Tuesday, 31 March 2009

links for 2009-03-31

  • "The Earth Observatory is a website run by NASA's Earth Observing System Project Science Office (EOSPSO). Bringing together imagery from many different satellites and astronaut missions, the website publishes fantastic images with highly detailed descriptions, feature articles and more. Gathered here are some standout photographs from the collections in the Earth Observatory over the past several years."

posted at 11:01 PM in links
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Dallas Wars? Star Dallas?


Love it.

posted at 10:32 AM in Star Wars , video
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Sunday, 29 March 2009

links for 2009-03-29

posted at 11:02 PM in links
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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Huh?

John Farnam, “Huh?

Who are these people?

The VCA who murdered four police officers in Oakland, CA last Saturday had been incarcerated since 2002, but had been recently released on parole.

The sentencing report in the 2002 case that put him in prison described this VCA as a “…cold-hearted individual, who has no regard for human life,” and went on to insist that his permanently residing in prison was the “only way to rein-in this man’s proclivity for violence.”

Now there’s a real recommendation for parole!

That report was surely available to the Parole Board who let him out.

Perhaps, between shrieking for the end to the private ownership of guns in America and the need for higher taxes, the media might find the time to ask why such remorseless, violent, unstable sociopaths are paroled in CA!

[“VCA” = Violent Criminal Actor/Attacker. —R]

posted at 10:59 PM in firearms , liberty , politics , quote
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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

links for 2009-03-25

posted at 11:02 PM in links
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If only

“Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.”

—Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms, 6 July 1775

posted at 12:51 AM in liberty , quote
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Monday, 23 March 2009

links for 2009-03-23

posted at 11:02 PM in links
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Saturday, 21 March 2009

links for 2009-03-21

posted at 11:00 PM in links
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Thursday, 19 March 2009

links for 2009-03-19

posted at 11:00 PM in links
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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Quite possibly the best LOLcat EVER.

I have the LOLcat web site’s RSS feed in my feed reader. I don’t read it every day, but there are days when I’ll get caught up on the past week or two’s worth of photos.

Some of these photos will garner the toothless smile. Others will get a big grin. Rarer still are the ones which make me laugh. This one…

This one made me snort water through my nose.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


posted at 9:09 PM in fun , pet , photography
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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

links for 2009-03-17

  • "Instead of adjectives, great writers often use verbs. Their characters do, and they are always doing."

    […]

    "Frank McCourt spends little time worrying about it. He trusts the readers mind to imagine details. Instead, he captivates his audience with action. If people are moving and doing, it’s hard to look away."

    […]

    "So, if you’re working on a writing project, do readers a favor and cut out the “white as snow” and “cold as a meat locker” and tell us what your characters are doing."

    (tags: writing)
  • "There are many Made in the USA lists throughout the internet, nearly all of them tacky and in poor taste. These awful websites have led me to compile a list of stylish and cool brands that make their goods in America. One of my goals with this is to make it easier to locate and buy domestically produced apparel products. Another motivating factor is my desire for things Made in the USA to be embraced by a younger, more stylish consumer."

    Personally, I own several t-shirts printed on American Apparel shirts, New Balance sneakers, a Buck knife, a Fisher Space Pen, Field Notes notebooks, a Leatherman multi-tool, a Mag Lite flashlight, and a Vornado fan. I would recommend any one of these items.

  • "Family safe YouTube". A simple web browser player of YouTube content aimed at kids. Hit the space bar to go to the next clip. There is no search function.

posted at 11:02 PM in links
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The boy hearts books.

Tony Woodlief (yes, again):

Isaiah loves books. He loves to read them, loves it when people read them to him, loves to hit his brother Isaac upside the head with them. The boy hearts books. I hope he never stops loving them, even as the world around him transitions into a post-modern funk of hyper-links and text messages and overstimulating audio-visual mind sludge. Then one day he can visit me wherever he and his brothers have finally put me out to pasture, and maybe read to me there.

Davis is getting to this point, too. At times he will decide that he’s had enough playing with his Star Wars Galactic Heroes™ figures, or pretending to duel a dragon, or building with Lincoln Logs™ or LEGO™ pieces, and he’ll plop down in the play room and “read”.

My parents instilled a deep love of reading in my sister and I when we were growing up. Weekly visits to the local library (which was about as big as the downstairs area of our current home, minus the garage) were the norm. While we’re not going weekly, Kelly and I have both taken Davis to our local library (which is larger than the downstairs area of our house, including the garage), and he loves it.

Davis will often ask for a second or even third book to be read before going to bed, although I suspect this is as much about staying up as late as possible as it is about loving books.

I’d hoped to pass on this love of reading to both our boys, and so far, it’s looking pretty good.

posted at 4:23 PM in love , parenting , read , that's life
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Past the words

Tony Woodlief:

I spent a good portion of my time in a small chapel, learning prayers that preceded the Roman Catholic Church. I came with a great weight on my bones, a weight that overwhelmed me in that tiny chapel. I fell to my knees there, and prayed with quivering shoulders and trembling hands, done in by grief over the past, fear of the future, the knowing that this present ground is sand, that my feet must soon move forward or backward. Each way bears a cost; one of the great lies of men is that the path can be traveled without suffering. Another great lie is that we can stand still and read books and let our paltry knowledge carry us into the arms of God. We have to walk, with heavy, stumbling feet.

[…]

It’s easy to see why so many of us — Christians and pagans alike — spend lifetimes running from the living God, our hands stopping our ears, our mouths babbling prayers or blasphemies, all in an effort to avoid the great silence where God speaks to man. That silence is a fearful place, but there is love there, the great love of a parent. There is mercy too, and strength for the uncompleted race.

posted at 12:00 PM in God , love
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Monday, 16 March 2009

links for 2009-03-16

posted at 11:01 PM in links
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Friday, 13 March 2009

links for 2009-03-13

posted at 11:02 PM in links
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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

links for 2009-03-11

  • "Designed and run by vets, Vet Help Direct's interactive questions direct you to personalised first aid advice and clear guidelines about when to contact the vet. Easy and fun to use, Vet Help Direct is the online source of reliable advice for concerned pet-owners."

    Think of it as something like WebMD for your dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, reptiles, and birds.

  • "Wooden Laptop Case with leather lining and magnetic closing device for Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro 15inch."

    Beautiful work, but not something I would personally use/carry.

  • "The Founding Fathers, guarding against sectionalism and factions, among other things, sought to combine both direct representation of the people and representation of the states. The House of Representatives reflected the will of the People, while the Senate reflected the will of the states. This concept sprang out of the Great Compromise, which established the groundwork for a bicameral legislature."

    […]

    "The Constitution establishes these United States as a republican form of government. No matter how many times people toss around the word 'democracy,' this form of government will never be 'democratic' in its truest sense. "Bearing that in mind, the same Founding Fathers who outlined this form of government in the Constitution expressed reservations about allowing the uneducated masses the privilege of directly electing their Chief Executive."

posted at 11:04 PM in links
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Sunday, 08 March 2009

Unjust, oppressive and impolitic

“[C]ommercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic. …[I]f industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.”

—James Madison, speech to Congress, 9 April 1789

It never fails to amaze me how prescient the Founders were.

posted at 6:07 PM in liberty , politics , quote
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Saturday, 07 March 2009

links for 2009-03-07

posted at 10:00 PM in links
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Friday, 06 March 2009

links for 2009-03-06

posted at 10:03 PM in links
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Thursday, 05 March 2009

All of us need to be reminded… (because how soon we forget)

“The economic ills we suffer … will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

[…]

“Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.

—Ronald Reagan, Inaugural Address, 1981

[Emphasis in second paragraph added. —R]

posted at 10:58 AM in liberty , politics , quote
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Wednesday, 04 March 2009

links for 2009-03-04

posted at 10:01 PM in links
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Losing that first tooth


Davis shows off his new grin.
“Mind the gap.”

Davis showing his new grin and the tooth he lost.

Davis has lost his first tooth! It came from the middle bottom, and was kind of a surprise, especially for Mom!

Thankfully, the tooth wasn’t lost, though for a little while, we thought it might be. It had fallen out during dinner, and was still in the dinette, sitting on Davis’s chair. We cleaned it up, and Mom helped him ready it for the Tooth Fairy that evening.

posted at 8:26 PM in love , parenting , that's life
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Tuesday, 03 March 2009

Calling it what it is

“What [Obama calls] tax reductions in this bill are really transfer payments, particularly redistribution of income from the rich to the poor. The economy did very well [after the Bush] tax cuts of 2003. Obama has blamed [the Bush tax cuts] for part of the current financial collapse. There’s really no linkage between the tax cuts of 2003 and the financial and housing collapse we’ve seen in recent months. Abolishing the corporate income tax at the federal level I think would be very positive. It’s a very poor form of taxation. I would make permanent the kinds of changes that were in the 2003 tax reform, including the marginal tax rate structure.” —Harvard Economist Robert Barro on Obama’s “terrible piece of legislation”

[Emphasis added. —R]

posted at 10:45 PM in finances , liberty , politics , quote
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Splitting the difference

Jeff Jacoby:

WINTER DOESN’T OFFICIALLY END for another three weeks, but Daylight Savings Time arrives next Sunday, and with it the semiannual aggravation of resetting every clock and watch in our lives. (Don’t forget the microwave! And the car dashboard!) Must we be saddled forever with this World War I-era relic? Contrary to popular belief, daylight savings doesn’t reduce energy consumption, it increases it. And not everybody relishes late-evening daylight; plenty of people would rather see sunlight earlier in the morning.

We can end this spring-forward-fall-back madness once and for all — and we can do so without having to choose between daylight time and standard time. The solution is simply to split the difference: Let’s amend the Uniform Time Act so that clocks would be shifted by 30 minutes — then let’s leave them that way for good.

posted at 10:33 PM in nature , rant , that's life
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links for 2009-03-03

posted at 10:04 PM in links
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Monday, 02 March 2009

links for 2009-03-02

  • This web app is intended to keep one's focus on the writing, with negative consequences if one stops. You tell it how many words you want to get written, and you set the consequence level of the grace period. ("Strict" by default, the middle choice, with "Forgiving" and "Evil" on either side.) How evil is "Evil"? If you stop writing, after a certain amount of time, your work will begin unwriting itself!

    There is no save function; you'll need to select all, copy, and paste into your own text editor to save any work. NaNoWriMo participants may want to bookmark this one for November.

  • "A group of liberal bloggers said it is teaming up with organized labor and MoveOn to form a political action committee that will seek to push the Democratic Party farther to the left.

    "Soliciting donations from their readers, the bloggers said they are planning to recruit liberal candidates for challenges against more centrist Democrats currently in Congress."

  • "Freedom is an application that disables networking on an Apple computer for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom will free you from the distractions of the internet, allowing you time to code, write, or create. At the end of your selected offline period, Freedom re-enables your network, restoring everything as normal.

    "Freedom enforces freedom; a reboot is the only circumvention of the Freedom time limit you specify. The hassle of rebooting means you're less likely to cheat, and you'll be more productive."

posted at 10:03 PM in links
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ATPM 15.03

The March issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure.

Mike ponders a Jobs-less Apple future, especially in light of a certain comment made by a certain Apple fan-baiting hack. After a long hiatus, Mark re-enters the world of book design with a job hunt, and comes away pining for a twenty year-old Mac rather than suffer the slings and arrows of the Windows machines he encounters. Also in the employment hunt, Mark discovers the paperless office and instant communication are still a long way off, especially, and not surprisingly, in the bureaucratic wasteland of government offices.

Sylvester has a wonderful introductory piece on Time Machine. Be sure to read the comments; after submitting the article for publication, Sylvester encountered an error with Time Machine backups, and his solution may prove valuable to some of you in the future.

David Siebecker was kind enough to share some amazing photos from his 2006 safari to Tanzania for this month’s desktop pictures. (Consequently, Tanzania is the home of Emmanuel, the boy our family sponsors through Compassion.) I especially like the shots of the rhino, elephant, and the two sunsets. In this month’s Qaptain Qwerty, Linus shows us how backups have grown up.

Speaking of Linus, he puts ChronoSync, an app I’ve long had on the Eventual To-Try list, through its paces, and finds it worthy. One booth we made sure to stop by at while at Macworld Expo was the Eye-Fi one, and Lee has given the namesake Explore wireless SD card a workout. Finally, Chris determines whether or not the PED3 iPhone Stand is a worthwhile replacement for Apple’s iPhone dock.

As usual, ATPM is available in a variety of formats for your convenience. Thanks for reading About This Particular Macintosh!

posted at 12:09 PM in Macintosh
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You can still buy XP

If Windows Vista is giving you fits, you can still buy Windows XP from Amazon. (And put a little coin in my pocket if you use these links.)

Windows XP Home Edition

Windows XP Professional

We used XP Professional on my wife’s PC before it gave up the ghost, and, having used Vista on the Dell we bought to replace it, I sometimes wish we’d stuck with XP Pro.

At least I spend the majority of my time in OS X

posted at 11:59 AM in tech
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Sunday, 01 March 2009

links for 2009-03-01

  • "Who do you talk to most often on Twitter? Who are your closest friends? What does your social network look like?"
    (tags: tools Twitter)
  • "Humor helps preserve our sanity. It provides a medium for gentle reprimand. And it teaches us to take ourselves less seriously. But we must never forget that good humor never diminishes the reality of suffering."

    […]

    "In this world, tragedy temporarily has the upper hand. We cannot pretend that humor can solve our tragic position, but we can learn to laugh even within the pain, if we follow Christ’s example. Christ was joyful, not because He had nothing over which to sorrow, but rather because He knew that He would one day conquer the powers of darkness and make all things right."
posted at 10:03 PM in links
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“One of the all-time enlightened American employers”

Charles Platt, long-time journalist and former senior writer at Wired, went undercover as a Walmart employee, and discovered the company is not as bad as it’s been made out to be:

I found myself reaching an inescapable conclusion. Low wages are not a Wal-Mart problem. They are an industry-wide problem, afflicting all unskilled entry-level jobs, and the reason should be obvious.

In our free-enterprise system, employees are valued largely in terms of what they can do. This is why teenagers fresh out of high school often go to vocational training institutes to become auto mechanics or electricians. They understand a basic principle that seems to elude social commentators, politicians and union organizers. If you want better pay, you need to learn skills that are in demand.

The blunt tools of legislation or union power can force a corporation to pay higher wages, but if employees don’t create an equal amount of additional value, there’s no net gain. All other factors remaining equal, the store will have to charge higher prices for its merchandise, and its competitive position will suffer.

This is Economics 101, but no one wants to believe it, because it tells us that a legislative or unionized quick-fix is not going to work in the long term. If you want people to be wealthier, they have to create additional wealth.

To my mind, the real scandal is not that a large corporation doesn’t pay people more. The scandal is that so many people have so little economic value. Despite (or because of) a free public school system, millions of teenagers enter the work force without marketable skills. So why would anyone expect them to be well paid?

[…]

You have to wonder, then, why the store has such a terrible reputation, and I have to tell you that so far as I can determine, trade unions have done most of the mudslinging. Web sites that serve as a source for negative stories are often affiliated with unions. Walmartwatch.com, for instance, is partnered with the Service Employees International Union; Wakeupwalmart.com is entirely owned by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. For years, now, they’ve campaigned against Wal-Mart, for reasons that may have more to do with money than compassion for the working poor. If more than one million Wal-Mart employees in the United States could be induced to join a union, by my calculation they’d be compelled to pay more than half-billion dollars each year in dues.

Anti-growth activists are the other primary source of anti-Wal-Mart sentiment. In the town where I worked, I was told that activists even opposed a new Barnes & Noble because it was “too big.” If they’re offended by a large bookstore, you can imagine how they feel about a discount retailer.

The argument, of course, is that smaller enterprises cannot compete. My outlook on this is hardcore: I think that many of the “mom-and-pop” stores so beloved by activists don’t deserve to remain in business.

When I first ventured from New York City to the American heartland, I did my best to patronize quaint little places on Main Street and quickly discovered the penalties for doing so. At a small appliance store, I wasn’t allowed to buy a microwave oven on display. I had to place an order and wait a couple of weeks for delivery. At a stationery store where I tried to buy a file cabinet, I found the same problem. Think back, if you are old enough to do so, and you may recall that this is how small-town retailing used to function in the 1960s.

posted at 1:13 PM in business , career , politics
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Strange, isn’t it?

Jeff Jacoby:

SUPPORTERS OF ABORTION RIGHTS bristle at the term “partial-birth abortion,” and sympathetic journalists often make a point of setting it off with scare quotes or injecting a phrase meant to dilute the term’s grisly legitimacy — for example, “a controversial procedure that critics call ‘partial-birth abortion’” (as the Los Angeles Times has put it), or “a ban on so-called ‘partial-birth’ abortion” (to quote Reuters).

But what happens to such fastidiousness when it comes to terms coined by liberals? Terms like “Fairness Doctrine” — an Orwellian label for government stifling of untrammeled political speech over the airwaves. Or like “Employee Free Choice Act,” a benign title for legislation that would deny employees the right to a secret ballot in workplace elections. Strange, isn’t it, how the concern with terminological exactitude kicks in at the appearance of a freighted expression from the right, yet fades into the mist when the language comes from the left?

posted at 10:51 AM in politics , quote
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