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What’s a little debt between friends?

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 23:44 by Michael in category: News

If there is one thing that the western nations truly understand, it is the function of debt in international relations. This is a picture of how they behave towards each other.


The UK is about to pay off the last of its World War II loans from the US. But it hasn’t always been so fastidious.

On 31 December, the UK will make a payment of about $83m (£45.5m) to the US and so discharge the last of its loans from World War II from its transatlantic ally.

Read on….

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Laura Bush Sets All-Time Record, Flip-Flops in Just 25 Seconds

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 18:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


KING: One of the debates in the country right now is about immigration reform, illegal immigration. One of the controversies is this new Spanish language version of the national anthem. Your husband the president says he thinks it should only be in English. But if you go to the state department website you can find it, I think, in four languages. Secretary Rice says she’s heard rap versions.

MRS. BUSH: Well, we’ve all heard different versions like at the Super Bowl every year. I don’t think there is anything wrong with singing it in Spanish. The point is it’s the United States national anthem and what people want is it to be sung in a way that respects the United States and our culture. At the same time, we are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of many, many languages, because immigrants come and bring their languages.

KING: Is that an issue you disagree with your husband? He says it should be sung in English.

MRS. BUSH: I think it should be sung in English, of course.

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  1. That would be a flip-flop only if she’d sung it in Spanish BEFORE she sang it in English…

Behavior guide aims at demise of “the ugly American”

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 18:05 by John Sinteur in category: What were they thinking?


Alarmed by the relentless rise of anti-Americanism around the world, a business-backed group is trying to change the behavior that spawned an enduring stereotype of Americans abroad — loud, arrogant, ill-dressed, ill-mannered and lacking respect for other cultures.

Read it and weep. These people really, honestly, believe the USA is disliked because of the tourists coming from that country…

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  1. “We are seen as loud, arrogant and completely self-absorbed,” said Reinhard, chairman emeritus of the advertising agency DDB Worldwide. “People see in us the ultimate arrogance — assuming that everybody wants to be like us.”

    Well, they have to start small. If you can change the tourists today, maybe you will be able to change the government.
    I mean, yes, the US is not liked for exactly the said reasons when you look at it as a country.

    I met only a few american tourists, they were no worse than other tourists I think – you can find the kind of tourist who think that everyone other nation is inferior, that foreigners are stupid, and so on, in every nation, be it german, hungarian, british or american.

    But of course I would be delighted to see all well dressed, good mannered, soft spoken american tourists every time 😀

    Mind you, the same applies to every tourist. 🙂

How to sell software, the microsoft way

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 15:23 by John Sinteur in category: Free Software, Microsoft


Last week, Dale Frantz, CIO at Auto Warehousing Co., brought to my attention an alarming business practice that shows Microsoft at its shoddy and arrogant worst.

AWC was contacted several weeks ago by Janet Lawless, a software asset management engagement manager at Microsoft, who claimed that “a preliminary review of [AWC’s software licensing] information indicates that your company may not be licensed properly.” Lawless urged AWC to “understand that the potential inconsistency in licensing is an urgent matter and needs immediate attention.” She wanted to send a consultant to AWC to conduct an inventory of its installed software.

Frantz was stunned. He says he always errs on the side of caution with respect to software licenses. He does regular audits and maintains extensive records of purchases, license keys and registration codes. Frantz had no doubt that he was 100% compliant. When he told Lawless that, she ratcheted up the threatening tone of her e-mail correspondence.

“Simply commenting on your licensing environment does not address our concerns in a tangible, proven manner,” she wrote. “We continue to believe that Auto Warehousing may not be licensed properly. Since this is a compliance issue, I am obligated to notify an officer of Auto Warehousing of the situation and the significant risk your organization may be subject to by not resolving this situation in a timely manner.”

At that point, Frantz got his corporate attorney involved. The attorney suggested that an olive branch be proffered to avoid legal action, so Frantz offered to send Lawless detailed records of all purchases of Microsoft software in the past five years. But Lawless blew that off as well. She seemed determined to get a consultant into the IT bowels of AWC.

“Thank you for your offer to send your purchase records to me,” she wrote, “however our Software Asset Management (SAM) program is the only unbiased way to create an accurate baseline and resolve this matter.”

That did it. Frantz informed Lawless that he wasn’t going to waste anymore time with her, and he left the matter with his attorney. The attorney, suspecting that Lawless’ actions were part of an elaborate sales effort, basically told her to back off.

Indeed, according to Microsoft’s Web site, the responsibility of someone with Lawless’ title of “engagement manager” is to “perform as an integrated member of the account team, drive business development and closing of new services engagements in targeted accounts.”

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  1. I don’t like Microsoft either, but based upon previous experience with several small and large companies, and also with some independent sales people, I can well imagine that it was an independent action of that “engagement manager”, without the knowledge of the company.

    I’ve seen too many initiative assholes to think of it as an act of Microsoft itself.
    It already has a bad enough name, no need to get into such an idiotic situation.

    So I tend to dismiss the “shows Microsoft at its shoddy and arrogant worst” part of the article, I would rather say “shows people with some influence at their shoddy and arrogant worst”.

    Just my tuppence 🙂

Samsung phone sported Mac OS X graphics

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 15:20 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Intellectual Property, Microsoft


Samsung has admitted it made “a few mistakes” when it shipped a mobile phone into the Korean market with a graphical user interface that contained Mac OS X desktop wallpapers and icons for applications like TextEdit, Sherlock, and Stickies. Microsoft’s MSN Messenger icon was used too.


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  1. The mistake must have been that they didn’t get away with it. 🙂

Daring Fireball

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 15:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s been about three weeks since my “Initiative? announcement that I’ve gone full-time with Daring Fireball. So far so good. The response has been terrific, both in terms of membership signups and t-shirt sales, and in terms of the absolutely staggering amount of email I’ve gotten from readers wishing me good luck. (Still catching up on that email, just from April 20 alone, in fact. Almost there, though.)


Despite the fact that the reason you fine readers are buying these shirts is that you want to support my work, I don’t think I’d be nearly as successful if I were only asking for donations or selling memberships.

So that’s what I have been doing wrong! So far I’ve had two clicks on this button:

Both will get a t-shirt, of course…

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So… what’s eating you today?

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 14:49 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


UN reports “vast” levels of hunger for Iraq’s children.
The World Food Programme is reporting that a “dismal shortage of cash” is jeopardizing the health of over 3 million Iraqis, over half of them children. The organization cites “a growing negative impact on the most vulnerable”. Last year, a survey indicated that over 27 percent of all Iraqi children under the age of five were chronically malnourished. This was before reports came out, indicating that food rations have been cut off, and reports of food prices escalating sharply. Some Iraqis have resorted to selling their blood for money to make ends meet.

Approximately 400,000 Iraqi children now suffer from “wasting,” a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein. Iraq now has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world, just ahead of Afghanistan.

But not to be outdone, the world’s richest democracy has second worst newborn death rate in modern world.

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The perfect mark

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 14:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


Every swindle is driven by a desire for easy money; it’s the one thing the swindler and the swindled have in common. Advance-fee fraud is an especially durable con. In an early variation, the Spanish Prisoner Letter, which dates to the sixteenth century, scammers wrote to English gentry and pleaded for help in freeing a fictitious wealthy countryman who was imprisoned in Spain. Today, the con usually relies on e-mail and is often called a 419 scheme, after the anti-fraud section of the criminal code in Nigeria, where it flourishes.


Robert B. Reich, the former Labor Secretary, who has studied the psychology of market behavior, says, “American culture is uniquely prone to the ‘too good to miss’ fallacy. ‘Opportunity’ is our favorite word. What may seem reckless and feckless and hapless to people in many parts of the world seems a justifiable risk to Americans.? But appetite for risk is only part of it. A mark must be willing to pursue a fortune of questionable origin. The mind-set was best explained by the linguist David W. Maurer in his classic 1940 book, “The Big Con?: “As the lust for large and easy profits is fanned into a hot flame, the mark puts all his scruples behind him. He closes out his bank account, liquidates his property, borrows from his friends, embezzles from his employer or his clients. In the mad frenzy of cheating someone else, he is unaware of the fact that he is the real victim, carefully selected and fatted for the kill. Thus arises the trite but none the less sage maxim: ‘You can’t cheat an honest man.’ ?

Some great examples in the story…

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“The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion”

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 13:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


Many anti-choice women are convinced that their need for abortion is unique — not like those “other” women — even though they have abortions for the same sorts of reasons. Anti-choice women often expect special treatment from clinic staff. Some demand an abortion immediately, wanting to skip important preliminaries such as taking a history or waiting for blood test results. Frequently, anti-abortion women will refuse counseling (such women are generally turned away or referred to an outside counselor because counseling at clinics is mandatory). Some women insist on sneaking in the back door and hiding in a room away from other patients. Others refuse to sit in the waiting room with women they call “sluts” and “trash.” Or if they do, they get angry when other patients in the waiting room talk or laugh, because it proves to them that women get abortions casually, for “convenience”.

A few behave in a very hostile manner, such as calling clinic staff “murderers.” Years ago, a clinic counselor in British Columbia told me that one of her patients went into the procedure room apparently fine with her decision to have an abortion. During the abortion, at a stage when it was too late to stop the procedure, the woman started screaming “You murderers!” and other invectives at everyone in the room.

(go and read all the anecdotes…)

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Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 13:13 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


(by the way, you can read the letter here (pdf, english translation) or here (html, persian))

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Gristenen boos op biodynamisch theebladeren lezen

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 12:10 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!, Pastafarian News


Op het ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat beginnen vandaag de ‘Spirituele Dagen’. ,,Een grote groep nietsvermoedende Rijksambtenaren wordt de komende dagen bedreigd door georganiseerd occultisme op het werk”, zo vindt Rijksgebed, een groep christelijke ambtenaren die dagelijks bijeenkomt om voorbede te doen voor de overheid. Andere christelijke ambtenaren roepen onder meer via de Evangelische Alliantie christenen op te bidden tegen de week, en in het bijzonder voor minister Karla Peijs. ,,Bid dat minister Peijs van het CDA en haar CDA-ministers samen besluiten dat dergelijke initiatieven niet wenselijk zijn. Ministers die openlijk satanische praktijken voorstaan…”

Tijdens de ‘spirituele dagen’ staan allerlei workshops op het programma. Er worden onder meer tarotkaarten gelegd, er is een helderziende en astroloog, er is een workshop moderne hekserij, een cursus roet- en kaarsvlam lezen, een cursus voetreflextherapie en een lezing over de symboliek van de Da Vinci Code.

Als we de groepen die dagelijks willen bidden nu samen opsluiten met de groepen die voetreflextherapie op gloeiende kolen willen uitproberen, vallen ze tenminste niemand lastig. Zou de rest dan gewoon aan werk toe kunnen komen?

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Posessed, I tell you!

Posted on May 10th, 2006 at 7:04 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, Software

This morning, the sounds of chat attempts in MSN Messenger woke me. I usually keep it in signed-off state, so that was a surprise. It apparently had decided to go onine by itself – not for the first time, but I had never seen that during the night. Looking at the alarm clock what time it was, I noticed it was 12 minutes past my normal wake-up time, and I had forgotten to set it.

These devices conspire – I guess I’ll have to sleep with tin-foil hats in the future…

and apologies to Maarten for not answering your chat – I had promised folks at work to assist with a software release

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