Random (but not really)

Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

This is not the day that the pools open.
This is not the day you are allowed to start wearing white shoes.
This is not the beginning of the summer vacation season.

This is the day we are to remember those who gave their lives for our country. Those who heeded the need of their government, and gave their lives so that we can now have:
freedom of speech….
freedom of religion….
freedom of association….
freedom of the press….
the right to keep and bear arms….
the right to keep the military out of our homes….
the right to be secure from illegal search and seizure….
the right to a trial by jury….

Read the constitution and other historical documents.

The Great War

WWII Memorial

Korean War Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial

Digital Memorial for those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq

“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”
— George William Curtis

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.
— John Philpot Curran Speech upon the Right of Election (1790)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Michelle at 12:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: History,Politics  

Friday, May 28, 2004


I don’t get it.

US politicians have taken the first steps towards imposing restrictions on Google’s Gmail service.

Citing privacy worries, Californian senators have approved a bill that limits Google’s plans to scan messages and include ads based on what it finds.

Now I’m all for restraining corporations to keep them from doing harm, but I fail to see where any harm is done here.

Google is offering GMail–for free–and is being completely forthright and open about what this free e-mail account entails. They are not the only service out there offering free e-mail accounts, so if you don’t like their policy, you can go somewhere else.

And it’s not as if GMail dominated the market, and if you didn’t have GMail, you couldn’t e-mail anyone else.

I don’t get it. It sounds like someone–or several someones–have been standing out in the sun too long.

Written by Michelle at 12:24 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Gotta Love Those Tax Cuts

Well, it’s clear now where the funding for those tax cuts is coming from.

The Bush administration has told officials who oversee federal education, domestic security, veterans and other programs to prepare preliminary 2006 budgets that would cut spending after the presidential election”

That’s right. The president, who is currently going around touting programs whose budgets he had tried to cut, is planning to put those programs up on the block:

Homeland Security Department 3% cut
Education 2.4% cut
Veterans Affairs 3.4% cut
EPA 2.6% cut
NIH 2.1% cut
Interior Department 1.9% cut

Defense Department 4.3% increase

What do you think the chances are that the increase for the defense department is going towards soldiers pay?

There is, of course, much compassion from conservatives about the issue.

But with the budget deficit exceeding $400 billion this year, tough and painful cuts are unavoidable, said Brian M. Riedl…”I think the public is ready for spending cuts,” Riedl said. “Not only does the public understand there’s a lot of waste in the federal budget, but the public is ready to make sacrifices during the war on terror.” ”

Ready to make sacrifices for the war on terror? With cuts in education spending while corporate welfare continues? Apparently sacrifices are to be made only by those who are least able to make them–those who are poor. Corporate welfare to help those who are already rich, is to continue unabated.

It confounds me to try and understand what Bush bases his “Christianity” upon, for it certainly isn’t Christianity I was raised in.

(via Body and Soul)

Written by Michelle at 8:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Been Reading

Actually, I’ve been reading a LOT recently.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Richard St Vier is a swordsman in a time and places where nobles hire swordsmen to fight their duels and to make points of honor. And of those swordsmen, St Vier is the best.

Read More about Swordspoint

A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I really liked this book. It may have only taken me 45 minutes to read, but it was a very enjoyable 45 minutes.

I loaned the first three Lemony Snicket books to mark and Ali, who are now addicted and want to read the rest.

Read More about A Bad Beginning

Kingmaker’s Sword, The Western King, Broken Blade by Ann Marston

This series falls victim to the fantastic first book problem. The first book is very good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The problem is that the rest of the series, while good, was not as good as the first book. It also irritated me by ending the series without actually ending the story.

Read More about the Rune Blade Trilogy

Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Pyramids, Guards! Guards!, Faust Eric, Reaper Man

I’ve been re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, mostly because they’re funny, and a quick read. I know I’m missing quite a few books, but I’m buying them when I find them.

Read More about some of the Discworld books

Written by Michelle at 12:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


There was a fascinating article in one of the recent issues (1 May 2004. vol 182 no 2445) of New Scientist on photosynthesis. Apparently, scientists are finally close to completely understanding photosynthesis, which means that we may be .closer to the ability to efficiently make energy from sunlight. Sure, we have solar cells, but solar cells are nowhere close to as efficient as plants are at converting light into energy.

More specifically, what scientists have discovered (at least they think they have discovered) is how plants use light to split water into oxygen, hydrogen, and electrons.

What I missed the first time I read the article, was that this process would gives us hydrogen (the fuel of the future acording to some) from water.

If we develop the ability to convert light to energy as efficently as plants, this makes me much more optimistic about the future of the world–reliance upon polluting fossil fuels could become a thing of the past, except perhaps in the most remote areas. (Problems in places like Antartica during the winter when there is little or no light, and more problems in the desert because of the need for water. Although, of course, hydrogen could be shipped to those places.)

But just imagine! We could the ability to use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create energy. The possibility for desalination plants to supply water to coastal areas that lack clean water. The possibility of efficient solar power. All from artifical chlorophyll! Everything will be green!

It almost makes me wish that I’d stuck with plant biology.

The other thing this brings to mind is a discussion that I once had with my friend Lenny, that we dropped without exploring it further, which is the climate change consequences of solar power. I live in a small town, that has on its edges, rural wooded areas. What I have noticed for years is that there is a significant temperature difference between the paved city, and outside the paved city. If you have your hand out the window in the summer you can actually feel the temperature drop. All that cement keeping the heat (this shouldn’t be any big surprise to anyone so far).

What made me curious was the idea of a town putting solar panels on the roofs of most of the buildings in the area. What if we developed the ability to make road surfaces out of solar cells? Would this not cool down the temperature of the town? Wouldn’t this change the temperature of a city to something closer to that of a wooded area?

It’s possible I’m missing something, and if so, please point it out. But it’s an interesting idea.

Written by Michelle at 6:25 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Science, Health & Nature  


While working on documentation today, Victor Borge’s “Phonetic Punctuation system” came to mind. We found the system, although you don’t get to listen to the short story.

Written by Michelle at 4:03 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to Ben!

(Thought I had a picture at hand, but unfortunately not.)

Written by Michelle at 8:27 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Uncategorized  

Tuesday, May 25, 2004



Written by Michelle at 8:24 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  


Which internet subculture do I belong to? [CLICK]
You are a Conspiracy Theorist!
Holy cow! You actually did an online quiz? Little did you realise that the information you gave us is being sent to an unknown government agency for evil use against you! Don’t try to leave, we are already watching.
More Quizzes at Go-Quiz.com

Am I cool or uncool? [CLICK]
You are a Square!
You are a total dork. The pocket protecter and thick-lensed glasses give it away. Try watching some popular TV.. Get yourself some fashion sense already! On the plus side, no wait hang on, there is no plus side! Nerdsville, population YOU!
Cool quizzes at Go-Quiz.com

Neither of these should come as much of a surprise.

Written by Michelle at 6:27 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  


Dinosaurs found!

Volcanologists monitoring an active volcano at White Island in the Bay of Plenty New Zeland have captured a dinosaur on their webcam!

(Thanks to Heather for the link.)

Written by Michelle at 8:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Science, Health & Nature  
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