The crap and cute day

My plan to post on Friday what I’m going to be writing about in the coming days has gone to the same place all plans go in the end…into the silent void where we hope no one remembers what we promised.

But I do think Fridays deserve something special. After all, for most people, it’s the end of the work week. Friday is a day we associate with drinks with friends, excitement about weekend plans, and relief that you don’t have to get up at 5AM to commute to work tomorrow.

Friday is also the day when most of us post something cute. It’s the funny video and photo day. The cute story day. It’s a day to decompress from the serious stories we’ve been subjected to all week, and to take a moment to realize that Hey! Life’s rough…here’s a cute bat video.

I think that Friday should also be the day when we read the “crap” stories. Stories like a South Carolina state senator deciding to ruin a little girl’s wish to make the wooly mammoth the state fossil (you’ll be glad to know, said legislator’s bill was rejected in the SC House). Or the story about the growing range war in Nevada between a rancher who seems to believe he has rights to do whatever he wants on federal land, and the Bureau of Land Management, who disagrees.

(I especially love the videos from this story—filled with protesters screaming “This is America!” all the while yelling at the BLM for administrating American law.)

Then there’s Heartbleed, which, fortunately, already comes with its own cute (and informative) graphic.

XKCD explains Heartbleed

By saving both the Cute and the Crap for the same day, we can intersperse the one into the other—read a crappy story, watch a cute video, read the crap, watch or look at the cute. It all balances in the end, and then we can go out for drinks.

Oh, and here’s owls.




I’ve been busy over at Puppies @ Burningbird. The Missouri Senate Agricultural committee did vote on a bill about Proposition B to send to the general Senate, but they did so in such an underhanded and deceitful way that I find myself equally dismayed at both their actions, and the result.

Rather than say they are repealing Proposition B, they told news organizations they are only “strengthening” it. We’re removing the 50 dog limit, they said, and adding new enforcement criteria.

Bad enough, but then when you open up the PDF for the bill text rather than just read the bill summary, you see that the representatives gutted every last bit of Proposition B. Rather than be honest about what they’ve done, they’ve tried to deceive the people of Missouri, using one of the most underhanded, slimy moves I think I’ve ever seen in a legislative action—and let’s face it, we’ve all seen our share of underhanded, slimy moves in legislative sessions.

I was also disturbed by these state representatives’ assumption that we won’t actually open and read the full text. What disturbed me more is that none of the news media covering the bill announcement did actually open the bill, and read the text.

All except for Fox. I don’t care what people say about Fox at the national level, the local Fox station has been a good friend to dogs.

I can’t wait to see what the House agriculture committee tries, as they come up with their version of “gut Proposition B” next week.

Passions are high, and times are stressful when it comes to defending the dogs…and our votes. It helps, then, to get a little perspective from stories like Puppy mill ban leads to sharp rise in puppy flour prices.

Drupal 7

I also upgraded one of my sites to Drupal 7. I ran into some significant problems. I’m working on a detailed write-up on the result, to be published later in my tech space.

My move to upgrade all of my sites will be going much slower from this point on. Much, much slower.


Fun and games with HTML5 continues with an article in InfoWorld, HTML: The standard that failed? In a comment to the article, Ian Hickson wrote, “The spec is by far the most stable and mature specification for HTML so far.”

Oh, yeah, I’ll have more on that later, too.


It’s going to snow here again next week. Not as bad as back East, which is shoveling out from yet more feet of snow, but still, I”m ready to be done with it.


Skewing old

Amazon released a Kindle 2.5 update this week. The big news about the software upgrade is that it finally includes support for collections—being able to group books based on some criteria. This is the functionality we’ve been asking for since the Kindle was first released. Great!

Great, except that the software upgrade is for Kindle 2 and DX owners, not the Kindle 1. Amazon seemingly perceives the Kindle 1 as an early, failed experiment, and Kindle 1 owners, early adopter guinea pigs who should be content with just being there in the beginning.

When Kindle 1 owners expressed disappointment in the Kindle owner discussion forums, we were told that this is the way it is; that companies don’t support old, obsolete equipment. Instead of bitching about the software update, we were told to upgrade to a shiny new Kindle DX. One wit even quipped that yes, he also wanted support for his Commodore 64.

Ignore for the moment that the Commodore 64 is 28 years old, and my Kindle 1 is a little over 2 years old…


An obese Gina Lollobrigida

Things too good to pass up:

The Life Issue I checked out featured some fun ads, including one for a portable TV that looked like a tank, and one in the back by the American Petroleum Industry about the cheap cost of gas. The issue also featured stories of the time, including the recovery of a kitten washed out by a ocean wave, and the explosion of the world’s fastest seaplane.

The main focus of the issue, though, was on a story and photos of the beautiful Gina Lollobrigida, still considered one of the sexiest women of all time. The magazine covered her extensive wardrobe, and described how she created a catalog of our her outfits in order to make it simpler for her maid to fetch the correct one. She even drew pencil sketches of the outfits, annotating them with numbers so she could call and ask for the outfit by number.

The magazine described Ms. Lollobrigida as a perfect size 12. I choked at that, because in a recent discussion about “plus-size” models, several people accused a size 12 model of being “obese”. Something for James Fallows to consider in his ongoing series about obesity and America.


Fly me to the moon

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Today marks the 40th anniversary when a group of three men shook the dirt of this mud ball from their shoes, in order to plant their feet where no man has gone before. Today marks the anniversary of the take off of the Apollo 11.

You might be considering dusting off your version of “The Right Stuff” to honor the occasion, but I’d like to recommend another film, a gentle, quirky charmer from Australia, called The Dish.

The Dish is a semi-fictional, semi-biographical accounting of the part that the telescope at the Parkes Observatory in Australia played in the Apollo 11 mission. Late in the Apollo 11 planning mission, NASA officials decided to telecast the first moon steps via television, and the Parkes telescope, along with the telescope at Honeysuckle Creek, also in Australia, would be the primary receiving stations for the signals. They would then send these signals on to NASA in the US, which would, in turn, broadcast the show to the world.

The movie focuses on fictional members of the Parkes Observatory crew, and one individual from NASA, as well as the people in the town associated with the observatory. Though based on a real event, some of movie’s storyline was fictionalized for artistic purposes. However, much of the movie reflects history as it happened, including the gale force winds that kicked up just when the telescope was needed, putting both it and the people operating it at physical risk.

The cast of the movie includes Sam Neill as the leader of the Australian crew, ably assisted by Patrick Warburten as the NASA rep. In my opinion, though, the story line that takes place in Parkes, where Roy Billing plays mayor, was just as compelling.

No mad chases, no computer graphics, or robots that turn into cars. This is a movie about a telescope in the middle of a sheep paddoc. And it’s the story, ultimately, of Apollo 11, and how one single event made the world just a little smaller.

You can catch “The Dish” online at Amazon Video on Demand, iTunes, Netflix Watch Now, or wherever you get your DVDs. If you’re considering a double feature, you might also want to check out Space Cowboys, another charmer that doesn’t disappoint.

And in celebration of Apollo 11:

update Fascinating comment thread related to a review of the book “Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon”. Note that the Gene Kranz referenced in the thread is the Gene Kranz who was the flight director for the Apollo missions. He was played by Ed Harris in the movie, “Apollo 13”. Sometimes comments, even acrimonious comments, are like little snapshots of history.

Plus, irreverent look at the moon landing, by The Onion. And there’s a video, too. Neither is safe for work, kids. No, really, I mean it.