If we believe all the J-school trained tech writers, Palm has saved itself with the promised introduction of the Pre.  New hardware.  New firmware.  New everything.  Tech writers from J-school may believe this; Palm users may be a bit skeptical.  Part of the reason is apparently me-too thinking; part is a no-backward-compatibility burn-the-bridges approach; part is that this is a Palm Product, almost certain to prove unreliable in actual use. (more…)

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Great Scopes, Inc. [greatscopes.com, High Point, NC, (877) 454-6364 toll free] is a problem-solving, customer-oriented company. It sells one line of goods — microscopes; John Lind goes out of his way to make a deal that keeps a customer happy.

My problem was simple: I wanted — needed — to learn the skills necessary to do a relatively narrow range of lab tests on our pets and on animals brought in for treatment and return (“wildlife rehabilitation”). This entailed relearning long-forgotten lab and especially microscopy skills, and most especially meant getting a microscope. I had a nice one as a child, but I had long since given it away; every other microscope I’d used had been in a school lab; I had never bought one. (more…)

I like Ecuador; I have never been there, but I have developed a favorable opinion of the place.

Partly, this is because I have had a number of students from Ecuador, and I have found them to be very solid (and the women students remarkably pretty — not a bad thing). Other Ecuadoreans I’ve run across have been remarkably competent and very pleasant people to deal with — in a range of circumstances.

Partly, this is because I rather like a certain in-your-face attitude that seems to be one of the Ecuadorean nationale Eigentumlichkeiten.

But mostly, I like Ecuador because it produces excellent summer hats. (more…)

Parks Department Promise to Gardeners: Well, we’ll see…

Neighborhood Park Club Admits Impotence

It was an interesting meeting, the January 9th meeting of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee. We learned lots of things about the neighborhood, some of which had been sort of apparent, but not so well defined. We learned more about our neighbors; we learned more about what is happening to community boards; we learned who runs what, and what can be expected as things go merrily forward.

It was an evening in which Change was dominant. Change is surely inevitable, but it is not inevitably good, as became clear in the course of this meeting. In this case, I am saddened to report, a neighborhood gasped its last. (more…)

I particularly hope to garner comments on this:

People claim to know things, but they mean different things by that. What is really irksome: People often assert a stronger claim for something being so, than they have any business doing. When these are people who have authority of one kind or another, that can become more than just irksome. So, this is an essay about evidence and belief and explanation. The bottom line: There’s far too much evidence and belief going around masquerading as scientific explanation. (more…)

Clearly a virgin birth is parthenogenetic. This is normally not likely in human beings, but one could argue for its possibility with Divine Intervention. But parthenogenetic offspring are female, necessarily.

On the other hand, the Christian god is not incarnate until after the parthenogenesis takes, so in its previous, spiritual state, it could not have supplied a sperm cell (which is flesh, not spirit). Moreover, as Rome has made clear, the Christian god’s whimsy is restricted by its rationality and obedience to its own limitations (unlike the Muslim god; not clear about the Hebrew god). Then too, how many miracles can one have in one event? To get a parthenogenetically engendered boy-baby would have taken three or four in quick sequence; there is a parsimony problem, and a rational deity would not commit such an irrationality. (more…)

I find myself locked in a sort of silly battle with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD).

Part of the deal done when where I live was deregulated allowed folks like me to enter into the federal Section 8 subsidy program, keeping our rent consistent with our limited incomes. Each year, I “recertify” — I demonstrate that I am still eligible for this. It’s not as stable as the old Mitchell-Lama (state) program, but it keeps the escalating rent in check. It would work better still if, when my income falls (as it will this year), my rent would de-escalate. (more…)