This Space for Rent

Nov 30, 2007

Out to sea (or not)

The Ernest Campbell (Southern Shipbuilding Corp [Slidell LA], 1969) ties up next to a newly built fuel barge at the shipyard by the Ross Island bridge.

Cute baby picture of the day

Silas at Russell Street BBQ.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite's new (used) ride.

Um, no.

ROCHESTER, N.H. - Three hostages have been released by a distraught man ...

...Police rushed to the scene, guns drawn, and crouched behind cruisers across the street from the office, which is at 28 North Main St. in the small Seacoast city.

Rochester is *30 miles* from the Atlantic ocean. It is *not* a seacoast city. I suppose it's possible that you might confuse the Cocheco with an ocean if you had no sense of taste and you stumbled into it in the middle of the night, but you'd think that reporters who had to drive into the city to cover this might realize that you leave the Atlantic behind when the Spaulding Turnpike turns away from it?

Sheesh. It's a city of 30,000 people; you'd think that that at least deserves the minimal effort it would take to look it up on yagoogsoft maps.

Nov 29, 2007

Well, I’m certainly glad to see that Unix isn’t actually reliable these days

I finished up my project to move the home network over to the glowy server tonight, but since this project involved computers it had one last bit of compu-fuck-you before it finally gave up and started working.

Who would think that a little Linux-based wireless switch would need to be rebooted three times before it finally realized that part of being an ethernet switch meant that the thing had to, well, be an ethernet switch.

Part of the fun came out of dealing with goddamn isc dhcpd, but that was pretty minor stuff compared to watching the switch cheerfully blackhole everything up until the point where I pulled the Big Red Switch (at which point the changes I had previously save *magically* started to work.)

I expect that the disks will delaminate sometime in the next week, just to round out this festival of computer-generated malice.

Nov 28, 2007

photo of the day

The evening light catches a skyscraper and a tower crane while South sails by.

Nov 27, 2007

photo of the day

Downtown Portland and its shadow.

What a surprise (2008 edition)

USA today helps me demonstrate that I'm out of touch with the modern Democratic Party.

Fun with software development!


Develop a Linux distribution.
Send it to QA.
Get a defect about some extraneous error message.
Close it with extreme prejudice (“It would involve rewriting the installer, and the distribution installs despite it”)
Wait a few weeks, aaaand...


This is a distribution that I'd, um, successfully installed the day before. Any bets that it's the "defect" mentioned in step 3 above?


Nov 26, 2007

Time to warm up the old Dolchstoßlegende!


  1. Military run ragged? Yes.
  2. Party in tatters with rats bailing out left and right? Yes.
  3. Götterdämmerung coming up in less than a year? Yup.
  4. Allies being voted out of office (Mini-Me might not notice, but it's pretty obvious that Canada -- even if it's under a nicely subservient right-wing government -- isn't even worth the time to think about when the Evil Party makes up their little lists) and replaced by neoliberals who are smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing? Why, yes, of course.

So you can see that it's fairly important that blame be passed on to someone else so the remains of the Party can rally the troops by a resounding chorus of whinewhinewhineit'snotfaaaaaair!. And it should be done in such a way that will completely surprise the Eloi crack Washington press corps the next time they emerge, blinking, from their round of dinner parties and other mutual masturbation sessions.

How fortunate for Maximum Leader Genius that Iraq has an Vidkun Quisling of its very own:

-- Iraq's leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America, and we seek an enduring relationship with a democratic Iraq. We are ready to build that relationship in a sustainable way that protects our mutual interests, promotes regional stability, and requires fewer Coalition forces.

(Mount Doom press release, via Talking Point Memo

So, if the Evil Party is driven from office and replaced by the giant brains the control the Stupid Party, the new Stupid Party Maximum Leader will have to either (a) start a draft, (b) hire many more mercenaries, or (c) have to admit defeat and get the fuck out of Mesopotamia before the US armed forces are broken to the point where Bermuda can invade and conquer the United States.

It's a win either way. If the Stupid Party backs a draft, the US Army won't be completely crippled (at least until the point where the fragging gets to the point where the officers are the ones who go AWOL [and not just the well-connected rich cowards either],) but the Evil Party will be able to rabbit on about how *they* never had to do a draft and it simply proves the Stupid Party is incompetent; if the Stupid Party continues to hire mercenaries, it will continue the ongoing transfer of money from the US treasury to the Evil Party private armies; and if the Stupid Party admits defeat, the shrieks of the chickenhawk right-wing wurlitzer will provide the traditional background music as the right-wing sheep march -- bleating gently -- to the abattoir for the 2010 election.

Evil? Well, yes, it is, but do you think that this is likely to discourage the Evil Party?

Nov 25, 2007

Trolley photo of the day

Portland Vintage Trolley #512 (Gomaco 1990) heads west towards Lloyd Center shopping center while a westbound SD600 approaches from the east.

Nov 24, 2007

photo of the day

An old IH pickup truck

One of the neighbor kids bought an IH R110(?) pickup truck last spring and has spent much of his time since then renovating it. When it's not being driven around, it spends its time parked on the street, creating a driving hazard as all of the gearheads driving by get distracted and start drifting all over the road.

Nov 23, 2007

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite sneaks off to gnaw the last bit of delicious dinosaur flesh off the remaining turkey bones.

New Code!

For the past few days, I've been working over the date parsing code for at, and I've finally worked it into the point where I can set it aside and work on the rest of the code that makes at a functional batcher. I am still planning on putting at job running into cron, but I've been reluctant to modify and restart cron because I'm still waiting for the 112 day uptime rollover that has been so good at confusing vixie-cron for the last decade or so. So, instead of doing that I've pulled the guts of the time maker out and stuffed them into its own (BSD-licensed) library, which I'm going to release now so that people with other (and less-capable) at date parsers can include the library in their code releases.

The new maketime() function understands a fairly extensive list of date specifications, as (sketchily) described in the manpage:


maketime - parse an at-format date


#include "at.h"

maketime(int argc, char *argv, int (error)(char *,...));


The maketime() function parses the at-format date string contained in argc and and returns the time_t value that it compiles to.

The date string consists of an optional time, an optional date, or a time offset. The time may be HH:MM, HH am/pm, or the symbolic names noon, teatime (4pm,) or midnight. The date can be MM/DD, MM/DD/YY, DD.MM, DD.MM.YY, DD-Month, DD-Month-YY, DD Month, DD Month YY, Month DD, or Month DD, YY ( if the YY is two digits, it's assumed to b e the year within the current century .)

Date offsets may be prefixed with a time, and are of the form + quantity units or quantity units from specific-date. A specific date is a day of the week, today, tomorrow, or yesterday.

In addition, the names one through ten are recognised as the numbers 1 through 10.

Return Values

Upon successful completion returns the time_t date that the at date compiles to, otherwise 0 is returned.


When an error is detected, maketime calls the user-supplied error function to report the error before it returns. If no error function was supplied, maketime merely prints a diagnostic to stderr and returns.

See Also


This allows me to do some pretty ridiculous at time specifications, such as

  • at teatime three weeks from friday
  • at one month from now
  • at 11:30 tonight
  • at noon next friday
  • at midnight friday
  • at exactly three months from now
  • at 8:45am 31 July 2008
  • at midnight Dec 31, 2007

This code is not exhaustively tested. It builds on MacOS leopard-1, FreeBSD 4.8, and SLS linux. I suspect it will build on Mastodon as well. It might even build on embrace-and-extend-OS but I'm not going to bet on it until I've wrapped around it. But it is new, so it's the ideal candidate to be New Code!

Nov 21, 2007

Picture of the day

The KOIN tower catches the evening sun.

Nov 20, 2007

There’s a moon in the sky

The half(ish) moon from my bus stop tonight.

decisions, decisions

For the last few days I've been working on rewriting at for Mastodon, and I've been trying to figure out whether I should just toss the atrun quasi-daemon and instead expand cron to process at jobs as well as the usual run of the mill crowd of crontabs.

An argument in favor of this is that at jobs are just another scheduled job, and if I put in a permissions file for people who are allowed to run scheduled jobs, it's somewhat redundant to have two of them (at can be emulated with a crontab, cron can be emulated with a trivially simple at job [I know this latter one because I once had an account on a computer where I had access to at, but not to cron. The PFYs who managed that computer didn't really consider that viruses are not the only self-reproducing code in the jungle.])

An argument against doing this is, um, "This! Is! POSIX!", which isn't exactly the standard I'm trying to follow with Mastodon (Unix v7, yes. Posix, no. I'm the sort of BOFH who considers Plan 9 to be an overly complex implementation of a Unixy operating system, and about the only thing Posix has going for it in the simplicity department is that it's being used as a machete to weed out some of the more offensive extensions that infest FSF-ware.)

(You might ask why I'm reimplementing at? Well, my "teatime" extension to koeneg-at is nice to have, but in the decade or so since I contributed that feature to the mainline I've grown impatient for a richer date language. "at teatime next friday" is closer to what I want, and it gives me an excuse to build a language via yacc+lex and bathe in the lap of huge automatically generated parsers.)

Nov 18, 2007

An embarrassingly large pile of junk

When the wave of Chinese toy recalls rolled in this fall, we went through the big pile of toys(tm) and binned every "made in China" toy that we couldn't find a "we don't contain lead" disclaimer for. All of these toys were stuffed into shopping bags and stored in the back room while we decided whether to do lead testing or not ("not" won when we found that lead testing swabs cost about US$2.00 EACH) and finally made it into the garbage can this afternoon.

Good lord, this is an embarrassingly large pile of stuff. And since we couldn't be sure that they were actually *safe*, we couldn't give it away, but had to throw it out. It's just our part in the grand plan to destroy the ecosystem on this planet. Our grandchildren will thank us for this. Not.

Nov 16, 2007

It must be winter …

... because the winter round of things that go wrong has begun. Today, the thing that went wrong was 2-3 gallons of diesel oil deciding to escape from the storage tank in the basement and scamper across the floor towards the pile of scrappy parts I've got stacked up to do art with. It didn't reach the art -- the best cut it off at the pass and thwarted its escape by the simple expedient of dumping 40 pounds of kitty litter onto the nasty stuff -- but *my god the smell*! It smells -- after opening all of the doors and windows, setting up fans to blow clean air out, and scrubbing most of the floor with orange cleaner -- like we're living in the middle of the locomotive refueling racks at the Milwaukee Road roundhouse in North LaCrosse Ca 1975 (the RSC-2s were still around back then, so I spent a lot of time growing familiar with the stench of spilled diesel oil.)

I'm thinking of taking a bottle of Dr. Bronner's soap (“Dilute Dilute OK!”) and spreading the concentrated form around the offending spill. Pepperment-diesel might be a pretty nasty combination, but it's not any nastier than plain old diesel.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust mite decides to participate in the computer case mod craze, but doesn't seem to quite grasp how it's supposed to be done.

Beware of the cat

Nov 15, 2007

Waiting for a barge

When I took the bus home at lunch there were about 8 tugboats (and the Portland fireboat) standing around by the west side of the Ross Island Bridge. As the bus went across the bridge, I took pictures of some of them, but didn't realize until I returned to work why they were there; it turned out that the shipbuilding company was launching their latest boat today, and all of the barges were there to make certain that the barge de jour didn't take out either itself, the crane barge, or one of the piers of the Ross Island bridge (the fist two would be incredibly annoying, the last would be Very Bad Indeed.)

I'm not sure how I would have arranged to get down by the water when the barge was being launched, but I'm still sorry that I missed it. Perhaps when they finish the next one (and there probably will be a next one now that the rolling disaster known as measure 37 has been clarified to be a zoning giveaway to small landholders and not the “screw you unless you're a rich developer!” mess that the supporters intended it to be.)

Trolley photo of the day

One Astra trundles down towards the south end of the downtown streetcar line as another one approaches the Gibbs St. station.

Nov 14, 2007

Preach it, brother

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed on the internet, under the presidency of the Peter Ludlow. Anyone wishing to debate with us, may do so by e-mail at

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said "love thy neighbor", willed that believers should show *compassion* toward others.
  2. This word cannot be understood to mean mere lip service ("I love them, but I hate their sin"), but genuine concern for the welfare of others.
  3. Yet the Religious Right has forsaken compassion for a doctrine of institutionalized hatred and violence.
  4. Specifically, the Religious Right has taken the Word of God and wrapped it in the flag of Right Wing Politics, replacing God's message of redemption for the entire world with a narrow message endorsing right wing American politics.
  5. Item: the Religious Right has neglected the teachings of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, where He instructs that we are to show compassion for the poor.
  6. In place of God's words, the Religious Right has substituted a right wing political doctrine in which the poor have only themselves and their alleged laziness and moral weakness to blame.
  7. For example, the Religious Right has rejected the needs of poor children of unwed mothers.
  8. The Religious Right has rejected the cries for help from the children of impoverished families in the inner cities.
  9. The Religious Right, has advocated fewer resources for the elderly poor and for the millions of children now living in poverty.
  10. In place of giving to the poor, the Religious Right has advocated political doctrines specifically designed so that individuals may acquire vast sums of money.
  11. The Religious Right has thus seized on a contemporary economic ideology as an excuse to ignore the teachings of Jesus.
  12. Item: the Religious Right has ignored God's injunction that we are to be caretakers for the Earth.
  13. In place of God's injunction, the Religious Right has advocated policies in which the natural resources of God's creation are stripped from the earth and given to wealthy corporations without replacement.
  14. In place of God's injunction that we are to be caretakers for the creatures of His creation, they have advocated policies through which these creatures may be extinguished forever.
  15. The Religious Right has rejected laws designed to protect God's creation from pollution, claiming the "rights" of property owners are to be paramount.
  16. In each case they have ignored the message of the Bible that this is God's creation, and they have substituted a doctrine in which God's creation may be partitioned and sold to the highest bidder.
  17. Again, God's message has been cast aside for a message that supports a narrow economic message with its roots in right wing American politics.
  18. Item: the Religious Right has neglected the teachings of Jesus that "he who is without sin should cast the first stone."
  19. In place of God's words, the Religious Right has substituted a doctrine in which perceived sinners are to be persecuted.
  20. Gays, for example, are persecuted because of their alleged sins. In some cases, leaders of the Religious Right have encouraged acts of physical violence against gays.
  21. While the Religious Right has been eager to persecute others for their alleged sins, they have been blind to their own.
  22. While the Bible counsels that a rich man can no more enter the Kingdom of Heaven than a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, many in the Religious Right have celebrated the acquisition of wealth.
  23. While the Bible enjoins us against pride, the Religious Right appears to be flush with pride in it's holier than thou stance.
  24. While the Bible asks that we be slow to anger, the Religious Right is quick to anger -- indeed it appears to revel in anger and in fanning the flames of anger in others.
  25. While the Bible counsels that we are not to be "revilers," key members of the religious right have consistently and aggressively reviled their political enemies as well as those who are perceived to be sinners.
  26. It seems then, that the Religious Right picks its sins selectively, ignoring the clear Biblical message against avarice, pride, and anger, and emphasizing selected “sins” that have little to no Biblical basis.
  27. Item: While the Bible counsels that we are not to bear false witness, the Religious Right has engaged in smear campaigns against numerous political foes, often telling outright lies about “liberal” political leaders.
  28. Worse yet, these smear campaigns have often been carried out in the house of God, sometimes in the form of inserts in church bulletins, and sometimes directly from the pulpit.
  29. But the Religious Right has not merely spread its lies within the Church; they have done so outside the Church as well.
  30. The Religious Right has used its financial resources not to spread the word of God, but to spread lies in the populace.
  31. Item: Religious Right has failed to see that God's call to help our neighbors also extends to our international neighbors.
  32. International aggression is not a Christian doctrine.
  33. Where the Bible calls us to be peacemakers, the Religious Right claims that we have no business trying to bring peace to troubled areas but rather counsels that we should use military might to secure our business interests.
  34. Where the Bible, through the story of the good Samaritan, instructs that we are to help our international neighbors -- indeed, even our enemies -- the Religious Right counsels "America First".
  35. But "America First" cannot be a true Christian Doctrine.
  36. The Bible gives no special status to political entities like the United States of America, and any suggestion to the contrary is to simply lie about the content of the Bible.
  37. God does not bless nation states, and if He did, He surely would not bless them for practicing international internal intolerance, and propping up corrupt kingdoms and military juntas that traffic in institutionalized poverty and violence.
  38. Item: the Religious Right has claimed that abortion is immoral, yet there is no Biblical basis for this claim
  39. Rather, the doctrine appears to be driven by a medieval philosophy of the person, which they have imported into their theology.
  40. Why has medieval philosophy taken precedence over the Scriptures? Perhaps the Religious Right never took the Scriptures very seriously in the first place.
  41. This is highlighted by the frightening extremes to which they have taken this political dogma.
  42. Victims of rape and incest are not to be allowed abortions. What could the Biblical basis of this possibly be?
  43. Even when the mother's life is in danger, they would reject the possibility of abortion. Thus once again God's message of love and redemption is tarnished by advocates of a political doctrine of hatred and cruelty.
  44. More troubling than their anti-abortion doctrine, however, is the tone with which that doctrine is advanced.
  45. Here they use they weapon of hatred, encouraging the harassment of women, the bombing of clinics, and in some cases the taking of human life.
  46. Their rejoinder that abortion is the taking of a human life has no basis in Biblical authority.
  47. Their anti-abortion campaign is merely a political campaign dressed in the clothing of religion.
  48. Item: The Religious Right has failed to distinguish its political message from what is left of its genuine religious message, leading Christians to conflate the two.
  49. The Religious Right has engaged in a form of idolatry -- idolatry of certain patriotic symbols.
  50. They have wrapped the Bible in the American flag. Indeed, one can find Bibles that contain documents such as the United States Constitution and pictures of the presidents.
  51. Such Bibles arguably defile the word of God.
  52. The American flag is not a symbol to be worshipped; yet the Religious Right has argued that it should be a crime to "desecrate" the flag. But what religious basis is there for such advocacy?
  53. What basis is there for putting the American flag in the front of a church, next to the altar and the cross?
  54. There can be no Biblical basis for placing such symbols in the house of God, nor for the undue reverence paid to them.
  55. The Religious Right has failed to grasp the full power of God, supposing that spiritual growth for Christians can only come in the wake of political change in the United States.
  56. On the contrary, God is perfectly capable of creating spiritual revival without the help of the Republican Party, and certainly without the help of an organizations that espouse doctrines that are antithetical to the teaching of God at almost every turn.
  57. Item: the Religious Right has preyed on people's fears -- their fear of crime, of other races, of the future, of the unknown.
  58. Rather than say "fear not, for God is with us," they have used fear to sow the seeds of hatred and violence.
  59. They have led their congregations to fear people of other races.
  60. They have led their congregations to fear people of other sexual orientations.
  61. They have led their congregations to fear our own judicial system.
  62. They have led their congregations to fear the teachings of science.
  63. They have led their congregations to fear anyone and anything different from their narrow conception of what they consider to be normal.
  64. Worse, they have fanned this fear into hatred, encouraging their congregations to despise those who are different.
  65. Item: The Religious Right has paid lipservice to the moral development of children, yet their doctrines are antithetical to the interests of children.
  66. They appear to believe that moral development can be accomplished solely through discipline and censorship -- censorship of thought-provoking materials and censorship of the findings of science.
  67. Yet, as a group, the members of the Religious Right have failed miserably as parents.
  68. Jesus said, "suffer the children come unto me," yet members of the Religious Right have physically and psychologically abused their children.
  69. They have advocated corporeal punishment, and have carried out acts of indoctrination on their children which, truth be known, are as severe as those of any fringe religious cult.
  70. They have made children to be ashamed of and hate their bodies, when they should be proud that those bodies are the temples of God.
  71. They have lied to children about the nature of God's creation, teaching them to ignore the great beauty God has revealed through the biological sciences.
  72. In place of that beauty, they have taught their children a theory in which God's revelation through nature is ignored, and an ugly doctrine of fiat creation is espoused.
  73. They have taught their children to be intolerant of others, to be hateful of gays and persons of color.
  74. They have failed to instruct their children in God's message of love and redemption and have substituted for it a message of exclusion, suspicion, and contempt.
  75. They have failed to raise their children according to the teachings of the Bible.
  76. They have utterly failed as parents, yet they presume to dictate how we should raise our own children.
  77. Item: The Religious Right, caught up in its hypocritical attacks on others has utterly ignored the solteriolocial aspects of Christianity.
  78. Gone is the message that Jesus dies on the cross to save us from our sins.
  79. Gone is the message of salvation, of hope and redemption.
  80. In effect, the one core fact of Christianity, it's very reason for being, has been lost in the Religious Right's orgy of hatred and accusation.
  81. How many souls will be lost because of their campaign of hatred?
  82. At what price do these political triumphs come? Are they really worth the loss of the core message of Christianity?
  83. Item: the Religious Right pays lip service to the authority of the Word of God, yet that Word plays little role in the treating of the Religious Right.
  84. In place of the message of God's Grace and our redemption, they have substituted a purely political doctrine with no grounding in the Scriptures.
  85. Rare are the references to passages of the Bible in the sermons of the Religious Right.
  86. Those references that survive, are taken out of context and are merely used to justify preestablished political doctrines.
  87. For example, there is no Biblical support for their views on abortion.
  88. There is no Biblical support for their right wing economic theories.
  89. There is no Biblical support for their campaign of abuse against their own children.
  90. There is no Biblical support for their "America First" doctrines.
  91. There is no Biblical support for their treatment of persons of color.
  92. There is no Biblical support for their treatment of homosexuals.
  93. In conclusion: the Religious Right has desecrated the house of God, taking a place of worship and treating it as a soap box in the service or the Right Wing of the Republican Party.
  94. The Religious Right has likewise desecrated the Word of God, attributing to the Bible doctrines that are hateful, cruel, and entirely antithetical to the actual contents of the Bible.
  95. Christians are to be exhorted to speak out against the Religious Right, as it is a vile heretical movement, wholly outside the teachings of the Word of God.
----------------------Redistribute Freely--------------------------------

(from The Leiter Reports, via a bofh-net post by Zebee Johnstone)

Nov 12, 2007

I hate daylight savings time


It’s officially winter when I walk out of work at 5pm and it’s already dark. If not for daylight’s savings time, this would not be so much of a problem, but as it is it makes for a pretty depressing three months in the middle of winter.


Trolley photo of the day

Both of the half-lime green Inekon trolleys lay over at Gibbs St.

The trolley loop south of Gibbs St. has been pulled out of service, presumably because of construction on the highrises at the south end of this latest festival of insider politics (a festival that I, reluctantly, see some good reasons for; the Oregon tax code is biased in favor of businesses, so it's good policy to replace businesses with residential properties which -- even with the ridiculous package of tax giveaways the city gives to developers that set aside even a single utility closet as "low-income housing" -- will bring in more property tax revenue) which means I get to occasionally catch pictures of multiple streetcars laying over at the Gibbs St. station.

The picture quality suffers when it's drizzling, but this is about as good as the view from human eyes was.

The documentation lags the product. So what else is new?

The machine has been finished for about a month now, but I've finally written up a brief description of my new glowy server case. Now I can start thinking about how I'm going to build a mini-companion cube for the pico-itx motherboard that's sitting on my "needs to be encased" shelf.

Nov 11, 2007

photo of the day

The burnside bridge waves to Big Pink
The Burnside bridge and Big Pink.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -- -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

--Wilfred Owen

Breakfast in hell

The yolks are jungle green or bloody,
depending on which blasted tree you squat against
to try and hoist the greasy, lukewarm chow
in your tin canteen cup to your leathery mouth.
A colony of spores thrives on humidified bread
and fried insects pepper blackened bacon.

Breakfast in hell, three days soaked-loping
from Firebase X where Charlie waits along the trail,
black mosquito with a stinger, copper-jacketed,
that ruptures trained brains or a foolhardy chest.
Nothing reminds us of a Diner in Indiana or New York.
This is a kitchen where disease drips from trees.

We're happy for a moments peace to swill dry mouths
out with a brew the hue of coffee
but the taste of burnt tires our guts have learned
to tolerate along with shrapnel crumbs.
Too tired to ask ourselves why we're here
we light joints to avoid being besieged by answers.

Patriots all, we huddle, ready to salute death,
the general who's drafted tens of thousands on all sides.
The heat is stifling and makes us wish
we could pull on Charlie's thin black pajamas
and still serve our violent mission as good grunts
who keep metaphoric dominoes from tumbling.

There's Tex from Arizona who rode a bus
through a Panhandle night to Benning
and swears he'll move to Amarillo if he outlives Nam.
Wash, from Harlem, paid a seamstress, who sits
near Saigon's Paris brothel, to create a pair
of boxer shorts for him from a nylon Old Glory.

We swear in feigned joy we'll reunite
ten years from now to hide a pessimistic truth:
many will be long dead, and the rest will live
in furnished nightmares and forget the wish
to elbow at the bar in Denver's Browns Hotel.

Some will go home to beat their wives again,
others to pump gas near flying Turnpikes
or deliver milk in Boston suburbs before dawn.
We have learned to commit crimes like murder,
without facing trial. Some will try that. I'll wake
from night-sweats to write poems, still breakfasting in hell.

--Oswald LeWinter

State of the Union, 2003

I have not been to Jerusalem,
but Shirley talks about the bombs.
I have no god, but have seen the children praying
for it to stop. They pray to different gods.
The news is all old news again, repeated
like a bad habit, cheap tobacco, the social lie.

The children have seen so much death
that death means nothing to them now.
They wait in line for bread.
They wait in line for water.
Their eyes are black moons reflecting emptiness.
We've seen them a thousand times.

Soon, the President will speak.
He will have something to say about bombs
and freedom and our way of life.
I will turn the tv off. I always do.
Because I can't bear to look
at the monuments in his eyes.

--Sam Hamill

Come up from the fields, father

Come up from the fields, father,
here's a letter from our Pete;
And come to the front door, mother,
here's a letter from thy dear son.

Lo, 'tis autumn;
Lo, where the trees, deeper green,
yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages,
with leaves fluttering in the moderate wind;
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang,
and grapes on the trellis'd vines;
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat, where the bees were lately buzzing?)

Above all, lo, the sky, so calm, so transparent
after the rain, and with wondrous clouds;
Below, too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,
and the farm prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well;
But now from the fields come, father, come
at the daughter's call;
And come to the entry, mother,
to the front door come,
right away.

Fast as she can she hurries,
something ominous,
her steps trembling;
She does not tarry to smoothe her hair,
nor adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly;
O this is not our son's writing, yet his name is sign'd;
O a strange hand writes for our dear son. O stricken mother's soul!
All swims before her eyes,flashes with black,
she catches the main words only;
Sentences broken, "gun-shot wound in the breast,
cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better."

Ah, now, the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio,
with all its cities and farms,
Sickly white in the face, and dull in the head,
very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

"Grieve not so, dear mother," (the just-grown daughter speaks through her sobs;
The little sisters huddle around, speechless and dismay'd;)
"See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will soon be better."

Alas, poor boy, he will never be better,
(nor may-be needs to be better, that brave and simple soul;)
While they stand at home at the door, he is dead already;
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better;
She, with thin form, presently drest in black;
By day her meals untouch'd,
then at night fitfully sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping,
longing with one deep longing,
O that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent from life,
escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son.

--Walt Whitman

Pinning together a VGA cable

I sat down with a multimeter and traced the pins on the iMac video circuit back to the motherboard, so I can make a (short) iMacga to VGA converter cable. fortunately for me it's just a simple remapping of pins and I don't have to wire together another circuit to remap levels.

Bondi blue iMac logic board
1 RED ground9 RED
2 BLUE ground10 BLUE
3 GREEN ground11 GREEN
4 N/C12 Hsync
5 Sync ground13 Vsync
6 sense 114 Sync ground
7 sense 215 Comp. Sync
8 Sync ground16 N/C

cable pinning

VGA pins 4-7 are all tied to ground (some diagrams tie them to pin 8 [Sync ground]); pins 9 & 15 are not connected; ping 12 is claimed to not be connected, but if my translation is correct here the Mac links that one to the (grounded) sense 2 pin.

I'm taking bets over whether the g3 will physically explode out of the socket when I wire up this cable and attach it to a monitor.

Nov 10, 2007

The machine that goes *boing!*

no working video, but the audio works.

About five years ago, while I was in the middle of being unemployed, I traded some PC hardware for the processor board out of a rev. B Apple iMac. I'd read some of the "how to salvage your iMac after the stupid power supply sheds its container" articles and thought it would be a fun was to get a non-Sun non-intel machine running on my home network.

Well, this grand idea went nowhere and the iMac rotted away in the project pile, only emerging once when I worked out the power supply pin assignments, until this fall when I cleaned out my workroom and started working on building the glowy server case. The glowy server case cleared enough layers away so that the iMac processor board rose to the top, and I dug out my list of pin assignments and started assembling the power supply adapter.

After a few mishaps (I had also grabbed some howto pages off the net, and managed to start wiring the processor board connector with the power filter board pinout. I cut that connector off, then broke off a pin on the ATX side of the connector when I was re-stripping the wire ends. And when the ATX sockets I ordered came in, I mislabelled the pins and wired the ATX connector backwards, so I had to cut that end off and solder in a third socket with the correct wiring. And after I did that, I accidentally connected +5VSB to ground while I was checking the circuit and ended up killing the ATX power supply (I'm not sure why I wasn't using one of the junk big-box power supplies that litter the basement, but I suppose I have to sacrifice useful hardware every now and then to preserve my reputation as Death of electronics.)

But after all this, I got the power cord all wired up (including the little circuit that converts the iMac +5V PWR-ON to the ATX 0V PWR-ON signal,) attached it to another junk power supply and an Apple->VGA monitor converter, pressed the power button, and watched the cpu fan spin up and the processor board power light turn on. But nothing showed up on the monitor (which wasn't that surprising because I've never been able to get any Mac to put a signal through that horrid thing. And without the little sad Mac face (or whatever Apple put on their powerpc machines) I couldn't be sure that the thing was actually booting or if I'd managed to lobotomize the machine and all I was seeing was the hindbrain reacting to the presence of power on the +12V pin.

No disk, no blips of activity on the cdrom drive, nothing to indicate that there was anything here aside from an inefficient resistance heater. Except, maybe, for the headphone jack. I scampered upstairs, grabbed my headphones, plugged them into the (not marked, because this iMac is sans case) headphone jack, and pushed the power button. *boing!*

Sounds like victory to me. Now I need to wire VGA to Apple video connector and then I'll be able to actually see the poor little sad Mac face.

Update: I plugged a cd-rom drive into the box and dropped a Slackware linux cd into it. When the mac boots, it attempts to read stuff off the cd, then sits there glumly and lets me turn it off by poking the power switch lines on the motherboard. If I could actually see what it's doing, I'd be set.

Nov 09, 2007

New Code! (let’s make gcc less whiny! edition, part 2)

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.4.5a with the completion of the project to make it compile without complaint with gcc -Wall on more-modern systems.

Gcc is really a horrible piece of work, and the FSF coding standards are appalling. One of the places in the code where goddamn gcc complains is the area around the milter code, where, if I don't build with --with-milter, I simply stub out the modules with integer constants reflecting success.

0; (what mfto() expands to when postoffice is not built with --with-milter) is perfectly legitimate code. Gcc doesn't like it. register c is also perfectly legitimate code. Gcc doesn't like it either. So I've added the --with-gcc-patch flag to, which tells it to apply a gcc bowlderisation patch as part of the configuration process. If you attempt to build with gcc, also sets a few horrible #defines to further make gcc -Wall happy with the code, and mf.h includes a truely horrible inline function that converts 0; into f(0); (where f() is defined as int f(x) { return x; }.

So it's New Code!, but you might want to scrub your brane with lye soap if you download it.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Gross weight: 1 oz.
Is a Dust Mite supposed to weigh an ounce?

Nov 08, 2007

New Code! (let’s make gcc less whiny! edition)

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.4.5 to fix a minor bug and make gcc -Wall produce less terrifying output.

Bob Dunlop reported the bug, which was that spam=bounce wasn't setting spam=bounce, but was instead comparing the current spam setting to bounce and not doing anything with the result.

The code scrub was also suggested by Mr. Dunlop, who is trying to build postoffice on an ARM-based system; I decided that I'd do a sweep across the code myself to see what I could clean out. It was pretty easy to make gcc 2.7.2 stfu;

  • Some simple housekeeping made gcc stop whining about variables being clobbered after longjmp() (I added a configure check for the volatile keyword, then plastered volatile prefixes on everything that gcc complained about; on systems that don't support volatile it #defines that keyword to an empty comment,)
  • some minor code rework (forcing an assignment to a variable that wouldn't be set if a loop failed; previously I was failing the condition when loop counter==max,) and
  • adding a test to configure to have it append -Wno-parentheses to CFLAGS if you're trying to build with the FSF compiler.(I combine assignments and tests by doing if ( var = setter() ), but the FSF style manual disapproves of this. So -Wall means that the silly compiler whines bitterly about this unless I add -Wno-parentheses to CFLAGS.

Newer versions of gcc, like the one that Apple uses on MacOS 10, have many more things they get hysterical about (the flux of const vs. non-const in headers is annoying enough, but newer perversions of C freak out about signedness as well. Sigh.)

But it's still New Code!, and it's New Code! where gcc -Wall is a little less chattery about things that don't fit the FSF programming stylebook.

Nov 05, 2007

Enjoy the view before it gets cluttered up with skyscrapers

Vicious inhuman predator photo of the day

A compassionate conservative.

The orb weaver spiders around the house have started to reach the point where they become ridiculously menacing. This is exhibit A: it's as tall as a Lego minifig and it still seems to be enthusiastically building webs and consuming flies, bees, and small yapping dogs.

Nov 04, 2007

Welcome to the Evil Empire!

The CIA has confessed (again) that it tortures prisoners, and the reaction from the mainstream press is to whitewash the news. Everything that Hannah Arendt said about the banality of evil is being put onto full display right now in America.

Part of it might just be outrage overload. I've found that after almost seven years of watching the United States careen from being a flawed superpower down towards the pit of depravity that so many of our self-proclaimed moral leaders desire that about all I can summon up is some sort of vague horror instead of the spitting outrage that I was feeling a few years ago. Some of that is that it's easier to feel outrage when there might be an alternative (my two alternatives of hoping that the Democratic party would gain control of part of the government (and developing an idea of how to govern) or fleeing the country have been quashed by (a) the Democrats continuing their now-generation-long streak of reflexively cowering whenever a Republican says “boo” and (b) the Tories taking over the Canadian government as well as my family refusing to leave this sinking ship) but I think it's more that my body is just tamping down the outrage to keep my heart from exploding. But in any case it's pretty shameful that I just watch this without grabbing tar, feathers, and an warehouse full of rail, going to Washington DC, and setting up a *free* rail-ride outside the capitol building.

(via Micheal Froomkin)

Nov 03, 2007

Idle hands make the devil’s at-at

Lego is selling a new AT-AT model, which, to Russell's great dismay, we have neglected to purchase for him. The best went out for a while this afternoon, leaving me here with the bears, and Russell took advantage of that hour and a half to design and build this model. It might not have “Power Functions™”, but he's got it now instead of having to save up his allowance for 40 weeks.

Transit photo of the day

Vivid fall colo(u)rs and New Flyer bus.

Occasionally my instincts are good.

Normally, I'm very good at seeing a trend, getting scared by it, and doing exactly the wrong thing about it (the whole .com bubble? I spent all of it avoiding the entreaties of various bubblerific startups, and ended up unemployed for two and a half years when the bubble broke. If I'd worked for a bubblerific startup, I would no doubt have ended up unemployed, but (a) I would have made a shitload more money before that happened, and (b) I would have maintained contacts with enough people to get me out of the unemployment hole long before my money ran out. It didn't help that my other instinct was to stay in Portland. Sure, it's “nice” that the value of my house has almost trebled (but since we're not selling it the only effect of that increased valuation is that our property taxes have gone way up,) but when the .com bubble popped it the tech economy up here flatlined along with my bank account.

I even backed the Democratic Party after they did that whackjob on Howard Dean's campaign. So, as you can tell, my non-technical instincts are dubious at best.

But when the Democratic Party folded on S. 3930, that was enough for me and I started returning the torrent of solicitations from the Democratic Party either blank or with a curt "please take me off your mailing list" comment. This scared off some of the fishermen, but others were more stubborn. The DSCC, chaired by Charles Schumer, was one of the stubborn ones, and it managed, as if by magic, to arrange it so that every time the Stupid Party did something particularly idiotic I'd get Yet Another solicitation under Mr. Schumer's letterhead.

This went on a long time, until the idiotic thing de jour was Mr. Schumer coming to bat to protect the tax loophole that his good friends in the financial parasite community were using to not pay any taxes on their hundreds-of-million-dollar incomes. *The* *very* *next* *day* saw the next solicitation from the DSCC, asking for my money to help “protect” the country from the Evil Party.

I snapped, wrote “FUCK OFF AND DIE” on every page of the solicitation, stuffed it back into the business reply envelope, and mailed it back posthaste.

Yes, this was a bit immoderate even for me, and I occasionally wondered if I had maybe gone a little bit over the top. Until today, when I read a news release stating “BREAKING: Schumer and Feinstein Will Vote For Mukasey”.

You know, if I wanted to support a party that was in favor of absolute monarchy, I would have voted for the Evil Party. If I wanted to vote for a party that would allow the Coward in Chief to continue torturing and murdering under the cloak of the law, I would have voted for the Evil Party.

It was not excessive to tell the DSCC to fuck off and die. It was perhaps a bit restrained, and I guess I should have used a smaller font so I could list all of the reasons why the DSCC should go commit anatomical impossibilities on itself. And my decision to not contribute one red penny to the Democratic Party until they reverse all of the horrible Evil Party policies that have been enacted since 1980? It's looking smarter and smarter every day.

Nov 02, 2007

No good deed goes unpunished.

A while ago (and knowing that it would likely do no good because of the shrieking cowards who control the Stupid Party caucus would fold as the first opportunity) I signed an online petition requesting that the Stupid Party tell Maximum Leader Genius to take his horrid post facto spying bill and ram it up his ass. Since it was an online petition, it needed an email address, so I gave it one, then went around clicking every “I don't want any of your stinking email solicitations, thank you very much.” button I could find.

The petition made no difference (of course) but what was worse than that was that very soon after that I started to get “personal” messages from Jane Hamsher and Matt Stoller (“personal” as in “sent through a lefty-affiliated bulk emailer. aka “not personal at all&rdquo) asking for me to contribute money to some doomed liberal cause or another. And what address were these stinking email solicitations sent to? Why, surprise surprise, it was the address I used for the petition and the address that I clicked all of the no-email buttons I could find out about.

Now, I'm sure Ms. Hamsher and Mr. Stoller are wonderful people (The firedoglake weblog was an enjoyable read back in the days before it became a big business with groupies; I'm not sure which weblogs Mr. Stoller are affiliated with, because the only ridiculously popular lefty weblog I read is the pale blue Satan and I can't be bothered to even remember the names of most of the others,) but this business of selling your good names to spammers is icky, and if I had been stupid enough to provide my permanent mail address I would have ended up kicking myself for my stupidity (I provided my email address to the MoveOn people back before the coup in 2000, and got easily a mailing a day for the next two years (even after I'd blacklisted the fuck out of every moveon server I could find.)

As it stands I can easily remove the offending address (postoffice aliases are very useful at times) and chalk this up as yet another reason to cultivate a passionate dislike for the whole online lefty establishment. And the next time an online petition is passed around, I'll pretend I'm Nancy Reagan and just say no; if it's important enough for a petition, it's important enough for me to get on the phone and politely request that the congressional representatives who are supposed to represent me actually represent me instead of the crowd of inside-the-beltway courtiers that they run with.

It won't be any more effective than the internet petitions, but at least I won't get more spam.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

But how does Dust Mite handle a utility knife that large?

Dust Mite helps me dismantle some usb cables to build a connecter for a Berkshire Products watchdog card.

A horrible horrible sight.

It's the Sun. And it's coming up, not going down. I'm surprised that I didn't burst into flames on the spot.

Apparently someone hasn’t been paying attention to the value of US currency

I've tweaked the spamcatcher on pell so that it shovels all incoming spam into a spam trashcan instead of summarily rejecting the daily crop of nigerian 419 scams, Cantonese-language advertisements for the latest pirated software from Hong Kong, urgent pleas for money for one stupid liberal cause or another, or offers to infect my now-100% Unix network with windows rootkits. Occasionally a real piece of mail falls into the spam trashcan, so I've taken to browsing it every day or so to see what's there.

The nigerian 419 spam can be amusing, particularly when they're just a cut and paste botjob. This one deserves special attention:

ACCOUNT Number: 6503809428.
1. YOUR NAME:...
4. FAX...................................................
5. AGE...........
6. SEX:....................................
8. YOUR VALID ACCOUNT DETAILS:...................................

Invite your mail contacts to join your friends list with Windows Live Spaces. It's easy! Try it!

So DR.JIMMY KOFI wants me to mail him all of this information so he can wire a US$13.50 inheritance into my bank account? Given the exchange rate of the bubbilicious US dollar that wouldn't even be enough to cover the wire charges (the last time I wired money abroad it cost me US$30 for the wire charges, and that was back in the days when a UK£ wasn't up to US$2.10.)

And furthermore, the last inheritance that came into Chateau Chaos was delivered in the post, and it was worth *ahem* a little bit more than the beer money that DR.JIMMY KOFI is using as bait here.

Points for a less ridiculous amount than the US$30 million (== CA$4.75) that the last 419 letter was offering. It almost makes up for the points off for it being so ridiculously tiny that it wouldn't even cover the bank charges.

Nov 01, 2007

Fun with zoning, Oregon-style

A few years ago, some sleazy developers spent a whole bunch of money pushing an attempt to gut the zoning laws in Oregon (laws that actually worked at keeping the malignant growth of Oregon cities down to a low rumble,) and finally found the right mixture of sob stories and outright lies to convince the voters to pass a “Zoning for thee, but not for me” bill over the anguished cries of the Oregon citizens who correctly recognised it as an open invitation for big developers.

It didn't take very long after that bill was passed before a large fraction of the people who voted for this turkey realized that they'd been duped, and a great cry went up demanding that something be done about it. Well, eventually something was done; another bill was brought up to clean up the wording of the first measure (by basically saying "if you want to build up to a dozen houses, go for it") and was plopped down for a special fall election. You'd think that this would be a simple fix, no? Small landowners can lay waste to their own property, but large holdings (which had been taxed as a favorable rate for quite a long time as return for the zoning) would not be allowed.


There's a massive campaign trying to get this bill turned down, based on the usual crop of lies ("Oh, there are only a few huge developers" [like the one that's putting out land claims against a quarter of Washington County] and "small landholdings won't be able to be subdivided" [which is exactly not what the new measure says.]) You'd think it wouldn't pass the laugh test, but this *is* Oregon.

I predict the new measure will fail 75% to 25%. And about two weeks after it's buried the outcry that "SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!!!" will come up again, but this time it will come up to the refrain of massive residential development of the coast range.

I will just laugh. It's not my county that's going to be paved over.


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir