“Debbie Gibson and dog food. I’ve always dreamed of this.”

— Julie Brown, Just Say Julie!

Lileks on f911

I’m not generally a Read The Whole Thing kind of guy, but go read the whole thing.

Lots of good points, but I think this is my favorite:

Wait until France gets a hard shot in the nose. Wait until France reacts with some nasty work. They’ll get a golf-clap from the chattering class over here and a you-go-girl from Red America. France could nuke an Algerian terrorist camp and the rest of the world would tut-tut for a day, then ask if the missiles France used were for sale. And of course the answer would be oui.


After hearing all the whining about another example of how Apple is killing off third-party developers by “shamelessly copying Konfabulator” (which can fairly be described as Super Desk Accessory Toolkit, an update of the classic Mac OS utilities), I decided to take a look at this amazing product that I’d somehow overlooked.

Um, where’s the fire? I just went through the gallery of Konfabulator widgets, and far too many of them are like these two:

ugly clipboard manageryour IP address as a bar code

A small handful of them were useful, but while some of Apple’s sample gadgets from the Tiger beta are badly designed, at least they’re good for something. In fifteen minutes of browsing, I couldn’t find a single Konfabulator widget that was interesting enough to encourage me to buy and install their application. Indeed, the trite “get the original Dashboard now” page at their site showcases a bunch of gaudy widgets that I simply don’t want on my computer.

There’s a fugly clock that slavishly emulates a low-resolution, low-legibility digital clock; another one that slavishly emulates the limitations of an old analog wristwatch; a color-coded pseudo-3D to-do list that’s covered with redundant buttons; a Google searchbar that looks like it’s supposed to be inserted somewhere; and a user-hostile iTunes controller (okay, Apple screwed that one up, too). And how do you gain access to these screen toys? Through a pull-down menu, just like the old Apple desk accessories.

Designing your own means learning to use their XML layout schema. Designing a Dashboard gadget, on the other hand, is as easy as laying out a web page, because it is a web page, rendered with the same engine as Safari. In fact, you can create it with your favorite text editor and graphics program, leveraging your knowledge of HTML and CSS.

What’s Left if you’re not all Right

Another attempt to define where people sit on the political spectrum. Some of the questions are written in a way that makes an honest answer impossible, and like a lot of broken surveys they don’t offer a “neutral” response, but the results are still amusing.


It’s just so… French

This story leaves me gasping for breath:

Norwegian authorities have fined a French tour guide nearly $1,500 for shooting a curious polar bear in the foot.

Officials later had to kill the animal, part of a protected species, the newspaper Aftenposten said.

The drama took place last month when the tour guide and her group of six tourists were waiting for a boat to pick them up at Van Mijenfjord after a land excursion.

A male polar bear suddenly appeared and started roaming toward them. The guide urged her group to run toward a nearby wooden structure but the bear followed.

The guide feared she would not have time to reload after a warning shot, so she wounded the bear in the foot. He hobbled away. Officials said she should have used emergency flares or other devices available to her to scare off the bear.

She was fined $1,436.

I’m surprised she didn’t surrender. Okay, cheap shot. What I’m really surprised about is that the moron survived. Let’s have a pop quiz. You’ve just been confronted by a giant carnivore that does not appear actively hostile. Do you: A) kill the bear, B) back away slowly and calmly while preparing to kill the bear if it charges, C) fire a warning shot to scare the bear away, D) panic and run, E) shoot the bear in the foot, or F) both D and E.

Perhaps the most curious line from the story is this one: The guide feared she would not have time to reload after a warning shot. So, she either had the wrong weapon for bear country or simply wasn’t competent with the right one, and because of this, she chose to wound a goddamn polar bear. Forget fining the nitwit, just ship her to grizzly country and let Ma Nature finish her off.

New toy: Motorola v600

Okay, I don’t really have much use for the camera side of my new cellphone; I’m a quality snob who thinks his 5 megapixel digicam is adequate for 4x6 snapshots and web galleries and nothing more, and I’m more interested in switching to larger film than to digital. Still, when you buy a new toy, in this case replacing my Ericsson T68 to get better reception and MP3 ringtones, you should at least try out the features.

How’s the camera? Functional for quick, on-the-spot documentation, but nothing more. For instance, when I was leaving the Reno Hilton (lame casino, skip the steakhouse, eat at Asiana) Wednesday morning, I spotted a big Harley parked on the sidewalk next to a large sign that boldly stated “No motorcycle parking on sidewalk.” That would have been worth a quick snap.

It takes 640x480 pictures, and claims to offer a 4x zoom. Zoom, my ass. This is pure marketing-speak. The viewfinder is what zooms; the resulting picture is either a 320x240 or 160x120 crop. Quality is nothing to write home about, but sufficient for amusement.

Other than that, the phone’s features are quite nice. It has the usual mix of vibrate, speakerphone, BlueTooth, GPRS, games, messaging, etc., and adds MP3 ringtones with quite reasonable fidelity. The reception is also living up to its promise so far, giving me a much stronger signal inside my house, where the Ericsson was prone to dropping calls unless I stood in the sweet spot facing the correct direction.

Motorola doesn’t support Macs for their phones, and Apple hasn’t added SyncML support to iSync, but they still work together over BlueTooth. You can copy phonebook entries, MP3s, and pictures back and forth, and with Ross Barkman’s modem scripts and configuration database, it was easy to set up GPRS and configure my PowerBook to use the phone for wireless Internet access.

And if you call me, everyone nearby will be blessed with the sound of The Carol of the Old Ones. I briefly considered the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, a classic geek sound file, but I still remember what happened when we used it as the out-of-paper noise on our NeXT printer, and my boss tried to print a large document while carrying on a phone conversation with his very young daughter.

It’s easy to switch to a secondary ringtone, so I’m thinking the opening song from Hand Maid May would work nicely.

Saddam on trial

It occurs to me that Saddam Hussein can’t lose. Oh, he can lose the case, and maybe even his life, but in the Court of World Opinion, anything he says can and will be used against Bush.

Saddam says, “We had no WMDs,” and the press shouts “Bush lied!”

Saddam says, “Yes, we were continuing to develop WMDs to use and sell,” and the press orgasmically cries “Brainwashed by his American jailers!”

Okay, that’s the Western press; the Arab press is more likely to blame it on the Jews, Bush’s secret masters.

Michael Moore will blame it on the people who wrote critical reviews of his magnum opus, FearAndHate 911.

A song for the times

Got dragged into an argument by some frothing Lefties who reached multiple orgasms during Michael Moore’s new propaganda flick, and found a song running through my head:

999 shells filled with mustard gas,
999 known WMDs,
put one down, into the ground,
998 shells filled with mustard gas.

Anime Endings: Mahoromatic revisited via Angelic Layer

After reaching the end of Angelic Layer, I found myself thinking about the unsatisfying conclusion to Mahoromatic, and I think I finally understand how it went wrong.

Warning: severe spoilers for Mahoromatic ahead. Safe for people currently watching Angelic Layer (hinthint). I’ll defer a full discussion of that ending for a while. I want to go back and watch the whole thing again first.