This Space for Rent

Oct 31, 2006

Halloween, again

trying to take pictures of the bears on a cold and windy night.  Brrr!

A forest ranger and a non-BSD daemon prepare to go on their yearly campaign of incredibly cute extortion. It was about 10°C out, with a stiff wind (bringing the windchill down to about 0°C) making for an incredibly quick photo session before the lot of us bolted back into the relative heat of the big yellow house.

f/8, 30 second exposure.  Thank G-d for the tripod.

The wind wasn't running quite so fast after they returned, so I ducked outside to take a couple of long-exposure pictures of the satanically glowing pumpkin before scampering for the warmth of the house.

My enthusiasm for programming in p*th*n must be showing through

milk and tea, what fun!

Lets see, so I can either audit a horrible p*th*n installer, or I can sit here and watch my tea stratify into a tea and a cream layer. What to do, what to do...?

Nanny state? I’ve got yer nanny state right here.

The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

(--USA Today)

Grover Norquist was misquoted. He didn't actually say he wanted to make the government small enough to drown in the bathtub; no, what he really said is he wanted to make the government small enough to fit into your bedroom.

Oct 28, 2006

Another year, another round of infuriating ballot measures

Oregon is one of those states that, due to being incredibly bad in an earlier life, has been chained to a popular vote initiative scheme. Every election season has a crop of laws and/or amendments tossed into the ballot with the hopes that the cheery and deceptive blurb on the ballot will coerce people into voting for the latest stupid measure.

Occasionally a good initiative makes it onto the ballot, to be stomped flat under the weight of a deceptive anticampaign. But occasionally is the operative word. This year is no exception; there are 10 statewide measures on the ballot, six of which are obvious rolling disasters, one which sounds good but has a big old gotcha hidden in it, another one which sounds good but is very likely to run headlong into legal challeges, and a couple which actually sound like they might be a good idea, and are probably doomed.

Measure 39
Condemning private property for developers,
with a little fiscal surprise.

The idea of prohibiting the state and its agents from condemning property so that it can be handed over to developers is a wonderful one. After all, who doesn't loathe the PDC and the horse it rode in on? (And, if you're unaware of the PDC's hamfisted redevelopment efforts, just look at the super-depressing south end of downtown Portland, which is all horrible tower blocks and office buildings. There used to be a real neighborhood there, with detached houses and the like, but it was redefined as "blighted" during the 1960s and bulldozed away so that the current crop of architectural monstrosities could be built in its place.)

But measure 39's got a little fiscal surprise in it, in the form of rewriting the compensation rules. Currently, if the state wants to acquire property, it makes an offer to the landowner. If the landowner declines the offer, the state has to make another offer before being allowed to seek a condemnation order, and if the landowner contests this order, they're liable for their court costs unless the court determines that the final state offer was less than the value of the property (at which point the state gets to pay all the court costs.) Measure 39 tweaks that so that the state has to pay court costs if the first offer is less than the court-appraised value of the property.

What does this have to do with condemning private property for developers? Well, nothing, but it's a another way to screw money out of the state, which I strongly suspect is the whole purpose of this measure. After all, it's an Oregonians in Action-sponsored measure, and that crowd doesn't give a damn about Oregon except as a source of free money.

I vote NO
Measure 40
Elect appeals and supreme court judges by district

The arguments in favor of this measure (most of which are sockpuppet arguments made on behalf of a "Russ Walker", who is apparently part of the crowd of conservative peckerheads that's been buzzing around the state proposing stupid "tax relief" bills that don't really give you any tax relief unless you're making .gt. US$100,000/year) can better be described as "there are too many Willamette valley LIBERALS on the court, so we want to carve out districts that will reliably elect conservative activist judges."

They're looking at the undemocratic arrangement of the federal government (where districts (states) with a small population have more voting power than the larger states) and are thinking that they'll be able to gerrymander a bunch of little Scalias onto the court if they do the same to Oregon.

I vote NO
Measure 41
Replace state exemption credit for federal taxes with an income tax deduction

Another classic "fuck the state" measure by the usual crop of conservative mulletheads, including the "Russ Walker" from the previous measure. If you're rich, you'll save a lot of money on state taxes. No matter who you are, you'll pay more federal taxes. But, neveryoumind this, the important thing is that Measure 41 will screw the state of Oregon for the benefit of a dozen or so wealthy land and factory owners, so while you're bouncing down the pothole-covered highway towards work, you can think of just how happy you've made Bill Sizemore and the founders of Oregonians in Action, who are most certainly not thinking of you while they relax in their Hawaiian vacation condos.

Of course I'll vote NO
Measure 42
Prohibits insurance companies from using "credit worthiness" when calculating rates and premiums.

This measure is a Bill Sizemore joint, so he's probably doing it just because he's been redlined by his insurance company. But, be that as it may, I'm still going to vote for it, because redlining is one of the classic sleazy stunts that's used to discriminate against poor people. If you read the arguments against this measure, they all boil down to "we want to charge poor people more than we charge rich people."

I'm not a libertoonian, so this argument doesn't hold much weight for me.

I vote YES
Measure 43
Women are sluts, and should be punished for having sexual intercourse.

This offensive little turd from the anti-choice crowd forces legitimate doctors to tattle on 15-18 year old women who come to them seeking abortions.

If you're a back-alley abortionist, this is a full-employment act, so you'd want to vote for this measure. If you want to see more babies abandoned to die in dumpsters, you'd want to vote for this measure. If you feel that all women are sluts and need to be saddled with humiliating restrictions at all times to remind them that they are not equal to real humans (the ones with penises), you'd want to vote for this measure.

The women who don't want to talk to their parents about getting an abortion are most likely the women who are afraid of being harmed by their parents if those parents discovered that they have an independent existance. Given the choice between a back-alley abortion and having a legitimate doctor tattle on them, they'll take the back-alley abortion, just as they do in all the parts of the world where abortions are officially prohibited.

No, no, a thousand times no!
Measure 44
Allows any resident without prescription drug coverage to sign up for the state prescription drug program.

I could see that this would be bad if you're a pharmacutical company executive that relies on screwing over individual purchasers to keep the profit margins up. But other than that, there's no downside to this measure.

I vote YES
Measure 45
Term limits

Term limits worked so well the last time around, didn't they?

I vote NO
Measure 46
Makes it harder to regulate campaign contributions.

Whether or not regulating campaign contributions is a good idea or not, it's not a good idea to require increasingly large supermajorities to pass campaign finance reform laws. The last thing I want to see is a situation where people can be bullied into passing stupid campaign finance reform measures which the legislature can't remedy because of dumb supermajority requirements.

I vote NO
Measure 47
Limit campaign contributions

Regulating campaign contributions is a good idea, but measures to enforce them have had a mixed fate at the hand of the courts. "A good idea" ceases to be a good idea if it can be gamed to prohibit contributions from one class while allowing contributions from another class.

I vote ?
Measure 48
footbinding the state budget.

Yet another stupid "tax reform" measure pushed by upper class libertarians (who don't even live in Oregon) who want to use some poor western state as a guinea pig for their failed economic policies.

Pay no attention to their cries of "If there's this much shit, there's got to be a pony!"; this, like most of the other libertoonian tax policies that are being foisted on the west, will not work at anything except for making the state poorer and less attractive to businesses.

I vote NO


Sneakily teaching moral behavior

When we started to accumulate legos, the one thing we were lacking were enough people to play with. After slowly accumulating 10 or so as parts of other sets, we discovered the Community Workers people set, bought it, and watched the bears go wild. Apparently they'd been feeling the lack of appropriate dolls to play with legos with, because it was less than a week before Russell and Silas had picked out their own tiny special lego person, and named it "My Guy" (The best asked them if they had any real names for their guys, and the both of them said that their guy was named John .)

Mr Bigbooty, I presume?

The bears had many adventures with these two characters, none of particular note except that they involved building many different little lego cars and structures, and none with any fixed bad guy until two things happened; first, they found out about St*r W*rs, and secondly we found a huge pile of legos at the local Goodwill. Among the crop of Jedi, Harry Potter, Adventure, and heaven only knows what else were a small collection of skeleton-faced characters, who immediately were recruited (over my protestations) as Bad Guys.

no longer a pair of Evil Skeletons™

These poor skeletons spent a couple of days being chopped, diced, sliced, fried, roasted, and otherwise being sent to their horrible lego fate, and I decided that John & John should have a more resourceful antagonist. The two Johns had accumulated a small group of supporting Jedi knights, so I had to find someone who would be their match.

Evil Jedi Knight™, now working as a good guy
Meet Darth Tiffany.

Darth Tiffany couldn't actually win any of her battles with John & John and their posse, but she could escape and with a cry of "Curses! Foiled Again!" flee to her Imperial hideout and plot a new doomed nefarious plan.

Well, the lure of this faded pretty fast, and before you knew it the bears were asking me if Darth Tiffany could be a good guy. But of course she could. But this means she wouldn't need to build any evil spaceships to battle the Johns, but instead had to do good things like exploring the galaxy in her Imperial Survey Ship.

Darth Tiffany might be a Dark Lord of the Sith and capable of doing thirty-seven different things at the same time, but even Dark Lords need to sleep occasionally and you'd not want to have your Imperial Survey ship run into an asteroid, an Imperial or Rebel ship, or a herd of rampaging Space Elk while you're getting 40 winks. So she needed a crew, and found just what she needed down at the Brotherhood of Evil Minions & NPC's union hall.

A minimum crew for an Imperial Surveyer Ship

A little while later, after the bears had had a chance to mull it over for a while, Russell asked "Those skeleton guys are good guys now, aren't they?"

Yes. Yes, they are.

Oct 27, 2006

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite visits the Old Country to get in some trainspotting before all the steam locomotives disappear.

Okay, so occasionally the remake is better than the original show.

One of the TV shows I used to watch when I was a kid was the scifi show Battlestar Galactica, which started up around the same time I went off to university, staggered along for a couple of years, then fell over dead after one horrible (BS 1980) death spasm. I don't remember much of it, aside from the Cylons (I still use "by your command" as a snarky reply in various servers I write, even though it never made it into postoffice) and bits of a scene where a different goodguy space cruiser went out in a blaze of really big missiles, but I was disappointed when it finally died the death of a million ratings.

Well, eventually a network decided to bring the silly thing back to life, and it returned to the teeny screen to what appeared to be favorable reviews. I don't watch TV any more, and I've been burned by bad remakes of old shows before, so I didn't pay it much attention and just passed by the occasional post about it in the lefty/scifi weblogs I read.

Until just today, when the weblog Lawyers, Guns and Money, which I read occasionally for their Sunday Battleship Blogging™ series, posted a Sunday Battlestar Blogging article right above the Battlemate of the week (HMAS Australia, if you're interested) and I read it, was mildly intrigued, and followed up by reading the comments, which were filled with *wow*, *ohmygod*, and other expressions of shock and awe, because apparently the writers decided to deorbit the Galactica (the eponymous spaceship of the series) onto some planet where the refugee humans had set up a new colony which was now being attacked by the Cylons.

Now, the Galactica is a spaceship that's drawn like the Star Wars imperial Star Destroyer -- it has the aerodynamic profile of a brick and the thermal resistance of a kerosene-soaked strawbale, so it should never ever be put anywhere near a place where you'd have to plough through large masses of pesky gasses at any sort of speed, so when one of the commentators mentioned that they'd gootubed a video of the deorbiting, I had to watch it:

Guess what? Youtube has been borged by g**gl*, so the copyright lawyers have moved in and started purging videos. You might think that having trailers online would be a 100% win, but, no, apparently a low-resolution screen grab TAKES REVENUE AWAY from the studios, despite the teeny detail of it selling copies of the show.

(read more)


Not exactly what we were expecting

Our oldest cat, for reasons that are hidden inside her furry brainless head, has taken to peeing into the radiator in the dining room. After several months of trying to coax her into using one of the catboxes upstairs, we got a recommendation to use some sort of "confort zone" cat pheromone atomizer that's supposed to act as if it was kitty quaaludes and make the cat less likely to be nervous and peeing where it shouldn't.

The instructions were to plug it in and let it work for a couple of weeks, so we did that. And rapidly discovered that the "cat pheromones" in question are the same cat pheromones that give catpee its alluring aroma.

So how we've got a cat pee atomizer running in the dining room. And, despite the strong cat pee smell which is now slowly permiating every permiatable item in the house, it still hasn't stopped the cat from peeing on the floor. Oh, joy.

I think if everyone ever recommends a "cat pheromone paste" that we can apply to things that the cat pees on, we'll just say "that's nice" and move, rapidly, to the next subject (Like whether to use nuclear weapons to clear the lot for our next chateau-du-cat-pee, because it's probably going to take US$75,000 worth of cleaning to apropriately disinfect the existing structure.)


Oct 26, 2006

New Code!

Postoffice is now version 1.3.5, which fixes an annoying coding bug in the teergrube detection code I put into 1.3.pre2. (This bug makes postoffice fall into an infinite loop of segmentation violation --> error recovery --> segmentation violation --> etc etc etc, which is not particularly useful in a mail server.)

There are also a few little cosmetic changes in the way milters report their status during SMTP DEBUG, but the release is primarily to fix the new teergrube bug.

Oct 25, 2006

One new station, two days, and three trolleys

Astra 006 lays over at Gibbs Street on a rainy afternoon Two trolleys lay over at Gibbs on Thursday, Oct 25, 2006

Now that the latest extension of the Macadam/Downtown/Pearl trolley line is open, I am able to take (distant, and somewhat blurry, but who's counting?) aerial photographs of the new cars from the bus as it carries me towards home in the evening. It's not much in the detail department, but it does show that the gold-filled-swimming pool development at the north end of Macadam is starting to look like it might actually eventually become a neighborhood instead of a collection of hideously overpriced condominium towers.

Supporting our troops, evil party style

A group called the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America has published a report card ranking every United States congressman by how much they support the United States military. The party affiliation of the senators is not mentioned, but Bob Geiger has taken the effort to assign party affiliations, then sort the list by IAVA ratings.

It's kind of interesting, but it's just regular text without highlighting, so I've taken the liberty of re-entering the data (the data on is a [gag] image, so I had to retype it) and color-coding it according to political affiliation. Note, interestingly, that the party that claims (at the top of their lungs, usually while waving a cheap Chinese-made American flag) to support the troops can't seem to get a rating better than a C, while their opposition can't seem to get a rating worse than a B-:

Senator State Party IAVA rating
Maria CantwellWADemocratA-
Hillary ClintonNYDemocratA-
Mark DaytonMNDemocratA-
Christopher DoddCTDemocratA-
Bryon DorganNDDemocratA-
Richard DurbinILDemocratA-
Herb KohlWIDemocratA-
Barbara MikulskiMDDemocratA-
Patty MurrayWADemocratA-
Bill NelsonFLDemocratA-
Jack ReedRIDemocratA-
Harry ReidNVDemocratA-
Debbie StabenowMIDemocratA-
Daniel AkakaHIDemocratB+
Evan BayhINDemocratB+
Joseph BidonDEDemocratB+
Jeff BingamanNMDemocratB+
Barbara BoxerCADemocratB+
Thomas CarperDEDemocratB+
Kent ConradNDDemocratB+
Dianne FeinsteinCADemocratB+
Tim JohnsonSDDemocratB+
Edward KennedyMADemocratB+
Mary LandrieuLADemocratB+
Frank LautenbergNJDemocratB+
Patrick LeahyVTDemocratB+
Carl LevinMIDemocratB+
Joseph LiebermanCTIndependentB+
Blanche LincolnARDemocratB+
Barack ObamaILDemocratB+
John RockefellerWVDemocratB+
Ken SlazarCODemocratB+
Paul SarbanesMDDemocratB+
Charles SchumerNYDemocratB+
Ron WydenORDemocratB+
James JeffordsVTIndependentB+
Max BaucusMTDemocratB
Robert ByrdWVDemocratB
Russell FeingoldWIDemocratB
Tom HarkinIADemocratB
Daniel InouyeHIDemocratB
John KerryMADemocratB
Robert MenendezNJDemocratB
Mark PryorARDemocratB
Ben NelsonNEDemocratB-
Lincoln ChafeeRIRepublicanC
Olympia SnoweMERepublicanC
Arlen SpecterPARepublicanC
Susan CollinsMERepublicanC-
Gordon SmithORRepublicanC-
George AllenVARepublicanD+
Conrad BurnsMTRepublicanD+
Mike DeWineOHRepublicanD+
Chuck HagelNERepublicanD+
Kay HutchisonTXRepublicanD+
Richard LugarINRepublicanD+
James TalentMORepublicanD+
John ThuneSDRepublicanD+
John WarnerVARepublicanD+
Lamar AlexanderTNRepublicanD
Wayne AllardCORepublicanD
Robert BennettUTRepublicanD
Christopher BondMORepublicanD
Sam BrownbackKSRepublicanD
Thad CochranMSRepublicanD
Norm ColemanNMRepublicanD
Michael CrapoIDRepublicanD
Pete DomeniciNMRepublicanD
Bill FristTNRepublicanD
Chuck GrassleyIARepublicanD
Judd GreggNHRepublicanD
Orrin HatchUTRepublicanD
Trent LottMSRepublicanD
Mel MartinezFLRepublicanD
John McCainAZRepublicanD
Mitch McConnellKYRepublicanD
Lisa MurkowskiAKRepublicanD
Pat RobersKSRepublicanD
Richard ShelbyALRepublicanD
Ted StevensAKRepublicanD
John SununuNHRepublicanD
Craig ThomasWYRepublicanD
George VoinovichOHRepublicanD
Jim BunningKYRepublicanD-
Saxby ChamlissGARepublicanD-
John CornynTXRepublicanD-
Larry CraigIDRepublicanD-
Elizabeth DoleNCRepublicanD-
John EnsignNVRepublicanD-
Michael EnziWYRepublicanD-
Lindset GrahamSCRepublicanD-
James InhofeOKRepublicanD-
Jon KylAZRepublicanD-
Rich SantorumPARepublicanD-
Richard BurrNCRepublicanF
Ton CoburnOKRepublicanF
Jim DeMintSCRepublicanF
Johny IsaksonGARepublicanF
Jeff SessionsALRepublicanF
David VitterLARepublicanF

The Democratic Party might not completely understand the whole idea of the rule of law, but they seem to understand the business of respecting the military much better than the party that gets in a shrieking hissy fit whenever anyone mentions that, just possibly, it might not be a good plan to send a bunch of underpaid soldiers into a hobbesian anarchy with no plans, no resources, and no leadership.

Yes, yes, yes, I'm aware that Michael Moore is fat. But I'd bet money that if he was in the Senate he'd get a better rating than the pathetic "C" grade that the best Evil Party member can squeak out.

Oct 24, 2006

You do not know what you are doing

Keith Olbermann has more patriotism in his little finger than the entire B*sh junta (and the gang of petty criminals and bedwetting cowards that have attached themselves, remora-like, to Maximum Leader Genius's anal sphincter) have, or will ever have, in their entire bodies.

Oct 22, 2006

We’re ready for our closeup

94 lego people, one scorpion, two octopi, one cat-thing, and 2 heads in a jar

We had ~40 lego people, but then the best and the bears went over to the Goodwill store to look for things to make into halloween costumes. They didn't find any halloween costumes there, but they found a big bag of lego pieces, which they brought home and discovered that it contained 46 complete lego people and 11 lego people who'd lost hands, arms, or legs.

(At christmas time they're going to get another 18 lego people, because we've got a couple of Lego advent calendars waiting for the first of December to roll around, and each of them has nine people including Santa Lego. And then we will have enough lego people to conquer the world, or at least the tiny subset of it that contains the Big Yellow House.

Oct 20, 2006

(late) Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Portrait of a Dust Mite

Railroad picture of the day

A blue leased unit livens up a string of Yellow Menace engines at the north end of Brooklyn Yard.

Trolley picture of the day

An Astra lays over at the temporary south terminus of the Macadam/Pearl/NW Portland line at ~5pm on Friday, 20-Oct-2006 (the first day of service to the Gibbs St. stop.)

I don’t know why, but this picture reminds me of Led Zeppelin

The people working on building the aerial tramway from OHSU down to the (apparently non-OHSU) medical building are, for some reason, building an enclosed hanging staircase from the lower terminal up to the first tower.

The rainbow is because I took this picture through the window of a #17 bus when I was on the way home from work this afternoon.

The construction at the top of the hill is not quite as exciting, but it's worth a picture or two.

1 comment

Oct 19, 2006

Gee, maybe the Hate Amendment wasn’t such a great idea after all

[...]a new survey has shown that traditional marriage has ceased to be the preferred living arrangement in the majority of US households.

The findings, which were released in August but largely escaped public attention until now because of the large volume of data, indicated that marriage did not figure in nearly 55.8 million American family households, or 50.2 percent.

Gee, if the ~5-10% (20% in the Republican leadership) gay population of the United States could get married (and you can trust me when I say that some want to), perhaps you'd have slightly more married households.

But, really, the whole hate amendment plan isn't about marriage. The people who wish to nail those offensive laws into the corpse of the United States don't give a damn about any "sanctity" of marriage, they just want to distract their simpleminded base from the ongoing looting of the American Imperium (a distraction that works very well; just look at how the fundamentalist churches lined up to support S. 3930 when it looked like some Evil Party senators might have had an attack of common decency.) And if it turns out that people aren't getting married because it's been redefined as support for the Evil Party and their malignant ilk, score!, because it will be yet another large chunk of the electorate that can be demonised after the anti-gay pogrom has run its course.

This President now has his blank check. He lied to get it.


(video via Crooks and Liars)

Oct 17, 2006

New Code!

When pell exploded for the second time this week, I up and moved TSFR over to a different machine so that the silly thing wouldn't be offline for the two and a half days it took me to go downtown, push the Big Red Switch, and turn off the rapidly decaying swap disk. But while I was reconfiguring after moving the webserver over (rsync is my friend; I do nightly backups from pell to downbelow (using rsync) so getting the weblog over to the new machine was simply a case of firing up rsync and waiting half a hour while 1.2gb was shoved across the wire (oh, and then tweaking Annotations so it would work on an Apache server)) I checked my referrer logs and noticed a distressingly large number of requests coming in for, which was no longer the same machine as weblog.etc.

While Pell was dead, I could just change the DNS to point pell at gehenna, but after I rebooted it I had to change that DNS back, at which point the hits started rolling in against the older copy of the weblog.

Pell doesn't run Apache; it runs thttpd, which, even though it's a nice efficient webserver, doesn't appear to do domain redirects(?). There wasn't any way I was going to run apache just to do the few hundred redirects a day that I needed, and the only pre-written code I could find was written on one TDV-L or another, and, worse yet, written in versions of those languages that I don't have on pell.

So, if I wanted to redirect http request, I had to write a program to do it from scratch. So I did.

redirect.c is a tiny little non-threading webserver that returns 302s for every request that it receives. I run it from the command line with the command redirect -v, and it cheerfully tells any caller that their request (whether or not it is valid) can be found at the proper website under the same name. The program daemonises itself automatically, and I've got a fairly elaborate message function that directs messages to stderr or to syslog, depending on whether the program is running in the foreground or background.

User interface question

Which is easier to read (assuming you're reading this directly instead of via an RSS aggregator, that you're reading from a Windows or Mac workstation (or a Linux box that you've wedged the appropriate fonts into) and furthermore that you're reading with something other than lynx)?

  • Content that's displayed with a generic serif font?

  • Content that's displayed in Times New Roman?

  • Content that's displayed with a generic sans serif typeface?

  • Content that's displayed with the Microsoft Tahoma typeface?

I'd set up voting software, but I don't have any at hand.

Personally, I like the clean rangy lines of TNR, but all of my tty windows are set up to use the Lucida Console sans-serif font (not a perfect font, but one that can be found on every gui'ed platform I use, and which is neutral to the eyes if you set it to the proper pointside (11pts or ~18 pixels high). And even though I really like the proportions of Tahoma, I find the generic sans serif fonts I can find on Linux and W*nd*ws to be just a little bit cramped.


Oct 15, 2006


the canadian borg

(pauldrye's userpic in a comment on James Nicoll's weblog)


Oct 14, 2006

Weblog cosmetic tweaks of the day

To celebrate being able to brute-force Annotations onto a machine running Apache, I went out and redid some of the error pages.

  1. I'm sorry Dave...
  2. What's your clearance, Citizen?
  3. OH NOES!
  4. Aaaaaiiieeee!

Yes, I have too much time on my hands.


New Code (the webserver is on fire edition)

Pell has been having problems over the past week, and has finally gotten to the point where it doesn't reliably stay running anymore. So I was forced to, once again, pick up TSFR and move it to a different webserver; one that's not running thttpd, but which runs a somewhat more complex server. The last time I moved an Annotations-based weblog was less than a complete success, so I was forced into fixing some of the more spectacularly broken parts of the code (the parts that caused Apache to spit up incomprehensible error pages).

So, New Code, in the form of Annotations version (the "still broken but not quite as badly as before" edition.) And to my delight I can actually run configure/make/make install, and the resulting binaries appear to actually allow me to write, edit, and comment on articles even if I'm stuck on an Apache machine.


My Hot! Hot! Hot! Sex! post (safe for work unless you're a bumblebee) is proving to be an almost irresistable magnet for porn-seekers, and almost every week finds a new and more amusing porn search string that leads people unsuspectingly to uncensored photos of Hot! Flower! Sex!

Today, I got a referral from some site that had managed to, in the middle of a long list of blahblahblahpornsites, link to my little contribution to the world of erotic photography.


Resources on Hot Amateur Sex are listed below
Gay Amateur Sex
Gay Amateur Sex. Welcome to Amateur Central - Where real men engage in hot and hardcore all American gay hardcore sex! We don't like to see guys with makeup or fake plastic surgery muscles...
Hot wife amateur sex at Hot Wife Rio!
See hot wife amateur sex pics and movies at Hot Wife Rio! ... and my hot girlfriends ... Copyright 2004 Hot Wife Rio. All Rights ...
Mandy's home page-Free Amateur sex pics! Nude amateur pictures of her huge tits!
She's a big fine woman when she back that ass up! Amateur nude pics reveal her HUGE tits!!
Hot Hot Hot Naked Amateur Flower Sex Action!
Hot Hot Hot Naked Amateur Flower Sex Action! I've been watching the searches that bring people to TSFR, and, not surprisingly, a lot of them have to do with sex and/or nudie pictures. Why should I argue with fate?
Zoe - Hot Busty Escort Girl
This website contains nudity. By entering you are affirming that you are at least 18 years old or the minimum legal age in your area, and that it is legal in your area to see and posses adult material ... Web Porn Links. FREE AMATEUR. PORN LINKS ...

One of these items is not like the others. (well, aside from the links, which have been tweaked ever so slightly.)


I was planning to go in to the colocation facility and shut pell down for long enough to replace the failing boot disk, but at 6am pell decided that this was a good time to just stop working again.

In the words of the immortal Pooh: "Oh, bother!"

(And, er, oops, it turns out that I've carefully recorded all of the passcodes needed to get into the colocation facility except for the one that actually gets me into the front door. Hmm. I begin to see that there might actually be some downsides to colocation that balance the US$6000/year I'd otherwise pay for a T1 line.)

(Oh, yeah, and of course all mail from comcast and aol will be bouncing, because 60 hours > their 4 hour expire. But the bright side of this is that I won't be getting any spam until monday rolls around.)

Oct 13, 2006

Pesky traffic lights

On Wednesday evening, I was stuck working late, and I got out of work about 25 minutes before the northbound Coast Starlate was scheduled to arrive in Portland. I thought that if I hurried I could get to Powell and Milwaukie early enough to walk north to the SP Yellow Menace mainline and get a picture of the train as it crossed 11th and 12th streets. It was still rush hour, so the bus took just a little less than forever to creep across the Ross Island bridge, but when it dropped me off at Powell and Milwaukie my watch said there was still about 15 minutes until the train was supposed to arrive at Union Station (2 miles and 10 minutes north, so I had maybe five minutes to get down to the crossing.)

But the light was against me. On Powell, during rush hour, with what seems like a 3-minute cycle. I pushed the "walk, please" button and waited impatiently for the light to change. Then I looked east towards the Powell bridge and saw #14 sweep across it. The light was still red, so my plans for getting a closer picture evaporated with a *toooooot* *tooooot* *toot* *tooooot* as the train whooshed by, three blocks away.

It's scenic, but I prefer my scenery to have more train in it
Oh, drat.

Two hours of downtime, sitemeter version.


Sitemeter's view of the thursday hardware failure.

View From A Bus (pt 2)


Downtown Portland, a couple of bridges, and their reflections on a sunny fall day. Picture taken from the #19 bus as I rode in to work on Thursday morning.

Great accomplishments of civil engineering


I'm sure the sinuous wiggle and the positioning of the line poles right in the way of the extension were carefully planned out when the first part of the South gold-filled-swimming-pool extension was planned out. Would it be unkind to point out that the Gibbs street extension isn't even open yet, so the careful placing of the line poles at the end of the not-terminus turned out to be a complete waste of time and money?

Yes, it probably would. But it is a complete waste.

Friday the thirteenth Dust Mite Blogging™

What's so important about walking under ladders?
Dust Mite goes for an afternoon stroll.

Oct 12, 2006

Oh, the joys of computer hardware

Around 10am this morning, pell went poof and stopped responding to anything except for pings. This has happened before, so I suspect I know what the problem is, but, alas, back when I built the last incarnation of Pell (in 1998) I decided to buy the most reliable drives I could find -- a couple of 4.5gb IBM wide SCSI drives -- and, yes, they've been pretty reliable. I replaced one of them (a 2gb model) with an IBM lvd scsi drive sometime in 2000, but other than that they've been chirping happily along for the past eight years. (about the only thing that I've had die for certain has been various power supplies; most PC power supplies don't deal well with being stuffed in a machine room, turned on, and kept running until time_t rolls over.)

Well, it's been eight years for the root disk, and it's developed a few bad blocks. And occasionally the system attempts to read one of these blocks and bobbles a disk lock, which means that the disk turns into a rotating anvil and everything that wants to talk to it (or any other disk on the machine) comes to a screeching halt. Thus the crash. The fun is that now that these ridiculously reliable hard drives have failed I need to replace them, and you can't buy 4gb drives anymore unless you want to go to high-reliability server repair houses and pay ridiculous multiples of US$100 for them.

I could get IDE disks, but remember that pell is old and it runs a version of Linux (2.0.28+orc) that, um, doesn't take full advantage of ide disks. It does support dma (I backported dma from a 2.1 kernel when I started moving servers en masse over from scsi to IDE) but it doesn't support ultra dma(tm) or, I suspect, disks that are as large as the smallest of modern udma ide disks.

It would have been much easier if I used less reliable hardware; if I had flakey disks, I'd have to rev the disks every year instead of every decade, and that would force me to backport modern linux drivers to the 2.0.28 kernel (don't laugh at this idea. The two ancient kernel trees I've got are 1.2.13, which is 10mb, and 2.0.28, which is 31mb. The 2.4.21(+r*dh*t hacks) kernel I've been getting paid to maintain at work staggers in at 213mb after I've deleted the objects, and the 2.6.9(+r*dh*t hacks) kernel I'm replacing the 2.4.21 kernel with comes in at 304mb. It takes a lot less time to recompile 2.0.28 than it does to recompile 2.6.9, even without compiling the driver modules for 2.6.9) To add insult to injury the newer versions of gcc that are recommended for compiling the newer kernels have "fixed" asm() support (and by fixed, I mean broken; the poorly documented changes in asm() syntax thoroughly break every bit of assembly that can be found in libc 4.8.x)

So it's become a big problem, and all because I chose reliable hardware. Sure, it's nice to look at six years of operation and realize that, aside from transport time to get to and from the colo, the downtime can be measured in a handful of hours, and even when I count travel and lockout time, it's still less than three days (pell has been very good at dying just after I get on the bus to go home, and I'm not going to turn around and come back downtown to fix it that night), but when things start to go wrong and you look at spending an order of magnitude more money to replace the reliable parts? Well, lets just say that 5 nines is overrated, and you may make up for the savings by paying through the nose when the warranty finally expires.

Oct 11, 2006

Come out Come out wherever you are!

National Coming Out Day is October 11th

Oct 10, 2006

Compare and contrast (we’re number 1! we’re number 1!)

Iraqi nationals killed by Saddam Hussein (1973-2003) Iraqi nationals killed during the US-sponsored Bellum omnium contra omnes (2003-present)


(via Human Rights Watch)


(via The Lancet)

Saddam Hussein was only able to average 12-15,000 deaths a year, and he had to (in his brutal fashion) put down a civil war. The United States has managed to set up a "state" where the various neo-Khmer Rouge factions are killing over 200,000 people a year.

That's pretty impressive, if brutal mass murder was the intent.

(-- reference via Daily Kos)

1 comment

Oct 09, 2006


Google just ate youtube. This is unfortunate, because youtube is just full of promotional videos (the studios call them pirated videos, but movie studios aren't the brightest organizations on the planet; 160x120 videos aren't likely to cut into the market for full-screen purchased videos, so all they are is a way for the studios to convince consumers to buy and buy and buy. But, no, that would make sense) which are all going to go away because Google won't want the lawsuits.

Youtube was partially responsible for my interest in the Teen Titans anime; I wonder what I'm going to miss because Google bowdlerised youtube to protect their second gold-plated executive 747?

Oct 08, 2006

Two bears at the pumpkin patch

Russell's gradeschool (yes! It's a .com address because Postel completely messed up the .us namespace!) foundation had a pumpkin patch Saturday afternoon to help raise money to hire extra teachers and buy school supplies. Yes, in a civilized country we'd spend enough money to make the public schools work, but the United States is governed by people who look at Venezuela and think "there are too many middle class people here", so if we want to have functional schools, we've got to pay a bunch of extra money for it.

But I digress. Since our family helped organize the pumpkin patch, we all went there and helped out and/or played around for the duration.

Russell thought the idea of a pumpkin patch was a good plan, and angled to get as many pumpkins as we could carry.

Silas, on the other hand, spent most of the time playing, and only paid the most rudimentary attention to the pumpkin patch part of the show.

Bird photo of the day

A bluejay stalks our front yard, looking for nuts and berries to eat. It had already dismantled a few rose hips, and now it was looking for an after-dinner drink.

1 comment

Oct 06, 2006

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite poses with an unidentified scrappy object
Still life with Dust Mite and mysterious SCRAPpy object.

Oct 04, 2006

Cute baby picture dump

I took approximately 7,000 pictures of the bears this weekend. I'm not going to post all of them, just the ones that seem cutest to me tonight.

1 comment

Sparkly headlights from the Bridge of Death

A southbound Yellow Menace freight at the north end of Brooklyn Yard

When I got to my usual transfer point at the north end of Brooklyn Yard this afternoon, the northbound signal was green and the afternoon transfer freight was parked at the north end of the yard lead, so I expected that something might be coming along. The green signal made me suspect that the train would be coming from the south, but, no, a northbound Yellow Menace freight came barrelling by heading to points south. (as part of my search for a slightly different photo position I actually walked over the Toonerville Bridge and took this picture from the east end of the span. There's something about having a bridge deck made of 2x10 boards laid over beams on 6 foot centers that adds a certain touch of terror to trainspotting; the board flex alarmingly even when a manifest freight isn't whizzing by right under the bridge.)

At around 2:30, the northbound Coast Starlight was, at least according to Amtrak's online arrivals board, 13 minutes late and was expected to get into Portland at 3:53. At around 5:00pm, the arrivals board was still claiming that the northbound Coast Starlight was expected to get into Portland at 3:53, so I suspect that at 5:25, while I was taking this picture of #14, the arrivals board was still cheerfully saying that it would arrive at Union Station in -92 minutes.

This train showed up almost immediately after the southbound freight went by; the signal at the north end of the yard was still green, and while I was looking around to see if it was green for an Amtrak train, the two Twinkies drifted silently around the curve (no trains in the yard == no *toot* *toot*s), caught me by surprise, and forced a quick scramble over to a place where I could take a picture of the sneaky train. And since I was scrambling around on the Toonerville Bridge, it was a little more exciting than my usual running to take a picture.

CPU cycle eater of the month

This image (via Badgerings) is allegedly an interesting features graph of TSFR. It seems pretty neat, except for one tiny detail, and that is that it's written in the TDV-L java. Sometime this morning, while waiting for a kernel repackaging job to finish (Linux 2.6.9 on a 733 mhz P3. It's kind of slow), I stumbled upon the Badgering post about it, and thought it might be fun to run. So I popped over to the website that contained the code, typed in the url for TSFR (oh, excuse me, it's now "uri" in the latest w3wankerspeak) and watched it hurl into action. It spat out about half of the graph in the lower right, then slowly started dipping into a deep vat of molasses as it spun further on.

It's still spinning along six hours later, eating about 75% of the 2.24 ghz P4 I've got on my desktop. What it's doing, I don't know; if it wasn't for the molasses-like feel of the rest of the machine and the periodic flickering of the X11 cursor, I'd think it wasn't doing anything at all.

"Not optimized" is what the webpage says. Boy howdy, isn't that the truth.

Oct 02, 2006

Attention US Military Personnel

(quoted, in full, from Jim Macdonald on the weblog Making Light)

You are not required to obey an unlawful order.

You are required to disobey an unlawful order.

You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Constitution states (Article VI):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Here is article 3, the common article, to the Geneva Conventions, a duly ratified treaty made under the authority of the United States:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

  1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

    To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

    1. Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

    2. Taking of hostages;

    3. Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

    4. The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

  2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

    An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

    The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

    The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is straightforward and clear. Under Article VI of the Constitution, it forms part of the supreme law of the land.

You personally will be held responsible for all of your actions, in all countries, at all times and places, for the rest of your life. “I was only following orders” is not a defense.

What all this is leading to:

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, it is your duty to disobey that order. No “clarification,” whether passed by Congress or signed by the president, relieves you of that duty.

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, this is what to do:

  1. Request that your superior put the order in writing.

  2. If your superior puts the order in writing, inform your superior that you intend to disobey that order.

  3. Request trial by courtmartial.

You will almost certainly face disciplinary action, harassment of various kinds, loss of pay, loss of liberty, discomfort and indignity. America relies on you and your courage to face those challenges.

We, the people, need you to support and defend the Constitution. I am certain that your honor and patriotism are equal to the task.

This post may be quoted in full. A linkback would be appreciated.

Two trains, near and far.

Amtrak F69 #461, heading south past the north throat of Brooklyn Yard
Some random Coast Starlight heads south at Brooklyn Yard (picture taken from the Toonerville bridge at the north end of the yard.)

Amtrak twinkie #121 leads the northbound Coast Starlight past Brooklyn Yard while I sit at a distance trying to make sure I don't miss my bus

When I was waiting for the (early, but I didn't know it) #70 bus last friday, the northbound Coast Starlight came whipping through Brooklyn Yard. Fortunately, it passed a switch engine and went *toot* *toot* far enough into the yard so I could hear it and hustle up to a cross-street to get this indifferent photo of the train just before it crossed over the Powell Street bridge. If I'd have known that the bus had come early, I would have been parked a little bit closer to the railroad, and would have gotten a picture that had more of the in-focus nature.

Um, wait, weren’t we just at war with these people?

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan guerrilla war can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Taliban and their supporters into the Afghan government.


"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished we'll be successful."

(AP wire report from the Washington Post)

Right. So, would this count as a humiliating defeat for the USA, or should we just not worry about who killed who and celebrate the glorious victory of our good friends the (spit!) Taliban, who will soon unite Afghanistan into a smoothly functional extreme patriarchy (and if we're lucky, they'll give permission to put that oil pipeline across the country, unlike the rude sendoff they gave us last time) ?

Let nobody claim that every part of the US government isn’t providing good propaganda for the Evil Party

A few days ago, before the Democrats cravenly rolled over to the torture bill (which is actually a little bit closer to an enabling act, but the thing that really pissed me off was the outright legalisation of torture at the president's convenience) I noticed that the Democrats were making all the sounds of a party that was planning to allow themselves to be rolled, and I commented that I found this to be unacceptable.

I occasionally look at my referrer logs, and am always interested to see when I get a referral from the Imperial search portal. Today, I noticed a very interesting result.

Now, TSFR isn't exactly what you'd call a popular weblog; if it wasn't for Teen Titans, centerfold, or amateur sex searches, my daily readership would be countable, in base 10, on my fingers.

Imagine my (complete lack of) surprise that I'm the first two results for this particular query. Which makes a better result here -- a tiny 7-string personal weblog or the official webpage of the Stupid Party's Senate caucus? Obviously the weblog, because I said something critical about the Stupid Party, and to Karl Rove and his army of sick perverts, anything that might take interest away from the fact that the Evil Party has become the dictionary definition for incompetence, greed, lust, gluttony, and, oh yes, don't forget evil, is worth leveraging.

Nice try, assholes. If you think my criticism of the Democratic Party is biting, you've obviously not seen even the least of my criticism of your bloated evil cankerous gang of street thugs and embezzlers. I might dislike the Democratic Party for enabling your evil, but you bring the evil to the table in the first place.

But thanks for the referrals; it's the only benefit I've gotten out of my tax dollars since you stole the 2000 election.

A “friendly” workplace. At gunpoint.

At work, we occasionally go through a management purge, where the old management is ceremonially taken out and murdered in the fields so that the computer crops will grow well next year. This is, surprisingly, a bad thing; it takes a while to train your corporate masters (and visa-versa; prima donnas like me need to use dynamite to rearrange our habits), and by the time the management and I are actually operating as a team, they're tossed out the door and a whole new set of management comes in.

The latest set of management has some bizarre habits. To encourage teambuilding with a different group of engineers that the new great leader commands, they decided to do a "retreat" for the entire staff. A "retreat" which involves going to some stupid recreation center waythefuckoutinnowhere, eating pizza, and playing paintball all afternoon. And it's not voluntary, oh no, it's a mandatory trip 40 miles out into the countryside and back. And I don't eat pizza or play paintball, so it would be a team-building exercise where I would spend the entire day sitting around hungrily twiddling my thumbs and building up a truly world-class loathing for my management team (which has cravenly buckled under the stupid orders from the top), my employer (which used to be a good place to work for, but now requires massive doses of antidepressants to even make it into the office in the morning), and the horses they rode in on.

Paintball. A team-building exercise. I already get along with my cow orkers, thank you very much, and if I wanted to engage in Soviet-style games for the amusement of Dear Leader, I'd move to goddamn North Korea. This is insulting, demeaning, and not worthy of my hire.


Oct 01, 2006

Flower and/or fly picture of the day

A tiny fly sits in a rose blossom just outside the rose test garden in Washington Park.

Uh, no.

Summer is over, and so is Coffee People.