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Miscellany 25 April 2009

» I was bummed to hear that This I Believe was being dropped from NPR but then glad to hear that the project and podcast will continue.

» This guy (Major David Frakt, Air Force Reserves judge advocate and defense counsel in the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, guest on "On Point" in January in an episode on Closing Guantanamo) must get a lot more jokes about his name in the post-BSG era

» I was disappointed to hear that Reaper won't be coming back for a 3rd season...also worried that Life may suffer the same fate.

» Situations like this (link) give civil rights efforts a bad name.  New Haven, CT, gave their firefighters a test to determine who was qualified to be promoted.  Then they threw out the results because it would have meant that no blacks and few Hispanics would have been promoted this time.  Either they should be ashamed for giving a test that did a lousy job of judging worthiness for firefighter promotion...or they were embarrassed by the results and would rather promote to leadership roles people who are less prepared to lead in the life-or-death job of firefighting than face the apparent reality that there happened to be no blacks and few Hispanics who are currently ready to be promoted in the New Haven fire department.  It's not hard to understand why folks get upset when we discriminate in the name of eliminating discrimination.  Let's get rid of racial and other pernicious forms of discrimination, but I don't think this helps.

Miscellany 10 Apr 09

» You might be confusing tyranny with losing...

» A reminder about the big picture regarding faith and politics

Psalm 146:3-6

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
       in mortal men, who cannot save.

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
       on that very day their plans come to nothing.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
       whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
       the sea, and everything in them—
       the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

Isaiah 14:13-17

13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
       or instructed him as his counselor?

14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
       and who taught him the right way?
       Who was it that taught him knowledge
       or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
       they are regarded as dust on the scales;
       he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
       nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.

17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
       they are regarded by him as worthless
       and less than nothing


» Can someone explain to me how a defense budget that is increased 4 % over the previous year will "gut the military" and "leave us weaker to pay for the president's domestic programs?"

» Anyone else think it strange that in one breath Camille Paglia chastised Michelle Obama for being overly familiar with the Queen of England (not showing enough respect to a monarch) and Barack Obama for bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia (showing too much respect for a monarch)?  And then following it up with this paragraph:

Probably the main reason for my unorthodox view of politics (as in my instant approval of Sarah Palin) is that I had much more childhood contact with working-class life than appears to be the norm among current American columnists. One of my grandfathers was a barber, and the other was a leather worker at the Endicott-Johnson shoe factory in upstate New York. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, my father was able to attend college, the only one in his large family to do so. I was born while he was still in college and mopping floors in the cafeteria. Years later, he became a high-school teacher and then a professor at a Jesuit college, but we never left our immigrant family roots in industrial Endicott. To this day, I have more rapport with campus infrastructure staffers (maintenance, security) than I do with other professors or, for that matter, writers. Don't get me started on the hermetic bourgeois arrogance of American literati!

Ugh.  I understand why conservatives love her (because she loves Rush and always prefaces her token pledge of support for Obama with a litany of (IMHO) wrong-headed criticisms), but why does anyone else?

» Conservadudes, the fellow who did the poll you're citing to show that Obama is "the most polarizing president" says that conclusion is unfair.  He emphasized that the very large discrepancy between Obama's support among Democrats and among Republicans is driven by long-term trends and by the very enthusiastic reaction to Obama within his own party, no because Obama is especially polarizing.

» The Grace Conversation blog is off to a rocky start, in my opinion.  I like the concept, and they're getting plenty of comments.  However, I think they should have allowed people to submit comments but not published them.  The 4 main authors could have worked together to incorporate any key contributions from the comments into the main posts in such a way that they remained coherent.  The free-for-all of a blog with comments doesn't necessarily make for good reading (especially for someone who comes upon it after the fact) or a disciplined focus (which is something I think a discussion like that one really needs).

Facebook Embedded Video Bug

If there was bug in software as widely used as Facebook's embedded flash video and Internet Explorer 7 (I've also seen the bug with IE6) that would cause an "Object Required" error when closing the browser, you think that it'd be an important enough to promptly fix it.  You'd be wrong.

Since Facebook started offering HD video uploads, I've been using it for video embeds on the blog.  Before making the switch, I mostly used Google Video.  I like Facebook HD better than YouTube because it allows longer clips (max 20 minutes instead of 10), it doesn't have links to other (sometimes questionable) videos at the end, and Facebook seems to have enough server bandwidth to stream nicely (with YouTube, the video often downloads to slowly to play smoothly for me).  Plus, it's nice to have it right there in Facebook for friends to see.  That's why I've stuck with Facebook for embedding HD video rather using YouTube instead.  The actual uploading of videos is a pain.  I pretty much have no luck in the evenings.  It only works for me when I start an upload in the AM.

I don't use IE, but at some point recently I noticed the "Object Required"  bug. It can be really annoying on a page that has multiple embedded videos (like a blog home page).  At first I thought it was a Drupal problem, but the other night I did some googling and found something helpful.  Thankfully, someone's posted a workaround (link).  That helps but I haven't figured out how to use it on a page with multiple embeds that are included in different posts (like a blog home page) I have to just put links to the video in the main posts and the actual embedded videos on pages that aren't promoted to the main page.  It's not the best solution, but it's better than nothing.

Facebook, Microsoft, whoever is to blame...please fix it.

Name tags in Picasa Web Albums

Last night I tried the new "name tags" functionality in Google's free photo management software (Picasa).  Here is a link to a description: link.  It goes through your photo collection and finds all the faces.  It groups the faces it thinks belong to the same person and and allows you to relatively easily assign a name to each face.  In the past I manually tagged photos in Picasa but gave up because it was so time consuming.  This is a nice way to do it quickly and semi-automatically.  It only works on photos you've uploaded to your web album, not the photos that are just on your local computer.  It's cool regardless.

For the benefit of all of the ladies, here is a link to a slideshow featuring photos of yours truly: link


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