Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Go Navy

Ladies and Gentleman: Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) articulating (for some values of 'articulate') his concern that the island of Guam will "actually tip-over and capsize."

Forget - if you can - that this guy writes laws the rest of us must obey.

Note the iron discipline the Admiral demonstrated. Not a snicker, not a smile.  He did not cover his mouth. He did not glare at the Congressman for wasting his valuable time.  He did not turn to his aide and mutter 'Geez Louise, can you believe this guy?"

Bravo Zulu, Admiral.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lady or the Tiger?

Health Care Reform, Henry Waxman issuing a subpoena to private citizens to account for why they're following the law, demagoguery on the right and left, politicians making promises to get elected then making a u-turn in office, Abscam, Iran-Contra, Monica-Gate, Watergate ..

There are two ways to take the long view on this.

a. Politicians have always been this way.  What we learned in eighth-grade Civics was lies and whitewash.

b. The guys sitting in the D.C. are degenerate and not worthy of our heritage.

I'm not sure which bothers me more.

Have no truck with the senseless thing

James Lovelock likes his democracy. Unless it's an impediment to meaningful action:

Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being.

Why rant when Kipling has done it for me?

Macdonough's Song by Rudyard Kipling
"As easy as A B C"--A Diversity of Creatures"

Whether the State can loose and bind
In Heaven as well as on Earth:
If it be wiser to kill mankind
Before or after the birth--
These are matters of high concern
Where State-kept schoolmen are;
But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
Endeth in Holy War.

Whether The People be led by The Lord,
Or lured by the loudest throat:
If it be quicker to die by the sword
Or cheaper to die by vote--
These are things we have dealt with once,
(And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
Endeth in wholly Slave.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King--
Or Holy People's Will--
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!
Saying --after--me:--

Once there was The People--Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, 0 ye slain!
Once there was The People--it shall never be again!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

FOB Haiti Resort

FOB Haiti Resort - by Kristopher Battles.

By Marine Combat Artist Kristopher Battles.  See more work from his Haiti deployment at his blog.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shut up prole or we'll feed you to the Borg

Scalzi on living in the Star Trek universe

Pros: The United Federation of Planets is by all indications a functioning representative democracy;

Hold on there, Ol' Hoss. Who says that Star Trek is a representative democracy?

I am not much of a Star Trek fan. I might have missed something. I do not recall ever hearing the characters talk about voting, or what kind of government they have.

It's all 'Star Fleet this' and 'Star Fleet that' and whatever leaders they have shown on screen are .. Star Fleet admirals and poo-bahs of various stripes.

The Federation is ruled by a military junta as far as I can tell.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not impressed by your angst

Dear Boy Who Is Dating My Daughter.

(Content redacted in the interests of familial harmony.)

The Mgt.

BASH bleg

I've got a script provided by Oracle.  I don't like it - it does not play well with my init script.  Before I tear down that fence I'd like to try to understand why the fence was built the way it was.

The Script

. ./
export WLS_PW
$JAVA_HOME/bin/java -classpath $CLASSPATH weblogic.Admin -url $HOST_NAME:7001 SHUTDOWN -username $WLS_USERNAME -password $WLS_PW

I'm confused about line 2. is important - a lot of environment information specific to my install is in there that the app needs to start and stop.

The problem with this if you call it from a script that lives in /etc/init.d it fails: " ./ not found".

Is there a reason for doing it this way over capturing the directory into a variable using dirname?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We did it

We really did.

Welcome to government healthcare

Now we get to read the bill and find out, exactly, what we've got.

I knew some neighbors back in Texas who bought themselves one of those pot-bellied piglets. And they insisted that she was one, even as she grew bigger and bigger and came to look a whole lot like a bacon pig not much like a small pot-bellied one.

'That pig looks like an eatin' pig.'
'She's not, she's one of those pot-bellied ones. She's big 'cause we fed her a lot when she was little.'

She was big all right - her kids rode the pig around the yard like a fat little pony.

Listened to a talking-head show on WPR a night or two ago.  An actual Socialist from Madison [1] was pretty darn happy now that we had to pony up for health care for everyone we'd cut back on foreign adventures abroad.  It made me think.

Sure, we can afford to pay for everyone's health care: we're a rich country, after all.  We probably can't pay for health care for everyone while funding a military with a global presence and that can deploy pretty much anywhere on a moment's notice.

A world where the United States is just a really big Sweden might be a better world.  It will sure enough be a different one. 

Without a global American military the dollar .. well it probably won't be a global currency.  The other countries that spend 1% of their GDP (hello, Japan) for a self-defense force will see a real need for a force that can go out and defend their interests abroad.  Interests will step into a power vacuum.  Not all of them will be nice guys and our ability to make them behave will be nil.

If we can't ship a brigade of Marines to Africa on a week's notice to kill people we also won't be able to send a brigade of army dogs to Haiti to succor earthquake victims, or a task force of squids to the Pacific to aid tsunami victims.

We will be better off, perhaps.  The rest of the world ... not so much.

[1] I know, you're thinking 'Madison'?  I was shocked, shocked to hear from an actual Socialist in Madison.


There is a movie called Saving Private Ryan.  You've probably heard of it.  Now, there is a dude in this movie, which is a movie about dudes and guys and honor and doing the right thing and stuff.  This dude is a classic rear echelon guy - you'll know he is when you see him. He's clean, he forgets to carry his rifle, he is rather spindly.  He is the movie stereotype of innocence-at-war.  You know before it's all done that fortune is going fuck him in the ass.[1]

And boy howdy, does it.  He gets tasked with the job of lugging ammo to and fro in a tough battle and he funks it up real bad: lets a comrade get killed, runs away.  He probably wet his pants. [2]  There are at least a few people out there in straw man land who think this character is a gratuitous of insult to Our Brave Soldiers by Steven Spielberg.

It was a gratuitous insult inserted by Spielberg to sully the tens of thousands of men who did their job without abandoning their comrades.

These people are ignorant.

Having a variety of characters in a movie makes for a good story.  You get your brave, your dumb, your opportunist, your cowardly in a cast of characters: this makes for conflict.  I guess you could have a war movie with twelve brave soldiers giving their all like robots: thinking like thoughts as they kill the Bad Guys with identical studly bravado.  It would not be a very good movie.

It's also not very good history. There is nothing intrinsic to the American character that makes a man a good solider.   Indeed your average American right off the block is a very bad soldier.  It takes mean sergeants and lot of brainwashing to make a kid even a mediocre soldier.

Read a bit about Task Force Smith.  Smith's hapless battalion might have been the worst of a bad division as David Halberstam claims in 'The Coldest Winter'  - but the best the Army had were not much better.  The problem with the Army in 1950 really wasn't the lack of weapons or the lack of ammo or problems with material.  The soldiers were bad.  Time after time units would march to a notional front line, hear the sound of guns and melt away.  Sergeants would look around and find their platoon drifting to the rear, dropping weapons and shedding boots so they could run through rice paddies.

They ran.  Fled.  Bugged out.  Deserted their comrades.

It happens.  Should we pretend it does not?

[1] Walter would have a thing or two to say about this, I think.  No need to belabor it, here.
[2] I would have.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Orwellian doesn't fit

Amusingly, the Associated Press has been waiting three months for the government to deliver records on its own Open Government Directive.

There are many adverbs I'd use there.  Amusing is not one of them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Now that is a good dog

He counted loud he counted long he waited for the shock.
He felt the wind he felt the cold, he felt that awful drop.
The silk from his reserve fell out and wrapped about his legs,


“Dogs don’t perceive height difference, so that doesn’t worry them. They’re more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we’re on the way down, that doesn’t matter and they just enjoy the view.[1] It’s something he does a lot. He has a much cooler head than most recruits.”

Blah-Delta-SAS-Afghanistan-blah-HALO-dog scouts-blah.

The important part: Airborne Dogs. That is AWESOME.

[1] You know there is a whole of tail wagging going on at this point.

This, Alanis, is ironic.

Lee: Don’t kill people with swords, kill them with plowshares. They’re sharp and heavy and if the wound or infection doesn’t kill them, the irony will.

Everybody sing!

Jake Gissendanner: Every Shuttle is sacred, every Shuttle is great. If a Shuttle is wasted, God gets quite irate.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Latter-Day Marines

Cory Doctorow watched a video of some guys speed assembling servers [1]

"It's like watching latter-day Marines..."

The phrase has been rattling around in my head all day. I'm still not sure what it means.

Marines in this year of our Lord 2010 are adept at field stripping computers and their rifles? Present-day Marines are are pudgy, near-sighted, nerds? The LDS is going to field a regiment of Marines? In the future Marines will eschew the Rifleman's Creed for a Bitslinger's Manifesto?

This is my laptop. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My computer is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. My data, without me, is useless. Without crypto, I am useless. I must enter my code true. I will....

[1] If you think using a speed-assembled server is a good idea you have another think coming. Putting a rifle together quickly ... a rifle is a reasonably robust tool. You're supposed to be able to bang them around.

Slamming delicate circuit boards together is going to gain you anything except trouble down the road.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Home on the range

Pulled into Indianapolis, spotted a sign:

Waffle House

Well shucky dern and slop the pigs.   My Okie twang - debilitated by a decade spent north of Chicago - asserted itself and I was home.

Not that I've had many meals there, in the past.  And for sure wild horses could not drag me in now.  About the only thing they could serve that I'd want is oatmeal.  And you know the oatmeal in a Waffle House is suffused with bacon grease and enough fat and gunk to knock a horse over.[1]

Still - everywhere I've lived in the States from 1985 right up to 2002 had these things everywhere.  WAFFLE HOUSE for years and years was background noise for my environment.

[1] Also ... you could not always get a waffle in a Waffle House.  Famously - supposedly - the waffle iron in the WAFFLE HOUSE in Garner, North Carolina was broken and had been for years.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Attention to detail on the Illinois Tollway

From an oasis [1] on the Illinois Tollway, north of Chicago.

Forget water: attention to detail is our most precious resource.

Water: our most prescious natural resource.

Geez Louise: how many people looked at this on the way from drawing board to printer and let a spelling error blow right past their eyeballs?

[1] The rest of the world would call it a 'rest stop'

Friday, March 12, 2010

Economic Recovery In North East Wisconsin

It's a good news, bad news thing.

Bad news.  The MIS department of the city of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin was caught embezzling more than $100,000.

Good news!  The city of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin is hiring for it's MIS department.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Future is going to look strange. Darn strange.

I’m interested in what we define as beauty, when we choose to create it ourselves.

The future of beauty is big puffy lips, pouty looks, guys looking like disaffected women, women looking like a transhumanist Barbie Doll and not a one of them looks like they could change their own tire on the side of the road.

NSFW warning: boobies.

Imperial Grunts

I'm reading Robert Kaplan's 'Imperial Grunts'.  The military is out there doing what we ask them to do, sometimes making up policy on the ground.

When guys like this are put in play stuff happens.  I hope you're paying attention.

Pg 19
.. like the Marine lieutenant colonel I had met briefly at Camp Pendelton, Adolph didn't know how to be subtle, or how to dissemble.  He was brutally, refreshingly direct.  Dealing with him saved time.

Pg 77
Braun, Perez, and Wynn were three well-spoken men with tattoos, guns, and serious reading material all over their hootch: Bruan had been dipping into the complete works of James Fenimore Cooper.  Wynn, through frustrated by the timid military-diplomatic policy of the previous days, nevertheless told me that "everyone has his place and I accept mine.  I'm just happy being a sergeant. What do I know?"  His tone was truly humble.

I was beginning to love these guys.  They had amassed so much technical knowledge about so many things at such a young age.  They could perform minor surgery on the spot.  Yet each had such a reduced sense of self compared to everyone else I knew in the media and public policy worlds. In the barracks, egotism was expressed purelyi in terms of team pride.  Here hierarchy and authority were looked upon as supreme virtues, giving each officer and noncom a role and function in a noble cause.  Everyone had read Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers, and related more to World War II paratroopers in the story than to their contemporaries in civilian life.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Money down the rat hole

I'm not ragging on these guys for grammatical mistakes.  No - what irks me is that they spent a good chunk of cash for a real nice display slap-bang in the middle of East Towne Mall in Capitol City and could not be bothered to proofread their copy.

Where the stone business based on trust

'Where the stone business based on attention to detail!'

.. is family own business

What kills me is that many people looked at this, proofread it, scanned it, laid their eyes on it ... and out it came, looking like ass.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Wear a sword on your belt in public people might look at you funny but what they'll be thinking is that you're a harmless goof wearing a costume

Carry a firearm on your belt in public the cops will be around Real Quick and there will be a lot of higgidly-piggidly.

This despite that a fellow who is well trained with a sword can be more lethal than a bloke with a pistol.

I understand why this is - swords belong to Ye Olde Days and are seen as toys or relics.  Firearms, the teevee reliably informs us, are infernal machines of Death and Destruction.

It's just odd that one is seen costume and the other reason to run in circles and cower in fear.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Attack ships, shoulder of Orion, etc.
Is it wrong of me to not be able to listen to certain parts of Tannhauser without thinking "Oh Bwunhilda, yer so wovwey"?

Only if it's wrong for me to not be able to read the word 'Tannhauser' without thinking 'I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.'

Monday, March 01, 2010

The swing and kick at :36 sells it

Herself writes ..

Charlie, our cockatoo, is very very smart. He always manages to think things through and escape. He is very proud of himself when he does.  My 15 year old, Aidan, decided to catch him in the act (youtube ahoy) and put a small recorder down as Charlie doesn't want anyone to know his escape tactics.

Facts are not optional

I have got to get over this 'I want people to like me' thing.

Oh, sure: I want my wife to like me.  My family.  Friends and relations. Co-workers.

A complete stranger reads something I wrote, deletes my comment, replies that I'm wrong, closes the thread?  Man, the heck with her.

Despite who she claims to know, her snotty patriotism and her lack of reading comprehension, she's still wrong.

Without getting wrapped around the axle of detail, generals don't know everything, what they know is usually wrong, surprise happens all the time.  That's what war is.  For further clarification on the subject I direct your attention to James Dunnigan's very excellent 'How To Make War'.

Getting all snotty-patriotic the facts of a situation means the surprise - which will happen - is magnified and you spend a lot of time running around in circles.  Which is entertaining but hardly productive.

MiB Control Center

One needs to keep architects far away from areas where work actually has to be done: the Mosek Control Center in Moscow looks like the bridge of a starship from an improbable future.

Mosek Control Center
Moments after the captain called 'abandon ship' the bridge was deserted as crew ran for the life pods.

Hermetically sealed command pod?  Check.  Rolling office chairs allowing an careless worker to roll off the platform?  You betcha.  4,921.5 square feet of wasted space? 

Brother that ain't wasted, it's art.

You just know the actual work purported to be done in this space happens in a small room with some pushed-together desks, CRTs, cork board maps and two-way radios racked on the wall.