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Chris Morrow

Chris Morrow's Public Library

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  • And then there is one element of my quality metric which seems to be at the heart of the controversy: I believe that computers are meant to serve people and not the other way around. That means that if something inherently simple is difficult to do, it's wrong.

    Not everyone agrees with this. A surprising number of people like things to be difficult. I have never understood this, but it is a fact. Some people revel in the intellectual studliness of mastering, say, C++ template programming or x86 assembler. I don't. I think C++ is a pain in the ass. Life is short, and I would rather spend my allotted time skiing or making love to my wife than worrying about whether or not I need to define a virtual destructor in my base class in order to avoid memory leaks. And that means that when I want, say, for something to appear centered on the screen, I want to be able to do it by typing "center" rather than "margin:auto". If I can't tell a computer to center something by saying "center", then as far as I'm concerned the computer is wrong, not me.

    Like I said, not everyone buys in to this worldview. I don't get it, but it is surprisingly common. I think it might have something to do with job security. I first encountered the complicated-is-beautiful mindset when I was working for NASA. I had an idea for how to simplify spacecraft sequencing and make it less error prone. I figured everyone would love it. To the contrary, the establishment fought the idea tooth-and-nail (and still does to this day). And this attitude is everywhere. It's the reason the tax code is so fucked up. It's the reason the law is so byzantine. It's the reason that languages like C++ and Perl thrive.
  • I would argue that quite the opposite is true in terms of job security. Using tables for a layout will most definitely ensure that you have to be there to do the next redesign, as it will most certainly involve re-doing table-based markup. However, when someone who is proficient at doing table-less layouts and semantically correct documents does his job properly - a trained monkey can do any alterations to the css to make any design changes / adjustments in the long run.

  • If vertical paddings and margins will be respective to containig box height then there will not be appropriate way to calculate height of containing box. If vertical paddings and vertical margins will grow then height of containing box will grow and vice versa.

  • However, the height of a block element depends on its content unless you specify a specific height. So there is feedback between the parent and child where height is concerned and saying height: 50% doesn't yield a well defined value unless you break the feedback loop by giving the parent element a specific height.

  • Interestingly enough, if one considers the Out of Africa theory, had the Dred Scott decision stayed put, the USA might've wound up with no citizens, apparently. Obviously, someone would've had to correct for this evolutionary finding before long.

  • In November 1852, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the trial court's decision, effectively overturning 28 years of Missouri state precedent. It held that the Scotts were still legally slaves and that they should have sued for freedom while living in a free state. Chief Justice William Scott declared:


    Times are not now as they were when the former decisions on this subject were made. Since then not only individuals but States have been possessed with a dark and fell spirit in relation to slavery, whose gratification is sought in the pursuit of measures, whose inevitable consequences must be the overthrow and destruction of our government. Under such circumstances it does not behoove the State of Missouri to show the least countenance to any measure which might gratify this spirit. She is willing to assume her full responsibility for the existence of slavery within her limits, nor does she seek to share or divide it with others.[13]

  • Perhaps the most immediate business consequence of the decision was to help trigger the Panic of 1857. Economist Charles Calomiris and historian Larry Schweikart discovered that uncertainty about whether the entire West would suddenly become either slave territory or engulfed in combat like Bleeding Kansas immediately gripped the markets.
  • Although Taney believed that the decision represented a compromise that would settle the slavery question once and for all by transforming a contested political issue into a matter of settled law, it produced the opposite result. It strengthened Northern slavery opposition, divided the Democratic Party on sectional lines, encouraged secessionist elements among Southern supporters of slavery to make bolder demands, and strengthened the Republican Party.


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  • This is not only nonsense from a legal standpoint but dangerous coming from a state’s chief lawyer. While religious officials undoubtedly retain the right to refuse to conduct  and private business owners arguably have the right to refuse to accommodate same-sex marriages, it’s simply absurd to argue that state employees have the right to refuse to follow the law of the land on religious grounds.


    While I’m sympathetic to his position that “the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist,” there’s no question that its ruling is binding on the United States government and those of the several states. It would create quite a burden, indeed, if exercising one’s Constitutional rights required finding state and local officials who didn’t object.

  • An early 1970s Spider-Man story led to the revision of the Comics Code. Previously, the Code forbade the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, even negatively. However, in 1970, the Nixon administration's Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked Stan Lee to publish an anti-drug message in one of Marvel's top-selling titles.[4]:239 Lee chose the top-selling The Amazing Spider-Man; issues #96–98 (May–July 1971) feature a story arc depicting the negative effects of drug use. In the story, Peter Parker's friend Harry Osborn becomes addicted to pills. When Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, Harry's father), Spider-Man defeats the Green Goblin, by revealing Harry's drug addiction. While the story had a clear anti-drug message, the Comics Code Authority refused to issue its seal of approval. Marvel nevertheless published the three issues without the Comics Code Authority's approval or seal. The issues sold so well that the industry's self-censorship was undercut and the Code was subsequently revised.[4]:239

  • Giving it 2.5/4 stars, Roger Ebert felt the film lacked a decent action element; "Consider the scene where Spider-Man is given a cruel choice between saving Mary Jane or a cable car full of school kids. He tries to save both, so that everyone dangles from webbing that seems about to pull loose. The visuals here could have given an impression of the enormous weights and tensions involved, but instead the scene seems more like a bloodless storyboard of the idea."[57]

  • I appreciate that you’re trying to make a reasonable explanation of the attitude of many Southerners. However, I think you’re having trouble coming up with a southern regional symbol that isn’t tied up with slavery and the War.


    I view myself as a mid-westerner. I’m unaware we have any symbol. I’m also a northerner (my people were still in Norway during the “recent unpleasantness”). Again, no symbol. Neither identity is terribly important to me. I think Southern identity has something to do with barbeque and accents and whatever, but it’s largely wrapped up in race and the War. Maybe it’s time to let it go and adopt as your symbol the flag of the United States?

  • A side note as a matter of practicality:  the courts have usually taken the approach that the language in the constitution need not be understood solely within the intent of the framers of a given clause.  A simple example of this in the context of the 14th Amendment is the phrase “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”  This was clearly written to deal with the newly freed slave population in the aftermath of the Civil War and yet almost immediately it was used to mean a more generic statement of birthright citizenship.


    I will agree, by the way, that it would be preferable that all of these matter be settled by legislation and/or constitutional amendment, but that is not a practical solution at all times, especially when we are talking about basic human rights.

  • In conclusion, and in a less legal context, I would submit that we all know this inherently when we consider what we think of the following sentence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Jefferson penned those words as a slave owner and in a context wherein women were not seen as equal to men in any number of ways.  Do we, as Chief Justice Taney did in Dred Scott look at that and know that Jefferson was a slave owners and therefore the concepts in the sentence do not apply to blacks (or women)?  Or do we take the aspirational sentiment that, indeed, the goal is universal application of the assertion?
  • In some ways, I think women’s rights are the best analogy for what’s going on here. We never did get that Equal Rights Amendment… but in the end it we still got to a place where nobody would ever question that women have equal rights under the law. (Yes, I know that doesn’t end discrimination — that’s a separate problem.)


    The extension of the basic protections of the Constitution to women is clearly nothing that the Founders would have foreseen or approved — and yet it’s obvious, inevitable, and just. You can’t find equality for women in the Constitution, because it’s only missing if you read with the blinders of 250 years ago. The inequality of women was a tacit assumption, later repudiated by our society. This is just more of the same.

  • Few if any of those states allowed marriage between blacks and whites, and no one doubted the constitutionality of that. If Scalia’s argument holds, Loving vs. Virginia was equally invalid.
  • If a method of reasoning (in this case, that the opinions of people who created a law on its possible consequences) is sound, it will lead to correct results. Since it leads to the conclusion that Lovnig vs. Virgina was decided incorrectly, something Scalia himself disagrees with, it is not sound. QED.


    Which is unsurprising. Scalia doesn’t really think he has a one-sentence dismissal of the majority opinion; he’s just channeling his inner Rush Limbaugh.

  • I have a cute kid story that my boss told us:


    She has twin boys who are about to go into kindergarten and one of them is very sad that they’re going to grow up and move away someday, so his proposed solution is that they’ll get married.


    She said, “Well, yes, boys can marry boys, but he’s your brother, so you can’t marry him.”


    I think the eventual solution was that they will buy houses next door to each other and that will be good enough.


    What can I say, it was adorable the way she told it.

  • Flemming was inspired to make a film about a contemporary assassination that grabbed the public attention after wondering what would happen if a Kennedy-style assassination happened during modern times. Through his research on the Kennedy assassination, he became convinced that there was no conspiracy.[3] Flemming himself has no animosity toward Bill Gates, and used many Microsoft products during the making of Nothing So Strange.[3]


  • Scott Foundas of Variety called it "a smart, aware, polemical work".[6] Doug Brunell of Film Threat rated it 4/5 stars and called it "brilliantly subversive".[7] The Austin Chronicle wrote, "The result is a genre-bending experience that lives up to Daniel Webster's quote: 'There is nothing so powerful as truth, and often nothing so strange.'"[8] Jason Bovberg of DVD Talk rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "Nothing So Strange isn't quite the alternate-reality puzzle box that it aspires to be. It has an undeniably unique premise, but it quickly devolves into the mundane."[5]


    Bill Gates himself stated, "It is very disappointing that a moviemaker would do something like this."[2]

  • The south was concerned about the slow tide rising against slavery and went to war.
     the north fought to keep the union in tact. And that eventually, inevitably morphed into fighting to end slavery.

  • They won't read it. They'll chime about how it's all northern elitist revisionist claptrap and some stupid **** about how bad the USA behaved under the American flag. (Which trips the irony meter to 111.)
  • It's very simple, the South went to war to preserve, protect and expand slavery.
     The North went to war to save the Union.
     It was only midway into the war, the North made it a war about abolishing slavery for good.
     Lincoln was very clear in his many speeches before, he knew Constitutionally, he could not end slavery - but he himself, and his GOP platform called for an end to expanding slavery in the territories and new states. The south never gave him a chance, and most states seceeded and had commenced hostilities before he ever stepped into office,
  • Lincoln replied in an open letter to Greeley. In the letter, Lincoln emphasized his primary goal: “I would save the Union. … If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.” In this masterful message, Lincoln reaffirmed his support for abolition without apologizing for the pace of change, while also subtly preparing pro-slavery Union loyalists for the announcement to come."

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  • The  film also deserves credit for being a mainstream blockbuster which has  intelligent people as its protagonists. We've become used to our summer  blockbusters being populated by characters who are complete idiots,  bound up in plots which can only make sense if everyone involved is  either stupid or doesn't care. Ghostbusters, one of the biggest  blockbusters in history, bucks this trend: it unashamedly celebrates the  cleverness of its male leads, giving us characters who succeed through  brains rather than good looks or good luck.
  • Unfortunately, this  bit of praise also brings us onto one of the big problems with  Ghostbusters, namely the characters. While Dan Aykroyd and the late  Harold Ramis made their heroes intellectual in nature, each of the three  main parts are severely underwritten. Bill Murray's character seems  driven only by a need to be sarcastic or seductive, while Aykroyd and  Ramis do little else but stand around explaining the plot. No matter how  many dry one-liners Murray gets through, the characters don't feel like  real people.
  • As with Beverly Hills Cop,  Ghostbusters could have had a much more complex and satisfying story if a  little bit more effort had been put into it. The idea of man-made  structures being engineered to harness the power of gods is a nice,  pulpy idea; it's only a hop, skip and jump from the work of Erich von  Däniken, whose writings were a big influence on the fourth Indiana Jones film. When allied to Lovecraft, this could have formed an interesting  premise, with a team of scientists seeking to stop an individual driven  mad by knowledge of ancient demons, and trying to unleash those demons  onto the human world.

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