This Space for Rent

Aug 31, 2005

Semitrivial project of the day

The bears have been in a very best-clingy phase for the last few weeks, so when the best had to go out for a couple of hours tonight (by herself! with no children! and they missed her!), my solution to the problem of two howling banshees was to "lets go down in the basement and make a new carferry for your Brio®™© railroad." After discussing (if you include "talking into gale-force screams" as "discussing") the details for a while, we went down to the basement and built a 14 car (2 tracks that hold 7 cars each) carferry.

Surprisingly, this carferry does not contain any pallet-wood. The hull and decks are built out of cedar planks from SCRAP, maple and cherry stripwood from my pile of Joinery scrapwood, plywood and a block of 1x3 from the stupid room. The pilothouses and smokestack are from a plank of 1x2 beechwood that also came from SCRAP. It's not painted yet (because all I have it a can of red paint, and I've painted too many things red recently), but I'll sneak it away and paint it as soon as I buy some more paint.

1 comment


Today's highest gas prices in Atlanta, GA, via Atlanta Gas Prices (table pruned after cutting and pasting)

5.87BPStockbridgeWed 6:44 PM
3.99BPStockbridgeWed 6:43 PM
3.99ShellSandy SpringsWed 6:43 PM
3.79ChevronSandy SpringsWed 6:42 PM

It might "only" cost US$30 billion or so to repair the damage from the BHFH (Bastard Hurricane From Hell), but I suspect those estimates didn't take into consideration the economic impact of a possible gas price bubble. And, sure, I can do my hybrid vehicle efficiency dance, but it's not going to do me any damn good if the local bus system stops running busses through Westmoreland because gas prices have gone up by a factor of 4 since they did their last budget estimation.



The American Red Cross is accepting money for disaster recovery from the BHFH that just swatted the gulf coast. Yes, it's Jesusland, but in the end they're just people, and a lot of poor people have just lost everything but their lives, and may end up losing that too.

If you can, donate now; the Red Cross is pretty good at getting contributions to disaster victims, and if you disapprove of the Red Cross, there's always Mercy Corps and Northwest Medical Teams. But in any case, the bottom is still falling out of New Orleans, et al, and even if you're able to go down there and do disaster relief (not a chore most people are suited for. I suspect a day of running a soupkitchen and getting people triaged and onto busses to take them away from home, possibly forever, would drive me into an exhausted suicidal state), cold hard cash is always in fashion.

A message from Chicago for the so-called ‘Moderates’ in the Evil Party

And yet, even now, the Moderates ignore the retching stink and still wade to their chins into the six-feet-high-and-rising crapflood gushing out of the Oval Office, paw hysterically through the offal, shrieking, 'With this much shit, there has GOT to be a pony!'

Read. Learn. Evolve.

(.. and bookmark driftglass)

Aug 30, 2005

Compare and Contrast (pt 7)

Photo credit:AP photo/Dave Martin
A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005...
photo credit:AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythe Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store...

(via Atrios)

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The fine print gives, then the finer print takes away.

One unexpected feature of hurricane Katrina swatting New Orleans en passant is that there's little to no power in the city. No power == no pumps. No pumps == no water being pumped out.

It was a sideswipe rather than a direct hit, but the levees still had two holes knocked in them. What happens to a city that's inside a leaking cofferdam when it can't pump the water out? Well, it starts filling up with water.

This might be a recipe for many things, but "inhabitable city" is not one of them. I sure hope they get the holes plugged and the pumps going again.

(and, on a personal note, the summer cottage? The Mississippi contingent of the family returned from Florida and "... found the bell that was on the porch", but didn't find the offending porch or the cottage that the porch was attached to. But they did find their house intact, though there are no details about mud, snake, or alligator levels inside it. There are advantages to living a good distance away from the ocean when you live in hurricane country and the global warming light is on.)

Aug 29, 2005

The Rain In Portland…

... generally results in a rainbow. Normally they're hidden by trees, but if I take a picture from the front of the neighbors house the trees obligingly move (mostly) out of the way.

1 comment

I blame Pandagon…

.. for this horrible web thing. In short, go to the Music Outfitters website, enter your high school matriculation date, pick the top 100 songs, and list them, striking out the ones you loathe and boldfacing the ones you really like.

  1. Shadow Dancing, Andy Gibb
  2. Night Fever, Bee Gees
  3. You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone
  4. Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees
  5. Kiss You All Over, Exile
  6. How Deep Is Your Love, Bee Gees
  7. Baby Come Back, Player
  8. (Love Is) Thicker Than Water, Andy Gibb
  9. Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste Of Honey
  10. Three Times A Lady, Commodores
  11. Grease, Frankie Valli
  12. I Go Crazy, Paul Davis
  13. You're The One That I Want, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
  14. Emotion, Samantha Sang
  15. Lay Down Sally, Eric Clapton
  16. Miss You, Rolling Stones
  17. Just The Way You Are, Billy Joel
  18. With A Little Luck, Wings
  19. If I Can't Have You, Yvonne Elliman
  20. Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), Chic
  21. Feels So Good, Chuck Mangione
  22. Hot Child In The City, Nick Gilder
  23. Love Is Like Oxygen, Sweet
  24. It's A Heartache, Bonnie Tyler
  25. We Are The Champions / We Will Rock You, Queen
  26. Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty
  27. Can't Smile Without You, Barry Manilow
  28. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late, Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams
  29. Dance With Me, Peter Brown
  30. Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, Meat Loaf
  31. Jack And Jill, Raydio
  32. Take A Chance On Me, Abba
  33. Sometimes When We Touch, Dan Hill
  34. Last Dance, Donna Summer
  35. Hopelessly Devoted To You, Olivia Newton-John
  36. Hot Blooded, Foreigner
  37. You're In My Heart, Rod Stewart
  38. The Closer I Get To You, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
  39. Dust In The Wind, Kansas
  40. Magnet And Steel, Walter Egan
  41. Short People, Randy Newman
  42. Use Ta Be My Girl, O'Jays
  43. Our Love, Natalie Cole
  44. Love Will Find A Way, Pablo Cruise
  45. An Everlasting Love, Andy Gibb
  46. Love Is In The Air, John Paul Young
  47. Goodbye Girl, David Gates
  48. Slip Slidin' Away, Paul Simon
  49. The Groove Line, Heatwave
  50. Thunder Island, Jay Ferguson
  51. Imaginary Lover, Atlanta Rhythm Section
  52. Still The Same, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
  53. My Angel Baby, Toby Beau
  54. Disco Inferno, Trammps
  55. On Broadway, George Benson
  56. Come Sail Away, Styx
  57. Back In Love Again, L.T.D.
  58. This Time I'm In It For Love, Player
  59. You Belong To Me, Carly Simon
  60. Here You Come Again, Dolly Parton
  61. Blue Bayou, Linda Ronstadt
  62. Peg, Steely Dan
  63. You Needed Me, Anne Murray
  64. Shame, Evelyn "Champagne" King
  65. Reminiscing, Little River Band
  66. Count On Me, Jefferson Starship
  67. Baby Hold On, Eddie Money
  68. Hey Deanie, Shaun Cassidy
  69. Summer Nights, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-john
  70. What's Your Name, Lynyrd Skynyrd
  71. Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Crystal Gayle
  72. Because The Night, Patti Smith
  73. Every Kinda People, Robert Palmer
  74. Copacabana, Barry Manilow
  75. Always And Forever, Heatwave
  76. You And I, Rick James
  77. Serpentine Fire, Earth, Wind and Fire
  78. Sentimental Lady, Bob Welch
  79. Falling, LeBlanc and Carr
  80. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Santa Esmeralda
  81. Bluer Than Blue, Michael Johnson
  82. Running On Empty, Jackson Browne
  83. Whenever I Call You "Friend", Kenny Loggins
  84. Fool (If You Think It's Over), Chris Rea
  85. Get Off, Foxy
  86. Sweet Talking Woman, Electric Light Orchestra
  87. Life's Been Good, Joe Walsh
  88. I Love The Night Life, Alicia Bridges
  89. You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On), High Inergy
  90. It's So Easy, Linda Ronstadt
  91. Native New Yorker, Odyssey
  92. Flashlight, Parliament
  93. Don't Look Back, Boston
  94. Turn To Stone, Electric Light Orchestra
  95. I Can't Stand The Rain, Eruption
  96. Ebony Eyes, Bob Welch
  97. The Name Of The Game, Abba
  98. We're All Alone, Rita Coolidge
  99. Hollywood Nights, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
  100. Deacon Blues, Steely Dan

G-d, 1978 was a desolate year for pop music, even considering the bland pickings of the top 100 list. I guess it's no surprise that I latched onto the B-52's like they were the second coming of Christ.

(via Pandagon)

Regrettably, there is always a cloud wrapped around that silver lining.

The best's mother has a summer house in Mississippi, on the gulf of Mexico, halfway between Gulfport and Pascagoula. It's 15 feet above sea level, and less than 200 feet from the water.

"Hi, I'm the Gulf of Mexico and this 25 foot storm surge is going to come ashore in front of your summer house. Hope you don't mind."

Err, oops? The general consensus is that the family will be picking pieces of their summer house out of the bayous and woods several miles north of where the foundation block is. Not that we know for certain -- the local branch of the family packed up and bolted for Florida when Katrina cleared the Florida peninsula and morphed into a BHFH -- but the smart money is not on finding a muddy house with maybe one or two broken windows. The silver lining here is that the house is new, and newly purchased, so not much will be lost in the furnishings department.

We're far more worried about the best's sister, who lives a few miles west of there in a subdivision just on the ocean side of highway 90. That house is further above sea level, and it's much farther away from the ocean, and it's got undeveloped woods and bayous between it and the Gulf of Mexico, and it's a single-story house that's made of brick instead of being a typical beach house on stilts, so there's a chance they'll come back to nothing more extreme than alligators, snakes, and a foot of mud in the living room.

Amazing, there’s still a New Orleans

Katrina veered east and rammed Mississippi, so only about half of New Orleans is flooding. This may not come as any relief to the people in Gulfport, where I've heard reports of a 28 foot storm swell, but not having to fish 20,000 bodies out of the Mississippi River is about as least worst as you can get, barring G-d saying "okay, enough of that" and picking up and putting the storm away.

Oh, shit.

I used to live in New Orleans, years ago. Since I'm a trainspotter, I spent most of my free time there watching trolleys and the occasional Public Belt train, but I did spend quite a bit of time walking or bicycling around, just enjoying living in that town. One thing I fondly remember about that is that occasionally I could look down a street or alley towards the river and I'd see a huge container ship moving by above me.

Boy, I thought, it would really suck if the seawalls failed.

A lot of people have thought about what could happen to make the seawalls fail. One popular entry in the how to fill New Orleans with water contest involves dropping a category five hurricane into the city (or somewhat east of it, so the hurricane could scoop up a huge mass of water and hurl it into Lake Pontchartrain, where it could splash over the lakeside levees and roll over to the Mississippi river) and then picking up the remains with a very fine sieve.

New Orleans, meet Katrina, who is the latest category five hurricane to hop over the florida peninsula and slap into the gulf coast. And, unlike the last contestants, tropical storm #12 has been making a beeline for the Crescent City, and is now about 150 miles out and staying the course.

New Orleans is in the middle of a swamp. If the Gulf of Mexico sloshes over the Pontchartrain levees, it will be a another big lake in the middle of a swamp, with everything inside under water. There might be some parts of it that aren't under water, but a large subset of the city will achieve fluid staste.

I don't know what's going to happen there. A considerable number of webloggers are saying "oh, shit" and predicting that the city will essentially vanish, and there's at least one NOAA weather forcaster who shares the same opinion (I guess this is the weather forcaster way of collapsing into a foetal position, then going catatonic with shock), but perhaps they're taking too much of a catastrophic view.

I just hope the curators in the Cabildo have moved everything up off the first floor (the day I moved to New Orleans was the very same day that the Cabildo had that fire that took off the third story of the building; I remember reading in the local paper how the curators were removing artifacts from the building even as the firefighters were bolting in to try to put it out. If there's anyone left from 17 years ago, they probably laughed grimly as they tried to figure out what to move upstairs before they got in their cars and bolted for Baton Rouge) before they left.

I've read about diehards who are poo-poohing the hurricane from inside cozy bars in the middle of the Vieux Carre. cozy bars that are at least a dozen feet below the water level. Sure, many of the buildings in that part of town are made out of brick and/or stone, but all it will take is one enthusiastic storm surge and they'll be flooded up to the second or third floor. I can imagine that being trapped up there with all of the cats, dogs, rats, mice, and other creeping and crawling vermin that infest the Crescent City will make for a somewhat less pleasant vacation experience.

I wonder what's going to happen to the streetcars? The Carrolton carbarn is not blessed with being above sea level, and I don't think that the new Canal carbarn is above water level either.

I don't know if it's even rebuildable. If the city gets glitched by this hurricane, it could run into the 100s of billions of dollars to rebuild, and (a) all of that money has been given to the rich and and (b) it's still the middle of the hurricane season, and one of the promised features of global warming is storms, lots of storms, and even more storms, each one more violent than the last. Would the US government, even assuming it's not controlled by the pack of asset-stripping thieves who currently control it, cheerfully promise to pay out to rebuild the city when there's a chance that the very next year another storm will whack it again?

I think that part of the charm of New Orleans is that it's always been a city (and a culture) living on borrowed time. And it may be that there's no more time to borrow now.

I think we'll find out in about 12 hours.

Aug 27, 2005

Packrats -R- us

I was rearranging stuff in the basement (which I'm trying to convert from a junk area into a work area), and realized that I've got 11 laptops that I don't use anymore, ranging from a positively ancient Powerbook 100 (with a SCSI drive that suffers from stiction, which makes booting a, um, experience) up through a tadpole sparcbook. And, except for the IBM Butterfly, I suspect thast none of these machines will ever be booted up again.

But who would want an ancient 486 or Pentia laptop, particularly one with a dead battery (I bought my Butterfly for US$100, and the batteries for it cost $80. That's a pretty terrifying component cost) ? I'll bet these laptops stay into the basement, along with all of my first-generation computer junk (the 65816s in my apple GSes are just begging to have Unix put onto them, but that requires something called "free time", which I won't have for at least another 20 years unless I win the lottery) until I fall over dead and the bears clean out the pile of junk that just became their estate.


Aug 26, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite wanted to take a self-portrait, but it's very difficult for a tiny little arachnid to focus the camera, then clamber up on top to take a picture while leaving everything in focus.

But I’m sure it’s only a coincidence

In the tropical Atlantic, the summer/fall hurricane season appears to be setting in with a vengence.

the NOAA predicts 19-21 tropical storms... (mean: 10 tropical storms)
... of which 9-11 will become hurricanes ... (mean: 6 hurricanes)
... and 5-7 of them will be major hurricanes. (mean: 2-3)

The NOAA is estimating that the cyclonic activity this year is going to be at least 180% of the mean cyclonic activity during hurricane season. Why? Well, it's the NOAA, which has pursestrings controlled by the Peter Pan junta, so the little press release vaguely talks about long-term weather cycles, and only hesitatingly mentions that the Atlantic Ocean is warmer than usual this year.

But it's certainly not global warming. King Canute's idiot son has decreed that the tide roll back, and everyone knows that the resulting wet spot is simply that someone spilled their drink. Their 3,000,000,000 gallon drink. Which they put too much salt in. And not enough booze. Ahem. It's probably the fault of the same lefty terrorists who are roaming the tundra with their hairdriers, sneakily melting all the permafrost just to embarrass the idiot king!

Aug 25, 2005

Five reasons to use Firefox instead of Opera

A few months ago, The Register had a little article on how the people who make the Opera web browser were (justifiably) a little miffed that Mozilla Firefox was getting all the good press for being a Better! Than! Microsoft! web browser even though it's slower and fatter than Opera. The people at The Register (some of them claim that Opera is the best browser in the whole wide world) were not completely sympathetic to Opera's claims, but treated them very kindly (since they are basically a web browser company that's actually making money off their web browser, instead of being a giveaway product.) So, since it's been a long time since I last looked at Opera (the last time I looked at Opera was back in the days when my choice was Internet Explorer or Netscape 4, neither of which is the finest browsing experience, even though the both of them stomp all over Mozilla and Firefox performancewise. I can run IE on a laptop without having the fan turn on, which is pretty amazing considering that Microsoft provides no way to turn off ads or spyware. Firefox, well, it's not quite so svelte), I decided to download it and try it out.

Yes, Opera has a klunky interface (I'm sure that "tabbed browsing" is good for something, but I run my web browsers on Windows and X11, both of which come with spiffy programs called window managers that take care of properly handling multiple windows all by themselves. Firefox also has this awful feature, but it's not nearly as hard to avoid as the Opera implementation is) and an amazingly awful supply of fonts (I installed the Bitstream Vera fonts on my Linux desktop at work, and everything uses them except Opera), but those aren't show stoppers. I can get used to odd interfaces (I can manage to navigate around MacOS without pulling out my hair, screaming, and flinging the offending computer out the window, and I can, most of the time, stagger along on an X11 display without throwing a fit and deleting the entire X11 codebase when it won't let me install more fonts without reading 3000 pages of documentation beforehand), but there are a few things that Firefox has that nobody else does, and I can't live without:

  1. Adblock,
  2. Firesomething,
  3. User Agent Switcher,
  4. LinkChecker, and
  5. Bugmenot

Of these, Adblock is the most important, but the others are nice and convenient, and none of them require anything more complicated than telling Seajackalope that it's okay to load extensions from a new site. There are just so many g-ddamned ads on the web these days (particularly on weblogs, now that people have realized that you can make a living off advertising on your online newsletters) that trying to read pages without adblock editing them is an exercise in nonstop frustration. Opera might be fast, tiny, and efficient, but it shows ads in webpages, and thus is knocked right out of consideration.

It could be argued that blocking web ads is a bad thing, because if they weren't blocked I wouldn't spend so much time online and I could instead work on projects, the house, or converting to a source code control system that's got a usable license, but modulo that Opera loses big and I'll stick with Seafish.

BASE-jumping into Hell.

As anyone who doesn't have an IV drip of B*sh junta propaganda knows, Dilawar eventually died under torture, and, after the news got out, the Pentagon promised to investigate and prosecute the people responsible for committing this war crime.

And they did, in the traditional way that the Armed Forces "punishes" people who did something that the Pentagon doesn't consider to be a crime.

Notice that no officers were harmed during the making of this show trial. That's because it didn't involve something important (like drumming someone out of the service for being gay or disagreeing with the stupid policy decisions coming from the evil traitors who occupy the White House), but was merely a mundane little crime against humanity.

I presume the lickspittles in the American Legion will be getting all irate at the press for reporting that the puppet government in Afghanistan is unhappy with the results of this show trial, because it's unpatriotic to tell the American public things that the rest of the world already knows.

(via Body And Soul)

Aug 24, 2005

The American Taliban stirs to life.

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

And just what do they mean by whatever means necessary ? And I hope they realize that if they start attempting to beat up and murder liberals for the "crime" of opposing this latest round of imperial overreach, they're likely to be unpleasantly surprised when the liberals defend themselves by whatever means necessary.

(via Atrios)

Aug 23, 2005

Finally, a rational monetary policy!

The gold standard is a relic of Old Europe. America must adopt the kitten standard, making kittens the standard unit of account.

The advantages of using kittens as currency are endless. Kittens can be used to create more kittens, which will encourage saving. A first world economy based entirely on unneutered kittens can expect to achieve an average growth rate of 900% per year, which far surpasses anything possible under the current system. If you try to steal a kitten, it will scratch you. Kittens can not be controlled by the unelected central bankers in Washington, D.C. And so on.

All totalitarians are allergic to cats. Cats, and freedom.

(policy briefing from The Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony)

Trust me, we’re *not* the droids you’re looking for.

TSFR is apparently the #1 result for the Saudi Arabian google search for 'soft girls for rent'.

I guess if you want to do a websearch in Arabic there aren't that many places where you can do it, but there's something really weird in seeing the .sa suffix on a webpage that lists TSFR, then about 97 links to what I can only guess are porno sites. I'd imagine the Ministry of Public Health, Morals, and Murdering Women For Being Insufficiently Pure would be having kittens if such a search was conducted in the little slice of fundamentalist intolerance that is Saudi Arabia, but it's not quite as easy for them to eavesdrop on the expatriate community in [redacted].

What a surprise

Nietzsche is also dead You scored as Atheist. You are an atheist! You spend hours studying Friedrick Nietzche, Bertrand Russell, and J. L. Mackie. When Christians try to give you reasons to believe, you won't give them the time of day because they are deleusional fools not likely to convince me and will just waste both of our time.



Classical Apologist






Reformed/Presuppositional Apologist


What kind of apologist are you?
created with

(via Kevin G Powell)

Aug 22, 2005

Oh, I’m sure this will work out well

It's not just telling the puppet government that they should write a constitution that converts Iraq into the Taliban lite, complete with converting women (and whatever other people the local conservatives disapprove of) into second class citizens that men are free to rape and murder without legal restraint. But it's also standing approvingly by as that puppet government just leaves people out of the process of drafting that "constitution" when they object to some of the unappealing parts of it.

A potentially more intractable problem in the long run was the disaffection of Sunni leaders, who have been largely excluded from the deliberations during the past week. The constitution has been written almost entirely by Shiite and Kurdish leaders, who said they had decided to leave the Sunnis out because they were being too inflexible.

And it's not as if the fundamentalist kookooheads haven't been taking full advantage of the hell on earth that post-"liberation" Iraq has become, either; no, it's just that the Shiite leadership from the south (and the Kurdish leadership, which really really wants their own separate state and are willing to put up just about any indignity that's inflicted on someone else to get it) with wants it all, and they're happy to borrow the "Don't negotiate with unbelievers" page from the Evil Party playbook.

Why, it just keeps getting better and better. Is the United States now doing the foreign policy equivalent of sacking Carthage with the Iraqi Sunnis and Sufis taking the place of the Carthaginians, or are we simple accepting a perpetual civil war in the hopes that Syria and Turkey will start shipping weapons in to the Sunni minority and thus give us an excuse for an aggressive war against them?

Aug 21, 2005

The narcissist’s guide to trainspotting.

Amtrak has opened a new station in Oregon City, Oregon. I knew that they'd been planning on building a station, and had read about some arguments over the cost of building the concrete platform for the station, but was unaware that the station was opened until we were driving back from a U-pick blueberry patch near Canby, Oregon and spotted the brand new signs pointing our way to the railroad station.

Since it was a railroad station, that meant it had something to do with railroads, so we had to detour off the main road to go and see it.

I was unaware of the station code for this station, but, probably to differentiate themselves from the hated liberal bastion north of the Clackamas Curtain, the station code was helpfully plastered all over every available sign and banner on this just-opened station.

How to identify an Orc Apparently I've got an historic depot and a parking lot and many many appropriately pink welcome banners (which are now about 15 years out of date, sorry)

If the local newspapers ever have an article about a mysterious robbery where someone took nothing but the signs from the Oregon City Amtrak station, it will be difficult to mount a defense.

It turns out, too, that you can catch a train from Union Station to Oregon City, for a $4.00 coach fare. If the Oregon City station was actually in downtown Oregon City and Union Station was actually close to where the businesses are in downtown Portland, it might actually be a more convenient commute (21 minutes, at $8.00 r/t) than driving into Portland and paying $15 dollars to park your car for the day. As it is, I can forsee at least one family trip where the bears and I will ride into darkest Clackamas County by train, just so we can say that we did.

Oh, and we arrived at the Oregon City station just before train #507 was scheduled to arrive, so we waited until it made its station stop before we went on our way. The train was late, so the best and I wanted to leave before it got there, but the bears would have nothing to do with that sort of talk, so we stayed until it pulled out 15 minutes off time.

Two bears waiting for a train #507 arriving, only 15 minutes late

A programmer’s holiday

We went camping at Oxbow Park yesterday, and I brought along my laptop just in case I took a lot of pictures and needed something to buffer them onto (or to just look at with a screen that's got better than a 200x200 resolution.) This was not a trip for picturetaking, so I only took a dozen or so, but I did have the wireless remote I got for the Pentax, so I took the opportunity to take a self-portrait of the Artist On Holiday.

Regrettably, The Best didn't agree to my proposal to bring a two-mile extension cord, so the laptop only got fired up once to see if anyone else was crazy enough to set up a wireless network in the park; for the rest of the trip, I slunk around in the shadows avoiding the direct light of the sun and socialising.

One camping hint we need to remember for our next trip is that now that we've bought a nice cookstove to take camping, it might be useful to also bring matches to light off the fire. I woke up at 6am this morning and discovered this horrifying deficiency, which meant that I needed to wait for other people to wake up before I could get the fire started and tea made. The only thing that kept me awake is that it was very cold outside, so I was too busy shivering to fall back to sleep.

1 comment

Aug 20, 2005

The story of my life, in advertisements

A few years ago, at the height of the .com boom, IBM(?) had a pretty funny advertising campaign for some idiotic management tool. They had a wide collection of silly things, from magic pixie dust to flocks of flying monkeys, but this one pretty accurately described (and describes) my life, so I had to clip it out and drop it into the filing system of doom here at Chateau Chaos.

Eight years later, we found it when gutting the stupid room, so I snarfed it up onto the computer before it got lost again.

Aug 19, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

We went out for dinner tonight at a local pizza joint, and Silas shared his lemonade with Dust Mite.

Friday not-so-random-10

Programmers remix, volume 2:

  1. Taco -- Putting On The Ritz
  2. Bow Wow Wow -- I Want Candy
  3. Katrina & The Waves -- Walking On Sunshine
  4. Animotion -- Obsession
  5. Natasha Atlas -- Kidda
  6. Soft Cell -- Tainted Love (short mix)
  7. Beach Boys -- Kokomo
  8. Two Nice Girls -- Sweet Jane (With Affection)
  9. Two Nice Girls -- I Spent My Last $10.00 (On Birth Control and Beer)
  10. Abdy -- Galbi

This may be G-d’s way of telling people not to buy those stupid SUVs

5 bucks a gallon for gas? Expert sees it in 2006?

I'd worry about this, except that about 50% of the country voted for the assholes who brought us to this point. We've got a Prius, so we're "only" paying $20 to fill the tank today; perhaps when the people driving their Lincoln Navigators, H[123]s, and the rest of the collection of huge bloated deathtraps that call themselves SUVs start paying $200 (at which point we'll be paying $40, which we sometimes have to do twice a month) for a tank of gas they'll start considering that maybe it would be prudent to dumpster their tanks and buy reasonable cars.

But I'm not going to hold my breath. I fully expect that the end result of gas prices going to $5 will be that people will demand, and the B*sh junta will cheerfully obey, that some other near eastern country be invaded to GET THAT CHEAP OIL (at which point gas prices will go up to $10/gallon and those lovely suburban crackerboxes that people pay $300,000 for will become somewhat less desirable. And then people will demand, and the B*sh junta will cheerfully obey, that the United States invade Canada or Venezuela to GET THAT CHEAP OIL. Rinse, lather, repeat, pound head against wall as required.)

And as large swaths of the United States collapse into barren slums, the auto uber alles people will still be whining that "there'll be no energy crisis if cities just abandon mass transit and build more highways!

(via A Day in the Life)

1 comment

Aug 18, 2005

There’s a moon in the sky


It's almost a full moon tonight, so I pulled out the brand new tripod and tried my best to get a good picture of the offending planet. A tripod almost completely corrects the old-age tremors in my hands, but I still have to depress the shutter and that puts a small but distressingly noticable shake into the camera. It doesn't help that it's a fairly lightweight tripod and a not-so-lightweight telephoto lens.


The joys of living in an old house

Sometime last weekend, the power cord to the basement freezer, which is conveniently plugged in nowhere near the freezer, got knocked loose while we (probably not we, but me, since I'm the one that uses power tools in the basement) were plugging and unplugging things down there.

Today, we (and by we, I mean the best) discovered, to our intense dismay, that the freezer was no longer doing very much in the freezing department any more.

Sigh. I need to add a couple more items to the list of things to do around the house:

  1. clean out the freezer.
  2. Convince the best that I can actually do electrical wiring without burning down the house and/or killing myself.
  3. Rewire the damned basement so we've got more than two electrical outlets down there.

And sometime very soon we've got to hire a licensed electrician to replace the dinky little electrical panel we've got with one that's got enough drops to properly supply electricity to the house. Perhaps I'll do this after the nervous breakdown I've got pencilled in for this sunday (after another weekend has gone by without having a chance to even start to unwind, oh joy!)

Disrepectful of Dear Leader

The Evil Party might think that the American left is being extreme in their dislike for the Coward in Chief and his flock of traitorous syncophants, but this New Zealand pizza parlour is happy to put things into the proper perspective.

(hat tip to No Capital)

Aug 17, 2005

Life on the river (#5)

A tugboat headed north on the Willamette, photographed from a #19 bus heading east across the Ross Island bridge.

Aug 16, 2005

Note to myself: Don’t visit the UK until after lapdog Blair is deposed

Is there anyone in the world who doesn't scoot for the train when they walk onto the platform and see it standing there? Shoot, I've done it. I've done it in London. But that was before the police got their spiffy new terrorism training that reads "it's okay to butcher innocent bystanders in the subway as long as you say 'sorry' afterwards".

The whole "stalk someone until they run for a train, then shoot them" stunt is the sort of thing I would have expected butcher Hussein to do if Baghdad had a subway. But in London, where people (foolishly) think they're in a civilized country? I think I'll spend my tourist dollars elsewhere. Pity, too, since I'd like to visit Scotland again, but it's not worth being judged and found guilty of being insufficiently caucasian while I'm making the grim transit from London Heathrow to Kings Cross or visa-versa.

(cheery tourism news via Avedon Carol)

Another reason to loathe the evil party

A few years ago, if some evil theocratic thugs started sadistically murdering children, the United States could (it almost never did because (a) when the Evil Party controlled the country, we were backing the theocratic thugs or (b) when the Stupid Party controlled the country the Evil Party would hop up on its isolationist horse and call for not interfering in world affairs, but the threat was there) have the local ambassador send a strongly worded "The United States objects to this brutal behavior and requests that your government consider a more merciful approach" memo -- no threats were needed, but they were implied -- which oftimes would have an impressive civilizing influence on the offending fundamentalists.

Today, of course, if some country that's under the boot of fundamentalists decides to murder children, like, oh:

...Amongst the victims which I personally know of were an unmarried pregnant woman and her four-year old child. The mother was executed in the street with three shots while her child watched. Then the little boy's throat was cut....

What are we going to do? Why, nothing; the entire US military is tied down in the quagmire, so any threat from the local ambassador will be greeted with, at best, a scornful laugh, and, at worst, a dozen or so additional children brutally murdered. The thugs have already fought it out with the United States, and they won because the allegedly most powerful military in the world is being directed not by politicians, but political analysts who don't believe that anything exists outside of the borders of the continental United States.

So our armed forces get thrown out in ones and twos, and get slowly chopped to ribbons by the increasingly competent resistance forces in our imperial conquests, while the fundamentalist butchers sweep in and take all of the spoils. And the fundamentalist states that have been left standing? They cheerfully take time to say "thanks for the political support, chumps!" while they line up children and butcher them like cattle.

Iraq was better off when the butcher Hussein was in power. He kept the fundamentalists from bathing the country in children's blood, and the threat of American firepower survived as a deterrent to the others. Now the United States armed forces can only watch helplessly as the country disintegrates around them while almost every other dictator in the world laughs and asks "what are you going to 'bring it on' with, white boy?"

If the Christians are right and there's an afterlife, I want to be the fly on the wall when Maximum Leader Genius and Darth Cheney go before Minos for judgement.

The stupid party welcomes their Evil Overlords

Democrats have decided that unless there is an unexpected development in the weeks ahead, they will not launch a major fight to block the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr., according to legislators, Senate aides and party strategists.

  1. Something like 65% of the United States electorate believe that women should not be forced to be sentient incubators, but the Democratic leadership doesn't think that's worth fighting over because it's just "chick stuff".
  2. Separation of church and state is a quaint relic of the enlightenment, so I can understand why the Democratic leadership doesn't think that a jurist who appears to be implacably opposed to it would be disqualified
  3. Equal pay for men and women? That's a pretty radical idea, so I can see that you'd not want to rock the boat by fussing about it.

Does the Democratic Party think that the bagman will never get around to fulfilling his medieval legal beliefs once he's appointed to the highest court in the land, but will continue to obey the dictats of the B*sh junta? And do they think that the dictats of the B*sh junta will remain at the level of petty institutional looting that the first one engaged in, when Maximum Leader Genius is showing that there are really no depths of depravity that they're unwilling to sink to?

So what the devil are the Democratic leadership thinking? Sic Semper Tyrannus does not tell you to bow down before the tyrant, even if he has a temporary advantage on the battlefield. Perhaps they like losing, and don't want to spoint their streak.

(via Firedoglake)

Defending Against Terror™ the Evil Party way

Russell as a tiny baby
Look out! He's got a dolly!

The transportation insecurity administration, in the grand B*sh junta tradition of there's nothing we can't fuck up, has been refusing to let infants onto airplanes if their names are similar to ones in the no-fly list. It seems like a sensible precaution, after all; if it was a baby terrorist, it could do terrorist crying, peeing, and pooping, and then you'll have terrorist biohazards in the airplane bathrooms. And, worse yet, if the baby is breastfeeding, its mother might whip out a terrorist breast and FEED THE BABY IN PUBLIC.

I grow faint just thinking about it. Or perhaps I'm just laughing too hard to stand up.

(link via No Capital)

Aug 15, 2005

The joy of standards

Russell is starting to negotiate building a model railroad again, and this time around I suggested that we try to build a modular railroad, so that we could easily rearrange it, take the modules to model railroad shows (assuming that there's a local modular club that we could network with) and pack up and move to Canada disassemble and move if we bought a new house. Everybody knows about Ntrak, of course, so I was hoping that there'd be some HO scale equivalent to it. So I did a little bit of looking, and came up with a bunch of different documents explaining HO standards for modular railroads.

All of these modular things say that the modules should be 4 feet wide, and that they should be (roughly) 30 inches deep (Uh Oh, one of them said that the module needed to be 32 inches deep?) and that they should use 1x4s as the end framing so that you could clamp modules together. And, happily, most of them say the tracks should be on 2" centers (once again, one of them said that the tracks should be on 3" centers. Ooops.)

And then the fun begins. Of the 5 standards I've found, there are 5 different track spacings; measured from the front of the module, track can be found at

  • 4" and 6"
  • 5" and 7"
  • 6" and 8"
  • 2.5" and 4.5"
  • 1.5" and 4.5"

Now, this is encouraging. At least with the first four, you can (if you don't mind modules poking out forward and backward) adjust the placement to match up with a module that's built to one of the other 3 incompatable standards. The fifth one is just wierd; aside from the joy of having your class B and class D locomotives running along almost overhanging the front edge of the module, there's no chance of actually being able to match up with any of the other 4 (and then some) module designs unless you build gantlet track along the front of the railroad like so:

|                                        |
|                                        |
|                                        |
|                                        |
|___                                 ____|
|                                        |

And wouldn't that look lovely.


And, of course, the local modular railroad doesn't actually mention just which standard they use (and this for an organization that charges $15/month for membership. Ouch. $180 a year is approximately 3 times what it costs us for a family membership in the OERHS. One would think that the modular railroad could post their standards for the modules, in and around their standards for controllers (DCC. Yawn.) and exhibition sites.) I guess I'll just flip a coin for which standard to use, then just shim whenever we go to model railroad shows, and hope that the Real Standard™ isn't the track spacing we didn't choose.

Software patch of the week

At work, I've been playing around with ways of loading our Linux distribution onto the various servers that we use. The first round of this, which happened about a year ago, was to switch from a ugly (and potentially dangerous) isolinux loader menu to one written on freedos, because I could wedge that onto a floppy image and not have to worry about cdrom drives that would freak out when confronted with an isolinux-style cd. At the time, we were pretty sure that our machines would use IDE cdroms to boot off for the forseeable future, so the somewhat elaborate contortions that I had to go through to make this booter work didn't seem to be that much of a problem.

A year later, after a few rounds of

  1. freedos relocating extended bios data into places where Linux can't find it anymore,
  2. The kernel getting big enough so that loadlin was unable to load it (but not actually saying that it was too big to load. No, what loadlin did was far nastier; it would cheerfully truncate the load image in such a way that the system would lock up and die part of the way through the boot process. This took a while to figure out because I was naively assuming that free software doesn't suck™)
  3. Switching to linload, and having to rearrange many things to get around the horrible limitations it has, like not being able to coherently load parameters from batchfiles, but instead having to cram all of the options that the installer wants into a 125 character DOS command line.
the final straw came when we started using machines that didn't have IDE cdroms anymore. I could have gone right back to the original isolinux menu, but it was ugly, and it offered many opportunities for user error in that all of boot options, for serial and vga console, were all plunked down on the same menu, and if you were loading from a modem and accidentally told it to do one of the vga console commands, you'd end up having to roll a field service truck to reboot the stupid computer so you could make the same mistake again.

But one of the tweaks I did for the freedos loader was that it only gave the three options we wanted, and behind the scenes kept track of where the input was coming from and built linux command lines suited to the device you were typing to it at. I liked that tweak, and didn't want to get rid of it, but isolinux doesn't actually seem to have any way to duplicate this feature. Or, actually, didn't have any way to duplicate this feature. I sat down for a few days last week and beat up on the 8086 assembly language parts of isolinux so that I could do source-sensitive LABEL's in isolinux.cfg.

How did I do it? By an evil hack, forgiven by repeating the chant "it's a bootstrap loader; it's supposed to be unreadable" 30 times. I added a prefix byte to the command line buffer, and set that prefix to '+' or '-' depending on whether the input is coming from the vga or serial console. Then I modified the code that searches for kernels to first search for the command by itself, and then if that didn't work, to re-search with the command plus the given prefix. Which means that a label like LABEL +1 matches 1 entered from the vga console, and LABEL -serial matches serial entered from the serial console. If you're not someone who writes 8086 assembly language for a living (and even if you are and still retain some self-respect), you probably shouldn't look at the code or patches, but if you've succumbed to the dark side, here it is, in full glory (note that I don't use named constants for + and -, so when the ascii definition of them changes this loader patch will immediately fail.)

And in case you're wondering, Syslinux is GPLed, so this patch is communist software from head to toe.

I cannot endure the thought of letting my people suffer any longer

On August 15th, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies, officially ending the second world war.


After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.

Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone - the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people - the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to Our Allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of Our profound solicitude.

The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.

Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with you, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strike which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.

Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution - so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

(Hirohito, 玉音放送, August 15, 1945)

Aug 14, 2005

Project of the day

The Stupid Room, as previously noted, came with about half of a kitchen sink dropped into one end of it. When the forces of urban renewal reached that end of the room, we tore out the cupboard (one had previously been torn out and converted into a pile of planks, leaving us with a single survivor) and instead of dismantling it, set it aside for some future project.

The future is now, baby!

I spent a few hours this afternoon (there's a really gross bathroom chore I need to do, and this helped delay the inevitable) converting the stupid room cupboard into a stupid room cabinet for the basement.

This cabinet is mainly built out of the stupid room -- the cabinet body is the ex cupboard, with the latch relocated up one shelf so I don't have to reach down to the floor to open the cabinet, and the plywood back used to be part of the barkingly hideous board and batten siding in there -- but the top of the cabinet is recycled palletwood, as is the foot at the bottom of the cabinet. The kickboard on the front of the foot is from the now demised deck, and the red paint is what was left after painting the lemonade stand; I've not yet painted the foot, and don't know if I will bother painting the cabinet top or the inside (it's going to be used to store paint and possibly tools, so painting the top seems like an invitation to nicks and paint spills. And there's something about the "every internal joint is crooked" design that makes painting the inside seem like vanity on a seven deadly sins level.)

One interesting thing about this cabinet is that all the wood cutting I had to do, with the exception of the feet, was done by drawing a line and cutting freehand with a saw. I'm trying to learn how to cut lines freehand because I don't have a radial saw and it's cheaper to cut by hand than spend $500 on another power tool.

A neoconservative paradise

It's the Paradise that is Iraq! (I take no responsibilities for the pack of lies that is the CIA factbook, aside from noting the interesting way they say "unprovoked invasion by the United States")

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

If it wasn't for the 65% unemployment, the total lack of womens rights, the almost total lack of mens rights, the lack of religious freedom, the ongoing civil war, the occupation and continued looting by a rogue state, why, it would be a lovely place for summer vacations.

I'm particularly impressed that the United States has managed to competely destroy the oil business in Iraq, a country which has something on the order of 12%(?) of the known world reserves of oil. But then again if Iraq had an oil industry, Halliburton couldn't bill US$1.60/gallon for shipping oil into Iraq, so it's an ill wind that doesn't blow a friend of the B*sh junta some good.

Aug 13, 2005

Mysterious flying insect of the day

I went downstairs a little after midnight to help refill the vomit ducts on the cats, and found this little tiny mosquito-ish bug dozing on one of the kitchen windowblinds. It looks a lot like a mosquito (at least as far as I could see from below), except it appears to have scaly wings, and, of course, it holds its wings out perpendicular to its body instead of folding them back against its abdomen. It was not in the mood to flee, so it just sat there while I went to grab my camera and the zoom lens, and it remained motionless when I came back, fitted the camera and went *flash* *flash* *flash* until I got a good picture.

1 comment

Aug 12, 2005

Life on the river (#4)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

A well-stocked refrigerator always includes a Dust Mite


The majesty of the Evil Party-controlled federal government in action. It's not just the B*sh junta, it's all of the layers and layers of corrupt thugs that infest Washington, DC like maggots on a week-old body.

In the end, after just a few weeks, every one of Sanders' victories was transformed into a defeat. He had won three major amendments and would likely have won a fourth, if the Rules Committee had permitted a vote on his Patriot Act measure. In each case, Sanders proved that his positions held wide support -- even among a population as timid and corrupt as the U.S. Congress. Yet even after passing his amendments by wide margins, he never really came close to converting popular will into law.

And for this my family wants to stay in the United States?

(via the Carpetbagger Report)

Forging new frontiers at the patent office.

The practices Monsanto wants to patent basically involve identifying genes that result in desirable traits in swine, breeding animals to achieve those traits and using a specialized device to inseminate sows deeply in a way that uses less sperm than is typically required.

Yup. Monsanto wants to patent sexual reproduction. I can imagine this patent would have the potential of being very good for their bank accounts after they start applying it to other species.

(via Peace, order and good government, eh?)

Aug 11, 2005

Caveat venditor

A few days ago, a NAFTA review board told the US, for the, um, third time, that duties on Canadian softwoods were illegal and that the US should stop levying them and pay back the money already collected. The US response was pretty much what you'd expect...

... the United States said the extraordinary challenge committee ruling was inconsequential and that it had no intention of scrapping the duty on Canadian softwood that can exceed 20 per cent or refunding the $5-billion in levies collected over the past few years.

What? You expected that the United States would actually enforce a treaty that it signed? No, no, that would set a bad precident; if the US government had to enforce treaties with other countries, pretty soon it would have to start respecting things like Habeas Corpus, which would make the little people think that they actually were worth something.

For what it's worth, the United States has a long and honorable tradition of signing treaties, then turning around and violating them almost before the ink was dry. At least this treaty doesn't involve land, just commerce.

(via Canadian Cynic)

Perhaps I’d better wait a while before buying that beach house

  1. Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.
    The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

  2. Tom Osterkamp is a professor of physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Since the mid-1970s, he's measured permafrost temperatures through small holes drilled at sites across the state. He says permafrost is melting throughout the Arctic.

  3. In Ellesmere Island, Canada, a combination of warmer temperatures and sunny days has triggered an increasing frequency of detachment events, or landslides, over the past 25 years, compared with the previous 75, according to Antoni Lewkowicz, professor of geography at the University of Ottawa.

  4. Of the 244 marine glaciers that drain inland ice on the Antarctic peninsula, a region previously identified as vulnerable to global warming, 87 percent have fallen back over the last half century, according to research by British experts.

Not that there's any global warming, of course, but it would be unfortunate if these environmental coincidences put half a million dollars of my real estate under 6 meters of seawater. Perhaps I should just stockpile sand, so if the waterlevel converts Westmoreland and Brooklyn into an island I'll be able to set up a little beach east of my house.

(Item #1 is via Hellblazer, the rest are from web searches)

Aug 10, 2005

Not a great fan of groklaw

A few years ago, Caldera SCO sued IBM, claiming that IBM had stolen code out of one of SCO's versions of Unix and wedged it into Linux. This little -- and possibly even valid -- lawsuit got a whole bunch of attention from the more hysterical branches of the Free Software ®™© world, who went into a full-scale defense of the team which started up as over the top, and then got worse when SCO's management went insane and converted their little lawsuit into a GREAT CRUSADE AGAINST THE COMMUNIST EVIL OF THE GPL (no, really; apparently the terms of the GPL, which can be really horrid unless you take a bit of care about interfaces and bundling are actually a COMMUNIST PLOT™ against people who, um, don't wish to follow the licensing terms for software they want to use. I'd think that if you didn't want to follow the licensing terms that the ethical thing to do would be to not use the software, but I'm just a squishy liberal and am overly concerned about such things.)

The website groklaw, which either started as a result of this lawsuit or which got a lot of fame because of this lawsuit, has been at the forefront of the mobs howling for SCO's hide. Every now or then, I see some reference to an article on that site which, invariably, states the "third-party claim X means that SCO is going to be crushed!", and, also invariably, presents the claim in the sort of fair and balanced way that you would normally expect to see on Fox.

Case in point:

This article is about a deposition where someone states the screamingly obvious; if you installed the Linux kernel personality module on Unixware, you'd get a copy of the Linux kernel. It provided a link to a fairly long pdf file (which I didn't read), but clipped a synopsis saying that, yes, if you installed the linux kernel personality module you'd get the kernel. How it is actually used, well, they're kind of vague on that, but it's presented in a manner that is quite familiar to anyone who watched the run-up to the unprovoked attack against Iraq or the excuses that people make for breaking Valerie Plame's cover as a covert CIA agent. I don't really like groklaw because of articles like this; they breathlessly say "Caldera included GPLed code!" and hope that the readership will take the insinuation and run with it. It's strikingly like the Evil Party smear campaign against Valerie Plame.

Having worked with Linux kernel personalities before, I've got a pretty good idea of just where the Linux kernel code was used; you need the kernel to get the kernel headers, which used to be needed to have a libc that you could compile against. What else would you expect? If you're going to have a linux personality, you'd like to be able to, um, do things with it, and thus you get all of the horrible warts in the build environment.

As a bonus, this article quotes an anonymous source saying that GPLed code is in the SCO kernel. No details, of course, but it's still a bit of a red herring; it sounds nice, but it doesn't have anything to do with the kernel personality code (if I was SCO and wanted to steal someone else's linux personality code, I'd take one of the BSD ones because, well, they're the only ones out there, and it's just a bonus that the Open Source®©™ evangelists have bullied the various BSDs into pulling the due credit clause from the BSD license -- now if someone wants to use something with a new BSD license, they don't have to release source or even mention where they got it from.)

I'm not a particular fan of SCO -- they lost my sympathy when they went off the rails and started frothing that the GPL was communist -- but sloppy breathless reports of nothing at all aren't likely to win any respect from me. So, no, I'm not a great fan of groklaw.


The Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark [...], Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an unusual announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing yesterday.

Gee. I wonder what they're celebrating. A great victory against Eastasia? The upcoming deification of Maximum Leader Genius? A bountiful harvest?

No. Nothing as mundane as that.

It's time to celebrate blank check day!

This isn't quite as offensive as it would be if the Coward in Chief appointed Osama bin Laden to the USSC, but the only people who I can see being at all happy about this nasty stunt would be the conspiracy theorists who think that the B*sh junta assisted Al Quada in their attempts to do urban renewal on lower Manhattan island.

Aug 08, 2005

Why, indeed

BottleOfBlog takes a look at the Coward in Chief's terrible poll numbers and, reasonably, asks «how in the name of all things not election fraudulent did this totally unpopular, incompetent clown get "re-elected"?».

Well, that's pretty simple. For many people in the Evil Party, Maximum Leader Genius is on their team, and even if they disapprove of him they'll still vote for him (don't believe it? After the 2004 "election", a long line of Evil Party sympathisers lined up to say "Oh, we didn't really like B*sh, but we voted for him because the Democratic Party put up a Democrat to oppose him!" Well, perhaps they didn't actually say Democrat, but they regurgitated lines from the ridiculously stupid -- effective, but still stupid -- smear campaign against Kerry, which shows that they weren't spending much effort to do anything other than climb up into the bleachers and cheer for their home team.) Victory is simply a matter of cranking up the big lie machine to sway the more feebleminded and cowardly independent voters into the (E) column, if only for one day.

It didn't hurt that there were 10,000 lucky coincidences in Ohio (some of which magically recurred in the recent congressional election there), but those coincidences would not have been nearly as effective if the bleating masses of Evil Party supporters weren't vowing to support their home team despite the well-documented evidence that their team had been bought and paid for by the mob.

Aug 07, 2005

Compare and contrast (pt 6)

"I assured them that the United States believes strongly that the Iraqi constitution should provide equal rights before the law for all Iraqis regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or sect ... There can be no compromise." SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman

(via Hullabaloo)

Compare and contrast (pt 5)

Archibald Cox, Jr., had been appointed special prosecutor in charge of investigating the Watergate Scandal. When he insisted upon receiving secret tapes that President Richard Nixon had made in the Oval Office, Nixon ordered Cox fired. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff will splash a story in tomorrow's Newsweek which reveals that the boss of CIA leak probe prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is likely to be replaced by a former Bush classmate at Yale.
What's more, Newsweek has found that the new boss is a fellow initiate of the Yale secret society, Skull and Bones.

Aug 06, 2005

Not the war to end all wars

60 years ago today, the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing ~200,000 people and starting a new arms race that continues today. However, this demonstration, and the subsequent one, did not diminish man's enthusiasm for war in the slightest.

Daily war crime reminder

Article 13
Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.
Article 17
No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

Putting a POW into a bag and beating them to death is not treating them humanely. It doesn't matter if you're an American and you're under the command of the lying sack of shit who overthrew the government of the United States.

You also don't get a do-over if you "outsource" your torture to an obliging third party.


Remember! If it doesn’t include flight numbers, it’s not a real warning!

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

Happy 4 year anniversary, 6-Aug-2001 PDB!

Aug 05, 2005

Curb Your Enthusiasm (pt 2)

48% to 52% is what the official results say. Is anyone enumerating the number of lucky coincidences it took for the Evil Party to "bury" the Iraq War Veteran?

Life on the water

We took the middle of the week off and went for a small vacation into Washington State. Not having a functioning laptop computer and having two fully functional death stars meant that the extent of the computer time I had was to comment about speedboats fast passenger ferries while waiting for the bartender to fix us hot tea at a Seattle coffeehouse after we arrived in the city for a few hours of visiting the art museum.

So, sorry, not much clever political commentary this week. Just pretty vacation pictures that you can look at instead.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Deep in the rainforest, a Dust Mite hunts its prey

Aug 03, 2005

Spiffy vacation feature

If you're staying on Vashon Island and want to pop up to Seattle for the day, the ferry speedboat is highly recommended, in that sort of "look, we can make a big honking ferryboat act like a cigarette boat.

Zoom! And I say again, Zoom!

Aug 01, 2005

Bailing out the Aegean Stables

My supertrivial carpentry project for the day today is a second workbench for the basement. The first workbench cleaned the basement up to the point where projects became feasable, but then I brought home and dismantled 7 more pallets, and the combination of our usual regular SCRAP habit and the pallet wood started to make the basement unfit for human habitation. Plus, even though I had this nice workbench, I didn't really have a place where I could put projects that were glued up and clamped, so they either migrated to the floor (where I'd have to walk around them) or just sat on the workbench (right in the middle of what I'd like to pretend is a work surface).

So, late this afternoon when I had to distract the bears for a few hours, I assembled the top and legs of this new bench. It's all pallet wood from work, even the big hunk of plywood that makes up the top. It's going to have a couple of shelves underneath, and I set up the ends of the tabletop so that the forklift openings in the pallets open into a thin shelf that can be used to store pipe clamps while I'm not using them. I've not added the shelves yet because they may require a power saw, and if I run a power saw at 11:30pm, it will not go over well with any of the other people in this house.

My hope is that I can put most of my free-floating SCRAPpy stuff into the two shelves, and move the parts I've got on deck for my next projects (right now I'm looking at building a tile PC case; the Factory Case doesn't really have enough horsepower to run a modern version of Linux, KDE, and Mozilla Superoyster (it did have enough horsepower to run Windows, but Microsoft went evil and I don't wish to use their operating systems until they pay penance for their sins) and I need to use a motherboard with a faster processor, and I don't wish to pay for it while I've got a couple of AMD K7/1333's lying around gathering dust. But I'm not going to use an ugly case, so I have to build a case before I can start using the faster processor. And I can't build the case until I clear enough room on the workbench to lay out the tile. And I can't clear enough room on the workbench until I relocate a lot of my art supplies to this new workbench) over to this new surface, where they won't get in the way of actually assembling them.

And if the new workbench isn't enough, I ripped a cabinet out of the stupid room, and I'll be able to attach a back and a top to it as soon as I relocate some of the non-essential things in the basement onto this new workbench.

Eventually, I'm going to convince the best that I'm not just fooling myself when I say I want to build a summer cabin. Maybe I'll make it out of pallets.