Saturday, August 20, 2005

Email: Is business a man's world? [KF]

The trouble with budgets is they only work well with known income. Sales jobs mean fluctuations in income; but at least if you know where you want to go, you can track those fluctuations over the long term. (Actually, I'd like to design a system that tracks and graphs three daily variables -- billable hours worked, invoiced, and received -- against daily cumulative totals.) You might keep two parallel budgets (linked cells can let you repurpose the first budget's figures) to plan on the essentials, but migrate up to the desired, once income allows it.

Working all you can is important when you're trying to build a business or meet an income goal. When you're self-employed and all income is up to you, taking time off is not really an option. People who get a paycheck have lots of safety nets built in; many even slough off and they are paid no matter what. A self-employed person's income depends completely on being productive and putting in hours -- and it has to cover for the "downtime" (sick time, slow times, etc.) that salaried employees do not have to worry about, much less anticipate.

"Fifth appendage." That's funny. I suppose I might come up with "dongle" or "danglebot." (A dongle is a skate-key-like protrusion; a bot is programmed to do one thing, and that automatically.)

Email: The Catholic Church on annulment [JE]

Sorry, but this is all really depressing.

OK, so the Church doesn't "excommunicate" you if you remarry without an annulment; you are still Catholic and "welcome" (even technically obligated) to show up for [weekly] Mass; but you can't receive any sacraments or participate truly in Catholic life. However, you shouldn't feel left out, disowned, dismissed or otherwise excluded.

Again: The rest of Christianity's approach is not good enough for Catholics, and you're a second-class citizen with no sacramental "rights" if you agree.

[P.S. To avoid "confusion" over the term annulment, the Catholic Church hierarchy is now using the term "statement of nullity."]

Friday, August 19, 2005

Musings: That's "go-to," not "goatee"

Hey, young turks, a word of advice: the way to career advancement is to be the "go-to guy" not the "goatee guy"!

Maybe your parents told you as a tyke to "go tee-tee," and somehow "go-tee" got stuck in your head, but trust me: Go-to guy, not goatee guy.

Quotes: "the treasures of darkness" (Weatherhead)

"I can only write down this simple testimony. Like all men, I prefer the sunny uplands of experience when health, happiness and success abound; but I have learned more about God, life and myself in the darkness of fear and failure than I have ever learned in sunshine. There are such things as the treasures of darkness. The darkness, thank God, passes, but what one learns in the darkness he possesses forever." -- Leslie Weatherhead [a Methodist minister who served as an air raid warden in London during World War II, cited by Bruce Van Blair, A Year to Remember (Seattle: Glen Abbey Books, 1988), p. 213.]

Quotes: "Since commercialism cannot sell brains..." (Korzybski)

"Since commercialism cannot sell brains, but can sell trousers or a dress, it establishes semantic standards whereby a man is evaluated by his clothes and hats." -- Alfred Korzybski

Quotes: "A computer lets you make more mistakes faster..." (Ratcliffe)

"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history -- with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila." -- Mitch Ratcliffe, Technology Review, April 1992

Weblogs: Conversion error

(from I can't believe it's not vodka!:)

So it got me thinking about religion (as almost everything does). I had just seen an episode of South Park where all the kids converted to Catholicism, and I wondered what my first confession would sound like...

Me:  Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been 3 weeks since my last haircut...

Father: Go on, my son.

Me:  I took the Lord's name in vain something like 17 times yesterday, but you have to understand I work around computers.  If I knew the guy that invented computers I would blame him, but it is always easier for me in the heat of the moment to trace back faults in creation to the source, you know what I mean?

Father: No I don't... 

Me:  Well, you see... I don't have time when I want to yell to think about who is immediately at fault, I am in such a hurry to vent, so I figure whoever it is that is to blame, God created that mess of a human so I can just, in the name of efficiency, say "f*cking God!" or something like that...

Father:  I see.  Do you have anything else to confess.

Me:  Oh yeah, absolutely.  I had impure thoughts about a few women in the grocery the other day, more than 3 really, and then about the cashier too.

Father: Go on.

Me:  I also broke a commandment, I coveted thy neighbors wife.

Father:  You coveted your neighbor's wife?

Me: No Father, YOUR neighbor's wife, "thy" means your doesn't it?  Sometimes I wonder if you guys really listen.

Father:  I am sorry, you coveted my neighbor's wife..

Me:  Yeah, and on the one hand, if she is not MY neighbor's wife, does it really count? I mean the commandment says "thy" and she is not technically MY neighbor's wife, so I guess she is fair game, but maybe it means YOU can't covet her. I don't see how you couldn't covet her, she is totally covetable.  You know the one I am talking about, that young couple on the corner, what is her name?

Father: (Clearing throat) I believe you are referring to Mrs. Martin...

Me: You know who I am referring to..  I wanted to ask you, if I were her neighbor, like you are, how are you supposed to not covet that?  It seems to come so naturally, you know?  Are you supposed to not even look at her?  What if I was her paperboy and I had to see her everyday, would I go to hell?

I imagine by this time he would do something to get me out of there.  I don't think they can say "Our time is up" like a therapist or anything, maybe he would just throw holy water at me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Weblogs: Texas Sayings

(via Drifting About)

I like phrases like "Whee dowgies!" and "Boy howdy!" and "fixin' to" and "fussin' at."

It would be fun to make up Texan-style phrases too...

Gibberish: Running away with the words

One discipline for writing every day is to just sit down and do it. One discipline for getting started is to just type gibberish for five minutes. Five minutes. After you get the juices flowing, it gets easier to keep writing.

Gibberish is a category that will reproduce snippets of running-off-at-the-mouth on the keyboard. They'll never mean anything, just show the quicksilver vagaries of the creative (if demented) mind.

The first Gibberish post, which follows, was probably written as a warm-up on a PDP/11 in 1983. On second thought: Due to the hole punches and squiggle-O all-caps characters, this one has to go back to first-quarter 1979, typed in draft mode on a Honeywell non-impact page printer (which fed, printed and cut paper from a 50-pound drum roll) in the Pillsbury computer department.
And so, in summary, we have the moral of our story: That, in the end, justice shall prevail, that manifest destiny will be manifest, that the good shall not die young, and little Tommy Tucker will indeed get his 15-cent allowance. For truth is strong, and love may become meager, but in the end, Pillsbury is best. Strive to be happy. Avoid the dull and ignorant, for they are turkeys. And seek the pleasures of thy heart, but remember that you are going to Sheol, where there is no breath nor sight nor sound but only shadows, lest you turn from Yahweh your God in the land of the living. Be at peace; have a nice day; and remember: The words of the prophets are written on the tenement walls.


Ya gotta love this parody of the corporate inspirational industry!

Technology: From WiFi to WiMAX

(Fascinating, esp. since the first Ricochet wireless networks were installed in NYC, Seattle and DC around 1996. I predict WiMAX will start catching on, like WiFi is now, in late 2008.)

The Internet's next big step
How close is wireless broadband for the average customer?

By Michael Ludden
(CNN) -- The Internet is about to take its next big leap. Imagine being instantly connected anytime you opened the lid of your laptop, anywhere.

WiMAX, the high-powered technology that promises to bring true mobility to the Web, is just around the corner. [...] Intel Corp., which makes the microprocessors that power most personal computers, plans to incorporate WiMAX into laptop chips in 2006.

Email: Seeking a change [AS]

Something will come through, somehow. It took a long time for me this last go-round, but something has to happen [or] to change at some point -- usually when we most want it to!

Email: Maybe baby [AS]

A baby is an adjustment for [a] couple, but if they want to be good parents, they will learn and make the adjustment (and all that that implies).

Email: High gas prices [AS]

I don't like them! I think Bush is padding his oil friends' pockets and ripping out our pockets' lining!

Email: Au revoir [JB]

OK I'll give you space. I understand being overloaded.

I'm an optimistic kind of guy, but often moms are too practical to be less concerned than they are.

I pray that your life turns out as you wish it to be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Internet: You know you're in a dachshund house when...

1 Every purse and coat pocket is rifled when you walk through the door.
2 The bed has sausage shaped lumps under the covers.
3 The doggie door is only 8" high.
4 Your face gets licked by a dog standing on the back of the couch.
5 You come into the house after being away only minutes and you are greeted like you've been gone for 10 years.
6 Someone hands you a tennis ball as soon as you walk in the door.
7 The owners introduce their Dachshund as their oldest son/daughter.
8 Footstools are placed strategically around the furniture and bed.
9 The house is decorated with Dachshund items.
10 The owner is decorated with Dachshund items.
11 Gates are placed in each doorway.
12 After the doorbell rings, you can't hear a thing for 10 minutes.
13 The alarm clock is set for HIS wake up time.
14 Dachshund "nose art" is proudly displayed on each window.
15 There are at least 45 balls laying around the house.
16 All socks, underwear, and shoes have holes in them.
17 The sign outside the house says, "Dachshund Lovers Parking Only."
18 You have to look before you take a step.
19 All squeak toys no longer have squeaking ability.
20 The doors to many rooms must remain closed.
21 The owner's bed never remains made.
22 Rugs and furniture are all dark colors.
23 The cat litter box magically cleans itself.
24 You will find dogs instead of clothes in the laundry basket.
25 When you arrive, you find the living room covered with chewed up tampons, toilet paper rolls, Kleenex, etc.
26 All snow is shoveled from the yard to protect the "Ta-Ta's" of male Dachshunds.
27 You notice small fox holes in the yard.
28 You are kindly told not to eat the green beans and carrots because they are for the dogs.
29 Toy boxes are bone shaped.
30 All waste baskets and trash cans are elevated at least 3 ft. from the ground.
31 There is a Bissell Green Machine always within reach.
32 A cupboard is full of tiny clothes that were purchased before the owner realized that Dachshunds would rather remain nudists.
33 Company doesn't come around much anymore.
34 The owner talks a lot about getting a super king-sized bed.
35 The living room looks like it's covered with snow due to the batting which came out of de-stuffed toys.
36 Blankets cover each piece of furniture for better burrowing purposes.
37 The owner has no food yet his Dachshund has plenty of premium dog food.
38 The mailman is warned, "Watch out or he'll bite a hole in your sock."
39 The mailman passes a brightly colored card to other mailmen saying, "A dangerous animal lives inside. Do not use mail slot."
40 Bricks are placed inside trash cans so they don't get tipped over.
41 The Dachshund gets kisses before the owner's significant other.
42 The owner runs around looking for a "sitter" if they're going to be gone for more than a few hours.
43 It is too dangerous to walk around the house without shoes because of partly chewed up nyla-bones.
44 Little blue pee pads are placed by the back door.
45 You notice that The Dachshunds receive more Christmas presents than human kids.
46 All the owner's computer "favorites" are Dachshund related.
47 The grass is mowed very very very short.
48 There is always plenty of toilet paper to pick up poops.
49 The owner's bed is covered with no less than 4 gutted toys, 3 balls, and 2 nyla-bones.
50 You are immediately told not to sit in the dog's chair. --Unknown Author

Email: Après deluge [JB]

Listen, if you are avoiding me after saying we can stay in touch, then I swear I have not only seriously misjudged you, but the representation from your side may have been a little off too. On the other hand, if you are continuing to unilaterally rewrite our history together, then just stay silent as I would prefer the same. I have nothing but fond feelings for you and would like them to stay that way. Your future participation in that would be appreciated, but your kind participation only need apply. Here's hoping all is well with you.

Email: Webring Support

You morons won't let me sign in by any email or web address I have ever had or would have registered by. How am I supposed to log in and get mail from you when my help request was for HOW TO LOG ON?

Email: Taking the right path [JE]

Oh I've never been concerned about the difficulty of the journey; I think I've taken pretty much the most difficult path to date, and with flying colors. I am concerned that I take the right path -- which isn't necessarily the one that someone says is the best. There are a range of progressively good to better paths [not just one perfect path that is the best for everyone].

Neologisms: aspirational

Inspirational, or pertaining to a person of such aspirations as to be inspirational; breath-taking (in the good sense of bated breath, not the bad sense of gasping for breath).

Proverbs: Life only happens in real-time

Email: A suggestion [SD]

I find myself sometimes feeling the discussion via email is getting tedious. (I hope you don't mind my being frank and direct; [you know] that is who I am. I move ahead fast, as a rule.)

I said before that I'm just not going to address the redundant or plainly obvious stuff, but I think the causes run deeper than that remedy will go.

I think we both feel a need to sincerely and somewhat exhaustively express ourselves by addressing every point in kind that another makes via email.

I've said I'm going to lighten up and skip stuff, but perhaps it would help if this were a two-way street.

Even so, you are free to say whatever you wish to say. I would never wish to proscribe that in any way.

Another solution that might work is to rely less on email for communication (which some people, esp. in tandem, tend to use as a retreat away from more direct means of communication, such as phone calls or coffee klatsches). This would imply a reordering of time and priorities.

The extreme approach is to only interact with others by phone or in person, so that email does not pass from being a convenience to becoming a time-waster. (Life only happens in real-time.) I do suggest that if you are awake throughout the wee hours of the night, email is perhaps the least of your concerns.

No matter what, the best thing for you or me or anyone is to focus on what is important, and not to fritter away time or procrastinate when such can be avoided. This is how I live -- as if I am a "man on a mission" -- and so I share that perspective with you.

Email: Two sides to everything [SD]

All I ask is that you hear my words in plain English... "all other" means "not you"... I don't think a Logic 101 class is required for that one...

"Thinking out of the box" means taking a fresh view to problem-solving. (They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while each time expecting the outcome to be different.) For example, when leaving a facility or event, I never just follow the crowd; I always look at the traffic flow and choose the least-traveled path, or if one is not apparent, I take the most counter-intuitive one. It's all part of what I call, "Wake up and see what is really going on around you." Making assumptions and running on autopilot are mental economies at best -- we can't be "on point" all the time -- but sheer dronishness at worst.

God has the final answer on what is right and wrong, but he has given us a clue as to such things. How else do we know that murder is wrong, lying is worse than circumspect, cheating is vile, and harming another should never be allowed? This is what I mean by debating generalities: Without specific examples, the discussion just goes back and forth pointlessly. You no doubt wish to emphasize that only God can judge (at least ultimately); I am saying that humans (in part as God's delegates) make judgments every day. We are talking about the same thing, but the coin has two different sides; or the same event, just the before and after scenarios. I think we are in agreement. Enough said, please.

You have it exactly right. People hurt others because they are self-centered and insecure; unaware of and afraid of others.

I absolutely agree that any two persons should learn more about each other in order to understand each other better.

(For many paragraphs, I believe this exchange has blundered into that basement of repetitiveness and yada-yada-yada where I no longer care to go. This is like saying "Water is wet." "Yes, it sure is wet." "I wonder why water is so wet?" "Perhaps it's wet because it's made of water." I am going to move on now. Think of what a normal, well-adjusted person would think, and would know without the need to discuss it, and that is where I stand. This is really all too silly for me to spend any more time on.)

I think that most single people do get lonely, and I'm sure it happens mostly at night. It may be why you can't sleep at times and it may be the same for me; but mostly for me, I think it's because I have too many exciting things that I want to do, and too much energy to slow myself down for such inefficiencies as sleep. I remedy this by telling myself that sleep is normal and necessary, and then surrendering my body to its needs. Collaboration with God's plan works best instead of a restlessness about it, I suspect.

I never mentioned waiting for the "perfect time" (and then never accomplishing a given task). I just said that being in the middle of doing one thing means I can't be doing another that requires me to be in a different place. Again, specifics... Why are we debating what amounts to my priorities when I am the only one who knows what I am specifically talking about?

Email: Not pushy at all [SD]

No, I don't feel you are being pushy when you let something ride for some weeks before mentioning it. Nope: Pushy? Not you...

I am never "upset" with you expressing your thoughts. If anything, I get miffed when you (with repeated encouragement) still seem reluctant to express your normal, human, everyday, every-person-has-them-and-a-right-to-share-them thoughts and feelings. ;-}

Neologisms: dronishness

The state or practice of being dronelike.

Faith: God's Word Is ...

(I copied this from a friend's Bible into mine some 30 years ago, and I'm sure it was circulating for 50 years before then. Google shows about 13,400 instances of quotations of it on the Web. No one knows who wrote it, though I believe the attribution to D.L. Moody that I finally found below. One last thing before I leave you with this worthy poem: Instead of endlessly commemorating and unquestioningly perpetuating a traditional passage, no matter how worthwhile, I do wish that someone would invest the curiosity and effort into finding and attributing the name of the author to a written work. Not among fundamentalists, for whom giving God but never humans due credit is the rule, but it is the Christian thing to do.)

God's Word Is . . .: "

(Attributed to Dwight L. Moody)

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practise it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character.

Here Paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand Object, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a Paradise of glory and a river of pleasure.

It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Email: Basic human principles [SD]

I didn't say "all other women do this" to imply that you did too. I said "all other women." I'm just saying it's interesting that all other women do this. If I were a woman, I wouldn't do that either. However, it would be just as interesting that such had been "my" experience with every other woman. Anyway, "I'm just saying" (whatever that means).

I realize that people are basically creatures of habit. [However I am often] anything but a creature of habit; I rejoice in doing everything differently, every time, in endless variety. I trust my intellectual and creative judgment. Yes, there are ways I have allowed myself to be cowed by the status quo or "we don't do that here" (though sometimes I reverse that after I find it's a dead end). Maybe it's a futile exercise for consultants and motivational speakers to ever tell people to "think out of the box" -- but I prefer to think the other way. People are capable of a world of possibilities, if they choose to pursue their path.

[You ask,] Who is to say when something is not right? I'm not placing myself in God's sandals; I'm placing myself in the other's shoes. When something fails or falls short repeatedly in your life or anyone else's, then you are your own jury; you know what is not working for you. I'm just standing there seeing the same thing is all.

People hurt others because they have been hurt, and have failed to choose to "think outside of the box" and grow and treat others positively. This is not "everyone"; it is small-minded and small-hearted people, who I believe are in the minority. As I think you know, there are two wrong ways to interact with others: to make oneself superior or to make oneself inferior. The trick I just to learn how to make oneself strong without having to make someone else weak. These are basic humanitarian principles practiced the world over; all a person has to do is want to learn and grow in such a path.

You're right that trusting your own choices is often based on some level of proven confidence in the past. However, my point is that it can also be based on some level of trusting faith in the future (specifically, in God and who he made you or me to be). That is what gets me by every day, from then till now; it always has and it always will.

Websites: IMDB - The Closer

IMDb :: Boards :: The Closer:

Of course it's a 'put-on' or learned or idiosyncratic accent, since she's from New York. But listen to Meryl Streep or Rene Zellweger (who is admittedly from Katy, TX). A good actor can do a learned accent and a very good job of it. Kyra [Sedgwick] does. I love it. I've always thought it was more of a Texas suburban twang. She is Southern and intelligent -- the best combination.

Trivia: My musical personality is complex and fun

(via Hazelnut Reflections)

My results for The Do-Re-Mi's of Personality: What your music tastes say about your personality may be found if you click here.

Weblogs: Christopher Walken for president?

(via Thorninpaw, posted 45 minutes ago) Christopher Walken's publicist told Entertainment Tonight yesterday that the Walken's candidacy is a hoax.

(via WorldNetDaily: Christopher Walken for president? today) "The website was created Wednesday and is registered to a Richard Strickland in Destin, Florida. The big question, of course: Is 'Walken for President' for real? According to one source, the entire campaign, including registration of multiple Web domain names, is an elaborate hoax being perpetrated by members of the General Mayhem forums, one of the largest message boards on the Internet."

(via Survival Theory, posted five hours ago) Domain name registration records for the Walken website seem to support the hoax theory; they give a 213 area code phone number but no names.

Weblogs: Relativism and moral community

Meanwhile, Camassia has two good posts:

Relativism and moral community
Relativism, absolutism, and other isms

Weblogs: From the Dept. of Extreme Silliness

(via Camassia)

The 2005 Bulwer-Lytton contest winners have been announced! That's annual worst-opening-for-a-novel contest, you know. I really have to enter one of these days; I've had a perfectly hideous entry sitting around since 1983 -- and I know where to get more of the same.

Allow me to reproduce an entry by Kari A. Stiller of College Station:

"Patricia wrote out the phrase 'It was a dark and stormy night' exactly seventy-two times, which was the same number of times she stabbed her now quickly-rotting husband, and the same number of pages she ripped out of 'He's Just Not That Into You' by Greg Behrendt to scatter around the room -- not because she was obsessive compulsive, or had any sentimental attachment to the number seventy-two, but because she'd always wanted to give those quacks at CSI a hard time."

Euphemisms: fouck

What, indeed, is the fouck...?

Weblogs: Now we're talkin' Walken

(via What The Futch?)

You got it: He wants more than just "more cowbell." Christopher Walken has announced that he'll run for president in 2008. Here is his official website.

More cowbell than George Bush? I'm not sure if the nation can handle it.

I wish him well. Just so he does better than Arnold in California.

Good luck finding a link to the Saturday Night Live "I gotta have more cowbell" classic sketch. You might find one that still works here; they also include a remix version.
7:08 PM: The Walken candidacy appears to be a hoax; see my latest post on Twerpette.

Trivia: My morals are Absolutist yet Universalist

Your moral values are 52% absolute!
You believe in a distinct right and wrong, and a well-defined good and evil. You don't believe, however, that any one culture has got it quite right. Universalists tend to derive what they see as a universal code of ethics -- applicable to all humans -- from common existing moral codes, religious or secular. You are probably a person who is not very religious, and sees morals and ethics in a secular way. Your beliefs are not set so much on tradition as they are set on reason.
You scored higher than 99% on Absolutism.
Link: The How Strict Are Your Morals Test on OK Cupid

Email: Being elliptical [AS]

[To suggest "some kind of punctuation mark that is between a simple period (which implies complete neutrality) and an exclamation mark (which can imply hysteria),"] I'd try an ellipsis followed by one exclamation point:

And I, you...!

As opposed to, say, 2-3 exclamation points:

And I, you!!!

Email: Good Catholic [CW]

A married email friend called today to tell me about her annulment process. She's a good Catholic now who I'm sure is praying for me in that regard (but in a good way -- she's not uppity about it).

Weblogs: The Devil's Info Security Dictionary

My two contributions, lame as they may be:

A method to create a state of denial.

Beneficiary of exercise program based on principles of security.

Weblogs: Dog poop girl

(via Schneier on Security: Dog Poop Girl) "A woman and her dog are riding the Seoul subways. The dog poops in the floor. The woman refuses to clean it up, despite being told to by other pass[e]ngers. Someone takes a picture of her, posts it on the Internet, and she is publicly shamed -- and the story will live on the Internet forever. Then, the blogosphere debates the notion of the Internet as a social enforcement tool.

The Internet is changing our notions of personal privacy, and how the public enforces social norms. [...]

If this incident is any guide, then anyone acting outside the accepted norms of whatever segment of humanity surrounds him had better tread lightly. The question we need to answer is: is this the sort of society we want to live in? And if not, what technological or legal controls do we need to put in place to ensure that we don't?"

(I suggest that anyone interested in these questions read Earth by David Brin. Written 15 years ago, it presents a society that is plausibly extrapolated from our own where privacy does not exist.)

Press: Big mother is watching - Salon

(via Bruce Schneier via Salon) Schneier comments: "Salon has an interesting article about parents turning to technology to monitor their children, instead of to other people in their community. This is security based on fear, not reason. And I think people who act this way make their families less safe."

Books: Beyond Fear - Bruce Schneier

"And done correctly, this intuition-based sort of profiling can be an excellent security countermeasure. [Diana] Dean needed to have the training and the experience to profile accurately and properly, without stepping over the line and profiling illegally. The trick here is to make sure perceptions of risk match the actual risks. If those responsible for security profile based on superstition and wrong-headed intuition, or by blindly following a computerized profiling system, profiling won't work at all. And even worse, it actually can reduce security by blinding people to the real threats. Institutionalized profiling can ossify a mind, and a person's mind is the most important security countermeasure we have." -- from Beyond Fear by security expert Bruce Schneier

Press: "Free credit report" my eye [FTC]

Marketer of “Free Credit Reports” Settles FTC Charges, Inc., doing business as Experian Consumer Direct, has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceptively marketed “free credit reports” by not adequately disclosing that consumers automatically would be signed up for a credit report monitoring service and charged $79.95 if they didn’t cancel within 30 days, in violation of federal law. The settlement requires Consumerinfo to pay redress to deceived consumers, bars deceptive and misleading claims about “free” offers, requires disclosure of terms and conditions of any “free” offers, and requires the defendant to give up $950,000 in ill-gotten gains.

Consumers can get free reports by phone, mail, or at one authorized Web site, The FTC complaint alleges that Consumerinfo deceptively advertised and promoted its “free reports” at its “” Web site, without disclosing that it was not associated with the official annual free credit report program.

The FTC staff has released answers to frequently asked questions available at FTC Free Reports to help Consumerinfo customers determine if they’re eligible for a refund. It also has established an information hotline for consumers to call for information on refunds. The phone number is (202) 326-3457.

Language: I love diphthongs (and more)

I love Irish and Welsh a great deal, largely because of the diphthongs and triphthongs -- two-vowel and three-vowel combinations, pronounced as one syllable, that glide off the tongue of native speakers and their would-be imitators. Examples of these from various languages would be beorn (Old English for "bear"), praetor (Latin for "magistrate"), sinteoireacht (Irish for "stretching") and gheobhaidh (Irish for "will fain"). (That last one is pronounced yo-ey to modern ears, but I like to impose classical pronunciations for my own creative purposes -- as with leabhair breac, Irish for "white book.")

I've been listening since I arrived here in January 1998, though, and Texans put diphthongs and triphthongs to shame. They use hexthongs... octhongs... decthongs and even, I suspect, dodecthongs. Even saying a word like "door" becomes not just doh-war but the full range of vowel grace notes that lie in between: deaeouoaeor (or something like that). Sometime after I add mobile phone blogging, I will try to post some examples.

Love that twang!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Words: fain [MW]

Main Entry:    fain
Pronunciation:    fAn
Function:    adjective
Etymology:    Middle English fagen, fayn, from Old English fægen; akin to Old Norse fegiun happy, Old English fæger fair
1 archaic : HAPPY, PLEASED
3 a
: WILLING | he was very fain, for the young widow was "altogether fair and lovely ..." -- Amy Kelly | b : being obliged or constrained : COMPELLED | Great Britain was fain to devote its whole energy ... to the business of slaying and being slain -- G. M. Trevelyan |

Sayings: That and a quarter will get you one-fourth of a cup of coffee

Dialogues: Collectors are not rocket scientists

(While Dialogues are normally imaginary, this Dialogue was a real phone conversation today with a former creditor.)

Q. Hello, we're calling for -- [reading the account for the first time] Oh...! Your account is paid in full!
A. Yes, and it has been for several months now. Do you think you folks could stop calling me several times a day, including 8 am on Sunday mornings?
Q. [mumbles something or other]
A. It just seems like my records of your account with me are always more up-to-date and organized than your records of your account with me. I know what's up with it when you never do. I mean, it's your job to get these things right, not mine.
Q. Oh, uh -- it's your responsibility to request a letter from us! That's your job, to make sure you have that!
A. Oh, OK -- wow! Thanks for telling me that now! Um, can you send me one of those, please? Today?
Q. [mumbles something or other]
A. OK, great! Thanks! After all, you guys are the professionals! We trust you to get these things right! Bye!

Weblogs: Traffic in the big city

(via Is this what life is about?: Traffic in the big city)

"People put the fish on the back of their care to signify that they are a Christian and then cut off other drivers. I am a Christian (I don't wear a fish on my car though)."

(I don't put a fish on my car either because, well, if I were ever to get someone mad while driving, that would reflect poorly on the Lord. When I wear a cross inside my shirt, it is to remind me of him; I don't need to remind the world --I am no self- or duly appointed messenger--except by my example.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Trivia: Leonard Nimoy sings Bilbo Baggins

OK, the Internet makes this so easy, I'm going to inflict this link (above) upon you. It's Leonard Nimoy's "first foray into music videos" -- it has to be from around 1970. Warning: Do not watch while attempting to drink anything! William Shatner has some early work like this bouncing around too.

Neologisms: charel

A field or harvest. An intimate partner.

Musings: Laughter is the opposite of control

If a person is not laughing enough, it means he or she is trying to control more than surrender most aspects of life -- prestige, schedule, career or whatever. Laughter requires surrender. It requires letting others in and being vulnerable. Not a doormat! Vulnerability only works between equals. Vulnerability only works with trust, and between those worthy of trust.

Weblogs: A Wiccan reviews C.S. Lewis

(via tBLOG, a Wiccan reviews The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe)