Strong opinions, weakly held

Month: June 2005 (page 2 of 7)

Is the Oprah show a blog?

I’m inclined to think that the Oprah Winfrey show is basically just a big fancy video weblog. Not only does she get to take on whatever topics she likes, but she can use her soapbox to shame people who she feels mistreat her. The only difference between Oprah and the rest of us (other than a few hundred million dollars) is that she doesn’t have to rely on bunches of people to lend her their indignation to get the word out.

Phil Carter is headed to Iraq

Phil Carter, the former Army officer and recent law school grad who I have linked to many times for his insights on military matters, has been recalled to active duty as part of the Individual Ready Reserve and will be headed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne. I wish him well.

Billy Graham

Did you know that Billy Graham refused to preach to segregated audiences? Me neither.

It’s libertarians get to be right day

You can number me among the libertarians today with regard to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo v New London.

Update: Bona-fide lefty Max Sawicky has some interesting thoughts on the ruling as well.

Losing focus

So I was reading this old weblog and saw a link to this list of the first 25 blogs (scroll down). Here’s his comment about me:

rc3.org (March 4th 1999) with a simple UNIX/Win32 API link! These were in the days before “I blog for Kerry”.

Ouch! To be honest, I was known more in those days for being an anti-Microsoft ranter. Once the findings of fact were issued in the Microsoft antitrust case, I sort of lost all my anger (about that) and moved on. While that post is actually the first stored in my crappy homemade content management system, the real archives go back to December, 1998. It only took a few months for me to quit blogging Rebecca Blood-style. (And in truth, even before I migrated the CMS to my hosting account, I had it running on a local machine, producing static files that were uploaded by a script.)

I’m not a political strategist

As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not a political strategist (like you need anyone to tell you that), and I don’t really care to get into political strategy. That said, I watched Howard Dean on the Daily Show last night and was shocked to see that he didn’t bring up the most important piece of news in the past week or so — that the number of registered lobbyists in Washington DC has doubled since George W Bush became President. Everybody who’s been paying attention already knows that these guys have been running the country on a cash and carry basis, but not enough people were paying attention to boot these guys in 2004. Somehow Republicans convince people that they aren’t mired in the “inside the Beltway” thinking that hampers Democrats. Here’s indisputable proof to the contrary. Is anybody going to run with it?

Update: Worth noting is that Noah mentions in the piece that the number of lobbyists previously doubled between 1996 and 2000, pegging that time frame to Bill Clinton’s second term. But I think the more important date is the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994. Since 1996, the number of registered lobbyists has grown from 10,798 to 34,785. I think we can pin that directly on the Newt Gingrich/Tom DeLay takeover of Congress to a much greater extent than we can pin it on any occupant of the White House.

RealClimate smacks down the WSJ

RealClimate invited the Wall Street Journal on a trip behind the woodshed for its recent editorial asserting that the scientific case for human influence on global warming is growing weaker with time.

Naming names

I have to give Nat Torkington props for naming names when describing a bad experience with a heckler at Supernova 2005. Act like a big jerk in front of a bunch of people who blog? Don’t be surprised if you’re outed. I bet you Chris Tolles wishes he had his own weblog so he could mount a defense for his reported poor behavior.

Hiring an engineer for a start-up

Joe Kraus proposes three questions that can be used to deduce whether an engineer might be a good fit for a start-up. They are:

  1. Do you have a blog?
  2. What’s your home page? (He prefers people who have created their own home page.)
  3. Do you contribute to an open source project?

Currently, I only pass one of three tests. (It’s not hard to guess which one.) I think that the second is a bit off the mark. He assumes that people who create their own home page are tinkerers, and that’s a good attribute to have, I agree, but there are plenty of other ways to get there. Right now, my home page is about:blank. It’s been that way for awhile. On the other hand, my browser is souped up 9 ways to Sunday, so I suspect that I’d pass that test. Generally speaking, I don’t know too many people who have created a custom home page for their browser these days.

As far as open source contributions go, the bottom line is that he wants people for whom programming is an avocation rather than a vocation, a sentiment with which I agree completely. I think there are other ways to get there, but I don’t feel like this is a bad question. Good candidates who answer “no” will still be able to engage in an interesting discussion about they whys and wherefores of open source code and how they spend their time and what they get out of programming.

As far as the blogging question goes, I think that’s a question you should already know the answer to before you interview the person. If I’m going to interview someone, I’ll have already Googled them and even if they don’t blog necessarily, it would be nice to see that they participate on mailing lists, or discussion boards, or some other public forum and that their communication skills are solid (and that they aren’t raving lunatics).

Why software patents are dangerous

Richard Stallman has written a great argument against software patents for The Guardian, explaining why they are much more dangerous to innovation and creativity than copyright. In it, he posits the idea of a literary patent:


blockquote> If such a patent had existed in 1862 when Les Mis

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