First, I'd like to welcome my mom to broadband. She's been on dial-up since she got her first home computer (in, I think 2001), but she finally got a cable modem. I clocked the thing at 9.1 Mbps downstream, which is about 160 times faster than her 56.6k analog modem.
I mention this because yesterday she asked me to pick up a copy of Turbo Tax at the store. I pointed out that, with a super-fast Internet connection, she could simply download the product and save a tree.
In an unrelated train of thought, Borowitz was funnier than usual today:
[O]ne day after published reports alleged that author James Frey had fabricated sections of his bestselling memoir, A Million Little Pieces, Mr. Frey was named chief spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department.
Finally, the new Webcam arrived from Logitech. I'll be testing it in the lab for a few days before replacing the main one—assuming the replacement works as hoped.
Yesterday's post about the flaming mouse is apparently so much hooey, says the Associated Press in a follow-up report today:
A small-town rumor that sparked world-wide interest about a mouse burning down a house has been found to be untrue.
"It's really humorous more than anything that a mouse burned down the house," [81-year-old Chano Mares] told KOAT-TV in Albuquerque. The mouse was dead when it hit the burning leaves.
Mares said he trapped and killed the critter and tossed it on the fire.
So This American Life remains the only verified rodent-running-around-on-fire story I have, though there are still two verified rodents flambés on record.
Update: The following entry may be false. Or maybe the guy just changed his story after the A.P. got ahold of it.
The Associated Press reports today that a New Mexico man destroyed his house when he threw a mouse into a pile of burning leaves, only to have the mouse run into the house and set it on fire.
This reminded me of a segment on This American Life involving a rookie cop and a squirrel, except that the cop didn't intentionally set fire to the squirrel.
Sic transit gloria musi.
I debated even calling attention to this latest bit of drivel from the mental midget extraordinaire, Pat Robertson. But he had this to say about critically-ill Ariel Sharon last night:
[The prophet Joel] makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.' ... [Sharon] was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America.
Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman said, essentially, "STFU, Pat:"
His remarks are un-Christian and a perversion of religion. Unlike Robertson, we don't see God as cruel and vengeful.
So why not post this tidbit? Because it's never good to wrestle with a pig. You both get muddy, but the pig likes it.
Interesing news stories of the day:
The President yesterday made 17 recess appointments to positions requiring Senate approval, which gets the people into office until the Senate can meet.
In other words, the White House knows or has reason to believe that the Senate would not confirm, or would in some other way obstruct, these appointments. So the President just put them into office, where they stay until the Senate can hold confirmation hearings. This gives the Senate the opportunity to allow the appointments to stand without actually having the kind of "up-or-down vote" that the Republicans continually demand—the kind they refused to give more than 100 of Clinton's judicial nominees.
The Washington Post (reg.req.) reports:
President Bush yesterday made a raft of controversial recess appointments, including Julie L. Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau at the Department of Homeland Security, in a maneuver circumventing the need for approval by the Senate.
Myers, a niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers and the wife of the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, had been criticized by Republicans and Democrats who charged that she lacked experience in immigration matters.
Chertoff's chief of staff's wife? Well, I did make my wife my corporate counsel, but the confirmation process didn't involve the U.S. Senate or 50 million voters...
MSNBC is reporting this hour that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has suffered a "significant" stroke:
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a “significant” stroke Wednesday after being brought to the hospital from his ranch in the Negev desert, a hospital official said. Minutes later, a hospital official said Sharon had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.
Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of Hadassah Hospital, said Sharon was put under general anesthetic and was receiving breathing assistance while doctors assessed his condition.
Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon said Sharon’s authorities have been transferred to Vice Premier Ehud Olmert.
More as developments warrant.
My cousin Matt just sent me information about a portable power meter that you can use to see how much electricity your appliances are actually using. It's pretty cool.
It might be interesting to see how much power things use when they're off.
The National Hurricane Center reports this hour that Tropical Storm Zeta, only the second January tropical storm ever recorded, may become a hurricane. It probably won't, but it's already so close as to make the distinction irrelevant to any ships in the area.
I'm putting this in the Politics category as well as the Weather category because I believe it's one more example of the increased tropical activity predicted by the global warming hypothesis and ignored by current U.S. policy.
For those of you dying to know what the next tropical cyclone will be named, the NHC says the naming season begins January 1st, even though the "official" hurricane season begins June 1st. So the next Atlantic tropical storm will be named Alberto, even if it forms tomorrow.