Mitt? That Mitt?

CPAC's straw poll puts Mitt at the top of their list. Really? The same man that the core of the party rejected out of hand in the primaries? How can this be anything more than a sign that the 2012 front-runner hasn't yet entered the building?


Why the Heck Not?

http://www.beardhead.com/ sells, well, these. They keep you warm. They look like something out of Monty Python. I know a few people who would actually buy one. Of course, those people have a lot of chintzy crap gathering dust around their house, but who am I to judge?

You Need A Cold Backup

You need to buy an external hard drive for no purpose other than to save your items once every few months, and then unplug the drive and let it sit there. It's cheap - less than $100.

Consider this: How many computers have you had in the last 10 years? I've had, off the top of my head, 10, including desktops, laptops, work machines, and personal ones. Each one had data that appeared nowhere else, and most of those machines were replaced because they died - making it hard or, occassionally, impossible to get the data from the drive. It isn't just me. I've helped a lot of you out there with the same.

Now consider what is on those drives. Here's what I would miss:
* All the archives of design projects from the last 10 years.
* Archives of my law school notes (I still refer to them to brush up on basic principles of law once in a blue moon).
* Archives of personal docs ranging from taxes to the letter I sent my future in-laws regarding my engagement.
* All my photos from trips, days at the park, my wedding, my honeymoon, and so on.
* My Music.

These things are stored only on my hard drive. I don't carry an iPod with all my songs. I don't have DVD backups of these items and the libraries have gotten so vast that they would take a spool of CDs or a short stack of DVDs. Oh, and one backup isn't enough. I have one backup. A week after I got a cold backup drive, I turned on my machine and the regular external drive just wouldn't boot up. It turned out to be a one-time glitch, but it made my blood run cold -- and I already had a backup.

We don't fully appreciate how data-dependent most of us have already become. This is gentle wake-up call. Need suggestions? Shoot me an email.

[Edit: As the commenters have correctly pointed out, if you have really valuable data - like photos of your little kids - you should back that up on a third drive and drop it off with a friend or relative. That protects your data against theft and fire/flood/Armageddon.]


Eyes In Your Head

Nope. Not in the back of your head - IN your head. That's what Macropina has. The green balls it is transparent head are its eyes. The black eye-looking things are olfactory organs - its nose.


There's a new word for ya - go forth and spread it.

I am Twilliterate. I don't Tweet and I don't follow Tweets. Perhaps I am not as Twilliterate as some, who don't even know that one "Tweets" on "Twitter."

Perhaps Tweets are like blogs - they just need more time to catch on. Unlike blogs, the media picked up Twittering early and is, in some ways, hastening that growth. I am not sure I like the idea. Blogging already requires people to "feed the machine." I do, around twice a day. I like the outlet. Twittering 6 times or more a day with banal musings about flossings, frappes, and fritters - no, thanks. That's a chore.

So I am intentionally Twilliterate. I also don't read your Facebook status. I get it, we're all going about our daily lives. I feel no need to show you mine and am not going to bother when you show me yours. Deal?

A Little Bit of Punditry

People say talking heads don't contribute to the debate, so let me pundit-ficate for a moment not on the substance of Obama and Jindal's speeches last night, but on their delivery. Obama looked more comfortable than Bush has in any of the last eight years. The "nobody messes with Joe" line was a perfect example. In a night full of bluster and serious words, Obama brought the cramped audience in closer to the podium with a touch of levity that didn't feel forced. We got a glimpse of what it meant to role up the shirt-sleeve formality of the White House without losing its cool professionalism, and I liked it.

At the start of the night, I was actually more interested to hear Jindal speak. This is the speaking slot reserved for future golden boys like Tim Kaine, after all. He started slow. And forced. I don't know what is regular accent sounds like, but I thought he might have played up his folksiness at times. He was up against someone finding success in part because of the ease with which he handled his message. I thought the whole to-do in Republican circles was that Jindal brought a similarly silver-tongued approach. I didn't see it last night. Worst of all, I think it detracted from the power of his message. Oops, almost stumbled into substance there.

That is all.


When Is 3D Not 3D?

This is a TAT interface. TAT makes nothing but amazing interfaces. This one gives the illusion of 3D by tracking the orientation of the device and the position of the user's eyes. When the device tilts away from the user's plane of vision, the icons "drop" "shadows" to simulate distance from the background. It's all 2D, but damn convincing.

This is Grovers, "Near....Far!" in action.

[HT www.gizmodo.com ]



Pepsi has had a rash of unpopular redesigns. And while it looks like the new Pepsi logo is here to say, the new Tropicana packaging is not: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/media/23adcol.html?pagewanted=all

Consumers complained and Pepsi listened. As for me? I was surprised to see them change what I thought was a good package from the start. Oh, and I can't stomach $4.50 for a 1/2 gallon of "old" OJ. For that kind of money, I'll pay the $2 more and get fresh or just eat oranges. Imagine that.

At the Pump

Prices at the pump are creeping back up a cent or two while oil continues to decline. That's worrisome by itself, so I decided to look at the cost of gas last time oil cost below $40. http://gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx. Turns out you have to go back to 2002 and that the news is good. Prices at the pump now actually appear to be lower than they were then.

I also decided to check how oil prices fared compared to the market. Oil has hit a 5 year low - that, after rising steadily and falling off a precipice. The Dow is different. It rose to 14 from a monthly low of 7,800 in 2003. Before that, there was a hump up to 10,000 from a monthly low of about 7,500 in 1998. (http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EDJI&a=09&b=1&c=1928&d=01&e=23&f=2009&g=m&z=66&y=66)


Name and Shame

Obama has promised to call out agencies and - more novel still -
cities and counties that squander stimulus money, or worse. Naming
and shaming is an interesting tactic because it doesn't rely on, and
is not constrained by, law. Do you get more - and more immediate -
accountability with public scrutiny than with legal constructs like
ombudsmen and oversight boards? Let's watch.

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Rove, Spinning Without Wheels

Mr. Rove has penned yet another opinion piece for the WSJ this morning. Here's my take on Rove: Clearly smart and clearly on the other side. During the campaigns, I tuned in when he talked because his analysis was concise, practical and pointed. I didn't like that he was right, but I am not one to turn down a good idea, regardless of its source.

That Karl Rove is gone. The piece this morning asks of the Obama administration is "winging it," implying poor planning an a cavalier attitude in its efforts. Rove's article, however, is a collection of the mistakes (that's 1/2 way between the jolly "misstep" and the oafish "blunder") seen in the first month of the Obama administration. (Let's ponder that for a second - we are still a few days short of one month - how much do we expect?).

Troubles with the appointees were mistakes, but there was no "shooting from the hip" on these choices. They were vetted and discussed for a while. You can all that process flawed, yes, cavalier, no.

Closing guantanamo within a year. Again, the transition team knew this was a serious goal and has been putting things in place to make it happen. I think a year is an aggressive timeline. I think the president knew that when he said and said it to spur people to action. Again, done knowingly, not on the fly.

Finally, raising expectations about the Geithner recovery speech. This, again, proved a mistake as Geithner delivered a good performance that was light on details. Maybe you could cite a lack of caution by Obama in touting the speech. One example. Hardly cavalier. Oh, and Mr. Rove would be shouting down the president as indecisive to the point of eroding American confidence if he did otherwise.

Of course, let's remember that this is all coming from the mastermind of Bush's efforts - throughout his time in office - to minimize expectations. The fact that even Rove's expectations have gone up regarding the office of the president - well, maybe change has come to Washington.


I Will Turn You All Into Ted-sters, I will

What data can tell us about the world is perhaps second to what it can tell us about our impressions of the world. Recognizing that we naturally mis-percieve readies us to approach the actual data with a more open mind. Confused? Watch this.

Passover, All Year Round...But, Like, Good.

Pepsi will release "Pepsi throwback" (something they should consider doing with their new logo). The 'back' means a return to cane sugar sweeteners - something normally only found on passover when corn-based - nay all leguminous - products aren't kosher and the conspicuous yellow caps appear.

Someone has either tipped the rest of the world to this or people suddenly find themselves liking the sodas a lot of more and, therefore, buying more of them, because Passover soda sells like hotcakes. It can't all be due to kosher-food seekers.

And the final irony: I am pretty sure Pepsi throwback won't be kosher for passover because, while made with cane sugar, it will not be made in a plant certified kosher to passover standards. Still, I could be wrong.

[HT: www.Kottke.org ]


Don't Like It? Don't Accept Delivery.

I don't follow Paul Begala (dem. strategist who is often on CNN) or Gov. Sanford of S.C. Let's get that on the table up front. I don't know what their stances are on anything. Indeed, I suspect both have had multiple, contradictory stances on just about everything. (Phew)

But, I do like Begala's attempt to call Sanford's - and, really, the entire GOP's - bluff. If you don't think the federal government should spend the money in the stimulus, don't take it. We still have states. They still have fairly broad autonomy. If you are a fiscal conservative who believes that John Maynard Keynes was and is wrong, put your money where your mouth is and refuse it. Nobody would dare. Begala's point? So - shut up.

He also takes the sad, but obvious, dig. Red states, not blue, are the hardest hit by this economic down turn. And even before this, red states as a group, not blue, got more than a $1 back from the federal government for every $1 in federal taxes paid. [SC took $1.35, Rank 16. New York - that bastion of socialism took $.79, while Cali - let's not even talk of their wayward ways took $.78. Ranked 42 and 43 respectively.] How did the rift between political harangue
and reality get so large in flyover country?



Blackwater is taking a page from Altria's book - dump the old, evil moniker for something fresh. Their answer, "Xe" - pronounced "z".

Look, you're still mercenaries. That word is loaded enough that "evil" vs. "not-as-evil" mercenaries is merely a matter of degree. Small degree at that.

Do We Mark Timmy Down for the Undead?

Take a classic that I, for one, couldn't stand, and add the undead. Voila! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I think I just heard Jane Austen scratching at the inside of her coffin.


Think This'll Stop Them?

A DC Vaccine Court (special courts set up just to handle these cases - long story) ruled that vaccines don't cause Autsim. Of course, these cases were brought by people differently-intelligenced enough to think Autism was caused by vaccines - the medical community and its research notwithstanding. Now the government, in the form of a panel of sinewy, obscure "special masters," has conspired to strike down and suppress their claims. I'm sure, now that they've had their day in court, they're gonna let this issue lie -- and spread the good word to their like-minded friends.

[Ahem - got some bile stuck in my throat. ]


We Are They Now?

So, Kathy Ireland has long stopped being a MILF* (*model) and long since become a MILF* (*mother), but all that pales in comparison to her $1B products empire. Wait, what? I think I get out plenty. How did this totally escape my notice?

Also - note that Kathy makes men's socks. Just men's socks? What's the angle? Perhaps the obvious tagline was too good to pass up: "What man wouldn't enjoy slipping into a warm, enveloping Kathy Ireland?"

Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

Sitting around the dinner table last Friday night, the crew (a portion of it anyway) was swapping stories about the craziest name we'd heard. Winner for the evening in my opinion was "Absidee." It won because it is spelled, "ABCDE," making it damn-near impossible to guess the pronounciation.

That was the end of that, until Tuesday, when I ran across the term "abecedarian" in a legal opinion:

One who teaches language and the alphabet.

What do you call a word that sounds like what it means? This is not onomatopoeia because the word doesn't imitate a sound.


I Get It, You Can't Live Like A Millionaire Without Millions

Sometimes, you just have to click on the link and read the whole thing. This is one of those cases. I read this piece (NYT, about how it's really hard to make it in NYC on $500K a year) and thought, "Are you being ironic? Wait. No. Are you being serious?!"

I understand that people who earn a lot of money spend a lot of money keeping up the lifestyle their money affords them. That's kinda how it works. But it also works that if you earn less money, you have to cut back on the lifestyle. That's what non-millionaires do when times are tough -- and, no, that doesn't make the two equivalent. A Wal-Mart greeter who loses his/her job might lose their health care. It's not the same has having to stop vacationing for $16-20,000 a year or foregoing the $30,000 club membership. And the argument that a captain of industry needs to look like a captain of industry...well, some would argue that's part of what got us where we are now.

Reality Reality

This isn't here because it is so hilarious - it is here because of how close I am afraid it might be to the way so many people see the president and the presidency. TV may be varied, but we treat the people on TV similarly. It used to be that the American President would get on TV and TV as we knew it would be suspended as he spoke to us. A, "we now interrupt your drab, wretched lives for a word from on high," moment. That was good and bad, and, regardless, I think it is gone. Because of the long campaign, deep journalistic access, and 24-hour news, the president is sort of part of reality television. And, like it or hate it, that means the President shares part of the same space in our brains with Paris Hilton, the Hills, and Rock of Love.

The sad part is that the solution may make this whole thing look even more like reality TV. Starting with Reagan, presidents have worried about their television image. The speeches now have cutaways to reaction shots as it if was the national anthem at the All-Star game, and so on. Making the president stand apart from the rest of television may require an even more concerted effort to produce him that way. Kinda sad, but the result might be worth the price.


Economic Advice

I had the pleasure just now of hearing a former Commissioner of the
SECOND give this assessment of personal finance in this environment:

"... Me? I plan to work longer and die younger, but what are you (the
SEC) planning?"

Of course, he's at the end of his career. As I am at the beginning of
mine, I am planning on guessing the next big bubble, buying early, and
selling just as it peaks. Should be a cinch.

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Any one surprised that Simon Cowell drives the 1001 mean horses of the Bugati Veyron? Two crank shafts, twelve pistons, one $&*!@. But you don't read this blog - and I don't write it - to talk AmerIdol. [edit: I have been told it is "Cowell", not "Crowell." I think I am little proud that I didn't know that.]
I write it to talk about real-life recreations of the fantastic. Witness, the full size HALO warthog ( complete with articulated steering): [ See it all here ]

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Things You Already Knew Because You Are Smarter Than Me

"Nonce" - Anglican slang for a sexual predator. I saw the term here for the first time today.

It's not clear where the word came from. Here is some etymological speculation from http://www.answers.com/topic/nonce-slang:
It is possible that it is an abbreviation of nonsense or nonsense case, perhaps
derived as British prisoner slang for prisoners who have committed a "nonsense
crime", as opposed to a crime such as theft.[2] [4]
It is also possible that it comes from the acronym used in prisons to describe said
individuals: "Not On Normal Communal Exercise" or "Not on Normal Courtyard
Exercise".[citation needed]
There is also evidence for a possible connection with nancy, a derogatory term referring to effeminate or homosexual males, and with a dialectical use of "nonse" to refer to a worthless person. [2]
Jeffrey Archer in A Prison Diary said that "Nonce" was an acronym for "Not of Normal Criminal Element".

Interestingly, the word also has a standard meaning - 'presently', as in, "Her tendency to discover a touch of sadness had for the nonce disappeared” (Theodore Dreiser).

Because it Feels Like Home.

Flippish turned me on to http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/. Think of it as www.failblog.org, but on purpose.


Your Honor, I'd Like to File a "Suggestion of Death"

Some things just aren't as good as their names imply. Wonderbread, Titicaca, The Grand Tetons, just to name a few. Still, the names are worth it.

A "Suggestion of Death," follows rather than encourages. Before the substitution of a party can occur (Fed. R. Civ. P 25 for you wonks out there), someone - usually counsel - must enter a statement on the record affirming the party's death. The filing doesn't make it so; rather, it suggests that the court notice the fact on the record.

Where was this in my CivPro class?

Silly things.

Two silly things from you, the readers [HT: Wehwa and Adina]:

Thing 1
Pittsburgh's City Council has apparently actually renamed it "Sixpurgh." That's gonna require whole new business cards, stationery, car decals, ... you get the idea.

Thing 2
Just where do you think they got this track? (For those who have never been to a very religious, Jewish wedding or in the back of a 1989 Chevy Caprice Classic hatchback driven by a pregnant mother of 4 wearing a wig, trust me you aren't missing anything.


Time to Back Up Those Blogs People!

Cloud Computing = When you store all your data in the aether of the aenternet.

Problem with cloud computing is that data loss affects a lot more people and the user (me) is at your mercy to get it back.  That just happened to Ma.gnolia .  It's a service like de.licio.us where users can post their favorite bookmarks.  Personally, I don't see how that's a big loss ... but now I now want to know how Google Docs, etc., could be affected by such catastrophic data loss.

Resulting Cruel new term = "Fog" computing.