Archive for October 2006
I just installed Windows Media Player 11. Wish I hadn’t. According to their on-line help, it will play videos with this format:
mms://server/filename (for example, a file with a .wma, .wmv, .asf, or .mp3 extension)
But, based on my own experience, it will not play this particular video:
I have no idea what the problem is, but Microsoft is willing to fix it for a minimum charge of $35. You can probably play it if you haven’t installed Windows Media Player 11. The link is on this page.
UPDATE: Well, I used CCleaner to uninstall Windows Media Player 11, which rolled me back to WMP 10. That doesn’t play it either: same problem. So I guess I may as well upgrade to WMP 11 after all.
The bane of a worker’s existence is, IMHO, the timesheet, that invention of accountants. This post offers a solution, if you’re a computer-oriented worker (e.g., a programmer or some other office worker who sits at a computer keyboard). This lets you to track your time in a spreadsheet, from which you can later complete the particular forms required by your company…
Sophie is a charming but naive
little enormous girl. When a visitor enters, she immediately throws herself on the floor, squirming in what she believes is a “pet me, pet me” pose. Note that she offers lots of warm, furry kitty tummy to rub, and she delivers on the promise: you can rub her tummy, tickle her armpits, play with her paws—whatever. She adores being petted.
Finally, she’ll stagger up, and rush into the living room and throw herself onto the chaise lounge, ready for phase 2 petting: the same thing, only more so. When she’s had enough, she’ll squirm to the edge and slide off to land on her head.
Very endearing, but I fear she’s a candidate for the short bus. Still, she does have her rules and standards. I tried the other day to go directly to phase two. She was willing to follow me into the living room, but she stoutly remained on the floor for the phase 1 petting—wouldn’t consider getting up onto the chaise until phase 1 was completed.
I mean, you start with skipping phase 1, and it’s a slippery slope that ends who knows where?
The little freeware program CCleaner (donation requested) does a lovely job of cleaning up your hard drive—getting rid of file fragments, .dlls no longer needed, desktop icons not attached to anything, etc. Basically, it strips the crap from your computer: all that stuff left behind when you uninstall programs.
BUT: you must be careful, specifically if you use Cloudmark (as I do) as your anti-spam program. The support I got from Cloudmark was exemplary—they responded quickly, and got me back up and running. What finally worked was uninstalling Cloudmark totally, rebooting, running Outlook’s Help, Detect and Repair… utility, and then reinstalling from a new download. I then went to Cloudmark’s “My Account” to notify them that I do have a subscription—and discovered, to my surprise, that the subscription is now $4/month (on month-by-month basis) rather than $2. When did that happen? But if I buy a year’s subscription, it’s $24—back to the $2/month that I thought I was already paying. So that’s a silver lining right there: $24 saved. And for $24 you can get a very nice shaving cream.
Back to CCleaner: When you start it up, it shows you what it’s going to clean: those things that are checked, and the default checks need some unchecking. There are two tabs: “Windows” and “Applications”.
On the “Windows” tab, I just unchecked “Clipboard”—might as well leave that holding whatever it does. On the “Applications” tab, I should have unchecked: everything under Firefox except “Internet cache”—no problem in clearing that. Also—and this is what I hope will protect me—I unchecked “Office 2003″, which means that CCleaner will stay away from that.
When I did run it, though, it freed up 681 MB of hard-drive space—not trivial. I also ran the Registry cleaner (separate thing: “Issues”), and this is what Cloudmark support believes might have created the problem. I won’t be running that again anytime soon.
So: use it with caution.
LeisureGuy: screwing up so you don’t have to.
They lose it all the way. A constituent of Senator George Allen attempted to ask the Senator a question in public. Bad mistake: three goons working for Allen grabbed him and threw him to the ground. For asking a question. Of his Senator. On their side: they didn’t like the question, which was about Allen’s sealed divorce records. (The common rumor is that Allen spit on his wife, and that incident is in the records. Allen did come close to spitting on a reporter who once asked him a question he didn’t like.) Pretty thin reed for assault.
My name is Mike Stark. I am a law student at the University of Virginia, a marine, and a citizen journalist. Earlier today at a public event, I was attempting to ask Senator Allen a question about his sealed divorce record and his arrest in the 1970s, both of which are in the public domain. His people assaulted me, put me in a headlock, and wrestled me to the ground. Video footage is available here, from an NBC affiliate.
I demand that Senator Allen fire the staffers who beat up a constituent attempting to use his constitutional right to petition his government. I also want to know why Senator Allen would want his staffers to assault someone asking questions about matters of public record in the heat of a political campaign. Why are his divorce records sealed? Why was he arrested in the 1970s? And why did his campaign batter me when I asked him about these questions. Read the rest of this entry »
Now the Federal government is dropping a lawsuit against Chevron to recover millions of dollars in underpayments—i.e., Chevron was stealing. The only reason: to help Chevron.
The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.
The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government.
Interior officials said on Friday that they had no choice but to drop their order to Chevron because a department appeals board had ruled against auditors in a separate case.
But state governments and private landowners have challenged the company over essentially the same practices and reached settlements in which the company has paid $70 million in additional royalties. Read the rest of this entry »
At least if you’re a single adult. The GOP really, really wants to dictate your behavior. Adults having choice for themselves? How liberal (bad word) can you be?! Get with the program and get your moral code directly from the GOP. The good news: everything is okay if you’re a Republican: taking bribes, sex outside marriage, spitting on your wife, assaulting a cocktail waitress, hitting on minors, lying—well, lying is mandatory. The story:
The federal government’s “no sex without marriage” message isn’t just for kids anymore.
Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.
The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it’s a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.
“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”
Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex.
The National Center for Health Statistics says well over 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sexual intercourse. Read the rest of this entry »
A cowboy walks into a bar and orders a whisky. As the barman’s pouring it the cowboy looks about him. ‘Where is everybody?’ he says.
‘Gone to the hanging,’ says the barman.
‘Hanging?’ says the cowboy. ‘Who they hanging?’
‘Brownpaper Pete,’ replies the barman.
‘Brownpaper Pete? Why do they call him that?’
‘Well,’ says the barman. ‘His hat’s made of brown paper, his shirt’s made of brown paper, his jacket’s made of brown paper and his trousers are made of brown paper.’
‘Really?’ says the cowboy. ‘What they hanging him for?’
Wonderfully smooth shave today. The Merkur Slant Bar with a Feather blade is just unbeatable. Used the QED Vanilla shaving stick, Simpson Chubby 1 Best brush. Smooth, easy, nick-free. Finished off with Thayers Lemon Witch Hazel. Great way to start the day.
Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr., a Republican U.S. senator from Kentucky, could well be the greatest argument for campaign finance reform on two legs. As it is, the Kentuckian is reform’s most vociferous enemy.
Mr. McConnell, 64, is the Senate’s majority whip, making him the chamber’s second highest-ranking Republican. We haven’t met Mr. McConnell, but we assume he is smart and capable.
But his particular genius, it seems, lies in fund-raising. A six-month investigation by McClatchy Newspapers recently concluded that Mr. McConnell has raised almost $220 million since his election to the Senate 22 years ago, much of it from special interests: casinos, cigarette makers, the drug industry, the mining industry and others.
Not coincidentally, Mr. McConnell’s agenda is closely aligned with the agendas of special interests. McClatchy reports that Mr. McConnell offered to amend legislation on the floor of the Senate at the direction of the tobacco lobby. Attorneys for the industry also helped to draft a bill, filed by Mr. McConnell, that would have protected tobacco companies from lawsuits. They even helped draft his correspondence to the White House in opposition to smoking-prevention programs.
Mr. McConnell argues his agenda is not driven by special interests. Instead, he says, it’s his agenda, shaped by a conservative and pro-business philosophy, that attracts industry. And while critics say Mr. McConnell is sacrificing the interests of Kentucky to wealthy donors, his defenders say the money has given Mr. McConnell the clout to channel millions of federal dollars to his district.
Mr. McConnell’s clout is undeniable. Most of the money he has raised has gone to support the campaigns of GOP colleagues; they, in turn, have rewarded Mr. McConnell by supporting his ascendance in the Senate. With Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee about to retire (and if Republicans retain the Senate), Mr. McConnell is poised to move into the top job as majority leader.
So far as we know, Mr. McConnell hasn’t done anything illegal. But does anyone believe that the welfare of this country and its people should be dictated by the tobacco lobby?
Mr. McConnell’s story is part of a larger, unsavory truth. The cost of political campaigning has gotten out of hand. More than ever, it seems, you have to be super-rich or super-connected to gain national office.
That can’t make for a very healthy culture in Washington, D.C. Take this month’s conviction of Ohio Republican Robert W. Ney. After six terms in the House, Mr. Ney was considered to have a promising future in that chamber’s leadership. Today, at the age of 52, he faces prison, his career and reputation in ruins. All because of the lure of campaign funds, luxury travel and other perks proffered by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Nor does it make for good public policy. In a culture where money is king, the debate tends to get framed by those who can afford a place at the table.
We’re kitty-oriented here, but I bet some readers own dogs. Should you ever have to give your dog a pill, Nerddog has found the answer: treats with a pill pocket. I don’t think this will work for cats, though. While dogs more or less swallow their food whole (they “wolf” it down), cats tend to chew their food thoroughly.
This video sums up the GOP attitude toward the press and toward veterans: no engagement and no support. The reporter is in error when he states that the actions against the press (putting their hands on the camera, on the reporter’s face, physical touching the reporting team) was “almost assault”: it was assault. The GOP simply does not like a free, questioning press. (Just to remind you who Marilyn Musgrave is: she is the US Representative who believes that the most urgent and important issue facing the country, the most critical issue, is gay marriage. She’s against it, I gather.)
And, oddly enough, they’re registering votes cast for the Democratic candidate as being cast for the Republican. In Florida, of course.
After a week of early voting, a handful of glitches with electronic voting machines have drawn the ire of voters, reassurances from elections supervisors — and a caution against the careless casting of ballots.
Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen — the final voting step.
Election officials say they aren’t aware of any serious voting issues. But in Broward County, for example, they don’t know how widespread the machine problems are because there’s no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems.
In Miami-Dade, incidents are logged and reported daily and recorded in a central database. Problem machines are shut down.
”In the past, Miami-Dade County would send someone to correct the machine on site,” said Lester Sola, county supervisor of elections. Now, he said, “We close the machine down and put a seal on it.”
Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist. Read the rest of this entry »
Click the photo twice to get it full size, and note that there are two crescents visible: a small distinct one and an enormous faint one. What are they? Answer.
We saw it earlier in the percentage of Americans who do not accept evolution as a fact—of the countries tested, the US was 33rd in accepting evolution. And now we see that Americans somehow can’t grasp that human activity can account—and almost certainly does account—for global warming. This degree of ignorance shows not just simple ignorance but rather willful ignorance—holding hands over ears, shutting eyes, and singing “La, la, la, la” whenever the opportunity to learn is offered. This kind of ignorance surely counts as a sin and as an affront to God, Who presumably is the source of the universe, how it works, and our intelligence to understand it. People who are wilfully ignorant are, IMHO, less than animals. I wonder how Dante would have situated them in Hell—perhaps living as moles.
When it comes to global warming, scientists and the American public aren’t talking on the same wavelength.
Most scientists believe that humans and their machines are mainly responsible for the 1.4 degree Fahrenheit rise in the world’s average temperature in the last 100 years. Most Americans think otherwise.
Last Wednesday, a group of 18 climate scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court declaring that they’re 99 percent certain that “greenhouse gas emissions from human activities cause global climate change, endangering human health and welfare.”
Only 41 percent of those polled last summer by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, however, accepted the argument that climate change is due primarily to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels in cars, trucks and factories.
The rest of the 1,501 adults in the survey either said there’s no solid evidence that the Earth is warming, or that if there is, the extra heat is the result of natural climate patterns, such as fluctuations in the sun’s radiation.
This public skepticism flies in the face of the most widely accepted scientific assessment of the cause of global warming, which lays the blame primarily on “greenhouse gases” generated by humans.
The leading greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted by cars, trucks and factories and traps the sun’s heat in the atmosphere.
The official scientific consensus is contained in a massive report issued in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization that the United Nations created to collect and assess the work of climate scientists.
The IPCC report concluded that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” The authors defined “most” to mean more than half and “likely” to mean that they’re 66 percent to 90 percent sure that their statement is true. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s called life-cycle planning: when you start to build/buy something, the plans must include how it will be disposed of. In one’s personal life, this means when you buy that vase, you must at that point decide how you will get rid of it: Goodwill? eBay? trash? Aunt Thelma? (will she want it)
The cold fact is that every material possession you acquire you (or your heirs) must eventually dispose of. (Obviously, this applies to equipment, not supplies consumed as part of living.) The vase, the book, the cellphone, the TV set, the kitchen knife, the collections of knick-knacks: all should have a final destination clearly assigned at the time you acquire them.
Why? Because, when you think about it, you really won’t know what to do with some of them, and that might make you rethink the acquisition. I’ve certainly noticed some hesitations now that I’m thinking this way. Disclosure: I started to think this way only when I started trying to dispose of stuff and realized that for quite a few things—fountain pen collection, for example—I really had no idea how to pass it along.
So, as you look at the fantabulous paperweight, try to figure out what you’ll do with it when the time comes to pass it along.
In fact, it seems possible that it might even protect against cancer.
I’m blogging this because one of the claims opponents of Prop 7 in Nevada are making is that pot smoking causes cancer. But research shows that claim is false:
People who smoke marijuana do not appear to be at increased risk for developing, new research suggests.
While a clear increase inrisk was seen among cigarette smokers in the study, no such association was seen for regular cannabis users.
Even very heavy, long-term marijuana users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent marijuana users or nonusers.
The findings surprised the study’s researchers, who expected to see an increase in cancer among people who smoked marijuana regularly in their youth. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has closed its principal library for researching the effects and properties of chemicals.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) strongly opposes the closure, saying it will undermine the ability of researchers to reveal chemical hazards in the future. There are some 1,700 new chemicals introduced each year.
“Without this research assistance, EPA scientists have fewer resources to conduct thorough analyses on hundreds of new chemicals for which companies are clamoring for agency approval to launch each year into the mainstream of American commerce,” said Jeff Ruch, director of PEER.
The EPA says the materials will still be available
“The EPA is committed to ensuring unique library materials are available to the general public, the scientific community, the legal community and other organizations,” spokesperson Suzanne Ackerman wrote in an e-mail statement.
Physical holdings of the Office of Prevention, Pollution, and Toxic Substances library will be made available on-line, Ackerman said. Other services will be made available electronically, she said.
Typically, data used in the new chemicals program is considered confidential business information and is subject to sensitive data access restrictions, Ackerman said. This data will continue to be available to EPA scientists through internal mechanisms.
Citing budget pressures, EPA has closed several of its regional libraries across the country.
“EPA’s hasty, buzz saw slashing at its library network is now interfering with its mission of harnessing the best available science to protect human health and the environment,” said Ruch, noting that Congress has yet to approve EPA’s actions. “Given the tremendous public health risks, this is absolutely the last place EPA should be cutting.”