iPod: You hurt me.

N'Gai Croal's The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized:
And now, after four iPod-less months, I'm ready to patch things up. I know I can change. I know it can change. We can make this work. I feel like a sucker with no self-esteem trying to rationalize getting back into an abusive relationship. But I'm gonna do it anyway. I'm getting another iPod, dammit, and I'm not even gonna consider the other digital music devices out there. I've made up my mind. I wish I knew how to quit you, iPod. And when you hurt me again, I'll know it's just your way of saying 'I love you.'

Experience the 2007 Microsoft Office system - Products - Microsoft Office Online

Experience the 2007 Microsoft Office system - Products - Microsoft Office Online

You can download a 60 day trial version that supposedly won't clobber your existing Office setup, or you can try it out in your browser!

I tried the browser version. After saying yes to a million download warnings, it was up and slowly running.

I think it might be better to download the one that actually runs on your PC.


Dumb or dumber?

Variety.com - The maverick mogul:
For one thing, 'The Last Mimzy,' the movie directed by the curmudgeonly Shaye, is a children's film, the last thing industry colleagues expected. Shaye's mood, which often can be downright cranky (emphasis added), was collegial throughout the evening.

I met Bob Shaye in 1994 - just before Dumb and Dumber was to come out. Bill Block and I went to see him at New Line's LA offices about participating with us in an interactive venture.

The first thing out of Bob's mouth was, "Hey look, it's Dumb and Dumber."


Congress, the Constitution and War: The Limits on Presidential Power - New York Times

Congress, the Constitution and War: The Limits on Presidential Power - New York Times:
But the Constitution also gives Congress an array of war powers, including the power to “declare war,” “raise and support armies” and “make rules concerning captures on land and water.” By “declare war,” the Constitution’s framers did not mean merely firing off a starting gun. In the 18th century, war declarations were often limited in scope — European powers might fight a naval battle in the Americas, for example, but not battle on their own continent. In giving Congress the power to declare war, the Constitution gives it authority to make decisions about a war’s scope and duration.

The Founders, including James Madison, who is often called “the father of the Constitution,” fully expected Congress to use these powers to rein in the commander in chief. “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it,” Madison cautioned. “It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.”

George Bush, who considers himself an authority on the constitution, just makes shit up. He's such a baby. "I'm the president, and I can do whatever I want."

You can read The Accidental Candidate for details on how little effort George Bush spends thinking about anything.

It's frightening.


GameSpy's Game of the Year 2006

Gamespy's PC MMORPG of the Year -- Guild Wars Nightfall:
In broader terms, Guild Wars is extremely close to being our favorite MMO ever due to its enlightened approach to the genre. The attention that ArenaNet pays to the game's PvP experience would be embraced by the industry at large in a perfect world, and its ability to offer such a stellar product without charging a monthly subscription is nothing short of revolutionary.


DirectSong Unlocked

I noticed there is a new version of the ds_GuildWars.dll file, which is a program that integrates additional Guild Wars music available from DirectSong right into the game. I did a quick test and this new version will play any MP3 file you throw at it. All you need to do is edit the GuildWars.ds file and change the filenames listed to MP3 files on your computer. The files need to be copied into the DirectSong folder or a sub-folder though (at least I think so - maybe a full path works).

Not sure why they changed it but it sure is a cool feature. I set "O Fortuna" as the opening title music which was quite fun.

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


The Rigidity of George Bush

If Bush does indeed carry dyslexic traits, why would this be important? It shapes one's whole life. According to professionals in the field, the brain structure related to dyslexia is laid down within the first few weeks of gestation. 'The wiring is so deep, you can alter it, but you can't change the root structure,' says West. A lot of dyslexics develop rigidity, needing the comfort of following a known path.

Everyone needs to read this article. It was written before Bush was president by Gail Sheehy who wrote the groundbreaking book Passages. It explains in so much detail why Bush simply will never admit he is wrong. (This Washington Post article tells how Bush never considered anything other than the 'surge'.)

Bush's inability to process information has been joked about for years. But apparently it's a real problem and we're all getting screwed because of it. George Bush isn't mentally competent to be the President of the United States. He doesn't see shades of gray because he can't mentally see shades of gray. He is physically incapable of changing his mind without a mental breakdown. The people around him know this and feed him little tidbits of information to keep him happy - and those tidbits obviously are spun to support whatever crazy initiative that person wants to press.

People have wondered how it is that Bush couldn't see through Rumsfeld - how he couldn't really hear that things were going south in Baghdad when it was obvious to 60% of the country. The reason is that he is spoon fed his information and that information has been diluted down to uselessness.

After you read this article, you'll see that video of Bush staring vaguely into space during the Katrina briefing in a whole new light.

For years now we've heard that "everyone had the same intelligence" on Iraq but this isn't true. Bush - actually his cronies, working around Bush's inability to process information - cherry-picked the intelligence data they wanted and spoon fed it to Bush, who could only hear what was already in his head.

Seriously - all of you congress-people - it's time you neutered Bush. This is a political problem and you're all great politicians. Get it fixed.



WP: Resolute Bush held to Iraq plan - washingtonpost.com Highlights - MSNBC.com:
'The guy who is most committed to winning and finding a way to win is the president. He always has been; he's the only reason we are still in this fight,' said Frederick W. Kagan, a military historian at the American Enterprise Institute whose advice to send more troops has been closely monitored by senior administration policymakers.

Kagan is apparently our new war architect. He is the author of the Choosing Victory position paper I referred to earlier. Wolfowitz out, Kagan in. But they are basically just two different bozos pressed out of the same neocon stamping machine.

This whole neocon business of invading Iraq on the cheap and perhaps even making money off the oil revenues is just nuts.

Someone needs to categorize the American Enterprise Institute as some kind of funny farm, a modern day Cuckoo's Nest.


A New Way To Fail

If you're curious where Bush gets his ideas, then simply visit the American Enterprise Institute.

You can read his "surge" proposal by the original authors. The title of the paper is "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq."

I like this:
Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.

"An acceptable level of effort." WTF does that mean?

I wish these conservative dudes would make up their mind whether we are engaged in "the decisive battle of the new century" or whether Iraq is something Bush "worries about sometimes."


The Amazing Win2K/XP Command Shell For Loop

Compared to a Unix shell, Windows/DOS "for" loops are lame. But Microsoft has slowly hacked in all kinds of crazy and impossible to remember options which makes the "for" loops increasingly useful at the cost of some legibility.

Here is a very good and concise summary of the many strange and wonderful things one can do with the Win2K/XP Command Shell For Loops.

Here's another nice XP for loop page.

Rolling Stone : The Worst President in History?

Rolling Stone : The Worst President in History?:
Flashback: Bush in '99 -- We Warned You!

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

From the "We Warned You" link:
But questions linger about Bush. Is it enough that the only political post he's held is governor of Texas -- a state whose constitution renders its governor a virtual figurehead with no real power? Will he be hurt by the wishy-washy stands he's taken on abortion, hate-crime legislation and Kosovo? Will he be sunk by persistent rumors of illegal drug use and carousing in his past? When one examines the fullness of his life -- and for this article, Rolling Stone interviewed some 100 people who know Bush -- a more disturbing problem emerges. What Bush is saying now, with its overtones of evangelical Christianity and a moral one-upmanship, has almost nothing to do with the way he has actually lived most of his life. Is Bush being hypocritical? Or is he, as his supporters claim, a man who has recognized the error of his ways -- the one politician who can point the country in the right moral direction?

Gail Sheehy wrote in 2000 (originally published in Vanity Fair magazine):
Another fast friend, Roland Betts, acknowledges that it is the same in tennis. In November 1992, Bush and Betts were in Santa Fe to host a dinner party, but they had just enough time for one set of doubles. The former Yale classmates were on opposite sides of the net. "There was only one problem—my side won the first set," recalls Betts. "O.K., then we're going two out of three," Bush decreed. Bush's side takes the next set. But Betts's side is winning the third set when it starts to snow. Hard, fat flakes. The catering truck pulls up. But Bush won't let anybody quit. "He's pissed. George runs his mouth constantly," says Betts indulgently. "He's making fun of your last shot, mocking you, needling you, goading you—he never shuts up!" They continued to play tennis through a driving snowstorm.

"George would say, 'Play that one over,' or 'I wasn't quite ready,'" says Bush-family friend Bo Polk Jr.

It is something of an in-joke with Bush's friends and family. "In reality we all know who won, but George wants to go further to see what happens," says an old family friend, venture capitalist and former MGM chairman Louis "Bo" Polk Jr. "George would say, ‘Play that one over,' or ‘I wasn't quite ready.' The overtimes are what's fun, so you make your own. When you go that extra mile or that extra point ... you go to a whole new level."

Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, and a solid despiser of Bush, wrote in this month's editor's letter in VF, in reference to the Sheehy article above:
Inasmuch as I am writing this before Christmas, any sort of prediction is a dicey proposition, but my guess is that Bush will double-down on Iraq. He has lost, but his past would indicate that he will figure that he can have another chance if he can just keep the game going a littler longer.

Like the Dixie Chicks, I'm embarrassed by Bush. His utter contempt for reality bothers me quite a bit. His surge plan is doomed to failure because the government of Iraq is in the pocket of Muatada al Sadr, whose control is so complete he was able to control the execution of Saddam Hussein - his followers taunting Hussein and shouting Sadr's name.

Sadr's army, estimated at 60,000 strong, has the hometown advantage. If the American troops are coming, he knows in advance, and can either ambush them, or run away, or both.

We have suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq and emboldened our enemies, who view us as a paper tiger now. Bush, who I believe is a 'false Christian', merely courting the religious right so he can garner votes, has used his charisma and power to sell us out, isolate us, weaken us, and divide us.

It's only a matter of time before we start hearing the equivalent of "Peace with Honor." Unlike Rolling Stone, I don't believe another terrorist attack would cause the American people to rally around Bush. Au contraire, the American people will be royally pissed, as Bush would have sold out our civil liberties with nothing to show for it.

Our only advantage is that the terrorists take a long time to plan their attacks - that gives us time to find them. If we're lucky, we'll get a new administration in time, who will put the anti-terrorism effort where it belongs, in intelligence gathering, better global surveillance technology, and better communications scanning equipment.

Bush, who only listens to "a higher father", or more likely, the sounds of random neurons firing in his brain, is clearly incompetent to do much of anything except cut taxes. He's a spoiled rich kid that wants to get his way. And that's not going to happen this time.

We can no longer let Bush try to change the rules of the game. The rules are that we are a nation of laws and that we endeavor to treat all people with respect - even people we want to kill! Even people in prison! Even enemy soldiers!

One reason our armed forces are weaker is because of the 20,000 people wounded who have not been returned to service. These people are the 'boots on the ground' who do the real fighting. Something like 80% of the troops in Iraq are support personnel - so of our 130,000 troops, only 26,000 can carry out the fight. Almost half of our deployable fighting force is off-line - maimed.

Bush would sacrifice the rest of our fighting force so he can leave the admission of defeat to the next President. What Bush calls leadership is just ego and pigheadedness. He has made the strategic blunder of all time by invading Iraq without an exit plan, or an occupation plan, or ... well, any plan whatsoever.

Psychologically, I don't know how you 'break' a sociopath like Bush; normally one would devise some kind of intervention. I guess that's what I would like the Republican leaders to do - sit down with Bush, secretly, and tell him he's lost, and that they will do whatever it takes to remove the final vestiges of public support for him.

Someone needs to get him to stop. The sooner the better.


Lost returns in February.

You can watch Lost Moments 1-9 in order with this YouTube video:

Lost Moments 1-9

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Technology - Old and New

Mona Lisa Reproduction

(Click for bigger picture.)

Ah, the Mona Lisa. We saw the actual Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre in Paris. Our guide said it's not a very good painting but had a certain amount of notoriety because it had been stolen a couple of times. Now it is behind bullet proof glass.

This picture was taken at an exhibit at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

© 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Tax Cuts Offer Most for Very Rich, Study Says - New York Times

Tax Cuts Offer Most for Very Rich, Study Says - New York Times:
The report shows that a comparatively small number of very wealthy households account for a very big share of total tax payments, and their share increased in the first four years after Mr. Bush’s tax cuts.

The top 1 percent of income earners paid about 36.7 percent of federal income taxes and 25.3 percent of all federal taxes in 2004. The top 20 percent of income earners paid 67.1 percent of all federal taxes, up from 66.1 percent in 2000, according to the budget office.

By contrast, families in the bottom 40 percent of income earners, those with incomes below $36,300, typically paid no federal income tax and received money back from the government. That so-called negative income tax stemmed mainly from the earned-income tax credit, a program that benefits low-income parents who are employed.

Put another way: rich families were the undisputed winners from President Bush’s tax cuts, but people in the bottom half of the earnings scale were not paying much in taxes anyway.

The main article is about how the tax cuts benefited the very rich ... but it's not until you get to the final few paragraphs that you learn that nearly half of Americans pay little or no income tax, while the top 1% pays over 1/3 of all of the taxes collected by the federal government.

I got one!

In March 2005, I wrote:

Random Blts: 2005/03 - 2005/03:
I think Microsoft needs to make Windows Server 2003 Home Edition. Of course, they should call it Windows Server 2005 Home Media Server.

and at CES Bill Gates announced:

Bill Gates Unveils Windows Home Server at the 2007 CES
In his keynote address Sunday at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates unveiled Microsoft's plans for an innovative consumer software product available later this year: Windows Home Server.

Yes, indeed, that was a fine idea.


Google Answer to Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm - New York Times

Google Answer to Filling Jobs Is an Algorithm - New York Times:
When all this was completed, Dr. Carlisle set about analyzing the two million data points the survey collected. Among the first results was confirmation that Google’s obsession with academic performance was not always correlated with success at the company.

I'm not sure school correlates with anything anymore.


When I'm Feeling Blue, I Can Always Go To My Undisclosed Location | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

When I'm Feeling Blue, I Can Always Go To My Undisclosed Location, by Dick Cheney | The Onion - America's Finest News Source:
I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have my undisclosed location. I think I'd go crazy. When life gets to be too much and you really want to mull things over, it's good to have a place beneath 500 feet of solid rock where you can be alone in Secret Service-protected peace and quiet.