Week of 6 April 2009
Update: Friday, 10 April 2009 11:14 -0500
Several people pointed out that Kompozer is based on the old Mozilla
Composer code, is not being maintained, and so is unlikely to be fixed.
Everyone mentioned Quanta Plus, so I decided to give it a try. I'm
using it to edit this page. It seems to be fully-featured, in fact
perhaps too much so. I'm not entirely sure that I have figured out how
to use Quanta to publish this page up to the server. If not, it's easy
enough to transfer the page manually.
Ah, well. Back to
Kompozer, at least for now. Quanta was doing some things I don't
understand, and now is not the time to try to figure it out. I spent
most of the weekend working on my new project for O'Reilly/MAKE, and I
have more that absolutely must be done this week than I have time to
do. Then I need to do taxes, as well as other top priority stuff. I
really don't have time to learn a new app right now.
I bask in the glory of my ability to predict the outcome of basketball
games. Before the NCAA final started last night, Most of the "experts"
predicted a very close game. Barbara picked UNC by 10. No, I said, it's
going to be UNC by 17. And UNC indeed won by 17 points. So, I bask.
course, I also predicted McCain in a landslide. But then, I'm not
entirely convinced that McCain didn't actually win in a landslide. I no
longer have any confidence that reported election returns in this
country bear any resemblence to reality. Oh, I'm sure that the numbers
from precincts that use paper ballots and other voting methods that
provide audit trails are reasonably accurate, but as far as I'm
concerned the results from jurisdictions that use electronic voting
machines can't be trusted at all. And there are enough of those now
that I suspect elections are routinely being rigged at the local,
state, and federal levels. One doesn't need a lot of manipulatable
precincts to change the outcome of an election even if most of the
precincts are using verifiable voting methods.
I used to say that I didn't trust our government. Now, I don't even trust that the government we have actually is our rightful government.
Ten or fifteen years ago, when the states started suing the tobacco
companies to recover the additional health care costs they claimed
resulted from smoking, I was discussing the issue with my friend Steve
Tucker, who worked for Reynolds.
I told Steve that, whether
their arguments were right or wrong, the states should lose the case.
There were obviously two possibilities. First, that the states were
wrong about smoking causing additional heath problems, in which case
clearly the states had no claim against the tobacco companies. Second,
that the states were right about smoking causing additional health
problems, in which case clearly the states had no claim against the
tobacco companies. Why? Because the states would then have to balance
the additional health care costs they incurred against the reduced
costs that resulted from smokers dying younger and therefore saving the
states money in terms of reduced pension payouts and the elimination
of health care costs for those people who had died young from
smoking. Because treating the chronic health care problems of the
elderly is the most expensive part of health care, the states would
actually have lower costs overall if a lot of people died relatively
young as a result of smoking. Steve said the courts wouldn't let the
tobacco companies make the latter argument.
But an article in
the newspaper this morning analyzes that argument. As it turns out, the
states and the federal government actually save money on smokers, to
the tune of $0.34/pack. So, it seems to me to be only fair that, rather
than charging high taxes on a pack of cigarettes, the government should
pay a $0.34/pack subsidy to encourage smoking. Well, that'd be
break-even. So perhaps they should pay a $0.33/pack subsidy and make a
little money on the deal. Rather than all these programs intended to
prevent kids from starting to smoke, they could have "Introduction to
Smoking" classes in the middle schools or even the elementary schools.
only about 20% of adults smoke, compared to nearly 100% in my parents'
generation. That difference will end up costing taxpayers trillions
over the coming decades and bankrupting the Social Security system. So,
rather than focusing his efforts on Universal Health Care, perhaps
Obama would do better to focus his efforts on Universal Smoking.
Oh, yeah. Full disclosure. I smoke a pipe. Interestingly, before
political correctness came into play, life insurance companies charged
pipe smokers the same rates as non-smokers. And even that wasn't fair
to pipe smokers. Ask any actuary. If he's honest, he'll tell you that,
on average, pipe smokers live longer than non-smokers.
that smoking a pipe is particularly good for you in any absolute sense.
It's that pipe smokers are the ultimate Type B personalities. We're
calm, steady, and don't get excited or stressed. And so we live longer.
- Thanks to Ron Morse's suggestions, I've fixed Kompozer. It now works normally. From Ron:
There's also a work-around for the GTK versioning problem that causes Kompozer 7 to barf available here. The required GTK library for K/Ubuntu is here.
I see that pirates have hijacked a US-flagged and -crewed vessel for
the first time in 200 years. Despite the fact that they were unarmed,
the US crew promptly tossed the pirates overboard. The pirates were
left holding only the ship's captain, with a US destroyer and some
Marines on the way. Let's hope they recover the captain and execute the
In another example of the world being upside-down,
commercial ships are not only discouraged from fighting off pirates,
but are actually forbidden to be armed. Leave it to the UN to have
things bass-ackwards. Every commercial ship transiting those waters
should be armed sufficiently well to drive off pirates. It wouldn't
take much. Even a lowly .50 BMG machine gun or two would do the job.
That round is sufficient to make it dangerous for a pirate boat to
approach within a mile of the armed vessel. At a kilometer, the .50 BMG
can badly hammer something the size and makeup of a pirate boat, and
the .50 BMG could turn a pirate boat into a floating collection of
matchsticks before it got inside RPG range. Of course, something a bit
heavier, say quad 40mm's, would be better still. And the ROE should be
weapons-free for any unidentified boat that closes on an interception
course within a mile of a commercial vessel.
As I was ripping Barbara's CD collection, I came across her four or
five CDs of The Corrs, which I thought was a Canadian rock band. Not
so, as it turns out. The Corrs is an Irish family band, comprising
three beautiful sisters and their ugly brother, whose name I forget.
Here's a clip of them doing Haste to the Wedding.
The first four minutes is the stunning Sharon Corr solo on violin. At
the 4:00 mark, the rest kick in, with Andrea Corr on tinwhistle and
Caroline Corr on bodhrán and drums. Incidentally, the guy trying
desperately to keep up with Caroline Corr on drums is Mick Fleetwood.
As I mentioned to Barbara after we watched the video, if I were going to learn to play one instrument, it'd be the bodhrán, that despite all the nasty jokes about bodhrán players.
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