Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nominations for the Darwin Award

1) Several of the Local Police:
Apparently one local policeman has a blog on mySpace. He and his buddies posted discussions of arrests they'd made (including names and photos of those arrested in a couple of cases), derogatory remarks about gays and the disabled, and comments about the city government (their employers) that were less than complimentary. They also posted pictures of their badges and cruisers. It was only a matter of time until someone in power found out about the web site...

2) The State Legislature:
For two bills they voted on this session. The first, which was passed, allows for the sale of anti-abortion tags (car license plates). Rationale for passing this: it will save lives. The second, which they overwhelmingly voted against, was for a primary seat belt law. That would have allowed the police to pull you over and ticket you for not wearing a seat belt (right now they can only ticket you for that if you're pulled over for another reason). Rationale for not passing this: erosion of civil liberties...


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

To laptop or not to laptop...

That is the question. My current PowerBook is getting old. It still runs fine, but is a little slow and it is only a matter of time before the hardware begins to break down. And I have money in a grant to buy a new computer for work that I should spend this year...

It will be a Mac. I've always been a Mac person and that isn't about to change. Besides, based on what I've read about Microsoft's to-be-released-sometime-in-the-distant-future Vista OS, I can't imagine why anyone would want to stay with them. I don't want to buy into a very-soon-to-be obsolete technology, so the G4-based iBooks are out. That leaves the dual-core Intel-based MacBook Pro. Adopting Intel CPU's was perhaps the smartest thing Apple has ever done. Well, second smartest after the iPod. Okay, third - Mac OS X has to be the second. But there are two issues with the MacBook Pro.

1) It's a brand new architecture (at least for Apple).
They've only been shipping for a couple of months. I'm always loath to be an early adopter of new computer stuff. Hardware or software. I prefer to let others debug the system first. Although the very few issues I've heard about with the MacBook Pro appear to be minor, and Apple has fixed them rapidly, it's really too early to tell if there will be more major issues... And most software isn't as yet native. Sure, they will run using Apple's Rosetta emulator, but native is better and who knows what kinds of issues will arise as software is converted...

2) The name MacBook Pro really, really sucks.
I mean, really sucks. What were they thinking? They had this nice little two-line thing going. The iBooks and the PowerBooks. The iBooks for your iWorld. The PowerBooks for the "power users" (not that I consider myself one of those). The whole iThing has worked well for Apple. iBooks. iMacs. iPods. And the PowerThing too. You had PowerBooks and PowerMacs (the desktops). And you could imagine at some point Apple developing a new version of the iPod with a fancy 12" fold-out color LCD screen for watching movies. They would call it the PowerPod...

Who in their right mind is going to buy a MacPod Pro? Sounds like some kind of invasive medical device. Especially if you mispronounce it MacProd Po...

Monday, March 27, 2006

And now for something completely different...

Well, different to the post I just submitted...

I had Baked Alaska for the first time last week. Made me wonder who first thought of putting ice cream inside meringue and baking it. I mean, this is not something that is likely to have happened by accident...

"Chef Bigponce! I accidentally tripped and dropped the meringue batter on your ice cream sculpture! The one built on top of the sponge cake!"

"You dolt! And the French ambassador is waiting for that meringue! What should I do?????..... I've got it! I'll bake the meringue on top of the ice-cream!"

"But Chef Bigponce, won't that result in a melted, soggy, inedible mess?"

"Of course it will! Remember, this is for the French ambassador. Those garlic-smelling, frog-eating cowards don't support the War on Terror! They deserve nothing more than a melted, soggy, inedible mess for dessert!"

Brief pause while baking

"Good grief Chef Bigponce, it's not a melted, soggy, inedible mess!"

"Drat those French!"

Okay, it's the end of the day. Obviously I'm losing it. Time to go home...

Fighting Terrorism 101

Apparently this is how you do it...

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the men and women of the US military. I just have my doubts about their leaders...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Shuffle blather

I've been listening to my iPod on the shuffle setting the last couple of days. Here's the artists from the first 10 songs I heard on shuffle:

The Cranberries, The Cranberries, Natalie Cole, The Cranberries, Hunters and Collectors, Eric Clapton, BB King, Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton

Doesn't seem so random. I really don't have that many Cranberries and Eric Clapton songs on the iPod. In fact, the odds of getting three Cranberries and three Eric Clapton songs in the first ten work out to be about one chance in 115,000,000... Given the number of U2 songs currently on my iPod, it's actually more likely that I would get ten U2 songs in a row.

Am I a geek or what?

By the way, the Eric Clapton/BB King/Elvis Costello set (songs six through eight) were Cocaine/Let The Good Times Roll/Clubland. "Intelligent shuffle" perhaps?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Solution to the energy problem!

I think I have a way to cure this country's gas-guzzling addition. Just find a way to harness the energy expended as a result of this guy's bigoted, ignorant big fat mouth.

And to think people actually listen to him...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Not so random ponderings

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Just not too much to say recently... Here's some not so random thoughts to tide you over until my next epiphany.

It's Spring Break here at Big State U. That means no students for a week. As I walked onto campus this morning a crushed empty beer carton tumbled by blown by the wind. Seemed somehow apropos.

I read a little article on the BBC News web site last week about a woman in Ireland who was in court because she had been caught by a camera used to detect speeders. She wasn't speeding. In fact she was driving well under the speed limit. The problem? She was putting on makeup. One hand was holding a mirror and the other was applying eyeliner or something. Pop quiz: how many hands were on the steering wheel? Her lawyer was arguing that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that a few days after she had been photographed driving sans hands she had been caught driving drunk and had lost her license anyway...

The above reminded me of a couple of things. Last year the state legislature here failed to pass a bill making driving while using a cell phone illegal (using a "hands-free" headset would have been okay under the proposed law). One of the most outspoken opponents of the bill argued that she put on her makeup every morning while driving down the highway to the State Capitol and that if she could manage that, people should be quite capable of using a cell phone while driving... Remind me to stay off that highway in the morning.

It's illegal in this state to drive while not wearing a seat belt. However, you can't be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. You can only be charged if you're pulled over for some other reason like speeding. The state legislature recently turned down a bill that would let the police pull you over for not wearing a seat belt (ie for breaking the law). The reason they turned it down? It infringes on people's civil liberties...

The mayor here recently proposed installing cameras at intersections with traffic lights. You know, those cameras that take pictures of people going through red lights. The council turned down the proposal on the grounds it was too "Big Brother is watching you"...

So here we are in a country where the President and his cronies can listen in on your phone conversations and read your private emails, but God forbid we use cameras to catch people who are breaking the law and putting other people's lives in danger. Or we enforce seat belt laws that not only save lives, but also vast amounts of money (think about how much it costs society to deal with an accident with injuries or fatalities). Those would be invasions of privacy. Erosion of civil liberties.

Is it 2008 yet?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ponderings with a sore back

Somehow I managed to put out my back yesterday while putting together furniture at work. Yes, faculty get to do that. I could have got the Big State U physical plant people to put the stuff together, but they would charge me more than the furniture itself cost, would take six months and would get it wrong. Anyway, here I am at home today resting my sore back. This all leads to the following ponderings:

My wife and children, while laughing heartily at my predicament, told me I'm walking around like an old man (a result of my sore back). So now I know what it's like to walk around like an old man. You look down a lot. I guess that means you have a much higher chance of finding money or other small valuable items dropped by others. Not that it does you any good. Apparently old men can't bend down to pick that stuff up. Interestingly going up stairs is easier than going down. I would have thought it would be the other way around. So old men dislike stairs not because they can't climb them, but more because they're afraid they'll get upstairs and not be able to come down. It would be rather embarrassing to have to call the fire department to rescue an old man stuck on the second floor. And old men can't sit for too long for fear their backs will lock up. They also can't stand for too long because it hurts. No wonder so many of the poor buggers are grumpy.

On a completely unrelated note... I read in the newspaper yesterday that President Bush's approval rating is at it's lowest point ever - 34%. Which leads me to ask, what are those 34% thinking?

I fear I have sat too long. I'd better go stand and ponder how I'm going to pick up that quarter I spotted last night on the floor in our bedroom upstairs. And then I'll devote my efforts to figuring out how to get back down stairs again.