July 2004 Archives

Reminder: Today is Sysadmin Day. Please act accordingly.

I don’t agree with the overall premise of this Billmon piece (the currently successful KE’04 campaign should try to sound a bit more like the Gore campaign? WTF?), but he’s got a great intro line:

I like John Edwards (how can you not like Opie, all grown up and running for vice president?)

New Get Your War On out.

Last night I came up with a solution to the Israel/Palestine problem: Beating Ariel Sharon to death with the corpse of Yassar Arafat.

Stuck down in ‘Bama? No sex toys for you!:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld a 1998 Alabama law banning the sale of sex toys in the state, ruling the Constitution doesn’t include a right to sexual privacy. In a 2-1 decision overturning a lower court, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web sites) said the state has a right to police the sale of devices that can be sexually stimulating.

Based on what I know of the behavior of teenaged boys (and, I assume, teenaged girls), the right to police the sale of “sexually stimulating” devices means the right to police the sale of damn near everything. (See this if you don’t get that last reference.)

The EFF wants you for the Television Digital Liberation Front!:

We want to keep the right to time- and space-shift that the VCR has given us (against Hollywood’s protest). We want to keep the fair use rights that let us excerpt clips from press conferences or make our own “Daily Show” from the evening news. That’s why we’re encouraging people to buy HDTV tuner cards now and build multi-function receivers and recorders around them. Here’s where you can help. The folks at www.pcHDTV.com make an HD-capable (ATSC) tuner card with Linux drivers. The MythTV project has built a terrific personal video recorder (PVR) platform that gives a GNU/Linux PC features like TiVo’s pause live TV and “season pass” recording. These are great for geeks, and we’re looking for volunteers to help make the combination more accessible to the general public.

It’s not too early to start petitioning Santa.

Your tax dollars at work:

Remember how congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle deplored the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib as “un-American”? Last Thursday, however, the House quietly passed a renewed appropriation that keeps open the U.S.’s most infamous torture-teaching institution, known as the School of the Americas (SOA), where the illegal physical and psychological abuse of prisoners of the kind the world condemned at Abu Ghraib and worse has been routinely taught for years.

I just installed a Yahoo! Messenger client; if anybody has a burning need to IM me, ‘genehack’ is the ID you’re looking for.

Seriously behind on the comics review; trying to catch up before picking up this week’s haul…

Supreme Power 11: Straczynski’s retelling of Squadron Supreme (itself a bit of a rip of Justice League, from what I understand) gets seriously odd this month, as the Wonder Woman-analogue beds the Superman-analogue and then reveals herself to be a bit tetched in the head. I’m curious to see where this one is going to go.

Y: The Last Man 24: This book started off with a bang — good writing, inventive concept — but it’s starting to feel a bit stale to me. I think I’m getting frustrated with the slow dragging out of the “why did all the men die?” plot thread.

B.P.R.D. 5: The ‘Plague of Frogs’ storyline wraps up in a suitable convoluted fashion, tying back into one of the earliest Hellboy tales. Excellently executed.

Powers 1: Same Powers book, different imprint. Walker and Pilgrim, reunited, in a world where Powers are outlawed — so only the outlaws have Powers. (Gun control allegory, anyone?)

WildCATS Version 3.0 23: I hear this book is getting canceled, which is a bit of a relief — because it saves me from having to make the “do I keep reading this?” decision. I really liked the earlier issues of this series, but the last few months, with the “Grifter in a female cyborg body blowing shit up” storyline, have been particularly poor.

Liberty Meadows Sourcebook: 90% stuff that’s been released before, but I’m a big Cho fanboy.

Fables: Storybook Love TPB: Excellent stuff, with a classically played cliffhanger at the end. And it’s got Mouse Police!

Ultimate Spiderman 10 TPB: Given that the primary event tying this book together is a movie about Spiderman, featuring Doc Ock, the whole thing felt a bit too “meta” for my taste — but it’s still an entertaining read.

Thanks to the wizardry and generosity of Dan “Flutterby” Lyke, genehack.org is now available via your newsreader. No, not RSS, you damn kids — NNTP! Dagnabit, it was good enough for your daddy, and it’s good enough for me. Dan outlined the idea a while back, if you’re interested in the story; if you just want the goodness, point your news reader at news://www.flutterby.com/flutterby.blogs.genehack.org.

The Shitty Tipper Database showed up on MeFi the other day. Interestingly, both Presidential candidates appear: Bush and Kerry, as does Dick Cheney. Predictably, John Edwards doesn’t appear to be in the database — he seems like somebody who would tip rather well.

Lance Armstrong as shot by Annie Leibovitz. Damn, but these boys get some serious farmer tans (cyclist tans?)

Kinesis is having a summer sale on all their refurb’d keyboards. Might be a good way to dip your toes if you’re interested. I’ve always been intrigued by these keyboards (they’re the funky ones with the keys in bowl-shaped depressions), but I think I’ve probably got better things to be doing with $200 right at the moment…

I spent several hours, split between last night and tonight, trying to get the wireless NIC in TheWife’s laptop to push packets. It had been pushing packets just fine, and then it decided to up and quit with the packet pushing business. It was quite happy to talk to the DHCP server, and it would occasionally return a languid ping or two, but it just couldn’t be bothered with this whole routing traffic thing.

It’s now back again, after about 20 messages on a local sysadmin mailing list, some web searching, and — the key ingredient, I’m sure — repeating the same actions over and over until they mysteriously worked. How did I know they were the right actions? Well, I really didn’t, but the guy recommending them is a pretty good Windows admin, and, well, there really wasn’t much else I could do, short of just buying another wireless NIC and hoping it worked better.

The saddest thing of all is that this is WinXP Pro — this is the current enterprise OS offering, from the current market leader in operating systems. And what does this modern wonder bring us? A piece of hardware suddenly spontaneously quits working — so suddenly that my first thought was that the hardware itself must be broken — and then is fixed on the third iteration of a relatively stupid procedure? We were better off with slide rules. Fsck, we were better off with sticks and lines in the dirt.

Actually, come to think of it, that’s the second saddest thing of all. The saddest thing of all is that I’ve got stuff to do early in the morning tomorrow, which means that I can’t get stinking drunk tonight and attempt to erase the memory of this entire episode before it gets committed to long-term storage.

Speaking of long-term, I’m a wee bit concerned about the long-term cognitive and cultural effects of large groups of people becoming habituated to the idea that if they repeat a seemingly random series of actions over and over again enough times, they’ll eventually manage to get what they want. You’d predict that you’d see any effects in the Windows admin population first, since they’re getting the highest exposure to this stuff.

I don’t know about your Windows admins, but the ones I hang out with are a twitchy, superstitious bunch — about what I’d expect to happen if you spent all day working in an environment where you can’t predict the outcome of your actions based on previous history. This fails to give me a warm fuzzy feeling about the future.

I link this here on the thin, thin chance that some of the work people I’m considering mentioning it to will see it, thus removing me from the horns of the “should I or shouldn’t I” dilemma: memcached:

memcached is a high-performance, distributed memory object caching system, generic in nature, but intended for use in speeding up dynamic web applications by alleviating database load.

KernelTrap has the lowdown on the new kernel development model, coming out of the recent Kernel Summit. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out over the next couple of years; hopefully not in the Chinese sense.

There’s blatant political maneuvering, and then there’s blatant political maneuvering:

WASHINGTON, July 21 - The White House helped to block a Republican-brokered deal on Wednesday to extend several middle-class tax cuts, fearful of a bill that could draw Democratic votes and dilute a Republican campaign theme, Republican negotiators said.

That make sense for everybody? The White House is so afraid of what’s going to happen in November that they’re backing away from what was arguably their number one domestic priority: tax cuts. On one hand, I suppose this is encouraging news: the stink of fear is very much in the air. On the other hand, we’re also deep into “nothing more dangerous than a wounded cornered animal” territory with this administration…

From a Kos thread, a cool collection of Tour photos, from a German site. Some excellent photography here, reminding me once again that I really need to figure out my camera.

The latest rumblings are the third set in the New Madrid fault area so far this year. If I was a St. Louis resident, I think I’d be gettinga mite jumpy about now.

Wonkette on libertarians versus Mormans:

Noting that a special on A&E this week blares that “There may be as many as 50,000 people involved in polygamous relationships in Utah,” a libertarian livejournaler responds, “And you poly Objectivists think you’re all kinky and shit! Ha! You guys are being outfucked by MORMONS!”

I wish I knew more about the background of the author, or the political position of the paper, but this article from by Gideon Levy, from Haaretz, called If it were the reverse, crystallizes a lot of the reasons for my apathy and pessimism about the Palestinian/Israeli situation:

And what would happen if a Palestinian were to shoot an Israeli university lecturer and his son in front of his wife and their young son? That’s what happened 10 days ago in the case of Dr. Salem Khaled, from Nablus, who called to the soldiers from the window of his house because he was a man of peace and the front door had jammed, so he couldn’t get out. The soldiers shot him to death and then killed his 16-year-old son before the eyes of his mother and his 11-year-old brother. It’s not hard to imagine how we would react to the story if the victims were ours. But when we’re implicated and the victims are Palestinians, we prefer to avert our eyes, not to know, not to take an interest and certainly not to be shocked. Palestinian victims - and their numbers, as everyone knows, are far greater than ours - don’t even merit newspaper reports, not even when the chain of events is particularly brutal, as in the examples above. This is not an intellectual exercise but an attempt to demonstrate the concealment of information, the double morality and the hypocrisy. The indifference to these two very recent incidents proved again that in our eyes there is only one victim and all the others will never be considered victims.

Long-time blogger Eric Snowdeal and his wife gave birth to a 6-month premie about two weeks ago. Eric’s been blogging the whole experience, over on Ex Machina. We had a few problems with TheBaby right when she was born, and we’ve had a few troubles since then, but nothing, absolutely nothing, of the magnitude Eric and his wife are dealing with. I’m keeping a good thought for all involved.

whew! You take a week vacation, and then you get back, and you end up working about 2.5 times as hard as normal, trying to keep up with all the ongoing stuff and catch up on all the stuff you missed…

ObWeirdVacationNote: one day while we were in Kansas, the whole family pretty much got sucked into an American Casino marathon on the Discovery Channel. The weird part is that I got home and discovered that one of the main people in the show, the VP of hotel operations/head asshole, Michal Tata, was found dead. Just one of those odd things.

This is the stuff from week before last — what I would have picked up July 2nd, if I hadn’t been out of town on vacation. (I actually picked it up June 30th.) It was a pretty light week.

Ultimate Fantastic Four 8 The second Ellis-penned issue. I’m really enjoying his run so far; in this issue he took on the issue of the Thing’s, um, lower GI tract.

Ultimate X Men 48 Nothing too exciting here — just scene-setting for the next issue, which will conclude the Mr. Sinister arc (from the look of things anyway).

The Goon #0: Rough Stuff TPB I loved this! Pulpy, noir-ish, with a very distinct graphic style, and a boat-load of humor. (And zombies!) Highly recommended.

Fables 2: Animal Farm TPB This one had some nice bits (Goldilocks as a socialist revolutionary animal lover — no, animal lover was amusing), but I didn’t think it was as strong as the first book.

This Monday morning, before you get down to the business of your week, heed LaDiDa’s advice, and contact your Senators and urge them to vote NO on cloture for S.J. RES 40.

If your Senators don’t listen to you, remember Medley’s advice come Novemeber: vote them out.

Patriotboy puts the recent ‘we might have to postpone the elections’ business into the proper historical framework:

One way to counter the opposition would be to make the conditions triggering the suspensions very specific—like only when the Capitol Building is burned down. I’m sure that if the “terrorists” saw that Our Leader was trailing in the polls, they’d burn down that great symbol of capitalism. Then, we could blame it on their fellow travelers, the liberals, and round all their leaders up. I’d be glad to help out if you can get me a cool uniform—I look great in brown. After we’ve dealt with them, you could turn us loose against shops owned by liberals. Why should they be allowed to make a living when they are undermining the Homeland’s security?

In Play It As It Lays, Billmon reviews the history of the Enron debacle and contextualizes the recent Lay inditement and the GOP response thereto. Recommended.

Remember, System Administrator Appreciation Day is coming up at the end of the month. ThinkGeek has gift ideas and a contest your can nominate your sysadmin for.

Ethel has some interesting speculation about the timing of when FEMA arrived in NYC after the attacks. Yeah, it’s probably a co-inky-dink, but then why lie about it? (Oh, wait, because this administration lies by default…)

This month’s WiReD has a feature on the bike Lance Armstrong is riding in the “normal” (i.e., non-time-trial) stages of the Tour. It’s better in the print version, because they have pictures of everything, but the text is online, and it’s pretty cool too.

The timing of the vacation put a bit of a crimp in our Tour watching schedule, so we’re playing catchup at the moment — we’re on stage 6, I think, where as they just finished riding stage 8 today. Rest days should see us caught up before the end, I hope.

Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby is quite possibly the strangest computer book since Computer Lib/Dream Machines. Possibly stranger.

So, probably nobody noticed, since this site hasn’t been what you’d call “regularly updated” for a goodly while now, but we were on vacation all last week — driving out to the Flyover Lands, hanging out for Blow Stuff Up Day, and then driving back home. It was fun. Pictures coming, just as soon as I get the time to download them off the cameras — probably this weekend.

The ACLU is trying to get Maryland to show that hater state next door how it’s done. Hopefully we give them the correct lesson…