from Vulgar Latin *exvigilare : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin vigilare, to stay awake, from vigil, awake

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Market Share

Now here's something interesting. This page shows the market share for "the most popular weblog authoring tools." No surprise that Movable type is at the top, but look at how far down TypePad is. Blogger is the most popular of the hosted sites, but look how far down you have to scroll to find Blogger and BloggerPro.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Long load time

Sorry, but apparently this page is taking forever to load. I've reset the site to only show the last 5 days - hopefully that will help.

Update: John discovered the comments were causing a problem, too. No, really. The comments. I know you're shocked. Comment trouble on exvigilare. Time to move to MT.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

My Mother is Crazy

No, not my mother. Well, not yet, anyway. This link has been floating around the blogosphere for a while, but has seen a jump in traffic lately because of posts just like this one. The only reason I'm putting it on my site is because I tried to tell the missus about it the other night and couldn't do it justice. Tracey's a neat freak (in a good way) and would either jump straight into this mess or pass out, I'm not sure which. I'll let you know her reaction. For those of you on dial-up, be warned - almost the entire thing is photos, and there are a ton of them. Be patient because it's worth it!

My Mother is Crazy- got a match?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Future options

Sorry about the last few long posts, I know the page can take a while to load now, not to metion read. Not to worry, the upcoming move to MT will include inline comments and blogpost previews. The move is taking so long mostly because I'm an idiot. A busy idiot, at that. Aside from John's very kind help when I get stuck on something, I'm trying to figure the thing out on my own. I figure as long as I have the Blogsnot site up and running, I can use it while I tinker with the new one. Infact, this would be a good time to ask your opinion on a few things. I think I've made up my mind on the in-line comments and previews. See good examples at Wizbang (for the comments) and the evangelical outpost (for the previews). Now for the others:

2 column or 3 column? I'm leaning towards 3. View from a Height is a great looking 2 column blog, while Ambient Irony is a great looking 3 column site.

Colors? I'd like to keep the burgundy and grey, and maybe add a darker blue? This is kind of a nice look. See theme-wise, below.

Open links in a new window or the same window? (Susie had a little rant a couple of days ago about it).

Theme-wise, I was debating using either a cool logo like Oh No, the Blog! or something a bit more Italian renaissance-like. I'd love a rolling, spinning kind of thing like Lee's site, but I don't think I can do that on my own, and I'm too cheap of a bastich to pay someone to do it. The Italian thing is easier - copy and paste some artsy fartsy painting and poetry. Y'know, that kind of thing. Hmm, thoughts?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Scary Kerry, Googled

I wanted to try to get a fuller understanding of John Kerry, so I went Googling. Over the last couple of days I've found plenty of interesting observations from both ends of the political spectrum. There is certainly no question that he fought bravely in Vietnam. He earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and 3 Purple Hearts. Some of the other facts, though, raise an eyebrow. His testimony before Congress in 1970 (pdf is here, html is here) is very disturbing. I quote:
War crimes committed in Southeast Asia . . . were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those felt needs with any kind of political structure, giving it one name or another. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist.

CHAIR: ... all these people (Congress) get here because of support back home, as you know. They are simply representative of their constituents. You do accept that, I believe.
KERRY: Partially, not totally ... As someone who ran for office for 3 1/2 weeks, I am aware of the many problems involved, and in many places, you can take certain districts of New York, the structure is such that people can't really run and represent necessarily the people. People don't care. The apathy is so great that they believe they are being represented when in fact they are not. (Hattip Ed)
The partner to his testimony was his now hard-to-find book "The New Soldier," published in 1971, for which Kerry shares authorial credit with the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Allegations in the book included torture, intentional dismemberment, and gang rape - all, remember, with the full knowledge and consent of the officers in Vietnam. David Skinner managed to find a copy. He had to get it off of Ebay; the Library of Congress was inexplicably missing their 2 copies. He is gracious enough to share some of his thoughts about the book with the rest of us:
"The New Soldier" commemorates the April 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War march on Washington. Kerry, not a longtime member of the organization, had become its impresario earlier that year. The theatrical protests included a staged "search-and-destroy" mission on the steps of the Capitol and, infamously, soldiers, Kerry included, throwing their medals at the Capitol. Kerry got to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The protest played as a major event in the media and went down as an important moment in the history of the antiwar movement. Kerry's testimony was broadcast on National Public Radio. He made appearances on "Meet the Press" and the "Dick Cavett Show" and was mocked for his self-promotional vanity by Garry Trudeau in his nascent "Doonesbury" comic strip. Depending on who you talk to, Kerry represented the moderate, respectable side of veteran protests (after all, he and VVAW were nonviolent and working within the system) or he was the slanderer responsible for the image of Vietnam veterans as either reluctant soldiers, ashamed of their service and angry at the United States, or vicious, misfit war criminals.
Unfortunately, the medals that Kerry threw on the Capital steps were not even his own. He wanted to make a political statement, but I don't think it now has the impact that it he though it would then.
After Senator Mark O. Hatfield read the Winter Soldier testimony into the Congressional Record, he asked for an official investigation. When the Naval Investigate Service did just that, many of the veterans refused to cooperate (despite protections against self-incrimination). One soldier admitted that his testimony had been coached by members of the Nation of Islam; exact details of the atrocity he'd seen now escaped his memory. Several veterans hunted down by Naval investigators swore they had never been to Detroit and couldn't imagine who would have used their identities.
If I continue at this rate, I’ll need my own publisher. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Let’s briefly take a look at some of Kerry’s direct quotes:
"The workplace of America has never been as unfair for the average American as it is today."
''For those of us who are fortunate to share an Irish ancestry, we take great pride in the contributions that Irish-Americans …" (Oops, Kerry’s not Irish)

he voted against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, calling the law "fundamentally ugly" and "legislative gay-bashing." On the other hand, he says he's against same-sex marriage and refused to condemn a DOMA-like amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution. (At one point last week, he left open the possibility of endorsing it.) On the other other hand, he supports civil unions -- same-sex marriage in all but name. ***

"We should encourage the measurement of the real value of companies by ending the double taxation of dividends." (Throughout 2003, Kerry opposed President Bush's tax plan, which, according to Bush, would eliminate the "double taxation on dividends." In May, Kerry voted against the final plan, which cut but didn't eliminate the tax on corporate dividends.)*

When asked by Paula Zahn on CNN, “Will you raise taxes?” Kerry said, “Not on – not on the middle class, absolutely, no, not at all. And I will not raise income tax rates above where they were when Bill Clinton left office. I don’t want to do that. But I will roll back George Bush’s tax cut for people earning more than $200,000 a year.” ***** (Well, thank goodness for not putting tax rates above where Clinton had them)

In October 2002, Kerry voted for the Iraq war resolution sought by Bush. Kerry voted against an alternative that would have authorized force only if the U.N. Security Council sanctioned it. The resolution Kerry supported stated, "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to … defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." (Soon after voting for the resolution, Kerry expressed dismay over the march to war. He said he wouldn't "support the president to proceed unilaterally" and consistently criticized administration policy leading up to the invasion.)*

"What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States" (nice choice of words, don’t you think?)

"I am for the death penalty for terrorists because terrorists have declared war on your country," he said in December 2002. "I support killing people who declare war on our country." (He then voted 3 times to exempt terrorists from the death penalty)

“‘If people went to Canada, if people opposed the war, if people chose to be in the Guard, that’s their choice, and I’ve never raised that in an issue,’ he said.”

“Did a whole bunch of people make that choice then as a way of serving but not necessarily going to Vietnam? And the answer is yes. That’s the truth. And you can ask people who served back then. Does that denigrate the service of it? No, it doesn’t.”

“If we go to war in the next few days, it will not be because our immediate vital interests are so threatened and we have no other choice. It is not because of nuclear, chemical, biological weapons when, after all, Saddam Hussein had all those abilities or was working toward them for years ....”

“I think Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction are a threat, and that’s why I voted to hold him accountable and to make certain that we disarm him. I think we need to …”

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real. ..."**

"I believed we should kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait," Kerry told The Washington Post last month. So why did he vote no? Because he wanted the first President Bush "to take a couple more months to build the support of the nation."***
To Sum, Kerry
Voted for No Child Left Behind: now opposes it
Voted for the PATRIOT Act: now opposes it
Voted for war in Iraq: now opposes it
Voted against Operation Desert Storm in 1991: now supports it
"Opposes special interests": accepted more lobbyist money than ANY OTHER senator in the last 15 years****

I’m not thrilled with George Bush’s record on spending, and there are plenty of issues I wish he would take a harder stand on, but I’ll take him in a heartbeat over John Kerry. As bad as Kerry is, consider this: he’s the best that the Democrats can send out to do battle for them. Now that’s scary.

*Thanks to Slate.com
**Thanks to WorldNetDaily
***Thanks to the Boston Globe
****Thanks to Human Events Online
*****Thanks to GOP.com

Monday, February 16, 2004

New guy

Check out Dalton. A fresh voice. And he's local!

Atkins and sleaze

A friend sent this article (registration required) to me because I've been thinking about starting the Atkins diet. Well, actually, the missus has been thinking about me starting Atkins. If you can't be bothered to read it, or don't want to register, let me sum it up for you. Richard Cohen wrote this article, named "When Faith Is Toast," after the death of Dr. Robert C. Atkins. In this article, Cohen states that
I love bread more than almost anything in the world, but I will not have it, cannot have it, have not had it -- all on account of Robert Atkins, who died last year at the age of 72, weighing 258 pounds, or 50 to 60 pounds overweight. For years, I've been on his diet.

The circumstances of Atkins's death are somewhat in dispute. Officially, he died from a fall -- slipped on ice and hit his head. At the same time, his medical records show that he had a history of heart problems and was way overweight when he died.
Wow, that's pretty scary news for someone thinking about starting the Atkins diet. Cohen says he's been on the diet for years, too. No wonder he's scared.
My story is that I've been on something like the Atkins diet for years. I say "something like" since I never actually read his diet book or consulted a doctor of any kind. I simply listened to what my friends were saying and cut out bread and pasta and started eating meat. It worked. I lost weight.

I could have bacon. This was Atkins's greatest gift. Not only was bacon suddenly okay and not, as it had been before, the precursor of almost-instant death, but it was actually good for you. Every morning, I had three slices of delicious bacon. What a diet! On weekends, I sometimes had more than three slices, figuring that if three slices were good for me, six were even better, a virtual fountain of youth from which I could drink each morning of a very, very long life.

... every morning, I did my little religious number from the church of Dr. Atkins. I had my bacon. It made no sense -- not to me, anyway -- but it gave me something I wanted, which happened to be the bacon. Later in the day, I could have my steak -- the fattier, the better -- and take solace from the sacrifice I was making by forswearing bread and pasta.

Now, I am experiencing a crisis of faith. Atkins is dead and his secret is out. He was fat and sick. I want to move on to a new diet, something with bread and pasta that also satisfies my newly reinforced cynicism.

All I need is someone to tell me it works.
Wow, where to start with that mess. Amy, you've served me up a big fat one over the plate (no pun intended). Cohen has never actually read the book, talked to a doctor about it, or bothered to find out any of the details involved in the plan. He "simply listened to what his friends were saying." Okay, if you have supremely intelligent and well-informed friends (like me!), but Cohen is whining here about something he has no idea about. This is the epitome of tabloid reporting, and unfortunately the kind of reporting that has a lasting effect on not just those who read it, but who hear second- or third-hand about it.

Obviously, such a controversial death attracted a lot of attention recently. CNN reports that
Dr. Stuart Trager of the Atkins Physicians Council and the widow, Veronica Atkins, lambasted the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine -- a group of doctors who oppose the Atkins diet. The Wall Street Journal article said the panel had sent the medical report to the newspaper, and Trager and Veronica Atkins accused the group of illegally obtaining it.
Who is this group that "illegally obtained" the medical report and distributed it to the media, and what could be behind their motivation? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine may be a group of physicians, but they're not the type of physicians I would refer to anyone in my family. They say they are "a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research." What they really are, as described by ActivistCash.com is
a wolf in sheep’s clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks to remove eggs, milk, and meat from the American diet, and to eliminate the use of animals in scientific research. Despite its close ties to violent animal-rights zealots and “above ground” animal activist groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), PCRM has successfully duped the media and much of the general public into believing that it represents the medical community.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has issued two public censures of PCRM. The AMA also declares that
PCRM is “blatantly misleading Americans on a health matter and concealing its true purpose as an animal ‘rights’ organization.” It points out that PCRM’s animal rights agenda “definitely taints whatever unsubstantiated findings it may claim.” And it "finds the recommendations of PCRM irresponsible and potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans." When he was the AMA’s senior vice president for science and medical education, Dr. M. Roy Schwarz wrote of PCRM: “They are neither responsible nor are they physicians.”
The truth behind Dr. Atkins' death? His widow would be happy to share. Well, as happy as a widow could be with all the people casting dispersions on her husband's life work. Dr. Robert Atkins died as a result of a blow to the head, suffered when he slipped and fell on an icy Manhattan street. His weight on that day was 195 pounds. Dr. Stuart Trager of the Atkins Physicians Council reported that
"During his coma, as he deteriorated and his major organs failed, fluid retention and bloating dramatically distorted his body and left him at 258 pounds at the time of his death, a documented weight gain of over 60 pounds," the doctor said in a written statement. "How and why the Journal reported that he was obese remains the only unanswered question in this pathetic situation."
Y'know, I think I'll start Atkins after all...

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Weekend Foolishness

It's the weekend, so let's get into come foolishness, shall we? I found this at Susie's.

Your Brain Usage Profile:
Auditory : 41%
Visual : 58%
Left : 61%
Right : 38%

Richard, you are somewhat left-hemisphere dominant and show a preference for visual learning, although not extreme in either characteristic. You probably tend to do most things in moderation, but not always.

Your left-hemisphere dominance implies that your learning style is organized and structured, detail oriented and logical. Your visual preference, though, has you seeking stimulation and multiple data. Such an outlook can overwhelm structure and logic and create an almost continuous state of uncertainty and agitation. You may well suffer a feeling of continually trying to "catch up" with yourself.

Your tendency to be organized and logical and attend to details is reasonably well-established which should afford you success regardless of your chosen field of endeavor. You can "size up" situations and take in information rapidly. However, you must then subject that data to being classified and organized which causes you to "lose touch" with the immediacy of the problem.

Your logical and methodical nature hamper you in this regard though in the long run it may work to your advantage since you "learn from experience" and can go through the process more rapidly on subsequent occasions.

You remain predominantly functional in your orientation and practical. Abstraction and theory are secondary to application. In keeping with this, you focus on details until they manifest themselves in a unique pattern and only then work with the "larger whole."

With regards to your career choices, you have a mentality that would be good as a scientist, coach, athlete, design consultant, or an engineering technician. You can "see where you want to go" and even be able to "tell yourself," but find that you are "fighting yourself" at the darndest times.

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