07/31/2008

“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”

— H.L. Mencken

07/30/2008

People whine about the U.S. economy’s woes, but it’s those people in Zimbabwe who should really be worried. You know it’s bad when your government prints money like this.

07/26/2008

Good news: the Associated Press has declared that the Iraq War is essentially over, and we’re victorious. Woo hoo!

From their article:

Systematic sectarian killings have all but ended in the capital, in large part because of tight security and a strategy of walling off neighborhoods purged of minorities in 2006. That has helped establish a sense of normalcy in the streets of the capital. People are expressing a new confidence in their own security forces, which in turn are exhibiting a newfound assertiveness with the insurgency largely in retreat. Statistics show violence at a four-year low.

Wow, that’s amazing. But before we break out the party poppers, let’s review a few things that happened in the last 60 hours:

  • A roadside bomb planted outside the residence of Dawa Party member, Abdulrahman Mohammed Dawood in Zafaraniyah, southeastern Baghdad exploded injuring Dawood and two of his security detail at 11am
  • Police found two unidentified bodies in Baghdad. The first body was found in Zafaraniyah district while the second body was found in Ur neighborhood.
  • A woman was killed in a roadside bomb in Abo Saida area east of Baquba around 11:30am
  • Gunmen killed a civilian in al Midan neighborhood in downtown Mosul city.
  • Gunmen attacked a checkpoint in al Tahreer neighborhood in east Mosul city on Wednesday afternoon killing two Iraqi soldiers.
  • Gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by Awakening Council, a U. S backed militia, in Adhamiyah at 9am killing two members. The gunmen used silencers on their weapons, said Iraqi Police.
  • One unidentified body was found by Iraqi Police in Nidhal Street, central Baghdad.
  • A suicide car bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by Iraqi Army in al-Intisar neighbourhood, eastern Mosul killing two soldiers, injuring two others.
  • A female suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt targeted an Awakening Council Commander in Baquba, Naeem al-Dulaimi at 3pm. The explosion, which took place in a car dealership while Dulaimi was checking a car killed him, his two security guards and four civilians, injuring at least twenty four others including women and children.
  • A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol in Ghazaliyah, western Baghdad at 3pm injuring two soldiers.
  • Around 8am a roadside detonated in Jihad neighborhood (west Baghdad). One person was injured.
  • Around 10am a roadside bomb targeted an army patrol in Sleikh intersection(north Baghdad). Two soldiers were injured.
  • Around 2pm a roadside bomb targeted civilians in Kamb Sara in Adhamiyah neighborhood (north Baghdad). Six people were injured (including 1 policeman and two Sahwa members).
  • Around 3pm gunmen attacked and injured awakening council official in Daowdi neighborhood, west Baghdad.
  • Around 4pm a roadside bomb targeted awakening council member, a U.S. backed militia, in Sleikh neighborhood, injuring two militia members.
  • Police found one dead body in the Baladiyat neighborhood.
  • A gunman with silencer opened fire on an American patrol in downtown Kirkuk. A 14 year-old kid was killed in that incident.
  • In the morning gunmen opened fire on a combined patrol from Iraqi security forces and Americans. One Iraqi policeman was killed and another was injured.
  • Yep, clearly things are looking up. I think Bush said it best:

    “Mission Accomplished!”

07/26/2008

I just got a check from a client. I don’t know who signs the checks, but they’re awesome.

It reminds me of my credit-card signature.

07/26/2008

Every week I get a couple of leads for web projects. Usually we have a phone conversation or two, trade some e-mail, and then the project either gains momentum (in which case I write a formal proposal) or sputters out (in which case I move on with my life).

Of course sometimes it takes a little prodding to get potential clients to understand that they need to actually tell me what they need. Sometimes I get vague requirements like “Yeah, uhh, I need a web site for my collectible Pez container business” or whatever. Then I have to explain there are a lot of facets to web sites, how much some of them cost, and so forth. After doing that, sometimes I never hear back from the person… generally because they expected to pay a few hundred dollars for a site that rivals Amazon, and when I tell them it will be several thousand dollars and the site most definitely won’t rival Amazon, they change their minds and decide to do it themselves in FrontPage or whatever.

Anyway, there are times when I don’t know whether they’ve gone off to learn FrontPage, or they’re just really busy with things and would in fact move forward with the project if only I moved things along. So I do my best to follow up with all of my leads, if nothing else so they’ll remember me six months from now when they find out FrontPage is a piece of crap and their site looks like something built by a nine-year-old, and then I’ll get their business.

So I wrote to one of these mysteriously quiet leads today, reminding him that he had promised to call me to hash out some details of his proposed project. He wrote back with what must surely be the strangest reply I’ve ever heard from a lead:

What happened is I’m not going to do anything with a website right now and I confused you with somebody else Mike Jones put me in touch with who is starting a baseball team here in Honolulu and knows the mayor.  Anyway, I should’ve called you back… thanks again for following-up with me.

Umm.

Who the heck is Mike Jones? And what does the mayor of Honolulu have to do with a baseball team? And– more to the point– how in the world does this have anything at all to do with a web site?

I guess I’ll write this one off. Heh.

07/26/2008

I just got back from Dick’s Sporting Goods, where they’re apparently having a Random Sale.

I was in the market for a couple of breathable poly shirts (it’s hot out there playing ultimate!) so I perused the racks and found several I liked. The only problem was some had red clearance stickers on them while others didn’t. Some didn’t have price tags or labels at all. And they were on the same rack, same style, just different sizes or colors.

It turned out that the Nike shirt I wanted wasn’t on sale. But the Reebok one was, and it was actually half price from the red clearance tag (sweet– a shirt for $7!). And the third Reebok one, which also had a clearance tag but for a different amount than the first one, was not marked half price, although the woman gave me a discount anyway.

So in the end I walked out with three nice shirts at a good price, but shaking my head because it was literally impossible to know how much I was going to spend. Whee.

07/26/2008

It seems that “old school recess” is a trend that’s catching on around the country. Basically it’s a group of adults who get together frequently and play the same games we all played as kids: dodgeball, floor hockey, Duck Duck Goose, kickball, and so forth. It’s being heralded as a Good Thing because (as we all know) the majority of adults in this country have weight problems or just generally don’t get enough physical activity.

It’s funny to read about these because I think back a couple of years when I organized a dodgeball game with a group of friends at church. We all sort of laughed and decided it would be hilarious to play dodgeball for a night. About a dozen guys showed up, and we ended up having such a good time we decided to do it the following week. Week after week the games continued, but other people heard about it and started coming. At one point we had around thirty people coming to play every week. Since we were on a full-sized basketball court, there was plenty of room, but when you have twenty or so balls flying around at high speed, things get interesting.

A few months ago I was standing on the sidelines of an ultimate tournament wearing one of my Google shirts (which they gave me for free for my help on a project). Some guy came up to me and asked if I worked for Google; I told him I didn’t but he went on to explain that he was asking because his company team was going to play against the Google team in the next week’s Boulder kickball league. I had no idea there was a kickball league in Boulder, but it must be a hoot.

With all the craziness in elementary schools these days– where kids aren’t allowed to play tag or climb on the monkey bars or run around too much because someone might get hurt– I wonder what this rising generation will do for exercise. Sure, they play soccer and lacrosse and so forth, which is great, but in many ways it’s those goofball games like Red Rover that define what it is to be a kid.

Speaking of Red Rover, in college I was in charge of organizing some activities for a workshop and I decided it would be fun to play Duck Duck Goose and Red Rover. The former went really well (we had about thirty people, which made for a big circle to chase around) but the latter ended up being sort of a disaster. A few turns of “Red Rover, Red Rover, send so-and-so right over” went just fine, until we screamed for Amy Hansen to come over and she ended up getting clotheslined something fierce. As I recall, she was just about knocked unconscious and ended up with neck problems for a week.

On that note, the article I just read had this quote in it:

We vetoed a plan to play Red Rover because we felt pulling shoulders out of bodies at 35 or 40 years of age is not a good thing.

Amen to that. But bring on the dodgeball! I need to get that going again…

07/25/2008

Yesterday I was driving home from work and the guy behind me was doing something weird to his face. I couldn’t quite make it out in my rear-view mirror… was he talking on some strange cell phone? Rubbing his cheek? Then I realized what it was.

He was brushing his teeth. While driving at 60mph on the highway.

07/24/2008

Slate just published a handy chart showing five of the high-profile scandals that have taken place during Bush’s reign in office. It makes a nice Venn diagram because several of the players are implicated in multiple scandals.

Although Bush and Cheney played major roles in several of the issues, it’s Alberto Gonzales at the heart of it all– he was involved in every one.

07/23/2008

Since the air conditioning in my car died last year and it’ll cost more than the value of my car to fix it, I decided that I should get the windows tinted so it won’t get quite so hot on these long summer days. So I had it done yesterday, and today I drove down to Denver (about 60 miles each way) for some meetings.

Man was it scorching hot. I couldn’t roll down the windows because I have to wait 24 hours for the tint to dry (or whatever). So I had the sunroof open, the internal fan blowing hard, and still the sun was baking me. Woo.

But hey, now I’m all gangsta cool and stuff.