Archive for the ‘Michel.Evanchik.Net’ Category

Technology Envy

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I want some new toys.

I want a Nokia N800 Internet tablet, because it fits in my pocket, and so that I can conveniently surf the web anywhere in the house, or when I go out and there is a Wifi connection nearby.  I prefer the Nokia N800 to the new Ipod Touch because the Nokia is more configurable, extensible, and has a better screen.  Also, it can run Flash and Java, which is important to me.  All these points were well explained in a comparative review posted on another blog.

I want a 15″ Macbook Pro, because I am typing this on my wife’s Macbook, away from my desk and on the bed, and it is a darned nice computer.

I want a One Laptop per Child (OLPC) notebook computer, because it’s small (luggably small, but not pocketable) and durable and can have it’s power hand-generated.  I couldn’t give two farts for the poor kids it is meant to benefit, but I’m considering getting a couple for my kids too, because the thing looks like it can take a beating.  OLPC will be selling them to the general public to finance giving them to the poor, and I’m going to be sorely tempted to pick up a few, even doing so incidentally helps the wretched.

For clarity’s sake, this blog posting is most emphatically not a lobbying attempt to persuade my wife what to get me for my birthday (October 15th, mark your calendars!), because however much I love toys, I love saving money more.  Spending money, particularly money I don’t have, on expenses that can be avoided, causes me actual physical pain.

So the Macbook is definitely out, but perhaps the Nokia Internet tablet and the OLPC are doable.  I’ll just cut down on the takeout meals for a few months.

Popular Mechanics Debunks Hurricane Katrina Myths

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Controversy is always best assailed with facts. In an excellent article from 2006, Popular Mechanics did just that with the Hurricane Katrina disaster. If you are interested in this sordid episode in American history, you should read this article. Mistakes were made, but they were not the ones usually cited to the public. Those allegations usually cited often have little truth behind them. The most galling part to this partisan blogger, is that after reading the article, it is harder to make George Bush and FEMA director Michael Brown out as the boogie men they are usually portrayed as. Popular Mechanics’ approach is comprehensive and well-written.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the excellent article.

Why I Hate the Wordpress Editor

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

I mean, copulating Infernos, why is it that my self-hosted Wordpress blog can’t easily post an embedded Youtube video? The version of Tiny MCE that comes with Wordpress loves to mangle my formatting of code, if you save directly from the code part of the editor, you are fine. If you ever slip into the visual portion of the editor again, even to later edit a posted piece, it mangles the tags and rearranges them and the formatting and reeks havoc with the entire post, breaking enough stuff so that the entire site’s layout gets schtupped. Even turning off the visual editor does not solve the problem

And I’m using a nice default installation of Wordpress with few plugins activated, using the default Kubrick frame, with few alterations, none of them at a logic level.

It’s not just embedding video that is a bear. Even embedded images can cause aggravation, never quite aligning right.

For me, the greatest aggravation is that the “code” section of the editor is not really the final code. Coding like tags for <p> and <br /> get magically transmogrified or created on a level inaccessible and invisible to the user. When I want to see the code, I want to see it complete an unexpurgated. I don’t want the editor protecting me from my deprecated tags and non-strict XHTML. I’m an adult. It’s my blog. I can handle it.
So why don’t I hack it myself, or use a plug-in? I have found Wordpress plugins to be generally of beta quality, with lots of niggling problems and an incompleted feel to them. I am not a hacker. I don’t know the code well enough, and to learn it and then implement a solution takes more time than kludging together a makeshift solution, and the small aggravation of slight imperfection in formatting annoy me less than the trouble of fixing them would.

The Wordpress user forums are fine, but I have found, especially with the constant updating of the code, that answers are often out of date, and even then they are rarely ideal solutions. Getting one’s own questions answered is hit and miss.

A content management system (CMS), meant to satisfy a wide and diverse user base, is a difficult beast to wrangle. Wordpress is the best I have come across, for my purposes. But it still annoys me.

Huh?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Wait.  So let me get this straight.   No matter how many half-formed ideas I have, if I don’t write them down, nothing happens here.  I can’t just click on this site a few times and stuff will magically appear like on the other sites I visit?  I have to do something?

Dang, this Internet is hard work.

Ennui

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Wow, it’s been ten days between posts on this blog.  It’s not that I haven’t had ideas in my head, or that I’ve been too busy.  It’s just that I haven’t bothered.

Ennui is a most dangerous feeling.

Never Mind the Bullocks, Here Comes Michel.Evanchik.Net

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Here’s a shout out to all my good friends who have linked to me:

Todd Seavey

Citizen Chris

Game On sports blog

It’s not late to send a little love, people. If you’re online, then post a link. Check out the “Best of” section if you are wondering what to specifically link to, or choose your own favorite post, or just link to the home page at michel.evanchik.net.

That ends today’s shameless self-promotion. Thanks for reading. Special big mega-thanks for linking. And a super-special gasface for everybody else.

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Michael Vick Pit Bull Discussion

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

There’s a pretty good discussion about the moral implications of the Michael Vick pit bull case in the comments to one of my recent blog entries.  It’s mostly me against the world.  Check it out.

Thoughts on Gentrification and Manners

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Last night’s debate on gentrification went by with laudable interested discussion. As a moderator, there are a few things that tick me off, and they are mostly a question of impolite audience members. It is amazing to me that people will talk in full voice in a private conversation at an event while debaters on the stage are speaking. I have noticed that during the debate, proponents of the more “left-y” side of the discussion tend to be the more unruly ones, barging in with guffaws and heckling, seemingly unaware that they are not welcome to take part in the act unless called upon. I suppose their extreme democratic notions make them oblivious to the restictions imposed by elitist rules of decorum. The trend of the philosophical and political allegiances of the misbehaved is not a total one, though. The aforementioned yakkers, inconsiderate of the neighbors’ unwelcome attention, were certainly conservatives.

Is Gentrification Good?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

At 20:00 tonight, Wednesday, August 1, I will be moderating a debate at the Lower East Side’s Lolita Bar on the question, “is gentrification good?”.

I mentally prepare for these debates, which are held each month on a new topic, by wondering what questions I might ask of the debaters. This helps me to anticipate their arguments and to more fully contemplate the issue at hand. The questions are at times philosophical, and often provocative and logically fallacious. I think the fallacious questions are important to allow a debater to address questions that are in the back of people’s mind and thus dispel unreasonable doubts.

Never mind that some seem repetitious or may play on a theme already introduced. I don’t ask every question that comes into my head. If only the audience might do the same.

Here are some of my thoughts on potential questions:

  • What about the reverse of gentrification, the horribly racist and unfortunately aptly named phenomenon of “white flight”? Don’t the disastrous recent histories of Newark and Detroit argue for the benefits of gentrification?
  • Must gentrification be so intimately tied with issues of race? Is it always a case of Whites supplanting people of color?
  • What about “hyper-gentrification”, where already affluent communities have prosperous middle-class residents priced out the rich and hyper-rich, as is the case in many areas of Manhattan?
  • I’ve been to Bedford-Stuyvesant and walked along Fulton street in the evening with my wife and two children. It’s scary.
  • Isn’t gentrification mostly an economic issue?
  • Where are the poor and miserable supposed to go?
  • Why are poor urban black neighborhoods so scary?
  • Shouldn’t we expect demographic change in our cities, to reflect the plastic nature of the larger American society of which they are a part?
  • Shouldn’t people be happy when their neighborhood gets nicer?
  • Doesn’t it just always suck to be poor, no matter what?
  • Aren’t their hidden costs to gentrification, chief of which is social dislocation and discontinuity?
  • One pattern in New York City, seen in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side, seems to be young, hip, mostly white artsy types move into a minority neighborhood, make it cool, and then more affluent people move in and sanitize it culturally.
  • Aren’t the rich awfully boring? Seriously, people who concern themselves greatly with money seem to lose a part of their spirit and soul.
  • Where is the next great urban frontier?
  • Is gentrification “punk rock”? (One of the debaters sings for punk rock bands).
  • Doesn’t it bother you to be on the same side of a debate as Al Sharpton? This will necessarily be asked of the anti-gentrification debater. Yes, I know the question is logically fallacious, implying a “guilt by association”.

That’s it and quite a lot at that, not to say an awful lot. Say hello to me if you come to the debate.

Gored By the Bulls

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Running with the bulls of Pamploma can be dangerous.  Ouch.