Thursday, April 1, 2004

Googlewhacking Off

Heh. Is Google really smart or really dumb for announcing a new service on April Fool's Day? The folks over there are maintaining that Gmail is an actual service offering. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (hah!) to figure out that the Googlunaplex is a fake. Actually, I wish I'd come across the job page first—It's much more entertaining. The Gmail thing would have been a pretty lame hoax, in my opinion.

Oh! Oh! And you've got to see how awful people are at spelling Britney Spears

Posted by mike at 04:54 PM | Internet | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, April 2, 2004

The Destroyer of Worlds

You may have already seen news reports discussing Rwanda. The common news practice of remembering anniversaries of major events—especially ones with round numbers—is repeating itself. Ten years ago, there was a fragile peace in the tiny central African country, an area a little bit smaller than Massachusetts in size. Fighting had taken place between the two main ethnic groups in the country, the Hutu and Tutsi, from 1990 to 1992. More than a million people had been killed in that fighting. In 1993, United Nations troops entered the country as a peacekeeping force, though their hands were tied in many ways. In April of 1994, dramatic and tragic events took place extremely quickly.

The President of Rwanda, a fairly moderate Hutu, was killed on April 6th when his plane crashed near the airport in the capital city of Kigali. In the early hours of April 7th, the country began its quick descent into chaos. Hutu extremists who had been laying plans for months went into action, sending death squads out to kill Tutsis where they stood. The speed and ferocity of the squads still shocks anyone who learns about what happened there. In World War II, the Germans industrialized genocide. The Rwandans took the 1990s approach and left out the middleman.

Much of the killing was perpetrated by the death squads (known as Interahamwe), though local governments and state radio induced many citizens to take part in ad-hoc groups. The Hutu had once been the servant class in Rwanda under a Tutsi monarchy. (The name Hutu even means “servant” in their native tongue—their original name is lost to history.) They had a strange sort of timidity to them as they went about their gruesome work. Perhaps because they had been forced to respect authority figures under centuries of Tutsi rule, the Hutu were a very obedient people and did what they were told. When outsiders were present, the Hutu generally stayed away or merely waited for them to go away. In some instances, one or two unarmed U.N. troops “guarding” Tutsi safe havens who merely said “you can't come in here” was all it took to prevent further slaughter.

I mention this because I watched Frontline's “Ghosts of Rwanda” program last night. I thought the program was very well-done, although they seemed to leave out some of the backstory (but I missed the first 10 minutes or so of the show). The episode talked about the failure of the U.N., the U.S., and various other countries to act as a positive force in the conflict.

At the beginning, some Belgian troops assigned to the U.N. peacekeeping force had been killed. This disturbed the public in Belgium, so they withdrew from the peacekeeping mission early on. In order to save face with the international community, the country requested that the U.S. also pull its troops out. We did.

At the time, many observers stated that it would be largely impossible to deploy troops into Rwanda to quell the violence. However, by April 10th, troops totaling 8–10,000 had arrived from the U.S., France, and Belgium to pull out their expatriate populations. If they had stayed, the troops would have made a tremendous difference.

The U.N., which had been organized in part to prevent the atrocities experienced in World War II from ever happening again, was unable to act. I'm not sure if this was because of the U.S. or not. From the program, it seemed that the U.N. Security Council had largely wanted to assist in Rwanda, but I may have misinterpreted what was said about that. In the end, 90% of the U.N. troops were pulled out. Those that stayed were largely unarmed, yet were able to save many thousands of lives just by keeping their eyes open (and, in some cases, doing things that were morally right and just, but technically broke the rules of behavior).

The inaction in Rwanda is partially understandable in the context of Somalia, where the events of Black Hawk Down had taken place just a few months earlier. Still, there had been troops on the ground in Rwanda. The international community failed to act—countries even intentionally acted to get out of the way. The U.S. purposefully avoided even using the term “genocide” until it was too late.

The United States has a tremendous moral and ethical debt to repay to the world. In 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu were killed in the genocide. Individual sites such as churches saw death tolls of over 5000 where people were killed face-to-face by machete and machine gun.

September 11th is piddle.

Posted by mike at 02:19 PM | Politics , September 11th , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 4, 2004

It's Only Chocolate

Kind of a movie weekend. I watched Captain Corelli's Mandolin late last night on A&E. I thought it was good, though the ending was fairly compressed. Apparently the book takes a different path. The movie induced me to try and learn a bit more about Italy's role in World War II. Usually, we just hear about the Germans and the Japanese, but nobody discusses Italy much. Of course, they swtched sides partway through the war, which definitely explains things a bit.

Today, After the Thin Man was on TCM, so I watched that. I know I'd seen about half of that movie once before, though I still missed an important point this time. Oh well. Those old Thin Man movies seem to stack up pretty well given that they were made in the 1930s, though there are some things that wouldn't go over well for a modern audience.

Well, I had been thinking of going to see Jersey Girl tonight, but since the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival is going on, I figured I'd try something different. I'd missed most of today's showings, but a movie from Poland named Insatiability (Nienasycenie in Polish) sounded interesting.

It's a movie that is really hard to put into words. I've only been able to find a few English reviews on the Internet, but I think there's general agreement that the movie is ultra-bizarre. One person said that it's so bad, it's brilliant. I don't know if I would call it bad. Okay, yes I would ;-) There are some silly moments that, if it weren't for the extraordinary context, would be thrown out by most people as tripe.

I think you'd be pretty hard-pressed to find something more bizarre than that movie. I'm sure stranger stuff exists, but this was very…different. The movie is based on a book written by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz in 1927. I'm not sure about how close the two are in content, though the retro-futuristic look of the movie would fit if the director was trying to create an environment that was futuristic for 1927…

I guess the film's director, Wiktor Grodecki, had visited this area a while ago and had done some work here, but I don't know much other than that. Someone high up in the film festival's staff (maybe the director or whatever his title would be) had intended to give a nice long introduction for everyone, but he got caught up somewhere else.

Anyway, I think that people who like bizarre movies would like it, though I won't think less—heck, I'd probably think more—of someone who hated the thing.

Posted by mike at 12:57 AM | Movies , TV | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, April 5, 2004

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

I'm feeling orange today.

Posted by mike at 09:24 AM | Self | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

ArBaedkwo nnIT ehS apecT-mi eoCtnniuu m

Hmm. I suppose it's always been this way, but I've been noticing the word swathe showing up recently. I think that must be the British/colonial spelling, or maybe someone has just neglected to consult their dictonary. In the U.S., it's more common to use swath, and keep swathe as a totally unrelated verb usually reserved for Christmastime (i.e. “swathe him in swaddling clothes”—er, make that “cloths”)

Oh god, I'm becoming an English teacher. That's not right. I used to hate it when strict language rules were imposed on me.

Other little things have been bothering me lately. I wish I knew what the hell Spike TV (née TNN) is doing to mangle their video. Ever since they started airing Star Trek: TNG, I've been annoyed with the weird things they do. It used to be that they'd squeeze the image to fit their little black bar underneath. For the past several months (at least), many Star Trek episodes have very jittery video that makes it hard for me to watch. I noticed it again now that they've started airing Deep Space Nine.

I think they must have some sort of time-compression device set up to squeeze portions of the show, but it leaves troublesome video artifacts. It seems to me that the fields of video (field: 1/2 of a full video frame) have been swapped, though I'm not exactly sure what has happened. I'm going to try to take some frame grabs once DS9 starts showing again today and see if I can figure it out.

If this is what's happening, it might be diagrammed like this:

      normal       inverted
   11111111111   22222222222   odd
   22222222222   11111111111   even
   33333333333   44444444444   odd
   44444444444   33333333333   even
   55555555555   66666666666   odd
   66666666666   55555555555   even
   77777777777   88888888888   odd
   88888888888   77777777777   even

I think the technical term for this is field inversion, though there are a couple of different ways it can get screwed up (I think).

This is why we need progressively-scanned/non-interlaced video. Actually, it's interesting to note that Star Trek was largely recorded on 24 frame-per-second film, so most of the video frames can be un-interlaced (in a sense). The film went through a telecine or 2-3 pulldown process to be converted into 59.94 field-per-second/29.97 frame-per-second video. Given the right software/hardware, it's possible to convert the video back into the film format. Unfortunately, most of the post-production for Star Trek: TNG and DS9 was done on regular video-editing decks that weren't set up to worry about keeping the full frames intact. Many video effects and transitions between different camera shots can't be un-interlaced without exotic tricks.

But, I'm just whining at this point.

Posted by mike at 10:50 AM | News , TV | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Where's the Expiration Date?

I know a lot of people don't want to acknowledge the presence of Ralph Nader in the presidential race this year, but the amount of coverage and the slant it is at is pretty awful. In most news articles and stories, he's just mentioned tangentially (i.e. “Public Citizen, a group founded by consumer advocate Ralph Nader…”). The rest of the coverage is usually found in commentaries and Op-Ed pages, areas where bias is tolerated (well, issues are meant to be debated there, so everyone is always trying to make their case).

Real articles about stuff Nader is doing are often prefaced or appended with a note about theoretical spoiler status (if such status isn't the entire focus of the article), reducing the useful amount of coverage. Many articles are hardly better than what you'd find in editorials, often stating facts in a diminutive manner (for instance, saying “Nader has just five percent support in recent polls” rather than dropping the unnecessary adjective).

I think some news organizations do actually go through the articles they get over the wires and clip out the extra cruft, but it would be nice if the original article authors would write more substantial stuff…

Well, at least C-SPAN tries to be fair.

Posted by mike at 01:08 PM | Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Plot Holes

Heh. With Condi Rice's testimony today, I figured it was appropriate to point out an old video I've had laying around on my computer for a few years now. In mid-2000, Fox held a sales conference for The Lone Gunmen. The filesystem timestamp on the file on my computer is June 4th of that year, so the actual conference probably happened a few days before then. It shows some scenes from the pilot, which finally aired nine months later on March 4th, 2001. Of course, in the episode, the plane that was flown toward the World Trade Center was controlled from the ground through a high-tech linkup (and the good guys ultimately prevailed).

(You have to go about 90 seconds into the video to get to the relevant bits, but there's a whole trailer…)

Posted by mike at 12:01 PM | September 11th , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, April 9, 2004

That, and Another Piece of Coffee Cake, Should Do the Trick

Frontline had another good show, “Diet Wars”—the whole show will be available online on Saturday for anyone who's interested. Anyway, they just went through the basic stuff that any intelligent person who has read about diets should already know, but it's good to be reminded. I'm interested in heaing more about the theoretical Harvard diet. Wired magazine had a layout comparing the government's food pyramid to other diets out there a few issues back, but it doesn't appear to be on their website…

Anyway, the general conclusion was stuff that some people have known for quite a while—eat unsaturated fats rather than saturated ones, avoid refined carbohydrates in favor of less-refined ones. It's bouncing back from the Atkins craze in a way, dropping the saturated fats and bringing back certain types of carbs.

Oh, and another thing, it's often better to avoid things that say “Low Fat.” The Harvard talking head said that the pre-low fat salad dressings were better for you than the newer varieties. When foods went low-fat, much of the fat was replaced with starches and sugars, leaving the calorie count about the same, though potentially making you want to eat more often due to faster changes in blood glucose levels.

Okay, that's boring. We should exercise more, too… Yadda, yadda, yadda…

I got a call about an interview at MCAD that I'd inquired about a month ago… Sheesh. I'm still waiting to hear about stuff that happened last week, but something good had better turn up soon.

Hmm. Once I get off my butt and send back my broken hard drive, I think I'll set up my computer to record Best Week Ever on Fridays at 10 o'clock, since that's the one day of the work week that The Daily Show isn't on. The bits of Best Week Ever I've seen have been good, so I'll have to keep watching.

Posted by mike at 12:03 AM | Daily Show , Food , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Rotten Eggs and the Safety of Mankind

I went to see Hellboy last night, mostly since the reviews had turned out pretty good. But, I dunno. I guess I'm getting just a tad tired of comic book movies. It was good, but I guess I was just needing something different yesterday.

Insatiability, the movie I saw last weekend, is going to play at Oak Street tonight at midnight (it's a last-minute replacement for another movie that couldn't be shown for some reason). I recommend it, if only out of sheer weirdness. But, I figure more of the people I know would prefer the Metallica movie that plays earlier in the evening there. Then again, I suppose everyone is going to be out of town tonight anyway. I'm no good at keeping track of people.

Posted by mike at 12:52 PM | Movies | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 11, 2004

…And Then the Monkeys Came

It's time for Presidential Daily Brief Fill-in-the-Blank!

Here are my guesses based on the length of nearby text strings in the document (plus the fact that the second one was an “an” rather than an “a”).

told followers he wan
a British intelligence

an Austrian
exploit the o

te some of the more s
a Spanish intelligence

But, I really have no idea.

I listened to a few of the most recent episodes of This American Life today. The first two were really good, though I didn't really feel comfortable with the third one. I guess the first two were somewhat interrelated, since they deal with the current political climate. Actually, the only part of the third episode I liked had a political bent to it.

Episode 260 was largely focused on dissecting the court case that the Bush administration has been using to assert that they have the ability to hold Americans in this country who are accused of being enemy combatants. Back in World War II, the Nazis landed two groups of people in Florida and New York who were supposed to sabotage the aluminum industry in the months after the U.S. entered the war. One of the people was an American of German descent who found himself in Nazi-held territory when Germany declared war on the United States. The story goes that he just wanted to get home, so when he was given a chance to be part of an operation that would bring him to America, he took it. Anyway, he was tried in a secret military court. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court, requesting that the case be tried in regular criminal court, but the justices were pressured into quickly giving an opinion without any supporting arguments.

There's also a look inside the Zogby polling operation later in the episode, which kind of tells you what you already knew, but often forget.

Episode 261 is TAL's response to the whole gay marriage debate, though they handle it by spending more time examining the more traditional version. Adam Felber has a good little satirical story, which pretty much sums up the whole thing for me, and shows how the whole debate has been blown out of proportion for the most part.

The final episode I listened to today was pretty weird. The main story was not something I could identify with, though it's necessary to listen to it at least a bit to fully understand the title of the last story, which was much more interesting to me. Always good to know that the pharmaceutical companies seem to be charging about 40 times what they need to be on certain drugs…

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Best Is Yet to Come Undone

A day of waiting for me. I have an interview tomorrow, though I guess I was hoping to get a call today from one of the other places I've talked to. Now I have to see if I'll be able to get to sleep tonight and wake up at the right time tomorrow. With my luck, the power will go out at an inopportune time and kick off my alarm clock.

Over the weekend, I had the random thought of asking out an acquaintance I sort of know. I wanted to ask Dan her phone number since I don't know it, but the opportunity didn't seem to arise. Oh well, the chance of her being in town, uninvolved, and interested is around 1 in 1000. Still at least an order of magnitude better chance than anyone else I've come across so far…

She used to work on campus, but that may have changed. I guess I'll try wandering over to the U after tomorrow's interview.

Crap. I have to find out where the hell MCAD is…

Posted by mike at 10:38 PM | Dan , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Fade to Grey

I'll never remember all of the stuff that happened today—not that it was especially interesting.

My late-morning job interview at MCAD went okay. Just okay. I think I've really lost a lot of my confidence in how quickly I can learn computer software, hardware, and whatever leftovers there are. The job would be interesting and I'd be at a school, one of those places where the mythical female is rumored to spend time. The job would largely involve Macs running OS X, which means I'd have to spend the first few months learning a lot. My Unix/Linux experience would be both good and bad.

It sounded like the job would be a semi-management position, where I'd have to direct others to do things. I've never really done that before. The job would also involve some significant amount of communication with other people. At Carlson, I didn't really talk to many people other than my boss, so I don't know how comfortable I would be with it. Heck, I know it would be a challenge to talk at least some of the time. I'm quiet—that's just the way things are for me.

Both the MCAD job and the Secure Computing job would require a lot more interpersonal communication than I'm really used to. Well, I don't really know. I got to be very bored at the Carlson School since I was pretty much stuck in a corner by myself in a room with a hevay door. I didn't have other people to work with, I just had other people sitting in the room with me. At Adaptec, I did more stuff with the other testing guys there. We all spent the bulk of our time in the same room without any partitions between us, so there was more free communication.

I'm certain that I do better work when I have to interact with other people on a daily basis. I think this is why I did better in high school than in college. I know that I've felt in the past that work should feel more like high school than college—at least in the sense that you get more interaction between people where you're working with others rather than just sitting next to them. Well, maybe my college/high school experiences were just weird…

Anyway, on the way to MCAD, I found myself to be lost and found at the same time. I was trying to follow the driving directions they had on their website, but ended up going by what you get on Mapquest. Instead of taking the 11th/I-94 exit and staying on I-94, I got off on 11th. I took that until I ran into a one-way and was forced to turn (Portland, I think). That took me to Franklin, which I used to get across 35W. Then I went south on 3rd (the way you go to Little T's).

I guess I was supposed to stay on I-94 and get off at another 11th—or the same 11th, if the road just has a break in it somewhere. Whatever, I found a new way to Uptown.

After the interview, I headed over to the U. I looked around in the Elmer L. Anderson library, though I wasn't all that impressed by the ambience. I guess it's meant more for researchers slowly perusing archives than the general visitor who just wants to browse through stuff. I once had a professor who was involved with the Charles Babbage Institute, and he invited us to visit the stuff there, though I didn't really know what you were supposed to do once you got in the building. Maybe I'll figure out the process one day.

I wandered over to CSOM to talk to my old boss, but he wasn't around. I wandered next door to see if Sarah was around, though I couldn't tell if the red-haired person I saw from the back was her or not (she was busy with someone, so I didn't intrude). I wandered back to CSOM and talked to a few more people, then finally ran into my old boss as he was coming back from the Hard Times.

We chatted for an hour or so, something that used to happen perhaps a little too often when I used to work there. He kind of reminded me that I used to have all sorts of new ideas for getting things done there. I had mentioned a bunch of different software packages to him for all sorts of different things, including Fink on the Mac. That kind of boosted my confidence in the possible MCAD job, though that's still a way of making OS X a better Unix rather than making it a better Mac OS. I showed him Wikipedia, since I've been spending too much time editing pages on there rather than playing with new code lately.

I guess NTS will be taking over CSOM's network in about a year. Kind of on-campus outsourcing, so it's possible some people at the school will lose their jobs. In the very least, they'd have to get some new responsibilities. Turns out that the backup tape library hasn't been getting used at all, though there are plans in place to get IBM's Tivoli working over the summer, I guess.

After that, I checked again to see if Sarah was around, but maybe I chickened out too much before I did an adequate check. Whatever. I went across to the IT Career Center to browse their jobs. Mostly outside of Minnesota, it seemed. Secure Computing had a posting, though I can't remember if it's basically for the same job I applied for or if it was a testing position. I'll have to ask them about that when I call tomorrow and inquire about my status for the job I interviewed for two weeks ago.

I chatted a bit with Dan since I was in the neighborhood. I suppose I should see his new place at some point. We discussed the court case against Joe too, not that anything has changed on that front. Still, when I got home, I had a summons in my mailbox for the upcoming court date. I don't remember getting anything on our previous tries, so I'm surprised that something showed up this time.

Well, that's pretty much it. Except, when I was walking home, I was thinking that maybe there's a criminal offense that Joe committed in the course of this whole thing. I'm curious if there would be any way to get the police to drag him in for not having valid contact info on his properties. Ripping down the unlawful housing notices was theoretically some sort of offense, but I suppose it's not enough to arrest him or anything.

I mentioned to Dan that it might be a good idea to try one of those person locator services on the 'Net, but I guess I wouldn't want to be the person to potentially sacrifice my credit card info on some random website.

So, a lot of mediocre stuff happening today. Not exactly one for the record books.

Posted by mike at 05:42 PM | Dan , Law , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

When It All Goes Wrong Again

Yay. Looks like the IT job market in Minnesota is getting worse. Best Buy is dropping and moving jobs. I'm not exactly sure what the “job shifting” is supposed to be. Does that mean that people will be re-hired by Accenture? Well, it either means that 130 or 780 IT people will be looking for work soon.

I'll call Secure Computing shortly. Hopefully they have some good news for me.

Posted by mike at 01:46 PM | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Like Partially-Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Spread

Shock of shocks. I stepped on my scale today and saw 180 come up. That means I'm technically not overweight. Well, the whole concept of me being overweight seemed out of place anyway. A lot of me is too skinny, it's mostly just that I've got programmer's gut.

I should try to exercise more. I've sort of been doing stuff every two or three days lately, but I wish I had the energy to do more. Oh well, I suppose something is better than nothing.

Posted by mike at 08:27 PM | Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, April 16, 2004

And the Flautist Said


I don't really agree that the Iraq war is protecting our country and our rights, but whatever.

Posted by mike at 10:33 AM | War | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, April 17, 2004



I got a letter in the mail today from Secure Computing. No job there. I know that I'm smart enough for that job, but they must not have liked the fact that I haven't done helpdesk support before.

I'm just sick of this crap.

Posted by mike at 05:57 PM | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, April 19, 2004

Black Mamba in a Vortex

I'm starting to fall into the habit of exercising a bit while watching/listening to TV. Well, I've mostly been putting in DVDs of Family Guy and watching a few episodes in a stretch while I slowly do situps and a few small weights here and there.

Last year around this time, I managed to exercise almost every day for about 6 weeks. There was sort of a difference, not a whole lot, but it all disappeared pretty quickly anyway. I'm not working nearly as hard this time around, but I think my little winter of discontent made certain areas atrophy to a level that is probably unhealthy. I'm a long way from just being normal, apparently even moreso this time around. My back is hurting less, which is a good indication that I should always try to keep up some minimal exercise and maintain those muscles just a little bit, but I know I will feel cramped for time once I get a job again.

Picked up my brother so we could go see Kill Bill Vol. 2. I guess I went away with the impression that Quentin Tarantino is an asshole for requiring two films to put together that story. Some sequences were almost Kubrickian with the level of boredom they introduced. The “fight” scenes were rather anti-climactic in this episode, IMHO.

We had to run back to my apartment after the movie because of the rain. I was annoyed that weather coverage prevented me from seeing The Simpsons then, but channel 9 finally showed the new episode at 11:00.

I didn't think the weather coverage was very. I suppose it might have something to do with it being Sunday evening, though I guess it looked like every channel had their top weather people there except for ch. 11 (or was Ken Barlow hiding behind the curtain?) The people on TV were saying a lot of words, but they weren't conveying information very well.

Hmm, let's see if I can get some sleep tonight.

Posted by mike at 01:39 AM | Exercise , Movies , TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I'm Coöperating

Not having a job sucks. At least the (literal) grass got greener because of the rain earlier this week.

Posted by mike at 01:53 AM | Weather , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, April 26, 2004

World in the Balance

I guess I haven't written anything for a while. I went home this weekend, so I could go to the dentist today. I was worried that they'd find something bad was happening to my rear molars on the bottom of my mouth. Every so often, I've had some pain back there. I guess it was nothing, though. The X-rays looked normal, and he said nothing looked out of the ordinary in the visual spectrum.

I'm a bit worried about my car. It's been vibrating quite a bit lately, though I'm not really sure if it's a problem or not. 1980s Cavaliers are known for putting out quite a bit of vibration. The problem might be that serpentine belt that Jiffy Lube never should have sold me. They didn't have the equipment to properly install and tension the belt. I figured I'd have a job by now and would have been able to take the car into a real service shop. I might just have to suck it up and go in sooner rather than later. There might also be some fluid deficiencies. The car is overdue for an oil change, so I may as well get that done.

I went to the bank and withdrew money for another month's worth of life in the Cities. I'd better deposit that tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 09:57 PM | Car , Money , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Break out the Wite-Out

The University probably has the most cumbersome job application process I've ever come across. I hate it. And yet, too many applications are received whenever a job comes up that I would be good for. I haven't even been applying for jobs for a long time because the return on my investment of time and effort is far too low.

Well, not that anything else I've done has worked.

I'm trying to renew my application now, but the Word-formatted version (which would allow me to nicely type things out) doesn't cooperate with OpenOffice very well, and I'm too stressed out at the moment to fill out the preprinted PDF version by hand properly. I'm having some sort of minor claustrophobic thing going on because some maintenance guy is making noise out in the hallway and, well, I just hate applying for jobs.

At face value, the University's system would seem to be a better candidate than most for webification. Especially if the thing could automagically fill in my work and education experience from the U.

I suppose I'm just a weakling.

Posted by mike at 03:23 PM | School , Software , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Listening to the Liars

Interesting weather that we're about to be having, eh? Yesterday, I saw Ken Barlow on channel 11 explain the weirdness that we're going to be experiencing over the next few days. Hard to say if things will actually go this way, but supposedly temperatures will go from 40s and 50s today to 80s tomorrow, then back to 40s and 50s on Thursday. If I remember the explanation right, there was a big blob of hot air out west in California that was going to loop around a big high pressure area in the west and southwest, come north to Washington, east through Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota, and then push south through Minnesota. Then, cold air was supposed to quickly follow from Canada and take away the warm weather again.

If that forecast is right, it's pretty wacky.

Hmm. I got a Norwegian-English and German-English dictionary. Unfortunately, the Norwegian-English one is a lot older than I thought it was. It appears to have last been updated in 1974. It's the same book that my mom has used in the past, so I'd hoped that it would be newer. Oh well, it has both Boksmål and Nynorsk.

Posted by mike at 10:49 PM | Books , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The O'Fish Factor

Frontline had an episode entitled “The Jesus Factor” tonight. The show will be available to watch online on Saturday, and it'll at least air again in the early morning hours coming up. Anyway, it discusses the religious influences on the president.

Posted by mike at 11:25 PM | Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, April 30, 2004

Zap Brannigan

I found my electric bill, which is good. I have to pay it soon, which is not so good.

I hope the weather stays relatively cool for a while. I don't want to feel like I have to run the air conditioner anytime soon. I can't afford that.

Posted by mike at 10:40 AM | Abode , Money , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack


John Troyer's column about a future American civil war is something important to think about. I've been getting an increasing sense that civil war is possible, though I doubt it would be likely. Our country is averse to sending large numbers of people to die.

At any rate, he's right to say that the wounds never fully healed after the first civil war. In many ways, it was still being fought 100 years later, and probably still is today. The Wikipedia article on the origins of the American Civil War describes many things that have parallels today. Of course, the Democrats and Republicans seem to have swapped ideals and allegiances since that time. Many similar tensions seem to be in place today, so I get a little worried from time to time.

Of course, this is not helped by media outlets that often seek conversation by idealists and zealots who have widely divergent viewponts on issues, rather than talking to people who are somewhat less out on the edge. The idealists and zealots should get their fair share of time, but when the public only sees these distant edges of the spectrum, things get very messed up.

I suppose that's why I respect shows like Frontline and Nightline. They talk to the people on the extremes, but also leave enough time to fill in the gradients in between. At least that's how I view them. I suppose others have different perceptions—conservatives still like to call PBS a “notoriously liberal network.” Okay, the artsy/indie shows and NOW with Bill Moyers could be classified as fairly/very liberal, but don't forget that this is the American home of Antiques Roadshow. If PBS is considered the great bastion of liberalism in the same world that plays host to Fox News Channel, someone has a broken calculator.

I kind of feel like I've been thrown into the universe of 1984. I could have sworn that Minnesota went Democratic with a significantly wider margin in the 2000 election. My recollection was that Gore got about 55%, Nader 5%, and Bush 40%, but that's not what the MN Secretary of State's website says. Maybe I just stopped tracking the numbers early and the late returns shifted things a lot. This doesn't seem like it should be a purple state.

An interesting note made in Frontline's “Jesus Factor” show last night is that the best predictor of whether people voted for Bush or Gore in the last election was the frequency at which they attended church. People who went at least once a week were more than 2/3 likely to vote for Bush.

Oh! Oh! You remember that Faith-Based Initiative plan? Turns out that the government is so far only supporting Christian and interfaith organizations, no synagogues or mosques or temples…