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February 21st, 2002:

Good news and bad news

Ginger talks about the sad state of computer documentation, and wonders how one can redirect mail in Outlook. I have good news and bad news for you, Ginger. It looks like it can be done, but as if often the case with Microsoft, it depends.

I dinked around in my Outlook 2000 client at work, and in the Rules Wizard there is an option to “redirect” mail (as opposed to “forward” mail) to another person. I didn’t finish off this rule – more on that in a minute – but it seems to me that this would do what you and David Pogue would want, as it seems like the equivalent of setting an alternate recipient on the mailbox via Exchange Admin.

The bad news is that this can only be done as a server-side rule. Most of the rules on my profile say “client only”, and when I tried to add a rule to test this out, it refused since I was apparently trying to add a client-side rule. Of course, with Outlook, it’s impossible to tell how and why rules are client- or server-side. I do have one server-side rule on this profile, so I know I can test this out, but I’ll probably build a new profile and test it out on that instead. I’ll let you know if I succeed. And you do need Outlook 2000 – a warning popped up when I picked the “redirect” criterion to make sure I knew that. You’d think the software would know its own version…oh, let’s not go there.

Unsafe at any speed

Matt Welch recently pointed out a bizarre interview in the Chicago Tribune with Ralph Nader. I don’t normally do this sort of thing, but I think this deserves some deconstructing. I’m going to quote selectively, so go to the link above if you want to see the whole thing.

Q. You write that people who accused you of merely taking votes away from Gore missed the point. What was the point?

A. The point was to build a broad-based political movement that transcended any single election. […]

Call me Mister Obvious, but in order to build a broad-based political movement, one must have a political platform with broad appeal. How many moderates and conservatives found Ralph and his merry band of WTO-protesting kiddies to be appealing? Ralph was skimming from the left end of the Democratic party. There’s no broad base in that.

Q. Did you accomplish your goal?

A. The first stage, certainly. When was the last time any progressive party got 3 million votes? […]

It’s a bit disingenuous of Ralph to proclaim success here, since before the election the Greenies were talking big about getting 5% of the vote and qualifying for federal funds in 2004. They wound up with 2.7% of the vote instead. That’s one out of thirty-seven. I’m willing to bet that if you rounded up thirty-seven random voters, you could find at least one who believes that Elvis is alive, that space aliens are being autopsied in Nevada right now, or that God planted dinosaur bones around the globe to fool us into thinking the earth was more than 6000 years old. Or perhaps that Ralph Nader was a viable Presidential candidate.

To answer his question, I suppose that depends on one’s definition of “progressive”, but allowing a subjective response would be 1996, when Ross Perot and the Reform Party got 8 million votes. In 1992, Perot got nearly 20 million. And, for your beloved young people who’ve probably never heard of him, in 1980 John Anderson got 5.7 million votes. (Thanks to David Leip’s excellent US Election Atlas for the data.) In case you’re curious, Ralph, they all got more votes than you because they had broad appeal.

Q. What is the biggest impediment to the rise of a progressive third party in this country?

A. One is the winner-take-all mentality. If people don’t think you can win, they won’t vote for you. […]

Yes, it’s shocking how people would rather vote for someone who has a chance of actually acheiving office, where they might be able to do some good. How much better it is to vote for a surefire loser who is pure in heart. After all, someone who never gets elected will never disappoint you by compromising or making decisions with which you disagree because it’s in the greater interest. Noble failure is so romantic, isn’t it?

Q. Would you rather Al Gore had won?

A. The similarities between the two towered over dwindling differences, so I was indifferent to whether Bush or Gore won. […]

Ralph’s thing all along has been how Bush and Gore are essentially the same. Let’s check a few issues and see if they’re the same or not, shall we?

  • Abortion? Different.
  • Gun control? Different.
  • Huge tax cuts which skew towards the upper income brackets? Different.
  • Privatizing Social Security? Different.
  • School vouchers? Different.
  • Drilling in the ANWR? Different.

I could go on, but this point has been made many times before. Even if you minimize all of these things, let’s not forget that if Gore had won, John Aschroft would be just another talking head on Fox News. ‘Nuff said.

Q. Would you have made an effective wartime president?

A. This war would never have happened had I been president, because for 30 years we have had an aviation safety group, and we have been urging the airlines to toughen cockpit doors and improve the strength of the locks, and they have been resisting for 30 years.

Ralph, do you honestly believe that in the nine months between January 20 and September 11 that you could have forced all domestic airlines to fit all their planes with stronger cockpit doors? I don’t believe this could have been fully accomplished in nine months even if the airlines had wanted to do it. Even putting that aside, before 9/11 pilots and crew were trained to accede to hijackers. They were taught to get the plane safely to the ground and let the authorities there deal with the situation. In other words, the hijackers very likely would have been given access to the cockpits by the pilots as part of their training on how to handle hijackings. This is nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking of the worst kind.

Q. But could a president from the Green Party, which advocates non-violence, wage war?

A. Non-violence does not mean that you let people destroy you, because that encourages violence. In other words, we wouldn’t foment aggressive war, but we would certainly have a very strong defense. The Green Party stands for health and safety, and safety means security. But we’ll do it in a smarter way. The key in the Green Party is to foresee and forestall, and one way you do that is to put meat and potatoes on what Don Rumsfeld and Colin Powell said: that this kind of terrorism is tolerated and bred by poverty, injustice, dictatorships, destitution and human suffering.

Yes, but how would you have dealt with the situation? Harsh language? Ralph sounds like he’s taken the Tom Lehrer song Folk Song Army way too seriously:

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

Look at this transcript of Nader with Bill O’Reilly. I’m no fan of Dubya, but thank God he’s surrounded by people who had the guts to do what needed to be done.

There was a time when I had respect for Ralph Nader. I even briefly considered doing one of those vote-swaps for him, since my vote in Texas wasn’t gonna count. I eventually rejected that on principle, and I’ve not regretted it a bit. He’s a pathetic shadow of what he once was, and he has no realization of the depths to which he’s fallen. Sad.

Fuzzy math

In today’s Chron, there’s an ad for the new movie Super Troopers. This ad contains the following pull quote from critic Lou Lumenick of the New York Post: “An Amazingly High Joke-to-Laugh Ratio!”

Um, you do know that this means the movie contains way more jokes than laughs, right? Lumenick did in fact give this movie a good review, so I guess this is just another case of what John Allen Paulos calls “innumeracy”.