March 19th, 2007

#316: This seems to happen every year.

Yet again (via Chizumatic).

People thinking their global warming protest will be fine in early spring end up getting snowed on. You can't buy that kind of irony.

Of course if you point that out to them, they will argue that the late snow is a result of global warming. I'm not quite sure how that works, but I think it supposedly has something to do with hot equatorial air rising and moving north (somehow) and displacing polar air, which moves south, in defiance of about 99% of what we know about how air moves in the Earth's atmosphere.

I knew a guy who moved to Texas from Minnesota because--and he said this in all seriousness--the snowstorms would keep getting worse because of global warming.

Where did he move? Corpus Christi, Texas--hey, pal, that global warming you're worried about? When it melts the ice caps, your new home will be under water.

Not that I think the ice caps will melt catastrophically due to anthropogenic global warming. I'm just saying that if you're moving because you've bought the global warming hype, at least buy all of it and choose your new home with some semi-informed discretion.

When we have a warm winter, it's global warming. When we have a cold winter, it's global warming (and I still haven't figured out how global warming leads to harsher winters). This particular winter--billed as "the warmest winter on record"--is due to good ol' El Nino. And, by the way, the "record" goes back to 1873, which is hardly comprehensive climate data.

One winter, by the way, neither is nor proves a warming trend. That is what is known as "weather". I don't know which cities had the "warmest winter on record" but here in the Chicago area it's been a pretty average winter, with maybe a little more snow than normal.

In about 20 years when the Sun's activity drops, following its natural cycle of minor variability, things are going to cool off. Do you think anyone will be repudiated?

Many of the people who are now screaming "global warming!" were screaming "ice age!" twenty years ago. Don't count on it.

#317: Zimbabwe

Barbara Simpson comments about Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe.

It's not that I care much more than any other average American about the goings-on in a small country on the other side of the planet to which I have no connection. I just happen to think that it's a textbook example of what happens when you combine socialism with an utter disregard for democratic principles.

Mugabe's "redistribution" policies ruined the economic machine that made Zimbabwe one of the most successful nations in Africa. Prior to independance from Britain, it was a prosperous nation; now it's an utter ruin.

But it's also a cautionary tale. Anyone who speaks against Mugabe is arrested and beaten, or killed.

Think about the current political issues in the United States. There is one issue (at least) about which its supporters say that those who disagree with it should be silenced, considered insane, or jailed. (Or all three.)

#318: Too true

Which comes to us from Error Message Generator.

Make your own!

* * *

Since I e-mailed Gateway, and ordered a new case fan, the computer has been utterly silent.

On the plus side, I installed Word 2000 and it actually worked. That was a pleasant surprise. I had to install a few fonts (I prefer to write my stories using Galant) but it works and I can use it! The widescreen monitor makes the text huge; if I had a wireless keyboard and mouse I could probably lay in bed and write.

Strangely, Diablo works fine. Diablo II doesn't but its predecessor does. Go figure. I guess I'll have to try re-installing D2 and seeing if "compatibility mode" will help at all.

Diablo runs in 640x480 mode. You can't change the resolution it runs in, and this is a widescreen LCD monitor, so it looks grainy and squashed, but it does work.

I haven't tried anything else yet. I'll be installing software as needed. I still have some other games to try installing, but I'm not optimistic about how well they'll work.

I'm not able to import my Outlook Express e-mail archives. Windows Mail on this machine can supposedly import them, but OE on the P3 won't export them; so I'm kind of stuck. The help file is typical in its uselessness, of course, and doesn't explain the exporting process in detail; it merely tells you where the export option is in the menu system. When I try to export e-mail, it gives a message acknowledging the command, and then...does nothing.

Windows Mail on this machine doesn't like the OE archive files, so I can't just copy them over, of course.

* * *

I just finished watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and I was underwhelmed by it. This discussion contains spoilers, so be forewarned.

I'm a big fan of 1940s sci-fi serials: King of the Rocket Men, Radar Men From the Moon, The Mysterious Dr. Satan, The Crimson Ghost, and others. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow really looked like a great adaptation of the whole genre.

Sadly, Sky Captain fell rather short of that mark. That's pathetic when you consider how much those old movie serials cost to make. For what it cost to make Sky Captain--in dollars adjusted for inflation!--they could have made every firkin' movie serial ever generated, for crying out loud.

I hated Gwyneth Paltrow's character, Polly. She was a liar and a cheat; she made a deal with Joe ("Sky Captain") and broke it only seconds later--and then hid crucial information from him for about a third of the movie. She sucked.

The story was the basic "megalomaniac plots world destruction" thing, which not even the serial writers of the 1940s used. Hell, the lead villain, "Dr. Tötenkopf", wasn't even alive.

In the 1940s serials, the villain was not only still alive but bent on world domination of one sort or another, not destruction. Of course Tötenkopf's master plan was to build a new world on the ashes of the old, with humans that would not bicker and make war and all that other stuff. (See also Moonraker. *heavy sigh* Like that would work.)

The Mysterious Dr. Satan, for example, was going to build an army of robots, which would then allow him to take over the world. That's a lot more interesting than a guy who built a giant robot plant inside a vast island fortress, which kept going on autopilot even after he died.

I'm glad I didn't go see Sky Captain in the theater. I'm also glad I just rented it. I haven't been this let down by a movie since I saw Daredevil.

* * *

Steven Den Beste talks about downloading fansubbed anime episodes. I'm jealous. I suppose if I had the time and patience to sift through a billion false hits I'd eventually luck onto the mystery site he is getting this stuff from--as files, not torrents!--but I guess I have to make do with torrents.

This is not a thinly-veiled hint that he should send me the URL, though. I understand that his source is secret for a reason. Internet bandwidth does not grow on trees; people with their own servers have to pay for that stuff and I don't wish to leech if it's going to cost someone else money.

My torrent DL speed has never been very good, but recently I learned that my slow torrent download speed was courtesy of my ISP. How did I learn this?

The software I use has a switch for encryption--not anything fantastic, just enough to fool the ISP's servers into not throttling torrent downloads. I saw a 3-4x increase in my "down" speed after discovering that little trick.

That--and the fact that my torrent client is a hell of a lot more stable under Vista than it ever was under WinME--will make completing my collection of Magical Angel Creamy Mami a lot easier, and faster.

Once I get a DVI cable for this monitor, I'll be able to start copying the Creamy Mami files to my DVD recorder via the S-VHS connection. The video card doesn't support S-video out when one is using analog video out to the primary monitor, worse luck, and this monitor didn't come with a DVI cable.

The documentation suggests that it might have come with a DVI cable. "Please make sure the following items are included with your monitor," it says. But then under "DVI-D Signal Cable" it adds, "(This feature is not available in all countries)". Well, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Which countries? Am I missing a DVI cable, or not? The box had never been opened, that much is certain, so if it is missing, it's been missing since this thing left the factory.

Anyway, once I have that hookup, I can dump these episodes to DVD in real time rather than having to wait five hours for the machine to convert 72 minutes of video.

I also discovered that I can transfer the faceplace from the included CD-R/DVD-ROM drive to my Lite-On DVD+/-R/RW/CD-R/RW/WTF drive. I suspect both drives came from the same manufacturer; the WTF drive needs a small bit of metal trimmed from the upper casing in order for the Gateway faceplate to fit it. Then I'll be able to try making DVDs on this computer and see how quickly the video converts.

(Of course I could just put the drive in as-is. I know. But this computer is still new and I don't wish to challenge its aesthetics quite yet. It looks pretty sweet.)

* * *

Two random bits about fans who can't spell

In 1983 I saw it written on a desk in study hall: "Iron Maidin". I wrote underneath it, "If you like the band so much why can't you SPELL THEIR NAME?"

At my current job, someone wrote "Backsteet's Back!" on a shelf in the stockroom. My only comment was, "'Steets'?"

I can only assume the latter person got so excited by the return of "Backstreet" that he forgot a letter. Or maybe it actually was someone called "Backsteet". I don't know.

* * *

Also at work there's a guy who had a "tribal" tattoo on his left forearm. Recently he got another one on his right forearm, only this one has some red accents around it. I asked about it and he told me, "No, they're not the same."

"You young whippersnappers, and your asymmetry!" I said. And from that point on, for the rest of the night, whenever I would see him I would say, "Get out of here, you asymmetrical hooligan!"

I need a life.