Here in New Orleans, the PBS station showed ‘All the President’s Men’ last night. There was so much more to Watergate than just the break-in. The parallels to current cover-ups are just CREEPy. (Are you old enough to remember CREEP?)

BUTTER SUBSTITUTE BY THE STICK

Mark W. Budwig: ‘Yes, it’s the ‘stickiness,’ or rather the solidity [that accounts for the higher trans fat content of the same spread when bought in stick form]: ‘Trans fat (also called trans fatty acids) is formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation, in which hydrogen is added to make the oils more solid. Hydrogenated vegetable fats are used by food processors because they allow longer shelf-life and give food desirable taste, shape, and texture . . .

Janus Daniels: ‘Hydrogenating natural oils (i.e., making them chemically combine with more hydrogen) raises their melting temperature, making them solid at room temperature. Generally, holding other factors constant, the softer the healthier.’

Marissa Hendrickson: ‘If you’re into fake butter, you should try Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread. It’s got no trans fats, it’s vegan (good for your kosher or dairy-allergic friends), it’s yummy, and, unlike most fake butter spreads, you can cook with it just like butter. It’s usually in the ‘natural’ food section of the grocery store.’

BURIED DEEP IN THE CODE

I recognize that I am practically the last one still to be using AOL (give or take 30 million others) – and that I may be literally the last one to be using AOL 5.0. I have my reasons. (Prime among them: I have never been able to upgrade; my address file exceeds their secret limit.) But my point is not about AOL, but about how complicated computer code has gotten since the days when HAL’s core functions were first programmed (surely you have seen 2001), onto which trillions of lines of code have since been overlain.

How would anyone in a million years have come up with THIS bug?

  • Trying to send an email with the phrase “St. Maarten” in it crashes AOL 5.0 when you click SEND.  Every time.  Misspell it – “St. Mmarten” – and the otherwise identical email goes through just like the billions of others that are sent every day.  Totally bizarre.  I have not tried it with aardvark, but . . . well, okay, I just did try it with aardvark and it went through fine.  Then I tried it again with St. Maarten and got, as always:  Main Module has encountered a problem and needs to close.  We are sorry for the inconvenience.

I’m telling you, people, we are dependent on things coded long ago that, well – who knows what oddness lies within.

CREDIT CARD SUGGESTION

Jeff Bauer:  “Like most of your readers (I presume), I pay off my credit card balances each month.  However, there’s the rare occasional event – an unexpected overseas trip, misplaced mail, etc. – that prevents me from writing that check.  The double-digit finance fees are bad enough, but the added insult are the additional fees for missing the minimum payment.  It also doesn’t look good on your credit record to miss payments.  My solution is to have my online bank account send an automatic check each month to cover the minimum payment.  Then I pay the full balance when my statement arrives.  I’ll still have to eat the finance charges if I miss paying the balance, but I save the cost of the penalty.”

☞ I visit my two credit card websites periodically and pay off the balances even before the bill arrives.  And checks?  How quaint.

THIRTY-THREE MORE MONTHS

“I mean, think about it.  Other than the war in Iraq, the Katrina disaster, the deficit, the CIA leak, torture, stopping stem cell research, homeland security, global  warming and undercutting science, we’ve yet to really feel the negative  effects of the Bush administration.” – Bill  Moyers

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