Category Archives: General

Reader’s bane

I confess: I like to double click at different words in an article to mark where my eyes are going next. It happens so frequent and so quickly that my friends who’ve seen  me do it call it a from of ADD. While their amateur diagnosis might be a applicable to some, it does not to me. I’ve learn to read very quickly by using my finger to trace a path for my eyes to follow. In the absence of a finger on my screen, the mouse cursor works quite well.

Or it did, until recently. I think it started with the New York Times, and now Yahoo! is doing it. When you double click on a word, it pulls up a search result. In the NYT’s case it’s for a dictionary definition. Yahoo’s searches for related articles. I think it’s a very annoying load of crock. I adblocked the NYT search script successfully, but I’m finding Yahoo’s a little difficult to block.

In any event, it doesn’t matter: I want to read and stick to the article I am reading, not be assaulted with an implicitly consented-to popup just because I double click on a word. It’s an assault on usablity as a concept and a bane to anyone who actually reads what’s in front of them.

This mortal coil

The past few days have seen me sick enough that I had to not work. I hate calling out. It inconveniences everyone else at work and it can produce a streak of ill will and doubt and it’s just too much crap to deal with. But when I’m this sick, I’m this sick. I spent most of my day in bed napping and reading a book in between naps.

While I’ve wanted to stay from political blogging in general, and particularly, election blogging, I stopped by Instapundit just to see how things are going on his side of the web. So, a quick read here, a quick click-through there and nothing really worth devoting much time over in my state of weakness, until… There. So short, so grim, Andrew Olmstead, blogger, Army man, patriot, has passed away. What Glenn Reynolds links to in the wake of the news is nothing short of the most amazing, most poignant, and perhaps most important farewell letter written by a man who knew his time was to come ahead of most.

What it is is the sword of Alexander cutting through the Gordian Knot that is political discourse in our day and age.

What it is is a persistent message that when it comes down to it, deeds count over words.

What it is the most is, if you could read through to the end without tears clouding your eyes, is a message of love. Because after all is said of the politics and the war and the duty and all that, at the end is a message to his wife. And that is where I broke down.

Sunset over the Severn River

The sun sets over the Severn River.
In Memory of Andrew Olmsted.

Strange software behavior does not a liar make.

I’ve been working with WordPress since it was b2. In that time I have seen a growing scourge of spam comments and all sorts of efforts to take sites down.

In my experience, the best spam plugin out there to hit the WordPress market is Spam Karma 2, which uses a heuristic, points-based system to assign a score to every comment that hits a site.

A comment approved is approved invisibly. You won’t even see it happen. When a comment is held for moderation, you will be told about it. When your comment has been detected as spam, you will be told that you will.

Now, there is an additional plugin for SK2 that revives the following features:

* An administrator must approve the comment (regardless of any matches below)
* Comment author must have a previously approved comment

Unless those checkboxes were checked as “on,” it will not force an SK2-approved comment into moderation.

This series of facts is brought to you today, by me, for all the people who would be quick to accuse one of my clients, Patterico, of being a dastardly comment-deleter.

That said, I can certainly state that these strange happenings are not a fault of the spam blocker alone, rather, a possible conflict with one or the other of the plugins that are installed involved in something else. Not that any of this matters to those who refuse to believe, but, I’m just letting it out there.

5 Stuffs

As tagged by Chet, something a bit less serious for now.

5 Stuffs In My Refrigerator:

  1. Two pounds of gorgonzola.
  2. One bottle of Ars Vitis Riesling
  3. Birthday cake
  4. Eggs, eggs, and more eggs.
  5. Turkey bacon. I miss the real thing.

5 Stuffs In My Closet:

  1. Rip Curl stitchless board shorts.
  2. 5 plain black roundneck tees. Perfect for dressing down or for wearing under a work shirt.
  3. At least ten pairs of jeans that I have acquired over the past five years.
  4. Pair after pair after pair of white socks.
  5. Track jackets. Fall and Spring need to be here. Now.

5 Stuffs In My Purse Man-bag/Pockets:

  1. Coach wallet.
  2. Pen
  3. Treo 650
  4. 18-month Moleskine weekly planner.
  5. Keys.

5 Stuffs In My Car/Truck: I don’t have an automobile of my own. I can’t think of anyone to tag at this point.

The disease that is identity politics

Every now and again I like to take note of one or a few examples of people who have taken the step towards breaking away from identity politics. Michael Demmons never has engaged in that kind of irrationality, but who among us have not had stares of disbelief upon revelation of whom we align with politically. Michael has written a very strong defense of Republicanism in general and being a gay Republican specifically in his blog, and quite predictably the banality of a few responses is typical. The response, however, is far from banal.

Maybe it is an old day and age these days in online writing to bring up, yet again, how identity politics is such a poison in political discourse. Whether it is based on religion, race or sexuality, being told, or believing that, one has to align with a particular political party on account of the aforementioned (and then some!) is bigoted in the former and politically unstable in the latter case, as Dean Esmay so succinctly explains.

I have a gay friend who moved to New Hampshire and he’s enjoying his freedom and the deregulation that was so foreign to him here in Maryland. He’s also realized that he’s a Republican, and much to his delight, too. But one thing that he also dislikes is the identity politics towards gay Republicans.

And truth be told, members from both parties do it all the time. There certainly exist groups of people who think that being a Democrat is opposed to being a Christian, for example.

In the end, it sucks and it should stop.

Culture Shock

Here’s a small barrage of a few short reviews of a few entertaining things lately:

  • Over The Hedge is one animated movie not for the weak of heart. Hyperbolic in its use of hyperbole as it may be, it’s got enough sap in it to at least water down the seeming misanthropy that can seethe from the raccoon character.
  • I’d have to say that Nacho Libre has got to be Jack Black’s most interesting performance. The setting, the sheer abuse of stereotypes from top to bottom, and the clipped storytelling that I have seen in many movies even from the Philippines, all underscore the pleasant hero story. Not to mention that it may very well be the most philosophically significant movie of the past twenty years since Dude Where’s My Car?
  • I had a strange feeling, judging by the previews, that Cars may be the movie that proves the Disney-Pixar relationship’s irrelevance. NOT! Though the storytelling seemed a bit slow at first it served only to place the viewers in Lightning McQueen’s predicament of being in the middle of the boonies. The bonus “Hollywood-level inspirational moment” near the end of the movie is worth every second in tacky, treacly, syrupy fun.
  • “I came across a beast with two voices.” For a show on ABC Family there’s enough nudity and teenage love life in the pilot for Kyle XY to make a prude squirm. This teenage version of Fox’s John Doe is, for the most part, promising, at least for the station involved. Will it be a widespread hit? Not so sure.
  • It’s been years since I bought a new game for my PC but I tried out Titan’s Quest and I’m liking it, despite the Sysyphean effort that my computer goes through trying to run the damn thing. I don’t have one of those fancy PCI-Express cards just yet (and never with this existing box, but if I get a windfall I’ll probably get an eMachine for gaming) but I am still enjoying the game. It’s Diablo II with no Christian imagery and better gameplay. Excellent replay value, I can tell you right now, even though I haven’t gotten out of Grease, erm, Greece, just yet.
  • Finally from the world of wine, which I have not had a bottle of in at least six weeks due to a very interesting retail job schedule, comes my less-than-ten-bucks-and-you’re-drunk selection: a 2004 Pepperwood Grove Viognier. I am never the type to describe the tastes of wine by comparing the flavors to inedible objects (one review of another wine I read mentioned “pencil shavings”). This wine, then, has hints of citrus and apricot, and upon first sniff seems a bit sweet. It has a very fruity bouquet and a sharp but also fruity “entrance,” as it hits the tongue, but it is very dry as it goes down your throat, like any classy, dry white should. I had this with my dinner of gorgonzola wedges and Italian crusty boule-type bread. On this, my day off. Nothing like treating myself, ya?

So that would be that for this first edition of Culture Shock, hopefully I have more in the future.

Worth and meaning

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. — William Morris (as seen on De Doc)

It is without a doubt that our society today is a consumer-driven society based largely on credit.

This is in itself a fact worth bemoaning, as we are, as a whole, borrowing against ourselves into a bleak future. If an individual were only hurting himself I would say “leave him to the dogs,” as I usually say, but it is worth considering that we as a society can not stand to witness the suffering of others. The reaction, of course, is almost an oxymoron in and of itself. We ignore vagrants while we send our used clothing to goodwill. The ultimate oxymoron, of course, is that we indiscriminately protect the weakest in our society no matter whether they have wrought their pathetic fates unto themselves or not.

Our consumer culture is not the problem. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t even the problem. Credit cards themselves aren’t even the problem. The fact that there is so much credit card debt isn’t even the root of the problem, it is merely a symptom. The problem is an even bigger one: the concept of responsibility is lost on so many among us.

The quote with which I introduced this post is a telling one for me. So little of what I own is meaningless, and nothing I buy is meaningless at the point of purchase. And when something I own loses personal value, I find someone else who might gain value from it. And that for me is the whole idea behind the “comsumerism” portion of this site’s tagline. It isn’t hogwild purchasing and “blinging out” on the newest toy. It’s about gaining personal enrichment from what one buys, and always within the limits of one’s means. That is the only consumerism I believe in.

I was never what you would call “poor,” and while my education and living expenses through college were handed to me, I have gone through my own period of personal hardship. It is with these circumstances that I treat my personal purchases, and my wealth in general. I am not one of much money, but I am a wealthy man.

The massive paradigm shift that is directed towards personal and social responsibility will happen—if it ever does—long after an economic problem on a widespread level happens as a result of all the borrowing around us. There are days when I wish I could impart even some part of how I see the world (beyond writing on here) unto others, but in the wisest words of my stepdad: The experience of experience is intransferrable.

The only question I would like to ask of you, dear friends: without rationalizing at all, do the things you own have worth and meaning? Or are you without meaning without the things you own?

Bulletfest

Just random thoughts this Saturday morning after work.

  • Trey Givens has a few perspectives on Batman versus Superman. Of their respective home cities he says: I like Superman better than Batman because Gotham is a bad place where good people happen, while Metropolis is a good place where bad people happen.

    Call me a cynic but I tend to take his view too, of the world. The world—the universe—is a dark, dangerous place filled with points of light. It is in those points that we take comfort. To believe that the universe is basically good and that bad things happen to it fills one with little hope and a pressing desire—at least with someone as anal-retentive as myself—to make things right.

    I would rather take comfort in the points of light than having to desperately fight the little clouds that tarnish and otherwise perfect sky. There is little solace in taking the latter perspective.

  • Eric the Red has some thoughts on gay marriage from an equality perspective. If we believe that rights are afforded not by men nor governments but as incidents of our humanity, then it is important to realize that the families formed by gays and lesbians are no different in standing nor validity as those of traditional families. They need the same protections these families have. Even if for their children.

    That said, equality by decree tends to take away a society’s opportunity for grace. Rather, choices are made for them, either by their elected representatives or wise men and women in black robes. This of course can stir resentment, no doubt, but how long should an entire group wait, and for what?

    Considering that tolerance demands even greater grace than acceptance, perhaps the last step for willful integration from the side of heterosexuals is for them to tolerate the marriages and families that homosexuals form.

  • I’ve dealt with people who are so grossly self-absorbed that I speaking with them is totally draining. A while back I knew someone who got seriously hurt. When our conversation was winding down, I wished him well and a great recovery. His response? Go on, act like you care.

    I was taken aback by his reply, given that it was he who opened up about the details of his recent past, that, rather than countering his gracelessness with my own, I did so with some malice: I take it back. I hope you contract sepsis and die. Have a good life.

    I really don’t know what became of him later on; since I was, in his mind, pretending to care, I might as well make his self-centered fanatsy come true.

  • Ever greet someone a Happy Thanksgiving and get the utterly classless reply that they don’t celebrate the holiday?

    Being gracious never really precluded honesty, but just how hard is it to simply say “thanks” and not be a self-centered nitwit?

Bulletfest

The circumventing circumlocutory talk edition.

  • My sister left a comment in Filipino in the previous post asking me to explain to ETR my desires for such violent vengeance to be met upon those who stole my sister’s van. Well, in not so many words, either. I was going to start a long reflective rant on how theft of a car is an egregious affront to one’s livelihood, and material worth. Instead, two bits. First, the opening to the would-be rant:

    One day a young boy, in Anytown, USA, lost his tooth in the playground. Crying in pain he took it to his mother. She consoled him and told him that the tooth fairy would come and give him money for it if he left it under his pillow. He did so, and when he woke up the next day he found a dollar under his pillow. Being the enterprising American boy that he was, he went to school that same morning with a big smile on his face and his dad’s pliers in his bag.

    I can be one sick bastard, ya? Second, I remember my friend John (now in NY) would say that one should never get between a man and his car; it is his wife until he finds a human one. I would say that one should never get between a mom and her minivan.

  • It’s orange for breakfast, apple for lunch. In this week’s Boston Legal we saw some Schmidt in a flaming brown paper bag. Crisp and hot outside, and soft inside. I found this past episode to be quite potent, and I’ve always indulged David E. Kelley’s shows because they’ve always appealed to that Pollyanna-ish liberal portion of me. This one is far from political though.
  • This whole “Open Sores Media” thing is way over my head. I do know this. If part of being part of them is having control over the way my site’s content is syndicated, I’m out. (I discussed this long before.) Professor Ann has some sauce; Doc Joyner has the meat. And since I’m nearly carb-free but not Atkins, I’m bringing the creamed spinach.
  • Dunno if Meryl‘s plugged me for my work on her site, but I want to plug her this weekend.
  • Lastly, I’m buying a Treo 650 from a trusted online buddy. So in legal terms, “right of first refusal” is almost like having dibs, yes? I learn something new everyday. I SMS like crazy and my A650 is going to be my mom’s now. Hey does the Treo 650 actually vibrate? I sound so naive! Just a warning: I don’t have a data plan with Verizon and I won’t be checking my email on it either. It’s more of an SMS and planner thing for me. OFJ email isn’t going to chase me all over the place.

Bulletfest

A few quick links this Sunday:

  • Jim Lindgren wants us to follow the Euros when it comes to not being able to tell the time. Not any anti-Euro bigotry on my part, but I find the concept of DST as it is annoying, though it does help one way or another. Let’s save the planet by having three different ways with which to tell the time, yes? Fun!
  • I just have to ape Mark Jaquith on the South Park reference when it comes to his SCOTUS pick… Red rocket, red rocket, red rocket… Janice Rogers Brown exhibits judicial sarcasm! We all know the Senate’s drill, though. Just the coming of the “J” sound would bring cries of filibuster.
  • I see no joy in buying fully cooked bacon. It just doesn’t cut it for me, you know? Not even NASCAR branding helps.
  • Is Nikola Tesla fascinating? He was a tragic figure whose story underlines the inextricability of politics from science. Sweetest irony was when he was awarded a medal named after his most bitter and charismatic rival, Thomas Edison. Fascinating isn’t exactly what I’d call Tesla, though..

RINO Sightings Carnival, here at OFJ

Welcome to the Labor Day edition of RINO Sightings, where you can peruse the posts from the Raging RINOs group. Without further delay:

Quite a few posts on anomalous gas pricing so far. Just a short digression… the meteoric rise in gas prices on a day to day basis is something I never thought I’d see here that happened routinely in the Philippines.

As I type this, I wonder: will the continuing drive to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina last as long as those that were for the benefit of the tsunami victims? The Adele H. Stamp Student Union in UMCP had a donation table for tsunami victims months after the fact—with help needed for years to come every bit helps—I’ll have to give the spot a look and see if there’s help out for Hurricane K victims weeks from now.

That’s it, dear friends, for this week’s edition of the RINO Sightings. Next week it will be over at Sadie, Fistful of Fornights.

Trails

One thing that has taken a lot of my free, online time is just hopping from one site to another, in the spirit of what the web was (and still is) about. Aside from blogs, I’ve taken a liking to some liesurely reading of Wikipedia articles. Though the neutrality and even the factuality of the information contained in the site may not be always reliable, it’s still amusing to see just exactly where I can get to, starting from point A.

Point A, for me, in this case, wasn’t in Wikipedia at all, but from an opinion piece in The Epoch Times (a paper whose stern and transparent admission to opposing Communism is a refreshing journalistic attribute). It ends with the mention of the Muslim’s sect: Ahmadiyya. I really didn’t give it much of a thought until I saw the name mentioned again a couple of weeks later when I was having my watch repaired at the mall.

So I set out on a little trip on Wikipedia, which led me from the Ahmadiyya sect, to its believed prophet, to the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Islam, to Shariah law, to liberal movements in Islam.

That’s a long trail to follow, and that was just on one topic. The other night, quite predictably, I was browsing around for food. Whatever it is, though, Wikipedia, for all its vulnerabilities, is a great site to just lose time in.

Humor Type Test

So I’m playing around with this OkCupid test:

the Ham
(43% dark, 47% spontaneous, 27% vulgar)

your humor style:
CLEAN | SPONTANEOUS | LIGHT

Your style’s goofy, innocent and feel-good. Perfect for parties and for the dads who chaperone them. You can actually get away with corny jokes, and I bet your sense of humor is a guilty pleasure for your friends. People of your type are often the most approachable and popular people in their circle. Your simple & silly good-naturedness is immediately recognizable, and it sets you apart in this sarcastic world.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Will Ferrell – Will Smith

Great. I’m a leg of sow. But am I as hammy as Hammy (whose site I’d link to if it weren’t dead right now)? I like the description though: about three years ago I’ve been described as a bitter, sarcastic bitch; am I a bit sunnier these days?

The percentile thing is cute:

You scored higher than 18% on dark
You scored higher than 75% on spontaneous
You scored higher than 43% on vulgar

Here’s a spoiler for one of the questions on my end: what the hell is so funny about those two ladies staring at a ship in a bottle and one lamenting about the kind of life some guy had? Is that what some people call aristocratic, Greenwich, Connecticut rich-bitch humor? ‘Coz I don’t get it.

I found this test from Chris Lawrence, who, true to form, is a Wit.