Insult on Top of Injury

Like so many others, Sarah and I studied for the bar via BAR/BRI, though we used the iPod home study course because Chicago’s academic year ran halfway through the BAR/BRI Texas course. So, we got our iPods, diligently studied, and hopefully passed the Texas bar. Then we sent our iPods back for refunds of our $600 deposits (yes, you pay $600 for the iPod course on top of the $$$$ for the regular course, then a $600 deposit, all for a $179.48 iPod nano), which, predictably, is where things got really stupid.

We hadn’t heard from BAR/BRI, at all, despite the fact that UPS delivered our packages some time ago. You see, we very carefully sent them in two separate packages addressed one by each of us, because of the likelihood that somebody would get confused, only record one, and try to stiff us $600. Of course, come to find out, somebody got confused, anyway, by the arrival of two iPods from people with the same address and last name. So, he recorded one of them, put me down for a refund, and put Sarah down for $600 of incompetence fees. When I called to figure out what was going on, the lovely young lady on the other end – after misspelling my name repeatedly, refusing to believe my name is Ed, refusing to listen to which way Sarah spells her name, getting confused, crashing a computer, putting me on hold, dropping my call, and explaining that the status on her computer was irrelevant because all refunds are processed promptly and without fail – insisted to me repeatedly that it was all my fault for sending them in one box and, thanks to the intrepid warehouse staff of BAR/BRI Texas, my incompetence has now been rectified, restoring the perfect record of BAR/BRI’s database.


“Car Free” Days a Wash, At Best

Hilarious. People try to be environmentally friendly by completely and randomly interfering with other people’s lives, and they unsurprisingly make a hash of things:

Only in Seattle could an event touted as a way to help the environment get washed out during what is supposed to be the driest time of the year.

Car-free days is part of Mayor Greg Nickels’ campaign to encourage people to walk, bike or take mass transit.

One neighborhood is closed off to car traffic during selected weekends this summer.

Favorite quote:

“I think it promotes awareness of whatever we’re promoting awareness of,” said resident Thomas Hubbard.

Well, obviously!

Obama’s Strategy: Interrupted Sleep Patterns?

So much for the build-up to The Announcement of The Pick. So…that Text Message came at 2:22am CDT | Jeff Emanuel online. Favorite line:

The promised Text Message from Barack, which was purported to be a way of having supporters be “the first to know” who he was “introducing to the world” as the campaign’s VP pick (funny, I’d heard of Joe Biden before this — several times, in fact, like when he said Obama was a dangerous candidate for POTUS because he’d need “on the job training,” when he observed that 7/11s always seem to be run by Indians, and when he called his new boss a “clean, articulate” black man), arrived at 2:22am CDT.

More on Obama & Ayers

Stanley Kurtz is doing more great digging. Michelle Malkin is calling out the troops in the form of a phone and email campaign. For a good overview of what’s going on and what’s in the Annenberg Challenge papers, see here, in which we learn more about the connection between Obama and Ayers, about how Ayers applauds the leadership of Hugo Chavez, exclaiming that “La educacion es Revolucion!”, and much more.

Meanwhile, Power Line has further detail and collects a lot more coverage.

Earlier coverage: Just What Is Obama’s Connection to Bill Ayers?

Just A Little Biased, Maybe?

From an article on Obama’s claim that McCain “doesn’t know what he’s up against”:

“He can talk all he wants about Britney (Spears) and Paris (Hilton), but I don’t have time for that mess,” Obama said.

His remarks carried forward a theme of feisty campaigning he debuted earlier in the day.

I’m sorry? When a presidential candidate is making snippy remarks – apparently out of the blue, since there’s no content to the article – on a day when a major poll has him suddenly down 5% to his opponent, I think it’s a little generous to call it “carr[ying] forward a theme of feisty campaigning.” More accurate phrasing: “expressing that his day is really not going well, and he’s not happy about that.”

There’s also this gem:

McCain also has spoken out strongly against Russia’s invasion of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, using Obama’s absence from the campaign trail during a Hawaiian vacation last week to take a hard line against the Russian government. His tough talk led some of Obama’s foreign policy advisers to suggest McCain may have complicated the conflict.

McCain did not “use Obama’s absence.” He spoke up coherently and intelligently on a topic that he’s entitled to have an opinion on, anyway, and should have an opinion on as a presidential candidate, in contrast to Obama’s confused and halting blather about “encroach[ing] upon Georgia’s sovereignty.” He apparently needs international organizations involved in order to “condemn” or “review” anything that is going on.

“Who Do You Love More?”

Yikes. Tim Challies pulls no punches and dives into one of the hardest questions a parent can face: “Who Do You Love More?” In this case, the question was not which of the kids he loves more, but whether he loves them or their mother more. I am inclined to agree with his answer, in that it is important for parents to love each other first and foremost and not let their affections for their children undermine the marital bond itself. I’m less sure about his approach; I honestly don’t know what the best approach here is. Sometimes, a parent – even a fantastic one – is going to make his or her kids cry by doing what is best for them, I know. I’m curious what other people think on this one; there’s a good debate already going on Tim’s site, so either weigh in there or weigh in below, please.

Does an Operating System’s GUI Matter?

“Fibonacci” on the 168Hours blog says no and offers 10 Reasons why GUI Doesn’t Matter. His reasons, however, are basically screenshots using various tools to make Windows look a lot like Ubuntu (Linux), Mac OS X, Fedora, or KDE Plastik. I think this overlooks several key factors: performance, out-of-the-box configuration, and mass appeal.

Performance: first of all, as pretty as Windows Vista’s Aero can be, it is terribly slow and kludgy. It may be pretty, but I’ve turned off a lot of features, since my laptop, which is supposedly a mid-range-Vista laptop, can’t handle it smoothly enough for my needs. Secondly, making any OS look like something dramatically different requires add-ons and tweaks, which hog memory and processor cycles, reducing performance further. If Windows were meant to have transparent command line interfaces and the like, Bill Gates and his crew would have put them there; doing it after the fact is painful, like watching a champion pole vaulter trying to demonstrate his technique in slow motion – it doesn’t work, someone gets hurt, and nobody’s the better for it.

Out-of-the-box configuration: who cares what a geek can make a system look like? This is something that often confuses me. A true geek can, given enough time and effort, make a system look like just about anything his or her hardware can handle. This means nothing to the average user, who just wants things to work out of the box (or off the CD burn, or whatever). Most people don’t have the patience required to download, install, and configure numerous GUI tweaks, much less put up with the performance hits.

Mass appeal: obvious. Who cares what it can look like? Most people buying a computer or installing an OS care about its ability to run things they care about, its ease of use, and – because we are simple creatures and like shiny things – the eye candy factor. Denying this is pointless and the lack of a good GUI is one reason (secondary to lack of good virtualization tools) that Linux has held such low market share for so long.


Just What Is Obama’s Connection to Bill Ayers?

As many people have already discussed, Barack Obama has extensive connections to Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, former members of the terrorist group Weather Underground. Power Line has more details on the topic, thanks to the investigative work of Stanley Kurtz for the National Review.

The most notable paragraph:

The problem of Barack Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers will not go away. Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn were terrorists for the notorious Weather Underground during the turbulent 1960s, turning fugitive when a bomb – designed to kill army officers in New Jersey – accidentally exploded in a New York townhouse. Prior to that, Ayers and his cohorts succeeded in bombing the Pentagon. Ayers and Dohrn remain unrepentant for their terrorist past. Ayers was pictured in a 2001 article for Chicago magazine, stomping on an American flag, and told the New York Times just before 9/11 that the notion of the United States as a just and fair and decent place “makes me want to puke.” Although Obama actually launched his political career at an event at Ayers’s and Dohrn’s home, Obama has dismissed Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” and “not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.” For his part, Ayers refuses to discuss his relationship with Obama.

As Kurtz points out, however, Obama served for some time as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a group of which Ayers was a co-founder, and worked closely with Ayers during that time. When Kurtz went to investigate the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, this is what ensued:

Just before my plane took off, I received an e-mail from the special-collections librarian informing me that she had “checked our collection file” and determined that “access to the collection is closed.” I would be permitted to view the single CAC-related file from the Office of the Chancellor records, but nothing from the CAC records proper. I quickly wrote back, expressing surprise and disappointment. I noted that I had arranged my trip based on the library’s assurances of access, and followed up with questions about whether access was being denied because I was unaffiliated with UIC. I also asked who had authority over access to the collection, suggesting that I might be able to contact them and request permission to view it.

After arriving in Chicago, I found a message, not from the special-collections librarian, but from Ann C. Weller, professor and head, Special Collections Department. In answer to my question of who had authority over access to the collection, Weller said, that “the decision was made by me” in consultation with the library director. Weller stated that no one currently has access to the collection and added that: “The Collection is closed because it has come to our attention that there is restricted material in the collection. Once the collection has been processed it will be open to any patron interested in viewing it.”

It gets much, much more ridiculous – go read the full article.

My Library of Quotations

As you may realize by now, the “Library of Quotations” that used to appear on this site is no more. It had gotten unwieldy and impossible to maintain without a lot more custom programming, which, frankly, is not high on my list of priorities. So, if you’re looking for Dicky Fox, Dickie Fox, Forrest Gump, or Richard Simmons (apparently, those were my biggest draws…?), you will have to look elsewhere. Godspeed.