Octopodial Chrome

Stuff that Made Sense at the Time

The Personal Weblog of Bob Uhl


Saturday, 31 January 2004

Search and Rescue

Spent awhile playing Search & Rescue. A deuced difficult game, made no simpler by the controls of a helicopter. Nowhere near so easy as one might imagine.

The emacs Paper

An explanation of why emacs exists, notable for the optimism it contains:

The programmable editor is an outstanding opportunity to learn to program! A beginner can see the effect of his simple program on the text he is editing; this feedback is fast and in an easily understood form. Educators have found display programming to be very suited for children experimenting with programming, for just this reason (see LOGO).

Programming editor commands has the additional advantage that a program need not be very large to be tangibly useful in editing. A first project can be very simple. One can thus slide very smoothly from using the editor to edit into learning to program with it.

When large numbers of nontechnical workers are using a programmable editor, they will he tempted constantly to begin programming in the course of their day-to-day lives. This should contribute greatly to computer literacy, especially because many of the people thus exposed will be secretaries taught by society that they are incapable of doing mathematics, and unable to imagine for a moment that they can learn to program. But that won't stop them from learning it if they don't know that it is programming that they are learning! According to Bernard Greenberg, this is already happening with Multics EMACS.

If only computer users had continued to try to use computers, we might not be stuck in the Outlook-worm-ridden universe we currently have.

New Answering Machine

I’ve a new answering machine—so those of y’all who call me will hear a new message; as before, I shan’t record my own message, but will rather take the default.

American Politics

American politicking is…weird.

SCO is a Weapon of Mass Destruction

As netcraft point out so well.

Rammstein Memories

I’ve fond memories of driving my brothers into the Rockies for a Scout trip in my mother’s van, back in high school or college, Rammstein blaring from the speakers at such a volume that the park rangers asked us to shut it off. Sadly, my brothers, poor excuses for men that they are, do not recall my triumph. Beggars.

Taking My Kid Brother Driving

My kid brother Stephen is 17, and still hasn’t gotten his driver’s license. I needed to take him to a Boy Scout event today, so I decided that he would take the wheel and get some hours in (here in Colorado, one needs some large number of hours before getting a license—didn’t have that in my day). So he drove all the way from our folks’ place in Highlands Ranch to the Metropolis of Denver in Glendale.

I sympathise with my parents. Boy, oh boy, do I sympathise with them. I don’t know how they managed to survive my own driving-tutelage.

Not that he’s a bad driver. Indeed, I was rather surprised by how generally decent he was. But there’s something about having a learner at the helm of one’s beloved car. And he still has that habit of sliding the car right (I did the same, once upon a time). Still, no time like the present to learn, right?

Friday, 30 January 2004

Mystery of the Abbey

My friend Shaima sent on a link to Mystery of the Abbey, a game somewhat like monastic Clue, but better—much, much better. I want.

The English Falconer

Saw this tale in Derbyshire’s latest column, told him by a reader:

Terence, a young English falconer who had recently moved to New Mexico, was chattering on about cultural differences between the US and home. I mean, people have guns. Even civilized people, not just rednecks. Even people who look like us… I looked at Libby. Jonathan looked at Roseann. We all looked at Bruce. Then the five of us proceeded to produce from our persons (or handbags if the appropriate sex) five serious guns—Glocks, Smith & Wessons, petite Roseann's Heckler and Koch—and two .22-caliber backups. To which Terence responded, deadpan, forever endearing him to us: I could…get used to this.

I love America.

Thursday, 29 January 2004

It’s Electric!

Well, I managed to destroy my telephone. How, one might ask? By touching it—I’d apparently built up a static electricity charge sufficient to fry its electronics.

This does not bode well for my dating future. I know girls look forward to sparks, but I don’t believe they’re after electrocution…

Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Oldest Tech Manual in English

Apparently Chaucer wrote what is the oldest technical manual in English. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Who am I?

I realised something tonight.

I spent all my boyhood absorbing those wonderful 70s, 80s & 90s college films, wanting so desperately to be in college and living the life that implied. It seemed so fun, so self-serious, so amusing, so mature, so it. While other were being grade-schoolers and high-schoolers, I wanted to be in college. But that was the wrong thing to hope for: I should have enjoyed where I was at the time.

Then I went off to college, and threw it all away. I wore tweed & tie; I smoked a pipe. I was true to myself, instead of being what society demands. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, and I don’t know that I could do it differently. But it was the wrong thing to do: I should have fit in.

Now I’ve been out for nearly as long as I was in, and in many ways I wish I’d a do-over. It’d be nice to get things right, to live it again, knowing what I know now. It’d be nice to live once again in that phase of life where things seem so important but…aren’t, where everything’s serious and nothing matters. But that’s the wrong thing to hope for; I should enjoy where I am now—a place much more pleasant and luxurious than my student days ever could have been.

I have forever felt unhinged in time: born at the wrong time, in the wrong generation, in the wrong country; is it any wonder, then, that I feel that I’m living in the wrong zone? I spent my boyhood wanting to be a man; I rather fear I’ll spend my manhood wanting to be a boy.

Firefly, Again

I watched the last DVD in the series last night. An utterly excellent series: not science fiction for the sake of being sci-fi, but an actual damn-good-series. I’m toying with the idea of sending a set to my dear brother who hates sci-fi (unlike the rest of us, who have our heads securely attached to our shoulders…). It’s a real pity that the networks couldn’t give the show the time it needed. One cannot expect any show to become a hit in 6 episodes: these things take time. How popular was Cheers after its sixth episode? Oh well—I hope that someday the series is properly handled. It’s incredibly good, and I recommend it to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Where’s Judith Steinberg?

For over a year, Gov. Dean’s wife has been known as Judith Steinberg. Now that her husband appears likely to lose the Democratic nomination, suddenly she has become Dr. Judy Dean. Interesting, no?

Monday, 26 January 2004

Eenie-meenie-minie-moe Caused a Seizure?!?!

A woman claimed that hearing a flight attendant say, Eenie meenie minie moe, pick a seat, we gotta go caused a seizure. One can only imagine what hearing a dirty word might have done…

Sunday, 25 January 2004

My Cider Rated Very Good!

My friend Shaima just rang to let me know that she’d opened the bottle of cider I’d given her a few months back—and she liked it much. I figure it must be true, else why bother calling? I’m glad that it was so well-liked.

Max

I’ve been watching Max, a film about Hitler immediately after the Great War. I’d high hopes for it, but unfortunately it displays all the sophistication of a three-year-old at a dinner party. It claims that the National Socialists weren’t socialists (riiight). It portrays Germany c. 1918 as relatively well-off (about as far from the truth as it’s possible to be). There are approximately four hundred quintillion different accents, each purporting to be German (American, British, Eastern European &c). I’m deeply disappointed.

Saturday, 24 January 2004

Happy Birthday, Macintosh!

On the 24th of January 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh; today is that venerable computer’s twentieth birthday. I don’t use it anymore (a GNU/Linux man these days), but the Macintosh was my first real love (although not my first computer: that was a TI 99/4a). It was a remarkably clever little computer, with a lot of great ideas, especially considering the era. I’m not always certain that Apple have stayed true to their roots, but they are doing interesting work.

Florence King on Hillary Clinton

Nobody can be quite so snipishly funny as Florence King, as this piece from 1992, on Hillary Clinton, shows.

Orkut

I saw on SlashDot that Google have created a friend-finder app called Orkut. Curious, I visited it, and what do I see on the very front page? The phrase who [sic] do you know? It should, of course, read whom do you know? I would have expected Google to know better. Thickwits.

Friday, 23 January 2004

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Online

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle—the definitive work of English history—is online at Berkeley, brittania.com, and Project Gutenberg, among others; Georgetown has it in the original English. It’s just about the coolest historical work ever, starting with:

A.D. 1. Octavianus reigned fifty-six winters; and in the forty-second year of his reign Christ was born. Then three astrologers from the east came to worship Christ; and the children in Bethlehem were slain by Herod in persecution of Christ.

And ending with:

A.D. 1154. In this year died the King Stephen; and he was buried where his wife and his son were buried, at Faversham; which monastery they founded. When the king died, then was the earl beyond sea; but no man durst do other than good for the great fear of him. When he came to England, then was he received with great worship, and blessed to king in London on the Sunday before midwinter day. And there held he a full court. The same day that Martin, Abbot of Peterborough, should have gone thither, then sickened he, and died on the fourth day before the nones of January; and the monks, within the day, chose another of themselves, whose name was William de Walteville, a good clerk, and good man, and well beloved of the king, and of all good men. And all the monks buried the abbot with high honours. And soon the newly chosen abbot, and the monks with him, went to Oxford to the king. And the king gave him the abbacy; and he proceeded soon afterwards to Peterborough; where he remained with the abbot, ere he came home. And the king was received with great worship at Peterborough, in full procession. And so he was also at Ramsey, and at Thorney, and at…and at Spalding, and at…

They don’t write history like that anymore. There is a fellow who has been working on a New Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (excerpt: Anno MMIII Hreðmonað: xvii d: Her in æfne Bush foresittend bebad þæt gif Saddâm Hussein ne ga ute of Iraqe in .xliv. stundum ond ealle his suna, will beon guð—On the 17th of March, 2003: Bush ordered that if Saddam Hussein not go out of Iraq in 44 hours [ed. shouldn’t that be 48? and all his suns, there will be war), but the guy thinks that AD goes after the year, which is sad.

The Scandal of the Smoking Settlement

Michael S. Greve deftly tears apart the state smoking settlement. Did you know that the states eliminated common law by fiat in order to sue the tobacco companies? Did you know that the settlement is intended to reimburse the states for expenses never incurred? Did you know that the settlement money has become just another general fund for states?

Four Black Senators

Jay Bryant points out that there have been but four black senators—and only one was a Democrat. Interesting that the Republicans have been thrice as successful at putting blacks into the Senate.

Thursday, 22 January 2004

Some People are Different

And Strong Bad has written a children’s book about it. Funny, as the Strong Bad emails always are.

Infanticide Still Legal

Today marks the 31st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalising infanticide across our nation. More than 40 million have been slain, and it is still legal to kill yet more. But the mass slaughter is slowly abating; one can now look to the future and think that maybe, just maybe, there will one day be a time when the most defenceless members of society will be protected as much as the rest of us are.

Infanticide is something of a paradox. It is the only instance I can think of in which atheism demands stricter standards than does faith. As Libertarians for Life aptly demonstrate, the only rational choice to mark the start of life is conception. And yet we know that the conceptus can divide into two identical twins (or into triplets, or…), and also that a soul cannot be divided in twain; thus it is not impossible for a religious person to believe that ensoulment comes not until division is impossible (an alternative belief is that the two or more souls are created at once, and cohabit the conceptus). Obviously, though, in matters such as defining what is and is not a human being, only the most cautious approach can be taken: far better to be too liberal than too parsimonious.

Hopefully one day this mass murder will be eliminated.

Damn Taxes

Well, I just received my tax notice from Arapahoe County. $708.97, which isn’t all that bad, until one reads the itemised part and notices that $422.06—59 per cent—is for the local school district. Never mind that I have no children. Never mind that I don’t really give a fig for other people’s children. Never mind that even did I have children, they’d be sent to a decent private school: no, I must fork over $35/month so that other people can have their children educated, for some value thereof. Were it not for the thrice-damned school district, I’d only be paying $286.91, which is a much nicer sum.

Damn socialised schooling.

The Czars’s Song to the Siren

Everyone who reads Octopodial Chrome should listen to this song. It’s that good. The Czars are, of course, a Denver band.

Give Me a Break, by John Stossel

As reviewed in the National Review Online, I simply must have this book. It sounds utterly interesting and thought-provoking.

Tea & Steer

Here in Denver we have an extraordinarily high-class hotel known as the Brown Palace. Many presidents have stayed there; Eisenhower even made it his summer headquarters. They are well known for the fabulous Teas. In a nicely amusing Colorado twist, this Friday they will be displaying the ’04 Grand Champion steer during their Afternoon Tea.

Not what one would do in a place like New York City. Yet another reason I love living here.

Wednesday, 21 January 2004

Bush is No Conservative

As Jonah Goldberg points out, Bush is not a very good conservative. Make sure to read the linked-to articles, as well as this explanation of why the Nazis were proper Leftists.

Tuesday, 20 January 2004

City Saddened It Cannot Steal Woman’s Money

South Euclid, Ohio, cannot claim a share of a resident’s lottery winnings, due to its tax code. The CNN header reads that they are suddenly much poorer money—which is complete and unmitigated bullshit: they lost nothing, but simply failed to gain something. It’s not as though that money was the city’s and now is not: it never was, and never will be. Damned selfish governments.

Why Python?

Back in ’00, esr pouinted out why python is such a great language. I love it, myself.

Lee’s Birthday

Yesterday, 19 January, was the birthday of a great American hero, Robert E. Lee. Here’s a quote of his:

Our country demands all our strength, all our energies. To resist the powerful combination now forming against us will require every man at his place. If victorious, we will have everything to hope for in the future. If defeated, nothing will be left for us to live for.

He was a great man—far more so than any of his opponents.

Monday, 19 January 2004

New Stationery

Tonight I picked up my brand-new correspondence cards from Crane & Co. Wonderful, utterly wonderful. The card stock is exactly the right weight, while the envelopes are slightly heavier—which is perfect. My name is engraved across the front; the line on which one folds the note is note embossed but rather cut halfway through the thinness of the note. The fully cotton paper drinks ink from my fountain pen, but doesn’t bleed.

Crane is pricey, but its product is worth every single penny. I’ll never shop elsewhere.

Clark Supported the War

Wesley Clark supported the Iraqi War, as Byron York demonstrates; his current denunciation rings false.

Sunday, 18 January 2004

Tom’s Friends

I was fortunate enough to meet two of my brother’s close friends (Brock & Pete) and many of his friends & acquaintances. They’re uniformly pleasant people, quite friendly and welcoming. I’m not certain whether that’s because they’re in the Navy (or Marines) or because Tom knows how to pick ’em; regardless, I enjoyed meeting them all thoroughly. I really envy the boy: it must be nice to know so many folks so well.

Prepubescent Men

While in lovely Pensacola, I went out with my brother and some of his buddies and their buddies to a pretty cool place called the Seville Quarter—a kind of multiple-joints-in-one affair. I noticed that out East it is almost unheard of for men to wear beards or long hair (out of perhaps 1,500 folks, I counted 6 beards and 4 long-hairs), but instead prefer to look clean-shaven and have hair not an inch in length (a lot of fellows seem to want to look like Vin Diesel, although why one would wish to look like an animal is beyond me); it felt as though I were back in high school again, surrounded by a bunch of mere boys. I don’t understand why a man would want to look like that. Of course, I daresay that they think the same of me—and considering that the gals seem to like the little-boy look, perhaps they’re right. OTOH, who wants a girl who wants a boy-man?

All that said, I’m on the verge of adapting exactly that style I loathe so much. One doesn’t succeed in life by being abnormal. Well, perhaps I’ll keep my beard longer than I will my locks.

Friday, 16 January 2004

Ens. Thomas Uhl is a Pilot

My brother, Ensign TJ Uhl, is now an honest-to-goodness naval aviator. His fiancée—who was unfortunately unable to be here, owing to her deployment—had a special set of solid gold wings made up for him. It was a fun ceremony, and a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, 14 January 2004

Live from Pensacola

I’m writing this in Pensacola (sshed into my host from my brother’s; Unix rocks!), where I will be attending my brother Thomas’s winging ceremonies.

The flights in were little commuter jets—we actually got to walk out on steps. Very cool; I hope that I can do the same for every flight I make in the future. There’s something of a feeling of power & majesty one gets whilst surveying an airfield from the top of a ladder. Loads-o-fun.

The Real Story Behind Spam

The Reg reveals all.

Self-Defence Outlawed?

Hale DeMar shot and wounded a burglar in his home. So why is he facing jail time?

Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Guns Unregulated? Hardly!

As Dave Koppel & Tim Wheeler note, the line that guns are less regulated than teddy bears is a blatant lie. And now a pair of the usual suspects are trying to set up a regime of gun confiscation once again.

Monday, 12 January 2004

Different Worlds

I was reading Stanley Kurtz’s excellent article about the planned Mars mission, which links to Adam Keiper’s New Vision for Nasa, which has this great quote from the new deputy director of the Space Shuttle programme, explaining why he’s buying sociology books and doesn’t wish to return to the NASA culture of the 60s and 70s:

They were dealing with all white males, and there was a lot of in-your-face, militaristic almost [communication]… I’m still a student at this, but if you want to inhibit communication, that’s a good way to do it these days.

Never mind that that in-your-face, militaristic almost culture worked. Idiocy.

The Dangers of Outer Space

Most folks don’t realise how utterly dangerous space is; physician Jerome Groopman writes on the subject. It’s quite fascinating, particularly the bit about how debilitating even the short-distance trips current astronauts take are: they come off the Shuttle staggering and limping, and must be carried in motorised vehicles.

Sunday, 11 January 2004

Latin Abbreviations & Phrases

I’ve compiled a list of Latin abbreviations and phrases. It should come in handy.

Pheasant Hunting (cont.)

In my previous entry about pheasant hunting, I neglected to mention whether or not I was successful in bagging any birds. Unfortunately, I was not; we saw at least one cock (perhaps two) and maybe a half-dozen hens, but were unable to get any good shots off. Still, it was quite fun.

Macbeth Meets Star Wars

Utterly goofy and dumb, with extraordinarily low production values—but fun naetheless. It’s Star Wars Macbeth, a high school production uniting the two classic tales. Now, if only my beloved brother would get around to doing stuff like this with his digital camera…

Saturday, 10 January 2004

Corewars!

Corewars is a game of competing computer programs, each trying to force the other to crash. There are various classes of program: the imp, which just keeps on running and hopes that the other guy crashes himself; the dwarf, which drops little bombs throughout memory, hoping to land one on a running opponent; scanners, which look for the opponent, trying to find & kill him; vampires, which try to run another program’s code. Back in high school, I once had a (briefly) highly-rated vampire.

A Woman’s Christmas

Meghan Cox Gurdon writes on a mother’s joy that Christmas is over, a joy fueled by the fact that apparently Christmas is supposed to be built on her efforts. Well, speaking for myself, I’d be quite happy to forgo all the nonsense, and just celebrate Our Savior’s birth. Call me crazy.

Who Says There are No Linux Games?

Happy Penguin is proof that not only are there Linux games, there are plenty of ’em. Some are a bit on the old-fashioned side, but they’re still great fun (which is what I have always been led to believe is the whole point of a game). Among my favourites are NetHack and LinCity; freciv and xconq are great (I remember playing xconq as a boy at ODU). What’s sad are the great old games no longer supported: games like spellcast and xtank (both more games o’ ODU).

Linux (and Unix in general, I should note: most of them are compilable on any Unix) has plenty of good games—perhaps not as many of the flashes-in-the-pan, but rather games one can spend a lifetime playing.

Pheasant Hunting

Today I exercised man’s rightful dominion over the Earth and all that is in it by hunting pheasants here in Colorado. It was a lot of fun, although I was more than a little sore for several hours. I think that it must be true what folks say, that the mid-to-late twenties are a man’s physical peak, because I know that back in college I’d have been sore well into the next day.

Anyway, hunting is a lot of hard work: essentially pheasant hunting works by walking up and down a field of thick grasses, through the thickest parts; at times it’s like swimming through the stuff. Quite a bit tougher than it sounds, but great exercise. I want to go next weekend…

Friday, 09 January 2004

Dinner & Kids

Tonight had drinks with a friend from work, then afterwards had dinner with him, his wife and their children. It was great meeting her and them, and seeing a fellow I work with among his kids got me to thinking. Way back when, I really wanted children, but it was a kind of theoretical desire: I’d no real experience with actual kids and what they entail. Then as I got older I decided that I was quite happy with my routine as it is, thankyouverymuch. But recently I’ve gotten to thinking that it’d be kinda nice after all, and worth the sacrifices. Seeing this family confirmed many of those thoughts. Sure, kids are a bit of a bother, and sure they’re something of a burden, and sure they’re quite expensive: but it seems to me that they’re worth it, in spades.

Of course, since I have pretty much no luck whatsoever with the fair sex, it’s not as though I’ve any choice about having kids anyway—but at least I do think that it’d be pretty cool.

They’re a nice couple; it’s a pity that I only know them now that they have children. It’d be cool to hang out with them, but the concerns of married parents and single guys rarely coïncide. I know another couple like that: I only got to know them after she was pregnant with their first. It would have been cool to know them before, but now they have a whole other life to lead.

Oh well—maybe someday that’ll be me, Bob Uhl, Dad. Not bloody likely at this rate, though.

Derb on Spears

John Derbyshire writes, brilliantly as ever, on the Spears marriage and what it means for our culture. A great quote: her taste in society could only be worse if she spent her leisure time frolicking among Bonobo chimps. The end is quite amusing, and utterly unexpected from an Episcopalian.

Lord of the Rings Barbie & Ken

This can’t be right. Somehow I can’t see the professor looking kindly on the use of his masterpiece as dolls. Of course, I could be wrong.

OTOH, at least little girls will have a male figure wearing a beard. Perhaps in a few decades men will once again commonly wear that without which a man is no man at all, but instead a little boy: facial hair.

Thursday, 08 January 2004

The Joy of Writing

For Christmas, some friends of my parents—people whom I’ve never met—gave each of us boys a truly wonderful Sheaffer fountain pen. A real one, with a bladder one fills with ink. It’s a truly wonderful thing. Writing is so much fun with it, both normal Roman letters but most especially J.R.R. Tolkien’s Tengwar. I don’t believe that I’ll ever be able to write with even a roller ball again, much less a loathsome ball point. Life is good.

Democrats Want the Felon Vote

It looks as though the antics of Florida weren’t enough for the Democratic party. Now that they’ve claimed the vote of those too infernally stupid to figure out a ballot, they’re trying to pick up the felon vote as well. I think that the Democrats serve as a wonder reminder that yes, it is possible to be worse than the Republicans. The Greens, of course, serve the same purpose for the Democrats.

Wednesday, 07 January 2004

Damn Moderators

The thrice-accursed Slashdot moderators modded down an honest comment as a troll. In answer to the question posed (what is Mac OS X?) I commented:

It’s proprietary software.

That’s my major beef with it: I don’t have the freedom to play with it as I’d like.

There are also minor problems: brain-dead BSD tools rather than nice GNU tools (compare the arguments of touch -d on a GNU/Linux system vs. a BSD system); various oddnesses in setup; old Apache (this may be fixed); somewhat difficult postfix setup (ditto) &c. But the major issue is that Mac OS X is proprietary software. I’m am American—I’m quite attached to freedom.

It’s discouraging to know that there are such bigots around in the world still. Nothing I wrote was false: Mac OS X is proprietary, and that is my major problem with it; it also uses the BSD tools, which are demonstrably inferior to the GNU equivalents; it is oddly-arranged; it does (or did) use an old and inferior version of Apache; it is (or was) very painful to get postfix running on it. But the thickwits didn’t care for any of that: they down-moderated because they disliked the truth.

Tuesday, 06 January 2004

Pickled Lemons & Limes

Tonight I made pickled lemons & limes (I’d a large number left from my party back in August, and even a fridge as cool as mine cannot make food last forever). Essentially, one takes the fruit, cuts in nearly in half, then jars it up along with salt, pepper and saffron, then adds juice (preferably fresh-squeezed) until covered, then lets sit for three to four weeks. Which means that I’ve a good time left to go until I can sample the wares. I’m looking forward to it, though.

Reasons for Liking Tolkien

One Jenny Turner has written Reasons for Liking Tolkien, an essay which shifts about curiously. On the one hand the author has an obvious liking for the books; on the other she calls them the Franklin Mint collectible of English literature. She’s also a fan of Philip Pullman’s utterly foul and evil His Dark Materials series; also, there are some quite disturbing (and rather incorrect) bits. Overall, though, it’s a good read, and quite interesting.

What’s Your Quenya Name?

Quenya, of course, was the High Elven Tolkien devised for his Middle Earth. It’s a remarkably mellifluous tongue, inspired by Finnish and, I believe, Welsh. Quenya Lapseparma has a long list of names translated into High Elven by examining what the name means (yes, Virginia, real names actually mean something). For example, my name means Bright-fame Manly Owl (utterly ridiculous—it puts those silly aboriginal names into perspective), which turns into Alcarcalimo Vëon Huon. My buddy Phil’s becomes Roccondil (or Melarocco) Olwon Ulmo; my brother Thomas becomes Onono Eruntano (or Eruantano, or Uviteru, or Alteru) Huon. Pretty slick, I think.

A Decade in Denver

Sunday marked the tenth anniversary of my arrival in Denver. I still remember arriving at old Stapleton; the snow on the ground; Dad explaining that here one vents the car to the outside to let the dry air defog the windows &c. For the first few years I hated the place, then went off to college only to return upon graduation. Now I absolutely love it: there’s nowhere else—with the possible exception of Oregon—that I’d rather be. I love Colorado: great beer; great weather; great food; great music and great people.

Monday, 05 January 2004

Things that Make You Go Hmmm…

Walter E. Williams writes about miscellaneous oddities. Among them:

  • Why is it alright for you & I to shop around for the lowest price on pears,but wrong for corporations to shop around for the lowest price on labour?
  • If insurance companies charge higher rates for cigarette smokers, who have a life expectancy shorter by 3–7 years than non-smokers, why don’t they do the same for homosexuals, whose median age of death is 42 (for everything but AIDS)?
  • How could a man be awarded $1,750,000 and a Winnebago for not realising that cruise control is not an autopilot?

Things that make one think.

Wealth is Good

Thomas Sewell writes cogently on the importance of wealth, as illustrated by the differing death tolls of two earthquakes: one in California with single-digit deaths and one in Iran with tens of thousands. He also mentions the interesting fact that race makes less of a difference than does marital status when it comes to such phenomena as education, crime, poverty and infant mortality. A worthwhile article.

Diner’s Club

I used to have a corporate Diner’s Club card (fortunately, we got rid of them and now use American Express like sane people), and for the past two years they have owed me $2.98. Every month they would send a notice informing me that I was owed my two dollars & 98¢, and that if I did not incur further charges then a refund cheque would be sent within seven months. And for two years I never received a cheque.

Well, today I did. Woo-hoo. Or something like that.

Sunday, 04 January 2004

Tolkien’s Birthday

Yesterday would have been J.R.R. Tolkien’s eleventy-second (112th) birthday; in honour thereof a group of Tolkien fans gathered downtown last night to celebrate. I’d a great time, but I discovered something truly disturbing: I’m a Tolkien geek’s geek. Somehow I was the only person there who knew the Tengwar from memory, and my command of trivia was deemed impressive. I’m quite upset, to tell the truth. I really need to get out more.

Thursday, 01 January 2004

Goldberg on Jews & War

Back in March Jonah Goldberg offered a nice critique of the Jews-are-pushing-for-war school. I should note that I am by no means a supporter of the state of Israel—I tend to think that the would have been far, far better had it never been created—but his points are well-made: Jews are in general no more monolithic a group than any other.

Give the West Some Credit

Victor Davis Hanson notes that the West has been doing an awfully good job lately. Our critics should note that, while imperfect, we’re a damned sight better than anyone else. Other than some pro-Israeli boosterism, it’s a good piece.

New Year’s & Times Square

Will someone please explain to me why it is that the entire rest of the continent is supposed to be thrilled to watch a bunch of Yankees cavorting in Times Square? Why it is that the residents of the other 49 states are treated to images of someone else’s party? It’s utterly ridiculous.

As an aside, there are two news tickers in Times Square: one for actual news, and one for sports. The sports one scrolls significantly slower. The reason is left as an exercise for the reader.


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