Overdue update

[Note 2/24/04: Zhubin starts off a discussion on Bush’s support of a Constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage and the future of the libertarian-conservative alliance in the comment section.]

OK, I’ve been getting some complaints about the lack of updates. Sorry about that, but it’s been an exceptionally busy week. Sleep has been at a minimum and work at a maximum, a situation only exacerbated by the onset of Aerobie-friendly weather.

Several weeks into classes things are still going well, though I’m having to devote much more time to them than I’d expected. French has been by far the most difficult. The last time I took French was my sophomore year, so my class is full of freshmen who are much better at it than I am. I’m catching up, however. In doing my last assignment I learned that the French word for porcupine is porc-ťpic — literally, spiked pig. Interesting.

My most enjoyable course has been Philosophy and Literature. Maybe that’s because all we’ve done is read things our professor likes and talk about them. He has good taste, though. This class has turned me on to a writer I’d never heard of till now named Peter Taylor. Most of his stories are set in the South, especially Nashville and Memphis, and they are saturated with both ambiguity and keen observation. I’ve never read anything quite like them before, and I enjoy them very much.

I plan on updating more soon. In the meantime, read about the adventures of Cato’s Tom Palmer on the ground in Baghdad. He goes armed with 500 copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and recounts events on his recently improved weblog.


V-Day greetings from The Slant

Ah, the day before Valentine’s Day, the holiday everybody loves to hate. But you’ll never be alone on V-Day as long as you have a February issue of The Slant. We’ve got your Top 10 Valentine’s Day Gift Suggestions, Valentine’s plans from Around the Loop, and even a few card cut-outs like you had in elementary school. And, of course, from last year there’s my Bastard Confession: Special Valentine’s Day Edition. For a brighter view of things, see my Valentine from The Torch of the same week.


Thank you, Janet

Janet Reno, not Janet Jackson. My friend Chad Wilcox thought he should share with me the gratitude he feels toward you for the Microsoft anti-trust settlement in Tennessee. I thought he should share it with the world. So, here’s Chad:

“Look, out there unbeknownst to me some computer manufacturers fought a lengthy legal battle against evil money-grubbing bloodsucking Microsoft, and now because I was possibly (though never proven in a court of law) overcharged I, an upper middle class citizen who neither needs the money nor was aware I was financially knifed in the back by some corporate mogul, may be entitled to like $30 in vouchers that I, if I actually receive them and remember to do so, may be allowed to use to purchase any number of inferior products sold by the plaintiffs who possibly (though not officially) could have succeeded in arguing that the source of the inferiority of their products was illegal pricing action by the owner of the higher quality product that I actually chose to purchase. Thank you, Janet Reno, for using what was hopefully not in excess of $30 of every American taxpayer’s money to spearhead an investigation that resulted in the discovery that what my father’s upper middle class bank account thought was $600 worth of software purchased over a seven year period may in fact have been only $570 worth of software, and for leading directly to the enormously expensive class action lawsuit that resulted in the reallocation of this $30 from Microsoft to other less successful computer industry entrepreneurs. I genuinely hope the hundreds, possibly thousands, of lower middle class citizens who were encouraged to contribute to the legal fees necessary for such a lawsuit, who probably did not even purchase amounts of software entitling them to more than $5 or $10 in vouchers, know just how grateful I am for receiving this blessing at the hands of yet another now-vanquished corporate enemy.”


No more of yesterday’s news

Have you ever said to yourself that there just aren’t enough right wing-to-libertarian weblogs out there? Me neither, but The Torch is starting another one anyway and I’m now officially a two blog guy.

A problem at The Torch this past year has been updating our website in a timely manner. To smooth out the production process and get new content up without a full time webmaster we’ve switched to Movable Type weblog format. It’s not quite as stylish as the old page, but it gets the job done. Hopefully we’ll use it to post continuous content as well. Update your bookmarks and see the January issue on the new Vanderbilt Torch Weblog.

My own column is a criticism of the decision in McConnell v. FEC. As Tim Lee has noted on his weblog, this acceptance of McCain-Feingold deserves a lot more outrage than it has received for the law’s overt violations of the First Amendment.


Better browsing

One of my first entries on this weblog was about a free program called Slim Browser. It makes surfing the Web much easier by adding some great features onto Internet Explorer (like tabbed browsing, a pop-up add blocker, search bar, and many others Ė see my original post from May 2003). With my new laptop in hand, I decided to try out the latest versions of Slim Browser and the IE competitor Mozilla Firebird. Hereís how they stack up:

The new Slim Browser [download] is still excellent. It also fixes one of the main defects of the older version, which was that it used to allow you to have only one browser window open. That was not a major problem, but multiple windows would have been a nice option to have. Now itís there.

The overall look is a little cleaner and there are many other smaller upgrades. One noteworthy addition is an option to restore the sites you have open if the program crashes or you accidentally close it. The only change I donít like is the MyWay search bar, but itís easy to set the default to Google (or anything else).

Mozilla Firebird [download] is another good tabbed browser. It also has the advantage of accepting downloadable extensions to make it even better. However, as it stands now it lacks many of the features in Slim Browser, and for that reason Iím not switching over. Perhaps Iíll change my mind as more extensions are created.

That said, Firebird has some very good features for navigating with just a keyboard. Shortcuts with the ctrl key jump the cursor to the search and address bars and simply typing the first letters in a hyperlink on a page brings you to it. For times when youíre using a laptop without an external mouse, Firebird could be the most convenient option.

Both programs offer tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking, which are the two biggest advantages they have over plain old Internet Explorer. If youíre currently using IE, Slim Browser automatically employs your current settings, favorites, etc. Try it out. I think youíll like it.


What’s in a pronoun?

With Howard Dean now desperate enough to subject himself to a full hour of Tim Russert’s questions, it was a sure bet that this morning’s episode of “Meet the Press” was going to have some fun moments. This was my favorite exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: So the idea of not using her [Judy Dean] as a prop was wrong, you want to have her next to you.

DR. DEAN: It’s not a prop. She’s not a prop…

Oops. I also got a kick out of this:

Dr. Dean: … [Bush] just thinks of us as cogs in a corporate machine. Teddy Roosevelt came along and fixed that after McKinley, Franklin Roosevelt came along after Hoover, now we need a Democrat in the White House to replace George Bush so we can start thinking of ourselves as human beings first and cogs in the big machine second.

We’ll always be cogs, but at least we’ll be human cogs. I guess that’s something.

There’s more in the full transcipt, which captures Dean’s words but not the big stupid grin he wore for the entire show.