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September 29, 2006

The Lawless, Liberal Hideaway To The North

He had been confident of bringing Father Mike to justice in the U.S. courts. But who knew what would happen once he got to Canada? Canada with its pacifism and its socialized medicine! Canada with its millions of French speakers! It was like...like...like a foreign country! Father Mike might become a fugitive over there, living it up in Quebec. He might disappear into Saskatchewan and roam with the moose.

From Middlesex By Jeffrey Eugenides

20:54 | Quotes | Comments (0)

September 25, 2006

First Post From My Mac

Well, it's been about two weeks since my MacBook Pro had arrived. First thing I did was buy a two-button mouse (partly because I hate using touchpads, and partly because I find being able to use context menus with one hand is essential), then installed Firefox.

Ok, jokes about me turning my Mac into a PC aside, I've been pretty impressed with my Mac experience. I haven't yet taken it out into public (despite the 1000 wifi-enabled coffeeshops within a block of my apartment), but I have been taking advantage of the laptop's mobility. Right now, I'm writing this blog entry while sitting on my loveseat in front of my desktop's new 22-inch LCD monitor watching my latest Daily Show download (from iTunes, incidentally).

ASIDE: yes, when I went to Fry's to buy an extra GB of RAM for the laptop, I picked up a new monitor. This is why I don't go to Fry's more than twice a year.

Stay tuned for a Windows user's analysis of the Mac experience. So far, thumbs up!

21:59 | Nerd | Comments (0)

September 22, 2006

MMW Concert Tonight

Tonight I'm going to enjoy the live musical stylings of perhaps the three funkiest white guys alive today: Medeski, Martin and Wood.

My love affair with MMW started four years ago, when I walked into a record store and impulse bought their then-latest album, and have been grooving to their unique brand of funky jazz ever since.

07:58 | Entertainment | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

My Mac Has Arrived

After an excruciating day of checking my shipment status online, my most unlikely of purchases arrived at 5:20pm, unceremoniously dumped in the front lobby without waiting for a signature. Thanks UPS.

But that's all in the past now. I opened the (very nicely designed) box to find my MacBook Pro and all attachments inside. The computer itself was used as a demo machine in a Pennsylvanian Guitar Center, so the touchpad was a little dirty. I'm reinstalling Mac OS X (10.4) right now, since the Guitar Center thoughtlessly forgot to send me the local administrator's password. Besides those small things, it's looking great!

In case anyone is interested, here are the specs (in sum, Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 80GB HDD). Contrary to Phrogman's comment, it is in fact a MacBook Pro, and I got one hell of a deal on it.

Stay tuned for accounts of my adventures into Mac Land, and the possibility of running Windows Vista (RC1) on an Intel Mac.

17:47 | Nerd | Comments (0)

September 7, 2006

Everyone Knows Mr. Ed

You know what pisses me off? In a time where the US has wars in two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), are posturing themselves for a third (Iran), where the administration's policies are being criticized (warantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, to name a few), where reconstruction of New Orleans, a year after Hurricane Katrina, is stalled, and an election is less than a month two months away, the most pressing issues for the House of Representatives to debate is that of Horse slaughter?! Just ask Rep. John Sweeney, R-NY why he thinks this issue should take the spotlight:

Everyone knows who Mr. Ed, Secretariat and Silver are. I dare anyone to name a list of famous cattle or chickens... They are American icons that deserve to be treated as such. Would we ever think of slaughtering and serving a bald eagle in this country? The same should be true of the horse.

Personally, I would think America's elected representatives would be more concerned with the 2658 American dead in Iraq than the three horse slaughterhouses in the US.

Update: The bill passed the House. Another choice quote, this time from Representative Nick Rahall, D-WV:

Horses are part of our identity and heritage... yet the merchants of slaughter will have us believe that is fine and dandy to slaughter our horses for the sole purpose, the sole purpose, of sending their flesh overseas to support some warped demand among foreign diners for horse meat.

"Merchants of slaughter"? Well, I guess that's technically accurate, but "warped demand"? Personally, I've eaten horse meat, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Take that, Seabiscuit!

Here's a fun game: substitute Rahall for the name of a member of the Indian parliament, and the word "horse" for "cow". Or maybe a member of the Knesset decrying other nations eating Israeli-farmed pork?

Update 2: Looks like the Washington Post is just as appalled with the House's ridiculous priorities.

01:09 | America , Politics | Comments (2)

September 4, 2006

The Most Unlikely Of Purchases

Yesterday I accompanied my friend Matt to our local Guitar Center while he picked out speakers, mics and other audio equipment. Having no background in music, I wandered the store aimlessly, occasionally touching a dial on a mixing board, or bumping up against a display keyboard, surprising myself, and those around me, with the crash of virtual cymbals. The store was overstaffed, so I was asked if I had been helped by a different person every ten steps I took.

When Matt was ready to pay for his purchases, I began chatting with the store manager. Apparently this Labor Day is a big sale at Guitar Center with low low prices that can't be beat. I had nothing else to do, so I listened to his spiel. He then told me they were getting a limited supply of Apple MacBook Pros. That's when he got my attention.

I have been in the market for a laptop for a few weeks now. I'm tired of being chained to my desktop at home, and would love to pursue my digital hobbies (such has contribute to this fine weblog) outside the confines of my apartment. Sitting outside one of Seattle's legion independent coffee houses, sipping espresso, and typing away sounds like a great way to be anti-social in a public place. So I began looking around, and came up with four different classes of laptop:

Middle of the road laptop.
Has the advantage of being not too expensive, and general-purpose enough to satisfy my needs.
Super-chap laptop
My boss recommended this to me. His logic was that in a year, whatever I buy will be obsolete anyway, so dropping $500 now, and $500 a year from now isn't a big deal. Plus, it's not a huge loss if it gets dropped or stolen.
Tablet PC.
This is where the nerd in me comes out. Tablet PCs look like normal laptops, but have a touch-sensitive screen that swivels 180° and becomes essentially a digital pad of paper. Very cool, albeit unjustifiable, since I can't think of many practical applications of the pad.
Apple MacBook.
But won't I get fired for owning a Mac? No worries. The new MacBooks are Intel-powered, and with a nifty utility called Boot Camp, I can load both MacOS and Windows on this little guy. This gives me the advantage of high-quality Apple hardware, the familiarity of Windows, and an opportunity to play around with MacOS. The disadvantage is the price: about twice as much as the Tablet.

I was all ready to buy the boring old run-of-the-mill PC laptop, when the store manager at Guitar Center offered to put a $1000 MacBook Pro on hold for me. $1000 for a Mac?! I didn't need much time to think about this. I gave him my number and told him to call me if he could secure one. He didn't have nay in the store that day, and all the East Coast stores were closed for the evening at the time of our conversation, he told me he'd call me at 7:30 this morning to let me know. For those of you who know me, it takes a lot for me to get up at 7:30am on a holiday, but for a such a deal, I traded sleeping in for a new toy.

Sure enough, at 7:35 this morning, the store manager called telling me the laptop was available and would be shipped to me within the week. And that's the story of how Chris bought a Mac from a guitar store.

09:06 | Nerd | Comments (2)

September 2, 2006

Chris' Guide To The Washington Primaries

Primary elections are coming to Washington. For those who aren't intimate with the American electoral system, a primary is a vote between party members to decide who will be the candidate for a particular position. That person will then run against the other party's primary winner for the seat in question. I would like to offer this guide out the primary candidates running for United States Senator for the Evergreen State, based on their primary pamphlet profiles.

The Democrats
Michael "Goodspaceguy" Nelson

Nelson is in favour of abolishing war on Earth with world-wide free trade, although is light on details on how this can be achieved. He is also in favour of eradicating homelessness though abolishing the minimum wage and establishing a head tax. Oh, and he wants to spend the state's tax money on space colonization.

Strong point: He has a blog.
Weak point: He's a total nutjob.
Best quote: "Unfortunately, much of our space money has been wasted. It is as if our leaders have not been educated in orbital space colonization."

Michael "The Mover"

The Mover is in favour of putting Saddam Hussein back in control of Iraq, and letting the Iraqi army patrol the borders. He assures us that this will lead to cheap, plentiful oil for America. He is against British Columbia dumping their sewage into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, threatens to wage war with Canada to stop it, and calls the Queen of England, the "Queen of Pigs".

Strong point: He is willing to fight Senator Ted "Series of tubes" Stevens.
Weak point: Has loose grasp on foreign relations, reality.
Best quote: "Listen to the thunder, hear the Governor roar; Mike the Mover's loose again, and knocking at the door!"

Mohammad H. Said

Said claims all Muslim aggression towards America (including the 9/11 attacks) are due to America's support for Israel. He then sums up the last 600 years of Middle Eastern history. Not much of substance besides that.

Strong point: Sure knows his Middle Eastern history, which is more than I can say for most US Senators.
Weak point: Has little to say besides how evil America's support for Israel is.
Best quote: "This is the answer to all this conflict, a One State Solution where all Semitic people (descendants from Patriarch Abraham), Jews and Arabs (Christians, Jews and Muslims) can live in a secular state like us."

Hong Tran

A refugee of the Viet Nam war, Tran claims to be the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling for the quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which is verifiably untrue. In fact, she's not even the only Washington candidate calling for a quick withdrawal. Besides that, she's in favour of universal health care, protecting civil liberties, and is willing to stand up to the Bush administration.

Strong point: Solid Democratic policies.
Weak point: Really should check her facts before claiming to be the "only Democratic candidate calling for <blank>".
Best quote: "I am the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling for a repeal of The Patriot Act and an end to the trade policies sending good jobs overseas."

Maria Cantwell

Cantwell is the incumbent senator, and calls for a quick withdrawl of troops from Iraq. She has also stood up to the Bush administration on issues like privatizing Social Security, funding for No Child Left Behind, and increasing energy rates.

Strong point: Incument senators enjoy at 90% reelection rate.
Weak point: Talks a lot about what she accomplished, not much detail about what she will do if reelected.
Best quote: "I'm working to preserve our quality of life and stand up for our Northwest values."

The Republicans
Mike McGavick

McGavick longs for the days when the Senate "actually produced results". He is against deficit spending, in favour implementing of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, and securing borders.

Strong point: Acknowledges Senate partisanship and is willing to work to produce results.
Weak point: Is willing to "make hard choices", but not tell us what these hard choices are.
Best quote: "While the Senate is gridlocked by partisanship, our problems get worse. They have closed their minds and hearts. But it hasn't always been this way."

Brad Klippert

A full-time law enforcement officer, and pilot in the National Guard, Klippert believes in being tough on crime, a strong military, and outlawing gay marriage. Klippert also stands for American self reliance, (not reducing dependence on oil per se, rather dependence on foreign oil), fiscal responsibility, and the Pro-Life stance.

Strong point: Clear on what he believes in.
Weak point: Likens his point of view with those of Dr Martin Luther King. Clearly Klippert has a high opinion of himself.
Best quote: "Like the five brave men on flight 93, join me now as I stand up and step forward to make a positive difference!"

William Edward Chovil

A self-proclaimed expert on government, Chovil is staunchly anti-communism and anti-socialism, and proudly pro-Americanism. His profile asks a lot of questions ("Do you want school vouchers to help your children attend the school of their choice?") while cleverly skirting how he would answer them, prompting me to ask whether he's asking them rhetorically, or sarcastically.

Strong point: Pro-Americanism.
Weak point: Doesn't realize the Cold War is over.
Best quote: "If you believe America can do better with more National and Global Communism and Socialism and less Americanism I can't help you."

Gordon Allen Pross

Pross is a man who likes numbers. He had the uncanny ability to reduce complicated issues like tax reform to analogies involving pennies. This simplification allows him to explain that only one tax is needed to pay for all of America's important programs (healthcare, education, career track and paid vacations), and that tax is: tithing! 10% of everyone's net worth should be the only tax anyone ever pays. Plus, he has found the solution to campaign reform: a rounding error!

Strong point: So patriotic, can't say the word "cent" without prefixing it with the word "Lincoln".
Weak point: Clearly has no idea what he's talking about.
Best quote: "Now Washingtonians' Vote justifiably abolishes censored auctions for public office. Washingtonians' Proudly Resurrecting Sparks of Deity for First Amendment Primaries!"

Warren E. Hanson

Hanson starts off his spiel pretty bleakly. Immigration, both legal and illegal, has caused almost unsolvable problems. He wants stronger borders, citizenship for the US-born only, felonies for illegal workers and English as the national language. He also takes pride in his physical strength and stamina.

Strong point: The issues he wants to tackle are clearly important in the state of Washington.
Weak point: I guess I'm biased, being an immigrant worker, but I'd have to say he certainly borders on xenophobia.
Best quote: "For my years I am in excellent health and quite strong (BP ˜ 118/66 – no addictions)."

B. Barry Massoudi

Massoudi loves America and hates deficits. He believes that "each single issue can be solved easily with American ingenuity and perseverance". Although I appreciate his optimism, I have no idea what that statement means.

Strong point: Damn, he loves America.
Weak point: A little naive in thinking that the world believes "U.S. global leadership, power, and influence are trusted as a force for good".
Best quote: "The United States is the greatest and freest country on earth."

I hope this guide has been helpful, illuminating, and didn't crush your belief in the democratic process too badly.

10:33 | America , Politics | Comments (1)