September 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 190

I suppose I should write something. The news anchors are very tired at this point. Peter Jennings can barely speak in complete sentences.

I'm concerned about what the military/political reaction will be. I was watching BBC news, which was being broadcast on a local PBS station. One quote of a quote -- ``I hope Bush doesn't make it worse.''

I guess I can't think too well right now. I must have been in shock this morning. Nothing to compare it to. When I first heard comparison to Pearl Harbor, that made the most sense. The best way to put a real label on it. Unfortunately, it's still against faceless enemies.

Posted by mike at 05:30 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 191

``Welcome to the real world''
  -- Morpheus

Later

From the back page of the campus newspaper:

Net: We're not feeling particularily funny today (not that we ever are) but we thought Brain of J said it best:

From Brain of J: Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck

Net: Take it easy, folks ... we'll be back tomorrow, we promise.

Posted by mike at 11:17 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 192

Sent to president@whitehouse.gov:

Mr. President,

I join with the country in grief and sorrow following the tragic events on Tuesday, September 11. However, I worry about the responses that the administration appears to be leaning toward. In the recent news, I have seen great throngs coming together in church and on the streets, hoping and praying for peace. Yet, moments later, there is talk of war.

I think it is important that if we as a nation must retaliate with force and therefore violence, we must be extremely certain of the goals. When I think of this as a war, I see it as a war against violence, hatred, and fear.

Mr. President, I feel that this is a battle that must be fought in the soul, not in the air, at sea, or on the ground. I am grateful to hear that the United States government has attempted to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table (though I am troubled by Israel's response).

Those moments of horror on Tuesday could be the greatest gift the world has ever known. Never before have so many people been united in the pursuit of peace. Therefore, the goal I see is not just the security of our great nation, but security and peace throughout the entire world.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Michael Hicks

Posted by mike at 10:52 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 193

Barely managed to do my homework last night and today. Grr.

I just get distracted when news stories come up. I've been avoiding real work for a week now. I should change that. Of course, it didn't help this morning when a new worm showed up. Sheesh.

Silly Microsoft.

Took a look at the Billboard charts today. Found a song name that seemed very appropriate (though who knows how appropriate the song itself is): ``Bleed American''

From today's campus newspaper: ``We don't live in America. America lives in us.''

Posted by mike at 06:03 PM Central | Internet , Music , Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 194

Worked today on a few little administrative things, mounting some filesystems that hadn't come up for some reason, etc.

Attempted to build a 2.4.9 kernel with RAID 0 support from the Debian sources (and later tried to query why the stock kernel packages don't come with raid modules -- not sure if that got through to the mailing list or not..) Compile failed, probably since I was using gcc 3.0, and the sparc64 compiler at that..

Tried installing Gnome on one of our Solaris servers, since I was having difficulty logging in to CDE or OpenWindows. Managed to crash the system 'cause Ximian's installer _still_ doesn't care when disk space gets completely used up. Sendmail apparently had a fit and caused the system to go down because of a full /var. Too bad that's our freaking Oracle server!

Frantically searched for a way to get it started again. Not sure if it worked or not.

Ralph Nader is going to be at Northrop Auditorium tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 08:33 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 195

Turns out that other people have had the same troubles I've had using RAID on Linux/[U]Sparc. The disklabels (`partition tables' for you Intel-only folks) would consistently get clobbered on the second and third disks. Best guess is that the Linux RAID code assumes a DOS-style partition table to be there.

Of course, PC partition tables suck anyway. I believe someone should invent or find a better system for Linux to use, with enough room allocated for a good bootloader, and none of that stupid extended partition crap.

Also, it's entirely possible that a very good system already exists. Maybe BSD disklabels? (do they have that annoying `whole disk' thing too? so strange..) I suppose now would be a great time to do it, since LVM is becoming a more common thing. Also, with 64-bit systems becoming more available (sort of), it'd be a good time to get together with the people who build these systems in the first place to define what the BIOS must do to get a system going, what it doesn't have to do, etc.

I better learn a lot more about this before I keep saying what should and shouldn't happen..

Looks like my `atomic clock' finally synced up again last night. In certain weather conditions, it works great. Other times, it's just terrible. I don't think it had gotten synced for the past several weeks. At least my computers all run NTP ;-)

Nader at Northrop tonight.

Posted by mike at 02:03 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 196

Nader can still draw a decent crowd, even on fairly short notice. Near as I can tell, there was less than a week to get the word out on this one. The bottom level of Northrop was nearly full, except for the back corners. The article estimates 2,200 people, though I'm not sure if that estimate was just from a reporter, or based around real numbers from the ticket counter. Of course, it makes things easier when people can just walk there, since the Auditorium is at the center of campus..

Anyway, off to do homework.

Posted by mike at 06:55 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Ralph Nader , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 02, 2001

Advogato Entry 197

Haven't posted for a few days. Been somewhat busy with homework and, well, being lazy. Currently seeing if I can compile octave-mpi again or not.

Too bad `make -jN' doesn't always work. I suppose people don't like having to set up the proper dependency structures for it..

Stalled too much on homework this weekend. Got it mostly done, but not as good as I could have done. Something just seemed to be missing for me after a while.

I suppose James Randi could probably debunk it easily, but it's interesting that the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton apparently can see changes in the output of random number generators when big events happen, suggesting that thought or emotion can somehow affect the physical world.

I've wondered a lot about my place in the world. Probably any conscious being would do the same. There are the thoughts where you wonder about where, when, and why. Is the world real, or some sort of test for a soul or a mind?

Maybe I read too much sci-fi as a kid, though I think I just identified with it. But it probably had a negative impact, too.

I probably believe a little too much in fate. I just expect certain things to happen in my life. I'll get a girlfriend someday, and things will just happen, right? Unfortunately, it hasn't `just happened' yet. Which all probably just screws up my worldview and makes me feel like I got left out or something, somewhere didn't click when it was supposed to.

I tend to get like this after I've spent too much time sequestered in my room. I need to get out of the apartment more, see more people, and probably get out of town. Again, timing lands in my way. I was hoping to see Zoolander with friends this weekend, but it sounds like they'll be going next weekend, when I'm planning to go home for a few days.

Dammit dammit dammit dammit..

Posted by mike at 09:14 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 198

Went home for the weekend, a nice diversion. Sort of. Got some music: Coldplay - Parachutes, Third Eye Blind - Blue, and Weezer - The Green Album. Mellow stuff..

Also picked up copies of Linux Journal and LinuxFormat. LXF seems chock-full of goodies, but it's spendy since it comes with two CDs and it's from across the pond..

I was successful in my Automata test today. Either the tests are a lot easier this time around, or I'm actually understanding the subject matter. Third time's the charm, I guess.

Internet Programming is still an interesting class. I'm learning much more than I was initially expecting. Sometimes, it's good to have a good teacher tell you what's going on, rather than trying to figure it out by yourself from disparate sources. Certainly, the interactivity of classes is useful.

Feeling decidedly un-interactive with the government and people making decisions about what is going on in Afghanistan. I was somehow hoping we could take a moral high ground of some sort and focus on the humanitarian goal of helping these people out while learning to respect their points of view -- why they hate or dislike us.

Now that bombs have dropped and missiles have flown in, I'm hoping that it was just the opening move in an intricate chess game including many different aspects. We need to put people on the ground, whether they are military or aid workers of some kind. Throughout all of the actions taken, we need to work to uphold the ideals put forth in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and other foundational documents.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Democracy, equality, free speech, and free trade.

The US shouldn't be in the country-building `business,' but we appear to be falling into that role. This nation certainly has limits, and we can't be a global policeman or carpenter or whatever forever. It all takes time, money and energy that we don't have endless stores of. We can do a lot, certainly, but it shouldn't get out of hand, either.

Life is often about striking balances, finding the middle ground. Politicians may be a little too good at this sometimes (actually, they're not -- they're just vague enough to fake it). I know we can help build a stronger, more tolerant Afghanistan. Hell, how much money will it take to replace those bombs and missiles we sent in? I'd rather that money get spent on building rather than destroying.

Anyway..

Tried to get the shower flowing again, without much luck. Tried some off-brand de-gunking fluid that may have not been the best solution.. Flow rate may have improved slightly, but not much.

Time to empty the dishwasher, I think...

Posted by mike at 04:56 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 199

The topic that won't die

Had a bit of a confrontation on IRC today, talking with someone from the LUG about the current wave of nationalism. He couldn't refrain from referring to our country as `ameriKKKa' all of the time. Got annoying after a while.

There is no doubt in my mind that there have been atrocities in this country, and that we've done un-good things in other parts of the world. However, I can't live if I think that the only direction this country is going is down.

Most of this country's founding fathers owned slaves. These people who promoted the ideals of freedom and justice had their dark sides. That can't be denied. However, they also knew that they were going to make mistakes when they wrote the Constitution that would bind the colonies together. The constitution can be amended. They strove to keep a balance between the different branches of government.

We have problems, but it's not like we haven't been working on them. It takes time, obviously, and there is that chance that we'll fail miserably at some point. However, at this point, I see a bright future for our country.

It's important to stay informed -- that's probably the biggest single problem we have. The media (mostly TV) is often sensationalistic, and can cause the public to be misinformed or uninformed. Then public opinion polls can be slanted in unusual ways, causing politicians to push ideas they may not believe in.

On a politics mailing list that I'm on, there has been recent discussion and praise for the `question time' that many European parliaments have. I saw the Canadian parliament doing it on C-SPAN a week or so ago. One hope I have is that this practice will come to the US in some form. Perhaps not a formal event in the halls of the Capitol, but any way we can get our congresscritters more animated is a good thing.

Of course, too much speed can be a bad thing. Knee-jerk legislation is an evil that we need to be watchful of. I wrote to one of my senators (at least I think I did -- I'm not sure if that web form actually did anything) and asked him to be careful about how he moved in this time. I requested that if he is not able to fully read proposed legislation before it is put up for vote, he should either not vote on it, or should vote against it.

I think I'm becoming more concerned about what's going on in Afghanistan. I'm just not sure what the military has as its goal. Obviously get rid of bin Laden, but what about promoting freedom?

Posted by mike at 10:40 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , September 11th , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 213

fnarg!

Then again, it is sweeps week..

Later

Okay, this is on an annoying site, but look at what political cartoonists are doing these days. A stunning theme, if you ask me.

What's Bush rated at again?

Later

It's organizations like this that really screw things up. And there are plenty where that came from. I have little doubt that if public companies were more honest about their earnings, the economy wouldn't be in the shape it is..

yakk: you evil bastard. Er, uhm. Sorry. It's just that people like you have been smashing my bandwidth to pieces...

Posted by mike at 10:46 AM Central | Comedy , Corporations , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 06, 2001

Advogato Entry 229

I'm a citizen of the United States, I was born here and I'll probably die here, but I'm feeling more and more that I don't belong here. I don't support the military action taking place these days. I didn't vote for the President we currently have, and he's not getting my sympathy for having fallen into the situation we have these days.

I'm still proud of the fact I voted for Nader. Yes, I actually did think about the Middle East before I voted. Yeah, it's crappy that the US's current voting system made the last presidential election a big mess. I hope more people will work to fix it..

I feel I have little voice these days as the rights of me and my friends are slowly being eaten away. Still, I have to try do to a little. I'm going to try to see if I can come up with decent reasons why the Microsoft settlement sucks. After that, I'm planning on working with others to try to put together a summit on Intellectual Property (and some related subjects).

I've felt stressed about these things for a while, but I've avoided thinking about them because it's so hard for one person to change things. It's not impossible, but it really helps to have the support of others.

This leads me back to the feeling of being in the wrong place. I feel like I'm in a tiny minority. And, well, apparently I am (if you watch the polls out there). I'm really suspicious that the pollsters are somehow skewing numbers. I just can't believe the numbers that I'm seeing.

And, well, since I haven't heard anyone say it for a while..

Screw you, President Shrub..

Posted by mike at 02:49 PM Central | Law , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 264

Katz is going off on some strange tirade about pre-/post-9/11 movies on Slashdot. It got me thinking (for no good reason--It's a pretty poor review), and I realized I haven't written down my experiences of that day..

I don't remember when I rolled out of bed, but it was later than I wanted. My roommate had woken up and had left the room, so I figured it was time. I climbed into the chair at my computer, powered up the monitors, and started my daily morning browsing. I think I hit Slashdot first, and the top story was the first article of the planes hitting the WTC towers. I tried getting to some news websites, but couldn't get anywhere.

I turned around and powered up the TV and turned it to CNN. With my groggy morning eyes, I saw a wide-angle shot of the towers. It looked entirely fake, but I figured if it was on CNN...

I came out of my room and went into the den. I turned off the music my roommate had started up, and turned on the TV out there. I still wasn't fully awake, and could barely manipulate the remote controls well enough to get it turned to CNN. I tried to tell my roommate what happened, but I didn't know anything. Some big planes had hit the World Trade Center.

Anyway, nobody knew anything, so I took a shower. I can't remember much else that happened. I know that the sky was very clear and blue. I came into the business school building where I work, and saw a huge crowd of students watching TV, but I felt like avoiding the coverage until people actually knew something. I went into my office area and sat down at the computer, trying to do some work, but I was thinking too much.

I was chatting with people on IRC, and was informed when the towers fell. I didn't have a TV at that point, so I didn't know they'd pancaked. I just couldn't imagine it.

Anyway, I sat around at the business school for a while, but I was going a bit stir-crazy. I walked to Taco Bell, about 15 minutes away on foot. On the way there, I saw a small United States flag protruding from a building. September 11th was a primary election day, and the flag was there informing people that they could go vote.

That was probably the last time a flag really made me feel good. It was a puny little thing, only a few inches in size, but it meant so much that morning. I smiled, and kept walking.

I got to Taco Bell. One employee was on the phone, looking out the window at downtown. She said, ``I know they're going to target downtown.'' It never actually happened, but people were worried. Anyway, I ate and tried to remain calm.

I got back to my desk and tried to work again. There were still way too many things racing through my head, plus I got a little worried by the fact that the business school is a very shiny corporate-looking building. I decided to head home.

I got home and spent some time watching coverage, browsing the web and chatting on IRC. That day, classes were supposed to start late for me, around 12:30. I was hearing that they may have canceled classes. Before long, I found they had..

I walked to class, finding a notice on the door saying that classes after noon were canceled. I started heading back to the apartment, but decided to see if my brother was at his dorm room. We got some lunch and hung out for the afternoon, though definitely it wasn't the most entertaining time we'd spent together. I spent most of my time watching TV, while he played Civilization on my computer.

In a lot of ways, it was a very dull day. It was very strange to feel so affected by something that happened half a continent away.

Strangely, the events since then have made me less interested in the news. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff going on that I'd like to hear about, but it gets drowned out by `The War on Terror'. Hell, I just wish the cable news channels would get rid of all of that extra crap on the screen so I wouldn't have to get reminded of it as I flip through the channels..

Hmm. There are some other things floating around in my head, but a bunch of it has already been posted, so I don't want to re-write it..

Posted by mike at 12:17 PM Central | Erik , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , TV , The Media , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 28, 2003

Categorizing

Well, I've pretty much categorized all of my entries from September 11th, 2001 onward. I was just making a Sept. 11 category, but I kept running into other messages that needed to be categorized, and I did a little over a hundred of them. I still have to do a good pass through the approximately 190 messages that are before that day.

I think the events of that day have had repercussions that have made me less interested in posting to Advogato. Since I now have all of my stuff on my own website, I can write whatever I want, and I don't have to bend to fit the technology and open-source orientation of another site. I can say "Bush is an idiot" as often as I want ;-)

Posted by mike at 07:52 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Politics , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 30, 2003

That's My Bush!

Yes! They posted the Bush vs. Bush debate on The Daily Show's website. This has got to be one of the harshest things anyone has done to Bush for ages. Here's Lisa Rein's version.

Posted by mike at 05:05 PM Central | Comedy , Daily Show , Politics , September 11th , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2003

Star-Trekkin' Across the Universe

Saw the "Cogenitor" episode of Enterprise last night from a recording on my computer. Contrary to what some people are saying, I think the show's last few episodes have been some of the best I've seen. I'm getting a little worried about the big new direction they're thinking of going in. That article sounds so weird, it makes me wonder if someone confused May Day with April Fools Day.

Sexuality is not something I ordinarily like to discuss, because it tends to remind me of how I'm not getting any. However, the "Cogenitor" episode got me thinking. It's all about a species that has three different genders. The species is advanced and very intelligent, but they treat the people of the third gender as something halfway between a pet and a sex slave. These others don't get beat up or anything as far as the story is concerned, but they get passed from one couple to the next as the couples want to procreate. They don't get any education and don't even have names.

This isn't an entirely new idea for the series to cover, but it's at least an extension of things that have happened in the past (or future, depending on how you look at things) of the Trek universe. There have been other episodes (in Next Generation, at least) dealing with gender.

Anyway, I think there are some deficiencies to the episode, but it was good enough to keep me thinking afterward, which I think is exactly what a good Star Trek episode should do. It didn't have a happy ending, something any good series has to do from time to time, since real life doesn't have happy endings as often as we'd like.

Now, for the upcoming season, they're apparently trying to get a major disaster/war worked into the story line. It also looks like this involves time travel, which is really one of the biggest complaints people tend to have about Star Trek. Why the producers think this is a good idea is beyond me. This series has always struck me as being more "Republican" than the others, and I just have a sense that they're trying to work in a September 11th-esque element and push it for their own gain.

However, I suppose having the Enterprise series as a prequel to everything else is pretty restrictive to the writers, and this time travel scenario is a way to break out of it. I know I've seen good episodes from the previous series (plural) that have dealt pretty well with a lot of interesting issues. So, if they're doing what I think they're doing, there's a certain non-zero probability that they'll pull off something truly worth watching that could help us understand the supposed "new world" we're living in.

Posted by mike at 02:10 AM Central | September 11th , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2003

¿Que?

Okay, I don't know what the hell is up with this. Some judge decided to award $104 million to September 11th victims. Okay, fine. The strange bit comes when you find out who the defendants are. In addition to the expected Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, the Taliban, and Afghanistan, we have Saddam Hussein and Iraq. What the hell is up with that?

The judge even acknowledges the frailty of the evidence:

The judge wrote that lawyers relied heavily on "classically hearsay" evidence, including reports that a Sept. 11 hijacker met an Iraqi consul to Prague, Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites)'s remarks to the United Nations (news - web sites) about connections between Iraq and terrorism, and defectors' descriptions of the use of an Iraq camp to train terrorists.

*sigh* What is this? Juvenile court? I thought hearsay was not considered in our court system.. Bah.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM Central | Law , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2003

Flagriotism

Flag of the United States of America

For most of the past two years, I've felt that the flag was taken away from me. It's a slight shadow of what my grandmother felt when the Nazis invaded Norway and took over the country.

Hmm. I guess I'd better stop that train of thought before invoking Godwin's Law on myself.

Anyway, the nationalistic fervor finally seems to be dying down. That makes me feel better. Seeing the flag tended to disgust me—especially when mounted on big black SUVs. That sight has slowly dwindled as the nation returns to normal levels of apathy.

Well, perhaps I'm not very different than anyone else. I mentioned in a distant journal entry that a small flag poking out of the side of a building near the Carlson School on the morning of September 11th was a comforting sight for me. Local primaries were being held that day, and the flag was advertising that people could vote there. A little sign of normalcy.

Later in the day, I decided to wander to Dinkytown to see if I could buy a flag somewhere, but I couldn't find one. I'd had the image in my head of walking home carrying the flag over my shoulder, the colors flapping in the breeze as I walked home down University Avenue. I'm not sure what would have really happened if I'd found one, though.

By that evening and the next day, the flag started to represent something abnormal, a discontinuity in the rules by which our society had been governed. The flag often appeared in association with “In God We Trust” and “United We Stand.” In a sense, those are nice sentiments, but they really seemed to go against what the flag itself stood for. The 13 original states and the 50 we have now don't always get along. The flag is in some ways an acknowledgement of that fact.

If I had mounted a flag in our apartment at the time, I wonder what slogan might have gone along with it. Probably nothing at first, but I probably would have needed to differentiate our mindset from that of the others nearby. E pluribus unum could work (I feel it would be less antagonistic than “United We Stand”), but would probably just be a cop-out. “Truth and Justice” would be more along the lines of what I would like to say, but “justice” can be a messy term (and so can “truth” for that matter). “Truth, Peace, and Justice”? Maybe, but that would probably just make me sound like a hippie ;-)

Anyway, the point is that I want my flag back. I think it's time again to see the positive things it represents rather than terrible events of the past.

Hmm.. Some flag regulations I found say that the flag can't be used for advertising. Maybe I can sue Fox News Channel ;-)

Posted by mike at 12:53 PM Central | Politics , September 11th , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 05, 2003

The American Way

Ah, Laundry Day, how I hate you.

I stayed up late reading the Sarah Vowell book. Cripes, this woman is my hero. I wish I had the vocabulary, travel experience, and knowledge of German existentialist cinema that she has.

The creepiest thing I learned: April 19th is “Patriot's Day,” at least in some states. That's the day in 1775 when the first shots were fired in the lead up to the American Revolution. Over 200 years later, Timothy McVeigh put a truck bomb in front of a federal building in Oklahoma City (though Internet research also shows that the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas was torched on that day a few years earlier). The incongruity with that and the new September 11th “Patriot Day” is disorienting.

I think I may have to read the book again. It's something I'd like to absorb more thoroughly.

Yesterday, I finally went to see Once Upon a Time in Mexico with my brother. It's a decent action movie, though the blood and gore factor was a bit higher than I expected. However, I have little doubt that a shotgun discharged at point blank range toward someone's kneecaps would probably have a similar effect to what was shown in the movie.

The most entertaining moment for me had to be when the Johnny Depp character was at a bullfight, wearing khakis and a t-shirt saying “CIA: Central Intelligence Agency,” as he laid plans for overthrowing the government. And, does he say “Savvy?” in every movie he's in?

After the movie, we went to Burger King, where I re-discovered the silliness that goes on in the fast food industry. I ordered a sandwich, an apple pie, and a small drink. The last thing I see before the price pops up on the little screen pointed at me is “MED COKE.” Medium? I wanted a small.

“I'm sorry, sir, we only have medium, large, and extra large. You can see it's not on the menu.” I mutter something about this being a letter-writing offense, but pay up. Later, when my food is ready, I tell her to tell her manager that I'd like to see small beverages back on the menu. She looks at me like I'm from Jupiter.

Despite cases being laughed out of courtrooms recently, fast food joint are not doing a good job of convincing me that there isn't a conspiracy to make everyone in America fat.

Posted by mike at 02:07 PM Central | Books , Food , Movies , September 11th , War | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2003

By the Numbers

According to a study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, only 20% of the viewers of Fox News Channel are in touch with reality. In fact, none of the commercial TV news outlets can claim that over half of their audience knows the truth: CBS rates 30%, ABC 39%, and NBC and CNN are tied at 45%. Print media works out to 53%, and people who tune in to NPR and PBS rate at 77%.

Okay, it's wrong to say that these people are totally in touch with reality, but they did manage to correctly determine three things:

  1. The majority of the world's population did not favor the U.S.-led war on Iraq
  2. No substantial connections have been found between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
  3. Weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq

Anyway, there's more info in this poorly HTML-ized press release. Here's a nicer table of the data from that page:

NetworkNo MisperceptionsOne or More
Fox20%80%
CBS30%70%
ABC39%61%
NBC45%55%
CNN45%55%
Print53%47%
NPR/PBS77%23%
Posted by mike at 07:56 PM Central | News , Politics , September 11th , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2003

Quotarama

Really, I've got nothing, but I have some random quotes and things that have slowly accumulated around my computer.

O cruel fate
To be thusly boned
Ask not for whom the bone bones
It bones for thee
—Bender, Futurama
I may not do much on this planet, but David Blaine showed me I could do less
—Lewis Black, commenting on David Blaine's London stunt
September 11th was a faith-based initiative
—not sure, possibly Al Franken
Posted by mike at 09:04 PM Central | Comedy , Politics , September 11th , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 11, 2004

Plead the Fifth

Oh crikey. You know those five British subjects that were just transferred home to the UK? Okay, you probably don't, but bear with me. They were some of those “enemy combatants” held at Guantanamo for, oh, two years or so. Upon their return, only four of them were held—one was set free right away. The other four have now been released with no charges.

So this basically tells me that these guys were held for two years for little or no good reason. Ooo. That'll do great things for the U.S.'s standing in the eyes of the world. Yeah, uh-huh, sure.

And meanwhile, we're only just starting to put the high beams on people from WorldCom and Enron. I guess Bernie Ebbers has finally been indicted, but Ken Lay appears to be off in some secure bunker chumming it up with Dick Cheney (or something…)

Posted by mike at 10:58 AM Central | Money , Politics , September 11th , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 02, 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 Central | Politics , September 11th , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 08, 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 Central | September 11th , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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…

Posted by mike at 04:11 PM Central | Corporations , Law , Money , Politics , September 11th , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2004

Depress the Clutch

Um…

List of songs whose title appears more than twenty times in the lyrics

Heh.

Oh. If you are dehydrated and then go drink two 20 oz. bottles of Mountain Dew, you will go into shock. After taking a shower last night, I tried to lay down and go to sleep around 9:00. Despite the fact that it was about 70° in my apartment, I was shivering even under a comforter (granted, the comforter has become a bit skimpy). I had to pull out a heavy blanket I generally only use in the winter, put my pillows under the sheets for warmth, raise my feet and lower my head in order to stop shaking. That was not so good. At least I knew what to do. The action of the caffeine finally slowed down about three hours later, but it still took until about 1:00 before I was able to get to sleep.

Hmm. I'm reading through the list of songs that Clear Channel banned after September 11th. It's pretty weird. Things like "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles and "Falling for the First Time" by the Barenaked Ladies were on it.

Posted by mike at 04:50 PM Central | Corporations , Music , Self , September 11th , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2004

Out of Time

Argh. I'll be avoiding the TV until this Reagan thing blows over. I was already sort of planning on it due to the 60th anniversary of D-Day. A few shows about it are okay, but it's just been all over for the past few months. Now we have a former Republican president die, so there are countless interviews with Republican representatives, governors, etc., including Tim Pawlenty. Apparently he ordered the flags around the capitol lowered to half-staff for 30 days. 30 days? Flags weren't even lowered for that long after September 11th, I don't think… Hearing that, I just had to turn it off.

I mean, I liked Ronnie when I was a kid, he seemed like a grandfather figure. I appreciate that people should be nice when someone dies, and I know that he was pretty popular after being in office a while. Still, not acknowledging that some people didn't like him seems wrong.

Oh well, I suppose I would have gotten mad at people who pointed out such things after Wellstone died. Oh well, at least Wellstone wasn't involved in Iran-Contra or supplying weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. And when exactly did our national debt start to increase so dramatically? Oh, the 1980s? Gee whiz Gipper, what's up with that?

Ugh. I'm sure somebody mentioned at least one of those things. I just can't sit through enough stuff to see it. Just seeing the Republican pod-people everywhere gets me sick of everything after a while.

Posted by mike at 10:18 PM Central | Politics , September 11th , TV | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2004

In Search of the Fabulous Life of

Big Trouble is a really funny movie. A victim of unfortunate timing, I think. So many good actors in that flick… Dennis Farina, Rene Russo, Janeane Garofolo, Patrick Warburton, Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lee, Andy Richter, that guy from The New Guy, and several running gags like having everyone mention Martha Stewart in some way ;-)

FBI Agent Sykes: The president thanks you for your selfless act of courage.

FBI Agent Greer: Because he can never admit to what happened here, in lieu of a medal of honor, he'd like to send you a pair of cowboy boots with a “W” on them, and a hat.

Posted by mike at 12:51 PM Central | Comedy , Movies , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 12, 2004

Ich Bin Ein Krispy Kreme

It's gotta be around here somewhere:

Comedy, or tragedy? You be the judge.

Posted by mike at 03:16 PM Central | Comedy , September 11th | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 30, 2004

Trapped in a Box

Hmm. Another October surprise. The new bin Laden tape is the major story today, and people are already forgetting about the explosives it seems. The media is following the bouncing ball, probably because bin Laden is easier to report on than the explosives story, which actually takes effort. Oh well, the thing will probably be a wash anyway, since on one hand it will remind people of terrorism, but it will also remind people that Bush didn't manage to find bin Laden.

Posted by mike at 09:22 AM Central | Decision 2004 , September 11th , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 28, 2006

AUI

The trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has been rolling around in my head for a while. I haven't had much time to research it, so I can't say a whole lot, but it seems pretty clear to me that he has some significant mental illness (apparently it's something that runs in his family). Back in January, his defense team suggested that he's schizophrenic. That's probably the most recent statement to that effect. Heck, if you do a Google search for "Moussaoui crazy", there's a fairly long history of statements, even from people who trained him at flight schools.

Moussaoui's statements recently, in particular that he was going to fly a fifth plane with "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, just seem to underline the fact that he can't separate reality from fantasy. It's possible that he's telling the truth, but it seems far-fetched to me. Moussaoui has made a number of other statements about what his plans were, including flying a plane into the prison holding the "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman in order to allow him to escape.

I don't think Moussaoui should get the death penalty, but my reasoning is largely based on things other than his mental health. First, he may have been involved in a conspiracy to commit murder, but he didn't kill anyone. It's possible that he didn't kill anyone simply because he got caught, but it seems to me that he was probably already disowned from that group by the time he was captured (likely because he was a flake). Second, what is the best punishment for someone who supposedly wanted to become a martyr by committing suicide? For me, Moussaoui's mental state comes in third in the reasoning to keep him alive. Unfortunately, I don't believe he has enough operational knowledge to be of help in fighting terrorism today, four and a half years after he was captured.

It's kind of strange looking back at this story. I remember watching the local news when he was first arrested, though I can't really recall what I thought at the time. Today, I suspect he was picked up simply because he's not sane. If only one of the core hijackers had been as loopy, September 11th might not have happened.

Posted by mike at 10:43 AM Central | September 11th | Comments (0)

September 11, 2006

Happy Ending

Yeah, it's five years later. Our country could be in such a different place right now, but we are where we are. Well, I could go on a diatribe, but today is actually a good one.

I heard from Erik last night for the first time in a while. We'd met up in Fargo over Christmas since he was visiting his parents, but then his old e-mail address went the way of the dodo and I hadn't heard from him for a while. Anyway, now the ol' address book is getting updated.

Speaking of which, I heard from Dave for the first time in ages a few days ago. I sent him a note saying something like "Glad to see your mortal coil is still bouncing." Heh, I crack myself up. (Nah, it's not that funny—but a tad punny..)

So, today was Missy's birthday, and I sent her a quick message. Turns out she's engaged now (for a week), which is good to hear, and she got her ring today. Her new fiancÚ is actually an old beau—they both had previous marriages fall apart at the same time, and ended up getting back together. Well, considering how rotten her first husband turned out to be, I doubly hope that things will work out this time around.

Posted by mike at 09:35 PM Central | Erik , School , September 11th | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

Number Five Is Alive!

I haven't seen video of it, but the transcript of Keith Olbermann's 9/11 rant is getting passed around by a lot of people.

Um. The weather was nice for a little while today. There were actual shadows while I was out to lunch. Too bad that the place I was walking to, Quizno's at University Village, has now closed. They always seemed busy enough to me, but I guess not. But then again, there's a new building going up across the street—maybe they got a better deal over there.

It was quite cool in the morning, though. I'm really glad that my car has an auxiliary heater—I can feel warm air within about 90 seconds, though my commute is still too short for the cabin to actually warm up. But hey, that's what the heated seats are for ;-)

Posted by mike at 04:05 PM Central | Car , Food , September 11th , TV , Weather | Comments (0)