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Shame on Congress

I have my differences with President Bush, but there is one issue about which we agree: UAE. Congress’ unwillingness to accept a United Arab Emirates company’s taking oversight of some U.S. ports brought to a close on Wednesday a visible disagreement between the President and his Republican allies on the Hill. American flags around the Capitol building should be lowered in shame.

The ruckus started about a month ago when the UAE company bested a rival to buyout London-based P&O, which had a contract for six U.S. ports. The UEA company, Dubai Ports World, will walk away from the U.S. ports deal, following a stunning 62-2 House Appropriations Committee blocking vote. Democrats, lead by Sen. Hillary Clinton, had made big noise against the deal—and she’s supposed to be a presidential candidate in 2008

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Mac’s Back

The New Year started with my full-time return to Windows, so that I could test Windows Vista and Office 2007. This evening, after many days’ deliberations, I picked up a MacBook Pro from my local Apple Store. I will continue Windows Vista and Office 2007 testing, but no longer use Microsoft’s operating system on a full-time basis.

In typical fashion, I managed about two months on Windows before retreating back to the Mac. Reasons are same as always. My resolution to go back to Windows and stay there is a shambles. But that’s a good resolution to have broken. 

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Hollywood’s Last Laugh is None

This morning’s MSNBC commentary by Andy Denhart gets right to what’s wrong with Hollywood. Andy pretty much described satirist Jon Stewart’s Oscar officiation as a flop. I agree, but not for lack of being funny. The audience had no tolerance for laughing at itself. Jon made fun of the stars, but they weren’t laughing at themselves.

Writes Andy, in one example: “An admitted and unashamed progressive himself, Stewart later made fun of the film industry’s perceived liberalness, telling viewers the Oscars are a chance to ‘see all your favorite stars without having to donate any money to the Democratic party’. Our favorite stars barely chuckled”. Self-deprecation wasn’t the humor of the evening. 

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See, Now It’s a Lifestyle Debate

I warned that a Brokeback Mountain loss would lead to a lifestyle accusation. Arthur Spiegelman writes for Reuters: “The victory for Crash suggested Oscar voters were more comfortable with a tale that exploited the seamy underbelly of racial conflict in contemporary Los Angeles than with a heartbreaking tale of love between two married men…

“No overtly gay love story has ever won a best picture award and, as of Monday morning, none has. The big question going into the Oscars was whether Hollywood, often in the forefront of social issues, would break another taboo”. 

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About a year ago, I had dinner with some guys from Microsoft before they headed out to a local concert by an artist doing Jewish reggae. Huh? They tried to explain about this Orthodox Jewish singer who did reggae. I couldn’t get his name right. Matsimoto Yahoo? Yabba Dabba Doo? Totally intrigued and completely exhausted, I asked about the artist but didn’t join them for the show.

Too bad. 

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Where Milk Matters

My quote of the year (so far) goes to Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, explaining why the state isn’t cracking down on illegal immigrants working on dairy farms: “I respect the laws of the United States, of course. But the cows have to be milked”.

The governor is quoted in a New York Times story about Vermont’s massive exodus of young people. One result is a worker shortage that makes it hard for businesses to justify staying in the state or simply expanding operations. Fewer jobs mean more young people looking elsewhere for work. Fewer young workers mean fewer businesses offering jobs. Pick a term: Negative feedback loop, perpetual motion machine, or the economic equivalent of song, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket“. 

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Seneca Schoolhouse

This afternoon, my daughter wrote a delightful post on her Weblog about a trip to the Seneca Schoolhouse in Poolesville, Md. But her post vanished in a wisp before she could save it to TypePad. Argh.

Molly encountered the same problem that a month ago had me cursing by name all 60,000 Microsoft employees (yes, it was exhausting but therapeutic). When she went to insert a photo, an Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview pop-up warned about secure and unsecure content. Clearing the warning was supposed to let her post the picture. Like my experience, the process instead erased the entire post. Molly was so upset that she, like her dad, couldn’t redo the post. 

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Homeschooling in Maryland

A Reuters story on homeschooling looks at a growing phenomenon. Story leads off with two homeschoolers in in Columbia, Md., dressing up in period attire to study about the Renaissance. I can speak from experience that Columbia, Md., is a booming area for homeschooling. We’ve shopped in homeschool stores there and around the area.

My daughter’s homeschooling continues. I have confidence in my wife’s abilities as a teacher, although she and my daughter do have occasional down days (let’s just say that 11 is a difficult age). 

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The Weatherman

Today, my daughter and I hauled off to the University of Maryland, College Park, for a Storm Watchers presentation. The NOAA meteorologist making the presentation grew up in Southern Maine—Biddeford, to be exact.

Mmmm, I wonder how many meteorologists are from Maine. It’s hard to grow up there and not be interested in weather. With no exaggeration, weather changes about every 15 minutes in the summer, from clear skies to breezy and cloudy skies to tree-ripping thunderstorms. Upways in Northern Maine, rapid winter temperature shifts are common. I’ve seen 45-degree Celsius shifts (that’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit) from plus five to minus 40 in less than 12 hours. That’s no exaggeration.