Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Season of giving

Christmas is the season of giving. Don't forget to give to the less fortunate. How much should you give (NY Times online; registration required)? Here's some options, or you can always try Charity Navigator:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How many gallons in a dinosaur?

Did you know that you get 460 gallons of gasoline from a tyrannosaur? Now you do.

Mathematically-challenged Verizon CSRs

This link goes to a fairly funny (though long) exchange between a customer and a Verizon customer service rep over a pricing issue. The customer also started a blog about the whole incident.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Hero Initiative

The Hero Initiative (formerly ACTOR) is a not-for-profit organization that helps veteran comics professionals who have fallen on hard times.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ask election victors to help fight poverty

Another of my letters to the editor published in the Republican and Herald. For more info on how you can help fight global poverty, please visit Now. Make with the clickey.

Sending a signal back in time

If only you could. Of course, if it were possible, why hasn't your future self sent you a message to prevent some stupid thing you've done (in last week's The Office, Jim, using pilfered stationary, sent Dwight a fax from "Dwight's future self" alerting him to a potential catastrophe; hilarity ensued).

Via Slashdot (where else do you get good geek news about reverse causality?).

Monday, November 06, 2006

No one was precisely sure where it had come from. Everyone knew precisely where it hit. It struck a marine who was peering out of the first vehicle’s gun turret. He collapsed.

With Skill, Prayer, and Fury (from the New York Times)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kerry misspeaks; Republicans freak

Sigh. So Kerry botches a joke. Republicans start saying "Ooh, look! No respect for our troops! See what will happen if you let them nasty Democrats in office?!" It's absolutely mind-boggling that the GOP will exploit the smallest thing to divert attention from a failed Iraq policy, an incompetent president, a corrupt congress, and the rest of their myriad failings. If anyone is gullible enough to change their vote based on Kerry's bad joke, well, I guess that would explain how we got into this mess.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Clearing the plate

I've been compiling links I've been meaning to blog about, so in order to clear the plate, here's all of them, with snarky comments:

A Life Worth Living - See, every now and again you need to remember what's important. It's not the job, though the job is an important vehicle to attain other goals. It's not about having more stuff than everyone else, either, though more and more people seem to believe that. It's faith, family, and happiness. It's living a good life. It's behaving with honor. It's doing good things for other people (quote I read today, likely paraphrased because of my memory, but anyway: The best way to forget about your problems is to help somebody else with theirs. Cool.). Anyway, this is a pretty good essay.

Cover the Uninsured week: There are currently over 46 million uninsured Americans, roughly one in six. You or I take going to the doctor for granted. Parents, there are public health programs for your children. Everyone else, find out what you can do.

Medical Guesswork: The proportion of medicine that actually works is 20-25%. Glad to see those increasing health care costs are being well spent.

Egg cooked via cell phone: If this is true, it's kinda scary. Like, way scary.

Social Security comic books from the 1950s and 60s: Scroll down a little. Cool.

What Would It Take: An essay by Chuck Gutenson asks how Christians can support the Bush administration. Interesting reading.

Lobbying has gotten out of hand. By the numbers.

Wikipedia's Timeline of fictional future events: This is just cool, in an SF geek kinda way.

10 ways to avoid outrageous hospital overcharges: Just like it says; good to know.

No, I don't remember where I got all of these links, so no linky credits. Sorry.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blanket censorship

Blankets is a wonderful graphic novel that I just finished reading by an artist-writer named Craig Thompson. Someone in Missouri is trying to get it removed from a public library because they think it's pornographic. It is, of course, not even close, but the letter from the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund says it much more eloquently than I'm going to try to. Anyway, buy a copy and donate it to your local library.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Letter to the editor

The Pottsville Republican printed my letter opposing the coal-to-oil plant near Frackville today. If you want to send a link to your friends, use this short link:

If you want to help stop this plant, the next meeting of the STOP group is:
Monday, Sept. 18, 7 PM
Mahanoy Area High School, Mahanoy City

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Steely Dan - Scranton, PA - August 20, 2006

Really a fantastic show. Someone was kind enough to post a setlist on
  • Turtle Talk intro
  • Boddhisattva
  • Time Out of Mind
  • Aja
  • I Got the News
  • Hey 19
  • Pixeleen
  • Josie
  • Chain Lightning
  • Green Earrings
  • Dirty Work
  • -Band Intros-
  • Show Biz Kids
  • Do It Again
  • Peg
  • Don't Take me Alive
  • Kid Charlemagne
  • FM
  • My Old School
  • Turtle Talk (?) reprise or Last Tango in Paris (?)
Sadly, nothing from Morph the Cat.

Scranton Times-Tribune review

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More government madness

This may turn into a blog about everything that's wrong with the US government (I wonder how long until I hear Homeland Security knocking on my door?).

Anyway, today's tale of government excess involves a federal program providing legal aid for the poor, paid for with taxpayer dollars, that turns away half its applicants due to lack of resources, yet still manages to find money for lavishly furnished offices, pricey meals, foreign travel, and chauffeur-driven rides. All on your dime.

Via the Huffington Post.

Monday, August 14, 2006

State of the Union

We used to live in a country where you were free to criticize the government (and let's face it, the Bush White House has been making that a lot easier). It seems lately that, whenever you make a slight remark against said government, you're a danger to national security. In Connecticut, Democratic voters rejected Senator Lieberman in the primary, thereby expressing voter dissatisfaction with the Iraq war by deposing a politician who has come out in support of the war. The immediate spin? Mr. Cheney says it will "break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task." So much for the democratic process.

And in New Hampshire, an activist member of a group whose main goal is to get people to move to New Hampshire (terrorists! fear, uncertainty, doubt! Actually, they view it as a state that is not overly dependent on the government, and a culture of individual responsibility, among other things) decided to go to the local IRS office with a flyer that asked the IRS employees to quit their jobs. Fairly harmless activism, right? Well, Homeland Security arrests him. Maximum security. No visitors. Take that, freedom of speech.

I would hope the press is all over this. Via Boing Boing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Farhenheit 451

Just finished reading this. I wonder if it's not as much about censorship as it is about information overload, the threat of Big Brother, and Political Correctness. It's amazing how a novel written about 50 years ago can be so prophetic and relevant.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


You ever feel that you spend so much time living that you forget to live? [Insert laundry list here.]

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tales from the Public Domain

Tales from the Public Domain is a comic book (download - or purchase at Amazon) released under a Creative Commons license that looks at copyright law. Some of the frightening effects of our overly-litigious society and how they affect documentary filmmakers can also be seen at Duke Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain's Moving Image contest.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

$200 billion broadband scandal; exploiting foreign workers

  • $200 billion broadband scandal. Evidently, telecom companies promised that they'd wire America in exchange for some financial incentives from the US government. They didn't deliver, but they profited greatly. (via digg)

  • Companies are posting ads looking for "H-1B visa holders only." See, it's easier to exploit imported employees. This is why we need to increase our quotas for H-1B visas. Sigh.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ian Hunter - Taj Mahal, Atlantic City - May 13, 2006 setlist

Great show. We were third row center. Ian opened up for Dave Mason (of Traffic), though we didn't stay for Dave Mason.
  • Once Bitten Twice Shy
  • Death of a Nation
  • Knees of My Heart
  • Wash Us Away
  • I Wish I was Your Mother
  • American Spy
  • Resurrection Mary
  • Michael Picasso
  • Central Park and West
  • All the Young Dudes
  • Roll Away the Stone
Review here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Adobe releases Spry framework for Ajax

Adobe has released a free (BSD license) JavaScript framework called Spry for doing some of that there fancy asynchronous JavaScript stuff. I've downloaded it but haven't got a chance to see how it works yet. It's interesting to see Adobe doing some dynamic stuff that doesn't rely on Flash.

Matrix movie mashup

Neo versus RoboCop. With a little Yoda too. Heh.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Make a difference

The World Food Program operated by the United Nations needs help. Please make a difference and donate today.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quantum Physics Double Slit Experiment

Cool quantum physics video.

Drug company greed

This NY Times article (registration required) takes an interesting look at a cancer drug's ridiculous price spike. These are the kind of things that drive health insurance prices through the roof (well, if insurance even covers it; so many drugs aren't even covered by health insurance anymore. In this case, the drug manufacturer is trying to get insurers to pay their new, inflated prices -- well, of course they want the insurers to pay. Most people can't afford a $500.00 a month prescription). Outrageous. Sigh. Via Imitatio Christi.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

George Orwell would be proud

It seems Homeland Security is alerted if you pay too much on your credit card bill. Via Digg.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

That way lies madness

Fine Line Revealed Between Creativity and Insanity. I've heard there's a fine line between genius and insanity - I suppose that this follows naturally. Geniuses look at things in different ways, which is one way of defining creativity. The insane also look at things in different ways, but I suppose it's taken to extremes. The creative genius and the archetypical mad scientist -- discuss.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Got a Mac? Good luck on that grant application!

In my day job, one of our challenges is making sure everything works on both Windows and Mac platforms. Now as long as you keep standards in mind and don't get into platform-dependent plug-ins (e.g., Active X), it's not really that hard. Sure, you get weird CSS rendering bugs at times, and JavaScript DOM issues, but for the most part, it's not a big deal, as the really important stuff happens on the server anyway.

The US Government contracted out some web sites and the developer came back with applications that will only work on Windows. As a blogger cited in the Washington Post article points out, this is the same government that went after Microsoft for monopolistic practices and is now kind of forcing a Microsoft-only solution on people. Sigh. They say the apps will be Mac compatible in about a year. via Digg

Friday, February 10, 2006

Songs that make you feel young

  • No Surrender - Bruce Springsteen
  • Find Your Way Back - Jefferson Starship
  • Ride a White Swan - T. Rex

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Schuylkill Taxpayers Opposed to Pollution

A local grass roots appears to have sprung up to stop the Gilberton Coal-to-Clean-Fuels and Power Project (see previous post). They have a website at (in direct response to the corporate sponsored by the corporations behind the controversial plant).