## 2009-10-30

### Comparison Test: Linux Mint 7, Windows XP, Fedora 11

Edmunds.com's InsideLine has a very nice method of formatting comparison tests of cars, so I will try to emulate that for this comparison test of OSs.
The contenders are Linux Mint 7 "Gloria", Windows 5.1 "XP SP3" (yes, 5.1 is the technical designation of version XP SP3), and Fedora Linux 11 "Leonidas".
Linux Mint and Windows are booting from my Sony VAIO desktop's HDD, while Fedora is booting as a live USB from my Sandisk Cruzer Micro 8 GB USB stick.

Summary:
3rd place - Windows 5.1 "XP SP3"
While this is the dominant OS in the marketplace, it just doesn't seem to be up to the snuff of the other OSs. The aesthetics, while subjective, look cartoony, and that's the least of its worries. Though its support for commercial games and other productivity/graphics/other software is very good, it requires too many auxiliary pieces of software (i.e. antivirus, etc.) to run stably, and it is far slower than the other 2 OSs. Any peripherals need extra installation of drivers, and any other codecs need to be installed (separately) afterwards.
2nd place - Fedora Linux 11 "Leonidas"
This is one of the heavyweights of Linux distributions. Based on the commercial (but still free software) Red Hat, hardware support out of the box is excellent without needing to install 3rd-party drivers. Codec support is somewhat spotty but is easily remedied through one or two command. While support for commercial software is somewhat spotty, it is easily remedied through Wine or other similar software or through use of alternatives. The mix of software out of the box is excellent, though aesthetics, while subjective, look too utilitarian and old-school.
1st place - Linux Mint 7 "Gloria"
This is a nice up-and-coming distribution. Based almost completely off of Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope", hardware support out of the box is decent, but codec support is excellent out of the box. The aesthetics, while subjective, look very polished and professional (while subdued), and the mix of software provided out of the box definitely fills the niche of the average user. That said, commercial software support is spotty at best, though it does not require auxiliary software to run properly. This OS boots and runs extremely quickly and allows for much customization easily.
Specifics:
Speed (20%)
Tie - Linux Mint and Fedora
Both seem to boot in under 30 seconds and have everything else running by then. Also, slowdowns in one program do not affect other programs or OS operation. They both simply leave Windows in the dust, even though Fedora was disadvantaged by booting from a Live USB. Furthermore, neither Linux distribution needs to restart after installing new hardware or software, seriously improving productivity versus Windows.

Aesthetics (5%)
Winner - Linux Mint
Loser - Fedora
Linux Mint's interface is extremely polished and easy to use. By contrast, while Fedora's serves the purpose easily, it is not much to look at (in my opinion). Windows falls somewhere in the middle.

Commercial Software Support (10%)
Winner - Windows
As the OS of choice for the vast majority of PC users, Windows support for commercial software simply leaves the other two OSs in the dust. While this is being (slightly) remedied through Wine or virtualization, due to the closed-source nature of this software, support will never be as good in Linux until developers start to take notice of it.

Out-of-the-box Software Support (10%)
Winner - Linux Mint
Loser - Windows
Simply put, both of these OSs have far better out-of-the-box software mixes than Windows. That said, Linux Mint has the fully-featured OpenOffice.Org right out of the box, while Fedora only provides AbiWord (and not the accompanying Gnumeric). Still, Windows' Microsoft Works isn't up to snuff with these pieces of software, and both distributions have more and easier-to-use system utilities than Windows.

Out-of-the-box Hardware Support (20%)
Winner - Fedora
Loser - Windows
Fedora provides out-of-the-box support for my peripherals, even my webcam, without the need to install proprietary drivers. Linux Mint does this too but for some reason cannot seem to register my mic properly. Windows, on the other hand, needs 3rd-party driver support for any peripheral to work.

Stability/Security (25%)
Tie - Linux Mint and Fedora
Put simply, Windows will die without antivirus or antispyware protection. This is partly due to the horribly designed user permissions system. By contrast, both Linux distributions need one to manually activate a virus for it to work; furthermore, more market share for Linux will not lead to increasing incidences of viruses on either system.

Customizability (10%)
Winner - Linux Mint
Loser - Windows
With Linux Mint, custom themes and other software can easily be downloaded from an online source and installed with the click of a button; they can also easily be reverted as well. Fedora isn't as great as some extra work needs to be done to get the customizations to take effect. By contrast, Windows practically can't be customized (meaningfully) at all.

Scores:
1st place - 2 points
2nd place - 1 point
3rd place - 0 point
Tie (1st place) - 2 points each
Tie (2nd place) - 1 point each

Final Scores:
Linux Mint - 1.7
Fedora - 1.6
Windows - 0.7

Though it may seem like Linux Mint mathematically won, in any case, both Linux distributions blew Windows out of the water, but I felt more satisfied using Fedora anyway.
This is not very scientific at all and should not be taken too seriously.

## 2009-10-27

### I Knew it was a Scam

Confirming my suspicions all along, Disney has offered refunds for its product Baby Einstein, which is about as close as it has gotten to admitting that the product is a scam (Mira Jacob, Shine).
Ever since it came out, I figured it wouldn't work.
For quite a few years now, researchers on child brain development have held that more varied and engaging external stimuli (things your sensory organs can detect (i.e. sight, sound, etc.)) lead to better brain development of a child and a better-functioning intellect later on.
Most of these tests were done on mice in different environments, one populated with colorful toys and one practically bare. These mice's intelligence were then tested through timing their completion of a maze, among other things.
Disney took this to mean that videos with lots of varied sights (colorful toys, etc.) and sounds (Mozart, etc.) would turn these babies into little "Einsteins".
As far as I know, the problem is that the interaction, to be meaningful, must be physical; that is, the children should be actually seeing and hearing real objects and possibly touching or teething them. Just watching a video screen doesn't have any similar effect; all that does is decrease attention span.
Of course, Baby Einstein isn't the only product guilty of this kind of marketing; LeapFrog is as well. They used to market genuinely educational family games many years ago, but now, with a reputation for making good educational toys, they are just basically marketing Game Boys under a different name; in fact, in some of their TV ads, they say, "and since it's educational, your parents are bound to get you one," unabashedly banking on their brand name to sell decidedly non-educational toys.
I'm glad that this offer has occurred but am still puzzled as to how many otherwise smart parents managed to fall for this.

## 2009-10-24

### Let's Clear a Few Things Up

A comment by one of my friends (if you are reading this, you know who you are) today gave me the idea of this post.
Let's clear a few things up about Linux.
First and foremost, Linux is open-source. (Squabble with me about the terminology if you'd like, but that's for another day.) This means that anyone can view and do anything (modify, distribute, etc.) with the source code and program freely and legally.
Next, most, though not all, Linux distributions are free of charge. This means that they are available online for free download (and legally so).
Finally, Linux is an operating system. It is not a Windows-based program (and yes, I have heard people call it that).

## 2009-10-22

### What's Next, Singing in the Bathroom?

Seriously, copyright protection is getting way out of hand.
As it seems, a lady working at a supermarket has gotten fined by Scotland's version of the RIAA for singing popular tunes in the store.
What?
How could this happen?
Furthermore, this occurred after a similar warning from that organization that playing songs from the radio would require paying royalties to the artists.
Haven't we gotten over the first part already? The radio station already pays for the performance, so asking for payment from listeners sounds like double-dipping. It's not right.
Thus, the radio removal should never have occurred.
That aside, who has the gall to fine someone for singing informally?
The performance itself is different and doesn't infringe upon the original label, as the worker's voice is different and does not have the benefit of accompanying instruments.
In fact, shouldn't the worker, if anything, be demanding royalties from others who listen as part of a "public performance"?
It's the most ridiculous thing I've heard so far. Thankfully, this seems to only have been the work of a new and/or overzealous worker at the PRS (the organization in question), and the organization has profusely apologized for the misunderstanding. It's obvious that they're trying to save face, but at least they didn't press the case, acting like total buffoons in the process.
What's next, suing for singing in the bathroom?

## 2009-10-20

### But Won't it hurt Librarians?

I remember having a conversation with the school media center specialists about a month ago.
The topic? Copyright law and intellectual property. (I didn't think of posting it until now.)
Basically, our school's librarians are in favor of keeping the current copyright status quo and ardently defend intellectual property.
It makes sense (initially) that one's ideas are property and that taking them is tantamount to stealing - until one reads some history.
Only for the past few years have ideas been treated like physical property. Before, the Founding Fathers, among other scholars and officials, clearly made the distinction between intellectual and physical property. Who's always been trying to destroy that distinction and is pretty much succeeding now? Big media (news, recording, movie, publishing) companies and their lobbies.
So what was the librarian's argument?
Intellectual property is a vital incentive for authors to further produce creative works.
I agreed with this in general, but said that a more reasonable time period would be appreciated (the original 14 years as specified in the Copyright Act of 1790 instead of the current life + 95 years).
She said that my opinion would change if I had a family and made creative works, saying that I would be much more willing to support my family then.
I didn't say this to her, but seriously?
Supporting my family is one thing, but I think that maintaining exclusive rights to works up to 95 years past my lifetime is akin to stealing.
Yes, I'd be stealing money and rights to ideas from a deserving public, giving these to grandchildren and beyond who probably will barely know me and won't create many of their own works due to these protection laws.
Furthermore, I've recently read (online) of countless authors who go so far as to encourage their readers to pirate their books.
Right now, publishing companies are claiming (with little official or corporate resistance) such broad intellectual property rights (especially with ebooks) that libraries are being threatened (because soon they won't be able to open up ebooks for limited-time use by the public due to exclusive rights held by the publishers).
So why are the school librarians supporting a position that is detrimental to their jobs?

As an aside, I also wanted to discuss a dispute that came up in my English class. One of my classmates handed out CDs to every student; these CDs were (identical (to each other)) playlists (by this classmate) of existing copyrighted songs by different artists. My teacher refused one out of fear of a copyright lawsuit. He said that while making 1 or 2 copies for personal use qualifies as fair use, making 30 copies starts to infringe on the copyrights and is almost commercial in nature. My argument was that as long as the enterprise is strictly noncommercial, a CD containing a playlist generated by the creator but containing other copyrighted songs is a derivative work and is protected under fair use regardless of the number of copies distributed (as long as none of them are first-sold). I looked this up online and got vague or irrelevant answers.
Does anyone else have an opinion or piece of evidence one way or the other with respect to this?

## 2009-10-19

### Another Case of "Microsoft the Valiant Bloody Hero"

Journalists (original article reported by Diane Bartz, Reuters) aren't doing their jobs.
Some are good in areas like politics, the economy, and other stuff, but technology seems to be an area where all outside journalists do a poor job.
Why do I say this?
Just to summarize, a new report from Symantec has shown an increase cybercrime through use of disguised malware (as antimalware programs).
Not once does this report mention that this likely only affects Windows users.
Granted, Linux and BSD users are practically invisible to other computer users, but Mac users are pretty visible (especially through recent ad campaigns from Apple).
Why can't they add this little clarification?
That's because it ties into the next question: isn't anyone suspicious that the report on cybercrime is sponsored by Symantec, a company that deals almost exclusively with antimalware programs for charge?
I think that Symantec is using this as a platform to sell their products; "cybercrime is on the rise, so you should buy Norton security programs from Symantec!"
If they mentioned that Mac and Linux/BSD users are virtually immune to these attacks, people would take a second look at these OSs that don't require extra software just to keep the system secure to usable levels. Guess what that means? Symantec would basically go out of business.
This is far from the first instance of bad journalism in failing to mention that small but still significant portions of the computer-using population are immune to these attacks. That said, it's one of the worse (but not the worst) article of its kind that I've seen; in fact, there is not one mention of even the word "Windows" (in reference to the OS(s) at risk).
Come on, journalists. Can't you actually do some proper investigation again?

## 2009-10-15

### Reflection: Raffle Fundraiser

I'd like to do a little retrospective about the Robotics Club and it's most recent fundraiser - the raffle sale with prizes consisting of Chipotle gift cards.
Overall, we made $114, but the gift cards cost$50 in total. $64 in profits is certainly more than what I was expecting. I want to thank everyone who helped out with this and bought tickets. You've all been amazing. Again, thank you. That said, there were quite a few things that went wrong. First, our advertising campaign was not timely. Part of this is my fault, as I did not create and post the fliers in a timely manner (I did it on the schoolday before the first day of sales). Also, some of the fliers could have been posted in strategically better locations. Furthermore, the video could have been made and submitted to the TV studio in a more timely manner. To those whom it may concern, please do not wait until the last second for making and submitting a video for the morning announcements! Second, we really overestimated the number of people who like Chipotle. This was based off of an unscientific appraisal of classmates' preferences. Next time, we should either sell baked goods, fried rice, or samosas. Third, the box was mishandled. Next time, there should always be someone attending the table. Fourth, the tickets were mishandled. Everyone should know exactly what to do when distributing goods and collecting money. Fifth, we are the Robotics Club. I am not ashamed of this, but this club doesn't exactly inspire the same kinds of contributions from outsiders as does the National Honors Society. Sixth, the fundraiser itself was a week long. On the one hand, it may have helped bring in more money overall, but on the other hand, there were a lot of multiple requests for others to buy tickets. This probably ticked a lot of people off. Seventh, the entire after-school thing was mishandled. The first day, this was my fault in that I didn't show up soon enough. The next 2 days, however, made me mad. I had booked the entire week for all those times and it was OK. On Tuesday, however, the Happy-happy-joy-joy-sunshine club shows up; on Wednesday, it's the Fried Rice sale. If there really is a conflict, can't the administrators notify the later group properly? Also, isn't robotics more important to the academic advancement of this school than happy-joy-sunshine or whatever? Let's all keep this in mind for the next fundraiser. Anything I missed? ## 2009-10-11 ### 128-bit Windows A few Linux blogs (e.g. Linux in Exile, Linux Today Blog, etc.) are decrying the new proposal for 128-bit Windows. Why? Now, I'm no Microsoft fan, but I repeat: Why? It seems to me that these Linux bloggers (who I do otherwise respect) are hating on it just because they didn't develop it but Microsoft is. Now, it may also be because given Microsoft's history of making all of their software as closed/proprietary as possible, this new 128-bit proposal will result in a more proprietary FAT128 format, among other things. That makes sense. Otherwise, what's the big deal? Isn't the point of Linux, free software, and other open things to innovate upon other people's already good work? This seems to me like not a legitimate case of Microsoft hate but just pure jealousy. Just this time, please stop. ## 2009-10-09 ### FOLLOW-UP: Is the National Honors Society still about Honor[insert suffix here]? I intended to include a promise at the end of the original post about the certainty of a follow-up. I forgot to include that line, but here it is anyway. I am staying in NHS. I asked the coordinator (in a strictly nonconfrontational way) my questions and got satisfactory answers. First, the membership fee is nothing new. Apparently, the membership fee and the second (spring) Cookie Dough sale are needed to cover operating costs, and even then, we barely keep any of the money. Second, there is no requirement to actually bring a friend to the Mini-Walk. The only requirement is that said friend pay the same fee to participate. Bringing a friend is just strongly encouraged, but there is no punishment (explicit or otherwise) for not doing this. Next, I got the impression that the coordinator and the professional liaison only wanted focus on money rather than the actual target of charity. This is because the target actually isn't specific. The first (fall) Cookie Dough sales will go through KenyaConnect (as it always has) to go to villages in Kenya. Last year, they could give specifics because conditions were alright to commit to specific projects (i.e. school chairs and tables, water tanks, gates and fences). This year, with the drought and famine (for the last 8 months) in Kenya, it is still unclear to even KenyaConnect as to how exactly the money will be allocated. That's why the focus was more on actually raising the money itself. Finally, I did not get a chance to ask about Windows on used computers, but I plan to later on. Also, some other things that the NHS does is help out with the Children's Inn at NIH, various senior nursing homes, and other things. This all is enough to convince me that the NHS is a (mostly) charitable fundraising organization, and that's enough to make me stay. ### Obama: Nobel Peace Laureate? Yes folks, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has awarded President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize (Karl Ritter and Matt Moore, AP). It's a strange choice, if you ask me. I like President Obama, and while there are certainly a lot of things he could be doing better, I think he's going in the right general direction. That said, what has Obama done to deserve this? The nomination was sent in less than a month into his presidency! Though Obama has taken a lot of steps to try to make the world a better place, such as reductions in nuclear weapons and calls for settlement freezes and peace treaties between Israel and the Palestinian territories, the people he has called on around the world to work with him have not reciprocated. Russia has put pressure on the US on the nuclear issue, Israel refuses to freeze settlements, and China is threatening the US with economic harm if it meets with one of the most recognizable messengers of peace in the world - the Dalaï Lama. Some of the people who have supported the prize, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have done so in the hopes that it would encourage further peace-building. What? Shouldn't the Peace Prize be given to people who have already done a plethora of work towards global peace rather than be an encouragement for such actions? Furthermore, there's a lot of domestic opposition to his attempts to further the cause of peace, arguing that he is an appeaser (he is to the Israelis on the issues of settlement freezes (versus his own previous tough stance) and to the Chinese on meeting with the Dalaï Lama, but otherwise, he is only an appeaser when compared to the super-hard-line Bush). So why did he get the prize again? I'm sure that there were plenty more people who have already done a lot of work to further the cause of global peace. ## 2009-10-08 ### Is the National Honors Society still about Honor[insert suffix here]? Today there was a National Honors Society meeting in our school after school. NHS is supposed to be an organization dedicated to (from the website) "Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character". (From the website,) Members must be morally upright, set an example for peers, and perform service for the betterment of the community without regard to money. Yet this is not what I saw on display at today's meeting. All I saw was talk about money, moolah, and more bucks. For one, this is the first year that the NHS at our school has instituted a$10 membership fee. Why? Have operating costs skyrocketed so much that fundraisers explicitly for the club (i.e. the Spring Cookie Dough sale) can't cover them? If so, that's understandable. If not, I'm wondering if NHS is any longer about service, charity, or being non-profit.
While the next thing is nothing new, I am still puzzled as to why the coordinator and executive board members require those participating in the Mini-Walk for the homeless to bring another non-member student and that those non-member students should also pay fees.
First of all, what's wrong with just bringing a friend who doesn't want to go to the Walkathon in DC? It's great to encourage friends to also come to the Walkathon, but I think mandating friends to come for this is going a bit too far.
Second, why must a non-member friend come too? Again, encouraging people to bring friends and donate to the homeless is great, but a lot of people I know who are going are already in NHS. What's wrong with walking with them?
While all of the funds go to the actual Walkathon, I am still suspicious about this sort of authoritarian attitude towards this event. It's supposed to be fun, but it's starting to look less like that now.
Next, the attitude displayed by the coordinator and by the professional liaison for fundraising was a bit disappointing. Rather than focus on the target of the fundraising (i.e. Kenyan schools and villages), the focus was just on the fundraising itself and the prizes. Why?
The only other beef I have is with the computer drive in that the computers have Windows on them. My problem is that they are quickly going to break down, and the recipients of these computers will have very little skills to fix them and will probably have to pay exorbitant prices to computer professionals to have the job done. This, of course, is only based upon what I know about the program; I'm unsure of all of the details, so this is a story for another day. This is just a preliminary thought (i.e. about the old computers).
Thus, it seems to me that the NHS is being motivated more by profit than by actual community benefit. It's making me doubt the philosophy behind the organization.
I'm planning to get all of these questions answered tomorrow before giving the checks for NHS fees and for the Mini-Walk. If the answers are satisfactory, I'll stay. If not, sayonara, NHS!

### Another New Vaccine, Another Scare

(main article by Mike Stobbe, AP)
Now with the swine flu vaccine being administered in large numbers, according to this Associated Press poll, about 1/3 of parents of toddlers and school-age children oppose vaccinating their children.
Why is that problematic/troubling?
For one thing, there is an effect with vaccines such that if a large majority (but not necessarily the entirety) of the population is vaccinated, the disease is contained enough that those who don't get vaccinated won't get the disease.
This fails to be true when numbers as large as 1/3 of school-age children are not vaccinated. Now, many more people can get and spread the disease because fewer people are being vaccinated.

"Jackie Shea of Newtown, Conn., the mother of a 5-year-old boy named Emmett, says the vaccine is too new and too untested."
That is a fair concern, as this is a new disease. Though it has been established that swine flu more adversely affects kids around Emmett's age as well as the elderly, the vaccine itself may still show side effects not-yet-known now later on.

But, "We're talking about putting an unknown into him. I can't do that."
Apparently this lady has no idea how a vaccine works.
A vaccine is a shot of weakened or dead viruses into the bloodstream. The idea is that these viruses are not harmful, so the immune system can form the proper cells to combat this virus (when it does show up for real) without any other effects (i.e. actually falling sick).
Yes, swine flu is a new disease, but as it is a virus, this is pretty much the only way to prevent actually falling sick from swine flu, which would be detrimental to younger kids' health.
Furthermore, kids spread it easier than other people due to not being trained in proper hygiene techniques earlier on (among other things), so why doesn't this lady want her child to be protected?

"Basically, the swine flu is the flu. I'm not overly excited about it," said Julie Uehlein, a Tullahoma, Tenn., mother who is against swine flu vaccinations for her 8-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

"My concerns about the vaccine are what are the long-term effects," she added.

The swine flu is not the flu. A regular flu shot will not protect one from swine flu, as they are different viruses!
That said, the concern about long-term effects is a valid one, but that is only if these children have been vaccinated before (seasonal flu shots, MMR, etc.) and have shown adverse reactions to these vaccines.

This following series of statements, however, is most troubling.

Fears that the preservative or something in vaccines themselves can lead to autism remain entrenched in some quarters — despite no evidence from the most rigorous scientific studies.

Some autism advocacy groups echo parents' concerns about swine flu vaccine, and also argue it's a bad idea to spend so much time and money on the new flu.

"We're flipping out over swine flu, but it's only affected a few thousand people. Why isn't somebody freaking out about the autism epidemic?" said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association.

Well, the first sentence says most of it. Even the mainstream media is sick of hearing about the so-called "connection" between thimerosal-preserved vaccines and autism.
Next, why is it a bad idea to spend time and money on flu vaccination efforts? It's saving lives!
Furthermore, while it is true that in the USA, people haven't been affected that much, with increasing global travel, viruses that could once have been contained cannot anymore. Also, how is autism an epidemic? I've read essays by actual autistic people, and while they do need help to live, they don't want to be cured. Then again, the topic of neurodiversity (what autistic people want to call differences in actual brain function) is one for another day.
More to the point, the problem with "freaking out about the autism epidemic" is that about the same percentage of the population has had autism. It's just that before autism became mainstream knowledge, doctors called it other things and put patients in mental institutions, so such conditions were rarely heard of. Now, with widespread knowledge of autism, in many cases doctors are misdiagnosing another set of conditions as autism. It is entirely possible that some mental conditions that exhibit some symptoms of autism are being labeled "autism" due to lack of a more accurate designation.
Yes, autistic people do need care, but why should that take precedence over protecting people's lives?

I want to end with a short discussion I read in another article dealing with vaccines and autism (when not as many studies were done about the link (or lack thereof)). One lady interviewed there said that she would not be vaccinating her children because it would be introducing foreign substances into the body when the body can naturally fight and get rid of these viruses.
What?
Lady, that's exactly how a vaccine works!
Furthermore, do you not know your history? The overwhelming majority of Native Americans were wiped out because of disease carried by European colonists. They had no prior immunity, so their immune systems and bodies succumbed to these new disease. Lady, your children are the immune equivalent of these Native Americans!

(UPDATE: I heard on the news just now what the term is when the majority of the population is immunized, protecting the not-immunized. It's called herd immunity. Thus, what I was trying to say was that herd immunity is lost when large numbers of the population (i.e. 1/3 of it) chooses not to get vaccinated in the face of a new disease.)

## 2009-10-02

### A Few Loose Ends - 2009 October 2

I'm sorry that I haven't blogged in a while as there hasn't been much to talk about recently. I'm just finishing up college essays, and even this post will be a few smaller ones combined.

1.
This is a follow-up to the story about Joe Wilson and "YOU LIE!"
(source - Brett Dykes, Y! News; I've been told that I should cite my sources a bit more thoroughly (i.e. a simple link isn't enough))
To summarize, Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) decided to make a similar ruckus on the House floor. He held up a series of signs describing the Republican health care plan as "1. Don't Get Sick\2. And If You Do Get Sick ...\3. Die Quickly".
["But Prashanth, don't you agree with this? You are pretty liberal after all!"]
Shenanigans on both sides need to be called out.
No, I don't think the Republican plan will work, as it essentially maintains the status quo (in favor of private insurers).
But no, I don't think Grayson's signs were fair, necessary, or decent. For one, those signs portray the GOP plan in an unfairly negative light and really exaggerate (and in some cases lie) about the plan. It's just as bad as the whole "death panels" furor, as both dealt with (and lied about) the respective plans' stance on the very touchy issue of death.
To add insult to injury, Grayson hasn't even apologized yet. While I'm still mad that Joe Wilson didn't apologize on the House floor (figuratively, not literally - I'm not that sadistic), at least he made some sort of apology and the target in question (the President) accepted the apology and asked the rest of us to collectively move on. Grayson, where's your decency?
Even with a Democrat-controlled Congress, I think House Democrats should make it a point to give Grayson the same punishment they gave to Wilson. It's only fair.

2.
I'm doing an internship at NIST; I've been doing it since the beginning of summer and am doing it this semester for credit. The thing is, I need to go through a certain coordinator (whom I shall not name). It sucks.
I already turned in my site information form twice, and the coordinator asks for another one.
I need to turn in an emergency form too (even though all information on the sheet is redundant - literally).
The coordinator gave me all of this stuff last Friday (2009 September 25). This week, I was sick for 2 days and out of school for 1. The coordinator claims that [s/he] gave the forms to me many weeks before and threatens to revoke all of my credit-hours for the quarter if I don't hand it in by the next Monday (2009 October 5). This, when I'm not given a due date in advance and I'm basically out for 2 days.
What?
It's patently ridiculous that [s/he] can do this. I'll be glad when I don't have to talk to [him/her] anymore.

3.
Don't worry, the house is fine, though there is a nasty burnt smell lingering in that area. There is no visible damage anywhere.

UPDATE:
I can't believe I forgot this one!
4.
I'm really happy that Rio de Janeiro got the selection for the 2016 Summer Olympics. I like and admire Obama as a person and as a president, but I don't think Chicago was the right city. It has too many issues to be dealt with right now (compared to the other cities). Plus, even multiple polls among Chicago residents showed that they didn't want the Olympics there.
Furthermore, Tokyo has already hosted the games, and Madrid didn't really need it (due to relative proximity to former Olympic host cities).
Above all, there has never been a Game in South America.
Congrats, Rio de Janeiro!