Friday, August 31, 2007


First it's bullets that have never been fired, now it's this
The only moon landing in history is NASA's Apollo expedition in 1968.

AFP .. you guys have a serious problem.

Subject Hat Tip

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.


Spam Blogs

I found this content on a spam blog a few minutes ago.
Feel free to go that vinculum to LiftPort - the Space Elevator Companies; I muscle sector-mote as their integrate admin. It might be a hopeless doomed effort but .. what are you doing to knock off the globe a better plank?
Look familiar? Interesting wrinkle in the spam blog business.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hello visitors from 50 Years From Now

Why look at that - criticism generates hatred and bile.

While you're hear feel free to look around. It's a crap blog so don't expect too much. This blog started off life without any grand hopes or ambition and it has, generally, met expectations. There are some pictures. There are links. There is some muddy thinking and strong feelings.

Feel free to click this link to LiftPort - the Space Elevator Companies; I work part-time as their system admin. It might be a hopeless doomed effort but .. what are you doing to make the world a better place?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fifty Years From Now - bleh

This might be one of those 'meh' ideas that will never really work out.
50.YFN is shared world speculative fiction, showcasing creative visions of our world fifty years from now.
Shared world implies that creators are expected to read each other's work and respect that they all take place in the same world. My Brooklyn is your Brooklyn, and if that's where you want your story to take place, then you have to work within my Brooklyn's rules. Whose Brooklyn is it? Whoever writes it first. Stories build off each other, intertwine, become a greater tapestry. Writers can absolutely collaborate. But they may not contradict or copy each other.

Speculative fiction means NOT 'SCIFI'. No f*cking phasers or transporters or lightsabers or USS Maxipad of the United Enema of Planets or web-eared green Buddha midgets. Also? Nothing off-world. This is all Earth-bound. Save that Roddenberry sh*t for Sci Fi Channel.

It is a queer self-limiting idea. As in a land rush it rewards the quick. Get there early, stake out territory and you've stamped your corner of the universe, forever. I have scanned the future and the way it's laid out - it's a pretty sad.

Cannibalism in the Upper Peninsula, California is busy re-enacting the worst parts of Yugoslavia in the 90s, the Army is holding down highway intersections in the East - with fifty year old Strykers - it's like sending Sherman tanks to fight in Iraq - so the oil can flow.

Distopia. Who in the hell wants to play around in that. Nothing off-Earth? Pass.

I think the tag line says it all: 'a speculative futurefactory'.

Factories are places where components come in one end. The other end spits out assembled goods. In between it's all lock step and rote process. Tolerances to a nth degree, regimentation and shift work. You don't go to a factory to play around with ideas.

Kirby said it; "It's work. You're not supposed to enjoy it." Well fine.

But I like to enjoy what I read not wallow in krep.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bear Cavalry

I don't know why this made me laugh

But it did.

Total Recall

When Alberto Gonzales shows up for work next week he'll be greeted at the door and politely reminded that he resigned. His response of course will be: I don't recall doing that.

Update: To my regret this humor is not original - I heard the line from a caller on The Dennis Miller Show before lunch today. I should have attributed it. Apologies are due to anyone who read this and thought "my he's a witty fellow".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Opus - 8-26-07

Why didn't the Washington Post run this cartoon? A sex joke. What's the joke? Lola Granola is now a Radical Muslim and Steve won't be getting any.

Geez Louise. Yes, people have feelings and lord knows we wouldn't want to offend anyone - they might cancel their subscription and the newspapers can't afford to loose too many subscribers.

Islam is a big grown up religion - if a billion faithful want to be part of the 21st century (and I think that they do) then they can stand a few gibes and jests.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Bad-Ass Soldiery

Why is the West going to win**? Because more of our soldiers are like this, than not.
"The first time you get blown up by an IED, you're like, Dude, this is badass! but after that you're like, This really is not cool at all anymore. But riding out there, getting shot at, shooting back -- that doesn't get old."
It's more than just having bad-ass soldiers. Alison didn't get that attitude from the Army - she carried it there from the civilian world. The Army merely honed it to a fine edge and gave it direction.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.


*if you subscribe to the idea that there is a conflict between the West and humorless zealots**.

** In my world not all humorless zealots use Islam as a cover. There are plenty of other types of zealots that could bring the whole kit and caboodle to a grinding halt.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


l’Hydroptère; Sailboat. 60 feet in length. 47.2 knots. That isn't 'fast' compared to a rocket plane or even freeway traffic but in nautical terms - screaming along a few feet above the water - it's really scooting along.


Sympathy for the spouse


To the Editor:

The reference to Enrico Fermi in your conversation with the physicist Gino Segre (“In the Footsteps of His Uncle, Then His Father,” Aug. 14) reminded me of an equally interesting conversation I had 35 years ago with Fermi’s widow, Laura. Knowing that the scientists were sworn to secrecy, I asked her what she thought was happening during those three years.

Her answer: “To tell you the truth, I was so happy not to hear anything about physics for three years that I never gave it a thought.”

Harold Ticktin
Shaker Heights, Ohio

But rock on completely with some brand new components

Playing around with SaltedHashLoginGenerator
briandunbar_natasha-2_~/rails/cookbook2:rake test_units
(in /Users/briandunbar/rails/cookbook2)
Finished in 0.344615 seconds.

16 tests, 34 assertions, 0 failures, 0 errors

Rockin'. Why - you ask - am I fooling around with this at 0120 in the blessed a.m.?

Because I'm house sitting, I can't get email, and doing stuff like getting user logins to work with a Rails application is how I get my kicks.

Update: lest anyone get the wrong idea SHLG is not (currently) the best method to handle user logins for Rails. Your best bet in that regard is Acts as Authenticated. At the very least the documentation is not a twisty maze.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A good question - the Left and Sex

Shannon Love at Chicago Boyz has a good question
Some time ago, I made a humorous throwaway observation that Democrats didn’t believe in individual freedom of choice except in matters pertaining to sexuality.

At the time, I thought the statement a mere comedic exaggeration. As a libertarian, I consider each political ideology a mixed bag. Each political group gives freedom with one hand and takes it away with the other. I assumed that a little honest examination of all the Left’s policy positions would quickly reveal many areas completely unrelated to sex in which the Left advocated letting individuals make the decisions about what or what not to do.

However, to my disquiet, I cannot think of a single one! I honestly cannot think of a single non-sexual area in which the contemporary Left advocates letting individuals decide what or what not to do.

Can anyone else?
I’m really serious about this. If you can think of an area please say so. If you can’t, ask around your leftist friends and contact me at

More at the link - it's a good question. The three people who read this blog are evenly divided Left, Right and Lib so ... what do y'all think?



Atkins said he had also hoped that the study would give him a greater understanding of those who occupy a lower socioeconomic strata than himself, and vice-versa.

"This project, in theory, afforded an upper-middle-class academic like myself the opportunity to build bridges with those of a culturally dissimilar background, enabling both me and them to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the other's unique perspectives and experiences," he said. "Nope. Didn't happen. I did, however, have a lot of empty bottles thrown at me through missing windows."

The Onion, of course.

Jihad - The Musical

Rave reviews - no death threats
I wanna be like Osama
I wanna wear designer clothes beneath a robe
While my lackeys loom like vultures, I’ll declare a clash of cultures,
Kill civilians by the millions round the globe
Grow a beard down to my navel, conquer YouTube, get on cable,
And be wealthier than any man I know
Please make me like Osama B.
With an Al Jazeera Show!

The best defense against humorless zealots is making fun of them.

Eccentric vs Insane

Via Daring Fireball - Stanley Kubrick, eccentric.

"It's Futura Extra Bold," explains Tony. "It was Stanley's favourite typeface. It's sans serif. He liked Helvetica and Univers, too. Clean and elegant."

"Is this the kind of thing you and Kubrick used to discuss?" I ask.

"God, yes," says Tony. "Sometimes late into the night. I was always trying to persuade him to turn away from them. But he was wedded to his sans serifs."

We've all known guys like this. If they don't have money it's best to keep a sharp stick handy so we can poke them if they get out of hand.

SUNW is now JAVA

Sun changed their stock symbol from SUNW to JAVA.
Sun is blessed to have built two of the best known brands on the internet. The Java brand, and OpenOffice (and its cousin, StarOffice).
Dude. Sun sells hardware. It's what you do. Y'all write software so we have a reason to spend big bucks on the hardware. We're not filling data centers with racks and racks of Sun branded servers because of Java or OpenOffice. We're filling data centers with racks and racks of Sun hardware because the machines are solid, they scale and Solaris is a terrific operating system.

But I am not a marketing guy, I don't have any money invested in Sun ... so this may be one of those clever as a fox deals that I just don't get.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Carnival of Space #17

Carnival of Space #17 is posted at The Planetary Society Blog - hosted by the gracious Emily Lakdawalla.

Free Ruby Lessons

Free Ruby Lessons

In August 2006, I conducted some Free Ruby Lessons on the net. Peter Cooper the author of Beginning Ruby wrote a small note on his Ruby Inside blog and over 100+ would-be Ruby developers registered and learned Ruby along with me. These lessons culminated into my RubyLearning site and my Ruby Study Notes eBook.

Even today, I keep getting a lot of emails to re-start these lessons and to encourage you all, I have decided to do so.

Here’s the plan:

Click here for more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Ah - the fringe Right is heard from
President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons. - Philip Atkinson, neo-crazy author.

But wait - this might not be a bad thing. Done properly a monarchy has certain advantages over the rabble-rousing Democracy we're currently encumbered with. Consider that there are a number of things that perhaps ought to be done that cannot be because our attention is drawn from manners of Great Import to fiddly details like earmarks and meddling with the corn harvest.

Like what? Well space exploration and settlement for one thing. As it is right we keep whipsawing every four or eight years on a new direction and the only thing that matters is that enough of the pork be spread around in a thin film in Important Congressional Districts. An absolute monarch could lay down the law and off with their heads if it's not done post-haste.

Style Jeb Duke of East Orange, make him head of the American Inner System Company, find some smart guys to run the place and let them go to town.

One problem with making Bush President For Life; lack of a male heir. We may assume that Laura is too old to bear more children.

On his death the crown would pass to his younger brother Jeb. Jeb has two sons (George P. and Jeb Jr.) so the House of Bush looks as if it will pass down through the nephews of the present President for Life, George I.

Long live the King.



We are lucky enough to have Samuel Pepys diary to inform of us of what daily life was like in London after the Restoration.

Up and abroad, doing very many errands to my great content which lay as burdens upon my mind and memory. Home to dinner, and so to White Hall, setting down my wife at her father’s, and I to the Tangier Committee, where several businesses I did to my mind, and with hopes thereby to get something. So to Westminster Hall, where by appointment I had made I met with Dr. Tom Pepys, but avoided all discourse of difference with him, though much against my will, and he like a doating coxcomb as he is, said he could not but demand his money, and that he would have his right, and that let all anger be forgot, and such sorry stuff, nothing to my mind, but only I obtained this satisfaction, that he told me about Sturbridge last was 12 months or 2 years he was at Brampton, and there my father did tell him that what he had done for my brother in giving him his goods and setting him up as he had done was upon condition that he should give my brother John 20l. per ann., which he charged upon my father, he tells me in answer, as a great deal of hard measure that he should expect that with him that had a brother so able as I am to do that for him. This is all that he says he can say as to my father’s acknowledging that he had given Tom his goods. He says his brother Roger will take his oath that my father hath given him thanks for his counsel for his giving of Tom his goods and setting him up in the manner that he hath done, but the former part of this he did not speak fully so bad nor as certain what he could say. So we walked together to my cozen Joyce’s, where my wife staid for me, and then I home and her by coach, and so to my office, then to supper and to bed.

If we are un-lucky we'll be represented in the 24th century by Rosie O'Donnell.

or the day before
the people who do r money
called to say DO NOT WORRY
which sent us into a panic
up down red black wtf

money makes the world go around
the world go around
the world

tonight dinner in so beach
a very gay city
kel and i
in r pt cruiser - top down

we had just finished eating
about to head home
2 2 many people

came a bald screaming infuriated man
it’s always a man
i tell ya

i stood next to his hog
when kel backed out
so as not to hit it
i ride

as i buckled my belt
he ran towards r car

“chill dude -
we didn’t touch it”
his eyes were wild
stretched open wide

he got madder
pupils big - snorting like a dragon
he screamed

the trump card

and we r supposed to cower
to fall 2 r knees ashamed
not good enough

not tonight
mr bald muscle man
with a pimped out hog
not tonight

i stood up in the front seat
hands above my head
smiled and yelled

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Serious Operating Systems versus Non-Serious Operating Systems

Serious operating systems are secure by default. They are stable and scale under load.

Non-serous operating systems have a how-to for opening the box they come in.

Subject line hat tip.

Why are some countries rich and some poor?

Science has the - or a - answer.
If economics can tell us something useful about crime, marriage, or carpooling—as I believe it can—then other academic disciplines should have something to tell us about economies. Last month, Science published an example that may turn out to be important. Two physicists, Cesar Hidalgo and Albert-László Barabási, and two economists, Bailey Klinger and Ricardo Hausmann, have been drawing unusual pictures of economic "space" that promise a deeper understanding of the biggest question in economics: why poor countries are poor.

Semper Fi - Midway Edition

Recollections of Commander John Ford, USNR, Oscar-winning Hollywood producer and Chief of the Field Photographic Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), concerning his experiences making combat motion pictures under battle conditions.

The Marines with me - I took one look at them and I said, "Well this war was won." They were kids, oh, I would say from 18 to 22, none of them were older. They were the calmest people I have ever seen. They were up there popping away with rifles [Marines at that time were armed with bolt-action M1903 .30-caliber rifles], having a swell time and none of them were alarmed. I mean the thing [a Japanese bomb] would drop through, they would laugh and say "My God that one was close." I figured then, "Well, if these kids are American kids, I mean this war is practically won."

I was really amazed, I thought that some kids, one or two would get scared, but no, they were, they were having a time of their lives. Each one of the eight claimed he had brought down a [Japanese] plane with rifle fire. They certainly fired enough at them, they had a good time. Of the 18 [Japanese bombs] dropped around the power house, one finally grazed the corner off and filled the place full of smoke and that caused these kids to start looking for me. They came in and bandaged me up and said, "Don't go near that Navy doctor, we will take care of you, this guy over here, Jones, is a swell doctor." Talking right under fire like that, it was very interesting.

Internet Commenters in a Meeting

Internet Commenters in a Business Meeting

Photoshop! This chart has been Photoshoped.
Simpsons did it.

Profanity warning.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alliance to Rescue Civilization

Alliance to Rescue Civilization

The Alliance to Rescue Civilization (ARC) was first conceived by Robert Shapiro in his book Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth (Wiley 1999). Shapiro's close colleague at New York University, William E. Burrows immediately saw the wisdom of ARC and became the leading proponent of the idea.

This website was designed to allow those who share Shapiro's and Burrows' vision to exchange information and ideas that will advance this important mission. Please review these pages. Be part of this effort by contributing relevant links and papers, providing financial support, and volunteering your expertise. Join this effort to help focus the human space program on its most important purpose, human survival.

There is not much to say. You either think this is a good idea, or you don't. No amount of argument is going to sway your opinion.

Friday, August 17, 2007


She wrote this poem, framed it and gave it to me nine years ago. It is still on my desk.

One year has passed since we vowed
To Love each other eternally.
As each day passed, I prayed aloud,
And gave God thanks eternally.
For you, dear, are the man of my heart
Who came in and and loved me truly.
And as this past year now departs
I vow to love you anewly.
Our hearts entwined, our life still one ~
Today, tomorrow, forever ~
I do not regreat what we have done.
Will our love die? No, never.

Not a day goes by that I don't glance at it and it's words warm my heart, still.

Communication is key to a successful marriage

wife’s … always said to me that, were I to cheat, she would not kill me in my sleep, she would wake me the second before she plunged the knife in.

That’s how you know you have a good woman. She doesn’t do stuff you might not like without letting you know first. Communication is key to a successful marriage!
My wife guffawed and gave me such a look after she read this.

Marrying an Irish - Italian American has it's moments.

XCOR needs an aerodynamicist - orphans preferred

XCOR needs an aerodynamicist with trans-sonic and supersonic experience. This person must be a US Citizen or Green Card holder due to ITAR restrictions. Aleta writes
One would like to think that such exists in America, but so far I have no evidence to support the assumption. We do have resumes from people who are qualified, but none is a U.S. citizen, or holds a "Green Card." We can't hire foreigners. The U.S. State Department says what we do comes under ITAR, so we cannot hire qualified non-citizen engineers, neither can we sell our products to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or entity. I just this morning had to turn down a job from a Brit who wants to set a world record with one of our engines. That is several million dollars in revenue that will now not come to the U.S.

But that's beside the point at this moment. XCOR needs to find someone who has some experience with trans-sonic and supersonic design. I have written to and called many schools, colleges and universities. Crickets chirping. With a single exception, the University of Maryland, not one professor or teacher or college or university has returned a query. I understand that they graduate students, but apparently helping them find jobs is beyond the academic ken.

For the past year I have placed ads everywhere: Av Week, ASME, SAE, all the alphabet organizations and associations remotely connected with aerodynamics. The result: resumes for everything _but_ an aerodynamicist. I have engaged three head hunters, several job shops and other professional recruiting organizations. The score so far: 0.

Not that I think that any qualified person is reading this humble blog - but how nice if they were! No - I find it alarming that XCOR - a place just chock full of smart people doing really cutting edge stuff - can't find such a person.

What the hey?

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.


I dashed off a quick note to Aleta Jackson commentating that by looking or a 'new or recent college graduate' they might be restricting themselves a bit. I'm assumed that the a) the lady wants to hear from me and b) I know their business better than they. I was, essentially, being a nosy parker.

Aleta Jackson - she really is a nice lady - wrote back

Thanks, I think Jerry noted that we are also seeking gray haired people too. :-) Over forty, over fifty, over sixty all welcome here! We have been actively looking for someone with considerable experience. The results: "I don't want to move again." "I have family and they are happy where we are." "I've taken up another vocation." "I haven't done anything except theoretical stuff for 20 years." "Hmmm, I guess I shouldn't have switched to (name a different discipline)." Tjose are quotes, and I am not making this stuff up. I don't have time to play mind games with folks.

My frustration level is beyond my ability to articulate. I'm not mad at anyone, but throughly sad that pioneers are so difficult to locate, and that most of those who are, aren't allowed to work here. One poor Russian rocket engineer is driving a cab in Canada because he can't be hired by a U.S. company. That's a criminal waste of talent.

Sorry, didn't mean to rant. Thanks for the thoughts. We really do want someone with experience and ability, and they can be 20 or 80 and we won't care.

She also adds that they have great benefits.

ITAR isn't only to blame and I am by no means an expert. But I've had to live with that law at the worker-bee level for a few years now. Without reflecting on it's utility I have to say that as implemented it hampers small organizations and inconveniences large ones. The latter charge it to the cost of doing business and move on. The former ... well it hurts, plenty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Unh ..

"I hear from so many people that realize that they're just invisible to their government ... but they won't be invisible to me."

She says that like it's a good thing.

Ah for the days when the Federal government was a small concern on a minor river far, far from the center of our lives.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Real Threat

The Real Threat. Because everyone likes zombies.

Via ericcoleman.

Destroying a small bit to save the rest

I would have loved to be present for the conversation that ended
"I'd like to see you tell an environmentalist that you're going to solve global warming by setting off a nuke in Yellowstone."

Victim of a drive-by bullet throw

Things in Iraq have come to a sorry pass - Coalition forces have resorted to throwing shiny bullets at civilians ..
An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.

Mighty clean bullets, ma'am

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Update: I've been reading other blogs around the internets talking about this. The tone is a kind of merry "ha-ha the press-tards didn't get it right" kinda deal which I found funny at first but now I don't know ..

We can assume the picture is planted - a set of un-fired, nay, almost polished, bullets does make it seem likely. Consider that the agit-prop might be aimed at people that are neither thee nor me;
  • Fence-sitting Muslims.
  • Persons of Quality in Christendom who Matter*.
Neither class is familiar with firearms except in the movies. This is what bullets look like to them. Show either of these two groups a chunk of flattened lead and it does not have the same visual punch.

The point of all this then, is to show a poor old woman whose house was hit by gunfire. Mission accomplished.

The damage done, the image lingers in spite of it's veracity.

Reality doesn't matter - perception does.

*I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle - the 17th century lingo is getting to me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


All personal differences set to the side
because right now there was no time to decide which state building the Confederate flag should fly over, and which trimester the embryo is considered alive,
or on our monetary units, and which God we should confide.
You see, someone attempted to choke the voice
of the one who gave us the right for choice,
and now she was callin.
And somebody had to answer.
Who was going to answer?

It's spoken word - far better to listen to than read. Do the clicky thing.


I was in D.C. last week and paid a visit to Dulles for the express purpose of seeing Enterprise. Up close I was impressed by how massive she is.

Space Shuttle Enterprise From Above

I would have liked the exhibit more if Enterprise had flown to space and then retired, with honorable scorch marks and signs of use. Which is how God and fen intended her to be.

Thanks, NASA, for wasting a noble name on a demo.

Handle with care

The USA has been flying a fleet of twenty-year-old X-planes, and we're running out. Half the people I know have been trying for all their lives to build a better rocket ship. I can't find the energy to be enraged.
~Larry Niven


Hey, NASA - handle with care. We've only got three of them left you know.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?

Steven Levitt wrote a really good article in the NYT about terrorism.
Hearing about these (new TSA) rules got me thinking about what I would do to maximize terror if I were a terrorist with limited resources. I’d start by thinking about what really inspires fear. One thing that scares people is the thought that they could be a victim of an attack. With that in mind, I’d want to do something that everybody thinks might be directed at them, even if the individual probability of harm is very low. Humans tend to overestimate small probabilities, so the fear generated by an act of terrorism is greatly disproportionate to the actual risk.

Also, I’d want to create the feeling that an army of terrorists exists, which I’d accomplish by pulling off multiple attacks at once, and then following them up with more shortly thereafter.

Third, unless terrorists always insist on suicide missions (which I can’t imagine they would), it would be optimal to hatch a plan in which your terrorists aren’t killed or caught in the act, if possible.

Fourth, I think it makes sense to try to stop commerce, since a commerce breakdown gives people more free time to think about how scared they are.

Fifth, if you really want to impose pain on the U.S., the act has to be something that prompts the government to pass a bundle of very costly laws that stay in place long after they have served their purpose (assuming they had a purpose in the first place).

My general view of the world is that simpler is better. My guess is that this thinking applies to terrorism as well. In that spirit, the best terrorist plan I have heard is one that my father thought up after the D.C. snipers created havoc in 2002. The basic idea is to arm 20 terrorists with rifles and cars, and arrange to have them begin shooting randomly at pre-set times all across the country.

I’m sure many readers have far better ideas. I would love to hear them.
Comments on the post are closed, alas. I think this is a good idea.

We might assume that anything published in that column or the comments has already been thought of at Terror HQ. By failing to talk about this stuff the only people being kept in the dark are potential targets: you and I.

My better idea is a wrinkle on Levitt's idea: the twenty terrorists deliberately target elementary schools. Not all the time, just on a few occasions.

My town of 20,000 people is probably typical. A large central high school. Two middle schools. A dozen small elementary schools, with a few hundred students each.

A terrorist attacks a school. Massacres a teacher and some of her moppets. Maybe a few moms in the driveway dropping off her kids. Fades into the populace. This happens twenty times in a day.

A guy who does this in Toledo, Ohio could be parked outside my neighborhood elementary in Wisconsin the next day - heck that afternoon if he gets in his first hit early and doesn't stop for a bathroom break while driving.

Would YOU send your kid to school with these guys on the loose? What are you going to do with your kids if you don't? Most of us can't tele-commute to work, young parents typically are two-job families.

You've got a morale bust from seeing dead third-graders. You've got an economic one from parents not coming to work so they can keep Johnny and Jane safe at home ..


Heard this from the back seat today;

Little Monkey: Dad, can Older Monkey twist my arm?
Me: Guh-what? No.
LM: But I want him to.
Me: ... ok ...
LM: Ooo ow ow ow (giggle) ow (hee hee hee) owowow ooo okay stop stop (giggle)

Older monkey has been teaching his little brother all kinds of neat stuff. How to spit, do a seat drop on the trampoline, pee standing up, whisper quietly at night so we can't hear them, twist arms .. all kinds of manly skills that boys need.

I love having boys.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bouncy and adaptable

Children are bouncy and adaptable - thank heavens. David reports on the latest with his daughter after a horrific car accident a few weeks ago ..
At one point the tester showed Samantha four pictures - a giraffe, an elephant, a monkey, and a lion. She asked Sam to name the group to which they all belonged. "Animals" was the expected answer. Samantha immediately said "mammals." The tester almost corrected her, thought a second, then laughed.

Paragrapher - Disciple of Hitchcock

I read this guy at LiveJournal. Don't know who he is, or why he is doing this, but every day or so he posts in a self-contained story in a paragraph.

This one caught my eye
After taping them under the table, Greg ran back into the woods and set up the tripod. He waited forty minutes, then a family showed up.
Click the link above to read more.

Carnival of Space 15

Hey look!
The traveling show has landed on my little blog for week 15. Please check out all the acts.

Carnival of Space 15 has arrived at Dr. Pamela Gay's Star Stryder.

Red Shirt Casualty Analysis

Red Shirt casualty analysis from Matt Bailey.

Red Shirt Casualty Analysis

Only 13.7% for a ship of exploration in a rough galaxy. Not bad.

Matt points out that this is entertaining but ..
There are a number of things wrong with the typical method of presenting data. For starters, this presentation could bore even the most hardened Starfleet manager (CEO). The typical corporate PowerPoint slide design is obnoxious and does not leave room for information, the charts are redundant, even unnecessary, and it does not do a good job of communicating the information or the analysis.

Click the link for a much better way to visualize the data.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Where did the 'h' come from? When?

The guy who taught my first Solaris administrator class - and this was a year or so after I joined the Dark - or the Light - side and started working with Unix - said that every so often he picked a command at random and read it's man page. He always found something new.

I just found about the '-h' switch. For human readable. For years - years - when parsing the output of df I've had to make the mental translation from Kb to Mb or Gb. It seems that I never had to go through all that.

Filesystem Size Used Avail Capacity Mounted on
/dev/disk0s2 116884912 93871432 22757480 80% /

briandunbar_natasha_~:df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Capacity Mounted on
/dev/disk0s2 111G 90G 22G 80% /


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

14th Carnival of Space

The 14th Carnival of Space is hosted by Universe Today.

Submissions for the Carnival of Space are due to: by 6:00 PM (PST) on the Wednesday evening of the week. It will be appreciated if the submissions come in earlier. The carnival will be posted on Thursday. Please send the following information:

Title of Post
URL of Post
Name of Blog
URL of Blog
Brief summary of the post

If you haven’t read any blog carnivals before, please read What is a Blog Carnival.

Here are the expectations for carnival participants.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Monday, August 06, 2007


News from Iran!

Iran has begun industrial-scale production of its first domestically manufactured fighter jet, state-run television reported Monday, part of Tehran's efforts to become militarily self-sufficient.

The plane was first tested in 2006 and was derived from the reverse engineered components of U.S. combat aircraft.

"The airplane, Azarakhsh, was made by Iranian experts, and it has already reached the industrial production stage," the television quoted Iran's defense minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, as saying.

Fox News mis-spelled target as 'fighter jet' and 'Azarakhsh'.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Howard Johnson - Perrysburg, Ohio: Avoid it.

Howard Johnson - Perrysburg, Ohio: Avoid it.

Dingy towels. Dingy sheets. No soap in the room. There is a pool, it had lumps of white stuff floating in it. The pool area smelled like .. locker room. Not the Y but the locker room in your high school after a big weekend wrestling tournament.

Overall the whole place feels like a no-tel motel that somehow acquired a HoJo sign and branding.

Lesson Learned - Road Trip

Lesson learned - if you allow your seven-year old to dictate potty breaks you will add twenty minutes of travel time per 200 miles of travel. This adds up.

On the other hand .. what are you gonna do? He's back there drinking water, it's August and it's hot. I'd rather stop than have a heat casualty. But man alive I think I've seen every rest stop between Indiana and Virginia.

Response to a response to a comment

From Janine Cate at Why Homeschool
We got the following comment on Bureaucracy may destroy the public school system.

Anonymous said...

Homeschooling does not allow for all students' needs. Lets get real. Only parents who can afford to stay home all day can afford to home school. Also, parents who are academically challenged cannot effectively homes school their own children.

If a parent wishes to home school they make the choice on their own. To constantly criticize public schools will not help poor performing schools. It seems as though all home school educators do is surf the web in search of public school horror stories.

If you have all day to sit at home and have your kids work on worksheets or drill and kill on the computer, take time to work with the public schools and make them better. You see public schools belong to the public and their successes or failures also belong to the public at large. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Janine's response is pretty good. I can't improve on what she said but I can add this;

* Homeschooling does not allow for all students needs of course - well duh. Public schooling does not allow for all students needs either.

* Teaching your kids does not, I think, require a great deal of academic preparation. It is not rocket science, it's not building an atomic bomb, or repairing a car it is just teaching a child. The really cool part is that kids want to learn; they soak up knowledge and suck down this stuff if it's presented right.

*Does it take a measure of sacrifice? Again - well duh. I'm blessed in that my income does allow for my wife to stay home. Life would be a lot more comfortable if she did go back to work.

I've met other home schooling parents. Most of them don't seem to have the same financial resources we do - they do it for the same reasons that we do; because raising your kids is the most important thing you can do. Some of us think it's too important a job to be farmed out to strangers.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I was accidentally listening to NPR this morning

I was accidentally listening to NPR this morning ..
Frick: Any (presidential) candidate who does not support Universal Health Care is dead in the water.
Frack: You want the same guys that brought us Iraq to be in charge of your health?
Frck: Well we don't want Bush and Chaney in charge of our health ...

Right .. when the pendulum swings back from the Left to the Right we'll just stop doing universal health care ...

subject hat tip

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I wasn't going to brag on my kids but I have no problems linking to my wife who did
Cian wanted to change books when he saw this really awesome rhyming book about a Wizard. Wow! He didn't want it in addtion to, he said, he would take it instead! I told him that we should just keep the books we had. He simply said, "Okay." and wandered off to his brother.

The lady behind me said "That was easy. Not what I would have expected at all."

I asked, "What would you have expected."

"A crying and screaming fit. Foot stamping and yelling," she replied.

"Oh, well, my kids know better," I said.

"Most don't." She ended and didn't say another word.

The future sure is an amazing place

Travis discovered something nifty in Firefox.

And then I thought “I can drag tabs left and right…can I drag a tap to another window?”

Yes, yes I can.

I had no idea you could slide the tabs around, let alone move them from window to window. Slick.

If you found me learning how to write COBOL at Quantico in 1989, then told me what I'd be doing in 2007 and what tools I'd be using I would have been amazed.

The future is pretty nifty - can't wait to see more of it.

Rant for the Day

I loooove (just love love love) the error messages (redacted)'s client kicks back. Can they stuff annoying wav files in the exe? Sure can. Spare a few k for error handling? Poh - we'll just give them 'A' error message - they'll figure it out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Elton John to the world: I used to be hip and with it. Now I don't know what 'it' is anymore and it's cold and there are wolves ...

Elton John - Simpsonized

Elton John, 60

Beanstalk Cat

John Scalzi's Lopsided Cat, on a beanstalk.

Beanstalk Cat

Some inside jokes here. John Scalzi wrote a book called 'Old Man's War' that featured a space elevator, sometimes called a beanstalk. He has two cats, one of which is Lopsided Cat and who shows up on his blog, once in a while.


Cross posted to LiftPort Staff Blog.

Mr. Rogers .. with an AK

You will appreciate this dialog once you understand that William is an anarchist.
Her: "So what are your politics?"

Me *very drunk*: "You ever watch Mr. Rogers as a kid? Remember how he took complicated shit and boiled it down to simple things like love and honesty? Showed you how the world worked while still radiating an unashamed, fearless idealism? Now give him an AK."