Jul 31, 2005
It looks like the kangaroo courts in the American deathcamp in Cuba are going to be every bit as fair as the left expected them to be:
"Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged ... You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel"
Color me not surprised. Kangaroo courts are, after all, in the grand tradition of travesties of justice that the Coward in Chief is known for. I'm anxiously awaiting the earnest arguments from the Quisling right explaining that since they're known terrorists we don't have to prove they're known terrorists. Well, actually I'm not, but I know it's coming; we've already had the arguments that committing treason is the only patriotic thing to do, so supporting show trials isn't even a tiny stretch.
(via Suburban Guerrilla)
The SCRAP storefront has a new mural painted on it.
When we came back from the hobby shop and SCRAP, we took 99e past the south end of Brooklyn Yard, and managed to get a pretty good picture (in focus, no wall of stickers between us and the diesels, and enough clutter around to make it obvious that they're working in the yard.)
An elegant, understated birthday cake, suitable for my 45th birthday. The sheer weight of the trinkets that were piled on top of the cake were crushing the cake before I pried them off. but lightly smashed lemon cake is just as yummy as ever.
One of the little white butterflies that flits across our front yard actually stopped for long enough for me to get a halfway decent picture. It took off and flew away about a millisecond after I got this picture, probably because it was worried that it would melt into a puddle of butter if it didn't keep moving.
Jul 30, 2005
Sometime in 1997, the comic strip The City did the best parody of Star Wars collector fetishes I've ever seen. It's probably just as well that I never saw SW#4-6, because any tender romantic moments between Darth Vader and his sweety would have been spoiled by my laughing like a hyena on nitrous oxide.
The best and I were so amused by this strip that we carefully ripped it out of the local weekly paper and entered it into Minos'
labyrinth filing system at Chateau Chaos, where it promptly vanished for 8 years and only reappeared when we were searching for my passport. It will no doubt disappear back into the filing system, but this time I've got a scanner and I know how to use it.
(warning! copyrighted materials!)
Jul 29, 2005
I'm taking next week off from work, so we were thinking of going north for a couple of days to visit either Seattle or Vancouver, BC. We ended up nixing the latter, because of the teeny detail that I foolishly left my passport and birth certificate in Chateau Chaos, but we are planning on heading up to Seattle for a day or so to ride the monorail there.
One thing that is always a source of discomfort when we travel is that since we only sleep on futons at home (I started sleeping on futons sometime in the middle 1980s, and the best was sleeping on futons from around the same time; the bears, of course, have been sleeping on futons since they were born) it makes sleeping on hotel beds an exercise in extreme discomfort; there's something about 5+ feet of fluffy mattress, mattress cover, mattress protector, feather undersheet, and g-d only know what other junk that a hotel will place between me and my calvin kleins that reduces the sleeping part of the trip to the least favorite part of the day.
For this trip, I thought that I'd look for a japanese style hotel, or at least a hotel that uses futons. And, since I'm a hip and with it™ computer programmer, I decided to use
net nanny google to look for listings.
Bad idea. Looking for "hotels with futons in seattle" gives, as you can expect, the webpages of approximately 10 million futon-sellers mixed with the webpages of approximately 10 million hotels (none of which are actually in seattle, mind you. The magic word "futon" brings up approximately 7.5 million hotels in Japan, which is nice, but not exactly convenient to Seattle (the suicide girl "how I lost my virginity" link was, um, spectacularly out of place even for this collection of useless links. Does anyone actually successfully use google for anything aside from doing programming searches any more? At least I didn't get the obligatory ebay walpurgis ad!) I must only assume that the only places that actually offer futons to sleep in are the hotels that cater to Japanese tourists only, and don't feel that it's necessary or even desirable to advertise in such a way so J. Random Gaijin will book a room, then be peeved that the hotel doesn't provide the standard uncomfortable American style bed like the one they sleep on at home.
Perhaps what we'll do is get a roofrack for the Prius, then just roll up a futon and carry it with us. It's probably easier to get a hotel room without beds than it is to get a hotel room with a futon (though I did find one, even though it's not on the same side of Puget Sound as Seattle is. It's frightfully expensive, and may be booked up. And, no, I'm not posting a link until after we've made our reservations!)
It's a pirate's life for me!
An excursion paddlewheeler heading south down the east channel around Ross Island, as seen from the back stairwell in a #17 bus crossing the Ross Island bridge. When I was a kid and my family summered at my grandfathers summer camp in Maine, we'd always go up to Wolfeboro and ride the Mount Washington around Lake Winnipesaukee once a year. The bears are still fairly young for running around on the deck of a boat, but in a couple of years we might be able to take them for cruises on the Willamette or the Strait of Georgia.
The second quote is from an Evil Party lickspittle weblog that I will not link to from here, but fortunately(?) just about every A list lefty political weblogger has already linked to it, so if you want your full share of GOP deification, you can probably get there from here. The first quote is derived from a longer, but unlinked, quote in Hullabaloo comments.
In Ohio, an Iraq war veteran is running for a congressional seat against a typical Evil Party apparachik, and, at least if you pay attention to the polls, is actually doing quite well; in a district that traditionally follows their local Evil Party candidate like they were Christ incarnate, he's polling within 5% of the Hon. representative from Mount Doom.
Needless to say, this is making quite a few people in the lefty world quite giddy, and so the campaign donations are pouring in (from individual donors on the left, from corporate shakedowns on the right) as the battle heats up in the usual way of the Iraq war veteran saying that they can do better than the Evil Party parasite, and the Evil Party starting yet another nasty smear campaign against the Iraq war veteran. But the polls are good, the candidate is good, and many people are smelling victory in a really Red part of the country.
Even the best has donated (is thinking about donating?) to the Iraq war veteran's campaign.
There are only a few little problems in this rosy-looking scenario in Ohio. There are, indeed, about 10,000 of them. In particular, is there even the slightest chance the election will be counted fairly in a state which certified a result that was as far off from the exit polls as the recent election in the Ukraine was (that election was thrown out and reheld, and the new election, oddly enough, did not have the same large gap between the exit polls and the certified results), and which had a list of 10,000 happy coincidences that all favored the Evil Party candidate?
Oh, and the Evil Party has vowed to "bury" the Iraq war veteran, too. So that's worth about a 10% swing between the exit polls and the cerified election results right there. Purely by happy coincidence, you understand.
I hate to be the bucket of cold water, but I don't think the Iraq war veteran has any better chance of winning this election. Ohio has proven that the votes don't count, and the same "careless" administrators still hold power there. The Iraq war veteran would have to get 80% of the real vote to overcome the margin of happy coincidences that will all favor the Evil Party apparachik. I'd love to be surprised, but, at least in the United States, electoral surprises favor the party that controls the voting machines.
Jul 28, 2005
After the Columbia self-destructed during reentry, NASA stopped launching shuttles for long enough to do an investigation and suggest a few patches for keeping the next shuttle from becoming yet another spectacular catastrophe. They finally finished the investigation, set a launch date, and, after one delay having to do with the fuel gauges on the external tank, launched the shuttle Discovery into orbit on Tuesday.
Today, after looking at the films they took of the takeoff, NASA grounded the entire shuttle fleet again, because, um, large chunks of foam were falling off the external tank and whizzing by the solid-as-spit fire-resistant tiles on the wings of the shuttle.
A solitary sailboat between the Marquam and Ross Island bridges. I was sort of half-dozing on the bus to work this morning. But when it started crossing the bridge and I saw the sailboat, I pulled out my camera and got a couple of pictures before it went out of view. It makes it harder to go into work when you see a sailboat out on the river, but at least when I go directly to work I am able to maintain my pasty white complexion without using lots of sunblock.
When I was on the way out the door this morning, I spotted a moth clinging to (one of the few unbroken parts of) the screen door. Since I wasn't (for a change) running for the bus, I took a couple of minutes to attach the macro lens to my camera and snap this single picture. As you can't tell from the background, it was bright and sunny this morning.
Jul 27, 2005
A Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat pushes a barge with a load of Ross Island past downtown Portland on Monday, July 25th.
There's a congressional race in the state of Ohio between a chickenhawk Evil Party representative and an invasion of Iraq veteran, where the chickenhawk is being beaten like a gong and who has, as expected, gone for the traditional Evil Party scheme of slandering the veteran. Coincidentally, the family of a different Iraq veteran (who is no longer serving because he was killed in Iraq) had their car destroyed in a nasty case of arson, where the arsonist collected a bunch of American flags, soaked them in lighter fluid, wadded them up under the car, and torched the lot of them.
Need I mention that various Evil Party apparachiks started blaming the Iraq veteran candidate for this bit of arson?
I'm reminded of a race a few years ago where an Evil Party campaign consultant "discovered" that their campaign office was bugged and blamed the Democratic candidate for it. (Actually, I'm reminded of a whole bunch of campaigns where something like this happened, and by happy coincidence the blame was erroneously laid at the feet of the Democratic candidate.) Would someone torch an innocent bystander's car, just so they could use the resulting press as propaganda against their opponent?
Would an Evil Party campaign accuse their opponent of child abuse? Would an Evil Party campaign accuse someone of having an affair with someone of the "wrong" color, just to knock them out of a race? Why, that's as unbelievable as wadding flags under someone's car and lighting them on fire.
(via The Swing State Project)
"Insurgencies need progress to survive, and this insurgency is not progressing."
The B*sh junta is frantically producing spin about how the invasion of Iraq is going soooo well that why, it's just about time to get all of the troops out, nevermind the 800+ civilian casualties a month, the increased sophistication of the attacks and the now-commonplace kamikaze attacks in a country which had none of them before the Coward in Chief started his unprovoked aggressive war against the state of Iraq.
Not, of course, that those troops will actually return to the United States. Iran has shown itself to have sufficiently bloody hands to not be attacked, but there are still a few secular states that need to have their governments replaced with Khomeini-style religious dictatorships, but the popular support for the war is fading in the United States now, so it's time to force the puppet government to sign a few agreements giving the US government immunity for all of the torture, rape, and murder that the B*sh junta has ordered, then raise the yellow flag of victory and scamper, with unseemly haste, over the border into the next splendid little war.
Jul 26, 2005
At work, the IT department has, because they were very very sinful in a previous life, chosen to be an all-Microsoft IT shop. This includes using Microsoft Exchange for mail delivery. Microsoft Exchange is, as you can expect, extremely feature ridden, and one of those features is, apparently, that it either comes configured not to do transaction logging or it allows you to turn logging off easily or it does logging in such a way that nobody can understand it.
I discovered this last week when a build system mysteriously stopped working. One of the features of this build system is that it includes proprietary code, so halfway through the build I have to mail off a request to the secret proprietary build machine to build me some code and mail it back. I do this via smtp mail, because it's pretty easy to pass control information through mail. Last week, the IT department finally turned off a legacy (microsoft-ese for "it works") mail relay, and mail started bouncing off the new relay.
A day of exasperating mail with the IT shop resulted, with me sending mail saying "your stupid relay isn't properly sending mail from our build machines to this other machine" and the IT shop sending mail saying "well, it works for me, so your build machine must be broken". (This is after the long runaround about mail transport agents, which only stopped when they realized that the sendmail I was talking about was actually sendmail, which is difficult, even for a Microsoft shop, to write off as a nonconformant implementation of sendmail.)
Eventually, after about a dozen mail exchanges, Cc:ed to an increasing number of other people, they actually bothered to do a nslookup on the host name of the build machine. It was in the 192.168 private network. "Oh, that's your problem. We don't relay mail coming from this private guaranteed not to be routed on the network and blocked at our firewall routers, because it's not safe. Get a public IP address and then our internal mail server will route it."
Leaving aside the insanity of not routing mail from guaranteed private and firewalled networks, why did it take a NSlookup to realize that the mail wasn't being routed? One would think you'd just have to look at the mail relay logs, but this is microsoft we're talking about, and ease of use is for sissies. It would take all of the sport out of being a systems administrator if you simply grepped a textfile for "MAIL FROM: email@example.com" or "RCPT TO: build-command-alias@secret-build-machine" and could come back with your "oh, but we don't relay mail from these known private and blocked by our firewall routers networks because of our security policy" without first wasting 3-4 hours arguing with an increasingly agitated luser who's actually a BOFH in his own right.
At least it would take all the sport out of it if you were being paid by the hour. Which may be the point behind switching to Microsoft software in the first place.
When we were walking down to Sellwood Riverfront Park for the concert on monday, we heard, then saw a Portland Traction train charging the hill. Some pesky trees were in the way, but I managed to get one reasonable (but out of focus; oh well, can't have everything) picture of #802 bringing a short train of loaded refrigerator cars up the hill.
The best, the bears, and I went down to Sellwood Waterfront Park yesterday evening for a concert (some pseudo-cajun band which I had never heard of before. I'm afraid my impression of them suffered badly in comparison with the band we saw on saturday and sunday), but I wandered off down to the banks of the Willamette to see if there was anything interesting going on out on the water. There was a pretty stiff wind blowing north, and a gaggle of small sailboats were taking advantage of it by sailing around and around just west of Ross Island. While I was watching them, the Portland Spirit came into sight around the foot of Ross Island, and I took a few pictures as it approached the sailboats.
Tony "poodle" Blair spends £300/year on cosmetics, and that doesn't include the ~£300/year that the British government has been spending on beauticians for his media events.
It makes sense, I guess; if you're going to be a lapdog for the Coward in Chief, it just wouldn't do to have a pasty-white complexion compared to the Manly!™ tan and bruises from falling off bicycles that Maximum Leader Genius sports.
(link via Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry)
I'm the #1 real search result for space for rent and this space for rent on G**gl*, and half of my whopping 30 reader per day readership comes to TSFR looking for rental space.
At least if I ever started my colocation business in Vancouver, BC, I'd be pretty well set for online advertising.
Jul 25, 2005
My friend Ed was snagged by one of the evil web meme thingies, and decided to share the love by passing it on to me. A while ago I promised myself that I'd only do the first one of these that anyone got me with, and this isn't the sexual deviancy rating meme that would prove that I've become terribly middle-class in my old age...
- 10 years ago:
- Living in That Paradise That Is California™, spending a lot of my free time doing Linux development. I don't remember if I had a job at that point; we moved to Pasadena during one of their periodic tech depressions, and I spent a lot of time looking for jobs before finding the one at McAfee. California is not my favorite place in the world, but the San Gabriel mountains were very nice to have 3 miles from our front door, and sometimes we could actually see them.
5 4 years ago:
- Living in Portland. We'd just spawned for the first time, and I was trying to combine working for a living with having A Baby™. The glorious B*sh economy was showing signs of making it possible for me to spend lots of time at home (I had to drop my consulting rates by about 40% after the real-world impact of the y2k coup de etat in the United States started sinking in, and the real economic fun hadn't even started yet), but, for the time being, I was still taking the trolley out to Beaverton every day for an AS400 programming job. I wasn't doing much in the way of Linux development any more; the core team had fallen into disarray a few years before, and I'd stopped trying to develop patches because they kept falling into deep holes in the ground, and after working for a year at an innovative, but badly managed, Linux startup, I just didn't have the interest in doing much Linux work aside from tweaking Mastodon; I'd instead fallen for the siren song of FreeBSD, which promised a more sane development environment.
- 1 year ago:
- I was working for my current employer, and shovelling mass amounts of money into various Democratic Party campaigns to try and get Maximum Leader Genius out of Al Gore's house (fat lot of good that did. "Owning the ballot-counting companies" trumps "faith and pure intent" every day.) I had become disillusioned with FreeBSD, which turned out to not be more sane, but more like the big commercial versions of Linux (with an inferior collection of applications, some terribly-broken drivers in the kernel, and a warehouse-sized chip on their shoulders about Linux.)
- March Fourth! at Saturday Market. We also went to a farmers market and bought a huge pile of fresh berries that the best converted into jams and jellies last night, and I spent a couple of hours installing a pile of free software on gehenna so a friend could try moving his wordpress-based weblog there.
- I'm writing about the evil lifetime meme while trying to bully R*dh*t Linux 8.0 into making an am64 initrd on an ia32 machine at work.
- These days I make long-term plans, but no short-term plans. I expect to be working tomorrow, and I'll probably engage in some Evil-Party approved financial planning by buying a lottery ticket, but that's the extent of my planning.
- 5 snacks I enjoy:
- Unfortunately, as a computer programmer the whole idea of "snack" sort of merges in with the whole idea of "luncheon", so it's somewhat pointless to ask. That said, I am fond of
- Vanilla ice cream
- Biscotti, when I've got enough energy to bake it myself
- candied dried squid, though I've not had any of it for a long time.
- 5 bands/singers that I know the lyrics of MOST of their songs:
- I don't memorise lyrics. When I was younger, I played the B-52s (and later Two Nice Girls) obsessively, but I never remembered the lyrics to any of the songs more than superficially. These days I listen to the Mekons about as obsessively, but I'd be damned if I could remember more than snippets of the lyrics to their songs when those songs aren't actually playing.
- 5 things I would do with $100,000,000:
A few years ago, my dream would have been house/business in France, but Canada doesn't discriminate against gay marriage and freedom trumps wonderful food and high speed electric railways. And, of course, the first two choices are subject to the best's approval; it would be unbearable to flee the country and not take my best and my bears with me.
- Buy a house in Canada.
- Start a business in Canada.
- Split up US$25,000,000 to donate to various organizations that support gay rights, civil liberties, and preservation of railway history.
- Set aside US$10,000,000 as "family money" to provide assistance to members of my immediate family when they're going through rough times.
- Put the residue into investments to ensure a steady income for the rest of my life.
- 5 locations I'd like to run away to:
#'s 1-4 are a bit repetitive, but I'm middle-aged, and I'd prefer to live in a country where civil liberties are recognised by the state.
- Western Europe (with possession of a valid EU citizenship and passport)
- 5 bad habits I have:
- Does the word dooced sound familiar? I'm sorry, but the only 5 you're going to see here is the now-obsolete 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
- 5 things I like doing:
- Building railroad models
- Doing projects with the bears.
- Doing almost anything with the best.
- Building computer cases.
- 5 things I would never wear:
I don't know if never is applicable; I've done lots of things in my life that I'd previously thought I'd never do. My pasty white American protestant background has left me with lots of prejudices that would make it difficult for me to wear
- "traditional" womens clothing. Though, to be fair, some of this is because I don't have the right shape for it to fit properly.
- S&M-style leathers. I don't have the butt to wear chaps (and, to be honest, never had even when I was at my most fit. The men in the Parsons family tend towards a pleasing pear-shape, which is most obvious when they look in the mirror.) So, no leathers for me.
- lycra shorts. I (used to) ride my bicycle a lot, and am fully aware that lycra shorts would be a lot more comfortable than cutoff jeans, but see my previous comment about a pleasing pear-shape.
- gothy clothes. Because I get the giggles even thinking about it.
- makeup. As a pasty-white redhead, I've got sensitive skin and I think that makeup would translate to hours of rashy fun.
- 5 TV shows I like:
- BURN YOUR TELEVISION!
- 5 movies I like:
- The movie adaptation of Peter Carey's Bliss (his best book, and a very sweet and skillful recreation of it as movie.)
- The movie adaptation of Jane Austin's Persuasion.
- Galaxy Quest
- The Life Of Brian
- 5 famous people I'd like to meet
- Most of them are dead now, and I'd need a babelfish to understand most
of them, but I'd like to meet
- Frank Sprague.
- George Stephenson.
- Jane Austin.
- 5 biggest joys at the moment:
- the best.
- Not having a brain tumor, stroke, or other easily recognisable and fatal brain disorder.
- Seeing March Fourth! twice this weekend.
- 5 favorite toys:
- As of right now I can only think of three "favorite" toys. I like making things, but it's the making, not the tools I make them with, that interests me. I make a terrible yuppie.
- The one true editor.
- My camera.
- The big yellow house.
- 5 people to tag:
- I don't really have that many close friends these days, and I'm not really comfortable passing the weblog hot potato to casual acquaintances, so the meme stops here.
Jul 24, 2005
I need to add code to put in a ---[more]--- line, so I can take some of these
terrifyingly huge multiple-pictures-of-March Fourth!-postings and hide the bulk of the post in the permanent link page. It will probably stop people with modems from dying from boredom as 60 images s-l-o-w-l-y crawl in across the line.
You would think that after a day in which we went to Iron Artist and spent a hour or so watching the group March Fourth! perform, we'd be spending a nice quiet Sunday recovering from Saturday's activities.
You could think that, but that would be wrong.
After the performance on Saturday Night, the best asked some of the March Fourth! performers when they'd be performing next, and discovered that they were going to be down at Saturday Market on Sunday afternoon. So, bright and early Sunday (and that would be 11am) we got up, did our weekly run down to the Milwaukie Farmers Market, ate a quick lunch, then took a trolley into downtown Portland to watch March Fourth! for a second time.
We're used to seeing March Fourth! on fairly spacious stages; Russell Street is blocked off for Iron Artist, so they've got a large chunk of a city street to perform on, and when we saw them at Sunnyside school, they had a largish (muddy, but largish) area in front of the stage to perform in. This is not the case at Saturday Market; the performing area in front of the stage is approximately 10x40 feet, and because it's Portland, and because it's Saturday Market, and because it's March Fourth!, there were buckets of people there. Russell and I followed along behind the band as they marched from their old red truck to the show, and managed to find a place to sit right at the edge of the stage.
The view, even with me sitting down 99% of the time (I'm a little over 6 feet tall; if I stood up there would be quite a few annoyed people, and that includes the best and Silas, who couldn't see anything because of a large middle-aged computer programmer in the way), was absolutely spectacular. We managed to take a few pictures, too.
Middle aged computer programmer and cute offspring.
It turned out that March Fourth! was also performing in Lake Oswego later the same day (they actually begged out of doing an encore because they had to shovel everything into the firetruck and get down there for that 6pm show). but we were just too fried after the afternoon show to be true groupies and follow them to the next venue.
(Some pictures taken with my Pentax *istDS,
some pictures taken with the best's Nikon Coolpix 4600)
When your very first mafia-style hit turns out to be a brazilian electrician, perhaps it's time to reconsider taking antiterrorism advice from the department of "G-d will know his own". Getting shot by the police is usually considered to be one of the hazards of visiting a banana republic, but it's not normally considered to be one of the hazards of visiting London (This is, after all, a city that's had to deal with terrorist bombings for quite a lot longer than the last three weeks,
and which hasn't had to resort to having the police run people down and murder them in cold blood until now. Where did they get this new and improved! policy? Need I even ask?)
If there was anything to make the new (and unconstitutional [link to Cornell; the US government has "reorganized" their online resources now that the Bill Of Rights has been permanently superceded by the Patriot Act]) Evil Party policy of doing random searches in the New York subway seem reasonable, gunning innocent people down in the tube would certainly seem to be a good candidate for it.
We went to Iron Artist yesterday, to see the artwork there, to support SCRAP, and to see March Fourth! perform again. This year was a pretty big year for artwork; 10 teams were competing for the coveted Cup du Scrap award.
Judging was done by an expert team of judges, including Metro president David Bragdon, shown here relaxing in the shade.
March Fourth! showed up and did a performance right after the 3 hour art timer went off. They actually started showing up quite a bit before the end of the art timer (we had to take a break a hour in to go find some food. We discovered, to our intense dismay, that Russell Street BBQ had had a kitchen fire, which meant that the restaurant was closed up (and their web page appears to have expired, too; I suspect that renewing the page is not high on their list of priorities these days) until the repaired the kitchen, so we had to grab a little snack somewhere else) because Russell and Silas discovered one of the March Fourth! drumsets sitting on the ground with nobody around to keep small children from playing it.
About 10 minutes before the art timer went off, the March Fourth! firetruck pulled up and the bulk of the band began to set up for the performance. I didn't get many pictures at this point because the bears were getting impatient and running all around}.
But, eventually the art timer went off, the Iron Artist art teams were wrestled away from their artworks, and March Fourth! started their performance.
They started at their firetruck...
... Marched around the art area, playing all the while
... then performed for a little over a hour (or until the dancers started dissolving into puddles of sweat.)
We stuck around until around 9:30pm so we could see who won the CdS and whether we won anything in the scrappy raffle (we won a US$75.00 gift certificate from a lumberyard in Olympia, which will make a good excuse for heading up into Washington next weekend or so), then we dragged ourselves home, put the pedestrians of the apocolypse to bed, then spent the next couple of hours sorting through 200+ pictures and picking the best 25 to put into this post.
Jul 22, 2005
Dust Mite is hanging out with the gang.
Some mysterious terrorist group detonated a series of bombs at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheik, killing at least 49 people. Nobody has stepped forth to cheerfully claim the mantle of Evil Bastard of the Week, but the "multiple bombs" thing seems to have become a trademark of the Al Qaeda™ franchising operation.
Jul 21, 2005
They're murdering teenagers for the "crime" of being gay. That's the sort of thing that the Christian Taliban in the United States can only dream about doing today, so there's no way they'd let the United States overthrow a government that's already doing it.
Zoooom goes the teeny tiny spider.
When I went downstairs to pour myself a cup of tea this morning, I caught something moving fast out of the corner of my eye. It turned out to be the kitchen spider weaving a brand new web at top speed. When I first saw it, it was spinning the ribs of the web, but by the time I went out into the front room to grab the Pentax, change to the telephoto lense, and come back it had finished with those and was running around and around the web, weaving the sticky bugcatching lines. This web might actually be better at catching things, because some of the structural strands are attached to the basket of fruit that half of the flies in our house are hovering around (the other half of the flies in our house are part of the ongoing plague of grain moths that are infesting Portland; When we started having infestations of grain moths, I thought it was just us, but I've seen grain moths in city busses, at work, in bookstores, and at the places where I get art supplies, so I don't think it's the malign shadow of our housekeeping that's bringing them out.)
One flaw in the Pentax *istDS's firmware is that it gets very slow about doing autofocus when there's not a lot of light around. And my autofocussing skills depend on my eyes being able to focus, which is not a given before I've had a cup of tea in the morning. The spider was inconsiderately moving fast enough so that autofocus was not even a remote possibility, so I had to rely on my eyes working. Which they sort of did, if you disregard my continuing inability to deal with things like depth of field.
Jul 20, 2005
36 years ago, give or take a few hours, the Apollo 11 lunar module touched down on the moon. My family was driving east to New Hampshire for our summer vacation at my grandfather's summer camp in Maine, but we turned the radio on and pretended that our little dolls, in their cardboard box spaceship, were landing on the moon before Apollo 11 could land. I dimly remember watching the television on the Holiday Inn we were staying at (somewhere in Ohio; it took the family three days to get from LaCrosse to East Rochester -- for some reason my parents didn't want to do 995 mile deathmarches with three screaming children in the backseat of our car) as they showed Armstrong hopping down from the lander.
I don't remember Armstrong's famous comment. At nine years old, the moon didn't seem as much of a big deal as it does now.
A couple of weeks ago, we were cleaning the Aegean office and found some old tee-shirts of mine dating from before the B*sh junta took over the United States. I thought briefly about wearing this one today, but decided that it's now too risky to go wandering around work with clothes that state the obvious.
This shirt was a lot funnier when Clinton was president.
Announce, in unseemly haste, the appointment of a B*sh junta bagman to the Supreme Court. This is good for the Coward in Chief in two ways;
first, picking a suitably unqualified candidate (two whole whopping years as a judge, yippee!) will turn some eyes away from the steadily mounting pile of evidence showing that Karl Rove betrayed a CIA agent, and secondly, after the so-called "moderate 7" let Mr. pasty-white bagman into the Supreme Court, guess where the case against Rove will end up? That's right, it will be the USSC, where the conservative justices never ever recuse themselves from a case where they have business or personal dealings with the defendant.
It's probably just a bonus that Mr. bagman will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade on the first case that the newly bagmanned USSC hears, whether or not this case has anything to do with abortion rights or not. No, the important thing is to get a mouthpiece for the Evil Party onto the USSC, where fealty to the monarch will be rewarded handsomely.
Jul 19, 2005
... unless your cow orkers are used to you collapsing in hysterical laughter.
It's the White House Gaggle Drinking Game!
(hat tip to Chris Clarke)
SFgate, which appears to be a typically lefty big-city newspaper, is fairly well regarded on the lefty side of the online universe. But every now and then someone will link to an article that will make my blood boil gently in the afternoon son. A while back (a year ago? Two years?) one of SFgate's chirpy columnists penned a little ditty bemoaning how sensible lottery winners were with their lucky millions, and saying that he (I don't remember
the name, but I feel fairly confident that it was a he) wished he could hear about someone blowing all of their winnings on an epic orgy of drugs, sex, and depravity, because it would be cool.
Given that almost any month of the year will find some member of the new hyperrich upper class tossing a few 10s of millions of dollars down some gilded trashheap in search for some new thrill, I find it somewhat offensive that a journalist would chirpily recommend that a lottery winner (most of which are not the new hyperrich, even if an occasional multimillionaire walks off with a couple of hundred million in walking around money) blow their life-changing event on whisky and condoms.
Today, I was spending some time during a system build following weblog links, and came upon an article by Mark Morford recommending that people dump their careers and go off and follow their bliss, because what have they got to lose except their stodginess? Well, perhaps, maybe, their families?
If I dumped my job (a thing that I think about almost daily as the python that is the failing American economy wraps itself more tightly around my neck while the cries of "oh, it's not going to get any worse" try, and fail, to drown out the screams of the tortured and dying in the American Gulag and Maximum Leader Genius's lovely little war in the Near East) I'd end up, doing, um, what? I've been unemployed for long periods of time, and when you have a family that depends on an income (and the last long stretch of unemployment coincided with the Portland economy cratering, so there were no jobs for either of us to find), not having that income makes it very very difficult to follow any fucking bliss when you're worried that something terrible will happen and drive you out on the street.
"Giving up certain luxuries." Like food, and shelter, and medical care, and healthy children.
I figure I've got enough life left for one life-changing event, and I don't want to waste it by trying to "follow my bliss" in the gringo banana republic that the United States is aspiring to be. If someone wants to gamble that they can survive off their bliss, wonderful. There are quite a few .com millionaires out there who rolled the dice and made a bundle off naive venture capitalists, and quite a few showman-artists who are making a comfortable living off gullible rich people. There are also quite a few .com paupers who rolled the dice and ended up with snake-eyes and 50,000 shares of Enron stock, and countless artists who scrape from farmers market to farmers market, praying that they'll never get sick, or old, or have their car break down.
I work in computers. All it would take is an upper management reshuffle with promises of saving millions by hiring Indian programmers and my job would be gone. And then I could follow my bliss just like I did during the 2.5 years
where I didn't have the tyranny of a regular paycheck, or the rich parents who
could underwrite a vacation in SE Asia and the subsequent import/export business (which would take countless 14 hour workdays, but then you could hire copywriters to make it sound like you're the next incarnation of J. Peterman while you reaccumulate the piles of junk that you discarded when you went off to "find yourself')
"Working hard and succeeding" may be a lie (it's not for my brother, who's now in extremely upper management at a hugely successful investment company), but "work is evil; you should follow your bliss" is simply insulting, even in the cases where it works out.
A government attorney argued today that America is a battlefield and President Bush therefore has the authority to detain enemy combatants indefinitely in this country.
One of the "enemy combatants" they're talking about is Jose Padilla, an American citizen who has been illegally held without trial by the United States government, after being seized from a Manhattan jail cell.
Who needs habeas corpus when you can just wave your little magic wand and strip people of the rights given to them by the United States Constitution? And the wonderful thing about this whole "enemy combatant" classification is that all the federal government has to do is to keep from breaking into laughter while reading the press release stating that J. Random Minority was planning to crash the Earth into the Sun, fluoridate the water supply for a city, or engage in same-sex marriage.
It's so much tidier than the quaint nation of laws that those sissy liberals want.
(via Yowling from the Fencepost)
Jul 18, 2005
An architect from Minnesota has made a name for herself promoting a style of housebuilding called the Not-So-Big house, where you write off some of the more grandious tackiness of modern houses in favor of a design that's more like houses built in prehistoric times (1920 or so.) It sounds like a good idea; a house with little rooms is, at least in my experience, a lot nicer than a house with great big rooms that either (a) fill up with junk (cf: the third floor and basement in our house; we have a 3600 square foot house, and, even with 2 children to help, we don't use more than about 2700 square feet at a time. It doesn't help that the third floor is what you'd call a "great room"; it's a huge poorly-insulated chamber, which after a while of trying to keep the piles of debris down, was driven over the edge into absolute chaos by the combined forces of the babies and our moving junk out of the stupid room, and there's really nothing like a huge room full of junk to destroy any incentive you might have to actually clean it up) or which end up being large empty chambers with nothing but a television and a couch in them.
So I was thinking that a Not-So-Big house would be a modernisation of the classic bungalow style; 1500 or so feet, broken up into 7-9 rooms that were designed for humans to live in (when the best and I moved up to Portland, we moved into an ~800 square foot 5-room flat, which we lived comfortably in for several years before we bought the big yellow house, and we didn't miss the space until we moved into our 3600 square foot mini-mansion.) A few days ago, we were at the local co-op and I frivolled some money away buying a copy of "eco-structure" magazine (I intend, before I get a decade older, to build a mountain cabin somewhere so we can have a place to decamp to during the lazy summer, winter, spring, and fall days. I'd like it to be somewhat earthy-crunchy, even though my "I'll build it out of pallets" comments are greeted with disbelieving looks) which, as one of the cover stories, invited us to "explore the not so big showhouse."
I really need to stop buying house design magazines. This one isn't as horrible as the mass-market ones (which are all variations on "look! We filled this BIG EXPENSIVE HOUSE with LOTS OF EXPENSIVE JUNK, to show you that we understand style better than you do!" I've been in houses like that, and have come home vowing to set fire to all of our belongings and move into a 5-room shack), but the "Not-So-Big showhouse" they featured was a house that was 2800 square feet, with huge rooms and as about as much character as the not-so-Not-So-Big house designs that I see in modern architectural designs. Except the modern designs are smaller.
Our across the street neighbors have a 2800 square foot bungalow (1400 square feet plus 1400 square feet of basement, so the house ads would claim it's only 1400 square feet). They also have five children. I'll bet they'd have trouble fitting into this "Not-So-Big showhouse", and I'd also suspect that we couldn't fit the contents of Chateau Chaos into that showhouse either.
Sales drone: Hello, I'm calling for Mr. B. Q. Gumby.
Me: I'm sorry?
Sales drone: I'm calling for Mr. B. Q. Gumby.
Me: I'm sorry, but you've got a wrong number.
Sales drone: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm calling about <product> from <charitable organization> and we'd like you to consider donating some money to support <charitable activity> because <charitable organization> really needs the...
Me: I'm sorry, but you've got a wrong number!
Sales drone: *click*
Do they expect this to work? It's like the telephone equivalent of the Nigerian e-mail lottery scam. I'll not mention the actual name of <charitable organization>, because they're known to do good things, but, lord, this sort of we'll ignore the do-not-call list by pretending to be a wrong number has put <charitable organization> into my personal it will be a cold day in hell before you get one penny from me list, and, unlike the "oh, it's a wrong number" scam, my list doesn't require lifting a finger to enforce.
if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration
--Maximum Leader Genius
Suburban Guerilla points out that, assuming that the Coward in Chief wasn't lying when he said this, John Poindexter, Elliott Abrams and Otto Reich would have to find new jobs. But there are a couple of other members of the B*sh junta who would need to find new jobs, too.
Perhaps Maximum Leader Genius meant "felony" when he said crime? Or maybe he meant "member of the Democratic Party" when he said crime? But perhaps I am forgetting the one important guiding principle of the Evil Party: "How can you tell that a member of the Evil Party is lying? His lips are moving!"
I tried to look up the house where I grew up; google maps got the street correctly, but placed the house on the wrong side of the alley. And they didn't even have satellite imaging of the house. I guess that LaCrosse, Wisc, aside from being more conservative than the surrounding farmland, doesn't really have anything of interest to the spy satellites now that all of the so-called heavy industry there has gone belly up and/or moved to Mexico.
The DNC has compiled a list of some of the 10,000 lucky concidences that occurred in Ohio during the 2004 "election". The list includes, but is not limited to, voter suppression; negligent and incompetent election officials; mistakes with registration status, polling locations, and absentee and provisional ballots; unlawful identification requirements; long lines; and uncounted votes, which, by happy coincidence(s), disproportunately disenfranchised younger voters and minorities.
And what did the Ohio General Assembly do while this document was being prepared? Why, they went home for their summer holiday. After all, it's not as if it's anything important; it's just a broken electoral system where the voting machine vendors openly bribe Evil Party government officials to get their vote-o-matics chosen to count the "vote".
I am particularly amused, in a sick sort of way, at the finding that «Voters were less likely to have their presidential vote counted in precincts with punch-card machines, precincts with fewer machines per voter, and precincts where the proportion voting for Kerry was higher.» Not, of course, that the Evil Party chairman of the committee to "elect" the Coward in Chief, who also happened to be Ohio's Secretary of State (and thus the person responsible for running the election) could have done anything to correct any of those problems.
Fair elections are, after all, a game for sissies, and the Evil Party is the party of Real Men™.
(via Rox Populi)
Jul 17, 2005
98 civilians died from a suicide bombing in Iraq today. And there were at least three others that killed an additional 7 people. Today. Yesterday the bombers only killed 48 people. And on friday it was, for Iraq, really peaceful; only 32(?) people got blown to tiny bits bits by the
civil war happy flowers of peace and freedom.
This is what happens when you invade a country, dismantle the government, and whistle while various factions arm and prepare for war. When they're ready, they'll go to war.
Is this victory? Perhaps for the 2004 "election" in the United States, but not anywhere else.
A mud dauber wasp, busily gathering supplies for a nest or to help improve the political atmosphere in the United States.
The kitchen spider is still there, but it appears to be slimming down considerably. It's not much bigger, but it doesn't look nearly as plump as it did last wednesday. Unfortunately for this spider, not only is it very small, but the only flying vermin we've got in our house are various grain and fruit moths, both of which have been spotted flying blithely around the spiderweb, but not into it.
I'm not sure what the irregular bulge is. Perhaps it caught something that managed to bite a chunk out of its exoskeleton before it either escaped or was eaten. The best thinks that it might actually be eggs, and she's the one who's descended from biologists, so it may be superior genetic knowledge.
Jul 16, 2005
On the way back from a party at a friends house, we went by Brooklyn Yards and spotted a freight train at the north end of the yard. We pulled off to take a picture of it at the same time the white crew van pulled up and the crew started loading themselves onto the train.
I am not completely familiar with modern GM locomotives, but the second unit (#2511, a SD60M) is the dirtiest modern unit I've seen on the Union Pacific. It looked like it caught fire in the middle of a mudstorm, and was cleaned with a sandblaster.
About 30 seconds after this freight started moving, a southbound freight, led by a Norfolk
and Western Southern unit, came screaming by at about 45mph. I was using Julie's pointanddrool Nikon, which isn't the best camera for taking pictures of fast-moving objects in the dark, so even though we chased the train all the way into Clackamas County I didn't manage to get any pictures of that train that weren't blurry black blobs with a barely visible NS horse logo on them.
This is a little lemonade stand I built for the bears so they could sell lemonade at the garage sale we had last weekend. I didn't manage to actually get it painted last week -- I built the stand last wednesday, and then it rained up through saturday morning -- but I slapped one coat of paint on yesterday, and then finished painting it (and nailing down the countertop) today.
This lemonade stand is made from 2x4s from our ex-deck, plywood sheet from the stupid room, random wood bits (a plywood subfloor and a decorative plank that's under the counterfront) from a pallet we scavenged a couple of weeks ago, pretend wood floor sample pieces from SCRAP, and pink vinyl floor tile that I picked up from a FREE! pile at a garage sale before Russell was born.
Jul 15, 2005
Soup, Glorious Soup!
Question 19: If information that a signer of the SF312 knows to have been classified appears in a public source, for example, in a newspaper article, may the signer assume that the information has been declassified and disseminate it elsewhere?
Answer: No. Information remains classified until it has been officially declassified. Its disclosure in a public sources does not declassify the information. Of course, merely quoting the public source in the abstract is not a second unauthorised disclosure. However, before disseminating the information elsewhere of confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public sources, the signer of the SF312 must confirm through an authorise official that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, further dissemination of the information or confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorised disclosure.
This little snippet is from a government nondisclosure agreement that, according to Executive Order 12958, must be signed by any entity within the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information, including the White House.
And that would include Mr. Karl Rove, traitor-at-large.
Breach of contract may not be much compared to high treason, but it's just another sign of the absolute moral depravity of the gang of thugs who control the United States government.
(quoted part of SF312 via Atrios)
Jul 14, 2005
We've been acting like the house renovation version of Sherman's march by slowly working our way from one end of the Stupid Room to the other, ripping out the hideous plywood board and batton wall treatment and exposing the (so dirty you can't even imagine it) shingle that were put in when the house was built. Today, we finally reached the end with the nasty little sink and started ripping out the built-in cupboards.
Sometime either tomorrow or Saturday I'll turn off the water, then cut the (nonfunctional) hot and cold water pipes, stub the drainpipe, and take a sledgehammer to the rest of the counter. And after that comes the big debate over bedroom with wart vs. full porch!
Jul 13, 2005
27 Iraqi civilians were killed today in a suicide-bomb attack against American troops. Most of those killed were children, who were queuing up so the American troops could give them candy treats.
We're so far behind at home that we can barely keep up with the depredations of the babies, and so we've resorted to having a friend come in and help us clean the house periodically. Yesterday, we did the Big Clean, and almost before the last whisk of dust was swept away this little orb spider came out and spun a beautiful web right above the kitchen sink.
It was nighttime by the time I noticed it, so you'll have to take my word for it that this little creature is perched in the middle of a beautiful spiderweb; I'm not skilled enough to tweak contrast to the point where you can see transparent spiderweb against white-painted trim, and after a long time of trying to do just that I just gave up and let the camera decide what to do.
(Pentax *istDS/300 quantaray lens/"macro" preset)
Witness Rory Mayberry, a former food production manager at Halliburton subsidiary KBR, testified that troops were given food that had expired as much as a year earlier. He described a scene in which, after a convoy was ambushed, he and other employees were instructed to remove the bullets and shrapnel from the food supplies and serve them to U.S. soldiers.
(quote via Raw Story. WARNING: LINK CONTAINS POPUP WINDOWS)
Halliburton, which, as you may remember, used to be run by a member of the B*sh Junta, is the happy recipient of US$10.5 billion dollars for providing quality services such as this. In the old days, the army used to provide their own food services, but, naturally, this reduced the opportunities for enriching well-connected Evil Party supporters, via such things as US$72 million "performance" bonuses for things like supplying rotten bullet-ridden food to the US soldiers stuck in the Coward in Chief's splendid little war.
One would think that, this being a "Global War On Terror", that Halliburton would say "no, thank you", and donate that US$72 million to veterans relief, but, then you'd have to consider that Halliburton is intimately connected to the people who control the Evil Party, and none of them give even the slightest damn about the US military, except as another teat where they can get the smooth sweet milk of government payola from.
(hat tip to No Capitol)
So, setting aside any consideration of motives and outcomes, it makes perfect sense to oppose terror in the name of humanity. You shouldn't have done that to us. You shouldn't do that to anyone.
Read all of it now.
(hat tip to Chris Clarke)
Jul 12, 2005
During the second world war, the
along with every other railroad
connecting Portland to Montreal, suffered from a large increase in
bridge traffic. Since the PV&T was electrified, it wasn't much of a
problem over about 80% of the Portland to Montreal line, but the
in the grand tradition of what generations of Managing Engineers
had called "the stupidest damn railroad in North America" started
to bottleneck again.
Not because of the traffic load; The PV&T made it a policy to overpower
their trains just so those engines could be brought online to help pull
freights over Mount Cube and over the Thetford ramp, so a train could
make it up one of the scary ramps in about 30 minutes, and when traffic
loads became heavy the railroad could dispatch multiple trains up and
down the ramps (with 2 mile separations so there would always be a runaway
ramp between two trains.) No, the problem was that the powerplants
that provided electricity to this section of the railroad didn't have
enough power to run all of these trains. Prior to the war, it was
not a problem; There were only a dozen or so trains a day (4 passenger,
8 freight); there was (obviously) no local freight traffic on Mount Cube and the
local traffic for businesses on the Woodsville branch was
handled by a pair of
class A locomotives
which operated out of Thetford Center yard), so the aging power plant
in Thetford was able to provide enough power without any trouble. But
when the number of trains went from 12 to 24 or 28, the powerplant just
couldn't keep up.
In the middle of 1940, a meeting was held to discuss ways of correcting
the latest bottleneck. A crop of proposals were brought up:
- Bring in steam locomotives to bank trains over Mount Cube and the
Thetford Ramp. This was written off because there were
- No steam servicing facilities within 120 rail miles of Thetford,
- Not enough steam engines on the railroad, so the PV&T would have to sit in line to buy them, and that would only happen if the War Department
said it was okay
- Bring in diesel locomotives to bank trains over Mount Cube. This had
the same disadvantages as using steam locomotives, plus nobody on the
PV&T had the skills needed to keep diesel locomotives running.
(This wasn't strictly true; the new
were on the property, but the Concord shop crews were still getting
training from Alco field engineers on care and feeding of 539 engines.)
- Replace the powerplant. This was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm,
by the operating department, because they were certain that traffic
levels would never drop.
- Go to the War Department and ask them to help encourage the Boston
& Maine into giving the PV&T trackage rights from West Rumney
to the Connecticut river, then build a connection from there to the
Wood River branch. It wouldn't help with the Thetford ramp, but only
having one steep ramp instead of three would cut down most of the
overload on the Thetford powerplant. Plus, if the Boston & Maine
agreed to temporarily extend the trackage rights up to Woodsville
and you could borrow some steam engines from
you could start diverting trains as soon as you built an interchange
and rudimentary service facilities at West Rumney.
When this fourth solution was proposed, there was a long thoughtful
silence, while the management imagined the Boston & Maine's reaction
to this proposal, followed by an embarrassingly quick unanimous vote to
try this one first. The next day, the president of the PV&T paid a visit
to Washington, DC, to chat with the War Department about methods of
improving the flow of material to the eastern seaboard. A month
after that, the presidents of the PV&T and Boston & Maine sat down to
a long informal meeting at a private club in Boston, and emerged with
an agreement to give Parsons Vale traffic rights on the Boston & Maine
from West Rumney to Woodsville. Two days later, a switch was
installed connecting a suspiciously new yard in West Rumney to
the Boston & Maine's line to Woodsville, and five steam engines (three MTRR
class 344 Mikados,
and a couple of PV&T class 101 Mountains) started pulling trains from
West Rumney to Woodsville and back.
By June, 1941, the PV&T had put in an interchange at Haverhill,
and had gotten War Department and Boston & Maine permission to electrify
from West Rumney to Haverhill. By the spring of 1942, that
electrification was complete (28 miles, 1500 line poles, 2 substations,
4 towers, new telephone lines, and everything) and every freight train
on the Montreal to
Portland line was using the long way around Mount Cube (passenger trains
still went over Mount Cube, because the views were spectacular) and the
operating department was happily reporting that, even with the (fairly
high) usage fees that the Boston & Maine was charging it was still
costing 1/3 less to operate a train the long way around the mountain.
When the second world war ended, both the Parsons Vale and the Boston & Maine found themselves in
the same boat as all of the other New England railroads; freight traffic
fell right off a cliff, as did passenger traffic. In earlier days,
the Boston & Maine would have been happy to kick the PV&T off
their railroad, but they found that the steady stream of money coming from
That Other Railroad made up for the indignity of sharing the line
In 1948, the Engineering Department held a big party when the PV&T
decided to sign a long-term trackage sharing agreement with the
Boston & Maine and then to abandon the Mount Cube line; the
Managing Engineer personally visited North Dorchester and tacked up
the closure notice at the depot there. In 1950, the abandonment
was approved, and by 1951 the only thing left of the
"stupidest damn railroad in North America" was a nice wide gravel
road running up one side of Mount Cube and down the other, and the distant
Hoot! of the class Ds running
along the Baker River valley.
(Postscript:In 1956, the PV&T purchased the Barre & Chelsea Railroad rail line from Woodsville to Montpelier with the plan of avoiding the now 30 mile jog south through Thetford (to say nothing of the Thetford ramp, which was the last really horrible grade on the railroad.) It was not electrified anywhere nearly as quickly as the Rumney to Haverhill line, and didn't become the new mainline until 1973, after the merger with the MTRR and LT&L, and after building a new powerplant to replace the ancient one in Thetford.)
And, since the leaker was Karl Rove, taken care of translates to time for a promotion!
Remember, these are the adults we're talking about, who brought respect and dignity back into the White House. And now blowjobs are out, and high treason is in, because there's nothing more respectable and dignified than betraying your country just to do a whackjob on a political opponent.
Jul 11, 2005
One of the financial hazards of me being a self-confessed trainspotter is that I try to subscribe to various railroad and model railroad magazines to keep up with what's happening in the world of steel wheels on steel rail(s). Most of the magazines are either model railroad magazines or specialty magazines for special interest groups, but I do subscribe to a mainstream railfan magazine (I periodically pick up Railfan & Railroad at the local hobby shop, but I don't subscribe to it because they suffer from the nasty tendency of railfan magazines to morph into photography magazines that happen to include pictures of trains), so I get to see, along with the obituaries for Alco locomotives (when I started subscribing to TRP, they still had little sections for Baldwin and F-M locomotives, but there aren't enough of those engines left to write about anymore, even though Switching Management Services is busily buying and leasing every Baldwin they can pry out of the hands of their current owners), an occasional lunge into photogeekery.
I don't have a philosophical objection to photogeekery -- after all, I spent a lot of money recently buying a digital SLR and a (tiny) handful of lenses -- but one of the things the photogeeks are obsessing about is digital vs film cameras, and they're obsessing about it in the same was the audiogeeks obsess about digital vs. analogue sound reproduction; they pick out some tiny little things, then pump them up to be a Major! Flaw! With! Digital! that cannot, of course, be worked around.
The silliest of the claims (and thus, the one I present first) in this article is that digital is inferior to film because, um, you can't tell the difference between the original picture and reproductions. I spent some time trying to justify this as a feature, but all I could come up with was "if you want that behavior from digital, just print a negative image to film and delete the image without making a backup copy." I'm not a professional photographer (as you can tell from the pictures I put on TSFR), so it's not really important to me that I keep the One
Ring True Image™ to myself, but if I did want to keep the original image to myself I'd just save it as a jpeg, then resave it again as another jpeg before sending those copies off to someone else; jpegs use lossy compression, so an additional save step will ensure that the copies aren't the same as the original.
A somewhat less silly, but not much less, claim is that if that it's harder to save digital copies than it is to save film, because either (a) the formats will change or (b) since you have to keep upgrading your Microsoft operating system you'll need to spend lots of money upgrading your image reading and processing software every year or so. And you'd have to buy a computer! And do backups!
Well, um, I've got, floating around in my big pile of computer pornography™ (railroad photos. My collection is woefully lacking in Hot!Hot!Hot! man2man sexxor action, because I didn't actually have a digital camera or exhibitionist boyfriends when I was sleeping around. Sorry), some scans of Milwaukee Road diesels that I snarfed off the net in the late 1980s. And they're still readable with the (freeware and GPLware) readers I am running on my (freeware and one remaining gatesware) PCs. And these images have migrated from floppy disks to SCSI hard disks attached to Atari STs to SCSI disks attached to IBM PCs to IDE hard disks attached to IBM PCs. So it's not really a problem for me, because I already had the computers. I've been a lot happier with retention of my digital images than my film images; I didn't take very many pictures, etc when I was young, but the 45 minutes of 251 engine sounds I took one cold afternoon in the LaCrosse yard didn't even last as long as 576 did, as did the several hours of film showing various Alcos around LaCrosse, GM&O F-units in Central Illinois, and B&M engines on the Conway branch in New Hampshire. I consider myself to be very lucky that my photos of the F-Ms in Madison survived (ditto for my photos of the CSS&SB Russas and Conrail GG1s.) All of my digital images, on the other hand, are still consuming a slowly growing slice of my hard drive, and the only problem I have with them is that I can't weed out the duplicates fast enough.
Which leads me to the third issue I've got with this outburst of "film r00lz, digital dr00lz!"; as an aside, the article mentions just how cheap film is, and lists as an example that a roll of good quality film (Velvia? I've never heard of it) with developing costs US$10 for 36 pictures. I've taken ~3600 pictures with my US$1100 camera (camera back + 2 lenses + service plan + media), so at US$10 for 36 exposures I'd have spent, um, US$1000 for film, and, just as an aside, had to find storage facilities for 3600 negatives (and nowever many prints I wanted to keep for display purposes.) I don't have the best 35mm-equivalent camera back in all christendom, but if I looked to buy an equivalent Pentax film camera back, I'm looking at US$450 for back+lenses before I start buying that US$1000 worth of film.
I don't really see the savings here.
If I was planning on using a 4x5 camera body and had the skill to develop pictures myself (some more of the pictures I've lost were a series of photos of Milw H16-66s on their way to the scrapyard. I tried to develop them myself, and ended up with a collection of badly developed blurry photos of orange and black boxes), then spending US$3500 + OhMyGod! per print would be cheaper, for a long time, than spending US$30,000 for a digital 4x5, the attached hard drive pack, the 2-3 terabyte disk array (I only have 80gb today, but I expanded up to that size when I digitized the family CD library and it completely filled the 40gb IBM deathstar that used to be /home), but the pricepoint for digital camera backs has come down to the point where the marketing people have taken to calling the less feature-ridden SLRs "prosumer" in the hopes of getting the yuppies to buy the more feature-laden expensive SLRs (I don't know if the real pros really care, as long as they can attach their menageries of optical glass to their camera backs. I know I don't care, unless it turns out that Pentax-compatable glass is all garbage and it's not possible to get adapters to attach Nikon-compatable lenses to my *istDS) which will then grow old in the toychest at their expensive summer homes. And unless you get really good film, the equvalent pixel density just doesn't win, so I couldn't point one way or
another and say which is better.
But I'm certainly not going to claim that images saved in a published format are less reliable that picture stored on camera film. If civilization collapses, well, yes, you'll probably lose most of the digital pictures (we've only got enough photo paper for about 600 pictures. and if civilization died it's not likely we'd be able to get more), but there's no way I'd bother to save out any negatives if there was no chance they'd ever be used for printing again. Failing that, it's really your own fault if you store your images in a proprietary format (he-lo! Polaroid, and your stupid PDN format. Every other camera in the world stores pictures as jpegs, so why can't you?) and then upgrade your computer to the point where you can't load the images viewers that will view them. Ditto if you store your negatives in a place where rats can eat them.
Jul 10, 2005
When we moved into our house back in the 20th century, it had a few, um, features that we decided that we'd need to get rid of pretty soon. Some of those features, like the ugly green and brown carpet on the second floor, were removed almost immediately (in the case of the carpet, we started ripping that carpeting up 15 minutes after we were handed the keys to the house, and we refinished the floors "only" two years after that; the ugly deck was whittled down to nothingness over the course of 6-7 years).
One of the really sad misfeatures of the house was the Stupid Room, which would have been a perfectly nice porch except that some previous owner had cut the room in half to extend one of the bedrooms, then panelled the remaining porch with hideous board-and-batten plywood, painted parts of it in a unnatural shade of green, then stuffed a little sink into it. This was too much to consider fixing, so we just kept the door closed and tried to pretend that it didn't exist for about 7 years.
Last year, I got curious about the bathroom, because it had a mirror in a windowframe, which may have been good for reflections, but didn't help for natural light. So I went into the stupid room and pried up one of the pieces of plywood to see what was under it. It turned out that the window was still under it -- painted over, but still intact -- so, over the course of the next few weeks we pried out the mirror, scraped the paint off the window, and ended up with less mirrors but more light in the bathroom and a large chunk of the wall in the stupid room with the plywood stripped off (I used most of this plywood for projects, so it didn't even go to waste.)
Today, it was somewhat rainy, so we decided that this would be as good a day as any to see what was under the rest of the plywood:
There are still some mysteries about the stupid room (did it originally have the windows so it could be a sleeping porch? Do the top sashes drop so that there can be airflow? Is the horrible green ceiling original, or did they add it when they "improved" the room?, but having the shingles visible on the walls make the porch look much more like a room that we'd be caught alive in than it used to look like.
We still have to rip the (hideous) vinyl flooring out (this is vinyl flooring with a suspicious insulating layer under it. It will be buckets of fun to rip out without putting a cloud of suspicious fibers all over the neighborhood; we'll probably have someone working in there while someone else is wielding a gardenhose to keep the particles down on the floor so we can mop them up, drop them into a biohazard bucket, then rush them off to Pakistan to use in the war against terror™. And, while we're at it, we need to rip out the stupid sink at the end of the room, and (if I can convince the best that it's more important to have a proper porch than it is to have a little wart off the side of one of the bedrooms) rip out the partition that sink was attached to and rebuild the wall separating the southwest room from the porch,
Notice that there's very little plumbing work that needs to be done here. I need to shut off the water, then cut and cap the pipes that run up to that bedroom (which will be fun because I'm not exactly sure where they tie in, and the last time I was working in the crawlspace under the back porch area I came down deathly ill halfway through the work), but there's nothing nasty like trying to replumb the bathroom involved. Carpentry is easy, because you can always nail boards over your mistakes. Plumbing, on the other hand, is hard because you have to worry about torrents of water destroying half of your house, so I suspect that the stupid room will remain a higher priority than the bathroom until the next catastrophic leak occurs.
One interesting little feature of ripping the board and batton siding out of the stupid room is that it uncovered a place where a previous owner had ripped out the shingles on the wall, cut through the wall itself (1x6 planking, covered with tarpaper, just like Charles Ingalls did to the family claim shanty in DeSmet, South Dakota. I suspect it's not code anymore, but if you're talking code most of this house wouldn't qualify), and put in a plank door covering, um, I'm not sure what; the compartment is now filled with blown in insulation, and we've not yet pulled it out to see if anything interesting was put into this little cubbyhole.) We don't intend to actually keep this meaningless little cubby, but it will be a nice place to put a wiring cabinet when I fish some electrical wires up from the basement to put actual electrical outlets into that part of the second floor.
A string of bombings killed 48 people in Iraq today.
I don't mean to belittle the horrible bombings in London, but consider that these things happen almost every day in Iraq. The B*sh junta may be telling people to clap harder because it will bring Freedom™ and Democracy™ to Iraq, but that country is in full meltdown now, and the United States doesn't have the manpower, the will, or the technical competence to handle it.
Thus, every day people get blown up, either by fundamentalists who think they're in the express lane to paradise, or by the hamfisted attempts at retaliation by the United States military. The (increasingly strained) argument that I hear from well-meaning people on the left is "we broke it, we bought it" and that we are the only people that can keep the country from falling into civil war.
Well, the country has already fallen into civil war. You can't see the armies, but they are there; the various Iraqi militias that don't have the US seal of approval have been operating under the shadow of US surveillance for over a year, and know that massing just invites bombing raids that have a remote chance of actually hitting some non-innocent non-bystander. The US keeps not seeing the armies and claiming no civil war, but every day, a dozen or so people get killed or maimed by suicide bomber, roadside bomb, or the ever popular assassination team.
What does losing taste like?
Does it taste like this?
(link via Yowling from the Fencepost)
Jul 08, 2005
Where am I going and what am I doing in this handbasket?
The horrors that were inflicted upon London yesterday were also inflicted upon Jbeila.
Grieve over all of the innocents.
The whole family was participating in an anti-Walmart demonstration on the Bybee bridge when a Union Pacific container train rolled under the bridge heading south. I stopped demonstrating, pulled out the camera and telephoto lens, and quickly snapped a few pictures as the train pulled out onto the mainline. Yes, there are engines up there, but the stripes of shadows cast by the containers are far more interesting than that.
(Pentax *istDS/Quantaray 300mm lens/"auto" preset)
Jul 07, 2005
Don't try this at home, kids
Now that the Department of Homeland Hysteria has raised the mass transit
threat level up to orange, I strongly suspect, but will leave as merely a thought experiment, that if I parked myself at 15th and Front and started aiming telephoto lenses at trains today, sitting on a public sidewalk would not stop the police from cheerfully arresting me and hauling me off to the station for a question or two. I don't even want to think what the Oregon and Washington state police would do with the 200 or so photographers who were chasing #700 and #4449 yesterday, or what the local railroad bulls would have done with the hundreds of photographers who were climbing all over railroad property to watch those two engines depart Portland yesterday.
Note that the new mass transit threat level doesn't include airplanes.
Why? I dunno. Aside from the traditional carbomb, nobody in any Al Qaeda franchise seems to want to reuse the methods that were used in previous successful attacks against the west. After demolishing the WTC, they went to blowing up commuter trains, then they shifted over to subways and busses. Raising the hysteria level on interurban trains but not airplanes seems to be leaving a huge terrorsized hole in security.
Madrid may have been a lucky break. London (predicted several months ago) seems to indicate that it was not luck, but the result of an undamaged fundamentalist terrorist organization.
I will point out that neither London or Madrid is in Iraq. Neither is Osama bin Laden, who has now gone into the bloodthirsty fundamentalist franchising business. About all that's in Iraq are some spiffy jihadi training schools, where the package bombers of tomorrow get practical experience blowing up tanks, soldiers, and most importantly, civilians. Flypaper? I don't think you can call it flypaper when the little flies can buzz in, have afternoon tea, then take off and fly away to do their business elsewhere.
If you want to have nightmares, ask yourself "what stupid military policy will be implemented to distract attention from this attack?" The conservatives in Spain tried a stupid political distraction (shrieking "it's the Basques! it's the Basques!" when it was painfully obvious that an Al Qaeda franchise had blown up the commuter trains) which, thankfully for Spain, only resulted in the Popular Party being chucked out of office; Tony Blair might be evil, but he's not that stupid, so this probably means that some innocent bystander in the Near East will be the next to be converted into an Al Qaeda training ground. (There aren't that many secular Islamic states left in the Near East, so I expect that Syria will be the next to get it. And then we'll have three states where torture and pillage will be helping generate jihadis faster than they can blow themselves up.)
Jul 06, 2005
... so why does the Coward in Chief keep falling off and running into people? It's not as if a person is a particularly tiny target; I am able to ride my bicycle at 20mph along narrow paths and still avoid (without having to wildly dodge or anything) people walking along those paths.
The cheap question is "is Maximum Leader Genius a drunk?", but that's probably not it. I suspect that Mr. Quagmire rides his bicycle the same way he runs the country; if there's not a way to enrich his friends and family, he just starts riding and doesn't pay attention to where he's going. At least when he blindly drives his bicycle into the ditch, he doesn't kill anyone. At least not yet. If the results of his being unable to ride a bicycle were as deadly as the results of his inability to wage war, the secret service would have to evacuate every nearby city before unlocking the presidential bicycle locker.
(via Suburban Guerilla)
A lot of railroad photographers and magazine editors love the 3/4ths view, where you can see some of the front of the engine plus most of the side. One of the 90 or so pictures I took of SP&S #700 and SP 4449 turned out to be a front 3/4 view.
Yes, these engines were fairly loud as they accelerated across 15th street.
If you look very carefully, you can see the pretty little red, orange, and black patterned butterfly in the middle of the picture. It had landed on a leaf, and I carefully focussed in on it, only to have it leap up into the air just as I pressed the shutter button. I thought that taking pictures of bees was difficult, but compared to butterflies bees are Lazlar LyriKon Kustom jobs; there's something about having 95% of your body being control surfaces that makes maneuverability into a religious experience.
Jul 05, 2005
After taking pictures of the 4449 and 700 at Brooklyn yards, I went home to tell the best and the bears about it. We soon decided that we should drive back to Brooklyn yard to see if the Eng!s were still there.
They weren't; they'd decamped for Union Station, so they could be made ready for the Wednesday excursion train. So we followed them, got a few pictures, then went to the sushi train for dinner.
As always, clicking on these pictures brings up larger copies
Portland’s ex-Southern Pacific GS-4 #4449
& Spokane, Portland & Seattle E-1 #700
are pulling an excursion train for the
2005 NRHS convention
this Wednesday, and today they were being prepared at Brooklyn Roundhouse
While I was up on the Holgate bridge taking pictures, Amtrak train #507 came through, heading from Portland to points south.
Disney, that infamous studio that's best known for taking fluffy lightweight animation projects and skullfucking them to death, has decided to savagely murder C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. «Disney To Produce a 'Passion of the Christ' for Kids» is what the press releases say, and it comes with backing from notables like Philip "Qwest, and that's not the only company I've run into the ground!" Anschutz and with PR from that same company that did the PR for the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre.
Will it be a disaster? Will they take C. S. Lewis's subtle and compelling (but not compelling enough to make me into a Christian. I was pretty obsessive about the Chronicles of Narnia for a long time when I was a kid, but The Last Battle was too obviously trying to Tell Me Something Important™ for any of the earlier propaganda to stick) Christian allegories, kick them to the curb, and replace them with the same sort of hamfisted rewrite that they did to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe? Of course they will. Dominionists aren't subtle, or clever, so they'll do cute Disneyfied crapola to make it painfully obvious that Aslan == Jesus Christ with a rocking haircut and that the White Witch == Hillary Clinton, and every other character will be made into a similar caricature so that their target audience won't have to even think about the so-called lessons that this brutally violated story will tell.
Mark Morford grasps at straws and hopes that this movie will defy his expectations and be a terrific success, but then realizes that since this is Disney, it's not likely to be any more inspirational than a stinking turd. Me? Well, this is a good argument why I should not be the Emperor of the World; if I was emperor of the world, I'd have already signed the order declaring that everyone that runs Disney is an outlaw, that all of their property is forfeit to the crown, and that Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disneyville, and all their movie studios and headquarters buildings are to be razed to the ground and the land sown with salt.
(via Ansible 216)
Jul 04, 2005
Two crows sitting on a power pole near First & Arthur street in SW Portland.
Karl Rove enjoys the traditional B*sh junta picnic lunch.
What happened to him in his 24 hours in captivity was written across his body in chapters of pain, recorded by the camera. There are police-issue handcuffs still attached to one wrist, from which he was hanged long enough to cause his hands and wrists to swell. There are burn marks on his chest, as if someone has placed something very hot near his right nipple and moved it around.
A little lower are a series of horizontal welts, wrapping around his body and breaking the skin as they turn around his chest, as if he had been beaten with something flexible, perhaps a cable. There are other injuries: a broken nose and smaller wounds that look like cigarette burns.
An arm appears to have been broken and one of the higher vertebrae is pushed inwards. There is a cluster of small, neat circular wounds on both sides of his left knee. At some stage an-Ni'ami seems to have been efficiently knee-capped. It was not done with a gun - the exit wounds are identical in size to the entry wounds, which would not happen with a bullet. Instead it appears to have been done with something like a drill.
What actually killed him however were the bullets fired into his chest at close range, probably by someone standing over him as he lay on the ground. The last two hit him in the head.
So, just where did this happen, and who did it?
I'm sure the goddamn filthy fascists who support the Coward in Chief will be pleased to know that it's not Americans who tortured this man to death, but the secret police of a puppet government installed by the United States (with American advisors. Don't forget the goddamn American advisors!).
Remember, the latest fucking excuse for "liberating" Iraq (from, at least as far as I can understand from the increasingly irate weblogs of Iraqi citizen who are living under the boot of the American occupation, the peace and prosperity that the butcher Hussein ruled over) was that Saddam Hussein was torturing people to death. If you read the fine print, it turns out that the US engaged in an unprovoked aggressive war because Hussein wasn't torturing enough people to death.
Burn the flag. Burn the constitution. They have been indelibly stained by the evil creatures who control the United States.
Jul 03, 2005
When we came back from dinner at my parents apartment, we went by the Eng!s to see if they were still lined up for the convention. It was too dark to take a good picture, so I decided to try and fake one by taking a short exposure, then do image processing to make the colors more vivid. As a good picture of an engine, it's not that hot, but the otherworldly glow of the grass and bushes is vary satisfying, in a "what sort of drugs is he on???" sort of way.
The National Rail Historical Society is holding their 2005 convention in Portland next week, and it looks like all of the local railroads are making themselves look pretty for the conventioneers. Portland Traction, since it's run by a railfan, is no exception; The best, when driving into darkest Clackamas County today, spotted all of the non-scrap engines lined up down by the shops, and took a few pictures of the lineup.
NW-5 #187 is not included in the lineup, alas, but it's nice to see the 5100 out on the mainline all washed and cleaned.
(Pentax *istDS/300mm Quantaray lens, manual focus, auto everything else)
Jul 02, 2005
Going to the store.
Picking up a few necessities
And heading towards home
(Pentax *istDS, 300mm Quantaray lens)
Jul 01, 2005
O'Connor quits on July 1, 2005.
The US Senate recesses from July 2, 2005 until July 11, 2005.
Now, if I was a member of the Evil Party and had just the ideal candidate to replace her (Pol Pot and Tomas de Torqemada are, alas, dead, but I believe that Roy Moore is looking for a job), I'd use the handy mechanism of a "recess appointment" to wedge this candidate into the USSC right now, because it would piss off any Stupid Party senators who hadn't already turned coat. And it would detract attention from the full-bore disaster that the Coward in Chief's splendid little land war in Asia has become.
It's not as if any of the Evil Party sheep in the Senate would do anything about it, and it's painfully obvious that there aren't enough Stupid Party senators who would be willing to filibuster the US government to a complete standstill over it, so it's a win-win situation for all the evil people!
- One who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles.
- One who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.
- One who endures great suffering: a martyr to arthritis.
- One who makes a great show of suffering in order to arouse sympathy.
The Vatican has, apparently, decided to supplement this definition to include
- A man who lived a long, full life, died, peacefully, of old age, but who was appointed head of the Roman Catholic Church before he shuffled off this mortal coil.
It seems that the new Pope has decided to revive the ancient Roman tradition of imperial deification, but to wedge that deification into the existing scaffolding of sainthood requires some fairly elaborate gymnastics; I'm not a RC, but from what I understand about RC saintification, the traditional method is thatyou need to either produce a couple of certifiable miracles or someone who's been martyred, then have the upper hierarchy of the church do the appropriate investigations to make sure they're really miracles, and only then can the (by now long dead) saint be tagged it. In recent years, the Church has streamlined this process a bit -- Mother Theresa wasn't even dead for six years before being beatified -- but Pope Ratzinger has decided to pull out all of the stops to get his ex-boss sainted ASAP. The Vatican used to have a devil's advocate who was assigned to go over canonization candidates with a fine-toothed comb, just to make sure that this holy person was indeed holy and not just a ringer that Satan dropped in to humiliate the church. Well, that post was dropped a few decades ago, to "streamline" things. A further streamlining was to drop the traditional "you need to wait five years before trying to canonise someone" -- some people were demanding an immediate canonisation at JP2's funeral, and apparently that was enough for the new Pope to waive that requirement. But there's always the ticklish matter of finding those two miracles; if I am not mistaken, the traditional Catholic miracle happens after you ask the spirit of the now-demised saint-to-be for intercession with the Head Office, and given that JP2's corpse had barely reached room temperature before the cries of immediate sanctification rang out, it Just Wouldn't Do to wait to see if the prayers of the faithful could provoke the required miracles.
Thus, call him a martyr, and if the cardinals can keep from giggling in public, that might be enough to plunk his bust down in the Vatican Hall of Fame. It's the least you can do for a Bishop of Rome who managed to canonise more people in his 20-odd year tenure than were canonised in the previous 500 years. Think of it as holy grade inflation.
(link via Suburban Guerrilla, "martyr" definition via dictionary.com)
A colony of ants has gotten it into their collective pea-like brains that the large yellow wooden box near their nest must contain something tasty for them to eat, so they've started sending out explorers to see what they can find. This one was walking slowly enough for me to get a good picture of, so it escaped the fate that befell its less photogenic relatives.
When Dust Mite goes to the beach, a sandcastle cannot be far behind.
30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3. (U.K.)
(Consolidated with amendments)
An Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick,
and the Government thereof; and for Purposes connected therewith
[29th March 1867.]
Whereas the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom:
And whereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire:
And whereas on the Establishment of the Union by Authority of Parliament it is expedient, not only that the Constitution of the Legislative Authority in the Dominion be provided for, but also that the Nature of the Executive Government therein be declared:
And whereas it is expedient that Provision be made for the eventual Admission into the Union of other Parts of British North America:
Happy 138th birthday, Canada!