Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beer Reviews #5 - Arrogant Bastard Ale

Appearance - A deep dark cloudy amber with soft cascading bubbles that form a large frothy white head that dissipates slowly, leaving a beautiful lacing around the glass.

Smell - A sweet piney scent (with the sweet predominating) and a touch of citrus.

Taste - Coats with mouth with a great balance of malt and hops wrapped up with an underlying caramel base.

Mouthfeel - Thick, smooth, and creamy, with a gentle carbonation. Fantastic.

Drinkability - I want to drink more, but I'm hesitant to do so when I need to wake up early. My mouth wants more for sure. Maybe one more wouldn't hurt...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where is dogmatism most prominent?

Politics, Religion, Science

These also happen to be the three most prominent items in the present culture wars. Historically, I wonder which of these three has lead to more deaths generally.

Thursday, September 25, 2008 does it right

I've been watching a lot of video's lately. Ok, so they are embedded by with ads. Not a problem. They do everything else right: high quality streaming video feed, they allow embedding, there is lots of good content, it works on multiple platforms (unlike siverlight), and the ads are not that intrusive. And they are pretty damn secure too - I've been trying to figure out if there is any way to download them, and I've yet to figure it out. Good job so far!

The Office - Season 4 Episode 14 "Goodbye Toby"

If you haven't seen The Office (the american version), then it is definitely worth checking out. Season 5 started today - I'll embed the video once I find it. For now, here is the last episode of season 4.

Beer Review #4 - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Appearance - Pours a light, clear amber with a medium white head that retains well and leave a nice lacing around my glass

Smell - A citrus smell, with underlying floral and pine notes.

Taste - Citrus (mainly grapefruit) and hops upfront. The bitterness from the hops is prominent. The taste lingers in the mouth.

Mouthfeel - A nicely carbonated, balanced feel. Crisp, clean,  bitter, giving way to soft creaminess.

Drinkability - Very tasty. One of my favorite pale ales (a staple of mine). Strongly recommended!


McCain is Burning Bridges He Should Not Burn

This makes me somewhat sad. Its obvious that Letterman has great respect for John McCain, so its a shame that McCain ditched Letterman for a different interview. In response Letterman gives him a proper lashing. And Letterman's makes a great point as well: McCain should not suspend his campaign - he should have let Palin take the reigns of the campaign in his stead. (I mean, if she can't do that, how can we expect her to be ready to lead the country. The answer is obvious - she can't.) Sad. I still respect McCain, but I'm having a hard time trusting his judgment as of late.

David Letterman Reacts to John McCain Suspending Campaign

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My favorite albums of the first decade of the 21st century

First, by year (my top 5 for each year):

  1. Kid A - Radiohead
  2. Transcendental Blues - Steve Earle
  3. Heartbreaker - Ryan Adams
  4. American III: Solitary Man - Johnny Cash
  5. Since I Left You - Avalanches
  1. Gold - Ryan Adams
  2. Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch
  3. The Swimming Hour - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
  4. At Dawn - My Morning Jacket
  5. Burnside on Burnside - R.L. Burnside
  1. Demolition - Ryan Adams
  2. The Creek Drank the Cradle - Iron and Wine
  3. Jerusalem - Steve Earle
  4. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
  5. Control - Pedro the Lion
  1. Hail to the Thief - Radiohead
  2. Master and Everyone - Bonnie Prince Billy
  3. Blackberry Belle - The Twilight Singers
  4. Terroir Blues - Jay Farrar
  5. Give Up - The Postal Service
  1. Real Gone - Tom Waits
  2. Set Yourself on Fire - Stars
  3. Good News for People Who Love Bad News - Modest Mouse
  4. More Adventurous - Rilo Kiley
  5. Seven Swans - Sufjan Stevens
  1. Illinois - Sufjan Stevens
  2. Jacksonville City Nights - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
  3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  4. I'm Wide Awaye, It's Morning - Bright Eyes
  5. Alligator - The National
  1. The Dust of Retreat - Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
  2. Straight to Hell - Hank Williams III
  3. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - Neko Case
  4. Electric President - Electric President
  5. The Crane Wife - Decemberists
  1. The Shepard's Dog - Iron and Wine
  2. In Rainbows - Radiohead
  3. The Stage Names - Okkervil River
  4. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Modest Mouse
  5. Person Pitch - Panda Bear
  1. The Evening Descends - Evangelicals
  2. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
  3. The Stand Ins - Okkervil River

Alright, now my top 10 of the decade:
  1. Kid A - Radiohead
  2. Illinois - Sufjan Stevens
  3. Demolition - Ryan Adams
  4. The Shepard's Dog - Iron and Wine
  5. Transcendental Blues - Steve Earle
  6. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  7. The Creek Drank the Cradle - Iron and Wine
  8. I'm Wide Awake Its Morning - Bright Eyes
  9. Give Up - The Postal Service
  10. Jacksonville City Nights - Ryan Adams

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bremner, Bird, and Fortune - On the economy

I just found this show. I'd never heard of it before, but it is both funny and insightful (and somewhat prophetic). Here are some clips:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Original Mac vs. Windows Ad

Classic, original Mac vs Windows TV Ad

Steve Ballmer selling Windows 1.0 back in the day

A word of warning, this ad is very annoying (he's trying to hype something that really sucked). It reminds me of the movie UHF. Ripe for parody and laughs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beer Review #3 (Shit Beer Edition): Coors Light

Some beers don't really deserve a review. Coors Light is one of them. But because I'm really poor until I get my next paycheck and I'm procrastinating right now, here's a review nonetheless. Yes, I'm even going to go through the standard rundown:

Appearance - Pours a crisp, golden color, with big bubbles that form a quick white head that disappears immediately. Looks more like a 7-up than a beer.

Smell - A little sweet, a little malt, a little chemical. The smell of cheep beer - reminds me of college.

Taste - Carbonation, water, and a touch of flavor. Mainly water. Maybe a hint of corn or grain. Drink it while it is cold, because when it warms it does aquire more of a taste, but not in a good way.

Mouthfeel - Not even sure how to address this one. Light. Watery. Gets flat fast.

Drinkability - As long as it is cold and you swallow it down quickly, its drinkable. Best after mowing the lawn (even recommended!), but other than that not much going for it. In light doses it can take the edge off. In heavy doses, its best used for shotgunning a beer or beer pong. Also surprisingly helpful when you need "hair of the dog".


Dropbox Installation on Ubuntu

A great tutorial can be found here. From the article:

In case you are wondering, Dropbox is an online storage site that allows you to back up and sync your files right from your desktop. It comes with a desktop application that you can install in your OS and backing up files is just a simple drag and drop to the Dropbox folder in your hard drive. Any files added/removed from the folder will be automatically sync with the online server as long as you are connected to the Internet.

The Science Equivalent of Religious Nutters

Apparently Michael Reiss, the first ever director of education at the prestigious Royal Society, has caused an uproar with his comments about creationism and science classes. And what did he say?

The complaints of his critics make it sound like he wants creationism taught in science class. Just listen:

Richard Roberts: "I think it is outrageous that this man is suggesting that creationism should be discussed in a science classroom. It is an incredible idea and I am drafting a letter to other Nobel laureates - which would be sent to the Royal Society - to ask that Reiss be made to stand down."

Rowan Hooper: "to the dismay of many scientists in the UK, the director of education for the Royal Society, Michael Reiss, has called for creationism to be taught in biology classes in the UK."

The only problem - these claims are false. False and easily disproven. These critics seem to have binary lenses on: viewing anyone who talks about this issue as either for creationism being taught in science class or against it. And then they take sides and try - using whatever positions they have - to bash or ban anyone that isn't totally on board with them. It reminds me of someone who gets elected head of the PTA so they can ban books they disagree with from the local library.

So what did Reiss actually claim. From this audio interview he says:
“Creationism is not science, and it should not be given equal time in science lessons, and it shouldn't be presented by science teachers as a scientifically valid alternative. But as a teacher, I'm comfortable when dealing in science lessons with what students bring to the lesson even if it isn't good science. So I would want to acknowledge without in any way ridiculing the student.... I want to acknowledge that for the student that is how they understand the world, and I can respect them for that, but I want to make it very clear that's not the way the overwhelming majority of scientists understand the world, and we have very good evidence-based reasons as to why scientists understand the world they do, and then nothing would delight me more than to get into the scientific evidence for evolution or the history of the universe.”
As can easily be seen by anyone without blinders on, Reiss is making a pedagogical point: To really teach students in science class, you have to address their concerns without alientating them. Woh. Radical. He should be fired.

His point isn't to teach creationism in science classes, its to teach creationists in science classes. Its to teach the widening percentage of creationists that are already in the classrom the rules of evidence-based reasoning that is the halmark of science, and why this reasoning supports the theory of evolution.

You can read one of the more sane blog posts on the issue here. And if you really can't get enough, checkout the Slashdot post here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey As Sarah Palin On SNL (VIDEO)

Spot on. Brilliant!

Hillary Clinton Sarah Palin Press Conference

A more stable link is found here, but it starts with an ad:

Friday, September 12, 2008

How to get Live Video from Fox News on Ubuntu

Lately a bunch of sites have been moving from Flash to either Silverlight or Adobe AIR for their video feeds. Unfortunately, neither are officially supported yet on the Linux platform in general, or on Ubuntu in particular (that said, there is a lot of hard work being done to change this: check out mono and Adobe AIR for Linux).

Its easy to feel left behind. For example, I wanted to watch the live feed from on the huricane Ike. Unfortunately, it requires Adobe AIR. What could I do? I'm not one to feel sorry for myself, so I figured I'd do some hacking and tinkering around and see if I could get it to work anyway. And I did! Here is what you need to do:
  1. First, download the alpha of Adobe AIR for Linux here.
  2. Using the command line navigate to the download, and type: chmod 755 adobeair_linux_*.bin
  3. Type: ./adobeair_linux_*.bin [this will execute gksu automatically]
  4. Follow the directions. Once it is installed: close and restart Firefox [I'm not sure this step is necessary, but its not going to hurt]
  5. To install the Fox News Live Adobe AIR application, go to
  6. It should ask you if it can open it with Adobe AIR. Say yes. Follow the directions and it should work!
By default, it installs it in /opt/FOX News Live/. If you want to re-start the application, navigate to this directory and run the following command: ./FOX\ News\ Live

You can delete the applications in Synamptic Package Manager

To uninstall Adobe AIR: dpkg -r adobeair-enu

Although it seems somewhat choppy, it works. Hope this helps somebody!

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Comments on Sarah Palin Interview

She didn't do a horrible job, but definitely didn't hit the ball out of the park. The partisan right is on the defensive on this one, blaming Charlie Gibson and the "leftist" media for the weak performance. The partisan left, on the other hand, is going to view this interview as clear indication that she doesn't know what she's talking about (as if a good performance would have changed their minds).

One of the main problems, though, was the fact that the McCain campaign shielded her from the media for two weeks, which indicates that she's not ready for the office on day one. So its no surprise that Gibson made this the focus of his interview. Her fairly canned responses didn't indicate to me that she has thought in an independent fashion about many of these questions.

Where all the questions fair? Not really. The one about the "Bush Doctrine" seemed to me to be problematic, for example. There are two ways to look at it:

  1. It could be seen as a "gotcha" question - where Gibson poses it to embarrass Palin, implicature being: "What, you don't know what the Bush Doctrine is?" As if we all do or should. I keep up a fair bit with politics, and I have admittedly heard the phrase before, but when he posed the question I wasn't sure what he was referring to. I would also be caught off-guard if someone asked me about the "Powell Doctrine" or the "Clinton Doctrine" as well.
  2. It could also be seen as a "insider-baseball" question. This is how I read it. But obviously on this interpretation it is not exactly fair - because, as everyone already knows, SHE IS NOT A WASHINGTON INSIDER. It takes a while to get accustomed to any insider language game.
Either way, there is a lot of catching up for her to do.

The only other question that really interested me was the one about whether or not she had any doubts or self-doubts about her ability to handle the responsibilities of the vice-presidency. Her response was, basically, that she had "no doubts". Now maybe from a campaign and leadership perspective, this was the answer she should have given. I don't know, but that doesn't really interest me (though it is certainly relevant). What I care about more a matter of honesty, and self-honesty in particular. Anyone who doesn't have doubts doesn't know what they are in for. Someone without doubts has either got to have huge blinders or a very simple view of the world. It is, as Gibson rightly noted, a matter of "hubris". She ought to have had doubts about this tiny little inteview, let alone... THE VICE-PRESIDENCY.

Sarah Palin ABC Interview Charles Gibson

Beer Review #2: Rogue Shakespeare Stout

This one is one of my favorite stouts.

Appearance - Dark and smooth. The medium head is infused with brown, and laces the glass nicely.

Smell - Hints of chocolate and a little bit of coffee. A touch of roasted malts.

Taste - Starts with a malty taste, espresso middle, and then ends on a sweet chocolaty note. Once its down, it leaves a hoppy bitterness, making my mouth want the next sip. Complex, delicious.

Mouthfeel - VERY well balanced, somewhat creamy. My mouth sooo approves.

Drinkability - I want to drink this slowly, enjoying each mouthful. Not too heavy.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

McCain Campaign ad on Obama on Sex Education to Kindergartners

This ad is a new low for the McCain campaign - it is pure slime. Unforgivably so. This is Rovean politics at its worst. Remember your out-of-wedlock black baby, McCain? Yeah, this shit is in the same league. It's been thoroughly debunked here. I hope Carville is right (the second video) and that McCain didn't really know about it. I still believe that McCain is an honorable, decent person. I hope he repudiates it and fires those who put his name on this despicable ad.


Carville: McCain Too Honorable to Have Approved Sleazy Ad

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama: ENOUGH!

"I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics. Enough is enough!" - Obama

Couldn't agree more, the phony outrage pisses me off.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Hypocrisy of Political Hacks

One of my favorite recent Daily Show clips:

Barack Obama on O'Reilly - Part 2

Part 1 can be found here.

Barack Obama v. Bill O'Reilly - Part 2 of 5 - Sept 8 2008

Introducing Ubuntu 9.04: Jaunty Jackalope

Mark Shuttleworth just sent out an message giving the broad sketches of his vision for the iteration of Ubuntu after Intrepid Ibex, code named "Jaunty Jackalope". One thing I love about the way that Ubuntu code names work is that they are meant to reveal something about the focus of that development cycle, and ultimately the distribution itself. In the message Shuttleworth reveals three primary goals for Jaunty, which he decribes as follows:
  1. "The Jackalope is known for being so fast that it's extremely hard to catch, and breeds only when lightning flashes. Let's see if we can make booting or resuming Ubuntu blindingly quick."
  2. "Another goal is the the blurring of web services and desktop applications. "Is it a deer? Is it a bunny? Or is it a weblication - a desktop application that seamlessly integrates the web!""
  3. "Those bizarre-but-fearsome antlers might well remind one of the intricate pattern of collaboration between developers in a distributed version control system. So it's fitting that Jaunty will see us move all of Ubuntu into Bazaar. For the first time, any developer will be able to branch any Ubuntu package with a single bzr command, publish their changes, and perhaps even publish builds of that package in their own Package Archive."

This weeks noteworthy software releases

Tons of user agent information you can import into User Agent Switcher Firefox addon

If you use Firefox, but occasionally need to pretend your browser is IE, Safari, or even the Iphone browser, you can using User Agent Switcher and the user-agents provided here by Brent Strange (thanks!). The import file includes the following spoofs:

Internet Explorer
MSIE 8 (Win Vista)
MSIE 8 (Win XP)
MSIE 7 (Win Vista)
MSIE 7 (Win XP)
MSIE 7 (Win Storage Server)
MSIE 6 (Win XP)
MSIE 5.5 (Win 2000)
MSIE 5.5 (Win ME)
MSIE 5.0 (Win 95)
MSIE 4.01 (Win 95)
MSIE 4.0 (Win NT)


FireFox 2.0.12 (Win Vista)
FireFox 2.0 (Win XP)
FireFox (Fedora Core 5/Linux)
FireFox (Debian Linux)
FireFox (Mac OSX)
FireFox (Win Vista)
FireFox 1.5 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.4 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.0.7 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.0.6 (Win XP)
FireFox 1.0.5 (SlackWare/Linux)
FireFox 1.0.4 (FreeBSD)
FireFox 1.0 (Win XP)
FireFox 0.9.3 (Win XP)


Opera 9.1 (Win XP)
Opera 8.0 (Win 2000)
Opera 7.6 (Server 2003)
Opera 7.51 (Win XP)
Opera 7.5 (Win XP)
Opera 7.5 (Win ME)
Opera 4
Opera 3
Opera 2
Opera 1


Netscape 8.1(Win XP)
Netscape 8.0.1 (Win XP)
Netscape 7.2 (Win 2000)
Netscape 7.1 (Win 98)
Netscape 4.8 (Win XP)
Netscape 4.76 (Win 98)
Netscape 4.5 (Win 98)
Netscape 4.05 (Win 95)
Netscape 3.01 gold (Win 95)
Netscape 2.02 (Win 95)


Safari 3.0 (v521)
Safari 2.0 (v418.9.1)
Safari 2.0 (v412)
Safari 2.0 (v401)
Safari 1.3 (v162)
Safari 1.3 (v158)
Safari 1.3 (v146)
Safari 1.2(v125.8; OSX 10.3.4)
Safari 1.1 (v100.1; OSX 10.3.2)
Safari 1.0 (v85)
Safari 1.0 (v74 beta 2)
Safari 1.0 (v73 beta 2)
Safari 1.0 (v64 beta)
Safari 1.0 (v51 update 1.0 beta)
Safari 1.0(v48 public beta)


AOL 9.0/MSIE 6.0 (Win XP)
AOL 8.0/MSIE 6.0 (Win XP)
AOL 7.0/MSIE 5.5 (Win 98)
AOL 6.0/MSIE 5.5 (Win 98)
AOL 5.0/MSIE 5.0 (Win 98)
AOL 5.0 (OS X)
AOL 5.0 (Mac PPC)
AOL 4.0/MSIE 3.02 (Win 95)
AOL 4.0/MSIE 4.01 (Win 95)
AOL 4.0 (Mac PPC)
AOL 4.0 (Mac 68k)
AOL 4.0/MSIE 3.0(Win 3.1)
AOL 3.0/MSIE 3.02 (Win 95)
AOL 3.0/MSIE 4.01 (Win 95)


Mozilla 1.7.8 (Linux)


Googlebot 2.1 (New version)
Msnbot 1.0
Msnbot 1.0 Beta (v0.11)
Yahoo Slurp
Ask Jeeves/Teoma

RSS Readers

NewsGator 2.5 (Win XP)
Feed Demon 1.6 (Win XP)
Bloglines 2.1
SharpReader (Win XP)

WAP Devices

Nokia 6630
Nokia 6100
BlackBerry 8703
iPhone (3.0 Mobile)


Google Toolbar 4.0
Hotbar 4.4.2
AskBar 3.0

iTunes 4.2 (OS X 10.2)
iTunes 4.7 (OS X 10.2)
iTunes 7.1.1 (Mac PPC)
Zune 2.0

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Live-Blogging McCain

Overall, I was extremely annoyed by the crowd, but the speech was not that bad. The fact that Obama and McCain are the two presidential candidates attests to the fact that the conservative movement is languishing.

10:57 - His war story. Its worth hearing.

10:55 - He is trying to be post-partisian. It is falling flat on the crowd, but his record here is solid. This is a slap on the face of partisan hacks. This is why I've always liked McCain.

10:53 - A lot of what he says is an implicit criticism of the Bush administration. Good.

10:50 - Foreign policy segment. Nothing concrete, but his emphasis on working with other countries is a breath of fresh air. And his blunt claim that war is evil is very much needed. Reminds me of Obama's claim in Saddleback that sometimes much evil is done in the name of good.

10:47 - Constantly misrepresenting Obama's views, esp. on energy. Besides the Republican base's short-sighted emphasis on "drill here, drill now" I don't think McCain and Obama's positions are that different in terms of taking a multi-pronged approach to the issue.

10:45 - His ideas on education are worth pursuing. This is a big issue for me, and I side more with McCain here.

10:42 - His claims about Obama's tax plans are easily debunked. Look here.

10:38 - Republican talking points, not much of substance here.

10:36 - Not a visionary speech so far. Mainly focused on past record and anecdotes. It would be better to focus more on the future.

10:33 - McCain does have the record he speaks of. This in fact is what makes conservatives nervous.

10:30 - Right now a bit heavy on the cliches.

10:26 - starting a couple of min. late. Did see his respectful stance towards Obama. It is easy to grow bitter, but McCain does not seem to be a bitter man.

Beer Review #1 - Pomme Lambic (Lindermans)

Appearance - This beer is a translucent mix of orange, yellow, and brown. Reminds me of frothy unfiltered apple juice. Lots of sediment.

Smell - Heavy sour apple smell. Pungent, and very sweet.

Taste - Sweet (too much for my taste), ending on a sour, tart note. Takes a couple of sips for my mouth to adjust to it.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation stimulates my tongue, making it a pleasure to roll it around my mouth. If it weren't so sweet, I'd let it linger longer. Smooth going down, but sticky on the lips.

Drinkability - Overall I like it, but I'm sure I can find one better suited to me. The sweet overwhelms the subtlety this beer might otherwise have.

B-/6 (out of 10)

Btw, here's how my point scale relates to my letter scale:

10: A+
9: A
8: A-
7: B+
6: B-/B
5: C/C+
4: C-
3: D/D+
2: D-/F
1: F

Monday, September 01, 2008

Customize Google firefox extension stopped working

Recently, one of my favorite firefox addons stopped working: CustomizeGoogle. This extension provided search suggestions when typing a query into google. Unfortunately, for some reason it stopped. After following the directions on the addon website and some additional fiddling, I was able to get it working again. Here's how:

Set as your homepage, not the one with the Firefox logo on it

Disable Google Suggest in CustomizeGoogle.

Click on preferences on and make sure "Provide query suggestions in the search box" is selected.

Click Save Preferences.

Clear your cache (without doing this it still didn't work for me).

EDIT: Doesn't seem to work with Google UK. More info can be found here.