I have come to absolutely loathe it when people refer to the Web as "the Internet" -- as in, "E-Mail's not working, but the Internet is."

This is, of course, like so many problems in the wonderful world of computers, entirely Microsoft's fault.

Seriously. Internet Explorer? What the fuck is that? It's an effing Web browser. I guess I can get "Explorer" as a synonym for "Browser" (remember, these are the same guys who had to change "Trash" to "Recycle Bin" and "Bookmarks" to "Favorites"), but "Web" and "Internet" are not synonymous, and fuck you guys for making everybody think they are.

Do you know how many people don't know what a Web browser is thanks to that nonsense? If I had a nickel for every time I'd told somebody to open her browser and heard "How do I do that? ...Oh, you mean I go to the Internet," I'd probably have enough money to buy Windows Vista Ultimate Limited Numbered Signature Edition (though not nearly enough to buy hardware to run it on).

And guess what? Microsoft is now trying very hard to obfuscate things even further by slapping the word "Windows" in front of everything. So now it's not just Internet Explorer anymore, it's Windows Internet Explorer (ironically, they picked this name right as they decoupled the program from Windows Explorer -- which, oh yeah, they repeatedly claimed was impossible during that whole antitrust suit thing).

I used to work at a university computer store, and not a day went by but somebody came in who didn't know the difference between Windows and Office. And it's shit like this -- like Windows Internet Explorer -- that is directly responsible for people not being able to understand the difference between an operating system and a fucking Office Suite -- or, in this case, an operating system, a Web browser, and the Internet.

At least they're not calling it Windows Office -- yet.

I'd like to dedicate this post to the late, great Molly Ivins. I may not have her wit, but I do share her love of sarcastic mockery of absurd politicians. Consider this my way of making the ridiculous look ridiculous.

(Context, for those who haven't heard it. And please feel free to contact the mayor yourself.)


Dear Mr. Mayor,

I am not a constituent. I live in Arizona -- though I'd love to move to Boston one of these days.

I'm sure you're receiving a lot of messages from out-of-towners today. I will not sugarcoat -- that is because today, you are a national laughingstock.

Sir, your city was brought to its knees by Lite-Brite representations of blocky cartoon characters flashing obscene gestures.

Please reread that sentence. Take a moment for it to sink in. Because it certainly doesn't seem as if you've done so yet.

Again, Sir, I will be blunt: you should be embarrassed. That people within your city government would see an object like that and conclude that it was an explosive device is absurd. What were they thinking -- that Boston is under attack by the Riddler? Use your head, man -- if it were the Riddler, there would have been riddles!

But are you embarrassed? No. You have attempted to hide your Keystone Kops' incompetence behind a wall of outrage. You have set the narrative for the news reports; you have used language like "hoax" and listened as the media parroted your words. And incidentally, Sir, controlling a message by repeating distorted language and getting the media to do the same? That's a tactic best associated with Republicans.

Sir, this was not a hoax. Nobody, anywhere, ever dreamed that any human being could possibly mistake those objects for bombs. This is not a case of somebody crying "Wolf!" This is somebody saying, I don't know, "Toothbrush!" and your city officials reacting as if they heard "Wolf!" Instead of suggesting that perhaps the officials made a mistake, you are acting outraged -- outraged! -- that someone would dare say "Toothbrush!" in a post 9/11 world, knowing fully well how much it sounds like "Wolf!"

Yes, this is a sign of a post-9/11 world -- it is a sign of frightened, hysterical people who cannot think clearly and have unsound judgement. Mr. Mayor, a little old lady is no threat when she has a bottle of hand lotion in her carry-on bag. Cellophane and duct tape will not make us any safer in our beds. And a brightly-colored cartoon character flipping the bird bears no resemblance to a bomb. (Actually, perhaps this isn't intrinsically post-9/11 thinking after all -- I remember quite a few people stockpiling canned food in 1999.)

End this foolishness. Don't make any more arrests. Don't file any lawsuits. Just slink away. You don't even have to apologize for your behavior (though that's what somebody with class would do -- and possibly shrug it off with a self-effacing joke in the process). Just move on.

Otherwise, your legacy will be "the mayor who wasted tax dollars suing a cartoon company because his underlings couldn't tell the difference between a bomb and a Lite-Brite".

Think about it, Sir.

And have a happy Groundhog Day.

I assume you will enjoy it -- it's a holiday celebrating a rodent that jumps at his own shadow.

Yours,

Thaddeus R R Boyd
Phoenix, AZ

I had a productive afternoon.

I got a long-overdue oil change, a car wash, and bought a new pair of shades to replace the pair I left at the Mexican restaurant on Saturday night.

(I was due for a new pair anyway. I'd had those things for three years and they were all scratched and I was missing one of my spare lenses.)

I got to cross two things off my To-Do list.

A young Courtney Cox prepares to leave Eternia
Julie: He-Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms...
Teela: Don't say goodbye. Say good journey.
Duncan: It is an old Eternian saying. Live the journey, for every destination is but a doorway to another.
Julie: Good journey.

This one's for Ian. You take care of yourself, old friend.

Arizona's Fifth Congressional District -- the Fightin' Fifth!

I was born there. I've lived most of my life there. I went to high school there -- more on that in a bit -- and I still spend a solid chunk of my time there most weekends. I live a ways northwest of there at the moment, but my permanent address is there and that's where I'm registered to vote. It's my district. And Tempe may not be my favorite place on Earth, but it's my hometown.

So, like most people from Tempe, regardless of political party or stripe, I like Harry Mitchell. He's widely regarded as the greatest mayor the city ever had; City Hall is named after him and has a 30-foot-high abstract statue of him out front. He and I went to the same high school, forty-some years apart, and he was a teacher there, though he retired four years before I started there.

In short, the man was a dedicated educator, and a good mayor, a bipartisan type -- in the Bill Clinton "reach across the aisle and accomplish things" sense, not the Joe Lieberman "capitulate to your opponents' every whim and say that criticism of the President imperils the nation" sense. He's still pretty moderate for my frothing-at-the-mouth liberal tendencies, but he's a good guy. Frankly I'd have voted for just about anybody over Hayworth, but -- in this race, at least -- it wasn't enough just to be the Democratic candidate. Harry won because he had Tempe at his back, the Democrats and Republicans alike, and because he got the endorsement of the Arizona Republic -- no small feat given that they endorsed Hayworth the last six times he ran. But with JD balls-deep in the Abramoff scandal, seen as an extremist on immigration even by Arizona standards, and widely regarded as a partisan bully (his last set of campaign ads included one that said Harry Mitchell was soft on child molesters -- the old Rovian tactic of trying to turn an opponent's greatest strength into a liability, but in this case executed extremely clumsily and backfiring spectacularly), a guy with bipartisan appeal like Harry was just what District 5 wanted.

Harry's also had the class not to declare himself the winner until all the absentee, provisional, and early ballots are counted. Which I appreciate, considering mine's in that stack somewhere. And even if it weren't, well, I'm a fan of democracy and, you know, counting votes.

...Speaking of immigration, I'm much less thrilled to report that all three of our immigrant-scapegoating propositions seem to have passed. (ThehTUHKerJUHBS!) But -- and it's a close call, with ballots still being counted -- it looks like the anti-gay amendment failed. 107 was disguised as a proposition banning gay marriage, but gay marriage is already banned in Arizona -- what it was really about was banning benefits for unmarried couples, whether gay or straight. The only reason it was even close is that it pretended to be something it wasn't -- like the "limit the government's power of imminent domain" prop that passed, which actually means if I don't want a corporation polluting my neighborhood, I have to pay him off based on hypothetical lost profits. Or, to be fair, the winner of the Best Orwellian Name contest, the Non-Smoker Protection Act, which was funded by big tobacco, which the voters had the good sense to see through and vote down.

Minimum wage is up too. And about to go up on a federal level, now that the Dems have the House.

I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say about this later. And I'm sure my cynicism will eventually settle back in. But at the moment, I can call myself a Democrat without any feelings of self-loathing for a change -- and really, that's a great place to start.

October was a busy damn month. Five couples I know -- five! -- got married. I attended three of the weddings.

The first -- technically at the tail-end of September -- involved a road trip to San Diego with Brad, Ian, and Ben to attend Jon and Gina's wedding.

Now, let me start by saying that San Diego is one of my favorite places on Earth.

And let me add that Jon and Gina are my favorite couple. Those kids are gonna do all right.

And let me finish by saying that we arrived at 3AM, picked up Jon, and took him back to our hotel room for 40's and Mario Kart. I don't drink 40's, but I'm not about to refuse the request of a groom 31 hours before his wedding.

I remember very little of the remainder of that morning, but I do remember that Jon and I totally owned at Mario Kart. Just like old times.

Then I hopped a plane back to Arizona to marry my cousin.

...As in performed the ceremony. But yes, I opened with that joke.

You know, it's been a long time since we really hung out and chatted, but the last time I saw her she was really into the whole church scene -- I didn't really expect her to invite a secular humanist to perform her wedding. But it went off pretty well -- and yeah, I quoted scripture (you know, that "love is patient" bit's pretty all right, actually), but I kept my humanist street cred by throwing some Bucky Fuller in there too ("love is metaphysical gravity," baby -- bam!).

It was also very much an Irish wedding. In that people got hammered and were told to leave by security.

The third was...rather abrupt and unexpected, but not entirely unprecedented. I did not attend because I had about a week and a half's notice, and it was the day before...

The fourth, in Sedona -- another of the most beautiful damn places in the world -- where they made us dress up in goddamn medieval attire, but also there was homebrewed beer and mead so I definitely think it was a net gain. Plus I reused my costume for Halloween, which was good because I'd been Brodie from 2001 through 2005 and I really needed something new.

Also there was a misunderstanding with my hotel reservation, because hotels.com tried to tell me that Munds Park was 15 miles away from Sedona. I can't prove anything, but I'm pretty damn sure MapQuest was to blame.

Switching gears, last weekend I went on back up to Flagstaff to see the old Rocky cast perform, and I swear that a visit to Flagstaff is just good for the soul. I stepped out of my car and at the very first breath of fresh air my life felt monumentally better.

I got me a room at the Super 8, crossed the street, and then walked the length of campus from north to south. Let's get one thing straight -- NAU is trying, hard, to be ASU Jr. There's construction everywhere you turn, the roads are FUBAR, and there's no parking anywhere. Oh, and of course the front page of the school paper is talking about another goddamn tuition hike.

The campus has changed a bit, but, contrary to what I was given to understand by Ian, the field back behind Gillenwater -- which I have waxed philosophical about on prior occasion -- is still there. He must've been talking about a different field that got paved over.

The modified engineering building is much prettier than the old one. And the new business building that used to be the anthro building is pretty damn cool.

I went to Burritos Fiesta, and ran into a friend I'd been meaning to see. The last time I saw her was sort of a downer, so repairing that breach was important to me. That worked out really well, and that alone was worth the trip.

The next day I grabbed a bite of lunch with an old classmate, and then watched The Muppet Show on DVD and went to dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery. Then I hit the old theatre on Beaver and Cherry for the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I went downstairs to greet the cast and determined that the most nonchalant position to be discovered in was on the couch in the green room, obscured by a clothing rack and with my face half-covered by my hood (medieval attire, remember). I was told I resembled a Sith Lord.

They worked me into the preshow, where I did something that they would later tell me they found a little shocking. And let me tell you, getting your old Rocky Horror cast to say, "Man, I can't believe you did that!" is one of life's richest rewards.

And then I went out to a makeshift cast party afterward, with two old friends and two new ones, drank Corona, and watched Shock Treatment. As always, Tami and I enjoyed it and nobody else did.

At 7:30 my eyes were crusting over and I could barely keep them open. I decided I could hold out no longer and went back to my motel room, grabbed a two-hour nap, showered, checked out, and went to breakfast at Martann's, which, as always on a Sunday morning, was completely packed and had only one waitress on duty. If I hadn't been craving one of their enchiladas with the fried egg on top since I'd started the trip, I wouldn't have gone, let alone stayed the hour and a half or so it took me to get and eat my food. On the plus side, as I took one of my two trips back to the car to feed the meter, I ran into two women I knew from high school. We BS'ed a bit and they told me they'd just attended a wedding of some old friends of ours. (I'm guessing about half of you have been wondering this whole time what the hell happened to the fifth wedding, and the other half are now going, Oh right! There was a fifth wedding!) They were but the first of a cavalcade of familiar faces I ran into on my way out of town.

I managed to ingest enough coffee and tea to get me home, but by the end of the trip I was just about hitting the ol' caffeine crash. I grabbed me another two-hour nap and then kicked back awhile (Ben came over to visit) and finally went back to bed.

But I tell you, it was a beautiful damn weekend and it left me in really high spirits. So high that I spent the next day blocking IP's on our mailserver, whose SMTP port was getting hammered so hard by spam attempts as to result in a goddamn DoS, and still went home feeling good.

Flagstaff's got that kind of effect on me I guess. I should probably go back soon.

But in the meantime, it's good to be back in the valley so's I can vote for Harry Mitchell. Go Harry!

You know, there's just something cathartic about cleaning house -- about going through a few dozen old computers, finding out what works and what doesn't, wiping drives, keeping what may be of use at a later date and donating the rest. Sure it's boring and repetitive, and I inevitably manage to cut myself on something, but it reminds me of high school, and then my first job out of high school, and it's good honest work.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to do it every day, but it's a welcome break from mail server maintenance -- and a whole lot more inline with my salary, too.

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda.


Reading: Neuromancer

Playing: Mega Man ZX