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11/29/2005

Thanksgiving wrapup

I went home over Thanksgiving as usual; I got sick at some point over the weekend, so I'm still recovering a little. I went to my 10th high school reunion, which turned out fun. Just about everyone seems to have mellowed out since then, and people have been doing well themselves. Maybe it's a cliche, but the differences between people in their various groups really start to fade away after a few years of the real world. A whole bunch of people have moved to New York, and some are even in finance, though none of the people I was friends with; they're almost all in grad school or public policy. Good Amherst choices.

No Tofurky (that's how it's spelled) this time; shockingly, area stores were all out.

11/22/2005

Give us free

So every year there's a presidential pardon for a turkey. The president shows up in front of the cameras, delivers the pardon, turkey's free, ha ha. Except that, for the last 15 years, the freed turkeys have been placed in a park in Washington D.C., and because they were bred to be food, they have trouble even walking around and they keel over within a few months. This year for some reason there's two turkeys, and also because of years of protests they're now going to Disneyland.

Will the Butterballs have better luck there? Let's hope so.

(Via VegBlog)

11/21/2005

InkScape, plus random open source thoughts

Note: kind of boring technical commentary follows

I needed to do some illustrations on my laptop a few weeks ago and, since I didn't have Adobe Illustrator on that computer, I looked around for an open-source alternative. I found InkScape, which, for what it is, is amazing. It has the basic look-and-feel of Illustrator, although the interface is a little clunkier; but you can't the price (free). And it installs amazingly fast. And it's only been out for less than 2 years, compared to Illustrator's 20. I really recommend you try it if you want to do any kind of illustration and you don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars or get a pirated version (illegal, you know).

Computing-wise, this has really been the year of open source, hasn't it? Most obviously, it seems like everyone is switching to Firefox for a web browser: no one gets paid to develop it but it's better than the software created by very-highly-compensated professionals at the world's largest software company. The proverbial million typing monkeys keep coming up with good results, what can you say. PHP is another omnipresent open-source technology. If you don't know what that is, note all the web pages that have a ".php" at the end of the URL; that means there's a PHP interpreter on that side turning database content into HTML pages. I was a web programmer for a brief period during the internet boom of '98-2000 (sadly, I am still forced to work for a living); and though PHP was already around, the big web technologies at that time were Cold Fusion and Microsoft's ASP. How many sites do you see anymore with .asp or .cfm URLs? They're relics, and just about everyone uses PHP; the only real competition comes from other open-source technologies like Python and Ruby. Same with databases: the open-source MySQL and PostGres have improved to the point that they're just as good as the Oracles of the world for any application unless you're someone like Amazon.com or a bank.

At work I use the open-source Eclipse for Java compiling.

What about Linux? Surprisingly, the "Linux revolution" has so far pretty much failed to materialize, despite 10 years of hype. Sure, a lot of people run servers on it, but as a consumer OS it's not going anywhere. From the little I've used it, it seems like the biggest problem is that it's hard to install any new software unless you're already a UNIX hacker.

Give the monkeys some time, though. They always seem to win in the end. Unpaid monkeys.

Update: I forgot to mention NVU for web editing, which is totally awesome.

11/16/2005

Les biculturelles

Mark Steyn says that Europe is in deep trouble because it's not multicultural but bicultural:

There are ageing native populations, and young Muslim populations, and that's it: "two solitudes", as they say in my beloved Quebec. If there's three, four or more cultures, you can all hold hands and sing We are the World. But if there's just two - you and the other - that's generally more fractious. Bicultural societies are among the least stable in the world, especially once it's no longer quite clear who is the majority and who is the minority - a situation that much of Europe is fast approaching, as you can see by visiting any French, Austrian, Belgian or Dutch maternity ward.

...

I love the way those naysayers predicting doom and gloom in Baghdad scoff that Iraq's a totally artificial entity and that, without some Saddamite strongman, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias can't co-exist in the same state. Oh, really? If Iraq's an entirely artificial entity, what do you call a state split between gay drugged-up red-light whatever's-your-bag Dutchmen and anti-gay anti-whoring anti-everything-you-dig Muslims? If Kurdistan doesn't belong in Iraq, does Pornostan belong in the Islamic Republic of Holland?

Time to accept a Two-State Solution?

11/10/2005

Hong Kong photos

A few highlights from our trip.



Hong Kong is a city on the side of a mountain. This is a view from the top of the mountain. Pretty stunning, no? Seems like a 15% maximum tax rate over the course of 100 years can get you a skyline like this one.



Same view, with some shmuck cluttering up the foreground.



Me and the "Big Buddha". Who's looking placid now, mofo?

(You can read more info on him here)


11/8/2005

...but I'm not the only one

Well, it looks like the WSJ's Joel Kotkin (reg. required) and Publius Pundit agree with me on the welfare angle.

Also, Belmont Club has a graph of daily car burnings since the rioting began. Wow - at what point do they run out of cars?

11/7/2005

The welfare connection

I'm disappointed that not enough people are talking about what I think is the key to the massive rioting in France (make that Berlin and Brussels, too), which is the welfare state. Conservatives have an incentive to paint the riots as another component in the war with radical Islam (which they are), and liberals have an incentive to not talk about the riots at all. But I think the real heart of the issue is France's (and Europe's) prized welfare state. How is welfare actively destroying French and European society? Same way it always does:

France's level of welfare spending is "second to none". Is it starting to make sense now?

11/3/2005

If you're wondering about the Paris riots

No Pasaran! has the whole thing covered. 7 straight nights so far.

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