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Archive for 2006

December 29th, 2006

A (new/old) city

Posted in Personal, Travel by MB


On the road, exploring more of the world. Istanbul was amazing, Dubai was its usual outsized self, and Pakistan has been nothing short of wonderful. More words and pictures to come in the new year. Have a good one.

December 20th, 2006

2006 in Pictures

Posted in Personal, Travel by MB


I’d had grand designs on 1000 words to go with each of these pictures, but time is not on my side. I expect to be heading offline in short order, and may not reappear before the new year. Perhaps I’ll have a few new pictures by then, and might have finished up a few of those 1000 word drafts.

Here’s to 2007.

(Photos: 1. Three Years, 2. A City, 3. JFK, 4. Still moving, 5. Outdressing the bride, 6. Traffic, Pt II, 7. Taj Mahal Reflecting Pool, 8. Fixing a Flat, 9. Easier than an elephant, 10. Zenana – window, 11. Mughal Sheraton – Agra, 12. Just missing, 13. The sun makes it in, 14. Call to prayer, 15. Welcome to the Middle East, 16. Something new, 17. Twelve Apostles, 18. Africa, 19. Port of Call, 20. I’m where?, 21. WWII Bunker, 22. Cape Town from Robben Island, 23. Soweto shantytown, 24. Regina Mundi, 25. Victoria Waterfront – Cape Town, 26. Sunset over the Black Sea, 27. Another point of reference, 28. St. Davids Lighthouse on approach to BDA, 29. Skyline, 30. National Airport at Dawn, 31. Bermuda Sunset, 32. But not entirely blue, 33. Liberty and Justice for All, 34. Can’t seem to escape the traffic, 35. Whine & Cheese, 36. Ghirardelli

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys.)

December 19th, 2006

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA): Stop the Muslim Hordes!

Posted in Personal, Politics, Society, Travel, Virginia by MB

Nice. From a recent letter to select constituents:

The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.

[ . . . ]

I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

More here.

(I’ll shortly be on my way to spend some time in a very Muslim country – Pakistan. When the discussion (inevitably) turns to politics, I’m sure that someone will say that the US is acting as it does because it fears and hates Muslims. Thanks, Virgil Goode, for putting the facts on their side. Asshole.)

December 17th, 2006

I would walk 500 miles

Posted in Personal, Travel by MB

but I have flown much much more.

It’s been a good year.

(And here’s a bit of MIDI goodness to complete the theme.)

December 16th, 2006

So what is it?

Posted in Law, Policy, Society by MB

Today’s NY Times fronts a story about a “clamp down” on detainees at Guantánamo:

The commander of the Guantánamo task force, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said the tougher approach also reflected the changing nature of the prison population, and his conviction that all of those now held here are dangerous men. “They’re all terrorists; they’re all enemy combatants,” Admiral Harris said in an interview.

Hmm. I’ve heard that before . . . something about “worst of the worst“, yes? But surely that lesson has been learned and it’s really true, this time. Or, well, maybe not:

Shortly after Admiral Harris’s remarks, another 15 detainees were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where they were promptly returned to their families.

December 15th, 2006

Salon’s Person of the Year: S.R. Sidarth

Posted in Politics, Society, Virginia by MB

Not quite sure if it merits Man of the Year, but Salon makes a solid case for Virginia’s own:

It must be said that the young man, Shekar Ramanuja Sidarth, is not much of a cameraman. In the macaca footage, his hand shakes, though he manages to hold Allen in the frame as the senator points him out, an Indian-American in a crowd of whites. But in the weeks that follow, Sidarth does not shy from the spotlight that surrounds him. He undergoes a transformation of sorts, appearing on CNN and the network news, giving long interviews to the pen-and-paper press. He becomes a symbol of politics in the 21st century, a brave new world in which any video clip can be broadcast instantly everywhere and any 20-year-old with a camera can change the world. He builds a legacy out of happenstance.

Read the rest.

December 14th, 2006

Going down

Posted in EU, Personal, Travel by MB


This picture was taken from the top of the Zugspitze, which sits along the German/Austrian border. The trip – in addition to being a very nice revisiting of childhood places – was wonderfully cheap. In December 2001, Americans were still afraid to fly anywhere (resulting in very low airfares), and the dollar was strong against the euro. 82 cents for one euro. Flew to Germany for a week, rented a Mercedes, skiied in the Alps, and it still probably didn’t go far beyond $1k, total.

Fast forward five years. I was just pricing flights out of the UK, and I assumed that the exchange rate was somewhere in the $1.50 = £1 range that it has been for years. Except it hasn’t been, it seems. When I went to check it – wow. Nearly $2 to the £1, now.

And the euro? It’s almost flipped places with the dollar. It’ll now take you $1.32 to buy €1. Suddenly, failing to exchange back all those euros I ended the past few trips with doesn’t seem so irresponsible, anymore . . .

December 14th, 2006

Apple Update

Posted in Personal by MB

Just to close the loop, Apple finally did an acceptable job of repairing my Powerbook. The display is perfect, and they seem to have thrown in a new lid, as well. So they get credit for for that. However, unlike previous repairs, which were turned around in a matter of days, this one took more than a week. And if I hadn’t called them to push it along (the Apple Repair Status page falsely claimed that my laptop was still at the local store, four days after the repair facility actually received it), I imagine it would have taken a lot longer. But it’s back, it works, and that’s that.

Except one thing still bothers me. They replaced my hard drive, and didn’t send the original back. Now, when you send it in, one of the paragraphs you initial on the repair order is that you understand that there is no guarantee against the loss of your data on the hard drive. Which makes sense – they can hardly be expected to perform a full backup on every laptop that goes through there, and then go through the trouble of making sure that it’s accurately restored. This is why I made a full backup before I dropped it off. But I didn’t expect them to touch the data. In fact, they almost certainly didn’t. For whatever reason, though, they decided to give me a new hard drive, and probably threw the old one in a bin somewhere. Which is what bothers me.

Now, no one but me has my admin password for that hard drive. Further, my entire document directory was encrypted. But it still bothers me that, somewhere out there, there’s a copy of my financial records, personal files, and pictures of me at the last Britney Spears concert (kidding. I’m totally a Christina Aguilera guy). Yes, they’re encrypted, but still. When I asked the Apple guys if I could get the drive back, they told me that it was long gone. They couldn’t, however, assure me that Apple – as a matter of policy – destroys or otherwise renders such drives unreadable. Nice.

Next time, I’m deleting all user files before I ever take something with a hard drive in for service. I don’t need to get an email from some bored kid with an encryption-smashing quantum computer in 10 years, laughing at what he found on a hard drive he picked up at a junk sale . . .

December 13th, 2006

In Praise of Jimmy Carter

Posted in Politics, Society by MB

Over at dKos, in the process of discussing Carter’s recent book, the all-too-common dismissals of Jimmy Carter were popping up. In an excellent essay outlining Carter’s achievements, the author makes a point worth repeating:

But I do worry about us as Democrats. I worry what it means that we should constantly allow a man who has given his life over to the ideals of honesty, decency, and hard work to be constantly derided. The Republicans took on the elevation of Ronald Reagan as a kind of public works project, laboring decades to erase the real man and build the myth that’s worshiped today in the public square. Why are we so reticent in pushing forward a man who is everything Reagan claimed to be. And intelligent. And thoughtful. And who, yes, turned his post-presidential career into a continuation of his own good work rather than taking it as an opportunity to line his pocket with lucrative speaking engagements.

I don’t ever want to engage in anything (for any man) that approaches the GOP deification of Reagan, but I do think that it’s a goddamn shame that many Democrats, nevermind the nation at large, fail to give Carter his due.

December 13th, 2006

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Posted in Personal by MB

Peter Boyle brought me one of my favorite musical sequences on on film, EVER.