January 2005

Sat Jan 01 01:05:37 PST 2005

Good Riddance

The war, the vanishing protests over the war, Monkey Boy winning the election, the tsunamis, and my persistent failure to find much employment. Good riddance to bad year.

Sat Jan 01 23:12:12 PST 2005

Nonsense about HAARP

You can add to the dreck about so-called “chemtrails” on Indymedia paranoid rantings about HAARP and earthquakes.

Really, now. Sometimes I just have to wonder just what kind of idiots I'm sharing this planet with. Start with two basic facts: First, earthquakes happen kilometers underground. Second, HAARP emits radio waves.

Hello? What happens to a radio set when you try to operate it in a tunnel or in the basement? What does this say about the ability of a few meters of the Earth's crust to absorb radio waves? What does that say about the likelihood of any of HAARP's output getting through kilometers of the same?

Sheesh.

None of this means that HAARP therefore must be completely harmless. It is still a military research project, and as such is being conducted with an eye to learning new ways to preserve the system of superpower imperialism that oppresses the world. Learning more about how signals travel through the ionosphere could be used to develop more sophisticated and efficient jamming technology, for instance. It's also certainly possible that at least some of HAARP's transmissions could be dual-purpose, with a classified more military-oriented mission lying underneath the ruse of basic research.

But please, not earthquakes. And I still wonder just how dense someone would have to be to believe that. It's not as if the science that shows such claims to be farfetched is especially abstract, counterintuitive, or distant from the realm of everyday experience.

Sun Jan 02 18:47:18 PST 2005

Of Nonsense and Indoctrination

After talking with a few Laughing Horse collective members who believe the HAARP nonsense, I think I've discovered how people get suckered into it.

Science, you see, really isn't taught in our public schools. Rather, a collection of scientific facts is presented as a doctrine that must be accepted. The essential scientific value of being empowered to question and doubt assertions (together with the responsibility to back up ones claims with reproducible evidence) really isn't emphasized.

Part of the problem is that the schools are an institution of acculturation for class society. They're supposed to teach obedience and conformity. There's a real connection between the values of science and a free society; the scientific values of thinking for oneself and being unafraid to question assertions are ones which are profoundly threatening to any notion of a ruling elite.

But a big part of it is simply intrinsic to the model of one teacher, many students. The notion that anything other than cramming and regurgitation can take place with a student/teacher ratio much greater than about five to one is absurd. If every student in a class of twenty or twenty-five is encouraged to ask whatever question comes to mind, and the teacher is expected to completely answer such a question to the satisfaction of each student, chaos would result. There would simply be too many questions from too many students. And note that a student-teacher ratio as low as 20:1 or 25:1 is now a quaint relic of the distant past in many public schools (it certainly is here in Oregon).

In a world where science is a boring collection of apparently disjoint facts, presented as being immune from criticism, it's not surprising that many folks lack the critical facilities to analyze claims, end up forgetting the facts they're taught, and fall victim to all sorts of bogus snake-oil.

In short, it simply never occurs to them to see if the claims about HAARP's radio waves jibes with what happens to their car radio when they enter a tunnel.

Mon Jan 03 21:42:27 PST 2005

Just A Nice Day

It had gotten cold enough last night for the first real hard freeze of the season to happen. Things got good and white and frosty by this morning.

Instead of geeking around aimlessly on the computer, I actually got out the door and took a long walk in nearby Washington Park. Given how cold the ground was (still frozen in places at noon), I had no intention of doing any of it barefoot. But then of course I felt terribly sensorally deprived.

Actually lasted surprisingly long along a stretch of the Zoo Train tracks before my feet got too cold. Crunched through frozen crusty wet leaves and left footprints on frosty white ties for about 1/4 mile. Then did two shorter barefoot stints on crunchy white frosty grass (delicious), and a patch of frozen mud and frozen-solid puddles (nice contrast between the rough mud and smooth slippery ice). Which isn't to say that it didn't feel good to put polar fleece socks back on and warm up again, either.

Spent some time looking through binoculars at the steam billowing out from Mt. St. Helens, did some visiting at the arboretum visitor center (really — I've volunteered there so I know most of the staff), then worked my way back home.

Bonus of the day was when I got back this evening from Laughing Horse and decided to check on a snipe bid for some 6AQ8 tubes I had submitted several days earlier. Darned if I didn't win the lot of three for a fair price. Can't wait to swap out the remaining old one in my tube FM tuner. Those babies are notorious for going weak and seriously degrading the performance of FM radios, they're getting hard to find, and that tuner has been working worse and worse in recent months.

Wed Jan 05 01:48:11 PST 2005

This Sucks, Sucks, Sucks

I really thought I had gotten over that damn cold that took nearly two weeks to shake. Then one of my legs started aching yesterday. I blamed that on doing a lot of hiking shod (which sometimes really provokes soreness in my joints; never had problems hiking barefoot). Then I struggle getting the bike trailer back to Laughing Horse. Well, it's been a busy day already, and I'm pulling a trailer… uphill… against a vicious headwind. So that doesn't raise alarm bells. I get more sore, but that's to be expected, as well; I'm pushing it.

By the time I get to a housecleaning gig, I'm really tired and starting to feel the cold. But it's a cold evening; puddles are skinning over in the icy wind and muddy areas of ground are hardening. The cleaning is a total test of endurance, fighting the urge to collapse and sleep. Mercifully, I finish.

I'm really tired, cold, and slow getting back home, despite a headwind. And I get colder when I get home. Alarm bells — that's usually how I feel when I run a fever. And my face feels flushed, too — another bad sign. Dig out the fever thermometer. 100.8 °F.

Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn. So much for accomplishing anything else of consequence this week.

A few hours of rest has left me feeling less totally shitty than when I got back home. But I'm not optimistic. (Can you tell?)

Wed Jan 05 12:15:23 PST 2005

Tempting Fate?

Not to tempt fate, but I'm feeling quite a bit better than I did last night. It's still gonna be a day of not doing very much, just on general principles.

Wed Jan 05 18:13:51 PST 2005

“What the Bleep” Redux

I've expressed my skepticism about some of the claims in Ramtha cult-produced movie What the Bleep do We Know? shortly after I saw the movie last year. A recent article in Willamette Week has some fairly damning dirt on that movie:

Philosopher David Albert, who runs the Philosophical Foundations of Physics program at Columbia University, says the filmmakers totally misrepresented him. “They must have filmed me for four hours,” he told WW. “It became clear to me they believe that… by positive thinking we can alter the structure of the world around us. I spent a long time explaining why that isn't true, going into great detail. But in the movie, my views are turned around 180 degrees.”

“The film is pushing a claim that quantum mechanics shows that consciousness is the basis of external reality," he continues. “And that's not an accurate representation.”

The article also goes into some detail just how authoritarian and into leader-worship the cult is, and how much into groupthink it is. It's well worth a read.

Wed Jan 05 18:32:49 PST 2005

And in Another WW Article

… We have the dirt on just what the takeover artists from Texas have in mind for PGE should the state PUC be stupid (or corrupt) enough to let them buy it. In brief, they plan to give it pretty much the sort of treatment takeover artists almost always give to the objects of their attention.

What a surprise.

Thu Jan 06 13:14:51 PST 2005

Well, Barbara Has a Backbone

Pity nobody else in the Senate does. What's especially galling (but, alas, completely expected), is how the Democrats in general appear eager to continue being a bunch of pathetic losers afraid to fight for anything:

Democratic leaders distanced themselves from the effort, which many in the party worried would make them look like sore losers. Bush won Ohio by 118,000 votes and carried the national contest by 3.3 million votes, and Kerry himself — meeting with troops in the Middle East — did not support the challenge.
Also to be expected is how the GOP is completely divorced from any sense of reality in their take on it:
“There's a wise saying we've used in Florida the past four years that the other side would be wise to learn: Get over it,” said Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla.
Yeah, right. As if the GOP simply “got over it” after Clinton's victories and politely let him exercise his mandate.

Full story here.

Fri Jan 07 20:06:10 PST 2005

Friday Afternoon Amusements

So I ran across this thread in the pdx.general newsgroup. I post a quickie response with an objection I come up with off-the-cuff and get a quickie response that pretty much answers it.

Then I notice another claim about sales taxes that just doesn't make sense, and question it. While I'm waiting I do a little more thinking about some of the often-made arguments for a sales tax, and realize that none of them make much sense. Either what they claim is equally true in some way about an income tax or an underlying premise of the claim creates a pair of arguments, each of which roughly cancel each other out, in favor of each kind of tax.

The original poster realizes he's been had and quickly cuts his losses. Fortunately for me, a dim bulb jumps in and keeps stepping in it, providing for an afternoon of very amusing (to me, at least) back-and-forth.

Fri Jan 07 23:48:28 PST 2005

My Ninety-Ninety Rule

This reminds me of my ninety-ninety rule:

Sun Jan 09 20:20:09 PST 2005

Bumper Magnet Wars

The amusing (and oh-so-ironically-appropriate) thing about this symbol is that it got its start from the lyrics of an early 1970's Tony Orlando & Dawn song about a prisoner returning home. I.e. about someone held by force in a situation against his will by the state.

Go here and check out the lyrics if you don't believe me. The first line is pretty darn revealing.

The San Francisco Chronicle also has a recent article on the magnets. And don't forget my Yours Truly's own ninety-ninety rule.

Sun Jan 09 21:01:01 PST 2005

Inventory Day at Laughing Horse Books

And, as was typical for a non-business day when there's folks inside who don't lock the door after them, someone ignores the "closed" sign, walks in, and tries to buy a book. Not just any book, but the infamous Anarchist Cookbook, incomplete, dangerous recipes and all.

Someone else answers the original request by handing the customer a real anarchist cookbook. I arrive to praise the book (based on the few parts I've read, it looks very worthwhile). A few moments later the customer complains about it having no recipes for bombs in it.

I explain that the original book is either the work of a nihilistic kid or a federal agency trying to get would-be anarchists to blow themselves up, that making anarchist social revolution is not about simply blowing stuff up, and that the original Cookbook has very little about actual anarchism in it. He disagrees with me about the recipes. I disagree back, mentioning that I own a copy, have read the recipes many times, and you can easily blow yourself up by following many of the recipes.

He then tries to convince me to sell him my copy. I'm not really interested, but eventually I relent and offer to sell it to him for $50. He complains that's a lot of money. I readily agree that it's a lot of money, but that's what it's worth to me to part with it; everyone has a price for something, and that's my price. (He's already been told it's available from Amazon.)

He eventually leaves the store, deciding not to purchase Recipes for Disaster.

Mon Jan 10 10:48:02 PST 2005

The WTO: Sticking It to the Poor, Sticking It to the Middle Class, Rewarding the Super-Rich

While everyone's paying attention to the tsunamis, not many people are paying attention to a story that's going to make life harder for the injured survivors in need of medicine. The WTO has finally managed to bludgeon India into not manufacturing cheap generic versions of expensive patented drugs. There's a good article on BBC News about it.

Most obviously, this is going to hurt those who don't have much money to spend on drugs:

The sector has done well under the old process patent regime. Companies could produce medicines introduced by international firms via a different process and sell them at less than half the price, thus making huge profits.

This is also how pharmaceutical major Cipla could sell anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/Aids patients in African countries at less than half the drugs' global price.

But this will not be the case anymore. Indian companies will no longer be able to reproduce products that will be patented under the new law and some people say this will adversely affect the industry.

But it also promises to do for pharmaceuticals research what free trade has done for software production:

"The innovator must get the reward," [Indian pharmaceuticals firm Ranbaxy V.P. Ramesh Adige] says, adding that this would encourage international pharmaceutical firms to invest in India and thus create job opportunities for people here.

"We have a huge workforce of highly skilled and qualified people," he says, adding that quality innovation in India comes relatively cheap.

"I have no doubt that pharmaceutical outsourcing will be the next big thing here."

And it's not as if the big drug firms are hurting for money in any way. Their claim of hardship because of high R & D costs is a lie. They're already one of the most profitable sectors of the economy.

So, to sum up: in the name of increasing the bottom line for an already lucrative industry, high-paying jobs are going to be destroyed in the First World and people in the Third World are going to be denied access to affordable medicine.

Full story here.

Tue Jan 11 11:00:07 PST 2005

Right-Wing Politics and Urban Legends

In this case, the movement to take away people's civil rights by restricting the right to file lawsuits, and how it's backed up by things like the “McDonald's Coffee Case” urban legend.

There actually was such a case; it's just that the urban legends that circulate about it get almost all the facts wrong. Go here to read what actually happened.

Once you've done that, it's clear that far from being an example of unreasonable consumer litigiousness, it's an example of unreasonable pro-corporate bias. Consider how the plaintiff suffered horribly for weeks yet initial punitive damage award was only for the profits of two days' worth of coffee sales. And that amount was subsequently reduced to a fraction of its original value!

A fair and modest award would have most likely been in the realm of $80 million (i.e. sixty days worth of coffee sales), to be comparable in length of time to the plaintiff's suffering. And yes, that's a modest amount; none of McDonald's stockholders would have suffered anything remotely comparable to what the plaintiff did.

Wed Jan 12 14:20:36 PST 2005

Useless, State-Sponsored Violence

Now that the veil has been ripped a little, can we all finally see how useless the whole so-called “war on terror” really is? It's obviously not got much to do with apprehending terrorists if they're being appeased.

That's assuming, of course, that fighting terrorism is the real purpose behind the whole exercise. Which I doubt. A far more sensible explanation is that the real purpose behind it is providing a rationale for the continuance of the military-industrial complex, and providing a fear-based propaganda to herd the masses in support behind it.

Fri Jan 14 21:17:39 PST 2005

A Happy Radio

Monarch FM-100

… Happy because the 6AQ8 tubes I ordered earlier this month arrived yesterday, so it was finally possible to replace the one remaining weak tube in it.

Fri Jan 14 23:27:25 PST 2005

Mad Cows? Try Mad Bureaucrats!

This is just the tip of an iceberg of corruption. All the noise made about BSE safeguards in the USA is mostly just that — noise. The regulations are extremely minimal, and only cover brain tissue. It's still completely possible (and legal) to feed cattle to cattle.

The testing is minimal, too. Japan tests every cow; we don't. Worse, the bureaucrats have actually banned businesses from testing all cattle! That's right, even if a beef producer wants to test all carcasses (as at least one did, so they could resume exports to Japan), they're not allowed to! No, I'm not making this up; it really is that insane.

Sat Jan 15 09:56:22 PST 2005

An Ice Day for Hanging around Home

The alternating pattern of icy east gorge winds and mild west winds from the ocean since New Year's finally resulted in the two kinds of weather fronts arriving at about the same time. Result has been that since early this morning freezing rain and sleet have been falling throughout the Willamette Valley.

Hardly anything on wheels is moving outside. A few buses are clanking down Burnside with chains on. Pigeons have been trying to rest on my building's pitched roof (normally a favorite perch) in futility; they land and immediately get launched towards the edge.

All in all, a good day to catch up on housework until the marine air wins the battle and the thaw sets in.

Sat Jan 15 17:40:31 PST 2005

One Short Walk Was Enough

Ice Storm Picture No. 1    Ice Storm Picture No. 2

The two blocks to Fred Meyer (and back) were treacherous enough that I was convinced not to leave home again today. Adding to the encouragement to stay at home is that not much freezing rain actually fell today, so the trees didn't get attractively glazed.

Sun Jan 16 12:48:48 PST 2005

Direct Action Gets the Goods

Don't take my word on it, take the word of the University of Washington's Department of Sociology, as reported in the New Scientist:

Chaining yourself to bulldozers and throwing paint over company executives is more likely to influence environmental policy than schmoozing on Capitol Hill. So says an analysis of the impact of the green movement in the US between 1960 and 1994.

The study compares the number of bills passed by Congress with tactics employed by green groups in the same year. Jon Agnone, a sociologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, found that sit-ins, rallies and boycotts were highly effective at forcing new environmental laws. Each protest raised the number of pro-environment bills passed by 2.2 per cent. Neither effort spent schmoozing politicians nor the state of public opinion made any difference.

Full story here.

Tue Jan 18 20:56:37 PST 2005

Strange Weather

Just two days after the temperature rose above freezing, it makes it up to 66°F. Took advantage of the opportunity to take a short barefoot walk. Would have liked to take a longer one, but there's scads of very postponed stuff that I decided just must get done yesterday. Literally. Most of it didn't make the yesterday deadline. Given that some of the items have been incrementally pushed a week into the future for about six months running, it's time to get them done.

Wed Jan 19 19:25:15 PST 2005

Photoshop Pet Peeves

Basically, it's the documentation. Or rather, the sketchy nature thereof. There's surprisingly little of it, you see. After shelling out hundreds of dollars for an expensive software package, you're expect to then shell out thousands to learn how to use it. It's nothing but a bait-and-switch racket if you ask me.

And then there's the irritating nature of how the on-line help is presented. They use HTML (which is just fine), but Photoshop always launches Microsoft Internet Explorer to view the documentation. There's no way to change this misfeature; I've even tried wiping Explorer off my hard disk to see if Photoshop would ask me where it was (so I could point it at the Mozilla or Safari executable). No dice. It just throws up its hands and refuses to show documentation at all.

That's a waste of memory, as I usually have Mozilla active. There's no need to waste memory running a copy of a second browser (which, thanks to its numerous security holes, I never use for anything else). Photoshop is a huge memory pig, so it would be nice to avoid the memory waste. And to top it all off, Explorer is slower than both Mozilla and Safari.

Lovely.

Fri Jan 21 11:46:21 PST 2005

Science Friday on Religion and Science

Science Friday is having an interesting program on the conflict between science and religion. I horrible on keeping names straight, but there's several scientists of various religious stripes (and one atheist scientist) on their panel.

The interesting thing is that one of the disagreements is mostly one over terminology. Both the atheist and religious scientist oppose naive scientism and agree that science isn't the only useful way of looking at things. Both oppose religious fundamentalism.

Which brings up a valid point the atheist keeps making: that his religious colleagues have beliefs that have historically been very unusual for the religious to hold, that they could have easily been executed for saying such things in the past, that what they say is still well outside the norm of what most believers adhere to, and that in many areas of the world they still could be put to death for heresy today.

Sun Jan 23 20:32:09 PST 2005

A Radio Discovery

Since leaving the Bay Area, I had been sort of missing a station like KABL for setting my old radio sets to. I loathe right-wing neofascist talk shows (though I do at times listen to hear what the enemy is saying), and while Air America Radio is more palatable to listen to, sometimes I'd like a source of some roughly period music to play.

Today I happened to discover KKAD up near the top of the dial. Don't know if the music format is a recent addition to the Portland radio scene, or if I've just been oblivious all these years.

Sun Jan 23 20:43:12 PST 2005

eBay: Turning Your Browser into a Booger-Eating Fat Pig

What's up with eBay these days? Seems like for the past week or so it's been making whatever browser I use to access their site absolutely crawl. Pages that should load in seconds take minutes. Worse, the disease spreads to other sites, generally eroding browsing performance.

This evening I noticed that Safari was pigging up nearly 700 megabytes of memory. What the?!? That's worth than f—ing Photoshop, fer chrissakes!

Sun Jan 23 21:00:33 PST 2005

Speaking of Music and Air America

… It turns out that if I was still living in the Bay Area, I now would be out of luck when I wanted period music on my old radios, as KABL is no longer on the AM broadcast band.

Mon Jan 24 23:42:45 PST 2005

Don't Break out the Champagne Just Yet

The catch in the City of Portland's plan to buy PGE is detailed in the following paragraph:

Texas Pacific's bid for PGE rests in the hands of the three-member Oregon Public Utility Commission, which is expected to decide on the deal sometime in February. The utility commission may approve the Texas Pacific sale, reject it, or attach conditions that Texas Pacific could then choose to accept or reject.
The article doesn't come right out and say it, but the City's plans are contingent on the Texas Pacific deal collapsing. And therein lies the rub.

If the City buys PGE, you see, it becomes exempt from state regulation, for the simple reason that regulation is superfluous if a utility is controlled by the public outright. PGE is Oregon's largest private electric utility.

The PUC saying “no” would therefore amount to bureaucrats voting to diminish the scope and power of their bureaucracy. Which quite naturally works to make a “no” vote less likely.

Tue Jan 25 12:37:18 PST 2005

Dream Job (with a Catch)

This seems to be at first glance a dream job. No boss, doing something socially worthwhile, co-workers I'd have lots in common with, a good variety of job tasks (no overspecialization-caused burnout).

Ah, but the catch. It pays not even $25K a year and is in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the country (I know what I'm talking about; I've lived there). That kind of salary in that region is really only suitable for a young person who's into living in poverty (while at the same time working 40+ hours a week; look at the job description).

Perhaps a bigger catch is a personal one. The weird temperature swings of the Bay Area (abrupt and not tied to any seasonal pattern my body was used to) kept throwing my body for a loop. I've never been so sickly in my life as the fourteen months I spent there.

Even with those catches, it's tempting. But in my head I know better. It's a job for someone who already lives in the Bay Area and who is either young and crazy or older and independently wealthy.

Tue Jan 25 21:05:53 PST 2005

New Trailer

After pondering it over for nearly a year, I finally took the plunge and purchased a Blue Sky Trailer for my bicycles.

As I said, it's something I've been toying with buying for a long time. In the past few months, I've managed to acquire a client who has lots of bulky things for me to sell on eBay, I've run up a $55 store credit at Citybikes, and Citybikes has started giving a discount to Laughing Horse members.

Upshot of the last two items is that it cost me $100 less than list to buy the thing. Coupled with a sudden need to cart bulky packages to the post office, the universe was all but screaming in my ear that the time to buy was now.

Thu Jan 27 21:17:48 PST 2005

New Trailer, Part II

Trailer Picture No. 1    Trailer Picture No. 2

Sorry about the clutter in the background; I was too lazy to move it out of the basement when taking these pictures late last night.

Since writing Tuesday's entry, I've had a chance to use it to collect mailing boxes and then cart packages to the Post Office. It's so nice to not have to go through the rigamarole of renting a Flexcar just to take a few boxes a mile or so to the Post Office.

Sat Jan 29 16:04:47 PST 2005

More Imperialists Bite the Dust

Ya know, it's strange.

As much as I despise violence and realize that there's people mourning over dead loved ones after the attack, I can't help but somehow getting a lift upon hearing stories like this.

Before anyone starts on how this just shows I've been brainwashed by the anti-American propaganda of the Left, I'll just point out that my hatred of imperialism and sympathy for those who fight it probably has its roots in elementary school, where I first learned about a bunch of ragtag minutemen who kicked the British out of a certain 13 colonies.

And the gripes of those colonists were minor compared to the gripes of the Iraqis.

Sun Jan 30 17:21:38 PST 2005

Futile Search ends in Serendipity

I've just given up on what amounts to a futile search for an RF signal generator I once owned. I was sure I had held onto it, but after looking in all the boxes under my bed (and, being a platform bed, that's a lot of boxes) I have yet to find it.

The last box I opened contained an IBM Selectric typewriter I was reasonably sure I had gotten rid of because it was jammed. Yes, jammed — the motor made an angry humming sound as if stalled when turned on. None of the running-motor sound evident when a working Selectric is turned on and idling. Or so it was back in 1999 when I last tried it. That's a pity, as typewriters are still useful things (try filling out a paper form on a computer, for example). And Selectrics were about the nicest typewriters made.

I plug it in, and yup, still jammed. I get a flash of inspiration and start fiddling with the various spacing, tension, and release letters just on the off chance that it was something really simple and dumb all along that jammed it. Darned if it didn't give a shudder and spring to life.

Now, if I could just find that signal generator.

Sun Jan 30 18:32:10 PST 2005

Finally Found the Signal Generator

And it was nearly in plain sight, on a closet shelf and not stashed way under the bed anyhow. By the time I located it, however, I had run out of time to use it as planned. Sigh…

On the plus side, I do now have a very nice working typewriter. And I managed to find a long-lost pair of polar-fleece gloves as well.

Mon Jan 31 14:33:30 PST 2005

Leveraging What One Knows

In this case, what I know about document preparation systems. I learned how to use nroff (and later groff), the -me macro package, and tbl about twenty years ago.

Sure, by today's standards they're arcane, user-hostile, and incredibly limited in what they can do. So what? I almost never need to create more than very simple documents. And as strange and difficult they were to learn, I've already learned them. So the learning effort is actually greater for something more “advanced” and “user-friendly.”

I was trying to create a form letter template in AppleWorks (for sending to clients with eBay sales payments). All went well until the table detailing what sold, what my commission was, and what their share was. The damn thing kept trying to set every table cell in Helvetica font.

I have nothing against Helvetica. It's a perfectly fine font for headings and titles. For the body of documents, however, I prefer a serif font like Times Roman. And as it's a simple letter, I saw no reason to put the table in a different font than the rest of the letter. It would look confusing and ugly.

Creating a style for the new table didn't help. Every style I created disappeared to a netherworld where it couldn't be selected. Obviously, some other strange feature of AppleWorks was being triggered. As it wasn't mentioned in the styles or tables section, I'd have to skim through the whole manual (or try Googling) to see what's up. What a pain in the rear. Not only that, it wasn't in the least obvious how to get numeric columns to align properly.

If I was creating tables with tbl and groff, it would be trivial to get the font I wanted and to make the columns align. I already knew 90% of what to do, and where in the documentation to read about the other 10%. So, of course, I quit AppleWorks and used tbl and groff.

Bottom line is that blanket statements like “WYSIWYG text processors are more user-friendly than legacy systems like nroff or groff” are meaningless garbage. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. There is no one mythical ├╝ber-user out there. There are only individual users, each with very different backgrounds and experiences. What's easy for one user may be strange and difficult for another.

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