I didn’t accomplish much this weekend, but I did manage to get my butt in a saddle for the first time since early April. Brian finally showed up and shod Arthur on Tuesday, when I wasn’t around to pay him. The MayFest Horse Trials seemed like a good time to track him down and settle up, and catch up with some friends who would be competing. So I headed to the Horse Park Saturday morning with a checkbook, cooler, and camera. I found Brian, who took a cold beer but declined any monetary compensation for his work because he had delayed it so long. So in order to keep the trip from being a total waste, I wandered around and snapped a few random pictures and finished off the beer before heading home to try out Arthur’s new shoes.
Have you heard that name before? I hadn’t either, until I received a copy of Naomi Klein’s article comparing Rachel Corrie to another blonde American hero, Jessica Lynch. Ms. Klein tells the story so well that I can’t add anything to it. But I felt compelled to mention it here since the US government and their puppets in commercial media obviously aren’t going to give it much attention.
Aside from the fact that driving a BMW is an easy way to proclaim to the world “I’m an asshole!” there’s a tangible reason not to want one (even if I could afford it). The new ones are controlled by Microsoft Windows CE, as glowingly described in a Microsoft press release. Anybody knows this is just asking for trouble, as learned the hard way by Thailand’s finance minister and his chauffeur. Considering the somewhat primitive recovery technique, I suppose it’s a good thing the car windows weren’t any more bulletproof than the MS Windows.
Is it a big deal if the clock on a bank’s automated teller machine is three minutes off? It is a big deal if that timestamp is used as evidence in a murder investigation. An Arizona Star article tells the story of two teenagers and a mother falsely arrested for murder, and hauled from Arizona to Maryland to face charges, because of a three-minute discrepancy between an ATM clock and a surveillance camera clock. They were eventually released, but, as an example of the kind of government abuse and arrogance that I discussed yesterday, no government or law-enforcement officials saw any need to apologize or pay for their trip back home. They probably didn’t even get a free 2-liter bottle of Coke, in spite of being subjected to an ordeal far worse than I endured for my free Coke.
I made a quick stop at Walmart yesterday (no comments, Mel!) to pick up some pictures of friends and neighbors that I took at Rolex. It was the first time I had experimented with the process of having prints made from my Nikon 5700 and I was curious to see what kind of quality I could get. I also wanted to pick up a couple of 250 MB Zip disks to replace the aging 100MB ones I use to transport large files between work and home, in the absence of broadband availability in Tatertown.
A recent Wired article about the innovative and improvisational information technology in the Iraq war brought a new military expression to my attention. Lima Lima Mike Foxtrot. I’m going to be mean and make you read the article to find out what it means. It’s kind of catchy, but a little awkward for normal use, unlike another of my military favorites, snafu (situation normal, all fucked up).
While I have mixed feelings about innovations that make it easier to kill people, the article is nevertheless interesting reading. It provides examples of many of the common management problems, not just in the military sector, but the private sector as well. Decisions being made by the clueless upper ranks without sufficient input from the informed peons (leading to Lima Lima Mike Foxtrot). Decision makers so overawed by glitzy new technology that they overlook simple problems. Etc etc.
I haven’t been able to produce much new content here recently, so the Kucinich presidential campaign was nice enough to drop some in my lap, in a recent email about his recent ranking by union members at a candidates’ forum in Iowa. When I first received it, it was not yet on their website, so I had planned to copy it here with no pangs of guilt about plagiarism, since they asked me to circulate it to my friends, relatives, and co-workers. I notice that it’s on the site now, so I’ll just refer you to the link above, but I might as well throw in some comments.
In a perfect example of clueless politicians and CEO’s, a New York Times article reports that workers in an Omaha factory will lose a day’s pay when the plant closes for a speech by President Bush, telling them how they’re going to be helped by tax cuts for their rich owners. This doesn’t seem to bother either Dubya or the company CEO, Brad Crosby. I guess Dubya’s head has been so swelled by the press ooohing and aahhing over his Top Gun shenanigans that he honestly believes any American would gladly sacrifice a day’s pay to bask in his presence. And Mr. Crosby has probably attended so many expensive Republican fund-raisers that he thinks his employees are getting a bargain by sacrificing only a day’s pay. The article reports that 300 hourly employees are affected; considering the average gap between CEO’s and employees today, a day’s pay for 300 employees is probably less than a day’s pay for Mr. Crosby. The article says that Mr. Crosby told Associated Press that he had not spoken to any employees who were unhappy. Very clever wording .. he didn’t say there were no unhappy employees, he just hasn’t spoken to them. And if they don’t like it, they can eat cake.
After almost 10 days of either not having time to add anything here, or not having anything worth writing about, I finally grabbed a couple of minutes for a quick Microsoft bashing (below). And it didn’t work; the story disappeared into a black hole somewhere. After first blaming myself or my browser, and trying unsuccessfully with different browsers, I finally decided to blame my web hosting service. They had a major meltdown last week. A hard-drive crash on a server took down a bunch of sites (including this one) for at least 8 hours. And a week later, some small problems still haven’t been fixed. After a couple of hours debugging, and several unanswered messages to their support department, I managed to find the problem and program around it. Troubleshooting is always fun when the real source of the problem is beyond my control and the responsible parties are too lazy or clueless to fix it. Well, considering their prices, I guess I can’t complain .. you get what you pay for.
Considering Microsoft’s overall record for quality and reliability, it’s not really surprising to read a New York Times article reporting that “Microsoft acknowledged a security flaw Thursday in its popular Internet Passport service that left 200 million consumer accounts vulnerable to hackers and thieves”. It’s not even really surprising that Microsoft couldn’t find a hole that only took a customer four minutes to find after his account was repeatedly hacked. But I guess I’m still not cynical enough, because I have to admit that I was surprised that there are actually 200 million people stupid enough to think it’s a good idea to trust Microsoft with their personal financial information. I think that would even surprise P.T Barnum.
The good news is that the maximum fine could theoretically be 2.2 trillion dollars. That might pay for Dubya’s tax cuts and wars, and even start to rebuild the surplus that he inherited from Clinton and promptly pissed away