So Where’s the News about the Congo?

I’ve been pretty critical of the U.S. occupation in Iraq, but it sounds like there are other stories of occupation/peacekeeping gone bad.

On Friday a UN helicopter gunship fired a rocket at supporters of former rebel commander Col Jules Mutebusi.

The UN Peacekeepers involved have at least some American involvement, as the spokesperson is American.

My point isn’t to excuse the problems the US is having in Iraq, but to dampen any expectation that a Kerry victory and UN involvement will stop the killing and deaths overnight–or possibly at all. Once people get used to killing other people as a solution to their problems, it is very hard to get them to stop.

Putting ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ Into Perspective

Quote about The Day After Tomorrow’s science:

Even one of the movie’s admirers, Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper, concedes that "the depiction of the science is exaggerated and at times misleading."

If The Day After Tomorrow were about economics:

A ten-cent increase in the federal minimum wage casts millions of blacks and Hispanics into permanent unemployment and despair; all of the unemployed women scrape up pennies by offering themselves as prostitutes, while all of the unemployed men swarm to the suburbs to rape soccer-moms and then riot so violently in the cities that the Empire State building, the U.S. Capitol, the Sears Tower, and the Bank of America building all crash violently to the ground, killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians, including a kindly book-peddler specializing in works by and about Ayn Rand.

And, to put it into perspective:

I’m confident that, should any such silly movie ever be made, no president of a market-oriented thinktank would say about it that "the depiction of the economics is exaggerated and at times misleading, but the scale of the threat and the underlying politics are all too true."

Read all the economic disaster scenarios; they’re pretty funny.

Hey! Self-signed SSL Certificates for IMAP Can Be Added to the Keychain in 10.3.3!

I’ve had a problem with OS X’s popping up an “Unable to verify certificate–do you want to proceed anyway?” message every time I open it and it connects to our company’s SSL-encrypted IMAP authentication with a self-signed certificate. It forces me to click “continue” every single time. While there is a workaround that involves long and complex command-line action, there is an easier way that now works.

My &uumlaut;berblogger friend Jason has been bugging me to document solutions to weird problems. After reading John Gruber’s article on writing for Google, I thought I’d try my hand at it.

Continue reading

George Bush Poll Number Alert Level: Orange

So John Ashcroft is warning us all of terrorist attacks, but as my bright friend Oscar noted, “Why hasn’t the color-coded alert level gone up if there’s this big threat?”

To which I responded, “Bush Poll Number Threat Level: High.” Think about it: they’re releasing pictures of people they want to capture, but have no specific threat from them, but there are terrorist attacks coming, but it’s safe to enjoy your vacation as usual, and it’s not worth raising the terrorism alert level.

This is getting to be Bill Clinton-level “Operation: Look, a Baby Wolf!” politics–just not as well-executed. If the threat is real, raise the alert level and get the word out. If the threat isn’t real, stop giving us alerts about how likely John Kerry’s election is this week and have a nice, warm cup of Shut Up.

I’m an Atheist, and I Find the Following Very Stupid

The ACLU wants to remove part of LA County’s seal because it’s religious. Los Angeles county has a religous symbol? These stupid right wingers and their crusades against any representation of Greek religi-

Oh, wait, you mean that’s not what they’re upset about? The huge personnification of an ancient Greek religious figure in the middle? Oh, it’s the cross on the side. You know, on Los Angeles County’s seal. For those of you who don’t hablo, Los Angeles means “The Angels.” Now why would a town founded by a bunch of Spaniards who were spitting out Catholic missions right and left have anything to do with Christianity?

Hmmm…this is sooooo hard. Math is hard! I bet the ACLU director played with a Barbie and can’t do math. And can’t read and other hard stuff. Boy, thinking about the obvious makes me tired.

Sure the ACLU does a lot of good work, too. But America doesn’t get a pass about Abu Ghraib prison just because we send food aid to Africa.

And this comes from someone who supports taking “In God We Trust” off the money, getting rid of the office of Senate and House chaplains, and removing “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

This deserves a Cartman:

“Yeah, you know we believe in equality for everybody and tolerance and all that gay stuff. But dude, —- you.”

Richard Biggs, RIP

Richard Biggs died Saturday. I mainly care because he played Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, the best TV science fiction show at least since Earth 2 and probably since the first season of Battlestar Galactica. And, from what I’ve read, he was a helluva guy.

As my brother pointed out, it wasn’t obvious why a doctor on Babylon 5 would be such a major character, other than Star Trek did it–even Battlestar Galactica made the the doctor do double duty as the robot specialist, and he was a minor character at that. Still, Biggs took it and made it his, being one of the most consistent actors on the show. He also got to do some stretching in seasons 3 and 4, as well (as did just about everybody).

It was a tough role–for 3 seasons he only got to be the high-minded idealist, which is an instinctively broad and boring character; preachy and smug. He managed to put a little more passion in it without letting it become a charactiture. When his character had a drug addiction, he played it well. When he had to be paired with a freer character, such as Marcus (annoying anglophile ranger) or Garibalidi (cynical ex-alcoholic head of security) he could be extremely good.

Without seeing Babylon 5 in syndication, it’s tough to get into it, but if you have a friend with the DVDs, borrow them but be prepared to overlook some of the first season as they get things going. By season 3 it could be as good as any political/war drama that was ever on TV. I’m glad for this show I was actually there from the beginning.

Answer: Playground Beatings

Tyler Cowen exposes the fact that girls are more likely to recieve creative names than boys. He then wonders:

[I]t remains a mystery why parents take more chances with the names of their baby girls.

He also remembers when his own name was not so common (I swear every little rug monkey in the local beastiary–er, coffeehouse–has that name now):

I can remember a time when the only other “Tyler” in my mental universe was Henry Kissinger’s dog.

Lemme guess–he got teased about it. Or maybe worse. Anyway, there inlies the answer to his quandry: boys with silly names will be beaten mercilessly by their peers. The pressure to conform starts earlier and is more physically enforced than with girls. When women around the office start pondering names, the guys there always start shooting down names for boys. “Nope, that’s a playground beating name for sure.”

Girls are more cooperative at first, and are expected to show some individuality (within carefully restricted rules) of dress later–that is, such things can be an asset if they’re popular enough, and the name is not likely to be the source of initial unpopularity. Boys, on the other hand, are much more likely to pounce on such a difference, often literally. Trust me, as the only male Sandy south of the Mason-Dixon line, I know this. This can affect your popularity and hence your reproductive chances. So naturally, you would expect the type of people to give boys odd names to be selected out, at least in modern suburban American culture.

Obviously this isn’t a 100% thing; otherwise I would not be one of the few non-Alexander Sandys. Probably just enough sacrifice their sons’ popularity that the cycle of names continues on (with the addition of last names of popular figures, I’m guessing). But a testable prediction of my wild speculation would be if boys’ names’ popularity rises and falls as quickly as girls. My guess would be “no.”

Update: I’ve corrected the sex difference to be between girls and boys as opposed to girls and women–though it’s true that women recieve far fewer creative new names than girls, since they just tend to take existing last names, if any.

Mac Usage 101: Don’t Whine

Over at MacNN, they cite an SF Gate opinion piece by a Muslim woman who uses a Mac. In it, she makes this rather startling statement:

As every Mac user knows, suggesting a Mac product to a PC-using friend may end the friendship. I’d feel more comfortable encouraging a Christian friend to learn more about Islam […] it’s always open season on Macs.

Eh? Since when? I’ve given and recieved my share of good-natured ribbing from friends, and even some outright scorn by anonymous trolls on the ‘Net, but never has saying “Get a Mac” (a la “Get a Horse”) ever caused anyone to do anything but either say, “Pshaw,” or “You know, those PowerBooks are sweet…”

On the other hand, I am usually interested to know informal details of religions that I don’t know that much about–my friends Becky and Todd have patiently endured my education on Judaism, for example–but I’m not eager to hear about why Your Faith is Great unbidden.

I can just see it now:

“Damn, I keep forgetting the words to the Lord’s Prayer. How will I ever get into Heaven?”
“Ya know, if you just converted to Islam, you wouldn’t have this problem. Islam is designed to be easier to use.”

To her credit, the author does give an example of how she sucked it up and dealt with the relative lack of neighbor-kid-variety free tech support for the Mac, but still, don’t make silly comparisons…or get better friends.

100th Post Celebrated with Conventional Song

So this is my 100th post, and it caused me to break out in song.

Well, OK, I just finished a guitar-based experiment in GarageBand, but hey, let’s pretend. Plus it satiates Vivian’s desire for new posts.

So I titled the song “Conventional” because I wanted to start out with something conventional. Knowing me, you’d guess that it doesn’t stay that way for long, and you’d be right.

As always, be kind to my bandwidth.