Thursday, March 31, 2005

Happy outcomes

Quoth Mr. Taranto:
The best argument the "right to die" people have had in this case is that the legal process has worked, even if it's produced an outcome with which not everyone is happy.
I must have missed in the Constitution where it says everyone has to be happy with legal outcomes. "Pursuit of happiness", maybe? Thin. Once again, I presume James Taranto has written a living will expressly consigning his fate, should he be unable to communicate , to either Congress or a majority of Gallup poll respondents.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

One step above I'm-rubber-You're-Glue arguments

Avedon Carol makes note of what may be the use of Secret Service agents to eject people from a taxpayer funded event, ostensibly because of their anti-administration bumper stickers. This, I think, is merely an exaggerated symptom of an attempt to remove cognitive dissonance. We already know President Bush does not like to read bad news, or news that contradicts his personal philosophies. He apparently doesn't want people who might espouse views not welcome inside his head at his appearances, either.

If this works, then I may have a plan for a new diet. If I attempt to eat cookies after 8 PM, and my wife starts explaining to me this is not a good idea, I could have some agents of mine remove her from the room, thus improving my perception of the nutritional impact of said snacks. Alas, the effect on my spousal approval rating would be severely diminished. Perhaps the administration position of removing offending papers and persons from sight is not such a wise course after all. I could adopt the position I have seen on the blogosphere to unwelcome news. If negative comments are cast on my late-night cookie devouring, I could dismiss the story as a "kerfuffle", a "non-story", or a "media boomlet".

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Inspired by Lynn from Reflections in d Minor, who found a neat blog on overheard conversations, I was thinking of some things I have heard, some anonymously, some from people I know.

"I got so tired of seeing all these drunk fools around, I decided to go drink in the bar."
- Anonymous on the bus

"You probably never saw Scary Movie. You probably only go to see real fancy movies, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
- Anonymous II on train.

"If you watch this movie, Super Size Me, it shows eating at McDonald's all the time is real bad for you."
- Anyomous III, who had to see this in a film before realizing it

"...that woman's been dead for 15 years already. Why they got to get all up in her business?"
- Anonymous IV, asking a good question

"It sounds just like a real train!"
- Anonymous V, watching a real train go by. Really.

"Never leave a paper trail."
- INS agent, who thought I couldn't hear him.

"I don't see why I need to take English just to get graduated from college."
- CompSci student, bemoaning his plight

"The best food can be made with just ground beef and ice cubes."
- Erstwhile cook at party, mystifyingly

"Does this train go any further West?"
- Anonymous VI, standing beside the end of the westbound tracks.

and lastly, my personal favourite:

"She suffers from a dehabilitating illness."
- Emily

Monday, March 21, 2005

Black arts

Jono Bacon blogs about MS using FUD to squeeze out Linux, and along the way notes something that can be said of many people running not just Linux but any IT department:
If someone came into an organisation that I ran and created some kind of custom system that you needed black magic to understand, I would feel indebted to keep them on board or my IT goes down the pan until someone can understand it. This has always been one of the traditional methods of keeping your job, particularly in the UNIX world. Simply weave an intricate web of bash shell scripts, garnish them with a range of specially compiled and utterly archaic system tools and finish with an impressive lack of documentation on how the whole thing works. If you got the recipe just right, developed an anti-social personality and kept yourself to yourself, you just may never get bothered by management again.
This often stands out as a problem of a lot of IT departments. One that I inherited a few years back had absolutely no documentation of any kind created by the previous person - who had been there for nearly five years. Inside of 16 months, I had written up at least 200 pages of bare essentials notes on how to maintain and fix the system as needed, and how it was supposed to work. People see docs as being seondary because management might ask for them, but will never read them, and also as a form of job security. The fact is that by not fulling exploring how the system is supposed to work they miss a chance to see areas for improvement. Stopping to consider something is perhaps becoming a lost art, the loss being magnified in IT. Unless of course the goal is to sit alone in a cubicle, not speaking to anyone, carefully studying the diagram of the Enterprise on the wall.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Living wills, such as they are

I've expressed my revulsion on this before, but here's a quote from someone blogging about the Schiavo case:
Although the physicians are not in complete agreement concerning the extent of Mrs. Schiavo's brain damage, they all agree that the brain scans show extensive permanent damage to her brain. The only debate between the doctors is whether she has a small amount of isolated living tissue in her cerebral cortex or whether she has no living tissue in her cerebral cortex.
I would have to assume the many bloggers claiming that under no circumstances should Terri Schiavo be allowed to die are disregarding this bit of information. Even if they are not, I would have to assume they have all signed up for living wills that specifically state if most, if not all, of their cereberal cortex is replaced by spinal fluid that they should be kep alive by any means neccesary. But if we acknowledge these people the idea that they can have any control over their own lives at all, I'm not so convinced by their enthusiasm for having the government step in in the Schiavo case.

In deep consideration of the issue for myself, I weighed the merits of allowing my wife or Tom Delay to decide my fate, should I not be able to speak, and decided against letting the fellow from Texas in on my life or potential death. I hope this doesn't mean that I hate America.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cleveland Weblogger meetup

M_ and I attended the Cleveland Weblogger Meetup at the Rock Bottom Brewery tonight. The event shows about 25 people had signed up, but when it combined with the local Podcasting group, it ended up with 45-50. The bar staff originally tried to seat all of us at a small table - Steve Fiztgerald took note of our swelling numbers and secured us the fairly cool upstairs pool room. Much cat-herding later, George Nemeth introduced everyone to Denise Polverine of, and broke us off into interest groups, such Podcasting and blogging.

The blogging group hit a number of topics, including the question of "do bloggers understand journalism"? I think some in the mainstream media don't realize one of the facets of blogging is disappointment in mainstream media, and desire to get facts and especially opinions elsewhere. Some may make a big deal of how bloggers are not immune from libel. But I have to think that if you went to (and completed) high school, you know what libel is - and if you didn't finish high school, it's doubtful your writing will attract much attention unless your first name rhymes with Maris and last name rhyme with Milton. Bill Callahan helpfully pointed out some key differences between original reportage and blogs, which bloggers themselves are very much aware of. There was also a brief debate on whether the "shape" of information in a news article should be called a pyramid or a triangle. I hate to step on the toes of journalism professors out there, but unless your newsprint is three dimensional, it's a triangle.

Virtual Lori weighed in with points on how blogging differentiates itself, and Democracy guy noted wryly that the media was not actually present at this meeting in a capacity as media - aside from our gracious hosts from who supplied beer to insure a lively conversation. M_ also opined that rebranding op-ed columns as blogs - as some papers are wont to do, times being what they are, will not fool anyone.

I also met the well dressed John Etorre who sampled the various interest groups. He walked up and said "Is someone here Jerry ______?" I said yes, whilst wondering in the back of my mind if I really had filled out all those INS forms correctly so many years ago, but it was just a fellow blogger saying hello.

Kudos to the Organic Mechanic, who facilitated the blogger subgroup and neatly summed up all we discussed - taking in all the points without judgment. He does indeed speak like he writes.

The more of these I go to, the more excited I get about blogging, and realizing it's not the island of angry loners some might think. Congrats to George on organizing a very independent minded group!

37 Things we love about Cleveland

As an antidote to my usual cynicism, here are 37 things M_ and I love about Cleveland...
  1. an excellent e-zine covering everything local.
  2. Cleveland Bop Stop. An amazing sounding and looking jazz club. The bar/restaurant is closed now, alas, they had some great appetizers.
  3. DerfCity. Derf draws a most amusing strip, featured in local Weeklies, and has documented the rise of the truly frightening Woo girls.
  4. The Cuyahoga and Lakewood Public Libraries. They have eBooks without the e.
  5. Phoenix Coffee. No, they are not just in Lakewood! Nice cups of various Joes.
  6. Cleveland MetroParks. Like green things? You can have it in the city.
  7. West Side Market. Nice veggies and more, partially open-air, great to have right in the midst of the city.
  8. Hollie Strano of Channel 3 news. Yes, I bash that channel's website constantly, but Hollie's positivism is so infectious the CDC may look into it. And I disavow the person who called you "the poor man's Katie Couric".
  9. Omnimax Theatre at the Great Lakes Science center. It even made someone looking into a cave awe-inspiring.
  10. My Friend's Deli and Restaurant. Need a cheap, but good burger? Breakfast 24 hours a day? Go to near the corner of West 117th and Detroit.
  11. Rockefeller Building
  12. Spaces Contemporary Art Center
  13. Cowan Pottery Museum
  14. Three Birds
  15. Johnny's Downtown - hello power lunches
  16. Harbor Lighthouses
  17. Weeknight sailboat races on the lake
  18. CSO and Severance Hall
  19. Gehry in Cleveland
  20. Terminal Tower
  21. Lighted Bridges
  22. Viktor Schreckengost
  23. Chagrin Falls
  24. The Lorain Ave. antique stores
  25. Larchmere Antiques & Shopping
  26. Burton Antique Fair
  27. Goodtime III
  28. Moosehead Saloon
  29. Tommy's in Coventry, Cleveland Heights - great shakes and food.
  30. Green Tomato, in Coventry Road Cleveland Heights, unique items R.I.P. or, "Come back soon!" - M_.
  31. Berea Animal Shelter
  32. Pat Catan's
  33. Lake View Cemetary
  34. Folicle Salon
  35. The Islamic Room and Egyptian Galleries at CMA
  36. Arhaus Warehouse
  37. The Young Eastern Woman.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Local media bashing, Old and New Cleveland

News Channel 3 here in Cleveland, which implied that the only use of blogs was as pedophile fodder, comes out with another hard-hitting story on this new thing called the Internet - people are apparently using acronyms on it now. If you want cutting-edge news, clearly you should dial your TV to 3 and weld it in place. I can't remember hearing about acronyms on the Internet since 1987, so I'm glad Channel 3 is bring us up to speed here. My favourite quote is one that speaks for itself:
Parents do you shutter at these terms?

This article seems to be pointless Cleveland Bashing: a profile what they termed the old and new Clevelander, then I stand corrected.. You can stil summarize it as:

- more skinny people
- use more credit cards (just in time for the revised Bankruptcy laws, I suppose)
- be rich.
- be semi-offended at the Cleveland Indian's logo, Chief Wahoo, but still support the team.
- eat celery. No really, that's what they wrote.

What books we should read are also mentioned, but the same book - a self-help piece of junk - is mentioned three times. I agree if Clevelanders are only reading one book that would be a bad thing, except in the article that's what the "future" Clevelander is doing. Tens of thousands of semi-rich, semi-literate celery chewing pilates students are said to be streaming here from west coast environs ever since this article hit the newstand.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The way to hype a bust is not

What's notable about this WKYC TV story on a man being arrested in Chagrin falls? The recurring phrase "unregistered weapons". Note the first two grafs:
A Chagrin Falls man is in jail Wednesday night, after police found, among other things, an arsenal of unregistered weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his truck.

One gun found is an M-15 - another is a 12-gauge shotgun - both, police say, are un-registered. A .45 found was unregistered too.
You would think being unregistered is a serious crime. What doesn't the article mention, at all? There is no requirement to register weapons here in Ohio. It's not a crime. Not till near the end do they say that he's only being charged with carrying a concealed weapon (without a permit) and having drug paraphernalia. What’s annoying is they seem to be repeating irrelevant information, like that his has camouflage gear, and - they claim - hundreds of rounds of ammunition. However, the suspect said he was going to target shooting that day, so I'm curious as to where but his truck he would keep it before going. Unless they would like those carrying any ammunition at all in our cars to have a warning agent stand in front of the vehicle, firing off red flares every fifty feet. Yes, I know the reporter is just trying to drum up the idea that this guy was a wannabe mass murderer - not supported by any of the evidence reported in the story. But who cares what's legal, or who's really a mass murderer in waiting - the important thing is to warn the local hair salons.