities transit strike.
- As the transit strike politics play out, it’s looking more and more like the union is going to have to cave. There just isn’t any political pressure on the Governor to get the strike settled. Most of the pro-union folks would never vote for Pawlenty anyhow, and few of the people who did vote for him care about transit. [press-patch]
- And the strikers, stranded riders trying to cope with new sets of problems, but from the sound of it, it’s mostly the strikers who are having problems. People are finding ways to get around without the buses, but the folks who are out on strike are starting to feel the loss of their paychecks. I think the effects of the strike would have been a lot worse if we’d had a good transit system before. [press-patch]
- There are bus strike talks set for Monday, but I haven’t gotten the feeling that either side is ready to make any concessions yet, and this morning’s news seems to confirm that. [strib]
It’s been a busy morning for me. I’ve needed to get a number of little things done around the house for quite a while, and I attacked them with a vengeance this morning. The initial plan had been to go up to my mom’s house for lunch today, but after heading up there both Monday and Friday of last week, we decided I should stay home and catch up around here. Anyway, here’s the list. It’s only noon, but I feel like I’ve already gotten a full day’s worth of work done around here.
- Reorganize office, including rotating desk by 90°
- Rewire outlet in office area so it’s grounded, only to discover I don’t need it after all
- Clean floor in office area
- Set up shelf in space freed up by rotating desk
- Set up networked laser printer on shelf
- Set up fax machine on shelf
- Set up color printer on shelf
- Set up Ethernet, FireWire and USB hubs on desk so I can get to my peripherals.
- Move computer under desk so the fan-noise won’t bother me so much.
- Set up server I bought on Friday (on shelf)
- Collect debugging information from the Cisco VPN box so I can email it to Tech Support on Monday morning
- Do laundry
- Haul out the rest of the carpet from the bedroom upstairs
- Fill bird feeder
- Sweep and mop floor in bedroom that no longer has carpet
- Haul out recycling that’s been building up
- Water plants
- Set up X-10 on a few lights around the house
- Pay bills
It looks like I’m about half finished with the list, which is a pretty good feeling as I take a break for lunch.
- Things are springing to life again around here, but it’s still too early to start on yard work. I’m thinking that the first week of April might be time for me to start raking and such outside. I do need to move the hop plant outside soon, though. It’s already got stalks that are about 2 feet long and it threatens to take over my kitchen. [press-patch]
- Here’s something claiming to be The Canonical List of Weird Band Names. Since I don’t see Ass Hammer on the list, I don’t think it’s canonical, but it’s still a pretty funny list. [boing boing]
- Says here TiVo Will Die. I think their deal with DirecTV is pretty good, but I agree that the expense of the HDTiVo is way too high. But I think that the HDTiVo will come down rapidly in price if you get a version bundled with DirecTV service. Besides, I’m a complete TiVo addict. [slashdot]
- John Gruber’s Markdown is a tool for writing plainish-text and having it auto-converted to XHTML. It’s got a lot of similarities to the text conversion I do around here, which is based on the stuff Dan hooked up over at Flutterby and Dean put in textile. I don’t have any real strong preferences, but I’m most comfortable with that I’m using now (not surprisingly). I just wish all these different variants would converge to a standard. [boing boing]
And that leads into some news on the hardware front. Yesterday afternoon I ran down to General Nanosystems and bought all the parts to make a new server out of a Shuttle SN41G2. It’s a sweet little box, and can even do TV-out. I plan on using it as a "tepid-swappable" server replacement. That is, it’ll be at home, on a separate network, but configured essesntially the same as the server that runs Dave’s Picks. Once I get all the software configured to my satisfaction, I’ll swap it into place for the existing server, and then upgrade that to newer software.
One of the things I find myself needing again is a cheap, small monitor to hook up to a computer like this while I’m doing OS installs. It doesn’t need to be much, since I just need 80×25 text-mode on a VGA-compatible monitor, and I used to have a 9" black-and-white monitor for that, but when I moved, I threw that away, rather than moving it. D’Oh! I could probably buy another for $25, but what I’d really like is a tiny (9″ or smaller) LCD monitor that I can use just long enough to install an OS from a CD that wouldn’t require much storage space for the other 11 months of the year when I don’t need it. Monochrome would be fine. The Datalux LMV10 looks like one possible solution, and they seem to be going for cheap enough on eBay, but if anyone out there has an idea of other solutions, I’d like to hear about ’em.
How is this related to Markdown? Well, I’m looking at installing some blogging software as part of the server-swap, and keep looking at various systems. I’ll probably try a few before actually making the new server live, but the current front-runners are textpattern and b2++. I need to determine how each works in a chrooted apache configuration before I decide for sure, but since I know that Movable Type can run chrooted, that gives me a fallback position.
- The Matrix is only being used in five states now, down from sixteen, as Privacy Fears Erode Support for a Network to Fight Crime. Mark Zadra, the chief of investigations for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said,
It really comes down to trust. Do you trust law enforcement to do what is right?That would be one reason why I’m opposed to that sort of thing. [nyt]
- Meanwhile, in Iran, New Year, New Destiny covers the protests, and it’s one of the first bits of coverage from major, western media. [fark!]
- For those of you into Yeti Sports, Seal Bounce Pingu lets you throw the penguin up in the air and bounce it off the heads of seals. [vowe]
- As my [Steph’s] sister points out, this is a geek wet dream. I wouldn’t mind having it either. [ For those a little more into non-computer tools, there’s also the SwissFlame, which you can neither carry-on nor check in your luggage on an airplane. -ed ] [steph]
- Hey, here’s a handy instruction list of how to install Chrooted MovableType with mod_perl and PostgreSQL on OpenBSD. That’s useful, I’m thinking. Well, at least if you’re running a server that’s hosting some blogs and want security. [openbsd]
|part of the carpet is gone|
One of the projects I’ve been working on around home is getting “my bedroom” ready for me to move into it. It’s been a slow process, mostly because I had planned to have Home Depot put in new carpeting, but then discovered that there’s 9″ vinyl tile under the carpeting, which contains asbestos. That makes a new install more complicated, and I put it off. This week, I’ve started tearing out the old carpeting, and got about halfway done before the dust (no asbestos in that – it’s contained in the tile, as long as I don’t break up the tiles) became overpowering and then other things got in the way, but I figured I’d provide a photo to show the progress (or lack thereof).
I hope to get the rest of the carpeting torn out so I can have it ready for the trashman next Wednesday, and then clean things up and figure out what color paint, curtains, etc. I’m going to put in that room. I’m hoping to be able to set up my bedroom in there by Memorial Day, which means I need to sort out the colors and do some painting early in April, followed by carpeting later in April. That should leave me enough time for waffling on the decisions and the inevitable loss of motivation.
- Turns out the bus strike isn’t so complicated after all. Even old Trots can figure it out: Minnesota bus drivers walk out over health coverage. [jim]
- Even before the strike started, I figured this bus strike has been brewing since the 1995 contract. It’s nice to see that someone agrees with me.
- It’s worth stopping by the Taxpayers League Website (if you can stand the pain). There are daily press releases with “transit facts” all authored by David Strom and they each include a quote of David Strom. The author appears to consider the person he’s quoting to be an expert on transit. [ Does all the linking I’ve done on the subject make me an expert on transit, too? -ed ]
In addition – in coming events there’s mention of the fact that Taxpayers League Live this Saturday (hosted by David Strom) will discuss transit with guest Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. The show airs on 1280 AM at 10:00 (9AM? - conflicting information on the various websites) in the morning Sat 3/20. [jim]
- The City Pages article Get on the Bus has excerpts from the Strike Blog they’re hosting. There’s no new content here if you’ve been reading that blog, but it’s been cleaned up a little and collected, so it’s probably worth checking out.
- This worker got through the first days on his new job, and of the transit strike by walking to work: 12-mile trek helped man keep job, fresh start. Six miles each way, every day. His employer did the only sane thing, and found a way to get him to work. Someone willing to walk like that is almost certainly a keeper. [press-patch]
People living on houseboats at Island Station in St. Paul are about to become Castaways, as the land has been sold and is going to be developed into condos. Apparently, there’s no marina in the metro area that will allow live-aboards, so they may have to move pretty far.
Island Station 2048x1536(701k)
- This Saturday from 5:00-10:00 p.m, Apache Plaza is hosting Bulldozer Bash. It’s open to the public; admission is free. Use the west (Stinson) entrance. [steph]
- Meanwhile, in Iran, New Year, New Destiny covers the protests, and it’s one of the first bits of coverage from major, western media. Now that the story is getting a little mainstream press, I’ll probably quit pointing to it as much. [fark!]
Well, that’s what most people think of today (the green puke from drinking too many homemade Shamrock Shakes, no doubt). Me, I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend a quiet evening at home, perhaps sipping a bit of Powers. Between the lack of buses and some personal stuff going on this week that’s turning me into a complete stress-monkey, I just don’t feel like hanging out in a big crowd of festive drunks.
- Because of the strike, Ramsey County will help poor with transit aid by contracting with Crisis Connections. The Metro Council has also set up a Transit Grant Assistance Program to give some of the money they’re not spending on running the buses to non-profits, but Ramsey County won’t be applying just yet. [press-patch]
- More linkage for events in Iran from Evan today: Regime forces pull back from demonstrators in most Iranian cities, Bye Bye Mullahs, Iranians celebrate fire festival, and Regime anti-riot forces start attacking. The demonstrations that started in the north of Iran seem to have spread, and are coinciding with the Persian New Year (which is this Saturday). The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran has more, as does Free Iran! [101-280]
- Here’s a different way to do Drop Capitals from what I’m doing. It has the advantage of not crashing Internet Explorer on windows, but the disadvantage of me needing to stick markup into the text of an entry. The biggest problem I have with that is that it makes some search engines not find the text. It also makes it harder for me to grep my archives when I go looking for something. [holy schmoly]
- Finally, if you think this country is messed up, how about the U.K.? We locked you up in jail for 25 years and you were innocent all along? That’ll be £80,000 please. Seems if they wrongfully incarcerate you there, they want to charge you over £3000 per year, plus interest. [claire]
I’m not sure why, but I was wide awake at 3am this morning. Ugh. Can’t even read the news on the web, because the local papers haven’t finished their big update for the day yet. Of course I normally spend an hour or two putting together the links for the day each morning, so there was time to go back, but I’ve gotta do something about my sleep schedule.
- My page of 2004 Minneapolis Transit Strike linkage hit number one on google yesterday, and I’ve got proof!
- David Strom say we’re spending too much on transit, getting too little. Boy, it sounds like he’s a guy who’s either never ridden a bus, or if he has, it was the last-call 16 or something horrible like that. Jim has a long response that’s worth reading. [strib]
- This editorial in the Strib (from last Sunday) says that Strom’s no-transit theory doesn’t add up, and points out Atlanta, which built a ton of roads in the early 80’s, and no transit, and got some of the worst sprawl in the country out of the deal. [jim]
- But bus riders are feeling more stress as the bus-strike goes on. People are getting by, but not having the bus is taking its toll on free-time spent walking or waiting on a carpool, or in many cases, people who are just staying home, rather than trying to get somewhere without a bus. I did that over the weekend. Rather than riding the bus to see Cousin Dad down at Dulono’s, I stayed home both Friday and Saturday nights. [press-patch]
- Speaking of going without a bus and just staying home, the transit strike will be halting free St. Patrick’s Day bus rides here in the metro area. I was initially planning on going to the Boiled in Lead show down at First Avenue tomorrow, but I’m starting to wonder about the wisdom of that plan. There’s going to be a lot less of a safety valve for the drunks out there. Hey Jim, you want the comp to the show that I’ve got? [press-patch]
- I was wondering what they were doing: Transit police get new duties for strike, so they’re not just sitting around getting paid for doing nothing. Instead, they’ve
boosted the number of officers on duty and placed them at several garages, a repair shop and the offices of the Metropolitan Counciland are watching picket lines and bus shelters, too. So they’re actually doing more during the strike than they normally do. [press-patch]
- My friend Vinnie got a Letter to the Editor published about concealed carry on campuses in Oregon. Here’s the original editorial he’s complaining about, and more information on the subject. Nice work, Vinnie! [vinnie]
- Here’s A Satirical Political Beliefs Assessment Test A Humorous Political Party Quiz to Test If You’re an Archconservative, Leftwing Wacko, Antigovernment Libertine or a Commie Sympathizer. It’s long, but has enough funny bits that I scrolled through the whole thing. [idiot]
- In another update, Unrest and clashes continue in N. Iran. Still nothing from big media. Also Assad loyalists said to have killed Kurds in Qahtaniya in Syria. But hey, it’s not like unrest in the middle east is important or anything, right?
Well, I had a bunch of linkage ready to go about 6am this morning when the editor I use every morning “Unexpectedly Quit” as I was trying to save, sending all the linkage off into a cloud of electrons. Admittedly, it’s pre-beta software at the moment, but it’s generally been stable, so I didn’t worry about using it. But my schedule for yesterday and today have been completely trashed about four times in the past 24 hours, I’m feeling generally frazzled, and I just don’t have the energy to go back and try and recreate things. Sorry about that.
Software bugs like that are understandable, but they can be a gumption trap of the first order. I understand how bugs happen (I’ve written plenty of them myself), but on a morning like this, it’s just too much for me to go back and start over. If you submitted something (and at least one of you did), please send it in again, and I’ll try to get to it tomrorow.
The biggest news item was that the uprising in Iran has led to the resignation of the member of parliament for Fereydunkenar. More here and here.
- Last night Evan pointed out that there seemed to be a civil disobedience/uprising in northern Iran (in Fereydunkenar, a city of 30,000), and I linked to it. Is this a big deal?
No word of it on any other news outlets, though (well, here’s one). [101-280]
Several protesters have been killed and tens of other wounded and arrested.
Several official buildings, including the Security divison, have been damaged as the crowd retaliated to the regime forces extreme brutality and use of lethal force.
- It seems there’s also unrest in Syria: Dozens said killed in riots in Kurdish quarter near Damascus. Still nothing in the mainstream news outlets here, and no updates I can find. I don’t expect CNN or the Beeb to cover all the news in the world, but some of this seems noteworthy to me. [instapundit]
- I’ve put together an archive of all of my 2004 Minneapolis Transit Strike linkage and commentary. I’ll attempt to keep updating it as the strike progresses. I have almost no links to the Star-Tribune, since their archive policy means that links go dead, and I don’t think that’s right. It would be nice if there were some way I could get access to their archives for some (small) fixed price, so if you know anyone in the department there that handles that sort of thing, an introduction might be useful.
- Jim has more on the Transit Strike, asking why people think the drivers shouldn’t have health-care benefits. [jim]
- FCC fines Qwest a record $9 million for failing to follow rules designed to ensure competition for local phone service in Minnesota and Arizona after Minnesota had already fined Qwest $26 million for the same violations. Gee, is that why there are so few choices for local phone service here? [press-patch]
- FBI adds to wiretap wish list, and they want to require ISPs to let them tap everything, and outlaw introducing new services that can’t be tapped, and they’re wanting it to apply to all ISPs, including DSL providers and cable companies. Guess they haven’t heard of ssh or skype (to name just a couple). Or considered that not all internet services are created and introduced in the US. Then again, I guess they probably have, and that’s why they want a new law. [slashdot]
- BugMeNot.com has passwords for sites that want you to register before you can read their content and cypherpunk/cypherpunk doesn’t work. [vowe]
- Yesterday I wrote up a page on solving “host name lookup failure” problems in sendmail after I spent a couple hours figuring out what was going wrong and then how to fix it. It’s mostly for my benefit, but that’s what I said about the page I wrote on setting up SpamAssassin, and that’s turned into one of the more popular pages on my site.
I took some time yesterday to deal with infrastructure here on Dave’s Picks. If I can find time to do more today, I might actually get migrated to having each post be an individual archive item. There’s nothing especially hard about it, but my current plan is that they would all be file-based (rather than living in a database), and I’m not sure what the performance hit of something like that would be. It’ll be an interesting experiment. But the goal is to be able to hook up comments to individual items. At the rate things happen around here, it’ll probably be 2006 before I’m done, but to those of you who’ve mentioned wanting comments, I can at least say
I’m working on it. The big thing that might stand in my way is that I’m also thinking of making an RSS feed just for transit-strike-related news.
- The Metro Council is going to set aside a Slice of savings to help stranded. They’re going to earmark $100,000 per week (of the $1million they’re saving by not running the buses) for riders who have no other means of transportation. The catch is that the money will go to existing non-profits and aid agencies, so unless you’re already on the dole, you won’t be able to get any help. [press-patch]
- I was at position 95 in a Google Search: minneapolis transit strike on Wednesday morning, and up to 35 this morning. I’m not sure I want to be at the top of that list, but I feel good about moving up. I suppose I should really collect all the links onto one page. Maybe that’s part of the plan for this afternoon.
- Steph has some thoughts on Target’s selling off Dayton’s Marshall Field. I’ve shopped in the downtown Dayton’s Marshall Field store exactly once since the name change, and I found a gal who was anxious to help me, but couldn’t since they didn’t have the things I was looking for. I felt a lot more loss when they changed the name than I do now. But if you’re at all pro-labor, the name Marshall Field should not be one you think of especially fondly. [steph]
- Salon’s Got a Will to Survive, and still is in business. Who knew? I guess I notice articles from them every once in a while, but they’re also mostly premium that require you to pay, so I seldom read them. I’ve thought about paying for a subscription, but I always find myself wondering if they’ll be around long enough that I’d get my money’s worth.
- The Idiot Villager says it’s Time to abolish the FDA. He’s got a point. Last weekend during our poker game (always a time for weighty discussions), I posited that the FDA was the primary problem in the
health care crisis, since one of the bigger reasons that prescriptions cost more here in the US than they do in Canada is that we have to pay for the cost of getting new drugs (and treatments, and dietary supplements now too) “approved”. And yes, the US also pays for most of the R&D for new drugs, but I don’t feel bad about that.
- From what I can tell, the best source of news on the March 11, 2004 Madrid attacks is the Wikipedia page. The attacks were horrible, and were an act of terrorism (not a guerilla attack, as Reuters claims). The fact that almost a quarter of the country turned out for the protests is big news in my eyes. [vowe]
- In Rebuff to Bush, Senate Raises Bar for New Tax Cuts. Russ Feingold wants to make sure that taxes don’t get cut without 60 votes in the Senate. Seems to me that a better plan would be to require a supermajority before spending could be increased.
- But hey, Thank Goodness That President Bush Trusts the People! Just go read it:
As Bush points out, all the Democrats have to offer is
that same old Washington mind-set – they’ll give the orders, and you’ll pay the bills.
Transit strike links and commentary are at the end today.
- Can I Answer My Phone Without Paying 100,000 Euro? takes a look at Microsoft’s attacks on Lindows and Lindows.com. If a citizen of Belgium, the Netherlands, or Luxembourg looks at the Lindows.com site, Lindows could be fined 100,000 Euro per day. [doc]
- Can you pass the third grade? and identify the 48 contiguous states? I got it on the first try, but I couldn’t do them alphbetically. I had to place Vermont and Connecticut before I could tackle Rhode Island and New Hampshire. And Maryland wanted to go in before Delaware did. I know where all those states are, but doing them somewhat out of order just worked better for my brain. [WVSR]
- Shock! Horrors! Ireland tops EU alcohol consumption table. Oh wait. Not really news, is that? Heh. Turns out the average Irish person is twice as likely to be a drinker as the EU average. [holy schmoly]
- RealNetworks sues baseball over use of Windows Media, since MLB signed an agreement saying they’d use Real. I think a better answer for Real would be to make their software suck less so people might actually want to use it. Even on the Mac, Windows Media Player is less objectionable than Real is. [slashdot]
- The Cable Guy is Whupping Phone Guy in providing phone service, which is kind of odd, since about the only company with worse service than Qwest around here is Time-Warner Cable.
- ASK Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies talks about another weapon in the war on spam.
- But in a move that might actually have some effect on the volume of spam (for a few days, at least), Comcast is cutting off spam “zombies”, and then helping people clean up their systems when they call in to find out why their net connection is down.
- At the Waikiki Spam Jam, they’re going to make a spam musubi longer than the previous record of 300 feet, using nearly 800 cups of rice, more than 1,300 slices of the spam and almost 600 feet of seaweed wrap. Dang! That’s a lot of pink meat. The official site is supposed to be here but seems to be missing in action. Maybe they’re working on the big upgrade before the festival starts on April 23rd. [fark!]
- Some stranded, others seek rides to cope withe the transit strike.
- Transit union looks for student support at rally outside the McNamara alumni center on Oak Street at noon today.
- This bus driver couldn’t risk going on strike and not having his benefits, so he retired early.
The big problem here is one that the rest of the country will be facing, too. With retirement age set at 65, boomers are going to be retiring soon (within the next ten years). That means that there are going to be a lot of retirees. When the average life-expectancy was closer to 70, you’d have sixteen working people for every retired person, and that’s a level of taxation that people can live with (about 2 percent). It also means that the amount of money needed for retirees is relatively small, since the average retiree isn’t going to be alive that much longer.
But as that ratio of working to non-working people shifts (today it’s 3.3 people working for every retiree, and will be 2 to 1 by 2020), the burden on those who are still working becomes heavier. This got a lot of press a few years back when people were talking about the Social Security Crisis. Social Security paid more than $450 billion in benefits last year, with a tax-rate of 12.4 percent. That’s about 1⁄8 of your salary that’s currently going to pay retiree benefits. If nothing is done, Social Security and Medicare will be almost ¾ of the federal budget by 2060. See CATO’s quick facts for more.
Beyond there being more retirees, they’re living longer. In order to self-fund your retirement, which you’ll need to plan for if you assume the system will break down, you need set more money aside while you’re working. Or if you’re counting on your employer taking care of your retirement, as the bus drivers are, your employer needs to set aside that additional money, and the sooner you start, the better your chance of getting enough put away.
And in his ham-handed way, that’s the problem that Peter Bell (and Tim Pawlenty) is trying to deal with. If they promise to maintain the drivers’ health benefits at current levels, it will mean some additional cost now, but the big additional costs are coming down the road, and something has to be done. Again, using numbers for Social Security, dealing with the shortfall today costs about an additional two percent (bumping the tax rate to around 15% from the current 12.4), but if put off until 2075 it would require a jump to over 20% *. Now this isn’t talking about the costs to the Metro Council, since their numbers are going to correspond more to medical expenses, rather than just retirement, but I think that makes the problem worse than using the number for Social Security, rather than better.
Just to make it clear, I think the Met Council needs to move on their position a bit. Shutting down the buses isn’t an acceptable solution. But they also need to take a long, hard look at the costs of offering benefits to retirees, and figure out some way to pay for those. If the state government (their major source of funding) doesn’t give them the money, they have to cut costs, and that’s what they’re trying to do. I don’t have the answer to the problem, and that’s part of why I think this will be a long strike.
Some quick links to strike-related news, and then some more regular kinds of links. A hybrid like this seems a good solution.
- The City Pages is hosting Strike! Metro Transit Strike Blog.
- Six photos from the Minneapolis Public Library photo collection of people during the strike in 1938.
- Did you know there were Cowboys on streetcars in the 1889 streetcar strike here in town?
- Benefits drive buses as discussed in the comments on Jim’s post about the bus strike. [press-patch]
- Bus strike encourages more to hoof it to work, or to drive near to downtown and then walk from there. [press-patch]
- Metro Mobility keeps pace with new demand, too. They’re seeing extra riders as people who were riding the bus, but qualified for Metro Mobility now have nowhere else to turn. [press-patch]
- Here’s a look at dating from the woman’s point of view: It’s not me, it’s you. Again. Includes the top ten signs that a guy is going to be bad in bed. Lessee, I get numbers 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7. I guess I should start working on the others.
- Como carnival ending an era as St. Paul decides to get the carnival completely renovated, which will mean a different company running it, too. I remember some of the rides there pretty fondly. Definitely more fondly than one of my grade-school friends who puked on any ride faster than a merry-go-round. Naturally, we thought that great fun, so tried to get him on every ride we could. [press-patch]
- Now a number of internet providers are suing hundreds for spam under the Can-Spam act. I’m still waiting to see if it’ll do any good, but expecting it won’t make much difference. [fark!]
- There’s now a single pill that tackles smoking and obesity, and was found while researchers were trying to figure out why pot-heads got the munchies. It should be available in the UK next year. [fark!]
Yeah, I realize I’m talking an awful lot about the transit strike here in Minneapolis, and that may not wind everybody’s watch, but it’s interesting to me. Today is also the first day where I have a real need for the buses, since I’ve got a couple things I need to do where a bus would be quicker and cheaper than getting in the car and worrying about parking, but I’ll figure it out. No real choice, is there?
I also find myself thinking about the U of M’s transitway. Before that was built, I’d use the U’s inter-campus buses sometimes, since they stopped at a few places along Como Avenue. There were also a lot of students on Como who’d ride the bus to school. But now that they run along the transitway, the buses are less useful unless you’re already on one of the campuses. Of course the buses are there for students, rather than the general population, but I never really felt guilty about mooching a ride on the free shuttle when it fit my needs.
- The Minnesota Daily says the Strike takes toll on riders and attendance is down in some classes at the University. I expected that would happen, since there are some students who will nearly any excuse to cut class.
- In You Can’t Get There from Here, the City Pages looks at the political realities behind the transit strike, and how changes to the budget for Metro Transit made since 1999 have made this strike unavoidable.
- There’s more at Jim’s essay about how the Minnesota Taxpayers League Declares Class War. David Strom, who wrote the article Jim criticized, stopped by and commented. Jim’s getting noticed in local politics? [jim]
- As renewal date nears, experts debate Patriot Act, and whether to renew it. It’ll be interesting to see how current senators vote on it this time around. Everyone in the Senate in 2001 except for Russ Feingold voted for the Patriot Act, including those like John Kerry who have been criticizing it lately. I’d like to see an actual vote that will show us their positions before the fall elections. I haven’t totalled up the numbers, but I wouldn’t mind seeing all 99 of those senators who initially voted for the act booted out of the Senate.
- The Libertarian Purity Test measures how “pure” of a libertarian you are. I ended up with a 145 of 160, mostly because I think that it’s impractical to privatize everything the government has done, especially roads. [endwar]
- FCC Faces Suit on Regulation of Digital Broadcast Television, or the “Broadcast Flag”. EFF’s suit
charges that the FCC exceeded its jurisdiction, acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and failed to point to substantial evidence in adopting a broadcast flag mandate.[boing boing]
- In The Terrazzo Jungle, The New Yorker takes a look at Southdale and its creator on its fiftieth birthday. Fifty years of shopping malls, and by the time he died, Victor Gruen, who created Southdale to try to make America more like Vienna (bringing the civility and planning of the Ringstrasse to Edina), realized the magnitude of his mistake: Malls, he said, had been disfigured by “the ugliness and discomfort of the land-wasting seas of parking” around them. [papascott]
- Yesterday’s late-morning storm slowed the Twin Cities to a crawl. It was weird. I got to see the sun at sunrise, before it moved behind the clouds, but it looked like just another gray day. Then it was a near white-out outside. Then it had stopped by noon and it was time to go shovel out. Two or three inches of snow in under three hours, with basically no warning from any of the weather people.
- After shovelling out, I went for a walk. I had to go to the bank, and then to drop some DVDs off for Bill. After that, I went to the Purple Onion to hang out, since I was stalled on some work stuff and needed a break. I got to talk to Gordon for a while, which was good. One of the things we talked about was how nice it is to have lived in the same town so long that you “know everybody”. I think that was one of the bigger things that made me homesick the year I was in California. I didn’t know anyone other than the people I worked with, so if I went out in the evening I’d either be hanging with co-workers, or be out on my own. Here in Minneapolis, just wandering into a coffeeshop or a bar means I’ve got about even odds of bumping into someone I know (and often someone I haven’t seen for a while), and that’s a darned nice feeling. It feels like home.
- After Gordon left to go to work, Jim showed up on his way home from work. We chatted for a while, and grabbed dinner over at Bobby Z’s. While we were eating dinner, another friend showed up and talked to us for a while. That’s exactly why Minneapolis feels like home. I went for a little walk this afternoon, and ended up running into three people I knew in a few hours with no planning needed.
- Walkout casts doubt on mass transit’s future, and I expect there will be fewer people depending on the buses after this strike. There’s no movement from either side so far, and we’re tentatively setting the over/under line for the duration of the strike at two months.
- The Minnesota Daily thinks that U must push for compromise in the transit strike. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by traffic around the U. It hasn’t been that bad, but I haven’t really paid close attention to the parking situation around Marcy-Holmes. But the University is affected by the strike. Maybe even more than downtown Minneapolis is. A lot of students used to depend on the buses to get to school.
- Idle buses don’t equal big savings, since there’s plenty of fixed overhead that Metro Transit still has to pay. The article also mentions that cabs are seeing increased business. That’s one of the things about the strike that hasn’t been reported at all, but I don’t think the cab companies are Really Busy yet. There’s a guy down the block who drives a cab, and he’s still parking it there overnight, Yesterday I saw him parking the cab at home while he had lunch. If they were really busy, he’d be eating lunch between fares, I think. Finally, the article also mentions the cost to Ramsey County, which is setting aside additional money for people on financial assistance who used to take the bus either to work, or while looking for work. The County is having to pick up the tab for cab-rides in some cases. They’ve got enough money for a week of that, but what happens after that money runs out? The strike is going to last more than a week. [press-patch]
- Jim’s got commentary on the strike at Minnesota Taxpayers League Declares Class War. One of the things I’ve been thinking about as the strike goes on is the history of transit in the Twin Cities. Did you know that transit in Minneapolis and St. Paul was privately owned until the 1960s, when Carl Pohlad ran Twin City Lines. Check out the Wikipedia entry for more information. There’s also a lot of great information at the Minnesota Historical Society (including information on the strike of 1917, which broke the streetcar drivers union), at the Minneapolis Public Library and at the Met Council. Also, hydro-electric power at Lower St. Anthony Falls was completed in 1897 and the Rapid Transit Steam Power Plant was built in 1903 to run streetcar lines. It became the University of Minnesota’s Steam Plant, which still contains electrical gear from that era. It’s all tied together, and to further digress, that’s exactly why I liked James Burke’s Connections so much. [jim]
- Speaking of James Burke, he’s started a KnowledgeWeb Project that looks pretty darned interesting too.
- Pentagon to offer news service from Iraq and Afghanistan to send news directly to the Internet or to news services like AP. The service is expected to begin in April and will provide coverage of events where the press is excluded, such as within battle zones. [fark!]
- Here’s a A History of Apple’s Operating Systems that doesn’t have too many errors. It glosses over some of the big changes inside Apple (there’s almost no mention of QuickDraw GX, and QuickTime isn’t really covered, for example), but if you’re not a Mac geek, it might tell you something you didn’t know.
- Looking to learn how to weld, run a lathe, or make your Remington 700 or AR-15 more accurate? Technical Video Rental probably has a video that will help, and you can rent it for a week for $9.99, which includes postage both directions. Or as Cory says,
’learn how to compete on JunkYard Wars from the comfort of your own couch.I haven’t checked out any of the videos yet, but I’ll probably take a look at a couple before too much longer. The price seems reasonable enough, but I’ll have to figure a week where I’ll actually get a chance to watch the video. [boing boing]
I started out thinking there wouldn’t be a lot of linkage today. Turns out I found something to say, it just took longer than usual.
- Hypertouch, an ISP based in Foster City, California, filed the first Can-Spam Lawsuit last Thursday. It’ll be interesting to see how the law holds up in court, and how effective it is in stopping the spammers. I expect the answer will be “not very effective”.[slashdot]
- Twins Geek has some thoughts on the Twins starting lineup and why using a four man rotation in April makes some sense for them. It’s good to see baseball starting, but I’m not listening to Spring Training games on the radio yet. I’m not sure why, but even with the best broadcasters, I don’t enjoy a game as much on the radio as I do when I’m watching it live.
- Steven Den Beste talks about partial cures for both tuberculosis and terrorism, and why they’re bad. A partial cure leaves the disease resistant to the weapon you use to fight it, which makes eliminating it tougher. That happens a lot when people don’t finish the course of treatment for a disease, especially a slowly reproducing one like TB, and he worries that not finishing the war on terror will have the same sort of effect. He also talks about John Kerry’s candidacy and wonders what Kerry stands for, other than election. As is usual with his posts, I don’t agree with everything, but he’s got a good point or two, and it makes a guy think.
- All’s calm on snowy streets, but the lack of real problems caused by the bus strike doesn’t necessarily mean the buses aren’t important, as the Taxpayers League of Minnesota’s David Strom suggests. There are two big things I’ve seen so far. The first is that I haven’t gone downtown since the strike began, and I probably won’t unless the weather gets nice enough that I’ll take a long walk. I may not be in the majority there, but if other people also cut down on discretionary trips into the downtowns, businesses might start to see some effect. The second is that I’ve seen the traffic not being “free flowing”, especially as I mentioned on Friday Last Thursday’s even rush hour was worse than normal. And no, it’s not possible to get a refund on partially-used bus-passes at this point, which is a shame. If it were, that might (at least if lots of people asked for refunds) turn up the heat on the Met Council to negotiate. They will refund 31-day passes once the strike is done.
- Joe Soucheray says the strike is a chance for transit talk, pointing out that many of the people inconvenienced by the strike make more than the drivers do. That may be, but as more people drive to work, rather than taking the bus, I think we’ll start to see more costs to driving over time. One example is something I saw in California. Because so many people spent over an hour commuting to work, they’d try to multi-task while they were driving, and that led to people not paying attention to the road. Being able to ride the bus to work lets you multi-task safely. Trying to multi-task while driving leads to more dangerous driving, which leads to accidents, which brings you right back to that 5mph commute. It may be that for many of us having transit is a benefit, rather than a necessity. That doesn’t make it any less valuable. [press-patch]
- Bill Gates says you should buy stamps to send e-mail, but of course it would be Microsoft who’d be selling the stamps (though you’d pay with CPU cycles, rather than money) and who would own the patents on printing them. Sounds like there are probably a lot better ways to combat spam without selling your soul. [slashdot]
- My post about how to land a 747 the other day led to Karl wondering if a Boeing 767 runs out of fuel at 41,000 feet what do you have? Answer: A 132 ton glider with a sink rate of over 2000 feet-per-minute and marginally enough hydraulic pressure to control the ailerons, elevator, and rudder. Put veteran pilots Bob Pearson and cool-as-a-cucumber Maurice Quintal in the cockpit and you’ve got the unbelievable but true story of Air Canada Flight 143, known ever since as the Gimli Glider. I think I initially saw this on AVWeb, but I can’t find the link just now. [karl]
- Menu Calendar looks like it might be a useful bit of Mac software. It even lets you click on a date in the calendar that pops up to get right into iCal. [vowe]
- Sheriff’s Web site operator sought $300,000 from county for a website he’d started doing on a volunteer basis. When he shut it down because they wouldn’t pay, the sheriff’s department hauled him in on extortion charges and confiscated his equipment. Asking $300,000 took some real balls, but he made sure that he’d actually owned the website all along, so I think it’d be a shame if any of the charges stick. Sounds like a very good reason to have a contract in place. [slashdot]
- Political Dish Crossword Puzzle (Interactive) is a funny political crossword puzzle from a liberal point of view from Mad Kane that uses Java. It doesn’t seem to be completely happy with the Mac version of Java, though.
Update 8:40 am Oof. I’ve finished the shovelling (for some value of finished). Y’know how I hurt my back two weeks ago? Well, it was still sore before I went out to shovel this morning. I think now I’m going to be completely out of commission for a while. Again, the problem is having to lift a shovelful of wet, heavy snow. And it’s made worse by the fact that my shovel has no way to keep it from twisting in my hands, so about half the time it just turns and all the snow dumps and I have to scoop it up a second time. Anyway, I’ve got an owie. And next time I’m out shopping, I’ll be looking for a new shovel, too.
I also noticed that there was enough snow sticking to the clotheslines that it was bending the poles inwards. I knew there were wimpy, but I didn’t think a few inches of snow on the clotheslines would bend them. So I chopped down the lines. I don’t think I want or need the clotheslines out there, but the one pole holds up the bird-feeder, and I’d hate to see that get dumped in the snow.
From here down was all written before 7:15am
|A snowy morning|
I knew it was too early in the year to be looking at the grass in the back yard and thinking about raking it already. Nature answered with an inch of snow when I woke up and now it’s up to about two inches. Don’t know how much there will be total, but I’ll be out shovelling soon. The snow makes the trees in the back yard look real pretty though, so I had to take some pictures. First is the raw one right out of the camera (they’re both scaled down, since at full size, the sensor noise is pretty awful), and the second is “enhanced” by Photoshop’s “Auto Levels” command. I’m not sure which I like more, but I think the moody colors of the original are more striking.
|the "enhanced" version|
Most of the pictures I present here are unmanipulated. I may do some cropping in iPhoto as I import them, but that’s about it. I generally don’t touch the color or anything. But I sometimes wonder if I should learn a little more Photoshop mojo so I can do more in the way of retouching. I don’t know for sure, but if you have a strong opinion about any of the photos you see here, let me know what you think. I suspect some of the pictures would look better manipulated, but I don’t know enough right now to do a good job of it, so I don’t even try. In any case, the first one is closer to what my eye saw, though without so much of a blue cast. The second is striking in a different way, mostly because of the unworldly colors that appear around the noise from the camera.
Finally, I’ve been playing with the drop-caps some more. They’re now a bit higher, as that makes Mozilla render them properly. In Safari, they should be 0.2em lower. I’m aware of the problem, but the only solution I see is to send out different CSS based on the browser, so I’m working on some code to do that. If you know of a cool CSS hack to change the height of the drop-caps (specifically, using the margin-top) between Safari and Mozilla, I’d appreciate any tips.
- Okay, this is about the only reason I can see myself going to SXSW, but it’s a damned compelling reason. March 18 and 20 will be the end of an era.
Isn’t ten albums enough?I don’t think it is. And apparently there are a couple I’ve missed. [boing boing]
- Drivers picket, commuters cope and life goes on, but rush-hour traffic yesterday was nastier than usual as there were more cars streaming out of downtown who don’t know the rhythms of commuting. I’m wondering if I can take my bus pass in somewhere to get a refund. There’s no point in holding onto it if I can’t use it on a bus, and I’ve got almost $20 left on the pass. And no, money isn’t that tight, but it might help pressure the MTC to come around more quickly if they had to start shelling out refunds. [press-patch]
- Experts say new desktop fusion claims seem more credible than when the same guys published basically the same thing two years ago. The press releases are Researchers report bubble fusion results replicated and Sound waves may aid nuclear fusion reactions. When I asked Bob the Physicist (who used to work with sonoluminescence, so he knows something about what’s going on here) about it, he replied with the following reasons not to get too excited (I’ve paraphrased here):
- The original paper in Science in spring 2002 was widely panned, and the reviewers recommended not publishing it because of internal inconsistencies and lack of details.
- There are also quite potent physical reasons why it is unlikely, because these bubbles (in deuterated acetone) would not get very hot on collapse.
- These guys have refused for years to provide basic details of their experiments. Nobody can duplicate their results.
- Three decades ago, Patrick Moore helped found Greenpeace, but now some people call him an Eco-Traitor because he promotes nuclear energy and genetically modified foods – and swears he’s still fighting to save the planet. His new approach seems pretty reasonable to me.
- You don’t hear about accidental condom inhalation every day. This case from India looks legit, though. I guess this is a warning of some sort. I know I’d spend time searching if I lost a condom while having sex, but I wouldn’t have thought to see if it had been inhaled.
- John Stossel writes Confessions of a Welfare Queen, or
How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars. There’s federal flood insurance that protects expensive houses built in stupid places like flood plains or too close to the ocean. There’s crop insurance and price supports for farmers, some of whom aren’t rich, but many are. There’s ADM, which is in a class by itself in receiving welfare. And finally, there’s eminent domain, which is no longer just used for road or other public works, but for “development” like a casino owned by Donald Trump in New Jersey. Yeah,
I’m from the government and I’m here to help.
- In spite of what Scott thinks, dogs take a lead over children as there are more dogs per household than children. Of course there are people like me who probably skew the numbers – you don’t need to find a girlfriend in order to get a dog. [fark!]
No, I didn’t intentionally leave off the drop-caps yesterday. I just forgot to enable them. It turned out for the best though. The band listings at the bottom look Really Bad if I turn on the drop-caps.
- The bus strike is on, as transit drivers walk out. Still no word on when the next talks will be held, but it’s time to test out that new car pool. For me, it means I’ll probably be walking a bit more, and probably won’t head downtown quite as often. [press-patch]
- Steph has coined a new and useful word. Webnoxious describes annoying bits on the web. I like it.
- President Urges Renewal of the Antiterrorism Law, since after all, what’s giving up a little Liberty in exchange for Security against a foreign threat? Seems to me James Madison had something to say about that.
- Bruce Schneier talks about America’s Flimsy Fortress of Homeland Security. It’s basically the same message he conveys in Beyond Fear, which I’m in the middle of reading. I plan to write about the book when I finish it, but at the rate I’m going right now, that might be a while. [fark!]
- A suggestion for getting better photographs is to Set Yourself Free. The article ends with a quote that’s particularly pertinent to me:
And when that first lovely spring day comes around, don’t forget that before you can shoot at all, you’ve got to get out of the house.[holy schmoly]
Yesterday was a busy day for house-things. I hadn’t exactly planned it that way, but that’s how it worked out. It started in the morning with a call to St. Paul Plumbing. The shower they installed back in January had started to drip, and if I was to fix it myself, I’d void my warranty, so I put in the call for a plumber.
Next up was a visit from the UPS guy. He was dropping off the trash-can I’d mail-ordered. As I explained before, I couldn’t find one I liked locally, so I ended up having to mail-order it. It’s a little taller than I’d hoped, but that meant I had to figure out a different location for it in the kitchen, which I think turned out to be a good thing.
Then it was time to go digging through the boxes in the basement to find the original CD for some software I needed. I have it installed, but I needed to update it, and the updater would only work if the original CD was in the drive. Ugh. Effective copy-protection, I guess, but I ended up having to move about a dozen boxes to get to the one containing the original CDs for all my software. It’s about time to add “sort the boxes” to my to-do list. To be honest, it was probably time to do that a couple months ago, but I think it just became higher priority.
Then it was lunch time. I ended up cancelling my lunch-date with Tom the Tailor, since the plumber was due to arrive between noon and 2pm. I need Tom to repair a small hole I tore in the sleeve of my leather jacket on Sunday when the hook on the storm-door grabbed me as I was carrying in a box of stuff. I’ve since removed that hook, since it’s only useful for holding the door shut in high winds, and fixing the latch on the door seemed like a better solution.
Just after lunch, a client showed up to drop off a CD of new images for his web site. We talked for a while, and he commented on the big map I have hanging near my front door. He asked if it was for mapping out my political strategy in town, and I responded that it was more for bike-riding, and I probably wasn’t going to be getting into politics for another cycle at least. But it got me thinking about riding my trike again. More importantly, I need to take an afternoon to make sure it’s ridable. I also need to clean out the garage so I can get the trike in and out without having to move the car.
About 2pm, the plumber showed up. After deciding that the drip in the shower was coming out of the cold-water side, he tore into the faucet. No problem with the cold water. Instead it was the hot that was dripping, and there was a chunk of what looked like a fingernail stuck in the valve, causing the drip. I’m still a little baffled as to how a leaky hot-water valve was producing cold water coming out, and also how a chunk of fingernail got into my plumbing, but it’s all better now, so I’m not going to dwell on it.
Once the plumber had left, I stopped by Franks Nursery and bought a plant for the living room (I’m not positive, but I think this is the first indoor plant I’ve ever bought for myself), a garden hose, and some shovels and rakes and implements of destruction. The plant I got is an indoor palm of some variety or other, and only has two stalks at the moment, but looks as though it should fill in nicely over time. It’s a little over 4′ tall, which is nice, since I can put it directly on the floor, rather than needing to buy some kind of stand for it. I’ll need to buy a pot that looks better than the cheap plastic one it came in (with a red plastic plate left over from the housewarming party under it to catch any extra water), but I’m going to worry about that later. Cheap plastic is fine for now and I won’t feel as bad if I kill it before I get it repotted. Once I take that step, I’ll feel more responsible for the plant.
Somehow with all that other stuff going on, I managed to get a few hours of work done, too. I’m actually feeling pretty good again about the contract that’s taking the majority of my time at the moment. That’s a welcome change from a few weeks ago when I was feeling pretty discouraged.
- Here’s a concise Summary of Senate events in the gun bill to-do. My one-line summary is that things seem to have turned out okay. For now. Larry Craig (R-ID) urged people to vote against his own bill once it had become cluttered with anti-gun amendments (and deserves a note of support). For once, the NRA took a stand on gun-control that didn’t attempt to compromise, too. That’s a welcome change. [endwar]
- The CNN Article Senate kills bill protecting gun makers has a picture explaining exactly why John Kerry is a bad choice for President. The three people he’s with in the photo are Schumer, Feinstein and Kennedy, and if you think there’s anything at all to the second amendment, this photo should convince you to vote for anyone but John Kerry. [instapundit]
- And as this article from the Boston Herald points out, Kerry not on roll with voting. It’s telling that one of the few times he shows up in D.C. to vote is for more gun control.
- In the second
Well, there it is, thennote of the day, Metro bus strike set for Thursday morning, beginning at 2am. So much for my tentative Thursday lunch date. [press-patch]
- Interesting. It says RFID Tags in New US Notes Explode When You Try to Microwave Them. First I’ve heard of it, and I would expect the security stripe or some magnetic bits in the ink to cause a problem, but I hadn’t heard about RFID tags in US money, and I usually hear the good conspiracy theories pretty quickly. There’s more on the scorched twenties over at Boing Boing, saying that the same thing will happen with ordinary paper, and the pictures shown include older twenties (after the first redesign, but not the ones with the orange background). [some gal]
- A little over a week ago I mentioned that Molly Quinn’s will be reopening. Well, I’ve got more details now. Both Saturday and Sunday will see an early start of traditional Irish music as part of their Grand Opening. I’m not sure if I’ll be going for the party, but it sounds like a guy could make a pretty full weekend of it if he wanted to:
Molly Quinn’s Irish Pub Grand Opening – New Location
Saturday & Sunday, March 6 & 7
3300 East Lake Street 612-722-1272
Saturday, March 6th–Music Starts 3 p.m
- Papa John Kolstad & The Hot Club of East Lake
- Opiate Of the Masses
- Tom Carrerea & Ben Behrins
Sunday, March 7 – Music begins 3 p.m.
- Some of the Buffalo Gals
- Middle Spunk Creek Boys
- Tom Dahill
- Tom Carrera & Ben Behrins
- Da Da Cha Cha
- Here in MN, the state’s parties caucus tonight, and the article includes links to help you find where your precinct (or larger divsion) caucus is. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to attend at all. If I do, it’ll probably be the Minnesota Independence Party caucus, but I suspect that I’m going to stay home this evening. You’re welcome to remind me of my apathy come November when I gripe about having to vote for the lesser of two evils.
- Transit talks stall with no word of progress, but no word of a strike either. At least they’re not going out on strike today, but if you rely on the bus, it would probably be a good idea to double-check whether they’re going to be running tomorrow. Me, I’ve got a tentative lunch-date for Thursday that would require having the buses running, but I’ll worry about that later in the week. As for comparisons to the strike in 1995, I don’t know. I remember there was a strike, but that’s about it. I’m not even sure if I was in town or living in California when it happened, but if I was in Minneapolis I would have been working in Eden Prairie and driving to work every day. About the only time I rode the bus back then was heading to a bar in the evening so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting my car home afterwards. [press-patch]
- You could Buy Offline, Get Spammed Online if you shop at a business that practices email-append, which is buying lists of email addresses from spammers and then tries to match them up with existing customer lists. Of course there’s no guarantee that they’ll actually get the right person, especially if you’ve got a common name, and lots of customers don’t like it, but anything to make a buck, right? If you pay cash and don’t give them your name at all, they have a lot harder time trying to market to you.
- Says here that OpenBSD’s spamd now has support for Greylisting, which sounds to me like a pretty good idea for fighting spam, especially as it costs spammers more resources if they're going to get their spam through (so it can be filtered by SpamAssassin), and actually saves resources on the receiver’s end. [openbsd]
- Here’s a handy checklist on how to land a 747, just in case you ever need to. Heck, I’ve been in three 747s in my life, and one never left the ground. I think instructions for an A320 would probably be a lot more useful for me, since that what Northwest flies to most of the places I end up going, but I think step one is pretty universal:
Get on the radio, and tell whoever’s listening that you have a problem and don’t know exactly what to do.[holy schmoly]
- VeriSign calls ICANN bluff in world’s biggest game of poker, with the stakes being ownership of the InterNet, or at least the DNS portion of it. I think it’s about time for someone to find a way to route around the damage that is VeriSign.
- One Producer of U.S. Beef Wants to Test All Its Cattle for BSE , but the USDA won’t let them, since the tests haven’t been approved yet in the US (though they’re being used in Europe and Japan), and other beef producers are upset because they don’t want to test all their cattle. [jwz]
- Pixelito is a fully functional remote controlled helicopter that weighs just 6.9 grams and is smaller than a hamster. It uses infrared control rather than radio, and the receiver is about the size of a thumbnail. [slashdot]
- Metro Transit riders urged to plan ahead because a strike looks likely, but the union has said they won’t strike on Tuesday so folks can take the bus to their caucuses. [press-patch]
- Maker’s Mark bourbon backs a punch at 50 and is still one of my favorite bourbons. The big difference from other bourbons? It uses soft red winter-wheat instead of the rye that most use, which leads to a mellower flavor. Happy 50th! [fark!]
- Frank Ney has been Banned From Flying and will be reporting on his attempts to get his name off the no-fly list so he can actually travel around the country. [endwar]
It’s March. It came in like a lamb this year. Last night I got to listen to the rain fall on my house for the first time since I bought it. More new sounds to get used to around here. The rain melted away almost all of the snow from my yard, except where I’d piled it up while shovelling the sidewalks. It’s a different-looking yard now, and while I’ve been thinking a little about spring, if we don’t get snow in the next day or two (and the weather forecast suggests we won’t), I’m probably going to get itchy to get started on some of the outdoor projects I have on my list. It’s not that I don’t still have things to do indoors, but my enthusiasm for them has waned, and maybe some decent weather outside will be the thing I need to start knocking items off the to-do list again. If nothing else, I need to go buy thinks like shovels and rakes and other implements of destruction. Hell, I’ve gotta find a lawnmower, too. Not immediately, but the bare lawn gives me the feeling I should start thinking about it soon.