Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Now I have that off my chest

Re: It is all Lee's fault

Rick C: *cough* So you don't refer to it as "the war of Northern aggression," I assume.

I don't even know anyone who was killed in the American Civil War and the subject irks me.  Bothers me to visit quiet country graveyards, and see so many markers of young men under the sod.  Pisses me off, thinking of the waste, and ruin that follow armies like a plague.

The Confederacy was led by evil, stupid, men, founded on an evil, loathsome, institution.  They were wrong to hold slaves, stupid and wrong to secede.

The Union was wrong, wrong, wrong, to distort the constitution out of true to force the Secessionists back into the Union.

The only, only, good that came out of that war was ending the wicked practice of slavery. 

And, perhaps, making this country, in the long run, a more sane, humane, and civilized place to live.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It is all Lee's fault

In the simplistic tv-movie-of-the-week view of the American Civil War, in THIS corner there was superb, gentleman-solider Robert E. Lee.  In the other corner was brutal, never met a frontal assault he didn't like, butcher and drunkard, U.S. Grant.  Lee lost, Grant won, because Lee was crushed under the brutal frontal assaults of US Grant, southern gentlemen buried under a mountain of blue-coated dead.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit; Robert E. Lee was not a good general.  He fiddle-fracked around on campaigns of no possible benefit, wasted the only resource he could not afford to waste - his manpower.  He was a fool, unable to adapt to the changing times.

Grant was a superb general.  Probably the best we've ever fielded.  He knew how to seize the main chance, was adaptable, and understood in his bones how to use the weapons that his country gave him to achieve tactical and strategic ends.
If there was justice in this world, those so-called Lost Cause ass-hats would never have gotten any traction, their warped view of that conflict would be as derided as Holocaust Denier thing.  High schools in Virginia would be named after Chamberlin, Grant, Sheridan, Hancock and not that pack of vain-glorious popinjays that styled themselves officers in the Confederate Army.

And 'States Rights' would not be identified with racists and yahoos with St. Andrews flag decals on their trucks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sack of Rome

Everything I knew about Alaric I sacking Rome was wrong.

I will allow this wasn't much.  I got most of it from a comic book called 'GI Combat'.  I am not kidding.  It went like this:

Some gangers rode into the Roman Empire one day, trashed the place, set everything on fire, then rode out of town.  The End.

Don't let them tell you public education isn't on the job.

What really happened is way more complicated, and involves a lot of politics and people and ends up with Alaric I outside the walls of Rome with 30,000 barbarians and then somehow a gate were opened ( I thought you locked the door! ) and the city was sacked.

But it was a nice sacking, as those things go.  People were allowed sanctuary, generally were unmolested.  Everything valuable not nailed down - and a lot that was - was hauled away.

But I was struck, on reading, and hearing, was thinking about the discipline that must have been required to 1) march to Rome in good order then 2) maintain even a notional siege of a walled city and 3) ransack the place without going berserk.

Alaric wasn't the head of a biker gang: he had himself an army. 


Blackout / All Clear - Connie Willis

A science fiction novel that is really a love letter to everyone who won World War II by doing their part.  Which, often, consisted of getting up and going to work in spite of the German Air Force doing their best to murder you and everyone you loved.

I do not know how they did it.  Before the war, I read elsewhere, the government was convinced that just a few short weeks of that thing and everyone would be dead, fled, or rebelling.  But no - they stood up to it for eight months.  Nobody special, not soldiers or Spartans, just ... people.

Anyway: love letter, Blitz, V1, V2, Dunkirk, time traveling historians.  Who have a problem with time management, and always miss some terrifically important events going on right under their noses.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dan Carlin

Remember James Burke?  Science historian.  Old guy, made science and history sound cool just by force of personality and some great writing?

ConnectionsDay The Universe Changed.  That guy.

Found a guy enough like him to make me smile but different enough to make me pay attention: Dan Carlin.

Mr. Carlin does two podcasts: Common Sense and Hardcore History

Hardcore History ... listening to Carlin riff about Magellan, and Globalization v 1.0 and The Blitz, on and on ... I was reminded very strongly of Burke at his best when he was cranking along and things would come out of left field and you'd go all whoa and things would fire in your brain and it was good times in the brain housing group.

Common Sense is what a.m. talk radio should be, but isn't because it has to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Joe Bob sez checkit out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Today I learned how to tell Redhat to run a bit of software as a service.

Init script, I've done those: no problem.
Read an inch deep on the Redhat's little ways of making init scripts run as services: easy-peasey.
Puppet module to drop the script and some other bits [1] in place: check.

Pride before fall.  'service blah does not support chkconfig' I was told.

It means that, in hindsight, the RHEL-centric init script examples I glanced at were suspiciously well documented.

In every sh script you will look at, and many you don't, this means 'remark'.  Documentation.  A note to your future self.

# chkconfig: 2345 95 05

In Redhat-land it means 'hey, chkconfig, this is the run level and priorities for the script you are running'.


Chase that idea around: in every sh file on your computer - and there are a metric f*ck-ton of them - '#' is 'remark' except for one very special set of sh files used by one very special program on boot.

Who thought this was a good idea, and can I meet this man because I admire his sense of self and certainty.

I'll probably find out, now, that this makes a depressing amount of sense.  Maybe '#' really was not meant for 'remark' and this is the only instance remaining in the world where it is used correctly and everyone else is wrong, wrong, wrong.

[1] But not deploying software.  Not yet.  Non-RPM packaged software is just out of my reach.  For now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

... shall not perish from the earth

Some Guys want to build a fortified town out in Idaho.

The Citadel Community will house between 3,500 and 7,000 patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures. There will be no HOA. There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.

These guys are looking for a solution to this problem: that a nation conceived in liberty, then run by a pack of vandals for their own selfish ends, cannot long endure. 

The bill is going to come due, the piper will want to be paid, a lot of somebodies are going to find themselves odd man out in a game of musical chairs.

Nobody wants to be 'it' when the music stops.

Collecting a few thousand people in a single town is the wrong answer.  What you got there is a place just begging for Federal attention and if things are going the way these guys expect the last thing you want is the FBI knocking down your door with a tank.

The way of the future is, yes, like minded individuals coming together.  But using discretion.  Networks of interest over the internet.  A few guys here, a few there.  Establish trusted friendships with this fellow down the block, that dude in the next town over.  Bob is a nut about reloading.  Kevin knows crypto.  Samantha programs drones.  Jimmy can grow anything.  Roberta is a nurse.

John Robb calls these resilient communities.

If the state is going to wander away, it won't go quietly.  Better a live, prosperous, and discrete network than a militant stronghold that will be smeared into the dirt.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Technology outpaces law and custom

Moh's smart gun is here.

“Gaia, it’s hot,” he muttered.
“Thirty-one Celsius,” said the gun.
He liked hearing the gun. It gave him a wired feeling. Only a screensight read-out, but he heard it with his eyes like Sign.
“What’ll it be tonight? Cranks or creeps?”
“Beginning search.”
“Stop.” He didn’t want it racking its memory for an educated guess; he wanted it looking.

Scotty don't need to beam me up to the future, it's here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

You Will Poke Your Eye Out

Dear Government,

'When you are wrestling for possession of a sword, the man with the handle always wins.'



Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Pay Off

Spending the last three months learning Puppet is starting to pay off.

Learned the puppet 'language' which is Ruby.  More-or-less.  Wrote some really lame classes. Re-wrote them. Spent some time learning how not to use the tool.  I'm now on the third or fourth iteration of that cycle.  Got things humming along in a pilot.  Now I'm pushing it to production ...

Last night I extracted a host from template.  This morning I added the classes to it's .pp file, launched the agent and .. thirty minutes later I had a host running with all of our company-specific bits on it, security locked down, postfix running correctly, and so on and so forth.

A day-long process [1] now completes in thirty minutes.  One minute of typing, twenty-nine watching the server configure itself.  Click and go, man.  Click and go, baby.

[1] Three man-hours but honestly, it's really hard around the office to just do one thing for three hours without interruption.  So we'll call it 'a day'.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Grand Child Update Two: Bossing Dogs Around

He's learned a few commands to boss the big dog around, here at S4C Central.  With hand gestures!

She pays him no mind because he can't enunciate, yet.

But he's getting there.  Kid will be 'sitting' and 'manners'ing and 'dead dog'ing her yet.

Grand Child Update: How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin and Put the Tot to Sleep

At nearly two he is the right age for 'Just So Stories'.

There is cadence and wordplay to keep him engaged.  Just enough pictures to keep him in one's lap and quiet, not so many he rouses to engage with them.  Stories just long enough for a tot.

I think he stayed awake to see the Parsee Man win over the big stupid rhino with guile and subtlety (lesson!) but it was close.

Plus you learn how things came to be as you see them now.