Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Fire! by you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


In which I attempt to liven my work day by describing system recovery from backup with analogy; a homage to Halloween and SciFi; a Jenkins work is never done.

There was a shout from the cube farm: Jenkins had fallen over and was twitching.   I sighed.  This always happens at 4:00 in the afternoon when everyone is tired and weary.  Never at 9:30 in the morning when everyone is fresh and rested.

 Left my comfortable office, prodded Jenkins with a long stick.  He climbed back into his chair, wearily started to work, looked mournfully at me, sighed, fell over and died.

 I trundled the corpse outside and into the dumpster.  Retrieved and animated a new Jenkins from a collection kept in cold storage.

Jenkins looked around, nodded and wearily turned to his task.  As I left I heard him give a wheeze as the workload took it's strain on his body.

Zero: End Game

They did it.

At 7 this morning, zookeepers used several darts to tranquilize the 1,100-pound bear, who refused to leave his moat after falling into it Oct. 13. Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Diliberti said the move came because "things were hanging on for a little bit too long,"

I think 'hanging on for a little bit too long' is code for 'the damn bear was making a monkey out of us'.

And if McCain loses?

Palin-Jindal 2012!

Update: spelling corrected, thanks to the observant fellow from SpaceX.

The Sexual Philosophy Test

Last quiz for a while.  These are fun but the internet isn't about fun, it's about work.

Your result for The Sexual Philosophy Test...

Very Proper and/or Traditional

51% Perverse!

Your mommy and daddy are very proud of you. Everything they taught you about sex has stuck in your moral code. Your viewpoint on sexual relations follows a high moral code that is not uncommon in many relationships. It is based mainly on values that you have learned from your family background and childhood experiences. It could also be influenced by your political philosophy in what modern society accepts as being right or wrong. You would be very unlikely to ever condone an open relationship or have a homosexual interest. You may listen to your mate's interests but it is doubtful they could persuade you to change you viewpoint on what is sexually right and wrong. You more than likely use and own very few sexual aids; the ones you have are more traditional in nature.

Take The Sexual Philosophy Test at HelloQuizzy

I've always liked that picture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mandated Testing

Little Monkey took his very first mandated-by-the-State-of-Wisconsin school test this morning.

Me: How was it?

Him: They had snacks!

Food is a strong motivator in that one. [1]

[1] See.

My Muse

Your result for The A-Muse-ing Test...

Your muse is Urania!

30% Urania, 30% Clio, 0% Erato, 0% Euterpe, 0% Calliope, 0% Thalia, 30% Melpomene, 0% Polyhymnia and 10% Terpsichore!

Urania is the "celestial one" of the muses. She can tell the future by looking at the stars. She keeps her eyes focused on the heavens and is most helpful to those that are into philosophy and what is in the universal skies.

Urania is the one to call on when you wish upon a star.

Look for the first star and make a wish. Do not think about your age or where you are, only the magic that can become. Open your heart and ask Urania to join you. Then give into the mystery of life and see what happens. Allow love and trust to enter your heart and for a time be free from worry and stress. Life is, after all, meant to be lived.

Take The A-Muse-ing Test at HelloQuizzy

Short 'n Fluffy

I've managed to teach the new dog - a Poodle \ Schnauzer mix - how to sit and shake hands. Indeed she likes it so much she runs up to me when I get home, sits, and waves her paw in the air.

Granted, it's not the act she's fond of. Food is a strong motivator in that one.

A minor problem is she's so short and so fluffy that when I'm standing up it's not always obvious she's waving her little leg in the air, hoping for a cookie. Just a sort of cloud of gray fur, eddying around and emitting excited woof noises waaay down there by the floor.

Dear Lazy Web: http load balancing

Dear Lazy Web,

I've got web servers and I want to load balance them. I know, I'll use a proxy server! [1]

I see two obvious choices: Squid and mod_proxy in Apahce2.

Just getting out and grubbing around in Google I don't see a whole lot of difference between the two. From my POV Squid is easier to install [2] but I'm not afraid to get down and recompile Apache if I must.

What is your verdict on using one over the other, Lazy Web?

[1] The obvious rejoinder: Now I have two problems!

[2] Solaris is the operating system of choice.  Apache2 and Squid are software packages [3] from Coolstack but Squid 'just works' and Apache would need to be re-compiled.

[3] Yes i'm lazy.  Compiling an application from source is fine if you gotta do it but having software Just Come as a package is handy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hard work as a cure what ails

Mark Cuban's cure for our economic mopes?

The cure for what ails is us the Entrepreneurial Spirit of this country. We are a nation of people who encourage , support and invest in those of any and all age, race and gender who will use their ingenuity and come up with a new idea.

Ah, hard work.

What, waiting for the government to be our savior isn't a viable program? Why that's just crazy talk.

X is a human right

That lawyer fellow at Maggie's Farm has a point ...

How long must we wait for the Dems to propose socialized legal care? It's only right, isn't it? How many folks are economically destroyed by legal bills? Or go without justice because they cannot afford legal help?

A chicken in every pot and government provided legal services for all.

Cryptonomicon Footnotes

Cryptonomicon Footnotes

1. 1940 being a good year to begin experimenting with venereal diseases in that the new injectable penicillin was just becoming available.

2. As the Nipponese were invariably called by Marines, who never used a three syllable word where a three letter one would do.

3. "Hypo" is a military way of saying the letter H. Bright boy Waterhouse infers that there must be at least seven others: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie. etc.

4. Assuming, provisionally, that Alan is wrong and that human brains are not machines.

5. An evident paradox, but nothing out of the ordinary being out of America has just made this kind of thing more obvious to Randy.

6. A deprecatory term for a fighting man not good enough to be in the Corps.

7. Men with experience in Asia use the word "Nip." The Colonel's use of "Jap" suggests that his career has been spent in the Atlantic and/or Caribbean.

8. He has no hard data to back this up; it just seems like a cool idea.

9. He has made up his mind that he will use the English words rather than making a spectacle of himself by trying to pronounce the Qwghlmian ones.

10. According to the E.Q., derived from lichen.

11. Cantrell alludes to the fact that Plan One brought them a couple of million dollars in seed money from a venture capital outfit in San Mateo called the Springboard Group.

12. Shaftoe had had nothing to do for the last couple of weeks except play Hearts using KNOW YOUR ENEMY cards, so he could now peg model numbers of obscure Kraut observation planes.

13. The first one, mi, meaning "secret" and the second one, fu, having a dual connotation meaning, on the one hand, a symbol or mark, and on the other hand, Taoist magic.

14. Ever since the four wheel Enigma was broken.

15. Baudot code is what teletypes use. Each of the 32 characters in the teletype alphabet has a unique number assigned to it. This number can be represented as a five digit binary number, that is, five ones or zeroes, or (more useful) five holes, or absences of holes, across a strip of paper tape. Such numbers can also be represented as patterns of electrical voltages, which can be sent down a wire, or over the radio waves, and printed out at the other end. Lately, the Germans have been using encrypted Baudot code messages for communications between high level command posts;
e.g., between Berlin and the various Army group headquarters. At Bletchley Park, this category of encryption schemes is called Fish, and the Colossus machine is being built specifically to break it.

16. Half an hour ago, as Epiphyte Corp. was gathering in the lobby, a big black Mercedes came in, fresh from the airport. 747s come into Kinakuta four times a day, and from the time that a person presents himself at the registration desk of his luxury hotel, you can figure out which city he flew in from. These guys came in from Los Angeles. Three Latino men: a middle aged fellow of great importance, a somewhat younger assistant, and a palooka. They were met in the lobby by the solitary fellow who showed up late yesterday with the cellphone.

17. This is dry humor, and is received as such by everyone in the room; at this point in the war, a U boat could no more run up the English Channel than it could travel up the Mississippi, sink a few barges in Dubuque, and make its escape.

18. Nipponese Army speak for "retreat."

19. It goes without saying that the Finns have to have their own sui generis brand of automatic weapon.

20. This phrase is a Douglas MacArthur Shaftoe parody.

Why? Just because, is why.

Zero Watch

Oh, how is Our Hero, Zero, doing with that crate-trap?

Zero has climbed on the cage his zookeepers have lowered in a moat to rescue him.


The polar bear has explored the herring and apples delivered in the crate.


He's even gone halfway inside.

Oh noes ..

He just won't make the commitment to get in that box.

Score one for the big carnivore.  Stay strong, furry white brother.


Ru-roh ...

I'm a Cylon!

Yes, your whole life has been one gigantic lie. You are in fact a machine dedicated to wiping out all of humanity. Good luck with that.

Take the Are you a Human or a Cylon? Quiz at

Government healthcare seems to work fine

From SB7
Here's a doozy of a non sequitur from Hege123l:
I don't want a for profit company making life and death choices for me. Government healthcare seems to work fine for government workers, the military and our politicans...

Seems to work fine
. We might imagine that Hege123l has never talked to anyone in the military.

Fort Ritchie, Maryland, 1989. It's wet and rainy and cold in Maryland in the winter, and my nearly year-old son has chronic ear infections. Fort Ritchie has a clinic, so to the clinic we go. Sensibly (for the Army) dependents must wait until active duty soldiers are seen. Including the Light Duty Brigade showing up to get just one .. more .. day on their Work Avoidance Chit. Also, sensibly, unless you're about to die you are seen in the order in which you show up. Appointments are for sissies.

What this really means is that if you want to be seen for anything you show up early and wait in a crowded room until after lunch time.  If your kid is in a lot of pain, you show up early .. and wait in a crowded room. This is actually less fun than it sounds with a one-year old doing a lot of crying and vomiting.

The Clinic from Heck has two doctors. One doctor has the bedside manner of a brick and while you'd like to avoid the bastard, you can't because it's luck of the draw. By the fifth visit my son has learned the diff between Doctor Asstard and The Good Doctor. By the tenth visit he whimpers when we're in the wrong examining room and cries when the guy shows up.

The doctors - over the course of eighteen months - managed to miss that B. was going deaf and has a whole lotta scar tissue on his eardrums. His ear infections didn't really go away until we moved to North Carolina, where the Navy farmed their dependent care to civilians who looked at B, said 'wow, he's deaf, no wonder he can't talk well', popped tubes in his ears and .. lo, he could hear.

Now, mistakes happen and anecdotes are only that.  Also some of the finest care I've ever gotten has been from Navy corpsmen, dentists and PAs.

But - from my experience - saying that 'it seems to work fine' is to ignore a whole lot of experience that says there are some pretty serious problems with 'government health care for the military'.  To me, government health care will always be that small clinic at Fort Ritchie with one good doctor and one bad doctor and waiting in a 'first come first served line' with a baby in a lot of pain.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

The Age of Prosperity is over

Arthur Laffer
Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan added their efforts to strengthen what had begun under President Reagan. President Clinton signed into law welfare reform, so people actually have to look for a job before being eligible for welfare. He ended the "retirement test" for Social Security benefits (a huge tax cut for elderly workers), pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress against his union supporters and many of his own party members, signed the largest capital gains tax cut ever (which exempted owner-occupied homes from capital gains taxes), and finally reduced government spending as a share of GDP by an amazing three percentage points (more than the next four best presidents combined). The stock market loved Mr. Clinton as it had loved Reagan, and for good reasons.

The stock market is obviously no fan of second-term George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama or John McCain, and again for good reasons.

These issues aren't Republican or Democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative. They are simply economics, and wish as you might, bad economics will sink any economy no matter how much they believe this time things are different. They aren't.

Or as a really smart engineer once said ..
"Look," Arabian said after a pause, "you know this is no problem and I know this is no problem. But if the battery screws up, I'm going to say so. And if a tank screws up, I'm going to say so. And if the crew screws up, I'm going to say so. Fellows, these are just systems, and if you're not honest with yourself about what went wrong, you ain't gonna be able to fix anything."

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Supreme Court as a wealth distribution politburo

Senator Obama: "…The Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. "

As if that's a bad thing.

Update: Context matters of course. So, a transcript of the interview.

Zero the People Avoiding Hero

Remember the polar bear that won't leave his quiet, secluded moat for a place where he can be gawked at by hairless primates?

zero_moat_2 by you.
I said, go .. a-way!

The guys that run the zoo left his favorite treats - including lard, yum, yum - on the stairs to get him back up - no dice. Their next Big Idea . . .

Senior animal staff at the zoo lowered a large crate into the polar bear's moat via a crane this morning. A plastic milk storage crate full of his "favorite treats" - apples with peanut butter and herring - is inside the larger crate.

Then the cage door goes up, and after hours they hoist it up in the air and drop him - annoyed - back in his enclosure.

This works at my house with mice - they amble into no-kill traps after peanut butter all the time. Grumpy stay-at-homes across the world can be forgiven for hoping a carnivore has more brains than a itty-bitty mouse.

IIS - Microsoft - Guh-wha?

Work up this morning to bad news: a couple of my Windows Server 2003 hosts were not serving.

And not just mine - several other hosts had the same problem.

After a lot of hullaballo and confusion we've got the mess straightened out.


  • One host was missing NIC cards in it's control panel
  • Operators reported being asked to install software
  • Operators reported being asked to run chkdsk
  • Many many services were off
  • Could not view events in Event Viewer - double click on 'em and they just glare at you insolently.
  • Could not launch services in Services Manager
  • Login as an established user and ... greeted with the 'first time login' nonsense
  • The applications - 3rd party non MS stuff - would not launch and claimed they were not registered.

Most of the hosts were fixed by Resting the security settings to default [1]. One host would not boot following this fix and was restored from snapshot.

The only commonality we can find is Server 2003 SP2 and IIS [2] and they were all VMWare ESX guests.

What in the ring-tailed rambling heck?

[2] Amusing conversation with a vendor about that point:

Me: Why does your application require IIS?
Him: Our application doesn't use IIS.
Me: Well it won't install without IIS being on the box.
Him: Ga-wha?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Man v Kzin

From Wikipedia: Known Space
Kzinti: large and very aggressive feline aliens with whom humans fight several brutal interstellar wars. Kzinti tactics are somewhat cat-like in nature, 'Scream and leap' being the primary mode of attack. The first Man-Kzin war ended when the humans obtained the Faster-Than-Light drive, the Kzinti ships stood no chance against FTL-drive warships. Throughout the rest of the wars with man, the Kzinti tended to always attack before they were ready, and subsequently lost each and every one of them. As a result of this most of their empire was lost; in the peace treaties colonies and slave planets were ceded to man or given independence.

Or, from the Kzinti point of view ....

The Arts

From Holly at Grad Student Madness ... awesome photograhy.
It's a little overwhelming, but if you like a good long-exposed, intense, well composed, silver gelatin print photograph of landscapes, architecture and mist, Michael Kenna is your man.

Spoken word - Black White Whatever by Kelly Tsai.  She had me at 'I am a sucker for specificity'

Real America

I live in real America.

I was born in Oregon, most of my family still lives there. I was raised in Oklahoma, then joined the Marines, saw a bit of the world. Now I live in a medium-sized town in Wisconsin.

It's nice here.

We've got some manufacturing, some light industry, some business. We've got a river and a lake. We've got a park called 'Riverside Park' - the river sweeps by the place in a gentle curve. There is a World War One cannon there, looking over the river, pointing at the boat house on the other side. A flagpole with lights. A pavilion.

There is a new playground there with a giant plastic rocket as a centerpiece - a businesses in town donated most of the money to build it.

I take my kids there some Saturdays. There are always a lot of kids in and around it.

All of the parks here have purpose built sledding hills.  We don't have any natural hills you can sled on. So the city built them for the kids.

That's pretty nice as well.

There are some things that are not so very nice.  They're the same things that everyone else has problems with, everywhere: the economy, politics.

Those things come and go. Thirty, fifty years from now, people will still bring their kids to Riverside Park, just like their parents and grandparents did. They'll sit on the same bench I sit on, and watch their kids do what mine do: run around, play, have fun.

That's pretty nice.

What about your Real America?

Idea from Bard Bloom.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A town with no crime

In which cpxbrex writes about Las Vegas, crime and the Mob . . .

But almost uniformly, the casino employees from that time will talk about how nice the gangsters were and, bizarrely, how Las Vegas in those days didn't have much crime - even when they were talking about the crimes the mobsters committed. Several times I've read these interviews where the person would go, "In those days there wasn't any crime in Las Vegas" and then go "people who were caught stealing or cheating would be taken to what we called the torture room and afterwards they'd have a cast and a limp". Like the numerous assaults that the mobsters were committing - that these former employees were acknowledging - was somehow compatible with a town with "no crime". Not to mention the skim, itself, which was a daily theft of millions of dollars to support organized crime.

Even more than the stories themselves, what I find weird is how people rationalize working for the gangsters like the gangsters were somehow *good* for Las Vegas.

I don't find it that weird.  Replace 'casino employees' with 'citizens' and 'mobsters' with 'government employees' and 'skim' with taxes ... why that's where I live.

And so do you.

The Kewaunee Inn

The Kewaunee Inn is back in business. Yay!

It's a great big ol' hotel with wonderful rooms and a great atmosphere. We stayed there several times with the kids and by ourselves when it was the Historic Karsten - and it was always full of awesome [1]. Plus, it has ghosts. Which you'd expect of a establishment built in 1858 and only burned down once.

Also, my wife and daughter are doing tarot readings and a seance or three there over the Halloween weekend.  Which is also kinda nifty because, well, Halloween, a haunted hotel and Lake Michigan all wet, large and foggy.

So if you're into that kind of thing, call the Inn at (920) 388-0800.

[1] My enthusiasm has nothing to do with Allison and Kirsten comping me a beer or three at the bar. Honest.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doo Jesus: SMB Vulnerability

Wait .. a what? SMB vulnerability? As in directory shares between windows computers? Whoops!

If you take a peek over at the National Vulnerability Database, we can see this article Here is the overview:

Buffer underflow in Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2 and SP3, Server 2003 SP1 and SP2, Vista Gold and SP1, and Server 2008 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a Server Message Block (SMB) request that contains a filename with a crafted length, aka "SMB Buffer Underflow Vulnerability."

This means this vulnerability could be exploited to create a worm. Further it means if one PC gets infected on your network, then quickly all of them will.

After doing some more research it seems there is already an exploit in the wild - it is set to "go off" during the Thanksgiving holiday here in the states.

Aw - that's okay Microsoft. I wasn't planning on getting any actual work done today.

Update Hey, Microsoft? I know you're busy and all but you do realize it does nobody any good for you guys to announce 'OMG you guys gotta update all of your systems right now' and then have your liveupdate site .. fail under the load?

Are you guys running IIS or something?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Go Away

We've got a polar bear in the Milwaukee zoo. A few weeks ago he 'fell' into the moat around his enclosure. No problem - there are steps and he can get out any time he wants.

"The only things is that he's probably got limited floor space, it's not as nice as being on exhibit. But it's shady, it's cool, he's not bothered by people down there. I hate to say it, so it's probably not a bad place for him other than the fact that we don't want him down there," Graves said.

zero_moat_2 by you.
Go ... a-way!

He just doesn't want to, yet.

Men who whose idea of a good night out is to stay home reading a book by the fire will understand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence

This is interesting - but the last sentence makes it awesome.

"The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" is a 1956 paper by the cognitive psychologist George A. Miller of Princeton University's Department of Psychology. In it Miller showed a number of remarkable coincidences between the channel capacity of a number of human cognitive and perceptual tasks. In each case, the effective channel capacity is equivalent to between 5 and 9 equally-weighted error-less choices: on average, about 2.5 bits of information. Miller did not draw any firm conclusions, simply hypothesizing that the recurring sevens might represent something deep and profound or be just a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence.

.. pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence. Beautiful. And fun to say aloud.

So when someone (me) speaks of a memory buffer and telling my family if they want me to get their take-out order right I need to write it down .. it's not because I'm forgetful it's because their complicated orders (light mayo, no lettuce, weird bread choice X five people) is far too much data to expect a person to remember. I've got science in my corner on this one.

I wonder if this relates to span-of-control in some weird mental way that only big-brains can really explain with a grant.

The reason that maneuver units are organized into threes (plus support elements) [1] is that ordinary commanding officers can only juggle so many units [2] before complexity overwhelms them and they loose their situational awareness and then the battle.

Span-of-control is interesting to me because, well, it's a fascinating concept that seems to be honored in the breach in the business world. I've got a manager with ten people [3], two project managers with (say) eighteen active projects going on between them ... you'd think the principals of span of control would apply.

Sure, in our flattened hierarchy we've replaced the majors and the captains with self-directed people and cross-dysfunctional teams - but what we've done is give each self-directed person and team so many elements to manage - up, down and across the org chart - that it does not break the span-of-control it shatters it into teensy little bits.

[1] three fire teams in a squad, three squads in a platoon, three platoons in a company, three companies in a battalion, etc.

[2] The colonel runs three companies, the captain runs three platoons, etc.

[3] Sure, we're self-directed and don't need a lot of hand-holding and direction. That's why we were hired. But even self-directed hot-shots working in a lean [4] environment need to touch base with management once in a while. And if he's got many plates juggling in mid-air .. how much high-quality attention can he really devote?

[4] Ha. I say again, ha.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test

Interesting ..

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Balanced, Secure, and Realistic.

28 Impressionist, 10 Islamic, 1 Ukiyo-e, -37 Cubist, -34 Abstract and 18 Renaissance!

Impressionism is a movement in French painting, sometimes called optical realism because of its almost scientific interest in the actual visual experience and effect of light and movement on appearance of objects. Impressionist paintings are balanced, use colored shadows, use pure color, broken brushstrokes, thick paint, and scenes from everyday life or nature.

People that like Impressionist paintings may not alway be what is deemed socially acceptable. They tend to move on their own path without always worrying that it may be offensive to others. They value friendships but because they also value honesty tend to have a few really good friends. They do not, however, like people that are rude and do not appreciate the ideas of others. They are secure enough in themselves that they can listen to the ideas of other people without it affecting their own final decisions. The world for them is not black and white but more in shades of grey and muted colors. They like things to be aestically pleasing, not stark and sharp. There are many ways to view things, and the impresssionist personality views the world from many different aspects. They enjoy life and try to keep a realistic viewpoint of things, but are not very open to new experiences. If they are content in their live they will be more than likely pleased to keep things just the way they are.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy

William on Drama

You know why I like William? He's properly cynical and loathes krep-heads.

Anarchism: "We're against things that are bad."

What? You want more detail? Go read some pretentious faux-philosophical litcrit build on associative appeals that can be read to mean pretty much anything. It's alright to read a little Kropotkin, as long as you don't get infected with the dread Science. Facts are imperialism! Logic is slavery!

If you're not for throwing bricks at Starbucks then you're for selling newspapers! Viva la cliche!


Toward the end of my first year, during the spring of 1988, Sally appeared in my office in the tow of one of my advisees ... "Sally has something she needs to talk with you about," she intoned ominously. ... On a hunch, I suddenly asked, "What's his name?" Sally's eyes widened briefly, and then out spilled a story about her involvement with an older man she had met in Boston. I listened, sympathized, offered advice. She left my office with a smile on her face. ... ("One Teacher in 10: Gay and Lesbian Educators tell their Stories," Alyson Publications, 1994.)

Why, yes, outrage!  A sexual relationship between a minor an an older man is clearly Not Cool.

Except, not so much.  The student was male - Per Mr. Jennings it seems to be okey-dokey for an underage fellow to tryst with an older male.  Excellent job of counseling youth there, buddy.

Look, I've done the gay kid thing and the last thing I'd ever be sympathetic to is an adult preying on youth.  Come sniffing around my kid, buddy, and I'll kick your ass.

We might hope that the adult who founded and runs GLSEN would report predators to John Law. Guess we'll be hoping in vain.

Any Day Now

Well dang ..

Barack Obama raised more than $150 million in September, a stunning and unprecedented eruption of political giving that has given him a wide spending advantage over rival John McCain.

I expect - any day now - a chorus of outrage from the Usual Suspects about how money is buying an election and kvetching about how money is ruining the race and how it just ain't fair.

Any day ..

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Goon City

Well now that's interesting - Goon City.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lunar Art Gallery

Lunar Art Gallery, by Alan Bean.

The only artist to have walked on the moon.

So far.

Update: now with linkage

Canadian Health Care

Some links to problems with Canadian Health Care.

The website is a bit over the top, but the links are from reputable news sources.

Being fair, there are problems in the US.  I suspect that health care options are like operating systems - they all suck, just in different ways.

Government services are pretty much alike in that they all suck in the same way.

Shut up and wait in line, Citizen.

A National Health Service trust in the UK spent thousands in taxpayer dollars to treat its own workers with private care

I noticed this with the Navy cooks - or at least the cooks we had at NSF Thurmont.

They'd make the daily dreary for dinner. And it wasn't bad, just sort of 'meh' - government cooking. Then after the crew had cleared out and the master-at-arms locked the galley door they'd fry up a mess of really good stir-fry chicken.

That I had to clean up the mess without getting any of the yummy stir-fry has nothing to do with my feelings on the matter.


Chef To Animals

Interesting dream - went to a restaurant that employed a Kzin as a chef.

You would not think that an intelligent carnivore who prefers his own food raw and twitching would be good at using heat to ruin food - but he was.  The owner explained that the Kzin, being subjective about cooking, is better at cooking than an objective human.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fox - Henhouse

I imagine the phone call that kicked this off went something like this.

Secret Service.  Agent Smith speaking.

Hi. Um, I'm Veronica Volunteer down here in Texas?  I just talked to a woman in Lufkin - you know they're all crazy as a poop-house mouse down there - who threatened Senator Obama?

Well, golly, you've got the right department.  Do you have a recording of the conversation?  Our lawyers like that kind of thing.  You know how it goes.

Well, no.  But I wrote it down on this post-it in felt-tip.

Welp, that's good enough to dispatch two men - top men - to check this out.  Thanks, Citizen Pollworker.

It's not Senator Obama I have a problem with. I believe he's an honorable man with daft ideas.  You can work with people like that.

No, it's the people who work for him and flock to his cause and will assume the Executive Branch in January that bother the snot out of me.

These people will look at the looney-tunes provisions and checks on our civil rights we've put in place since 9-11 and say 'ya know - we won't dismantle that stuff - we'll keep it around ... just in case.'

This will not bother the career Federal cops or the civil servants one .. damned .. bit.

I don't know that Senator McCain's people would be any better - but God save us from True Believers who find themselves in charge of the henhouse!

HMS Hood - in Lego Form


This is a 20-foot-long Lego model of the HMS Hood, a Royal Navy battlecruiser built in 1920 and sunk by the German Kriegsmarine Battleship Bismarck in 1941. This stunning piece of brick engineering, built to minifig scale, has a robotized mast and is actually bigger than the 16.4-foot-long Lego U.S.S. Harry S. Truman. Check the gallery to really get get the idea of how gigantic this thing is.

Well yes. But does the model come with design deficiencies that expose her to lethal gunfire from a lego Bismark?



when you don't create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.


Fascinating Bug

Fascinating Bug ..

One day, when Marco and I were playing against two computer opponents, we forced one of the AI cycles to trap itself between its own walls and the bottom game border.  Sensing an impending crash, it fired a missile, just like it always did whenever it was trapped.  But this time was different – instead of firing at another trail, it fired at the game border, which looked like any other light cycle trail as far as the computer was concerned.  The missile impacted with the border, leaving a cycle-sized hole, and the computer promptly took the exit and left the main playing field.  Puzzled, we watched as the cycle drove through the scoring display at the bottom of the screen.  It easily avoided the score digits and then drove off the screen altogether.

Shortly after, the system crashed.

Run, Pixel! Run!

A cramp 200,000 voters big

John Scalzi

Dear Republican Party:

You’re aware that to the rest of us, your transparently insincere whining about voter fraud every time you’re about to get your ass handed to you in an election makes you look like that second place runner who mysteriously gets a leg cramp as soon as it’s clear he’s got no chance to win the race, right?


(Ohio) Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner estimated that an initial review found that about 200,000 newly registered voters reported information that did not match motor-vehicle or Social Security records, Brunner spokesman Kevin Kidder said. Some discrepancies could be as simple as a misspelling, while others could be more significant.

200,000 potential fraudulent registrations. In one state. That's a pretty serious mysterious leg cramp, all-righty.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obama Tax Cuts - Explained

As I've written before, economics is something of a black box to me. You've got your gozinatas and your gozoutas and beyond that .. well that's why you have experts who can explain the hard words to dummies like me.

But when guys at the Wall Street Journal explain it in 9th grade English, I can understand it: Obama's Tax Cuts aren't and in the end we'll get screwed.

It’s a clever pitch, because it lets him pose as a middle-class tax cutter while disguising that he’s also proposing one of the largest tax increases ever on the other 5%. But how does he conjure this miracle, especially since more than a third of all Americans already pay no income taxes at all? There are several sleights of hand, but the most creative is to redefine the meaning of “tax cut.”

For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase “tax credit.” Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals:

  • A $500 tax credit ($1,000 a couple) to “make work pay” that phases out at income of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple.
  • A $4,000 tax credit for college tuition.
  • A 10% mortgage interest tax credit (on top of the existing mortgage interest deduction and other housing subsidies).
  • A “savings” tax credit of 50% up to $1,000.
  • An expansion of the earned-income tax credit that would allow single workers to receive as much as $555 a year, up from $175 now, and give these workers up to $1,110 if they are paying child support.
  • A child care credit of 50% up to $6,000 of expenses a year.
  • A “clean car” tax credit of up to $7,000 on the purchase of certain vehicles.

Here’s the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be “refundable,” which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer — a federal check — from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this “welfare,” or in George McGovern’s 1972 campaign a “Demogrant.” Mr. Obama’s genius is to call it a tax cut.

It's harnessing Boxer to the plow until the day he's sent off to the 'hospital' and rendered for parts.

You, me and about 90% of the people reading this are Boxer, and that ain't no shit.

George Fuckin' Orwell knew his stuff, that's for damn sure.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Janesville says thank you

Hey - all y'all people who ranted and railed against SUVs ...

GM confirmed to local employees Monday that its 16-year run of producing Chevrolet Suburbans and other big SUVs will end Dec. 23 — a year sooner than the nation’s top carmaker first forecast in June.

The 1200 soon-to-be-unemployed guys in Janeswille want to say 'thanks a bunch'.

Hope along with your SUV-hatin' you weren't too concerned about Union labor or American companies employing people in America.

Born too late to go to the moon

This might be the saddest thing I've read all day.

I told everybody that I was going to be a spaceman when I grew up (the word "astronaut" being some years in the future) and most of them laughed. Uncle Harry, who had no children and so treated them as adults with limited experience, said he believed I would do it, and asked me to bring him a rock from the Moon. Nobody knew that I wouldn't go to the Moon because I had been born too late. The first men who orbited and landed on the Moon fought in WWII and Korea, and associated combat with the smell of a rubber face mask and cold oxygen, not humid jungle and the nightmare reek of rotting flesh.

from An Autobiographical Ramble by Joe Haldeman

It's been 36 years - I think it's past time we left LEO again.

Solaris CDE and OS X using SSH

Perhaps running a CDE desktop from a remote server running Solaris on an OS X desktop is odd, perhaps an unholy fusion that contributes to global warming - but it pleases me to make it happen and have the directions here 'just work'.

Solaris CDE and OS X by you.


Terminal 1
Mac # export DISPLAY=:0.0
Mac # /usr/X11R6/bin/Xquartz -xinerama&

Terminal 2:
Mac # ssh -X remote-host
remote # Xsession&

It's just as easy to export a single application but in this case I need to login as a non-privileged user, su to root, then su to yet a second non-privileged user due to security concerns.

I know - as-if X Windows isn't a great BIG security concern just sitting there on the host. But we're supposed to turn it off when we're done with it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bad Ass Middle Europeans

People from Middle Europe - The Swiss, some Germans, the poor bastards stuck up in the Alps in Italy [1] - are seriously bad-ass.

The assorted varieties of Germans, once they got their stuff squared away at the end of the 19th century, took on the entire world, not once, but twice.  The Swiss are known for their banking laws and complicated knives because they were so freakin' scary that the rest of Europe ganged up on them and forbade them from exporting their mercenaries.

Those guys are so bad-ass because as children not only do they get Santa Claus rewarding the good boys and girls with treats but also a monster who travels with Santa Claus and beats the bad children with sticks.

Krampus by you.
Be good or I'll smash your head in.

This is the kind of thing that will create really tough scary obedient children able to run really awesome banks and build cuckoo clocks and also really tough scary obedient children who will think nothing of climbing into a tank to make a quick run at Russia or France 'just once more, for old time's sake.'

[1] Including my wife's family.  Yeah - I just thought they were a bunch of jolly sort-of-Italians yuking it up in the Alps.  I had no idea.

Hey, Asstard

WHEN I'm driving through my development with a posted speed limit of 25 m.p.h AND you're riding my ASS because I'm only doing 28 m.p.h. AND when I signal a right turn into my cul-de-sac you pull out around me into the opposite lane so you can ACCELERATE the last fifty feet to the main road because DAMN going the speed limit is putting a cramp on your STYLE then you'd be well advised not to wear one of THESE on the ass-end of your car . . .

Obama-logo-712385 by you.

BECAUSE it's not exactly helping your man's IMAGE when retards like YOU drive like a fucking MORON.

In other words, if you're going to advertise, then be aware of your actions while wearing his livery, hunh?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fanfic taken just a bit too far

China Circus Animals by you.

It’s not pretty when fanfic from ‘My Friend Flicka’ and ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ collide.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Ant and the Grasshopper - 2008

See - in the original story the ant was thrifty and saved up for winter.  The grasshopper partied all ... summer ... long.  When winter came the grasshopper froze his ass off and died.

This is hard, but fair.[1]

If some Democrats in Congress would have their way they'd change the story and force the ant to give up half (or more) of his stuff with the Insect Government, who will share it all even-stevens (after taking their cut) with the grasshoppers.

“With respect to the 401(k), it appears to be a plan that is not really well-devised for the changes in the market,” Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said.

“We’ve invested $80 billion into subsidizing this activity,” he said, referring to tax breaks allowed for 401(k) contributions and savings.

With savings rates going down, “what do we have to start to think about in Congress of whether or not we want to continue and invest that $80 billion for a policy that is not generating what we … say it should?” Mr. Miller said.

Because if the ant does not voluntarily abide by the insect tax code the Insect Police will come along and throw his ant-ass in insect jail for a really long time.

I like Aesop's version myself.

[1] I am not a completely heartless fiend.  If the grasshopper breaks his leg and can't gather food, then there oughta be a sort of insect safety net.  Likewise if he passes on in (say) July the insects should provide for his heirs until they are of age.


James T. Harris writes about the hatred and bile directed his way because he's black and a conservative.  First comment?

Hey SAMBO, maybe Masta McCain will let you shine his shoes since you did such a good job.... BOY!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Troopergate is bigger than ACORN

From Lileks . . .
Reading a comment that "Troopergate is bigger than ACORN" has convinced
me to spend weekend writing Screeds. If that's true, it says much.

Let's put this in perspective.

On the one hand we have a governor trying to get an abusive thug fired from his civil service job.

On the other we have a guy who stands a pretty good chance of being elected president who paid an community organizing group to round up warm bodies and register them to vote.  And we find that there is mounting evidence of fraudulent activity in Nevada, Missouri, and Ohio.

One bad cop versus nationwide voter fraud.

That's some awesome perspective there.

Trooper Gate - Lesson Learned

The real lesson from Trooper Gate

You can use a taser on your kid, shoot game out of season while on duty, drink while on duty, treat your wife like a speed bag ... and keep your job as a law enforcement officer.

To Younger Monkey, My Brother, Whom I Slept With

I looked at my cell phone - one voice mail.  From my son.  After he went to bed.  He forgot it was in his pocket or on his bed and he rolled over on top of it, pushing the redial button.  What goes on in that bedroom after their lights go out . . .

YM: blah-blah [1]

OM: No.

YM: blah-blah

OM: I don't want ice cream because we don't have any.

YM: blah-blah

OM: Now shut up and go to sleep.

YM: blah-blah

OM: I'm getting aggravated.

YM: *giggle*

[1] He was far from the mic and so everything he said was somewhat indistinct.

Vegetarian Daughter

Middle Daughter: Oh, no. Is there meat in that stew?  I'm vegetarian as-of last night.

Older Monkey: Vegetarian?  Do you cut yourself, too?

Aw, man - I love those kids.

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like a fire mission? by you.

Socialist Redemption and Senator Obama

Hawkfist wrote . . .

I find it hard to care about Bill Ayers, but if we're going to dredge up the past, lets look at Palin and her sense of "Our America"

Full Article:

Now - if Michelle Obama had belonged to an equivalent organization, imagine how the GOP would howl in outrage!

I'm not 'the GOP', I'm just this guy.  But he's right - caring about what Michelle Obama did back when would be lame. 

Now about Senator Obama's membership in an organization called the 'New Party' in 1996 ... that might be another kettle of fish, hunh?

The 'New Party' was a political party established by the Democratic Socialists of America (the DSA) to push forth the socialist principles of the DSA by focusing on winnable elections at a local level and spreading the Socialist movement upwards. The admittedly Socialist Organization experienced a moderate rise in numbers between 1995 and 1999. By 1999, however, the Socialist 'New Party' was essentially defunct after losing a supreme court challenge that ruled the organizations "fusion" reform platform as unconstitutional.

For all of me - it's not terribly damning.  We all make mistakes: you own up to them, you say "well I done messed up" and you move on.  Redemption, forgiveness - that's what its about.

After allegations surfaced in early summer over the 'New Party's' endorsement of Obama, the Obama campaign along with the remnants of the New Party and Democratic Socialists of America claimed that Obama was never a member of either organization. The DSA and 'New Party' then systematically attempted to cover up any ties between Obama and the Socialist Organizations. However, it now appears that Barack Obama was indeed a certified and acknowledged member of the DSA's New Party.

Unless you're not fessing up to your mistakes.  Then the rest of us might be forgiven for wondering what is going on inside your brain-housing group.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Draft Fernandez

Elizabeth Burmaster is not seeking another term as State Superintendent of Public Instruction [1].

So that's pretty cool.  On the other hand, her choice to succeed her is deputy - so that apple isn't goiing to fall far from the tree.

Why not Rose Fernandez?  She did a bang-up job organizing the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, took on WEAC and the DPI - we  know she's interested in having public schools that benefit the children, not the crowd in Madison or union leadership.

[1] And what does a State Superintendent of Public Instruction do?  As far as I can tell, the incumbent's job is to enforce the status quo in education on the theory that 'whatever we're doing isn't working out so clearly we need to do more of it'. 

But that's unfair: the real job is to do whatever the teacher's union tells them to do.

Get some derision

Rufus commented a few days ago ..

.. if McCain wins, Obama voters need to understand that most McCain voters are decent people, and not gripe that they're all "a bunch of racist, reactionary dummies who hate progress". Similarly, if Obama wins, those of you who like McCain are going to have to understand that most people didn't vote for Obama because they're "a bunch of brainwashed cultists who are a lot dumber than we are".

No, I get that.  I'm not making fun of most of the people who are going to vote for Obama, just the nuts who make for a lively internet.

Some guys call for rope, I call for mockery and derision.

Obama tax increase and other potential woes

I don't know economics from a hole in the ground.  So I gotta pay attention to them what do: Doctor Pournelle might be a really old guy and fussy [1] but as far as I know what he puts up at Chaos Manor is rarely false . . .

Wednesday View

After digesting the Secretary's message, the Dow closed down, not up. I guess he wasn't forceful enough. Meanwhile the prospects of a Democratic Congress with a Democrat President may be sinking in. The only way Obama is going to do all the things he promised will be to extract money from someone. His "tax cuts" involve sending checks to the 40% of the taxpayers who don't pay any income taxes -- or, if not, someone needs to say that, openly and strongly. His health care system is going to be costly, and while he says that his plan will save money, most politicians say that.

I would be very pleased to have two political parties either of which we could trust to do what is best. We may be running an experiment to see if we have that.

I suspect the best we can get is divided government. We'd still have Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd chairing the relevant committees.

Thursday Mail

Obama's Tax Increase -

Hi Jerry,

There's a dirty little secret to Obama's tax plan (one that McCain tries to make, but not very well). While it's true that income tax won't go up if you make less than $250K, he doesn't consider Social Security or Medicare to be 'taxes'. He plans to eliminate the cap on Social Security Tax. That means that everyone who makes more than $102,000 (in 2008) will see a 7.65% tax increase on every dollar above that limit. Plus businesses will also see their 'share' of the tax rise as well. That impacts far more people than the $250K benchmark he talks about.

If you make $125,000 a year, your income taxes will increase $1759.50. Your employer will also have to pay the same additional amount in taxes (which will be passed on as an increase in the price of their goods). I don't know about you, but that's real money to me - and the lower threshold blows a hole in Obama's argument that most small businesses don't make $250K. They sure as heck make $100K.

Your benefits won't increase, just your tax. Soak the rich, redistribute wealth, etc, etc.

And that doesn't even address the Medicare tax, which must increase to pay for his healthcare plans. But again, that's not a tax. He's very good at dancing on the edge of an outright lie.



The only way I know of to give a tax cut to those who at the moment pay no income taxes would be to send them a check; and nothing I have seen from Obama denies that this is his intention, while some of his followers have told meetings that is is exactly what will happen. I don't have time to follow this up.

The Obama scheme is to soak the rich. California has pretty well showed that this is a great way to drive the rich out of the state.

[1] And not quiet. Or at least, I asked a guy once who heard Jerry speak 'what's he like'? 'Loud', he replied.

Eat the Rich

Senator Obama: Vote for me - you'll get a tax break plus we'll stick it to those no good dirty rich folks.

You ever try to get a job from a poor person?

Homeless woman with dogs by Franco Folini.


Yeah.  Good luck with that.

Shocked, shocked I am . . .

When Coach says "You guys need to give a 105% on the field today" he didn't have this in mind.

So we have 644,197 people eligible to be registered in Marion County/Indianapolis, and 677,401 people registered. Congratulations go to Indianapolis for having 105% of its residents registered!

Gee - I'm glad we don't have problems like that in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nathan Fillion - a Canadian Stallion

Nathan Fillion, before he landed the role of Joey Buchanan on One Life to Live, [1] acted in some ... questionable movies.

Not outright porn, but possibly NSFW at the link.

[1] And, later, some sort of Sci-Fi teevee show.  Couldn't have been very good or Fox wouldn't have canceled it.


The asteroid formerly known as 2008 TC3 nailed Sudan today.

Three meters across. 1.2 kiloton blast. Call it 1/13th of a Hiroshima bomb.

This stuff happens all the time. Somewhere out there is a really big one . . .

asteroid.strike by vroque101

Whatever. If you're the kind of person who worries about this stuff, you already are. If you're not, you never will.

Update: corrected a key word in the first sentence. Thanks to Doug Jones - he works for XCOR and clearly they're getting a lot of bang for their brain-power buck from him.

Family Tech Support

There is one nice thing about providing tech support over the phone for your family . . .

Put the CD in then ..

It is in.

.. shutdown the computer . .

You mean turn it off

.. yes turn it off, count to three turn it on

I'm doing that

... and boot from the CD ..

How do you do that?

Shut up - I'm trying to tell you that.

They (or at least the Older Monkey) takes 'shut up' to mean 'let me finish' and doesn't get all 'he's being rude and I must go have a hissy fit'.

Also .. thank God for my wife. My boys started the school day off with a spirited wrassling match in the living room: I can't imagine what it would be like without her around to impart a civilizing influence.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Poll-Watching at the Milennium

Poll-Watching at the Milennium
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

Punching the wings of butterflies,
We wonder what will be left intact?
4 scores and 7 terms ago, I was once a child.
I was once a believer.  I was once a voter. 
I was once a dreamer.  I was once a journalist.
I was once a leader.  I was once a politician.
I was once an American.

Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

I was once a child with unheard of dreams.
Something like freedom, for those who are qualified
(Where’s your qualification) to decide.

Putting pens to the page,
They painted the family portrait:
We the people of the United States…

Dear George Washington, John Hancock, Ben Franklin…
This is an open letter from a little yellow girl in the year 2008
I wish I could have put your powdered wig on for the day,
Understood how it feels to have such a heavy question
On my head: “How should a nation be made?”
If we, as a country, could craft a fresh start, be reborn,
With all the memory of the mistakes of this life.

But I have seen the enemy, and the enemy
Is counting dimples, days, and decisions.
Is waiting for the right candidate to run.
Is hoping for more soft core porn.
Is blaming they, society, and everyone.

Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

I have met the enemies and the enemies are
Deadbeat dads, cheating husbands, drug pushers, pimps,
The same shrewd hustlers, the leaders of our land,
Signing laws into life, lives into loot,
>From ghetto to suburb to farm,
There is a unifying discontent,
Our representatives, smug by power,
Inhuman by distortion. 
After so much, knuckle-pointing
Preaching and propaganda
As to why I (camera flash flash)
why I (camera flash flash)
Am deserve more to decide
What the boundaries of our logic and values permit.
More than him or her or you.
Yes, any of you.

So why would I appeal to your vision, count your vote
When you know that I am of excellent breeding,
Expensive education and superior moral fiiber,
And you must agree because you elected me
    Well, more often than not, you didn’t but that’s neither here nor there.
Relax, I’ll take care of everything.
I can run your life better than you can anyway.
Go on now, so sweet to sleep, isn’t it?

And in my dreams, Thomas Jefferson taps his teacup on the table.
The founders, presidents, governors, mayors, and aldermen
Are looking anxious, bored, and indignant.
“Not to worry, my dear brothers, not to worry” he says.

Standing in the corner of the room, I am small servant to their concerns.
My knowledge no match, I do not speak.
I watch them draft the changes of our lives with nothing to say.

Suddenly, grapes come carried in a copper bowl by calloused hands.
I follow the arms up to Cesar Chavez who winks and smiles.
The rumble burbles under my feet as as Harriet Tubman
Bangs on the floorboards from the wine cellar.
In the kitchen, Upton Sinclair picks a steak up off the floor.
In the bedroom, Angela Davis breaks bristles off of hairbrushes
And arranges them askew on dressing tables.
>From the staircase, Wen Ho Lee surveys the scene,
Since nobody really knows what the Chinaman does anyway.

On the lawn, I see so many people, whose faces I can’t make out,
Whose bodies shaped by labor sometimes find an arrowhead lodged in the soil.
Their faces faint but plentiful like the jedi whispers inside:
I’ll organize the workers.
I’ll serve this one nation under God.
I’ll blow the whistle on business.
I’ll sing away our blues.
I’ll demand and risk for what I believe.
I’ll cut up their clothes.
I’ll poison their food.
I’ll blow the electoral college up.
I’ll teach those who cast the votes and count the votes.
I’ll make their promises come true for all of us:
Felons, children, immigrants, citizens.
All the voices swell and say: what will you do?
The count of three, we creep closer.  Now, I see sweat stain their collars. 
They look up find cold poor huddled masses, sprung from waiting in the wings.
No more cookies, no more tea, disarmed to mortal form,
Here at pointe blank.  Pitchforks, ninja stars, brass knuckles,
Brick and mortar of our minds, watchful eyes in our heads,
Voting ballots held high in our hands,
What will we do?
Eyes closed and dreaming…

Oh, say can you see…

Joe McFibbin Biden

Joe Biden is somewhat famous for just saying stuff during last week's debate - Kissinger, kicking the Hezbollah out of Lebanon [1] and so forth.

In boot camp you learn a lot of stuff and it's all neatly packaged into sound bites you can spit back when anyone asks.  But what you're told (at least Platoon 3099 was told this) was that sometimes - say when you're being inspected by the Colonel [2] - they're not looking for knowledge so much as confidence.  They were not listening for a correct answer so much as attitude.

I conjecture that Biden has this act nailed down. 

Senator, what's the maximum effective range of your M16? 5,000 miles, Sir!  Senator, what about Hezbollah? Kicked their asses out of Lebanon, Sir!  Senator, is Henry Kissinger your pal?  He's my best friend, Sir!

He's so wrong but he sounds so good and confident that it flies right by you.  Just imagine how well this played before the internet and YouTube?

[1] You gotta think that when Lebanon TV played those comments there was no small amount of chuckling in day rooms all over South Lebanon.

[2] At one point the Colonel came by for a uniform inspection.  For some reason we were behind our sister platoons in PT, drill .. well just about everything.  So there was a lot riding on 3099 looking really good for the Colonel. We did really good - but we were so keyed up and nervous about all this ... well for example one guy from Puerto Rico flat out forgot how to speak English.

Colonel: You likin' boot camp, Private?
Recruit: (choke) .. Si Colonel!

Despite acting like inbred Golden Retrievers we won the uniform inspections handily.  So one sister platoon were top scorers on the range, the other were PT Gods .. but we were the best dressed mob in the series.

NASA shows up ..

NASA came sniffing around today.

NASA and the Dinosaurs by you.

I'm not sure if I should be happpy because they're paying attention to the important stuff .. or worried that they need to do a search on a well known gibe like that.

Hit them with a stick. Hard

Doo Jesus.

In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed "treason!" during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops.

1. The description of what the guy who yelled 'kill him' at Governor Palin's rally: I assume it happened - who heard it? When? Did the candidate hear it? We don't know.

2. In the first video (Governor Palin) the guy is yelling 'treason'. Then the video cuts out. I have no idea what she did after that.

3. The second video (Senator McCain) the guy is saying 'kill him' (most probably - it's fuzzy but I am listening with headphones). The description of what McCain does is accurate. I wonder if he did hear what he said: where is the audio being recorded from? I had to re-run the video three times to make it out.

I am not apologizing - I'm trying to do something that ain't easy in 2008: retain a sense of balance.

I think the Huffingoton Post is only giving out half the story and slanting their news - but this is no surprise.

So: to the a**holes in the crowd: you're rude, crude and ugly. Didn't your Mom teach you manners?  Someone needs to hit you with a stick until your attitude changes.

If you're in the crowd and you hear the fellow next to you acting like a shit-head - call him out on it.  Guys like that are loud-mouths and crude and bullies - they'll back down from you like the lizards they are.

Senator McCain - Governor Palin - when you hear this krep you need to call it out.  Cause that stuff is double-plus loathsome.

It's a Twofer

The (Wisconsin) Government Accountability Board was formed last year and assumed responsibilities of the former State Elections Board and the State Ethics Board in January of 2008. Since they were on a roll and we got two government agencies for the price of one, they decided to give us even more bang for the buck and do something about that pesky First Amendment.

The Government Accountability Board today signaled plans to regulate so-called issue ads that tout or malign candidates just before an election but do not explicitly tell voters to vote for or against them.

Regulating those ads would limit how much individuals can give to groups running
the ads and require public disclosure of who gives to those groups. It would also mean corporations could no longer fund the ads, which could greatly diminish the number of issue ads that run before an election.

People complain about government inefficiency and we finally get a cost effective two-for-one deal .. and they go after the Constitution.

Wel fine - we it's not as if we were actually using the Bill of Rights anyway.


Reading about lean processes ...

there is a very pragmatic reason to adopt a Lean workflow strategy, regardless of what sort of product you are building: Lean scheduling provides crystal clear leading indicators of process health.

Aw man, it's like an alcoholic standing on the outside of a bar, looking in: Sure does look nice in there. Everybody hanging around, being friends, dart board in the back, Bob Seger on the juke.

Stuff is going on in there and outside it's cold and there are wolves.

We do the lean thing at work - it just hasn't made it's way into our department, much. Lean process for manufacturing appears to be a lead-pipe cinch. Applying those same methods to IT and specifically systems administration - not so easy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

We're from the government . . .

Dear Government,

Stop Helping by you.

You've helped enough.  Please stop now.



Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

If real-life could be more like a book . . .

How a hostage situation oughta end (minor spoiler warning!) . . .  from 'Easy Prey' [1] by John Sandford

The bad guy (Scott) has unloaded his rifle and is about to step out of the armored gas-station booth to surrender  . .

He reached out and popped the lock on the door. As it opened, the dark-haired hostage, Ralph, screamed, "You C***SUCKER." He snatched the small portable TV off the shelf, and as Scott turned , startled, Ralph hit him in the face with it.

Scott went down as though he'd been struck by a meteorite, and as Lucas shouted, "Hey," and tried to get the door open, but the woman, Melody, began kicking at Scott, screaming "SONABEECH" in an unexpected Mexican accent. Then she snatched a can of Pyroil starting fluid off the shelf and began hitting Scott in the back of the head, slicing off swaths of scalp.

[1] And yes, that's two books in four days. Friggin' John Sandford.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

For two points ...

For two points, read this article by Douglass Daniel of the Associated Press and determine if this is an opinion or analysis. Attention should be given to the lead paragraph(s) setting the tone for the article as explained in chapter three of your text. Appropriate definitions are given below to assist you.

WASHINGTON (AP) - By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and doesn’t see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.

Analysis - a-nal-y-sis.
3. a presentation, usually in writing, of the results of this process: The paper published an analysis of the political situation.

Opinion - o-pin-ion
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

From 'Running Mates'

Lois is running for school board president ..

Listen Lois, I know you're a feminist and I think that's adorable, but this is grown-up time and I'm the man.

This reminded of something I've seen in the news recently.  I have no idea what coughPalincough it could be.

That's not a knife - this is a knife

Doc Russia completed a Krav Maga workout, then headed into work ...

So this drunk comes in with a laceration down the bridge of his nose, and smelling of booze. He gives a confusing, and frankly unbelievable story that he was struck from behind, and that he remembers falling face first onto the ground, but nothing else. He also says that "I guess I was fighting whoever it was pretty hard; look at my knuckles." His knuckles reveal abrasions to the first two knuckles of the pinky on his hand, as well as the middle knuckle of the ring finger on the same hand. I was explaining to the medical student that those abrasions were not consistent with an assault or an altercation, I then removed my latex gloves, and held up my own fists, knuckles first, and said "These are injuries consistent with interpersonal violence."

Friggin' Marines.  But you know his medical students are never going to forget what injuries consistent with interpersonal violence look like.


Rules of Productivity Presentation:

How do we get more work done? It is a question that every manager and every passionate worker faces. Yet, for the most part, teams operate on gut instinct and habit. The results are less than optimal.

Over the years I've been collecting small pieces of research on various factors that actually seem to improve productivity. I've assembled
eight of these experiments into a PowerPoint presentation. Feel free to use the graphs and data within to spread these practical ideas throughout your own teams.

Topics covered include:
  • The idiocy of prolonged overtime
  • The unintuitive connection between doing more and making better products.
  • Ideal team sizes and work environments

Surprisingly, the authors conclude that if you work long hours and have your work fragmented into many different tasks ... you're less productive.

Who knew?

Still nice to see it in print.  I doubt it will eliminate drive-bys and my way too long list of things that gotta happen but a fella can dream.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Well - Madison

From Certain Prey by John Sandford.

Lucas is talking to Detective Sherrill, nailing down a case on a suspect.  A Maguffin in the form of a book called "Mayor's Select Comission on Cultural Diversity, Alternative Lifestyes and Other-Ableness in the Minneapolis Police Department: A Preliminary Approach to Divergent Modalites [Executive Summary]" [1] makes an appearance.  The city of Madision is lightly mocked.

Lucas nodded, looked at his watch.  "Good idea - think of some stuff.  And I'll think of some.  But right now, I've got to go to the Reality Commision, we're talking about noncertifiable minorities tonight."  He thumped the Report, which sat on one side of his desk.  He was on page four hundred and thirty.

"Noncertifiable . . . what is that?"

"Well, you know: minorities that don't fit into racial, handicapped, sexual-determinant, age-determinant, religious, ethnic or national-origin-groups."

"Jeez, I would have thought that covered everything."

"Oh, no.  There was a case in Wisconsin of a white Episcopalian male in his early thirties, nonhandicapped, heterosexual, English heritage . . ."

"A perfect WASP."

"Wouldn't even pee in the shower," Lucas said.  "Anyway, he was a member of one of the animal-protection groups, and his coworkers tormented him by dispalying photographs of pork chops and link sausges in the workplace, and they'd talk about going to McDonald's for cheeseburgers.  He got $740,000 from the city of Madison for emotional imperialism."

"Well - Madison."

"That explains a lot of it, of course," Lucas said, nodding.

[1] 600 pages of executive summary.  I think I saw something like that for SOX two years ago.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friggin' John Sandford

Friggin' John Sandford.

I pick up a Lucas Davenport 'Prey' book and I can't put it down until it's done. It's hell on my sleep cycle.

Partly that's the character - Lucas Davenport is a star: he dresses well, he's rich [1], he's a cop who is a bit of a hood: Lucas is a hunter and it really makes his day to track down a bad guy, jack his stuff and toss the mug in jail.

Davenport is a fun read.

But it's mostly the writing. Sandford can write and that's what keeps me coming back.

But .. friggin' John Sandford, messing up my sleep like that.

[1] Thanks to an improbable hobby as a game designer who branched into software in the early 90s.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dresden Codak - Tokamak Coffee

Tokamak Coffee by you.

Dresden Codak's HOB story line
has one more strip to go. It's been a fun ride - and a fan went and made a great faux coffee ad from one panel.

Aw, man.  I miss coffee.  Okay, yes, decaf is fine but I gotta make a special pot for it at work and the taste of the stuff they have at work is meh. For some reason it's just not the same.

Yes, I know: world's smallest violin.  Call the waambulance. But for years and years a cup of strong coffee started my day and tea or decaf just isn't the same.

I wonder if heroin junkies feel the same about methadone?

Voter fraud in Milwaukee. Surprise!

Voter fraud in Milwaukee.

According to the complaint, Endalyn Adams, 21, is accused of submitting dozens of fake names and addresses as a registration worker paid by the Community Voters Project, one of two primary groups under scrutiny.

The complaint claims Adams “was required to obtain 15 (completed) voter registration forms a day. She could not keep her job with the CVP [1] and she would not be paid unless she met this ‘performance standard,’ which for all practical purposes is a quota.”

Boy, sure am glad the Government Accountability Board is spending their money wisely, setting up their computerized databases, vetting the voter roles ....

CVP?  Community Voter Project.  Must be one o' them there Community Organizer things . . .

How to Hunt Wisconsin Whitetail Deer

with a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon

5. When an unsuspecting deer happens to wander in front of your Mountain Howitzer Cannon, PULL THE CORD! Make sure that the deer is within 250 yards range and directly in-line with the howitzer's bore. Also be sure the deer is no closer than 100 yards. A minimum distance of 100 yards is a "must" for reasonable meat recovery. ( less damage ) You don't want to hit the deer with all 148 musket balls. ( your goal is to shoot the deer with your mountain howitzer, not "pulverize" him ) Also, at extended distances, it will be less likely that you will shoot off the horns if the deer is a really nice Buck.

My wife looked over while I was reading this: You are not building a howitzer.

Ga-wha? Never crossed my mind.

She knows me pretty well.


They [1] keep going on .. and on and on .. about taxes and tax breaks for the middle-classes.


If I cared about high taxes I would not have moved to Wisconsin, would I?

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

[1] You know .. they. Them.  The candidates.

Heartwarming story you could have read in Reader's Digest

It's overcast, there is a chill in the air, and there are lots of reasons to be gloomy. But this story .. well it will warm your heart.

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephant's foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.