Creative Destruction

August 30, 2006

Disagreeing With Dignan: The Politics Of Poverty And Welfare

Filed under: Economics — Ampersand @ 4:39 pm

Via Religious Left Online, I ran into Dignan’s post on “The Politics of Poverty.” Dignan criticizes both the right and left approaches to fighting poverty (although the solution he settles on is fairly right-wing), but in this post I’m gonig to concentrate on his critique of income transfer programs (also know as welfare).
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The Left and Islam

Filed under: International Politics,Political Correctness — Tuomas @ 4:30 pm

I have to break the hiatus briefly just to show this.

Have you ever wondered why does the progressive left seem to treat Islam with far more nuance than it gives to Christian fundamentalism? It is a constant source of exasperation to me, at least. Wonder no more. I see someone translated an excellent article by Jussi Halla-aho in English, complete with percentages of immigrants and votes to left (from Sweden, which has numerous immigrant ghettoes).
Baron Bodissey even has a graph:

For Kista the figure is slightly lower because of the relatively high percentage of immigrants from other EU countries, but otherwise the multicultural suburbs are significantly more interested than average in the state of the working class, women’s rights and environmental issues.

Right. I love the sarcasm. But read the whole thing (and don’t get scared by the site, I’m not asking anyone to agree with the politics of the folks at Gates Of Vienna, but Mr. Halla-aho’s facts are solid).

[edited to remove some generalized left-bashing]

Perchance To Dream

Filed under: Personal Ramblings — Off Colfax @ 4:04 am

You know, as much as I’d love to rant about the maybe-not-secret-anymore secret hold on the porkbusting legislation in the Senate, or about the futility of letting ideology get in the way of doing business, I saw one thing today that has really made me start doing some serious planning.

To be specific, I saw this picture. In The Agora’s Joshua Clayborn and a friend. Standing on Uhuru Peak.

The summit of Kilimanjaro.

Oh, to dream a wonderful dream.
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August 26, 2006

Prenatal Link to Male Homosexuality Found

Filed under: LGBT Issues,Science — Brutus @ 12:06 pm

A new study in Canada points to evidence that having older brothers increases a male’s chances of being homosexual. Researchers are continuing their attempts to isolate a cause for homosexuality, which includes answering the nature vs. nurture question. This particular study comes down of the nature side, the theory being that mothers have some sort of memory for male gestations or births that affect sons born afterwards.

This area of inquiry has never made sense to me. If there is a certain incidence of a particular trait in humans, say blond hair or freckles, even though there may be observable predictors, they usually fall well short of being mechanisms we could control. Genetic defects are a different category, and it makes sense to me to try to limit them. But homosexuality isn’t a defect, at least to those who accept it as a regularly occuring variation (behavioral, genetic, or otherwise).

August 25, 2006

National Security and the War on Terrorism

Filed under: Current Events,International Politics,War — Brutus @ 12:37 pm

Michael Scheurer answers some questions for Harper’s on U.S. involvement in the Middle East and its implications for national security and the ongoing war on terrorism. His credentials appear to be directly related to these topics, and his answers read as pragmatic rather than ideological. I’m especially impressed that he takes an historical view, noting that we are in our current situation as a result of actions and policy positions taken and not taken back in the first Arab oil embargo of 1973.

I frankly lack the expertise to provide much comment on his views on a point-by-point basis (nor am I particularly interested in scoring points against people the way recent commenters have indulged themselves). However, I do think Scheurer’s remarks present a terrific summary of the issues and suggest they be read and considered.

August 24, 2006

Link Farm & Open Thread #35

Filed under: Link Farms — Ampersand @ 5:42 pm

It’s the latest, the greatest, the snappest and the happest!

Anyhow, please leave your comments about anything, and your links about anything, including stuff of your own that you’d like us to see. Link-whoring is encouraged!

Here’s some stuff I’ve been reading:
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Two Critiques Of Ariel Levy’s Writing About Bois

Filed under: LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 3:06 pm

I was searching for bloggy critiques of Levy on bois, and was surprised by how little I found. The two best critiques I found were buried in comments; I’m reposting them here, in the hopes of making them easier for future searchers to find.

So what is a boi? For the purposes of this discussion, boi means “a female-born or female-bodied person…sometimes transsexual, transgendered, or intersexed, sometimes not…who generally does not identify wholly or at all as being feminine, female, a girl, or a woman, though some bois identify as one or more of these. Bois almost always identify as lesbians, dykes, or queers; many are also genderqueer or genderfucked. Bois can prefer a range of pronouns, including ‘he,’ ‘she,’ or gender-neutral pronouns; it’s usually best to ask to avoid offence.” (Quoted from wikipedia).
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Pluto Demoted; Charon, Xena, Ceres Also Relegated To Minor Status

Filed under: Current Events,Science — Robert @ 2:06 pm

Astronomers have finally corrected the error of seventy five years ago, and recognized that bodies such as Pluto are not planets. (This also dashes the hopes of wannabes like Ceres, Charon (Pluto’s largest moon), and Xena (the large icy body in the outer system).

Some conservatives are in arms, but I view this is a reaffirmation of the status quo of 1929, before Clyde Tombaugh’s diligent work in scanning the skies paid off. Think of it like this, conservatives; how often do we get to roll back 75-odd years of misdirected “progress”?

Time to celebrate!

August 23, 2006

Progressive-Colored Glasses

Filed under: Blogosphere,Politics and Elections — Off Colfax @ 6:49 pm

Today comes another forest-and-trees moment, courtesy of Atrios.

It’s just awful that the rabid lambs of the Republican party are purging their own

Of course, Atrios is making a not-so-thinly-veiled reference to his own efforts to remove Joe Lieberman from the U.S. Senate while comparing it to the losing primary campaign of incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski. And, by doing so, he shows us non-progressives that he does not truly understand the neo-Darwinian process of American politics and sees everything through the gravatic lens of his own viewpoint.

For this example, I will refer to two charts helpfully provided by SurveyUSA: the approval ratings of Murkowski and Lieberman. Go ahead and click the links while I pour another cup of coffee. While you’re at it, check the party affiliation and ideology graphs for them both.

(Want a cup? Sure, I can do that… Extra-large triple-caffeine. Do you take sugar? Cream? No? Well, I’ll just leave them on the table for you, just in case.)

Have you noticed anything different between the two graphs yet?

Lieberman’s graphs show a consistent general approval throughout the state. Conservatives and moderates view him higher than liberals (The liberal numbers have gone down since the Lamont campaign got such high-profile support from the likes of Jane Hamsher and Duncan Black, but not quite into all-negative, all-the-time territory. Two negatives, one positive, and two within the margin of error.), which is only to be expected for a moderate-to-conservative Democrat. Even after losing the primary race to Lamont, he still enjoys a pos/neg difference of +10 points. I’ll wait to pass further judgement on his chances of winning the general until the next survey comes out. That way, the factor of the “Connecticut For Lieberman” party will be able to fully seep into the numbers.

Murkowski’s graph is consistently in the “disapprove” range, and has been since 05.10.05 where the graph begins. Not even among his own party could he pull a consistently positive rating. He was seen as an incompetent, a blunderer, and a mistake almost from the start due to his appointment of his own daughter to replace him in the U.S. Senate. And then it went downhill from there. And any incumbent that cannot pull 20% in the primary… Well, that’s just pathetic. It’s not even an indictment of your performance, but an abrupt dismissal into not-early-enough retirement. And they don’t even give you a cheap gold watch. (Movie reference.) And if you look at the picture from this article one more time, you will notice that he knows it. He can see what is coming and, like an oncoming train, is powerless to stop it.

There is a vast difference between these two primaries, and it can be summed up in two short sentences. In Connecticut, the primary was about ideology. In Alaska, the primary was about competence.

For Atrios to claim that Murkowski’s loss was a “purge” the same stature as Lieberman’s was is, to be perfectly frank, a poor attempt to view the event through his own progressive-colored glasses. (Perhaps it was even a poor attempt to self-justify his support of Lamont over Lieberman, in a I-did-it-they-do-it-what-seems-to-be-the-problem sort of way, although that is too much of a stretch for me to be certain. Hence the parentheticals.) And that is a viewpoint so far from the “Reality-Based Community”, which he was once a vocal member of, as to be on the other side of the known universe.

So with this, I am officially determining Duncan Black to be in the same category as most Fox News pundits: they are too deeply steeped in their own ideological theories to see reality, even when it hits them in the face. As a media watcher he will still have a ton of credibility with me. But as a member of the unofficial punditry…

Dude, they don’t make grains of salt that big.

The Eternal Madness of War

Filed under: Content-lite,Personal Ramblings,Popular Culture,War — Brutus @ 3:32 pm

Since Off Colfax posted his encomium to Pump Up the Volume, I’ve been thinking about a similar post on A Bridge on the River Kwai, which I recently saw on DVD. If I ever saw it as a kid, the only lasting impression was of the prisoners marching in columns whistling Col. Bogey’s March (a famous tune most everyone knows even if not by name).

After I got over wondering why Obi-Wan Kenobi was a prisoner of war during WWII, it struck me what a wonderful film it is, full of well-developed character archetypes. The story isn’t especially engaging: British POWs in Japan build a railroad bridge only for it to be blown up on its inaugural crossing. But the way the characters exhibit their particular worldviews and how they interact are the soul of the film.

The Japanese POW camp commander uses force and intimidation to achieve his goals, which doesn’t really work out for him. Although he mentions the Japanese warrior code, Bushido, which is based on determination, honor, loyalty, and dedication, his approach to running the camp is really more fascist. It’s also convenient for the narrative that his staff is mostly incompetent, which ultimately puts the Japanese commander in a bind when he is unable to succeed at building the bridge using his preferred methods.

The British commander, played by Alec Guinness (more familiar to most of us as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars), exemplifies quintessential British reserve through his principled resistance to force and his impassive and bureaucratic professional management skills. His efficiency and success at building the bridge stand in stark contrast to his utter lack of savvy at the end of the film with respect to military stratagems.

Two other major characters provide contrast to the apparent battle of wills between the two commanders: an American POW (played by William Holden) and a British commando in charge of blowing up the bridge. The American, whose dishonorable behavior is particularly unflattering, is heavily reminiscent of absurd characters from Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. The British commando (hard to believe such a thing existed), like the other British characters, is unflappable and ultimately unwavering in his dedication to duty. One particularly ironic scene occurs when the British commando compels the American to join the raid on the bridge. In most stories, springing such a well-laid trap would be milked for its drama, but the British officer is almost apologetic (though persistent) in responding to each of the American’s weaselly maneuvers.

The voice of reason through all of this is a British military physician, whose main function is to repeatedly call the entire charade into question as madness. It’s madness for the Japanese commander to mistreat POWs as a means of coercion. It’s madness for the British officers to suffer needlessly out of adherence to principle (The Geneva Conventions, interestingly). It’s madness for the British commander to consent to aiding the enemy by building the bridge. (British soldiers had lollygagged until the British officers were released from the sweatbox and set the men about building the bridge as a means of demonstrating British superiority, raising morale, and maintaining British military command structure.) And it’s madness that the British commandos blew up the bridge upon its completion. All in all, a very entertaining window into mid-20th-century warfare and military practice. The contrasts revealed between the characters and the stark irony of the ultimate destruction of the newly built bridge led me to the realization that the objects and practices of war do in fact add up to a strange sort of insanity, something not altogether different from what a circumspect review of our current wars would undoubtedly also reveal.

August 22, 2006

Philly Boy Scouts Threatened With Eviction Over Anti-Gay Policy

Filed under: LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 9:15 pm

This 2003 post, about the short-lived decision of the Philadelphia Boy Scouts to buck the national Boy Scouts leadership by refusing to discriminate against gay Scouts, has recently come up in comments. Which led me to check out what’s going on with the Philly Boy Scouts currently:
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Blogger Bash 5.5

Filed under: Blogosphere,Current Events — Robert @ 4:33 pm

Just a reminder, this fall’s BB is being held at the Minturn in south-central Denver this Friday, August 25, starting at 6 and going until they get sick of people yelling about treason and war. I’ll be there with my drinking shoes on. Go RSVP if you plan to attend.

The Legacy Of Happy Harry Hard-On

Filed under: Blogosphere,Navel Gazing — Off Colfax @ 4:57 am

Sixteen years ago today, a movie hit the theater screens. At the time, it was not well noticed, just another movie to be reviewed through Hughes-colored glasses, to use the words of one writer. Yet today, Pump Up The Volume has a meaning, and message, much more appropriate than those innocent summer days of 1990.

For those of you who have never seen the movie, first let me say this. What are you, crazy? Go now. Rent it. Buy it. Amazon it with next-day air. Because for us here in Blogville, it personifies our raison d’être in a way that nothing else out there can.

Right now, there are 51.8 million blogs being tracked by Technorati. Each and every single one of us started off as a lone voice crying into the wilderness. We had no audience. We had no feedback. We had no clue that anyone even knew we existed. Yet still we sat, sending our missives into the vast emptyness of inner space, not caring that there was no ears to hear our cries.

Certainly we all have our own vast and varied reasons for starting in this enterprise. Yet, when it’s all said and done, our reasons are eventually reduced to one: getting things out of one’s own head. Regardless of how we do so. (Or how often.) Regardless of the programs we use. (Even Myspace. Ugh.) Regardless of the time we do it. (No fair glaring at the timestamp, people.)

For the average blogger, we will eventually find that we have an audience, however small or large it may be. Like-minded souls (or sometimes opposite-minded ones) who found our words to hold a certain something: a deeper meaning, an excellent analysis, an interesting turn of thought, or whatever comes to mind. And soon, where there was once wilderness, tiny villages of interaction are formed.

Some remain static and remain as they are, small outposts still able to contribute to the whole like my own little island of inane rambling. Some become shining beacons, providing direction and certitude to a vast multitude, like Glenn Reynolds and Duncan Black. Some, like ourselves here at Creative Destruction, become crossroads, bringing together those of us who, by ourselves, would never have thought to cross paths. Some grow beyond all imagination, creating entire civilizations of thought and discussion, such as DailyKos and Little Green Footballs.

Yet still, the basic concept remains the same regardless of how big or small our traffic counters become. These are our thoughts, our emotions, our ideals, our philosophies, our selves we set into these pages. By doing so, we have taken control of an entire medium of our own creations. (Although who was first on the scene seems to be up for debate.)

And as such, we have fulfilled the battle-cry of Harry.

Sieze the airwaves. They are ours. Pick a program. Choose a name. Find your voice. There is nothing that they can do to stop us. They can try. And they may stop some of us. But they will never stop us all.

And the day will come when they will look inside themselves and see us waving up at them.

Naked.

Type hard.

August 21, 2006

Link Farm & Open Thread #34

Filed under: Link Farms — Ampersand @ 9:09 pm

Bibble babble bof blick and boing, I tells ya!
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August 20, 2006

Advertising and Sponsorship Everywhere

Filed under: Education,Navel Gazing,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 12:51 pm

Maturation of marketing and branding practices over the past 25 years or so has led to increasingly intrusive demands for our attention in order to make a brand impression. As the Communications Revolution of the 90s expanded the media available for advertising, advertising expenditures grew and a media event without advertising and/or sponsorship became unthinkable. This table shows data for the years 2002-2003 indicating the greatest increases in media that existed only modestly 25 years ago. Further, stunts such as tattoos on foreheads (here and here), printing on eggs , and ads on stairs are indications that there is no space beyond the reach of advertisers in their desperation to raise their messages above the din that the deluge of advertising has created.

It is problematical, to say the least, that we can’t escape advertising. Anyone with a whit of understanding knows that TV networks aren’t selling shows to advertisers. Instead, shows attract viewers, and it’s viewers who are being sold to advertisers. While we make modest attempts to protect children from cigarette and alcohol advertising on TV (which isn’t working), the ads themselves and the ubiquity of product placement in programming guarantee, according to this website, that children as young as two — before they can even read — recognize two-thirds of popular brand logos. Parents who plunk their kids down in front of the TV are effectively selling out their kids to advertisers.

One new practice that functions as a harbinger of doom is the placement of advertising in textbooks. Apologists offer that the upside of this practice is that students will soon be able to get textbooks for free when advertising and sponsorship replaces the revenue normally derived from sales. That rationalization is, of course, a sign that the battle is already lost. Economic utility (grooming pliant young consumers right in the schools) won out long ago (see here and here) over the broad educational ideal of instilling in young minds a love of learning. Another example of children’s education being sold out to commercial interests is the sponsored field trip — to stores. The pretense may be instruction in health, hygiene, safety, or history, but the underlying motivation of sponsors is selling.

One might hope adults are less vulnerable to advertising than the young. However, when our reality from birth is informed by the influence of advertisers, what hope is there really that we can form our ideas objectively and without the undue influence of those with a commercial agenda? Once coopted as a child, do adults really break free and operate independently? If the example of the SUV, marketed and sold to us as a desirable vehicle to own and operate, despite significant drawbacks, that answer has to be “no.”

August 19, 2006

Weight bias all around…

Filed under: Content-lite,Fat and fat acceptance — Ampersand @ 11:22 am

(By the way, my usual email addresses have been broken for the last few days, and will probably remain broken for another week or so. Anyone wishing to contact me in the meanwhile should use “barryishere (at) gmail (dot) com”.)

I found myself watching an episode of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which was reasonably entertaining. But I hated that a fat kitchen staffer was berated for being fat by the host, Gordon Ramsay: i.e., “get your lazy fat ass in gear,” “you fat jerk,” etc. (I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is right). I tried to imagine the popular revulsion if the host had berated a Jewish worker in the same way – “get your lazy Jewish ass in gear” and so forth. Is there any question that the host would have been fired?
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August 17, 2006

Daddy’s Double Entendre

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor — Robert @ 2:32 pm

I swear, I had no idea what I was saying.

Took the bug with me to my folks’ house yesterday to water the plants while they’re out of town. Stopped at Taco Bell on the way home. From the back seat: “Can I have nuggets?”  “Sorry, sweetie, this isn’t McDonald’s, this is Taco Bell.” “Oh, can I have taco?” “Of course you may.”

Drove home, took food and daughter into the house, greeted wife.
Daughter: “Daddy, can I have my nuggets?”

My response:

“Sweetie, I already told you, you don’t have nuggets. You have a taco.”
My wife burst into hysterics, and it took me a minute to figure out why.

Ramseys Innocent, Karr Confesses To Slaying JonBenet

Filed under: Current Events — Robert @ 11:09 am

Jeff over at Protein Wisdom has a good wrapup of the case.

My thoughts:

Although as far as I can remember, I never publicly commented on the case, I owe the Ramseys a mental apology for assuming their guilt. I didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt in my heart. (And no, SBW, this doesn’t mean I’m recanting what I’ve said about OJ; even giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think he’s guilty.) Sorry, Mr. Ramsey. Sorry, Mrs. Ramsey.

Secondly, I think Matt Stone and Trey Parker owe the Ramseys an abject apology. I didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt in my heart; South Park came right out and called them murderers on national TV. Despite the crudity of their work, I think Matt and Trey have a degree of intellectual integrity, and I think the killer’s confession puts an onus on them to apologize for further ravaging the Ramsey’s reputation. I have high hopes.

(Edited to fix links and improve some construction; no substantive changes made.)

August 16, 2006

The Connecticut Mastery Test. – Ampersand is Wrong.

Filed under: Education,Feminist Issues,Race and Racism — Daran @ 9:28 pm

In his recent post here (also duplicated at Alas), Barry takes issue with the claims made in this news report.

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Can of Worms: Global Warming

Filed under: Current Events,Personal Ramblings — Brutus @ 4:10 pm

We haven’t yet had a post on the subject of global warming, though it’s been in the news and on folks’ minds a lot recently. I have long been of the opinion that we need a longer span of time to observe a geological process, as distinguished from normal weather and climatic variations. However, it doesn’t require a perspective in geological time to observe that humans have significantly altered the environment on a planetary scale. At issue for global warming are carbon and methane emissions (greenhouse gasses), not all of which are manmade but which have collectively altered the composition of the atmosphere fairly rapidly since the beginning of the Industrial Era.

I came across a book by Bill McKibben called The End of Nature, published in 1989. The ecology movement had been underway since the 1970s, but the book was still before our general awareness of potential ecological disaster. McKibben reports that scientists (in particular, Svante Arrhenius) have studied the effects of “evaporating our coal mines into the air” since the 1880s and even then created models that predicted with remarkable accuracy the rise in global average temperatures that have been confirmed in the past two decades.

Though I’m only 50 pages into the book thus far, this remark by McKibben caught my eye in particular, which is more about our rapacious consumption of fossil fuels than about global warming:

It is as if someone had scrimped and saved his entire life, and then spent every cent on one fantastic week’s debauch … We are living on our capital, as we began to realize during the gas crises of the 1970s. But it is more than waste, more than a binge. We are spending that capital in such a way as to alter the atmosphere. It is like taking that week’s fling and, in the process, contracting a horrid disease.

The Religious Left?

Filed under: Philosophy — Off Colfax @ 4:30 am

Everyone stop what you’re doing. Yes, even stop reading this. I don’t care if you have eggs on the stove. I don’t care if your coffee is getting cold. I don’t even care if you’re late for work and/or school.

Go straight to the Wash Park Prophet in order to read this entry. For Andrew Oh-Willeke has a post that should earn him a Bloggie nomination. Too bad they don’t have a Best Damn Post Ever category. They should.

It’s that damn good.

August 15, 2006

UNIFIL Gets Teeth

Filed under: International Politics — Off Colfax @ 3:26 pm

I finally broke down and got my grubby little paws on S/RES/1701. For those of you not fluent in UN nomenclature, this translates as Security Council Resolution 1701. (EDIT: Link changed to non-PDF version. The UN’s site is on crack when it comes to tracking cookies.)

To keep you from getting headaches, I’ve gone through and selected the five main high points of the resolution for you.
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More “Boy Crisis”: The Connecticut Mastery Test

Filed under: Education,Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 1:25 am

Asher from Dreams Into Lighting emailed me this article, from the Hartford Courant:

While black, Hispanic and low-income children again lagged far behind others on statewide mastery test scores, another group of students also remained mired in a chronic – though often less noticed – achievement gap.

Boys continued to trail girls by substantial margins in reading and writing on the annual Connecticut Mastery Test. The pattern has persisted since Connecticut first started keeping track of scores by gender in 2000, and is consistent with longstanding patterns on national tests. [...]

In writing, “Boys of every ethnic and socioeconomic group are falling far behind girls of similar backgrounds,” Kleinfeld wrote in a recent paper for the White House Conference on Helping America’s Youth. [...]

“It’s a huge problem,” Kleinfeld said. The literacy gap between girls and boys “has been very large since the beginning of time,” she said. “Think back to Tom Sawyer and Becky.”

So wait, which is it – are boys currently falling behind, or has it always been this way?

Also, as I’ll show below, the evidence from the Connecticut Mastery Test shows that the boy crisis does not exist among “boys of every ethnic and socioeconomic group.” On the contrary, the results are consistent with my belief that without racism and poverty holding them back, boys do just as well as girls.
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August 13, 2006

Microsoft Misses The Point

Filed under: The World's Oldest Profession — Robert @ 12:13 am

Full disclosure: I used to work for Microsoft, have good friends there, wish them all well, still have a soft spot for the company, and learned more about software design and development just from breathing the air in Redmond than I have picked up in any number of classrooms or even doing it on my own.

So, when I say, “Jiminy, these guys are as dumb as a box of rocks,” it’s coming from a place of love.

They’ve slipstreamed tabbed browsing into IE 6.0 SP 2. And it sucks.

Why do you open a link in a new tab? Duh: because there’s a link on the page you are currently reading that you want to investigate, but you aren’t done with the page that you’re currently reading. If you were done with the page you’re on, you would just click the link. If you knew the link in question was one you would keep even before you saw it, you would directly bookmark it. Opening a tab lets you save the new site in what amounts to a one-time bookmark, and read it at your leisure. In fact, I regularly browse with Firefox like this: open a page, open-in-new-tab any links of interest as I go, finish reading, close the page I’m on, move to the next open tab, repeat. Sometimes I’ll go 30 minutes, all from one starting page and the links and stories that follow. Simple. Efficient. Elegant.

So, like all things that are simple, efficient, and elegant, Microsoft eagerly jumps in to figure out how to **** it up.

They do so with breathtaking simplicity. It’s very easy: when you open-in-new-tab a link, IE graciously and eagerly opens up a new tab and loads the page for you. And then it SWITCHES YOUR FOCUS TO THE NEW TAB. So, if you weren’t done with the first page, back you click. Can you change this behavior in the preferences? Don’t be stupid. Of course you can’t.

I’m convinced that somewhere in the bowels of Redmond West, there is a diabolical cabal of program managers who – for reasons unknown, possibly involving a terrible experience in childhood – are convinced that all users are fools who don’t know where they actually want their UI focus to be. (By UI focus, I mean which window is open, on top of the UI, and accepting commands). MS products – particularly their setup routines, for some reason – are very fond of stealing your focus and insisting that they are the process the user needs to be interacting with now. Sometimes they are correct – sometimes the user DOES want a modal dialog to pop up and demand clarification so it can continue the work that the user wants to get done in the background. Usually, they are not correct. My personal favorite is a text message that used to be a common sight in MS setup dialogs, along the lines of “you can continue your work while Setup completes this process”. And indeed, you could continue your work – for up to 15 seconds at a time, before Setup would steal the focus again to put up a new screen informing you that you could continue your work.

It’s really amazing that nobody has ever bombed the place. It’s right there off the highway.

This IE cockup is merely the latest entry in a list that (I assume) Steve Ballmer is compiling entitled “1001 Proofs That We Don’t Know Dick About Coding User Interfaces”. I would love to have the job of UI Czar at Microsoft, if the position carried with it a license to beat on people with a baseball bat. Oh, the good that could be done.

Please, guys. Fix this one before it becomes set in concrete in IE 7. Nobody wants their new tab to take focus. Whoever told you they did is a lying weasel who should be killed. I know that you feel the need to differentiate yourself from Firefox, which is (sorry, my brothers) simply a superior piece of technology. But this is a feature that they got right and which nobody ever needs to change. Swallow your pride, copy the correct UI decision, and find some other arena to differentiate yourselves in. Firefox 1.5 seems a bit wonky with a lot of pages; try for the Stability and Crashproof Prize and I assure you, an audience will be there for you. You don’t have to be different just to be different.

(Note to Steve Ballmer: I already have a baseball bat. I’m just saying.)

August 12, 2006

Fathers and Daughters

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor,Personal Ramblings — Robert @ 7:50 pm

The infiltration of my daughter’s subconscious mind is complete.

Today while playing quietly by herself, she began talking to herself (as is her wont). She said, verbatim quote:

“I’m building a castle. A castle of DOOOOOOOM!”

That’s my girl.

There’s Boredom, And Then There Is…

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 6:23 am

Flat-out stone-dumb idiocy.

Turn signal: William Gibson.

August 11, 2006

Quote: The Libertarian Vice

Filed under: Debate,Economics,Politics — Ampersand @ 12:48 pm

From Marginal Revolution:
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Children Don’t Always Need Their Biological Fathers

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 12:13 pm

From a news story about “single women choosing to become single moms”:

Elkins, like many women her age, felt the pressures of wanting a child but realized that in the modern age she didn’t need a relationship with a man to make her dream possible. So she turned to an anonymous sperm donor to make her a mom.

[...] Places like California Cryobank, one of the largest sperm banks in the country, reports that single women make up 32 percent of the clients who buy sperm from its bank.

Fertility centers like those at New York University were originally set up for infertile couples. Now doctors consult with a growing number of single women looking to tackle motherhood alone.

“We’re definitely seeing more single women,” said Dr. Shelley Lee, a clinical psychologist and director of psychological services at NYU. “And particularly women who are professional women[...]“

Elizabeth at Family Scholars responds:
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August 10, 2006

“My Children Bore Me To Death!”

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 5:18 pm

There’s a lot of negative response to this article in the blogosphere, mostly among Christian bloggers and some Mommybloggers. (And, of course, some Christian mommybloggers).

Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
by HELEN KIRWAN-TAYLOR, Daily Mail

[...]To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children’s lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.

Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?

While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story. What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories? A bad mother, that’s who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children.

I know this is one of the last taboos of modern society. To admit that you, a mother of the new millennium, don’t find your offspring thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable at all times is a state of affairs very few women are prepared to admit. We feel ashamed, and unfit to be mothers.

In a post at Princesses, Dogs, and Chaos, Jenn responds:
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Gays in Iraq Targeted For Murder By Insurgents And Government

Filed under: Human Rights,Iraq — Ampersand @ 12:33 am

From the UK newspaper The Observer:
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