28 December, 2008

From the front...

New outbreaks
Summary of outbreaks
Total outbreaks: 1
Outbreak location and affected population: Kandal (Kraing Chek 
village, Deumrus commune, Kandal Steung): The outbreak affected 
backyard poultry. Among these there are 40 ducks and 80 chickens that 
died. Total number of culling is 344 heads (75 ducks, 265 chickens, 2 
geese, and 2 turkeys).
Total animals affected
Species: birds
Susceptible: 464
Cases: 120
Deaths: 120
Destroyed: 344
Slaughtered: 0

Outbreak statistics
Species: birds
Apparent morbidity rate: 25.86 percent
Apparent mortality rate: 25.86 percent
Apparent case fatality rate: 100 percent
Proportion susceptible animals lost*: 100 percent
* Removed from the susceptible population through death, destruction, 
and/or slaughter

Epidemiology
Source of the outbreak(s) or origin of infection: unknown or inconclusive


And yes, there is human comorbidity this time. One case; the man survived. A 26% morbidity rate is pretty high all by itself, but you've got to love the fatality rate. I mean, it sucks to be a farmer and lose your entire flock to H5N1 (or H1N1, or whatever), but even if you hadn't killed them to prevent your catching H5N1 yourself, or it gaining an additional vector, you'd still be losing 26% of the flock to death from the bug.

Fun times.

27 December, 2008

strange factor increases by orders of magnitude

I found myself listening to music today I had last heard while driving my friend Colin to the emergency room at 90-100mph in zero-visibility fog while his thumb was hanging from his hand by the tiniest filament of sinew you could imagine.

It's unnerving what this sort of thing can do to your head.

God bless Goa. Without it, my life would have ... well, Goa is in huge part responsible for who I am today. I'm glad people are preserving it instead of moving on to things like Vicious Delicious. I need to get me a Korg. After the Z I guess.

I just wish back then I had had amplifiers and the best headphones money could buy. I'd have learned even more than I did.

The killing of baby seals starts here.

The Z is being moved today to its new home in Frederick, MD. All the tooling required to yank the L28 and scrape the sucker bare are at the garage it's going to. I am hoping to have her in track-ready shape by my birthday, March 20, for Redline time attack events. I'm going to finally get those "antique" plates for the car, so I'll be emissions and inspection exempt (although they may frown on an unmuffled exhaust and wastegate exiting the fender fore of the wheel).

This means that every single time a cylinder in the Z fires, at least four baby seals and a kitten are killed, and two or three, or maybe more, dogs are eaten by koreans. And when the car finally gets out on the track, let me tell you, entire pods of whales are going to wash up dead on beaches, bloated and waiting to explode.

It will be glorious.

I am presently sourcing an RB20/25/26/30 and the DETT goodness. A Ford 9" live axle would be the easy way to do things, but I think if I want to do time attack, it's a downright stupid idea, even with 16x10's out back. I am unsure, however, of how to put that much power to the ground without spending lots and lots of money on the ass-end of the car. Sad to think the motor is the cheap part.

And, if you want an L28 that is – as of four years ago – in perfect running order, complete with turbo, wiring harness, etc., let me know and we can make a deal. I can't very well throw it away, so I'll need someone to come take it from me.

Those of you who knew the Z "before," that is, between 1997 and 2001 when I was driving it, and thought it was loud and obnoxious back then have no idea how loud and obnoxious this car is going to be. Its whole purpose in life is going to make the occupant(s) smell of petrol, leave ugly black scars on pavement, break speed laws, and terrify those around it. This car, for those that were there, is intended to be the pinnacle of everything I wanted at the illegal street races in SoCal in the early-mid 90's. Flames. Ungodly speed. Safety not even an afterthought. Just wheels, seats, gears, and cylinders. And yeah, it's going to have sylvia blowoff valves because they fucking sound cool, and I don't care if it's pointless.

I still haven't decided whether to get the Jolly Roger or a big smily face painted on the hood. (yeah, I'm thinking yellow)

If I had the motor already, I could literally have this swap done by next weekend. I think the first step, though, is just to get it clean enough that I can send it for paint. Strip everything out of it, fix the rust problems (anyone with a Z knows rust is evil), and then get a good solid coat of paint on it.

Engineers coming together to do evil things can be so beautiful sometimes.

24 December, 2008

As they say, "The end of an error."

I resigned from my position at Riverside on the 23rd. I really didn't want to. I got to a point where I was no longer happy with the work I was doing, and no longer happy with the direction the IT administration was moving. I'm not going to get into details because I really like everyone in the organization. These things happen. People change.

I really wish I had done it sooner. I never would have gotten pneumonia, and the stress and antipathy I've been going through for the last few months wouldn't have happened.

I'm taking some time off to work on my writing. I plan to be "off" about six weeks, working on a neglected novel, and a few short stories. I've also got some editorial columns that are pretty polished and I'm hoping to get those guys out, too. Since writing is a set-your-own-hours kinda thing, I intend to be looking for that "next job" intermittently in the following six to eight weeks.

Just fyi. You know how to reach me if you're looking for a cowboy.

22 December, 2008

Seventeen feels like five

Rode in this morning. 17°F, with windchill at 5°F. Now, I don't know how you calculate windchill, but I spent a few minutes at 65mph on the way to work (I have a very, very short commute), and I was actually worried I'd sustained frostbite on my pinkie fingers, despite the fact I have these incredible RevIt! gloves (which are like a whole cow wrapped around your hand). The little trick I have on the ZX7 of just reaching down and holding the tailpipe doesn't work on the 250, because it's waaaay too low. That, and the polypropylene neck thingie I have was so not up to the task. It's great down to, say, 30, but I think I'm going to have to either get another one or find something a skosh warmer for days when it's under 30.

Oh. I put my blackberry in my jacket pocket — the pocket lives outside the vinyl lining — and apparently it was so cold it turned the phone off. That's a new one for me.

The upside is I did get the two-down wave from a dude on a Burgman. Betcha he was comfy. He must have thought I was nuts riding in on the 250 with a jacket and the cortechs.

21 December, 2008

Well, at least I whine and explain...

The auspiciously named "technibble" has published this critique of the recent MacOS update:

One of the reports is from a person who writes that the update “just made my 24-inch iMac a totally useless brick. Now have a white screen, beeps 3 times, paused about 3 seconds, then repeats beeps.”

I do my fair share of complaining about Apple and Mac OS. However, I don't just say, "my mac is a brick." I explain what happened and how and why. It frustrates me that the "...and I'm a PC" types complain about their Mac behaving in ways they don't understand, responding "incorrectly" to their learned inputs, and so on get published as though it is indisputable fact. Seriously, what gives? Why even bother publishing this?

19 December, 2008

Useful stuff!

Besides some people calling this new update a "debacle," I am really pleased to see Apple cares about this stuff.

18 December, 2008

Keynote and its shortcomings

Keynote is pretty cool. I even had a one-on-one time with one of their design people, and I'm very very pleased with the results. However, being the anal retentive sonofabitch that I am, I keep everything in subversion. When you save a keynote file (which is really a directory, like MyFancy.key/), it removes the .svn directories, which really confuses subversion. You can't "svn add" it, nor can you "svn ci" it. I have a workaround, but I really don't like it.

They also have pretty nice support for the interface editor, very much like you see in XCode/Dashcode, except that they have no support for "glass" objects. Instead, you have to hack those suckers together in Photoshop, which is expensive software. Granted, I got my glass objects, and my gradients, and my desaturated and masked images and everything (and a lot of this I could not have done in Keynote), I really, really, would like to have at least parity between Keynote (which is payware) and Dashcode (which is not).

The "hyperlink" function is dodgy. It's hard to have more than, say, half a dozen hyperlinks on a page and have them all go to different pages. I'm finding that they go to the same page, and this is maddening, because it just shows all the PC bigots (both StarOffice and Pahrpoint) what useless machines the Macs are.

This last bit is damn near a deal-killer for me. I develop on a 3360x1050 canvas (hoping to increase that to 6720x1050 soon!), which allows me to have Photoshop, swatches, Keynote, Shiretoko, and Preview all open at the same time, in the same "space". This is really cool, and increases my productivity at least four-fold. I have everything I need, right there, right in front of me. So I took my presentation, which I think is 1024x768, and put it on my Air, to show a coworker. Now, the Air is 1280x800, so the preso should fit, but somehow, the letters/font sizes get jumbled up and this incredible presentation I want to show a coworker is completely, totally, borked and ugly, and I look like that idiot clinging to a Mac because "I'm a Mac." I am not sure why this is.

I'm going to try rendering it to a Quicktime self-contained movie, and see if that (while it will be monstrous) will properly scale when presented in full-screen mode, even on a pc.

Sorry, I can't share the presentation here, but if things work out okay, I'll post the slides in a subsequent post, perhaps even with notes.

14 December, 2008

Cheap backups for an expensive world

So the cronjob, simple as need be, is
59 3 * * * rsync -avc /Volumes/Amber/Sanctum /Volumes/Hope
Now, the first time this ran, it took well over twelve hours. 'Amber' in this case is the unholy multibus 9-physical, 1-logical drive array. Hope is a monolithic drive juuuust barely able to contain it. So, while Amber was able to recover from losing two drives to smoke, If same should happen, we should have a "warm" copy to cut over if need be. As 1.0 and 1.5 tb drives come down in price, we may just swap out the Mac's four internals for four of those, and raid 5 + 1 hotswap (only because we can't do raid 6) and maybe keep the external as a backup. That would be an improvement. On the other hand, even at $120 per drive, I think I'd rather have another 8gb of ram, as we tend to do some pretty icky things to this machine.

I had never seen all eight cores pegged until two days ago, when I was running Transmission, iSquint, Handbrake, twenty or so tabs in Shiretoko, iChat, iMovie, ServerAdmin, Activity Monitor, multiple Terminals, and of course Disk Utility. In just my account. I also had, in the "choons" account, an iTunes library that was more or less a terabyte and was frequently synchronizing with the AppleTV (as well as importing new content as iSquint finished tracks), and also running Activity Monitor, and who knows what Sandy was running – probably Transmission and VLC (we're pretty good at sharing the compute. I don't mess with her stuff, she doesn't mess with mine, and we of course keep separate users).

It's worth noting that the IO wait issue described in the previous post does not show up as "load" as it does in Solaris or IRIX. MacOS simply says the cores aren't busy (because they aren't). It correctly identifies an IO bottleneck as just that. A kind of "c'mon, user, gimme some faster disk so I can give you some faster procs." So, most of the time, the machine is idle.

Anyways, with respect to the above cronjob, it works like a charm now. There are a lot of disk reads, but very few writes, and after it runs all the checksums, it only copies the files that need to be copied (or overwritten), and it finishes in a couple hours (there are almost a million files between the two volumes).

So, I think it suffices to say that I am really impressed with Leopard Server as software.

Oh, and why 'Amber'? Well, before the raid was reconstituted from its previous state, it was named 'Wilson,' who is naturally, the kind of guy you can mostly trust, but only so far, and whose friendship you value, but have to keep a close eye on. It only seemed appropriate to name his successor 'Amber,' as 'Cutthroat Bitch' would have been a lot harder to type in the shell.

12 December, 2008

Good show, Apple

 
  
Well done. Failure modality: heavy IO use in Quicktime leads to a timeout situation, whether in the Finder trying to come up with a preview, or the AppleTV trying to stream data across the network. Note: probably a better idea to throw up a better warning than this "black screen of fail."

11 December, 2008

I awoke to the smell of an electrical fire

Well, not really. I wasn't asleep. But I was mindlessly putzing away my time on the innerwebs when I noticed a familiar and terrifying odor: somebody had let the smoke out of something, and I needed to make sure it wasn't me. The windows had no smoke. The bedroom had no smoke. The bathroom and kitchen had no smoke. But, the couch and – eeks – the desk smell. Of smoke. So, down on the ground, ass up in the air plumber style, searching for smoke. Oh. My. One of the power supplies for one of the drives, in the middle of the 1394b bus is smoking. Quickly, I attempted to stop the release of smoke by unplugging it, which was immediately followed by quick chugging from the desktop; the day was not lost, Leopard Server was recovering the stripe as I was repairing the array. Another drive drops off the bus as I unplug the bad PSU and drives "after" it on the serial 1394b bus drop off. I frantically rip the cables out of that nifty-difty cable-snake that collates the, idunno, forty cables Under The Desk, into one fat drainage pipe looking cable. Sort of like hentai. Only with no orgasms or slime.

Right. Back to the smoke. The PSU was hot to the touch, as were all the drives and all the other PSU's. I resisted the urge to blurt out, "Now, does anyone have any question of whether we need a LaCie S2S?" I consider this a hallmark of my maturity, as I did not say I Told You So. So there. Ah, yes, smoke. Back to that stuff. So, with the PSUs unplugged for the last two drives (the offender, and the one after it) and examined them. Well, might as well try plugging them back in, and seeing if everyone cooperates.

Ding. The last drive comes up, the Finder looks at it, and thinks it is Okay. Probably not, Leopard. So I fires up (hah! fire!) my Disk Utility.app, and am now fsck'ing 2tb worth of RAID.

A long time ago, I was sitting in traffic on the Wilson bridge in Alexandria when my boss called me to tell me they were "bouncing the cluster," which at the time was attached to a SAN made up of 9gb, 10krpm drives in Sun A5200's. I chuckled, said, well, that's pretty lame, we'll see how it turns out Wednesday (two days after the fact).

And so I sit, in my living room, with two terabytes of possibly (probably?) corrupt data, which I have meticulously groomed and paying for my snide remarks back then.

Nuts.

10 December, 2008

Dear Apple,

More kung fu movies on iTunes store for the Apple TV.

Not Amused,
alex

The condo that stole christmas, hannukah, and kwanzaa

Alex,

Christmas Lights, and any other lights, are not permitted on the railings or balconies of the units.  I have been in the process of completing covenants inspections over the last couple of days and will be informing all of the individuals that do have lights that they are not permitted per the direction of the Board of Directors.

Regards,

Kiel McElroy
Assistant Manager
The Eclipse on Center Park Condominium

The same management, that, incidentally, told me I could not have planters with chrysanthemum on my deck, but that it was okay to have them dead, on the floor of the deck.

Victory for the pencildicks.

08 December, 2008

Well, duh.

A bunch of geniuses have given Mr. Obama a list of stuff to do to "securing cyberspace for the 44th presidency." The list is:

  • Create a comprehensive national security strategy for cyberspace.
  • Lead from the White House.
  • Reinvent the public-private partnership.
  • Regulate cyberspace.
  • Authenticate digital identities.
  • Modernize authorities.
  • Use acquisitions policy to improve security.
  • Build capabilities.
  • Do not start over.
I'll let you read the report because quoting the inanity in each of these points would take far too long. The problem is you can't "regulate cyberspace," any more than you can "authenticate digital identities." What the government needs to realize is that it needs to restrict its usage of networking technology to airgapped networks: SIPRNET and others. With a network that restricts access to someone with e.g., a CAC card, and an central authentication authority (which need not be monolithic), suddenly, monitoring traffic becomes a lot easier. NIPRNET is often used as a synonym for "the interwebs." In reality, it's more of a government-used, but visible-to-everyone network. If the government wants civilian organizations, such as US Census and NOAA to be safe(r) from attacks over the network, they need to lock down NIPRNET by, again, restricting access to information technology.

Why does the receptionist need a computer? Well, she needs to take VOIP calls. We can do that with a simple VOIP phone. She needs to know the schedule and set the schedule. So give her access to Exchange, or better yet, through Outlook Web Access, so her computer isn't able to do anything other than connect to port 443 on a server that you run. Sure, it sucks to be her, because she can't use instant messaging, but I think we're starting to see enough personal devices that include mobile IP that said receptionist can have many capabilities that allow her to retain an online presence that does not intermingle with government network assets.

I work in these environments constantly. And, in these environments, we have continual, intentional or accidental, intermingling of data. This leads to situations where we have malware on either privately-owned (as in, a government contractor) or government-owned (or government-furnished) equipment. I cannot reveal the name of the employer, but I will say that I have seen a computer which was infected with software that copied the users to places in Egypt, and that the data onboard the machine was, individually, unclassified. As an aggregate, however, it painted a very real, classified, picture of what several agencies were doing. This happens every. single. day.

It's going to really suck to lock down non-work-related usage of the internet while working for the government, but I guarantee it will suck less than the first time we have a serious attack that either costs us data (on, for example, a classified weapons system; this would effectively toss billions of dollars out the window) or critically injure our infrastructure (by, say, destroying or preventing access to, satellite telemetry, vital routers and network choke points, or by shutting off entire buildings or agencies from the internet and other networks). When that happens (and it will), the effects will be devastating, and we'll be doing everything then that we should be doing now, even though doing it now hurts.

I don't want to have internet access taken away from me at work any more than anyone else does. But, I'll survive.

The other things, like "lead from the white house" and "create a comprehensive strategy for cyberspace" are laughable on their face. I see job postings on dice.com and monster.com, and the usual suspects like clearedjobs.com for people with twenty years in the intelligence community. Folks, the problem is the people doing this stuff are horrible at their jobs. They haven't moved fast enough. They're dinosaurs. Sure, they know how to tie a tie, wear expensive, well-cut suits, wear a Rolex, and are working on their golf handicap (whatever the fuck that means). But these are the same people who don't understand the belief that "once somebody has physical access to a machine, assume they are the superuser." These are the people that say, "well, it's got a firewall, what's the worst that could happen?" These are the people that say, "well, our IT guys all have ten years of experience and are CISSP's."

I want to take them and grab them by the ears and shake them till their Rolexes and jackets fall off and yell HEY IT'S NOT FUCKING WORKING, DO YOU GET THAT? What they've been doing since 31 Dec, 1969, is utterly failing to secure their own assets on the (inter/arpa/sipr/nipr/you-namer-it)net.

Let's make one assumption here. The internet, as a whole, is every bit as bad as Neal Stephenson has described it. There are walking, talking, six-foot penises out there. There are dudes with machine guns in suitcases called "reason." And yeah, I am sure there's a guy out there with his own nuke.

If we make that assumption, we realize, whoa, we really don't want to be there. We also realize that there is absolutely zero way to regulate or authenticate that part of the network. It is self-evolving (can any of these guys in the white house explain what BGP is?) and defies blocks and obstructions, by design. Furthermore, when somebody comes along with a way to disrupt it, new technologies emerge to counter the disruption. Bittorrent and Tor are just two ways of doing this; I've demonstrated that even TDMA, that lowly protocol we discarded a long time ago (unless you're a Viper jock), can be used to seriously hinder listening, and to defy disruption.

So, let's not even try to secure the internet. Let's do something a little easier. Let's take the government out of the internet. Let's break off NIPRNET from the Internet, and let's severely restrict network access to all but those who fundamentally require access. Give them personal terminals in the shape of phones, Origami, and other ultrathin devices (no, not sunrays, sorry) that are their responsibility, that they pay for, that they support, and they do not connect to the network. Epoxy the usb ports shut. Cage the network cable to both ends – the machine and the wall – and make sure there's no goddamn inductive pickup on it. Require multifactor authentication, like RSA tokens, CAC, and biometrics (and yes, some of them are a lot better than others). This, combined with physical access strictures, will prevent the vast majority of government compromises, and will also make finding the breaches far, far easier.

Before you do that, you have to decide who lives on the network and who doesn't. This is pretty easy, actually. Refer to EO 13228, Critical Infrastructure Protection, by, surprisingly, the Bush administration. If your name's in there, or rather, you're implementing it, congratulations, your instant messaging is now gone. That laptop you take home nightly? Gone, too.

People talk about an insecure power grid, insecure nuclear reactors, insecure FAA communications, insecure banking. Well, folks, fucking secure them. Airgap the FAA, government-owned power facilities, and legislate airgapped institutions that fall under 13228 – yep, banking, that means you. yep, telecom, that means you. In other words, if you want to do business on the scale that, say, Wells Fargo does, you've got to prove that you don't have overlap with the internet. Remember. Six foot tall, walking, talking penises, nuclear weapons, and machine guns in suitcases.

The bottom line is thus. There are two problems for this 44th president.

The first is that there is nobody he's thinking about, and nobody (well, I can think of two people, but I won't name them here) in the entire government information infrastructure is even remotely qualified to do the things that need to be done. Those things will be really hard, not because they're difficult, but because it will piss off everyone from your receptionist to the joint chiefs. If you want to treat this seriously (hey, the Chinese are), you will ignore that bitching and moaning and jfdi. That person is going to be real unpopular, and is going to need support from either the executive or judicial branch so they can reorganize, fire, and redefine with impunity. It's unfortunate that the executive and judicial branches are both so out of touch with reality that they couldn't pick such a person if they knew they needed to. (Hey, Obama, if you're reading this, drop me a line, and I'll let you know who those people are.)

The second is you have to realize that today, 2008, almost 2009, is far too fucking late to secure the internet. It's the wild goddamn west, only instead of gold rushes and train tracks and civilization, Wyatt Earp and other good guys, it's going to get worse, and worse, and worse. People are going to continue to lose money because they're stupid, people will get killed, entire networks will go down, and that's the way it is. So, GTFO. You have lost the war, and you think you haven't even started the war. Fire anyone who tells you they can secure your networks. They clearly have no idea what is going on out there.

07 December, 2008

update

so i have survived two ear infections (left, then right), precipitated by a sinus infection, which also led to bronchitis and eventually pneumonia. i suppose i could be dead, but i'm not at all happy about the time i've spent weathering this. i am still not quite "better," and have lots of lung butter to get out. the good news is, it's moving, rather than preventing me from breathing.

i have finished reading all my fiction, but can't bring myself to write anything at the moment, and can't say i really even have any ideas kicking around my head.

so, to sum up, snotty, irritated, bored, medicated.

Government spending the key to creating and keeping jobs?

short: hey, it's a long rant about Obamanomics!

Sandy and I recently watched Letter to the President in which a group of people I nominally respect, KRS-One, Russel Simmons, Quincy Jones, and a lot of the early luminaries (and present if you're actually following hip hop as a progression rather than a current trend) say that Reaganomics (I admit that I'm not real clear on what exactly this term means, other than people saying that the fiscal policies during the Reagan administration were particularly hard on the lower-middle and lower-classes) harmed black people.

I don't recall whose quote it was, and I probably misquote, but the content is correct. "Reagan's idea of jobs was everybody flipping burgers. Well, there wasn't any money in that. So the enterprising [black; inferred, not stated] guys went out and sold drugs. Those people made money, and it was clear to the youth that to succeed, you needed to sell drugs, and this brought everyone else down." Murder went up four-fold in many cities and broke past 1,000/year in several cities.

To add insult to injury, government agencies began arresting black people (this is directly stated, not inferred) and putting them in prison, to the extent that (not sourced, but stated) 25% of the black population is in prison or has been in prison. This of course is because of cocaine, which was (apparently; this has always been a sort of conspiracy theory and I don't know the facts) provided by some shady three-letter-agency looking dudes to finance covert wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, and other lovely tourist spots.

So there's a strong animosity here. The point of the film is that the American government supplied cocaine (in all its forms) to the black population, and gave them two choices: low paying jobs, or prison [via selling or possessing drugs]. The film doesn't really provide a solution as such, other than to point out that this was Really Fucked Up, and that hip hop had always been a positive influence until the rise of drug-related violence (I am sure anyone who has been listening to some of the more successful rappers will understand most if not all of them claim to have been selling drugs prior to their careers as rappers) — which subsequently turned hip hop into a culture of violence and "beef."

I haven't really decided what I think of this Obama dude other than he has a lot to live up to, with the way he's been talking. He has cut out an enormous responsibility for himself. He wants to create jobs. He wants to create infrastructure (this is kind of nebulous, but everyone seems to be making parallels to the post-WWII industrial boom). He wants to "bridge the digital divide" and get more Americans plugged in to the interwebs (aren't there a lot already?). He wants to get out of Iraq, and hasn't been real clear on what to do in Afghanistan, although I think he'd be happy to catch a certain six foot Saudi.

The Post is quoting Tim Kaine (governor of Virginia) as saying,

"Here in Virginia, we have more than a billion dollars in ready-to-go bridge, highway, rail, transit, port and airport projects that have been through appropriate local, regional and state planning processes and that can be under contract within 180 days," Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said in a statement.

How much do highway, rail, transit, port, and airport projects actually pay workers? There is no question we are looking at tax increases, as the numbers being bandied about are between $200B and $1T. Yeah, a teradollar. Will that increased infrastructure (such as finally getting inter-city and cross-country maglev 200mph+ trains) increase business and trade? It seems to me that if so, it would increase consumer spending, and widen the gap between business owners and the proletariat, which is exactly what the proletariat is squawking about. The solution to that is of course to tax business owners, or those with exorbitant incomes, and lower taxes on the proletariat or downright poor, but I dare say that smacks of marxism, which is a tragically flawed ideology. At any rate, it might work.

I think the real question is, if you're one of the poor workers now, or non-workers, or you're selling drugs, or you're an aspiring rapper, do you really want to change your current job or state of income (be it social economic support e.g., welfare, legal, or illegal business) for manual labor building a new bridge in Virginia?

Two of the great projects that employed lotsa people, and are shining examples of doing so, are the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and the Hoover Dam. But these people worked in horrid conditions, and yep, they died. Are we going to start hearing the term "Obamanomics"? I find myself chuckling as I consider the irony of the black youth and people like KRS-One lashing out at Obama for not supporting the black community that supported him in getting elected. Not because I don't have respect for the black community or KRS himself, but rather because it's so sadly ironic.

Americans, it seems, have been duped, again. However, were McCain elected, we'd still have been duped. I wonder when people will realize that the current system itself is flawed and the only way to change it is rather like the way you build a Marine. You tear down what you have into a quivering piece of potential, and then build a Rifleman, a kicking-ass and taking-names kind of person. Which, incidentally, is what the Chinese are doing at the moment, if nobody'd noticed.

Why do people like Pelosi and Zell Miller and Jimmy Carter or even Bill Clinton (who seem to all not only hold political sway and behave as a sort of "wild card," but also are willing to speak with great candor about Das Gubbermint) speak up and say, hey, let's take the first steps towards fixing the system here. In theory, having a senate and house, an executive, and a judicial branch is a pretty good idea. I mean, I really do like the idea of the Republic. And, there have been times in history when it worked really well.

But there's always been a downtrodden class, be it the plebs and slaves, the disaffected and imprisoned black youth, or young suburban white hooligans. Why not try to formulate a system that is capable of being flexible enough to change with the times and technology, instead of trying to adapt the times and technology to the Republic? Seriously, you just can't legislate the internet into any form of compliance. And you can't change the moral vicissitudes of people; they ebb and flow with time, and social laws against drugs and nudity (or pornography, prostitution, and so on) have never worked, and never will.

So, maybe Obama will have his way, and we'll be a fancy new nation in twenty years with a rail system approximate to that of Europe or (parts of) Asia. We'll also be spending more than half our income to do it. But maybe we'll have more people employed, and crime will go down.

The bottom line here is I don't see how this improves my life any, and I'm not sure there's any solution within the current political system which is capable of making life better for large swaths of people.

04 December, 2008

amazing product ideas

why is there no theraflu branded beer product?

01 December, 2008

And so the day begins

400mg of modafinil, one uber-sized coca cola produced enhanced stimulant beverage (in shiny blue can with lightning bolts! ...or are those flames?), one "horse pill" of mucinex-d, a cepacol lozenge, and a few other unmentionable drugs that make me safe for consumption by coworkers.

This, of course, before I get on the 250 (the 7's clutch is toooooast) and ride out into the gloom of wet and cold.

I heart working for a living. If man had any sense he'd rise up and deny the validity of man governing other men on a planetary scale. But, sniffle, swallow that gobber of snot, and get back in the shower so you at least look presentable, me.

30 November, 2008

Barton Fink

I'm not sure why I've always been drawn to the Coen Brothers films. I was in love with The Big Lebowski and The Hudsucker Proxy long before I knew who they were. A friend of mine introduced me to Miller's Crossing a while ago and yet again, I found a film that was incredibly compelling, had everything to keep my attention, dialogue, scenery, acting, I mean, it was a complete picture.

Yet, until today I had not yet seen Barton Fink. It's a goddamn masterpiece. To think that this film was "fodder" for Miller's Crossing is absolutely mind-boggling. We should all be so lucky to have such relics in our slush piles.

I am become jealousy, covetous of other writers' works.

A tough decision

short: this doesn't matter to you. it's "inside voice." 

I've been pondering the data in Google Analytics, and I'm not sure what to make of the three top sources of traffic to this site of mine. The most popular page is a rather lengthy article on the ballistics of various high-powered rifle calibers. Following that, a brief missive on futanari (well, I suppose we can expect that), and then two that are kind of surprising to me. About evenly, the third and fourth most popular subjects are broken ribs and suicide. Granted, I've never actually talked about my own suicide, committing or attempted thereof, only its correlation with various other things in life (such as epilepsy, workplace trauma, et cetera). I've talked numerous times about broken ribs because I've had a couple chances to break my own ribs.

The rest if mostly my meandering about software or motorcycles, things like that. They get finite, but not spectacular traffic. And that's mostly a good thing.

It occurs to me, however, that on the suicide pages, I could be using AdWords to display PSAs, and do the same on epilepsy pages. I could also add AdWords to the caliber discussion pages for the NRA-ILA and other similar groups (although I'm not sure how to exclude things like the Brady Campaign from such groupings), and to trauma research nonprofits for the broken-ribs pages.

I don't really want the money, and Moeller once told me he made a few cents here and there from AdWords, but he mostly used it to track traffic. However, if I can turn a small-but-finite number of those views into a small-but-finite number of clicks and thus a small-but-finite number of pennies for said causes, well, isn't that A Good Thing?

However, generally I despise Google. The problem is, they have more ads than I could go out and find on my own (e.g., putting a "click here to donate" img tag at the bottom of a post), and they're better at targeting them (they know the referer[sic], I don't). They also (as I've seen, but not confirmed through their interface) have targeted PSAs.

Patches welcome.

And on a more positive note

What could be more wonderful than friends of yours, both of whom you care deeply for, being in love and getting married? It's such a nice thing to hear after weeks of being sick, a year of ickiness at work and all that other stuff. Congrats, you two. Really.