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:: Sunday, September 30 2007 ::

We headed over to the secretary of state's office yesterday, because our friend Kimberly needed to get her driver's license renewed. It had not been our plan, orginally, to make this drive on a Saturday morning (in fact, if at all possible we would have avoided it, because the office which is open on Saturdays is quite distant). We made the trip specially because, due to a budget showdown in the state government, the offices will not be opening again on Monday, and in fact may not open for quite some time. This is also true of other state services, like camping grounds in state parks, preschools, and tax stamps on alcohol (i.e. no new alcohol can be imported into the state until the politicians reach an agreement). Interestingly, apparently all enforcement of rules will continue (can't have us losing revenue, after all).

As you can see from the picture, we were not alone in our realization that it was now or never. The queue actually reached out the door, around the parking lot, and quite nearly to the road about 100 meters away. It was impressive. We felt quite bad, as we were sure they would close, stranding all those people without their documents, but they managed to process everyone. About two hours later we were able to head back, complete with a swanky new driver's license.
:: David (12:02 in Michigan, 18:02 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Friday, September 28 2007 ::

I don't really know what's going on, as this is the first I've heard of this story, but I'm pretty sure that fact that an arrest warrant has been issued for the head of INTERPOL is a little bit weird. INTERPOL is, as you may know if you've seen Ocean's Twelve, "the world’s largest international police organization, with 186 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime." (this from their web site).
:: David (7:58 in Michigan, 13:58 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

I was listening today to the Rush CD that lives in my car, and the song Anthem came on. Anthem is also a story by Ayn Rand, of whom Rush were fans (their magnum opus 2112 is in fact based on Anthem). Another big fan of Ayn: Alan Greenspan. And all of a sudden I tried to imagine Greenspan rocking out to Rush in the 70's, until my brain, in self defense, forced me to stop.
:: David (0:08 in Michigan, 6:08 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 27 2007 ::

Well, for better or worse I started the gaming blog. You can check it out here, and if you come up with a better title I'm all ears.
:: David (11:11 in Michigan, 17:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[5]

There's a recently published photo album the BBC directed me to. On display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, the album contains photos of the German workers relaxing while on break from working in Auschwitz. The photos are so mundane, so full of life and happiness. And many, if not all, of the people pictured are monsters.
:: David (10:20 in Michigan, 16:20 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 26 2007 ::

So I've been thinking for a bit that I ought to start a separate blog just for online gaming. I read about it and think about it enough to kind of sort of want to participate in the fray. It would also let me fiddle with the blog software some more, in a way that wouldn't kill my personal blog (i.e. this one). I'll let you know if I decide to roll with it, and we'll see what happens from there.
:: David (13:44 in Michigan, 19:44 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 25 2007 ::

Sometimes things go so far you can hardly figure out how you got there. lolthulhu is definitely one of those things. When the punchline is "IM IN UR CANOPIC JARZ, EATIN UR SOLZ", there's really nowhere to go.
:: David (23:58 in Michigan, 5:58 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Hooray! Kimberly and Pudge are here for a visit!
:: David (23:35 in Michigan, 5:35 in Paris) - Comment

I was commenting this evening that Mattel apologizing to China for the toy recall due to lead paint in their toys (or due to 'design flaws' if you go by the apology version) is the corporate equivalent of Harry Whittington's apology to Dick Cheney for getting shot in the face.
:: David (23:32 in Michigan, 5:32 in Paris) - Comment

If you ever needed proof of the placebo effect, a recent study on back pain offers up a pile. The study found (according to the BBC) that "[a]fter six months 47% of patients in the acupuncture group reported a significant improvement in pain symptoms, compared to 44% in the sham [fake acupuncture] group, and just 27% in the group who received conventional therapy." Almost twice as many people improved from a placebo (or some as yet unidentified) effect as from conventional (real) treatment.
:: David (15:17 in Michigan, 21:17 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Monday, September 24 2007 ::

The Economist, in a bizarre twist, channels the founding fathers this week, in an piece titled 'civil liberties under threat'.

Human rights are part of what it means to be civilised. Locking up suspected terrorists — and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too? — before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.
A little more bloody than one might hope for, but a nice reminder that freedom isn't free.
:: David (9:28 in Michigan, 15:28 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 23 2007 ::

The bears didn't get us. We're back. The cat was happy. In fact, even the downstairs cats were happy, as their people were also on vacation.
:: David (23:19 in Michigan, 5:19 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 21 2007 ::

We're off to the wilds of Michigan for the weekend - in fact we're already in the wilds - I'm a little freaked out that I have internet where we are. Back Sunday eve.
:: David (16:50 in Michigan, 22:50 in Paris) - Comment

A little reminder from the BBC on how far back the US is:

Only 5% of the population will be able to enjoy speeds of 18Mbps. More than half will only be able to get 8Mbps.
The key phrase there is 'only 8Mbps'. And before you say 'well, I get 6Mbps', I should point out the article is all about how the advertised speeds aren't what consumers are actually getting. Better head on over to speedtest.net and see what you're really getting before you make any smarmy comments. I'm 2.5Mbps down, 433 Kbps up. Not even close to 'only 8Mbps'.
:: David (13:01 in Michigan, 19:01 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Thursday, September 20 2007 ::

I am informed that I share a birthday with the smiley emote. I'm dubious of anyone's claim to have invented it, but these folks do just that.
:: David (10:48 in Michigan, 16:48 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, September 19 2007 ::

I was struck today by a sequence of stories on NPR, which made me realize how much current events sound like a space opera. You have all the players - an empire involved in the suppression of a recently conquered territory, using mercenaries to ill effect. You have their political opponent, the head of a planet-wide religious sect, who is applying political pressure to advance their own causes. It's creepy how totally fictional it sounds when you generalize it. And how unbelievable. Mercenaries shooting up a public square is what the bad guys do in those books. Not the good guys.
:: David (23:51 in Michigan, 5:51 in Paris) - Comment

Sometimes the internet gets a mind of its own, and does something wonderful. Witness the list of free stuff you can get on your birthday wiki for Ann Arbor.
:: David (15:55 in Michigan, 21:55 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

32! Another year gone by, and what do I have to show for it? A cool pirate hat, for one. Have a great TLAP day, you scurvy dogs!
:: David (9:18 in Michigan, 15:18 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]

:: Tuesday, September 18 2007 ::

I heard about this on RFI, and now the BBC has an English report on the fact that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has laid out plans to reform the pension system in France. Good luck with that - you're going to need it.
:: David (16:48 in Michigan, 22:48 in Paris) - Comment

One of those odd institutions that sometimes happen in small cities has come to an end: Ann Arbor's own wandering minstrel, Shakey Jake, has passed away. You still see cars around here with 'I brake for Jake' on 'em from time to time.
:: David (15:09 in Michigan, 21:09 in Paris) - Comment

So I was thinking this morning - do you remember the song 'parents just don't understand' by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince? About midway through our hero is school shopping, and he points out the shirt proposed by his mom is 'plaid, with a butterfly collar'. I wonder if plaid with a butterfly collar is fashionable again?
:: David (9:36 in Michigan, 15:36 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

Goodbye, Times Select! We hardly knew ya!
:: David (9:03 in Michigan, 15:03 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, September 17 2007 ::

A loss to the Fantasy world today: Robert Jordan has passed away. Jordan, whose real name was James Oliver Rigby Jr., was diagnosed in 2006 with the disease which eventually claimed his life. The series for which he was best known, The Wheel of Time, is currently unfinished, although the last book was in the process of being written.
:: David (9:13 in Michigan, 15:13 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 14 2007 ::

Can you say 'bank run'? Today a UK bank experienced a 'liquidity crisis' due to the fact that it gets most of its money by borrowing from other financial institutions. When that market seized up a few weeks back, things got sticky. Now the Bank of England has stepped in to prop them up until things stabilize. The BBC story includes a nice photo of people queueing out front of one of the banks, trying to get their money out before things go south.
:: David (13:50 in Michigan, 19:50 in Paris) - Comment

Given someone else was bounced within minutes of arriving, the announcement by Benazir Bhutto that she will return to Pakistan despite not having an agreement with the government (i.e. with Musharraf) is interesting. I wonder if there's a betting pool somewhere I could get in on about how long she remains in the country, and out of jail....
:: David (12:21 in Michigan, 18:21 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 13 2007 ::

Le Monde has a 'manifesto of the modern left' in today's opinion section, which dovetails nicely with my recent statement of leftist values (or whatever you want to call it). It's in french, but if you are all nice I'll see if I can't translate it.
:: David (11:22 in Michigan, 17:22 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 12 2007 ::

A big day for changes in world leaders: Shinzo Abe (安倍 晋三) resigned as Prime Minister of Japan, after spending an inordinate amount of time doing nothing, and Mikhail Fradkov resigned as PM of Russia, clearing the way for Putin's handpicked successor. Oh, and Led Zeppelin will do a reunion tour.
:: David (15:52 in Michigan, 21:52 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 11 2007 ::

So CNN has this new feature which points you to stories it thinks might interest you, based on what you're looking at, what you've read thus far, and one presumes other random criteria. It correctly guessed my interest in one story, but for the wrong reason - I looked because I was trying to figure out how out of date it was. As it turns out, the story was from March of 2005. It was interesting, however, because it was called if the bubble bursts... and it was all about what would happen if the housing market were to break. Very prescient of them....
:: David (14:09 in Michigan, 20:09 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, September 10 2007 ::

This is unexpected: the founder of the Body Shop stores, Dame Anita Roddick, has passed away according to the BBC.
:: David (16:00 in Michigan, 22:00 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Take something nice, and something horrible. Put them together. Lose your job. A German TV presenter got in trouble for the following quote: "values like the family, children and motherhood, which were promoted in the Third Reich too, were later scrapped by the 68ers". Mmm. Nazi family values.
:: David (9:04 in Michigan, 15:04 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

Sharif comes home. Sharif gets deported. Pakistan's politics are a funny thing. Seems like there were several weeks of negotiations before he returned, and yet within hours he's back on a plane in the other direction. The BBC has more.
:: David (8:59 in Michigan, 14:59 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 9 2007 ::

Um. Dick in a Box won an Emmy, according to the BBC. I especially like what one of the singers in the video had to say: "I think it's safe to say that when we first set out to make this song, we were all thinking, 'Emmy!'".
:: David (10:48 in Michigan, 16:48 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 7 2007 ::

I am vindicated! A new report in the New York Times confirms that microwave popcorn is evil:

"When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much," Dr. Rose said. "That’s heated diacetyl, which we know from the workers’ studies is the highest risk."
It's always a sign when a disease has your profession as its name (as in "popcorn workers’ lung").
:: David (7:43 in Michigan, 13:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Thursday, September 6 2007 ::

A debate is going on right now in Korea about whether the hostages held in Afghanistan should be held responsible for the costs of securing their release. Apparently Monday the president, Roh Moo-hyun, said they should be held accountable. There are a lot of twists and turns in this plot, but the basic summary of the story strikes me as amusing. More details in the Korea Times.
:: David (16:25 in Michigan, 22:25 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Wednesday, September 5 2007 ::

Random piece of trivia - apparently the wife of France's president didn't bother to vote in the second round of the presidential election (that'd be the important one), according to Le Monde. Apparently she is currently very present in the media, and equally apparently, noone is quite sure what to do with her.
:: David (16:34 in Michigan, 22:34 in Paris) - Comment

So Apple just announced all their new ipods and stuff, and one of the announcements was a link up with starbucks to cross promote music on itunes. During the presentation the founder of Starbucks gave some numbers on the corporate puissance of his chain. I will let the folks at Engadget describe:

"We open 7 stores every single day." The room sounds like someone just hit everyone in the gut. Over 14k stores, 50m customers per week, 18 visits per month per customer. Yowza.
Now that is some reach.
:: David (14:07 in Michigan, 20:07 in Paris) - Comment

Wow. Apparently someone accidentally loaded a B-52 bomber with nuclear weapons before it flew across the US. The sheer incompetence of an event like this blows my mind. I'm stunned. The BBC has the full story.
:: David (13:49 in Michigan, 19:49 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, September 4 2007 ::

A while back, I had signed up for information when a swanky new computer product became available - one that I thought was a great idea. Tonight I received an email indicating that I was more or less alone in my thinking:

after careful deliberation, I [the president of Palm] have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration
I loved the idea of a lightweight instant-on web device. Apparently I was all alone.
:: David (22:04 in Michigan, 4:04 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

:: Monday, September 3 2007 ::

I posted a few pics from our visit to the aquarium in Chicago to my flickr page. I'll post them all here at some point, but until then hopefully these few will tide you over.
:: David (14:24 in Michigan, 20:24 in Paris) - Comment

My niece and nephew both have August birthdays, and since my nephew wanted shoes for his present, I figured I'd simply get them both school clothes as their birthday present. Yes, I'm that stupid. I managed to walk away only two hundred dollars down, but it was a lesson in child economics that will be with me for some time to come. My personal favourite was the fact that clothes for a little girl age ten can cost more than adult clothes. How's that work?
:: David (14:19 in Michigan, 20:19 in Paris) - Comment

We headed over to a friend's house for the weekend, and while there we had seared tuna and rice. About halfway through the meal someone points out that 'one of the rice looks different from the others', and is in fact some sort of bug larva. A further examination finds that, in fact, the bag of rice that we had just opened was replete with the little buggers. Thankfully, the tuna was quite tasty, as we all laid off the rice after that.

It's funny, because of course I'm not particularly bothered by the idea of having eaten bugs, but I would have been hard pressed to continue once I knew. The same is not true, thank goodness, of bull's penis, which I would still order if I could get it around here. Yum!
:: David (13:28 in Michigan, 19:28 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

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