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August 31, 2004

New and Improved

MovableType 3.1 came out today. Did the upgrade, feel chipper about it. Flipped the comments over to default to Markdown syntax and added a brief guide to the most common tags people use. Fixed a nag along the way regarding formatting not showing up correctly in the comment preview.

New stuff in this version:

I look at what they've all done and I think "Why am I putting this three column lipstick on this mule?" Except Puddingtime isn't a mule. She's just fine. She's also overdressed, and it's driving me to distraction. Like Mal says to Kaylee: "You'd look like a sheep walking around on its hind legs."

Which triggered this whole simplification kick that has resulted in me not even looking at an MT template until today, when I decided I'd turn on Markdown for the comments and might ought to include a handy reference for people who might like to know about that. And when you're not changing something every day, you don't CARE how long a rebuild takes because you hardly notice it... it's just two or three pages that get updated.

So, "Yay, I know people will like them; but meh, because I'm so over screwing with templates. I've got an aquarium to tend."

Also there's some stuff to do with categories being sub-categorizable, and the unfortunate phrase "community management," which means what it says, and good luck to you if you're a stuffed-shirt ignoramus jackass out to "manage" your "community" too much. Oh, and "future posting," which means a lot less people are gonna get fired for compulsive blogging at work if they can just remember to use that feature.

So all in all, it's like Christmas in August:

Also On the Catchup Tip

I haven't done any writing, processing, thinking, or obsessing about workflow in weeks. The simplest sorts of organization have worked out pretty well:

What else?

The t.v.'s coming back tomorrow. Having spent a week away from it, I've noticed a few things:

So we're rumbling to ourselves about killing the dish when our compulsory year is over. Our visitor reminded me of how much I loved NetFlix.

Posted by mph at 9:58 PM

August 27, 2004

burble II

IMG_3394.thumb.jpgMaybe the hardest part about aquarium keeping is getting pictures of the tank inhabitants. Something new to work at, anyhow, so I've put up a gallery of aquarium shots to track my progress. Happily the Powershot G5 has manual focus and shutter priority, so after about 60 shots I started to figure some things out. The neon tetras are almost impossible to capture, so they're mostly represented as blue and red blurs in the photos I have so far. The lemon tetras are a little more steady. The platies, which don't look particularly busy, were sort of hard to nail down, too.

While we're on the subject of aquariums, a thumbs up goes to Maquarium, which has almost everything I need to keep track of my tanks (just started a small planted tank that ought to be picking up a small school of rasboras as accent fish in the next week or so once the plants look healthy). The one thing I'd add if I could would be a category for plants.

Posted by mph at 3:04 PM

August 24, 2004

Just askin'

At a time when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has come under fire from a group of retired naval officers who say he lied about his combat record in Vietnam, questions about President Bush's 1968-73 stint in the Texas Air National Guard remain unresolved:

  • Why did Bush, described by some of his fellow officers as a talented and enthusiastic pilot, stop flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972 and fail to take an annual physical exam required of all pilots?

  • What explains the apparent gap in the president's Guard service in 1972-73, a period when commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama?

  • Did Bush receive preferential treatment in getting into the Guard and securing a coveted pilot slot despite poor qualifying scores and arrests, but no convictions, for stealing a Christmas wreath and rowdiness at a football game during his college years?


The White House has released hundreds of pages of records, but the files released so far haven't answered those questions. Since the documents were released in February, at least a half-dozen news organizations, including USA TODAY, have filed new requests for Bush's military records under the Freedom of Information Act.


Bush has not said what he did in the Guard during that period. Aside from a statement by a former Alabama Air Guard officer who said he saw Bush report for duty there in the fall of 1972, the only evidence he was at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama was a record of a dental exam on Jan. 6, 1973, at the base.


Since February, the White House has banned all Guard and military commanders outside the Pentagon from commenting on Bush's records or service. Requests for information must go to the Pentagon's Freedom of Information Act office.

The Pentagon last week responded to a 4-month-old request from USA TODAY for additional records from Bush's files by sending another copy of documents that were released by the White House in February. The documents do not address the unexplained year in Bush's Guard service or his decision to stop flying.

-- USATODAY, 8/23/04

Posted by pk at 2:41 PM


Al and Ben are home again. They got in last night after what sounded like a pretty rough flight for Ben. Considering he didn't get to bed until some time around 11 p.m. on the clock he's been living with the last four days, he did o.k.

Part of the "Al and Ben are gone" shuffling around involved doing some work on the aquarium, which we had in Ben's room until I moved it into the bedroom this weekend. I finally got a one-way valve for the air pump so it can't backsiphon (which means I can finally put it under the aquarium stand), put an apron around the aquarium stand so we can't see all the supplies underneath, and added some new fish and plants:

That pretty much maxes the tank out for now, so I'm eyeing a small five gallon I bought as a holding tank a while back as a small tabletop project. The folks down at The Wet Spot have a knack for doing small aquariums and I'd love to try one out for myself.

Posted by mph at 7:49 AM

August 19, 2004

The Revolution Falters

Al called from Michigan just after they landed. She said the flight went well. Ben was happy and talkative (to the extent he talks, which isn't talking but is talk-like) we're entertained to note that he's back to the WHOOOP-Screee! noise of a month ago that threw us into a blind panic because it made him sound like he was gasping for air. Evidently it's just "vocal cord practice."

Me? I bought a paper shredder and a lifesize poster of Fawn Hall: That little nook in the basement is a disaster, and I'm still trying to figure out how many different cords and cables are involved in a knot that's about two feet around that I pulled out of the server closet. I can identify some speaker cable, a short cat 5 cable, and the dangling end of a barcode scanner for my Tandy Model 102. It seems appropriate to note the 102 at this point, because it's part of an unholy trio of things:

  1. The Tandy 102
  2. My Lear-Siegler ADM3A+
  3. My Fisher Price PXL2000 (a.k.a. "The Pixelvision")

By any reasonable accounting, these things are clutter. The Pixelvision needs new belts and parts to work. I've still got a copy of my two classic shorts, "Fishsticks for Dinner" and "Godzilla vs. Dog Sherrif" floating around, too. Just getting rid of it is impossible to contemplate, selling it would be tough since it's not exactly working, but it's just sitting there waiting for me to do something about it. Bad.

The Lear-Siegler ADM3A+ is another tough one. It serves no purpose, but it's SO COOL! One of the very first cursor addressable dumb terminals. Reportedly the very same model used to code vi of all things. My first real taste of the Internet at home in 1991 came from this thing and a 1200 baud modem. Getting it to work with my shell account and Emacs is what hardened me into over a decade of rock-ribbed Unix bigotry. But it's one of those things, too: No room to display it in its putty-and-brown glory, no real use for it.

And the Tandy Model 102... well... I tell myself that I could use it for something. It's mainly a thing I'm attached to because my very first real job involved carrying one around and doing real live reporting with it.

What to do? Mass-market paperbacks and O'Reillys that have outlived their usefulness are one thing... these three things... I dunno.

Posted by mph at 7:01 PM


Well, Al and Ben are somewhere in the air on the way to Michigan, which makes for the first time I've ever been away from Ben for more than a few hours, and the longest Al and I have been apart for a while, too.

Smooth navigating at the airport, to the extent I got to see any of it. The TSA people are friendlier than I've ever seen them (though one of them gave me the stink eye for taking pictures near the security gates), and there was some minor chaos involving Ben's car seat and stroller needing to be scanned. But it sounds like Al managed to nail down a pair of seats for them in the back of the plane, so maybe their air time will be pretty good, too.

So now it's me and a lengthy list of projects around the house, and a few power tools if I get really ambitious.

Some things that will be weird:

I think I'm going to stop dwelling on it. But it's still weird.

Posted by mph at 11:15 AM

August 17, 2004

It Even Went Underwater

rudy.gif First: I can't seem to locate a "Fat Albert" episode guide. You'd think that with all the life lessons that show offered, someone would have undertaken the important work of cataloging the wisdom of Albert and the gang.

I'm noting that because every time I buy something new and it breaks, I feel like Rudy in that episode where he gets a new guitar, and there's this whole fantasy sequence where he's imagining that it can be a car or go underwater or whatever. He breaks a string and that's it for the guitar and the rest of the gang has a laugh with its improvised instruments made from junk.

In this case, it's the t.v., which has taken to acting like the picture is rotating on a z axis now and then at intervals we can't predict and for reasons we can't discern. It's going to be gone for a week, but fortunately not when Al and Ben are gone, which would completely trash my plans for achieving a vegetative state in front of it.

And that brings me to something I'm adding to my to-do list, which is writing a polite letter to my local Fred Meyer for printing a new receipt for me despite the fact that their computer (an AS400 using NeoWare thin client gear, fwiw) can't remember receipts from more than 30 days ago. It was very kind of them, and it only took a very little pleading.

I remembered to smile beatifically during the entire process, which either soothed or frightened them into helping more, I suppose.

While we're on Fat Albert, here's a not bad remembrance of some behind-the-scenes stuff. $80-$85k an episode!

Posted by mph at 11:26 AM

August 16, 2004

Big Cat 'Build a Glossary Entry from Selection'

Part of the job involves making sure that every article I run includes links to Webopedia definitions for each technical term the author uses.

Using BigCat, I've written a script that borrows from the basic "search for selection in Google" and expands it to include "search for selection in Webopedia, allow the user to accept the resulting URL, and add a pre-formatted entry to the glossary and the clipboard."

Next up is adding a simple looping script to add the code for definitions automatically when a word I've already looked up and glossarized is in a given document.

I'm posting these things here, by the way, less because I imagine there's someone else out there who has the same job as me, uses the same software as me and deals with the same problems as me, and more because, well, you never know who will find what useful. And I'm definitely benefitting from other people's scripting knowledge as I put these together. Seems the best way to give back.

--Open this script in a new Script Editor window.

on main(s)
    -- Webopedia's sort of a pain: no transparent search URL, but it does seem to be smart about redirecting "/foo.html" to the appropriate entry, so we'll bank on that:
    set baseurl to "http://networking.webopedia.com/" & s & ".html"
    open location baseurl
    --If jimmying the search works, offer a chance to add it to the glossary. On cancel, the script will die.
    display dialog "Add this to the BBEdit Glossary?"
    -- On ok, make OmniWeb give us its frontmost URL (which we just opened with the "open location baseurl" command
    tell application "OmniWeb"
        set theFrontmostWindowID to item 1 of (ListWindows)
        set theFrontmostWindowInfo to (GetWindowInfo theFrontmostWindowID)
        set myURL to item 1 of theFrontmostWindowInfo
    end tell
    -- make the URL into a properly formatted parenthetical "define" URL
    set the clipboard to " (<a href='" & myURL & "'>define</a>) " as string
    -- open up BBEdit
    tell application "BBEdit"
        --point glossFolder at the Glossary/Webopedia folder
        set glossFolder to "Macintosh HD:Applications:BBEdit 7.1:BBEdit Support:Glossary:Webopedia:"
        --set the name of the new document to the selection used to search
        make new text document with properties {name:s}
        -- file reference thingummer because AppleScript doesn't seem to like to address teh file directly
        set myfile to a reference to file (glossFolder & s)
        -- paste the newly created URL into the new document
        --save the newly created glossary file
        save front document to myfile
        close front document
    end tell
end main

Posted by mph at 12:56 PM

August 15, 2004

Big Cat (secure) 'Copy to public_html'

I'm periodically moving files into my public web space to share with others, which presents a few minor issues:

So I wrote a quick script for the Big Cat Script Menu plugin that takes a file selected by the mouse and copies it to my public_html directory using scp, replacing all the spaces in the name with underscore ("_") characters and copying the URL of the newly copied file to the clipboard for pasting into whatever means I'm using to relate the URL to someone else.

Minor caveats:

--Open this script in a new Script Editor window.

-- copy to public_html by Michael Hall <mph@puddingbowl.org>
-- For use with the Big Cat Scripts Plugin (http://ranchero.com/bigcat/)
-- copy to the Big Cat "files" folder in ~/Library/Application Support/Big Cat Scripts
-- Also: pretty much depends on having ssh keys set up on the remote server, either without a password, or with some kind of ssh-agent in place.

on main(filelist)
    tell application "Finder"
        repeat with i from 1 to (count of items in filelist)
            -- scrub out the spaces from the file name and replace them with the _ character
            set AppleScript's text item delimiters to " "
            set myname to (the name of item i of filelist)
            set ScrubbedName to every text item in myname
            set AppleScript's text item delimiters to "_"
            set myname to every item of ScrubbedName as string
            -- copy the file over to the sever, replace 'ix:public_html/' to your remote host
            do shell script "scp '" & (POSIX path of item i of filelist) & "' ix:public_html/" & myname
            -- create a variable with the URL of the file on the remote server, replace "http://www.puddingbowl.org/~mph/" to your remote URL
            set myFile to "http://www.puddingbowl.org/~mph/" & myname
            -- copy the variable to the clipboard for pasting
            set the clipboard to myFile
        end repeat
    end tell
end main

Posted by mph at 12:01 PM

August 13, 2004

Clutter Apocalypse 2004

Time for a little workflow blogging.

After a week of feverish activity trying to figure out a way to set up a testbed to try some ideas out, here are a few things that have come to the fore in the two week post-test period:


I also had a real set of epiphanies over my relationship to material stuff. It took a lot of fussing and thinking :

Here are some things I've held on to:

Some of that stuff is innocuous, some of it is just stupid to keep 'hold of. The canteen, for instance, isn't anything that reminds me of a specific moment, or brings Yellowstone any closer: I carry my summer in Yellowstone in my memory. The piece of wood no longer makes me feel the thing I did when I first looked at it and imagined a fantastic city. It's just a piece of wood, held on to because I need to remember that I once thought a particular thing that doesn't resonate. I carry the feeling of seeing and imagining that city in my memory now. The wood is useless and dead. Those technical books have all been interesting in their time, but I don't use them anymore. Having them helps me feel anchored in my identity as someone who is comfortable and fluent with technology. But they don't make me any more or less that way. They just fill up space. Hundreds of pounds of books I won't read, for the sake of anchoring a piece of identity on them.

The thing I've come to realize, though, is that the real walking memory of all those things is me. I am the sum of my experiences and cares and passions. No thing can be that. No collection of things can be that. And in the process of gathering up so much stuff, I've become less mindful of the things that really do mean something, that resonate with me now.

So I've spent the last few weeks purging clutter. Most of my mass-market paperbacks are in grocery bags so I can drive them to a charity. Lots of other stuff is getting taken to Goodwill or wherever I think it'll be useful. I'm giving away technical books to geek friends who think they can use them and saving only the ones I know I still refer to from time to time. My mighty animal book collection, standing at somewhere over two dozen, is probably going to be reduced to an owl, a fish, and a dog.

It's taking some time to go through this process. We have a lot of stuff in the house and I'm dealing with it room by room. The big push will come next week when Al and Ben are in Michigan and I've got the weekend to go into the truly menacing Closet of Peril and tear out three or four boxes of hoarded spare parts, old video cards, potentially dead motherboards, defunct hard drives, network cards and other bits of nerd detritus. All that stuff will be herded to the basement, where it'll get sifted into piles of "appropriate for a trip to freegeek" or "not," and I'll feel significantly lighter.

Posted by mph at 10:48 PM

voodoo2palm 0.92

Voodoo2Palm 0.92 fixes some weird issues I introduced by testing against the wrong version of VoodooPad. It also tries to make a “~/.plucker” directory in case the user doesn’t have one. Version 0.91 is still available in case one or the other doesn’t work.

Thanks to Esa Kankaanpää for helping me straighten out the ~/.plucker thing.

Next up: I’ve got a copy of iceberg and I’m working out what I need to do to make an installable package.

Worthwhile reminders: If voodoo2palm doesn’t work, it’s best to contact me and not Flying Meat, which doesn’t have anything to do with it besides being nice enough to let me appropriate part of its logo. Also: Plucker doesn’t have UTF-8 support, so internationalized characters (like Esa’s last name) just won’t work. Neither will the bullet characters. That’s on my list of things to think of next, if I get around to writing a tiny conversion script to clean out at least the funky bullets.

Posted by mph at 11:50 AM

Little Green Proles

I also, in case anyone’s curious, have deep issues with several small Trotskyite sects demonstrating varying degrees of barking madness, but I’m deeply relieved I never ended up running afoul of the Posadists:

They called themselves the Posadists after their founder Juan R Posadas and, like many UFO cults, they bore a fierce loyalty to their “dear master”. They believed that close encounters were evidence of superior socialist civilisations from Earth’s future. Their bizarre belief in flying saucers was not channelled to them by some tackily-named space entity but “theoretically informed” by Marx and Trotsky, and was for them a logical extension of Marxist dialectical materialism. Posadas wrote: “We will travel to planets millions of light years away under a Socialist society.”

Probably Amiga users, too.

(via Ed over IM)

Posted by mph at 10:23 AM

August 12, 2004

Goodbye to that Old Linux Gang of Mine

Ed recently went on a Linux conversion crusade (1, 2, 3) that made my gums hurt for a day or two. I was going to write about it from my perspective until a few things came to mind:

I linked to Rob Enderle’s bizarre, paranoid keynote over on the linklog a few days ago, wherein he railed against “spies” in the audience, shotguns, domestic violence, and the hollow, sad, shallow lives a lot of operating system “advocates” lead. I called it the insanest keynote ever, which is about right. Profane, abusive, rambling, disjointed, self-aggrandizing. Nuts. But he got that way for a reason, and I’m guessing part of his recent edginess is that he’s on SCO’s side, and that has surely earned him a helping of personal abuse most of us can’t fathom. I can say that with confidence, because I once made the mistake of not being on “the community’s” side quickly enough, and I was the one sitting up at midnight reading threats in my inbox.

After I got put through the “community” ringer for a month, with threats to my person, my job, and my reputation, one of the self-styled leaders called me at home to let me know that he was very sad indeed that I had perhaps forgotten the joy of Linux (he’d read my book). “I wish,” he said “we could help you feel it again.” What he had in mind was me doing what he wanted, which was something I most expressly did not want to do. But if you’ve ever seen a movie where the cardinal comes down into the dungeon to tell an inquisition victim stretched out on the rack that he’s very sad to see a stray sheep in such dire straits, you’d have the feel of the whole interaction. He wasn’t calling to put an end to the misery he and his proxies were causing: He was there to threaten more of it.

I got through it, I learned a few things in the process, and balance was restored, but only long enough for 9/11 to happen, which has nothing to do with “Linux people” exactly, except that this strange and apocalyptic thread crept into the milieu in ways I noticed only because I was moderating discussions on a few sites and had the task of discarding some of the most disjointed, bizarre, and violent comments I’d ever seen come through the queues.

Initially it was the usual language about Microsoft being “evil” with an added layer of violent imagery. In the years between, it’s become more about SCO. There’s always a dash of Microsoft in the conspiracy theorizing because, you know, habit. But it’s mostly about SCO now, and how there aren’t punishments severe enough for the company and its officers.

So knowing what I know about how a mere handful of “Linux advocates” can ruin your whole summer, when I read Groklaw mocking Rob Enderle for finally unravelling under the pressure I guarantee you he’s feeling, I get pretty disgusted. Especially since Groklaw, more than any other site, has become the focal point for the worst of that negative, abusive energy. Some of its readers are unhinged in the same way some of Little Green Footballs’ readers are unhinged, and the site’s editorial team thinks the hurt those nutballs have most assuredly caused others is a laughing matter.

I guess that’s why I really, really don’t much feel like “advocating” Linux anymore. I use it for my servers, and I have it on my x86 desktop machine (which is currently sitting in the basement against the day my Macs break down and I need a machine up and running while I wait for them to be repaired), but I’m painfully familiar with its user community, I know the lengths to which some of its loudest and most acclaimed advocates will go to bully and harass people they disagree with, and that makes a mere technical appraisal of its merits almost impossible.*

And that’s about what I’ve got to say about that. It’s nothing I’m going to “get over,” and I shouldn’t have to. Linux was a social and technical experience for me, and the social part of it went real bad. The technical side is something I’ll enjoy on my own, thanks.

* I should amend this, since technical appraisals of Linux are part of my current trade: I feel pretty clear-headed about Linux’s technical merits (though I’ll admit to being a hair behind on its desktop worth because I haven’t had it on a desktop machine under regular use for a while now). But when I read about Ed’s experiences with his move to a Linux setup on his iBook, it reminds me of my last “trying to get comfortable with Linux” period, and what was going on at the time. It’s very hard to write a straight narrative of why I got fed up with it and quit bothering that sticks to the technical issues, because I was also very much dealing with the mau-mauing I got from self-styled “community” leaders at the time as well.

Posted by mph at 5:30 PM

August 10, 2004

Not that there's anything wrong with that

Just to do what we can to eliminate this meme as well, John Kerry is not, repeat, not "the most liberal senator." From Salon:

To support the "most liberal senator" claim, the Bush-Cheney campaign points to the congressional vote ratings prepared by the National Journal. At a campaign stop in Minnesota Friday, Cheney said Kerry is "by National Journal ratings, the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts. It's true. All you got to do is go look at the ratings systems. And that captures a lot, I think, in terms of somebody's philosophy. And it's not based on one vote, or one year, it's based on 20 years of service in the United States Senate."

The thing is, Cheney's claim is not "true." It's that other thing: "false." Earlier this year, National Journal identified Kerry as the senator with the most liberal voting record in 2003. When the National Journal looked at Kerry's entire Senate voting record -- "on 20 years of service in the United States Senate," as Cheney put it -- the magazine determined that Kerry was not the "most liberal" senator. In fact, the National Journal reported in March that "10 other current senators have a lifetime composite liberal score that is higher than Kerry's. And, yes, the top-10 list includes Massachusetts' other senator, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass." For the record, the National Journal's list of the top 10 "most liberal" sitting senators is: Mark Dayton, Paul Sarbanes, Jack Reid, Jon Corzine, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Richard Durbin, Frank Lautenberg and Patrick Leahy.

The "11th most liberal senator" doesn't carry quite the sting that "most liberal senator" does, so the Bush-Cheney campaign and some in the media keep pushing the flashier -- but false -- charge. Last week on "Crossfire," for example, Tucker Carlson called Kerry "the most liberal member of the Senate by any measure of his votes."

But even the single "measure" the Republicans can cite credibly -- the National Journal's rating on Kerry's 2003 voting record -- can fairly be called into question. The National Journal ranks senators based on their votes in three categories: economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. However, because Kerry missed so many votes while campaigning in 2003, the National Journal lacked sufficient data to grade him on social policy or foreign policy. Thus, Kerry's 2003 ranking is based solely on his 2003 votes on economic policy -- an area in which the National Journal has traditionally seen Kerry as significantly more liberal than he is on, say, foreign policy.

And even when it comes to the 2003 economic policy votes the National Journal counted, it's not entirely clear that Kerry's views should be deemed "liberal." The National Journal included 32 Senate roll calls in its economic policy rankings. Kerry voted in 19 of those. In each of those 19, Kerry's vote was exactly the same as that cast by a majority of the Senate's Democrats. As the Democratic Leadership Council's Al From and Bruce Reed argued in a recent Op-Ed piece, the National Journal rankings are "based more on partisan than ideological differences, ensuring that most Democrats will have very liberal rankings."

On average, 46 senators -- including 3.6 Republicans -- sided with Kerry on the 19 votes used in his National Journal ranking. On 12 of the 19 votes, at least one Republican joined Kerry. On three of them -- votes against loans for the construction of nuclear power plants, against the study of offshore oil and gas drilling and against the privatization of air traffic controllers -- 10 or more Republicans joined Kerry. And it wasn't just crossover moderates like McCain or Maine's Olympia Snowe. North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole voted with Kerry on the offshore drilling measure; Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe voted with Kerry on the air traffic controllers; and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel voted with Kerry on a Medicare issue.

And the statements about Edwards are just as wrong. So when you hear someone saying that "first and fourth most liberal senators" horseshit, it means they're either stupid or lying.

Kerry is also not a "French socialist," a cannibal-zombie, or a Martian kill-bot.

p.s. -- If you haven't already, you're going to hear something about "Christmas in Cambodia." Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life. I don't know what it means, either, but the fact that Bush gets a free ride on his National Guard non-duty while they try to pin this stuff on Kerry speaks volumes about the ethical compass of the right.

Posted by pk at 9:50 AM

August 6, 2004

The Dishonorable Veterans' Smear Campaign

This is getting play everywhere, including the LinkLog on your right, but I thought I'd summarize it here as well. These Karl Rove tactics are so effective because the smell hangs around even after the smear is wiped off. Every open window helps.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are now in mid-stream in their attack on John Kerry's Vietnam War record. A book due next week is being successfully championed by the Drudge Report.

* None of the so-called veterans for truth actually served on Kerry's boat.

* Of the six men who served on Kerry's boat, five now personally endorse him for president, and one is deceased.

* Kerry's commanding officer now regrets signing an affidavit alleging that a dishonest account of events led to Kerry's receipt of a Silver Star.

* The group's leader, John O'Neill, was recruited by the Nixon administration to combat Kerry, who was proving to be an effective, anti-war thorn in their side.

* The Bush campaign coyly declares that it will not attack Sen. Kerry or his war record, but declines to pointedly condemn the Swift Boat Veterans' new attack ad.

So where does the group get the wherewithall? Joe Conason at Salon has more:

The Republican orientation of the Swift Boat Veterans organization is transparently obvious, despite the inclination of some journalists to pretend otherwise. From stern to bow, they're strictly GOP.

As previously noted in this space, the group was organized last spring with the assistance of Merrie Spaeth, a Republican public relations executive from Houston whose late husband, Tex Lezar, ran for Texas lieutenant governor on George W. Bush's ticket in 1994.

Its guiding spirit is John E. O'Neill, a partner in Lezar's law firm and an early protege of Nixon-era dirty trickster Charles Colson. Its Web site was put up courtesy of William Franke, a St. Louis businessman with longstanding ties to Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Missouri Republican Party. Its chief financiers, according to the group's last quarterly IRS filing, are Houston builder Bob J. Perry and the Crow family, both major Republican donors from Texas.

Last November, the Dallas Morning News profiled Perry*. During the past four years, he has given more than $5 million to candidates and causes, nearly all of them Republican and extremely conservative. The article didn't say whether Perry himself ever served in the military.

The Crow family, a clan of megadevelopers based in Dallas, are close Bush friends as well as generous backers. Harlan Crow is also a trustee of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

In short, the financial supporters of the Swift Boat Vets are not exactly strangers to George W. Bush and Karl Rove.

*Boston Globe, 8/6/04: 'The Associated Press reported yesterday that Houston home-builder Bob J. Perry, a major Republican donor, gave at least $100,000 to the organization sponsoring the ad, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.'

*AP report, 8/5/04: 'Perry's June donation accounted for most of the $158,750 that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, founded in April, reported raising as of June 30.'

It's an irony and an insult that Bush's supporters think so little of the American voter that they would attack the veracity of his opponent's war stories, when the only stories their man has are the ones to cover his ass when it was AWOL.

Posted by pk at 9:41 AM

August 3, 2004

Here it's just the opposite

Florida's Katherine Harris (remember her?), touting Bush's anti-terror cred, told a Florida audience that, on a visit she paid to the Midwest, the mayor of Carmel, IN, told her 'how a man of Middle Eastern heritage had been arrested. She said hundreds of pounds of explosives were found in his home. "He had plans to blow up the area's entire power grid," she said.'

Thing is, I'm sitting in Carmel, IN, right now--I work here--and I don't remember a thing about this.

Neither does Police Chief Michael Fogerty. Mayor Jim Brainard does say that "a man was arrested two years ago and was sent to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [Brainard] said he knew of no explosives or threats to blow up the power grid, however."

Pressed after the speech for details about the arrest, Harris said it had not been made public and she asked a reporter not to name the city she mentioned to the audience. "I probably said too much," Harris said.

Probably so.

Harris also told the audience that the war in Iraq has been a success. Since the United States toppled Saddam Hussein, 1,700 schools have opened where "students learn the truth, not lies," she said.

How wonderful that must be. (Via Atrios.)

UPDATE: 'As the sheriff of this county, I would certainly be aware of such a threat," Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter said. "I have no information to corroborate any of that." [...] Carmel Mayor James Brainard and a spokesman for Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan said they had no knowledge of such a plot. Brainard said he had never spoken to Harris.' (Italics mine. pk) --Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/4/04. (Via Talking Points Memo.)

The Indianapolis Star declines to cover the affair, but does report "Bad smell plagues New Castle"

Posted by pk at 1:29 PM

August 2, 2004

Bird Nose, Mammal Body, Unix Heart

Sveinbjorn Thordarson’s Platypus got a look while I was poking at voodoo2palm:

Looks kind of cool. I’ve got a BBEdit blogging script that’s been collecting dust that could really use the handy progress meter Platypus offers.


I’m still trying to figure out the vagaries of AppleScript’s “do shell script”. It seems to truly hate being run within a tell block, and it had some awful side effects for voodoo2palm, including a funny little bug that periodically choked the rest of the script before it could complete exporting the pad, which meant there was sometimes an index to crawl and sometimes not for no obvious reason. Sometimes it pays to RTFM instead of putting stupid little sleep directives to keep a script from tripping over its own feet, I guess.

And I’m still trying to figure out why the graphics in a pad aren’t being rendered by Plucker. I suspect Apple’s Python might be missing PIL but I haven’t investigated any further. “The boards” seem to say as much.

Posted by mph at 8:26 AM

August 1, 2004

voodoo2palm (Super Lazy Man's Edition)

voodoo2palm.jpg Never satisfied to leave things at a simple drag and drop operation, I’ve bundled up everything a VoodooPad user needs to read a VoodooPad document on a PalmOS device without any additional downloads:

voodoo2palm provides a built-in distribution of Plucker along with the English versions of the Plucker Viewer for Palm. All you have to do is drag the voodoo2palm icon out onto your Desktop or into your Applications folder and it’s ready for use: Drag a VoodooPad document onto it, get a Plucker file on your Desktop a few seconds later.

There are a few nagging little things left (images aren’t working quite right, VooodooPad and Plucker don’t agree on what a “bullet” might be), but it does the job for me. If I add anything, it’ll be a version that’s usable in the script menu so the Palm version can be generated without straying out of the ‘pad.

The VooodooPad logo, btw, was repurposed with permission of Flying Meat.

Posted by mph at 7:45 PM