Mark Bersalona

Updated 9701.24

The opinions expressed here are my own. I assume no responsibility for any unwelcome consequences of actions or decisions which may result from these opinions.

So why the heck is this page up anyway?? In part, to practice using assorted HTML editors and tools. But also, to provide the reader with some insight into how I think and feel. My homepage can give some insight into my hobbies and interests - look at the links I keep. But for other insight, I've written this page, and plan to add more in the future.

A bit vain? Perhaps. But if you weren't interested, you wouldn't be reading this, eh?

Polite, reasoned comments are welcome. Rudeness reflects upon the speaker.

browser choice   [Index]
I have both Netscape Navigator (NN) and Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) on my PC, to make sure the web pages I write are compatible with both. I use MSIE on my own PC, a Windows 95 laptop - it simply suits me better. I don't care about built-in newsreaders nor mail clients (I use Forte Agent for both), and I don't care about assorted plug-ins with just a 28.8k modem. I like how MSIE calls up Notepad to view/edit HTML code - quick and dirty, but it works. And yeah, I know about NN Gold's ability to edit HTML virtually WYSIWYG but every version I've tried seems buggy or awkward to use, so I might as well edit with a text editor.

At work, though, I've got a Sun workstation on my desk, running Unix, so our EIS department has NN installed. Gotta give Netscape credit for covering as many platforms as they do. Heck, Microsoft took quite a while getting MSIE 3.0 out for Windows 3.1! Doubt we'll ever see any version of MSIE running on the workstations anytime soon.

browser font faces   [Index]
Both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer use a Times font as the default proportional font. I guess it's because virtually all systems have some sort of Times font installed. The advantage of the Times font is that it is very readable even when printed small - that's why newspapers use it. But it's quite likely you're reading this on a computer screen. Times looks lousy rendered as a small screen font.

On my own PC, I like using the Arial font that comes with Windows, which includes the proper bold, italic and bold italic versions, i.e. bold and italics are not interpolated from the base font. It makes Web documents look so much sharper! At work on my Sun workstation I set the default font to Helvetica .

Eventually I'll figure out how to select fonts or use style sheets for my web pages so the right font face will be used automatically. But for now, I'll set the browser default font to a sans serif font.

dancing   [Index]
Dancing at its best is something graceful and elegant, with romance thrown in for good measure. A man and a woman, nicely attired, moving together on the dance floor accompanied by the sounds of an orchestra, can mesmerize an audience.

Line dancing has no grace, elegance nor romance, though I'll admit that the scene in the movie Michael , where John Travolta dances with two women in a roadhouse, is an exception. Pop and disco dancing are flashy and showy...which can have merit. But I do think the smooth and Latin ballroom steps have it all.

Ebonics   [Index]
This is a lowering of standards and is wrong, not to mention insulting. The Oakland school board approved the idea of "black English" as a foreign language simply so they might get additional foreign language money from government agencies. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Pres. Bill Clinton both do not support this nonsense.

Slang and colloquialisms? Of course. A dialect of English? Sure, why not. A foreign language? Get real. Hey Oakland, your school system is a failure - the sooner you can accept that the sooner we can help. Your school board is in serious denial, though, I'm afraid you'll have to fire them all.

emerging markets - Africa   [Index]
Just a few years ago one wouldn't dream of investing in Africa, but with the end of the Cold War and the old Marxist Soviet client states in Africa quickly converting to market-driven economies with some successes, Africa looks like an interesting VERY-long-term investment option.

Most of the continent will need buildups of infrastructure and communications for the next few decades. Also look at mining companies - lots of rare raw materials in Africa. Shorter-term investors (and by that I mean those with about a 20-year view) might take a look at the South African market.

emerging markets - China or India?   [Index]
If I had to choose between China or India to invest in for the next 20 years, I'd go with India. Out of at least 750 million people only 200 million might be considered middle-class or above...which is still a HUGE market! Middle-class Indians are well-educated, speak English and have a history of capitalism. India has stock markets! Better still, their economy is far more open than China's and politically India is easier to work with than China. China, on the other hand, is still a Communist nation whose leaders are willing to use force against its own people to maintain control. The Chinese people might understand a market-driven economy but they do not rule.

In 20 years India should still be a good market for, say, refrigerators. Indian and Russian companies will be strong competition, but Western companies, particularly American and Japanese, can do well in competitive markets. Russian and perhaps European companies will be more successful in military sales to India.

In 20 years China may be the next superpower foe of the USA - the Chinese economy would be quite closed to the West in such a world. The challenge today is to keep China in the global market, to make their economy interdependent with everyone else, so China will suffer economically if China decides to become belligerent.

"For the children..."   [Index]
When an idea, suggestion, legislative bill, tax, whatever, cannot stand on its own merits, an appeal is made to the emotions. Although I suppose there are some cases when this is justified, like appeals for donations to worthy charities, an appeal to emotions usually is done for a bad idea. A red flag should go up when something is pushed in the name of children.

"Restrict free speech, to protect our children." "We must ban (whatever) to keep our children safe." "If you value the children, then join our cause." "If just one child is saved, our efforts will not have been in vain." I think you could justify doing anything, support any idea, for the sake of the children. Burn the books, wipe out an ethnic group, give up a freedom, anything.

gun safety   [Index]
Here are the three rules for gun safety.

  1. Assume it's loaded

If you just remember this one and use common sense, you can derive all other gun safety rules.

Assume a gun is loaded until you've verified otherwise. If I pick up a gun, check it and tell you it's not loaded, then hand it to you, you must still assume it's loaded - I might have been wrong, you know - then you check it to see if it's loaded. And once you've verified the gun is loaded or unloaded, you still assume it's loaded . You might have been wrong.

You should never need to utter that damn phrase, "I didn't know it was loaded."

  • Don't point a gun at anything you're not willing to see destroyed.

Remember Rule 1? You don't play cops and robbers and point it at anyone. You don't point it at anyone accidentally. You don't let the muzzle swing across anyone. And don't let the muzzle swing across any part of YOUR anatomy either. The gun's loaded, according to Rule 1.

  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.

If you do what they do on TV and in the movies, your trigger finger will go into the trigger guard and onto the trigger when you hold a gun. A sharp noise can startle you, you squeeze your hand as a reflex action and pull the trigger. You might trip and pull the trigger. Someone might bump into you and cause you to pull the trigger.

The gun will fire if you put your finger on the trigger. It's a loaded gun (see Rule 1) and the bullet will hit whatever the gun points to (see Rule 2). You are responsible for whatever that bullet hits...which reminds me of a fourth gun safety rule often cited.

  • Be sure of your target.

You're responsible for whatever every bullet you shoot hits. When at the range or in the field, be sure the bullet will be stopped by a backstop, hill, ground, etc. Be sure the target you're shooting, whether a piece of paper, a game animal in the field, or a violent intruder, is something you should be shooting.

The NRA, under its Eddie Eagle program, gives gun safety rules for children as well. They even have a videotape of Eddie Eagle explaining gun safety to children. I think these rules could also apply to adults who are intrinsically scared of firearms. Some children, properly trained and supervised by an adult, are quite safe handling firearms. Conversely, there are some adults who shouldn't be using butter knives, much less handle any firearm!

  1. Stop!
  2. Don't touch!
  3. Leave the area.
  4. Tell an adult.

haiku   [Index]
True haiku - good haiku - follows the old Japanese haiku traditions. There are a lot of really bad poems out there that, because they follow some 5-7-5 syllable count, are classified as haiku. I should know, I've written some of those bad poems myself! (grin)

HTML tools/editors   [Index]
For simple Web pages, they're great timesavers! But I haven't seen one yet that could properly handle the frames code my homepage HTML code contains, so I typically write all my HTML code in a text editor. I might use an HTML tool to give me a skeleton file, or bang out the Web page in the tool and do final editing in Notepad. I'm still waiting for the perfect HTML tool - and I'll willingly pay a reasonable amount for it.

As of 9701.18, the HTML editor that comes closest to my idea of the "perfect" editor is HomeSite - a shareware editor available over the Internet. It isn't WYSIWYG, and I wouldn't recommend it for someone who doesn't know at least some HTML. But I've used it for a few times now, and it does have advantages over using a plain text editor. It integrates Microsoft's Internet Explorerer 3.01, so once you've edited the HTML code you can see the results within the tool using a "real" browser. I'm using HomeSite 2.5 Beta 1a - when it gets released, I think this will be the one I use...and for which I'll pay the very reasonable registration fee.

International Space Station (Alpha)   [Index]
What a wussy name! Myself, I like "Battlestar America" - kick ass name, huh? (GRIN!)

investment strategy   [Index]
Between a growth investment strategy (investing in companies in expectations of higher earnings and profits and therefore share prices) and a value investment strategy (investing in companies at share prices lower than true value) I tend to favor value investing. Most investors, whether growth or value oriented, are going to buy into companies that expect good earnings and profits anyway. "Buy low, sell high" makes sense to me, and yet an odd tendency of growth investors (or "momentum" growth investors anyway) is to buy when prices are high (from a value perspective) and sell when prices are low. And sure, growth oriented money managers make the news these days, but the big names you may have heard of, who are acknowledged to be the best investors in history (like Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffet, John Neff, Peter Lynch) follow value strategies.

price of quality   [Index]
Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it's worth buying. I'll gladly pay a premium for something I know is of high quality, high reliability, high performance - in short, if that something is worth the premium. Of course, I'd prefer getting that same something on sale! (grin)

role of the military after the Cold War   [Index]
The US military has - or rather, should have - the same mission as it did during the Cold War: to deter an enemy attack on this nation, and should deterrence fail, to defeat the enemy on the battlefield. In either case, the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines must be ready to win a war - the proper role of the military in a democracy.

The military should not be used as policemen, either here or abroad. The military should not be used as aid workers. The military should not be used to "send a signal" to anyone. The military must never be used against the people. Military missions not involved with deterring or defeating an enemy get people needlessly killed.

Case in point - the Saudis are blaming Iran for carbombing a US base in Saudi Arabia, and Iran is on high alert, preparing for a US military strike. Apparently the State Department has said the US will indeed strike at Iran if proof of Iranian involvement in the bombing exists. What'll happen if Iran is indeed proven guilty? We'll launch some cruise missiles at Iran, maybe send in a carrier or real military damage to Iran, just send a message that, hey, we don't like it when you kill our soldiers. The Iranians will just get more pissed-off at the US and no doubt will send in more carbombs or maybe start grabbing hostages or whatever - in any case, people will die needlessly, and pundits will wonder at how the planet's only remaining superpower can be so helpless.

Stardate date format   [Index]
Yeah, it labels me as a Star Trek fan (so what?) but the date format some Trekkers use for current dates is useful. Stardates sort perfectly, both alphabetically and numerically. Stardates are unambiguous to anyone following the Western calendar. I mean, does 5/7/96 stand for 5 July 1996 or May 7, 1996? It depends if you're American, British or whatever. (An aside - I never use xx/xx/xx format if I can avoid it, to avoid the confusion. If I need to write a date and can't use Stardate format, I'll write 5 July 1996.) Also, Stardates are compact.

Don't quite know what I'll do at the turn of the century though. After 9912.31, should I use 200001.01 for the next day? Or perhaps 10001.01? The latter might seem appropriate, since Star Trek: The Next Generation used 4xxxx.xx format, for the 24th century I thought. But Star Trek: Voyager is now using 5xxxx.xx format, and I don't think they've made it to the 25th century yet.

I think, on my PC I'll switch to a YYYYMM.DD format, which will keep dates in proper chronological order. But for personal notes I'll use 0001.01 for the date following 9912.31 - after all, I very much doubt I'll ever have the need to write the Stardate for 1 January 1900. And if Windows is smart enough to remember the turn of the century, I'll just continue to use YYMM.DD format, since I won't have any files from 1900 either.

start of the 21st century   [Index]
Technically, the start of the 21st century is 1 January 2001. But the pedants who insist on that date will miss the big party of 31 December 1999! (grin)