It figures.

You know, this whole Judge-Moore, Ten-Commandments bruhaha has given the rest of the country plenty of time to poke at the rigid, fundamentalist streak that runs through Alabama and the South in general, and its concomitant inability to understand what “separation of Church and State” actually means. As a native Mississippian, though, I have able to take refuge in the fact that for once, the state being lampooned wasn’t my own.

Well, Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove has gone out of his way to make sure everyone remembers that Mississippi is backward, too. Thanks, Ronnie.

Windows: Insecure by Design

This analysis of the state of Windows as compared to Linux and Mac OS X is as clear a discussion as I’ve seen, and points out what those of us in technology already know: all these worms and viruses spreading like wildfire are actually only dangerous to your machine if you’re running Windows. He begins:

Between the Blaster worm and the Sobig virus, it’s been a long two weeks for Windows users. But nobody with a Mac or a Linux PC has had to lose a moment of sleep over these outbreaks — just like in earlier “malware” epidemics. This is not a coincidence. . . . In its default setup, Windows XP on the Internet amounts to a car parked in a bad part of town, with the doors unlocked, the key in the ignition and a Post-It note on the dashboard saying, “Please don’t steal this.”

What’s the cost of these worms and viruses? Millions if not billions of dollars in lost productivity, not to mention data loss. Microsoft doesn’t care, and they don’t have to; the market has never punished them for offering such ridiculous default configurations, or such absurd security nightmares as Outlook/Exchange. Even their servers are industry jokes; it’s been years since Gartner officially recommended against using any outward-facing Microsoft server, but do the suits listen? No.

At the end of the day, the point is this: Offices not dependent on Microsoft’s poorly engineered software got away essentially scott free this month, while many that are ground to a halt. I wonder how many CFOs will notice?

O’Reilly v. Franken

Perhaps you are aware of Fox News’ attempts to force satirist Al Franken to remove “Fair and Balanced” from the title of his new book ( Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right). Leaving aside for a moment the sheer amusement value of their argument (that Franken will blur and distort the meaning of “fair and balanced”), let’s look at Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly and his rant in (where else?) the Murdoch-owned Daily News, wherein he attempts to assert that Al Franken — one of the originial writers at Saturday Night Live — is not in fact a satirist, and therefore not entitled to use Fox’s catch phrase in a satirical effort. With no trace of irony, he says:

Fox News has become the highest-rated news network on cable because we feature lively debate and all honest voices are welcome. We don’t do drive-by character assassinations, and we don’t denigrate opposing points of view by launching gratuitous personal attacks . . . It makes me sick to see intellectually dishonest individuals hide behind the First Amendment to spread propaganda, libel and slander. But this is a growing trend in America, where the exchange of ideas often degenerates into verbal mud wrestling with intent to injure.

All I can make of this is that apparently, he doesn’t watch his own show. His abusive tactics are seen by millions of viewers a week, and have been well documented. Only a few months ago he cut the mike of a 9/11 victim’s son because he disagreed with his comments. More than this, Franken makes the case quite well that O’Reilly belongs on the cover of this book, given his history of distorting and exaggerating his journalism resume, not to mention his ongoing attempts to cast his upper-middle-class upbringing as poor and humble. Franken has publically busted O’Reilly before, too, since Bill seems to like to claim to have won a Peabody — which, of course, has never happened.

The scary thing is this: people still take O’Reilly seriously.

Ah, Marriage.

Marriage is a sacred thing, and can be a beautiful expression of love between two people. But weddings themselves are notoriously stressful and expensive affairs, so there’s little surprise that frayed nerves often fill the hours before the blessed union.

Of course, that’s probably not quite enough to explain the debacle described here, though if we factor “18 year old bride” and “classless dipsomaniacal bimbo” into the equation, we may get somewhere. (RealVideo coverage here as well, not to be missed.)

Er, right.

The people at are refreshingly unconcerned with abductions that, you know, actually happen. Oh, and you’re free to copy their instructions for creating a “Thought Screen Helmet,” if you like. If you make one, I encourage you to wear it at all times so that the rest of us can, um, admire your self-reliance.

Here’s a pair for you.

On the left, a scary scary Liberian. On the right, a scary Librarian.

Scary Liberian

There is no article about the scary Librarian. Of the Liberian, the less said, the better — though you can be sure I’m terribly glad there’s no reference in the article cited above of them also singing “I Feel Pretty.”

Dept. of Boundless Hypocrisy

In the wake of Lawrence v. Texas, plenty of folks have weighed in on the gay marriage issue, not the least of them clergy of various stripes. It therefore comes as no surprise that Rome has something to say, and something loud and bombastic at that. Somehow, they discovered the stones required to insist that allowing gay adoption “does violence” to the children involved.

Presumably, we should take them at their word, since any organization that has made an ongoing practice of covering up its own pedophilia and sexual abuse for decades clearly knows more about violance against children than simple, loving parents. I’m pretty sure we ought not be taking our cues about child care from these guys. How, again, are two loving parents who happen to be the same gender somehow tantamount to violence? Perhaps the real violence here is the idea of leaving one’s children in the care of people who can’t tell abuse from ministry, and shuffle personnel to protect rapists and their own organization rather than accept responsibility for violating a profoundly sacred trust. I’m honestly stunned they think they have any credibility on the issue whatsoever.

Other people saying the same thing include Patrick Nielsen-Hayden ( blog) over at Electrolite, who includes a few other comments as well.

The Department of (in)Justice Follies Continue

In case you’re just tuning in to this particular bit of judicial tomfoolery, a generally goofy French national named Zacarias Moussaoui has been on trial for quite some time for being, ostensibly, the “20th Man” in the 9/11 plot. Well, I say trial; what’s really happening is that the Jusice Department is being embarrassed by a man everyone thought was crazy as a loon when this whole thing started (an impression fueled in part by his insistence on representing himself).

The worm began to turn, however, when Moussaoui refused to go quietly to what would have been — and still may be — his ultimate doom. The prosecution, citing nebulous “national security” concerns, continues to refuse to allow Mr. Moussaoui to depose their star witness — a witness who may well have exculpatory evidence (essentially, that he was too nutty for Al Queda to trust in the plot). As I sincerely hope we all remember from civics, the right to confront and question the witnesses for the prosecution is a key portion of the judicial process in this country. Accordingly, Justice’s refusal to comply with basic Constitutional law has earned them harsh words from the presiding judge, Leonie Brinkema. In a January 31 ruling, the prosecution was ordered to allow the deposition. They have refused to comply, so next week Judge Brinkema will impose sanctions — which could extend all the way to outright dimissal of the charges.

Of course, if that happens, the government will probably just trot Mr. Moussaoui off to a military tribunal, where the standards are much more lax and appeal isn’t an option — and where the death penalty is virtually assured.

Pay attention, people; these rights have to matter and be honored by our government even when it’s inconvenient for them to be rights at all.