This Space for Rent

Feb 28, 2005

Ahh, the joy of DOS. And Symantic can bite me, too.

The Best and I both use Windows machines as terminals at home, and, by and large, they work pretty well. Microsoft got most of the terrible mind-destroying bugs out of Windows by the time NT 5.0 (ie: Windows 2000) came around, so as long as the machines were larded up with some antivirus and we never ran the huge bundle of security violations that is Microsoft Outlook (which is, um, impressive in the number of viruses it can pick up when it reads your mailbox. When I was setting up the factory case, I fired up outlook to verify that I'd turned off the stupid autoexec any virus feature it has, I discovered that I'd not actually turned it off when approximately 750 fucking viruses, trojans, keystroke loggers, and spam zombies leapt in and started fighting over the machine. After gaping at the melee for a couple of minutes, I simply turned the machine off and reinstalled Windows from scratch, figuring that it was easier to do that than try to do a virus cleanup) I was hopeful that the silly thing would stay more or less virus free. And, amazingly, it did for several years, and several versions of (cheap, because they were older) of Symantic antivirus. Every now and then symantic would spot a virus, bung it into quarantine, and I'd delete it, so I was happy.

A few days ago, the best's machine mysteriously rebooted. When it came up, it burbled something about executing a file called lssas.exe. Stupidly, I didn't do anything about it, because we were in the middle of a round of catherding, and I simply let the machine reboot and go on its way. This evening, out of the clear blue sky, the machine announced that it was a 30 second bomb, and that in 30 seconds the sky would be falling. 30 seconds later, the sky fell, and when the machine rebooted the same lssas.exe program tried to execute. A quick websearch told me the happy news that it was a g-ddamn keystroke logger. Which Norton Antivirus cheerfully didn't detect. Possibly because it hadn't updated its virus definition files (my stupid av subscription runs out in July) since November.


A teeny tiny powermac would cost ~US$600 with a wireless card and a little more memory. But it won't drive the 1600sw that I've got attached to it. I could do a monitor swap -- bring in the Acer FP855 I took to work and use it here, while moving the 1600SW (and the mighty Number Nine Revolution IV display card) over to work, but the BOFH desk at work gets fairly irrational about people stuffing their own hardware into the work desktops. I could buy a Mac G5, but the #9 Revolution IV is a AGP card, so I'd have to buy a new (and expensive, even on the auction sites) video card to drive the thing (and for the $1000 premium for an Apple G5 box, I could, if the ttpm supports the odd resolution of the 1600sw, buy a signal converter box for much less than that premium.

But then framemaker won't work, so I'd have to buy a MacOS 10 version of framemaker, which would cost, um, $1500 (unless a MacOS 9 version of an older framemaker would work, and then it would "only" cost $250.)

Sigh. Should I whine that Civilization and Photoshop also won't work? Goddamn viruses. Ditto for Microsoft. Ditto for Symantec. So for the short term, I'll just blow away IE and leave nothing but Seawombat on the machine, but for the long term it will probably be powermac time in the OK corral, even though MacOS is right up with with VMS for user inflexibility.

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Without tea, all things are impossible

The last friday of the month, without fail, the refrigerator genies come and clean all the food except condiments out of the refrigerators at work. Unfortunately, about 1/3rd of the time, the refrigerator genies decide to except some condiments from the except condiments rule, and then carefully sort through the condiments for ones that are insufficiently condimenty.

The last friday of the month was 3 days ago. And, once again, the refrigerator genies decided that my box of half and half did not qualify as a condiment, unlike the boxes of soy milk and new! with extra added rBGH, antibiotics, and pus! supermarket half and half that the more (and far far less) earthy crunchy than thou use at work.

No half and half means no tea. No tea means no caffeine. No caffeine means no central nervous system function. Now, even if there are some things (like debugging code written in the thrice-damned vanity language p*th*n) where not having a functional central nervous system would be a decided advantage, not being able to function at work means that I become a very dull boy indeed.

Fortunately my bosses are pretty enlightened, and when I floated the idea of decamping in favor of the tea fountains at Chateau Chaos, they said "sure".

Best job ever? On days like today, why, yes, it is. If they only moved their Linux engineering work to Canada, it would be a perfect job, but this will most certainly do.

Trolley photo of the day, if the day in question was last sunday

A northbound Interstate trolley arriving at Kenton/N. Denver.

Feb 26, 2005

Streetcars coming and going

While driving around the Pearl District this afternoon, we came up to a streetcorner just as one of the streetcars did.

[coming] [...and going]

We’re going to Scrap! We’re going to Scrap!

We regularly go up to SCRAP, in North Portland, to rummage through their collection of samples, leftover odds and ends, and whatnot to look for things we can use, make into art, and use as toys. This week, we may have overdone it. In the past three days, we've been their three times (the first time was just me and the best, the second time was all of us (this afternoon), and the third time was this evening, when they were having a party for SCRAP members and volunteers.) I'm frantically trying to put together a workbench for the basement, so I can catch up on the backlog of scrappy projects I've started but not yet finished, but here we are accumulating even more stuff faster than I can store it away.

When we went up there this afternoon, we found a very cute Scrappy item that we just had to bring home with us:

Feb 25, 2005

A mountain railroad (pt 3)

Now that I've figured out how the PV&T climbs out of the Connecticut River valley into Vermont, I've started thinking about the climb out east through Lyme, NH, and on into the White Mountains. My original plan (after looking at the historical map collection at the University of New Hampshire) was that the PV&T would go north from Lyme and work around to the north of Mount Cube, and then work east to the vicinity of Ashland. This turned out to be, um, an interesting bit of mapping, because even though the White Mountains aren't the Yalps, they still are, um, mountains, and going north of Mount Cube means that the PV&T would be spending a lot of time either going up and down really scary mountain grades or spending a lot of money digging long tunnels.

There really are no reasonable routes through the mountains here. Once you get east of Lyme you're faced with the New Hampshire state rock in large vertical masses. But, if you follow Grant Brook into the mountains, and do some short (2-500 ft) tunnels where the grade becomes completely laughable, you can reduce the climb to the east to an "easy" mix of 3% and 4% grades up to Reservoir Pond (1300ASL) and then by a combination of an easy 2% grade and an ~1 mile tunnel under Cummins Pond, an equally "easy" descent into the Baker River watershed (via North Dorchester), which is far better than the up, then down, then up, then down route that going north of Mount Cube would be.

I'd imagine that the Parsons Vale Line went through quite a few surveyers trying to get this line built without having to put in a rack section. And by the time this section was finished and ready to start eating helper engines for breakfast, quite a few chief engineers would no doubt be driven to strong drink and/or illegal drugs.

But, when this triumph of enthusiasm over common sense was done, the Parsons Vale had a very direct route from Portland, ME up to Montreal, PQ, and could bring enough trains across the line so that it wasn't abandoned as soon as the loggers stripped every tree off nearby hillsides. It helped that during the early years the bulk of the traffic coming off this division was logging traffic, which either went east to lumber mills in Rummey, or west to mills along the Connecticut River, and by the time the line had converted into a full-fledged bridge line the railroad could afford to buy and station enough banking engines to get the through freights through.

I’m sure this comes as a great surprise

Political Compass is a website that's got yet another one of the umpteen million attempts to qualify whether you're liberal or conservative. Since it's friday and I'm avoiding my usual crop of political ranting (B*sh a fascist? still true! US torturing people? still true! Cheney evil incarnate? still true!), playing multiple-choice politics is always a good way to avoid the rant trap. So I filled this one out so I could see what they think I am:

Economic Left/Right: -6.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.64

Remember that I'm middle-aged and people tend to become more conservative as they get older. I'm now a respectable upper-middle-class citizen, with family, pets, house, and gas-electric automobile; you can just imagine what I was like when I was younger.

Nosey Parkers -R- us

In an effort to further spy on the habits of visitors to TSFR, I've added a sitemeter counter so I can see, in more gory detail, who's visiting the site or who's picking up the rss feed. Is this useful? Well, probably not, but it can't be any less useful than the (still inaccurate) technorati popularity database.

Click! Click! Click!

(taken from the #19 bus, coming home from work yesterday)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Your dollhouse might look clean, but it's not! Tiny dust mites live in every room and don't get caught unless you use a [name elided to avoid lawsuits] vacumn cleaner! And if you don't get rid of the dust mites, they will grow into Dust Mites of Unusual Size and lurk in the attic, waiting for some unsuspecting baby to walk by. And then they will kiss them repeatedly.

Beware the DMoUS!

Feb 24, 2005

Colors not found in nature (pt 3)

The Ross Island Bridge does not usually have this sort of unnatural glow.

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Hmm. Perhaps my sidebar isn’t particularly obvious.

The sidebar on TSFR follows what is, to me, a blindingly obvious scheme; a nice header image (either Amy from Scary Go Round, or the subtle pink triangle that I put up when the United States went fascist in November 2004), followed by a huge pile of bookmarks, followed by metadata and pictures of an active volcano.

The first link, appropriately, iswas the best's (infrequently updated) weblog, and after that I shovel in some links to my pages, and then we're off to the races with links to the other sites I read most of all. Obvious, no?

Uh, the answer to that would be no; I've gotten comments (on the best's weblog, even) and mail which leads me to believe that me not including a little "about me" boilerplate up at the top of the page gives people the wrong idea of who I am.


I hate writing about myself, as many human resource people who have received my not-exactly-chatty resumé would no doubt be happy to testify to. But if I don't write about myself, people will get confused about just who I am. In the words of pooh bear, bother!

Maybe this new design will work better.

Feb 23, 2005

Could this be… a spammer?

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All of these domains were trying to send mail to pell, but were claiming that they were pell during the SMTP HELO command. And they're in a Galaxyvisions netblock, too. And they're listed in the SBL. Aaannd they're GOP super delux team leaders!

Okay, maybe I made that last one up. But they're still spammers, and the entire netblock gets a *free* one way ticket to land-o-*plonk*.

1 comment

I love the American health care system, really I do.

About a month ago, Silas dove onto a hardwood floor, and split his chin open. So, off we went to the emergency room, where -- after waiting two hours -- they super-glued his chin back together and let us go home. A few days after that, they sent us a bill for US$565 for the emergency room visit ($70 for the superglue, $190 for the emergency room visit, and $255 for the "emergency room surcharge fee") with an attached note saying that we didn't have to pay because it was being submitted to our health insurance company.

Today, we got a note from our health insurance company stating that, guess what, there's a huge deductable on our goddamn health insurance and we'd have to pay that entire bill (plus a couple of additional copays for some other visits to the doctor's office -- apparently when they said a US$30 copay, they actually meant a US$60 copay. Silly me for assuming that a health insurance company would actually write down what they insured for.)

One would think that a emergency room visit would actually count as, well, an emergency room visit, and that they'd not want to have people holding off on a minor medical emergency so it can develop into a major medical emergency which would cost them a lot more money to cover.

But if you'd think that, you'd not be very familiar with the third-world awfulness that healthcare in the United States is becoming. To the evil gnomes who run the (*spit*) "health maintenance organisations", healthcare is bad because it cuts into the profit margin. So, I end up paying for health insurance AND THEN I HAVE TO PAY FOR MY OWN HEALTHCARE, because they deductible and copay everything up so high that they don't have to pay more than 35¢ a visit to the doctor.

But I'm sure that the campaign contributions are flowing like a river from the HMO's over to the Evil Party, and that's all that's important in America today.

They’ve got a little list….

The Coward in Chief has, in order to "balance the budget", issued a little list of government programs to kill or maim. It's an impressively large list, and if all these cuts go through I'm sure it could save, well, basically nothing (I'm guessing that any money "saved" by trimming these programs would pay for a weeks worth of Halliburton payola in the Sudetenland), but it would do a good job of cementing the stupid side of the new American Fascism.

Items in red have previously been listed in the Maximum Leader Genius look, we're being fiscally responsible! roadshow.


Agriculture Department
  • Agricultural Marketing Service biotechnology program
  • Forest Service economic action program
  • High cost energy grants
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed and flood prevention operations
  • Research and extension grant earmarks and low priority programs
Commerce Department
  • Advanced technology program
  • Emergency steel guarantee loan program
  • Public telecommunications facilities, planning and construction program
Education Department
  • Comprehensive school reform
  • Educational technology state grants
  • Even Start
  • Vocational education state grants
  • Vocational education national activities
  • Tech prep state grants
  • Upward Bound
  • Talent Search
  • Smaller learning communities
  • Perkins Loans: capital contributions and loan cancellations
  • Regional education laboratories
  • Safe and Drug Free Schools state grants
  • Javits gifted and talented education
  • National Writing Project
  • School leadership
  • Dropout prevention program
  • Close Up fellowships
  • Ready to Teach
  • Parental information and resource centers
  • Alcohol abuse reduction
  • Foundations for Learning
  • Mental health integration in schools
  • Community technology centers
  • Exchanges with historic whaling and trading partners
  • Foreign language assistance
  • Excellence in economic education
  • Arts in education
  • Women's educational equity
  • Elementary and secondary school counseling
  • Civic education
  • Star schools
  • Higher education demonstration projects for students w/disabilities
  • Underground railroad program
  • Interest subsidy grants
  • Occupational and employment information
  • Tech-prep demonstration
  • Literacy programs for prisoners
  • State grants for incarcerated youth
  • LEAP
  • Byrd scholarships
  • B.J. Stupak Olympic scholarships
  • Thurgood Marshall legal opportunity
  • Vocational rehabilitation recreational programs
  • Vocational rehabilitation migrant and seasonal workers
  • Projects with industry
  • Supported employment
  • Teacher quality enhancement program
Energy Department
  • Hydropower program
  • Nuclear energy plant optimization
  • Nuclear energy research initiative
  • Oil and gas programs
Health and Human Services Department
  • Administration for Children and Families Community Service Programs
  • ACF Early Learning Opportunities Fund
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention congressional earmarks
  • CDC Preventive Health and Health Services block grant
  • CDC youth media campaign
  • Direct service worker delivery grants
  • Health Resources and Services Administration emergency medical services for children
  • HRSA health facilities construction congressional earmarks
  • HRSA Healthy Community access program
  • HRSA state planning grant program
  • HRSA trauma care
  • HRSA traumatic brain injury
  • Health Resources and Services Administration universal newborn hearing screening
  • Real Choice systems change grants
Housing and Urban Development Department
Interior Department
  • Bureau of Land Management Jobs-in-the-Woods program
  • Land and water conservation fund state recreation grants, National Parks Service
  • National Park Service statutory aid
  • Rural fire assistance (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs)
Justice Department
  • Byrne discretionary grants
  • Byrne justice assistance grants
  • Community Oriented Policing Services hiring grants
  • COPS interoperable communications technology grants
  • COPS law enforcement technology grants
  • Juvenile accountability block grants
  • National Drug Intelligence Center
  • Other state/local law enforcement assistance program terminations
  • State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)
Labor Department
  • Migrant and seasonal farm worker training program
  • Reintegration of youthful offenders
Transportation Department
  • National defense tank vessel construction program
  • Railroad rehabilitation infrastructure financing loan program
Enviromental Protection Agency
  • Unrequested projects
  • Water quality cooperative agreements
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Hubble Space telescope robotic servicing mission
Other agencies
  • National Veterans Business Development Corporation
  • Postal Service: revenue forgone appropriation
  • Small Business Administration: Microloan program
  • SBA: Small Business investment company participating securities program


Agriculture Department
  • Federal in-house research
  • Forest Service capital improvements and maintenance
  • Forest Service wildland fire management
  • Biomass research and development
  • Broadband
  • Commodity Credit Corp. - bioenergy
  • CCC - Market Access program
  • Farm bill's environmental quality incentives program
  • Farm bill's conservation security program
  • Farm bill's wildlife habitat incentives program
  • Farm bill's farm and ranchland protection
  • Farm bill's agricultural management assistance
  • Initiative for future agriculture food systems
  • Renewable energy
  • Rural firefighter grants
  • Rural strategic investment program
  • Rural business investment program
  • Value-added grants
  • Watershed rehabilitation
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation operations
  • NRCS resource conservation and development program
  • Water and wastewater grants and loans
Commerce Department
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Education Department
  • Adult education state grants
  • State grants for innovation
Energy Department
  • Environmental management
Health and Human Services Department
  • Health Resources and Services Administration Children's Hospitals Gradua te Medical Education payment program
  • HRSA health professions
  • HRSA rural health
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration programs of regional and national significance
  • State, local & hospital bioterrorism preparedness grants
Housing and Urban Development Department
  • Housing for persons with disabilities
  • Native American housing block grant
  • Public housing capital fund
Interior Department
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs school construction
  • National Heritage Area grants
  • Payments in lieu of taxes
  • United States Geological Survey mineral resources program
Justice Department
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons construction program
  • High intensity drug trafficking areas program
  • Juvenile justice law enforcement assistance programs
Labor Department
  • International Labor Affairs Bureau
  • Office of Disability Employment Policy
  • Workforce Investment Act pilot and demonstration projects
State Department
  • Assistance for the independent states of the former Soviet Union
Transportation Department
  • Federal Aviation Administration - facilities and equipment
  • FAA - Airport improvement program
  • Federal Railroad Administration - next generation high speed rail
Treasury Department
  • Internal Revenue Service - taxpayer service
Environmental Protection Agency
  • Alaska Native Villages
  • Clean water state revolving fund
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Aeronautics: vehicle systems program
  • Jupiter icy moons orbiter
Other agencies
  • National Archives and Records Administration: National Historical Public ations and Records Commission
  • U.S. Institute of Peace, construction of new building

I don't expect that most of these cuts will pass. What will probably happen is just what happened last time around; this joke of a proposal will be sent to the House, at which point DeLay will ring the dinnerbell and all of the corporate-welfare lobbyists will crowd around trying to be the first to exchange a US$20,000 bribe for a billion dollars in government money. I don't see the Education Department losing any money; after all, they've got traditional family values™ to promote and no-homeschool-child-left-behind to club all of the urban public schools into oblivion with. And the pork (aka Agriculture) Department has an important role in funnelling money from urban taxpayers to the huge factory farms which are such a rich source of Evil Party contributions.

They'll probably get all the NASA programs killed, because science is like holy water to the fundamentalist kookooheads who make up the voting base of the Evil Party, and the HUD programs are toast because they provide housing to poor urban dwellers (in the reality that the Evil Party lives in, making poor people destitute has no downside.) But that will simply be a little something extra; the important thing is to funnel more taxpayer money to the well-connected rich, while looking like they're doing! something! about their drunken-sailor spending.

(data from yahoo, via New Patriot)

The joy of Windows IT

At work, they keep screwing around with the firewall. Why? I dunno. Because they can. Yesterday afternoon, they screwed around with the firewall and blocked outbound ssh traffic, while leaving outbound ftp and telnet wide open so that people can spread their passwords in cleartext across the whole wide world.

For "secure" access to machines outside of work, they opened a hole for pc-anywhere, because, unlike ssh, which only runs on Unix, Windows, MacOS (both flavors), OS/2, Linux, DOS, CP/M, and VMS, pc-anywhere runs on Windows, Windows, and Windows.

But at least they fixed it when I told them which commands to type in. And now everything will work for about 4 months and then they'll screw around with the firewall again and I'll have to send my next "fix the firewall, please" request to BOFH-help.


Feb 22, 2005

Gee, I wonder if this is a spam zombie

There were some attempts to send mail from from IP address, before I spotted the traffic and preemptively bunged the domain into the blacklist. A smtp conversation starts up with the caller identifying themselves with a HELO command, in the form HELO <hostname-or-meaningless-token>. It doesn't usually matter what the hostname-or-meaningless-token is, but when a site connects 10 times and gives 10 different homts, that tends to raise suspicions. And there are extra added suspicion points for the hostname looking like a dialup machine.


There are extra extra points for none of the homts being valid hostnames, despite the little .com stuck onto the end of the name, but that wasn't really necessary for scoring because that whole address range was already a winner in the *plonk* sweepstakes.


You're most like Clarice, crusader for justice and
reluctant monogamist.

Which Dyke of 'Dykes To Watch Out For' are you most like? (beta version)
brought, s-l-o-w-l-y, to you by Quizilla

The reluctant part is particularly amusing, because it's completely wrong.

(link via Pinko Feminist Hellcat)

Idle hands waiting for a bus

I ended up missing my bus home today, so I rode part of the way on one bus and hopped off at Milwaukie & Powell to wait for the next bus to home. While I was waiting, an Amtrak train blasted by going south, and then a UP train crept by going north. When that train crossed the 12th street crossing, I had my camera ready and took 8 pictures in quick succession.

Those eight pictures were a good excuse to make an amusing, if somewhat jumpy, animated gif:

I suppose I should get a (full-sized) tripod, but what would that do to my indy cred?

Feb 21, 2005

Colors not found in nature (pt 2)

At sunset, the image processing is done before I take the picture.

The Evil Party is still able to surprise me.

Yes, this is actually a real ad. I saw a link to it on Atrios, and it didn't take too long to follow the links to an Evil Party propaganda sheet, and then directly to the Cheez Whiz Veterans For Truth front-organization that's been hired to throw shit into the air to distract people from the ongoing looting of the US treasury. It's pretty impressive, in a sort of the Rwandan genocide killed how many people in that short of a time? way.

What does it have to do with Social Security piratization? Why, absolutely nothing, silly! If an Evil Party slim campaign had any relationship to reality, it wouldn't be effective. The Evil Party is well past the base your campaigns on reality stage and are now well into the sort of lunatic rantings that require sustained abuse of hallucinogenic drugs.

This is going to take cooperation and we have to have perfect loyalty from everyone. See, even if you think you have friends among our enemies, you're wrong, because Big Wheel decides who our friends are, and if he says they're your enemies, they're your enemies, just like that. Everything's very simple with Big Wheel, that's how you can be sure he's telling the truth. So we've got to join together now and there can't be any secrets and we can't cover up for our enemies or have mercy for them.

(link from Atrios, quote from The Big U (Neal Stephenson))

1 comment

Feb 20, 2005


Today wes a nice sunny clear day, so the ongoing eruption of Mount St. Helens was quite visible when you got up near the north side of town. The A60, on the other hand, is very good at making a huge honking volcano look like a tiny little dust mite.

A little photo manipulation, on the other hand, will give back what the A60 takes away. even if it ends up with colors not found in nature™.

Truck Graffiti

Seen on the back of a post office truck when coming back from a model railroad show up at the Expo Center...

I didn't notice the stupid-ass SUV when I was taking the pictures, but it's very appropriate that the SUV was on the FAIL side of the truck.

Feb 19, 2005

Into the woods

The whole family went up to Mount Hood today, looking at property for a summer camp (the unromantic version is "to get some of my retirement money into something that won't get clobbered by inflation", but that doesn't sound nearly as nice as "find a nice little dacha in the mountains, so we can have a place to go on weekends" (at least until we decamp for a more free country.))

While we were looking at some of the cabins for sale, Silas decided to grab some tree branches and perform a sundance.

I don’t know what drugs the Evil Party issues to its minions, but it’s rude for them not to share

We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq. Freeper postings? Little Green Braincells? How about Representative Chris Cox (Evil Party-California) ?

It's not too surprising that someone from a region where Pravda! is the only news channel comes up with a whopper like this, but one would think that someone in Congress, which meets in a town that has multiple newspapers, some of which actually make some sort of effort to not be completely blatant about being Evil Party propaganda mills, would not actually believe this.

But that's kind of the point. It is, after all, the Evil Party, and lying is what they do.

More than you ever wanted to know about my model railroad

This map shows how the PV&T climbs out of the Connecticut River valley into Vermont. This is the incline that makes the Madison incline in Indiana not look quite so spectacular.

The blue line with the red rectangles is the original PV&T line from Thetford to Strafford (not shown) When it was built in 1856, the railroad decided to use rope-hauled inclines (red boxes) to get cars over Thetford Hill. By 1875, this was a huge bottleneck, and the PV&T built a new line (yellow line) with a tunnel (black box) at 730' ASL, which reduced the grade from the east to 8000 feet of 4.1% grade, and from the west to a little over a 1% grade.

It took about a year to cut the tunnel, and the new line was put into service in 1877. The inclines were kept in reserve until 1880, when the winding engines were taken out of service (the inclines themselves were never dismantled; the approach to the east incline was removed in the 1920s because the state of Vermont wanted to use the right-of-way for a highway relocation, but the inclines themselves are still visible if you look carefully enough.) The tunnel is graded up from both ends to the center, and a large ventilation shaft was drilled down just west of Thetford (approximately where the east incline winding engine was located) and fitted with large fans to suck exhaust fumes out of the tunnel.

After the PV&T got trackage rights into Montréal, PQ, the Thetford bottleneck (and the Lyme, NH to Ashland, NH bottleneck, but that's a different story) slowly came back. The PV&T was one of the shortest routes between Portland and Montréal, so bridge traffic split pretty evenly between it and the Grand Trunk, but to get trains over the interesting Strafford to Ashland division took lots and lots of helper engines. By the turn of the 20th century, the PV&T had 12 helper engines stationed at East Thetford, 4 helper engines stationed east of Strafford, and 12 helper engines stationed at Ashland, NH, and these engines were becoming woefully inadequate for the job. In 1904, a large collection of decapods were ordered, but by the time they started to arrive traffic had jumped again to the point where they weren't sufficient for the job.

What was left for a railroad to do? But that's another story.

Feb 18, 2005

From the We are sooo screwed department (weather office)

Some scientists at Scripps have been trying to find which theories best explain global warming, and, to nobody's surprise (except for Evil Party apparachicks) they've discovered that greenhouse gases are the best fit.

This, of course, won't stop the Evil Party apologists, who will keep whining that it isn't so until their beachhouses start washing away (at which point they'll smoothly pivot 180° and start demanding that Uncle Sugar pay to repair the damage, and to hell with Miami, New York City, New Orleans, and every other coastal city which will also be watching their waterfronts wash away. But those are just cities, and they voted for the Democratic Party, so in the tiny thimble-sized brains of the average Evil Party apologist this means it's their fault!)

And, of course, if it gets hotter in the south, the Evil Party solution will be to buy bigger air conditioners for their houses and Hummer H99s (these will be the "hybrid" GM trucks, which get 2mpg instead of the .5mph of the Hummer H98), and, of course, to crank up the Hillary Clinton! Hillary Clinton! propaganda on Pravda!, just in case some of the lower class supporters of B*sh should start to figure out that the Coward in Chief is not only lying to them, but damning them to a shorter more miserable life than they already are looking forward to in the land of no individual rights (but you can carry your Gun! down to the anti-gay rally at the Church of B*ush, even though they won't let you bring it into the auditorium.)

(link via Hellblazer)

Volcano Jail

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

It's a bird!
It's a plane!
It's a ... DUST MITE!!?!

(aerobatics by Silas)

1 comment

Feb 17, 2005

An embarrassment of riches


I get too busy to rant about the Coward in Chief, and...

  • "Jeff Gannon", boy reporter, turns out to be "Jeff Gannon", male prostitute.
  • Who was in the Mount Doom press room before he was even "hired" by GOPUSA.
  • Don't forget the Pentagon whining that those ungrateful Iranians aren't turning on their antiaircraft radar when Imperial American invades their airspace.
  • Or the convenient terrorbombing against the former prime minister of Lebanon (a terrorbombing that is only good for Imperial America and the only nuclear state in the near east).
  • And the subsequent screaming we're going to get you fit by Imperial American against the Baathist rump state of Syria (I guess this is how Mount Doom says that Iran has a nuclear weapon; time to pivot and start beating the war drums against a different state.)
  • John "death squads" Negroponte is appointed as the secretary in charge of intelligence. I suppose this means that dragging American citizens off to the gulag isn't too far down the road.
  • After all this, the continued censorship of even the icky words gay, lesbian, and bisexual (this time on a conference about suicide among gays, lesbians, and bisexuals)

And there's much much more. It's like a buffet-of-outrage restaurant, brought to you by the Evil Party.

All of a sudden I need Gmail invites

As I've mentioned before, several of our friends and family use hotmail to (infrequently) send us email. Unfortunately, a large collection of nigerian 419 spammers also use hotmail to send their festering wads of mail fraud to me and the best. And Microsoft, which is no stranger to the concept of terrible customer support, keeps finding new ways to just not respond to the abuse complaints. The latest one (which shall be called the last straw, because that's what it was), is to say it's not their problem if the From: address on the spam doesn't say on it, even if the Received: lines on the spam show without a shadow of a doubt that the thing was being sent from a hotmail machine.

Microsoft tried this on me a couple of days ago, and after I replied (in a fairly hostile manner) sent me a very long "we're looking into it honest we are" message (which didn't promise anything, aside from the usual fluffy morality tales about how spam is icky and no reputable company would condone it. Words are, after all, cheap.) This morning, I had 7 pieces of spam in my mailbox (two from, which has apparently decided to start spamming from their own servers instead of via spamhouses, two from hotmail, and three from various spamrelays that got bunged into the blacklist right off the bat); I bounced the hotmail spam back to Mount Doom with my usual boilerplate of this nigerian 419 letter either originated at or was relayed through your domain; can you please deal with it? and, before postoffice even finished up sending off all of the abuse reports hotmail had already come back with the usual it's not our fault, even though it's one of our servers! whinefest.

What's the sound of a clueless ISP falling into the killfile again?

Oh, yeah....

* P L O N K *

I do email over pop3 for various virtual domains (on a site that doesn't do anything more extreme than antivirus, dns crosschecking and greylisting}, but that means that people have to use netscape mail or Microsoft's big-bag-o-virus-propagation mail client (aka Outlook) to read their mail. So I need gmail invites for people who find using netscape mail to be too difficult to configure. Sigh.


The Alco that got away.

When I was a teenager in La Crosse, I spent countless days riding my bicycle over to the North Side so I could watch 576 switching. I did take pictures (and movies) of it, and I spent one freezing cold afternoon sitting by the roundhouse taping the engine idling away, but, of course, since the 576 is the one RSC-2 (of the three that were based in La Crosse) that didn't escape the breaker, I can't find hide nor hair of any of them.

This engine is why I like Alcos. The Burlington Northern had interesting engines of its own (including SW-1 #97), but they didn't have the same impact as this rebuilt road switcher which lasted until the incredibly dimwitted Milwaukee Road management decided to purge their Alcos, Freight Motors, and GE750s and replace them with some of GM and GE's finest.

After the 576 was towed off to the breaker's yard, it was replaced with some faceless GM switcher. That engine didn't last long; it had a crankcase failure almost immediately and had to be replaced with a MP15. 30 years later, I realize that this was because GM switch engines don't load the same way that the Alcos do, and the crew was expecting the horrid thing to work like a proper engine.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

(picture from

Urban renewal – streetcar style

As usual, the first step in replacing a railroad line with a streetcar line is to rip out all of the track so you can put down brand new track.

It's been 70 years since any Red Electric trains ran down this line, so I can understand why they'd want to have somewhat better track. But if they do the same thing when they extend the line down to Lake Oswego, I can just imagine all the rich people along the right of way in Dunthorpe immediately trying to seize control of the right of way because look, there's not a railroad here anymore!

Feb 16, 2005

Improbable rail modelling

When doing a line profile for the PV&T, I've found a few amusing irregularities. The railroad comes down into the Connecticut river valley at East Thetford, VT, and when going to the west it needs to climb about 500 feet in about 7500 crow feet.

Even with the usual round of handwaving about rope inclines replaced with banking engines replaced with the 1913 electrification (about the only way I can justify streetcar-like inclines on a mainline railroad), it turns out that in my world the Madison incline in Indiana is not such an extraordinary thing after all.

The New Hampshire side isn't much better; I can work the railroad around to the north of Mount Cube, but it's still going from ~400 feet ASL to about ~1200 feet ASL in about 10 miles. For a logging railroad (like the Beebe River railroad which I've made into part of the LW&C) it would be okay, but for a mainline railroad it's definitely a case of "THIS RAILROAD NEEDS TO BE ELECTRIFIED OR IT WILL DIE".

Feb 15, 2005

While waiting for the bus today

I took a few pictures

It wouldn't be a cheapy A60 if I put a telephoto on it, so things that look huge to the naked eye are really teeny to the camera.

A closeup of some trees, on the other hand, doesn't need a telephoto lens.

Highway taxes

The state of Oregon, among others, is thinking about putting in a system of pay-per-mile gasoline taxes, where (I guess) you'd need to put some sort of state-authorized metering unit into your car and then periodically stop by at DOT tollbooth to have them read the meter and charge you fees based on how far you drove. Atrios, among others, thinks this is a terrible idea because it's

  1. regressive (flat rate means that poor people pay more of their income to drive) and
  2. will discourage buying fuel-efficient cars (assuming that the state will stop levying gasoline consumption taxes.)

I disagree.

The gasoline sin tax may be a wonderful idea, but people in Imperial America don't pay jack for gasoline taxes; the highways are littered with monster trucks that get as much as 10 miles per gallon, and the people who drive those chromed turds don't seem to care that they're already paying US$100 a week to drive to and from work. Barring jacking up the gasoline sin tax to something noticable (like, say, a large fraction of the cost of gas instead of a dollar add-on; a US$.50 gallon/tax might be noticable when gasoline costs US$.25/gallon, but it fades into the noise when gasoline costs US$1.50/gallon. If the tax was instead the higher of US$.50 or 150% of the price, well, then your US$1.50/gallon gasoline would end up costing you US$3.75, which, judging from the experience of western Europe, would end up doing, um, nothing.)

As for it being regressive, well, sure, it's every bit as regressive as every other fee on the planet; poor people don't tend to be able to afford the new good-milage cars, so they're already stuck paying more to fuel up the cheaper and bad-milage vehicles they're driving, and from my recent experience of being poor the insurance costs don't drop one cent when you go from a US$70,000/year job to US$20,000/year unemployment to US$0/year ran-out-of-employment (and it doesn't go up when you then go back to an upper middle class 6-figure job.)

The United States has restructured itself so that unless you're fortunate enough to live in a big city (Portland, Oregon, despite having a very good transit system for a medium-sized city, is still a medium-sized city and you have to be very choosy picking your job and home to be able to take full advantage of the bus and streetcar system; it took me 7 years and 3 jobs before I could get a 10 minute single-seat ride from home to work, and I'm still stuck on a bus route that drops to 30 minute headways at the drop of a dime) you need a car. So the roads need to be maintained, which means they need to be paid for. A per-mile tax, though it's kind of clumsy, is better than a gasoline sin tax, because it charges you for the amount of use you get from the roads, which, no matter how energy efficient your vehicle is, you'll still end up causing wear on the roads as you drive too and from the festival of nepotism that is the American economy.

I don't think we should have gasoline taxes at all. I think that automobiles should pay a milage tax that's modified by the weight of the vehicle and the time of day that the milage was done. At least in Oregon, cars need to have emissions tests, so you could modify the milage tax based on the emissions from a car (currently, if your car doesn't pass the emissions test, you have to either buy a special high-emissions temporary license or stop using the car; judging from the number of old clunker cars I see with those special licenses, the emissions test is not means-based.)

A clever version of this tax (which would need GPS units) would be to split the revenues up between the feds (for interstate highways), the state (state highways), and the counties, and let the state and the counties raise and lower the tax as needed. To make this work, you'd have to pass laws forbidding any other source of funding for roadwork (otherwise what would happen is what's happening now; states and municipalities would end up transferring funds from other tax sources) and also forbidding making a intrastate road part of the interstate system (Hawaii interstate highways H1,H2,and H3 are lovely interstates, but they don't even cross a county line, let alone a state line), so if you wanted to repair the road you'd have to go to the road tax fund and if it wasn't there, well, either the road tax fund could issue bonds, raise the tax, or let the roads deteriorate.

I do not think that a scheme like this would end up damaging rural areas, either. Before the state started the socialist project of roads for everyone, many railroads made money off their little branchlines out into rural areas. I do not believe that the state is less efficient than a railroad; if a trolley line could make money hauling passengers and freight from one dinky little burg to another, tolls can pay for a road that people use to drive between those same towns.

Feb 14, 2005

Wuv. Twue Wuv.

The best made me the best possible valentine's gift (with help from Silas, who kept requesting that she lop off limbs.)

Still batting 1000!

The pentagon had another successful (if, by successful, you mean a miserable failure) Star Wars™ test!

It only cost US$85 million dollars, so it's not as if they're spending real money. And it's not as if the B*sh junta gives a damn about any west coast cities that might evaporate when a real missile soars overhead while the intercepter missiles argue with their launch software about whether or not to target the nukes, the exhaust pipe of the SUV sitting in the parking lot downrange, or that flock of crows that's sitting on the fence making snarky comments about typical Evil Party competence.

Feb 13, 2005

Good thing I’m not a Christian

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Test


Herding Cats

This afternoon, the best drew the short straw and had to clean while I watched the bears.

They spent quite a while building a little house for Dust Mite.

And then, since the best was having friends over for a discussion group, we decamped and went to OMSI, where they did scientific things for the rest of the afternoon.

On the way back, I took a few pictures of some interesting cloud formations east of Portland. We stopped at the local ice cream stand (3°C too cold for ice cream? Not for my children it isn't!} and finally got back home just as the discussion group disbanded, so I handed over the pedestrians of the apocolypse and collapsed in a heap.

Feb 12, 2005

Ahh, Microsoft, you continually redefine the meaning of customer support

We get a steady stream of nigerian 419 letters from hotmail, and keep bouncing them back to the abuse desk there. Every time we bounce some spam, we get a little form "we've gotten your letter" message from their luser desk, and occasionally we get a hilariously wrong personal message from their helpdesk, but never a "we've gotten rid of a spammer; thanks for the note."

We actually have friends who use hotmail, so we can't really bung that service into the blacklist (and, to be honest, they're not that bad; the amount of spam coming off hotmail is only about 3 things a week, and this doesn't even compare to the thousands of attempts coming from compromised dial-up accounts. But sometimes, well, the thought of just bunging the entire network into the firewall is almost irresistable. Sometimes, like, um, today, which started with the best getting a 419 letter with the following headers

From Sat Feb 12 08:29:34 2005
Received: from (
          (MAIL FROM:<>)
          by (TFMTKAYTFO)
          for |/usr/local/bin/procmail (qid 00069d7); Sat, 12 Feb 2005 08:29:34
Received: from mail pickup service by with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
         Sat, 12 Feb 2005 05:41:00 -0800
Received: from by with HTTP;
        Sat, 12 Feb 2005 13:40:41 GMT
X-Originating-IP: []
X-Originating-Email: []
From: "hariet booker" <>
Subject: UK N.L Information Service
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2005 13:40:41 +0000
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 12 Feb 2005 13:41:00.0763 (UTC) FILETIME=[7D2FEAB0:01C511
Status: RO
Content-Length: 2632
Lines: 53

As usual, I didn't pay attention to any headers except for the first Received:; after confirming that this hotmail address is actually a hotmail address (and not some spammer playing fun games with reverse allocations), I sent off my usual this nigerian 419 spam either originated on or was relayed through your domain; please deal with it letter.

A few minutes later, I got back a letter that redefines unresponsive:

This is an auto-generated response designed to answer your question as quickly
+as possible. Please note that you will not receive a reply if you respond
+directly to this message.
Unfortunately, we cannot take action on the mail you sent us because it does not
+reference a Hotmail account. Please send us another message that contains the
+full Hotmail e-mail address and the full e-mail message to:

Note that the original message came from an IP address that is assigned to Microsoft, and, furthermore, that the abuse account at Microsoft is But, because the From: address isn't, the minimum wage slaves who "process" abuse requests get stuck and are unable to do anything else.

Idiots. Absolute idiots. The next spam from hotmail is going to get the whole domain firewalled off, and I'll just give mail accounts to our friends who are haven't been given gm**l invites.

Give Turkee for DNC Chairman Dean

Contribution amount: $

(donate money code from Kos)

Feb 11, 2005

Photos from when the earth was young

Some scans from when I was in college in the late 1970s; GG1s were still common then, and the South Shore Line still operated their 800s. The CMStP&P still ran F-M switchers in Madison, and the ICG still operated their branchline from Freeport, IL up to Madison. Northwestern Steel and Wire still operated their small fleet of ex-GTW switchers, and the Pearl District™ in Portland was still the BN engine facilities, yard, and industrial trackage.

[An ex-GTW switcher at Northwestern Steel and Wire, ca. 1979] [GG1 4935 in Harrisburg, PA ca. 1978] [GG1 4935 and an Amtrak E8 in Harrisburg, PA ca. 1978] [An IC GP10 and a Milwaukee Road H12-44 in Madison, WI ca. 1979.] [Looking south across the Burlington Northern engine facilities in Portland, Oregon ca. 1978.] [CSS&SB 802 and a couple of Ex-C&O geeps in Michigan City, IN ca. 1980]

The Northwestern Steel & Wire switcher still exists; it is owned by the Illinois Railroad Museum, and is currently rotting away on a siding in Galt, Illinois (it avoided the fate of 5 of its brothers, which the IRM sold for scrap in 1998, but judging from the pictures of it today, it's not really in much better shape than they are). The GG1 still exists, in the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and I think that the F-M switcher survives at the IRM but the F-M switcher went to the Central Wisconsin Railroad, and was cut up when that railroad went bankrupt.

The CSS&SB 800 -- 801? -- was cut up after the South Shore deelectrified their freight operations; I believe the Amtrak E-8 suffered the same fate; the geeps, on the other hand, are probably all still kicking around on branchlines because geeps live pretty nearly forever.

Did I miss the memo?

The sky-is-falling contingent is all of a sudden in superpanic mode. This worries me (because I'm part of the sky-is-falling contingent and I've not seen anything unusual in the news recently except for the latest "we're not buying your debt, imperialist warmongers!" round of US bondselling.)

*I* haven't gotten the s-i-f memo telling me to panic, so I don't know whether to pull my money out of the banks and put it into turnip futures or not.

Railroad picture of the day

A Burlington Northern freight, led by BNSF GP39M 2883 (formerly Frisco GP35 706), going north past OMSI.

(picture by the best)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Oh, no, there goes Toyko
Go go DustMiteZilla!

(apologies to the Blue Oyster Cult)

Feb 10, 2005

New Code!

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.1.6. This fixes a teeny bug in the database portability layer from 1.1.5 where when I added gdbm support I broke ndbm support (ndbm is what I use on pell and gehenna, so I discovered this feature pretty quickly.) It also changes the workfile locking from lock files to flock(2) calls, and works around a problem with runq resending mail by carefully updating the queue control files after every successful mail delivery. It also adds the feature where Received: headers actually work, instead of only being added when mail is delivered to a local client.

I fully expect that putting back Mastodon Linux and freebsd support will cause gdbm support to fail in new and exciting ways, but I'll burn that bridge when I push the code back over to a modern Linux distribution.

Evil Party tyranny watch

Remember the get out of due process free bill that the Evil Party was pushing? Well, the Republicans in the house of Representatives passed it today.

Think the Senate will stop it? Not likely; remember what happened the last time the Evil Party minions in the Senate decided to do the right thing and strip the you can torture anyone the President wants you to! provision out of a bill? The Senate taketh away evil, the (Evil Party controlled) House-Senate reconciliation committee put it back in at the request of the White House.

Rule of law? Pfft. We're in a War On Terror™ -- we can't afford quaint anachronisms like a government of laws, and besides that the Coward in Chief looks good in his Generalissimo El Busho uniforms, and it would be silly to dress like a dictator if you can't be a dictator.

Not, of course, that this meant anything.

According to the conveniently delayed until after the 2004 "election" 9/11 report, «The F.A.A.had indeed considered the possibility that terrorists would hijack a plane and use it as a weapon» But since Osama bin Laden didn't send a copy of his project plan to the White House, well, it's perfectly understandable that the Coward in Chief wouldn't want to interrupt his vacation to deal with it.

Blue states don't count.

At this point, I fully expect someone to unearth a letter from Mohammad Atta to Maximum Leader Genius containing the line I'm going to crash a Pan Am 747 into the WTC on September 11th. And you won't be able to stop me!, which will be written off with the excuse Pan Am doesn't exist; did you expect us to take this letter seriously?

Origins of the Evil Party

«The Republican Party was born in the early 1850's by anti-slavery activists and individuals who believed that government should grant western lands to settlers free of charge

It's not surprising that the anti-slavery activists are long gone, while the we want our turn at the trough! types are still there.

(Quote from an Evil Party website.)

Okay, so this might not be a particularly good medical recommendation

To knock out the winter flu from hell™, my doctor has been suggesting some fairly esoteric remedies. This week, he suggested, of all things, prozac (presumably to chemically put me into dontworrybehappy! mode and thus fool my immune system into driving the viral menace out of my system.)

Okay, sure, I might as well try it; there's nothing more depressing than being perpetually sick and unable to work, right?

Um, er, wrong.

I'm trying to write a products requirement document for a new feature at work, and it's been through a couple of rounds of review. Today I found myself looking at my review notes and plunging into a black depression of "oh, look, words. And they're put together trying to tell me something. And I can't read them. I should quit my job. And, g-d, my house is a cesspool. We should sell it and move."

And I like my job, and my normal behavior here, even when I'm rammed up againsts the rocks of nonproductivity and am spinning my wheels frantically and going nowhere, is not I should quit, but I should work on something else until I unjam. The I should quit thing, which leapt enthusiastically into my brain and which just isn't going away, has that nasty chemical assist feeling that I've not had since I was in college learning that I really didn't like smoking dope and having my brain turn into a large potted plant with a small inner core shrieking in terror about not being in control anymore.

Sigh. I wonder how long it will take to flush this crap out of my system?

Feb 09, 2005

Rule of law? How quaint!

The Evil Party is trying to sneak a few paragraphs into bill that would put the DHS above the law. At the Secretary’s sole discretion, of course, thus fulfilling the essential requirement for tyranny.

Unalienable Rights, why, that sounds like treason. King George doesn't like it when the peasants start thinking they have any sort of rights other than to pay taxes to support the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

(via Atrios)

Feb 08, 2005

When I make up my budget for the year

I think I'll include US$8 million dollars from my lottery winnings.

I haven't actually won yet, but if Mount Doom can include a billion dollars from oil drilling in the ANWR, the teeny detail of the money not actually existing doesn't actually matter.

Watch out, Bill Gates, I'm going to use Evil Party accounting methods to become the richest man in the world.

So, what’s the problem here?

Some Evil Party flaks are hurrying out to defend "Jeff Gannon", a guy in his underwear with a weblog (who is, to be fair, also either a True Believer™ or on the White House payroll) who, as a sideline from his regular job of being one of the many mouths of Sauron, also runs a few meatmarket websites catering to the men in uniform escort business.

Publicising this, according to the Evil Party playbook, is gaybashing.

Um, no. Mr. "Gannon" is dancing with the fucking Devil; the people he's taking money from are people who would cheerfully whip him into the gas chambers if they thought it would make their base happy. "" is, I'm sure, a perfectly wonderful site for men with a uniform fetish, but the religous "leaders" who will get self-inflicted wedgies about the whole idea are not traditionally considered part of the left, unless you subscribe to the idea that the Coward in Chief is actually the Manchurian Candidate or a Soviet mole who's been programmed to destroy the United States (this doesn't strike me as very likely because of the teeny detail that the Soviet Union has already won the self-immolation race.)


I don't think so.

Once a poodle, always a poodle.

After teasing the world with hints that they might not follow obediently along with the Coward in Chief's war against IraqIran, Tony Blair reverts to form and faithfully trots along after the Imperial chariot.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the latest polls from the UK that show that Labour is likely to remain comfortably in power?

Feb 06, 2005

Would they prefer securities fraud?

«Every day, we fight reporters and Democrats for using the term 'privatization' b/c every poll worth its salt shows it frightens the public. »

(some Evil Party flak trying to convince a libertarian that it's Eurasia, not Oceania)

I'd prefer treason, myself, but it's hard to succinctly draw the link between providing aid to enemies of the state and we'll borrow US$4.5 trillion to make a version of Social Security that's worse than the existing one.

Just remember that if Social Security was broken, it wouldn't take US$4.5 trillion dollars (as opposed to an estimated, what, US$800 billion dollars to make the existing system work) to make it worse.

Some naïve liberals think that calling the Evil Party The Evil Party is coarsening public discourse. But it's the truth.

Feb 05, 2005

New(ish) code!

When I started letting people set up virtual domains on my public server, I hacked out a few tools so that I could have sendmail deliver mail to the proper accounts in the virtual domains, and so that domain owners could manage the accounts. I don't use sendmail for the virtual domains anymore, but I do use some of these programs nevertheless.

There are a lot of packages floating around for virtual domain management, and I'm sure they are better than this, but these are good for quickly setting up accounts on virtual domains and maintaining them without too much banging of my head against the wall.

So, new(ish) code! No, no documentation, so it's just like the wild west!

Feb 04, 2005

New Code!

Postoffice has been upgraded to version 1.1.5. There is a little more documentation in 1.1.5, and additional features for making postoffice work better on machines that have unreliable dns, but the big new thing is that it will now build and run on modern Linux systems that come with gdbm instead of ndbm.

1 comment

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

The computer desk in the library needs to be dusted.

Feb 03, 2005

Is it considered to be a diplomatic no-no?

When you look at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's website and can't stop giggling over it? I particularly like the page with the pictures of Great Leader Ronald Reagan and Dear Leader G**rg* W B*sh on it; when I become a cruel, but insane, yes, quite insane my pretties!, leader of the New World Order, I shall have a webpage like this one.

Update: I have been informed that the pictures of Great Leader and Dear Leader are not actually the gipper and Maximum Leader Genius, but they are instead members of the batshit insane Kim family. British Railways and I both regret the mistake.

Feb 02, 2005


Mitch Clem has brought Nothing Nice To Say back from the dead! Eeeeee!

I will now do my happy punk comic dance over and over until the best pours buckets of cold water over me.


The faculty at my alma mater just called for the university to divest itself of all of its investments in the state of Israel.

That's quite a change; when I was going to school there, the faculty was very supportive of the state of Israel and was willing to turn the other cheek to some of the ethical lapses that it did. I guess that the Ariel Sharon model of ethnic cleansing was enough to make them decide that enough is enough, and that it was time to start insisting that allies of the United States should at least attempt to be the good guys.

To head off comments, I'm sure that the faculty would have called for the university to divest itself of all of its investments in the territories controlled by the PA, but (1) they don't control any territories, and (2) there's nothing to invest in there; everything worthwhile is being seized by "settlers" from, um, somewhere else..

Did you expect anything else?

The Evil Party is going to get some benefit out of Sistani forcing them to let the Iraqis vote. It's just like Homeland security all over again; after being forced to take someone else's idea, spin around and play at as a great victory for their side.

New Code (3 of 3)!

Magicfilter has been shoved up to version 2.3.d to correct some confusion on how printer job language files were identified. Magicfilter was looking for them to be identified as blah blah blah PJL blah blah blah, but modern versions of the file(1) program identify them as blah blah blah Printer Job Language blah blah blah.

Not too many people have either documents or a printer that deal with pjl files, so it didn't get caught for a while, but since I'm pushing using libfile instead of my homebrewed attempt at doing the same thing, I needed to revise my code to match the rest of the world.

What I need, of course, is to win the lottery so I can buy an house in the south of france, hire staff to keep it clean, and then park myself there for about six months just to upgrade all of my code so that people who aren't named David Parsons can actually have a fighting chance to maintain it all.

New Code (2 of 3)!

Annotations has been pushed up to version, because I didn't manage to actually catch all the places where I foolishly assumed that the tm_mon element (of struct tm) went from 1 to 12 instead of 0 to 11. On monday, at the crack of midnight, this weblog suddenly started displaying posts from last December, so I had to hurry around and fix that code around being sick as a dog. This, of course, takes the place of any useful features, so iit's not being given a completely new version number.

New Code (1 of 3)!

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.1.4, which documents the new virtual host code, cleans up some of the internal logging, and relaxes a lot of the paranoia around MAIL FROM: when the from address is on a virtual host. The bulk of the code remains the same as it was in 1.1.3, and if I had any writing ability left after this last round of the goddamn two months of being sick during christmastime that I've had every year I've been in Portland 1.1.4 would have had buckets of new documentation describing how everything works.

I don't even have enough energy to comment on politics these days, so actually describing the code I'm working on is, regrettably, deeply enough submerged that it will probably never surface until I'm living in a cardboard box.