Even I am not this much of an Apple fanboy

Wow. I mean, wow. This guy freakin’ loves Apple. He must have a giant poster of Steve Jobs in his bedroom. Either that or he owns a mountain of Apple stock.

Whatever the case, Tom Yager finds Mac OS X Leopard to be without flaw. Not only a “10” but a “Perfect 10.” There’s no way that even I can say that.

Granted, my gripes with it are petty and purely visual: the translucent menu bar; the glossy, glassy Dock; the stupid Stacks icons. I love its functionality and performance, and haven’t run into any actual problems using it (other than the fact that iPhoto is flaking out on me, but I’m running an old version and I have over 7000 photos in my library, neither of which is Leopard’s fault; and I had to upgrade Photoshop for compatibility, but with CS3 I’m glad I did that anyway).

But still… perfect? Come on. And it gets even more nauseating as the article goes on.

So yes, if you have a Mac, by all means buy Leopard; it’s $129 far better spent than on Vista. (Not that you can get a usable version of Vista for that price… but if you could, you could run it on your Mac too.) If you don’t have a Mac, now’s a great time to give one serious consideration. But if you’re still on the fence, don’t read this article first; with friends like Tom Yager (and of course the ever-insufferable Guy Kawasaki), Apple needs no enemies: this kind of sycophantic Apple-can-do-no-wrong drivel only proves the point for people who think Apple products are just for the fanboys.

For an antidote to this sickening lovefest, check out this anti-Leopard rant a former coworker just emailed to me.

I have a “theory” that most people don’t understand what a theory really is…

Wired has published an excellent article on how creationists are exploiting general misunderstanding of the scientific term “theory”. There is copious evidence that the principles of evolution are sound: aside from the fact that dog breeding (not a “natural” process, but evolutionary nonetheless) is something most people, creationist or not, take for granted, we can observe evolution — as an incontrovertible fact — among species like bacteria that undergo rapid reproductive cycles.

The problem, as the article suggests, is not so much one of science as it is of language: the word “theory” means something much different (and much more specific) to a scientist than it does to the average person, and creationist activists are expertly employing this fact to their advantage.

For me the question still remains, for what advantage? There’s nothing about evolutionary theory that denies the existence of a creator. The only thing at risk is wholesale fundamentalist belief in the inerrant truth of the Bible, and if you can live with “inerrant truth” being rife with self-contradictions, you’re going to have a lot of trouble with science anyway. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. But, meh, who needs science anyway? What has science done for the average person, anyway? (Don’t ask that question with your eyes open, unless you happen to be somewhere in the middle of untouched wilderness… completely naked and devoid of tools of any kind… and, uh, without a computer on which to read these words.)

How do you place a value on something that’s intrinsically useless?

I’ve always been skeptical of the “value” of jewelry, and in particular of diamonds. Fortunately I found in SLP a companion who doesn’t believe that the magnitude of my affection is commensurate with the size of a rock on her finger.

Today I was exploring some sites for design and layout ideas, and along the way I visited Digg. As it happened, the top link on Digg at that moment was an article from the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?”

Now, it’s well-known that De Beers is far from the most beneficent corporation in the world, and the brutal story of “blood diamonds” has been the topic of hip hop songs and movies alike. But before those atrocities could be committed, someone had to invent a perception of value. Finally in this article I have documented proof (in extensive detail) of what my gut has been telling me for years.

Interestingly enough, and I had not noticed this initially, the article is actually from the February 1982 issue of the magazine. It speaks of several developments in recent years (those years being the late ’70s and early ’80s) that would threaten the De Beers monopoly. Now, I haven’t been a close follower of the diamond industry, but I know De Beers still rules the roost.

You can’t spell “Democrat” without “rat”…

I know where you think this is going. No, I haven’t “flip-flopped” (in supposedly classic “Democrat” fashion) and become a “red-stater.” What I’m speaking of is the Republican Party’s (and, by extension, the right-wing media’s) recent penchant for referring not to the “Democratic Party,” but rather to the “Democrat Party.”

I was getting ready to forget this little bit of GOP annoyance until I spotted it once again in a quote from George W. Bush in an article on the MSNBC website.

Not familiar with this obscure little issue? Hendrik Hertzberg had a great article on it in the New Yorker a few months back. It’s a great example of the Republican strategy of death by 1000 cuts. Maybe it doesn’t matter now, but it’s still just so… well, so stupid and petty. The only thing as stupid and petty is actually getting bothered by it.

Yes, I’m bothered by it.

(For what it’s worth, so is Hertzberg: “There’s no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. ‘Democrat Party’ is a slur, or intended to be — a handy way to express contempt.”)

MNDOT’s secret to reining in highway construction costs: Photoshop

I was just reading, in the StarTribune online edition, an article about the lane addition project that was recently completed on Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park.

The article includes a map and “Before” and “Now” photos, which I found very interesting. Especially when I noticed that the exact same cars were in both pictures, just in slightly different positions (all, that is, except for the red truck that appears to have been parked on the overpass for the entire duration of the construction project).

Imagine the coincidence, taking pictures both before and after the project, and timing it perfectly that the same cars would be traveling that stretch. Man, some people’s daily routines really are rigid! (Also, the weather was exactly the same, the photo was taken at the same time of day, the autumn leaves on the trees were at the same stage of coloration, etc.)

Of course, I think what’s really going on here is that the “Now” photo is actually a Photoshop mock-up produced by MNDOT during the proposal phase of the project. Anyone with an eye for Photoshop techniques can clearly see what’s been done to the photo. Still, it’s rather amusing that the Strib — intentionally or not — is passing this off as an actual photo of the road as it appears today.

Addendum (October 27, 2006; 9:15 PM): I figure since I took this opportunity to call attention to the Strib’s gaffe, I also owe it to them to share with my reader [sic] the fact that I also emailed the Strib about this, and in less than 12 hours I’ve received two emails from them — including one from the Director of Photography — apologizing for the mistake, and they say they’ll be posting a correction tomorrow. (Therefore, I’ll also refrain from capturing the erroneous version to post here.)

Addendum (November 7, 2006; 11:35 PM): Since I’m not a crackpot, I will not be pursuing this any further. However, I feel it’s worth at least noting here that I’ve just checked the page and no correction was ever made.