Selfish Language

There are times when the New York Times really annoys me. In an editorial entitled "Our Unnecessary Insecurity" (February 20, 2005), the author outlines many of the failings of the U.S. government to secure many possible terrorist targets since September 11th. I don’t disagree with the article in premise—though I do think that all the preparation in the world won’t stop determined terrorists—I have to pick a fight with the first two sentences:

"Sept. 11 changed everything," the saying goes. It is striking, however, how much has not changed in the three and a half years since nearly 3,000 people were killed on American soil.

It is amazing to me, shocking and awe-inspiring, that we can be so selfish as to complain about the merciless slaughter of 3,000 people on American soil. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as outraged about September 11th as every American, but this sort of myopic viewpoint makes me want to scream. What about the countless thousands who die every day from hunger? What of the Iraqi citizens dying under American military attacks, only to be written off as "collateral damage"? What about them?

Synergy Conference

I was able to go over to Evergreen’s Synergy conference last Saturday for one reason and one reason only: to see a Toyota Prius on display from the local Toyota dealer. We didn’t get there until about 2:30 or so, so most of the cars in the display were gone, but the Prius was still there. Pretty car to stare at up close. I would’ve gotten in and had a look, too, but the only people there were WashPIRG representatives and one mean-looking guy who seemed to be returning the cars to whereever they came from. I did, though, at least manage to peek in windows — it was fun. Great car.

Evolution Annihilated

I finally got pissed off at Evolution, since every single time I have to restore from backups, something fails. this time, it refused to read my mail signatures, Contacts and Calendar, which was the last straw — I wiped it from the system.

I’ve switched over to using Mozilla Thunderbird for my mail and the new Mozilla Sunbird for my calendar. The only problem is that Sunbird seems to like crashing any time I try to make a change, but it’s a very new piece of software, so I’ll forgive it its sins. It’s a very nice piece of software, and if it develops further, it’ll rock. It already rocks, it just needs higher “cool” and “stability” quotients.

Thunderbird is a little limited — I can’t do threaded message views or maintain multiple signatures. I have yet to dig around Mozilla Update to see what’s there for Thunderbird, though, so there might be something…

The other big, annoying thing about Thunderbird: I relied extensively on SpamAssassin for my spam filtering while using Evolution, and can’t for the life of me determine how to use SpamAssassin and Thunderbird together. I’ve read a few articles that suggest I could do something weird like a procmail/SpamAssassin combo, but that’s way too complicated for my tastes. I don’t really want to use Thunderbird’s built-in stuff; I’ll settle for SpamAssassin if I can.

Oh, and for a “holy crap, that’s cool” moment: type in about:config into Mozilla Firefox. For control junkies, this is just plain cool.

Groundhog’s Day

Desperate for it to be spring, and you want to be sure of positive results on Groundhog’s Day? Here’s a few options for you:

Option One: Hair Dryers and Long Extension Cords
Hibernation takes place only so long as the creature believes that it’s not warm enough to wake up. Find a hole in the ground. After verifying that this hole belongs to a groundhog (no moles, rats, or ants accepted), plug a long extension cord into the nearest electrical outlet. Plug the other end of the extension cord into the hair dryer’s electrical plug and start the hair dryer. Warm to a reasonable temperature (baked groundhogs don’t tell you if it’s Spring), lightly blow warm air down the hole until groundhog decides that it’s warm enough, wakes up, sticks its head out of its hole, then promptly bites you and gives you rabies after discovering that it’s been horridly lied to and it isn’t, in fact, mating season.

This option may require some patience, a couple of days before Groundhog’s Day, and several rabies vaccinations. Hair dryer an absolute necessity; depending upon model, you may not require an extension cord.

Option Two: Baja Vacationing
This option requires some forethought and preparation. Depending on when you decide to exercise this option, you will either need a car or a plane ticket and a passport. Groundhog is required. Shovel is required. A very large, deep box is also required.

Step one: carefully dig a very, very large trench around the groundhog’s hole (after verifying that this hole does, in fact, belong to a groundhog). Prepare large box with densely packed dirt. Transfer the dirt inside the trench (groundhog included) into box. Seal the box nicely, but be sure to give the poor creature some ventilation; dead groundhogs do not serve their intended purpose.

Step two: travel to Mexico or some other warm clime. Now, unseal the box and wait a few days — sooner or later, the groundhog will get the idea, wake up, and declare it spring. Mission accomplished, and the groundhog isn’t mad in this option — who would be, with an all-expenses-paid trip to foreign lands, when most groundhogs never get out that much?

This is based upon a thirty second conversation with my girlfriend, and is admittedly so horrible that I myself can scarcely believe I bothered to write it. Insight into my horrid sense of humor is thus provided, and everyone’s happy.

Hi, mom.