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Monday, March 29, 2004

“precedent” is a lousy excuse

Condoleezza Rice says she won't testify in public under oath before the 9/11 Commission because there is no precedent for any Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (the actual title she holds) to do so. She sounds like it's a portentous thing in place since the founding of our Republic.

If that were the case, she might have a point. But this position didn't even exist in our government until 1953. Here is the list: United States National Security Adviser - Wikipedia.

And, let me see. Who were some NSAs who testified under oath to Congress. Ah, Sandy Berger, before the 9/11 Commission. And, oh yeah, John Poindexter before the Congress (remember Iran-Contra?). Anthony Lake, before the Joint Intelligence Committee in September 2002. And that's gleaned from a quick google of: "Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs" testimony Congress

Oh, wait, I guess she means she can't testify NOW, while it counts, but has to wait until (hopefully) the end of January 2005, when she is no longer the SITTING NSA. It'll be too late then because the Commission will be finished.

All this stonewalling indicates is that Rice is covering for her boss. And her ass. If indeed the gub'mint did everything right, there is no reason not to testify. And if the gub'mint screwed up, we need to know now, BEFORE the election (remember Madrid?) Rice's refusal to testify in public, under oath, probably is a threat to our national security. Think about it.
posted by lee on 03/29/04 at 09:34 AM

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Thursday, March 25, 2004

the world as 100 people and stuff

The Whole World as 100 People is a fascinating slide from a Coast Guard presentation on diversity. Don't know if this is really accurate or not, but the numbers seem right -- though they might not to the Americentric out there.

The crocus are in bloom, and the daffodils have finally started sprouting. So I guess this means spring is really going to get here. What a rough winter we had -- the coldest I can remember for a long time. I'm so looking forward to working in the garden.

Well, they managed to wreck I-95. A tanker rolled and caught fire, 3000 gallons of diesel going up in flames and bowing both side of the interstate in Bridgeport between exits 25 and 27. I am SO glad I don't have to head out New Haven way much any more (maybe a meeting next week, under duress).

According to the news, it will be at least two weeks before that stretch is open again. Betcha it'll take longer than that. Pretty spectacular photos of the wreck on WTNH.
posted by lee on 03/25/04 at 09:49 PM

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Saturday, March 20, 2004

no appreciation ...


Get these stupid flowers outta my way.
posted by lee on 03/20/04 at 06:00 PM

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Excitement we could do without

We saw a fire break out today. We were on Post Road East in Westport, at the Cumberland, pumping gas (well, Stanley was pumping gas). Out of the corner of my eye I noticed what I thought was a welding arc and thought "who the hell is welding out in the open like that?" because it was so painful to look at.

Then I realized it was a fire. This was about 5:00. I was about to run into Cumberland and call 911 when I saw a couple of other people doing it. It took a good five minutes or longer before the first firetruck showed up -- I was surprised at how long they took (unusual for Westport). We saw a rescue vehicle too, but according to WestportNow, nobody was injured (the editor of WestportNow was one of the firefighters). I was a little worried that it would jump to the heavy equipment parked next to the fence.

Stanley's theory is that it was some kind of an electrical short because it was so intense (as I said, I thought someone was welding) and it looked like all the electricity was out in that building and the buildings next to it, and it traveled up what looked like wires.

When we went by later, about 6:15 or so, we noticed that the second story room had its picture window broken out (Stanley thinks he saw it crack not long after the fire started), and firefolk were standing all over the roof. Traffic was actually moving pretty well along the Post Road despite the re-routing.

We really should start making a habit of taking our camera with us when we go out.
posted by lee on 03/20/04 at 05:46 PM

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Friday, March 19, 2004

Name That Brand!

Joey Katzen's Retail Alphabet Game looks like it should be fairly easy. Hah! Two fairly aware adults couldn't complete an entire game. There are four editions to this game -- all fun. Joey is selling hints and answers to letters to the current edition (the rest have the answers already posted) -- very clever! That's one way to pay for the hosting fees and bandwidth.
posted by lee on 03/19/04 at 04:26 PM

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silly thesaurus?

Plumb Design came up with what they call their Visual Thesaurus. I played with it a little, but I have to admit: I don't get it. It's very confusing.

First, I hate having stuff float all over the screen while I'm trying to read something. Second, when I'm using a thesaurus, I'm looking for just the right word, with just the right nuance, which this application doesn't seem to provide.

When I put my mouse over a word, I expect to see the definition. But no, I don't get that unless I put my mouse over a red dot--though WHICH word the red dot represents isn't obvious. At all. Clicking on a word changes the display to another set of words, all related somehow. If you see a red dashed line, I think it means "antonym."

The biggest pain is trying to go back up the path to get back to your original word, perhaps because you saw a likely candidate along the way and want to find it again. Using the visual map, at any rate. On the right side of the little screen you can see the text-based path, and read definitions, though it's not at all obvious which definition attaches to which word.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like a toy rather than anything useful. I sure wouldn't shell out $2.95 per month for it unless someone could actually demonstrate that it would be useful to me. And show me how to make the fonts on the right side a LOT bigger -- like big enough to read.

Maybe the reason I don't see any point to this "application" is that I expect a thesaurus to be a thesaurus and this does not appear to be a thesaurus. If it's not really a thesaurus, what is it? Maybe if they named it appropriately?

Well, it was fun to play with. I must admit I had neither the time nor the patience to read the 13-page explanation of what it is and how to use it. I figure if something is billed as a visual tool, I shouldn't need to read 13 pages of explanation.

I'd rather just read the dictionary -- much more interesting and much less frustrating.
posted by lee on 03/19/04 at 04:13 PM

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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

css inspiration overload: gimme more ...

First a grouse.

It's snowing. Hard. And windy and generally crappy out. We're s'posed to get four or more inches of snow and sleet and rain, etc. At least here along the coast. Inland, and, my sister tells me, up Boston way, they're on tap to get eight or more inches.

Spring starts Saturday. The dogwoods actually have buds. It just isn't right that it's snowing. Sure, it's pretty -- especially watching Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal cavort in a snow-coated shrub. But I want to work in the garden!

On to the main topic.

I am working on a site for an artist. She does absolutely beautiful work in fused glass. She provided overall design and groupings for her pieces, and her text, so I have all the content I need for the site. And I have this vision of what it should look like -- and I know the only way for me to really achieve this vision is to create the site strictly with CSS. And while I know a lot about CSS, I still have plenty, just plenty, to learn about it.

So I've been spending some time looking at what can be done using CSS. Spent a considerable time in Zen Garden, the Louvre of CSS designs created by web designer Dave Shea.

Then, today, following a link from a link in today's webdesign-l digest, a came across CSS Vault ۻ The Web's CSS Site, with tons of CSS design examples and links to resources, tutorials, etc. All put together by web designer Paul Scrivens, who also writes a blog called white space.

I love CSS Vault. Though I'm frustrated because January won't load, which makes me nuts because I might be missing out on seeing The One True Spark. But other than that (a PHP issue?), this site is on my list of top resource sites.

And one other thing ...

Been very busy. We're refinancing the mortgage. The appraiser is due to arrive Thursday morning. Which means we've been working hard on de-cluttering the house. It's absolutely astonishing how much stuff accumulates so quickly. So far, one trip to Goodwill and two dump runs, with at least one more donation on tap -- and that's just stuff from the past three years.

Every time I work on clutter, I swear to myself that I'm just not going to let it accumulate any more, or at least do some significant paring down. I don't have too much trouble parting with junk if I have the time to go through it. But other than my junk, it's not easy in this house -- there is more than 50 years of stuff accumulated here, and it's VERY difficult to get Stanley to say "sayonara" to anything ("I might be able to use it for something ... " Yeah, sure. Like those grime-encrusted Tupperware flatware trays will sure come in handy some day ... ) But, to his credit, he's trying to go with the flow and just do it.

But this snow is making it hard to clean up the yard. If it would just leave five inches or so on the ground until Thursday afternoon, that would be fine -- but no, it will all melt away tomorrow, I'm sure.

Ah well, we'll get it all done. Or done enough. We always do.
posted by lee on 03/16/04 at 11:17 AM

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

my hometown newspage

Our hometown newspaper is The (Norwalk) Horror, er, Hour, which is so crappy we only get it on Sundays and, while Stanley reads it, I rarely do. The writing defines "turgid," particularly the stuff by senior reporter Frank Fay. I get too mad at the lax editorial standards of The Hour, life is too short, so I rarely read it (and the online version is even more of a joke than the print version). Besides, I don't care a rat's ass for local high school sports, which is The Horror's forte.

Instead, I've been checking Google News, New York Times, WestportNow, WTNH, Hartford Courant, etc. etc. etc. Takes quite a while to get through 'em all, and the only two I really enjoy are WestportNow (disclosure: InfoPulse is the designer / webmaster) and WTNH. There are a couple of small weeklies covering Norwalk, but I rarely see them around. I wouldn't even mind paying for one of the weeklies, but I've never been offered a subscription to 'em.

So I was really interested in seeing what has to offer: Norwalk, CT News - It's pretty cool, displaying lots of news around Connecticut. A lot of Stamford and Greenwich stuff. But there is still not much LOCAL news -- meaning Norwalk news. Probably because there is no feed from The Horror. Or from News 12, our local cable news channel.

In the tv news department, Fairfield County is woefully under-reported. Very strange considering it's an extremely upscale market. But it's like it's a dead zone to the CT tv stations. The best of the lot at covering Fairfield County is WTNH, based in New Haven. But unless something is lurid or attracts national attention (such as the Skakel trial or Martha, who lives in the town next to Norwalk), we rarely see their trucks. The same is true of the New York City tv stations, which dominate our broadcast tv stations. Channel 12 is a Cablevision operation and while adequate, is clearly done as cheaply as possible -- probably only enough to conform with whatever FCC rules there are for local cable monopolies.

Ah well. I guess what I would really like is a Norwalk version of WestportNow.
posted by lee on 03/10/04 at 09:41 AM

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Friday, March 05, 2004

take a ride through a ghost town


The results of a real blast from the past. Just when I think something can't possibly happen, I see stuff like this that reminds me that it already did.
posted by lee on 03/05/04 at 10:13 PM

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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

clean air cool planet & misc.

Clean Air - Cool Planet bills itself as "The Northeast's leading nonprofit organization finding and promoting solutions to global warming." A LOT of information here and definitely worth exploring. Take a look at Victorian Robots. I'm not quite sure what this page, or this site (Big Red Hair) is all about except that it's about a lot. Of weird stuff, that is.

The Proofreader's Hall of Shame. Be nervous if you have to stop and think for more than a couple of seconds to figure out the screwup.

It's actually March, at last.
posted by lee on 03/03/04 at 10:04 PM

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