Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Aged to Perfection ... Irrelevance

If one Googles "wisdom of elders" there are, of course, quite a few hits about Native Americans. There are numerous referrals about African culture, and Indian, Chinese, Japanese, South American, Hebraic, and many, many others. Noticeably few hits―especially considering that the search was done in our language―are links to our own culture.

In one of my current haunts, the Daily Kos, posters and commentators are reminded often when they are being disrespectful of others' lifestyles or other cultural identities. Sexism, gay-bashing or other such conscious or less so intolerances put forth in this huge community will bring, like inevitable white corpuscles descending on bacteria, gentle to not-so-gentle remonstrations, occasionally leading to banishment by the referees for flagrant abuse. The clever design of the comment ratings system keeps the site remarkably civil in tone, considering the generally invective laden blogosphere. The tone is decidedly left, to be sure, but makes no bones about it. Many would think this sensitivity a bit too "politically" correct. This is a nonsensical argument. Correct is correct, politically or otherwise. Anything short of correctness is incorrect, regardless of political focus.


Such generosity of effort to consider the feelings of others seems to skip a beat when it comes to age. Oh, for sure there are excellent and heart rending posts about the trials of older family members and the difficulties with health care and social security and such. But there is little outrage when someone suggests that "wrinkly faced has-beens" like Ted Kennedy should step aside and turn over the leadership of the party to new blood. A November dust-up over Cindy Sheehan describing her ordeal as a "trail of tears" and the subsequent outrage of a Native American elicited thousands of comments in numerous posts, but constantly there are references to "those old farts" and "aging hippie pipedreams" and "doddering old fools" that raise few eyebrows.

Here's an Kossack example, from just last night. In a comment about Imus and his cohorts this champion of one of the most respectful and dignified politicians on the scene commented so:

... don't listen - never will - won't pollute my ears and eyes with either (sic) aging petrified impotent worms...

It's not that difficult to endure such short-sightedness. We've been parents for a long time. I applied for a management job at Best Buy a couple of years ago, more for practice than anything else. The interviewer actually asked something very close to this:

I like to come to the point, so let me ask you ... um, you're quite a bit older than other applicants we've had. Do you think you'll be able to maintain the pace?

That was pretty much the end of the interview, as I just kind of smiled, grabbed my jacket and walked out, vowing to always bring a dictaphone in the future. The sheer stupidity of the question was, on so many levels, enough to make it quite clear that I was barking up the wrong tree. I wanted to say:

I work out six days a week. I can shovel 6" of snow off the driveway and not feel my heart or have to stop for breath. I've been working on my feet in sales and construction for 30 years. I can kick your butt in chess, Scrabble, HORSE and long driving. I can grab your ass and toss you out that fucking window, you 30 something, Dew-sucking, chain smoking sack of yesterday's greasy french fries!

Incensed I was, but I didn't say anything like that. Why? Because wisdom prevents it. You either have the sense to realize that someone who has been in the world twice as long as you might have something to contribute or you don't. Most are surprised at thirty to realize how much they still feel like that fifteen year old kid, yet so many cannot make the connection that this phenomenon never goes away. Age is the frame; the setting. Life is the art; the dialogue. Though age is an element, it needs not to be, nor should it be a distraction to the appreciation of a person.

Some get it from the start. There are always one or two of your kid's teenage friends who stop in your kitchen on their way to the hangin' out place. Kid's who remember that your mom is under treatment and ask how things are going or actually offer information about how their life is going. Curious kids, not limited in view to the qualities of the stage of life they currently inhabit.

And when you see one of those endearing, eternally loving couples, or the retired guy who always shows up at the diner with a joke and a smile (and a tip) for the waitress, or the seventy year old woman at Wal Mart who hustles to help you get a cart while you corral two toddlers and load an infant, guess what?

Those are those same kids.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In the Bush League, Everyone Bats .000

The Medicare drug plan is off to a fantastic start. Here's some news from The in California:

SACRAMENTO - As the fiasco surrounding the federal government's new Medicare Part D drug program widens, California stands ready to spend $150 million to make sure needy seniors and the disabled get the medicine they need.

A bill is expected to fly through the Legislature this week to ensure that people such as Stockton's Bobbie Cossey get their medicine.The trick will be to get the feds to repay the state.

Cossey, 87, needs medicine for her heart problems. She is one of 16,637 "dual eligibles" in San Joaquin County - people receiving benefits from both Medicare for the elderly and disabled, and Medi-Cal, California's version of the federal Medicaid program for the nation's poorest residents.

It is this group, 6 million nationwide and about 1 million in California, who were removed from Medi-Cal drug coverage and automatically enrolled into Medicare's new prescription drug plan as of Jan. 1.

But upwards of 200,000 Californians have been unable to get their medicine without lengthy delays or being forced to pay exorbitant rates, because the computer system and phone lines supporting the plan have crashed.

Every day, thousands of calls pour in to state and local agencies reporting problems with the system. Many of them involve poor people who need medicine to survive and who have been told they need to make a $250 co-payment to get medicine that was free two weeks ago.

It's truly a national disgrace," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nûñez, D-Los Angeles. "There's no question the Bush administration has faltered and failed to deliver."

It's no surprise to so many of us that this administration is too hopelessly inept to pull off such a program. The professionals in government will have to pick up the shards of this fragile free market dreamwork and patch it together, sadly not until the rethuglicans have killed off a couple thousand old people first.

But listen to this response from a druggist in Tennessee.

It's been a nightmare only the government could have come up with," Cohen said. "Any pharmacy serving an older population is tearing their hair out.

This will be the response of the pliant majority. In their Fox News oblivion they will blame not the consortium of right wing pols and pharmaceutical barons who have shoved this down our elders' throats (16 Democrats voted for this albatross), but BIG Guvament and the "nanny" state for trying to accomplish what high flying, fast living drug czars can do better. And here's their hero on the subject:


I don't really understand. How is the new plan going to fix the problem?


Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

How can you go wrong with leadership like that?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Bears that Don't Dance

Today is Martin Luther King day, who may just have well been born five hundred years ago. Protest? Hell, we've got careers to attend to. Let's talk about the Bears, instead. Yesterday was their first playoff game in some time, which they lost to the Panthers, 29/21.

Report card:

offenseBgot rolling after a while
offensive lineB-too many hurries, but the run was fairly effective against a very good defense
running backsCdowngraded for lack of blitz help
receiversCnot enough there, lack of aggressiveness to ball, no speed
quarterbackB-steadied but only less erratic. accurate middle range, less so short range. inexperience showed in two minute
defenseDkeeping score down in first half and last two stops in second only salvation from F. defense was highly overrated, as Packers (twice) and Steelers piled up big yards before this debacle
defensive lineC-so-so against good running team. no pressure on quarterback
linebackersD-if it wasn't an eight or nine yard gain over the middle, it was an eight or nine yard gain on that flanker/wide pass with no outside backer in sight (revised to D- for Uhrlacher's all time highlights quality interception
defensive backsD-only Vasher prevents F-, Tilmon's efforts were historically you feel sorry for the guy wherever he ends up bad. the field was no help here, but phew!
special teamsFperhaps the most critical aspect of the game, as punter was uncharacteristically awful, putting us behind the eight ball. each time the offense responded kickoffs were short and coverage was poor, negating momentum.
offensive coachingB-downgraded for lack of timely adjustment to middle blitzes, which harried first half efforts well into the second quarter
defensive coachingFVasher on Smith (200+ yards) anyone?
head coachCcan't help thinking that Grossman and defense should have played final regular season game, that we were in no position to coast. wasted a challenge that might have been used on the last NC TD, I thought the receiver didn't have control when he hit the ground on a very tight replay. team seemed sluggish and ill-prepared at onset.
FoxBupgraded for helping Charter kiss and make up with the evil right wingers at Sinclair Broadcasting (who own my local Fox affiliate) in time to add Fox to my hi-def tier in time for playoffs. hate the buzz, zip, swoosh stuff, but I'm probably just old. beneath the flashy graphics, Fox is MBA bottom line not enough help cheap and it shows
Joe BuckAknowledgeable enough to have input, smart enough to stay out of the way
Troy AikmanFdidn't think it possible, but he's worse than Collinsworth! calling for balanced attack down 16/7 to an excellent run defense team, whereupon Grossman immediately catches fire and ignites offense. whereupon he says it won't continue to work. whereupon it does. whereupon after it worked three times in a row but not the fourth he declared himself right all along. what "got us there" was not being behind by two scores, nimrod! Collinsworth did his part on Saturday, though, remarking after numerous three and outs that "we're not in Chicago, after all". He keeps snarking the second biggest football market in the country, how smart is that?
outlookBwill defense maintain speed, because it isn't big. big backs (Steelers, Sam Con) steamrolled it. receiver situation is not good, no speed. Grossman has guts, but is clumsy, will he last? continue bubble under until top flight receiver core. looked like a bona-fide NFL team out there, which is a big improvement.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Long Train Coming, Long Train Gone

In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum

"Bullet in the Sky" U2

The resolution of a thing is a quieter process. The cold fronts that sweep across our prairies trigger adrenaline charged awe at the titanic clash of cloud on cloud and the explosive release of gust lines and gale driven precipitation, but these riots are mere announcements of an effect that is to come, as more quietly, while our attention turns elsewhere, the chill gathers.

Or a hard charging freight train approaches a crossing as its horns crescendo a screaming certainty. While the basso growl of the diesels accompanies the cacophony of a thousand steel wheels bowing the tracks one stands by, waiting for the worst of the powerlessness to be over.

Later, with heart still pounding, breath recovers as the hundreds of cars roll by. Some clatter by more noisily than others, but one becomes less transfixed, the mind wandering off to the business of the day or perhaps to daydreams.

Some trains bring only the coal that cooks our troposphere and kills our lakes. Some bring the chemicals that transmute our tissues. Some carry the sticks and glue of our construction. Railroad trains carry the stuff of life and death, and of all the complication in between.

As do trains of thought. So, now that the conservative counter revolution's engine has passed with the fury and tumult of congressional and executive election, we wait dumbly as the cars go by. Along rattles an Alito nomination, somewhat above the din. We notice briefly, and maybe glance down the track for an end to the inconvenience.

Not all of us. There are spotters who gather and compare notes and take photographs. These enthusiasts see the contents, monitor the traffic, note the poisons. As we look down or straight ahead, we don't notice them. We are vaguely aware that there are poisons, we have heard of disasters.

But always they have occurred in someone else's town.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Not One to Judge

KENNEDY: The June '84 edition of Prospect magazine contains a short article on AIDS. I know that we've come a long way since then in our understanding of the disease, but even for that time the insensitivity of statements in this article are breathtaking. It announces that a team of doctors has found the AIDS virus in the rhesus monkeys was similar to the virus occurring in human beings. And the article then goes on with this terrible statement: "Now that the scientists must find humans, or rather homosexuals, to submit themselves to experimental treatment. Perhaps Princeton's Gay Alliance may want to hold an election." You didn't read that article?

ALITO: I feel confident that I didn't, Senator, because I would not have anything to do with statements of that nature.

KENNEDY: In 1973, a year after you graduated, and during your first year at Yale Law School, former Senator Bill Bradley very publicly disassociated himself with CAP because of its right-wing views and unsupported allegations about the university. His letter of resignation was published in The Prospect; garnered much attention on campus and among the alumni. Were you aware of that at the time that you listed the organization in your application?

ALITO: I don't think I was aware of that until recent weeks when I was informed of it.

This is Ted Kennedy grilling Supreme Court Justice nominee Alito. You might think a guy looking for the #1 prestige legal job in America, a guy who has made his way through one of the most difficult law schools in the land and presumably passed at least one bar exam would not have such a hard time remembering things. "I don't recall". Its sickening. "I don't remember these guys wanted to return Princeton to the good old days of no women, no minorities, and no gays."

Yeah, right. And le sequoit doesn't remember anything about the SDS or the Yippies or the Black Panthers from those days. You say these guys advocated actual revolution? I don't remember any of that. NORML advocated legalization of marijauna? You're kidding me! NOW was pushing for an Equal Rights Amendment for women? News to me.

If politics were truth, and if I were being interviewed by one Ted Kennedy, the conversation would be much shorter and to the point. I wouldn't have to pretend that, although I had been generally considered fairly brilliant my entire life, I couldn't remember the general tenor of the propaganda of any group I belonged to.

No, my response to Kennedy to all this questioning of school days stuff would be:

I would think that we all have matured in our individual perceptions of
responsibility to our fellow man and woman since those days, wouldn't you agree,
Senator Kennedy?

As much as I respect Ted Kennedy for being one of the hardest working and productive contributors to government for the last 35 years, and despite my believing fervently that he is far more the champion of my well being that Alito, I don't think I could have blamed Alito for going that way.

It would have been perfectly fair. And honest. That's why you didn't hear it.

Betwixt and Between

Today was time to to take my mom to the doc. My father―and this would be another of excellently timed events in my life―graduated from lower middle to upper middle class at precisely the moment I left the nest. Thus my mom, like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes, is older and has better insurance. Medicare backed up by Blue Cross.

So taking her to the doctor means firing up one of the Buicks and heading straight on through all the northern Chicago suburbs and past Rush Presbyterian and Northwestern University Medical Center and right on down South Lake Shore Drive to the Midway Plaisance and the University of Chicago hospitals. No messing around here. These are US News and World Report 2005 rankings for American cancer centers.
  1. Memorial Sloan - Kettering Cancer Center, New York
  2. University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
  4. Dana - Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
  5. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
  6. Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
  7. University of Chicago Hospitals
I don't mind one bit taking the time to do this, and we took a little extra time coming back. The University is in an stately old neighborhood called Hyde Park. The Museum of Science and Industry anchors the lakeside end of this former midway of The Columbian Exposition (it was the fine arts hall), and then we headed out onto South Lake Shore Drive northbound. Coming north toward the Chicago skyline is always a treat, and I passed the cutoff to the expressways and continued north past the monstrous McCormack Place and its annexes toward the bizarrely remodeled Soldier Field, which looks rather like a giant colander plunked down into the middle of the Parthenon.

Along about here we turned onto Columbus Ave., which bisects Grant Park. Along this drive we passed one of Chicago's oldest landmarks, Buckingham Fountain and one of its newest, Millennium Park's Crown Fountain. Soon this drive pops out over the river, east of Michigan Avenue. It won't be too long until there is a major addition to this view, the new (oh, my god) Trump Tower, Chicago style. I thoroughly approve of this building, especially from the pictured view. All over Asia they are building science fiction or pagoda looking big buildings, but this is pure Chicago classic steel and glass curtain. It's unfortunate that it has to be named after a New Yorker, but I give the Don (well, Skidmore, Owens & Merrill) credit on this one.

We turned left onto Ontario and crossed Michigan Ave. on our way out to the expressways, just a quick ten minute tour this time. Tomorrow I get to take the little Hun up to Madison to follow up with her eye surgeon. Another great place for all of it's own reasons.

And I'll continue to wonder how it is that I live halfway in between these great places, rather than in one of them.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Sure Sign of Cabin Fever

The squirrels around here get a bit restless in winter. Per exemple:

-----Original Message-----
From: your_little_ Hun
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 8:45 AM
To: big_ass_ sequoit_ admin
Subject: RE: Pictures

To My Network Administrator:

I can't open the XMAS 2005 pics.
Access is denied.

-----Original Message-----
From: big_ass_sequoit_admin
Sent: Friday,January 06, 2006 9:45 PM
To: your_little_ Hun
Subject: RE:Pictures

I will decide who is worthy to view the XMAS 2005 pics.
Incidentally, using "xmas" is traitorous in view of the War on the War against Christmas. luser.

-----Original Message-----
From: your_little_ Hun
Sent: Saturday, January 07, 2006 10:30 AM
To: big_ass_ sequoit_ admin
subject: RE: Pictures

It was you that named the folder "XMAS 2005, luser.
And I'm not worthy??????

-----Original Message-----
From: big_ass_ sequoit_admin
Sent: Saturday, January 07, 2006 2:15 PM
To: your_little_ Hun
Subject: RE: Pictures

Hmmmmm. Was likely autonomic adherence to secular based enterprise naming policy.
Appropriate permissions applied. Have a smurfy day.

Perhaps it would be better if we could just go into cryogenic capsules for the duration. Unsurprisingly, this syndrome of winter ennui has its own acronym, SAD, which stands for
seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms?

  • regularly occurring symptoms of depression (excessive eating and sleeping,
    weight gain) during the fall or winter months.
  • full remission from depression occur in the spring and summer months.
  • symptoms have occurred in the past two years, with no nonseasonal
    depression episodes.
  • seasonal episodes substantially outnumber nonseasonal depression episodes.
  • a craving for sugary and/or starchy foods.
  • odd fits of attempts at levity, such as emailing each other snarky stuff
    from the some console. (I added that one)

The thinking is that our bodies are confused as to why we are going to and coming home from work in the dark―we never listen, do we? It is thought that this condition might be exacerbated by long periods of darkness. AHA!

Yesterday was (in Milwaukee, anyway) our 15th consecutive officially overcast day. Virtually no sun in about a half a month. This is a new record, breaking one from 1991, I think (Grandma's got the paper now, and it already took two trips to remember seasonal affected disorder, I'm not going back again).

Eerily, this timing coincides with the previous losing season for the Packers, the year they traded for a backup quarterback Brett Favre. This will give you an idea of just how thorough the local media is at inserting something about the Packers into every single story ever written.

The article mentioned that today and tomorrow are going to be the same sad story.

There's nary a cloud in the sky.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rebel Music

This post begins a new phase of this effort, as I've gone and made a likely shaky resolution to be more Not like, "I cleaned the trunk of the car today and then I made stir-fry" about me, but an attempt to be a bit more observational of things more proximate than the President and stuff.

For instance, unless I've made a formatting foray by the time you read this, or if you are reading this at, above you can see Wednesday, January 04, 2006 (assuming I finish by midnight). It occurred to me some time ago that if you're reading the Front Page version I compose these little ditties on you're probably at least months from now. Oh sure, for me it's the day before garbage day (though despite my knowing this, I will unfailingly be reminded of it by both my "roommates"), but what's that to you?

As I said, if you've stumbled upon this page in 2009 or so, it's not going to matter if today was my day to call unemployment or not. I've realized this for some time, and it's a kind of thing that bugs me. I've been meaning to take the day out of the dateline. For a while now. I've probably entered...oh...twenty or thirty or fifty or so days since I decided to remove them.

Well now, I lied on top there because I am going to report here that I did cook a stir-fry, but somehow I never got to the trunk thing. Nor have I cleaned my golf clubs and bag that in November I left in the way so I would be sure to do so. I took them out of the trunk in November because I had to haul two bags of stuff the little Hun yanked off some plants in October. I had to dump the two bags in a dumpster behind a travel agency (how much room could they need?) in January when I went to go to the Home Depot to get six bags of salt for the water softener (which didn't look too good down there). Always something, ain't it?

It's quite possible that I'm a procrastinator, but let's not rush to any conclusions!

Surprisingly enough, I have some bills that really have to get out, so I better get right to it. But first, let me tell you all about New Year's Eve. We spent it with some very old friends and, despite our being so very old, managed quite the time. We had dinner at Chautara restaurant in Madison, which serves food from the Himalayan region. Our compadres were friends with the owner Rajan, and we quickly became so as well. Rajan was born in Nepal, but grew up on State Street, as his father was a professor of linguistics at UW. The food was fantastic, mine a loin of lamb. At ten or so we walked up to the Capitol to watch fireworks, and then back to the restaurant for a little after hours celebrating with our new friends at Chautara, which kinda means "resting place".

Then off to a club I don't remember the name of for Supa Ranks & His Rock Stone High Power (mysteriously, that I remember). Dat be da reggae, mon. Me jamma til tree, mebbe four.

21 day to de Island. Irie.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's a Wonderful World of Open Source Out There...Luser

While checking in this AM at Daily Kos I saw this WARNING- Major new Windows virus post. This may or may not be a latest hoax, I've been Googling around to see other news of this (which is probably a good way to get malware) but haven't found much yet.

Inevitable with any story like this comes the geek rain pouring down cats and dogs, why would anyone use 'win-duhs', anyway? Don't they get sick of chasing down every emergency security patch for every hole these sadists in Redmond leave in there just to drive us all crazy! Blah, blah, blah. (or , excuse me, in Millennialese thats yadda, yadda, yadda)

Now, I browse a lot. I used to get spyware, etc., and had to learn how to get rid of it. But since I began using XP pro and browse in power user profile, I've had zero problems. Perhaps the network with Charter cable helps with this, as I'm sure that the way they're trying to maximize their bandwith running three meg internet on the same cable with Digital TV with high definition channels and whatnot must entail some effort at keeping the malware stuff at bay.

I've thought about checking out Linux. I could partition my hard drive and run a dual-boot machine so I could use MS Office for work stuff and Flight Sim, and boot back to Linux for heavy memory stuff and running a Firefox browser. If I needed another hobby, which I don't. Still, my "carelessless" doesn't seem as bad as all this, taken from the above post's comments and fairly typical:

When you all are tired of trying to enumerate every possible variation of evil that can ruin your Microsoft (Broken) Windows(tm) computer maybe you will switch to Linux if you don't want to buy new hardware. Not only won't these kind of things happen, but your computer will actually work better because it won't be wasting resources running band-aid software (anti-virus, spy-ware detectors,...).

This was entitled, "Yawn". (apparently not so bored he couldn't help keying it in)

When I see stuff like this, I think "Volkswagen people" (after selling you this crap for so long, they own BMW's now). You know, the our weird engineering is so non-mainstream and way better myth, ironically brought to you by the manufacturers of the "people's car". The car that in the sixties needed a new exhaust system and brakes every second trip to Kmart for arctic gloves to keep your hands from freezing while you continually scraped the frost from the inside of the windshield. We leased a Jetta once. After two months I realized that the chronic charley horse in my right leg was due to the way the accelerator pedal makes you hold the top of your foot back. At six months one of the passenger access handles pulled off. Other interior elements came loose. Going near a parking lot was enough to chip the paint. My Focus, at $4,000 less and 50,000 miles farther, is far superior, though I have little love for the Ford Motor Company's disregard for customer service.

Somewhere, though, I tried to keep a semblance of an open mind as I went to Google and keyed "Linux problems". The first hit that seemed to want to make a comparative stab was called Cool Tech Zone. I got an article taking the devil's advocate's side and arguing the shortfalls of Linux, an attempt at fairness following up some previous article extolling its virtues.

They address the concern that any foray into tech world beyond the Add New Programs wizard will bring you into the land of the it's plenty clear to me, you luser, and I've only been into electronics for fifteen years or so crowd:

6. Unfriendly Gurus: If there is one thing that people hate, it's being condescended to. Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence on many Linux message boards and help resources. People saying things like "READ THE MANUAL, YOU MORON" usually doesn't send the positive message to the learner. While the idea is correct, the form of expression is not well thought out. If, on the other hand, someone had politely pointed out that the solution could be found in such and such a place, the new users might actually have looked. A response like this will only lead the user right back to Windows.

Well, that seems downright friendly, don't it? (Of course the "idea" example isn't entirely correct, as many times the MANUEL has been loosely translated from Mandarin or Hindustani.) We don't have to go far for an example of condescension, though. In fact, only back to the second paragraph of the same article:

Why do this article? Well, in the interest of being fair. Yes, it is easy to dismiss Windows users as whiners, and people who can't be bothered to learn about their machines, but life is not that simple, is it?

Well, there's a fucking welcome wagon to the world of Linux, eh? And this is them trying to be gracious.

And then there's Mac, the Betamax of home computing. Pre XP―with it's adoption of N/T's hardware abstraction―Macs had a huge reliability advantage. Your Mac doesn't crash, and my PC doesn't either (any more). PC performance levels are catching Mac, too. In fact, dual processor Dells out of the box are blowing away dual Macs as we speak, though that's $3,000 and up stuff. Interface? I'll take the Windows start menu in classic mode any day, especially with some mastery of keyboard shortcuts.

I might have gone that way in 1998. Surely there is a big advantage to Macs in that they are far less targeted by malicious folk than the ubiquitous Windows. Applephiles say this isn't the sole explanation for the security edge, but I don't trust that anything that's written can't be written around. More Macs, more Mac messers, and that goes for Linux "flavors", too.

I'm going to check out Firefox today, though, as there's a lot about Outlook that mystifies me, starting with having to select email addressees by their first names. So much of Office is incredibly arcane. You select a box in Contacts called Display as and you set "Smith, Ann and Bob". Then you go to New→Message→To: and you get a list starting with "Ann and Bob Smith". WTF? What if you don't remember Bob's wife's name? Why don't you just give me the regular contacts folder so I can decide which email for "Bob Smith" I want to use, instead of listing two "Ann and Bob Smith"s in the To: list with no indication which email address is which? If one contact has to be "bob at work" for the To: list to make sense, then what's the point of giving email1, email2 and email 3 options in the Contact form? There are a gazillion things like this in Windows that make you go, "huh?" And then there's that little Alzheimer's moment when your Office Professional 2003 program is missing a button that you could swear was there yesterday, but that's because yesterday your were at home on your Office XP Professional version. Why, why, why?

Still, Microsoft suffers a lot of slings and arrows largely because they try to follow the correct philosophy that for most of us these things are supposed to be appliances...a turn key operation. It's a foreign concept to all these cranky old mechanics of techie world that if we wanted to know more about our machines we would be, like, mechanics. We just want it to work, and if it doesn't, that's your fault.