Friday, July 02, 2004

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Timewaster of the Day

Enjoy this one: Mr. Picassohead.

[Hat tip to Jonah Goldberg.]

How cool is this?

The Cassini spacecraft is now orbiting Saturn and is sending us images like this one (click the picture for a larger version):

Image credit: NASA/JPL

The Cassini-Huygens image gallery can be found here.

You're the Widget Man

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Apple's new version of OS X includes a feature called Dashboard, a suite of applets that mirrors the functionality of Konfabulator.

Dan Grover has now penned a funny parody about the controversy. You can listen to it here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Press Misinformation - Individual Ready Reserve

The AP, Reuters, and others ran with an inaccurate story about "recall" of certain individuals into active military service. In fact, as Blackfive reports:
The military is not calling back discharged and retired individual soldiers. They are dipping into the Individual Ready Reserve. There is a big difference between calling up IRR soldiers and recalling retired or discharged soldiers.

When you sign a contract to enlist or get a commission, it is generally for EIGHT years. You perform four years of Active duty, then you have four left in the Reserves or National Guard.

Sgt. Stryker comments on this misleading story here.

The AP story has since been amended to include a reference to the IRR, but unless you read that far, the first paragraphs of the story will still lead you to believe that the military is forcing individuals who have completed their service obligations to return, which is completely untrue.

A simple Google search yields this information:

What is the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)?

Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a manpower pool in the Ready Reserve, primarily consists of: Individuals who have had training, have served previously in the Active component or the Selected Reserve, and have some period of a military obligation remaining. IRR members are in an active status, but do not perform regularly scheduled training.
[Emphasis added by me.]

For some reason, this type of hasty reporting always works against the war effort. I can't imagine why this might be the case.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Approaching Saturn: Cassini-Huygens

The Cassini spacecraft is scheduled to drop into orbit around Saturn after a 96 minute burn:
During the orbit insertion, Cassini will fly closer to Saturn than at any other time during the spacecraft's planned four-year tour of Saturn. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the planet and rings at close range. It will pass approximately 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) above Saturn's cloud tops, closer than any other spacecraft in history. It will also be flying about 10 times closer to the rings than at any other point in the mission.
The images being beamed back -- including several GIF animations of Titan and Phoebe rotations -- are spectacular:

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The Cassini-Huygens image gallery can be found here.

Having it Both Ways

Jeff Percifield writes the Beautiful Atrocities blog. Today, Jeff has a fantastic entry where he has compiled a list of blurbs written by reviewers who have written about both "Farenheit 9/11" and "The Passion of the Christ."

[A huge hat tip to James Taranto, who comments "the results are often hilarious, as the critics laud Moore for the same reasons they damned Gibson."]

A sampling:

A.O. Scott, New York Times:
F9/11: Mr. Moore's populist instincts have never been sharper...he is a credit to the republic.

Passion: Gibson has exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what he and his allies see as a higher end.
Ty Burr, Boston Globe:
F9/11: Should be seen because it takes off the gloves and wades into the fray, because it synthesizes the anti-Bush argument like no other work before it, and because it forces you to decide for yourself exactly where passion starts to warp point of view.

Passion: If you come seeking theological subtlety, let alone such modern inventions as psychological depth, you'll walk away battered and empty-handed
David Edelstein, Slate:
F9/11: After the screening, a friend railed that Moore was exploiting a mother's grief. I suggested that the scene made moral sense in the context of the director's universe, that the exploitation is justified if it saves the lives of other mothers' sons.

Passion: A two-hour-and-six-minute snuff movie—The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre—that thinks it's an act of faith.
Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle:
F9/11: (Moore) is an indispensable treasure, and his imperfections are part of the reason, because they mark him as real.

Passion: It's awful because everything he knows about storytelling has been swept aside by proselytizing zeal.
Geoff Pevre, Toronto Star:
F9/11: A plea for America's deliverance ... it may not be an argument one agrees with, and it may be unbalanced and propagandistic, but it is both convincingly argued and sincerely motivated.

Passion: A work of fundamentalist pornography.
James Rocchi, Netflix:
F9/11: None of this is pretty. But it is real, in a way that we rarely get from major news outlets.

A horrifyingly violent, grisly film about state-sponsored torture and execution.
David Sterrit, Christian Science Monitor:
F9/11: Is the label "documentary" appropriate for this openly activist movie? Of course it is, unless you cling to some idealized notion of "objective" film.

Passion: The highly selective screenplay includes only a few of Jesus' words, spoken in occasional flashback scenes.
James Verniere, Boston Herald:
F9/11: At a time when the film industry is turning out sugarcoated, content-free junk, Moore has given American viewers a renewed taste for raw meat.

Passion: An exercise in sadomasochistic bullying.
See Jeff's post for the complete list.

More Apple Magic

Here is the latest hardware beauty, the new 30 inch Cinema Display:

The display features a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels (!), and requires a Power Mac G5 with NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card.

And the fun doesn't stop there. The NVIDIA GeForce 6800 will drive *two* of these displays simultaneously, yielding a display image of 8 megapixels!

Apple Does it Again

Steve Jobs gave 3,500+ attendees at Apple's WWDC 2004 an eye-popping preview of the next major OS X release, version 10.4 "Tiger". A streaming video of the presentation can be found here here (highly recommended).

I've only been a Mac user since late September 2003, and I'm stunned at what the Windows user community is missing. Apple is really pushing the innovation envelope. Examples include:
  • Incorporating new Spotlight search technology throughout the OS, making it incredibly easy to find your files.
  • Revamping the the AOL IM-compatible IChat AV to allow videoconferencing with up to three other people.
  • Significantly improving Safari with the ability to receive and aggregate RSS news feeds.
A more comprehensive feature overview can be found here.

The new OS X release is not without controversy. The Dashboard widget-based feature is very similar to a product offered by Konfabulator. Accordingly, the Konfabulator folks are making fun of Apple's sloganeering at WWDC 2004. "Redmond, start your photocopiers" has become "Cupertino, start your photocopiers." Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Iraq is Sovereign

It happened two days early to thwart any attempt by enemy insurgents to derail the process.

More great progress by the Bush-led coalition.

Here is Condi Rice's note to the President, and his handwritten comment:

The "Roe" Effect

Writing for, Larry Eastland attempts to quantify what James Taranto ("Best of the Web", also on Opinionjournal) refers to as the "Roe Effect." An interesting analysis on how abortion "rights" have hurt the Democrats:
Abortion has caused missing Democrats--and missing liberals. For advocates so fundamentally committed to changing the face of conservative America, liberals have been remarkably blind to the fact that every day the abortions they advocate dramatically decrease their power to do so. Imagine the number of followers that their abortion policies eliminate who, over the next several decades, would have emerged as the new liberal thinkers, voters, adherents, fund-raisers and workers for their cause.
The analysis is fairly detailed, and definitely worth the time to review.

Sunday, June 27, 2004