Quick Roundup 286

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I'm Back, Baby, ...

... but on a somewhat limited basis.

I return from my annual blogging hiatus with a hard deadline this week and another commitment that are going to require lots of my time. Posting will be somewhat lighter than normal.

Iowa: Microcosm of the Welfare State

On the one hand, Christopher Hitchens is right to indicate that the Iowa caucus is a complete sham.

It's only when you read an honest reporter like Dan Balz that you appreciate the depth and extent of the fraud that is being practiced on us all. "In a primary," as he put it, "voters quietly fill out their ballots and leave. In the caucuses, they are required to come and stay for several hours, and there are no secret ballots. In the presence of friends, neighbors and occasionally strangers, Iowa Democrats vote with their feet, by raising their hands and moving to different parts of the room to signify their support for one candidate or another. … [F]or Democrats, it is not a one-person, one-vote system. … Inducements are allowed; bribes are not." One has to love that last sentence.
On the other hand, this travesty is a fitting kickoff to the presidential elections when one considers the outright bribery -- in the form of government "benefits" -- that politicians dangle before their pet segments of the electorate, ultimately transforming the political process into what Ayn Rand once called "a civil war of pressure-groups looting and devouring one another."

The Iowa caucuses are annoying, overblown, and pretty much inconsequential, but in a way, they symbolize perfectly what the welfare state has done to representative democracy.

Bowing to Peer Pressure

All my friends are taking this quiz, ...

... but I'm less of a junkie than any of 'em!

A Year of Life Hacks

Lifehack.org recently posted a list of what its authors regard as its top 70 "life hacks" of 2007. One of them, "Hacking Church", I improved upon twenty years ago by "hacking" it right out of my life.

On a more serious note, I found "Put an Office in Your Pocket" extremely useful, although it never made their final cut. (I wouldn't save passwords to anything important on the "portable apps", but otherwise, this has been a great way to "de-brick" badly set-up Windows computers at work.)

From the year-end top 70, I think I might find a way to use part of this one, "The Seven Essential 'Stations' Every Home Should Have", to counteract the evil synergy between my own tendency to be cluttered and my wife's extreme lack of personal organization. In particular, the first such "station" would help loads:
Destination Station - This station belongs where you come in and out of the house. It's where you put all of your things down when you come in, such as purses, keys, and backpacks. We often drill a hole in the back of a drawer and run a power cord through the back of it for cell phone chargers. You can use simple shelving, you can convert an existing coat closet, or you can use a piece of "mud room" or entryway furniture like this one shown from Pottery Barn.
I sort of do this anyway, but in multiple locations. My wife, whom I may have described at some time or another as "disorganized" will miss our near-weekly Easter-egg hunts at first, but she will appreciate her saner husband and the freedom to pursue other hobbies with him at times and places of our choosing!

(Ducking now for inevitable sharp comment about blogging.)

Ten Things that Will Change Your Future

The first one listed is a "Chumby". News to me.
The Chumby is a wireless internet device about the size of a rugby ball. It has no keyboard or mouse but instead uses software called widgets to display pretty much anything you want it to - all the time. For instance, it will act as an alarm clock, play your music, show you constantly updated news or track an eBay auction.
Sounds interesting, but I'll sit out for a time while the early adopters buy the buggy, expensive early versions and act as guinea pigs. Then, if it's worthwhile, I'll get one.

It's about time!

Andrew Dalton reports that someone has finally put "give [something] back" on that list of "banned" words and phrases Lake Superior State University puts out each year. He quotes Richard Ong of Carthage, Missouri:
The notion has arisen that as one's life progresses, one accumulates a sort of deficit balance with society which must be neutralized by charitable works or financial outlays. Are one's daily transactions throughout life a form of theft?
Indeed. And I do like the term used to describe the phrase: "oleaginous".

And of course, a headline in this morning's paper used that very greasy phrase -- and in the business section no less!

More Harry Potter?

I hope so!

-- CAV


Clay said...

If you are nervous about putting passwords on a usb key try using Truecrypt. You can encrypt the whole key.

The only "problem" I've found with the portable apps thing is how to efficiently keep everything synced.

One solution is to install the portable apps on your pc and just copy them over when you are looking to take them with you.

Gus Van Horn said...

I just type in passwords whenever I need them, which is never when I'm on a shared Windows machine, anyway, unless I'm checking my Outlook work email account.

But I do keep the master copies of whatever files I'm working on on the pen drive (which I back up on the three Linux machines I use whenever I log on). So your encryption software is of interest, so thanks for mentioning it.

Anonymous said...

"I'm Back, Baby, ..."

Futurama reference or pure coincidence?


Gus Van Horn said...


I have seen only a few complete episodes of the show, so the reference goes right over my head.