Honey, we’re having reheated leftovers again tonight

I can hardly wait:

It has been more than 30 years, but Billy Jack is still plenty ticked off.

Back then, it was bigotry against Native Americans, trouble with the nuclear power industry and big bad government that made this screen hero explode in karate-fueled rage. At the time, the unlikely combination of rugged-loner heroics – all in defense of society’s downtrodden and forgotten – and rough-edged filmmaking sparked a pop culture and box-office phenomenon.

Tom Laughlin, "Billy Jack" in 1971, fought for the downtrodden.

Now the man who created and personified Billy Jack, Tom Laughlin – the writer, director, producer and actor – is determined to take on the establishment again, and his concerns are not so terribly different. Mr. Laughlin (and therefore Billy Jack) is angry about the war in Iraq and about the influence of big business in politics. And he still has a thing for the nuclear power industry.

Better take my lame-o medicine before seeing this one.


Get Yer FORTRAN Right Here!

Giggly young Michelle dropped by my office last week to ask about FORTRAN compilers and the IMSL math library, since the faculty and grad students here are under the (somewhat mistaken) impression that I’m some sort of computer wizard. Not having touched FORTRAN in 9 or 10 years, I allowed as how I’d have to do some research, but maybe I had an old compiler laying around that might be useful.

Two days and a lot of hacking later, this is what I’ve found:

However, Dr Keating took pity on Michelle and bought FORTRAN/IMSL package for her work. Nice for Michelle, but it’s a single-seat license. I just ran through the simple tutorial for the FORTRAN IDE, and it seems pretty solid, at least for the basic number-crunching that our statisticians like to do. I recommend the Open Watcom package for the rest of our folks.


These guys have it almost right:

"I know people mean well, but I just don’t think the symbol of this country should be used in that fashion," said [Lonnie] Jackson, an Army veteran of 24 years who saw action in both Korea and Vietnam. "I think profit, not patriotism is what pushes a lot of the people making this stuff. You have people sitting on the flag."

"I think it takes away the dignity of the flag," [WIlliam] Hay said. "I really do. It’s a reflection of our society. Everything is more casual. There is less respect for authority."

It’s not just authority. In society today, there’s just less respect.

Notice that William Hay is a Son of the American Revolution. I’m waiting for Dad’s genealogical paperwork to get verified, so I can be one too (g-g-g-g-grandfather Ross was at Lexington).

Doubleplus Ungood Badspeak

This puts my blogging host in an ethical bind. I thought it was bad that MSN Spaces wouldn’t allow < IFRAME > tags in blogs, but "democracy?" That’s a bit much.

UPDATE: Roger Simon isn’t the only one who’s disturbed by this.

Mark Steyn nails the whole problem in this devastating column:

China hasn’t invented or discovered anything of significance in half a millennium, but the careless assumption that intellectual property is something to be stolen rather than protected shows why. If you’re a resource-poor nation (as China is), long-term prosperity comes from liberating the creative energies of your people – and Beijing still has no interest in that. If a blogger attempts to use the words "freedom" or "democracy" or "Taiwan independence" on Microsoft’s new Chinese internet portal, he gets the message: "This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech." How pathetic is that? Not just for the Microsoft-spined Corporation, which should be ashamed of itself, but for the Chinese government, which pretends to be a world power but is terrified of words.

Does "Commie wimps" count as forbidden speech, too? And what is the likelihood of China advancing to a functioning modern stand-alone business culture if it’s unable to discuss anything except within its feudal political straitjackets? Its speech code is a sign not of control but of weakness; its internet protective blocks are not the armour but the, er, chink.

I won’t be following Roger Simon’s suggestion of boycotting MSN Spaces. I’ve already discovered a few clever hacks to get around some annoying limitations the Microsoft whiz kids built into Spaces, and this just motivates me to look for more. One of Roger’s commenters quotes Lenin:

Regarding Microsoft’s kowtowing to the fascist Mandarins in Beijing, Lenin said it best: "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

I prefer to think of Microsoft as the crony-capitalist who sells me–a less mobbed-up capitalist–a banana. I then put the banana peel under his foot. (Thanks to Maakies for the banana.)

ANOTHER UPDATE (12 June): Rebecca McKinnon thoughtfully and politely calls Microsoft a gang of mercenary weasels. Don’t hit me with that stick! back40 weighs in over at Crumb Trail–he thinks Microsoft may be sellling banana peels to the Chinese.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE (17 June): The indefatigable Rebecca McKinnon seems to be thinking along the same lines that I do; here she hacks the Chinese interface and blogs for freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Set your cellphones to stun, please

The UTSA summer semester starts today, with the obligatory opening lectures about coursework, grading, and classroom comportment. What could be more timely than this:

More so than one’s CD or movie collection or mp3 playlist, a custom ringtone screams out something personal to the world because it’s so public. Anyone within earshot can make an instant assumption about you, for better or worse.

We wonder whether some things aren’t better left to the imagination.

Ettiquette should be simple and easy to remember, so here’s my rule: Hats and cellphones OFF.

Texas Wisecracks

Texas humor has some goofy qualities: folks often say some truly dreadful things as long as they’re self-deprecating, and many jokes have ridiculous punchlines, just to check if you’re listening. A typical example is the car keys joke:

A man dashes into the counter at the quick-stop and asks "Can I use your phone to call my wife? I locked my keys in the car."

"Sure," the cashier answers. So the fellow phones home.

"Honey," the man tells his wife, "come on down to the quick-stop with the other car keys. I locked my keys in the car, and left the motor running."

"And hurry! I left the top down, and it’s fixin’ to rain!"

My wife–who is the exact opposite of an airhead–zapped me with one just the other day. I mentioned that a new self-serve carwash was being built in the neighborhood.

"How nice," she replied, "and it’s within walking distance."