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Archive for August, 2006

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The Pizza Challenge Lives!

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

For those who have been wondering what ever happened to the whole Pizza with Regis Philbin thing (and you’d be surprised how many have been wondering), an update from Chenopup:

Just wanted to check in. I spoke to my ABC 4 contact yesterday. I will send her an email detailing what we’re doing and she will forward to Buena Vista contact for Regis / Kelly.

We may start some local press on this very soon.

I’ll keep you posted. Sorry for the lull.

So there you have it – pizza with Regis is still a possibility.

Stay tuned…

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Chenopup comes to New York and we eat pizza together! Check it out…

Categories: The World Wide Weird | No Comments »

Blame it on the Riu

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Just got back from a 5-day getaway at the Riu Hotel in Paradise Island. All you can eat and drink for 5 days, plus an awesome beach, super-clear (and warm) ocean water, and a pool to match. I won’t bore you with the mundane details of it all, but there were some blogworthy occurences to mention

– An 8-yr old Bahamanian kid who sat next my wife on the plane down there told her he’d been on many planes, but never one that crashed. He asked my wife if she’d ever been on one that crashed. It’s always great to see kids with goals…

– If anyone was wondering where all the smokers went after American cities starting banning smoking in public places, fear not – I now know the answer. It seems “all you can drink” also draws the “all you can smoke crowd.” Before this weekend, I might have told you it was impossible to smoke a cigarette while swimming, but not anymore…

– During our stay, a Bahamanian couple got married on the beach. Very beautiful, very romantic, yadda yadda yadda. That night, the groom was sitting at a blackjack table with us, losing $100 a hand. On his wedding night. Without his wife. Prognosis is not good…

– Speaking of the blackjack tables, and mostly because Jeff will ask, there is no Texas Hold’em in Paradise Island. Just some video poker, slots, and the usual array of table games. I lost some money up front, but got hot at thw blackjack table the last night and walked away with an extra $200 for the weekend. No complaints here…

– Had lunch in the airport Burger King on the trip home. The french fries came in one of those molded paper containers as per usual, but this one was labeled a “Frypod.” Shouldn’t someone be suing someone about this?

– Also on the trip home, our plane flew over a rainbow. Got to see the whole circle – very cool. As the songwriter wrote, “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”

Categories: Travel Talk | 1 Comment »

Odds & Ends

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

I was reading Instapundit on the train home yesterday (as I often do – Glenn has a PDA version that’s perfect for Blackberry browsing), and came across a few interesting items:

First Bill Clinton is praising George W. Bush for his work on AIDS in Africa, and now this – more praise from doctors and relief workers on the ground:

The major reason for [AIDS treatment] success is the Bush administration’s AIDS program, which in the last three years has sent billions of dollars to Africa and helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. When I moved to Africa three years ago, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was just getting off the ground. As I return to Washington this month, the $15 billion program is just hitting its stride, and many Africans believe it has become the single most effective initiative in fighting the deadly scourge.

“The greatest impact in HIV prevention and treatment in Africa is PEPFAR-there’s nothing that compares,” [Dr. John Idoko] said.

When this program was first proposed, it drew criticism for channeling funding to faith-based organizations and for requiring abstinence education. Turns out, only 7 percent of the funding goes to programs that advocate abstinence until after marriage. And here’s how the faith-based initiatives are working:

Two years ago in the southwestern African nation of Namibia, Lucy Steinitz, a Jewish Brandeis graduate who was then the head of Catholic AIDS Action, told me that US officials sought out faith-based groups because of common sense: Churches were running many of the country’s hospitals and clinics already. The same is the case in many African countries. “Civil society is only just beginning to emerge in Namibia. So what’s left? Church is it. I have a lot of skeptical friends back in the US about the funding of faith-based groups, but it works here,” she said.

And yet, despite the success, Washington politics continue. A group called Search for Common Ground acted as an independent mediator for a series of meetings in DC last September. More than 30 private groups participated, some common ground was reached, but not enough to issue a recommendation. Last month, after ten months of trying, the mediation effort was abandoned. And all the while, the program they’re arguing about is saving lives…

Next, an update on Global Warming: Despite various predictions back in May of a busy hurricane season, this year has been below average. And why? You’re not going to believe this:

Part of the reason for the slow season is that tropical western Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are running about normal, if not slightly below normal.

The cooler SSTs in the Atlantic are not an isolated anomaly. In a research paper being published next month in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists will show that between 2003 and 2005, globally averaged temperatures in the upper ocean cooled rather dramatically, effectively erasing 20% of the warming that occurred over the previous 48 years.

Huh? What? Talk about your inconvenient truths

To be fair, the hurricane season is far from over, and some seasons start later than others. Last year, there were eleven storms by this point; this year, we’ve had three. But in 1992, Hurricane Andrew (the costliest storm on record before Katrina) was the first storm of the season, and didn’t strike Miami until August 24th of that year. So we’re not out of the woods yet, but it seems clear that those who were ominously warning that the record-setting 2005 season was a base from which future years would build were either fear-mongering or clueless.

The trick now, I think, is to keep up the pressure to rebuild the New Orleans levees, even if the rest of 2006 remains calm.

Finally, there’s this from Kevin Drum:

I [should] be more vocal in denouncing Iran. . . It’s a repressive, misogynistic, theocratic, terrorist-sponsoring state that stands for everything I stand against. . . .And yet, I know perfectly well that criticism of Iran is not just criticism of Iran. Whether I want it to or not, it also provides support for the Bush administration’s determined and deliberate effort to whip up enthusiasm for a military strike. . . . So what to do? For the most part, I end up saying very little. . . . because like it or not, my words – and those of other liberals – would end up being used to advance George Bush’s distinctly illiberal ends. And I’m simply not willing to be a pawn in the Bush administration’s latest marketing campaign.

The commentary Instapundit linked to points out that Drum is greatly over-estimating his own importance. I think that’s right. But there’s also this basic logic flaw: if he’s afraid his words will provide support for his opponent’s actions, then isn’t there at least the possibility that he and his opponent agree on this issue? And if not, shouldn’t he choose his words carefully to highlight where he and the president overlap and where they differ? Isn’t this how useful debate forms? The (rather lengthy) comments section on Drum’s site debates this back and forth. If you can sift through the “BUSHISEVIL, BUSHISEVIL, BUSHISEVIL” crowd, it makes for a pretty interesting discussion…

Categories: Political Rantings | 4 Comments »

Virtual Bubblewrap

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Whatever you do, don’t click on this link unless you have a lot of time on your hands…

Remember – I WARNED YOU!!!

(hat tip: Cranky Robert, from the Simple Tricks & Nonsense comments section).

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

Using HTML Tables in Blogger Posts

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

For the three or four of you who are frequent readers of my blog (as opposed to the random 30 or 40 of you who find yourself here via Google searches), you may have noticed that my previous post was formatted really poorly for a while (there was a huge amount of whitespace above the HTML table in the entry).

A little Google searching led me to this Blogger Help page, which explained that Blogger automatically puts a <br /> commands after each line break in a blog post (you can change that in the configuration screen if you want, but then you have to manually put in HTML <br>’s when you type your posts & who wants that…).

Anyway, I had created my table, as many people do, with code that looked like this:

<tr><td>Blah, Blah, Blah</td></tr>
<tr><td>Blah, Blah, Blah</td></tr>
<tr><td>Blah, Blah, Blah</td></tr>

and so Blogger was adding the <br />’s after each carriage return in that code (which HTML interprets above the table, apparently). The solution, as stated on the help page, is to remove all the carriage returns from the table code, so it looks more like this:

<table><tr><td>Blah, Blah, Blah</td></tr><tr><td>Blah, Blah, Blah</td></tr><tr><td>Blah, Blah, Blah</td></tr></table>

Voila! No whitespace above the table!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: God Bless Google! Both for documenting the problem and the fix so completely on the help page, and then for providing a search engine that made it so easy to find that help page, without going to the Blogger help site & paging through multiple entries…

They’ve certainly got their bases covered, those Google folks…

Categories: Tech Talk | 10 Comments »

More Evidence that 1 in 3 Americans is Completely Clueless

Friday, August 18th, 2006

In this post, I marvelled at the fact that 1 in 3 Americans thought our government was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks and could also not name the year the attacks occurred. And now, here is even more evidence that just about one third of us are off the deep end:

Poll Question % Agree
The government was directly responsible for the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy 40%
The government is withholding proof of the existence of intelligent life from others planets 38%
The government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted to United States to go to war in the Middle East 36%
The collapse of the twin towers in New York was aided by explosives secretly planted in the two buildings 16%
The Pentagon was not struck by an airliner captured by terrorists but instead was hit by a cruise missile fired by the U.S. military 16%
Muslims living in the United States are sympathetic to al-Qaeda 34%
U.S. Muslims are not loyal to the United States. 51%
Muslims in the U.S. should be required to carry special ID 39%
Cannot say in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in Washington took place 30%
Approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (8/13/06) 36%
Do Not Recommend Sugarless Gum to Their Patients Who Chew Gum 20%

So, here’s what I suggest: Look around the room. If you see two other people that aren’t crazy, well, you know….

Categories: News and/or Media | 4 Comments »

Top Al Qaeda Man Captured After Being Distracted by JonBenet Story

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

The Pakistani authorities that arrested Rashid Rauf (the London plane bomb plotter) have linked him to, and subsequently captured, Matiur Rehman – a senior Al Qaeda official who is in frequent contact with Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man, Ayman al Zawahiri. They say Rehman met with Rauf just before the London plot was foiled.

So, four thoughts:

1) Someone ought to tell Bill Clinton it’s OK to link the London bomb plot to Al Qaeda now

2) Thank goodness the British government was tapping the phones of the people Rauf’s cohort called to order the attack

3) Good for Rehman – now that he’s in our custody, he’ll enjoy a full array of civil rights, including a federally provided Koran and three square meals a day. Wouldn’t want to see anything bad happen to a nice guy like that…

4) Too bad this will dominate the headlines and remove from Page 1 important stories like the confession of a man who claims to have killed a six-year old in Colorado ten years ago…


Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

New Features in the Next Blogger Release

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Google has released a new beta version of Blogger (which powers this blog). I’ll probably wait until it goes live to use it, but there are some mildly interesting new features. The virtual tour is here, and my comments on the features are here:

That’s all they’re saying right now. Anyone else here anything about the product?

Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

Do I hear $1,129.09?

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Here’s a algorithm that estimates the value of your blog based on the number of links it has and the value per link that AOL paid for the Weblogs, Inc. blogs.

I Should Be Sleeping comes in at $1,129.08. Not a bad sum, until you consider that DailyKos is worth $6.2M, Instapundit is worth $3.5M, and John Scalzi’s Whatever is worth just over $500K.

Interestingly enough, JeffPorten.com comes up as being worth 1,026.44 NL HE SNG’s. Damn, that’s a well written algorithm…

(Hat tip: Scalzi)

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 1 Comment »

Clinton Bashes Bush

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

I usually don’t blog so consistently on political topics, but there seem to be so many blogworthy items lately. I promise to stay on the lookout for more varied topics going forward. Heck – maybe that pizza thing will heat up again soon (Jason? Chenopup? You guys listening? Subtlety was never my strong suit…)

Anyway, Bill Clinton had a few very confusing things to say about the Middle East yesterday:

Clinton, who never mentioned Bush by name, suggested the administration’s claims that the British plot looks like the work of Al Qaeda reveals a flaw in its strategy.

“They seem to be anxious to tie it to Al Qaeda,” he said. “If that’s true, how come we’ve got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan? Why have we imperiled President [Hamid] Karzai’s rule and allowed the Taliban to come back into the southern part of Afghanistan?”

Hmm…two things here: first, “anxious” seems like a loaded term. I’ve heard various officials (British and American) say that the coordinated, international nature of the plot is similar to Al Qaeda’s methods, but that no clear link has been established. This always struck me as a response to the automatic and incessant questions about Al Qaeda that the press asks as soon as the subject of terrorism comes up.

Second, and more interesting, is this implication that we should have more troops in Afghanistan, and that by reducing our forces there, we’ve “imperiled Karzi’s rule.” How does this synch with the constant drumbeat of calls to draw down our troops in Iraq? Wouldn’t that imperil the Iraqi government and embolden opposing forces in the country? Forgive me if I’m projecting the standard Democratic talking points on Bill Clinton here (maybe he disagrees with some of this?), but if you’re going to advocate a “go-it-alone” strategy for the fledgling Iraqi government, you can’t very well criticize us for expecting Afghanistan, a somewhat more mature and stable government, to go it alone. If the Taliban is coming back, Karzi should take steps to remove them. If he requires assistance from his allies, he should ask. If we refuse to help, then we deserve the criticism we get…

Bill continues:

The former President also said Democrats who had voted to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq – including his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) – had hoped the threat of war would force former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply with UN inspections. But the Bush administration went to war before the UN’s work was complete, he said.

So the authorization to go to war was really an authorization to threaten war? And apparently the threat was supposed to be an empty one at that? I think Hillary’s canned response is more believable (I was for the war, but I don’t like the way the Bush administration executed the strategy). The fact that there are multiple rationales weakens them all, though.

After that, Clinton goes on to blast Lieberman for his war position (“his position was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position”). I hope to God the interviewer’s next question was, “Why, then, Mr. President, did you support Lieberman in the primary? Are you in favor of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position on the war?” But I’m guessing he/she did not.

To top it all off, Clinton praised the Bush administration’s efforts to fight AIDS, telling the AIDS conference he was attending that the United States is “spending more to fight the epidemic than any other government.” First time I’ve heard praise for Bush on that front…

OK, I’ll stop now. I promise…

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

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