Sunday, August 29, 2004
Report on testicle waxing from Montreal.
The Sex or Something Else quiz during which you see a picture of a face and try to guess whether the person is having sex or doing something else...a short 16 photos.
An open directory of high quality desktop wallpapers featuring pin-up girl drawings.
Ghorbanifar, referred to above is Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. He"...is a storied figure who played a key role in embroiling the Reagan administration in the Iran-Contra affair."
According to The American Street, Rumsfeld and Bush are already dodging questions on the issue.
Want to read more bloggers from the RNC? Here's a site that aggregates their reports.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Friday, August 27, 2004
The sound of the rain beating the pavement - some rhythmic trance music
that my rational mind finds too complex, but my hips groove to in
The sound of the wind flowing through the trees, wrapping around the
house like a present from nature
Hot oil from the frying pan, steam from the food canner, both lifting
the essence of the late summer bounty to my nose and teasing me with
the good flavors to come
The last sigh of my lover after orgasm, her heart still beating hard -
a sigh that breathily means content and 'I want more' all in the same
tone, confusing my heart and making my cock ache for more
Bands from France, Belgium, America, Canada, Japan, India, and a
variety of African nations filling my hips with joy and an
understanding of the true universal language that shares variety and
The sound of my voice breathing in/out while I meditate on
nothingness, bringing peace to the world, one soul (mine) at a time
The sound of beans snapping as I prepare a meal
The sounds of cats meowing, wanting attention or, at least, a little
nip - either will do
The sound of hiking boots squishing in mud, which, if the mud is thick
enough, sounds oddly reminscent of a heart being massaged on ER
Right now, though? The sound of keys tapping away as I reply to your
message as well as Tuxedomoon's new album, "Cabin in the Sky".
"Our beloved land has been fogged with fear—fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich."
Go Garrison, go.
"July 20, 2004 - Press ReleaseDETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asked the Michigan Supreme Court today to hear a case of a Catholic man who was criminally punished for not completing a Pentacostal drug rehabilitation program. His request to be transferred to another program was denied and he was sentenced to six months in jail and boot camp."
The whole article goes on to explain how a judge sentenced this man to a drug program that was totally faith based. It offered no secular therapy and described the man's religion as "witchcraft". Faith based initiatives are a bit like the drug war: they corrupt both parties. In the instance of the drug war, users and dealers are made to be criminals while the state is corrupted as they carry out both illegal acts under the guise of catching criminals as well as bribes as criminals will use them to get their products into the country. Faith based initiatives corrupt the government (in this case, in the form of a judge) as well as the religion. Pat Robertson actually made the latter argument, pointing out that no money from government comes without strings attached and it would only be a matter of time before the government steps in and demands that religious organizations receiving such funds would be required to meet government work rules and secular laws.
Thanks to Archie, for bringing this to my attention.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
I was happy about this last but as the Windows Internet Firewall is not as good as the Zone Alarm software. Zone Alarm, in preparation for SP2, sent out an update to their software a month ago. Symantec sent out their update last week and sent out another update on Tuesday. Both seemed to have worked well for me.
Honestly, I haven't seen any differences or encountered any problems. I use Firefox as my browser and continue to plan on that until, or if, Microsoft brings out a fixed and better version of IE. My main mail outlet is Outlook. I have used Outlook Express, but only for surfing newsgroups, so I haven't seen the updates in that function. Adobe PhotoShop Elements 2.0 worked just fine as well.
So far, so good. I'll be checking some registry settings and some of my spyware detection software later today and tomorrow and will report any problems I encounter.
I was taking the day off from posting as I'm busy canning green beans and making a basalmic reduction as well as trying to come up with some sort of Mexican themed dinner (as Shawn has requested) that uses up some of our produce on hand, but this was too good to pass up.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
So, what about the virtual guy? Will these be marketed solely to straight people? Will the user be able to determine features? Attitude? Clothes? What will this teach potential young users about the nature of relationships?
Hey, I'm actually sympathetic to the concept of allowing people to buy their prescriptions from countries that have health standards at or near our own levels. Most people won't do it because it would take too long to get the prescriptions and their health plans probably wouldn't cover it.
Still, the real issue is the structure of our medical system. First of all, I argue that our medical system must be considered a matter of national defense. We should have some national standards. I'd save the drug companies money tomorrow by refusing to let them advertise on television and print media unless that prime demographic for that media was the same primary care physician why would prescribe the substance (in other words, professional journals). More of the money spent on establishing new drugs is spent on advertising it rather than R & D.
I'd also pass laws that would greatly punish drug companies from delaying the introduction of generics after the 7 years that they are allowed exclusivity to the drug under current law. In other words, making a slight modification to the claritin formula would not allow the company to prevent a generic firm to manufacture and market that drug. Not to let the generic firms off of the hook: they would be required to make the exact same dosage as the drug they are replacing (this is not always the case).
We also seriously need to take a look at Health Insurance. The industry cries about reforms to malpractice, but that is not the flaw in the system. No special amnesty should be provided that makes a group immune from our legal system. That's just not the democratic rule of law we aspire towards. Instead, there must be other ways to cut costs in the system and to train physicians better so that we're not faced with the suits in the first place. Is a National Health Care system the way to go? In my opinion, yes, but I know that there will be a great push back against that. Should we try to find a middle ground as a first step? Absolutely and I think that first middle step might look at pharmaceutical profits here rather than importing drugs from our friends to the north.
Now, having said that, there are some caveats to SP2. First of all, while IE has a new popup blocking feature and it does manage downloads better, it is still not a terribly secure browser platform. You are better off going with Firefox or Opera as they are safer browsing platforms. In fact, ZDNet and other organizations have already reported on a new browser flaw found in IE that works despite SP2.
Secondly, SP2 automatically turns on the Windows Internet Firewall. The WIF is enhanced and can be managed with the new Windows Security Center console. For those of us who already have firewalls, this is not going to be an issue. If you have Zone Alarm, McAffee, or any number of other products, you already have a better firewall that the Windows one (even better than the enhanced one) plus you are probably familiar with how to operate and control a firewall. For those of us that do not have a firewall, well, shame on you, but this will greatly improve your security. If you have troubles with a program after installing SP2, then this is the first place to look for a fix. I suggest you read this article and the associated links in the upper right hand of the page on how to adjust your firewall settings.
Third, XP SP2 updates Outlook Express to bring it's security settings up to par with Outlook 2003. In other words, anti-spam technology is added along with functionality that prevents the automatic downloading of images from a web server. By downloading images automatically from a web server, you open yourself up to potential security hazards as well as spam tracking. Finally, Outlook Express now blocks unsafe attachments from reaching your PC unless you tell it that you want that attachment. So, for people who automatically clicked on attachments that ended in, say, ".exe" without checking the source of the email and despite numerous warnings about doing such things (such as the person who was VP of my former company), this will prevent you from infecting yourself as well as others so easily.
Fourth, SP2 comes with an update of Windows Media Player Beta 10 (this was news to me, but a friend of mine got it). This is not a major update to the player right now, but there will be some cool things coming to it when the release becomes official.
Home users are at less of a risk for adding SP2 because they are less likely to encounter problems with program compatibility and such problems are less likely to be "mission critical" (in other words, they can take the time to track down any such problems).
Users of business applications that have been modified for their internal networks or are system criticial should test their networks and their applications before applying the service pack. The apocalyptic warnings given to business users regarding SP2 are ridiculous. IT people should test all service packs before installing them on critical systems and, in that regard, SP2 is no different than a patch to any other software in your organization.
Monday, August 23, 2004
We had several pounds of beans in the fridge. There were purple, green, and yellow wax beans. I had made a green bean casserole (making my own thyme infused roux instead of using canned mushroom soup) and a Persian Pilaf with Lime and Green Beans by Madhur Jaffrey. Both turned out very well. Wax beans being so hard to come by in stores, I saved them out. Shawn put them to goo use on Saturday by making a 4 bean salad (one of my favorites for using these summer beans).
For my part, I put together a green bean pate that came from Renee Shephard's Kitchen Garden book. Along with left overs, we ate these dishes, watched Julia Child on videos Shawn brought back from the library, and I enjoyed some 1998 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon (not an ideal pairing, I realize, but one I enjoyed).
Sunday, I woke to find that Shawn was not in bed with me. I'm the morning person and it was only 4:30, so I was surprised. Shawn was up at the computer organizing photos she had taken a while back. She had not been able to sleep and had been up since 3 AM. It's probably needless to point this out, but she went back to bed later in the morning (about 6:30) and didn't rise again until 9:30. By this time I had watched a little bit of Washington Journal on CSPAN and BookTV on CSPAN2. When she got up I was watching the Olympics and had read most of the paper.
Shawn made a simple, but tasty breakfast. WHile she was doing that, I got the distinct impression that she wanted me to assist with using up more of the garden produce. She swears she didn't say, "Why don't you get off your ass and help out", but that is what I heard. *smile*I made some refrigerator ginger-cinamon-basil pickles from Renee Shepard's book. Another 4 cucumbers done! Only 15 more to go...*sigh*
We went to one of Shawn's classmate's house for an early afternoon dinner. Another classmate and his wife were there, too. The hostess doesn't cook and she confided that this was only the third time since she had moved to the house 2.5 years ago that she had invited people over for dinner. Her husband and her son were away for the day - probably expecting disaster. As it turned out, she made a very nice dinner. Basically, she served some tortilla chips and all of the fixings for taco salads. The diners just assembled what they wanted on their plates. It was quite tasty and light. There was a great deal of good conversation that flowed easily and it wasn't all about their grad school courses. After about 4.5 hours (and a heavy chocolate melt dessert), the party broke up. Carl and Kris (the hostess) enjoyed our gift samplings of our green bean pate and we also unloaded 5 of the lemon cucumbers on them! Only 11 more to go...plus more to pick this week...*sigh*
When we got home, Shawn had a phone message from a former co-worker who is moving to back to Wisconsin. As I checked my email, I heard Shawn volunteer me to assist her friend in moving a futon, it's frame, plus a regular mattress frame this morning. I smiled while listening to the convo. We took a walk after the call was over and Shawn filled me in on the details. When we came home, we finished off the evening by watching FoodTV's tribute to Julia Child.
Paul Krugman on Florida's flawed electronic voting machines.
Jim Hightower reports that the League of Women's Voters want a return to paper balloting.
The NY Times editorial board reports that some states are refusing to count provisional ballots (those cast when the person voting can't make it back to his/her assigned voting place).
An article in The Nation on insecure electronic voting systems and how they could be used to steal an election (long, but good).
Some might say, looking at the links above (most of which require you to register with the NY Times), that liberals are on message for once. Some might think that this is inevitable given the last election and how it was hashed out. I would argue that it's in the best interests of everyone in the country - Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, et al - to make certain that we get accurate vote counts and that everyone is encouraged to vote. After all, each election year brings politicians out who lament the lack of participation in the electoral process. Both parties have played a hand over the years in suppressing the vote. Simple changes like changing the day people vote or extending the days to an entire weekend, absentee balloting, making it easier to establish third parties and allow them into debates, open primaries, and such could easily be enacted and would expand the number of people who want to vote. In some cases the major parties have actually fought those concepts. In Washington, for instance, they have fought (and won) against our open primary system (a very popular system, I might add - I actually participated in every primary since moving here which I could not say the same for Michigan). When are people going to get angry enough to demand an end to this?
Saturday, August 21, 2004
We watched a video on Julia Child's shows last night. It was a retrospective of her career. We're going to watch more over the weekend. Shawn rented the videos from the library. She's planning on a potluck dinner next week during which several people will share memories, food, and videos of Julia Child.
"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." - Julia Child
While I'm on the subject, I also recommend WillaKenzie Estates and DeLille. The former makes some great Pinot Noirs in Oregon. The latter is one of Washington's best wineries and they focus of blends similar to those from Burgundy.
The flaw affects the latest version of Internet Explorer running on Windows XP, even after the latest major update--known as Service Pack 2--is applied. An attacker using the flaw could install a program on a victim's computer after convincing the person to visit a malicious Web site and click on a graphic.
The attacker's program would be placed in the Windows startup folder and would run the next time the user restarted the computer. The security researcher who discovered the flaw, known by the online nickname "http-equiv," posted an example to show the power of the flaw.
"If you look at the Web page, all you see are two red lines and an image; drag the image across the two lines and drop it," he said. "What you have actually done is drop (a program) into your startup folder. Next time you switch the computer on it runs the program."
Security information company Secunia believes the program that takes advantage of the issue could be simplified to only require a single click from the user. Secunia rated the flaw as "highly critical," its second-highest rating of vulnerability threats.
Microsoft said the issue did not pose a serious risk to users because it requires an attacker to trick people into visiting a Web site and taking some action at the site.
"Given the significant amount of user action required to execute an attack, Microsoft does not consider this to be a high risk for customers," a company representative said, adding that the software giant's security experts are continuing to research the issue."
Thursday, August 12, 2004
"You would not believe how many recreational handcuffs I have seen in property rooms at airports around the country. I don't want to single out J.F.K., but the ones I've seen there were lined in everything from suede to fake fur." —Mark Hatfield Jr., director of communications and public information, Transportation Security Administration
I'd also recommend Spybot Search and Destroy. It's also free. Running both tools will help keep you covered. They tend to compliment each other well with some overlaps.
Finally, I'd add Spyware Blaster to the mix as well. It locks down IE and Firefox (the latter is my preferred browser), so that you don't get spyware in the first place. Again, it's not 100%, but at least it helps out.
From the article: "Yet if we are to evolve on the issue of race, the notion that you, or someone else, is racist ought to function as the beginning of the attainment of full humanity, not the proof that you've relinquished it. Realizing with each incident that I was operating from a no-longer-quite-subconscious script about race allowed me to recognize, and then confront, the hateful notions I have internalized about blacks. Worse, it allowed me to see that having experienced racism had helped turn me into one: It turns out that I have a problem with whites, too."
"...it is amazing, if you look at some of the ways they are willing to change policy, not in fundamental ways, but in ways that help them politically. If you read closely the reporting from Iraq, what’s pretty clear is that our army has been told to basically cede control of large swaths of the country to the insurgents in order to hold the casualty figures down until November."
Now, I tend to pay for my music, videos, and software. Artists and developers should be able to make a living off of the work they produce. Yes, I know the arguments about copyrights and how the mainstream music industry does not pay it's artists properly. What annoys me is twofold. First, the industries have been slow to recognize that with increasing access speeds on the internet, they need to change their business models and they have been unwilling to do so (recently there's been chatter about the music industry already plotting for higher prices on download tunes as well as attempting to make them scarce by exclusive rights contracts with suppliers). Secondly, it annoys me that businesses are attempting to indoctrinate children to obey the law with this cute game and website and that they do so by using the scare tactics of pornography when appealing to parents and teachers on the site.
Should parents and teachers take the time to teach their children how to surf the net safe from pornography? Probably. Should they install filters that assist in ensuring that? Probably. Should class time be wasted teaching kids to obey copyright laws? No.
Canning 6 quarts takes about an hour and a half from start to finish, so I don't know if I'll have the time to get to the plums. Plus, we're supposed to reach 85 today and that makes for a very hot kitchen! In fact, I should be attending to that rather than posting on the blog. Ah, procrastination, I know thee well.