Rule clarification requested

Regarding the ten second rule[1], suppose that a food item is dropped a second time. Does the ten second clock revert to zero or pick up where it left off? Or, alternately, do repeated drops incur a time penalty?

1 There is some dispute over the length of the time period. Wikipedia favors five seconds, but notes that, "The exact number of seconds cited may differ depending on the person invoking the 'rule', or, more conveniently, following the expression n+1 where n represents the number of seconds the food is estimated to have been in contact with a given unclean surface."

Here's to men

What use is YouTube, if nobody's going to take the time to upload that awesome Flomax commercial? Anyway, you can see it here. Comedy gold. My favorite bit is the Thelma & Louise moment at the end when the two guys in the back of the convertable toast each other with bottles of water. Vroom!

Does pain have the Buddha nature?

Maybe I'm jaded by too much exposure to back issues of Philosophy and Public Affairs, but I find myself unwilling to engage the issues actually at stake in the blogtastic abortion debate now taking place between Neil "The Ethical Werewolf" Sinhababu and Ramesh "Rhetorical Excess Is Upsetting When Liberals Do It" Ponnuru. This, though, caught my eye:
This is an issue on which I expect disagreement, and it's not unreasonable to think fetuses have some kind of right to life at the beginning of the third trimester when pain perception begins. (Personally, I think that fetal anesthesia should be required at that point for abortions, though the fact that the fetus is still probably below many animals' mental capacities makes it incorrect to attribute a right to life beyond that of animals.) A big part of the reason that many people think the right to life begins earlier, I'd say, is because they're simply confused about the nature of the fetus' mind, and fall into the ancient human temptation to posit minds where there aren't any. |The Ethical Werewolf|

Neil seems to think that pain perception is not morally significant enough to affect the permissibility of abortion, but is morally significant enough to warrant concern for the suffering of the pain perceiving entity. That's kind of an odd view on its face, but maybe Neil's idea is just that fetal pain matters but not as much as a woman's bodily sovereignty.

Fair enough, but he also pretty clearly holds that the third trimester fetus lacks a mind.[1] What I don't understand is, how can unminded pain possibly matter in moral calculations? In a stripped down sense, purely biological pain is a mere signal. In a being without thoughts, plans, or understanding that signal can't map onto anything like our concept of pain. The signal can't, that is, have any content. What, then, is it about the pain that's supposed to be morally relevant?

1 'Having a mind' meaning, in this case, being the sort of being which is disposed to do things like make plans, hold intentions, and ask questions. Which I mention to highlight the fact that having a mind is not the same thing as having a brain.


Another exciting edition of Usability Complaint Wednesday

You know what annoys me unreasonably? The fact that as far as my iPod knows, this list is in alphabetical order:
  • Watson Family
  • The Waybacks
  • Wes Montgomery
  • The White Stripes
  • The Who
  • Willie Nelson
I mean, how hard is it to get the order right? And don't give me some hoo haw about how difficult it is for artificial systems to distinguish first and last names. All that's required is a pointer in the meta information. Once you've got the field, it could be modified by users or tracked in the cddb database. Simple.

Here's a piece of bad news

I had never heard of this, but it makes sense. Gasoline pumps measure out by the gallon without accounting for the expansion of the liquid due to heat. It's costing Arizona citizens (who apparently have the hottest gas) up to 115 million dollars anually. Here in Texas our gas is not so hot year round, but right now it's got to be very hot, and therefore more expensive.

Please write your congressmembers and urge them to enact legislation to end the "heat tax."

No clever title (see post)

It's not so clear (to me) whether the USA Basketball FIBA semi on Friday is going to start at 3am or 6:30am, but I've been watching the USA-Germany game this morning, and I can conclusively say that a 6:30am start is better for basketball watching than a 1:00am start.

In other news, I was using my pal Google to try to come up with a clever title for this post and I discovered that the phrase "back to the future" is attested in a really famous David Bowie song. Things being as they are, this discovery put me off my clever title search.


By the by

Y'all are watching zefrank every day, right?


There ought to be some yodelin' in this post

A few weeks ago I was stuffed in the back of a cab in Philly with an old friend of mine and, screeching a little bit for effect, said "I've got wikis on my fingers!"

Wiki, wiki, wiki:Those are listed in the order of creation, by the way. The oldest dates to May of this year. I created the most recent while writing this post.

Most of those -- all but the last -- use MediaWiki, which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, because Wikipedia is hosted on MediaWiki, and Wikipedia is really popular, lots and lots of people (including me!) know how to use MediaWiki. On the other hand, because MediaWiki is optimized toward encyclopedia making, and the interface subtley pushes users in the direction of encyclopedia making, and Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and Wikipedia is really popular, MediaWiki encourages the temptation to think that every wiki must be an encyclopedia. Or at least encyclopedic.

I've heard MarkDilley call Wikipedia "the 800 pound Gorilla of the wiki world." It's something big, all right, but I like to think of Wikipedia in terms of the shadow it casts.

The thing that's too easy to miss about the project that is Wikipedia is the saliance of the fact that the project is itself made possible by a distributed community of users who have chosen to collaboratively produce the work. The engine of Wikipedia is that collaborative community, not the content of the work or even the kind of thing that the work is. In point of fact, a similarly constituted community could act collectively toward a wide variety of ends.

Which, you know, aside from being cool in a Philosophy of Action kind of way is also cool because there's a really nice synergy between the collectivist grassroots ethos of, among other things, progressive politics and the open architecture of wiki based projects.

Here's a f'rinstance. Suppose that you were, say, The Detroit Federation of Teachers, and say that you were on strike. Walking out is enough to shut the schools down, but you have to worry about the possibility that the decisionmakers you're negotiating your contract with will dislike a closed school less than you dislike not getting a paycheck. Realizing that those decionmakers don't have a financial interest in the success of the school, you would have to face the sobering fact that all of the economic penalties rest on your side's ledger.

But you might also realize that those same decionmakers have economic interest in other things, and that you could hit those interests by casting your net widely. For example, it might happen that one of the members of the school board is heavily invested in a local Donut franchise. If you could figure out how to organize a pickets at those franchises, you might be able to force the school board to agree to your terms. The only problem is that your leadership has its hands full managing pickets at each school.

What to do? Well, if there were a wiki then anybody could take it upon themselves to organize a campaign against those stores. For example, somebody might scout out their delivery schedule and post it for the use of roving picket squads. Somebody else might compile a list of catering clients. Somebody else might put together a card drive among the chain's employees. None of this would have to be controlled or organized by the leadership -- the donut campaign could be a grassroots project of the membership, undertaken in between picket shifts at the job site.

Here's the most beautiful thing. Even if relatively few people participate in the campaign -- even if all that happens on the ground is an occasional picket -- an online strategy guide for screwing with a school board member's business is going to freak that board member out. Really and for true.

It won't happen, of course, not in Detroit. And not just because the leadership of the DFT (or really, the leadership of most any union) is unlikely to trust the members enough to set them loose like that. All I'm saying is that this is the sort of thing you could do with a wiki and, if this sort of thing started happening a lot then, well, that'd be at least as cool as Wikipedia.

Don't tell Scalia

I'd bet money that this is already all over the blogosphere, but I'm posting it because I just can't believe that Katherine Harris had the balls to say it:
Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers." |CNN|

Maybe she'll have a crisis of faith after God fails to annoint elect her Senator this November.

What the heck is "orange-red?"

Apparently it's my "power color" based on my birthday:

Your Birthdate: June 10

Independent and dominant, you tend to be the alpha dog in most situations.
You're very confident, and hardly anything ever shakes you.
Mundane tasks tend to drain you - you prefer to be making great plans.
You are quite original. When people don't "get" you, it bothers you a lot.

Your strength: Your ability to gain respect

Your weakness: Caring too much what others think

Your power color: Orange-red

Your power symbol: Letter X

Your power month: October

Now I have to buy some orange-red socks.



[from Latin 'amator', lover]

Of, relating to, or expressive of love, especially sexual love.


Planet schmanet

One thing that puzzles me about this whole pluto[1] demotion business goes back to grade school. Mrs. Fink taught us that astronomers were only able to find pluto[2] because pluto's gravitational pull disturbed Neptune's orbit. What with math and all, the astronomers were able to figure out where to look and presto there was pluto. But if pluto isn't a planet after all, but merely a Kuiper Belt Object, and there are lots of other KBOs, why is pluto the only one that astronomers found this way in the olden days?

Here's something else. Word on the street is that pluto's demotion was due to its failure to meet one of the three main criteria for a planet:
The prestigious international group in the Czech Republic today spelled out the basic tests a celestial body needs to pass before it can be deemed a planet: "A celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a . . . nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

It's the last part of the definition that doomed Pluto. Its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

To which I say:
  1. pluto's orbit overlaps that of neptune if and only if neptune's orbit overlaps plutos.
  2. If neptune's orbit overlaps pluto's then neptune has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
  3. If neptune has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, then neptune is not a planet.
  4. pluto's orbit overlaps that of neptune.
  5. Therefore, neptune is not a planet.


Logic and history aside, there's some taxomaniacal hay to be made here. One consequence of our assignation of the term 'planet' to each of the major objects in the solar system is that it has encouraged us to think, wrongly, that there is some unitary class of things, planets, to which all of those objects belong. As the logical demonstration above shows, any definition we try to give of that class is going to be somewhat arbitrary. So why not abandon the effort entirely and move to a more fine grained classificatory scheme that's better attuned to the diversity of objects that the solar system actually contains?

1 Usage note: as a non-planet, 'pluto' is no longer capitalized in polite society.

2 Of course, she called it 'Pluto'.


Our (soon to be) robot overlords


['mon(o)-', alone, single, or one + Greek 'opsonia', purchase of food]

A market situation in which the product or service offered by several firms is sought by only one buyer.

Bumper sticker for old fogeys

Mac versus PC, revisited

On the whole I prefer macs, and that mostly because the user experience is so very much better.1 That said, the task bar beats the everloving shit out of the dock, and it's just too bad that Apple's committment to innovation gets in the way of stealing good ideas.2

1 Just for the record, I logged on to this PC less than ten minutes ago and so far I've had to face four useless notification baloons.

2 And, yes, I know that you can install third party apps that mimic the task bar.


The restoration of dignity just won't stop

He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that. |Source|

What's wrong with inequality?

Will Wilkinson is confused. He can't quite see why liberals get so upset about inequality in cases where everyone has enough to live a reasonably comfortable life.

Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein have both taken a whack at the problem today, but neither quite engages the question Wilkinson raised. Each of them takes the position, more or less, that inequality is a problem because it gets in the way of everyone living a reasonably comfortable life. A useful point to remember, to be sure, but a violation of Wilkinson's assumption that everyone has enough.

For my part, I think that there's something conceptually confused about the very idea of everyone having enough under conditions of extreme inequality. This is because social status is among the most fundamental of human goods, and social status is pursued (at least partly) through economic activity. Moreover, a peculiar thing about social status (as compared to, say, land) is that your baseline need for social status isn't met unless you have about as much as everyone else. Under conditions of severe inequality, then, some people will be deprived of minimal levels of a fundamental human good.

But while I think that's about right, social status is a very fuzzy concept -- it's not even clear, for example, whether we're talking about a fundamental psychological good or a fundamental moral good -- so I doubt that the argument above will convince skeptics of egalitarianism.

So leave social status aside and consider this: under conditions of extreme economic inequality, that economic inequality will infect the functioning of democratic institutions. If you think, as I do, that unequal distribution of political power is itself a bad thing, then this should be enough for you to think that extreme economic inequality is bad. If, on the other hand, you take a utilitarian view of democratic governance, then there's still a serious worry. There's every reason to suspect that a government dominated by the wealthy will pursue policies which favor the interests of the wealthy over the interests of all others. And there's good reason to suspect, further, that over time such policies will result in real harms to the disenfranchised classes.

et tu, Benjamin?

Shoes with a toga? How gauche!


Now I am a man

Because today I added my first listing to WikiIndex, a listing for the baseball wiki hosted by my heroes at baseball-reference.com.

Check it out: Bullpen Wiki

My only complaint about Bullpen Wiki is that they've made a deliberate decision to copy WikiPedia's pose of neutrality. The result is that you get things like this entry on closers, which is accurate, dry, moderately informative, and boring. Because the posting rules exclude advocacy the article can't address, at least not in any direct way, what seem to me to be interesting questions about the evaluation of closers relative to pitchers playing other roles. The best the article could do would be to address the controversy surrounding the evaluation of closers. We all know from the political realm, though, just how unhelpful that sort of journalism tends to be.

Quote of the day

"The British soldiers and Marines did not arrive strapped to tables with electrodes attached to their genitals, so the Argentines didn’t know how to handle them."



Varieties of something or other

Via ThisDarkQualm I see that David Foster Wallace has an written an essay about watching Roger Federer play tennis. In typical DFW style the essay is quite long, so I haven't yet finished it, but this passage caught my eye:
A top athlete’s beauty is next to impossible to describe directly. Or to evoke. Federer’s forehand is a great liquid whip, his backhand a one-hander that he can drive flat, load with topspin, or slice — the slice with such snap that the ball turns shapes in the air and skids on the grass to maybe ankle height. His serve has world-class pace and a degree of placement and variety no one else comes close to; the service motion is lithe and uneccentric, distinctive (on TV) only in a certain eel-like all-body snap at the moment of impact. His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game — as a child, he was also a soccer prodigy. All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play. Of witnessing, firsthand, the beauty and genius of his game. You more have to come at the aesthetic stuff obliquely, to talk around it, or — as Aquinas did with his own ineffable subject — to try to define it in terms of what it is not.
|David Foster Wallace: Roger Federer as Religious Experience|

As it happens, I spent some time thinking about beauty while walking to work this morning. The particular problem that had me going had to do with how one could account for the value of beautiful things. This has puzzled me for awhile because, on the one hand, the old idea that value can be innate in the thing itself seems metaphysically irresponsible, while on the other the newer idea that value reduces to a prescription asserted by an observer seems unequipped to explain how we could hold some valuings to be wrong.

Generally I try to resolve these sorts of dilemmas by resorting to my own idiosyncratic bastardization of American Pragmatism. So, roughly, what I want to say is that the deep truths about value (such as they are) are found in the reasons we give one another for valuing the things that we do. The thing that tends to make people (and me!) queasy about that sort of account is that it doesn't explain, in any general way, what it is about the reasons we share which makes some reasons stronger than others. In the case of beauty, moreover, there's clearly something extremely significant about the immediate experience of a thing as beautiful, something which precedes any reasons we might later articulate and which, if we're lucky, feels like a connection to the sublime. On the other hand, DFW has pretty well convinced me that Roger Federer plays beautiful tennis and that I ought to value the experience of watching Roger Federer play tennis, and that's not nothing.


[Middle English 'tollen', to ring an alarm, perhaps from 'tollen', to entice, pull, variant of 'tillen', from Old English '-tyllan']

v. tr.
To sound (a large bell) slowly at regular intervals.
2. To announce or summon by tolling.

v. intr.
To sound in slowly repeated single tones.

The act of tolling.
2. The sound of a bell being struck.

[Middle English, from Old English, variant of 'toln', from Medieval Latin 'tolonium', from Latin 'teloneum', tollbooth, from Greek 'teloneion', from 'telones', tax collector, from 'telos', tax]

A fixed charge or tax for a privilege, especially for passage across a bridge or along a road.
2. A charge for a service, such as a long-distance telephone call.
3. An amount or extent of loss or destruction, as of life, health, or property.

tr. v.
To exact as a toll.
2. To charge a fee for using (a structure, such as a bridge).

[Anglo-French 'tollir', to take away, make null, bar, ultimately from Latin 'tollere', to lift up, take away]

tr. v.
To take away (as a right).
2. To suspend or remove the effect of.


While doing some fact checking1 over at the Wikipedia, I discovered that Tom Tomorrow2 and Bill James were both born in Kansas. James, it says there, was the last man in Kansas to be drafted for Vietnam (though he actually served in Korea).

Most surprisingly, I discovered that Jason Sudeikis, a Shawnee Mission West High School alum just like me, is now on the cast of Saturday Night Live. Wow!

I'm pretty sure that I never met the guy, but I did know his mother -- she and my father worked for the same company while I was in high school. I recall having lunch on no less than two occassions. Wow!

1 Was Earl Woods the first non-white athlete to play for K-State? Yes, as a baseball player in 1951.

2 Incedentally, I seem to recall from his blog that Tom Tomorrow claims Iowa rather than Kansas as his home state.


When did this happen?

I seem to remember C-Span's Washington Journal having three call-in lines, one for Democrats, another for Republicans, and a third for independents. This morning, though, there are three available lines labelled, 'Liberal', 'Conservative', and 'Moderate'.

Not a perfect way to carve up the ideological field, but better.

This morning's guest, by the way, is David Keating from the Club for Growth. Which organization deserves to win some kind of prize for branding. Smart of them not to go with the more literal He-Man Profit Makers Club moniker.

Addendum: Whoa! As soon as Club for Growth guy finished talking, the phone labels switched back to 'Republicans', 'Democrats' and 'Independents'. I think there's a branding story to tell there too.


About par

The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money. |NY Times|

emphasis mine


Friday meme, not a regular feature

Idea shamelessly stolen from here.

List your last five purchases. Mine:
  1. Coffee. Medium americano from Ambrosia. $3, including tip. Thursday, 2:15pm.
  2. Lunch. Falafel and hummus plate from Jerusalem Garden. $7, inclusive. Thursday, 1:00pm.
  3. Coffee. Medium americano from Ambrosia. $3, including tip. Thursday, 10am.
  4. Groceries from Kroger. Raisins, buns, hamburger, orange juice, lunchmeat. $16. Wednesday, 7pm.
  5. CDs from Amazon. The Dresden Dolls, "The Dresden Dolls"; The Dresden Dolls, "Yes, Virginia..."; and, DJ Shadow, "Funky Skunk". $40. Wednesday, 4:00pm.

For the record, on Wednesday morning I bought a pound of coffee beans at Kroger. No patterns that I can see.

The main point of this post is comment whoring, but just for fun I'll tag Dru, since we haven't corresponded in awhile.

That was then, this is now

My laptop experienced something approaching a total existence failure at about 11:15 pm. It's taken me until now to work through enough of the shock to get my old iMac moved out of the spare room and running. I may not have my data, and I may not be mobile, but at least I have internet. |link|

I wrote that on September 15, 2005. Today, a mere 11 months later, I've got my laptop working. Huzzah!

In other news, nobody ever invites me to play in their fantasy football league so I started one of my own. Email me or comment if you want an invite.


One question

Thanks to the New York Times, here's what I know about the new definition of 'planet' proposed by the International Astronomical Union's Planet Definition Committee:
  • The definition will, "expand at a stroke the family of planets from 9 to 12 and leave textbooks and charts in thousands of classrooms out of date."
  • Michael E. Brown thinks that the definition is "...a mess."
  • The definition, "would apply both inside and outside the solar system."
  • The definition will be formally anounced today, was written by the Planet Definition Committee, and will be voted on this August 25.
  • The definition comprises "four paragraphs and four footnotes" and has been said to "read as if it had been written by lawyers, not scientists."
  • Some critics have suggested that 'roundness...is not a very interesting attribute to use in classifying astronomical bodies.'
  • Supporters of the definition say that it is, "a nice solution that works both inside and outside the solar system."
  • "The proposed definition would come as a relief to schoolchildren and others who have rallied to the cause of Pluto."
  • There is, "a feature of the new definition that would bestow planetary status on Charon, a moon of Pluto." This is, somehow, related to the facts that "Charon is big enough for gravity to crush all other forces and make it round" and that "the center of gravity for Pluto and Charon is between them, not inside either one."
  • Defenders of the proposed definition say that it is, "logical and not arbitrary."

So here's my question. What's the definition?

Her friends called her 'slim'

Sudden access to cable TV has rekindled my childhood crush on Miss Jane Hathaway. In addition to modifying my dress to include a plaid shirt and a rope belt, I navigated over to imdb to check out Nancy Kulp's bio this morning. Here's something neat:
In 1984, she ran as a Democrat for Pennsylvania's Ninth Congressional District, but lost to Republican incumbent Bud Shuster. She blamed "Beverly Hillbillies" co-star Buddy Ebsen for her defeat, because Ebsen taped a radio ad in support of Shuster, and deemed her "too liberal." She did not speak to Ebsen for several years afterwards, but eventually made peace with him. |source|

I'm wondering if there is a Jane Hathaway/Ellie Mae divide among fans of the show, and whether it tracks the well documented Ginger/Mary Ann division. I'd also like to know Nancy Kulp's campaign platform.


like the do-dah man

According to Bradsher, internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills.
|Source: Big and Bad -- Malcolm Gladwell|


Let me tell you, it was a pleasure to fly last Thursday. As a conscientious traveller well aware of the day's news, I arrived at the airport nearly two hours early for my 8:25 flight. My toothpaste, I hasten to mention, was left prudently at home.

The picture is of the airport bar at 9:04pm. My flight finally left a little bit after 11pm. Luckily, I was completely sober.

Addendum: I would have posted this on Thursday night if Concourse Communications provided wireless service that actually worked.

Added Addendum: Maybe later I'll post a picture of Ben Franklin in a toga.


Wha wha whaaaaat?

Donald Rumsfeld did not know that Paul Bremer reported directly to Donald Rumsfeld?!?

Philosophizing, Hyping, Prevaricating about and Defending the (supposedly) Inevitable War

Safety Neal's review of Fog of War[1] reminds me that there's a need to talk some serious shit about Bernard-Henry Levi's thoroughly dishonest essay in last weekend's New York Times Magazine. But I'm really busy, so here's the nut:

The problem, she explains, is not just the people killed: Israel is used to that. It’s not even the fact that here the enemy is aiming not at military objectives but deliberately at civilian targets — that, too, is no surprise. No, the problem, the real one, is that these incoming rockets make us see what will happen on the day — not necessarily far off — when the rockets are ones with new capabilities: first, they will become more accurate and be able to threaten, for example, the petrochemical facilities you see there, on the harbor, down below; second, they may come equipped with chemical weapons that can create a desolation compared with which Chernobyl and Sept. 11 together will seem like a mild prelude. For that, in fact, is the situation. As seen from Haifa, this is what is at stake in the operation in southern Lebanon. Israel did not go to war because its borders had been violated. It did not send its planes over southern Lebanon for the pleasure of punishing a country that permitted Hezbollah to construct its state-within-a-state. It reacted with such vigor because the Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map and his drive for a nuclear weapon came simultaneously with the provocations of Hamas and Hezbollah. The conjunction, for the first time, of a clearly annihilating will with the weapons to go with it created a new situation. We should listen to the Israelis when they tell us they had no other choice anymore. |Levi|

For those of you keeping track at home, Levi's rationale rests on exactly the same principle that was used to justify America's misadventure in Iraq. Israel will discover, as the United States is beginning to, that the fundamental problem with the so-called Doctrine of Prevention, is that rushing headlong into war is an astoundingly bad strategy when your goal is to avoid the horrors of war.

1 Don't skip the DVD only features. The additional footage is like a whole new movie of interviews.

This is your mouse's brain on drugs

Seriously, this is educational and totally rad:

Mouse Party!


Fighting the good fight, and occasionally winning!

Thoughts from Kansas:
First, a big shout out to John Scopes the day before his birthday. I'm told that scientists have detected a drop in seismic activity near his grave now that he's stopped spinning.

The Board can focus on bigger issues. They can dig into ways to address the special challenges of rural districts, and to find solutions to the problems faced by the students in poorer urban districts. Real challenges, not fake controversy. Helping kids, not fighting culture wars.

That's what tonight was about, and the kids won. This wasn't Dover rejecting a few municipal officials. It's a whole state turning against the divisiveness of the IDolators. Congratulations, Kansas!

This isn't over, but let's just bask in this for a day or two.


"No Amnety"

Heh. That's from Pam at Pandagon. There's another good one over there, too.


Non-blogging is temporarily interrupted to bring you these instructions. They explain how to turn off Notification Balloons in Windows XP. Notification Balloons, for those of you who are blissfully unaware, are popups that Windows produces in the bottom right hand corner of the screen telling you things like "Battery Low" or "Updates are Available for this Computer" or, my favorite, "Wireless Network Connected" which reliably pops up every 20 minutes or so.

Here's how to turn them off in five simple steps:
To Disable The Notification Area Balloon Tips

Warning If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then press ENTER.
2. Navigate to the following subkey:
3. Right-click the right pane, create a new DWORD value, and then name it EnableBalloonTips.
4. Double-click this new entry, and then give it a hexadecimal value of 0.
5. Quit Registry Editor. Log off Windows, and then log back on.
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