30 November 2006 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

Yes, there is a Union League.

Reaction here.

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30 November 2006 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

So, Windows Vista has “translucency.”

Sorta like this? (KDE 3.4.2 running on Slackware Linux 10.2) (That’s XMMS over Opera over my wallpaper.)

Linux Translucency

Old Technology.

And check out Ubuntu with Beryl. (Thanks to Opie for the link.)

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30 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

As amply reported, Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki chose not to meet with the current Federal Administrator yesterday.

But al-Maliki’s insistence on not attending the three-way meeting with Bush and Jordan’s king was a troubling sign of possible U.S. difficulties ahead in the effort to calm Iraq.

(snip)

Al-Maliki’s refusal to meet with Bush while Jordan’s king was in attendance showed a level of mistrust toward his Sunni-dominated neighbors that could bode ill for the U.S. strategy.

The leader of your own puppet government, who maintains office only through the force of your arms and resides in your “Green Zone,” stands you up.

The current Federal Administrator invaded Iraq and remade the USA into a paper tiger.

Paper Tiger

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Now that my youngest has left home, equipped with his own computer, I’ve been slowly removing some of his apps from the “family” (that is, the one he plays games on when he visits) computer.

On of the apps was iTunes (don’t know why, he doesn’t have an iPod).

Today, I was using the Registry Fixer from my Favorite Windows Utility Suite.

It was unable to remove iTunes keys from the registry.

I opened up regedit and found that those keys were installed with NO PERMISSIONS ALLOWED. Not even the Administrator had rights to the keys. I had to manually (well, as manual as anything including a keyboard can be) change the permissions. And, on two of them, I was unable to change the permissions at all.

Apple Stinks

Those keys are still there cluttering up my computer.

This is not right.

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29 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

I made this up last night:

Ingredients:

    3/4 lb. beef (top round or flank steak)
    1/2 tsp. salt
    pepper to taste
    garlic powder or pressed fresh garlic to taste
    1 cp. bourbon (may substitute Cabernet Sauvignon)
    1 tbs. Gourmet Garden Basil Herb Blend* or equivalent basil
    water
    1 to 2 tbs flour.

Slice beef into thin (1/4″) strips and place in bowl or pan large enough to allow the beef to form one layer.

Prepare marinade: Mix salt, pepper, basil, garlic, and 1/2 cp. bourbon. Add enough water so that marinade will be sufficient to cover beef.

Pour marinade on beef and stir well to coat beef. Refrigerate, the longer the better. Turn beef halfway through.

When ready to cook, remove beef from refidgerator and reserve marinade.

Cook beef slowly in a skillet over low to medium heat (allow 10 to 15 mins., depending on degree of doneness desired), turning once.

Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in sauce pan and heat to simmer. Add remainder of bourbon and reduce. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired.

Thicken marinade with flour.

Place beef in serving dish and cover with marinade.

Serve with rice or lightly buttered (no margarine–margarine is evil) noodles.

Serves two.

______________

*I would never buy anything like this, but it was in the house.

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29 November 2006 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

I have a long running, intermittent conversation with one of my friends about separation of Church and State and how, exactly, to draw the line.

My two or three regular readers know that I am adamant that the State should not prescribe nor endorse any religion; furthermore, history makes it very clear that the United States of America was not founded as a Christian nation.

Indeed, the fourth amendment is explicit: the government may neither endorse nor restrict religion (though I suspect that certain more outre practices, such as, to choose an absurd example, human sacrifice, would not be protected):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

There can be no argument that a public school teacher’s leading a prayer or, in a devotional context, reading a Bible verse is “establishment of religion.”

Whether or not a Christmas tree in the public square or Christmas lights on the streetlamps is “establishment of religion” is, so far as I am concerned, murkier. It looks more like recognition of the religious roots of the Christmas holiday. Attempts to legislate on such issues gets into the murky area of divining the intent of those who mount the tree, the lights, or the nativity scene. The Supreme Court’s rulings have been similarly murky on such issues.

That murkiness has left lower courts with no real guidance on this issue, so, if when some true (dis)believer sues a municipality on such a display, the lower courts are apt to rule just about any way. Fear of litigation therefore leads to really stupid actions, such as this one, which amount to trying to deny the obvious, that Christmas, underneath all the hype, a birthday celebration.

Monday’s Radio Times investigated this topic, amongothers, regarding the place of Christianity in public life. From their website:

A call for social justice activism among Christians. We talk with TONY CAMPOLO whose newest book is Letters to a Young Evangelical: Art of Mentoring. Campolo is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania. He is also an ordained minister, having served American Baptist Churches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and presently serves as associate pastor of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia.

You can listen here (Realplayer).

Even though the government is enjoined from establishing religion, the individual is unrestricted in exercising it (subject to issues of the public peace), which leads to the question, what happens in the voting booth? In other words, in the public square, how do we reconcile the actions of the believer, which arguably will be informed by his or her faith, with the responsibility to respect the free exercise of other believers of other faiths and sub-faiths.

In the comment to the post to which I linked at the beginning of this article (here’s the link again), Opie quite correctly pointed out that, throughout this country’s history, religious persons have acted to change public policy from motives founded in their faith and asks rhetorically

Should we evangelicals not vote? Should we vote, but only by his morals and not our own? Should we be disenfranchised?

The challenge warrants an answer. Not my answer, for it is a challenge to all Americans to grapple with the place of religious belief in secular public life. (And, of course, the answer is “No” to all three questions.)

But it leads me to explore the issue–what are the boundaries of separation of church and state in be political arena, particular for voters?

I resolve the question for myself–for no one else–for myself with the following guidelines. The musings below are written from a Christian perspective, because that is my perspective. I welcome others’ thoughts:

To vote for someone or to support a policy that is intended to advance a religion along the way of being “established,” that recognized by the state as either the de facto or de jure“official” religion, violates the social contract that the Constitution of the United States embodies. It directly counters the will of the Founders and is, in the truest since, unAmerican.

That overrides any other guidelines.

Also unAmerican is refusing to consider (note that I did not say “support”) persons or policies unless they receive the imprimatur of certain religious groups. This goes dangerously far to applying a religious test to public policy, which is also banned in the Constitution.

Voting for a candidate because you agree with his or her public policy positions for whatever reason, including religious conviction, is okay. Sincere religious belief will infuse all the actions of the believer and cannot be compartmentalized.

Claims that God is on someone’s side is grounds for suspicion. Believers attempt to be on God’s side, but do not boast of it. Consider Matthew 6: 5-6:

5: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

A corollary to this is that those who “pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets“–those who make a show of their piety–should be viewed with suspicion.

Unfortunately for those of us who favor hard analysis, much of this comes down to the attitudes and motivations of the individuals as they act politically.

But we do not have access to attitudes and motivations. There is no little window in the backs of our heads in which others can peer to see what’s actually going on in there.

We have access only to actions and deeds, and from them must infer the attitudes and motivations that underly them.

Footnote: I find Andrew Sullivan’s coinage to label those who are “trying to bully their way around the political world” intriguing. I would not use it, but I find it intriguing.

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27 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

On the Media explores myths about the recent election:

Election-night graphics had barely faded from TV screens before the media rushed in to explain what the vote meant. One narrative was that the Republican base turned against its party because it felt betrayed. Another was that the electorate was registering its disgust with the war. But Time.com Washington editor Ana Marie Cox tells Bob that many of those explanations are, in fact, myths.

Listen here (Realplayer).

I’ll link to the transcript when it’s posted.

Addendum, 11/29/2006

Here’s the transcript.

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27 November 2006 · 5 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

Fool.

Money.

Parted Disjoined.

Sheesh.

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I spent a good part of today decorating my computers for Christmas, with the help of the Keramic Christmas color scheme, KDE Christmas wallpapers and Splash Screens (there was this one, also), and Judy and Jerry’s Place for Winamp (Windows) and XMMS (Linux) skins.

With two Linux computers and one Windows computer, it kept me off the street for a couple of hours.

The only problem I ran into was finding a Christmas/Winter screensaver for Linux/KDE–any suggestions are welcome. Here’s the computer I’m working playing at right now:

Desktop Decorations

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26 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

From the Cato Institute:

The government’s annual accounting of hunger in America reported no hunger in its last outing. Instead, it found “food insecurity.”

Likewise, no one is even considering retreating from Iraq. “Redeploying” the heck out of there is, however, an option.

In Washington, words are a moving target that conceal at least as much as they reveal. Doublespeak runs through the discourse on Iraq, terrorism and domestic matters to a point where it’s hard to tell what is going on.

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26 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

. . . is only a game, dammit:

James Walter Quick, 42, has been charged with murder in the shooting of Richard Allen Johnson, 43, authorities said. Johnson died from a single shot to the chest, according to a preliminary autopsy Sunday.

The two had bet $20 on the game, with Quick betting on game-winner South Carolina and Johnson for Clemson, Lexington County Sheriff James Metts said. They drank beer all afternoon and watched the game Saturday at Johnson’s home, and began arguing about the bet after the game.

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26 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

A mayoral election looms in Philadelphia, and the comments area of a local blog has become a battleground:

The Web site is called Young Philly Politics, but for much of the last month it has been the setting for an online food fight between some old Philadelphia politicians.

In one corner: City Councilman Jim Kenney, who began blogging on the liberal Web site last month.

In the other: Kenney foes, including cement masons’ union leader Mike Fera and several anonymous posters who the site’s founder says logged on via the Internet address of the city’s electricians’ union.

Note that John Dougherty, of the Philly IBEW, is rumored to fancy himself as mayor, or, at least, as a power broker.

Now, I do not live in Philly.

Then, I did not live in Philly, either.

But I have lived in the Greater Philadelphia Co-Prosperity Sphere since 1983 and worked in Center City for 12 years (Q. How do you know someone is not from Philadelphia? A. He says “downtown”) and have come really to like Philly–it is a great city, and, as I was telling Phillybits a while ago, I’m much more oriented to Philadelphia than to Wilmington.

(Ask me what cities I love: Washington, D. C.; Boston; Chicago.)

So, where was I headed? Oh! it must say something about the import of the internet that a blog has become a site for mayoral hopefuls to slug it out with each other.

What does it say?

I don’t know, but something. Especially when it makes The Paper.

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26 November 2006 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized

Headline in today’s Local Rag in a story about fall and winter women’s fashions:

Rise of the Dress.

Me: (Obvious straight line ignored.)

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26 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

From the Local Rag, excellent reporting, fascinating reading: International police work takes down an internet pharmacy supplier.

Here.

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26 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

A number of the supporters of the Iraq War suggested that the effort would pay for itself. For a long list of quotations, with citations, go here

Looks like they were right, though not in the way they intended (emphasis added):

The Iraq insurgency has become financially self-sustaining, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.

According to a classified United States government report, a copy of which was obtained by the newspaper, groups responsible for many of the insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising an estimated $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities.

These folks should never have been allowed to play with guns.

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26 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Hot shopping in the Philadelphia area:

A small fire yesterday on the second level of the Willow Grove Park mall in Abington forced the evacuation of at least 6,000 shoppers and employees during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The two-alarm fire erupted about 3 p.m. in a dressing room of a clothing store called Forever 21, said Ken Clark, Abington’s fire marshal. The store, which sells “club fashions” to a young crowd, is next to Gap Kids and across from Ann Taylor.

In other news, I decorated my Christmas tree yesterday. It’s not very symmetrical, but it’s a real tree (and the tallest Christmas tree in the neighborhood). Two hours on a ladder reminds me I’m getting old.

Christmas lights

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24 November 2006 · 7 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

I guess they didn’t see this.

The family that was celebrating Thanksgiving had permission from their neighbors, who were out of town, to either use the carport or use the vacant house, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Randall Lee said. Because of the inclement weather, a member of the family set up the turkey fryer under the neighbor’s carport, then went back inside while it warmed up.

“They left it on too long, and it’s just like leaving a pot on a stove,” in that it will burn down or boil over, Lee said.

The family heard the explosion, looked outside and saw the neighbors’ carport on fire.

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24 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Must listen: today’s Radio Times, Part 1:

Tune in for a rebroadcast of Marty’s interview with journalist LAWRENCE WRIGHT author of the book “Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.”

Mr. Wright posits, among other things, that one of the goals of the 9/11 attack was to suck the United States into a war in Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda envisioned that the US would be slowly bled the death as the Soviet Union had been in the 1980s. Of course, Afghanistan turned into the cakewalk that Ken Adelman so misguidedly thought Iraq was going to be (a prediction he would no doubt recant had it not been witnessed by so many persons).

So then the US went into Iraq, no threat to the US, based on a fanciful froth of lies, and, guess what? is slowly bleeding to death, the way the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan.

Listen here.

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23 November 2006 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

I read about this column and couldn’t figure out to deal with someone who is living so far in the past (kind of like those folks who characterize political opponents as “Commies”).

Susie says it well.

Addendum, 11/26/06:

Karen points out the third link was a repeat of the first one. I’ve pointed it to Susie’s blog, but it seems to be down right now, so I can’t link to the specific post yet.

(Later) Fixed.

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23 November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It’s been a particularly interesting week in the local rag. Some interesting reading that I’ve been saving up:

Ethical investing in Norway.

Fear of flying; love of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving honored; Thanksgiving dishonored.

Wired.

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