Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Flag as Mask (and Geek Wednesday)

...And in other news, Satan is turning down the furnace in Hell by a few degrees, to help with global warming. I found this link in the "Good News" section of the Center for American Progress' e-newsletter: "Bolton Drops Campaign to Withhold U.N. Funding". It's a sign of how low we have sunk as a nation with this administration: whenever they don't do something stupid, arrogant, vindictive, or impulsive, it's a cause for celebration.

But we're still the kings of rah-rah, nationalistic pride... Some survey nerds in Chicago who had an idle afternoon to spend one day decided to poll citizens of 34 nations on their levels of nationalistic testosterone. Guess who came out #1? Just a whisker ahead of Venezuela...but don't worry, if Pat Robertson gets his way, that will most certainly change...

This, again, is generally considered cause for celebration, so I suppose I should keep quiet about my own feelings. Let me then merely suggest that you try a different perspective, if only for a minute or two, on pride. That's how long it will take you to read this. Then decide for yourself if it's time to try a different view of pride. In any event, we're going to have to reach the point, fairly quickly, where the planet takes precedence over the nation, if humanity is to survive as a species. It's that simple.

Now, on to Geek Wednesday...

I have a 2 dollar reward for anyone who can explain what Web 2.0 really is—any takers? Note: "It's a folksonomy for flickrs, wikis, and blogs, oh my!" is not an acceptable response.

Philanthropy, Inc.: I have written a diary entry at Daily Kos that discusses the largesse of Mr. Gates and his partner in saintly charity, Mr. Buffett. Far be it from me to disdain good works; I am merely saying that if this philanthropy actually and substantively improves the state of humankind or the health of the Earth, then I will meekly sing hosannahs every time XP crashes on me or a long Word document dissolves into electromagnetic ether. I will re-name that indigo benefaction "the blue screen of Life."

Meow, Uncle Bill: Apple's next upgrade to the Mac OS X operating system, Leopard, will receive its first public demo at the WWDC in August. The rumor mill has it that it will include everything from a total integration of iCal/Mail/Address Book (something already being undertaken by the Mozilla folks with their Lightning project) to universal brotherhood that sings in streaming video from inside a Nike sneaker. I have no forecast to make on features except that they'll beat the stuffing out of whatever Vista has for you prisoners of Windows; but I do have one prediction: if only to tweak Bill's nose once more, Steve will whip his team to deliver Leopard at or ahead of schedule (remember how those Intel machines came out six months ahead of time?). Expect to see a production release of OS 10.5 Leopard well before the end of 2006.

Office 2007: Your Turn: Back to MS, you can now safely try out Office 07 on the web, without risking a fall into download hell. If you'd like to have a look at what you'll be encountering, see our three previous Geek Wednesday posts.

Automating the Starry Skies: Yesterday we linked to the wonderful APOD site, the link to which is near the top of my blogroll. If you're a Mac user running OS X (Tiger), you can use the Automator tool to let an Applescript capture images from APOD for you. Check it out, here.

Tiger 10.4.7: Also for Mac users, the long-awaited update to Tiger is now out and available via Software Update. It was nearly a month ago that ThinkSecret first reported that this update was imminent; but Apple has a way of being rather careful about these releases, especially now, with the new combination of security issues and Intel compatibility facing them. As regular readers here know, I'm never hesitant about criticizing Apple when I think they deserve it, but I've been through Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger in all their various updates, and have never had a problem. The patch-weary Windows users among us may find it hard to believe, but that's just another great reason for adding a Mac to your computing lifestyle. And as my Mom used to say when she had drawn the line on fixing my favorite pair of jeans, "when you're all patches, you're no more pants." Mom knew a thing or two about technology.

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