Thursday, March 24, 2005

Wolfowitz and the World Bank

Here's a good one about Wolfowitz and the World Bank

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Everyone must watch this - EPIC 2014

Everyone must watch this - EPIC 2014

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

As some of you might have noticed I am using to store pictures of the family for you to enjoy. The photos may be found at Currently there are over 240 pictures up, and I am planning to add more regularly. If you are rss savvy, you may subscribe from here. flickr is a lot better if you register (free); it looks like a lot of links are turned off if you are not registered. I have create a group (for picture aggregation) at flickr called "Our Family stevenbristol."

I am also writing some tools to make flickr easier and better. Look for them soon

FYI, I did purchase the annual "pro" service.

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My goal for the year was to lose thirty pounds. As of this morning, I have lost a total of, wait for it... twenty and a half pounds! I find that amazing.

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Books I've Read

Here is a list of books I have read so far this year:

  1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin
  2. A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
  3. Persuasion, Jane Austin
  4. Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe
  5. Mansfield Park, Jane Austin
  6. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  7. Survivors of Atlantis, Frank Joseph
  8. Blink, Malcolm Gladwell

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Music - Mana

A few weeks ago I promised to write about some great music I have recently discovered. This post is the first in a series:

I fellow at work gave me "Revolucion De Amor" by Mana. This album is fantastic! Picture Los Lobos crossed with David Gilmore and the image starts to take shape. I know nothing about the band except that they might be from Texas, but I've heard enough to be excited. In the past two years the only music I came across that was this good was Eliott Smith or Modest Mouse. The link will take you to Amazon where you can listen to some samples; please do, it is well worth the time. At least listen to the first two tracks, if you are sorry you did I will buy you lunch.

The only draw back is that all of the songs are in Spanish, and I feel like it would be a little better if I know what they were saying, and if I could sing along.

After listening, Write a comment about it. What did you think?

If anyone wants a copy, let me know.

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This is the kind of thing that makes me loath MS.

A few days ago, the Internet Explorer Team at Microsoft put a new post on their blog. It talked about some of the new security enhancements to IE that can be found in Windows XP Service Pack 2 and later.

The new security feature talked about was something called “Mark of the Web.” Here is the premise:
(1) The OS and browser are so insecure (or users are so stupid) that:
(2) Malicious content is all too easily loaded onto the user's computer that:
(3) Content run from the browser's Local Machine Zone will now have fewer privileges than content found in the Internet Zone.
(4) So any content meant to run from the Local Machine Zone must have the "Mark of the Web" to give it elevated privileges.

What this they are really saying is that their products (Outlook, IE, and Windows) are so insecure that IE trusts content found in the Internet more than content found on your own computer!! Is anyone listening? Clearly the evolution of this is that Microsoft will have to prevent users form using their own computers because they cannot trust the user. This is the kind of thing that makes me loath MS.

If Microsoft did not have so much money I would say they are in real trouble. If only that were true.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The gap

Robert Paterson has a very interesting blog entry today about exposure to words early in life and the ability to learn latter. Here is the text:

What is wrong with our schools?

What is at the heart of the failure of schools today. I think that it is a failure of family functioning.
More than 30% of kids enter school already unable to learn and disruptive.
By grade 3, it is too late.

Be sure to follow the link and go to his site where there is a link to a pdf power point with charts and graphs and more information.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Not enough time

Lately I have been having a real problem with time. During the week I am in Jacksonville, I work around fifty hours and since my family is in Gainesville, I have no real time pressure. The weekend is totally different. I really feel like almost every minute is accounted for, and there are simply not enough of them.

This manifests itself most predominantly in the following way: When I am doing something, I am usually pressured to stop doing it, leave it unfinished, and do something else. I inevitably respond by wanting just a few more minutes and continue what I had started.

The first solution I tired was to try to shift some of my weekend chores to the week. I started spending more time searching out things I was curious about; following links or topics that I could not investigate at work (because they are not work related), or writing to this blog, or whatever. Sadly this did not work. I found that there are still more things I need to do during the weekend and that conflicts with family time, not to mention time for friends.

I have a new plan; to some of you this will seem obvious, but it was a revelation to me: I would become a slave to the clock. Before starting something I will determine how long I may spend on it, when that length has been reached, I will stop. Even if I am not finished. I will pick up where I left off the at the next opportunity.

I tried this on Friday, and it worked really well: I was working from home and began my work day at 6:05 AM. I planed to work straight through and finish at 2:05. When it was close to two o'clock I saw a great stopping point (only two small items to finish) and decided to work until I reached it; if I was lucky (meaning I did not run into any unexpected problems) I could be done by 2:05. At 2:10 I found myself unlucky and still had only two small problems to finish. I was feeling pressure but with the end in sight I could push through. Knowing Kim was waiting for me to stop work so we could do a few errands before the weekend, I decided to stop working and take care of Kim's needs. I would continue work on Monday morning. It felt great. Although I had not finished my task, the weight of the conflicting interests was removed. It felt like a miracle had occurred.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Google's technology

I found this today from the Google Blogoscoped Blog. The article talks about the technological infrastructure at Google.

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More on War Path

Jeff raised some good questions in his comments about my post "War Path." I would like to address them here in the main blog.

I would like to take his points in turn:

1. Is the US forcibly spreading democracy?

I think it is important to look at the historical context of the current actions; why is the US in Iraq? It seems clear to me that the main reasons for the US invasion, occupation, and "liberation" have all turned out to have no more value than hogwash. WMDs? None. Suddam’s links to Al Qaeda? Fictional. If this is the historical context then doesn’t the heart swelling thought of spreading democracy seem a little bit like marketing, white wash, rose-colored glasses, or blinders?

2. Spreading democracy requires the use of force.

Obviously changing a form of government requires the use of force, or violence; I can’t think of an example where that change was not violent. I think however, there is an equally obvious difference between the peoples of a government revolting, like the French against Louis or the British (now American) against George, and an alien power invading, conquering, and deposing the current leadership and installing not only new leadership but a whole new form of government. Let’s face it the people of Iraq didn’t even ask for help (maybe that is a little simplistic, but I think true).

I’d like to make another point here: I believe that a democratic government in Iraq makes it better for some, maybe even many people. But I also believe it makes it worse for others. If we can remove attempts at judgment, I will stand up and say I am not wise enough to say which case is better. I believe most people could not truly say (outside of opinion) which case is better. "Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

3. The severity and surety of an impending act could convince you that it is acceptable to punish someone for a crime they have not yet committed.

My heart goes out to your feelings of propriety and desire to keep people safe and feeling safe, but I think it is important not to be so moved by these noble feelings that we are willing to do things that will ultimately give up our freedoms and consequently our safety. Our safety is directly tied to our freedoms. My family came from a communist country. Want to talk about no freedoms, try school children taught that they should "turn in" their own parents for being against the state. People living with that level of fear do not feel safe. I would rather be afraid of a terrorist act than my children, friends, or family. This is what happens without freedoms. Most Americans joyfully take their freedoms for granted, I do not.

This is the slipperiest of slippery slopes, and we’re sliding here. It is deathly important to protect the rights and freedoms of your most hated enemy. If we can take his freedoms or allow them be taken, then so can yours be taken, and mine. It reminds me of the old adage, "First they came for Saddam, but we did not stop them. Next they came for Iran, but we did not stop them. When they came for me there was no one left to stop them."

Not that I expect this government to behave in this most justly and constitutional way, let’s be frank: This government (not just the current leadership) had long ago released us from the bondage of unalienable rights. I don’t have to go to Guantanamo or "Enemy Combatants" for this point, the US government actually allows (requires) one to sign away these "unalienable" rights when they join the US military. Please take this opportunity to read the definition of the word unalienable. This is the word that this great country of ours was founded upon and this is the slope we are flying down.

4. There were plenty of non-weapons-program-related crimes that Saddam did and was committing.

What crimes justified our actions? Not the actions of one individual against another, but the actions of one nation against another.

5. Churchill’s quote "…democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

I can think of at least one form of government I like better than democracy: theocracy. Not as practiced by the pre-1900 Vatican, but as practiced in Tibet (when there was a Tibet). This leads me to the main point here: The form of government is not nearly as important as the quality of the people who run that government. I will maintain that the last political leader who I truly liked (or trusted) was the Dali Lama; Representative Ron Paul (or) from Texas is not far behind though.

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