Thursday, December 15, 2005


Those who argue for torture (by whatever euphemism they choose) make these assumptions about those they would have tortured:

- The "suspect" knows something
- The "suspect" will provide information rather than suffer
- The information will be true

None of these assumptions can ever be considered knowable.

"How do you know this guy can tell us what we need to know?"
"The other guy told us he can."
"How do you know the other guy is telling the truth?"
"We tortured it out of him."

Monday, December 12, 2005

On Despair For My Country

What happens when the Shining City Upon a Hill falls into chaos?

On looking for a citation for "Shining City Upon a Hill" I first found Reagan. I am loath to attribute that man. Further searching led me to Matthew 5:14:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Not quite what I was looking for. I finally found John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, who expresses my worries perfectly:
For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. Soe that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.
The eyes of all people are upon us.

Our nation has for decades been the guiding light of the world. Flawed we may be, but for the most part we were the country other countries "aspired to be."

That has changed with the One Party Rule we are experiencing now. Their crimes against our polity and the world are legion. My point is not to enumerate them, but to suggest that as some have suggested, the United States may indeed "be over" because of them. And that is a crime against humanity and against hope.

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Go take my poll!

Politics, as usual

MSNBC has made Meet the Press available online as of December 11. During the roundtable that day with Mike Allen of Time Magazine, David Brooks of the New York Times, and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Allen said, "A presidential adviser told me that that issue has fallen so far off the radar screen, you can't even find it."

Dionne explains why:
MR. DIONNE: You know, it's remarkable, one month and the war on poverty was over. I mean, it's the shortest war on poverty on record. All kinds of columnists, David and me included, were writing columns about different approaches to deep problems that Katrina unearthed... And I think with the president, what you saw is that he spoke obsessively about New Orleans in the period when Katrina and the reaction to Katrina was a huge drag on his presidency. Now, it's obvious that they see any mention of Katrina will remind people of those bad old days, and so they just want to shove it aside...
It's politics over policy still and again. They don't care about New Orleans. They don't care about you, or me. (If you were someone they cared about, you certainly wouldn't be reading my words.) They care only for what's in it for them.

Transcript here.
Video here.

Server Upgrade Woes

So they upgraded our servers over the weekend, a much-needed improvement. What was unexpected, however, is the disruption it is causing on the workstation. Everything - everything! - is reset to default. I feel like someone came into my house and rearranged the furniture, worse, took away my antiques and replaced them all with Ikea, and THEN rearranged them. And moved the walls. And painted them. This lab-rat can no longer find the cheese.

Here's the list - I'll add to it as I discover more changes.

- Desktop icons moved (not a big problem, they needed weeding anyway)
- Favorites sorted by name - I had them arranged by usage.
- Task bar items gone.
- Google Desktop search gone - new user
- New user and domain, so Start Menu items have to be recovered
- My Documents folder moved to server, so the desktop link does not work
- Worst of all so far - I have a structure of Excel documents with interconnecting links. A quirk of Excel is that when you enter a hyperlink, or use the Vlookup() function to link data, it converts a mapped drive letter to the server path. They changed the server names, so many of my hyperlinks or data links are broken. I have over 2,000 linked files.
- Everything Microsoft is set back to default - Word settings (automatic spell-check, etc), Outlook settings (I just set up a number of spam-fighting rules), Internet Explorer home page and security settings, Windows Explorer settings.
- Outlook is now using Word as the editor. I know how to change that back.
- Windows is back to hiding infrequently used menu commands. I had disabled that, and have to go figure out how again.
- A "Language Bar" has appeared that pops up whenever a program that requires text entry is opened - which is pretty much every program.
- Those 2,000 linked files? When I open a linked file from within Excel, it opens Read-only, which is a big problem. That's the interface I use to get to my work.
- Had to re-register Winzip
- AutoCAD - had to reconfigure as new user, including all preferences and settings. Might have been able to migrate this with some prior warning.
- Re-installed Excel Analysis Toolpak because certain formulas stopped working.

I now understand why things changed, not that I like it, but what really bugs me is that there was no warning that the changes would be so extensive. They could have given us some clue that things would be different!

I finally got some actual work done about 4:00 pm.