“Senator Al Franken”

The Minnesota Supreme Court has handed down its much-expected ruling in the heavily-litigated Minnesota Senate race from 2008 — and it’s a unanimous one — deciding against Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman’s appeal of his defeat in the election trial and affirming the lower court’s verdict that Democratic comedian Al Franken is the legitimate winner of the race.


Update: Coleman has conceded. It’s over. Sixty, baby.

Achewood on Michael

He was your Elvis, and when your Elvis dies, so does the private lie that someday you will be young, and feel at capricious intervals the weightlessness of a joy that is unchecked by the injuries of experience and failure.


Cruel and Hilarious

The Onion, on Michael Jackson:

King Of Pop Dead At 12

LOS ANGELES—Michael Jackson, a talented child performer known for his love of amusement park rides and his hobby of collecting exotic animals for his Neverland Ranch, died from sudden cardiac arrest Thursday at the age of 12. The prepubescent singer, who enjoyed playing dress-up and often referred to himself as “the King of Pop,” was celebrated for his naïve exuberance and his generosity toward other children. “This is a terrible loss for music and for all of us,” brother Jermaine Jackson said. “He had so much potential to blossom into a gracious and mature human being. As it is, the world will never know the genius Michael Jackson might have become had he grown up.” The singer leaves behind a large body of hits, 25,000 unopened toys, and nearly $400 million of debt.

New iPhone Acquisition: Two Stories

ONE: I go to the ATT store. They take my name at the podium; as I enter, I establish with the clerk that they do, in fact, have the iPhone 3GS in stock. He confirms this, and tells me it’ll be a 20 minute wait.

Twenty minutes later, another ATT drone starts taking my information and drops into the conversation that “pre-ordering” takes 7 to 10 days. Um, no.

TWO: I go to the Apple store. I have a new phone, activated, with my existing number on it, in less time than I waited at the ATT store.

Things We Could Not POSSIBLY Make Up

Courtesy of Agent L.McHorne:

Gazprom seals $2.5bn Nigeria deal

Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria’s state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

(Aunt Nel).

Wrong kind of football. Still awesome.

In need of caffeine, I went down to the lobby just now for a coffee; they had the soccer on, to which I paid little attention until I caught a few key facts out of the corner of my eye:

  • A graphic informed me that Spain had not been beaten in 35 games — they’re 33-0-2.
  • This afternoon, Spain is playing the US.
  • The US led 2-0 in the 89th minute of play.

After three minutes of stoppage time, it was over. The US shocked top seed Spain in the Confederation Cup semifinal. The Americans advance to their first FIFA final ever, at any level.

(There will, undoubtably, be more coverage later. This is, I take it, 1980 Olympic hockey territory.)

At once both “handy” and “useless”

JWZ has this rundown of the timelines for popular SF films. We’re already past Clockwork Orange, Escape from New York, Freejack, and (obviously) 2001.

Absent — since it’s not the actual timeline of the film, just of events referenced therein — is the original date of Judgement Day from 1984’s original Terminator film, which will be 12 years ago this August: 8/29/1997. Ouch.

God Bless That Man

Ebert on Transformers 2 is a wonderful thing. He opens with:

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.


The humans, including lots of U.S. troops, shoot at the Transformers a lot, although never in the history of science fiction has an alien been harmed by gunfire.

Things that SUCK

Ordinarily, if a Houstonian goes someplace in the summertime, he gets better weather. Unfortunately, it is presently hotter in Overland Park, Kansas, than it is at home:


Dept. of Much Slower Cars

Jeremy Clarkson testing the Fiesta in a shopping mall: “I’ve got 120 horsepower . . . you don’t want any more than that on marble.” Stay with it until about 4:15, and then continue until you get to the part about the beach assault.

If that’s not enough fun, then how about “It’s like listening to the Cirque du Soleil being chopped up by their own chainsaws,” which is what Clarkson has to say about the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.

Dept. of Absurdly Fast Cars

The folks at 9ff have created a hotrodded version of Porsche’s 911 GT2, because apparently the 520 horse, 3.8 sec 0-60 stock version was too slow.

The Widowmaker turns 850 horses, gets to 60 in three flat, and tops out at 240 mph. And it has a 1,120 horsepower big brother in the works.

Price isn’t listed. I’m assuming it’s just as absurd as the whole notion of 1,000 horsepower.

Microsoft hates its employees

Or something, since it’s now refusing to reimburse its workers for data plans on non-Windows Mobile devices regardless of how much they’re used for work.

There’s drinking the kool-aid, and then there’s really drinking the kool-aid. This is just silly and wrongheaded. That they’re couching it as a “cost cutting measure” instead of blatant logrolling is even cheesier; nobody thinks Windows Mobile is a viable platform.

Coolest. President. EVAR.

President Obama wrote a note for a 10-year-old who skipped (the last day of) school to attend a town-hall appearance.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Ten-year-old Kennedy Corpus has a rock-solid excuse for missing the last day of school: a personal note to her teacher from President Barack Obama.

Her father, John Corpus of Green Bay, stood to ask Obama about health care during the president’s town hall-style meeting at Southwest High School on Thursday. He told Obama that his daughter was missing school to attend the event and that he hoped she didn’t get in trouble.

“Do you need me to write a note?” Obama asked. The crowd laughed, but the president was serious.

On a piece of paper, he wrote: “To Kennedy’s teacher: Please excuse Kennedy’s absence. She’s with me. Barack Obama.” He stepped off the stage to hand-deliver the note — to Kennedy’s surprise.

(Updated: Link fixed.)

All German, all the time

Mrs Heathen just this moment signed the papers making this delightful vehicle an official member of the Heathen Motorpool. The Hyundai received a diagnosis that proved financially terminal, and we thought we’d shop longer, but the deal on this little wagon — a 2005 C240 — was too good to pass up. Reached for comment, the existing German portion of our motorpool was cautiously – Teutonically, even – optimistic.

(Even after factoring in the warranty and total payments over 3 years, it’ll still cost less than the new cars we were looking at. Score!)

This is huge

In addition to the fancy new iPhone 3GS and related announcements (and don’t dismiss the $99 3G move; Apple’s now positioned for an even larger piece of the smartphone market), we also got a peek at Snow Leopard. The new rev of the Mac OS is a refinement release, not a major feature-laden milestone, but it does include one very significant new capability:

The other major demo was of the Microsoft Exchange support baked right in to Mail, Address Book, and iCal. “The Mac has Office, integrates with Windows IT services, but what’s missing is Exchange,” said Serlet. Apple licensed Exchange compatibility directly from Microsoft, so now it’s a snap to set up integration with Exchange Server 2007 or newer. It includes server auto-discovery support in Mail, integrated view of Exchange and personal calendars in iCal, support for scheduling meetings, accepting invitations, drag-and-drop contact integration, and more. This support should make it far easier to use Macs in most corporate environments.

Windows doesn’t come with Exchange support. You’ve gotta buy Outlook for that. Something tells me that Snow Leopard’s implementation here will be smarter than Outlook’s, too.

Oh, and the price? $29. That is not a typo.

Rob Enderle Remains A Clueless Hack

Via DaringFireball, here’s Enderle’s predictions for WWDC this year:

“The question is whether they will use it for product launches,” said Rob Enderle, president of the Enderle Analyst Group. “It appears the answer is no since they are signaling that not only will Jobs not be there, neither will the new phones.” From the standpoint of consumers and even investors, he said, the developers conference isn’t nearly as important as Macworld.

Jesus, is this guy EVER right? He’s like tech’s own Bill Kristol. What a useless gasbag.

Snapshot: Eleven Years ago, Driskill Hotel, Austin, TX

Followup, as promised. From the archives, before Heathen existed as a web site and I was forced to share my wit and wisdom via the mailing list named below. Arrant Knaves, represent!

From: chet@netexplorer.com Sun Jul 26 22:36:12 1998
To: “Some Arrant Knaves I Know”
Subject: David Fucking Carradine

So I’m sitting in the bar in the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, right? Not at some nebulous point in the past; right the fuck NOW. Jan Watson and I are over here for some client meetings, and rather than zoom over at some godawful hour of the morning, we came over on Sunday night.

So we’re all checked in, and have retired to the aforementioned bar for an aperitif whilst we revisit the documents for Monday’s meeting. It’s a quiet night at the Driskill; we’ve got the bar to ourselves. The bartender’s a chatty kid who’s quick to refill our Shiners, and we’re actually getting some work done.

A guy wanders through and asks the bartender if it’s a nonsmoking bar. Of course not, says the bartender. So the new guy leaves, only to return moments later to sit down behind the grand piano and begin tickling the ivories. At this point, Watson and I notice something unusual about the impromptu pianist. He is, as it were, David Carradine. David “Snatch the Ivories From My Hand, Grasshopper” Carradine. He of a thousand episodes of two (count ’em) Kung Fu serieses. He of (no doubt) an eminently forgettable series of movies running on USA even as we speak. A genuine B-Movie Icon. Playing occasionally bad jazz piano in the Driskill Hotel bar at 10:30 on a Sunday night, apropos of nothing.

I love Texas.

Godspeed, Grasshopper.

Dept. of Things The Right Will Miss

In their rush to condemn President Obama’s trip to the mideast as “pandering” and “appeasing,” they’ll completely fail to realize the difference having people actually like us will make when it comes to terrorism.

An American president getting a standing ovation from a Cairo crowd is kind of a big deal. He didn’t say anything earthshaking, or that most Americans wouldn’t agree with immediately. It’s not controversial (among rational people, at least) to point out that we are not in fact at war with Islam, or that Islamic people have rights, or that we understand that not all Muslims are terrorists (just as not all evangelicals are murdering jackasses).

Saying this in public — and saying this in public in the mideast in particular — is an excellent step towards mending fences. Mending fences with the Muslim world is a good idea, since it’s misdirected rage that leads disaffected and directionless types into the thrall of men like Bin Laden. Bombing more isn’t going to help. Talking, though, may just.

I’d say ATDT, but as he points out, it predates the Hayes command set.

This video demo of a 1964 acoustic modem — at 300 baud — is pretty fantastic. It was all over the net last week; I’m just getting to it.

Some fun bits:

  • It’s acoustic, obviously; there was no way to plug a phone line in otherwise.
  • It has no digital circuitry at all — there’s no microcontroller, and no real command set.
  • It does, however, still work — though loading Wikipedia over 300 baud is an exercise best left to museums.

300 baud predates me, but I did start at 1200. The jump to 2400 was enormous, and the jump to 9600 was even better — though it was a plateau, too, since the terminal controllers for the University mainframe ran at that speed, so here was no reason to go any higher until dial-up ISPs started happening.