Happy Forty-Eighth Birthday to Me

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Tue, 06 Apr 2004 12:00:00 GMT
Scott Bieser at Rational Review - How to tell the difference - cartoon commentary. A new take on an old joke. Hehe.

# I'm typing this on a brand-spanking new installation of Windows XP Professional. Same hardware as before, but yesterday I wiped the disk and installed everything from scratch, using about six gigs of data I saved from the old installation (the only thing I forgot was my POPFile spam filtering data, so I had to retrain it last night on my first 330 messages of mostly spam). I like XP. It boots faster, and everything runs noticeably faster, too. So far, everything works, but it has taken some effort to make it so. I had to download new driver software for my Linksys 802.11b wireless network card and for my HP PSC 750 printer. The new flight control stick I bought on Sunday installed without a hitch, but 1945 SkyFighters too slow to use. I figured out that the nVIDIA GeForce2 GO graphics accelleration hardware on my laptop was for some reason not being used. I tried installing some software I got at nVIDIA's web site, but it didn't do anything. As if reading my mind, XP's auto-update software kicked in late last night, informing me that there was a new driver. I let it do its thing overnight (the download and install were painfully slow), and this morning the flight sim works like a charm.

# Fleet Bank - Bank of America / Fleet Merger - I got a letter in the mail telling me that one of the banks I use, Fleet, is merging with Bank of America. I'll tell you the tale of my line of credit. I got it quite a few years back at First Aggie Bank, a local bank in Pittsfield. First Aggie merged with Bank of Boston, which merged with BayBank to become BankBoston, which merged into Fleet. My unsecured line became a Fleet home equity line, even though it's still an unsecured loan. I guess they had no other place to put it. The local bank used to be a Norstar Bank, a nice local bank with local management. Norstar was acquired by Fleet and the management of the local branch became corporate cogs with little personal decision making power. I pump my wages through a little Albany credit union now (friendliest, most helpful staff I've met anywhere), leaving the Fleet account for my wife's biweekly stipend.

# Rebecca Cook at My Way News - Some Doctors Turn to Cash-Only Policies - to avoid the pain of insurance. Bravo! [lrtdiscuss]

When Chuck O'Brien visits his doctor, they talk about his aches and pains, his heart problems and his diet, but never about his health insurance. That's because Dr. Vern Cherewatenko is one of a small but growing number of physicians across the country who are dumping complicated insurance contracts in favor of cash.


"Medicine used to be a cash-only business, and there were certainly many people who didn't have the cash," said Caplan, the medical ethicist. Doctors who insist on cash also have an ethical obligation to help people who can't afford the fee, he said - even if it means accepting chickens.

Cash crusaders acknowledge the need for some type of insurance. Without it, expensive surgery or hospitalization would force most people into bankruptcy. But they think health insurance should work more like car insurance: you pay for the routine maintenance and little dings yourself, and insurance pays for more expensive repairs.

O'Brien, a freelance marketing specialist, switched from a comprehensive health plan with $300 monthly premiums to a catastrophic plan that costs $75 a month, with a $2,000 deductible. He pays out-of-pocket for routine checkups, and his insurance will kick in if he ever needs expensive care.

# Andrew Orlowski at The Register - Why Sun threw in the towel in Mankind vs. Microsoft - money, of course. Two billion dollars that Sun sorely needed. [wes]

Principles are fine things to have, but only if you can afford them. With its stock declared a 'junk bond' and finishing a terrible quarter, Silicon Valley's leading Microsoft antagonist Sun Microsystems has now decided it can't.

The news will have surprised the company's lawyers, who only this week were girding themselves for the next round of litigation. It appears that for almost $2 billion, Microsoft has bought its way out of a lot of trouble. In truth however, both parties realized that the EU decision, which is still pending appeal, was a watershed. Microsoft doesn't have any more nasty surprises to face from the US, EU or States, and Sun realized that it couldn't push any more severe penalties out of the process. What could Sun achieve by proceeding with its 2002 lawsuit? The lawsuit asked for $1 billion in damages; today's settlement yields Sun $700 million for antitrust issues - less than what it wanted - and a further $1,250 million covering patent royalties - which is more than what it wanted.

But the hardest thing for Sun to swallow will be its pride. McNealy had presented the fight in apocalyptic terms: Mankind vs Microsoft.

# Ronald M. Gould and Andrew J. Kleinfeld of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - Nordyke v. King (115K PDF) - dissenting opinions on an order by the California district court denying a rehearing of a Gun Show case. The dissenters understand the true meaning of the second amendment. The majority of the Ninth Circuit does not. I haven't read this yet, but it looks worthwhile. Kim du Toit wrote about it: [kimdutoit]

Get a fresh cup of coffee, put your feet up, and read with interest the opinion of a couple of judges without their head stuck up their GFW asses. Along the way, they completely destroy the muddled and incorrect argument that the Second Amendment is a collective right rather than an individual one.

My only quibble: the learned judge keeps referring to the Constitution as granting a right.

It does no such thing. It guarantees a right. But apart from that, a fine read.

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