Friday, November 07, 2003

43 minutes

Holy cats! 43 MORE minutes in the extended play version of The Two Towers. Definitely going on the Christmas list.

Because Democrats ARE Socialists

Tim Graham of NRO writes: This caught my ear last night on C-SPAN radio during the commute. In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Janice Rogers Brown, the Democrats took turns denouncing Brown for her shocking statement that the New Deal marked a "socialist revolution"! This is where you show them what Milton Friedman put in "Free to Choose," that the 1928 Socialist Party platform under candidate Norman Thomas is pretty much all government reality now (and was 20 years ago).

Of course they're denouncing her. She's onto them and is willing to call them out on it. There's nothing shocking about what she is saying - although if she points out that Herbert Hoover, far from being a champion of business and the free market, was also more than a bit of a socialist, I would be surprised.

VDH Wisdom

Another great column by Victor Davis Hanson, urging our leaders to tell the truth about the war that is being waged against America. I think he hits it almost perfectly, except that the form of violent expansionist Islam that has declared war on the West is not only in the Middle East. It is also present in America, and is very strong and vocal in Europe, especially in the UK.

My biggest concern is that our leadership cannot tell the truth that will set us free, because doing so would reveal the depths to which our government is also involved in its own war against the American people. I hope this is not the case, but there are some troubling signs that indicate it is possible.

Ladies, men lie too

It's somewhat intriguing to follow Ruby's ongoing dating disaster. Needless to say, it's not hard to see why she's still single. But speaking as a guy who knows what he's talking about when it comes to the world of the young, upwardly mobile male and his pretentious imitators, let me point out a few things:

1) If a guy initiates talk about his flashy car, but isn't driving it that night for whatever reason, he's probably full of it. If, however, you ask him what kind of car he drives out of the blue and he simply answers Porsche 911 or whatever, he's probably telling the truth. Caveat - up North, no one drives their sports car in the winter. If he uses the phrase "winter car", then he may well have cool summer car.
2) No one who actually wears Armani tells you about it. And if you can't tell, what do you care anyhow? Besides, there's six or seven different types of Armani. Emporio ain't Alta Moda.
3) People who actually work for secret government agencies don't ever tell you that, especially not in a bar. They're more likely to tell you that they're computer salesmen. Or accountants.
4) Guys who talk about money but don't actually have much tend to carry a lot of cash around. The wealthiest guy I ever knew never had a dime on him.
5) There's nothing inherently wrong with being a gold-digger, anymore than preferring to date handsome or intelligent men. But don't be shocked when you get worked yourself by someone you were trying to work. Rich guys can spot your kind a mile away, and so can their imitators. Remember, if Daddy was smart enough to earn millions, Junior probably isn't as dumb as he likes to act.

Not there yet

Reader FZ agrees that Linux is not yet ready for the casual computer user and writes:
"OK, I decided that I needed a way to easily copy files between Windows XP and Red Hat 9 for the occasions when I couldn't do something on Linux. My WinXP was partitioned as FAT32. Should be easy, right? Solution was simple, given 2.5 hours of head scratching. However, it was not documented in any of the books. None of the books documents the User-accessable System Tools-->Disk Management tool that would allow me to mount/unmount the Windows C: disk partition from my non-admin (in other words, not the root) account. None of the books documented the syntax of the command that I would have to add to the /etc/fstab file.

OK, since I have a little experience, I could puzzle this all out. Now, as a non-admin (non-root) user, I can go to the Disk Management GUI, select the "/dev/hda1 /mnt/c_disk" choice, click the mount button, and have a new clickable "c_disk" icon show on my desktop. Double-click on it and the Nautilus file manager lets me read/write to my WinXP C: disk. Something that you really need when you are migrating, right? Should be simple, right?

Sigh...Here's the change I had to make --Following stanza was added to etc/fstab to allow user mounting/umounting of the Windows C: Disk to permit interchange of files from Win to Lin and vice-versa:

/dev/hda1 /mnt/c_disk vfat noauto,user 0 0

Right - the Disk Management program that shows up on the Start (Red Hat)/System Tools menu is useless. What you have to do is edit the text file fstab, which is found in the /etc directory. To do this:

1. Run System Tools/Terminal. Type "su". Then type in your password.
2. Type "gedit /etc/fstab"
3. Add the line beginning /dev/hda.... Use one of the examples below, depending on whether your Windows file system is NTFS or VFAT. You should know which you've got from having run the Disk Druid partitioning program during your installation.
4. Restart. There may be a better way to run fstab, but I don't know how.
5. /mnt/windows (assuming you went with the /dev/hda2 approach below) will be where your old drive C is found.

I have three partitions, since my Windows disk was originally formatted as NTFS - unlike VFAT, you can only read the files there, you can't write/save onto it from Linux - which looks as follows:

/dev/hda1 /mnt/winntfs ntfs ro,users,exec,uid=500,iocharset=iso8859-1 0 0
/dev/hda2 /mnt/windows vfat auto,umask=0 0 0

Really bloody intuitive, isn't it! Notice that I've got my hard drives mounting automatically, whereas FZ does not. Mounting means that they're available for Linux to read from and write to, unlike Windows, Linux doesn't mount all possible hard drives, CD-Rom drives and floppy drives unless you tell it to do so. It's not hard, but you do have to know two things. First that you have to do it, and second, how to go about doing it.

Another thing that people may find useful, in case you're upgrading your Linux kernel, is learning how to get rid of the old one. Or, in my case, the new one, since I'm switching over to Fedora this weekend.

Run "rpm --erase kernel-2.[kernel # here]" while logged in as the "root" user. This will remove the unwanted kernel as well as eliminating it from the boot options.

Over There Again

I've been predicting for some time now that the USA will eventually find it necessary to go to war with the European Union one day. The remarkable Mark Steyn now says that we are already in a Cold War of sorts with them. I assumed that the war would be on the basis of the Eurocrats neofascism, but it's possible that it will have more to do with the fact that Europe is transforming quickly into Europastan.

Of course, the two factors may well be combined. One reason for the Eurocrats increasingly urgent move towards non-participatory government could be the fact that they expect to have a Muslim majority in countries such as Holland, Denmark and France in the next fifty years.

Just the facts, ma'am

Devvy Kidd writes a devastating column pointing out how the fraudulent "Notices of Levy" quote Title 26 section 6331, but conveniently leave out 6331(a) - beginning instead with 6331(b). What they are leaving out:

(a) Authority of Secretary. If any person liable to pay any tax neglects or refuses to pay the same within 10 days after notice and demand, it shall be lawful for the Secretary to collect such tax (and such further sum as shall be sufficient to cover the expenses of the levy) by levy upon all property and rights to property (except such property as is exempt under section 6334) belonging to such person or on which there is a lien provided in this chapter for the payment of such tax.

Levy may be made upon the accrued salary or wages of any officer, employee, or elected official, of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any agency or instrumentality of the United States or the District of Columbia, by serving a notice of levy on the employer (as defined in section 3401(d)) of such officer, employee, or elected official). If the Secretary makes a finding that the collection of such tax is in jeopardy, notice and demand for immediate payment of such tax may be made by the Secretary and, upon failure or refusal to pay such tax, collection thereof by levy shall be lawful without regard to the 10-day period provided in this section.

This is why they always send a Notice of Levy, but can't ever point to the actual Levy itself. It doesn't exist. They do exactly the same thing with the Notice of Lien, which is why if you do a search with your local Secretary of State, you'll almost always find that the lien to which the Notice of Lien is supposedly being provided does not exist.

The IRS is a law-breaking fraud.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


Considering that CNN views itself as a champion of free speech and the first amendment, and no doubt has a few reporters and anchors who have worked very hard to get where they are today, it seems strange that they should object to a parody of CNN's health coverage.

Better she left it to the cats

Joan Kroc--the widow of the founder of McDonald's--has bequeathed $200 million to National Public Radio. It's being called "the largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution."

Attention conservative elderly billionaires. Do NOT leave all your money to a) a foundation; or b) your liberal wife. This is why they invented trust funds. I hope, for the sake of the peace of the late Mr. Kroc's neighbors in the cemetery, that he was a left-liberal himself. Oherwise, you know the poor guy is spinning in his grave.

An American cultural institution. When did government-funded propaganda become cultural?


"Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told a Tallahassee audience today that southerners have to quit basing their votes on 'race, guns, God and gays.'"

Of course, isn't that what democracy is all about? Obviously, everyone should determine their vote based on what Howard Dean tells you to determine it on. If you didn't think he was unelectable before, this should suffice to change your mind.

Don't talk to me

I'm busy downloading.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The worm in the Apple

I would have linked to this post directly, except I couldn't, so I made do with pasting a fair bit of it here. I came across it while doing some research for an upcoming column, and it highlights a) Neal Stephenson's description of Apple: "so frail, yet so vicious" as well as b) why I don't consider them a viable philosophical alternative to Microsoft. It's from As the Apple Turns and contains some acidic thoughts with regards to how Apple's new iTunes nukes the MusicMatch software that previously was used to interface with their iPod. Apparently, Apple feels that if you're willing to let Microsoft control your computer, there's no reason for you to object to them doing a bit of the same.

To re-enable iPod syncing in MusicMatch, just follow the following eleventy-seventy simple steps! (This is verbatim from the email, mind you.)
Disconnect the iPod from your computer if it is still connected.
Double click on 'My Computer'
Double click on 'Control Panel'
Open "Add or Remove Programs'
Select and uninstall 'iTunes'
Select and uninstall the 'iPod for Windows' item
Select and uninstall the 'Musicmatch iPod Plugin' item
Select and uninstall the 'iPod System Software Update' or any other iPod related items that might be listed
Select and uninstall 'Musicmatch Jukebox'
Close the "Add or Remove Programs" control panel
Restart your computer
Navigate to the '\Program Files\iPod' directory
Delete the contents of the iPod directory by dragging the files to the Recycle Bin and then emptying the Recycle Bin
Navigate to the '\program files\Musicmatch\ Musicmatch Jukebox\' folder
Delete the files, but not the folder, in the Musicmatch Jukebox folder
Reinstall Musicmatch Jukebox from the installation CD that came with your iPod or download the iPod software from the following URL: ?Rn187230301,1872303,38861847,287230301
When finished, reboot your computer
When the computer finishes rebooting, connect the iPod to your system
Open Musicmatch Jukebox

Could it possibly be any easier? Where's the challenge? Indeed, we're a little disappointed there are only two restarts involved-- surely it could have been at least four, with a little more effort thrown in. Which is, of course, why we love Windows so much in the first place.

So, yeah, it does seem a little slimy that installing iTunes de-iPodifies MusicMatch, doesn't it? Especially if Apple's installer doesn't warn you about it beforehand, and we've seen no indication that it does. Granted, you'd have to be one seriously twisted iPod owner to try iTunes and then decide that MusicMatch is a better companion for your little white-'n'-silver buddy, but who knows what goes through the minds of Wintellians? Maybe they're always walking around in Bad Fish Shock. It would explain a lot.

And before you start lambasting Apple for pulling a stunt like this, c'mon... the people affected by this are Windows users-- they're used to this kind of treatment. Obviously they thrive on it, or they'd have ditched Microsoft years ago. Heck, crippling a competing product was probably the only way Apple could have gotten an ounce of respect from these folks in the first place. In fact, we think Apple probably missed a golden opportunity to win some serious admiration from the Windows community; instead of simply removing MusicMatch's ability to sync with the iPod, iTunes should also have deleted MusicMatch entirely, installed spyware, inexplicably disabled a random piece of system hardware, reformatted any writable volumes not containing iTunes itself, and then emailed itself to everyone in the user's Outlook address book. Oh, and it should have cost thirty bucks. More, with technical support.

Those last three sentences nearly caused me to wet my pants. Now that's technical commentary!

The martyred fraud

I always suspected Yitzhak Rabin was more show than substance - after all, what kind of master strategist would have conceived, much less championed, the Oslo Accords, as they were a suicidal loser's gamble from the very start. Ben Shapiro does an excellent job of exploding the myth, which, as he points out, must be done if Israel is ever going to face up to the need to defend herself.

And yet the Israli peace camp is still calling for Oslo II. The self-destructive naivete that appears to be the curse of the Jewish people can be summed up in just one example. Whereas Americans put up fences to secure backyard swimming pools, Israelis are still debating over whether to put one up in order to keep out snipers and suicide bombers.

And you want to let them vote?

Currently, the Federal Government includes executive level departments that advise the President. The heads of these departments are collectively known as the Cabinet. Could you please name as many departments as you can that are part of the current United States Cabinet? (Note: This question was open-ended and multiple responses were accepted, meaning, all respondents were invited to name as few or as many departments as they could. If a respondent provided the specific name of a cabinet secretary or administrator, e.g., “Colin Powell,� they were credited with a correct response.)

Most Americans are unable to identify even a single department in the United States Cabinet, according to a recent national poll of 800 adults. Specifically, the survey found that a majority (58%) could not provide any department names whatsoever.... Hispanics (79%), African Americans (75%), 18-34 year olds (70%), women (68%), and Pacific coast residents are among the groups most likely to say “I don’t know� when asked to name at least one department within the current United States Cabinet.

While I believe that every individual has unalienable rights, I don't think that voting is, or should be, one of them. The collective wisdom of a group of ignorant people is no wiser than the sum total of their ignorance, which is why the Founding Fathers limited the right to vote to around 20 percent of the populace. Once you prove that you are capable of being a responsible, self-sufficient member of society, then you can vote. Until then, forget it. Democracy is not compatible with human liberty.

It's at times like these that I have a certain amount of sympathy for the Platonist elitists who believe they have not only a right but a responsibility to rule over the masses. As Chris Rock once said of OJ: "I'm not saying he was right - but I understand."

Bring back the tearaways

I haven't been heavily into college sports since I was a kid - I used to love watching the old Southwestern Conference games with the all-out running attacks and the tearaway jerseys and one of my most prized possessions was a white mesh Texas Longhorns practice jersey - but I'm intrigued by all this conference hopping. It started out being all about the football and the ACC, and I like how adding Miami, Virginia Tech and BC will prevent Florida State from walking away with the title every year.

But with the Big East replacing the loss of those three teams with Cinncinati, Louisville and Marquette, holy smokes! There's a conference to own basketball season tickets. As for Conference USA and the WAC, who really cares? They're regional conferences of no more national interest than the Mountain West or the Atlantic 10.

Now, we just have to get Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, get the Big Ten to change its increasingly inaccurate name to the Big 12, have the Big 12 change its name to the SouthWestern Conference - and bring back the tearaways while we're at it - and have Army join the Patriot League. That's my platform if I ever run for NCAA president. Oh, and let's pay the doggone players, while we're at it. Don't bind the mouths of the cows that drag the ploughs, or however that goes.

The passing of the Hat

I really don't understand a lot of the vituperation that is being directed towards Red Hat. First, their CEO didn't say anything that others, including me, haven't said before. Linux is not ready for the casual home user who has no clue how to make any modifications to their system, although it is now a very reasonable choice - in my opinion, the optimal choice - for a power user who isn't afraid to go to the command line every now and then.

I've installed several systems over the last week, so I think I have a pretty up-to-date perspective on the question. Red Hat is considered one of the better distros in terms of ease of install, and yet there are numerous issues that Space Bunny, who is a bright girl, simply does not have the technical experience to tackle alone. She couldn't fix many of her inevitable Windows problems either, heck, half the time I can't since the problems aren't fixable, but the plug-and-play drivers and software installation programs are simple enough that she could handle those. But get her printer working with SAMBA, CUPS and whatnot? No way, not yet. Still, with her personal tech support staff, she's running Redhat 9 with her most serious issue to date being that her favorite crossword wasn't working in her browser - and after firing up the JRE in Opera, she's crosswording away again.

As for the much-lamented end of the Red Hat retail line, I think this is potentially great. The Fedora project will allow this line of Linux to return to its roots of community development without requiring things to be held back for the stodgy corporate market. I predict that Fedora will speed up the production of device drivers - I find apt-get and Synaptic to be far more useful than RHN already, so guess which was developed by the community and which was developed by the corporation? Red Hat will use Fedora as a testbed, and incorporate those elements which prove to be most useful and stable into its Enterprise products. Where is the problem in that? It's obviously going to be in Red Hat's best interest to see that Fedora remains as healthy, free and open as possible.

In summary, I'm looking forward to this weekend - it's download time again!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

It sells, they say

Reader ME writes: "I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy your columns, and your blogs. I clicked on your Shadows, Sex and Sorrow column cause it had the word "sex" in it, and I was thoroughly impressed. I don't come across too many columns on Christian philosophy. I checked out all your other stuff and was almost as impressed. I will definitely be following your stuff from now on."

I'm a little unsure of what to make of this. I mean, I'm delighted he enjoys the column et al and plans to follow it, of course, but there's just something disarmingly humorous about how he explains his discovery of the column. So, in the interest of pursuing maximum readership, I've decided that henceforth, the titles of all columns will contain either a double-entendre, a direct sexual reference, or spell out something titillating in Bible Code patterns.

I think I just heard my UPS editor's heart skip a beat. You know I'm kidding, right?

Grace and wit

My views have changed somewhat since I was a card-carrying member of the Reagan Youth. But I still have a great deal of respect for the man and what he wanted to accomplish, as well as how he conducted himself personally. I'm also pleased to see that the attempt of CBS to slur his legacy has been shut down, in part due to the inspiration and effort of this man.

The best part, though, is his approach to the fifteen minutes of fame. So many who experience it once are far too willing to whore themselves after it once their time is up This guy, however, handles it with grace, wit and aplomb. I hope I can do the same if mine should ever arrive.

Forget the LCD

Reader ML writes: "I really like what you have to say. But... your columns can be hard to read and follow. Very hard. I doubt that much more than 2% of U.S. are capable of and are willing to follow some of your deeper articles. I've quit in the middle of your column before. Please allow me to make the recommendation that was made to me in high school: consider who your audience is and write for them. It's still good advice, even after all these years. btw, Who are your audience? Maybe I'm just trying to read someone else's mail."

ML is probably correct in saying that my columns can be a little dense at times, though I would imagine that percentage to be somewhat higher. But I have no intention of altering the column in order to [choose your description - a) make it more accessible; b) chase readership; c) dumb it down], since there is already a plethora of columnists writing for the mainstream conservative audience. For example, Rich Lowry's recent column entitled Black Hawk Down, Again and its stay-the-course theme was predictable within minutes of the Chinook being shot down. In fact, I even predicted it to my UPS editor. Does that make Rich a bad columnist? Of course not - he's one of my favorites among the younger set - only different than the sort of columnist I want to be. I'd much rather have a career following the likes of George Will or Thomas Sowell instead of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. That's just my preference.

My belief is that most readers enjoy being stretched intellectually from time to time. I know I do, though certainly not always. Sometimes I feel like slogging through Calvino in the original, and other times I prefer to take it easy with a trashy Dragonlance novel. Speaking of which, The Dragons of Krynn is pretty good, but avoid Darkness and Light at all costs. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad! Anyhow, I'd rather know that people skip past my column from time to time when they don't feel like dealing with it than attempt to chase some phantom sweet spot or pursue the lowest common denominator.

Who is my audience? I would say everyone who loves freedom, liberty and Constitutional America. One does not have to grok the fullness or be my Ideal Reader in order to take a useful bit of information away from a column. But don't worry. I like to keep things simple and light-hearted from time to time too. Just wait for next week's WND column. It's as accessible and slashingly contemptuous of the Left as Miss Coulter's most perjorative missives.

It's called freedom

"We tell everybody what our vision is. I don't think [Linux developers] tell the community what theirs is," said Craig Mundie, chief technology officer at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. "There's also a difference between a community model that's sort of an evolutionary process and one that's actually designed and managed for effect in some specific way, which is what Microsoft is doing."

That's exactly right, Craig. Just like there's a difference between a community model where people not only have the right to input in how their society is conducted, but are the ultimate arbiters of authority, and a managed model where a single elite makes all the decisions for everyone and attempts to control their behavior through increasingly despotic means. Ever hear of Trusted Computing? Well, you will.

So, any more questions about the inherently fascist nature of modern corporatism? I am a free market capitalist. These corporate control freaks absolutely are not.

Monday, November 03, 2003

The SCO war

In case you did not believe that the philosophical battle for the allegiance of corporate America about which I wrote today is a real one, have a look at Groklaw's latest. IBM is striking back at SCO by looking into the nature of its recent financing, which was likely made in order to seek the destruction of the GPL.

I can't see how SCO could possibly win, but as I have written before, the state and federal courts are almost entirely corrupt. If the case is put before the right [wrong] judge, SCO will win. Regardless of the nonsensical nature of its case, and its total lack of merit.

Dying Dells

It's not a good sign when your laptop screen suddenly draws a thin white line down the middle, segmenting the screen into a two-thirds/one-third vertical division. It's especially bad when it shows up in the initial BIOS setup. I'm curious to know, however, if this could possibly have been caused by my selecting the wrong display type in Redhat 9, or if it was just a unfortunate coincidence of timing. My other, identical laptop has the same Dell 1280x Laptop type selected, and I would prefer to avoid ruining both machines if that is possible.

My instincts tell me that it had nothing to do with this, though, since this is only the latest in a long string of hardware failures for this pair of Latitude CPx machines. Considering that I never take them anywhere, I can't imagine that they would have lasted more than five weeks if they'd ever left the house. But if anyone knows more about this sort of thing, do let me know.

Of course you don't

"In a 2002 Washington Post article by Clive Thompson, Chip McGrath, editor of the New York Times Book Review said, 'I don't think we're missing the boat on popular books. We're missing the boat, calculatedly so, on things like religious books. I don't think we have to apologize for that.'"
- The Bulletin of the SFWA, Fall 2003, p. 13

Just so we're clear. The New York Times Book Review intentionally ignores best-selling books in constructing its bestseller lists. Why? My guess is that they wish to establish Christian and other non-secular points of view as being outside the mainstream, which, as defined by the New York Times, bears only superficial resemblance to the actual mainstream of American public opinion.

Ixnay on the voxday

If you're wondering what on earth the literary reference for today's column could possibly be, don't think you're going crazy. I titled it Capitalism, Socialism and Technology as a homage to Joseph Schumpeter's excellent work. However, my WND editor apparently either didn't like it or didn't recognize it, as he renamed the piece Bypassing Government.

Of course, if he really wanted to drive readership, he should have used one of the magic words. Sex. Clinton. Hillary. [Insert name of celebrity making political gaffe here]. For some reason, anything mentioning one of those four things is irresistible to people. And speaking of Hillary, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Joseph Farah is right about her running. Sure, she says she isn't. Like she's never lied before.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Boycott Norton Anti-Virus

cluge writes: A recent American Rifleman contained small column that said that Symantec's new Internet Security 2004 would block pro gun rights sites (i.e. NRA sites), while not blocking similar anti-gun rights web sites. Being the eternal skeptic, this claim was tested by downloading the trial version and running some tests against it. To my surprise I found the every NRA site was blocked and was in the category 'weapons.' This even included the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. Some sites that were not blocked were notable anti-gun rights sites such as The Brady Campaign, and Good Bye Guns. The only anti-gun rights site that was blocked that I could find was Hand Gun Control's web site. My rather informal test still raises the spectre that a large corporate entity may be clandestinely trying to sway you or your child's political views by censoring content from one side of a political debate. This is indeed chilling, especially considering that such software is required to be used in libraries to protect children. Is this political slant common in censorware? Have slashdotters found similar glitches in other 'parental control' software?"

I was going to buy a copy of NAV from Symantec after a virus took down my intranet as well as my ISP, but I migrated to Linux instead. Now, I'm even more glad that I didn't by from these censorware haters of Constitutional rights. Send Symantec a message by nuking NAV from your hard drive and replacing it with McAfee, AVG or Dr. Solomon. Better yet, have done with the Third Way neofascists all together and go Penguin.

The end of the world as we know it

Talking to one of my friends who is on the verge of making the Great Migration, we began to discuss the quick tech support which is available for Red Hat and other Linux distros on the newsgroups in places like alt.os.linux.redhat and so forth. He was concerned, though, about posting his email and generating even more spam, and mentioned that he might set up an account at Hotmail or Yahoo in order to avoid that problem.

Of course, Pan and Pine and pretty much every other newsreader lets you use fake emails anyhow, so if you're content to wait for your answer to get posted, there's no reason to use real address. As proof, I cited one recent post I'd seen was made by one Nyarlatothep, giving an email of My friend conceded the point, with the caveat "if it's not fake, we're all in a lot of trouble!"

The Elder Gods have awoken at last from their long sleep of centuries. And they've got email!

Call me sentimental

..but there's something about seeing "Griese" on the back of a Miami Dolphins jersey that makes me smile. I'm not a Dolphin's fan, but I hope that Brien Griese finds a little more success down south than he did up in Denver. I remember watching his last game as a Wolverine, the 1998 Rose Bowl for which his father was half of the CBS broadcast team. Bob Griese was professional throughout, but when his co-announcer - all-time announcing great Keith Jackson - complimented Griese on Brian's success and the pride Jackson knew the father took in his son, Griese came perilously close to breaking down.

A good moment in college football. Of course, I've got Peyton Manning going today, so here's hoping for a 42-35 shootout.

Madden 2005 needs a Coach Mode

Front Page Sports Football Pro used to have one, and it was a blast. You call the plays and let the AI-controlled players implement them. The chess aspect of football is the most interesting one, in my opinion, and this is the only way to be able to make the experience a purely strategic one. It's a little ironic that the only role you can't play properly is the one that the guy for whom the game is named made his name playing.

Love the new logos, though, especially the ability to use your own colors with them. I'm approaching the playoffs in my fourth sixteen-game season with 2004 - the addiction is under control.

Linux Bunny

And then I realized I loved her more than I ever had before.... Yes, she's hot, she's blonde and now she's down with the Penguin. I'm even a little envious of her setup, as her Windows partition is VFAT, not NTFS, so she has full write access to her old Windows files. Come on, hackers, let's get cracking on that NTFS format! The mountain is not yet climbed!

Anyhow, installing Linux on her machine - more to the point, downloading 1.7 Gigs of CDs - has taken a bit of time and caused the relative dearth of bloggage lately. And since everyone has different operating idiosyncracies, her use of web mail has necessitated my learning a bit about the so-called poppers, which allow POP and STMP access to the more popular web programs such as Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. There are a bunch of them, but Hotwayd is proven to work with Evolution, so that's the one I went with. Report to follow soon.

For some reason, I just had a very strange flashback to that weird Apple commercial with Jeff Goldblum. That was a humiliating experience for me, as I was absolutely sure the IMAC was going to bomb. Who would want a computer that was crippled to the point of being little more than an email machine, but cost as much as a real computer? Well, a lot of people who hadn't used the Internet before, it turns out.

Since Linux now has no trouble handling all the email, surfing and word processing that consists of the vast majority of casual computer usage, it can only be a matter of time before someone creates a cheap Linux blackbox and sells a bunch of them. They probably won't come in tangerine, though. So, Apple still has that going for it.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

A vast intellectual chasm

As readers of my column know, a friend of mine committed suicide a few months ago. I wrote Shadows, Sex and Sorrow in an attempt to express some thoughts that my friend's action had inspired, as well as to say a few things that I wish I had thought to say to her. I was not writing a eulogy, nor was I writing for the benefit of those who knew her. Indeed, I did not even tell anyone who knew her about that particular column.

Nevertheless, word has a way of getting around, and so a number of her friends and family have apparently come across the article. Many of them understood the spirit in which the piece was written, some, however, have not. I received one interesting email - an extremely polite one, I hasten to add - which raised some points worth addressing. It was from a friend of my friend of whom I was previously unaware and who I have never met.

I'm sure you can imagine that I, and others I'm sure, would be pained by your description of her suicide as a decision of "cold logic in its remorseless nihilism." I don't know whether anyone besides God knows the reality of her suicide. Perhaps you were completely accurate in your description, through your own spiritual confirmations. But either way, it is my hope that all of our spiritual convictions are always tempered by our most compassionate vulnerabilities when writing or reflecting about [her] or others who share struggles similar to hers.

Now, it was never my intention to inflict pain upon anyone in writing this particular column, most particularly not upon those who have already suffered a tremendous loss. And yet, something bothered me about the assertion that one should temper one's spiritual convictions simply to spare the feelings of those who do not share them. Would one temper one's view of the gravitational force and the role it played in the death of one who jumped from a rooftop? Especially if one was speaking with those who did not share one's belief in gravity?

It was clear to me that the writer did not understand that although my friend was obviously the inspiration for the column, the piece was also addressing much more universal matters than a single human life. From the perspective from which I write, all nihilism - and thus suicide - is rational given an atheistic worldview. This logic contradicts the mainstream perspective, which, being a veneer of Judeo-Christian ethics without the underlying belief system, is highly irrational. I am far from the first to point this out, however, people are more accustomed to hearing it from the likes of Nietszche, Sartre and Camus, not to mention Voltaire and Socrates, than an evangelical Christian. And yet, I am not saying anything that has not been said before, and more eloquently, by some of humanity's greatest minds. Very few people are truly able to handle the inherent implications of being their own god.

I said as much in a response to the writer, who in his response clarified that my initial take on his email had been correct. "I... am writing to restate my hope that you grow to gain a more heartfelt appreciation of [her] and perhaps of those who do not share your specific religious views." At first I though this was strange, as I could not see how anything I had written could possibly be construed as a lack of appreciation for my friend. But to the faithless, the notion that an individual is responsible for his own actions is frightening, since relying only on oneself to bear the entire weight of an uncaring universe is simply more than can be faced by any except the most exceptional. This is why Nietzsche - not one to shirk the dark - considered Christianity a coward's path, and likely why the writer interpreted my bringing up the point as being uncompassionate. But in what sense can it be considered compassion to leave others to drown in the dark? I do not regret a single word I wrote; I regret only that I did not articulate them in time to share them with my friend.

Pat Buchanan and others have written of a great cultural war that is dividing America. They are no doubt correct, but what is perhaps more ominous is that the two poles of religious faith and secular humanism have separated to the point that it is becoming very difficult to communicate effectively across the divide. The friend of my friend also added "I'm not sure this dialogue will be fruitful right now.... In any case, I would like to leave off corresponding here."

I'm afraid his instincts are probably correct.
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