Japanese of the Week

No, it's not too late to take care of the Japanese of the week. Today's word is really for amusement value, and the fact that it's a lot of fun to say.

ごろごろ (gorogoro) v - to rumble, to thunder, to roll about (people or large objects)

Chess Is Serious Business

The obligatory link: Indian chess player caught in Bluetooth ploy

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to belittle the game here at all. Chess is a great game. Still, the only thing surprising about finding out about a player cheating via technology is the fact that it took this long to occur (and be caught).

Now, if he'd just been the witting tool of the ghost of a long-dead master at the game, well... But that's another game entirely.

Safer Than Sharks

The Obligatory Link: Nuclear Power Safer Than Sharks

There is, of course, a pertinent quote to offer:

"The risk of dying in a nuclear disaster was below that of dying from smoking, driving, owning firearms, drowning, fire, electrocution and snake bites, the report said."

Now, the one thing I thought was conspicuous in its absence from the list was lightning strikes. I suppose I could make an allowance for that being lumped in with electrocution statistics... but, naturally, I'm not going to. Of course, due to the wonders of Wikipedia, and the thoughtful article writer, we can make a comparison.

From the article, "There have been 31 direct fatalities from nuclear reactors since 1969 – including the Chernobyl disaster", and "This did not take into account the estimated 4000 people who could eventually die from cancer caused by radiation exposure from the Chernobyl meltdown." So, we'll go with a nice, round 4000, since plus or minus 31 shouldn't put it outside the statistical variance. Compared to the ~6.5 billion people currently living (from the World Population entry on Wikipedia), that's a chance of one in 1.625 million. Divided over the 37-year span, it becomes one in 60.125 million instead.

Comparatively, from Wikipedia's entry on lightning, some 2000 people are struck by lightning per year, with an averaged fatality rate of 29%, for a total of 580 per year. Again, out of the world's population, that's one for every 11.2 million, approximately.


Today in the World of Sub-Orbitals

The Obligatory Link: Supersonic Combustion for a Hypersonic Space Plane

It's always cool to see people now working on things that were yesteryear's science fiction. I mean, seriously, how cool is the thought of being able to go halfway around the world in two hours?

Obscure Trivia

Name two stories, one from across each ocean, that meet all of the following points:

A boy with glasses and supernatural powers, adopted after his parents were killed, who is connected via a scar to an enemy bent on immortality.

The first ought to be obvious to most people with an ear open to the world of current events over the past eight years... the second one, decidedly less so.


A Time-Waster Is Fine, Too...

Here are a couple little time-wasting flash games for your enjoyment, or headache-inducement, whichever comes first:

Squares 2 - Best I've managed on this is ~12,900 points. It's not a great score, really...

Irritating Game - The point here is to keep both of the two balls in the air by controlling the paddles with your mouse or trackball. The trick is not to over-reach to save one, and thus lose the other. I know, it sounds easy, but I'm moderately proud of the 32.7 seconds I've managed to keep it going. It speeds up as time goes by, after all. Also, in the bottom left-hand corner, there's an option to switch between French and English language for the explanation.

And Now We Define Torture As...

The obligatory link: Endless carols endless torture, groups say

Wow, y'know, I got tortured an awful lot over the Christmas season, then... After all, I spent plenty of time with looped Christmas music going at the office (at least, while I wasn't listening to Constitutional Public Radio in the afternoons). Maybe that break is supposed to constitute it not being "torture", then?

Let's face facts, though: Most Christmas music is much higher-quality music than the stuff that gets piped into many of these stores the other eleven months out of the year. "No, spare me! I'm being assaulted by Bach, Mannheim Steamroller, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra! Whatever will I do?" It's so sigh-worthy that it's almost funny... in a perverse sort of way.

A Couple of Quick Quotes

"How many observe Christ's birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments." -- Benjamin Franklin

"To restore... harmony,... to render us again one people acting as one nation should be the object of every man really a patriot." -- Thomas Jefferson


Christmas Recap

Don't worry, it's not about gifts.

The Merry Christmas Watch:
The only people I couldn't convince to say "Merry Christmas" were the folks at Borders. The rest of the sample was rather limited, of course, but it ended up about the way I expected... though, getting one out of the guys at GameStop was slightly surprising.

Christmas Programs:
Of course, it's difficult not to be most impressed by the St. Louis Bach Society's presentation. A 70-some member choir, plus a (relatively) small orchestra. Still, the two candlelight church services were nice, for a more close-knit atmosphere.

The Rush:
There really wasn't one, at least in my family. Sure, there were plenty of people out on the roads for the weekend lead-up, but not enough to really jam things up for people who just needed to get around normally.

Naturally, it's always nice to see people you don't often get to see, and Christmas is about the only time that happens anymore, since most of the extended family has long since moved out of state. And, since my mother calls him her third son, it was nice to see my "brother" who went off and joined the Navy three years ago.


Short Shots

Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time today, so here are a series of shorts to tide you over:

T.O.L.1: School accuses 5-year-old of sex harrassment
A five year old, really? This is exactly the kind of ridiculous situations that "zero-tolerance" policies lead to. Which, of course, it just another way of saying "the adults don't have to utilize what little brainpower is available to them".

T.O.L.2: George S. Patton, Jr. 11 Nov. 1885--21 Dec. 1945
Third Wave Dave has an excellent post about General Patton, 61 years after his death. Good reading.

T.O.L.3: WVW student to keep Mohawk
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a story about knowing when to leave well enough alone... particularly when you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest.


The Darnedest Protest Sign

The obligatory link

It's a story about people protesting the Hamas/Fatah violence that recently killed three young boys. Nothing really strange about that, since such things are, sadly, happening in that part of the world on a regular basis. The picture, however, is worth having another look at.

On the protest sign, which reads something to the effect of "Stop the killing of children", is a very out-of-place image of one Suzumiya Haruhi. (Link goes to GIS.) Rather odd to see her show up on a protest sign in Gaza, to say the least. Photoshop is, of course, a possibility, but in addition to this AFP story, a friend of mine found it in a French-language newspaper as well. (Unfortunately, no link.)


An Equal-Opportunity Quotation

"Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity." -- Irving Kristol

Reviewing Reviewers

It's pretty safe to say that most people know better than to trust professional reviewers of just about anything these days. That said, though, it still might be somewhat useful to understand why that mistrust in them abounds.

"I like what I like." It's a simple enough statement, but it covers the entirety of why a professional reviewer's opinion fails compared to that of a friend. With a friend, you have a general understanding of their likes and dislikes, whether or not you happen to share them. Say, for instance, that a friend of yours absolutely hates horror movies, and you've loved to death every horror movie that he's hated. If somehow, he gets dragged along by another friend to see the latest, and tells you that it absolutely scared him out of his wits, that's probably a good indication you'd better get out to see that show.

The professional, meanwhile, is tied up in trying to be a professional. There need to be reasons that a professional does things, whereas an amateur can usually get by doing them by feel. (A professional, after all, has to justify why he should be paid, particularly when it comes to something like watching movies for a living.) So, our pro here has to keep their eyes out for the direction, and action, and the various story elements, and try to make a rational decision and commentary based on those things.

Where's the disconnect? After all, a well-directed, well-acted, well-storied movie ought to be a hit, right? Well, here's the problem in a nutshell. People, by and large, aren't going to the movies (or watch television, for that matter) for the art. They're doing it to be entertained... which, naturally, is an entirely different level from watching something for artistic value. Take Independence Day, for example. The professionals couldn't pan the thing fast enough. A pulp movie if there ever was one, aliens and rayguns and the potential destruction of earth averted by a cable TV guy. And yet, the viewing public couldn't get enough of it. Not because it was a great movie, but because it was an enjoyable movie.

It runs the other way, too, with all the press and pre-review for things. Take, for instance, all the pre-canned buzz that Studio 60, or whatever it's called, got from NBC before the season started. And yet, what took off in the eyes of viewers wasn't that, but the relatively unreviewed and unhyped (pre-season, remember) Heroes (which, unsurprisingly, is one of the two or three TV shows in English that I'll actually watch).

So, who are you going to trust when you're trying to make your media consumption choices? Seems like a fairly obvious choice.

Lose One, Gain Fifty-two

The obligatory link: Jungle Secrets

Given all the outcry in the media over the baiji freshwater dolphin apparently becoming extinct in China, this was something of an interesting counterpoint. There's far more out there than we're aware of, even with as long as we've been kickin' around on the planet.

Now There's Competition

The obligatory link: Medal Revoked After Runner Fails Gender Test

This can really split down two separate lines, one serious, one much less so. For the first, I'm no genetics expert, so I'll leave the amount of Y chromosome in the supposed woman's genetic make-up to someone who is (or, at least, to someone with enough time to do all the necessary research!).

My initial thought, though, after reading nothing but the headline, was this: A man went to all the trouble of getting into the women's section of the 800m race, and still didn't manage to win? Now, I'll grant you, I certainly couldn't, but at the same time, I'm not training daily for olympic-level running, either. The line of thought goes something like this: "He couldn't compete with the men, so he went to all this trouble to compete with the women instead... and still failed to come out ahead." Read that way, it certainly would've made for a more interesting human interest story.


Japanese of the Week

In keeping with the theme of wiping things out, choosing this week's word was easy:

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全滅 (ぜんめつ) (zenmetsu) n. - Annihilation.

I Have Come To A Decision

Recently, I got a virus. No, not physically, a computer virus. Thankfully, it was relatively benign, as computer bugs go, but getting rid of it was about as easy as getting rid of cockroaches. The bleedin' things'll survive just about anything. However, there's one thing I realized (or, should I say, remembered?) after running far too many spyware killers and anti-virus programs: On a computer, no simple software bug survives a low-level format c:. Hiding in some "good" file, or as an execute line in the registry? Tough to hide when such things get wiped out. Needless to say, it didn't take me long to execute the nuclear option on my hard disk drive.

So, that said, here's the decision: Since I can't guarantee that anti-virus software will be effective in the elimination of threats, nuking the HDD will become a semi-common thing. Further, in the interest of getting back up to speed quickly with such things as additional programs (Firefox, and other like things), install files for them will be kept on a known-clean external HDD (or possibly a flash drive) and used for installation after the wipes.

There you have it - a no-frills approach to computer security. AV software to find the bugs, format c: to sweep 'em away. Not exactly something I would suggest to the average user, but when it comes to the computer, I suppose it's safe to call me an extremist.

Jefferson On Taxes

"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather
than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through
so many new hands." -- Thomas Jefferson

For those who might wonder where these come from, you can get 'em yourself five times a week by subscribing to the Patriot Post's Founder's Quote Daily.


Leave The Cloud Out Of It (At Least For A Day)

The obligatory link: Rumsfeld to be honored Friday at Pentagon departure ceremony

Here we have a man who has gone out of his way to be of service to his country over a period of many years. While the news writers may have this need to sneak in parting shots, this is a time where we should be thankful for what he's done for this nation. Well, at least they left him a nice headline... (Isn't it sad that that's the best that can be said of them?)

If you're so inclined, you can leave a message here.

They Say "Still No Cure For Cancer"

The obligatory link: Diabetes Breakthrough

But isn't that close? Scientists are saying they've got a way, at least in mice to virtually stop diabetes. Not a whole lot of commentary needed here. That's just hot stuff.


One Man's Countdown To World War III

Many thanks to Brainster for bringing the following to the attention of the CPR crowd. I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking read if you follow the link:

A post by Teflon, entitled "The Countdown to World War III Continues"

One War On Christmas Carols

The obligatory link: Howell rule limits choirs' sacred tunes

3.33 to 1? Aside from being an arbitrary limit, let's see how this works out in practice. I'll sing Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the first third of O Christmas Tree before I get in the first religiously-themed song? That's just the way I'd be tempted to do it, too. Y'know, just cut straight from the end of the first verse of O Christmas Tree to something along the lines of Joy to the World with no warning.

It's a silly rule at best, but if it can't be ignored entirely, work with it in such a way that eventually people will agitate for its removal.

Would You Admit It If You Did?

The obligatory link: Russia no longer murders spies: KGB veteran

Let me get this straight: A veteran of the KGB, whose stock in trade is secrets, and being secretive, is trying to convince people that Russia is no longer killing turncoat spies? Granted, it's not exactly the most believable thing in the world from anyone even remotely attached to the Russian government at this point, but c'mon, couldn't they have found someone more believable than a former spy to deliver this message?

After all, what better plausible deniability is there than to use a method that a former spy essentially calls unprofessional? Sure, that's incredibly conspiracy-theory-ish, but as Russia continues to revert to its totalitarian past before our eyes, is it really so far out there to believe that they'd go back to killing spies, too?

Why, Exactly, Should We Do This?

Naturally, the obligatory link: City Giving Free Condoms To Male Prisoners

Really, doesn't the title say absolutely everything that needs to be said here? When they called it Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love... this ain't what they intended, pure and simple. Prison isn't supposed to be a nice place, and it's certainly not supposed to be a place where we go out of our way to make the lives of the people who've been deservedly put there easier.

Sure, people can go on about how "the cost is minimal", and "it may save expenses and lives", but we've long gone past the general purpose of prisons. If we're not trying to kill these people, all we owe them as human beings is the minimum sustenance necessary to survive. It doesn't have to be spotless, it doesn't have to be gourmet, and it certainly shouldn't involve cable television and safe sex condom distributions.

Let's face a simple fact here: We're nice to these people. Sure, we incarcerate them, but the moment we do, life improves for many of 'em. Something to consider, next time someone brings up this country's expansive prison population. We're going too far out of our way, and society at large seems to have no interest in finally drawing the line on it.

Japanese of the Week

I've been considering making this a daily, but I won't for the time being. Anyway, let's get on with it. For those using Firefox, I think I've figured out how to display text in it. If it doesn't display properly, go to View, Character Encoding, More Encodings, East Asian, and select one of the Japanese options (probably Shift_JIS).

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しんじられない (shinjirarenai) - "can't believe it", from the verb 信じる (shinjiru) - "to believe", "to believe in", "to place trust in".


Losing the Language?

The obligatory link: Texting blamed for bad English

It shouldn't come as any surprise that this one falls near and dear to my heart, being somewhat of a stickler for the written language (and even I can be colored guilty of any number of emoticons, which will probably find their way into use here, eventually). The question is, though, are we seeing the death of written English, or its next form? To wit:

(All examples pulled from Wikipedia articles, unless otherwise noted - search English Language for a starting point.)
Starting with the Old English, which began around the fifth century, and ended around the eleventh century:
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum

How many people now can really read that? Well, maybe if you've done extensive study of the story of Beowulf, but that's certainly not going to form a majority. So, let's move on.

In the middle of the eleventh century though the beginning of the fifteenth, we have Middle English:
And smale fowles maken melodye, That slepen al the niȝt with open ye—

Now, we've lost most of the characters which we modern folk would consider "strange", with the exception of the 3-lookin' deal which appears to be the approximation of a "gh". Still, much more readable than the Old English example, and most people could probably puzzle it out.

That brings us to Early Modern English, from the middle of the fifteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosèd here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

From Shakespeare's tombstone, attributed to the bard himself. Again, the trend toward what we consider English today is evident, and the meaning should now be plain without any need for guesswork.

After that, the language that we consider English today developed. Now, did you notice, the times between the changes have grown considerably shorter since the beginning. Old English lasted about 650 years, Middle English a respectable 400 years, while Early Modern English lasted about 200 years, and Modern English has lasted about that long as well. Though, there are obvious changes even in the past 200 years, they deal more in word choice than spelling, at least until recently. (Consider, for example, the Declaration of Independence versus any of my posts here.)

Now, I'm not trying to say that text messaging and instant messaging is necessarily bringing about the next revolution in written English, but based on the timeline of the language, aren't we slightly overdue for just such an event? Until it's proved beyond the slightest doubt, though, and even beyond... "If u c m3 doin ths"... kick me. Hard.

Ripples of 231 Years

"Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves." -- Joseph Warren, on March 6th, 1775

Honoring Heroes

Over at The Radio Patriots, Andrea Shea King and Mark Vance have a great post about the story of an American soldier in Iraq. It's amazing, and I'd suggest that each and every person who reads this should go over and check it out.



As usual, the obligatory link: "Convert or Die" game divides Christians

Honestly, didn't that read like satire? To the best of my knowledge, though, it isn't... I mean, the by line is for a Chronicle staff writer with a link to said writer's SFChronicle e-mail address, so unless someone's playing an April Fools joke in December, we'll have to assume this is genuine. That being said, a bit on the content, if I may...

What, exactly, does gunning down unbelievers have to do with the Left Behind series? Yes, I understand that the game is supposed to be somehow inspired by the series, but I fail to see where the inspiration comes in here. From the description, it seems much more like it happened to borrow the setting from the novels, and then wandered off on its merry way.

Of course, having read the novels, I can't say I ever thought, "Hey, this would make a great video game!", so from that angle, I suppose I can't fault the publisher for having to come up with something with play value, if for no other reason than to capitalize on the series name recognition. It's not really unlike the fact that certain game series still sell very well even though their hayday storytelling-wise is long past.

As to the "they should pull it from their shelves" aspect, the only way it differs from any other game where it's possible to gun folks down is that the protesters and the writer can work in the religious angle. And the gratuitous Grand Theft Auto reference, simply a requirement these days when writing about violent video games.

Overall, if the writer is being serious, not satirical, it's a weak article about a weak game, and it'll probably drive sales up instead of the hoped-for downturn.

On a side note, having gone to the official website for the game, which I won't bother linking to, I do have one question: What's with the gratuitous hourglass in the slideshow?


Strangest Baby Jesus Theft of the Year?

The obligatory link: Baby Jesus Stolen From Nativity Scene And Replaced With Beer Can

Take the baby Jesus figure out of a nativity and leave a beer can in its place? I suppose it's a step above just taking it and leaving nothing, if not by much. Now, here's the one question that the article didn't answer, but it must be on everyone's mind: Was it a full can, or an empty one?

The Grave Threat to the World Is ... Nature!

The obligatory link: Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars

Y'know, it's an amazing thing. Livestock, living naturally, are a graver threat to our world than are planes, trains, and automobiles? Honestly, it strikes me as vastly amusing that, on the one hand, we have people telling us we're killing the planet, and we need to drive less, or not at all, and we need all of our factories to reduce emissions of various particles by such-and-such percentages, or we're going to burn or freeze the world to death. Meanwhile, on the other hand (or not really, since the two concepts seem to run in the same circles), nature is practically sacred, and can do no wrong. It's just doing what it must to survive, after all. We're the ones getting in the way.

... And now, nature is doing more damage to the world than man is? What are we supposed to do, implement a variant of China's new one dog policy on cattle? I mean, they're not warm and fuzzy, so maybe the outcry wouldn't be as great... Meanwhile, we could have a grand last cow feast, at least until the mad cow scare kicked back in. Or, would we be eliminating that, too? Certainly, by reducing the ammonia output of livestock, we'd be saving the rainforest! See? A truly worthy end. Every cow could go to the slaughter with peace in its soul, since it'd be helping save the world.

The Spread of Information

"No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among
mankind than I do, and none has greater confidence in its effect
towards supporting free and good government." - Thomas Jefferson

It's certainly enough to get one to thinkin'... Here we are, using the greatest invention for the spread of information since the printing press, most likely, but how much of an effect has it had in supporting "free and good government"? Certainly, it would be easy to come up with a list of things that the increased spread of information has wrought in relation to better government, but at the same time, even a very limited search can turn up vast amounts of misinformation.

That said, "trust, but verify" is still the order of the day. If something sounds unbelievable, or too good to be true, there are extensive resources available to use in backing it up, or not, as the case may be... and that's the true value of the current spread of information - even if small, the truth is going to get a voice. And the truth, as usual, will out.


What Would It Take To Wake Us Up?

During the second hour of Constitutional Public Radio today (again, access it at http://www.askshow.com or from the listen link on http://www.1510wwbc.com/), there was a discussion on just what it would take to really wake America at large up to the threat posed by the Islamic Jihad. The end point being, some people believe that this country has a collective sleep disorder, that even a nuclear attack on a city would not be enough to create a prolonged, nation-wide interest and effort.

So, what would it really take? Five years and more after September 11th, 2001, when people said that we'd been woken up, aren't we really dozing again? Sure, if someone mentions that date, or says "Nine-Eleven", it will still spark a memory, but hasn't it taken on a surreal quality? It gets filed away as something that happened, as one of the chat denizens put it, to "other people".

Part of me says, "Hey, that's good. It means the terrorists failed to inspire true, lasting terror in people." But, at the same time, as the fear of possibily being the next "other people" to die in an attack faded, so, too, did the desire to actively prevent the possibility of there BEING a next time fade. Instead of being a desire of everyone, it's just become another aspect of the political landscape. When that happened, the words stopped rousing people as much. "Oh, they're just trying to score political points with XYZ constituency by taking that position." Maybe this is too honest, but it's pretty weak that defending the country from foreign attack even HAS two positions within the country, aside from "Hit 'em hard" and "Hit 'em harder than those guys wanna hit 'em."

The loss of lives and landmarks wasn't enough to bring our heads up for more than a short while, in the grand scheme of things. What do we have to do, lose the Superbowl and whatever city it's being held in, before people stop snoring and realize that it really wasn't a fluke, and they're in it, too? Is it really going to take a nuclear explosion on our soil to serve as a wake-up call? I'd like to think it wouldn't go that far, but consider:

Words aren't the power that they once were. We're inundated with them. Saturated with them. The internet is vast, newspapers can stack them to the ceiling, television throws them out all day long. Plenty of people are out there warning that, while we're here taking our afternoon nap, people around the world are serious about trying to do in as many of us as they possibly can. Some of these people who want us done in get on television in their own lands and say so, and we can see those broadcasts. And still, through all that, people don't believe. It's not that they don't hear it, or don't see it. It's that they're choosing not to see it, because it's easier to live life without considering it... and that's exactly the mindset that has enabled this enemy to go on as long as it has. We're bigger than them, and we could be meaner and nastier if we were truly so inclined.

People here didn't truly stir until they could see, rather than hear. U.S. holdings around the world were bombed and otherwise attacked for years before 9/11/01, but until we saw the images of that day, the alertness wasn't there. The true desire to protect wasn't there. And then, almost as quickly as it began, it faded away, back into the background, even as the fight was carried to the enemy.

Would we wake up any longer if tomorrow the Sears Tower was crashed into by another group of men bent on Jihad? Think about that one for a bit, and be honest with yourself. Consider it your unofficial homework.


Lightening Up (If Only For A Moment)

It's the time of year for heart-warming stories, so in return for the previous offering, which was of a much more serious bent, I thought I'd offer up a story I ran across in my perusing of news today, about a man whose wedding ring became a needle in a haystack, and was found. Just a nice, sweet story, in keeping with the season.

Giving Thanks

A moment of silence and thanks. Silence for those who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor on this date in 1941. Thanks for those who continue to give their lives in the defense of this country. We continue to have the freedoms of this country due to their sacrifices.

God bless them, one and all.

Warming? Really?

Obligatory link: Media Shows Irrational Hysteria on Global Warming

Global warming is one of those things. You know the kind. "It'll give you cancer!" "No, it won't give you cancer, but it'll cause you to grow premature nose hair!" "Of course it won't do that, it'll make your fingernails fall off!" Within all the hype, there is some truth. Yes, there is a warming trend currently. However, to date, the evidence that mankind has anything to do with it has been contradictory at best (some would go so far as to say nonexistant).

And so, in the middle of this, comes the above release by professor Deming, claiming that he's been asked to make statements he believes to be untrue to push an agenda that mankind is at fault in the current warming of the earth. Could he be wrong in his conclusions? Certainly. Part of science is being wrong, and then re-hypothesizing and figuring out what's really going on. But what is undeniable is the continued litany of stories of people who want to push a scientifically unproven theory on the world as a given fact.

Just ask yourself, before you throw this out as anti-environmentalist agitprop, who really stands to gain by pushing unproven theories. After all, it isn't the scientists. They're set to lose quite a bit of standing in their community if someone can overturn their conclusions. And beyond that, run a quick Google search for the key words "sun" and "warming".

Man-made? Or a result of increasing activity in that massive, natural fusion reaction we have for a neighbor? Remember, it's 330,000 times more massive than our whole planet, give or take. It's enough to keep us in orbit, who's really surprised if it modulates our planetary temperature, too?


Let's Take Five On Spam

First, the obligatory link: Spam Doubles, Finding New Ways To Deliver Itself

A quick show of hands, who doesn't hate random spam e-mail? ... Okay, I know, that was an exercise in getting people to exercise by putting up their hands. Now, if you're still using Outlook, and I'm sure many people don't anymore, let's have at filtering one of the new waves of spam the article talks about. "It's me, WHOEVER", or "Hi, it's WHOEVER". How many people really send you regular messages with such simple key words repeatedly? We can filter these out without a problem.

Go hit TOOLS on the top bar (to the right of FILE), and open Rules and Alerts. Create a new rule, select the radio button Start creating a rule from a template. In the step one area, select the option Move messages with specific words in the subject to a folder. Then, in the step two area, click on the underlined "specific words" to open an input box. Put "It's me" (without the quotation marks) into the box, and hit add. Then do the same for "Hi, it's". If you're so inclined, you can catch additional spam this way by re-intering the same values, but with its instead of it's. Once done, hit OK, and click on the underlined "specified" for the specified folder. In the Choose a folder box, select Junk E-mail, then hit OK. After that, hit Finish, and your new rules are ready to go.

Congratulations, you're now filtering one of the season's dominant spam subjects in minutes! Heh... Obviously, you can repeat the process for any other key words you notice popping up repeatedly as spam. Be careful, though, that you don't accidentally key something to automatically go to Junk that isn't. It just depends on what words appear in legitimate e-mails to you, so don't forget to account for that, or you may end up sifting back through the junk folder to find something a friend or colleague is sure they sent you.


Vets for Freedom

Vets for Freedom got a long mention on Constitutional Public Radio (3-5pm ET M-F, accessible here: http://www.askshow.com/), so I figured a quick noting of it here was in order at the very least.


The short description, from the "About Us" section of their website:

The Vets for Freedom Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization established by combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our mission is to support policymakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood behind our great generation of American warriors on the battlefield, and who have put long-term national security before short-term partisan political gain.

Japanese of the Week

Going to start out simple here.

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Hakkiri (adv, n) - Clearly, Distinctly, Plainly

And with that, half of the URL title is "hakkiri". -_-; If anyone knows how I can input Japanese text directly into the editor instead of having to make an image file, I'm certainly curious.

Jumping Right In, or What You're In For

Instead of starting with something along the lines of a "who am I, why am I here" type of post, we're going right in with the kind of bizarre thing which can be expected to turn up here from time to time. First, the article: Child Arrested After Opening Holiday Gift Early

A few things... Isn't the title excellent? It's exactly the kind of thing that's going to grab people's imaginations and draw them right in. "What happened, some kind of overreaction? How does a thing like this happen?"

Once you actually get into the article, though, you land on this quote: "I'm trying to get him some kind of help," the 27-year-old mother told the paper. "He's the type of kid who doesn't believe anything until it happens."

I do hope the police in Rock Hill, S.C. have a great deal of free time on their hands, because even though the kid's obviously got issues, getting into Christmas presents early isn't exactly something I can rationalize as any kind of priority for those who protect and serve. Seriously, the first instance of a kid trying to get into their gifts early probably occurred five minutes after the inception of the wrapped gift. There's an order of magnitude difference between that and, say, stealing money and punching police officers.

It's a bizarre thing to be a last straw, at the very least, but that's what makes last straws so interesting.

As a side note, isn't it interesting that the easy-to-find link goes not to a station in South Carolina, but one in Connecticut? Keep an eye out for that, as it happens quite a bit. The local-local-local now makes the news half a continent away.