August 2004 Archives

About half of you need to go back on vacation right fucking now. Thank you, that is all.

New Get Your War On out, and it should please the people who remember what the endoplasmic reticulum are (all 6 of you):

What are stem cells? Two months ago I had never heard of them, but now politicians can’t shut up about them. Stem cells? That’s like, the most scientific thing a candidate has ever mentioned. Why can’t we have a national debate about something scientific I like? Endoplasmic reticulum in the mother-fuckin’ house!!!

First, read this Boondocks strip. Then, read this Reuters article.

First thought: given the lead time for comic strips, McGruder is clearly dialed right on in on the zeitgeist.

Second thought: the abortion-hating domestic terrorists are starting to branch out. Scary post-November implications there, either way things go.

Thanks to Bryant for the pointer to the news article.

From BoingBoing, an experiment to introduce false information into Wikipedia. Results: all 13 introduced errors were corrected within a matter of hours. The very idea of Wikipedia rocks; the fact that it actually exists is just off the scale of coolness.

Going to smush several entries worth of stuff all together into one in the name of laziness efficiency.

CfEngine talk slides are up. Talk went okay, I guess, although if I had to do over again I’d shift things around a bit. If anybody in the DC area wants to hear me give this talk, drop me a line and we’ll work something out. (Thanks to Jessamyn for the CSS template.)

Went into sheep mode and joined and flickr. Digging the former; still unsure about the latter. (For those of you not in the loop, is a way of sharing bookmarks, and flickr is a way of sharing photos.). So here’s a pointer to my stream and my flickr stream. There are a couple pictures of TheChild in the Flickr stream. The thing that is keeping me from being more enthusiastic about flickr is the uploading interface, which is the suck. The desktop-based batch upload tools, which would presumably fix this problem, don’t come in a Linux flavor. Ho hum.

The iBook is back in the shop — for the third time — with the infamous flaky iBook video problem. I am in the “blessed” serial number range to get into the logic board replacement program, so hopefully this will be the last time that it’s in the shop. Taking it into the Apple store was an ordeal adventure all in itself. Lurking somewhere in the dark corners of Apple culture is a sociology thesis or two on what sort of dynamic you’re setting up for your customers when you make them interact with people whose jobs titles are “genius”. Grr.

Late last week, got told that the Bioperl class might not happen, due to low enrollment. Spent a couple of days in a disappointed-but-relieved sort of space, because this meant I was no longer on the line to work my ass off for the next 3 to 4 months. Found out Friday afternoon that the class was back on, which plunged me right back into the ass-on-the-line fire. Looks like there will be 6 or 7 students, and the first lecture is coming together. The current plan of attack involves getting a week or two ahead over the long weekend, and then staying there over the course of the semester. That should be doable.

Diary script still broken. Will be fixed at some point. Patience appreciated.

Finally, I’ve got a few gee-m@il invites; drop me a line if you need one. (The funky spelling is an attempt to prevent people swooping in via Google searches…)

It was TheBaby’s second birthday this weekend. We had a goodly chunk of TheWife’s mommy group over to the house for a cookout and cake yesterday, and S., L., and J. dropped by tonight. In honor of the turning two, TheBaby will henceforth be known as TheChild. w00t.

In other personal news, a web server config change broke the diary CGI, and I haven’t had time to fix it yet. I am keeping local entries, so once I get it working again I’ll fill in the gap. (Although I’m not sure why I’m posting this, given that 75-plus percent of the readership was likely sitting around my dining room table a few hours ago…)

Have a good-sized backlog of things to opine about here, but I’m not sure when I’m going to get to them — I’m giving a talk about CfEngine at a DC-SAGE meeting on Tuesday, and the Bioperl class starts in less than two weeks (and I’m desperately unready for the latter… oy vey).

I’m strongly considering purchasing a road bike. I mentioned this to a co-worker who is a fairly dedicated cyclist, and after a lengthy discussion, he sent me a number of funky links — all to things that are probably out of my price range, but fun to look at regardless.

The Slingshot frame lacks a down tube. I imagine it’s a bit of a head turner on the road, as is this frame from Softride. Prettiest of all? The Quintana Roo TiPhoon.

(Bike buying advice or pointers are welcomed.)

DFA has a petition you should consider signing:

Representative Tom DeLay of Texas needs to be stopped. He is at the center of a machine that launders corporate influence in our political process. And that machine reaches even into the House Ethics Committee that is supposed to be investigating its activity. Four of the five Republicans on the Committee have received money from the DeLay operation. Today we demand that the House Ethics Committee appoint an outside counsel to lead the investigation of Tom DeLay.

I can empirically confirm the conclusion that mosquitoes have preferences in victim selection. I am a friggin’ mosquito magnet. But what the heck is this?:

It turns out that what you long thought to be true is true: Mosquitoes prefer biting some people more than others. “Some people are just more attractive,” said Ulrich Bernier, a research chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bernier has identified some of the body chemicals that repel mosquitoes but wouldn’t say which ones. There are patents involved but the research is encouraging, he said.

What’s with this patent nonsense from somebody who works for the government?

Another orange alert, this one specific for New York and the District. I wonder what changes, if any, this is going to cause to the security procedures at work?

This sysadmin’s story hit both /. and MeFi yesterday. Reading the comments thread is rather interesting; there are a number of good suggestions about other ways this guy could have handled the problem. Personally, there’s no way I’d consider doing something like this without some form of written documentation/authorization. Plus, there are a few things about the guy’s story that just don’t add up; I get a slightly skeevy feel about the whole thing.

Danny O’Brien’s OSCON coverage makes for entertaining reading. The big news seems to be the new ORA “mook”, Make. Newsforge has a wrapup too, but Danny’s are generally more entertaining:

Jamie McCarthy is talking about how Slashdot defends itself from various attacks (from DoS to “just jerks”). I managed to resist the temptation to sit at the back shouting “FIRST POST!” until they threw me out.

Something that Rafe said the other day really struck me, because it’s a problem I’ve struggled with in the past: how do you provide unsolicited feedback on something when you know there’s a good chance that your criticism could offend a friend? Generally speaking, I’m all too happy to hear people bitching about things I’m responsible for, and I think I’m fairly good about accepting the comments at face value. My experience suggests that I might not be totally typical, however. (Shocker.) How do people handle this?

And this entry catches me up — w00t.

30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow 5: Templesmith’s art remains as startling as ever.

Powers 2: Pilgrim seems like she’s going to crack at any moment, and Walker knows more than he’s letting on about the new Retro Girl (Neo Girl?) Nice tension builder of an issue.

Conan 6: Conan escapes from Hyperborea, by the skin of his teeth.

The Losers 14: Most of this issue is one long running firefight — actually, most of this series is one long running firefight — but there’s a bit of plot development at the end. This series seems to have slowed down a bit from its original barn-burning pace, but it’s still a pretty interesting read.

Astonishing X-Men 3: X-Men. Whedon. What else do you want? (Art by Cassaday ain’t hurtin’ nothin’, either.)

Planetary 20: Double Cassaday this week, which is more than enough reason to celebrate — plus you get Ellis tossing in twenty-seven crazy unrelated mindblowing ideas in too.

Ultimate Fantastic Four 9: Double Ellis this month too. He continues to be dead-on in this book — I want that center panel on the seventh page, the one with pissed-off Ben Grimm saying “We’re the scary kids”, on a t-shirt.

Powers 6: The Sellouts TPB: Now that I’ve read this, a lot of stuff in the first two issues of the current “Powers” run make a lot more sense. This is probably the best of the six “Powers” collections.

More comics catchup:

Ex Machina 2: This book is two for two in the “flip the page and just stare at a full-page panel, gobsmacked” category. The gobsmack level is a bit less than last week, but still fairly high; Vaughan continues to earn his rep.

Guardians 1: Picked this up because it was a slow week. This book didn’t do anything to speed it up: predictable pedestrian pablum.

Starjammers 2: I wasn’t sure about this book after the first issue; after two, I can confidently place it in the same “triple P” category as Guardians.

The Goon 2: My Murderous Childhood (And Other Grievous Yarns) TPB: The good news: another Goon TPB more than makes up for the two crappy books. The bad news: this is the last of the TPBs that are currently out. All three of them are excellent, and mostly highly recommended.

100 Bullets 7: Samurai TPB: “100 Bullets” is probably the best ongoing series in “mainstream” comics at the moment — and I’m phrasing it that way only to avoid arguments “Strangers in Paradise” and “Queen and Country”. I don’t think I got as much out of this book as I should have, because the backstory is so incredibly complicated — this collection focuses primarily on a minor character that was last seen a couple dozen issues ago, so there’s a definite “what the hell is going on?” feel as you start reading, and I’m pretty sure I missed some important things. I need to go back and re-read the six previous collections and then read “Samurai” again.

Catching up on the comics review now…

Ultimate X-Men 49: Wraps up the ‘Apocalypse’ storyline. Great final panel.

Bite Club 4: The art continues to be interesting; the pacing continues to be slow.

Starjammers 1: Picked this up on a whim; not sure it’s worth continuing to read.

Ultimate Daredevil & Electra TPB: Entertaining brain candy.

The Goon 1: Nothin’ But Misery TPB: Purchase of the week, hands down. Knife to the eye!