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March 30, 2005

Illegal War?

International law? "I better call my lawyer." Better not to. The civilised world can't depend on the legal niceties of an ersatz global jurisdiction. If the Iraq war turns out to have been "illegal", that's just another bonus.
--Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn, I think I love you.

Posted by Jeff at 03:31 AM | Comments (4)

March 28, 2005

Network Camera Advice

I am looking for a new camera for the veiled chameleon webcam page. My intention is to place a webcam inside the chameleon's enclosure and then give it access to the Internet. The attributes for the camera which I seek, roughly in order of importance, are as follows:

1) Pan, tilt, and zoom. I don't want the camera to just be sitting there staring in one spot hoping that the chameleon will be in sight.

2) Optical zoom. A real zoom is important, not merely blowing up of a static photo which becomes more and more pixelated as the zoom increases.

3) Auto focus (with a variable focus lens). Focusing and re-focusing a camera can be one of the most frustrating aspects of using a camera, and auto-focus tends to work remarkably well.

4) Motion detection/tracking. If the lizard moves, I want the camera to follow it. When people log onto the webcam page to see the lizard, I'm pretty much hoping that the lizard will be in the picture for them to see.

5) Internet controllable. Motion detection isn't perfect, and sometimes people want to see things up a bit closer than what the camera may be set at when they find it. Ideally, any user would be able to take control of the camera from the webcam page (which means that the motion detection should be temporarily interrupted) and do with it as they choose (except change settings, of course). When they're finished, the camera should return to a pre-set position, zoom, and focus, and the motion detection should resume.

6) IP Network camera. I want this thing to have its own operating system and its own software. Ideally, it would come with additional software for a remote server (linux) with which it would connect, allowing one data stream from the camera to the server, and then the server would branch the video off to an unlimited number of viewers.

7) Wireless. Although I can deal with a network cable, I'd prefer not to, and I'd get additional use out of the camera if I could skip it. I'd like to move it out of the chameleon cage occasionally, such as to keep an eye on my bird should I be out of town for a day or two.

8) 802.11b. 802.11g would be fine, except that I'd have to replace my D-Link 614+ wireless router with a new 802.11g capable router - and that costs money. The only reason I'd do that would be for the new camera, so the cost of the new router would be added to the cost of the camera - making it lesser of a value for the price.

9) Simultaneous FTPing of a JPEG and video streaming. I don't want to have to choose between these, but I could if an abundance of the above features were available.

10) Two way audio. This one is for the bird watching, again. Birds are very social animals, and it's difficult on my cockatiel when I'm away. If I could at least interact with it via voice and see its reactions so I'd know how to respond to it with voice, that'd go a long way toward making the bird more comfortable when I'm away.

11) An infrared mode for nighttime viewing. This really isn't entirely important for a lizard that sleeps at night, but the alternatives are to have a dark image and/or video showing up on the webcam page or to shut the thing off before nightfall. I'd prefer something a bit more interesting, even a sleeping lizard.

12) Good user reviews, such as through epinions.com. This would help, but it's at the very bottom of the list. If I can't find any reviews, so be it, it wouldn't stop me from buying the camera. Significant credible negative reviews, however, are probably a deal killer.

A thirteenth option would obviously be price, but including it or ranking it is somewhat silly. Price always offsets the value that you purchase for that price, and I'm not quite sure what value I'd place on any single feature (listed above), nor combination of features. The best I can do is to look at every camera model which reasonably approximates the features that I want, and then use my subjective judgment to decide which is the best value for me at that price. I don't want anyone ruling out a camera by assuming that it costs too much to be mentioned, or through assuming that one is too cheap.

Posted by Jeff at 01:24 AM | Comments (14)

March 27, 2005

"Liberals just don't get it" topics

So I'm cruising around the Internet reading lefty weblogs (an odd addiction, I know) and I'm starting to see a story beginning to proliferate about, again, Saudi citizens being evacuated from the United States immediately following the events on 9/11. Although no real evidence is ever given, these people (ala Michael Moore) hope that your conspiratorial paranoia microchip is well functioning, and that you'll reason through conjecture that George Bush is either behind the 9/11 attacks, or he's unwilling to punish the real guilty parties out of loyalty to his corporate greed. So now, apparently, there are some new reports (though it seems to me about previously established evidence) regarding the timelines of these Saudi departures, and the lefties think that the reports will help their case. It's enough to make you hold your head in your hand and whisper, "Not AGAIN!"

Liberals keep coming up with this "See, I we told you!" stuff as if to suggest that if only mainstream America had known what these much smarter angry lefties had known, then they'd have voted to "throw the bum" out of office. But the truth is that nobody cares except for them. They're preaching to the choir and (erroneously) congratulating themselves for being smarter than everyone else. I think it's a pretty safe bet that if any or all of this stuff had come out before the election, Bush would've won by just as great, and probably a greater margin than he actually managed. The liberal wacko rants would have, if anything, driven even more voters into Bush's tent. (Note: it's not the facts that are wacko, it's the conclusions which the lefties hope that we'll draw from those facts which are wacko.)

These people are behaving as if the vote isn't over and they didn't lose. They're like a gathering of poor sports crying and whining at the 2nd yard of a football field, screaming about the unfairness of an alleged missed call, a foul not punished, and a victory unfairly taken. But victory has been declared, the awards have been given out, the teams have showered and gone home, the spectators have left the stadium, and even the clean-up crews have snatched up the last discarded wax-paper Coke cup from under the bleachers. As these few wail on that second yard line, the occasional leaf swirls past them in the breeze.

Ironically, its moveon.org that never does. Figure that one out.

One should note that I'm not specifically referring to the blogger I linked to above, but instead to the character of the blogging on the issue in the aggregate. I actually chose to link to the weblog above because of its subdued hyperbole, rather than being overtly hysterical.

ps: I seem to have found a bug in this version of Movable Type. I copy/pasted the trackback url in the "URLs to ping" field, wrote my post, previewed it, edited it slightly, then decided that I didn't like the UPPERCASE domain in the trackback url - so I edited it down to lowercase. Upon saving the entry (publishing), Movable Type pinged both uppercase and lowercase versions of the trackback URL. The uppercase must've been stored, somehow, when I previewed the comment. I guess.

Posted by Jeff at 05:39 PM | Comments (10)

March 23, 2005

My chameleon is an idiot

So I'm wanting to take a video of my chameleon as she goes after and eats some food. She missed the food, possibly in part because of this smooth move (the video is shot through mesh, accounting for some of the blur):

Veiled chameleon falls

That was from over 5 feet above ground.

About 3 minutes after that fall, and as I'm transferring the video to the computer, I hear the sound of paper crinkling within the pen. I turn and see the chameleon walking down a brown paper lunch bag that I have hanging on from the side of the mesh. The bag had crickets in it and a little hole in one corner so that they'd have a way to get out. I put this bag in there realizing that the chameleon would not be able to grip it and, therefore (I thought), the chameleon wouldn't even attempt to walk on it (my previous chameleon would never have tried such a thing). But the chameleon I have now was walking on it, losing its grip, and sliding bit by bit down the bag. I held my breath until it managed to get a grip on a plant. She likely would not have survived the fall.

Posted by Jeff at 05:59 PM | Comments (126)

Lucky Pets

I have a new veiled chameleon, so I have two pets now. My other pet is a cockatiel, Whiskles:

My cockatiel: Whiskles

I don't know how long I've had Whiskles, though I think it's been about a decade. And I don't know how old he is, either, because I found him in my mother's back yard. Whiskles - or whatever his name was back then - was someone else's bird. I contacted people who'd placed ads in the paper about their missing birds, and some came out to see if he was theirs, but he had no takers.

Since then, he's turned out to be a pretty good friend, and I suppose that I am to him as well. I hope that Jennifer and the budgie are as fortunate.

Posted by Jeff at 12:44 AM | Comments (6)

March 22, 2005

First Day

A face only a mother could love:

Baby female veiled chameleon

Actually, I take that back...veileds' mothers don't love them.

Anyway, this is this tyke's first day living here. She's the site's new mascot!

No name for her yet.

Posted by Jeff at 09:52 PM | Comments (29)

March 21, 2005

Liberal Dissonance

Ann Coulter said that if it weren't for terrorism, liberals would hate Muslims. She didn't get a chance to explain why, since she was attacked by pie throwers just after mentioning it, but I assume that what she was getting at would be Muslim treatment of and attitudes toward women. Liberals are supposed to be the "womens liberation" group, yet Muslim women seem to be the least liberated innocents on the planet.

I just visited a weblog, Clarity and Resolve, which brought this point home with the inclusion of a Reuters article highlighting a couple of instances of violence against women in Iraq:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Aamal, a ministry consultant, shot dead. Wijdan, a women's rights activist and election candidate, murdered. Zeena, a businesswoman, kidnapped, shot and dumped on a highway in a headscarf she never wore.

Their crime? Wearing western clothes, having jobs or speaking out to make women's voices heard in efforts to rebuild Iraq, plagued by relentless violence, spiralling crime and creeping religious fundamentalism.

Many have been driven into their homes, out of schools and universities and off the streets. Leading women keep a black hijab on the peg by the door to wear when venturing outside. Women who never wore the headscarf, turn to it for safety.

So, with that in mind, I'd like to contribute a bit of American patriotism, and a flippant salute to all of the Muslim fundamentalist terrorists out there:

American Patriotism

American Bikini Salute

Kathy Ireland Republican

Posted by Jeff at 05:00 AM | Comments (4)

March 20, 2005

Vitriolic Wacko Attacks Democrat

CBS News is reporting that a member of the "angry left" lost control of himself last week. It seems that the anti-Bushie is intolerant of anyone disagreeing with him about our President.

A man apparently enraged by a Bush-Cheney sticker on a woman's sport utility vehicle chased her for miles and tried to run her off the road while [holding up a sign that read, "Never Forget Bush's Illegal War Murdered Thousands in Iraq"], police said.

bush-cheney.jpg

Apparently, she responded to his behavior with a "gesture" of some kind which pushed him over the edge. His report is that the gesture was obscene, she reports that she gestured out of an attempt to figure out "why he was honking at [her] and pointing at his sign."

The woman found a police officer, reported on his license number and description, and he was caught soon after. He is now apparently charged with aggravated stalking and faces up to five years in prison. I, personally, am hoping that the judge turns out to be a female Bush voter who has also found herself the target of the far left's vitriolic intolerance.

After learning of the incident, the accused's father reportedly referred to his son as "the least aggressive person I know", a statement which, if we assume its accuracy, tends to suggest that his father either doesn't know a great many people or he hangs with a pretty rough crowd. No word is available on the father's political leanings.

Oh, did I mention that the victim is a registered Democrat? It would seem that the angry left is hell bent on ensuring that the moderates will never collectively vote for a Democrat again. What sane person would want to side with the angry left?

Posted by Jeff at 02:03 AM | Comments (2)

March 19, 2005

Why Filibusters Should Be Allowed

George F. Will wrote a lengthy editorial on filibusters. If you've questioning whether or not Republicans should press to eliminate the filibuster possibility, it may make for good reading. Here are some excerpts:

With Republicans inclined to change Senate rules to make filibusters of judicial nominees impossible, Democrats have recklessly given Republicans an additional incentive to do so. It is a redundant incentive, because Republicans think -- mistakenly -- that they have sufficient constitutional reasons for doing so.

Today 60 Senate votes are required to end a filibuster. There are 55 Republican senators but not five Democrats who will join them. Republicans may seek a ruling from the chair -- Vice President Cheney presiding -- that filibustering judicial nominees is impermissible, a ruling that a simple majority of senators could enforce.

Pretty interesting. Though you've got to wonder why Will thinks that following the procedure of law would result in something unconstitutional; it doesn't seem to me that he ever gets to that. The way he stated the case above, it seems that our system has been designed to allow a "ruling from the chair" with the support of the majority.

Some conservatives oddly seem to regret the fact that the government bristles with delaying and blocking mechanisms -- separation of powers, bicameral legislature, etc. The filibuster is one such mechanism -- an instrument for minority assertion. It enables democracy to be more than government-by-adding-machine, more than a mere counter of numbers. The filibuster registers intensity, enabling intense minorities to slow or stop government.

Good point, George. Not only does it tend to conserve the type of government we currently have (restricts change), but it protects minority interests - nearly always a good thing.

And pruning the filibuster in the name of majority rule would sharpen the shears that one day will be used to prune it further. If filibusters of judicial nominations are impermissible, why not those of all nominations -- and of treaties, too? Have conservatives forgotten how intensely they once opposed some treaties pertaining to arms control and to the Panama Canal?

As one who is often accused of being conservative myself, I find myself in favor of conserving the ability to filibuster. Remember what happened to chief Democratic obstructionist Tom Daschle?

Tom Daschle - Fired!

He was fired for his obstructionism. Let the voters and the fear of the voters compel their representatives to filibuster, or not.

The Senate's institutional paralysis over judicial confirmations is a political problem for which there is a political solution: 60 Republican senators. The president believes that Democratic obstruction of judicial nominees contributed to Republican gains in 2002 and 2004. In 2006, 17 of the Democrats' seats and that of Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, their collaborator, are up, five of them in states the president carried in 2004.

It has been 98 years since Republicans have had 60 senators. But in the past 50 years, there were more than 60 Democratic senators after seven elections: 1958 (64), 1960 (64), 1962 (67), 1964 (68), 1966 (64), 1974 (61), 1976 (62). Republicans might reach 60 if the president devoted as much energy to denouncing obstruction of judicial nominations as he is devoting to explaining Social Security's problems. Solving those problems is important, but not as important as achieving a judiciary respectful of the Constitution.

It seems to me that many conservatives are behaving a bit vindictively over the Democratic vitriol in the 18 months prior to the presidential election. They need to stop it. Now. What made the Republicans so much more appealing than the Democrats in the last election was, I think, to a large extent their unwillingness to engage in such childishness. And that brings me to Will's final statement:

No Democratic filibuster can stop the 2006 elections. Those elections, however, might stop the Democrats' filibusters.

Posted by Jeff at 01:52 AM | Comments (6)

March 15, 2005

Happy EASTER Everyone!

Easter Bunny
(Image is clickable.)

The Political Grapevine

Palm Beach, Florida made headlines when city officials renamed all Christmas trees "holiday trees" last December. Now, some shopping malls in the city have decided to get rid of the Easter bunny. They're changing the name of Easter egg hunts to just plain "egg hunts" which will be presided over not by the Easter bunny, but by a "garden bunny."

They've lost their minds. That, and the continuing assault against Christianity has gone way over the top.

I'm not the least bit religious, and I tend to hold religious beliefs against people when I judge their intelligence. But there's something sinister about how the Christian religion is singled out for abuse. It's Easter, for chrissakes...and it's Christmas. Yes, those holidays may have their roots in a religion, but they've long ago been secularized in this country (I don't know of any Kris Kringle or egg dispensing rabbits in the bible, do you?). There is no need to change the freaking names of the holidays.

The next thing we know, we'll be referring to devil's food cake as "ethically disadvantaged pseudo-nutrition product". But it'll be lucky. By comparison, angel food cake will be demonized and ridiculed beyond belief.

Posted by Jeff at 10:54 PM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2005

Latest Purchases: Looney Tunes!

I've actually had this one for a while:

Looney Tunes Golden Collection - Volume I

Summary: Total Hilarity, Smartly Assembled, and BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED!
Rating: 5

QUERY: "What's Up, Doc?"
ANSWER: My favorite DVD of the year. Possibly of all time.

The original LOONEY TUNES gang is back, and boy do they look terrific. Warner Home Video has compiled a terrific selection of 56 animated gems starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky, Pig, Elmer Fudd, along with dozens of other characters, and added hours and hours of bonus features and documentaries. This is sure to become a perennial in anyone's serious DVD collection.

Best of all, the cartoons have been GORGEOUSLY restored. Restoration means bringing something back to its ORIGINAL form, and that's what Warner Bros. has lovingly done here. The glorious Technicolor imagery is mind-boggling, the animation art is sharp and clear. So sharp and clear that you see can even see the dust that was on the original cels these cartoons were painted on.

THAT'S restoration.

Thank heavens Warner didn't go the route that Disney did with SLEEPING BEAUTY and monkey around with these images, wiping out all traces of the original cel animation and making them look like CGI. No, it's beautiful old-style animation, and each cartoon has been restored to look as they did when they first hit theater screens decades ago.

Each cartoon on this collection is an American classic in its own right. Happily these classics have not been tampered with, but are presented with the utmost respect and attention for the masterpieces they truly are.

I've loved it...and I keep wanting to watch it again and again...so I needed more...MORE...MORE!!! So, I just bought this...and am patiently awaiting the free (i.e., SLOW) shipping:

Looney Tunes Golden Collection - Volume II

Summary: Seems like it's going to be an even better DVD than the last!
Rating: 5

I got the last set and it seemed all my dreams had come true ... unfortunately, I soon realised how mistaken I was, but this new volume comes even closer to perfection.

I've noticed that a lot of the old cartoons (pre-1948) have been included this time around, and the way it's going, I think we're going to have a Bugs Bunny disc, some Daffy/Porky shorts, and the other characters they restricted to the All Stars section in the first one.

I'm glad some of the great cartoons they missed out have appeared on this set!

...tick...tock...tick...tock...tick....

Posted by Jeff at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

Awwww, Kenny...

You forgot this one!

America's World Freedom Tour - Model

America's World Freedom Tour - Back

Posted by Jeff at 01:38 AM | Comments (9)

March 05, 2005

Bye-bye, Europe?

"Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere."
--Mark Steyn

Unfortunately, it wasn't posted in a European column.

Posted by Jeff at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2005

Some Dan Rather-isms

Some highlights of Dan Rather-isms:

"The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."
--Leading off the March 16, 1995 CBS Evening News.

"Republicans kill the bill to clean up sleazy political fundraising. The business of dirty campaign money will stay business as usual."
--CBS Evening News, February 26, 1998.

"There was no doubt Republicans in the House had enough votes tonight to pass another key item in their agenda to rip up or re-write government programs going back to the Franklin Roosevelt era. It is a bill making it harder, much harder, to protect health, safety, and the environment."
--CBS Evening News, February 28, 1995.

"On Capitol Hill, the Republican-controlled House voted mostly along party lines tonight to pass President Bush's federal budget blueprint. This includes his big tax cut plan, partly bankrolled, critics say, through cuts in many federal aid programs for children and education."
--CBS Evening News, March 28, 2001.

Posted by Jeff at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2005

Hypocrisy?

__________ lied!

What do you mean, he lied?

__________ told us things that weren't true!

Well, is it possible that he was just mistaken?

Even if __________ was mistaken, he had an affirmative obligation to know that what he was presenting was factual, so he stills deserves a harsh rebuke! Besides, there's evidence that he lied!

Such as?

Motive! __________'s inaccuracy supported a conclusion that we know he wanted the population to go along with!

That's fairly circumstantial.

There's more! We know that __________ was given evidence that was contrary to his lie, yet he chose to ignore it!

We all receive conflicting information from time to time. We must sort out that which we are to consider to be the most credible from what information we have. Besides, isn't it possible that not __________, but his staff are the ones who were privy to the most contrary evidence?

He is responsible for his staff! And even if you don't accept that he lied, you must at least accept that his motive allowed him to be easily duped!

So, you're saying that behind the lie, or error, was an ulterior motive. So, on its own, apart from the error (or lie), was that ulterior motive justified?

No!

You know this for sure? Or is the jury still out on that one? Would the people of the opposite political bias agree that it wasn't justified?

It wasn't! The jury is not still out on that one! The other side who don't agree are just idiots!

Fill in the blank. Who am I talking about here?

Posted by Jeff at 11:57 PM | Comments (1)

March 01, 2005

Latest purchases: Red Dwarf, Season 5 and 6

Red Dwarf Season 5

It's brown alert time all over again for Red Dwarf fans with the fifth season of the much-loved U.K. sci-fi/comedy series. Episode-wise, it's business as usual for the crew of the Red Dwarf--that is, if one considers encountering an alien squid that squirts a despair-inducing hallucinogen ("Back to Reality," later voted the best episode of the series by British viewers--and Stephen Hawking!), evil (and not particularly bright) versions of the crew ("Demons and Angels"), a virus that causes insanity ("Quarantine"), and a trip to a moon created entirely from the mind of the insufferable hologram Rimmer ("Terrorform") business as usual. In short, it's six hilarious episodes, highlighted by the typically terrific writing of creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (who also direct two episodes). As with the previous deluxe DVD releases, Series V features a wealth of supplemental features, the most intriguing of which is a look at the failed attempt to recreate the show in America (with U.K. cast member Robert Llewellyn and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Terry Farrell as Cat). Also included are cast and fan commentaries, featurettes on the show's "science" and villains, special effects tests, blooper reels, and a sampling of Grant and Naylor's BBC 4 radio sketch "Dave Hollins, Space Cadet," which served as the inspiration for Red Dwarf. Dedicated DVD owners will also be rewarded by Easter eggs lurking throughout the menus. --Paul Gaita

Red Dwarf Season VI

Series 6 is possibly the most eagerly awaited of the Red Dwarf DVD sets, due to its acclaimed third episode, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse," which earned the program an International Emmy Award in 1994. However, the five other episodes in the series have their own share of absurd laughs, and the two-disc set features enough supplemental features to keep even the most demanding RD fan happy. The crux of series 6 is that the Red Dwarf has been stolen (no thanks to Lister, who can't remember where he left it), and the crew must recover it; their pursuit brings them in contact with brain-consuming aliens ("Psirens," with guest star Jenny Agutter), a polymorph that turns Rimmer and Cat into their alternate identities from Series V ("Emohawk--Polymorph II"), the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse tricked out as gunslingers ("Gunmen of the Apocalypse"), an army of Rimmer clones ("Rimmerworld"), and finally, their own future selves, who turn out to be particularly awful (worse than the present-day ones, that is), and cause a cliffhanger ending that just might spell the end for the Red Dwarf crew.... In short, series 6 more than earns its popular status among Red Dwarf's fanbase, thanks to its sharp writing (sadly, it would be the last series to feature scripts by co-creator Rob Grant) and energetic performances. And the double-disc set matches the quality of the programs with some terrific extras, including commentaries by the RD crew and fans (the latter on "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" only), and featurettes on composer Howard Goodall and series director Andy de Emmony; these are rounded out by the usual collections of "smeg-ups" (bloopers), deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, and another episode of the "Dave Hollins, Space Cadet" radio sketch that inspired the show. And again, the most patient of viewers will find Easter eggs on the menus (happy hunting). --Paul Gaita

I can hardly wait!

Posted by Jeff at 03:17 AM | Comments (3)

Ward Churchill says "Right on" to 9/11

Ward Churchill says "Right on!" to 9/11, and he advocates terrorism on these audio clips. You've got to hear all four for it to become crystal clear.

So the truth is out, credible, and verified.

Posted by Jeff at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)

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