Saturday, March 31, 2007

Amazon - Library Scripts

I discovered my Amazon+library Greasemonkey scripts no longer seemed to be working. It seems Amazon had changed their layout enough to throw off the code that searches for the title location. I've updated the Denver version, and will update the others as I get the chance. The new version is 1.2.4.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Mistakes Were Made"

Is anyone else really sick of this overused phrase? Especially when it's said by the person who's made the "mistake"? Usually they aren't "mistakes" at all. I remember Chomsky mentioning this phrase in scenarios like Vietnam, etc., and making a similar observation - about how our foreign policy is indeed no mistake at all, "mistakes" like Vietnam, Iran/Contra and blatant terrorism like Operation Gladio are part and parcel of an overriding theme.

It's just that I've noticed it being used quite a bit in the past few weeks - and it passes almost without comment - except on the Intertubes, of course. Gonzalez has said "mistakes were made" and Maj. Gen. George Weightman said "mistakes were made". Besides stepping down, do these people ever really pay the price?

QuickCheck is now CheckFox

I've updated QuickCheck and in the process, also changed the name to CheckFox. This happened a few weeks ago, but Mozilla was undergoing changes at their addons site.

A user had pointed out that the accelerator key for the menu item "Check" conflicts with the "C" of Copy, so the change was to switch it to a different accelerator key - "H".

What does CheckFox (formerly known as QuickCheck) do? In a word, it allows one to check /uncheck any checkboxes on a page if they are selected.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


This is one movie that doesn't give cut and dried answers - and you had better pay close attention during some sequences, or you're likely to miss something. When the credits began to roll, I must admit I was left scratching my head. And happily, not in a pretentious, Tomie kind of way (if you've seen that movie, you'll probably know what I mean - the comic book might have been better, but man, did I hate that movie's ending).

This movie starts as a rather straight-ahead detective type movie - with a minor twist that you'll see in the first few quickly gets rather odd, however, but it does tend to hang together. Some sequences were evocative of some of Argento's more lucid stuff - dreamy, but not unexplainable.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

I went into this one blind like I prefer to do - this was an Amazon recommendation based on other films I've bought/watched. Although I went in as blind as possible, I somehow knew this was originally slated as a made-for-TV movie, so I wasn't setting the bar too high.

What a great little flick! I cannot believe I had not heard of this one before. If you think Martin Sheen creeps you out in The Dead Zone, wait until you see him in here. And Jodie Foster does an excellent job as well. Not to be missed, and probably much better without any spoilers, even a synopsis. I hate to sound like an old man, but the 1970's really had a lot of movie gems.

The only drawback was at least one scene with that signature 1970's whakka-whakka-whakka porno-sounding music, but, eh, what can you do?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

American Fascists

This book is probably more appropriately called CHRISTIAN American Fascists, as that is the topic at hand. If one skips over to Amazon, the usual one star reviews can be found, which a book like this always attracts. Many of the arguments against this book - if the reviewer has even read the book that is, and not just following what his pastor or someone like Rush told him - deal with the fact that the author is talking about the extreme cases. Well, of course he is. These people don't represent the majority of Christians, and Dominionists don't even represent the majority of the religious right, and that is the thrust of this book - that the vanguard of fascism elsewhere never needed a majority and that they seized power because there was little serious response from the mainstream liberal societies, and that therefore these people in the far religious right represent a very real threat to our liberal society and "way of life". These people don't want a reasoned debate, they want to demonize their opposition and many of them would just like to seize power and install a theocracy, and in fact, view the very idea of the "marketplace of ideas" and dissent as treasonous and/or heresy (which is probably why they can't really grasp science all that well). This isn't a conspiracy theory, many in this group have expressed their thoughts on this - you can see footage of one of these "Christian" "leaders" demanding just this sort of thing in The God That Wasn't There or in The Power of Nightmares.

I hope the many conservative critics of this book are correct and I hope the author is wrong. The very recent history has shown that we at least seem to have a temporary reprieve from the advance of these nutjobs - with all the scandals last fall and the decisive defeat of many of the nuttier politicians that are under the sway of these people - e.g., Santorum (although it looks like Fox News has employed that evil, evil man). The problem with most critics of this book is that they denounce the author as someone from the "far left" - apparently "far left" means anyone that criticizes even the craziest among Christians, Republicans, or in the Bush clan. This author has religious bona fides and if any of these goofballs calling him "far left" had bothered to look into that, they wouldn't have tried tarring him with that label.

As I read along and the author painted a picture of these people living in little hermetic bubbles of alternate realities and entire parallel systems, I had to step back and just think about that. Just reflect on this, and what comes to mind is that famous quote that an unnamed Bush staffer gave that was dismissing the "reality-based community". A religious right wingnut can home school his children and indoctrinate them into his worldview, listen to all right wing radio on Clear Channel, or tune into all Christian radio, or watch only Fox News and the Christian television. It's getting even more ridiculous, though: they are trying to construct an alternative "science" (too bad it's really only a political movement and meets no requirements of science at all) in ID, or in critiques of stem cell research and even are so hateful and ill-informed that they come down against HPV prevention.

They even have to construct their own realities on the internet via Conservapedia and CreationWiki, apparently because reality offends them so even on the intertubes - apparently there is a godless communist conspiracy (probably even "sekulur hyooomanist") to use C.E. and B.C.E. instead of the B.C. & A.D., which requires a response to the "liberal" Wikipedia. They even created their own version of Linux.

These people are really embarrassing to sentient beings everywhere, and I can't help but think that if these people get power that we'll have our own version of Lysenkoism in the U.S. - politically correct "science", politically correct "history", etc...Orwell, call your office.

As an aside - to provide some levity, I checked out Bill Maher's "I'm Swiss" DVD from the library around the time when I was reading this book - in there, he was moaning about Christians that prefix something they are about to say with, "well, I'm a Christian..." as if that is a trump card they can throw down that demonstrates how just and moral they are, which of course it doesn't. Other commentary about "moral" Christians were in there, but I really remembered that comment, as I know exactly what he's talking about there, and it's very annoying. If Equal Time laws ever get re-enacted, I hope that Christian radio and television is forced to run Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, etc., commentary as a counterbalance. That'd make my day. :)

Anyway, go read the book, it's really quite good, even if it contains some rather terrifying notions. If you aren't aware of what the Dominionists are and what they are up to, it will open up your eyes.

UPDATE: I went surfing to some favorite sites after writing this, and stumbled across a story on talking about - talk about an interesting choice of a name!!! VANGUARD? Oh, man.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

On The Edge

The very first computer that I owned was a C64, and probably like many others, I've been puzzled by the historical revisionism of most coverage of the beginnings of the PC (in the generic sense) - it's all about Apple, IBM and Microsoft, and that's not historically accurate for anyone who has any sort of memory at all.

I was very young at the start of it all, and so don't remember the PET or the VIC-20 (except for some older kids that had one and mentioned it), but I do remember the C-64 - quite vividly. In fact, I kept mine until about 2000 and sold it on Ebay. I'm a software developer today, and I'd have to say that the C-64 played a large role in my early interest in computers, even if it was mostly for gaming.

Though much talk about early PC days centers on Apple and IBM, but the sheer numbers of computers that Commodore sold (C64 is the single best selling computer of all time) and their big lead on technology (see: the Amiga) shows that coverage is severely lacking and flawed if not outright biased. In fact, as this book shows, if Commodore had not been so internally dysfunctional, things today might be quite different. This book obviously aims to correct sloppy coverage of early PC days, as well as to document just what caused Commodore to fall from such heights.

There is enough geekiness in there to please the nerds like me, but not so much as to be alienating - it's mostly about the politics of business and the clashes of egos. This tale really deserves it's own movie, similar to the Pirates of Silicon Valley.

And with that, I'm off to install the Commodore emulator VICE again - I need to find a decent controller for my laptop. :)

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