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»  January 30, 2009


The Ronny Horror Show: Via Dennis Perrin, from the long-ago late-night comedy show "Fridays," a bit of nostalgia from the bleak period between Ronald Reagan's election and inauguration (surpassed only by the even bleaker period of his presidency).


»  January 28, 2009


Serial Numbers: I curse the day that I ever let Macromedia sucker me into signing up for DevNet.

I'm trying to install CS3 Studio on a new Mac laptop and I can't find my printout of the DevNet serial numbers for the individual applications, and Adobe's customer service is telling me that DevNet isn't an acceptable upgrade path to CS3, even though the applications available through DevNet were all MX2004 apps, although I somehow managed to get them working on my desktop machine.

A combined 32 years of buying and upgrading Adobe and Macromedia products and it comes down to waiting on hold with some horrible pop tune repeating endlessly in my ear waiting for tech support to probably tell me they can't help me. [I take that back. It took a while, but I finally managed to convince them that DevNet included access to MX2004 apps and got an unlock code. I'll probably find that folder tomorrow.]


»  January 25, 2009


The Big One That Got Away: Everyone who's claimed that the current economic crisis couldn't have been predicted (e.g. most recently, Dick Cheney) should be sat down with a copy of Michael Moore's The Big One.

Filmed during a Moore book tour that spanned the 1996 presidential general election (Bill Clinton v. Bob Dole) and released in 1998, The Big One follows Moore from city to city, where he meets with a variety of front-door security officers and PR flaks at large corporations, Garrison Keillor and Studs Terkel, and workers from plants that have announced closures.

It was a period when the economy was ramping up to the Internet boom, but it was also an era of massive nationwide layoffs for workers in trade and labor industries (something that Moore had documented a decade earlier, on a smaller scale, in Roger & Me). Despite the cheery numbers on job creation from the Clinton administration, we were already living in an America where many people worked more than a single job in order to get by, and as many studies have pointed out, a lot of the jobs that were created in Clinton's second term paid a fraction of the salaries of the jobs that were lost. Then, of course, there were the Bush(2) years.

The seeds of the current economic collapse do indeed go back that far (and farther). Maybe it was just easier to see the squeeze taking place from the bottom than it was from the top.


»  January 22, 2009

What the...?  

Chasing the smart: I've been meaning to post this (video at link) for days. Guess I'm not as speedy as a smart car:

Smart Car Leads Police, CHP On Fast Freeway Chase

LOS ANGELES  With speeds often reaching 90 mph, police chased a suspect Monday evening in a Smart car through the San Fernando Valley towards Pasadena.

CHP officers, about half hour into the chase, decided to pull back in an effort to get the driver to slow down, according to authorities.

They abandoned the chase altogether when they determined who the driver was and where he lived, said officials.

At that point, the chase was well onto the eastbound Foothill (210) Freeway approaching Sylmar.

The super-small and very fast (who knew?) Smart car was pursued initially on the northbound Hollywood (170) Freeway.

According to comments on the Smart Cars of America forums, the chopper pilot himself was surprised:
I was the pilot-reporter over the pursuit, and I will never forget it 'till the day I die.

We took off to go on an unrelated story and just as we lifted, my photographer, who was monitoring the scanner, notified me that we had "our favorite story going on."

When he told me that it was I-5 north passing Osborne, I couldn't believe it: we were only 1 1/2 miles away at lift-off. It took me three minutes to catch him 'cause he was really hauling butt. (First reason I didn't think it was a smart.)

When we got overhead and went live I noted that it was a "subcompact" because of the darkness, crappy monitor that I have upfront, our altitude (I heard "CHP 51" on our common frequency calling inbound), and that my head is always on a swivel and looking outside.

As we climbed into the Crescenta Valley (east 210), the CHP called off the pursuit, CHP 51 aborted, and we cleared Burbank's class Charlie so I got rid of Burbank tower. It was just me and the car. I dropped down to about 500 AGL and sure as shootin', it was a blue passion with a silver tridion.

I went on the air to say that I, Larry Welk and Gary Lineberry (three of KCAL/KCBS's pilot-reporters) are all smart car owners.

About this time the dude has slowed to the normal flow of traffic because no one's chasing him anymore.

We continued to track him out to Rancho Cucamonga where we saw him pick up the I-15 south towards San Diego. (Apparently the registered owner lives in La Mesa.)

I often wondered if I would ever see a smart car pursuit. Now I have. It happened January 12th, five days before the first anniversary of the delivery of my first smart car.

Hope those of you who saw it live last night enjoyed it as much as I did.



Time Out: Please, Democrats, for a real change, just listen to George McGovern on foreign policy for once:

As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.

True, the United States is the world's greatest power -- but so was the British Empire a century ago when it tried to pacify the warlords and tribes of Afghanistan, only to be forced out after excruciating losses. For that matter, the Soviet Union was also a superpower when it poured some 100,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1979. They limped home, broken and defeated, a decade later, having helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.


»  January 21, 2009


Too Funny: Portland Mayor Sam Adams was set to give a speech on ethics at PSU on Friday, but the mentor-sex kerfuffle led him to cancel. The quote from PSU according to Willamette Week:

"He just pulled out," PSU spokesman Scott Gallagher says.
Ouch. My sides hurt.

Seriously, though, one of the commenters had an exceptionally good point, which, of course, Adams doesn't appear to have through of on his own:

caveman writes on Jan 21st, 2009 5:24pm you know, if the guy had integrity and really was sorry he would re-write his ethics speech to cover the current situation and give it anyway. He missed a real opportunity to cover "ethics and social responsibility" in a more meaningful way.



Pressing the Secretary: Portland City Councilman Randy Leonard plays Scott McClellan to Mayor Sam Adams's "Dick" Cheney in the new mayor's sex/cover-up scandalé:

Leonard also feels that Adams used him to strengthen Adams' lie.

"I feel disturbed that Sam allowed me to say the things I did as part of his campaign to deceive people," Leonard says. "I'm not understanding how he took advantage of my friendship and my loyalty."

"I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby," McClellan wrote.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

Just a matter of time until The Daily Show gets hold of this one....


»  January 19, 2009


Maybe We Need a Poll: From a New Yorker article last week (the full text of which is not online unless you're registered) by Samantha Power, about Christian lawer Gary Haugen who runs the somewhat-controversial International Justice Mission, providing legal services to clients in Third World countries.

According to a report published by Afrobarometer, a public-opinion research group, only fifty-three per cent of people surveyed in sub-Sarahan Africa expressed confidence that senior government officials would be brought to justice if they committed a serious crime.
Considering the current attitude of "don't look back" being expressed by the soon-to-be-POTUS and his aides — and a rather shocking lack of accountability for crimes executed under previous administrations in the US — would the American public even break into the forties?


»  January 16, 2009

What the...?  

Friday's Fortune: Finally, something from the Hunan (Man I love that place!):

You will bring sunshine into someone's life.
Well, I'm going to be doing a little less of that until my smart car with the convertible top gets out of the shop. A bozo rear-ended me at a light on Wednesday afternoon and then took off for parts unknown. Plastic body damage and a big dent in the muffler is what I saw before they took off the panels.



Obamiconed: Everybody else is doing it.

Darrel Plant at the Statue of Liberty--Obamiconed


What the...?  

Geese!: I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I saw the title of this note from Jeopardy!-winner Bob Harris about the US Air incident yesterday:

Get These Motherf***ing Geese Off This Motherf***ing Plane


»  January 15, 2009


My Slow Return to Respectability: Filing 2008's royalty statements from my 2001 book Special Edition Using Macromedia Flash 5, I see that the Total Earnings (after the meagre advance) have gone from -$742.60 to -$705.47 over the past year. Only another 19 or 20 years at that rate and my most recent venture into computer book writing should start paying off!


»  January 11, 2009


Rummy!: Two years ago, after his letter of resignation was finally accepted by President Bush, former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld opened an office near the Pentagon so that he could shuffle papers, write his memoirs, and presumably keep his monkey's paw in the mix. According to the Washington Times via Think Progress on 25 January 2007:

On Jan. 4, Mr. Rumsfeld opened a government-provided transition office in Arlington and has seven Pentagon-paid staffers working for him, a Pentagon official said.

The Pentagon lists Mr. Rumsfeld as a “nonpaid consultant,” a status he needs in order to review secret and top-secret documents, the official said.

I wonder if he'll still be there come January 21st? "Consulting."


»  January 10, 2009


Comedy Central Represents, Old School:

Benicio del Toro on The Colbert Report

Perhaps to make slight amends for screwing Portland over by making 2003's The Hunted here, Benicio del Toro showed up to talk to Stephen Colbert on Thursday wearing a vintage Portland Trailblazers t-shirt under his jacket.

Oddly enough, that was the second appearance by the Trailblazers on Comedy Central's "news" shows this week. Tuesday, Jon Stewart — talking about the section of Illinois' Senate designee Roland Burris's mausoleum with a list of his many accomplishments headed "TRAIL BLAZER" — put up a picture of Burris as a member of the 1977 NBA champion team.

Roland Burris as a Portland Trailblazer


What the...?  

Interfacing With the Past:

INTERFACE magazine, June 1976

INTERFACE was one of the earliest computer hobbyist magazines, and this issue was the first computer publication I bought, in the summer between my freshman and sophmore years in high school. I was taking a chemistry course at Lane Community College, and after class I'd stop downtown at the transit mall to hang around at The Real Oregon Computer Company, one of the first personal computer shops to open up in the state.

ROCC sold the Altair 8800 and IMSAI 8080 (which was by far the cooler-looking of the two units). That's not what's on the cover of the magazine, though. Neither machine had a monitor, they had to be hooked up to some sort of terminal to get human-readable output. That's an ADM video terminal behind the cheesy plastic model of the Enterprise. The 12" terminal (the size of an original iMac) alone cost $1,000 or more — in 1975 dollars — and it displayed one color. Well, two, I guess, you could get green or white phosphor versions.

I just watched someone buy a 19" flat-screen for a fraction of that price at Office Depot yesterday.


»  January 9, 2009


It Came From Netflix: I wish I could have just watched the movie:

After being sworn in, the new leader declares an unremitting war on terror, ushering in a decade-long reign marked by violence, corruption and controversy.
Oh, wait, that's just the last sentence on the sleeve of the 2006 documentary The Fall of Fujimori, about the Peruvian president/international fugitive wanted for corruption, kidnapping, and murder.



Freak Horror Hand: Gawker, from a description of what many take to be the snubbing of outgoing Democratic National Committee chair Dr. Howard Dean by the Obama transition team, specifically Chief of Staff (and former Illinois Congressman) Rahm Emanuel:

Emanuel is famous for ritualistically cursing his enemies by slamming a steak knife into the dinner table. He does this constantly, with his freak horror hand, which is missing a digit he once broke off, in someone's eye socket.


What the...?  


Yeah, everyone's year-end 401K statements should be rolling in about now, and I got mine yesterday. Down just about 36% from where it was at the beginning of 2008.

The good news is, because the past few years haven't exactly left a lot to squirrel away, there wasn't much there to begin with, at least not for someone closing in on 50. Wheeee!!!! as Atrios would say.


»  January 8, 2009


What the...?  

Move Along:

Smart car accident with school bus

Down in Rancho Cucamonga, California today, a smart car tussles with a school bus full of kids (from KTLA):

School Bus Carrying Students Collides with Smart Car

The accident happened at the intersection of Banyan St. and Milliken Ave., just east of Chaffey Community College.

The white Smart Car was significantly damaged, but there did not appear to be major damage to the bus.


It appeared that no one was seriously hurt.

Look at the tiny little car!

Smart car accident with school bus


»  January 4, 2009

What the...?  

Snow Again: Will this winter wonderland never cease?


»  January 2, 2009


Good Bye 2008:

A few years back I saw reviews for a German film set during the fall of the Berlin Wall called Good Bye Lenin! It's quite a sentimental movie about a young man whose mother — a staunch believer in the East German state — is injured and becomes comatose just before the Wall falls, and the efforts he and his friends go to to preserve her from the shock of the swift fall of the DDR when she awakes many months later. I loved it. I bought a copy.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for movies about guys who love their mom.

A couple of years later, hoping for a similar gem, I rented The Edukators (also known as Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei or The Fat Years Are Over) which also starred Good Bye Lenin!'s Daniel Brühl, about a couple of roommates who spend their spare time breaking into mansions, rearranging the furniture, and leaving behind notes fortelling the end of the capitalist system, signed by "The Edukators." It's not nearly as successful a film as Good Bye Lenin! — despite its attempts to be somewhat polemically even-handed — but still it's worth a viewing if that sort of thing is your cup of tea.

Apparently, it was for these folks.

Stolen Madoff statue returned with note attached
Thu Jan 1, 2009 2:54pm EST

NEW YORK, Jan 1 (Reuters) - A statue stolen last month from Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff's Florida home has been returned undamaged, and with a note attached, to a country club where the accused swindler is a member, Palm Beach police said on Thursday.

The attached note read: "Bernie the Swindler, Lesson: Return stolen property to rightful owners. Signed by The Educators," according to police.

Happy New Year!