Tuesday 30 December 2003

waco revisited

photo of branch davidian complex in waco texas burning to the ground

Waco: The Rules of Engagement hit U.S. cable December, 2003. BBC Four aired it back in April.

This Oscar-nominated documentary from 1997 seemed to miss its time upon release. Now re-introduced to cable audiences across the U.K. and U.S., this is a gripping, fascinating, horrifying and highly controversial film from director William Gazecki. Waco: The Rules of Engagement has left me thinking and re-thinking some of my core values in very uncomfortable ways.

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Sunday 28 December 2003

now with xfn

I’ve been working on making my site XFN friendly.

Just when you thought you knew everything, you find out you don’t. Tantek, Eric, and Matt have been cooking this up in the back room for a year now. I’m starting to implement it where appropriate.

I feel so fortunate. Almost all my relationships are rel=”friend colleague met”!

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Friday 26 December 2003

december sunrise

photographic image of tucson sunrise

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Thursday 25 December 2003

of glad tidings and sad divisions

“It’s hard to be a Jew on Christmas.
My friends won’t let me join in any games.
And I can’t sing Christmas songs,
or decorate a Christmas tree,
or leave water out for Rudolph

cause there’s something wrong with me.
My people don’t believe in Jesus Christ’s divinity.”

– Sung by Kyle from South Park

To all my friends celebrating Christmas today, I wish you tidings of comfort and abundant joy.

As a Jew, I have extremely mixed feelings about Christmas. It is the one holiday where the fact that I am a Jew really seems to come to the surface as an issue. One could almost suggest that at least here in the United States, Christmas is perceived by an apparently vast majority of people to be a national rather than a religious holiday.

My country is one that was founded in part on the ideal of religious freedom. And it’s true that most Jews in the U.S. practice without interference or problems. Although of course there have been some terrible breaches of that, generally speaking, Jews live a very good life here.

But during Christmas, a division seems to occur. Everywhere one goes, “Merry Christmas” dominates the topic: In restaurants, in shops, in the grocery. Far more troublesome is when people who know I’m Jewish send me Christmas greetings and cards with Christian messages and symbols on them.

Over the years I’ve struggled with how to deal with this. I’ve spoken to other Jews – family members, friends. There are a lot of different opinions, ranging from “smile it on” to “take an aggressive stance and speak up.” Some suggest joining my friends in their Christmas activities, others advocate a vocal protest. After all, they suggest, this is clearly a social problem in a land where multiple cultures and multiple expressions of spirituality are supposedly encouraged to co-exist.

These divisions cut deep. I have one family member who nearly married a Catholic woman, and it was an argument about Christmas and how they would spend it, and subsequently how they would raise their children to spend it that instigated the deterioration of their relationship.

When I get a card with Christian symbols that comes from someone who knows I’m Jewish I feel a dangerous anger. Some years ago someone said to me how sorry they felt that I “missed out” on the presents and all the great things that Christmas is. I wanted to scream in fury at them, to strike out in an inappropriate rage. Did they ever stop once and think that I am fulfilled by my own practices?

Here is a snippet of conversation I had this past weekend with someone close to me, and who has known of my problems with this issue for years now:

“ So Molly, Christmas really, really has no significance to you?”

“ Does Chanuka have significance to you?” was meant to be my somewhat diplomatic reply, for which I received a gravid silence.

I didn’t want to come across as terse, but while this person had an expectation of presents and acknowledgements from me because of Christmas, there was absolutely no acknowledgement even after years of discussion that perhaps I, too, would have enjoyed having my spirituality and practices included.

My problem is not with Christmas as a holy and spiritual day. I have no issues with those who celebrate, and if anything I am enriched by the music, beauty, and grace that the spiritual expressions of Christmas can embody.

I am however deeply disturbed by the integration of Christmas into the fabric of American life. I’m not even convinced the particular form in which it manifests (buy! give! get! stuff! more stuff!) has anything to do with the spirituality or holiness of the day, and that’s disturbing too.

I’ve often felt (to quote Patti Smith) “outside of society.” I’m quite practiced on being on the outside of things. But the division lines I experience during this particular season seem different. Instead of feeling isolated, I feel marginalized because my faith and practice is of a different ilk than the majority of my society.

To all my friends celebrating Christmas today, I again wish you every happiness and spiritual joy. Next year, please remember that my Judaism brings me happiness and joy. So in the true spirit of this great country, in the magnanimity found in people all over the world, I hope that all beliefs can in some way be acknowledged and celebrated, too.

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Tuesday 23 December 2003

tempo retardo

I woke up and looked at the clock. It said 4:30 a.m. I stumbled into the kitchen, tripped over the cat who yowled at me (old bitch). Then I blindly groped around for the teapot. While performing this ungainly dance I looked up and saw the clock on the stove. The clock said 4:00 a.m.

I made my tea and somewhat fortified went about the house to see what the clocks had to say. All the clocks, except for the one on the VCR that still blinks 12:00 incessantly (how formulaic of me) agreed with the clock on the stove. And the clock on the stove agreed with the time I found on the official U. S. Time page (URL: which I found to be pun-worthy).

So somehow in the middle of the night my bedside clock decided to run 1/2 hour fast. A perfect 1/2 hour ahead of the correct time. Overnight. Just like that.

If a clock consistently runs 1/2 hour ahead of time, and you set it 1/2 hour behind the time, shouldn’t it end up displaying the correct time?

But you know it never does.

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Friday 19 December 2003

appeals court says back off, RIAA

A federal court of appeals ruled today that the RIAA and other recording industry reps cannot force ISPs to identify those subscribers who swap music online.

This is a nice kick in the crotch to the RIAA, who has been on an anti-piracy compaign with a vengeance for the past months.

Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn) had this quotable quote to share:

“We clearly have to do a better job of getting law and technology and ethics into better sync . . . ”


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Thursday 18 December 2003

real unreal

Dear Real,

I’m a computer book author and columnist writing about your products. I went to this morning and was extremely upset to find that there is no obvious place on this web site to get detailed product information without downloading your product first. Instead, I had to spend over twenty minutes figuring out that the information I wanted wasn’t at, but

Doesn’t it seem logical that people are going to show up at looking for information? After all, that particular URL is where you send everyone to download products. So what’s the detailed product information doing on another site altogether?

This is poor usability and terrible for PR purposes, I can assure you. If the press can’t get info from a site then how can you expect consumers to do so? Or maybe that’s your point.

I’m offended by your poor web site and the unacceptable practice of not giving obvious, easily found, and fully detailed product information prior to a download.

So what I intend to do is use the web site as an example of what not to do in terms of usability. A perfect case study in how to piss off your web site visitors, how fortunate for me!

Usability means getting the audience to what they came for. After that wasted twenty minutes I was finally able to have my questions answered when I inadvertently followed a link that brought me to the site at I then quite easily found the information. But what the hell is it doing on a separate web site from your primary download site?

Oh, and by the way, you need to test your designs in browsers other than IE. There are a few of us who choose not to use that particular browser as our personal browser. Your site falls apart in important places, like media navigation links. Real has been a part of the web for so very long it should be paying more attention to such issues. Shame on you, Real.

I cannot recommend your products to buyers if I can’t find detailed information on those products. Please make detailed product information immediately available prior to any download. Doing otherwise is unacceptable, stupid, and possibly unethical.

Have a real nice day.

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Wednesday 17 December 2003

caveat scriptor

Bruce Lawson, a former editor at glasshaus (imprint of Wrox Press) has dug up some dirt on a new publishing company that anyone writing computer books (or buying them for that matter) needs to know about.

Apparently, the managing director who closed the door on Wrox and dumped its employees without so much as their last due wages, declared bankruptcy and stopped paying author royalties and monies due for various work has opened a new publishing house. It’s even in one of the former Wrox buildings in Birmingham, U.K.

The new company is called Packt Publishing and was registered only two months after the bankruptcy of Wrox.

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Tuesday 16 December 2003


IN ALL THINGS I feel confusion. Love, music, drink, food, dreams.


  • chemical brothers – oh hell play anything they’ve done. You’ll be happy.
  • charlie parker – Bloomdido (old jazz).
  • m. doughty – i still can’t let go. it’s been a few years now and this guy still gets me off with his lyrics.

I gained control of myself and decided to drive on.

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Sunday 14 December 2003

lance’s tip of the day

In an on-going effort to catch myself up to pop culture speed, I spent the afternoon watching Orange County which I have to say is a masterpiece of the teen comedy genre, no matter how crappy some of the reviews for it were.

Jack Black is absolutely brilliant as Lance. With such a fantastic cast it’s hard to upstage anyone, but I think he stole the show.

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Saturday 13 December 2003

bragging party

One of the tech editing jobs I did this past year was for Christian Crumlish, who is a well-known author and maintains the group weblog radio free blogistan.

Yesterday, the book I worked on arrived and I was really excited to read his acknowledgement, which, while not all sweetness (I guess I’m kinda tough . . .)
is pretty darned cool. I feel like a kid who wants to run home and show her gold star to mom. I guess we all feel that way when we get one of those stars. Anyway, at the risk of seeming like I’m gloating, I’m sharing it here.

When they told me Molly Holzschlag was to be our technical editor, I almost panicked. How would I get away now with lazy generalizations and received hearsay? True to form, Molly held my feet to the fire and demanded the highest standards of clarity, evidence, and proof. Her commitment to web standards and to web-design professionalism rubbed off on my chapters to my credit. Those chapters would be infinitely less effective without her input, exceptions, and advice.”

Christian Crumlish, Author, Microsoft FrontPage 2003 Savvy

Okay, now that I’ve bragged, it’s your turn. What did you get a gold star for recently? Or, maybe there’s something you really should have gotten credit for but the deed went unnoticed. Well, now’s your chance!

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Friday 12 December 2003

m. doughty and my front door

Ethan Marcotte has turned me on to the recent M. Doughty
EP. My favorite track is a ballad, (m4a format): forty grand in the hole.

Forty Grand in the Hole

M. Doughty

Forty grand in the hole
scraping my dreams out of the sugar bowl
my love for you is corrupt
write down the words and I’ll snort them up

When will I love someone,
when will someone be mine?
Forty grand in the hole
I’m going to open it up and
let my yearning

Hours that I have slept, slumping down, down like a narcolept
surrendering to joy, standing in line at Teriyaki Boy

When will I love someone, when will someone be mine?
Forty grand in the hole
I’m going to open it up and
let my yearning

When will I hear the click
when will I know that it’s time to split?
what is the use of it, what is the life without my heart at risk?
when will I love someone,
when will someone be mine

I’m forty grand in the hole
I’m gonna open it up and let my yearning shine.

That’s Mike Doughty, folks.

Anyway, I really do think I want Bobby Loco at my front door. I’m always looking for righteous security.

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Thursday 11 December 2003

homies: who knew?

homie figurine

How have I missed this chunk of pop culture?

Until about ten minutes ago I’d never seen or heard of a homie cartoon in my life. On the counter, in the store, was a figure of this bad boy to my right.

He goes by the name of Bobby Loco. They had him in a yellow box being pushed as holiday stocking fodder.

I must be so out of it. I’ve never even known about homies ’til tonight. What’s that say about me?

The homies web site is cool.

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Wednesday 10 December 2003

lookout, jewish mother in cyberspace

Newsworthy day, it appears. My mom, who had email in 1994 (she’s 70, btw) and who was dubbed “first Jewish mother in cyberspace” by me at that time has just informed me that she wants to know the best IM client to download because she thinks the “immediacy” of Instant Messaging appeals to her.

Doomed, I’m doomed . . .

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buy me: 1.99 USD

Web design newbies: If you’re starting out with Dreamweaver MX you’ll definitely want to read my new series at DMXzone, “Cornerstones of Dreamweaver Design.”

My first article, “Defining your Site” is available now. I also have about a baker’s dozen of other Dreamweaver articles there, too.

Each article costs 1.99 and you can buy me in bulk.

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