This Space for Rent

Oct 31, 2005


Silas and Russell made pumpkins for Halloween this year. Well, actually, Russell made a pumpkin (the one on the right; he cut all by himself except for the little round nose, which I did) and Silas told the best what he wanted on a pumpkin, and she cut one to his specifications.


The B*sh junta has outdone itself

Since they had to withdraw bagman #2's nomination to the Supreme Court because it turned out that she has a vagina, and that's the one compromise the American Taliban will not accept, the new bagman (#3 in a series! collect them all!) was, apparently, chosen for the extraordinary repugnance of his (yes! he's got a penis! Leon Kass would be proud) views.

Sure, you can take the "will vote to repeal Roe v. Wade" as a given, but bagman #3 brings many many more charming qualifications to the table:

  1. There is no categorical 'harassment exception' to the First Amendment's free speech clause. (This in response to a case where a police officer was being regularly harrassed and assaulted by a superior, so not only is harrassment okay, but harrassment by the government is particularly approved of.)

    This decision is reinforced by another one where, in regards to a case where female students where physically and sexually assaulted in class, he stated that the students could not sue because the state has no responsibility to "care for them".

  2. A complete and utter ignorance of human biology. (In a case about the Family and Medical Leave Act, he claimed that a state's refusal to provide family leave has no greater impact on women than on men, seemingly ignoring the teeny detail that humans are mammals, and there are a couple of things that a woman does during and after childbirth that are fairly difficult to work around. [breastfeeding can be worked imperfectly around, at, possibly, some risk to the newborn, but the physical act of giving birth, either via the traditional routine of passing a seven pound human being through your vagina or the modern American routine of being cut open and having the baby removed surgically, is likely to put a crimp in a woman's everyday routine for a few days or weeks.])
  3. And, don't forget, since women don't have penises, they need to get the permission of someone with a penis before they can have abortions. If you're a kid, daddy's penis must say okay, but if you're married, your new owner has to sign off on the proceedings before you can get an abortion.
  4. And, to one-up bagman #1's argument that, gosh, it might be horrible that the (Washington, DC) Metro police can handcuff and drag off a 12-year old for eating french fries in a subway station, but the law is the law, bagman #3 is willing to defend strip-searching a 10 year old girl because she was found in the house of someone who had a search warrant against them.

But, to look on the bright side, he's not just a fascist, he's a fascist who has figured out that guns are useless against the state, and so he's happy to give cover to the NRA by arguing that everyone should be able to possess machine guns. You know, to defend themselves. Against the federal government. The same Federal government that the NRA continued to support after the Patriot Act was enacted.

Yes, this one is a true winner. He's the sort of fascist that bagman #1 can only dream of being.

Oct 30, 2005

Something creepsy this way lurks

Ms. Spider is sitting on the porch ceiling, waiting for something to drop in for dinner. Perhaps some of those tasty trick-or-treaters?

Chomp Chomp! Yum Yum!

Oct 29, 2005

“don’t be evil” ? Yeah, right, and I’d like a pony.

As google's gmail service has ramped up, I've been seeing a slow, but increasing, flow of spam coming from the google servers. And, of course, all of this spam gets sent off to the abuse desk at google. I don't know if I've ever gotten a "we killed us a spammer today, thanks for the heads-up" from them (little tiny ISP s are happy to give me this sort of feedback. The big free email account providers, on the other hand, don't seem to be on the ball nearly as much), but today I got the next best thing -- a hotmail-style "don't bother us, we've got more important things to do than kick spammers off our network" note:


Thank you for your abuse report. We apologize for any inconvenience you might have experienced^M.

Google takes abuse situations very seriously. To help us process your request as quickly as possible, please fill out the form specific to your situation^M.

- If you believe that your account may have been compromised, please visit^M:^M1

- To report a message that violates the Gmail Terms of Use or Program Policies, please visit:^M2

- To report an established account for sale, please visit^M:^M3

- To report all other security and/or abuse-related issues, please visit^M:^M4

If we find that the Gmail Terms of Use have been violated, we will take the appropriate actions and, if necessary, discontinue Gmail service for the account(s) in question. To read the Gmail Terms of Use, please visit:^M.

We appreciate the urgent nature of your message, and thank you for your cooperation. We will respond to your report as soon as possible^M.


(yes, the stupid extra \r's were in the message, for that added touch of "yes! we've outsourced to the cheapest possible overseas technical support organization we can find, because hiring good technical support will stop the board from becoming wealthier than the Walton family!")

Now, I try to be reasonable, and I have been known to give large souless monopolies the benefit of the doubt even past the point where it's obvious that they've successfully excised any of the good intentions that they started with, but if a company uses their SMTP servers to send me spam, part of the deal is that they will let me use their SMTP servers to complain about the goddamn spam.

So I sent and a little note about this spam.

I sent you an abuse report. I'm not going to play hide and go seek with a bunch of stupid web pages to report abuse coming from google servers. You have an abuse email account -- why don't you, um, use it? Google has plenty of technical staffers who have advanced degrees in computing, so it's just possible that one of them might be able to write scripts that will feed abuse mail into the bug tracking system that you are using.

But don't ask me to set up special procedures for google just because it's google. If gmail can deliver me spam via SMTP, you can accept abuse reports via SMTP as well.

Thank you

-david parsons

I wonder if they'll apologise, or even explain. If they don't, no problem; I've been meaning to put per-user blacklists into postoffice, and once I do that I can blacklist gmail without interfering with the best's email exchanges with people who switched to google when I still thought they actually still meant their cutesy little "don't be evil" motto.

Works in progress

For the first time, I'm doing (as one of the five projects I've got in progress right now) a piece of furniture where most of the wood is new. This bit of wood is the headboard of the bed I'm making to replace the icky futon sofa in Russell's room; aside from two planks and two sections of 2x2 that came off a couple of pallets from work, all the wood in this bed is new. My intent is to not have any metal fasteners in the completed headboard, but to have the thing be pegged together with wooden dowels, but I've had to drive some screws into the smaller diagonals to hold them in place until the glue dries and I can go back and drill the holes for the dowels (yes, this is not really the most efficient way of pegging a headboard together, but it's easier for me to prototype when I don't have to insert and remove dowels as part of the prototyping.)

Russell has some plans for this bed. He wants drawers under it, so he can keep his piles of junk close at hand. Originally he wanted shelves in the headboard, but at the very last minute (after I'd glued up the legs and the bottom crosspiece) he changed his mind and wanted "something else", but not shelves. Okeydokey. I'm glad I didn't spend a lot of time planning this bedframe.

Now he's asking for a nice tall footboard, so he can jump down to the bed from it; now, it's probably a good idea to have a good solid bedframe, because in all likelihood he'll be having sex on it within the next 10 years, but I'm not willing to let him break it in (or simply break it) by pretending to be Greg Louganis competing for one more Olympic metal; the bedframe is going to be made from 2x4 sticks of house framing (which are quite sturdy; I tested the strength of them by setting a stick up on the feet, then sitting on it, and it didn't noticably deflect) with palletwood slats going across them, but I still don't want him to do collision testing on it.

He wants it painted green, which is fine with me. Paint hides a multitude of sins. The second bed, on the other hand, now that one I won't paint.

Yes, it's a Pratt truss. But it's a decorative Pratt truss, which won't see any loads unless the bears start jumping from it.

Oct 28, 2005

Mr & Mrs Giant Spider At Home.

We have several giant spiders on our porch, and as the weather gets colder and colder they spend more time huddled up trying to keep from becoming giant spidersicles. This couple is sitting on the porch ceiling right above one of the porch lights. Mr. Spider has, wisely, put a good thick layer of silk between him , the cold, and his much larger and not particularly romantic mate (I thought originally that Mr. Spider had come a little bit too close and become an evening snack, but his legs look a little bit too alert for a poisoned spider.)

It's not the greatest picture on this planet because of the twin curses of the Pentax not having greatest autofocus in low light and the mark 1 manual focus not being willing to sit out on the very cold porch trying to properly focus in on Ms. Spider's mandibles.

1 comment

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

A bouquet of Hydrangea flowers and Dust Mites.

Caveat Emptor, baby!

My weblog is worth $2,399,468.25.
How much is your weblog worth?

A few days ago, Dane Carlson wrote a little cgi program that figures out the "value" of a weblog, based on some research Tristan Louis did on the AOL purchase of Weblogs, Inc. This is all fine and good, but it really cried out for some improvements to better tune the value of your weblog compared to a hypothetically perfect one. A few hours and a few aspirin later, here's a (ahem) better program for determining the value of your weblog.

If AOL is on a buying spree, I'll be at home waiting by the telephone.

(apologies to Dane Carlson)

Honor among thieves

"Gosh, Karl, this is a nice plank and everything, but what are you doing with that saw????

Bye, Scooter. And you only need to wait two years until the pardon comes through!

Oct 27, 2005

The Internet is for porn!

At least that's what Amazon thinks. Looking for a ridiculously powerful electric drill on Amazon? Oh, they'll find you the drill all right, but that's not all:

Now, that's just the selection I want to see when I'm shopping for a power tool. Does Amazon expect that I'll bring along a DVD player when I'm building a house, so I can use the power drill with one hand while pleasuring myself with the other while watching the DVD? Or perhaps this is how they recommend unwinding after a days work.

Oy. What a cheap meaningless life they think that men lead.

A day of doing nothing but kernel builds leads to a bored and easily distracted Orc

And what could be more trivial than using Microsoft google to search for "my name wants"?

  1. Orc wants YOU! (true if you're the best)
  2. Orc wants to punish you with spankings! (no.)
  3. Orc wants to set out together to find their tribe (true, if by find their tribe, you mean move to Canada)
  4. Orc Wants YOU (see item #1)
  5. Orc wants to ensure corporations like PGE pay their fair share like the rest of the citizens of Oregon. (actually, I want the state to nationalize PGE, but other than that paying their taxes would be a good start.)
  6. Orc wants a fight (no.)
  7. Orc wants your help with wood chopping. (no.)
  8. Orc wants to, make it where he can wear clothing and armor that will shield other players from knowing if he is an orc. (I think the signature line is a dead giveaway.)
  9. Orc wants to eat a pig (chomp chomp yum yum!)
  10. Orc wants to share information (so that would explain the weblog, no?)
  11. Orc wants to best him in battle. (no. See #6)
  12. Orc wants to create a sub committee. (shudder)
  13. Orc wants. (.... yes, and what does he want? The suspense is KILLING me!)

Not a very inspiring list, if you ask me. Between committees and MMRPG fanatics, it's pretty thin pickings out there in search engine land.

(I blame Parts and Pieces and Badgerings)

Oct 26, 2005

Dealing with those pesky black people, Evil Party style

So, in your otherwise reliably Evil Party supporting south you've got a few pesky cities that tend to vote for Democrats. The Democrats they vote for aren't exactly what you'd call liberal Democrats, but they aren't members of the Evil Party, so you can't reliably count on them to support whatever crackpot fascist scheme that you might wish to implement. So, you've got to get rid of those enemy strongholds. But how to do it?

In New Orleans, a wonderful opportunity has arrived to cleanse one city of undesirable elements. After a fortunate catastrophic flood and subsequent evacuation of the black population to as far away as you can get in the United States, don't release forwarding addresses for absentee ballots! The people with money in New Orleans are primarily white, and many of those are Evil Party supporters who might actually vote for the fascists in the next city election. And once you've swept those pesky Democrats out of power, the new Evil Party government can implement the appropriate takings laws to ensure that none of those pesky Democrats will ever come back.

Problem solved, the Evil Party way!

(via Body And Soul)

So, what am I still doing in this country anyway?

Now that Congress has, after much armtwisting by the few Evil Party senators who've had first-hand experience with being tortured, passed bills that attempt to make it illegal for the United States to torture people (yes, yes, you might be asking isn't this already illegal? Apparently it isn't), the treasonous scum in the B*sh junta are attempting to carve out an exception so they can keep torturing people to death legally. And, to make it particularly cute, Dick Cheney brought in the little fuckpuppet that the B*sh junta installed to run the CIA to say that it's rilly rilly important that the CIA be allowed to torture people at will.

It's not important that CIA spies can go to work without being betrayed by their government, but it is important to allow brown-skinned people to be raped and beaten to death by bored CIA employees.

Moses, from Yowling from the Fencepost, asks did you ever think that we'd be living in a country where our leaders are debating how much torture our government gets to do?

Yes. Because they're Republicans, and that's what they do. They did it in Central America when Reagan was in power, they would have done it in Iraq when the B*sh junta was first in power (but they had to settle for a cowardly air attack on a retreating conscript army; it's not as personal as beating someone to death, but Satan isn't particular about the teeny details of how you're being Evil.) The only difference now is that they aren't even pretending that this isn't what they do.

I'll note, en passant, that the Evil Party appears to have gotten away with abandoning New Orleans, and that Maximum Leader Genius has managed to successfuly convert the "relief" effort into yet another conduit for looting the public purse. Ho, hum, yet another day in hell.

Oct 25, 2005

Bandwidth theft; it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

This month, for some inexplicable reason, I turned off referrer checking for images on tsfr. This appears to have been a horrible mistake. Normally TSFR gets a couple of hundred visits a day, with about 600 page views and ~1600 total requests for images and whatnot. Today, I was checking to see if anyone commented on any old messages via the simple expedient of checking my system logs, and found that some clueless idiot on FARK had decided to use the Iraqi flag image I put up on TSFR about a year ago, to the tune of 10,000 image fetches from the single-celled amoebas who read and post to that BBS.

Grr. And thttpd doesn't give me the sort of specialized image redirection that a more heavyweight solution like apache would. There are some images I'd love to present to BBSes who feel that TSFR isn't using enough bandwidth. I'm thinking bibles. And ponies. And big-eyed kittens.

How do you ask someone to be the last to die for a mistake?

There are now 2000 dead US soldiers in our Splendid Little War™ in Iraq.

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Flores • Jesse Jaime • Chad B. Maynard • Tyler S. Trovillion • Dion M. Whitley • Cesar O. Baez • Anthony S. Cometa • Erik R. Heldt • John W. Maloney • Robert M. Horrigan • Michael L. McNulty • Noah Harris • William A. Long • Adam J. Crumpler • Christopher R. Kilpatrick • Christopher L. Hoskins • Nicholas R. Idalski • James D. Stewart • Brian A. Vaughn • Arnold Duplantier II • Christopher W. Phelps • Joseph M. Tackett • Holly A. Charette • Veashna Muy • Chad W. Powell • Ramona M. Valdez • Regina R. Clark • Carlos Pineda • Charles A. Kaufman • Matthew S. Coutu • Keith R. Mariotti • Steven E. Shepard • Rafael A. "T. J." Carrillo Jr. • Manny Hornedo • Robert E. Hall Jr. • Chad M. Mercer • Jeremy A. Brown • Ryan J. Montgomery • Scottie L. Bright • Lyle J. Cambridge • Christopher W. Dickison • Anthony M. Mazzarella • Deyson K. Cariaga • Hoby F. Bradfield Jr. • Eric Paul Woods • Joseph P. Goodrich • Ryan J. Kovacicek • Timothy J. Sutton • Benyahmin B. Yahudah • Timothy J. Hines Jr. • Tricia L. Jameson • Clifton Blake Mounce • Christopher D. Winchester • Jared D. Hartley • Jorge Luis Pena-Romero • Travis S. Cooper • Ronald T. Wood • Ronnie D. Williams • Frank F. Tiai • Efrain Sanchez Jr. • Lavena L. Johnson • Arthur R. McGill • Jefferey J. Farrow • Steven P. Gill • Travis L. Youngblood • Bryan James Opskar • Ernest W. Dallas Jr. • Jason W. Montefering • Milton M. Monzon Jr. • Christopher J. Taylor • Ramon A. Villatoro Jr. • Jacques Earl "Gus" Brunson • Carl Ray Fuller • James Ondra Kinlow • John Frank Thomas • Adam J. Harting • Adrian J. Butler • Edward L. Myers • John O. Tollefson • Benjamin D. Jansky • Christopher P. Lyons • Andre L. Williams • Ernesto R. Guerra • Jason D. Scheuerman • Robert A. Swaney • Victor A. Anderson • Jonathon C. Haggin • David R. Jones Sr. • Ronnie L. "Rod" Shelley Sr. • James D. Carroll • Jeffrey A. Boskovitch • Roger D. Castleberry Jr. • David J. Coullard • Daniel Nathan Deyarmin Jr. • James R. Graham III • Brian P. Montgomery • Nathaniel S. Rock • James D. McNaughton • Thomas C. Hull • Jerry Lewis Ganey Jr. • Mathew V. Gibbs • Charles Houghton Warren • Adam J. Strain • Timothy Michael Bell Jr. • Eric J. Bernholtz • Nicholas William B. Bloem • Michael J. Cifuentes • Christopher Jenkins Dyer • Grant B. Fraser • Bradley J. Harper • Justin F. Hoffman • David Kenneth J. Kreuter • Aaron H. Reed • Edward August Schroeder II • David S. Stewart • Kevin G. Waruinge • William Brett Wightman • Nils George Thompson • Chad J. Simon • Brett Eugene Walden • Robert V. Derenda • Terry W. Ball Jr. • Brahim J. Jeffcoat • Kurt E. Krout • Chase Johnson Comley • Seferino J. Reyna • Anthony N. Kalladeen • Hernando Rios • Ramon E. Gonzales Cordova • Miguel Carrasquillo • Nathaniel E. "Nate" Detample • John Kulick • Ryan S. Ostrom • Gennaro Pellegrini Jr. • Francis J. Straub Jr. • Michael A. Benson • Evenor C. Herrera • Rusty W. Bell • David L. Giaimo • Brian K. Derks • Toccara R. Green • Asbury F. Hawn II • Gary L. Reese Jr. • Shannon D. Taylor • Jose L. Ruiz • Joshua P. Dingler • Paul A. Saylor • Thomas J. Strickland • Michael J. Stokely • Nathan K. Bouchard • Jeremy W. Doyle • Ray M. Fuhrmann II • Timothy J. Seamans • Willard Todd Partridge • Elden D. Arcand • Brian Lee Morris • Joseph C. Nurre • James J. Cathey • Hatim S. Kathiria • Joseph Daniel Hunt • Victoir P. Lieurance • Ramon Romero • Carlos J. Diaz • Chris S. Chapin • Trevor J. Diesing • Ivica Jerak • Timothy M. Shea • Joseph L. Martinez • Obediah J. Kolath • Dennis P. Hay • Charles R. Rubado • Gregory J. Fester • Jason E. Ames • Monta S. Ruth • Lowell T. Miller II • George Ray Draughn Jr. • Robert Lee Hollar Jr. • Lonnie J. Parson • Matthew Charles Bohling • Jeffrey A. Williams • Luke C. Williams • Jude R. Jonaus • Franklin R. Vilorio • Robert N. Martens • Christopher L. Everett • Kurtis Dean K. Arcala • Jeremy M. Campbell • Robert D. Macrum • Alfredo B. Silva • Shane C. Swanberg • Matthew L. Deckard • David H. Ford IV • Alan Nye Gifford • Regilio E. Nelom • Mark H. Dooley • Michael Egan • William L. Evans • William V. Fernandez • Lawrence E. Morrison • William Alvin Allers III • Pierre A. Raymond • Travis M. Arndt • Kevin M. Jones • Scott P. McLaughlin • Mike T. Sonoda Jr. • Andrew Joseph Derrick • Paul C. Neubauer • Daniel R. Schelle • Brian E. Dunlap • Shawn A. Graham • Casey E. Howe • Tulsa T. Tuliau • Howard P. Allen • Andrew P. Wallace • Michael J. Wendling • Elijah M. Ortega • Jason A. Benford • Elizabeth Nicole Jacobson • Daniel L. Arnold • Oliver J. Brown • Steve Morin Jr. • George A. Pugliese • Eric W. Slebodnik • Lee A. Wiegand • Joshua J. Kynoch • Jens E. Schelbert • Marshall A. Westbrook • Timothy J. Roark • Roberto C. Baez • Bryan W. Large • Jacob T. Vanderbosch • Sean B. Berry • Larry Wayne Pankey Jr. • John R. Stalvey • Andrew D. Bedard • Brian K. Joplin • Jeremiah W. Robinson • Shayne M. Cabino • Nicholas O. Cherava • Jason L. Frye • Patrick Brian Kenny • Daniel M. McVicker • Carl L. Raines II • Eric A. Fifer • Nicholas J. Greer • Sergio H. Escobar • Gary R. Harper Jr. • Leon G. James II • Leon M. Johnson • Brandon K. Sneed • Jerry L. Bonifacio Jr. • Jeremy M. Hodge • Matthew A. Kimmell • Donald D. Furman • Lorenzo Ponce Ruiz • James T. Grijalva • Kenneth E. Hunt Jr. • Robert W. Tucker • Samuel M. Boswell • Bernard L. Ceo • Brian R. Conner • Thomas H. Byrd • Jeffrey Corban • Richard Allen Hardy • Vincent Summers • Timothy D. Watkins • Mark P. Adams • Paul J. Pillen • Daniel Scott R. Bubb • Chad R. Hildebrandt • Christopher M. Poston • Lucas A. Frantz • Daniel D. Bartels • Arthur A. Mora Jr. • Russell H. Nahvi • Jose E. Rosario • Tommy Ike Folks Jr. • Kendall K. Frederick • Norman W. Anderson III • Jacob D. Dones • Dennis P. Merck • Richard T. Pummill • Andrew D. Russoli • Steven W. Szwydek • Kenneth J. Butler • Seamus M. Davey • Christopher W. Thompson • George T. Alexander Jr.


A walk down Stephens Street

I took Silas to school this morning, and decided that it was well worth wasting half an hour to walk from 28th down through seven corners, because the evil kernel upgrade I'm working on at work doesn't care if it sucks my brains out at 9:15 or 9:45. So I pulled out the Pentax and walked down Stephens Street to Ladds Addition, then across to New Seasons and onward to Milwaukie and Powell, my bus, and the coding mills.

Oct 24, 2005


At work, the HR department is a great fan of using The Computer to manage all parts of our work misery. One of the ways they use The Computer to make my personal work experience that much more unpleasant is that they send out a constant stream of work policy updates, all of which require some sort of acknowledgement, and not just a legal acknowledgement, but going to a website and clicking a [confirm] button so that the record of the new policy being read can go directly into the MS SQL Server database without bothering the beautiful minds of any of the wonderful people in HR.

This is pretty annoying to start with -- there's nothing to make you feel like a faceless cog than having a constant stream of email from HR (from an email address that HR doesn't bother to read) telling you (sometime under threat of termination), that you have to go to some stupid website to click a button for their database -- but it gets better when your MS Windows IT department carefully writes their database applications so that you can't click the button, even if you're using Microsoft Big-Bag-O-Security-Violations on Microsoft "operating" systems (the, need I bother to add, official workstation environment for my company, nevermind the trivial detail that we're the Unix branch of the company) and then manages to drop the record of my successfully clicking on the stupid button (after a fairly long search for a WINDOWS computer running a WINDOWS web browser that would let me click the dumb button) for one of these critically important (but not important enough to do on paper) policy enhancements.

Grrr. Stupid stupid HR department. Is "drive the developers completely batshit insane" part of their job description, or are they simply doing it as part of their bonus plan?

(h/t to Dooce, for doing the web-based scream of frustration first.)

Oct 23, 2005

Plans? But why would I want to do that?

I went down to the hardware store with Silas yesterday to pick up a couple of pipe clamps for one of the projects I'm working on, and ran into an old friend from a previous sysadmin job. We chatted briefly about the hardware store equivalent of the weather ("what are you doing?" "oh, working on a project...") and then he asked me what plans I was using to build the project in question (a bed, in case you're wondering.)

Plans? But where's the sport in that?

He was dumfounded. But surely every carpenter, from the most skilled craftsman to the backyard punter, must use plans?

When I assured him that, no, I don't generally use plans except when the cost of the lumber runs into thousands of dollars (and can cause serious injury or death if they fail), he wandered away in a bit of a daze, shaking his head at the insanity of it all.

I could see the point of using plans if I did carpentry for a living. But I don't. I do operating systems development for a living, and I do carpentry as just another outlet for my artistic impulses, and furthermore when most every project I do uses scrap (and SCRAP material), I couldn't even start to dream about reliably sized components that I could draw a plan against.

And life is to short to follow someone else's assembly instructions. When they find a cure for mortality, then I'll go back and build things from a menu.

Oct 22, 2005

Time for six weeks of extremely boring tropical storm names.

Tropical storm Alpha has formed, putting 2005 into the books as the year with the most tropical storms on record. From now until the end of the season it's going to be greek greek greek all the way (offer not valid if there are 24 more tropical storms this year.)

Not that there's any such thing as global warming; it's purely a coincidence that three of the five most intense recorded hurricanes happened this year, and it's purely a coincidence that there have already been 22 tropical storms this year.

Really. Trust me. Would the B*sh junta lie to you?

Oct 21, 2005

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

We splurged and got sushi for dinner tonight, and everyone joined in for the meal. But Dust Mite got greedy and muscled in close to the plateful of Dead! Raw! Fish!, and then a horrible catastrophe occurred.

OH NO!!!

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Spooky Spooky clouds

It must have been foggy this morning, because when my bus crossed over the Ross Island Bridge, I saw this bank of fog slowly retreating over North Portland.

Railroad picture of the day

Union Pacific SD40-2 #3308 sits at the north end of Brooklyn Yard in the late afternoon yesterday (20-Oct-2005).

You may notice that the lettering on the two UPS trucks is somewhat blurry; that's because I was taking this picture from the window of a #70 bus, and I didn't have time for frivolities like focussing the shot -- I just aimed the camera out the window and pressed the shutter release when I realized that there was an Eng! sitting at the other end of the alley. The Pentax assumed, correctly, that I was intending to focus on the SD40-2, so closer items suffered from the curse of letting the Computer Be Your Friend.

Oct 20, 2005

Ye G-ds, not another idiotic antifeminist Harvard Professor.

Oh, no, I can see her eyes! The Romance Is GONE!

So that's all there is for men, huh? Paradise is nothing but an endless supply of vaginas and a really big scorecard?

This is another where do I even begin? moment. I've run into absolute morons like this before -- all men, of course -- who will state, long and loud, how that's what every man wants, and if you deny it, well, you're just lying to yourself about your true nature, and pretty much their universal solution to this arrangement is the recommendation that women trade sex for a ring (which, as many people have pointed out, is actually recommending that women should all be prostitutes.) Are there any other blatantly stupid generalizations that come out of this moron? Oh, right, the whole modesty thing; is he trying to say that women shouldn't sleep with men because after you've seen yourself screwing a "chick", why, the thrill would be gone.

I can just imagine what he'd think of seeing childbirth; I imagine it would be *whoosh*, Mr. Happy would vanish back into the body cavity so fast there'd be a thunderbolt, and then nothing could get him out except going down to the quad and seducing another freshman (or, as is more likely, going to the local and spending the afternood whining about "my wife doesn't understaaaaaand me." Oh, your wife understands you all right; that's why she hired that PI to follow you around.)

Christ, spare me. I presume that the ideal world for this guy is that women wear burkas and that people are issued blackout curtains when they get their marriage licenses so the man wouldn't "lose romance" by seeing himself inside his sex partner. Being present at childbirth is, of course, right out, and a man who even stayed in the hospital while his lover hatched his latest recombinant DNA experiment would be arrested and fined US$500 for not doing the traditional "go down to the corner bar and watch The Game! while waiting for the blessed event™ to happen."

Aaarrgh. I've got an even better idea. And it starts with seeking therapy. It may be a bummer that you never had a chance to sleep around, but, really, human beings hook up for reasons other than casual sex, no matter how wonderful the casual sex might be.

(annoying as hell article via Echidne,
red burka picture via Hugo Zoom,
refutation of this stupid "theory" provided by the best

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Christmas is coming early this year

Tom Delay's arrest warrant

(via The Editors)

Oct 19, 2005

Yes, I reworked annotations again

The changes are not published tonight, because it's an embarrassment that I've been running this code for the past 18 months sans documentation, but I finally got sick of my syndication formats just blatting forth a message of unformatted text and rewrote a lot of rss.c to pass the message bodies, almost unmodified (if I put a character with bit 0x80 in, all the feed verifiers do into a shrieking hissyfit about me having The! Nerve! to taint their input with a non-ascii character, so I still have to replace all those characters with a ?).

I have discovered that with xml formats, you can spend a lot of time pounding your head against the wall trying to figure out what the documentation means, because, unlike documentation which is written by people who know how to write documentation, people who write xml formats assume that their readers have nothing better to do with their time than read approximately 10,000 pages of prerequisite documents before reading the pitiful excuse for documentation that the format provides. The rss2 format is no exception; I only figured out how to pass unmodified content by the simple expedient of grabbing a typepad rss feed and using that document (and one of the RSS validators out there) as a reference implementation. I may not understand some of the esoterica of xml any better than I used to, but now my syndication code generates feeds that are technically readable.

This is probably G-d's way of telling me that I should not stay home sick tomorrow; when I'm sick, I can only vaguely get enough energy to play Civilization II, but when I start getting healthy I start writing code and crawling down to the basement to start whittling away at the big backlog of projects I want to do before I do the house.

The slowest table in the world

About 15 months ago, I bought a bunch of tiles from SCRAP, and mocked up a tabletop with some of them. I didn't have time to do any work aside from the mockup, so I carefully transferred the tiles onto a piece of hardboard and tucked it away in the attic until I got some spare time to finish the work.

I promptly forgot about it, and only remembered that the tiles were there when I occasionally would go up to retrieve something (or to close a window which had blown open -- the windows in the attic are not in what you would call good shape, and the ones on the south side of the house are starting to do antisocial things like shed panes of glass.) When I saw it, I would guiltily think "oh, right, I need to finish the table", vow to do something about this "this weekend", go back downstairs, and forget about the whole thing.

This summer, Russell decided that he was old enough to go upstairs and play in the attic, and as a result of this decision that attic became enough of a mess that whenever I had to go upstairs, I would come down vowing to sell the house and move to Canada (the move to Canada part is my ultimate intention, but I'd like to keep the house for a rental property anyways), and eventually the best got fed up with my whining and got together with both bears to clean it up. After a few rounds of tidying, my piles of projects became the messiest part of the attic and so I was asked to clean them up.

The tabletop (remember the tabletop? It's an article about the tabletop} was transferred down to the basement, where, after spending a couple of weeks precariously balanced on top of the storage bench, got glued onto a piece of 1/4 inch plywood. which then sat waiting for me to break down and buy some new 2x2 planking that I could use for tablelegs.

This last weekend, I finally put some more work into the slowest table in the world:

It's almost done. I need to put a skirt around the edge of the tabletop so that the edges of the tiles don't just hang out at the edges of the table, I need to sand the wooden parts so they don't have quite the same rustic look, and I probably need to grout the thing because there are some gaps between some of the tiles and I can just imagine the results of the pepsi syndrome on thin plywood.

This table comes from a wide variety of sources.

  • The tiles are from SCRAP.
  • The plywood under the tiles is from the Stupid Room.
  • The tabletop is attached to the table base via a couple of cleats that were originally part of the now-demised deck.
  • The legs, as previously mentioned, are new 2x2 stock from a local lumberyard.
  • and the apron is made from recycled pallets.

I cheated when I fastened the table together; the legs are glued to the apron, but I countersunk screws in to reinforce the joints, then hid them by plugging the holes with pieces of wooden dowel.

Perhaps I'll get the finishing touches onto the table before the heat death of the Universe, but until then it's sitting upstairs being used as a bedside table.

1 comment

Oct 18, 2005

Why, look, the Fitzgerald investigation is getting a little bit leaky now

There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin

So, why the leak? A little bit of prosecutorial strutting, or a gentle reminder that if you want to turn coat, you should do it now before the inditement bell rings?

(freshly leaked to No Quarter)

Nnnnnnnn…. *puke*

«Clinton Calls on Canada to Fight Terrorism»

Ooo-kay. I wasn't aware that Canada wasn't "fighting terrorism" in either meaning of the phrase. (The first meaning is actually fighting terrorism, of course, and the second meaning is "go along with crackpot ideas that the USA comes up with that don't actually reduce terrorism." Canada had the good sense to not take the radioactive potato that was "joining" the coalition of the unlawful that did the aggressive war against Iraq, but has been engaged, sporadically, in doing really stupid things at the request of the United States .) But that's not the thing that caused my eyebrows to go orbital.


Further down in this AP article it mentions where Clinton made this request. It was at a (gag) "motivational" conference in Toronto. And if that's not enough to cause the bile to rise and flow forth like a raging torrent, the motivational conference was called "The Power Within" and people paid US$335 to US$1100 to hear this speech.

Sure, sure, Clinton was a good president who managed to keep the United States afloat for eight years despite the drunken-sailor habits of the Evil Party, but this new tradition of a president leaving office only to become some sort of speechifying rent boy is undignified and unworthy of a person who was president of the United States.

Excuse me, I think I need to go and clean my eyes with a wirebrush now.

(link via The Guardian)

The joy of Microsoft Windows

A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I could do a cleanup on their Windows machine, because it was "running slowly" and they thought that they might have some spyware on the machine. Yes, I can do that, I said, bring it on down. And they did, and it sat there for about a week and a half. About 20 minutes ago, I pulled the machine out of the living room and connected it to the basement KVM switch, and turned it on. It booted up, only to present me with a machine that has an

1) Expired Norton Antivirus subscription.
Strike One!
2) Internet Explorer, and only Internet Explorer.
Strike Two!
3) Outlook as their mail client.
Strike Three!

There were so many viruses and spybots on the machine that all it could do is pop up little alertboxes saying it was trying to connect to the symantec-loves-the-cock domain and a dozen or so other equally enlightening 'bot relay hosts. My grand scheme was to do a virus scan on the offending box, but I suspect that the only way to do it would be to plug the hard drive into a Linux machine and run clamav and a whole family of spybot catchers to sweep the machine clean.

There are days when I'm very, very happy that my primary web server is running a version of Linux that is approximately 13 years old. Today is about a dozen of them all combined into one.


A blast from the past

White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly

Has it really been 32 years since Spiro Agnew resigned? My, my, my, how time flies when you aren't paying attention.

(link via Connect Left)

How to distract a screaming baby

Last night, Russell and the best went out to do a few errands. Since I'm sick, I couldn't go, so Silas had to stay at home to keep me company.

He didn't like that plan. So we went downstairs and built what would normally be the most trivial project of all time -- a quick and dirty paper towel roll holder from palletwood and a SCRAPpy wooden dowel.

It's hard work cutting and gluing four pieces of wood.

Fun with drafting software

What do I do when I'm too sick to either work or complain about politics? Well, the current monkey on my back is "I want to build a summer camp", and one of the prerequisites for doing such a thing is to actually make some plans, since the traditional orcish scheme of "build it and make things up as I go" doesn't scale well when you're talking about projects that involve thousands of dollars worth of wood products.

Good drafting programs cost a stack of money, and the little trialware versions are pretty severely crippled to stop you from using their collections of clipart furniture for free. It's a fair deal; They won't let me print my floorplans, and I won't use their software to make the blueprints. But screen captures work.

Compared to some of the really tiny houses out there, this is a mansion. But it's ~97 m^2 (1040 ft^2) of mansion (plus however much basement I'd want; it needs some basement for utilities, and if you're going to carve out some basement, you might as well carve out the entire area that the house covers.) When a basement is included, the house bloats up to a whopping 145 m^2, which takes it out of the summer camp category into the full-time house category.

When the best and I first moved up to Portland, we lived in a 75 m^2 3-bedroom flat for a couple of years immediately prior to moving into the 334 m^2 Chateau Chaos, so we've got some experience with living in small spaces. This house doesn't provide much more in the way of rooms, but I've opened up the downstairs by coalescing the living spaces into one big 4.8m x 6m common room, and the upper floor by putting a ~2m wide transverse corridor with windows at each end. Combine this with the basement and the house has three separate areas for people (of various sizes) to play in without much interference from people in the other rooms.

My big concession to modern house design is putting two bathrooms into the house; a full bath with detached tub on the ground floor and a toilet and washbasin on the second floor (and with a full basement, shoot, I could put a toilet in the basement and then all we'd need is a 200 m^2 garage to fit right into the suburbs!)

I've still not decided about what the roof should look like. If I went towards a modernist flat (and, after a few years of dealing with winter snowfalls, leaky) roof, I could put a deck (with a spyglass and parrot) on the roof, and if I went towards a steeply peaked roof, I could put in a cross-gable roof which would leave most of the bedrooms as usable space (at the expense of making the upstairs bathroom kind of cramped.)

Why such a small summer house? Well, there are a couple of reasons; first, it's a summer house and I expect that people would want to spend a lot of time outside (when I was a kid, my family went up to my grandfather's summer camp in Maine every summer, and the lure of the outdoors kept me outside except when it was pouring down rain, and even then I could be found outside in the little toolshed working on disarraying my grandfather's lifetime collection of camp tools), and secondly, and more sneakly, Chateau Chaos has a derelict two-car garage that's 6 x 8 m; it's not being used for anything now, except as a lumber drying shed, but with some care to avoid triggering a reassessment, I could convert it into a slightly shrunken version of this cottage and increase the resale value of our holdings in the American Imperium.


Oct 17, 2005

Is it just me?

Watching the B*sh Junta messily unravel under the slow fires of the treason investigation, the pitiful response to hurricane Katrina, and the 30 or so other corruption scandals makes me think that it's like being a bystander after a couple of clown cars had a head-on collision; It's amazing just how many bodies the paramedics are bringing out of the wreckage.


The Cutest babies in the Whole Wide World

It's monday, I'm home from work with the flu, and it's been a while since I've done a baby picture dump.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Hanna Andersson outlet store in deepest Clackamas County, and while waiting for the best to finish up, the bears galloped up and down the sidewalk while I sat on the ground and took pictures.

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Oct 16, 2005

No admirals were harmed during the construction of this cabinet

Last week, I built a little shelf in the basement, and the pictures I took of the shelf showed a haphazard pile of drawers that were yanked out of the little kitchenette in the stupid room. After they sat there for a few days, I decided that it would be a good plan to go and actually build them into a new chest of drawers.

This is not one of my better projects. For one thing, starting a project by stacking the drawers on their side on a couple of strips of plywood, then nailing the slides in between them and using that side as a template for the other side can lead to hilarity when you screw up the measurements and end up with one opening being too narrow for the drawer (there are, as you can see, four drawers -- the only measurement which is the same for these drawers is their width; they are all slightly different lengths and not-so-slightly different heights. And then, after all this, if you fit the drawers in tightly when you're nailing the sides onto the bottom and top, they end up fitting rather tightly -- in this case, the top and the bottom drawers are very difficult to open. They might fit better when I wax the slides, but I doubt it because the, ahem, homemade splendor of the drawers ensures that the sides are not quite parallel and they bind when you close them all the way.

The irregular alignment of the drawer fronts is how they were made, and, fortunately, not my problem. The drawers, in case you're wondering, were made from 1/4th inch plywood (some of the fronts are 1/2 inch plywood, but others are two layers or 1/4th inch plywood nailed together. The cheerful red paint is a defensive measure so I can pretend that the drawers are not as, um, wonderful as they are.)

But they do fill a useful purpose; they allow me to store things like extension cords, soldering irons, and other tools that are too big to fit into the toolbox. And the hard-to-open drawers are, happily, very hard for small bears to open. And this chest of drawers also helps me recycle more of the stupid room and leftover odds and ends from pallets.

And it gives me a shining example of how not to build things. It's "pour encourager les autres" without having to actually kill anything.

Arts and Crafts? I don’t think so, Cisco!

pluck your eyes out, Martha, it's the invasion of the postmodernists!

Due to being insufficiently pious in earlier lives, I find myself cursed with an increasingly strong obsession that tells me that I! Must! Built! A! House! From! Scratch! before I die (or get too old to manhandle 2x10 girders up to the second story of a house.) One of the spinoffs of this obsession is that I occasionally buy modern design magazines so I can get some idea of how I'm going to lay out and decorate the inside of the so-far-hypothetical maison des rves idiots (don't laugh; occasionally you can find magazines that actually show the interior of the house instead of the huge heaps of expensive junk that the self-proclaimed architecture writers feel is necessary to show that a house is indeed of a superior design. It's the same sort of logic that leads to the syndrome where you'll find, tucked away in the very best neighborhoods, houses that are so ugly and awkward that you have trouble even starting to find something that you can point at to say "look, that feature just makes no sense on a house like this.")

But, of course, for a design magazines to make a living, it's got to sell a lot of advertising. And some of the magazines aren't very particular about the advertising as long as they can fill up column inches with revenue-generating copy.

Take this (admittedly terrible) scanned image that I pulled out of a two page ad at the start of an (unnamed, sorry) magazine that's aimed at Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, Prairie Style, and fellow traveller design schools. The ad copy around this image prominently mentions Arts & Crafts and goes on for several paragraphs about the way fine furniture was made before my grandparents came along and spoiled the fun. But then they show this picture.

I'm sure that there are A&C counters that have obelisk-style legs. And I'm sure that there are A&C counters that have ornamental wooden braces to help support the edges of the countertop. And I'm sure that, at least once in a fever dream, Morris put tiny decorative braces around the top of a table (and then took a hatchet to the table the next morning when he saw what it looked like in full light.) But to put ALL OF THEM on the same counter?

It's something. It's not Arts & Crafts, but it's something. It's sort of like something Richardson would have done if he'd lived to be 140 years old and was able to participate in a Romanesque backlash against the modernist curse of the Prairie Style. This counter is noisy, it's cluttered, and it's sloppily modern (the countertop looks like it's either a big slab of Barre granite or a chunk of one of those countertop plastics) in a way that does not give any credit to any of the designs that it sloppily takes from.

It might be happy in a Gehry building or one of those "too much money to afford to hire a good architect" McMansions, but you'd need to be Oscar Wilde to get away with putting it into your bungalow.

Oct 15, 2005

Vicious Inhuman predator picture of the day

This little hunting spider had just netted and poisoned a yellowjacket, and was about to drag the body into the pantry so it could have a little snack before bedtime.

Hello, Karl! Ready to talk to the Grand Jury?

Now if they could only do the same for the Hate Amendment

Judge razes Measure 37 land law is what the headline in the Oregonian and the world's worst newpaper website says. Good. And not for the traditional reason that zoning is a good idea, but because measure 37 is a particularly creepy way of enriching rentiers while telling those of us who had the fortune to not come in before Tom McCall (An, ahem, Republican, from back in the days when the Evil Party still had some beliefs other than Bowb your Buddy!) got land use laws passed that we're screwed.

If the citizens of the state of Oregon, which is a magnificently pretty state with plenty of rich agricultural land, wish to write all of this off and become some sort of sick cross between Southern California and northern New Jersey, I'm certainly not going to spend much effort in fighting it; when gasoline gets up to US$6.00/gallon, those people who live in their little ranchettes located conveniently 60 miles (US$72 roundtrip in your spiffy new H2! *kiss kiss*) away from the nearest grocery store will find that the New! Improved! No Zoning for You! cesspool that is Oregon has become a somewhat less appealing place to live. But if you're going to legislate zoning away, it's discrimination to not allow every Tom, Dick, and Harry to rent a power shovel and wreck the property values for everyone else in their neighborhood.

Now, I know that the people who run Oregonians in Action won't be really happy unless they can get droit de seignor written into the Oregon constitution, but perhaps it's time they go back to Grover Norquist and get him to write a no more icky zoning! law that applies to hoi polloi instead of just the members of the ancien regime.


Oct 14, 2005

I guess it’s time to start warming up the old pardon signing machine.

Rove's defense team asserts that President Bush's deputy chief of staff has not committed a crime but nevertheless anticipates that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald could find a way to bring charges in the next two weeks, the source said

I don't really think there's any way that the Coward in Chief would let his brain go wifting away in the long arms of the law when his family has a tradition of pardoning everyone who might possibly turn coat and help the law nail a family member, so I expect that as soon as the charges are filed a presidential pardon will materialize, as if by magic, out of the clear blue sky.

What I waiting for is to see how the B*sh junta will try to spin those pardons, given that they aren't the traditional presidential pardon party done right as the retiring president bolts for the last bus to Union Station on the 19th of January. The "We're the pro-treason party!" approach might not work too well, given that there are a lot of Evil Party loyalists who happen to work for parts of the government where being betrayed to the enemy might be personally dangerous instead of "merely" screwing over your hand-recruited collaborators and counterspies. (There are some branches of the government, like, oh, the National Guard, the Army and every other branch of the US military that's had soldiers dropped into the Splendid Little War™ in Iraq, where the argument could be made that this has already happened, but that's a polite discussion for another time.)

(link via Kevin Drum)

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

It's canning season at Chateau Chaos, and anything that doesn't run fast enough is at risk of becoming a tasty treat for the long winter months.

A view through one of our windows

It was foggy for a long time this morning, and all of the spiderwebs that are festooned around the house (imagine the results of an arachnid toilet-papering raid) were covered with little drops of water. The big spider by the stairs weaves webs that are particularly impressive even when they're dry, and the latest web didn't disappoint when covered with the morning dew.

We'd been wondering if a finch had gotten the spider, since we hadn't seen much of it yesterday, but the appearance of this sparkling new web was a pretty good indication that the spider was at home, When I went outside to try to take a picture of the web from outside (a miserable failure, in case you were wondering), there was the spider, sitting crouched in a corner of the windowframe, glaring at me.

This spider does not want to be your friend.

Notice that she's got one leg hooked on to one of the struts of the web? She doesn't want to miss a meal if it should drop by while she's out of the office.

1 comment

Snapshots from the past

The storm surge from hurricane Katrina would have submerged the trolley wire in this picture, if not for the teeny detail that the Gulfport & Mississippi Coast Traction Company was busified in 1926. Oddly enough, the replacement busses still operate as CTA route #34 (Biloxi Pass Road) between Gulfport and Biloxi, and #5 (a dial-a-ride service?) between Gulfport and Pass Christian.

(image via Janet Wright)

Oct 13, 2005

I wonder where this will end up?

And, just as a wild guess, I expect that this subsidiary will "save money" by not hiring any MOW crews or dispatchers, but will instead outsource this work to some reliable government contractor who just so happens to be a major contributer to the Evil Party.

It will be like Railtrack on steroids, and Amtrak will end up having to pay US$10 billion dollars a year to run their Acela trains at 30mph over rotting ties sinking into the mud. But Halliburton the talented railroad outsourcing organization will be awarding million-dollar bonuses to their current and retired executives, so it will be a fortunate wind after all.

(via Suburban Guerrilla)

Oh, the joy of html

I am beginning to develop a certain lasting loathing for weblogs. In particular, I'm developing a loathing for weblogs templates that reduce the size of all of the fonts on the page. Why? As a general rule, every web browser you might find (with the notable exception of browsers like lynx and its thousand young, which are text-based and thus don't have font sizes) comes with a handy preferences or options screen, which allows you to set the font size to a size that is comfortable for you to read.

"comfortable for you to read", that is, until you run into a weblog (and that would be all of them) where the very first stylesheet directive tells the browser to make the font one, two, or three sizes smaller. So, rather than reading the text at the size you might want, you read a teeny-tiny font that requires interrogation lights to read! It's particularly maddening when the template sets the font color, so you have teeny fonts that blend with the background, which is even more useful.

One solution, of course, is to jack up the size of the default font to much larger than you'd ever want to read, but that has the side effect of making the web pages that don't play the evil font game sound like B.Q.Gumby doing flower arrangement. Another solution is to (at least if you use a web browser that supports it -- powerwolf does, but Microsoft's big pile of security violations does not) is to set a minimum font size so that no matter how frantically the weblog templates try to compress the standard page font down to 1/2 pixel heights, they end up staying at the level you want to read. But that has the side-effect of blowing away the occasional cute css game where you want to make footnotes teeny-tiny, or set up a pretent official guide entry for one of your model railroads.

I'd say "just say no", but, alas, readable fonts are one of those usability things that nobody cares about. Perhaps it's time to write a moondonkey plugin that disables font size changes at the <div> or <body> level.

I'll do this in my copious free time, sometime after the heat death of the universe.


Everything turns into tape, softly and suddenly

I'm rewriting, with bold chainsaw and welding torch, a little program for the Linux distribution at work, and as part of it I needed to #define a flag bit to tell when some device is a tape drive or not. So what to call it?

I know!


Dear lord, that post is over a decade old. Kill me now.

(hat tip to M. Gooley)


Click here to lose your religion, free of charge!

("click here", is, of course, an abomination before G-d. How convenient.)

(via Feministe)

Oct 12, 2005

It’s a pipe dream, but it’s a very nice pipe dream.

Vermont now has their very own successionist movement. Now, if the Evil Party stays in control, I could see the Federal Government actually pushing for this to happen as well, because

  1. Howard Dean may have been tucked away into the DNC, but he's still a fairly formidable force that the Evil Party is actively trying to neutralize. If Vermont left the Empire, then they could fabricate a bill to forbid Vermonters from holding public office because they are sympathetic to a rebel state.
  2. Civil Unions.

You might end up with the entire Northeast splitting off, but, hey, they're all Democrats and "moderate" Republicans, and getting rid of them will make it easier for the Evil Party to control the rest of the country.

I fully expect that this will happen the day after I've convinced the best that it's a good idea to GTFOOD, and have sent off the CDN$4,000 for migrant visas to you know where.

Attention Evil Party syncophants!

If you want ethnic purity by evicting pesky liberal states, just send me money now and I'll start my magical process to make Vermont leave the Empire.

(via City in the Trees)

Oct 11, 2005

Life on the river (#7)

Two racing shells sit in the west channel of the Willamette River while their crews listen to instructions from their coach. Picture taken with my Pentax *istDS from inside the #9 bus as it crossed the Ross Island Bridge going eastbound towards the Milwaukie & Powell street stop.

Come out Come out wherever you are!

Today is National Coming Out Day!

(I'm bisexual, so NCOD applies to me too. If you didn't know this already, well, that's what National Coming Out Day is for.)

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

The Terror! Alert! ™! in NYC last week? To my intense (non)surprise, it turns out to be what the professionals call a pack of lies.

Oct 10, 2005

Another day, another set of clouds

ripply clouds

When I walked out of work at 5:30pm to catch my bus home, the clouds over East Portland were all piled up like ripply water. A few pictures later, I was on my way home to Chateau Chaos, where I forgot about the pictures until a few minutes ago.

Shut up, okay? Just shut up.

Once again, the Chamberlain wing of the Democratic Party has pulled a recipe for appeasing yourself to better fitness out of their ass and is waving it around, trying to bully the Democratic Party into becoming more like the Evil Party as a recipe for enduring electoral success.

Yes, I said electoral success; apparently the last dozen times that the Stupid Party has done this sort of craven capitulation to the Evil Party has not convinced the idiot "centrists" that selling out your principles in an attempt to woo the damned is not likely to succeed. Good liberals have asked Evil Party supporters what the Stupid Party would have to do to win their votes, and the universal answer appears to be "Become a clone of the Evil Party and we might consider it. Oh, and a few show trials and purges would be nice, too, so can you put that in the evening's entertainment?"

Now that's a compelling argument right there. But instead of pointing and laughing at the pathetic Evil Party followers, the appeasement wing says "they're right! The Democrats can't win because we're too liberal!" and drags out their usual crop of arguments about why it's a good idea to jettison minorities, gay people, poor people, then environment, essential civil liberties, and the belief in a well-run government. And then another 2-5% of the Democratic Party silently slices itself off and tacks off in another direction.

Remember that the Democratic candidate actually won the presidential election (both electoral and popular vote. The coup that installed Maximum Leader Genius doesn't change that) in 2000. But by the time 2004 came around, the Democratic candidate lost the popular vote by between 2 and 3 million people (I'm going to be charitable and assume that a million of those votes were because of vote fraud) and didn't even bother to contest the 10,000 lucky coincidences that happened in the Evil Party clown car of corruption that is the state of Ohio.

Now, nowhere in there did I see the Stupid Party becoming any more liberal. I did see them cravenly voting for the Evil Party tax cuts (which converted -- overnight -- the Clinton era tax surpluses to the current US$400-500 billion dollars a year deficits), the unprovoked aggressive war against Iraq (and we know how much of a success that has been), and don't forget rolling over and approving the crop of completely unqualified partisan hacks that the Evil Party has been packing the US court system with.

The Evil Party followers have noticed this, of course, so that's why they're calling for purges before the Democratic Party can be considered to be a contender for their pathetic votes. I will point out that none of these Evil Party followers would ever turn coat against Uncle Sugar (praise him from which all corporate welfare flows!), so any comment that I might make about the futility of these purges is meaningless, but a party that won't even expel, with force and malice, a human scum like Zell Miller from the party rolls is not a party that's going to successfully expel such (snicker) liberals such as Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton from the party.

I'm a Socialist; my only affiliation with the Democratic Party these days is that they're not likely to wreck the United States (a wreck which, even if I do manage to convince my family that we need to GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE and move to someplace where torture isn't a government policy!, would put a pretty severe crimp in my plans to live to a ripe old age and leave a handsome estate to my children), and every time the Chamberlain branch of the party is able to produce a piece of crap that calls for appeasement, appeasment, appeasement, and more appeasement, my connections with the Democratic Party become more tenuous. The appeasement branch of the party is a bunch of losers; why should I spend my money paying for high-priced consultants who will lose?

No, no, that's not my plan at all. 2006 is coming up really soon now, and the Democratic Party has the ongoing war crimes in Iraq, the ongoing torture atrocities, the ongoing looting of the treasury, and the clown car wreck which is the ongoing series of investigations of Evil Party malfeasance. If the appeasement branch of the Democratic Party can be made to STFU and let the adults run the next set of campaigns, it's possible that the ongoing collapse of the Democratic Party might be arrested by winning back a majority in the House and/or the Senate. And once they've done that, well, then it's possible that they'll deserve my campaign and electoral contributions again.

But not now. So just shut up about which liberal group the third way idiots want to sell out today, and try actually winning an election for a change.

(Rox Populi refereed the latest round of dumping chum into the Evil Party waters, with the expected results.)

Oct 09, 2005

Trolley picture of the day

Tri-Met SD600 #206, southbound at the Broadway Bridge

Tri-Met SD-600 #206 leads a southbound train under the Broadway Bridge on the Interstate trolley line at ~6pm today. It will be pretty slow going through downtown Portland after the train reaches the Rose Quarter stop, so the riders are enjoying the last bit of (relatively) high-speed running on this trip.

Galloping Bears

Galloping Russell!
Russell runs across the bridge at the north end of the Eastbank Esplanade.

A Portland Sunset with one conveniently placed cloud

We went out walking on the Eastbank Esplanade close to sunset, and about halfway through our walk the sun went behind the single cloud that was visible in the sky.

Vicious inhuman predator picture(s) of the day.

This afternoon, while I was puttering around inside the house, Russell suddenly called out, with great excitement, that a BIG SPIDER WAS EATING A LITTLE SPIDER. The best followed up with a "you need to come down and bring your camera right now!".

So I grabbed my camera and went downstairs. Russell and Silas were standing on the window seat, watching, with great fascination, as the biggest orb spider I've ever seen in my life killed, wrapped up, and sucked the guts out of what looked like it might have been a hornet or yellowjacket. After gaping at this silver-dollar sized arachnid for a minute or two, I pulled out the telephoto lens and went outside to try and take a picture or two.

After taking a few pictures from outside, I went back into the house to try and get a better shot through the window. While I was in the throes of trying to focus in on this spider (it may be huge, but it's also close, and both the Pentax and the Mk 1 eyeball autofocus were having a devil of a time getting the right focus), a big beetle flew into the web and, quicker than you could say Jack Robinson, was seized, poisoned, and wrapped up like a little christmas present for a midnight snack.


The joy of technology

One of our neighbors has got a new electric leaf blower, which he appears to be very proud of and wishes to use at every opportunity. This afternoon, he spent 45 minutes carefully blowing leaves off his front lawn, with the stupid little leaf blower going WHIRRRRRRRRRRRR for the entire time.

It might have been acceptable if his front lawn was larger than 8x40. But, then again, maybe it wouldn't have been; during the time we were watching the epic quest of man+machine versus tree leaves we saw him bend down at least twice to pick up leaves by hand, and he had to kick some leaves that weren't impressed with the leaf blower, even when the nozzle was put approximately 3 inches away from them.

If he'd raked the lawn by hand, it would have taken him approximately 45 seconds. And he wouldn't have had to "enjoy" the WHIRRR of the leafblower.

But where's the sport in that?


Supertrivial project of the day

There is a bouncy spot in our kitchen floor (where there used to be a dumbwaiter or trash chute, or trapdoor) which some previous owner braced with a couple of 4x4 columns. A third column was put in so the hot water heater could be strapped to it, and a couple of years ago I used them as a frame for some pegboard so I could get my tools up off the floor. It wasn't really enough; I needed to have a surface where I could mount some other tools (a pencil sharpener, the small miter saw, and a knife sharpener) and set out tools that I was using but didn't want to clutter up my main workbench with.

Today we filled in that shelf-sized empty spot with a shelf made from pallet wood; 4 pieces of 2x4, 2 pieces of 1x3, and a couple of pieces of plywood, all from pallets that I dragged home from work. We were awake early this morning, so the bears and I started assembling the shelf at ~9:30am and had it finished by a little bit after noon. (the drawers under it are not part of the shelf [yet!] but are stacked their waiting for me to find a use for them. In case you're wondering, those drawers are out of the stupid room, and have migrated down to the basement to see if I can reuse them for something else later on.


Oct 08, 2005

The bagman in action

New Chief Justice John Roberts stepped forward Wednesday as an aggressive defender of federal authority to block doctor-assisted suicide

Remember, there are no inalienable rights in Imperial America, and the B*sh junta's hand-picked mouthpieces will make absolutely sure that nobody will be allowed to entertain any illusions about it. Oh, yeah, and the right to abortions? They're gone, baby; being able to use federal authority to block things the religious right finds personally objectionable means that repealing Roe v. Wade means the end of legal abortions everywhere in this benighted country.

And just think how easy it will be to strip those pesky rights away when the Coward in Chief has appointed his second bagman to the USSC, giving him four "justices" who would not vote to convict even if he dismembered and ate a baby in the witness box.

Um, that’s a very nice argument, but have you ever actually heard a tornado go by?

The weblog pre$$titutes, in the middle of a discussion about how bad poll numbers don't mean the end of the B*sh junta, lunges off into unsupported bullshit land by claiming that the reason that people say that tornados sound like freight trains is because the media has, ahem, "ingrained it in our heads".

The only reason, eh?

I've got another one: Perhaps people say that a tornado sounds like a freight train is because it does? Sure, it also sounds like a fully spooled up jet engine, or G-d's own vacumn cleaner, but there are still a lot of railroads in tornado alley, and not too many people live near the hot end of airports.

"jet engine, rocket, blast-off, thunder, (non-freight)train, fireworks, explosion, roar" ? These are yesbut descriptions; Thunder, fireworks, and explosions sound nothing like a tornado. Saying something is a roar says nothing whatsoever about the type of sound; the roaring of an accelerating automobile engine sounds nothing like the roar of a freight train (or, ahem, a tornado) coming by.

I grew up in the Midwest, so I have some tiny experience with the sound of tornados (I grew up in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, which is at the bottom of the Mississippi River gorge. The one tornado I definitely heard was one that skipped off the top of the bluffs on the Wisconsin side of the gorge and sailed away towards Minnesota. I think it sounded more like a jet, but that's because I'm a trainspotter and freight trains, as a general rule, don't fly by several hundred feet overhead. If it had touched down, I certainly wouldn't have said it sounded like a freight train, because the sound of exploding houses would have cluttered up the soundtrack. But that's a different story that, fortunately, I've never had to live through.)

Listen to a freight train. Listen to a jet angine.

Now listen to a tornado.

Toot, toot!

(via Hullabaloo)

Oct 07, 2005

Weblog redesign fun

After recovering a bunch of deleted photos this week, I had to go through and see which photos were actually real photos and not either (a) moonquail droppings or (b) truncated or otherwise mangled photos. A bunch of the mangled photos turned out to be truncated about 4-600 lines down into the image, leaving me with a bunch of thin strips 3000 pixels wide. As I was cropping these, I though "hey, some of these would look good as header images on TSFR."

Idle hands are the devil's playthings, as you can see (at least you can see with IE and moonquail; I don't know how Safari or traditional netscape deal with <div> elements with embedded backgrounds.)

And now I begin to wonder if I should play games with shuffling the order of the columns around, too.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™ – Trivial Project Of The Day edition

When I got home from work tonight, I asked Silas what he thought Dust Mite should be doing when I took the weekly picture. He said that Dust Mite needed a tair. We didn’t have one, so I made one.

Chair1 Chair2

This chair is not exactly what you’d call fine furniture. I scrounged pieces out of my scrapbin and glued them together, with a few nails to peg the pieces together until the glue dried enough to stick everything together. It is made from finish plywood and maple from The Joinery, softwood samples from SCRAP, and wood salvaged from ripping apart an old spicerack that the best used to use in the kitchen in her apartment in NYC before she had a one night stand go terribly wrong.

Total construction time? About 4 hours, including 3 hours set up in clamps waiting for the glue to dry.

Why is the chair so short and stout? Well, Dust Mites don’t have tremendously long legs, so they don’t like climbing up onto tall chairs, and they don’t have much in the waist department, so they don’t so much sit on a chair as recline on it.


Dust Mite, reclining in the lap of luxury.


Sneaky software bug

At work, there's a little piece of code that walks /dev, looking for interesting devices that it can build softlinks to. It works in a pretty straightforward manner:

     function dig(directory d):
         foreach (de in d)
             if (about = stat(d+"/"+de))
                 if (isachardev(about) || isablockdev(about))
                     dosomethingfunwith(d+"/"+de, about);
                 else if (isadir(about))

Pretty simple and bugfree, right? Well, um, no. On modern Linuxes, there are symbolic links /dev/stdin, /dev/stdout, /dev/stderr, all of which are symlinked to stdin/stdout/stderr of the currently running process. Normally those are the tty that the process is attached to, or /dev/null if the process is running in a daemon, but there are, um, certain times when they are attached somewhere else.

One of those certain times is when you're running the process as part of the linux hotplug architecture (the linked page is about Debian GNU/Linux, but the kernel part of the hotplug code is in the baseline kernel and is thus found on every Linux distribution that uses at least a 2.4 kernel.) It has an architecture where you can tell the kernel the name of a userland callback program to run whenever a hotplug event happens, at which point the kernel will run the program a few times. BUT, when it runs it doesn't seem to actually set up a stdin/stdout/stderr for that program, and, as I discovered with the version of the Linux kernel we used today, stdout is set to /dev.

So. dig("/dev") goes strolling through /dev, looking for interesting things. It finds /dev/stdout (->/dev), which, thanks to the magic of stat(), is a (drum roll) directory. dig("/dev/stdout") goes strolling through /dev/stdout, looking for interesting things. It finds /dev/stdout/stdout (->/dev), which, thanks to the magic of stat(), is a (drum roll) directory. dig("/dev/stdout/stdout") goes strolling through ....

And this goes on and on and on, at full speed, until memory fills up and the machine either (a) goes on a process killing spree or (b) just falls over dead. What's the solution? Replace the stat() call with lstat(), because lstat() doesn't follow symlinks. This gives you back an amazing number of cpu cycles, which you can then waste on programs that actually do something useful for your customers.

More intelligent design for the english lit world.

Now that the previous pretender to the crown has been laid to rest, another kookoohead has proposed a new nobleman as the person who actually wrote Shakespeare's plays. This fellow really doesn't have very much going for him, aside from having a Sir in front of his name, but there's a certain subset of the educated world that, because of too much exposure to royalist twaddle at an impressionable age, just can't believe that the best english-language playwright of all time was some sort of jumped up middle class merchant instead of some perfumed lord with a title and an inheritance.

I don't pay much attention to the anyone-but-the-merchant! crowd (one of the advantages of growing up one generation away from farmers and millworkers, all of which were well educated and aware of the world, thank you very much, is that any claim that middle class writers are nothing more than uneducated simpletons is treated with the utter contempt it deserves), but of the, what, 12 or so people who've been announced as "the person who actually wrote Shakespeare's plays!™", all but one of them (was C. Marlowe ever a serious contender in this game?) have the necessary title and inheritance to fulfill the neeeed for an upper class twit for the abtm! to look up to.

It's creation science writ small; insecure people who think that because they can't do something that means that it takes a higher power to do it. Can't program your VCR? G-d must have done it. Can't write spectacularly beautiful plays and poems? An upper class twit (preferably one who has no works published under his own name) is obviously the one who's done it.

G-d help us if they ever figure out that Ben Jonson started out as a bricklayer.

(via Pharyngula;
you can also find more than you ever wanted to know about the authorship debate at Shakespeare Authorship

Oct 06, 2005

Studious Bears

We finally made it back to Russell Street BBQ this week, and, instead of it being a fairly quiet evening in the restaurant it turned out to be hideously busy as approximately a quarter of the city of Portland swarmed in to get their long-delayed Russell Street BBQ fix. We had to wait quite a while for our food, and to pass the time I gave the bears pencils and paper to draw on. Which they did, successfully avoiding baby boredom (and the subsequent reign of terror that would have been punctuated by the Russell Street BBQ staff hurtling us out on our ears) until our BBQ and their Macaroni and Cheese (yes, these bears will happily wolf down sushi, but BBQ? No way!) arrived and were slurped into our BBQ-deprived maws.


Household vermin picture of the day

This daddylonglegs (not a spider; look where the legs join the body) wandered into our kitchen tonight and was strolling along the hideous pretend marble formica kitchen counters when I limbered up the telephoto lens and started shooting at it.

While I was taking pictures, the clumsy thing fell into our sink, and spent about five minutes trying to get out before I took mercy on it and scooped it up with a fork and dropped it onto the counter again. I expect that, given the larger household vermin that we have in our house, that it will meet a feline doom later tonight, but until then it can have its 15 minutes of fame.

1 comment

What an amazing coincidence

That warnings about a possible Iraq-linked Al Queda attack on NYC subways should happen within 12 hours after Maximum Leader Genius gives a scary speech, and within 6 hours after Karl Rove goes to the grand jury to testify one more time. I'm sure this is not like all the other times when a threat has been waved around with an explicit The Coward in Chief is the only one that can save you now! theme, only to vanish when the {election|investigation|drop in ratings} is safely over and done with, but it's still a very lucky coincidence that such a detailed threat should be discovered right after the Coward in Chief gives a speech about it.

Quick geography quiz!

Which of these countries is more civilized?
Canada The United States

The RED areas on each map are where same-sex marriage or "civil unions" are legal in that country. The ORANGE areas are where they might not be legal, but there are no laws against them. The BLACK areas are where a state has passed a hate amendment (GREY is where the amendments are on the ballot or going up for a second reading), and WHITE is where they simply have Nuremberg laws that forbid recognition of same-sex marriages. (I don't include the states of Alaska and Hawaii, but both of them have already damned themselves by passing hate amendments.)

Canada doesn't have this disgusting patchwork of hate laws and hate amendments because the federal government legalized same-sex marriage at the federal level three months ago. The federal government in the United States is not, um, anywhere nearly as likely to propose or pass laws providing essential human rights to the gay subjects of the idiot king.

And, in case you're asking, no, I've not yet gotten my get out of hell free card. But I'm working on it.

(Tip of the hat to Timbre of a TimeFree Mind.)

Modern architecture gone terribly wrong.

One of the arguments that fans of modern architecture use is that "traditional" (and by traditional, they almost invariably mean "victorian") architecture is too cluttered, too ugly, too busy, and just plain boring (the last is somewhat amusing, because many of the designs they like are rectangular boxes, which have to be saved from tedium by working the building surfaces with color or designs.) These are compelling arguments -- I am easily seduced by good modern architecture, but there are times when I suspect that some "modern" architects are trying, successfully, to make fools out of the class of people who have too much money to hire an architect who knows what they're doing.

Exhibit A (from James Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month):
laughing *all* the way to the bank

Despite appearances, I have not proven the existance of extraterrestrial intelligence by publishing a snapshot of an barkingly ugly modern building that has just had a spaceship crash into it. No, this is a Frank Gehry building, and it was built that way.

The hardest thing about critising this terrible piece of architecture is trying to figure out where to start. As far as I can tell, there is nothing going for this building, from the repellently boring design of the brick box that is the main building (I've seen Walmart stores that are more attractive than this) to the existance of the Gehry-trademark wavy bits of metal that are festooned around and through the brick box. And, of course, as befits the form-a-long-ways-before-function tendency of modern architecture to place square boxes into environments where they don't fit, it's got the traditional flat roof so the drip buckets in the janitor's closet won't go to waste when the snow starts to melt in the spring, and the snow will be melting in the spring because this building is in Cleveland, Ohio, where it snows in the winter.

And the windows don't open. I can understand why they'd do this, because if I was forced to study or work in a building like this, an openable window would be an almost irresistable temptation to throw myself out of it just to escape the hideous building.


Oct 05, 2005

A dubious advantage of digital photography

Saved from a pauper's grave!

A few days ago, we discovered that a large collection of digital photos from the last three months had gotten composted. If I was using film, that would be it; no negatives means I'd have to dig through whereever the city of Portland dumps its trash to recover the silly things. But, fortunately, these are digital images, and even though they were nowhere to be found on my fileserver, they'd passed, like a particularly lumpy meal, through the innards of a Windows machine.

Yes, I'd deleted them from the windows machine. But, fortunately for me, since I had not yet gone and blown away Windows and put a copy of Unix (linux, freebsd, netbsd, MacOS 10 -- it doesn't matter, since none of them have good undelete capacities) on the box, it was still running windows.

And you can get undelete programs for windows. Some of them are even free (which was good, because after spending a few hours downloading "demo mode" copies of the commercial software and discovering that each and every one of these demo mode programs would only recover files up to a whopping 64k (and how many files on a windows box would be less than 64k? I believe the number you are looking for is ZERO. HTH!) bytes long, I had decided it would be a cold day in hell before I forked out US$50 for a program that I couldn't even verify as working before paying for), so I logged into the windows box as root, set the moondingo cache to 0 bytes long, and cranked up one of the freeware undelete programs.

Which has been running for the last 72 hours (12gb disk + freeware == as slow as moral values in the Republican Party), and has successfully picked up about 1500 images (with around 900 being real images and not just jpeg debris piled into a heap and called a .jpg) A good reason to use digital? Yes (the jpeg compressor in my Pentax *istDS is claimed to be inferior to the jpeg compressor in the equivalent Nikon and Canon SLRs, but most of my pictures are immediately shovelled onto the web, where "image quality" is but a dim memory -- I can take some small comfort in hosting my own images and not having to subject them to the tender mercies of something like flickr Yahoo's image hosting service, so I can post easily accessable huge copies of my inferior jpegs -- and when I save them as jpegs, the data recovery software can easily [but not quickly] pick them up), and it's also a good reason to use Microsoft's Bigotware, as much as it pains me to say something good about a company that's in bed with bigots.

Eventually, I'm going to revert my home fileserver back to Linux (because Linux has an lvm disk subsystem that works, unlike the superscary FreeBSD one(s)) and then I can drop a 300gb disk in to /home and do netapp-style snapshots every half hour for the past 360 days and then I won't need the windows file recovery part of "digital being better than film", but in the mean time the sluglike operation of the data recovery program is a far happier thing to see than the back end of the Heiberg garbage truck taking my negatives away to a dark and desolate grave.

Oct 04, 2005

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

There's a strain of Asian avian influenza out there which quite a few medical authorities think has the potential of blowing up into a global pandemic, because it has the unpleasant feature of being able to infect (and, distressingly, kill -- it has a 50% fatality rate) people and people are coming down with it in little groups all over Asia.

Various european (and ex-european colonies) have been discussing what to do about this flu, because a repeat of the 1918 influenza epidemic is not exactly the sort of thing that anyone wants to have happen. Most medical authorities are worried about things like developing vaccines, diagnosing infections, and slowing down the spread of infections, but here in the United States things are being done a little differently. The CDC has been following the progress of this flu, but the White House, upon becoming aware that epidemics might be a problem, has decided that the most important thing that can be done about bird flu is to send in the Army to set up quarantines.

It might not be a terrible idea to quarantine off places if there's a really nasty outbreak, but I question the feasibility of sending in the Feds to do it. I particularly question the feasibility of sending in the Feds post-Katrina, where about all the Feds were able to do was to obfuscate, make excuses, and twiddle their thumbs until the White House could get into position for photo ops. It's almost as if the Coward in Chief is now just making up excuses to gut the posse comitatis act.

Hurricane? SEND IN THE ARMY!
Influenza? SEND IN THE ARMY!
Bin Laden determined to strike? Ooops, sorry, I'm on vacation.

(via Echidne of the Snakes)

Pointless search string of the day

hack clearcase licence keys

But why would you want to? After getting your nice warez keys, you end up with Clearcase, which has got to be right up there with self-immolation as a terrible way to finish the day. If you're planning on risking lawsuits, jail terms, and whopping fines, why don't you do it for software that doesn't suck?

Do whatever you want to me, Brer Fox, but just don’t throw me into that briar patch!

Conservatives are claiming to be shocked! shocked! about Maximum Leader Genius appointing a second bagman to the USSC. They're even rumbling about filibustering the nomination, since it's so horrible that the Coward in Chief has, once again, appointed a supreme court nominee that has no other qualification except being VERY closely affiliated with the B*sh junta?

So, of course, Democrats are leaping up to say that they'll support the nomination of a B*sh family lawyer. Karl Rove must be laughing so hard that he's choking on his own spittle.

1 comment

Oct 03, 2005

Kill me now

At work, in the grand quest to make everyone Happy! and Productive!, my corporate masters periodically do "employee satisfaction surveys." Well, we're about to be instructed to do another one -- the vomit-inducing Gallup 12 questions employee survey.

Why vomit-inducing? Is it the little inspirational video where Gallup hired a british actor to yammer on at you for 15 minutes or so, talking about how the people at gallop are much smarter than you, and how they scientifically proved that these 12 questions will answer everything about employee satisfaction in much the same way that the Micronesian Cargo Cults kept a steady stream of US goods flowing after the second world war finished and the US abandoned all of their military bases in the South Pacific. No, it's nothing like that, though I'm sure that the video raises the definition of patronising to new heights. No, what makes the gorge rise and the productivity come out is one of the questions.

Question number 10 (in parentheses, capital letters, quotated), is, in full:



Now how would you answer this fucking stupid question? Remember, it's multiple choice, so you can't write a paragraph or two describing what the Gallop organization can do with their stupid survey, along with the phone number of the local sex shop so they can properly lubricate the survey before they process it in the recommended way.

I think I'll just bring a d20 and roll for my answers, then buy a whole bunch of lottery tickets in case the "anonymous" survey turns out to be not-so-anonymous.

Apparently this survey is the ISO9000 for 2005; thousands of companies are paying Gallup the Big Bucks to have their employees fill out a stupid multiple-choice quiz, which is then printed into a spiffy little document that (oh, dear lord) compares workgroups to divisions and to the company and to the weighted average of companies that have been suckered into paying for this quiz. And there's a certain sort of executive manager and HR drone that will all-but-orgasm over the comparison with other companies, so they can put on their advertising copy "we're a 90% Q12 company!" (translation: the beatings will continue until morale improves.)

My corporate masters are generally pretty sensible people who treat their employees well (with the notable exception of healthcare, but since the United States has the worst healthcare system in the first world there's not much they can do other than pick up the company and move it to Europe or Canada), but I just don't get this fascination with cargo-cult employee relations techniques.

1 comment

Oct 02, 2005

If it’s october, it must be time for …

Russell Street BBQ to reopen! We had been out shopping today, and let the bears choose where to eat (they chose Burgerville instead of Dead! Raw! Fish!, which conveniently put us on the east side of the river) and we ended up driving down Russell Street on the way there and saw that the OPEN sign was lit at the BBQ joint.

Orc: We could eat at Russell Street BBQ?
Bears: No, we want to eat at Burgerville.
Orc: Okay, so we'll go to eat at Burgerville, then we'll go to eat at Russell Street BBQ?

But, alas, by the time we finished with Burgerville the bears were in nighttime crash mode, so we had to go home and put them to bed instead of doubling back north and getting a large pile of smoked ribs, pulled pork, and enough sweet tea to drive my pancreas to the brink of a workers action. But tomorrow is another day, and the bears might not object if we bolted up there for a little something after I finish my day at the programming mines.

Oct 01, 2005

Household vermin picture of the day

This morning, as the best and I went out the door, I spotted a large cranefly sitting on the doorframe. If craneflys could shiver, this one would have been doing it, but since flies are cold-blooded it didn't have the spare metabolic cycles needed to keep a shiver going.

When we came back from our saturday errands, the cranefly was sitting in exactly the same position, and it only moved when I leaned in really close to it and examined it for a while (and I think the only reason it moved was because it was warmed up by my breath. Boy, it's going to be an unhappy camper if it survives a couple more months and gets to experience the full wimpy-to-humans impact of a Portland winter.)

I have no joke, I just like saying…

Accidental gay giant-squid sex

(hat tip to Lindsay Beyerstein)

Google is broken, so let me help you with your image search

Google seems to have decided that picking images out of the actual page that they've come from is too much trouble.

One of these days I'll have to put a search engine into annotations, but until then these are the most common image searches, nicely linked to make up for Google going into into "But we've got really high SAT scores!" disfunctional mode.