omputr upt

(or, computer update, as typed on my iBook’s keyboard.)
I’ve managed to log in to my iBook using a usb keyboard, but the internal keyboard is not in good shape.
The following keys work:
F2, F4, F5, F6, F9, F10
2 4 5 6 7 9 0 – =
w r t y u o p [ ] \
s f g h j l ; ‘ {return}
{shift} x v b n m , . / {shift}
{ctrl} {opt} {cmnd (open apple)} {space} {cmnd} {up} {down}
Which means that these keys do not work:
{esc}, F1, F3, F11, F12
` 1 3 4 8 {delete}
q e i
a d k
z c
{enter} {left} {right}
So, I must now become a MUCH more creative writer. After all, who needs all five vowels? O, U and a little extra Y are more than enough. Q, Z? How common are those in English, anyway? Hopefully I won’t need to order any coffee and donuts, write any cease and desist letters, or celebrate and defenestrate any time soon without the letters C and D.
As far as not having a delete key, I’m not too worried about that since I never make mistarkes. Or, at least I won’t anymore. K is easily replaced by C. Unfortunately, I have neither K nor C and not even Q. Oh well. The letter K is either a communist or a counter-revolutionary letter and is now officially declared an enemy combatant. Missing numbers? Not a problem. After all, I’m in law school. Why would I have to deal with numbers?
See also Mark Twain: a plan for the improvement of spelling.
As much as I do not want to spend any money on a two year old computer, I don’t really have much of a choice…

Great

While sitting in class earlier (corporations, for those of you keeping score), I managed to spill a bit of water all over myself, my books and my iBook. So, I quickly saved my notes, shut off the computer and soaked up most of the water using some paper towels (and my sleeve).
Now, a few hours later, I tried to turn on my computer, so that I could actually get some work done on writing my note. The computer boots up normally, but at the login screen, I can’t seem to log in. Apparently, the keyboard is not fully recovered and one of the letters that I need to enter my password is not functioning. Great.

Mmmm…television

Enough with the politics. It’s been really cold out lately, nearly Russia cold and I have little motivation for going out. (I did go out and learn that AZ is the worst bar in NYC). Since I’ve been spending too much time at home, I’ve been getting better acquainted with my old friend, television. Actually, television is like a new friend, too, since I now actually have a TV here at AndrewRaff.com world headquarters which is larger than the screen on my laptop.
The Daily Show is still the best half-hour on television, no matter the size of the screen.
Angel is undoubtedly the most creative show on television. It’s even vaguely law-related, since Angel and company are now running evil law firm Wolfram & Hart. This season of Angel is lighter than the previous seasons, so far. I don’t think anything else on television even tries to meld drama, humor and the absurd or is nearly as successful as Angel.
After reading his excellent books, Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, I discovered Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, A Cook’s Tour. ACT is a food travel/adventure show that takes Chef Bourdain to exotic locations in order to eat local cuisine.
I never got much into the earlier seasons of American Idol, because I have little enthusiasm for the pop ethos of the show. But then, in the previous seasons, I never saw the best part of the show: the first round auditions. The contestants who can actually sing well are not all that entertaining. The contestants who can not sing, but think they legitimately have a shot at winning are fun to watch. The truly awful contestants who disagree with the judges about their talents are immensely entertaining. Ahhh, the joy of schadenfraude.

Get Your Primary On

The Internet does a better job of covering politics than television news.
If you haven’t been reading Josh Marshall’s coverage of the NH primary at Talking Points Memo, you’ve been missing out on some excellent reporting.
Kos is tracking the polls and results quickly.
Oliver Willis is getting Insane in the Campaign and liveblogging television coverage, so you can keep watching American Idol.
The Gadflyer Campaign Dispatches are excellent.

Red Planet

Last week, I discussed Bush’s announcement of a renewed space effort (see Lonely Planet: Mars.) While I support having an ambitious space exploration program, sending people into space is not cheap. George Bush wants to explore space on the cheap, which will result in either a slow end to the space program or a fast need for much more money.
Three-fifths of Americans oppose Bush’s mission to moon, Mars, which is probably why Bush neglected to mention the space proposal in his State of the Union address.
Even a cursory glance at the proposal reveals that none of the plan’s goals can be achieved with the meager funding they will receive. Gregg Easterbrook has looked at the space announcement in a number of posts, including Exploring the Crew Exploration Vehicle:

So far all money numbers announced for the Bush plan seem complete nonsense, if not outright dishonesty. We shouldn’t expect George W. Bush himself to know that $12 billion is not enough to develop a spaceship. We should expect the people around Bush, and at the top of NASA, to know this. And apparently they are either astonishingly ill-informed and naïve, or are handing out phony numbers for political purposes, to get the foot in the door for far larger sums later.

Not only is the plan underfunded, but it is even more expensive than it needs to be. Again, Easterbrook writes: “a Moon base would not only not be useful to support a Mars mission–it would be an obstacle to a Mars mission. Any weight bound for Mars can far more efficiently depart directly from low-Earth orbit than a first stop at the Moon; a stop at the Moon would require huge expenditures of fuel to land and take off again.”
The first president Bush’s Mars proposal had an estimated cost of $400 billion. Let’s assume that a new Mars plan would still cost $400 billion. The current US population is about 292 million Americans. If we round up to 300 million for ease of calculations, the plan would cost $1,333 per American. Over 10 years, the cost per American of sending astronauts to Mars would be $133/year. If the cost of the Mars program is $600 billion, that works out to $2,000 per person, and $100 per person per year over 20 years. These numbers are too rough to be useful for anything other than showing the order of magnitude of cost for a Mars plan.
The New NASA will be ‘Distinctively Different’ than Old Agency. It looks like NASA will focus less on hard science, eschewing studies in astronomy, astrophysics which provide us with a greater understanding of how the universe works. The first casualty of this shift in priorities is the Hubble space telescope. Without a shuttle mission to replace gyroscopes, Public Bombards Operators to Save Hubble
Mars is in the news again since NASA’s second Mars rover, Opportunity, landed on Saturday. NASA: Opportunity Sits In A Small Crater, Near A Bigger One
Jason Levine created these snazzy composites: Meridiani Planum, in not-true-color

Still downloading after all these years

IFPI: music industry’s internet strategy is ‘turning the corner’

The anti-piracy campaign also appears to have dented internet piracy levels worldwide. After doubling to one billion files between 2002 and the start of 2003, the number of files illegally on the internet at any one time has fallen over the last nine months by 20% to 800 million in January 2004.

Pepsi will give away 100 million iTunes downloads in February. USA Today reports: Pepsi ads wink at music downloading