This is a really tough one to make a call about. On the one hand, the FBI has proved notoriously inept at handling technical evidence; on the other hand, Moussaoui has been eccentric, to say the least, in his handling of his defense.
Here's a neat article on hi-tech innovations that led the creation of a new business jet that can sell for one-fourth the price of current models (the low, low price of $850 grand) and can operate for about one-fourth the cost (around a dollar a mile).
Mr. Vampire: Hong Kong, like Hollywood, is not known for creativity. Although similar to A Chinese Ghost Story, this movie is unique in many ways. Well written and played out, this funny horror is a true treat.
Leftist politics has its roots in compassion; we'll never be comfortable or convincing selling meanness and hatred. More than that, I think in the long run, nastiness is counter-productive. Ann Coulter's political pornography may feed the lusty anger of bigots and gun nuts, but I doubt she's ever lured a single person off the fence. She's a whore, not a siren. There may be some value for the right in holding the interest of its angry, resentful base, but the left's base isn't angry or resentful. It's frustrated and ready for change, but it isn't inherently angry. It isn't entertained by hostility. And that leaves very little for a left-wing Coulter to feed on.
Once considered a productivity-enhancing tool, sorting through e-mail has become daily drudgery as employees separate wanted messages from heaps of spam. Market research firm Gartner estimates that a company of 10,000 employees suffers more than $13 million worth of lost productivity because of internally generated spam. Add the Internet, and the problem gets much worse.
"A year, year-and-a-half ago, spam was an annoyance; now it's a productivity drain," said Maurene Carson Grey, research director for e-mail and messaging at Gartner. "A lot of the spam has become quite distasteful, and it's a drain...not just on bandwidth, but on storage."
Shoot, I could have told them that. My youngest daughter is a little more than a year old now, and while she has a few words, she mostly speaks what I call "Babish." But there's no doubt that as far as she's concerned, she's saying things...she'll rattle off a whole sentence or two in babish.
I've actually wondered if my youngest isn't really saying more words than we think, and we're missing them. When our first daughter began to speak, we were listening so closely to her speech that we could really pick out when she she said recognizable words among the babish. Now she's three and quite the little chatterbox, so there's a certain amount of competition (and distraction) for our attention. On the other hand, The Baby has one more person talking to her, and I'm sure that helps too.
I love it when I notice a search in my referral logs that actually pertains to something I've discussed in my blog (as opposed to searches that hit on unlikely and unrelated word combinations, like "tales for the l33t flash soundtrack" and the ever-popular "cowboy bebop nude").
So checking this morning, I saw a hit from someone searching for "etsuko shiomi," the Japanese action actress. I'd linked to a review I wrote of Sister Street Fighter, and posted a few pics of my own as well.
Airport screeners will no longer ask passengers whether they've kept a close eye on their luggage or if anyone has asked them to carry something on board the aircraft. The questions are being phased out becasue they wast 20 seconds per passenger, according to Transportation Security Administration head James Loy.
"Over the years they have lost whatever original value they contributed and can now be safely eliminated," Loy said.
I just had coffee with Dodd, who was driving thru on his way to Chi-town to see the Dave Matthews Band (he even offered me his extra ticket--unfortunately, I have a meeting for my daughter's preschool tonight--drat!). We sat outside the $tarbucks on Monument Circle and enjoyed a pleasant cup and conversation. Have a safe trip and enjoy the show, man!
The submarine, which still has both of its torpedoes and is marked by bullet holes, may be the one sunk by a US Navy destroyer early on December 7, 1941. Its discovery may lend physical evidence to the contention that the US destroyer firing on the sub were the first shots in the United States involvement in WWII.
The remains of two Japanese sailors are believed to be inside the sub, which is said to be in excellent condition at a depth of 1,200 feet.
Oh, wow. I mentioned the other day that several noted anime directors are preparing a series of shorts set in the world of The Matrix. The Matrix Web site now has more details about the Animatrix project--a direct-to-video (and DVD) set of nine short films by seven directors (including Square USA, creators of the Final Fantasy movie). They've even posted a highly impressive trailer.
As Jules said in Pulp Fiction, "I'm going. That's all there is to it--I'm @#$%^&*! going!"
For the first time in weeeks, I didn't rent anything at my local video store's two-for-99-cent Tuedays. That's because over the weekend I reaped a massive haul (well, like seven or eight) of DVDs that'll take me a while to watch. Also, I've decided to stop renting so much until I actually sit down and write more reviews of the stuff I've watched so far. (For example, the Record of Lodoss War review I wrote for Destroy All Monsters was the result of renting the entire series over the course of several weeks).
Of course, it's been longer than that since I've posted any of the stuff I've picked up on Tuesdays. I decided to quit, not only because it probably isn't that interesting, but also because, again, I'd rather discuss movies in more detail instead of just name-dropping. I'm still keeping track of my rentals--along with permalinks to my external reviews--on my movies page.
Now, you might think that, plus the Our Man Flint and Poseidon Adventure DVDs I picked up the other day, would satisfy me. If you thought that, I'd say you haven't been reading this blog long enough. So as we were heading out to get my anime cel framed, we passed a roadside stand advertising 5 DVDs for $19.95. I'd passed stands of this type while I was on my self-imposed movie-buying hiatus, but now I had the opportunity--and the 20 smackers cash--to take a look around. I'd suspected they might be pirated (or just outright stolen), but it turns out that it's just cheapo DVDs by the box. Of course, one of the things about cheapo DVDs is that there are a lot of them of obscure kung-fu flicks, which , of course, is me all over. I was even more pleased to find a DVD of Godzilla vs Megalon--far from the best Godzilla movie (as the boys at Stomp Tokyo would tell you), but one of only two I have on DVD now and four lousy dollars!
I was disappointed not to find more horror films, but I very easily picked up four...since their individual price as five bucks, that meant that any other movie I got was essentially free, and since it was starting to rain, I just grabbed a random kung-fu flick and split. The haul:
Godzilla vs Megalon
Dragon Princess (Sonny Chiba and Sue Shiomi! w00t!)
The Asylum (A British horror anthology with Peter Cushing)
Deadly China Hero (A Wong Fei Hung story starring Jet Li and directed by Yuen Woo Ping)
Dragon vs Vampire (A random, obscure kung fu movie starring nobody I've ever heard of)
I'm about to take a break, in fact, and check out that Jet Li DVD. Cheapo DVDs are nearly always dubbed from videotape, so the quality can be spotty and there's almost never goodies like subtitles or alternate language tracks, but the tape this one is from was in Chinese with subtitles already, and that's pretty keen.
USS Clueless has an impressive piece deconstructing the apparent political agenda behind a recent Harvard study of merit scholarships. As always, Den Beste's full piece is worth reading in its entirety, but here are some key quotes:
What Harvard's researchers discovered was that the administrators responsible for these programs were administering them honestly, and awarding the scholarships without regard to race or financial means, based on academic performance and test scores. That's what the Legislators said they wanted when the programs were set up, and that's apparently what the administrators have actually been doing...it's not that these programs are broken, but rather that Harvard's researchers disagree with the goals of the programs
They did their studies of recipients and discovered that since the poor and blacks did worse in school, they also got disproportionately fewer of the scholarships. Harvard's researchers think these programs should not be merit based, but rather be means-tested, and deliberately should seek out non-whites and the poor irrespective of their academic merit.
But that's a political opinion, not a scientific observation. They think that these programs should be changed, but their study doesn't do anything to prove that, because that's not susceptible to proof. Rather, this study is just an attempt to embarrass the leaders of the states with uncomfortable statistics.
Full disclosure: I received a merit scholarship myself, and used it to attend the university of my choice. And frankly, I feel I deserved that scholarship and that my subsequent economic activity has returned its value to the state of Kentucky, which was not part of the Harvard study.
Although it certainly looks like there's a price war going on, calling it the "console wars" is something of a misnomer. Sony has shipped 33 million PS2 units worldwide since its Japanese launch in March 2000. Microsoft claims it has sold 3.9 million units worldwide in the 7-1/2 months the system has been available.
I have a couple of projects to complete this morning, so posting will be sparse until the afternoon. I want to get things done so I can spend some time here without the pressure of looming deadlines.
image courtesy fredart studios One of my favorite links is MegaTokyo, an online comic about two American computer game/anime fans who travel to Japan on a whim and are forced by circumstances to stay much longer than expected. The strip is funny, with an utterly engrossing story line and interesting, sympathetic characters. I've recently bookmarked a couple of excellent resources for MegaTokyo fans, especially new ones. The MegaTokyo Fan Network is a Web site run by, not surprisingly, fans of the strip. It hosts fan art and a handy FAQ that, in addition to introducing the strip's characters and plot, defines common anime and computer geek terms that get thrown around in the strip.
Another site of note is the Reader'sGuide to MegaTokyo, an impressive compendium of links to strips in chronological order with many annotations.
In addition, there are always lively discussions going on in the MegaTokyo Forums, and they just got a brand-new server, so performance is much better.
According to industry projections, Americans will spend nearly $3 billion more on DVDs this year than they did last, an increase of 50 percent. Some recent hit films...have earned more from their DVD releases than from their first-run theater engagements. And for the first time, DVD sales have surpassed those of videocassettes, even though DVD players are in only about a third of American households, compared with a saturation of more than 90 percent for videocassette players.
In the face of this, American retailers have shown the first major signs of making a per- manent shift to DVDs from videocassettes, much as they did to CDs from vinyl albums a decade ago.
"It is the most successful home entertainment device in history," said Warren Lieberfarb, president of Warner Home Video. "In five years, it has gone from zero to 30 million households, and a quarter of those have more than one DVD player. Nothing else has come close to doing that in such a short time, not CDs, not VCRs, not personal computers, not even television itself."
Early estimates in 1997 and 1998, the first years that DVDs were on the market, projected that it would take substantially longer for the new format to assert itself. But no one foresaw how quickly Hollywood studios would move to put their recent releases and extensive libraries onto the shiny new discs. By decade's end, all of them had.
The article also cites the unprecedented price drop of DVD players; units that averaged $600 to $700 in 1997 now go for about $150 and as little as $79. Also, next-generation video game systems like the PlayStation 2 have DVD capability built in.
Correction: I misidentified the newspaper as the DallasStar-Telegram; thanx to anna for the correx! (via FARK)
enetation had a notice on its site over the last few days that the frequent failures of its comments system were due at first to problems andthen to a massive system upgrade. Comments appear to be functioning at present, so I'll take back--at least for now--my assertion that enetation sux0rz.
I'll be checking over the comments, so if you've wanted to sound off on a previous post, now's your chance.
Full-service gas stations--practically nonexistent in the U.S.--are still the norm in Japan. As companies have been experimenting with self-serve gas stations, they've encountered a problem: increasing numbers of accidental fires. Authorities speculate that static electricity sparks flammable gasoline vapors, leading to seven fires breaking out since April. Oil companies and consumer groups are teaming up to educate motorists on how to operate gasoline pumps safely.
Joe Bob Briggs would love this--a CNN story on the person who became a mother at the youngest documented age: five years old. According to the story, the Peruvian girl was suspected of having a stomach tumor when her pregnancy was discovered; she delivered a baby boy by Cesarean section in 1939. A new book on her case may result in the Peruvian government granting a pension to the woman, who is now 68 years old.
"It's just not the kind of training that is needed, nor is it the kind of story that inspires confidence with the traveling public." (emphasis mine)
Reaction to revelations that bagage screeners at Norfolk International Airport had, in some cases, a scant 15 minutes of training. And who issued this vote of no confidence--an Administration critic? A lefty blogger?
Vice President Dick Cheney has assured us that there's "no doubt" that Iraq not only posesses weapons of mass destruction but is planning to use them against the US.
Ah, but listen to how Cheney defines weapons of mass destruction: "What he wants is time, and more time to husband his resources to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons program, and to gain possession of nuclear weapons," (emphasis mine) Cheney said.
Of course, ever since Iraq booted international inspectors, it's been reasonable to assume that some of Iraq's chemical and possibly biological weapons capability remained intact. Notice how Cheney uses the presumption of chemical weapons to overshadow his own statement that Iraq doesn't have nuclear weapons. And as I've pointed out before, he presents the choice of either military action or doing nothing, a dichotomy I simply don't buy.
As you may know, bots scan Web pages searching for email addresses to add to spam mailing lists. The folks who run this site (in German--translate at Babel Fish) feel we should help them out--by adding a PHP script to a Web page, you can populate it with a number of randomly generated fake addresses (the default is 20), which would result in spam lists clogged with junk.
However, I'm not sure if anna of annatopia--who works at an ISP--would approve. The failed addresses would bounce back, generating extra message traffic for ISPs along the route, I would imagine.
(via MetaFilter, where there are several posts to the discussion thread questioning the tactic's effectiveness.)
InstaPundit's Glenn Reynolds has a superb column in which he decries one of the most egregious failures of the so-called War on Terrorism: The fact that stupid harrassment in the name of security hardly makes air travel safer, but is merely a show designed to make us feel safer on the grounds that all this hassle must be accomplishing something. But it isn't--take this Aug. 25 example (via FARK) of a woman who carried a .357 onto an airliner in her carry-on. Worse, Americans aren't buying it and are voting with their feet--er, wheels--to the inevitable detriment of the airlien industry.
Count me in, buddy. We visit my mother's family in New Orleans each Thanksgiving, and this year we're driving. All the way from Indianapolis, 12 glorious hours. Until last year, the expense and discomfort of a flight was balanced by the quicker trip--but this year, we're looking at eight, maybe 10 hours for all the "security." In the immortal words of Edmon Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, No, thank you! No, I thank you! And again, I thank you!
Update: The supervisor of security at the Atlanta airport who hand-searched a woman's carry-on and yet missed a .357 pistol has been canned.
There's been a whole lot going on with the, er, evolving Administration position on Iraq that I've neglected to comment on. However, I do want to make a couple of points, briefly, which I plan to support in more detail later on.
I don't believe for one second that Bush hasn't made up his mind on whether to attack Iraq. I suspect that he hasn't decided quite how to sell the attack.
It's sad that it'd be necessary to point out that opposing Saddam isn't a dualism between invading without provocation or doing nothing. However, given that advocates of the attack tend to draw just such an either/or line, I question their intellectual honesty.
Again, it's sad that this even needs to be said, but I'd need more than airy administration assertions that Iraq poses a threat. The proof--no, the evidence--would be....exactly what, now?
I'd be a lot more confident of the Administration's ability to manage a "regime change" if it were doing a better job in Afghanistan, where the government we helped install controls little outside the capital, and barely that. A situation, by the way, whose resulting anarchy previously had paved the way for the Taliban...
Finally, the history of warfare suggests that we should be deeply skeptical of predictions of quick and easy victory, especially because "regime change" would entail doing exactly what we never did in Gulf War Mk I--going into the cities, rooting out entrenched forces well camoflagued among a civilian population, and a lengthy occupation to nurture some kind of replacement regime. We chose not to do so when we had a grand alliance behind us; I have yet to hear how this Administration expects to accomplish these tasks alone despite its evident willingness to do so.
Presidential advisers are quick to dismiss charges that the favors President Bush is doing for Florida have nothing to do with the fact that his brother Jeb is governor--they're just political favors for a state where Dubya was awarded won the 2000 election by the slimmest of margins.
Republicans say George W. Bush would be doing Florida favors no matter who was in office because he'll want to carry the state in 2004 by more than the disputed 537-vote victory in 2000.
However, state GOP chair Al Cardenas acknowledged that the fraternal ties beenfit Florida to some extent.
"We don't have a magic wand to know where this relationship goes the extra mile, but I know that it does and it has to do with the fact of the governor's unlimited access," Cardenas said. "Just the fact that his brother can get ahold of him to discuss these matters is very helpful to Florida."
For someone (an elected official, no less) who campaigned as not being a politician, in this case it seems Dubya is learning quickly.
(via Body and Soul, who comments "Gee, it's great to see ethics back in the White House.")
CNN reports that federal authorities arrested a Florida man who planned bomb attacks an Islamic education center. I post this article knowing absolutely nothing about the Islamic education center in question. More than likely, the people who attended this mosque were law-abiding and peace loving as any other Americans. Perhaps, but probably not, it was a hotbed of anti-Americanism. It. Does. Not. Matter. The Feds jumped in to protect people, regardless of their religion or politics and that is as it should be. I was never more proud to be an American than I was on Sept. 11, when President Bush -- a man I neither not liked nor respected previously -- made it clear to the American people that his administration would not tolerate acts of vengeance against people or Arab decent or those who practice Islam. In Germany, police stormed the Iraqi embassy to free hostages. The hostages were pro-American and anti-Saddam. It. Did. Not. Matter. Civilized nations obey the rule of law. This is a foreign concept to those nations who foster terrorism. This is why we are the good guys and they are the bad guys. There is no moral equivalence between us and them.
Bill Dennis also comments on one way to get more hits: "First, read other blogs. Second, steal their work (but post a link)." Hope you don't mind me taking your advice!
TechRepublic has just published an article I wrote on controlling the size of Office documents when using Object Linking and Embedding (OLE). They also have an article by my friend Hardin on performance reviews. Sorry, registration is required.
OK, sports fans, as you can tell, on top of the utterly un-swank sparseness of last week, I took the weekend off. But I'm back and gearing up for a heads-down week of serious blogging, so stay tuned!
In the good news/bad news department, the blog is loading a lot quicker these days. Unfortunately, the reason is that enetation seems to be perpetually down/busy/supposedly upgrading/whatever. I've decided that enetation pretty much sux0rz; of course, at the time it was the only comment system that had openings. Now I know why. I'll be shopping around for a new one; obviously if enetation is down, you can't make any suggestions through the comments, but you can email if you please. Fear not--although comments are usually fairly sparse, I'll save all the ones that have been posted so far and either append them to the posts or transfer them to the new server when that happens. Updates will be provided, of course, as they occur.