Thursday, April 29, 2010

A view not spoiled

'We don't want offshore windmills,' they said. 'They ruin the natural beauty of the island.  And they will interfere without sunrise ceremonies.'

I had found these to be reasonable objections to the windmill farm off Cape Cod.  My mind's eye pictured hundreds of the things whirling away in the surf, casting shadows over the beach, harshing the mellow of a sunrise ritual ... yeah I can see that.

Then I found this.

This is a ruined view.  From

Are you f***ing kidding me?

This is not a spoiled view.  This is not going to interfere with a sunrise ritual. 

This is people who want teevee, ipods, cheap electricity in a never-was 18th century New England Shangri-La.

Life is not a Maxfield Parrish painting.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scientific Progress

We all snickered when writers have their space doctors prescribe radiation shots in cheesy SF.  We have - perhaps - snickered in vain.

The new animal experiments detailed in the study confirmed the power of macroketone. The agent did not stop the cancer cells implanted into the animals from forming tumors or from growing, but it completely prevented tumor cells from spreading, compared with control animals, he says. Even when macroketone was given after tumors formed, most cancer spread was blocked.

Discovering that citrus prevented scurvy allowed Europeans to sail around the world without loosing most of one's crew. Regular doses of macroketone could allow humanity to voyage to the far reaches of the solar system without dying of cancer when they get back.

Huzzah for scientific progress.

She was not interested in minty fresh breath

Found this on my bed when I came home from work.

curiously odd dog

The Dog found the tin on my nightstand and chewed the holy heck out of the metal tin. But did not touch the mints on the inside.

A curiously odd dog, indeed.

It's a trap!

Carrier landings are some of the most difficult and technical tasks for naval aviators. This was certainly the case in WWII. In July 1942, early in the campaign against the Japanese empire, a young pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after running to enemy fighters during a desperate attack on a key military installation. The pilot ..

Click to read the rest.

Tab Clearing

Progressive Ideals and Why  They Suck - Leslie Fish.  Also - Comrade Stalin Jokes!

Honor is oboslete - Ryan Oakley.  it's all because of the devices.

US Government to citizens: Y'all on your own after the bomb drops.  Like, duh, we knew this already.

Moderns revise history to make it palatable, not to understand it

As a construct, history is too often revised to match contemporary views. It has been said that each generation must rewrite history in order to understand it. The opposite is true. Moderns revise history to make it palatable, not to understand it. Those who edit "history" to popular taste each decade will never understand the past - neither the horrors nor glories of which the human race is equally capable - and for that reason, they will fail to understand themselves.

T.R. Fehrenbach - Forward to the 2000 edition of 'Lone Star'

Time to give a Newtonian demonstration, of a bullet, its mass, and its acceleration

"I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

I can't decide if Steve Hawking was dumbing down his thoughts for the rest of us and so something got lost in translation from his big brain to us .. or if he's one of those guys who are brilliant in one area and just average in the rest.

There is far more stuff in our solar system than there is on our home planet.  This should be more-or-less true for other solar systems.  To get here to plunder our resources the alien nomads would have to drive by vast stores of wealth all ready to be mined, processed and used.

Anyone who would do that is dumb as a box of hammers and how is someone like that going to get a space-faring culture going in the first place?

Via Popehat, among others.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nap Time

Thursday was 'Take Your Child to Work For A Few Hours Day'.

 Take Your Child To Work Day

The Monkey learned that watching a man type on a computer is boring.

But before that there was a tour of the labs and prototype facility. No tesla coil, but they did see a robot arm do it's thing and other Wonders and he still wants to be an engineer so that much is okay.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Day the West Was Won

Today is San Jacinto Day

At nightfall, Houston sat under a tree with his boot full of blood, hearing the reports. Six hundred thirty Mexican corpses were scattered in clumps across the field.  Almonte surrendered about the same number more, 200 of whom were wounded. These men sat on the ground, under gaurd, like dispirited cattle, still dazed by the horror that had overtaken them.

From 'Lone Star' by T.R. Fehrenbach

A real gangsta plays his cards right

Q: If Jeff Wood is in the back seat, what do you call the guy driving?
A: Deputy.

We have a legislator, a multiple offender of our 'driving while impaired' laws.  Not talking a boozy block or two from the tavern to home but careening all over the countryside high as a kite with a skinful of booze.

He's been actually convicted, [1] for a wonder.  And he survived a vote of the Lege who wanted to remove him from office for being a public menace and giving the lege a bad name.

It was a close vote.  The guy who broke the tie was (you knew this of course) Jeff Wood.

Damn it's good to be a gangster legislator.

[1] But don't worry!  He's on work release and can still carry out the will of the People.


Lileks, on dogs
In my more muddle-headed mystical moods I believe dogs were put here as the perfect lesson in the relationship between humans and the infinite divine; we see what it is like to live as though we understand everything, when there’s simply no means by which a dog can fathom what we know. But they know enough, don’t they? And they know more. I may pity him for not having fingers; if he could, he’d pity me for not having a nose.

From the emails

On the recent acquisition of Sun, and some recent choices Oracle has made to increase revenue and the resulting comments along the lines of 'what the hey are they doing with SUN?'

SUN's not pinin'! 'SUN's passed on! This company is no more! SUN has ceased to be! 'SUN's expired and gone to meet 'its maker! SUN's a stiff! Bereft of life, SUN rests in peace!

If Oracle hadn't bought it SUN'd be pushing up the daisies!

Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! SUN's off the twig! SUN's kicked the bucket, SUNs shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The D.I.

Ah - Jack Webb's movie 'The DI'.

This should be a more widely known movie than it is.

The night my platoon (MCRD San Diego, 3rd Battalion, Lima Company, Platoon 3099) were picked up by our 'permanent' DI team the Senior rolled in a VCR and played this movie.  Instant bafflement: drill instructors are supposed to be ... mean?  And .. yelling a lot? What is the movie-night stuff?

No worries: they turned on the fun and games after the movie was over.

Staff Sergeant King was an unusual and effective Senior DI.   Several items stands out in my memory

  • He drove a big-ass street bike and parked it next to the barracks.
  • His MOS was 'band'.  This was not something I ever thought of as an actual job in the Marines.
  • When we were being 'good' he'd sit us down and read us selected letters from home. [1]

Included in his bag of tricks was a metronome (that ran all.night.long) to get us used to marching in step.

And he procured a friggin' bass drum to get us used to marching with the band.  Dragooned two of the light-duty recruits [2] to pound on the thing while we drilled around the parade deck.

Boom.    Boom.     Boom  -  boom  -  boom.

"FASTER!" he yelled across the deck.

Boom.Boom. Boom-boom-boom.

Like that.  For hours at a go.

Now - enough memory lane krep - time to march into the future. ( Boom.Boom. Boom-boom-boom. )

[1] With a recruit's permission, of course.
[2] It was of course pure coincidence that the guys on light-duty chits - and who could not march with us while we were being graded - were also the guys with two left feet who could not march in step.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A bad drug and not in a good-bad way

Since 1967, hundreds of original [ Star Trek ] novels, short stories, and television and movie adaptations have been published.

Ahhh! It burns!

Star Trek novels are a gateway drug. The kid reading about Star Fleet today will be reading MacLeod's 'Star Faction' next year and having his mind blown away.

Yet ... they are pretty bad.  But better than 'Death Be Not Proud', 'Lord of the Flies', 'Catcher in the Rye' and the others works of Literature beloved by High School teachers and almost no one else.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Same krep, different day

Fred Pohl on the Good Old Days
When I was ten years old, my mother used to have me skate down to the butchers’ on Flatbush Avenue and, for 39 cents, get half a pound of ground round steak and “watch him grind it.”

Then time passed. We got all the advantages of modern technology as they came along. By now, the butchers’ was in the local supermarket and the “ground round” was in pre-measured and plastic-wrapped packages, the healthiest-looking, reddest already ground meat you ever saw, and apart from the odd case of staph or Escherichia coli now and then, everything was just as modern and as sanitary as it could be, and of course it wasn’t 39 cents any more, either.

$0.39 in 1937 had about the same buying power as $6.02 in 2010.
  SWMBO informs me you can buy a half-pound of ground round steak for about $2.00. Meat has gotten more sanitary and less expensive since 1937.

To paraphrase  the late, great Minnie Pearl: "I'd like to think that Fred just isn't himself today. But I'm afraid he is."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A nice robot phone is not an acceptable substitute for a future

Warren Ellis ... does he get out much?

I am writing this in the wake of the announcement -- entirely expected -- that US government funding for Nasa's human space flight initiatives has been canceled, and any American progress in that area will now be turned over to private enterprise. And if you think that this is a good idea, just ask yourself how reliable your local rail service has been since deregulation.

Pretty good, thanks for asking.

CN runs hundreds of freight cars between Green Bay and Chicago every day, right past my office window. Four airlines serve my 'regional county airport'. Last time I flew Government Air the seats were uncomfortable, ear plugs were mandatory because cabin was sure not sound proof, the in-flight meals were bologna sandwiches and fruit juice.[1]

Too bad for the lame opening - I strongly agree with his thesis

The single simplest reason why human space flight is necessary is this, stated as plainly as possible: keeping all your breeding pairs in one place is a retarded way to run a species.

[1] Let's not even mention the time my flight to Okinawa was canceled in Guam, leaving me and a few dozen other stranded until the next MAC flight two days later. Which took me to Korea where I caught another airplane to Kadena.

If the Air Force was going to leave me stranded, the least they could have done was to leave me stranded in Korea. Friggin' Guam.

Hat Tip.

Arbitrary police actions and subsidized drugs

For the United States the price of empire had proved to be internal decay; the dwindling core of taxpayers grimly entrenched against the swelling misery of the Citizens in their Welfare Islands, kept pacified by arbitrary police actions and subsidized drugs.

'Go Tell the Spartans'
Jerry Pournelle

We don't need to have fun

My dad wrote and said my mother was in the comics.

Pickles, April 13, 2010

My mom is a smart cookie.

Why You Should Do Well in School

Friday, April 09, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Because a lie would be so much better

Entertaining bit of fluff. This bit is a wee irritating, however ...

To conclude, you're going to need to let the aliens know we've unearthed our own evolutionary history. Put your personal feelings aside here: Do not look an alien race in the eyes (eyes?) and tell them the universe was created for us.

A good number of scientists believe this might be the "ultimate" cosmic IQ test: the bar by which all alien races measure self-awareness. Do you personally believe we were crafted b a Creator? Well suck it up for ten minutes and draw something like the above, showing an increase in complexity resulting in a human being.

I believe the '"ultimate"" cosmic IQ test' reflects the prejudice of a 'good number of scientists', and not an objective reality of hypothetical aliens from Oa.

Aliens would travel for thousands of objective light-years to get here. I conjecture it would take a very strong motivation to attempt this.  The strongest emotion that we know of: the hunger to know why and what comes next.

Aliens show up with a spiritual void.  The first human they encounter tells them "What, no.  I's all rationality and science and when you die .. that's it. Lights out. No father in the sky. Only superstitious rubes believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

That is not going to go over well.

Amateur Hour

Megan McArdle: The Horror, the horror

I'm still not quite sure what to say about the now infamous video of pilots in Iraq shooting down a group of people, two Reuters cameramen among them.

Mostly what I think at this point is that the video is considerably more ambiguous than the editorializing from Wikileaks suggests.

Well what I think ... wait, this is obligatory:

Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man.

Okay.  What I think is that the production of the video is clumsy.  It reinforces existing prejudices and assumptions and doesn't do anything to get someone from the wrong [1] side to re-consider their their point of view.

The KGB would have done a better job at agitprop, frankly.   Maybe next time they can do better.

[1] You know - the baby-killing pro-war machine side.


A user at Stack Overflow:  "Does anyone know of any resources that talk about best practices or design patterns for shell scripts?"

Best Response: "I wrote quite complex shell scripts and my first suggestion is 'don't'."


Wednesday, April 07, 2010


This takes place during the Second Infantry Division's retreat from Kuni-ri, November 30, 1950

What Emerson remembered best about that day ... was that the commander of the Twenty-third came in on the last vehicle, a jeep with a mounted machine gun. Emerson immediately understood the meaning of that - a commander who had made himself one of the most vulnerable members of his outfit should the Chinese catch up with them. The last man out, Emerson thought, that's good; that's what a real commander does. The commander, whose name was Paul Freeman, stopped briefly to talk to him, and was very cool, and very much in command - as if something like this, taking a regiment down a back road to escape three or four Chinese divisions, was something he did every day.

From 'The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam

Things to Like About Dogs

Nixie - Lily

1. The big dog was was laying down - oh-so casually - with her legs around the little one's dish. "Oh, look at that," she said. "Where did that little bitty dish come from?"

2. When the phone went into camera position the little dog ran in, perched on her back feet.  The camera means treats might be offered.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

If it's got massive amounts of torgue or explodes, it's cool

Ty MacDowell organized a parade of women to walk around without shirts on.  Because it's unfair that men get to do that [1] and women are prohibited by society from baring their bosoms.

Ty MacDowell professed surprise that people showed up to watch.  She was amazed and outraged that a whole lot of these gawkers were men.  And upset that these men took pictures.

"I'm amazed and enraged (at) the fact that there's a wall of men watching. A lot of people were taking pictures without even asking," she said. "Even if you're somewhere where people are fully clothed, you should ask."
Now, she's young and perhaps was raised in a very sheltered environment and so does not realize some very basic truths about males.

Males are simple.  We like things with lots of torque.  And explosions.  And boobs.

If a sheltered chick from Maine with odd ideas about how the world works announces a parade of nekkid boobs, the guys are gonna gawk.  And take pictures.

Which is not to say the gawkers are behaving like men.  They are not.   The polite - the manly - thing to do when confronted by a naif who insists on flaunting herself and her ignorance is to nod a 'how-do-you-do' and go about your business without further comment.

Failing to notice stupid behaivior is the only and utterly correct response.

[1] What kind of a humptyville is Portland, Maine that men walk around downtown on a routine basis without shirts on?  I live in a part of the country labeled 'hick' by the sophisticated but I've never seen that.  Y'all in big cities are weird.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Not just a river in Egypt

Quoted in full because it's soo good.

At a certain point, you have to admit you aren’t good enough to do something better than an expert could do it even if the technical option exists for you to give it a shot anyway.

While people will tolerate a lot of things, what we want are beautiful things that work well. There aren’t many nonexperts who can accomplish that. Expertise needs schooling, maturation, taste, and quite a lot of attitude.

The foregoing explains why open source has nothing to teach literature or indeed any artistic creation, since talent doesn’t scale as you give more and more developers check-in access to the version-control system set up for your novel. It further explains why one’s inability to hack an iPad means precisely nothing. Nobody needs to program an iPad to enjoy using it, except those who have no capacity for enjoyment other than programming and complaining about same.

This was the weekend those of us with high standards lost their remaining residue of patience for ideologues who hyperbolize about open systems without actually creating something people want to use.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

A fourth-grader's idea of three of the four basic food groups

At Old Country Buffet, Chicago.<br/><br/>Pizza, Fried chicken, French fries.  Foundation for a healthy meal.

French fries, fried chicken, and pizza. The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast dinner.

We don't have to care - we're Oracle

Solaris 10, the official stable version of Sun's UNIX operating system, is no longer available to users at no cost. Oracle has adjusted the terms of the license, which now requires users to purchase a service contract in order to use the software.

Sun's policy was that anyone could use Solaris 10 for free without official support. Users could get a license entitling them to perpetual commercial use by filling out a simple survey and giving their e-mail address to Sun. Oracle is discontinuing this practice, and is repositioning the free version as a limited-duration trial.

"Your right to use Solaris acquired as a download is limited to a trial of 90 days, unless you acquire a service contract for the downloaded Software," the new license says.

What this means is ...  time to brush up on FreeBSD.

From an email thread.  G.R. was at an Oracle-Sun welcome event this week ...

After that 90 days, you have to buy a support contract, not purchase Solaris 10 to keep running it, and the support contract for Solaris 10 is 8% of the original cost of the Sun hardware you are running it on. There is currently NO provision for a service contract for Solaris on non sun hardware.

So, if you go and purchase a re-marketed V440 for $600, and want to run Solaris 10 on it, you get to pay 8% of the original purchase price of the hardware for the Solaris 10 service contract.

Unless you have a service contract, there will be -no- patches made available for solaris 10 (or presumedly older versions) in the past, sun had made available critical security patches if you had a service contract or not, now nothing will be available unless you have a service contract.

If anyone can completely alienate their customers by putting the screws to them, all while making patently pornographic amounts of cash, it's Oracle.  This will be fun to watch.