Thursday, January 31, 2008

Military Rant

Half Sigma said [1]...

I am not impressed by McCain's military experience. I worked for the army as a civilian, and it was the most poorly managed organization I ever worked for. Romney, on the other hand, has the proven capacity to run large organizations.

I think that whatever McCain's failings, earning his wings as a Naval Aviator speaks volumes about young John McCain's intelligence, adaptability and ability excel. Dummies don't fly airplanes.

Now, I'm not sure when Half Sigma worked for the Army .. but generally he's right.

The military is optimized to break things and hurt people. When it's not actually doing this - and that was most of the time before between 1973 and 2001 - it's incredibly inefficient.

The reason is that it's really tough to run a lean military optimized for peacetime and then change stuff around in the span of a few months so you can destroy Iraqi mechanized armies with minimal waste. Or at least minimal waste on our side.

Nobody wants to replay Task Force Smith.

I was in a support role in 1991 and it's amazing how many wasted cycles .. suddenly were not when we had to pack up people and gear and move them halfway around the world.

Did 3D FSSG need a whole bunch of desert camo in 1990? Going to the Middle East wasn't our mission so you might think that the cubic set aside in the warehouses were wasted space.. But when we were tasked to send people the guys who went were pretty happy to be able to draw the gear they needed.

Likewise in 1990 3D FSSG didn't need a DFASC [2] - mainframes in a trailer [3] - but when 1st and 2nd FSSG found theirs were breaking down (AC issues) we were able to ship them ours on a day's notice.

Sorry for the rant - ignorance irks me.


[1] A rant is a terrible thing to waste so I'm recycling and editing a comment from another blog into a post. Some editing for clarity, some to correct a faulty memory.

[2] Rumor had it that we were going to get rid of it someday and in the meantime we didn't use it - or at least hadn't in the year and few months I'd been assigned to that unit. After 1991 the mainframe guys routinely dragged them out and operated them on field exercises.

[3] Interesting beasts they were - two semi-trailers per DFASC, one for the mainframe, one for the operators and programmers. Since my MOS was 'programmer' if we'd had to deploy ours I would have been put to work doing 'programmer' work. Since I hadn't done that since school that would have been interesting.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Mother Earth Mother Board

Now that the internets are broken is this a good time to link to a copy of Neal Stephenson's Mother Earth Mother Board'?

In which the hacker tourist ventures forth across the wide and wondrous meatspace of three continents, acquainting himself with the customs and dialects of the exotic Manhole Villagers of Thailand, the U-Turn Tunnelers of the Nile Delta, the Cable Nomads of Lan tao Island, the Slack Control Wizards of Chelmsford, the Subterranean Ex-Telegraphers of Cornwall, and other previously unknown and unchronicled folk; also, biographical sketches of the two long-dead Supreme Ninja Hacker Mage Lords of global telecommunications, and other material pertaining to the business and technology of Undersea Fiber-Optic Cables, as well as an account of the laying of the longest wire on Earth, which should not be without interest to the readers of Wired.

Seems like a fine idea to me. All about telecom, undersea cables, FLAG (one of the two severed cables), Victorian Hackers and guys doing jobs that no one thinks about but which hold the world together.

It's Stephenson so it's a very wordy and it takes him forever to find the end ... which is odd for non-fiction but there you go.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nifty T

I use this image when I rag on NASA - it's all good, clean fun.

I kid because I love.

It came from a Wired article - How NASA Screwed Up (And Four Ways to Fix It).

In a few days I'll have in on a t-shirt as well.


Custom-made one-off t-shirts, delivered to your door. For just a wee bit more than what you'd pay at the mall.

I love living in the 21st century.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shootin' Iron

I don't get excited over guns. Being paid to lug them around for a few years takes the romance and the mystique right out of 'guns'. Still ....

This is a mighty pretty weapon.

An M1911 is the first pistol I ever shot. I liked it much better than the M9 Beretta which replaced it a few years later.

Nothing against the M9 or the 9mm - I have no personal bias one way or the other about stopping power or reliability. My bias is because the M1911 fit better in my hands. I have small womanly paws so the narrow grip of the M1911 fit me better than the wide M9.

Of course not liking the way the M9 felt didn't keep me from earning an expert badge with it. Twice.


The Sentinel Premier is built on a forged steel, government length, standard width frame that includes a 30 LPI checkered front strap, checkered steel mainspring housing, and custom blended magwell. The controls are STI International’s blued steel single sided thumb safety and knuckle relief high-rise beavertail grip safety. The slide features traditional 1911 styling with STI front and rear cocking serrations, oversized ejection port, and is flat topped with Diamond LPI. The barrel is 5.0" ramped and supported with a match grade fitted bushing, fully crowned to sit flush with the end of the barrel. This exceptional firearm comes standard with an STI commander hammer, patented STI aluminum trigger system, STI S-7 sear, and titanium strut for smooth, reliable function.


MSRP Sentinel Premier $2,295.00

Yikes. Maybe I'll wait until the price comes down a bit a lot.

Hissy Fit

NOW-NYS pitches a hissy:
Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, and the Family and Medical Leave Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us.

Redneck translation: Ah put up with his crap for all these years; washed his nasty underwear, told him he was a stud in bed, rubbed his fat, hairy back when it hurt, stood up to his mother, worked double shifts at the mill so he could buy that damn bass boat when I don't even like fishing thank-you-very-much and he repays my loyalty by running off with that slut from the Dixie Diner?!

Well screw him, ah'm getting a lawyer and we'll see his sorry ass in court.


Jack Lohman on the inheritance tax
Right-wingers like to call it the death tax, because that sounds absolutely hideous. I call it the Paris Hilton tax.
Because attacking a young woman who has done you no wrong is so much better.


1100 is the new 450

Take Action on Lobby Day

Last year the Wisconsin conservation community held their annual lobby day, where citizens engaged their legislators in support of conservation priorities. Those priorities are selected by more than 50 Wisconsin conservation organizations. Last year over 430 people came to the Capitol

* Only 450? Slackers. If you don't have at least 1,000 people at a rally in Madison you're not even trying.

* You can't conserve your way to prosperity. If you could, Bangladesh would be rich*.

* Interesting that One Wisconsin Now doesn't trust people to craft their own message but requests they use a form that they've thoughtfully filled in for you. Yes, I know it's best practice but it seems to indicate a lack of faith that the scouts will do what they're told without a connect-the-dots template, yes?

*Jerry Pournelle said it, I'm borrowing it.

cp with a progress bar

This is sweet.

% cp_p /mnt/raid/pub/iso/debian/debian-2.2r4potato-i386-netinst.iso /dev/null
76% [===========================================> ]

Details at the link.

Not duplicated (yet) at home because 'home' is OS X and doesn't have strace.* Still ... that's a nice hack.

*Yes, I know about ktrace.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Multi-Tasking considered harmful - not

In which the author blames multi-tasking for

The Iraq quagmire. The mess in Afghanistan. Failure to capture Osama. A car crash. The breakup with his girlfriend. Problems with his new girlfriend. Sexual disappointment. Failure to obtain cheap airplane tickets to San Francisco. His bosses failure to pay attention during a face-to-face. Enron.

The scientists call this ruinous mental lurching “dual task interference,” or just plain bottlenecking. I call it the reason Keven Federline cost me a cheap flight to San Francisco. (It also explains, perhaps, why sexual threesomes are often disappointing.)

I just wish the military understood the concept. They might understand then why “walking and chewing gum” in Afghanistan and Iraq is no way to catch bin Laden.

Right. 'Cause we sure 'nuff had problems fighting Japan and Germany at the same time, fifty years ago. For that matter I worked for units that did complicated and diverse stuff all the time. It is as if getting stuff done across the world with hundreds of thousands of troops is just a bit more complicated than pulling a fum-ducker and driving your car off the road while looking a nekkid photo of your girlfriend on your cell phone.

I'm sure it plays well around the campfire with all the scouts nodding wisely and learnedly. But I ain't buying it.


It is true that when you try to multi-task it becomes enormously more difficult to do anything that requires actual thought.

Adults compensate for this by turning off the phone, not looking at email, setting distractions aside and getting on with stuff.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Update: Tom Bridge has another take on this, here.

That's What I LIke About Texas

I ran into the lovely awamiba at Chikfila

Two things about Texas that I miss that I never thought I'd miss;


Jack in the Box.

Chik-fil-A for the food - about the best fast food you can find. And the cow advertisements - the idea of sentient cows selling out their fellow livestock (Eat Mor Chikin) tickles me.

Jack In the Box because the food is not at all good for you, it's damned tasty, and Jack In the Box places don't have playgrounds or pretend to be doing anything but moving fast food and getting people in and out. And some of our first meals together were cheap burritos at Jack In The Box.

Mmmm. Burritos.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

It needs a clang noise

Really keen physics engine. In Flash. Draw a shape with the mouse, it falls. So far Older Monkey has discovered you can build catapults with it ...

The only thing it's missing is sound effects - I half-way expect a clang or thud when the bits fall hither and yon.

XB-70 Valkyrie

XB-70 Valkyrie

Externally, the XB-70 looks like a bare-bones design that stresses simplicity and function over aesthetics and flair. It doesn't bother with looking cool. It doesn't have to bother with looks at all. Mach 3 has a coolness all its own.

Ah no, my dear Murdoc. The XB-70 looks very cool indeed, just as it is. That she hustles along at Mach 3 is icing on the cake.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Disneyland Mars

There is something wrong* with me.

I've got a copy of T.R. Fehrenbach's Lone Star**. In two of the chapters he traces where the Anglo-Celts who settled the American frontier came from, how their ancestry and heritage affected the West and how they got to Texas.

I re-read that this weekend - all I could think of was how utterly keen it would be for a horde of unruly Anglospherians*** to break free of the earth and settle the solar system.

I acquired a copy of Guns, Germs and Steel a few weeks ago. We're we've come from, some semi-socialist explanations for government blah blah .. reasonably interesting. Me, I want to know where we'll be in 10,000 years.

It gets in the way of reading history.

And there is this .. the world's largest swimming pool. Eight hectares in area. 250,000 cubic meters of water. Sucker is big enough to sail boats on.

World's Largest Swimming PoolWorld's Largest Swimming PoolWorld's Largest Swimming Pool

And all I can see is Disneyland Mars.

* No, not that.
** Worth your time if you like well-written literate history - Fehrenbach can write!
*** Anglosphere - as I use the term - is pretty broad. You don't have to speak English, just adhere to a reasonable form of Democracy, use a common law legal system and subscribe to a free market ideal.

Do they know what they're talking about?

Marc Andreessen writes
When I wrote a recent post about the collapse in ratings for television soap operas this year -- pointing out that this collapse comes despite the fact that soap operas continue to air new episodes through the writers' strike, albeit episodes apparently written by scabs -- I received feedback to the effect of, "well, of course ratings collapsed, the writing got a lot worse."

My local source for daytimes soap operas notes that the writing has improved since the strike began.

I wonder if Andreessen's correspondents actually watch much daytime television.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The art of compromise - virtual schools and politics

Politics is the art of compromise. You give, you take, both sides get what they want.

Wisconsin legislators announced a plan Thursday to keep open virtual schools that enroll 3,500 students statewide - a compromise parents of those children hailed as a major victory.

'Major victory' is possibly in the eye of the beholder; without the comprimise virtual schools would have been dead, dead, dead. I suggest that when the alternative is utter defeat, you can call it a major victory.

The compromise?

• Require the same hours of instruction per year for online students as for those in traditional classrooms,

• Make sure that only certified, licensed teachers develop lesson plans and grade assignments, and require that, within two years, they must complete 30 hours of training in online education,

• Subject all records dealing with virtual schools to the open records law, which Lehman said is necessary to make sure that taxpayers who pay state aid can hold school districts that run the programs accountable,

• Require that teachers respond to inquiries from both parents and students within 24 hours,

• Define truancy for online students, and require that truancy records be kept,

• Allow the state Department of Public Instruction to operate an online academy, which would provide advice and suggested standards for school districts statewide that want to start their own online schools.

Mind you, Governor Doyle has to sign it.

Permanent Record

In ten years they'll be voting.

Another fly in the ointment?

In a statement, WEAC officials said they had not yet decided whether to support or try to kill the compromise.

Translation: In a statement, WEAC officials said they had not yet decided to join the rest of us in the 21st century, and weren't sure if a lawsuit that puts some of their own membership out of work was a good idea or not. They went on to state that working to promote the welfare of their membership was 'confusing' and 'not really our thing'.

A lawsuit whose end result is putting union members out of work - Sam Gompers is turning in his grave.


What, are you people on crack?

Mr. Pelican Pants: How will I “stimulate” the economy

Best comment of the day from Mr. Pelican Pants: How will I “stimulate” the economy.

Here’s my plan:

After contemplating the positives and negatives, I think I’d finally give in and give the economy a call. We’d exchange pleasantries over the phone, and maybe flirt a little bit, but soon enough, I’d get around to asking the economy out. She’d probably giggle nervously but would quickly accept my offer.

As the big night approached, I ponder all the “what if’s.” What if the economy doesn’t like me? What if the economy doesn’t laugh at my jokes? Or maybe, I’ll learn that the economy has all this baggage and I don’t want to get involved? I hope the economy doesn’t cry. But what if we really hit it off? What could come from that? Maybe the economy will think I’m smart, cute and funny. Maybe we’ll fall in love.

Then, the big night is here. I take my $600 and the economy and I paint the town familiar. Dinner, dancing, a few cocktails to loosen the mood. Then maybe a nice quiet walk around town - just me and the economy and the stars up above. But it’s getting late and we should be getting back home.

In the parking lot of the economy’s condo, we chat a bit, exchange glances, maybe even experience that “uncomfortable moment” before saying goodnight. Do I kiss the economy; will the economy kiss me back? Oh Lord, give me strength! And then, just when I think we’re about to part ways without even a friendly hug...we kiss. And WOW! What a kiss!

This, of course, leads to an invitation inside, just for a quick drink or cup of coffee. But soon, me and the economy are nice and snuggled up on the couch, lights down low, and Maxwell’s Urban Suite playing on the stereo. A kiss leads to a grope. A grope leads to full on body to body contact, which leads to a glimmer and gleam in each of our eyes to move things to a more suitable room of the house. Shirts and shoes are quickly discarded and strewn all about. Perhaps we knock over a vase or frighten the cat in our haste to retire to the bedroom. But in the dark, we make our way, and unleash our pent up and hostile sexual energy upon each other.

The economy and I have the kind of love-making that can not even be considered love-making. It’s punishing. It’s steamy. It’s a pull my hair, spank my a**, bit your lip, claw my chest, unbridled sexual encounter. We go for hours. The pets are restless. The neighbors pound on the walls. The angels weep. The Earth moves. Until finally, the economy and I fall like leaves into a velvet splash.

The deed is done. Sunrise greets our tired and restless faces. The covers are strewn about, and the economy’s arm rests on my shoulders. I can feel her warm breath on the back of my neck. We awaken to a new day and a new understanding of who we are and what we have done. We lay for awhile, soaking in the morning sun and relishing in the continued sensation of our first touch. I ask the economy, “Are you stimulated?” And the economy replies, “Oh yea...verrrry stimulated.”

But soon, the economy starts talking about meeting her mother and going to a flower show, and then maybe a late supper. Before I can even lift myself from my dismal haze, the economy has already committed us to no more than two family visits, a “running of errands” date, and then topped off with a viewing of her favorite DVD, ‘Sweet November’.

So I don’t know about all this. Maybe I made a huge mistake. Maybe this isn’t worth all the trouble of trying to stimulate the economy.

On second thought, I think I’ll just use my $600 to buy a Playstation 3.

Friday, January 25, 2008

And there was much rejoicing

The Man is sending us back some money.

I might be happier if they hadn't taken it from me just to turn around and send it back. And what am I going to spend my windfall on?

Property taxes.

I see some irony there.

Solaris 8 to the 21st Century - it was that easy

From the most excellent Kelly's Heroes . . .

[Oddball sees that the bridge he wants to cross is intact and is pleased with himself]
Oddball: Still up!
[a plane flies over the bridge and bombs it... direct hit]
Oddball: No it ain't.

Well, my Solaris8 host running in a local zone on a Solaris 10 machine still is.

# zoneadm list -v
0 global running / native shared
1 co-web-005_noc running /opt/zones/co-web-005_noc native shared
4 co-ap-015_leg running /opt/zones/co-ap-015_leg solaris8 shared

There were issues. I built the host with the sys-unconfig switch, and that did not work so well, requiring some manual editing of key files in /etc. A local account might have had it's password changed ... nothing that won't be fixed as I do more of this.

I'm pleased with myself. And happy that Sun let a few guys work on this and released it to the world.

Developers against development

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, [Bill Gates] plans to call for a "creative capitalism" that uses market forces to address poor-country needs that he feels are being ignored.

"We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well," Mr. Gates will tell world leaders at the forum, according to a copy of the speech seen by The Wall Street Journal.

I'm reminded that people who are against development are usually the folks already have a house on the mountain with a view.

A more charitable explanation would be that Mr. Gates has always felt this way, but couldn't do much about it until he had enough wealth to make people sit up and pay attention.

Three weeks ago, on a flight home from a New Zealand vacation, Mr. Gates took out a yellow pad of paper
I feel justified in my choice to stay clear of PDAs in favor of 3x5 cards.

OneWisconsinNow logic, summarized.

OneWisconsinNow logic, summarized:

X is bad.

He endorsed Y.

Here is why X is teh E-vil.

Is Y bad because X endorsed him? We don't know but .... it's scary.

I note there is a bit of pot-kettle going on here; Space For Commerce specializes in bad spelling, leaps in logic that would confound William Jennings Bryan and just plain dumb stuff. On the other hand we don't pretend that this blog is anything other than what it is. The good people at OWN are all about being persuasive and fighting - in a non-partisan way - for a partisan agenda. We do crap - they're supposed to be all thoughtful and big-thinky.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fred is out so .. why not Sunny Lucas in 08?

Why a dog? Well why the hell not? While I might not agree with all of her planks the first one makes me sit up and smile ..

Sunny Lucas’s Platform includes ...
“Kill them all.”
I'm liking this already.
As a fierce Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sunny is intimately familiar with the techniques and attributes necessary to defeat any enemy: Strength, teeth, bravery, and bloodlust. She understands that when faced with a sneaky enemy who doesn’t fight fair and who uses dirty tricks, one must respond with nothing short of a swift and deadly counterattack. You don’t just bite and then run away; you bite and bite and tear open the jugular until your enemy is utterly vanquished. By which we mean dead, not hiding in caves.

I'm liking this a great deal.

Vote Sunny in 08 - she's may be a bitch but she's our kind of bitch.

It's the right thing to do

Mary Bell is the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council*aka the teacher's union. She explained why WEAC's motto 'every child deserves a great school' leads them to sue a great school into oblivion ...

(I) am called upon to explain why WEAC has subjected itself to so much criticism for pursuing a controversial lawsuit against the Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

We did it because we knew it was the right thing to do.

We believed Wisconsin Virtual Academy was not following the state laws that were written, debated and passed to protect the right of all children to receive a quality public education.

AB 697
would change those laws. WEAC's response? They oppose the bill.

I'm just a simple hick from Texas but I can't make heads or tails out of her reasoning. The bill they oppose would do, more or less, what she wants.

About 'the right of all children to receive a quality education'.

The worst happens and AB 697 fails. WIVA closes, other virtual schools follow. We'll be okay - we could easily go back to home schooling. We can afford to do so.

A large number of kids will not - they have parents who can't afford to buy the material, or who need the support the licensed teachers provide.

Those kids will be denied the right to a quality education. And they'll have the teacher's union and Democrats to blame.

Permanent Record

* New Motto: We'll sue and put our membership out of work if we feel it's right thing to do. And by 'we' I mean the leadership, not you peasents toiling in the classrooms.

Saturn V

He's worked up about problems with Ares.
People say, "Oh, but we couldn't build the Saturn V now! We'd have to rebuild all the tooling!" And we don't have to build tooling to make the asinine junk they're planning? We have all the engineering data and designs for a mature, man-rated platform, and the stuff that isn't available any more (primarily electronics) could be replaced with smaller, cheaper, lighter, more reliable parts. No we can't just go into the parts room and come out with what we need to build a Saturn V, but it would be a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to haul out the plans and update them than it would be to design an entirely new system from the ground up.

And faster, too, I'd wager.

We could build a fleet of Saturn V launchers, upgraded with nifty composite material and modern computers.

We utterly lack the organization to operate them. We build a fleet of launchers and give them to .. NASA. Recall that this is the same organization that took the last ones we had and used them for lawn ornaments a generation ago . . .

No, that option was closed out when Apollo ended and NASA was given the mission to become the National Space Truck Agency and drive around in circles for a generation. This ain't your father's NASA and they're still good for a lot but owning and operating a whole bunch of rockets seems not to be an area of core expertise.


If the hole was just a little bit bigger that bird would not have flown home.

Nobody but a government can afford to operate a Saturn V. Since our government can't (or won't) we need to bootstrap or way back into space with boosters that private enterprise can afford.

These will be small and non-impressive but they'll get the job done. Shuttle may be the largest flying machine to operate in the atmosphere, ever. But she will not be the largest ever spaceship.

At least that's the way to bet.

What's Capitalism ever done for us?

Yeah. All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what has Capitalism ever given us in return?!
Cheap and effective laser eye surgery!
Oh. Yeah, yeah. It did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
And the IPod.
Oh, yeah, the Ipod, Reg. Remember what the recording industry used to be like?
Yeah. All right. I'll grant you that Lasik and the Ipod are two things that Capitalism has done.
And Microsoft Windows.
Well, yeah. Obviously Microsoft Windows. I mean, the OS goes without saying, doesn't it? But apart from the Lasik, the Ipod, and the Windows--
Huh? Heh? Huh...
Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
And Starbucks.
Oh, yes. Yeah...
Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Communists took over. Huh.
All right, but apart from the OS X, Starbucks,, airbags, Lasik, The Ipod, Windows, what has Capitalism ever done for us?
Brought freedom.
Oh. Freedom? Shut up!

Inspired by TJIC and the Pythons.

Sticks and stones . . .

Michael Gableman is running for State Supreme Court. One Wisconsin Now notes that he's taking the race to the gutter by calling his opponent names. The pejorative?

In an email Monday, Gableman starts referring to the incumbent as "interim Justice"

Wisconsin politics are clearly an arena for gentlefolk.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Solaris 8 to the 21st Century - it just might be that easy

Referring to Solaris 8 Migration Assistant I wrote
Is it actually easy to implement? Mebbe - the docs claim you install Solaris 10 8/7, install a patch and two packages and you're ready to rock and or roll.

So far it has been that easy to implement.

Upgraded the host yesterday, fully patched, added the two packages, flash archived the Solaris 8 host, installed the flash into the zone and ..

# zoneadm list -cv
0 global running / native shared
1 solaris10_server running /opt/zones/co-web-005_noc native shared
- solaris8_server installed /opt/zones/co-ap-015_leg solaris8 shared


Granted, I can't turn it on because the old legacy hardware is still being used and my cut-over window isn't until tomorrow but .. I'm a happy camper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words

Hey, Lege, are you listening? Governor Doyle, pay attention ..

You know the people y'all represent? They're paying attention.

When I met John Scalvi

I met John Scalvi. Quite the rogue he was. Supposed to have been a helluva Marine, but you'd never know it to look at him.

I was standing Duty NCO for II MEF in 1992 on a Saturday night in 1992 or '93. The Duty Officer was drowsing in front of the TV.

The front gate called and startled the heck out of me.

You should know this about the job of Duty NCO - each unit larger than a company has one these - plus an officer of the day. Their job is to sit around and answer the phone after hours and take care of 'stuff'. A unit has a drunk driver, or a guy in jail, they get the call. PMO has a wayward lamb in custody for breaking up a bar, they get the call. A problem in barracks, broken plumbing, drunk Marine .. they get the call. They tour the area to make sure there are no riots, visit the chow hall to make sure the food is tasty and fit for human consumption. It can be exciting if by exciting you mean busy.

II MEF owned nothing that wasn't right around the headquarters building; not a chow hall or an armory or a motor pool; those all belonged to subordinate units. The Duty could look out the window and see pretty much everything. The area was remote from everything else aboard Camp Lejeune, adjacent to general officer housing. It was on the way to nothing and nobody was going to come around and mess with anything. After hours the entire area felt like downtown Tulsa in the 70s, but quieter and with less crime.

The only real purpose for the Duty NCO at II MEF was to answer the phone. The only time the phone rang was when a subordinate unit could not handle something or the Pentagon called to tell us to march to war.

The front gate called and startled the heck out of me.

"Hi, this is Gunnery Sergeant X. I'm a chaser, we've got a deserter. We need to drop him off. Put your duty officer on, please."

I did so. Why were they calling us and not the brig? The brig didn't want him - the wayward lamb actually belonged to I MEF way out in California. The chaser needed to park him someplace while he ate chow and talked to the PMO and figured out where to put him while they ran his raggedy ass through the process so the government could officially quit 'im.

'Him' turned out to be John Scalvi; Mr. Legend himself.

They brought him over. My job was to keep an eye on him and not let him escape. This wasn't so hard - he was not inclined to go anywhere.

John Scalvi presented an interesting appearance; sequined halter, pink shiny pumps, hip huggers, light make up. The cops had busted him in Wilmington for a variety of offenses to good order during a morals sweep of The Gut.

He was - I have to say - a most interesting deserter. He mustered out of the service months before Saddam decided Kuwait would be happier as part of Iraq. Missed the call-back of I.R.R. Maines and was sort of laying low in the seedier parts of the world two years later.

How you miss a call-back - what with it being on the news and letters being sent to your home of record and so forth - is hard to imagine. But that was his story and he stuck to it. He wanted to tell me his story so we shot the shit for the two hours it took the chaser team to get back.

Presently the chasers came back and hauled him off to the brig. I imagine he spent a few weeks in custody and was let go. Possibly they reinstated him just so they could give him a summary court and a BCD.

I later heard that John became some sort of SciFi writer, got famous with a book about old crabby senior citizens going to war or some weird crap like that ... but I don't read genre trash so who knows.

Virtual School really is school

From the AP wire: Court Ruling Threatens Virtual Schools

Barbara Stein of the National Education Association, the teachers' union, objected to the use of tax dollars to support what she called a new form of home schooling.

"The issue is whether a program where you don't have licensed educators and where you don't have students working directly with other students should be getting fully funded as though it were a quality educational experience," she said.

I have the kind of job that would allow me to work from home. Yet if I do, no one is going to accuse me of taking funds from my employer and trying to support a new form of self-employment. I'm still working for a company, I have tasks to complete, a team to work with, goals to accomplish related to making a profit for The Man.

Kids in virtual schools - in my experience - work under the direction of licensed educators. They don't, it is true, have a great deal of face-to-face interaction with their peers, but this is the nature of being in a dispersed classroom. As for the quality educational experience .... well I'm not going there.

Monday, January 21, 2008

We're going to Apple Con!

The hotel room is booked - The Friend and her two daughters are on board with it - the con tickets we'll buy next payday.

We're going to Apple Con!

Apple Con is a convention that brings together the best parts of Minneapolis music, science fiction fandom, Wizard (a game of trump), and pie! April 11th, 12th & 13th 2008.

We're bringing good cheer, pie, Chrononauts and Munchkin. See you there!

School Friendly Legislation - why are Progessives opposed?

Representative Bill Kramer has a good summary of the virtual school mess; how we got here, what are the issues and where we might go.

Over here we have a group called 'One Wisconsin Now' - a progressive, non-partisan (hah) advocacy organization getting all partisan and worked up against AB 697, but in favor of SB 396.

Representatives of virtual schools and the supporting industry behind them have been bucking the Lehman proposal

That supporting industry includes, yes, representatives of K-12 - it's not illegal for private interests to lobby the government. It also includes 3,000 familes directly affected by the legislation, the 1100 people who rallied at their state capital in support of their schools, and their friends and relations.

You know - the people that One Wisconsin Now is representing.

At any rate the piece is not worth more quoting - go read it if you want to see a raft of half-lies and smear. Virtual schools - in my experience - have just as much accountability as a bricks and mortar school - hell, they're being run by the same district. The legislation does not fork over money - or at least not any more than is being forked over now.

We may not always like taxes but they're going to be collected and disbursed so we might as well have an efficient school system over one that is not-so-efficient.

I'm honestly puzzled - why is an organization devoted to the common good opposed to this? Their arguments don't make sense in terms of 'what is best'.

Hint: AB 697 is the one that corrects existing state law, correcting the problems that caused the court to rule in favor of the schools and for the teacher's union. We here at Space For Commerce* refer to this as the Good Bill.

SB 396 would cut school funding in half, empower the crats at DPI to offer online courses and generally give the state more power. We refer to this as the Evil Bill.

**We're partisan and biased, but we're nice about it.

What color is the ribbon?

From the Media Violence Project ..
I have to say I was heartened by the response to my investigative piece on the national crisis in journalist violence. As you know, whenever a public crisis is identified, the first steps in a solution are (a) a non-profit foundation, and (b) posters!

And a ribbon - we need a ribbon so people can demonstrate How Much They Care without any of that actual Commitment of Time and Money.  Is there a color that isn't taken?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Near miss - dang it

It's like having the Fourth of July fireworks show canceled.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology said tracking measurements of asteroid 2007 WD5 from four different observatories indicate a significantly reduced probability -- to .01 percent -- that it will make impact with Mars, effectively ruling out a possible collision with the planet.

You don't have to be crazy to be a Marine but ..

After watching this video of a Marine manning a checkpoint in Iraq telling a taxi driver to find some guys to fight 'cause they're bored ...
" .... Wear your seatbelt, drink milk, don't run with scissors. Have a nice day."
My son looked at me and said he knew why I wasn't still in the Marines. Because I'm not insane.

Ya, maybe.

Jay Grodner - future ex-pat

Hey buddy ..
Grodner told me he'd describe himself as a "radical liberal" who's ready to leave Chicago now with all this negative publicity and move to the south of France and do some traveling.

Au revoir! Ne laissez pas la porte vous frapper dans l'âne sur la sortie!

Solaris 8 to the 21st Century

Dude* .. you have no idea how cool this is.
In a nutshell, we've built a Solaris Container (or Zone) which is capable of running the Solaris 8 user environment. We have also created a capability to perform P2V (or Physical-to-Virtual) transformation of existing Solaris 8 systems into containers running on a Solaris 10 host. This is an enabler for rapid migration of legacy Solaris 8 environments onto modern, environmentally friendly, cost effective hardware. And onto Solaris 10. The idea is to break up the upgrade tasks into chunks, allowing the hardware and OS to be upgraded, while continuing to run legacy environments. Next, the legacy environments can be used until they are retired, or redeployed into Solaris 10 containers, or into logical domains.

Is it actually easy to implement? Mebbe - the docs claim you install Solaris 10 8/7, install a patch and two packages and you're ready to rock and or roll**.

Then we can take those applications we have running around still sitting on legacy hardware and shove them into the modern era and call it a day.

Not that we'll ever get around to retiring or redeploying them into a modern OS but it's nice to pretend.

*No connection, I just wanted to use the word 'dude'.
** Reference.


The blurb at con_central said
AppleCon is a Minneapolis Music and Pie Convention

They seem to be serious about the last; programming is broken down into three categories: Music, Science Fiction & Fantasy Programming and Pie.
Pie will be served and eaten. Pie participation while not mandatory is strongly encouraged and is seen as important to the social development of all fans.

Provided enough members will donate various pies we will hold a pie walk at sundown.

Pie must be sacrificed.

Mmmm, pie.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Letter from the William Harbron, Superintendent of Northern Ozaukee School District

Letter from the William Harbron, Superintendent of Northern Ozaukee School District

Dear WIVA & H2O Students and Parents:

I have just returned from two days in Madison with a great sense of optimism about the future of virtual schools. You are to be commended for being present and having your voice heard by our state senators and representatives. Your voice was heard and made a vital difference in the fate of bills AB 692 and SB 396.

I also take a great deal of pride in being associated with parents who are fully committed to providing quality education for their children, as well as being fully involved in the educational process with their children. In addition, I am extremely proud of the teachers who are collaborating with you. The voices of Kathy Hennings, Jennifer Trattner, and Kaye Martin were heard and spoke sincerely of the relationship and partnership between the home and the school. These three teachers represent the quality and commitment of teachers serving WIVA and H2O.

I express my appreciation to the parents from WIVA and other virtual schools who came forward to testify. Your voice helped the legislators to more fully comprehend how virtual education for K-8 is effectively collaborated between the teacher and the parent.

The most important voice heard was that of the children. Aidan Gordon-Dunbar's presentation to the Assembly Education Committee was a powerful, sincere, and meaningful message. I know that I was deeply touched by Aidan's thoughtful words. I feel Aidan captured the essence of why virtual education needs to be a vital option for students and their families in the future. In addition, WIVA and H2O students made a powerful impression on the senators and represen­tatives they visited.

I also say thank you to many of you who have written letters, e-mails, and articles. Your writing is also having a strong impact.

Following the hearing of SB 392 sponsored by Senator Lehman, we all left with a new sense of optimism. Senator Luther Olsen needs to hear our appreciation for his support, as well as Repre­sentatives Brett Davis and Dan LeMahieu for their writing of AB 692.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank Rose Fernandez for all of her efforts in organizing the rally and parent voice, and her personal testimony for AB 692 and against SB 396. Rose, along with each of you, is a champion for virtual education.

There is still much work to be accomplished over the next several weeks. I encourage you to stay in contact with the family coalition for future developments over the next several weeks. Northern Ozaukee School District remains committed to keeping you informed.

Again, I thank you for making a difference with your presence and voice. You can be very proud of your school. Northern Ozaukee School District is committed to virtual education and making a meaningful difference in the education of our students.


William R. Harbron, Ed.D.


This is a government by the people and for the people - but it doesn't just happen you have to work at it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

He speaks!

My god, Teller, the small, quiet half of Penn and Teller, can talk!?

It's Friday and it's sunny and warm here in southern California, so enough market chatter already. Here is a fascinating video of Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) talking at a neuroscience conference last summer about implied causality and the art of misdirection. Thought-provoking stuff.

Who woulda thunk?


He said it ..
I am Larry Kaseman, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Parents Association, a state-wide organization of over 1,400 member families founded in 1984, that works to protect the rights of parents and families in education, primarily homeschooling. However, I do not purport to speak for all WPA members and certainly not for all home schoolers in Wisconsin
That was Mr. Kaseman's testimony from 2002. He said substantially the same thing on 1/16/08, and upon being questioned said there was no poll of the WPA membership approving that organization's resistance to AD 697, just a general sense of 'well we've always been a PITA about this stuff so it's our default position'.

Kaseman appears to represent a trend that irked the beejezus out of me when we home schooled Older Monkey; there are any number of gadflys, goofballs, good guys and gonzos running around acting and sounding as if they're in charge of and responsible for huge movements. Some of them are, and WPA may well be. But this guy comes across as a fellow in loose charge of a website and a few dozen fellow travelers and that's about all.

This is reason 9348484 why I can't be a politician in a representative democracy; even yammerheads get their say.

Me, I'd roll my eyes, mutter something about 'this guy again' and have some big beefy troopers from the Household Gaurd toss him out the door. Sure that approach breeds discontent but it sure makes things happen.

The Hispanic Man's Burden

Stereotype much, Bruce?

The lead story on the Pentagon's new AFRICOM web site is entitled "U.S. Sailor Helps Save Drowning Woman in Gabon."

Here come the good white guys to the rescue.

While I don't actually know, the sailor in question - PO Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Saucedo - has a Hispanic surname.

Another good tidbit from the article ..
On January 14, Saucedo was on liberty at Sogara Beach with three other APS Sailors when they witnessed four men carrying a body from the water.

"As we walked up to the crowd of people on the beach, they saw my dog tags and said, 'U.S. Marines, U.S. Marines,'" Saucedo said.

It is freaking awesome to have been associated with a group that has such an incredible reputation; go anywhere in the world and people will know about Texas and the U.S. Marines.

Hearing on AB 697 video

The Assembly Committee on Education hearing for Assembly Bill 697 video is archived on the Wisconsin Eye site here, look for the title '01.16.08 | Assembly Committee on Education 1/16' - new entries appear at the top.

Watch or Listen.

The entire 7 plus hours is interesting - but Pasty and Aidan's testimony is at 6:38, which (I'm biased) I find especially interesting. Why does Pasty sound so hoarse? She's exhausted and just getting over a nasty cold.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

To the guy at the computer store in Madison

I am sorry as hell that when I called directory assistance and asked for 'The Apple Store at West Town Mall' they connected me to your establishment; dealing with the public must really suck.

And yes, I am aware (as you said) that they are your competition and when I asked you if you had their number you were fully justified in saying 'no I will not because they are the competition'.

So. Sorry to have bothered you - I never have, nor will I ever darken your door. - Overwhelming demonstration of support for Virtual Schools

Jo Egelhoff was kind enough to post my wife's report on the rally in Madison at Thanks, Jo!

Guest Blog: Overwhelming demonstration of support for Virtual Schools

My family, along with approximately 1100 others, spent many hours today [January 16] in Madison to show our support for Virtual Schools. WEAC sent one representative, their lawyer, to represent their case against AB 697 which went before the Assembly Education Committee today.

The representative was neither informative nor did she have any true arguments ....

More at the link.

March on Madison - It's Late and I'm Tired Edition

Impressions from today's rally in support of AB697.

The coalition estimated - last week - they'd get 400 people there. 1100 people showed up. For a rally that was less than six days from 'plan to start'.

The fellow organizing events at the hotel said he spent twelve years working in the capital as a legislative assistant and he'd never seen anything like this turnout.

A middle-aged mom on the steps muttered that she'd gone to school in Madison and she'd never seen a crowd that large on the steps of the capital.

T-shirts - no rally or protest is complete without t-shirts. The ones whipped up for the occasion featured a clip-art desktop PC with two floppy disk drives, one of which was a 5 1/4 drive. That's seriously old school.

The committee chair noted that there were over 600 people registering approval for AB697, 7 registering disapproval. '7' would be about the number of speakers who spoke out against at the hearing.

The people speaking against were a variety of sorts but if you had to characterize them with a phrase it would be 'hired goons'; including legislative liaison from DPI and a WEAC lawyer. The exception would be the fellow from WPA: he was no hired goon but manage to sound like a reformed Bircher. And he got a lecture from a committee member for being snotty about what 'conservative' means.

People speaking for were (obviously) just as biased and included parents, students and staff from the affected virtual schools.

The hearing ran for at least eight hours - they were going at it when we had to leave.

At hour 7 the committee chair noted - and members agreed - that it might be the virtual schooling or the parents or the good nature of the kids but they'd been extraordinarily well-behaved. And since there were easily two - three kids for every parent, running all over the capital building, and in and out of the hearing rooms and offices they had ample opportunity to see the kids doing what they do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 697

This is the bill that nearly 800 people*will be supporting tomorrow in Madison. Some said that when the court found against WIVA in December - and ruled that all of the virtual schools in Wisconsin were illegal - that the thing to do was not to piss and moan but to work with the lege and change the law.


I can't claim any credit; all my wife and I have done is call our reps and .. well ... piss and moan to them. I certainly didn't expect anything to happen so quickly but here it is.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

Under current law, any person who teaches in a public school, including a
charter school, must hold a teaching license or permit issued by the
Department of Public Instruction (DPI). This bill specifies that if a
pupil attends a virtual charter school, a person who provides educational
services to the pupil in the pupil's home, other than staff of the virtual
charter school, is not required to hold a teaching license or permit. The
bill defines a virtual charter school as a charter school in which
instruction is provided primarily through means of the Internet and the
pupils and teachers are geographically remote.

Current law provides that a charter school established by a school board
must be located in the school district; an independent charter school
established by the city of Milwaukee, the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, or the Milwaukee Area Technical College must be
located in the city of Milwaukee; and an independent charter school
established by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside must be located in a
unified school district that is located in the county in which the
University of Wisconsin-Parkside is situated or in an adjacent county.
This bill provides that these restrictions do not apply to virtual charter

In general, current law provides that only pupils who reside in the school
district in which an independent charter school is located may attend the
charter school. This bill exempts virtual charter schools from this

Current law provides that if the University of Wisconsin-Parkside
establishes a charter school, the state must pay a sum to the unified
school district in which it is located to reimburse the school district
for the reduction in state aid resulting from the loss of pupils to the
charter school. This bill provides that this payment does not apply if the
charter school established is a virtual charter school. The bill provides
that if a pupil who is not a resident of this state attends a virtual
charter school established by or under contract with a school board in
this state, the school board must charge the pupil tuition in an amount
equal to at least the amount used for the per pupil state aid adjustment
under the Open Enrollment Program.

Finally, the bill clarifies that a pupil may attend a charter school in a
nonresident school district through the Open Enrollment Program. For
further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.

Please call or write your representative and let them know what you think about AB697. If you don't live in Wisconsin, send your good wishes our way, if you are so inclined.

* 971 people that have responded 'yes' to the evite invitation as of 8/15/08 at 13:30.

Monday, January 14, 2008

March on Madison

He wrote it, she recorded it, he put it on YouTube with our blessing. He means what he says.

I did - do - have huge misgivings about putting his mug on the internet. Why? Well if I knew why I'd do something about it; call it free floating anxiety.

Garfield - when it was funny

But there it is; he's out to make a difference and do his part to making the world a better place.


I'd say 'zing' but it hurts 'cause it's true. Edward Wright, From comments
on Sam Dinkins' post on Transterrestrial Musings
Four astronauts is not a space program, it's a rounding error.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stardust and a Man's Duty

Saw Stardust today. You know what lesson can be drawn from that movie?

No, not about true love. No, not the bit about how a star can only shine when it's heart is unbroken.

The Lesson to draw from Stardust is when you have your enemy in front of you at your mercy, and the enemy gets all sad and weepy and begs for mercy or seems to atone do not take her words at face value. Deliver the stroke, stake her heart, chop her head off, dash cold water on her, do what it takes for god's sake Tristan finish her off now and live happily ever after already.

Geez Louise.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An insane, But Lame, Pun

Jon Goff writes about a very 'interesting' idea for space launch.

The idea is what Allen called Fleet Launched Orbital Craft, or which another author calls "Separated Ascent Stage Launch Vehicles" (I'll call it by Allen's term "FLOC" from here on out).

If the individual craft were named after a common seabird then you'd have ..

.. wait for it ..

A FLOC of Seagulls.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pregnant Marine Is Found Dead

What a world. Our condolences to the family of Maria Lauterbach; Rest In Peace.
Updated, Friday, 12:25 p.m. Eastern Sheriff Ed Brown of Onslow County, North Carolina, announced at a news conference just now that Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach was dead, with her body found buried.

We also have people who can't resist displaying their ignorance in the comments
As for this young woman, I think it adds to the Abu Ghraib-sized mound of evidence that our military and the military-worshiping crowd in this country is plagued by psychosexual problems, which is only natural in an arrogant institution that revolves around violence

if her stepmother
would of cared more while she was growing up things may have been different.

People in the military are taught how to kill other people in boot camp, it’s the first thing they learn, the second thing they learn is how to cover up a crime like this.

Ultimately GWBU$H is responsible for the climate of criminality that has led to her likely “snuffing” to repress her testimony. The military is above the law in the eyes of the White House.

Via Frau Budgie.

Virtual Schools - Wisconsin - March on Madison

Interesting news on the home school / virtual school front ...
Rep. Brett Davis, R-Oregon, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, proposed that online schools, also known as virtual schools, be allowed to continue operating with few restrictions. About 3,000 Wisconsin students attend online schools.

When WEAC* put the smackdown on students** in December some people pointed out that WIVA was illegal. If we wanted virtual schools - went the refrain - then we needed to enact laws to make them legal. What are you a bunch of knuckle dragging Republithugs who want judicial activism only when it suits you?
I have no problem with WIVA, except for the fact that such an educational venture in Wisconsin is against the law.
Be careful what you ask for. Next week the forces of justice and decency will descend on the state capital in support of Representative Davis' bill.

Without legislative action this year, it is a strong possibility that your public school will close, perhaps as early as the next school year. While the State Supreme Court may take up an appeal of our recent court loss, the current limbo schools find themselves in cannot continue.

Those of us who make the trek to Madison will sacrifice vacation time, put off ongoing projects and rearrange the school week. But we do so knowing that to stay home would jeopardize the very existence of the particular school we and our children love so much. Parents, teachers, students, grandparents, all supporters are welcome!
A reminder that this government is by God for the People and of the People and that once in a great while legislation will be passed not because it's been bought but because it's the right thing to do.

Virtual schools are cost effective and they do what schools are supposed to do - teach children.

At the end of the day it's not about ideology or money or who controls the schools - it's about the kids.

*Official song: Look for ... the union label ... when you are divining ... our motives!

**No, this isn't fair, nor nuanced, nor balanced. Screw that, this is an editorial.

Now that's class

An spam - way off topic - made it's way into Rand's blog
Vote us out of Iraq. Vote Ron Paul!

Posted by Raphael at January 11, 2008 05:38 AM

Political spam - now that's classy. Why, it's slick as owl snot.

Because everyone is going to get on board for a candidate whose supporters anonymously spam blogs comments.

A Thing I Did Not Know This Morning

A Thing I Did Not Know This Morning.
Henry Ossian Flipper (March 21, 1856May 3, 1940) was an American soldier and the first black American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy (West Point)


James Lileks on the election ...
I’ve been sitting here bopping to Brian Setzer while I write this, and it’s more fun than thinking about politics. I still think we should take a big poll and find one band that satisfies everyone, and the day after the election we have a big grand beer bash to celebrate the fact that everyone loves “Rock Around the Clock” and tanks won’t roll when the baton passes, and that’s no small thing. Because if you can’t find yourself at 1 AM laughing and arguing about the glories of American popular culture with someone who’s on the absolute opposite site of the political aisle, well, here: one big ticket redeemable for a quart of pity. I don’t want unity about the secondary issues; I want constant conflict and tension and friction and argument and eventual compromises, even if it's a decade after the argument faded. About the great glorious uniqueness of this country and the things we can do, yes: at least we can agree on that. So let’s elect a president and fix some stuff and screw up the things we can’t help but screw up and go to Mars. We can argue about what the flag meant and what it will mean tomorrow, but can’t you see a day where everyone’s leaning forward on the sofa, in the bars, in Times Square, watching the pole drive down into red soil? Wouldn’t there be a grand nationwide huzzah, and wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that be cool?

That would be very cool indeed.

Spaceships and Poetry

Spaceships. And poetry. Any species that can create both spaceships and poetry is worth saving.

~ Solomon Short

Thursday, January 10, 2008


What's Nanoc? It says on the tin
nanoc is a Ruby content management system for building static web sites.

Calling it a CMS might be a bit grandiose. You run it locally, compile markup documents into static webpages, then copy those to the server. It appears to be one of those deals that Just Works.

I redid the page with it. Total time was 30 minutes, 20 of that installing and running through the tutorial.

The 'meh' content of that page is my fault, not Nanoc's of course.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Kenneth Culver

Seen this guy? He's a wanted man ...

Kenneth Culver walked into the locker room Jan. 4. A student saw Culver's reflection in the mirror and made a lot of noise. Culver then left school property.

Culver may have entered the locker room on five different occasions. He had no verbal or physical contact with anyone.

Culver is wanted for five counts of invasion of privacy and two counts of bail jumping from outstanding cases in both Winnebago and Outagamie counties. He ignored law enforcement requests through family members to turn himself in.

Culver is 6-feet,1-inch tall, weighs 250 pounds, and is bald with a goatee. He was driving a black 1994 Ford Tempo with the plate number 916-GWN.

If you have any information about Culver, contact the Neenah Police Department at (920) 886-6000.

A fifty-year old guy in the girls locker room ... innocent until proven guilty of course but the sooner this guy is located the better, I think.

A good rant is a thing of beauty

And this one is good and long ... Rails Is A Ghetto
After Mongrel I couldn’t get a gang of monkeys to rape me, so forget any jobs. Sure people would contact me for their tiny little start-ups, but I’d eventually catch on that they just want to use me to implement their ideas. Their ideas were horrendously lame. I swear if someone says they’re starting a social network I’m gonna beat them with the heel of my shoe.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh my

The new Mac Pro combines two of Intel’s new 45 nanometer Quad-Core Xeon 5400 processors running up to 3.2 GHz, new graphics and up to 4TB of internal storage. Prices start at $2,799.12MB of L2 cache per processor, dual-independent 1600 MHz front side buses and up to 32GB of 800 MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memorystandard with the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card with 256MB of video memory. The systems also include a new PCI Express 2.0 graphics slotFor storage, the Mac Pro has four internal drive bays allowing up to 4TB. The systems also have five USB 2.0, two FireWire 400, two FireWire 800, optical and analog audio in and out, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a headphone jack.

My, my my.
The new Mac Pro is available immediately.

Well that's good - not that I'm buying one but I'm sure someone can, and will be. Immediate graftification rocks.

Alien thoughts

Alien in the sense of 'other', in the sense that I don't want to understand someone who can think this way.

You are invited to read the entire editorial; it won't take you long.

There must be violence against women

This title may sound strange, but it’s actually not just a way to attract readers to the topic because I really do mean what it indicates. Violence is a broad term, especially when used regarding women. In this piece, I want to shed light on those instances where violence against women is a must.
Relationships between fathers and daughters or sisters and brothers also provoke argument from human rights organizations, which propose the suggested solutions for all relationships. Personally, I don’t think fathers or brothers would undertake such behavior unless there was a reason for it.
Dear readers – especially women – don’t think that I hate or am against women; rather, I simply mean to preserve the morals and principles with which Islam has honored us.

I hope my message is clear, since it’s really quite relevant to the future of our societies, which must be protected from any kind of cultural invasion.

Good luck, back there in the 13th century Mr. Al-Kholidy. I'll take the 21st century anyday; I'll bet most of your sisters and daughters in faith will, too.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Rails Metaphor - Pipes

I've been teaching myself Ruby on Rails. Not for any particular reason*, but to learn something new. Now, I am not a programmer, I'm a system administrator. I was, for a few months, employed by the US Marines as a programer (Clipper '87**) where I specialized in writing programs that consumed more memory than a PC had before crashing.

The Marine Corps quickly found me employment as a LAN Admin; at least there, in 1990, we were all new and not knowing what you were doing was not so much a liability as SOP.

So I'm not coming at this as a coder learning a new skill but a stranger from another country learning a new language and a new culture.

So it's all kind of slow going.

In reply to this post Travis wrote
Once you internalize these, and realize that they are - effectively - unix command line pipes, or filters, you stop thinking about itterating, and instead start thinking about piping large blocks of data through filters, or tools.
(insert sound of needle skidding on a record)
realize that they are - effectively - unix command line pipes, or filters,

One is studying something - and it's a bit of a slog - and LO someone comes out of left field comes a comment and it all becomes clear. Not a choir celestial but a certain 'hunh' that turns your viewpoint around a few degrees.

You gain a useful metaphor that enables one to lurch along in the right direction.

I've been using pipes (and filters and tools) to sort large blocks of data for years, in shell scripts. I don't think this is going to make it actually easy but I've got a metaphor now to use that will make plowing through this bit easier on the ol' noggin.

That and thinking about a programming language as a series of tools and filters - just groovier and more complicated versions of awk, sed and the like - makes me want to do a Snoopy Dance.

*Or at least not one I'm willing to talk about yet.
** Which was an extension language and compiler for dBase III.

Epicurians Rule!

…So I said that we ought to have intellectual names for sports teams. The anti-intellectualism of jock culture is an embarrassment to this country. (My wife’s country doesn’t have academic athletic teams.) How about “the Norman Nihilists”?My wife was captivated by the idea and wouldn’t let it go. We played the game in the restaurant, and that evening she took all the ideas we’d come up with and added bunches of new ones with the help of an Oklahoma map.Guidelines: it has to use the name of a state town, should ideally be alliterative (or rhyme) and represent a philosophical/religious position. So how about…

The Ardmore Atheists

The Ada Aristotelians

The Edmond Epistemologists


Neenah Gnostics
Appleton Arianisists
Delafield Docetisists
Exeter Epicurians
Menasha Montanists
Kaukauna Kabbalists
Oshkosh Ophites

Inspiration from TJIC

For Loops considered obsolete

From my point of view one of the odder things about Ruby is that 'for loops' are obsolete . . .

If you're still writing for loops, stop; there's a better way. Exactly why merits some examples.

[1, 2, 3].each { |number| puts number }
That's a pretty straightforward one. It says: with each element in this array, execute the given block.

That's just darn weird. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hello Kitty - with BLAM

A Bad Day

Evidence that a rabbit had a bad day.

From Soni, who got it from Scalzi.

A Reason to vote for Obama

I wish I'd thought of this slogan . .

Der Spiegel says there's no freakin' way Obama's going to get the Presidential nomination for of all the usual reasons: he's too young, his message is too vague, and candidates who win in Iowa don't usually win elsewhere. And then there's this: "and for many Americans, too black." I hear this all the time from Europeans- it's impossible that those bigoted Americans would ever vote for a black man. I think the Obama people should use it in their campaign.

"Vote for Obama and tell Europe to suck it!"

FM 3-0 Operations (SAMS Edition)

FM 3-0 Operations (SAMS Edition)
Doctrine for Dummies
Illustrated by Mrs. Finklestien's Third Grade Class


You are students. This means you are supposed to learn things. Read this and learn it.

There will be a test. There are only two grades…”win”, or “lose”.

Come back with your shield, or on it.

I.M. Mean
Soldier in Chief
2. Whacking bad people is dangerous. It’s also hard. It’s easier and safer to whack the bad people if you do it from the air or the ocean. That’s because the bad people can’t afford the super weapons that do stuff from there. That’s why we have to be nice to the Navy and Air Force; so they will whack bad people with great enthusiasm.

Full text is here, includes a link to a PDF file.

Condensed version, with multimedia is here.

No one has produced an ultra condensed version in comic book 'graphic novel' format written at the 1st grade level for Marines. No doubt some very bright field-grade officers are working on that at Quantico.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Friday, January 04, 2008


My wife's reaction on hearing that Huckabee won in Iowa was interesting but not repeatable* in a family blog. This pretty much sums it up, however
Iowa has given its seal of approval to (1) a one-term Senator who stands for "hope" and "change" and (2) a tacky, big spending governor who doesn't know much about foreign policy but did stay at a Holiday Inn Express. The common demoninator here, other than a patent lack of qualifications for the presidency, is likeability.
For another detailed look see Jeff Harrell's blog.

*nor was it that bad, either - I'm just trying to mind the swears.

Cautionary Tale

Coyote had a corrupted Excel file;
I tried to open a complicated Excel file today and Excel told me that it was corrupted and that it would try to rebuild it.
That happened to me, once. It not a complicated file, but it was terribly important; it contained all of the IP addresses for nearly 1800 client desktops* at the site I was contracting at.

All of these machines were manually assigned their address.** So knowing what these were was a pretty big deal.

No problem - a file that important must be backed up on the server. Except this one .. wasn't. That volume had never been backed up.

"I knew that was going to get us, one of these days," said a company system admin in a very resigned tone.***

After a week for the magnitude of the catastrophe to sink in, and with various schemes tried to recover the data, my company had no problem selling them on a project to convert the entire facility to DHCP.

* I inherited the spreadsheet - I did not create it.
** Yes, for this many machines in 1999 assigning addresses by hand made no sense. It was that kind of a place.
*** It was that kind of a place, which was why I was glad to be a contractor there and not an employee.

I'm the King of Legacy!

... and baby it's good to be king.

We have a rather old and poorly understood system for document management. This week I helped to fix it and setup correct documentation. Thus, by the unwritten rules of IT, I now own a rather old and poorly understood system for document management.

All I need to do now is slap a token-ring network up between my legacy server and the world and I'm set.

Jay R. Grodner - now in wiki format

Jay R. Grodner has a wikipedia page now.

Seems like a notable bloke to me.

Don't be an ass - the internet never forgets: Follow Up

In response to this, Jim K. commented
He could have made the whole thing go away by simply agreeing that what he had done was wrong and offering to pay for the damage. Instead he tried to weasel his way out of it. Public shaming is appropriate and today public means on the internet.

Yet . . . what of redemption?

The point here is that this shame goes on .. and on. Eternal finger waving and cries of 'shame' without pause.

Harassment without a chance for redemption is not shaming; it's bullying.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Don't be an ass - the internet never forgets

Get caught doing the dumbs and you will never, ever live it down - the internet has a long memory.

Guy is caught keying a car - $2400 worth of damage. Guy has words with the car owner. Seems the guy keyed the car because the car owner has military tags and plates. The police are called. More words are tossed around. A citation is issued.

The details are at Blackfive.

A moment of ill-considered vandalism, a lifetime of crap.

The problem is, Google is good at finding stuff but not so good for measuring repentance. He could have a Come to Jesus moment a year from now, he could find himself a changed man a decade from now but Google will likely always pull this incident up, first.

It will also find the hatred and bile piled on by blogs and blog comments.

I have some sympathy.

A long time ago I made a foolish choice and screwed up. If I'd been a civilian I might have gotten fired and moved along to the next job.

I was enlisted in the Marine Corps. I got Non Judicial Punishment; docked a few months pay, reduced in rank.


Yes, it sucked.

Every service member has a record book. Your new commanding officer opens that sucker up and just about the first thing his eyeballs fall upon is Page 11; the list of all the Bad Things you've done. Later there is another page with all of the good things but by then it's way too late.

If it you were a bad kid five minutes ago, or five years ago it's all the same thing - condensed into neat tidy paragraphs for their reading displeasure. You know what's coming ..

- We going to have any problems like this?

A small part of you may want to roll your eyes: I've heard this before. You want to say "That was five years ago and I regretted it about five seconds after the fact and long, long before the The Man had me standing tall in his office and oh boy have I changed, hey look at last quarter's pro/con marks .." but you don't because all you can do is suck it up and demonstrate you've changed because Marines Don't Whine.

You say 'No Sir' and get on with it. Because that's what you do.

Chesty Puller
Five Navy Crosses. Not a whiner.

At the risk of beating this into the ground .... this is a problem in the Real World where everyone is looking at your Page 11 and no one is going to be around to see what a good guy you actually are. First impressions are last and final ones.

Google is great for finding information. It's not so hot at measuring reputation capital - for telling people who you are now or how an otherwise 'ok' person had a bad day and fucked up his google rep for the next few years.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.