Well, just because I like to, I'm going to sit down in my armchair and put on my political analyst hat. What I'm thinking about is the American Presidential election of next year (a subject which I, admittedly, know not very much about, not being American - then again, I also have a more objective outside perspective ...). For starters, the Republicans are sunk. Bush and Cheney have wrecked their support, and I think it would be very hard for any Republican candidate to win. That said, I think Fred Thompson has the best shot of any of the Republican Presidential candidates - never underestimate the Schwarzenegger effect - Thompson played a very presidential figure on TV, and has actual Senate experience ... In the Democratic race, I predict Hillary will win, but would rather see Obama take it. Clinton is a polarizing figure, while Obama seems to have a more co-operative style of leadership. Of the candidates, from both parties, I'd most like to see him in the White House next year. I think that's unlikely however. We like to think we've moved beyond race as a society, but America, especially, has fought a war over it, and had all sort of historical racial stressors. That sort of thing stays in a society, and is not easily gotten over (just look at English and French in Canada - and we haven't been at open war for centuries). I don't think America will elect a black President (though they should). So, my current prediction: The Democratic candidate, likely Hillary Clinton, will be POTUS this time next year. I'll keep you posted (as we may not have a Canadian federal election to keep me occupied until 2009 ...).
Today's xkcd is super neat, and really captures the experience of going home for the holidays. (if you don't read xkcd, you should, its only the greatest webcomic in the 'verse (and no, it has nothing to do with Firefly (but if the author saw it, I expect he'd be a fan (I just love nested parentheses :-) )))) Just last night, I was at a friend's family's Christmas party, helping him get some stuff running on his new Kubuntu installation - we were in the middle of trying to get DVD playback running when I heard his parents cleaning up upstairs (it was about 11 at this point) and figured I'd better leave - you forget at university, when having friends over that late or later isn't terribly abnormal, that your parents' generation tends to leave at 9 or 10. Anyway, Merry Christmas all, and a Happy New Year.
Its a somewhat little known fact that Bill Gates full name is William Henry Gates III. I was curious as to exactly which of his ancestors were William Gates Sr. and Jr. A short trip to Wikipedia later, and now I know. His father, William Gates Sr., was born William Gates III. When he joined the Army to fight in WW II, he changed his name to William Gates Jr., to avoid elitism. Later, when his son became really famous, he again changed his name, to William Gates Sr. (neat, eh? - he was all three). More sanely, his father and grandfather were born William Gates Jr. and Sr., respectively. Since the third William Gates had dropped his 'III', Bill Gates (of Microsoft) got the 'III' suffix instead of 'IV', and is nicknamed "Trey" (for "three") within his family. But still, Bill Gates is (unofficially) a "IV", as am I, BruceIV. Confusing, but cool.
So, why is Gmail still in beta? Its a mature product. They've just come out with a "new version" with some substantial interface updates (these are being phased in, but fairly quickly) - for anything else, they'd call it version 2.0 - even for a web app, this whole beta thing is ridiculous. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that it has been out since April 2004, and open to the entire public since February of this year. (which might explain the periodic "Google outages" I suffered last winter - that and YouTube must have put a strain on even Google's servers). Gmail is offered as part of a paid service (Google Apps). Anyway, the entire point of this is, it is ridiculous on multiple levels that Gmail is still in beta. Google, take the silly tag off the graphic, and have a grand unveiling. My two cents for today.