Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sabrina Bryan Was Robbed - by the Baby Boomers

I'm not what you would call a rabid fan of Dancing with the Stars, but I do watch it with some interest.

Sabrina Bryan, a member of Disney girl-band The Cheetah Girls, is far and away the best celebrity dancer of the season. She seriously blows everyone else out of the water.

So it was a shock tonight to see her eliminated.

She's not even my favorite dancer (I'm rooting for Helio the race car driver), and I'm still shocked. The judges were dumbfounded.

I think we know the most significant demographic of public viewers and voters: the baby boomers. Who else would cast a vote for Marie Osmond and Jane Seymour, whose performances are a dismal shadow of Sabrina's talent. That's the reason people such as Jerry Springer and Wayne Newton last so long on the show.

Unfortunately, it shows that Dancing With the Stars is truly more of a popularity contest than anything. But hey--it's good news for my man Helio.

Apple Soundly Slams Third-Grader

I'm no fan of Apple. Particularly the brand; I think their machines are just fine, for the most part. But it makes me laugh to relay this article about how a third-grade iPod fan wrote Steve Jobs with some suggestions for making the iPod even better. Apple's response? Cease and desist.
The letter was not from Steve Jobs, it was signed the senior counsel, Apple Law Department.

That's right, apple's legal department, telling a nine year old that apple does not accept unsolicited ideas. Apple's legal department told her not send them her suggestions, and if she wants to know why, she could read their legal policy on the Internet.
Take that, young innovator! And don't bother with the concept that writing letters can make a difference. Or that any of your ideas are worth expressing. Just go back and buy another iPod when your battery dies. You're not worthy to contact us.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pro-Life Founder Backs Romney

Yet another of social conservativism's leaders has thrown his support Mitt Romney's way. Dr. John Willke, known as the founder of the pro-life movement, was a former supporter of Sam Brownback before the Senator dropped out of the race.

Says Willke,
"Unlike other candidates who only speak to the importance of confronting the major social issues of the day, Governor Romney has a record of action in defending life. Every decision he made as governor was on the side of life. I know he will be the strong pro-life president we need in the White House, Governor Romney is the only candidate who can lead our pro-life and pro-family conservative movement to victory in 2008."
Increasingly it seems that Mitt's conversion on social issues is being viewed as genuine, and we can only hope that even more conservative leaders will lean his way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bob Jones III Gets Behind Romney

Here's another significant win for Mitt Romney: the support of Christian leader and chancellor of the fundamentalist Christian Bob Jones University.

Says Bob,
"This is all about beating Hillary," Jones said. "And I just believe that this man has the credentials both personally and ideologically in terms of his view about what American government should be to best represent the rank and file of conservative Americans.
As Mitt maintains his momentum in the crucial early voting states, he's also maintaining his momentum convincing mainstream Christian leaders that he's running for Commander-in-Chief, not Pastor-in-Chief.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Teeth: Another Casualty of Socialized Medicine

I stumbled upon this article about the dreadful state of dentistry in the U.K. It's no secret that Brits are stereotyped with nightmarish choppers - and it's likely due to a shortage of qualified dentists and exorbitant costs for the who aren't poor enough to be covered. The result?

Almost a fifth (19%) of those questioned said they had missed out on dental work because of the cost.

The research found 6% had even resorted to treating themselves because they could not find a dentist.

The 5,000-plus patients who were interviewed also spoke of taking out their own teeth or fixing broken crowns with glue.

The dentists say it's the fault of a faulty system:

Almost three fifths (58%) of dentists blamed new contracts brought in by the Government last year.

Four out of 10 (41%) felt they had an "excessive" workload with 29% saying they had problems recruiting or retaining dentists.

Welcome to the world of U.S. healthcare should we elect a Democrat to the presidency.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Saved By Zamzar

I'm happy with Microsoft Office 2007. Except for the fact that its file formats aren't backwards compatible.

Unfortunately, I brought some work home last night, then saved it Word 2007 format, docx. So when I brought it to work this morning, I realized I'm screwed.

A quick google search yielded me what I think is one of the greatest online utilities I've ever come across: Zamzar.

It's an online service that basically converts files between almost any conceivable format. I'm not kidding--the list is HUGE. Word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, charts, audio, video, everything. Thankfully, it converted my docx file to work on my stupid Mac at the office.

Thanks, Zamzar!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Google Trends & Mitt Romney

Just for kicks, I ran the three major contenders for the Republican nomination through Google Trends. Turns out that Mitt is solidly second behind Fred Thompson in overall searches over the past 30 days.

But let's put things in perspective, here. Britney Spears demolishes EVERYONE. It's simultaneously sad and hilarious.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You've Got To Hear Happy Rhodes

In 2000 my brother introduced me to a musician/singer/songwriter who just blew me away. Her name was Happy Rhodes, and my brother had given me her last album, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight (1998). It was her tenth, and, in my opinion, her crowning achievement. Her dumbfounding vocals, emotive delivery and complex, electronically organic music easily placed her in my top five favorite artists of the 90s. I since came to own nearly all of her works.

It's been nine years since the release of that album. Finally, album number eleven is complete. Entitled Find Me, it's one of the releases I've been anticipating the most. I even bought the Find Me MP3 sampler a couple years ago, which contained early working versions of seven tracks from the upcoming album. As a completely independent artist, this is one of the ways Happy funded the project. The songs were great--and I can't wait to hear what they sound like after two more years of work.

If you want a small taste of Happy's music and incredible vocal talent, head to YouTube and check her out. It's not the same as her studio stuff, but still a good showcase. Head to her website for the latest news.

Here's a sample from Many Worlds Are Born Tonight.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quit Your Griping, the World is Fine

I just ran across an article that hasn't made any headlines, nor been played on the evening news. No, of course not--it's hard to point fingers at a villain there's no villainy to report.

From the WSJ opinion article:
But here they are: World-wide illiteracy rates have fallen by half since 1970 and now stand at an all-time low of 18%. More people live in free countries than ever before. The average human being today will live 50% longer in 2025 than one born in 1955.

To what do we owe this improvement? Capitalism, according to the U.N. Free trade is rightly recognized as the engine of global prosperity in recent years. In 1981, 40% of the world's population lived on less than $1 a day. Now that percentage is only 25%, adjusted for inflation. And at current rates of growth, "world poverty will be cut in half between 2000 and 2015"--which is arguably one of the greatest triumphs in human history. Trade and technology are closing the global "digital divide," and the report notes hopefully that soon laptop computers will cost $100 and almost every schoolchild will be a mouse click away from the Internet (and, regrettably, those interminable computer games).
So the next time you hear someone's anti-capitalist, anti-corporate rant, recall that it is the corporations, supported by free trade and capitalism, that are the ones making the world a better place for everyone. And you can tell them to shut their yaps.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Let the Recall Begin

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm's disastrous solution to the states abysmal budget deficit is to raise taxes to cover most of the shortfall. Consequently, businesses are set to exit the state for a more tax-friendly environment. We can look forward to a deeper state recession as a result. Unsurprisingly, there is now a movement to recall some key legislators and the governor herself.

Enter the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, which will initiate recall proceedings in the wake of the malfeasance. The site's blog addresses the reasons behind the budget disaster:
When I served in Lansing, I frequently asked colleagues if they thought reforms, like eliminating the state's prevailing wage laws or becoming a right-to-work state, would help Michigan. Nearly every Republican and a few Democrats told me that they knew such reforms would help the economy, but they could not vote for them because the unions would harshly punish them in an election. Privately, legislators support education reform BUT fear the teacher union would punish them. Shrinking government spending is also supported BUT government employees would target legislators caught enacting such cuts.
Oh, thank goodness for unions!

Recalling the governor appears to be a longshot, but she's the most public face behind the fiasco, and so her name will likely appear at the top of any petition.

I just wonder what morons voted her into office in the first place. Oh, right. Union members.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hastert for Romney? Cool.

From the article,
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert heads a full slate of 57 candidates seeking election as convention delegates pledged to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney in the state's Feb. 5 primary, the campaign said Tuesday.

Brief Thoughts from a Theoretical Physicist

I stumbled across this article featuring an interview with Brian Greene, a physicist grappling with string theory, which I found simultaneously fascinating and incomprehensible.

Anyway, he had a couple good things to say:
What issues are most woefully ignored in public discourse?

I think the general role of science is not as appreciated as it should be. There’s still a great sense that science is what takes place in laboratories, by scientists, without a recognition of how it so fully informs almost every aspect of everyday life — from cell phones to the iPods you were mentioning to personal computers to all manner of technology, medical and otherwise. A computer chip owes its existence to quantum physics. This esoteric sounding subject developed in the 1920s and ’30s is what allows these things to exist. Moreover, what’s ignored in conversations [currently preoccupying the world] — climate changes, global pandemics, stem cells — is often the underlying science, which can really inform the conversation and help it to go down very different directions. What’s missing in the public discourse is for science to be tightly woven into the cultural tapestry, so that it’s not viewed as something separate, but something fully integrated into the way we think.

What is on your iPod?

I don’t have an iPod.
This guy and I are so similar, it's like we're separated at birth. He digs science, I dig science. He doesn't own an iPod, I don't own an iPod. Wow, that's really eerie when you think about it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Michigan's New Budget Deal

Here's my 1,000-word take on Michigan's new budget, which includes both a service tax hike and an income tax hike.

Michigan Budget Deal

Republicans didn't have the fortitude to force a government shutdown and demand more cuts. Democrats couldn't bear to abandon their pandering to entrenched economic parasites. Way to go, Michigan. At least Louisiana had a hurricane to blame. You have only your own stupidity.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ugh. Macs.

Greyed Screen of DeathOkay, so I can't say I've ever had the Blue Screen of Death on my Mac at work. No, I get the shinier, slicker, more user-friendly "Greyed Screen of Death." I feel so much better now. I hate Macs.

By the way, my Vista machine at home has NEVER crashed. Ever.

I think I'll read Clarence Thomas

ABC News offers a review of memoirs by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas--and it looks like a great read. I've wondered about where he came from, where he developed his opinions and how he has handled the abuses he's seen since becoming one of the most conservative voices on the Supreme Court. A couple interesting bits from the review:
Thomas's most deeply felt opinions are about race, and he pulls no punches. For Thomas, the menacing racists who donned white sheets in the segregated South of his childhood [aren't] as bad or worse than the northern liberal zealots in suits and ties.

"These people who claim to be progressive … have been far more vicious to me than any southerner," Thomas says, "and it is purely ideological."

"People get bent out of shape about the fact that when I was a kid, you could not drink out of certain water fountains. Well, the water was the same. My grandfather always said that, 'The water's exactly the same.' But those same people are extremely comfortable saying I can't drink from this fountain of knowledge," Thomas says. "They certainly don't see themselves as being like the bigots in the South. Well, I've lived both experiences. And I really don't see that they're any different from them."

He says his critics — the people who question whether he is smart or qualified to be on the Court or who suggest he merely does what a white Supreme Court colleague dictates — are as also as bigoted as the whites of his childhood in the deep South.
I think I'll pick it up.