Playing three card monte with our war budget

Jennifer Smith at Runesmith’s Canadian Content is one of those bloggers I should make an effort to read more often. She’s trying to raise awareness that the Tories in power have declared, just two days before the parliament breaks for the summer, that they can’t release the figures for the war in Afghanistan due to “security concerns”. Seriously. We’ve been knee-deep in this war since 2003, and the numbers have been released every year prior. Do these numbers somehow magically give the enemy some form of comfort? What is Harper trying to pull here?

Lose the CD library, fellow troubleshooters!

One thing I have always hated about being an IT guy is being expected to have CDs on hand for a million pieces of software (Microsoft, especially!), to be ready for any occasion when called on to do some bit of troubleshooting. Partly because CDs are bulky and there’s too damn many of them to have to lug around “just in case”, but mostly because CDs are way too fragile a media to have to rely upon when you’re expected to keep 150+ computers operational. As always, I have a fix for this.

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Leggo my warp nacelleggo

Today’s been mostly about food, as is appropriate for many people’s Fathers Day celebrations. While I’m not a father, I’m certainly a foodie. My tastes run along the lines of the “common folk” though, my version of a good food day involves homemade mac and cheese with real old cheddar, and a lovely beef stew for supper (which, while slightly singed on the bottom due to not having a proper stewing pot, turned out to be easily the best stew I’ve made in recent memory — even without dumplings!).

But what we had for breakfast is still the highlight of my day, if not for taste, at least for humour.

StarTreggo's!  Click to embiggen

StarTreggo's! Click to embiggen

That’s right, kids! Do you love Star Trek? Do you love Eggo Waffles? Well now you can consume the head of your favorite Star Trek character for breakfast! Catholics take note, this is how you symbolically eat the flesh of your favorite fictional character: use edible dyes to imprint their visage on your tasteless cardboard-like food product. Transsubstantiate THIS! And for those of you who prefer to eat inanimate fictional objects like the Enterprise or a Klingon logo (ow, pointy!), don’t worry, you won’t be left out!

Here’s some more detail.

19-year-old Chekov in his new curly-haired incarnation, plus a Romulan logo

19-year-old Chekov in his new curly-haired incarnation, plus a Romulan logo

The new Uhura sure doesn't take a very flattering photeggograph, does she?

The new Uhura sure doesn't take a very flattering photeggograph, does she?

Happy Father’s Day

I called my father to wish him a happy Father’s Day but just missed him — he had been called off to fight a fire underground. The ornery bugger is, on top of being a miner, a draegerman — basically, a combination fireman and paramedic trained specifically to deal with mine rescue operations. He in fact was heavily involved in rescue operations at the Westray disaster. At 49, he’s starting to break down a bit, with arthritis and such, but he’s still kicking.

He and my stepmother are going to come down and visit sometime in August, which will be a nice change of pace from the usual, having to visit him myself. Plus I get to show off what meager life Jodi and I have managed to carve out. Though, so help me, if he asks Jodi to get pregnant again, I may have to kick him out early.

Anyway, apropos of the day, here’s a geeky video.

Woo-peddling? In MY province??

I need to do something about this.  I need to do something, and I don’t know what else to do, so I’m going to start off by blogging.

A few days ago, in amongst the three inches thick bundle of flyers that we get regularly, was included a small business promotion flyer called the Apple Valley Scoop. It’s an eight page long magazine full of advertisements for local businesses, with a few “articles” written oftentimes by the purveyors of the particular business. By virtue of the respectable veneer of being marketed as a magazine, people are more likely to read it, I guess.

It's not all good, Dad... It's not all good at all!

It's not all good, Dad... It's not all good at all!

When I first saw this, I thought, “Huh. Another example of advertisement being forced to trick people into reading their stuff, by confusing actual content with what they want to peddle.” We’ve all seen it before — full-page ads in magazines claiming to be an article about a product, with the only clue being the word “advertisement” written in 4-point font somewhere in the margins. So the tactic isn’t unfamiliar or anything, nor was this case particularly repulsive to me.

That is, until I read the shameless bit of self-promotion article on the front page, and remembered that scam artists can make use of pay-to-play setups like this just as easily as legitimate businesses.

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The smoking gun that came in the form of a chicken

Dana Blakenhorn was at a convention in Taiwan, and after noticing only one device preinstalled with Linux in the whole show, cracked the Asus / Windows / Linux story wide open with one simple question: “what happened to all the Linux?”

“In our association we operate as a consortium, like the open source consortium. They want to promote open source and Linux. But if you begin from the PC you are afraid of Microsoft. They try to go to the smart phone or PDA to start again.”

Blakenhorn framed it as a chicken-and-egg problem where not only does the chicken come first, but the chicken is owned by Microsoft.

View the whole Netbook maneno in light of this admission, and you have a pretty good idea what happened to the Linux. PJ at Groklaw realized this is the smoking gun, and I agree with her 100%. It’s truly sad that Microsoft is so afraid of proper competition that they have to shoot the other horse in the starting gate.

Pickles has new nature photos up

My Close Personal Friend(tm) Jason Pickles has just put up a bunch of new nature photos on his space at JPG Magazine from his vacation last week. Go check out the new gallery. I’m sure you’ll find a dozen worth saving, or turning into posters or postcards or coffee cups or t-shirts or tattoos or LOLcat captions or whatever you crazy people do with pictures on the intertubes.

Civility in the public eye

Another of the big net fooforaws going on lately has been whether or not the “New Atheists” are being civil enough in debating against religion, e.g. by suggesting that science does actually contradict religion. Folks like Chris Mooney may be okay with atheists getting all warm and squishy about science and religion coexisting, but not every religious person is okay with the idea of people being secular and living quiet, private lives outside of the sphere of influence of their chosen religion.

The “New Atheists” are atheists who are unafraid to discuss religion and have shed their fear of doing so with others when confronted, much like the “militant gays” are simply gay people who no longer feel it necessary to hide their homosexuality. There are no “New Atheists”. There are only atheists who are out of the closet.

And being out of the closet means we can now counter ridiculous billboards like the following (click them to get where I found them):

attentionlunaticatheists

killer_atheists

Billboard_smaller

With ads like this:

billboard

imaginenoreligionbillboard (This one actually got replaced with a sign from the sign company saying “In God We Trust” and “The previous sign posted at this location does not reflect the values or morals of our company”, by the way)

Now I ask you, who’s being uncivil?

I wish I had more hours in the day. There’s so much that needs to be blogged about!

The stigma of sex

Ktbug LadyDid (what an adorable pseudonym!) muses on the stigma of sex and on how great it is when ambiguity and coyness can be left by the wayside once in a while. This ambiguity is not unique to the States; it’s pretty common throughout most of mankind, anywhere that there’s a patriarchy that puts a premium on males “spreading their seed” and females being pure and chaste until a virile male takes them for procreation. Excellent read, and well worth directing what little traffic I get toward it.

“Get the Facts that We Invent”

This just in: Microsoft hires either comedians or Baghdad Bob to run their IE8: Get the facts campaign. They actually have the temerity to list IE8 as the most secure out of the choices of IE, Firefox and Chrome. What, because it greys part of the address bar? And Compatibility! They say they’re the most compatible on the web! IE, the prime driver of web developer frustrations since its inception! Just because you’re more compatible with the code out on the net that had to be intentionally broken to work with your older versions, doesn’t mean you’re the “most compatible browser”. It means only that you’ve successfully broken most of the web to work with you and you alone!

What’s even better is they claim to be “as customizable” as both browsers.

Sure, Firefox may win in sheer number of add-ons, but many of the customizations you’d want to download for Firefox are already a part of Internet Explorer 8 – right out of the box.

Yeah, because jamming a bunch of things that SHOULD only be add-ons — like web slices or accelerators — down people’s throats means it’s customizable. And they left the check in “customizable” under Chrome, despite its lack of extensions support. Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.

I agree that Firefox needs to get its ass in gear and put together tab isolation, though this will increase the amount of RAM that Firefox uses significantly. IE8 and Chrome both chew up RAM like it’s ribbon candy when you open as many tabs as I do generally. But that’s a small price to pay to keep your whole session from going to crap when one bad Javascript code starts running an infinite recursion or tries to spawn a never-ending series of popups (which end up never getting spawned anyway, because of Firefox’s superior blocking capabilities).

My sides ache.

If you want to throw some extensions into Firefox to make it do anything that IE and Chrome can do (save for tab isolation), check this site out. Lots of great pointers as to what extensions duplicate what features.