I help put on a literary science fiction convention named Context. . Over the decade or so that I have been participating many members of the con-com have become good friends Masters degrees are normal (Bob has three), they're all liberal and pragmatic to the core, so our discussions are tons of fun.

One thing we like to do is go out to dinner for sparkling conversation and then to a movie. This week nine of us got together for dinner and The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I always loved the books. they were the perfect escape hatch after a quarter of academia, particularly when you just finished a couple dozen books on the Arab-Israeli conflict. i needed absurdity and I got it, in spaces. Only Mothy Python compared.

So I'm pleased to report the new movie is a total scream, great cast, utterly unpredictable, loads of big belly laughs, a president with a lemon for a brain.

Seen that one before, haven't we . . . .

But the previews had me rooting fo the bird flu. No, I was not regaled with a long commercial for Miss Congeniality II, the movie Sandra Bullock turned down Million Dollar Baby to make. The trailers seemed aimed at a youthful audience. Very you. They showed trailers for three different remakes of the Bad News Bears, Groupthink anyone? The first featuring Will Ferrell, Mike Ditka and soccer, the second features Martin Lawrence and basketball, and the last doing baseball with Billy Bob Thorton. The piece de resistance came when they showed the trailer for the renake of 'The Love Bug'. Dumber than dumberer with lots of cameos from NASCAR drivers like Jeff Gordon.

You gotta wonder if those guys ever take their driving suit off.

So, right now we have a converted frat-boy for a president, we just appointed the Popenfuhrer of religious purity, people are attacking evolution for being non-scientific compared to religion, Judicial activism now consists of the courts saying 'we don't want to touch this' and supporting Jesus means endorsing dogmatic religion over compassion. George Orwell must be laughing in his grave.

And what does Hollywood decide we need for the summer? Three remakes of the Bad News Bears and one of the Love Bug? Who needs ipecac anymore? Apparently we don't need any new stories, not with so many on the shelf in need of a paint job.

God, bring it on. Or at least rapture these morons out of here. Oh, I forgot that rapture bit isn't in the Bible. But who needs actual scripture when we have Bill Frist, Fox and Mel Gibson to tell us what to believe?

Fortunately, the Hitchhiker's Guide captured these days perfectly We live in a world of divine madness where Chico Marx is secretary of State and W.C. Fields runs defense. I laughed and laughed.

A species that puts Ann Coulter on TV deserves extinction. A species capable of making the Hitchiker's Guide just might have potential.

I'm all for layman's terms and user-friendliness, but this is so insane.

I tried installing Mac OS X 10.4 ('Tiger') yesterday and the DVD adamantly refused to verify my startup disk as installable. It had the space, the computer's specs were up to snuff and (more confusingly) the installer refused to tell me exactly what was wrong - it just suggested trying again. So I did, twice. No dice.

So I ran a disk check. Turns out, I've got a file allocation problem (ie, two files are trying to use the same block of the disk at the same time. Not that the installer told me that, or anything.) I could handle that. Problem was, it wouldn't tell me which two and adamantly refused to repair the disk.

It looked like I had two options: backup my hard drive to some non-existent drive or repair it in a different way.

And then I remembered I still had a bootable Mac OS 9 (remember that?) system folder on my drive. I rebooted into 9 and ran Disk First Aid. Not only did this four-year-old Apple program correctly diagnose the problem, it told me which files were getting confused and placed aliases to the files on the root level to my hard drive. Nuked the files, repaired the disk again to be sure and reran the installer. Worked like a charm.

What I want to know is, while the information I needed was slightly technical, why doesn't the modern disk utility program actually help instead of just saying 'bzzt. Sorry. Start over and accomplish nothing or wipe your disk and lose everything' when the fix took me all of thirty seconds to implement? User-friendliness is great and all, but it means nothing if I can't actually install the stuff I need without advanced technical knowledge. What's so odd is, it apparently used to be easy. Don't get it.

As to tiger...yowza. Dashboard is quite possibly the handiest thing I've ever seen, Safari's RSS aggregator is extremely groovy and Spotlight...well, I'll let you know once my disk's been indexed. My only gripe at the moment is that 'bonjour' is an extremely stupid new name for 'Rendezvous'. Why they insisted on keeping it all French and whatnot is beyond me.

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