Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The Bureaucratic War on Terror (and Geek Wednesday)

Fashion police, thought police: Remember Cindy Sheehan being dragged out of the Capitol building for wearing a T-shirt? Here we go again, and if your chile isn't hot after this, then you're not paying attention...

But hey, we're winning the LWOT: That's the Long—not Losing—War on Terror (never mind the civil war). Negotiations with Lucasfilm are under way for rights to the name eWOT (Endless War on Terror). Might as well make it official. God bless America, and fuck everybody else.

What's next? A ban on Harry Potter? Here's the story of a dead soldier's widow standing up to the BWOT (the Bureaucratic War on Terror). She wants her Wiccan husband to have a pentacle on his memorial; the government is slamming a stone door in her face.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars; it is in ourselves: This story went round Atrios, Digby, and onegoodmove; and everybody missed the point. You'd be amazed at the preponderance of lefty activists among the astrology crowd. Jon Cainer regularly lambastes Blair, Bush, et al from his side of the pond; and over here, a young fellow named Francis is one of the more clear-sighted lefty bloggers I've seen. Then you have the Village Voice's own Rob Brezsny.

Norm Jenson complained that it was just another case of "fuzzy thinking". Now I don't know anything about astrology; and no one really has a grip on everything that's going on in science. But I'd challenge anyone to read Eric Francis' work and tell me it's "fuzzy thinking." Fuzzy thinking? Look to Washington. That said, I recall the words of Shakespeare: "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars; it is in ourselves."

Interestingly, most astrologers I know would agree.


Geek Wednesday

I have to admit to being a little out of my depth when it comes to reviewing spreadsheet apps (let alone using them). But Excel has long been the preferred standard (though I can recall working in an office where Quattro Pro running in OS/2 Warp was very popular with the geeks); and we can't consider our month-long look at MS Office 2007 complete without at least a couple of images of the re-designed toolbars for Excel.

As we mentioned last week, you can now preview Office '07 online, without risking a trip to download limbo. As we have seen this past month, Office '07 is full of promise at the UI end; and it appears as if the MS geeks have done little with feature addition (that's a good thing when it comes to MS, whose software is already bloated enough). As we have also seen, the beta doesn't work very well in terms of doing things you expect productivity apps to do; and there is also talk of more delays to the January release date. The only certainty I can give you when it comes to Redmond is that MS Office 2004 for Mac is probably the best product Microsoft has ever made. Well, next to Bob, of course.

Meanwhile, Google's talking tough on the Net Neutrality debate, and is ready for some good old legal mud wrestling. They've got some strange allies: the expected (John Kerry, for one) and the unexpected (MS itself, Olympia Snowe and even that lunatic Sensenbrenner). So never mind who you're in bed with on this one, folks: it's one of those issues where corporate, political, and human interests are all in a big stew pot. But enough of my mixed metaphors: if it keeps the Net free and cheaply accessible to all, then we can survive an alliance with the likes of Sensenbrenner. Click the link in the sidebar at the "Save the Internet" banner and let your elected dweebs know where you stand on this.

Goodness Gracious, Great Wall's a-Fire: Some geeks in Cambridge appear to have hacked the Great Firewall of China. This is the online censorship machine that Google hit its head against. Can you imagine what China would be in this world if it spent half the energy on substantive matters as it has wasted on assimilating Tibet (most recently with a massive railway project aimed at diluting the ancient native culture there) and the ethnic cleansing of a group of people who just like to meditate?

Hint: if they did, a certain North American nation currently celebrating its 230th birthday would be the world No. 2 power, by a considerable distance. Keep tweaking that firewall, boys; but ditch the murder and oppression of innocents.

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