This would be awesome…

Y’all know that I’m not a huge fan of our current aviation security measures, right? Well, here’s an interesting idea on how to solve that problem:

I think someone should try to blow up a plane with a piece of ID, just to watch the TSA’s mind implode.

Quoting Cory Doctorow: “Could the TSA muster the will to fight a war on identification?”

I wonder what they would do…. Perhaps require air travellers to be implanted with an RFID chip? Hmm…

The Difficulty of the Chinese Language

Never before have I been so happy that I don’t need to learn Chinese. I discovered this interesting and often amusing article on why the Chinese language–especially the written language–is so difficult to learn. For example, I didn’t realize that Chinese is a tonal language:

By itself, this property of Chinese would be hard enough; it means that, for us non-native speakers, there is this extra, seemingly irrelevant aspect of the sound of a word that you must memorize along with the vowels and consonants. But where the real difficulty comes in is when you start to really use Chinese to express yourself. You suddenly find yourself straitjacketed — when you say the sentence with the intonation that feels natural, the tones come out all wrong. For example, if you wish say something like “Hey, that’s my water glass you’re drinking out of!”, and you follow your intonational instincts — that is, to put a distinct falling tone on the first character of the word for “my” — you will have said a kind of gibberish that may or may not be understood.

This made me think: maybe this is why Chinese people tend to be so reserved. After all, if you can’t use your tone of voice to express emotion, you have to get a lot better at emotional control if you want to communicate.

I love that aspect of psychology, learning how a language both reflects and influences the people who speak it.

“Jesus Junk”

I don’t normally read Sharper Iron, but my mom sent me an insightful article on the commercialization of Jesus. I agree with most of what that the author says. Jesus Junk–like the “Armor of God PJ’s” and the infamous “Godweiser” T-Shirt and all the WWJD junk and the Christian mints (seriously!)–serves to devalue the Christian faith.

The article has a rational discussion of this trend and why it needs to stop. All I can add is this: You aren’t really speading the gospel this way. You’re just making Jesus into a brand name. Stop it.

BJU Starting Soon

My little brother just went in to check-in at BJU today. This is so weird… I don’t have to check-in. I don’t have to read the rulebook. I don’t have to worry about speeches or semester projects or big tests. I’ll be able to walk on campus unshaven wearing jeans and a T-Shirt. I won’t be tired all the time any more.

<braveheart>FREEDOM!</braveheart>

(Of course, there’s the minor issue of figuring out what to do after my current job ends later this year. And figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. And figuring where to meet good women now that I’m out of college. And figuring out where I want to live next. And… you get the idea. But still, better than college.)

Please, Microsoft, Don’t Do This!

According to Microsoft insider Robert Scoble, users will not be able to change or mute the startup sound in Windows Vista.

Why on earth would you do that? Well, here’s the argument from Microsoft:

1. A spiritual side of the branding experience. A short, brief, positive confirmation that your machine is now concious and ready to react. You can turn on your Vista machine, go eat some cereal, while your machine is cold booting and then this gentle sound will come out telling you that you can log in. You won’t need to wait for your machine to startup, he says.

Folks, I do not care about your “branding experience.” I customize just about everything in my system using programs like WIndowBlinds. Everything else you mentioned can be accomplished with a user-defined start-up sound.

Also, is the boot time really slow enough that I can finish a bowl of cereal while Vista is starting up? Make it boot faster!

2. Volume control in a Windows machine is a wild west. A mess. The startup sound is designed to help you calibrate or fix something that got out of wack when you startup your machine. Let’s say you muted your machine, and you don’t hear your startup sound, you know you aren’t ready to listen to stuff. The Xbox has a hard-wired startup sound. There is one way to mute it: to turn down the speakers that are connected to your Xbox. Same will be true for Windows Vista.

That’s stupid. There are plenty of times that I don’t want my computer making noises–the library, for example–and Vista shouldn’t be designed to work against me like that. If volume control is that much of a mess, you’d better fix it, fast, rather than forcing me to hear things that I don’t want to hear.

Frankly, what’s wrong with the old system? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

(BTW: This annoying behavior has been a part of the Mac OS for years already. Is this Microsoft copying a bad idea from Apple?)

Thanks to Brainwagon for the link.

SpotMilk

Spotmilk PreviewI found a neat little WordPress plugin that alters the administrative interface of WordPress to be much prettier. SpotMilk comes in both a black and a white version, and either is much better than the default theme. It’s not something y’all will ever see, but it makes the interface much prettier for me.

Firefox Plugin Request

Is there a plugin out there that will let me right-click on a picture I find out in the internet and upload it to my FTP server in just one click?

It would be very useful for bloggers: They could easily get pictures on their blogs without hotlinking them or going through the hassle of downloading the picture to the desktop and sending it back up to their FTP server. It’s the kind of process that should have been automated a long time ago.

Don’t Download This Song

From Weird Al’s new album, coming this September: Don’t Download This Song.

Once in a while
Maybe you will feel the urge
To break international copyright law
By downloading MP3’s
From file-sharing sites
Like Morpheus or Grokster
Or Limewire or Kazaa
But deep in your heart
You know the guilt would drive you mad
And the shame would leave a permanent scar
‘Cause you start out stealing songs
Then you’re robbing liquor stores
And selling crack and running over school kids with your car

So don’t download this song
The record store’s where you belong
Go and buy the CD like you know that you should
Oh, don’t download this song

Hilarious.