Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Believer

Fascinating article in the February GQ on Elon Musk.

“The economy is shit,” he says, apropos of nothing and everything. Though Elon Musk almost never raises his voice and doesn’t now, his tone is unmistakably…chipper. “Do you realize what that’s going to do to the value of secondhand machines? They’ll be in the toilet! We can get an EB welder on-site!”

It’s the damnedest thing. The world is shit. Elon’s world is shit. Yet when Elon asks, “Should we buy a welder?” he seems to be doing so in the same way a 10-year-old asks, “Should we ride the roller coaster now?” Here in the von Braun, everything that comes out of his mouth, whether in the form of a question or comment, is about building, hiring, investing. If and when the present woes of the world are acknowledged—the economy is shit!—the point is to exult in how easy that’s going to make things.

That's the kind of guy I like to work for.  Seeing the upside of a bad situation is the kind of guy I strive to be.  It ain't easy.

Will the molten slag cause any problems?

Nah, it’ll all be blowin’ off so hard…

If we think of this as an upside-down Dragon…

If we need three inches of cork, how the fuck will the inflatable survive?

And so it goes. It’s quite something to see a group of human beings offering themselves up in the service of facts the way these men are.

And it is quite something for a writer to see this as a phenomenon worthy of comment.  Operating on facts, not opinion - isn't the way most people operate?


The latest from apenwarr ...

EQL=Data is a project that we've been working on for a little while. The concept is simple: easy, one-click replication of your Microsoft Access databases between any users who have a copy of the same database file.

Why Microsoft Access? Good question! Because:

  • it's used by (at least) hundreds of thousands of people;
  • to this day, it remains the easiest way in the world to create a database-driven app, as far as I know;
  • it's severely underserved as an application platform. Even Microsoft seems more like they're trying to kill it than support it.

I snorted and chuckled because it sounded like yesterday's news. Microsoft Fargin' Access?

Apparently, people would absolutely love to be able to maintain their data in Access, then publish it automatically (without any programming) to the web. This is a Big Thing. Product lists, price lists, reseller lists, and so on. They change constantly, and you want to edit them in a Windows UI, and you can't afford to hire programmers, but you'd really like to see them on the web.

Okay, we can do that.

Which made me think. I can name two applications at work off the top of my head that use Access to store data. The data doesn't need to be pubished to a web interface, but it sure would be handy for the bar-code label print server to display it's queue status to a web interface rather than to a monitor app that can only be seen by logging in and running it from the server.

Mr. Drive By: Hey, the guys in the tool room say they can't print - what's the status of their printer?
Me: Dude.  Click the link and find out for yourself.

'Without any programming'?  Sign me up.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Battlestar Galactica "Someone To Watch Over Me"

CAG doesn't rate her own stateroom?  Berthing aboard Galactica leaves something to be desired.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Apply gasoline, strike match

Only one thing to do.

Server Room of Horror by you.

Burn it down and start over again.

Fire! by you.


About those TPS reports

Like this;

Mgt: Project Death March has been canceled.
Me: Awesome.
Mgt: You've got a big hole in your schedule now ..
Me: Aw, I've got plenty to do - I can bring out ALOM software up to date, get Puppet running ...
Mgt: I was thinking .. backups.

Picard Facepalm

Which is all ha-ha very funny - but I'm looking forward to this.

The guy doing backups has been involved in one way or another with them for four years.  For the last year he's been the only guy doing backups.  So it's good that at least one other person in our shop knows what is going on.

Backups are important.  If you can't recover the data, Murphy will get you.

The backup process involves a preposterous amount of gear - a NetAp Filer, several Sun hosts, a tape library that costs more than my car and is nearly as big.  Also some complicated software has to work just so to make it happen and while the process works there is a of work around the edges to make it work well so it's just a job and not the tedium it can be.

It should be fun.  And I'll keep telling myself that ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We need to look at the situation, the hierarchy, the power relationship here

Okay: you're surrounded by cops.


I applaud the various authority figures on this video.

Not once did I detect a heaved sigh, an eye roll or a snorted guffaw.

Which implies an awesome amount of self control on their part - way more than I have.

Via Popehat, SB7 and others.

We reflect in the comfort of warm peace - Oleg Volk

We reflect in the comfort of warm peace - Oleg Volk

We reflect in the comfort of warm, peaceful homes
That history's trails loop back on themselves
TV and newspapers debate the same topics
Contained in the pages on dusty bookshelves

The words like “empire”, “democracy”, “dire”
Have sounded thus even back in the day
When forefathers went to fight fire with fire
Their stiff armored ranks keeping neighbors at bay

At least we can savor our own Pax Romana
That legions enforce at no small cost
Watching with pride the victorious Triumphs
Forgetting of liberties recently lost

We promise ourselves that all will be well
Times have changed since 1848
Authoritarian hordes will retreat
Defeated by HTML barricades

Yet we know that sword stops the eloquent pen
Cannon censors the writers dead
And in pawn to the King's – or the President's men
We lie meekly in self-made beds

Some say: “Times have changed from the bad old days”
They may even believe those words
But we know the future is almost ablaze
With more encompassing wars

Girdling loins with arms in dead of the night
To stem fright and the enemy twain
Ready to flight by the first morning light
We still retreat again and again

While thugs we elect harm in our names
We like ourselves all the same
We vote with ballots instead of blades
Playing meekly the same fixed game

Abby Something

Would you be willing to:

Sip hot chocolate with your toddler at Starbucks while a fellow patron openly displays a gun at the table next to you?

Who brings a toddler to Starbucks?
Attend a church service with your entire family knowing that the fellow parishioner sitting next to you has a handgun tucked in his belt?
Is that an STI?  I've heard some good things about them ...
Stand in line at a bank to make a deposit as two men enter with baseball hats on and what appear to be guns in their pockets?
Are they wearing their baseball hats backwards so the rest of us can admire the one size fits all plastic snappy doohicky?  'Cause I really hate that.
Board a crowded bus with your newborn child with upwards of 5 other passengers carrying concealed weapons?
You know why that would be awesome

Because people who ride the bus are stereotypically (and we are dealing with stereotypes here) poorer than most (duh, or they'd drive a car) so this means we live in a world where the poor can now afford the same level of protection as the well off.

Maybe you could even buy weapons, ammo and drugs from vending machines!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Taken as Guy Fantasy

We saw Taken last night. My wife's review?

The movie was very good and kept us on the edge of our seat. It was great to see a parent be able to beat up a slew of bad guys and save his daughter, although it was a bit disconcerting to see he wasn't the least bit concerned with other people's daughters and their safe return. You'd think someone that had lost his little girl would have had a bit more compassion, but hey, he saved his girl and it was great.
It is a kick-ass movie, oh yes.

Thought the First. It wasn't, I think, that he was unconcerned about the girls, but that Liam Neeson's character is a guy. A guy on a mission. A guy who is focused. He's got a job to do and not a whole lot of time to do it in. This is, I think, a very guy kind of a trait and very much who the character was.

Thought the Second. There is a scene where he is talking with some Bad Men - and from their actions he is not a guy speaking English but a guy speaking French so well that they think he is a Parisian cop.

Which probably meant that he and they were speaking French. Fine, the part of me that is good at ignoring dumb stuff can handle it.

But oh, Hollywood, how you vex me! I and about 100% of the public would have been fine with Neeson breaking out the Francais and cluing us in with sub-titles. We can handle it.

Final Thought. This is very much a fantasy movie for realistic down-to-earth guys in the way that Anita Blake is smut for gals from the Midwest who would not dream of looking at the naughty stuff.

The bad guys are messing with his baby. There is no time for police or the authorities and the only thing that will save her is a whole lot of ass-kicking and gunfire and clued-in friends with secret-scary access to government databases.

And then he does that thing. And he wins despite long odds against him. Because he is such a bad-ass he doesn't have to look like Harrison Ford or Stallone - he's just Liam Neeson.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Spelling counts if you try really hard

Students want an 'A' for trying hard.

UW freshman Sara Waller said hard work should merit better results, and test scores should not be the only grade-evaluating factor.

“If you do everything and try really hard … I’m the worst test taker known to [the world] — you can even ask my dad. If you know all the concepts and are just a bad test taker, I don’t think that’s fair (to get a low grade),” Waller said.

To which 'anonymous' replied in the comments section ..

Anonymous (February 20, 2009 @ 2:19am):

It's SARAH waller.

Well golly Anonymous. Devan clearly understands the concept of spelling. It's unfair to bitch about if he tried hard but dropped an 'h'.

The Ugly Kid

Nyein Aung has got a new website.

Nyein: go check out theres nothing much there right noe, but i plan on updating daily.


My name is Nyein Chan Aung. I am a text book third culture 25 year old, currently living and striving in Sydney.

I was born in Yangon, Myanmar - one of the least developed nations in the world. At the age of 16 I went to high school, and then on to college in the United States. After working for almost two years in a technology development company in Washington, I moved to Sydney to attend UTS. I am now about to receive a Bachelor of Design degree in Industrial Design.

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember and designing things since high school. I don’t consider Design a job or a profession. Its not a job if what you do is who you are - on my worst day at work, I still get to design stuff.

I do a lot of humanitarian design work. I believe where expertise and resources are scarce, good design will make a difference.

I am a designer, artist, photographer, activist, dissident and an adventurer.

I don't know about how good an activist and dissident he is, but he's a darn good artist.  If you look around the web for space elevator art, a great deal of what you'll find is his.

devil by you.

CR4 - What if "God" Doesn't Care?


go to wikipedia, go to a random article. that is your band name.

go to random quotes and the last few words of the last quote on the first page is your album title.

go to flickr and explore the last seven days. the third picture is your album cover.

What if "God" Doesn't Care?

CR4 - What if "God" Doesn't Care? by you.

I'm thinking CR4 is a pop-rock group Raleigh, North Carolina: Gin Blossoms crossed with Hooty and the Blowfish and a dab of early Bob Dylan.  The name doesn't mean anything - they needed a name, the drummer looked out the window and grabbed some letters from a license plate.

The dog belongs to the bass player's girlfriend.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A SQL query walks into a bar ...

"A SQL query walks into a bar.  He sees 2 tables, walks over and asks...May I join you?"


Friday, February 20, 2009

Battlestar Galactica - Deadlock

"All we need is inner strength...and GUNS!"

I'm liking the new Gaius - Chip Six attitude.

Retain this, John Cornyn

They want to what?

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.
And of course ..

While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."

For ... the  ... children.  Was he wrapped in the American flag and brandishing an apple pie, too?

I could spend electrons raging about this latest bit of foolishness.

But the Mad Rocket Scientist already did so I don't have to.

Seriously, this shit has to stop. I accept the risks that crime may go unsolved, it's part of the price of freedom and liberty. You guys can bite my ass.

What he said.


Somehow we go on the topic of head games that the military uses in boot camp to indoctrinate recruits.

It's brainwashing, really. They have to take sloppy civilians and make soldiers out of them.

Were you brainwashed, Dad?

Do I act like I've been brainwashed?

(grin) Yes.

And not five minutes later I was handed an Airsoft pistol that looks just like an M1911. And I knew it was an Airsoft because I bought it for the monkey two Christmases ago.  And the muzzle is painted red.  Also it does not feel like an M1911.

The urge to drop the magazine, rack the slide and make sure it was a safe weapon was overwhelming.

I didn't do it because that would have looked silly.

Instead I waited until I got to the car to make the child's toy a safe weapon.

Brainwashed? Pshaw.

Auto Politburo

We're going to have a Presidential Politburo Task Force on Autos.  Headed by the Secretary of the Treasury, it's going to oversee restructuring of the industry.  Or at least GM and Chrysler.

An auto-industry official expressed disappointment. “We would have preferred having a single, go-to person focused on the restructuring,” the official said. ”This isn’t bad, but the other would have been better.”

If you really wanted a single, go-to focused individual you should have gone to a bankruptcy court, slick.

Now you've got to deal with at least nine different executive organizations, [1] at least that many agendas and a whole bunch of courtiers representing special interests.

And you thought dealing with the UAW was complicated. 

Y'all have fun with my money, y'hear?

[1] 'At least' the Departments of Treasury, Labor, Transportation, Commerce, and Energy. the National Economic Council, the White House Office of Energy and Environment, the Council of Economic Advisers and the EPA.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Neenah High School Winter Concert - February 19, 2009

The payback for obligatory attendance at middle school concerts is being privileged to attend your spawn's high school concerts: good music played well by youth is a fine thing.

Hearing Ashokan Farewell played with skill and joy? Took me right out of winter and clean into a warm summer evening: that was bliss.

Ashokan Farewell - Jay Ungar

Dentist Day

My love wrote ..

Deep inside I know that dentists are not evil people. There is something deep rooted in my childhood that has me very fearful of them.  Maybe it's the fact that I didn't get to visit the dentist often at all and when I did he said he was putting a "train" in my mouth.

Or maybe she had Orin Scrivello for a dentist ...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get your mind off wintertime

Clouds so swift
Rain won't lift
Gate won't close
Railings froze
Get your mind off wintertime
You ain't goin' nowhere

Today was just .. about .. perfect. 

We got 2-3 inches of snow overnight, but it was the light stuff and so a breeze to shovel and sno-blow off the driveway.  And it made great snowballs. Which delighted the dog - she likes catching snow in her mouth.  A hint of a breeze but not enough to dislodge it from the trees -so we had that 'snow in trees' thing that makes for great photographs.  Just enough snow to cover the old stuff that was getting sort of grubby, but not so much that you can't leave the house.  Temperature with a bit of a snap to it, but not so cold you feel like you are standing in a deep freeze.

Dogs, children, wife and a fire.  Food in the pantry, roof over our heads.  Who could want for more?

A night of perfect suck

And you thought your day at work was bad ...

According to Stephen Sondheim (who was a production assistant for the original Broadway production) ... Allegro may have suffered the most disastrous opening night in theatre history. In addition to a falling flat, during a dance number in Act One, one of the actors caught his tap shoe in a track on the stage, tearing every ligament in his leg, and had to be carried - screaming - from the stage. In Act Two, Lisa Kirk, who was making her professional stage debut, caught a heel in another track and fell headlong into the orchestra.

Cone of Violence


“Cone of Violence.”

(Phrase coined by TJIC today, while describing how a sawzall fell apart while in use and almost took his eye out.)

I like that phrase.  Describes with accuracy a shotgun blast, claymore land mines, anti-tank rockets and some industrial accidents.


Wisconsin State Superintendent - Good vs Bad

So, about the primary election-night victory where the gal who was completely outspent by almost everyone got just 9,904 votes less than the incumbent? Which put her and him in the running for the general election in April?

You gotta love-love-love the headline on Rose Fernandez's website this morning . . .

WE DID IT: Parent Advocate to Face Teacher’s Union Candidate in April Race for State Superintendent

[Mukwonago, Wisc.] Rose Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and senior administrator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, advanced through the Primary Election for State Superintendent Tuesday night.

“The results tonight are a testament to the power of our message of reform,” said Fernandez. “Our coalition of concerned parents, excellent teachers and fed up taxpayers proved, yet again, that they can go toe-to-toe with the most entrenched and well-funded special interests in Wisconsin politics and not flinch.”

While WEAC spent upward of $200,000 to get their chosen candidate through the Primary, the Fernandez campaign spent less than $20,000 and relied on an informative website, traditional hard work and citizen to citizen contact.

“Voters will have a clear contrast in April,” said Fernandez. “I want to bring people together to reward excellence in education, promote higher standards, empower parents and protect taxpayers, while we can expect the usual demagoguery from the WEAC-driven defenders of the status quo.”

Fernandez, the outsider in this race, expects to be attacked because her Masters degree and professional background is in nursing and hospital administration, not K-12 education.

“I have not been a part of the educational bureaucracy for my professional life, but my focus has always been on serving the needs of children,” said Fernandez. “For example, I have not been leading the DPI while generations of students have been abandoned in Milwaukee, with taxpayers statewide paying the bills. I am proud of my record and look forward to continuing to run on our agenda of higher standards without higher taxes.”

Rose expects WEAC and other special interest groups will move quickly to demonize her. But she’s ready. Voters who want to know the truth about Rose and her campaign should continue to visit

“Some have dismissed me as a mom on a mission, but I will wear that label as a badge of honor,” said Fernandez, who owns a small business with her union member firefighting husband Javier. “I am looking forward to campaigning across the state and will continue to listen to the concerns of families, teachers and administrators who want to improve our public schools.”

The General Election is April 7th.

Space4Commerce is not associated with Rose Fernandez or Families for Rose Fernandez.  We just like her a whole bunch.

The README is there for a reason

Me: Hey, wait a second. The README claims we need sqlite3 on your webserver. I'm not sure it's installed ...

Her: Give it a shot.

Me: (aghast) But ... if sqlite3 is not on the server it won't work.

And we run smack-bang into a divide more fundamental than the male-female thing: the ones who check things out before launching and the ones who give it a shot and see if it flies or splats into a wall.

God love her, my beautiful and attractively intelligent wife falls firmly into the latter camp.

I fall firmly into the camp whose theme song contains this verse ..

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's ways may be long in the land.

Oh, and her revamped web site is up and running. Joe Bob says check it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wisconsin Election Results - February 17 2009

Election Results - here.

Last Updated: 2/17/2009 9:41 p.m.

Wisconsin Superintendent of Schools
1442 of 3450 Precincts Reporting

VOTES Pct.  
Tony Evers 42,502 37%  
Rose Fernandez 33,269 29%  
Van Mobley 14,565 13%  
Todd Price 13,358 12%  
Lowell Holtz 10,125 9%

Unless things change drastically, it's Evers - Fernandez in the primary election. Yow-zah!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Politics at the Speed of Light

Everything moves faster these days. Music has a faster tempo - I find some pop songs that I remember from the 80s as fast and peppy drag along. Television from the 70s - when it's aired uncut - seems to take forever to get to the point and horribly static.

Heck, even politics moves faster than it used to: it took less than a month for President Obama to break seven campaign promises ...

1. Make government open and transparent.

2. Make it "impossible" for Congressmen to slip in pork barrel projects.

3. Meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. (Even Congressional Republicans shut out.)

4. No more secrecy.

5. Public will have 5 days to look at a bill.

6. You’ll know what’s in it.

7. We will put every pork barrel project online.


Breaking promises is par for the course with politicians.  But a) this guy was supposed to be different [1] and b) has anyone so explicitly promised a set of talking points and then gone back in less than a month?

A comment from Chicago Boys ..

The Ghost Shirt Democrats are doing their dance, but the vast herds of union-member Democrat-voting buffalo will never return to the plains, and [the] magic ghost shirts will not turn the ballots of angry voters into water [in] 2010 and 2012. Of course, the Republicans could still blow it, but even if they do, the Democrats have shown in a few short weeks that they have no idea how to govern the country, just to loot it. They will be replaced, if not by Republicans, then by somebody else.

Maybe.  We'll see.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

[1] Yes, even I believed he would be.  And there I was, trusting a politician, like a sucker.


Our Government now brings us ..

On Tuesday, February 10th, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined a comprehensive plan to restore stability to our financial system. In the address, Secretary Geithner discussed the Obama Administration’s strategy to strengthen our economy by getting credit flowing again to families and businesses, while imposing new measures and conditions to strengthen accountability, oversight and transparency in how taxpayer dollars are spent. And Secretary Geithner explained how the financial stability plan will be critical in supporting an effective and lasting economic recovery.

Stability can be another word for stasis - if you ain't growing, you're stagnating. This is true for markets, companies and countries.

Speaking of the cultural stagnation . . .

We have a culture that holds engineers and inventors in contempt and views new technologies first and foremost as threats to be mitigated. The Chinese nearly worship engineers and inventors and adopt new technologies with a reckless disregard of all but the most gross dangers.

Our intellectual class spends its time trying to generate contempt of our institutions, history and traditions and to shatter our belief in our own capabilities. China’s intellectual class spend its time creating and instilling a fierce confidence in their institutions, history and traditions and building a belief that they can accomplish anything.

The Chinese have become the lean and mean, energetic barbarians sweeping down on a fat, decadent and leaderless civilization. They have the same cowboy attitude towards technology and commerce that drove America to the top in late 1800s. They are going to do to us what we did to Europe in the pre-WWII era and for the same reason. The difference this time is that the Chinese share no cultural bond to the rest of the world as America did to Europe.

I suppose we’ll learn to adopt an attitude of superior impotence just as the Europeans have done. China will do great things while we will claim we’re too wise and mature to attempt such things.

Evolution and You

Speaking of stability ...  evolution is still working away on us ..

Cochran, Harpending and their colleagues examined about 2000 examples of such sweeps in an African population and 2000 in the European population. They found strong evidence that advantageous alleles in these regions are sweeping through the human population - evidence of natural selection at work. These sweeps began earlier in Africa than in Europe, perhaps 80,000 and 40,000 years ago, respectively. They can be dated by looking at the degree to which the linked SNPs have started to break down through the continuing process of genetic recombination.

The authors conclude that these and other signs of more recent human evolution are the result of rapid cultural changes, triggered by the invention of agriculture and the urbanisation of our species. This can be seen in evidence of selection on specific genes such as those that influence our physical ability to form words or to metabolise new foods.

Greeks In Space

Well that was an odd dream.

Spaceships.  City-states on other worlds.  Soldiers wearing Grecian Hopite armor.  Stylized formation combat with dudes wielding swords.  A timber palisade.

Was I replaying the Peloponnesian War mashed up with a random SF novel from my bookshelf?  What the heck, sub-conscious?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rose Fernandez - State Superintendent

Why should you vote for Rose Fernandez for State Superintendent on February 17th?

Rose Fernandez

She is not endorsed by the teacher's union.
She is not part of the educational bureaucracy.
She is the only candidate to decisively reject calls for tax hikes.
She forged a genuine compromise to keep virtual charter schools open.
She wants the schools to be about kids.

“This is an exciting opportunity to change business as usual in Madison. I’m not part of the status quo. I’m not going to merely listen to a select group of special interests who have been at war with each other over educational issues for decades. I intend to listen to, and be the public voice for, all in Wisconsin who support fiscally-sound policies that encourage and promote educational excellence.

“Pouring more money at a problem doesn’t solve it. That’s true in business, government and public schools. The decisions we face center around not just investment in education. It’s about the return on that investment. We can, and must, expect better outcomes for what we are already spending.” -Rose Fernandez

You should get out and vote on Tuesday for Rose because it's the right thing to do.

Space4Commerce is not associated with Rose Fernandez or Families for Rose Fernandez.  We just like her a whole bunch.

More Fun With Kids

The Monkeys spent the day at their sister's house.  And what did I do with some of the time they were gone?

YM: Hey, the living room floor feels funny - and it's shiny!

I waxed the floor in here.

YM: Cool. (Runs to his bedroom)

Oh, I also

YM: (run-run-slip-WHAM) "Ow."

waxed the back hallway.

Kids are fun.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blue Monogamy

a softer world.  It's odd, it's funny ..

blue - from a softer world by you.

... and so right.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Drunk Old Sam

Travis on Keynesian spending and the stimulus package: in theory, under some circumstances, it could help the economy.

But ....

I do not think that under the political process, anything remotely approaching the “some Keynesian spending that could be effective” could ever get enacted. The only thing that you can possibly get out of the swamp of DC is a metric ton of lard with a bow on top.

To make an analogy: if your garden shed is on fire and some folks say “we should get drunk old Sam to throw a bucket of water on it” and I say “I’m not sure that that’s a good idea”, it’s not because I deny that water (sometimes) puts out fires: it’s because I happen to know that the four of the last five times that Sam has tried to put out fires he’s crashed through three other people’s living rooms to do so, by the time he got to the fire it was pretty much out, and what he actually ended up doing was throwing a bucket containing gasoline through the living room window of the house next door, thus starting another fire, and the fifth time drunk old Sam did show up on time and pitched a sealed bottle of Evian into a bonfire.

Well said.

Eclectic Diet

Said the Older Monkey after our trip to the grocery, and dinner: "This is the best .. day .. ever. Kumquats, pepperoni pizza and cranberry juice!"

Teenaged boys make interesting diet choices.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Before you read any further ...

1. This contains spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica episode 'Blood on the Scales'
2. Re-reading this I can't believe how fanboy I get about this show.

About Tyrol ...

No, first I gotta blockquote this. Because it is so right.

Also not rolling over: Admiral William Adama, who literally spends the entire episode telling every single person in the world to fuck off as loudly as one can through one's dentures. He is a Lean, Mean, Fuck You machine. It is amazing. Turns out his Bucket List has one item on it, and that item is: Everybody Goes To Hell. Bill's Care Bear Glare powers have never been so magically delicious. He tells Gaeta to cram eleven things up his ass, invites Zarek to blow him, calls his lawyer a pimp, tears holes in the hull using his glare... A couple of lieutenants actually cry, because he's that scary. Finally they have no choice but to tie him to a chair in front of a firing squad. Then he just starts spitting at people.

I will never find myself captain of a ship with a mutinous crew. But if I do find myself in a comparable situation ... there are worse role models to emulate.

Speaking of role models - Galen Tyrol.

Chief spends the entire episode crawling through exceedingly tight ducts and getting into hilarious scrapes, then pulls out the actual guts of the Galactica FTL drive with his bare hands at the very last second, saving the day.

Like this: Tyrol over the course of a few months has had his life profoundly changed. He's not a husband, he's not a father, he's not the Senior Chief Petty Officer. He's not even human.

What is Galen Tyrol? He is what he chooses to be. He is the guy who knows how things work. The guy who sees a job to be done and gets down and does that sucker.

There is a lot like about a character like that.

Whoops: Artifical Reef Edition

I remember reading about this really keen idea in My Weekly Reader in elementary school: tie up a bunch of tires, sink them in the ocean, create a reef. Wildlife is attracted and from an unsightly mess Good Things Happen.

Fast forward a few decades ...

Of some concern to environmentalists is a "minortoxin" being emitted by the tires.

Well that might be a problem ... but surely the amount of marine life attracted by the reef outweighs a little bit of toxin . . .

Todd Barber, chairman of the Reef Ball Foundation downplayed this aspect of the tire reef in comparison to the damage they cause other reefs: "I don't think anybody's worried about [the toxin] [...] The primary hazard [is] they're moving around."

Yes, moving around.  The tires are still intact but the nylon and steel used to tie the bundles together corroded clean away.

Two million tires were soon loose in sixty-five feet of water.  Scrubbing marine life off as they scoot around.  Crashing into nearby natural reefs and destroying them.  Washing ashore as far north as North Frickin' Carolina.

The same thing has happened to other tire reefs all over the world.  Indonesia and Malaysia mounted similar, larger efforts in the 1980s so you can just imagine how much junk people with good intentions have tossed into the water since the 1970s.

All in all a good argument for people to think really long and hard before committing to a course of action that will have long term affects on future generations. 

Unintended consequences are a bitch.

Lurking under foot

Die biosphere, die!

An ancient killer is hiding in the remote forests of Siberia. Scientists are starting to uncover the remnants of a supervolcano, that was walled off from western eyes during the Soviet era and that rained Hell on Earth 250 million years ago, killing 90 percent of all life.

Now a team of researchers led by Henrik Svenson of the University of Oslo in Norway have performed a series of experiments, showing the volcano employed an arsenal of deadly weapons during its 200,000-year-long assault on the biosphere.

Prime among them was carbon. Searing magmas from the volcano intruded into the Tunguska Basin in eastern Siberia, a region laden with thick deposits of coal, oil and gas. Heat from the molten rock baked the hydrocarbons, turning the area into the world's largest fossil fuel-burning plant. In all, the volcano may have belched as much as 100,000 gigatons of carbon into the air (all of humanity emits about eight gigatons of carbon annually).

Also on the menu: Lava.  Which heated up the salt deposits.  Which releases methyl chloride. Which kills ozone.

The Siberian Traps did this number on our biosphere for 200,000 years.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adios Fred On Everything

All things must end, and Fred on Everything just has. This will be the last regular column, although the site will stay up and I'll add things from time to time as the mood urges.
My reasons for inditing the sucker were, first, to see whether a web column could work and, second, to get away from the strangling grasp of political correctness. A third reason, common I suppose to most columnists, was the hope that, however minor my voice might be, in combination with thousands of others it might engender pressure for slowing the rush into the high-tech medieval twilight that the culture has undertaken.

This by now is clearly quixotic. The civilizational changes we now see are both irremediable and beyond control. The peasantrification and empty glitter of society, pervasive hostility to careful thought, onrushing authoritarianism, and distaste for cultivation are now endemic. I do not know where these lead, but we are assuredly going to get there. Fuming buys nothing.

Hard to disagree with him.

Take care, Fred. Get better soon. And if you don't write another lick, thanks for what you've done.

As an adios, here is Fred on Playing At Adventure.

I have no fantasies about shooting anyone. I have seen enough of that for one lifetime. I don’t hunt, having no desire to kill anything I don’t have to kill. I don’t need to pose with a rifle. Having carried one in the Marine Corps, I do not regard them as exotic. But when you are far from anywhere, you provide your own security. I am comfortable with the idea. So are a lot of men. In today’s suburban, mall-ridden world security is what answers 911.

Women are realists pretending to be romantics, and men, romantics pretending to be realists. Yes. The male desire is to explore, to fly higher and higher, to invent and dare and go and see. The Apollo landings were not inspired by a desire to know the nature of lunar rocks. A man does not get on a rice-burning crotch-rocket on a desert road in Arizona and scream through the hot vastness, wap-wap-wap through the gears, 95, 105, 120…125 (go baby, get it on, do it for me), because it is particularly practical. It is the sheer glory of the thing, the speed and power, controlled but on the edge.

And now he wakes at five-thirty for the two-hour commute from Fredericksburg to Washington in crawling traffic, then to his cubicle at Agriculture where he tracks soybean yields in North Carolina. For his entire life.

It is not what men are wired to do. We just do not domesticate well. While male behavior is perhaps no more inherently absurd than female, it has little application to the suburbs and bureaucratic salt mines.

It's a done Tom Turkey

Unless a dinosaur killing asteroid arrives tomorrow The Stimulus Bill is a done deal.

I'm sorry - what was that, CBO?

CBO anticipates that the current recession, which started in December 2007, will last until the second half of 2009 making it the longest recession since World War II. (The longest such recessions otherwise, the 1973–1974 and 1981–1982 recessions, both lasted 16 months. If the current recession were to continue beyond midyear, it would last at least 19 months.) It could also be the deepest recession during the postwar period: By CBO’s estimates, economic output over the next two years will average 6.8 percent below its potential—that is, the level of output that would be produced if the economy’s resources were fully employed (see Figure 1). This ecession, however, may not result in the highest unemployment rate. That rate, in CBO’s forecast, rises to 9.2 percent by early 2010 (up from a low of 4.4 percent at the end of 2006) but is still below the 10.8 percent rate seen near the end of the 1981–1982 recession.

And ..
CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.

Why does Congress even have a budget office if they're not going to listen to them?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Self-Centered by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

if i were the center of everything for a day…

everything would be aimed towards, dictated by, catered to,
tailored for five foot two tattooed Asian females

when you turned on the television – no martha stewart,
no oprah, no tom brokaw, katie couric, or steven colbert,
only five foot two tattooed Asian females giving
make-up tips for the Asian eye, how to raise children
multilingually in America, custom-design builders who
retrofit houses for the fabulously petite, news that focuses
the latest community organizing campaigns and
where the hottest DJ set is for that night.

everything catered to me – all the movies will tell the
stories of wayward brainiac liberated activist single girls
and their pot dealer mc boyfriends, healing wounds
with families overseas while striving to create fair wages for factory
workers around the world, which would be easier since all the governments
would be run by five foot two tattooed Asian girls,
we’d wave to the camera enthusiastically, give free sandwiches
out to the entire world every Wednesday, we’d match our
lipgloss to our fair trade boots and throw a dance party every time
we passed a truly revolutionary bill.

and i’d get to ask people dumb questions all day about things
that just never occurred to me, because isn’t everybody a five foot
two tattooed Asian girl, and isn’t it so great to be us?

but you know what?  i might let you (non-five-foot-two-
tattooed-Asian-girl people) keep your languages, and
i might even give you equal access to health care and education too,
i might even let you share the airwaves, the houses of government,
and give you a shot of working your way up in the financial institutions,
because i know there is no you without me, and from the center to the
margin, there is no me without you.

vi man

Inspired by this comment .. it's vi man!

viman by you.

Pathless by Michael Whelan

Did you feel something?

Bad Landing by you.

Monday, February 09, 2009

OBAMA 1260 - farewell!

Bill Press totally gets upset because he's been knocked out of a market

Dan Snyder's Red Zebra Broadcasting Co., owner of OBAMA 1260, has announced plans to jettison all progressive talk and replace it with pre-recorded financial advice programming.

Dude: get a grip.The station was named after a politician. Didn't that embarrass you?

For years, the Fairness Doctrine prevented such abuse by requiring licensed stations to carry a mix of opinion. However, under pressure from conservatives, President Ronald Reagan's Federal Communications Commission canceled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, insisting that in a free market, stations would automatically offer a balance in programming.

That experiment has failed. There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy.

Except for the National Public Radio network, which is not exactly in John Birch territory. Which you can hear just about everywhere in the United States, and overseas on the Armed Forces Network.

So, yes, except for a radio network that blankets the US (I can here two NPR affiliates from the middle of inner-nowhere Wisconsin, and a third if I drive down to Oshkosh to catch some sun) it's a complete conservative conspiracy.

Do my bidding, monkey

Fun with Monkeys ..
Can I have desert?
You have to hop on one foot from here to the freezer.
he did it.

Children are fun.

Share The Love

Hey - what's up Team Obama?

The media is filled with numbers about the economic crisis. But the numbers do not tell the full story.

They don't? I'm confused - I thought unless you had numbers you didn't have the full story.

The story of this crisis is in homes across the country -- homes where a family member has lost a job, where parents are struggling to pay a mortgage, and where college tuition has slipped out of reach.

Usually when a politician wants anecdotes and not numbers he's trying to spin a story to a conclusion not supported by the facts.

But Barack doesn't play that way.

You know when Tom Clancy totally let his muse get on top of him and he had Jack Ryan catapulted to the Oval Office and it was like all was Suddenly Right in the world?

Barack is like Jack Ryan, but real. Totally.

Share your story about how this economic crisis is affecting you and your family and join your fellow Americans in supporting bold action to speed our recovery:

Well, OK then!

My Crisis Story

My government wants to spend a whole bunch of money on a whole bunch projects of dubious value.

The crisis will end once the government stops helping.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brian Dunbar
Neenah, Wisconsin

I'm sure their filter will have that sucker right back into the public's face. Real Soon Now.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mad Science and Wish Lists

After the Wonders of Physics science demo at UW in Capital City, I was passed this note ...

Older Monkey's Wish List

Liquid Nitrogen
Tank of hydrogen
Tesla Coil
Big Hammer

He likes his science.  The louder and noisier the better.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Spring is here!

It's 42° F here.

After what feels like a decade of temperatures hovering around 0° F this feels like a warm spring day. 

I'm resisting the urge to tear the weather proofing off and hurl open the windows - but it's a powerful urge, friends.  Mighty powerful.

You gotta do it - but it's hard

Teenaged Girl had a cell phone we bought her for Christmas - one of those 'pay as you go' models. She lost it a few weeks ago.

She also has a job ... and $50 left out of her last paycheck. She's about to go to Wal-Mart and spend 80% of her available cash on a new phone.

80%.  For .. a .. cell .. phone.  I'm gritting my teeth and muttering to myself 'let them make their own mistakes' . . .

Friday, February 06, 2009

Wretched but not in a good way

Chris Ballard went to the Super Bowl to see wretched excess ...

I wanted to see the glitterati rinsing their Escalades with Cristal, then drying them off with imported, endangered pandas. I wanted to see supermodels giving table dances to indicted executives wearing Armani do-rags.

Hold on there sport: supermodels?

Watching super-skinny women with no curves gyrate on a table would be an anatomy lesson on the major bones of the skeleton.

Wretched, sure, but not wretched excess.  Pass.

Good News from Anbar Province

Good News from Anbar Province, full text here.

Subject: Election Day in Iraq

All Hands:

Major General John Kelly sends this Iraq election notice
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

I don't suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good. No, the news is unbelievable.

Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.


One of the things I've always said was that we came here to "give" them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy - they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.

Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.

Semper Fi.

Sometimes ... sometimes it feels pretty damned good to be an American.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Irksome and Scary

I'm not troubled by the idea that people only ever act on self-interest, because that's obvious, but it's irksome and scary when they take it to the next level of taking choices away from everybody else.

~ Jacob Clifton

How to bow and scrape in the 21st century

John Bergstrom, local car dealer, publishes a letter where he first kowtows to the new administration

The day you were elected was one of the proudest days I have had as an American.  Please accept my apologies for not voting for you. (I was very proud of how John McCain had served our country.)

Then petitions for an economic boon: give everyone who buys a car $5,000 in government vouchers and spare my automobile dealership fiefdom.

You're doing it wrong. 

A proper kowtow involves at least a full paragraph and should allude to how worthless one's opinion is and how abjectly sorry one is for making the wrong choice.  You never mention the wrong choice by name.  You then follow that up with another paragraph expressing hope that the worthless one might be of some small service to the new regime.

Good enunciation is important

A former Marine was at the hand grenade range at ROTC Advanced Camp at Fort Lewis ...

The range control NCOIC had a distinctive southern accent, so when he gave the command to pull the pin, aim, and throw the grenade at the “tire” (you attempt to throw the grenade into a truck tire for accuracy), in his southern drawl it came out sounding like “tywer”. To the former Marine it came out sounding like “tower”, to which he said “Tower, where’s the… oh there it is!”, and proceeded to throw his grenade at the range control tower, the grenade bounced off of the plexiglass, caught the lip of the tower, and exploded on the way down into the impact area, shaking the tower and causing everyone inside to “hit the deck”, the blast caused close to $1800.00 in damages, and a few sets of soiled pants.

Never tell a Marine to do something unless you're sure you want it done.

Also - good enunciation is important.

How many MBAs does it take to organize a project?

A twitter friend wrote from school ...

There are some MBA students with a project due in a few hours. It seems like no one knows their part.

Just think. In a few months these guys are going to be hired by a business - maybe yours - with these solid organizational and managerial skills.

I'd like to dynamic entry on Server 2003, that's what I'd like to do

This tickled my funny bone. Dynamic entry ... Sluggy Freelance style:

Sluggy Freelance: Dynamic Entry by you.

And what are Torg, Riff and Gwen doing? They're hunting zombies, duh.

And what am I doing at zero-dark thirty? I was woken up by the forces of darkness and e-vil [1] because a Very Important Server had stopped talking.

Windows - man don't tell me it sucks: it is such a kick-ass operating system that it finds a way to issue a BSOD at 01:00 in the a.m., just so I know it cares.

[1] Also known as third shift.