This Space for Rent

Apr 30, 2005

I hate micro diskettes.

Why do I hate them? Easy; because all the modern Linux distributions require multiple floppies for booting. And if you have a distribution that requires 3 (Slackware) or 4 (SuSE) floppies, you can spend a lot of time hunting for floppy disks that will accept a disk image for loading.

SuSE is pretty annoying, because you have to keep feeding it floppy disks until it finally gets around to telling you that you don't have enough memory for it, but Slackware linux is ultra-annoying, because you feed it one disk, it does some work, you feed it a second disk, it does some work, then you feed it a third disk and is finally gives you a login: prompt (which may be pointless if the third disk fails) and at no point can you do anything but reset the computer and start from the top if any of the floppies go bad.

It took me 11 floppies to get Slackware 10.1 to load on my laptop (8 thrown out because they [3.5" diskettes are made from tissue paper] went bad during the disk copy) this afternoon. And then I discovered, to my intense dismay, that the Wavelan drivers on that version of Slackware would reliably fall over dead after you'd pushed 300mb of data into the box, and that they would then stay dead until you manually removed and reinserted the pcmcia wavelan card.

I'll probably just toss the Toshiba laptop (the value of a 3 year old laptop is approximately US$0 if you don't include Bigotsoft Windows with it) and try to hand-build a laptop from a VIA mini-ITX motherboard and one of the LCD flat panels I've got lying around.

I will point out that Mastodon Linux only takes one floppy disk to load. And that after doing the great diskette hunt to find enough for the other linuxes to load, it plan to have it stay that way, even if I have to do a slackware and break it up into boot-ide, boot-usb, boot-pcmcia, and boot-scsi disks.

Apr 29, 2005

So, Russell, just what is it?

Quote of the day

I know that the great tragedies of history often fascinate men with approaching horror. Paralyzed, they cannot make up their minds to do anything but wait. So they wait, and one day the Gorgon devours them.

(Albert Camus, Appeal for a Civilian Truce, 1956 (trans. by Justin O'Brien))

Fareless Square Considered Harmful, at least according to the DHS

The Department of Homeland Security, now that they've successfully completed the important job of drumming up bogus security alerts to keep the Coward in Chief in power, has decided to branch out into the equally important job of getting revenge on cities that had the temerity to vote for John Kerry. One of those cities is Portland (which not only voted for John Kerry, but had the temerity to allow same-sex marriages instead of getting with the program of persecuting gay people). Portland, apparently, is a hotbed of terrorism, because, and I'm not making this up, Tri-Met has a Fareless Square where you can hop on and off trolleys and busses without paying a fare.

Yes, that's right. Being able to get on a bus or streetcar without paying a fare makes your city vulnerable to terrorism. Presumably because terrorists are, um, I dunno, all illiterate swarthy bearded near-eastern types lugging large parcels marked CONTENTS:ONE BOMB, and if they had to pay a busfare, they'd need to ask, in a comic-strip accent, "excuse me, what is the busfare for me and my BOMB?"

Yes, yes, I do know that suicide bombers around the world blow up busses on a regular basis. But, the funny thing is that the vast majority of those suicide bombers do it on busses where they have to pay a fare or show a pass to get on board. So the existance of fareless square is pretty much pointless; if some acolyte of Timothy McVey decides that he's going to strike a blow against the liberal society, do you think that having to pony up US$1.40 at the farebox is going to make the slightest difference to his quest for self-immolation?

I don't think so. And neither does Homeland Security. This is just another way to mess with a city that didn't vote fascist in '04.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Damastes and his little brother Damastes have a tiny bunkbed, which they offer to weary travellers with the promise that it will fit any creature who lays their head upon it. The secret of this bunkbed is that Damastes & Damastes will cheerfully wedge even the largest traveller into the tiny bed, and take the subsequent lack of complaint as a sign that the traveller is happy with their lodging.

Where is Theseus when you need him?

Why I like the filibuster

One of the things that's brought up to justify trying to kill the filibuster is that there were some pretty monumental filibusters in the past by the anti civil liberties trolls who used to infest the Democratic Party (and who have now moved en masse over to the Evil Party), so that means there's something! wrong! with! the! whole! idea! This argument is usually followed by a childish "and Democrats are poopyheads!", which tends to diminish the gravity of the argument, but it's still an interesting one.

It's also wrong. The claimed undemocratic nature of a filibuster (that you need to get a supermajority to get over the barbed wire and on to a vote) has a lot of company in the United States. Got a bill vetoed by the President (when the United States still had a president, and not a gang of unelected fascistic thugs)? Why, you need a supermajority to override that veto and get the bill converted into law. Need to win the presidency of the United States? Once again, look, it's "undemocratic" in that you can win (or "win", in the case of the overthrow of the US government in 2000) the presidency without getting a majority of the votes (an undemocratic system that's reflected in the Senate of the United States; The Democratic Party represents more citizens than the Evil Party does, but, funnily enough, the Evil Party controls the Senate because they've managed to sucessfully bambooze and bribe a majority of the voters who live in the dinky little rural states that make up the vast majority of the United States.) The United States is *not* a democracy, and the Evil Party sycophants who are now pretending that it is are not doing themselves a favor by doing so.

But, even if we assumed that the United States was a democracy (that just happened to have the hideously undemocratic electoral college, and that just happened to have the hideously undemocratic arrangement of two senators per state [offer not valid for the District of Columbia and other territories]), I'd still like the filibuster because the tottering construct that is the US legal system (at least until Maximum Leader Genius sneaks a "I can abolish any law at will" paragraph into some appropriations bill) contains structures that were supermajoritied through, and which would become vulnerable to the anti civil liberties trolls who are now proudly bigoted members of the Evil Party.

2 or 3 blatantly unqualified judges won't make any difference in the long term -- impeachment is the solution to that little problem -- but being able to just make all those pesky civil liberties laws like, oh, interracial marriage, prohibitions against marital rape, child labor, and poll taxes just go away is the sort of thing that would make the heart of a bigot (assuming, of course, that he had one) beat a little harder. So, sorry, I don't see any reason why the Evil Party should have an easier job rolling back the enlightenment than the liberals had when they were putting the enlightenment into place.

Another vote for Florida being the crazy capitol of the United States

Sorry, California, but when Florida set out their welcome mat for sociopaths you were left a long ways behind.

(I'd ask is the NRA crazy?, but I already know the answer there. It's pretty much obligatory for an Evil Party lobbying group to be barking mad, and this bizarre bill is just another boil on the face of the babbling homeless bum that the NRA has become.)

You mean Like the Pope did ?

Spain is moving towards legalising homosexual marriage, and the Vatican is not very happy about it:

The people who made Auschwitz were not criminals, but people who had been forced to, or thought they had a duty to, obey the laws of the Nazi government rather than their own conscience.

The damned Catholic Church would have a much better leg to stand on if their pope had obeyed his own conscience instead of obeying the laws of the Nazi government. This is shameful behavior for any religion, let alone a religion that wants to style itself as the one true Christianity. There's a huge honking beam in the eye of the pope, and of all of his pet cardinals. Take it out before you start whimpering about the (imaginary) motes in anyone else's eyes.

(via Rox Populi)

Apr 28, 2005

Fun with Open Source®™© Software ! (it’s just like Windows department)

As part of my project to get the evil taint of Bigotsoft out of my house, I'm going through all of the Windows machines and giving them a nice Linux enema. On my current laptop, I decided that I would try to install an evaluation copy of SuSE ES9, so I could not only have Linux on the box but so I could also have a current version of SuSE ES to evaluate as a baseline for our Linux distribution at work.

SuSE Linux has an, um, interesting feature that doesn't become apparent until you start trying to load it onto a machine (like the Toshiba Portege 7020CT, which doesn't come with a CD-Rom or a bios that can load from an pcmcia or USB cdrom) that doesn't support booting from a CD; You need four diskettes to install on this machine. three disks that are just the kernel and installer, plus a fourth disk to hold the pcmcia drivers. And, even though Mastodon still does floppy loading (which needs to be pretty massively overhauled when I go to a 2.6 kernel; I may also have to do 2 or 3 disks because many of the modern drivers are huge bloated waddling feedlot cows), it doesn't use very many floppies -- I spent about 25 minutes digging through the house trying to find 4 floppies that were actually formattable so I could put the SuSE ES9 boot images on.

And then I started to load it. It looks really slick. Sure, it spits out HPA's little "I AM SYSLINUX, AND I AM COPYRIGHTED" banner, but that flashes by quite quickly and then you're in the slick world of the new supermenu system that modern Syslinux supports. It looks better than Windows, which is good because it sits there saying "loading linux" for three whole floppy disks. Finally, it's all done, and it kicks off the kernel (hidden under a pretty little spashscreen, a'la windows or MacOS), waits for about 10 seconds, then blats up an alert screen saying "Hey! You don't have 256 megabytes of memory! Fuck you, loser! I'm going to reboot now!"

How, um, Windowsish. It reminds me of trying to load Windows XP on smallish Pentia, down to the same stupid "Your Machine Is Not Studly Enough To Run Windows, Geek! Thanks For The $140, And No We Won't Refund Your Money!" sort of alert box, except, of course, that SuSE didn't cost me anything and the Windows installer whines about the machine a lot earlier in the install (and, for what it's worth, the Windows installer lies. Windows XP runs just fine, if more than slightly glacially, on a Pentium 75 with 32 megabytes of memory. It does take about 25 minutes to load my desktop, but aside from that it runs.) I would expect that a Linux installer would cheerfully say "You need more memory, you really need more memory, you're not going to get any support if you say yes, but if you want to continue say [yes], otherwise say [I am a loser] and I'll reboot your machine." If this wasn't an evaluation copy and, instead, I was out $5000 for the full commercial version, I'd be moderately peeved around now, but instead I should probably just see if Mastodon will load and recognise the pcmcia controllers.

I think I have to emigrate to Norway

It's a music video that's all footage of iron ore trains on the Kiruna-Narvik railway. I can't be certain -- believe the lyrics are norwegian, which I don't speak -- but the arrangement sounds like country music.

A Scandinavian country music video starring sets of DM3 side-rod electric locomotives. Those are my sort of people.

1 comment

Another reason to love Mozilla Suncanary

It's got plugins ("extensions") that you can add to change some of it's behavior. I've installed plugins that semi-turn-off fl*sh scripts (flashblock), change the name of the browser on the fly (firesomething), give me one-click access to bugmenot (this one is named, confusingly, bugmenot), synchronise a bookmarks file so I can float my bookmarks around until I merge them into my big page -O- bookmarks, and block various bits of content (adblock).

The last one is particularly nice, because, now that weblogs are a honest-to-god business, advertising agencies have leapt upon the opportunity to use them as yet another way to shovel ads. Which means, of course, that if you read weblogs you can't even turn around without seeing one sort of nasty ad or another. At least most people can't turn around without seeing one sort of nasty ad or another. I've got adblock and flashblock, which are better than whiteout at stripping out those goddamn ads. Every now and then some scumsucker gets a popunder through the freefire zone, but that only happens once before the swift hand of retribution strikes it down.

A few years ago, before the IT department at Chateau Chaos chose Mozilla powereagle as our Standard™ Browser®, I tried to do ad blocking via squid extensions. This was not completely successful, because many websites were filled with buckets of javascript code that's only purpose in life was to sneakily get ads -- flash ads, too, for the full television red haze of hatred effect -- past firewalls and onto your PC, where (particularly if you're running Bigotsoft's Internet Explorer) they'd have free reign, unaffected by even the most complicated blocking I'd put on the proxy server.

When Lightningloon was stable enough to actually support the adblock extension, this all ended. I didn't need to turn off javascript or engage in a long search and destroy mission to hunt down and exterminate flash executables (followed, in IE-land, by the browser constantly popping up windows saying "I want to load flash!" "Can I load flash!" "If you don't let me load flash, I'm going to hold my breath until my screen turns blue!") I didn't even need to leave squid (which, as an open source program, comes complete with a nuclear-reactor style config file containing approximately 10,000 badly documented options, each of which has the possibility of reducing your proxy machine into a pile of smoking inodes) running to do enterprise-level adblocking anymore.

So when I see people either complaining about ads or (worse yet) trying to promote the ads on their site, the added annoyance factor of actually seeing them just isn't there for me. It's like tv-b-gone for web pages, and I don't even have to carry a little dongle around with me!

Oh my goodness

Ivory-billed woodpeckers have been found in a wildlife refuge in Arkansas.

1 comment

Apr 27, 2005

Did I miss the announcement that this is Microsoft is stupid month?

You might think that selling your LGB employees down the river might be enough for one month, but, no, now Microsoft is tring to get the B*sh junta to allow them to lift all quotas on hiring overseas workers. And their "argument" is "Anybody who's got good computer science training, they are not out there unemployed".

I think I recognise what billg is trying to sell here. And it comes out of the south end of a northbound cow.

When I was unemployed, I sent Microsoft a few resumes, and didn't even get a "thanks for applying, but you're tainted too much by being a Linux kernel developer" formletter from them. My "not out there unemployed" status happened 30 months after the economy cratered, and during that 30 months I saw a lot of computer programmers just give up and leave the field instead of starving to death. I get the strong impression that Microsoft just doesn't care to hire employees who aren't tethered to the company by a "you quit and we'll expel you from the country" clause, and the "good computer science training" they're talking about is "10 years prior experience working for Microsoft", which they'll be happy to waive if you're willing to work as slave labour.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, just as there's nothing wrong with firing up the shredder and converting all of my licensed microsoft crapware into finely ground confetti.


Railroad picture of the day

Union Pacific SD70-M #4705 leads a northbound train at Brooklyn Yard, sometime in the afternoon on April 26, 2005.

t’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you loot the treasury

The B*sh junta has formally embraced a new postmodern version of the so-called GWOT. "Winning" and "losing" are, after all, merely words, and it doesn't really matter if «The United States and the coalition forces ... will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency», no, the really important thing is that the friends and family of the Coward in Chief continue to be able to pull in huge commissions for "security" and "reconstruction" in the vast wasteland that Iraq is becoming. After all, it's not as if anyone ever intends to hand over power to the new "government" -- they're affiliated with Iran and might tend to resist any attempt to expand the wasteland into Persia. No, no, it's better to just hunker down and continue to bomb our "ally" in the near east, because that bombing will allow the fascists to continue to loot the US economy for the forseeable future.

And if the United States reverts to a religious dictatorship, so much the better; The theocrats will be too busy doing their own version of ethnic cleansing to even notice, or care, that the United States has converted into a worse-off version of Venezuela. Perhaps the future of the United States is Haiti; a thousand years of dictatorships and palace coups, funded by the inbred rich who don't care how many people die, or how horribly they die, as long as nobody touches their blood-soaked money.

Apr 26, 2005

Evil Party Moral Values (pt 8)

About 14 years ago, the dictator of Iraq got his first 15 minutes of being as bad as Adolf Hitler! when he stupidly believed that the US government wouldn't really care if he took over the nasty little petrodictatorship of Kuwait. And, to make matters worse, while he was being spanked out of Kuwait by the United States, et alii, he decided to allow his intelligence agencies to torture any American soldiers that happened to fall into Iraqi hands.

Saddam Hussein is a really stupid man, worse even than Maximum Leader Genius, but he ran a country where people had to be really good at being evil to prosper in the government. So the Iraqi ministry of torture was really good at torture, and at particularly savage sorts of torture; one of the American soldiers was described as so battered, it was later reported that his body looked like it had been dipped in indigo ink. But, as everyone knows, Iraq lost that war and, aside from being spanked back into being about as powerful militarily as Westby, Wisconsin (during hunting season, when a large part of the town decamped for the woods to look for deer), had to free their surviving American prisoners.

Who, being Americans, sued Iraq's pants off, to the tune of US$1,000,000,000.

Fast forward a decade, when the Coward in Chief decided to distract attention from one of his miserable failures by invading, yes, you guessed it, Iraq. After the smoke cleared, here was this tiny matter of a $1,000,000,000 lawsuit against the invaded and almost completely conquered carcass of Iraq. Did the B*sh junta instruct their viceroy to scrape a billion dollars out of the Iraqi government coffers to pay off this debt? Fuck, no. Instead, they refused to pay the bill.

Sure, it's par for the course, but why? Arthur Silber thinks that it's because the US government is siding with the torturers, probably out of professional courtesy. I think it's a little more devious than this; if the US government allows the precedent of liablity for torture against American citizens by the unelected dictator of Iraq, it opens the door for liability for torture for the unelected dictator of the United States. It's no professional courtesy at all. Honor Among Thieves is an important part of how the B*sh junta works -- if an ally is down, Maximum Leader Genius will be right up at the head of the line putting the boot in. But protecting the B*sh family estate, now that's something worth protecting, and if it means pissing on the heads of American soldiers, shoot, that's nothing out of the ordinary for the families of fascist thugs that control the Evil Party.

(lots of links from Arthur Silber)

Apr 25, 2005

Okay, which agency is going to do the next hunt for Iraqi WMD?

The CIA says that there aren't any, so that makes 4 (5 if you count the dictator of Iraq, who is no doubt still being tortured to reveal the location of the imaginary WMD stash) searches that have come up with a whopping zero items of WMD.

Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone, given that the only people claiming that Iraq had nukes weapons of mass destruction were the habitual liars in the B*sh junta, who have profited very handsomely from this hideously expensive and lethal snipe hunt in Mesopotamia. But I fully expect that the bootlickers and buttsniffers of the 101 first fighting keyboarders are already at work making up elaborate descriptions of how the Iraqi government sent the nukes weapons of mass destruction over to Iran Syria France Wisconsin.

This whole business of self-investigation really works!

If, by work, you mean "absolve the accused of all wrongdoing".

  1. So, you give orders to torture prisoners? Find a scapegoat, then absolve yourself!
  2. Shot at a recently-freed prisoner under suspicious circumstances? No wrongdoing here!
  3. Pocket an additional $200 million on a "reconstruction" project? You're a baaad boy! Have another contract!
  4. Subordinates fucking children? Nothing to see here, just move along, we'll deal with it ourselves. Someday in the distant future.
  5. Captured the wrong person in the so-called GWOT? We'll just hold him until we can find a way to hide the evidence.
  6. Election irregularities? We investigated ourselves, but, shoot, «There’s no such thing as an error-free election.»

It’s nice being able to run Framemaker, Civilization 2, and Irfanview, but …

I'm not going to use an operating system that's sold by a bigoted company just to get access to those applications.

If Microsoft is going to sell me and my friends down the fucking river just so they can get an in with a bunch of fascists, I'll save them the trouble of having to occasionally handle money from me by stripping Windows off any workstations that are still running them.

I wonder if ReactOS will run Civilization, Framemaker, or Irfanview? (If I can find an old SunOS version of Framemaker, I won't even need to worry about that; I've got a few ancient Sun boxes in the big pile -o- junk, and I can always recommission one and play remote X client games with it.) If I buy a teeny-tiny powermac, I know it won't run any of those, but I also know that -- at least until Steve Jobs decides to run his company into the arms of the bigots -- I won't be enabling the cowards.

Windows 2000 licenses for sale, cheap! I've got two of them, and they're priced to get out of my house! I've even got a couple of Windows NT licenses, too, and they'll either be sold or fed to a woodchipper in the near future.

As for Steve Ballmer? I've got nine words for him: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

(links and clippy image via The Story So Far...)


Two years in the quagmire (an executive summary)

from buzzflash, via My Blahg.

Apr 24, 2005

Mr. Orc’s computer adoption service

A long time ago, when I was developing Webshield for McAfee, I started to accumulate a huge collection of computers, and I continued this orgy of capitalistic excess through the next few jobs, right up to the point where Maximum Leader Genius overthrew the government of the United States and the economy obligingly cratered. At that time, I had something on the order of 50(!) x386 boxes lying around either at home or at where pell, et alii, are colocated. After a year or so of unemployment, I started giving them away (many, but not all, thank G-d, of these computers cost >$1000 when I first assembled them, but the frenzied pace of computer obsolescence reduced their value down to approximately $0 pretty much immediately after purchase) and scrapping the ones that didn't have enough value to give to anyone.

Today, I officially reached the bottom of the barrel. I'd promised a machine to a friend in Los Angeles and a couple to a nonprofit here in Portland, and spent part of this morning prepping the hardware, only to discover that I'd run out of machines and had to salvage memory from the new (as in "only three years old") Pell hardware to get all three of them bootable.

50 computers, all gone! All my spare hard disks and memory, all gone! All that's left now is a small stack of old slow pentia and '486 boxes (I'm not scrapping the '386 box, and I've not getting rid of the old P75 box that I used to develop Webshield on, because the work I did on that box paid for about a third of the house I'm living in) which I'll either freecycle or dismantle (I've got a few old Macs that I won't be scrapping, because Apple built all of their early Macs out of plastic, which is, um, not much in demand at the recycling houses) and then the house will be back down to the state of clutter it was in before we spawned and started seriously exploring the frontiers of entropy.

Apr 23, 2005

March Fourth! at Sunnyside School, Portland, on Earth Day 2005

We braved the rain today to run up to Sunnyside School for the Earth Day celebrations there, mainly because March Fourth! was going to be performing there.

I got a few pictures of the performance.

Apr 22, 2005

Even More Extreme Babysitting.

After cancellations, delays, sick days, and giant meteor impacts all had their day, Kids Night finally worked its way around to our house.

Russell and Silas welcomed everybody at the door.

Everyone needed to stop and play with the Lego blocks for a while.

And then they needed to hide in the Secret Clubhouse.

But soon the lure of the library dragged them away.

Bold leadership, B*sh junta style

North Korea may be preparing for a(nother?) nuclear weapons test. So what's the bold and decisive™ response from the Coward in Chief?

"Please, please, Mr. Mainland China, sir, tell your boy to not detonate nuclear weapons in the classroom!"

(link via Billmon)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

When Giant Microbe Airways calls it economy class, they're not kidding!

Now this is something I never expected NASA to do

After having a shuttle burn its wing off and disintegrate during reentry, killing another seven astronauts, you'd expect that NASA would attempt to tighten up their safety procedures so they wouldn't threepeat in the exploding spacecraft competition.


And just to put the icing on the cake, it's not just relaxing safety standards, it's reducing the safety standards on what's considered acceptable damage from the kind of debris that led to the disintegration of Columbia on its last trip.

The mind boggles about what would be considered relaxed safety standards here. "We're not putting tiles on the wings any more, but that's okay, we're only hiring Democrats as astronauts these days!" "No, no, we'll use prisoners from the New American Gulag as astronauts!"

(link via Canadian Cynic)


Well, yes, gay sex is hot, but I don’t think it’s as popular as the fundies think it is.

Arthur Silber, since he's got a far higher tolerance for right-wing lunacy than I do, has picked a real gem of right-wing lunacy from the fertile fields of wingnutta. It's not a particularly new bit of lunacy (it was going around when I was coming out in the 1980s), but it's apparently coming back.

The executive summary is: gay sex is so hot that if you don't vigorously persecute gay people, everyone will abandon their opposite-sex fuckbuddies for the boys (or girls) in the band, and then where will we be???


I'd think that the best solution for a pundit who's been forced so deeply into the closet that they have to make this sort of argument would be to instead move to a big city and get a job fighting for gay rights. Who knows, they might find a nice MOTSS partner if they aren't spending all their energy wrapping themselves into rhetorical knots. And, if gay sex is that much better than heterosexual sex, well, that will be one pundit who will be a lot happier and well-adjusted.

And, as a bonus, they won't need to be at the beck and call of the Scaife family or any of the other, um, "leading lights" of the Christian Taliban. It's a win-win all around.

Apr 21, 2005

Open Source®™© fun!

Or not, as the case may be. Bitmover has (as anyone who's more in touch with the linux kernel mailing lists than I am) decided to stop shipping their free(ish) version of bitkeeper, because someone who worked at the same company as a certain linux kernel developer decided to reverse-engineer the bkd wire format. I'm sure this is annoying for the linux core team, but I'm selfish; it's an absolute disaster for me, because I use bitkeeper all over the place at home and at work, and don't want to convert to some horrid client-server source code control system.

And it's not as if I can go out and write a bk clone of my very own, because I used to work for bitmover and Larry would probably sue me into the ground if I wrote a clone of a product that he's given me copies of the sources for. (And, for that matter, I don't want to write a source code control system of my own. There's a lot of infrastructure that needs to be written before the thing would be useful for anything more robust than file mulching.)

Perhaps it's time to look into monotone (which, from a brief examination, suffers from the too-long-name syndrome. Bitkeeper, and Clearcase, and every other source code control system I've used in the recent past has the useful command syntax of ``name command [args]'', and having to type something like ``monotone command [args]'' over and over and over and over and over again would pretty rapidly drive me to clearcase-style levels of screaming abuse at the version control system. (nope; monotone won't work, because it's written in C++ and it requires g-fucking-cc version 3.2, which means I won't be able to build it on mastodon, and if the version control system won't work on my systems, I won't use it.)

I've obviously forgotten the BOFH's mantra (All hardware sucks, all software sucks) and will have to pay my penance one way or another.

Once again, Texas boldly leads the way to a religious dictatorship!

The Evil Party in Texas is in the throes of passing a law prohibiting gays and bisexuals from being foster parents. I'd like to make some snarky comment about just how they'd figure out whether someone is bisexual or not, but I'm too busy biting the edge of my shield to be snarky right now.

(link via Yowling from the Fencepost)

1 comment

Apr 20, 2005

My, my, my, how incredibly suicidal.

Some coward at Microsoft, bowing to the pressure of some penny-ante bigot in Redmond, has decided to run, screaming, from Microsoft's long history of support for gay rights. Are they nuts, or is someone in the upper echelons of Mount Doom a closet Mac user who decided that today would be a good day to tarnish Microsoft's reputation on a front that has nothing whatever to do with computers?

I like photoshop, and the best likes framemaker, but we're certainly not going to leave any goddamn Windows boxes lying around the house if billg's excellent adventure decides to become the House of Screaming Bigots.

How fortunate it is that killing other people isn’t a mortal sin.

The New! Improved! Catholic Pope has gotten some flack over being a member of the Hitler Youth when he was a kid, when the moral thing would have been to decline (yes, and then risk death in the concentration camps. The moral path is not always the easiest path to take, and you can't blame people for not taking it if they later repent their acts.) Now, given that (at least according to the Jewish heresy that he's just been appointed to lead) he's the voice of G-d, you might wonder if this means that G-d approves of moral relativism.

Well, apparently so. Last year not-yet-Pope Ratzinger sent out a threatening letter to American Catholics, telling them that it was sinful to support a Catholic politician who supported abortion rights. Trivial things like false witness and supporting preemptive war, well, the church disapproves (wink! wink!) of it, but it can be left up to Caesar's discretion and it's not sinful to support a (non-Catholic) politician who does it. And, after all, Hitler may have been a bad man, but he disapproved of abortion, and that trumps the deathcamps right there.

It probably doesn't hurt that non-Catholics are taking the brunt of the horror in both cases. Pope Ratzinger hasn't traditionally shown much respect for anyone outside his faith (with the notable exception of Maximum Leader Genius, who, it should be noted, does disapprove of abortion), so the destruction of the Christian communities in Iraq (some of which are ancient and may have predated the Catholic church) are simply collatoral damage, and whether or not they are important are, once again, left up to Caesar's discretion.

Given Ratzinger's approach to the child abuse epidemic in the church (Waaa, the liberals are being mean to us!), must I also assume that child abuse doesn't count as a mortal sin, but just one of those things, like jaywalking, that doesn't really count?

Some Catholics may consider the appointment of the new Pope to be a terrible insult to the Catholic faith, but they're not thinking positively enough. You've got to think like a bigot; if you hate gay people and think that women should be nothing more than self-propelled incubators, G-d will let you sodomize children, lie, and commit mass murder on the flimsiest of pretexts!

1 comment

Apr 19, 2005

Clark in ‘08?

The mainline Democrats, who are running under the illusion that the United States of America still exist, are starting to back various candidates for President. One of those candidates is (ex-)general Clark, who has, um, no political experience, but who has managed to help NATO actually win a war DESPITE the backseat driving from various elected members of the Evil Party (who, then as now, don't know jack about how to wage a shooting war.)

So what is the #1 qualification his backers give for him? «Happily, Clark oozes military. It's impossible to imagine the guy anywhere else.» Umm, er, hello? And this means exactly what when the Evil Party slime campaign kicks into action? John Kerry, who is a honest to G-d decorated war hero, was beaten down into only a 2-3% lead (the exact figures aren't known, of course, because the Evil Party stole the election had 10,000 happy coincidences which allowed them to "win" the election) and he's been a politician for quite a long time.

If, as in 2004, Clark's backers think that his stellar military experience will inoculate him against the Evil Party slime machine (remember that he's got to climb a much higher hill than his predicessors did; Gore was tied in the polls, and "lost", Kerry was up 2-3% in the exit polls, and "lost". I expect that in 2008 the Democratic candidate will be up 5% in the exit polls and they'll still "lose") and cause him to sweep to victory, well, they're likely to be really surprised when the (Evil Party controlled) battleground states announce slim victories for Dear Leader not-B*sh.

There are situations where having military experience is very useful. Politics (or, as is the case in the United States now, "Politics") is not one of them. The Evil Party has a deserter as their figurehead, for heaven's sake, and regularly pisses into the mouths of people who are actually fighting in real wars, but ~50% of the American electorate thinks that they're defending the country. Wesley Clark doesn't control the television stations, so he could have a heap of medals 10 feet high, including a special medal for rescuing Jesus of Nazareth from the Roman Army, and it wouldn't make any difference to the official poll results.

It may be a stretch to imagine the United States with fair elections, but it's more of a stretch to imagine the Evil Party, which has (enthusiastically and with a fair bit of success) maliciously slandered two veterans of the Vietnam war, turning tail and running just because another veteran has been offered up as competition for their deserteur de jour.


Joys of cat ownership (post-surgical version)

On April 18, 2005, at approximately 4pm pacific time, the vet took the Happy!Drug! patch off the cat.

On April 19, 2005, at approximately 4am pacific time, the cat threw up loudly enough to wake me up.

On April 19, 2005, at approximately 8am pacific time, the cat threw up loudly enough to wake me up again (I had my alarm set for 8:15am, so it wasn't nearly as obnoxious as the 4am wakeup puke.)

A brief reconnaissance of the house revealed a few more gastrointestinal surprises.

I guess it's time to go back to the vet and get more Happy! Drugs!, so we can drug the cat every day for the rest of its natural life (or our natural life, whichever ends first.)

Apr 18, 2005

Bears in the woods


The family went through the Clackamas Curtain this evening to go for a walk in the woods down by the Willamette River. The trip ended in tears after Russell managed to get mired in the mud (twice, alas, and the second time he managed to get so stuck that he walked out of his shoes and got his socks muddy, which he didn't like at all) by the banks of the river, but before he became entombed we had an enjoyable walk.

French pronunciation for trainspotters.

"Chez", pronounced "shay".

1 comment

Apr 17, 2005

I [heart] my new camera

These pictures, taken this afternoon just after a hailstorm rolled through Portland, almost make it seem like Portland Traction was never abandoned, but kept running the CC cars forever.

The Steel Bridge isn't really being pulled over by those pull-offs you see in the foreground, it's just another case of "Hi! I'm Orc; I'm so bent I can't even take a picture straight!"

But, wait, this one looks level! I must have had someone else taking this picture! (The south end of the Union Pacific yards at the foot of Russell Street)


Frontiers of international commerce

So, your trading partners don't want you to ship them a type of GM corn? No problem! Ooops, we "mislabeled" it! And, no, we're not going to actually tell our trading partners that we're shipping them a sort of frankencorn that doesn't even have US regulatory approval, because that would imply that the B*sh junta made a mistake.

Naturally, the US government is shocked and horrified when the UK decided to block all imports of US corn just because the US government didn't bother to actually tell anyone about the "mislabelling". After all, it's traditional to just cover up and cover up until some magazine spills the beans.

Go ahead -- Lie to your trading partners! After all, it's the American Way™!

(happy economic news via Suburban Guerrilla)

Apr 16, 2005

Railroad picture of the evening

When we were driving around this evening, we spotted a train parked at the north end of Brooklyn Yard. When we turned around to look at it, we realized that the UP was using reflective tape for the striping, railroad name, and locomotive number on this SD40-2. I took about 20 pictures with the camera set for night pictures, and one actually turned out (the rest were too blurry; you need to leave the shutter open a long time, even with our car shining its headlights on the engine to make it more reflective, to get any sort of night picture, and if you have the temerity to breathe while the picture is s-l-o-w-l-y printing onto the CCD, the locomotive ends up looking like you dipped it in cotton wool.)

More nighttime pictures

Taken at ~8:30 pm, at 26th and Powell in Portland, Oregon.

Perhaps it’s time to add …

... categories to my weblog program, so I can split the posts I make up into cute cat pictures, artsy pictures, screaming liberal rants about the fascists, and Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Sometimes flakiness is its own reward

Because we were flakes, we managed to not get our income tax forms into the mail until 9pm on the 15th. But it wasn't a total waste, because I brought my new camera along, and got some pictures of the rain at night.

On filibusters

Matthew Yglesias, writing in The American Prospect, claims that the filibuster is bad for liberals, and that the Democrats should just get rid of it.

« There is, however, a better way. Democrats should counter loose talk of going nuclear with a proposal of their own: The Senate as a whole could vote, through proper procedures, to end filibusters on votes of all kind, allowing passage of any bill (or nominee) that can secure a majority vote. Republicans may reject the offer, of course. But if they do so, that will only strengthen the Democrats' hand politically in combating the nuclear option -- by demonstrating a fair-minded commitment to principle over short-term partisan advantage.»

I can see one teeny tiny problem here. The quoted paragraph assumes that the government is run by people of principle, which is something that the Evil Party has proven again and again they don't have. Dumping the filibuster while the Evil Party controls the government is like handing your alcoholic cousin the keys to the liquor cabinet just before you head out of town on a two-week vacation.

The scenario I'd see coming out of just giving up the filibuster is that the Evil Party would run completely wild (their so-called moderates in the Senate are terrified sheep who wouldn't break with the party even while bills are being passed to strip statehood from the states where they came from), and then when they lost the Senate because vote fraud couldn't make up for the electorate's disgust at their despicable tactics, why, they'd just put the filibuster back on their way out the door.

And, sure, the Democratic Party would have the moral high ground, but that and 25¢ won't even give you a copy of the local paper.

(link via Here's What's Left)

Evil Party moral values (pt 7)

Uzbekistan, in south-central Asia, is one of the American Imperium's more unappealing allies in the so-called "global war on terror." Aside from being a sordid dictatorship (which is one of the traditional prerequisites for being a US client state), they carry the business of brutal tortures about as far as it's possible to take it. Boiling people to death, gangrapes, ripping people apart with pliers, it's all pretty much par for the course in the beacon of liberty that is Uzbekistan.

But perhaps it's nice that they exist, because then the apologists can claim that no matter how depraved the United States has become, and no matter how terribly the United States may treat its (largely innocent bystanders, if reports from Iraq and Afghanistan are to be believed) prisoners, at least we don't boil them to death, pound nails into them, rape them, and smash their teeth out with hammers.

At least that's the idea.

It turns out that the US KGB has been flying their chartered Gulfstreams regularly to and from that little slice of hell on the steppes. And, as the fucking Coward in Chief is wont to say (probably while masturbating over snuff pictures from the torture chamber), if someone protects a terrorist, if someone feeds a terrorist, then that person is just as guilty as the terrorists! So, you're an American citizen? Congratulations! You're not only a torturer, but you're a Josef Mengele-style torturer!

And, no, "I was just following orders" will not be an acceptable defense when you stand before Minos for judgement.

(evidence via King of Zembla)

1 comment

Apr 15, 2005

Out of surgery and not too happy about it.

One of our cats went into the hospital for surgery to find out why she was throwing up, and she came home with a Happy!Drug! patch, and a little collar to keep her from eating the drugs. She likes the drugs, but is not too sure about the collar.

Yet more proof I’m an unrepentant lefty

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Labour -12
Conservative -54
Liberal Democrat 74
UK Independence Party -6
Green 40

You should vote (if you lived in the UK, that is; subjects of Imperial America need not even worry their pretty little heads over this quaint little voting idea): Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

And this test didn't even have an item asking

I would rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than vote for Tony Blair:

Which I feel would have made a slight difference in my score for voting Labour (subject, of course, to the disclaimer on the You should vote line; as it sits, I'm at -100 for all of those parties because of a certain unpleasantness that happened a few hundred years ago.)

1 comment

The ideal way to remember your cat. You know, the cat you sat on and squashed…?

Make it into a pillow !

I could imagine it would really break the ice at parties, particularly if you could find one of those squeezebox units that made an indignant MEOW! when squeezed. "Oh my God, I just sat on your cat!" "Oh, that's okay, the cat likes it. See?" <squash> MEOW! <squash> MEOW! <squash> MEOW!

I don't know if it would work quite so well if you were fond of your cat.

(link via Joe. My. God.)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

It's not raining, it's not nighttime, there is no river below, but Dust Mite can still play Kate Shelley and stop the onrushing express train.

Apr 14, 2005

Our work here is done

A year and a half ago, echo23 released their Steve Ballmer video, featuring an Orb-ish remix of one of his more famous speeches matched to bits of Domo-kun video. I snarfed a copy of the video, played it a few dozen times, then tucked it away in my movies directory on downbelow, where I'd occasionally pull it out to play.

Fast forward to this spring. The bears like watching online train videos, as well as other interesting things I occasionally find. This last week, Russell was getting over being sick, and Silas was starting to get sick, and one night I was home alone with them while the best went out for a meeting, and we got to playing some of the railroad videos. And then I thought they'd like the famous transformer citreon video (filmed in Vancouver, BC), and then, there it was, ready to corrupt them.

So we played it once, twice, then about 10 times. And over the week the best played it for them a few more times.

This afternoon, I got a call from home, and was told to listen. In the background, in his high childish voice, Russell was singing "DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! I! Love! This! Company!"

Our work here is done.

1 comment

Super trivial project of the day

One of our cats went to the hospital yesterday for some exploratory surgery (so we could figure out just why she's puking every single day, sometimes 3 or 4 times if the food doesn't agree with her.) Since she's coming home with a big honking incision in her tummy, I wanted to make her a new cozy little bed. So when I came home after work today, I spent about 45 minutes building her a little catbox from scrappy materials (the boards are from a pallet, the little framing pieces on the ends are cut from the remains of the ex-deck, and the blankets inside it are fabric samples from Trillium Artisans.)

The little plastic insects are not part of the catbox, despite what Silas may think.

Evil Party Moral Values (pt 6)

«Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said the legislation would save American families an average $400 a year in higher interest rates now charged to consumers to recoup losses from those who abuse bankruptcy proceedings.»

The Evil Party, with the assistance of the useful idiots in the DLC, have passed the vassal slavery bill out of congress and are sending it off to the desk of the Coward in Chief for rubberstamping. This bill does not, of course, include any protections against usury, but it does allow anti-abortion terrorists their handy little "bomb for free!" loophole. Veterans returning home from the quagmire in the near east will, naturally, not be given any leeway from their usurious creditors, because the Evil Party wants to show their special appreciation for the poor bastards who thought they were enlisting in the military to protect the United States, instead of just being cannon fodder while well-connected members of the Evil Party continue to loot the public purse.

"save American families an average $400 a year", eh? Bullshit, Mr. Dreier, and you know it.

(link via Voice in the Wilderness)

A quick review of The most perfect healthcare system in the whole wide world

The most efficient healthcare that the world has ever seen! It's far better than that icky socialized medicine that FRANCE uses!

Look how healthy our children are!

Envy our life expectancy! And how infrequently we get sick. It's much better than anything those effete Europeans can even dream of!

And it's cheap, too! The best healthcare in the world, and we don't spend more than a pittance for it!

And, due to the miracle™ of the free© market®, we don't spend nearly as much percentagewise as those socialistic European (remember, that's where Hitler! came from!) plans do.

And did I mention how cheap it was? Yes, surely nobody can do better than the United States at providing quality healthcare that everyone can afford!

(graphs from Angry Bear
via The Sideshow

1 comment

Apr 13, 2005

Perhaps Willamette Week should consider hiring a new editor?

When I open the page to the a restaurant review (for Buckman Grill, which I've heard is actually a good restaurant) and the first thing I see is a photo caption reading (in a LARGE BOLDFACE font) "... shaped like an exquisite tiny breast with an aureole of deep scarlet blood orange.", my first thought isn't "I should read this review", but "If I wanted juvenile sex talk, I'd read the Mercury, where they actually know how to do it." I don't know what the editorial staff was doing when this review crept in, but perhaps next time they should either (a) look at the text they're supposed to put into their newspaper or (b) hire a food critic who's actually had sex once or twice in their life.

And, to make matters even worse (or better), the photo in question? Why, it looks nothing like a breast, unless your only exposure to female human breasts is badly drawn hentai.

Apr 12, 2005

Not the most compelling threat, I’m afraid…

Arthur Silber points out that if the Democrats embrace the Hollywood! Is! Evil! brigade, and all of the hypocritical morality crusades that much of the H!I!E! crowd backs (I lived in the Los Angeles area for several years (and, oddly enough, really liked the city of Los Angeles, even though I hated living there), and after interviewing with various movie studios who tried to impress me with claims that I! Could! Meet! The! Stars!, so I've got some sympathy for H!I!E!, but not one bit of sympathy for the morality crusades), that he (and, I presume, the few other libertarians who aren't actually Evil Party members in disguise) will drop the wartime alliance with the Democrats like a hot, rotten potato.

But if the Democrats tried that stunt, the libertarian exodus (which would, regrettably, be very small, because most of the libertarians in the United States sold their souls to the Evil Party for a pottage of "business reforms") would be buried under a larger exodus of the civil liberties left who were willing to sell their souls for "business reforms" lite(tm), but only as long as the Democratic Party didn't sell out their civil liberties. Lose the civil liberties, and goodbye to a large chunk of your base; it's not 2000 anymore, the Green/Evil Party coalition is not really functional anymore, and if the party is going to lose anyway it's not going to be very compelling for the civil-liberties-are-worth-"business reforms" people to stick around to watch the B*sh junta steal it again.

The people who want to move the Democrats farther to the right don't want the libertarians either, because that pesky civil liberties thing doesn't go over very well with the bigots the GOP-lite(tm) crowd is (still! One would think that 10 years of moving to the right and losing more and more ground might teach them that appeasement doesn't work, but, no, this is the Stupid Party we're talking about) trying to seduce. The GOP-lite(tm) crowd doesn't want civil liberties, and that's all those pesky libertarians can bring to the table. So, alas, losing the libertarians isn't much of a threat to them.

If he was a Democrat, the Evil Party would call it flip-flopping

John Bolton (1994): «If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference»

John Bolton (2005): «Now more than ever, the U.N. must play a critical role as it strives to fulfill the dreams and hopes and aspirations of its original promise to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom»

Now you and I know that he's not actually flip-flopping. He's a tool of the B*sh junta; he meant what he said in 1994, and he's lying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. But that doesn't matter, because Iokiyar!


The arrogance of power

Invade a country, (re)destroy the infrastructure, then bring in some well connected friends to "fix" things up at only 100x the cost of hiring the native contractors who fixed up their country after the last time your family bombed the shit out of it, and then when those "fixes" don't work, blame the natives!

I guess the only "good" side of this is that while the well connected friends are "fixing" Iraq they won't care much about "fixing" things in the United States; the usual 10x cost-plus contract that the well connected friends can get for doing public works projects in the United States are peanuts compared to the 100x cost-plus contract that a well connected friend can get in Iraq, plus they don't even have to make it work to get paid over there.

But, remember, the adults are in control now, and no female intern will be giving the Coward in Chief blowjobs in the Oval Office!

C++ considered harmful

By itself, it's not that bad. It's not C, and its developers keep trying to reposition it ("inheritance is good" "No, inheritance is bad! Templates are good!" "No, no, Templates are bad! Patterns(tm) are good!") to sustain some sort of dominance in the damned vanity language of the century competition (a doomed battle; monstrosities like p*th*n and p*rl [and all the little nichey languages that float around the periphery, all barking for their 15 minutes of fame] are much better suited for the damned vanity language crown because they're interpreted languages, and interpreted languages are, by design, much better suited for making your brain explode 47 different ways before teatime), but if you realize it (C++, that is) it's C with an attached unstable nuclear device and code accordingly, you can do wonderful things with it.

What's really wrong with C++ is that the C++ fanatics have crept their way into the standards commmittees for C (which may not be the One True Language, but it's a lot closer than C++ is), and thus C++ "features" have found their way into "revisions" of the C language. Like, oh, // to start a comment.

I'm aware that every long-lasting language has been subjected to the tender mercies of the standards revisors. I used to program occasionally in FORTRAN, and I know I'd have to rewrite that code from scratch if I had even the slightest hope of making it compile with a modern FORTRAN compiler. But it still annoys me to death when I try to build someone else's C code and gcc 2.7.3 (which, last time I checked, a legitimate C compiler even if it's surrounded by wads of GNU crapware extensions) and I have to go in and convert a bunch of // comments into / ... / ones.

ClamAV bit me on this one today; I had to upgrade the version of clamscan on pell from 0.65 to 0.84rc1, and (alongsize the usual crop of things failing because Pell is not running R*dh*t 8.0) a few // comments popped up and caused gcc to become very unhappy with me.

Not as unhappy as the Linux kernel would make it, of course (the Linux kernel isn't actually written in C, it's written in whatever version of gcc is shipped with the distributions that the core team uses, and since gcc has embraced C++ extensions for a long time the code is infested with // comments) and nowhere nearly as unhappy as McAfee's antivirus code used to be (McAfee used to develop their antivirus on W*nd*ws, and every compiler there treats C and C++ as one and the same. Thus about 75000 // comments in their scanner engine), but it's still annoying, and a good reason to start grumbling about "dictator of the world" and "first up against the wall when the revolution comes".


Apr 11, 2005

Oh, this is probably a bad sign

A few months ago, I discovered that Disney was doing a movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I expressed some concern that it might not be a particularly good adaptation.

Well, it's apparently almost out, and reviewers have already had a chance to look it over and comment on it.

The review (with spoilers) I read excerpts some, um, disturbing stuff. Douglas Adams wrote the following dialogue:

"I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the Display Department."
"With a torch."
"The lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But you found the plans, didn't you?"
"Oh yes, they were 'on display' in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'"

And, apparently, the movie revised this to:

"I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"But you found the plans, didn't you?"

About the only thing I can say in favor of ripping out the «Beware of the leopard» dialogue is that it tells me right off the bat that the movie is 100% Grade-A bioengineered horsecrap. I don't think I'll be needing to spend US$10.00 to watch it when I could get the same effect by applying a spoon to my eyeballs from the comfort of my own home.

(the horrifying, but not unexpected, news is via Majikthise )

1 comment

Upper class privilege defined.

It's not getting into Yale, even if you're not really qualified.

It's not about getting into the Texas Air National Guard because a friend of your family gets you bumped to the head of the line.

It's not about being able to just skip out from the Texas Air National Guard because you got bored with it.

It's not about having friends of the family launder millions of dollars through your companies even as they are failing.

It's not even about having friends of the family overthrow the government of the United States so you can be made El Presidente.

No. It's having a servant who programs your iPod, because, heavens, it's too hard to listen to the music yourself.

Useful parenting hint!

If you're taking your children on a trip to tire them out, having them fall asleep in the car on the way back tends to defeat the whole purpose of the trip.

If, however, your agenda is that they go to sleep no earlier than 11pm, why, sleeping in the car is just the ticket.

One year on

A good time to return to the basics!

Apr 10, 2005

Andrea Dworkin, RIP.

Andrea Dworkin died on friday. That is very sad to hear. When I was younger and trying to actually develop a more coherent liberal philosophy (a task that I failed at; being a computer programmer is not a career that encourages logical thought), I read several of her books and, well, I can't say I enjoyed them, but I found them to be very good at battering away at my prejudices and revealing the weak points.

She didn't really write books for men to read. But after I read them, puzzled over them, reread them, and puzzled over them some more I got quite a bit out of them. And from everything I read about her, she was much the same way in real life.

The world is much poorer for her passing. If there's an afterlife, I hope she acts as the same lightningbolt of outrage there as she was here.

(the sad news is from bitch, PhD)

A very happy bumblebee

A trip to Silver Falls State Park

We'd been inside for several days due to work and sickness, so, to avoid going completely batshit stircrazy, we shovelled ourself into the car and went on a short trip to Silver Falls State Park. This was mainly a "get the bears out of the house so they will tire themselves out" trip, so it was very very short (3 hours driving, 2 hours at the park, 1 hour of combined napping babies on the way back.)

Silver Falls State Park has, as you can probably guess, some waterfalls. We weren't going to do any long hikes, but some of the waterfalls were an easy walk (all of these thumbnails link to very large images. Click and beware!)

North Falls is pretty easy to reach; park beside the road (in the dinky trailhead lot), step out of your car, and there it is.

South Falls is about half a mile away from where we parked (near a play structure, where we stopped for quite some time so the bears could play for a while), but eventually we dragged the bears away from their work and walked over to the edge of the gorge:

There is a path leading down behind South Falls, which we took, but first I had to impress the bears by flying over to yards away from the falls (because, as anyone who reads certain right-wing weblogs knows, telephoto lenses don't exist, and I just had to get a closeup.)

The waterfall gets a lot larger when you get close to it.

Until you get really close, then you lose all sense of scale.

After this, we proceeded sedately back to the car and drove home.


Apr 09, 2005

Do Republicans ever do anything that isn’t malicious?


I don't know whether threatening to murder Supreme Court Justices or using a state's pension funds to buy (through an Evil Party "dealer") "rare coins" is worse, but I'm at the point where I'm not only not surprised, but I consider it par for the course.

The kooky dominionists are probably more of an immediate threat to the United States, but it's going to be hell for them to try and pull off their ethnic cleansing (note how these conservative fundamentalists have edited any mention of compassion and humility out of the religion they erroneously call "christianity") when the treasury is empty and the national guards are all home defending their states against the bigots.

Computer tip of the day

Computer components do not like it when you insulate them with the tinfoil from easter eggs. Somehow a bit of tinfoil from a chocolate egg found its way into a compact flash to pcmcia adapter, and the computer promptly started freaking out every time we tried to use the adapter.

And after plugging a compact flash card into the chocolate-egged adapter, there's no way to get the tinfoil out without prying the adapter apart and ending up with a naked adapter card.

Apr 08, 2005

Taking advantage of a cloudy day

The sun has been peeking in and out of the clouds this afternoon. Around 2:30, it came out, and I grabbed my camera and bolted outside to get lunch and take some pictures.

The Marquam Bridge, despite being the most spartan (and most inappropriately placed; it would look lovely spanning a river gorge, but it just looks incomplete sitting out in the Willamette with the approaches reaching out to it from the east and west shores.) highway bridge in Portland, still provides a lot of interesting views. I took this picture from near the old Red Electric ROW, just west of Moody Street.

How do you spell vassal slavery?

The Pentagon spells it s-t-o-p l-o-s-s; those soldiers who assumed that they were signing up for an eight-year hitch have just gotten a wonderful example of the marketplace in action. But there is a way out for some of them: If reservists started sodomising each other on the parade grounds at noon, the first dozen or so would be shovelled out of the service in quick order (subsequent "offenders" would then be executed declared enemy combatants, just to encourage the others.)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

When playing basketball, Dust Mite is very very good at protecting the hoop.

Apr 07, 2005

Frontiers of Democracy

Losing in the polls? Worried that you won't be El Presidente after the polls close in the next election?

No problem. Just disqualify your opposition from standing for the position. It works in Singapore (another country I've just disqualified myself from ever visiting), so why not do it in Mexico? And if it works in Mexico, why, the sky is no limit!

(tip of the hat to Arthur Silber)

But things will be better when we’re torturing hundreds of people!

In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window. A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the little room a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads, stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt, a little damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about three paces long and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a child is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucket and the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come. The door is always locked; and nobody ever comes, except that sometimes-the child has no understanding of time or interval-sometimes the door rattles terribly and opens, and a person, or several people, are there. One of them may come in and kick the child to make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened, disgusted eyes. The food bowl and the water jug are hastily filled, the door is locked, the eyes disappear. The people at the door never say anything, but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother's voice, sometimes speaks. "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" They never answer. The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, "eh-haa, eh-haa," and it speaks less and less often. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually.

He told me he was almost 12," she said. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."

They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery.

Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports

This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve, whenever they seem capable of understanding; and most of those who come to see the child are young people, though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child. No matter how well the matter has been explained to them, these young spectators are always shocked and sickened at the sight. They feel disgust, which they had thought themselves superior to. They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the explanations. They would like to do something for the child. But there is nothing they can do. If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of that vile place, if it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing, indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed.

The terms are strict and absolute; there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child.

(The) United States has withdrawn from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights, which they proposed in 1963 to allow foreigners the right to see their consular authorities when jailed abroad, The Washington Post said Thursday.

Often the young people go home in tears, or in a tearless rage, when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox. They may brood over it for weeks or years. But as time goes on they begin to realize that even if the child could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom: a little vague pleasure of warmth and food, no doubt, but little more. It is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy. It has been afraid too long ever to be free of fear. Its habits are too uncouth for it to respond to humane treatment. Indeed, after so long it would probably be wretched without walls about it to protect it, and darkness for its eyes, and its own excrement to sit in. Their tears at the bitter injustice dry when they begin to perceive the terrible justice of reality, and to accept it.

Beyond the most abusive actions at Abu Ghraib, there is plentiful evidence that senior officers were aware of practices like forced nudity and the use of unmuzzled dogs to intimidate prisoners. Col. Thomas Pappas, the military intelligence officer in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib, is reported as having openly acknowledged the use of forced nudity as part of the intelligence process.

Yet it is their tears and anger, the trying of their generosity and the acceptance of their helplessness, which are perhaps the true source of the splendor of their lives. Theirs is no vapid, irresponsible happiness. They know that they, like the child, are not free. They know compassion. It is the existence of the child, and their knowledge of its existence, that makes possible the nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science. It is because of the child that they are so gentle with children. They know that if the wretched one were not there snivelling in the dark, the other one, the flute-player, could make no joyful music as the young riders line up in their beauty for the race in the sunlight of the first morning of summer.

The former U.S. army chief in Iraq authorized tough techniques to intimidate detainees during interrogations, including using guard dogs and placing prisoners in painful “stress positions”, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

Now do you believe in them? Are they not more credible?

Allegations of torture and mistreatment of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq do not involve isolated cases, but are part of a broader pattern of what the Army's own investigation into the matter called "systemic abuse." Concerns about mistreatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other undisclosed detention facilities set up after September 11, 2001, have been raised many times by the media, NGO's, and the Congress.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Associated Press is compiling lists of the known cases of "Prisoner deaths investigated as involving criminal homicide or abuse by U.S. personnel." (Note how it's merely abuse, not torture, even if the victim ends up dead)

But there is one more thing to tell, and this is quite incredible.

At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or woman much older falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

(links via Under The Same Sun,, Al Jazeera,,, the grey lady,
and the BBC;
the text is from THE ONES WHO WALK AWAY FROM OMELAS, by Ursula K Le Guin

1 comment

Apr 06, 2005

I love these silly little tests

You scored as Green.

















What Political Party Do Your Beliefs Put You In?
created with

All I have to do is waste about 30 seconds of my time to have the computer tell me something that's almost correct.

Ah. The viruses aren’t coming from script kiddies after all.

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed the bliss of having to scrub both of the home Windows computers because a virus had somehow gotten onto them. At the time, I thought it was because some neighborhood script kiddy had gotten into the machines via the wireless network and was leaving me little turdlets just to say hi!, so I put WEP onto the network, blew away and reinstalled the windows machine, and put the users back on as non-admin users (which is a royal pain in the ass, because if you're not root, firemonkey and windows DRM player can't install plugins and codecs without going through some pretty extreme gyrations), and went on (almost) like normal.

(I did stop connecting to work, because I'd found that if I connected to work on a non-service-pack'ed Windows box, a hour or so into the connection my windows box would reboot out from under me.)

A few weeks passed without incident, until today, when I wanted to do a little bit of work from home where I can have tea and loud music. So I connected in to work, beat my head against the horrible scripts and version control system (repeat after me, everybody: CLEARCASE SUCKS DEAD BUNNIES THROUGH A STRAW!), and was having a fine old time until the copy of Norton I've got on the PC in the library popped up a little friendly notice, telling me that it had detected a trojan dropper on my machine.

What had I been doing out of the ordinary this morning? Oh, yeah, I was telnetting in to work, where the viruses apparently run free and Windows PCs run scared.

Apr 05, 2005

Malling list fun!

I host a small collection of domains on my public web server, doing the usual run of the mill things like webhosting, mail pickup, and mailing lists. These things usually run without complaint, but occasionally something bizarre happens.

Like today. One of the mailing lists I host kept having mail bounce to one particular yahoo user, typically with the complaint that my server was trying to relay mail through yahoo to an, um, yahoo user. Other yahoo users were not having this trouble, so I kept blowing off the complaints as "it's yahoo's fault, not mine". But eventually the complaints got to the point where I had to do some investigation, and discovered, to my intense amusement, that the stupid mail server that yahoo uses doesn't know how to parse domain names, so mail addressed to is delivered, but mail addressed to is not. and are, as far as the dns is concerned, the same site. And so any mail server will cheerfully relay the mail off to one of the mxes. Mail servers like Postoffice won't even rewrite the outgoing mail headers, because they (foolishly?) believe that if a site is going to advertise itself in dns, it will accept mail addressed to it no matter whether the domain is typed in UPPERCASE or has a period at the end. So it doesn't seem like rocket science to accept mail that comes into the mail server if the domain is UPPERCASE or has a period at the end.

But this is yahoo, an organization that has an abuse desk that uses the Evil Party playbook when dealing with spam; there are large swaths of the yahoo IP space that I don't accept mail from any more because when I forward a piece of spam to their "abuse" desk, complete with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back pointing out that the spam came from their address space, their reaction is "golly, it's horrible that you've got spam, but doesn't belong to us."

So they've got mail servers that won't accept mail addressed to valid users in their domain? Well, yeah, that's about par for the course. I'll bet they consider blocking valid domain names as being part of their antispam system, too.

Homophobia, courtesy of our small-government friends in the Evil Party

The website, brought to you, the net-aware reader, by the nosy parkers who have infested the United States government, is a cornucopia of offensive platitudes, each one more odious than the last. If you read through it (and can avoid falling into a screaming rage that ends up with you kicking your computer out the window), you will come out with a new appreciation of just how quickly a liberal state can metastacise into a theocracy.

I particularly noticed this little quote:

«If you believe your adolescent may be gay, or is experiencing difficulties with gender identity or sexual orientation issues, consider seeing a family therapist who shares your values to clarify and work through these issues.»


I'm not going to investigate to see if they have approving links to some of the so-called "ex-gay" organizations who specialise in the cattle-prod method of sexual reorientation, or if they simply point to "ex-gay" organizations that use a 12-step method of christian brainwashing to bully their victims back into the closet, because if I found either of those links I believe my head would really explode. But I will point out that the subtle message of "your kid is gay? He's broken, you need to fix him!" will not be lost on the christian Taliban who are the base of the Evil Party.

(via feministing)

Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

The best just got a phone call from that noted economist Tommy Lasorda, shilling the Coward in Chief's social security piratization plan. "Dr." Lasorda even helpfully supplied the phone number of the local Evil Party senator (Gordon "I'm for civil liberties, but not for people I disapprove of" Smith) but not, interestingly enough, the phone number for the local Stupid Party senator.

Rocky: But that trick never works
Bullwinkle: But this time for sure ...

You know, when the Evil Party admits that they've given up on getting Stupid Party senators to back their latest attempt to redefine deviancy way, way down, but are instead phoning members of the Democratic Party to try and get them to apply pressure on Evil Party senators, well, I'd not be at all surprised to see a sudden downpour of whiteout in the Washington, DC metro area. Are we looking at another rerun of the UN security council, where their boastful promises of getting 16 of 15 votes in favor of the stupid imperialist overreach of the century were suddenly trimmed back to "Oh, we never planned to ask the UN about this, since we've got a coalition of the easily bribed who will follow along for a share of the loot!" (which, parenthetically, they never got. P.T. Barnum was right) right before the full might of Imperial America went out and sailed the self-proclaimed Strongest Military That The World Has Ever Seen™ right into the wimpy-looking iceberg that is Iraq.

Bullwinkle: Well, I'm getting close!

1 comment

Apr 04, 2005

Postal Service discovery of the week!

The mail delivery fairies will not deliver mail that has fallen down the crack between the desk and the wall, no matter how enthusiastically you may wish that the mail should be delivered.


Apr 03, 2005

Bears need bike helmets

So we went out and bought some for them.

And after we went home, we went out for a bike ride (or run, in Silas's case.)

Railroad picture(s) of the day

Today, "of the day" means "the only ones I got"; even a good camera won't get me out unless the subject has pantographs (and is pulling freight; there are plenty of railroad vehicles with pantographs around here) or first-generation ALCO locomotives. But we did have other chores, which involved driving past Brooklyn Yard a couple of times...

When we were driving up to SCRAP (they were having their annual garage sale this weekend, so by the time we got there the place was picked clean. I found a few pretty glass tiles, but that was about it) we spotted a train parked just north of Brooklyn Yard, on the other side of a barbed wire fence. Fortunately there was a nearby tree that let me climb far enough to clear the barbed wire fence (and fortuately the *istDS has manual focus, so I could get something other than high resolution pictures of the fence with a blurry locomotive behind it.)


On the way back (from SCRAP, et al) we took 99E down to Bybee, and just as we exited 99E, we saw a train proceeding north into the yard. The train was moving slowly enough so we could stop and get a few more pictures.

Apr 02, 2005

Fierce Creatures

The Silas channel – All Silas pictures all the time.

Fun with a new camera

Apr 01, 2005

A waste of time, but it’s such a pretty waste of time.

The Zoomquilt

File under: you didn't need to save those CPU cycles, did you?

(via #!/usr/bin/girl)


Any excuse for Ross Island bridge pictures

When the A70 and A60 started pining for the fjords a couple of weeks ago, I had to revert back to my ancient, slow, battery-eating, and proprietary data formatted Polaroid PDC3000. You can only imagine just how frustrating it was to be stuck with a camera that needed to take 9 seconds to save a picture for the 10 or so pictures I could take before the thing ate the batteries. I lasted about 3 days before I started hunting around for a replacement camera, preferably one that came with something with replacable lenses.

I found one, Barkingly expensive, but I've spent more money than that on the series of lower-end digital cameras that came into the house, developed mortal diseases, then had to be nailed to the perch to avoid unfortunate bar-bending incidents.

1 comment

Annoying spam feature!

Comcast used to have pretty much all of their client machines in the and domains, so it was pretty easy to block them; just deny all traffic from those domains and then people coming in through the comcast mail servers can deliver mail to pell without complaint.

Until this week. At the start of this week, I started to get spam (a particularly noxious type of spam driven by a spam zombie that just blatted the mail message out without checking for smtp error codes; it makes my syslog file look really interesting) in german for various casino operations, coming from and Now, Comcast, being a big ISP, doesn't care about spam until their network segments get so crowded that customers start switching elsewhere, but they made up for it by conveniently dropping their client addresses into a special namespace that could be blocked with no pain to real customers. But no more!

A nasty suspicious mind would turn immediately to pink-contract spammers. But not me. I'll just bung into the blacklist and hope that I can set up a whitelist that captures all the traffic coming from the comcast mail servers.

I’m gonna go to hell for this one…

... but feast your eyes on The Pain's take on the imminent demise of the Pope.

Today is Take Your Dust Mite To Work day!

The first thing to do when you get in to work is to drink lots of tea.

Check your mail to find out if any of the system builds blew up last night.

Then go into the machine room to fix all the things that made the builds die.

And back to the desk to do paperwork and take a little nap.