Sunday, August 31, 2008

The first step

I've been cutting down on caffeine. A cup at work, then water for the rest of the day.

Maybe two cups. But a lot of water.

At home we've long since switched to decaf. But .. no problem! I've got a tin of instant. It ran out. I didn't get any at the store today because .. well .. I am trying to cut down.

This evening a massive withdrawal headache ambushed [1] me and wrapped my head in a dull cloud of pain.

Me: I'm .. uh .. going down to the gas station to get some coffee.
Her: ?
Me: Well, we're out of the leaded instant stuff and I've got a headache.
Her: What you need is some Tylenol ...
Me: (snarling) What I need is some coffee.


The first step is admitting you have a problem. Granted this isn't heroin or booze or snorting dandelions but .. still. I'd be happier not having a headache when I go without.

So .. decaf for me. If you see me with a cup of leaded from here on in, hit me on the head.


[1] In 'A Rumor of War', Philip Caputo related that at OCS one of their tactical instructors yelled at them 'Ambush is murder and murder is fun'.

I don't know about the murder part but I did participate in a training exercise where we executed a hasty near ambush on the Blue team. The look of surprise on their faces was very satisfying. I hasten to add it's not because we were so good but more that we were motivated and they were trudging along wishing they were somewhere else.

Dumb Radicals

What are they teaching young people in school these days?
Assitant Police Chief Bostrom has talked about the St. Paul Standard, and on the anniversary of last years’ critical mass police riot, we saw its true face. The ramsey county sheriff’s dept and the SPPD raided the RNC convergence space and detained over 50 people in an attempt to preempt planned protests of the rnc on Monday.
If you want to be taken seriously you should
  • Remember Mrs. Robinson's advice: Spelling Counts. [1]
  • Employ encryption.

The former makes the adults in the room take you seriously. The latter keeps John Law in dark about what you're up to, so you don't get raided before you can do your thing.

How to encrypt your email.

Encrypt your Gmail.

GNU Privacy Guard.


[1] Esther Robinson, 8th grade Civics teacher in 1980-'81, Jenks, Oklahoma.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin and the Vikings

And I don't mean the Minnesota Vikings, neither.

Palin and the Vikings by you.

Not everyone is pleased with Sarah Palin

A former McCain supporter steps forward to voice his displeasure with the pick of Sarah Palin for Vice President ..

bullwinkle moose by bridalgownz.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin Facts - this thing might be getting out of hand

Sarah Palin Facts - Little Known Facts About the Alaska Governor.
Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin will send Biden a pre-debate cheat
sheet. The sheet will have tips on defending against Kung Fu Death Grip.

Little known fact: Sarah Palin is on loan from the Justice League.

Little known fact: NFL teams may draft Sarah Palin, if they forfeit all their other players forever, to maintain league parity.

Little known fact: Sarah Palin would have just had an Eagle drop the Ring into Mount Doom.

I say 'might' be getting out of hand. So far we're skating right up to the edge of 'good hearted joshing', but not over into 'unhinged hero-worship'.

Ugly Stick

Jesus Hector and His Disciples in a Sidecar ...

ubuntu default background by you.

Who went and hit Ubuntu (8.04) with the Ugly Stick?

The default background looks like someone tossed a hand grenade into a bird nest.


"Why do the Vickys have such a big clave?" Nell asked.

"Don't ever call them Vickys," Rita said.


"It's a word that people who don't like them use to describe them in kind of a bad, unfriendly way," Rita said.

"Like a pejorative term?" Nell said.

Rita laughed, more nervous than amused. "Exactly."

"Why do the Atlantans have such a big clave?"

"Well, each phyle has a different way, and some ways are better suited to making money than others, so some have a lot of territory and others don't."

"What do you mean, a different way?"

"To make money you have to work hard-to live your life in a certain way. The Atlantans all live that way, it's part of their culture. The Nipponese too. So the Nipponese and the Atlantans have as much money as all the other phyles put together."

"Why aren't you an Atlantan?"

"Because I don't want to live that way. All the people in Dovetail like to make beautiful things. To us, the things that the Atlantans do– dressing up in these kinds of clothes, spending years and years in school-are irrelevant. Those pursuits wouldn't help us make beautiful things, you see. I'd rather just wear my blue jeans and make paper."

"But the M.C. can make paper," Nell said.

"Not the kind that the Atlantans like."

"But you make money from your paper only because the Atlantans make money from working hard," Nell said.

Rita's face turned red and she said nothing for a little while. Then, in a tight voice, she said, "Nell, you should ask your book the meaning of the word discretion."

- The Diamond Age
Neal Stephenson

Readers who are interested the fine details of what Nell and Rita are talking about in 'The Diamond Age' are directed to the book's wiki page.

Briefly ...

The book takes place after the State has been rendered unworkable. Hooray, anarchy! Except that people still need - or at least desire - organization. Thus, people have chosen to divide themselves into Tribes or Phyles. If you're not in a tribe, you're a thete and the lowest of the low.

Vickys' are Neo-Victorians or Atlantans
. Neo-Victorians are a tribe that has rejected the cultural excess of the late 20th early 21st century and turned to a polite and well-disciplined culture, based loosly on the Victorian era. When you have a well-disciplined culture that takes learning, morals and manners seriously, you get a lot done. Thus Atlantans and the Nipponese have a lot of the wealth in that world. Plus they dress really well.

Also, at least partly because of cultural repression, Neo Victorians make excellent warriors.

A clave is where people of a particular tribe live.

An M.C. is a nanotube matter compiler.


Senator John McCain

Senator McCain: 'Congratulations on your nomination. Job well done.'

Senator Barack Obama

Senator Obama: It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

Funny how a fellow congratulating an opponent on a job well done plays well when the congratulatee is busy rhetorically dissing him.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Madame Vice President

I'm not as clever, but I decided to use Google to see who popped up the most. I figure a Wisdom of Crowds approach might provide some clues. I found currently these numbers:

"John McCain" Romney - 4.3 Million web hits, 12,100 News hits, 101,000 Image hits, and 198,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Huckabee - 3.2 Million web hits, 1,157 News hits, 79,000 Image hits, and 127,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Thompson - 2.5 Million web hits, 1,500 News hits, 82,000 Image hits, and 76,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Giuliani - 2.8 Million web hits, 3,300 News hits, 74,000 Image hits, and 124,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Lieberman - 1.8 Million web hits, 8,300 News hits, 41,000 Image hits, and 43,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Hutchison - 0.5 Million web hits, 490 News hits, 17,000 Image hits, and 4,400 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Pawlenty - 0.4 Million web hits, 10,100 News hits, 11,000 Image hits, and 3,400 Blog hits.

Playing along we have ...

"John McCain" Rice - 3.2 million web hits, 5,430 News Hits, 202,000 Image hits, 33,213 Blog hits.
"john McCain" Powell - 1.6 million web hits, 758 News Hits, 90,400 Image hits, 15,592 Blog hits.

By this measure Ms. Rice is as likely a candidate as Mr. Huckabee, Colin Powell comes in ahead of some other contenders.

Condoleezza Rice by you.

Madame Vice President. Has a bit o' a ring to it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The CycloCrane - Invention, A Dangerous Guest

Ladies, and Gentlemen - the CycloCrane.

CycloCrane by you.

The Problem: bulldozers tear up the ground scratching out roads to the logging site. Helicopters can lift the logs out so you don't irritate the local Greens - but rotary-winged aircraft are expensive to operate.

The Solution: A lighter than air craft that rotates the bag for control and lift. The intention was that the operator sit in a cab suspended by cables underneath the bag.

It's a solution for more than just logging. Helicopters aren't just expensive - they're loud. And they have a lousy failure mode. [1] CycloCrane was meant to pick up as much as 35 tons at a time. There should be a lot of business for a machine like that, as anyone stuck on a two-lane road behind half a double-wide can appreciate.

Cyclocrane by you.

An innovative idea. Too much so. They ran out of funds, the 80s kicked in and fuel prices went down. Aerolift tried to interest the government. The government expressed cautious interest. Then the Cold War ended.

Cyclocrane in color by you.

Invention, A Dangerous Guest

For technology to flourish, someone has to take a chance. In the end, the CycloCrane company did fail. That old blimp hangar is now an airship museum. The CycloCrane forms one of its many exhibits. It floats there as a permanent reminder of the almost quality of so much wonderfully inventive technology.

But should it also be a grim warning to us? Don't gamble on five-legged horses? I obviously don't think so. So I begin with the first issue that comes at me out of that Tillamook blimp hanger. It is, "Why do the reckless survive?" Reckless people expose themselves to more danger. Surely that threatens their Darwinian survival. You'd expect each generation to be more careful than the last. But recklessness does survive -- generation after generation.

The hunter who won't face a buffalo starves. The parent who won't risk her life to save her child faces Darwinian extinction. Writer Melvin Konner asks us to look more closely at risk-takers. He explains that psychologists identify four faces of that person:

Click to read more.

[1] If stuff stops working generally what happens is you crash really fast into stuff. If that stuff is water it's worse - the first thing machine does is flip over. Then it sinks. This all happens very quickly.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Speaking of attacking itty-bitty women - I'm listening [1] to 'The Diamond Age' by Neal Stephenson.

I don't think it's spoiling anything if I write that the chapters describing Nell's early life as a mistreated young girl are just about the saddest thing I have read in a long, long time.

[1] I've read it before - but listening to it does put some interesting emphasis on parts of it.

Fat tub of lard attacks small woman - film at ten

Big fat white guy attacks an itty-bitty woman on the streets of Denver.


No, really. What happened to politeness and gentility? Gee-zus.

Statistics - food prices and infant mortality

Infant Mortality: Measurements Not Consistent

In international comparisons of infant mortality, the U.S. usually ranks behind most other countries, many of whom have socialized medicine (see chart above, click to enlarge). But do countries around the world measure infant mortality consisently and uniformly? Apparently not, see explanation below from a doctor:

The main factors affecting early infant survival are birth weight and prematurity. The way that these factors are reported — and how such babies are treated statistically — tells a different story than what the numbers reveal.

Low birth weight infants are not counted against the “live birth” statistics for many countries reporting low infant mortality rates.

According to the way statistics are calculated in Canada, Germany, and Austria, a premature baby weighing less than 500 kg is not considered a living child.

But in the U.S., such very low birth weight babies are considered live births. The mortality rate of such babies — considered “unsalvageable” outside of the U.S. and therefore never alive — is extraordinarily high; up to 869 per 1,000 in the first month of life alone. This skews U.S. infant mortality statistics.

Over 100 Years, Food Prices Have FALLEN By 82%

The chart above (at the link) shows the real, inflation-adjusted prices of eggs (in 2008 dollars), annually back to 1890. The price we're paying today for eggs (in real dollars) is about 1/7 of the price 100 years ago, a decline of 85% compared to the price our grandparents, great-grandparents or great-great grandparents paid in the early 1900s.

The Truth About Russia in Georgia

Everything you know about the Soviet - Georgia War of 2008 (might) be wrong.

Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

See also Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Raven - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge, ''The Raven''

Underneath an old oak tree
There was of swine a huge company
That grunted as they crunched the mast
For that was ripe, and fell full fast.
Then they trotted away, for the wind grew high:
One acorn they left, and no more might you spy.

Next came a Raven, that liked not such folly
He belonged, they did say, to the witch Melancholy!
Blacker was he than blackest jet,
Flew low in the rain, and his feathers not wet
He picked up the acorn and buried it straight
By the side of a river both deep and great.

Where then did the Raven go?
He went high and low
Over hill, over dale, did the black Raven go.
Many Autumns, many Springs
Traveled he with wandering wings:
Many summers, many Winters
I can't tell half his adventures.

At length he came back, and with him a She
And the acorn was grown to a tall oak tree.
They built them a nest in the topmost bough,
And young ones they had, and were happy enow.

But soon came a Woodman in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
He'd an axe in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,
At length he brought down the poor Raven's own oak.
His young ones were killed; for they could not depart,
And their mother did die of a broken heart.

The boughs from the trunk the Woodman did sever;
And they floated it down on the course of the river.
They sawed it in planks, and its bark they did strip,
And with this tree and others they made a good ship.

The ship, it was launched; but in sight of the land
Such a storm there did rise as no ship would withstand.
It bulged on a rock, and the waves rush'd in fast;
Round and round flew the Raven, and cawed to the blast.
He heard the last shriek of the perishing souls--
See! see! o'er the topmast the mad water rolls!

Right glad was the Raven, and off he went fleet,
And Death riding home on a cloud he did meet,
And he thank'd him again and again for this treat:
They had taken his all; and REVENGE IT WAS SWEET!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Pasty by you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rock a little faster in my chair

Travis questioned the economics of podcasts.

I commented

I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts. When I’m in front of a computer working, I don’t need the distraction.

When I’m in front of a computer playing a longish podcast I’ve gotta spend the entire time listening. If I listen in chunks I loose interest.

To which ngvrnd replied

pod- and vod- casts convey lots of out-of-band signals, often of interest to those who don’t suffer from autism-spectrum conditions.

Zing! Well played, Sir.

Ruby as a sysadmin tool: SFTP

My mission tonight - make Ruby SFTP file transfer work.[1]

require 'rubygems'
require 'net/sftp'

Net::SFTP.start('', 'userid', :password => 'deprecated') do |sftp|
sftp.upload!("/local/directory/output", "/remote/directory/")

52 kb of data - copied like that (snap): admirably fast.  Some minor problems to work out.

  • Authentication bits in plain text make me itch.  I need to encrypt those values.  This should not be a problem in 2008.  This is not a show stopper on my local disk [2] but it needs to happen for a server.
  • Error detection.
  • The sample above fails if the remote directory exists.

[1] For not good reason except that it's fun .. and I think that Ruby should make an adequate system administration tool. Stuff like this is important if you're going to use it that way.
[2] It should be a problem. Unencrypted anything in 2008 is ungood.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Acme SAC

Acme SAC. A programmer's editor, shell and user interface expressly designed to make you feel less intelligent than you thought you were.


I skimmed Acme: A User Interface for Programers. Unix terminal windows are really teletypes and are an archaic way of talking to a computer - no argument there. Gotta be a better way - preach it! Basic concepts, explanations, check.


I fire it up at work. Hmm - it needs a proxy to communicate outside the corporate firewall - half the demos and 'isn't this nifty' stuff in the readme are elsewhere! And where do I set a proxy up at? Okay, wait till I get home, then. It comes with a shell - awesome. Or not so much - the shell seems to live in it's own weird little world and I can't get to my files to see them. No wonder when I open a new window with a valid path it tells me I'm full of poo. And so on.

And the point of an editor, shell and so on that won't let me at the files I already have are what?

I can't tell if what I'm looking at is a learning curve that looks like a sheer wall ninety miles high or some kind of practical joke played on an unsuspecting world by minanthropic computer nerds from AT&T.


A long, long time ago I joined the Marines. I was introduced to what was then the brand new M16A2. Guys in the fleet were running around with clapped out 'A1s and we got weapons right .. out .. of .. the box.

The training material was geared to teaching guys who had been shooting the 'A1 about the new and improved A2. Half the introductory material was going on about the differences. They were selling the weapon.

m16A1 by chadsarmory.
If it's Mattel, it's swell.

I didn't need to be sold. I didn't care that a weapon I'd only seen on TV had feature X and was replaced by feature Y and why it was so much better. Just teach me how to shoot the weapon I've got, and stop wasting my time with bullshit.

Eyes on the Horizon by Honor Revealed.
A better rifle. And a better looking rifle.

As the M16A2 training material, so Acme SAC.

What I need are not reams of theory and endless mailing lists of smug hyper-smart computer guys running vast arrays of Plan 9 and Inferno networks giving me a long back story on why this is the greatest thing since sliced cheese. I don't want to learn how to tear the motor apart - maybe later, but not now.

Now, I want to get in and drive. How to find the friggin' files I was working on pre Acme SAC. How do I get it to talk through a proxy. Can I use it to SSH to another system - 'cause I think that would be pretty nity. Can it be a better editor than TextMate?

Just a tutorial that is designed with your average ordinary guy, is all I'm looking for.

cute puppy


George Orwell diaries - in blog form


The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, is
publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog. From 9th August 2008,
Orwell’s domestic and political diaries (from 9th August 1938 until
October 1942) will be posted in real-time, exactly 70 years after the
entries were written.

Episcopal Suicide Bombers

Noah explains how we know that the recent bombings in Pakistan were not the work of Episcopalians.

No way it’s Piskies - they actually got something done. There wouldn’t
have been bombings, just Exploratory Commissions on Suicide Bomb
Planning, with sub-committees on Vests, Explosives, Nails and Other
Fasteners (’screw’ is heteronormative), Enhancing the Experience (rat
poison, etc.), Integration of Suicide Bombing into the Millennium
Development Goals. Then there’s the indaba groups, where all
present will talk about how the Commission affects them, how they feel
about the difference between various different targets and methods, and
all will engage in active listening, as we learn to ‘live into the
Suicide Bombing’ together with the creative tensions of how we see
Suicide Bombing differently, but are part of the same Murderous Drive.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You have to be precise

At Dinner

Hey, Younger Monkey - want another helping of chow?

Yea, please.

You have to say 'yes' or 'no'. 'Yea' 'naw' 'yup' 'nope' 'nuh-uh' ... don't convey what you mean with clarity. They're not precise [1].

(eye roll) Yes, please.

Thank you!

Later That Night

Did you wash everything when you took your bath?


Hey - you know you're supposed to wash everything[2].

Well. I didn't wash my skin on the inside or my blood or my bones.


Daddy. You have to be precise.

Then he smiled - a nice smile - and brushed his teeth.

[1] Some of you will accuse me of being a nit picky wretch. And you would be right. All I can say is that you were not present for a truly monumental tongue lashing on this subject from the company gunnery sergeant when you were eighteen and reporting to Infantry Training School. Stuff like that has a lasting impact.

[2] He has this thing going on where he misses great chunks of his body when washing. So that he'll have clean everything else and muddy elbows. Or a grubby neck. He's eight - but I'd prefer a clean child after a bath not one with a grimy neck.

Classical music with shining eyes

Yes, I wrote 'classical music' in the title. No, don't look at me like that. Shut up and watch this:

Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes. (YouTube)

Or go to, then click on Music & Passion with Benjamin Zander.

H/T Billy Ockham
Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Nerd Achievments

I have a very vivid memory. We're at my Grandparents house in Fort Rock. My Aunt, sitting at the kitchen table shouled "I won!". She'd spent a few hours with a deck of cards at solitaire and ... she'd won. A minor victory but good for a few cheery moments.

Well ... I won!

civ_ii_win by you.

That's Civilization II, running on the medium-hard level. I don't usually play it to completion but there we are.

Got the mother-lovin' spaceship to Alpha Centauri while having my shins kicked by some aggressive and advanced Mongels allied with low tech but annoying Vikings.

And yes, Fort Rock is about as deserty and sage-brushy as it looks in those pictures. Helluva place to grow alfalfa if you ask me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Arr Matey

She had a box of, oh, at least a hundred of these on the counter.

Vial by you.
Two Ounce Vial

Guess who wandered by and decided they'd make a most excellent hidden treasure?

Little Monkey and Pixie by economic_refugee.
Miscreant and all around Boy.

Not one or two vials. All of them.

He and his friend did a truly righteous job hiding them. Some by the pond, some along the fence, some in his friend's sandbox. Dozens and dozens of years from now people are going to dig these up and wonder "what they hey?"

Google Lunar X-Prize

Michael Laine passes this along from ISU

I am at the International Space University ( this summer, and we have to do a group project... Mine is an assessment of the Google Lunar X Prize, and some of its potential outcomes. To that end, could you please use your network(s) and ask people to come to this link, and respond to our survey.

It should take less than 5-10 minutes, It's not very deep or time consuming. But we think it will be pretty useful to the Foundation, and to many of the competitors.

Of course you will have access to the report and the survey results when we are finished. The 'meat' of the report will be about 100 "actionable recommendations" to a variety of stakeholders (Foundation, competitors, space agencies, private space sector, etc.)

If you do send it out, please email me back and tell me which lists you posted it to, and a bullet point description of who the target of that list is.

Feel free to pass this along to whomever you think should see it.

Thanks, my team and I appreciate it.

Take care. MJL
Michael J Laine

Not many people read this blog. No, it's true! But some do, and if they tell six people and if those six tell six more .. copy, paste, pass it along.

And I know that some actual smart people [1] from SpaceX wander by, and XCOR shows up in my referrer log now and again. So who knows?

[1] Yes, their rockets blow up and this might be proof of that funny old saying about how to make a fortune in space launch [2] - but they are still in business. And XCOR has attracted investment [3] - way to go! They're doing something right out there.

This is not (I think) some kind of fad like on-line pet foot stores but the beginnings of the real-deal commercial space-age.

[2] How do you make a small fortune in the launch industry? Start out with a large fortune.

[3] Desert Sky Holdings Makes First Institutional Investment in XCOR.

A Thing I DId Not Know This Morning

You don't need two eyes for depth perception. No, I knew that - what I did not know was that there were terrestrial examples of that. Behold, the mantis shrimp

Each compound eye is made up of up to 10,000 separate ommatidia of the apposition type. Each eye consists of two flattened hemispheres separated by six parallel rows of highly specialised ommatidia, collectively called the midband, which divides the eye into three regions. This is a design which makes it possible for mantis shrimp to see objects with three different parts of the same eye. In other words, each individual eye possesses trinocular vision and depth perception.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Comment of the Day

by miriam
I think our gaming group is pretty much all anti-obama. We might be gullible enough to buy AD&D 4.0, but we’re not buying “yes we can”.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cooking with onions

Cut a red onion into rings. Wrap in a twist of foil. Pour vodka into the twist. Keep pouring until it's full. Wonder why you even have a bottle of vodka - who in the house drinks this stuff? Wrap a second layer of foil around the twist because there is a leak in the twist and vodka is leaking onto the counter. Briefly ponder the wisdom of cooking with something that smells like edible lighter fluid.

Place on the grill next to the burgers. Cook until done. Mmmmm-mmmm.

.Vodka Party

Thursday, August 14, 2008


1. "We don't care. We don't have to - we're Oracle."

2. Never ever never go down the road of buying into an Oracle Solution - this way lies madness!

The Madwoman of Chaillot (Bryan Forbes, 1969)
The Madwoman of Chaillot is the story of a modern society endangered by power and greed and the rebellion of the "little people" against corrupt and soulless authority.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Nobody I know ..

German Shepherd

But boy-howdy look at those paws. Also ...

A German Shepherd


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Posting a (slightly edited) comment from Soni's blog. Because I do want to post something here every day and I don't feel like fooling around. I've got stuff to do.

This ... was my day. My entire day.

My latest true love at work is a whacked bit of enterprise software. The application keeps data in MS SQL Server 2005. I need to extract data from it’s db that the application won’t let me get at in the way I want. It can produce HTML or PDF reports at the click of a button but I can’t script that function and parsing the data in HTML is a PITA anyway.

I want it generated by script in ASCII, bitches. Then I’ll slam it into our documentation wiki. Eighteen times a day if I want to. Because I can.


So I install the sql command line tool. Except that 2005 (unlike 2000) installs in a locked down mode. So I need to run the tool to expose the db to the command line tool ..

Did I come here to drain a swamp .. don’t recall .. wow look at that alligator!

Alligator II
Productivity Monster

The configuration tool is .. not .. installed in the Start menu. It does not appear to be on the server at all. This appears to be a once-in-a-lifetime kinda deal so extraordinary that MS’s technet is silent on the subject.

Well … TechNet says in a distant way .. just run the tool. It’s not there? Oh, g’wan - you’re not looking hard enough.

Meanwhile the work that I had to set aside to tend to this is piling up. And it’s the ‘fun’ work wherein I play with Unix boxes and *nix applications that certainly have their failings but the operating system getting … in … my .. way is not one of them.

UNIX - Server
This is not our server room - but the equipment looks familiar.

Monday, August 11, 2008



Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Tom Matzzie by you.

Tom Matzzie: "Shut your mouth or I'll release the hounds."

If the recipients act in a way he disapproves of — namely, donating to certain conservative or Republican causes — Matzzie and his new nonprofit group, called Accountable America, will unleash what the New York Times describes as “a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.”

Not just a gross violation of manners and civil discourse - it's also against the law. See 42 U.S.C.§ 1985(3) ..

if ‘two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States; or to injure any citizen in person or property on account of such support or advocacy.’

Threatening people in the name of saving the Republic. Nice piece of work there, Sluggo.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Dog

This is Wispy.

Wispy by you.

She followed my wife home from the rescue shelter a few weeks ago.

Ain't she just a bundle of cute?

The pain and the agony

I noticed today that (wow all of a sudden - how funny) that I no longer can edit 'things' in my Ruby on Rails sandbox application.

9 by you.

I hear you, Troi.

Anyway after slogging around the code ... why hey, it's because I introduced RESTful_ACL which broke things in a weird and so-far unknown way.

picard-facepalm by you.

The difficult half of troubleshooting is knowing where to start. So it's all smooth sailing from here on in.

Night Thunderstorm by OneEighteen.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Closing Time - Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz

Closing Time - Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz
Caitlin Talmadge

Link. (PDF).

Summary: Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz, with mines. A US-led coalition of Naval and Air forces could demolish their air and naval forces, then clear the mines.

What a world, where we gotta fret over crap like this.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blastwave - what the heck?


All assets of Inc. are frozen until further notice. All Solaris(tm) related open source software work and services are cancelled.

All websites, documents and binary software packages that bear the mark Blastwave or Blastwave(tm) are no longer available until further notice.

Questions may be directed to 416 - 798 - 3410.

Wed Aug 6 14:28:24 GMT 2008

I use those packages! Put 'em back!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The World's Worst Stripper

Not a lot of actual .. stripping going on, really.

NSFW. Not very ... eh. Words fail me. Click at your peril.

I've seen worse. No, I'm not a regular patron but when you're 20 and overseas in the service .. you go see the show, at least once. I went back, now and again.

In this case myself and few other Marines found ourselves in the midst of the sad, run-down collection of strip clubs and bars outside Camp Foster. Just a pale echo of the glories in Kin-ville, a few miles up the road. The only redeeming quality these places had was they were within walking distance of Camp Foster.

When the best thing you can say about a place is that it beckons to Marines so down-and-out they can't scrape up cab fare ..

On a weeknight. The week before payday. Two so-so Filipinas - and you have to hunt long and hard to find a so-so Filipina - were sort of .. not gyrating, just kind of waving their arms around. Like dorky kids in junior high school they were kind of .. dancing but not dancing. Moving, to be charitable and to abuse the positive notions of that word.

About as sexy and inviting as watching grandma shuffle around the kitchen heating up last night's meatloaf.

Via MAV.


You know what's fun about having a bird that can make a sound like this: iNo!

Saying this to him:

'Charlie, you have bats in your belfry.'


It's all in the timing, really.

Buddy - Umbrella Cockatoo 43 by Jim B L.
Not our cockatoo - I've yet to see him do this while I have a camera.


I was staring at this problem - I want to have control over bits on a webpage, by user and lo! Someone has already done most of the hard work for me: RESTful_ACL.

RESTful_ACL is a simple Access Control Layer for Ruby on Rails. It restricts access on a fine-grained level to any RESTful MVC stack. While the ACL structure and engine are provided by this plugin, the implementation is fully up to the user. Every application is different and everyone likes to setup their User / Account / Role resources differently; this plugin will allow you to do your thing and keep that thing locked down.

Please see the wiki ( for more information.

Awesome. And the creator, Matt Darby, manfully resisted the urge to call it 'ACTS as ACL', which is a good thing.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A World Split Apart

A World Split Apart

by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The split in today's world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other. However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception, to the illusion that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance. This deep manifold split bears the danger of manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a Kingdom -- in this case, our Earth -- divided against itself cannot stand.

Read it, here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

That just ain't right

Mr. Obama wants to cut us all a check for a thousand bucks, flensing the oil companies for the dough.

I'm against stuff like this in principle, but if Uncle Sugar wants to send a few bucks my way .. well I'm not going to send the check back, now am I?

I dunno about the supply and demand stuff - I'll leave that for the guys that attended college - but the numbers in this just don't seem right.

There are 209 million of us eligible for this money. Not counting overhead that is $209 billion dollars worth of checks being sent around.

According to some smart guys at ISRIA profits for the oil industry in 2007 were $155 billion [1]. I see a shortfall of $54 billion.

Hell, I'm not even sure some of the companies in the report are even American. BP - in't that British Petroleum? Royal Dutch Shell - hell, I didn't even know the Dutch still had a monarchy, let alone a big friggin' oil company. You learn something new everyday.

LOLTREK  - WTF by you.

So ... yeah. I dunno where it's all going to come from - maybe ExxonMobil can take out a payday loan or something from the Cash Store.

Minkler Cash Store by 1Flatworld.

[1] HTML version of the PDF, here.

Hat tip Boots & Sabers

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Knowledge is obvious and lame in retrospect

I learned something today with Ruby on Rails that was daunting and full of 'wow' before I dug into it - and indeed I approached the learning curve with some trepidation.

And after the fact it's all so easy and lame that I wonder what the big freakin' deal was.

Ain't it always the way?

Falcon I launch set for this evening

I know what I'm doing this evening ...

Hawthorne CA – August 2, 2008 - Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has scheduled the launch of the Falcon 1 Flight 3 mission for Saturday, August 2nd. The launch window will open at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT) and remain open for five hours. If launch is delayed for any reason, SpaceX has range availability to resume countdown through August 5.

Lift-off of the vehicle will occur from SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch site at the Kwajalein Atoll, about 2500 miles southwest of Hawaii. Falcon 1 launch facilities are situated on Omelek Island, part of the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific.

SpaceX will provide live coverage of the Falcon 1 Flight 3 mission via webcast at: The webcast will begin 30 minutes prior to launch and will include mission briefings, live feeds and launch coverage from the launch site at the Kawjalein Atoll, as well as a special video tour of SpaceX facilities by Elon Musk, CEO and CTO.

Falcon 1 T- 0:01 termination by RRNeal.

Update: Failed to reach orbit - the stages didn't separate. Not great but like the man said, rocket science is easy, it's the engineering that's tough.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Burke's Law of Metadynamics

Burke's Law of Metadynamics

In the course of the chat, Burke came up with approximately the following statement, which has stayed with me since:

"Systems dump excess energy in the form of structure."

It may not sound like not much, but it's rather profound. It essentially says that a system operating in surplus won't stay so, but instead will act to build up its own structure at the expense of the surplus. Looked at the right way, it's a nutshell explanation for the existence of life - an eruption of structure in response to excess solar energy.

I doubt the meat of the statement was original with Burke, but given his gift for a turn of phrase, the formulation may have been. At any rate, I've never seen it elsewhere. It keeps coming up in my own thinking and writing, so I've decided to memorialize it as "Burke's Law of Metadynamics" for reference by myself and anyone else who cares. The 'Burke' is obvious, the 'metadynamic' sets it aside from rules that operate within dynamic systems of fixed structure; it is a statement instead about the malleability of structure.

It's been long since I've done ecosystems work, so that's not the reason it keeps coming up. Experience has show me that the statement applies equally to human organizations and systems, particularly if you substitute 'wealth' by analogy to 'energy'. In that form it's a more succinct statement of several of John Gall's Laws of Systemantics.

rejection: a series of slips and falls

rejection: a series of slips and falls
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

not good enough
not tall enough
not proud enough

not strong enough
not long enough
not efficient at all

the measurements are coarse
the analysis is off
the passion is feeble
the feeling is false

the oceans are polluted
the guns are loaded
the schools are bookless
the woman is wearing pantyhose

the excuses are many
the reasons are few
the verbs are passive
the solutions futile

there is nowhere to go
no redemption, no future

there is nowhere to go?
no redemption, no future?

the eyes are round
the tongue is parched
the bosom is resounding
inside beats the heart

the muffled timpani
that refuses to dull itself
it survives the low-flying
machetes, the beheading
machines that swing
so close to the surface

the obstacles are insurmountable
the choices are few
faith is flagging
hope doesn't know what to do
doesn't know what to do
doesn't know what to do

she comes up from her cross-legged
meditation, with a piece of chalk,
she draws the frame of a door,
a curve of a knob, she invites herself
to please just knock