Saturday, December 31, 2011
Top 12 Reasons To Vote Democratic
I'm voting Democratic because...
1. I believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't.
2. I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.
3. Freedom of Speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.
4. I'm way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.
5. I believe people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.
6. I'm not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.
7. I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits.
8. I believe business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrats see fit.
9. I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.
10. I think it's better to pay billions to people who hate us for their oil, but not drill our own because it might upset some endangered beetle or Gopher.
11. While we live in the greatest, most wonderful country in the world, I was promised "HOPE AND CHANGE".
12. My head is so firmly planted up my ass, it's unlikely I'll ever have another point of view.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Our Founding Fathers wouldn't even recognize their country today. The freedom of speech that they so carefully bequeathed to us is eroding in front of our faces...
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The first time I ever ran into an example of code that could kill, it was a very straightforward example: I interviewed a fellow who had just quit his job at a medical device manufacturer here in San Diego. When I asked him why he had quit, he told me that he had worked on the firmware for an automated insulin pump his company was making. This pump would be worn by severe diabetics, and it would automatically maintain their blood sugar levels at an appropriate level – no matter what the person ate, or how he exercised. Firmware that he wrote had a bug in it, one that wasn't detected during normal testing. One of the patients trialing the device did something to provoke the bug – and the pump flooded his body with insulin, killing him. My candidate quit his job that afternoon, and vowed to work for a company where that couldn't happen.
At the time, I was working for Stac Electronics. The team I lead was building Stacker, a disk compression product. We didn't think of that product as life-threatening – but suppose someone used Stacker in a computer that ran some vital piece of equipment. If Stacker had failed, causing the computer to crash, then conceivably that could result in harm to a patient. We had language in our license agreement designed to avoid this situation, but still...
These days, such situations are far more common. Computers (which necessarily have software or firmware to run them) are embedded in just about anything you can imagine. Here's a story about computers in a passenger airliner's flight control systems, and a software bug that nearly caused a crash. In this case, it's obvious that the computer could potentially cause life-threatening malfunctions – but that's not always the case...
Interesting world we live in. Flight control bug story via reader Doug S.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Kim Jong-Il's death means the fight for succession is on. Kim Jong-Un, from everything I've read, is unlikely to be capable of holding onto power. We should be cautious about such outsider assessments, though: I remember very similar things being said about Assad before he took over from his father. Perhaps Kim Jong-Un will be similarly surprising. If not, however, then we could be in for a stretch of ugly on the Korean peninsula.
The Onion already has its take on Kim Jong-Un...
Some of these, like the one at right, are in color. This always throws me, as in my mind WWII was entirely in black-and-white...
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
A married couple had been out Christmas shopping at the mall for most of the afternoon. Suddenly, the wife realized that her husband had "disappeared". The somewhat irate spouse called her husband's cell phone and demanded: "Where ARE you"???
Her husband responds by saying: "Darling, you remember that jewelry shop where you saw that diamond necklace that you totally fell in love with, and remember how I told you I didn't have much money at the time but said, 'Baby, it'll be yours one day'?"
Wife, with a smile in her voice, blushing: "Yes I remember that, my love."
Husband: "Well, I'm in the pub next to that place."
Now the Iranians have somehow captured an American stealthy drone. According to this Iranian engineer, they did it by interfering with GPS signals in such a way as to trick the drone into landing where the Iranians wanted it to. This article talks about skeptics of the purported technology. I'm skeptical on another front: I don't want to believe our military is stupid enough to not put an inertial guidance system on the drone (these don't depend on any external systems like GPS).
But put the skepticism aside for the moment. If these stories are both real, then we are witnessing the first real cyberwar, with both sides engaged. The way this is unfolding makes complete sense to me: clever people on both sides identify points of vulnerability and devise ways to attack them. In both cases, the attack design is quite complex and represents an engineering feat in its own right. The cost of entry for such attacks is well within the range of just about any nation-state (though countries with a culture of innovation are advantaged), making it a very attractive “weapon” for smaller countries.
Here's a detailed report on an attack against the U.S. in 2008.
This will be interesting to watch evolve...
The part about this that fascinates me is this: there are lots of people, many part of environmental movements, who don't realize that the Salton Sea is man-made and who think mankind is responsible for the current decline of the sea. I have seen documentaries, advertisements, and even demonstrations based on this rather clear – but very widespread – misunderstanding. If we (mankind) were actually going to put things “right” (e.g., back the way they were), then we'd find a way to pump all the water out of there and return it to a dry lake bed.
But the Salton Sea is now a prime piece of real estate for migratory birds, who were quick to take advantage of this inland sea suddenly appearing in the middle of the desert. So now the Salton Sea is the subject of debate even within the well-informed parts of the environmental movements. Should we return it to it's original dry lake bed status? Or should we artificially sustain the new migratory bird habitat?
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Dear Mom & Dad,
Our Scoutmaster told us to write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and are worried. We are okay. Only one of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Adam when it happened.
Oh yes, please call Adam's mother and tell her he is okay. He can't write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found Adam in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning.
Scoutmaster Ted got mad at Adam for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Adam said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas will blow up?
The wet wood didn't burn, but one of the tents did and also some of our clothes. Matthew is going to look weird until his hair grows back.
We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Ted gets the bus fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Ted said that with a bus that old, you have to expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance.
We think it's a neat bus. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the fenders. It gets pretty hot with 45 people in a bus made for 24. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrol man stopped and talked to us.
Scoutmaster Ted is a neat guy. Don't worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Jessie how to drive on the mountain roads where there aren't any cops. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.
This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out to the rapids. Scoutmaster Ted wouldn't let me because I can't swim, and Adam was afraid he would sink because of his cast (it's concrete because we didn't have any plaster), so he let us take the canoe out. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood.
Scoutmaster Ted isn't crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn't even get mad about the life jackets. He has to spend a lot of time working on the bus so we are trying not to cause him any trouble.
Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Andrew dove into the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works.
Steven and I threw up, but Scoutmaster Ted said it probably was just food poisoning from the left-over chicken. He said they got sick that way with food they ate in prison. I'm so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time. By the way, what is a pedal-file?
I have to go now. We are going to town to mail our letters & buy some more beer and ammo. Don't worry about anything. We are fine and tonight it's my turn to sleep in the Scoutmaster's tent.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Our yard is greener than we've seen in over 10 years. Narcissus are in bloom all over the yard, with hundreds of plants in bud. Daffodils are coming up strong; the first ones will probably be blooming in a week or so. One thing that's surprising us: bulbs are growing where we've never seen them grow before. These “surprise” plants are all smaller and later than the ones we're used to seeing. This makes me wonder if perhaps these surprise plants are from weaker or deeper bulbs that have been dormant for years, just waiting until there was enough water. I know they're planted, because they appear in the same line of plants that we see growing every year. Does anybody know the reason why we'd see these surprise plants?
Monday, December 12, 2011
1. The elections were indeed fraudulent.
2. The party that benefited from the fraud was United Russia (Putin's party).
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We need to show more sympathy for these people.
They travel miles in the heat.
They risk their lives crossing a border.
They don't get paid enough wages.
They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.
They live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a different language.
They rarely see their families, and they face adversity all day – every day..
I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans – I'm talking about our troops!
Doesn't it seem strange that so many are willing to lavish all kinds of social benefits on illegals, but don't support our troops?
Saturday, December 10, 2011
It will be a while before I can watch one of these again...
Friday, December 9, 2011
I just got off the phone with a friend living in North Dakota near the Canadian border. He said that since early this morning the snow has been nearly waist high and is still falling. The temperature is dropping way below zero and the north wind is increasing to near gale force. His wife has done nothing but look through the kitchen window and just stare. He says that if it gets much worse, he may have to let her in.
Knuth has shown us here how to program intelligibly, but not wisely. I buy the discipline. I do not buy the result. He has fashioned a sort of industrial-strength Fabergé egg—intricate, wonderfully worked, refined beyond all ordinary desires, a museum piece from the start.As the author of the post says:
Just remember, he’s saying this about Donald Knuth.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I have a couple personal connections to that video. First, the EICO 460 'scope – today the thing is a museum piece. Around 1969 or 1970, that exact same 'scope was the centerpiece of my little electronics workshop. I found one broken somewhere, bought it, fixed it, and then paid a metrology shop in Philadelphia $40 to recalibrate it (back then, $40 was a substantial sum for me!).
Then there's the stepper motor noise that forms the main “instrument” in this video (the stepper motor is what's positioning the scanner imager). Back in the late '70s and early '80s, I made a little money selling a nifty piece of software to computer manufacturers who were making systems that included floppy disk drives. Those early floppy disks used stepper motor head positioners that made an annoying grinding/whining noise. My software changed the way the steppers were used: instead of sending step commands at a constant rate, it smoothly accelerated and decelerated it. The constant rate steps made the motor move and stop on each step, “shaking” it, and making the objectionable noise. With my software, the motor never shook like that, and there was then almost no noise.
While I was developing that software, I noted that I could make the stepper motor make nearly whatever noise I wanted it to make. But it never occurred to me to make music with it!
This is a problem familiar to any modern software developer: users, in general, have little idea how the software they use actually works. It's common – in fact, normal – for the users' mental model of the software package to be badly flawed. For most kinds of software, the outcome of this is frustrated users and angry tech support calls. This is not the case for flight control software, as this article makes very clear...
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
1. “I’m not a natural leader. I’m too intellectual; I’m too abstract; I think too much.”Some of these are taken of context in such a way as to deliberately distort their original intent. Many of these I agree with; some I don't. Now take a look at how a liberal interprets them...
2. “If the Soviet empire still existed, I’d be terrified. The fact is, we can afford a fairly ignorant presidency now.”
3. “The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.”
4. “Give the park police more ammo.”
5. “The problem isn’t too little money in political campaigns, but not enough.”
6. “I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it. I am now a famous person. I represent real power.”
7. “Gingrich – Primary mission, Advocate of civilization, Definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization, Leader of the civilizing forces.”
8. “The most serious, systematic revolutionary of modern times.”
9. “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”
10. “This is one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration. The more successful they’ve been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we’re in danger… It’s almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.”
11. “Now, we don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that that’s politically smart, and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it — voluntarily.”
12. “She isn’t young enough or pretty enough to be the President’s wife.”
13. “I read Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and I found frightening pieces that related to…my own life.”
14. “It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid…These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school.”
15. “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”
16. “The left-wing Democrats will represent the party of total hedonism, total exhibitionism, total bizarreness, total weirdness, and the total right to cripple innocent people in the name of letting hooligans loose.”
17. “These people are sick. They are so consumed by their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal human beings and to destroy honest institutions is unending.”
18. “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words.”
Monday, December 5, 2011
Ever since I was a child, I've always had a fear of someone under my bed at night. So I went to a shrink and told him “I've got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I'm scared. I think I'm going crazy.”Forget the shrinks. Have a drink and talk to a bartender!
“Just put yourself in my hands for one year,' said the shrink. “Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears..'
“How much do you charge?”
“Eighty dollars per visit,” replied the doctor.
“I'll sleep on it,” I said.
Six months later the doctor met me on the street. “Why didn't you come to see me about those fears you were having?” he asked.
“Well, Eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! A bartender cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup!”
“Is that so!' With a bit of an attitude he said, “And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”
“He told me to cut the legs off the bed! Ain't nobody under there now!!!”
The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in the United States' Capital this Christmas season.
This isn't for any religious reason. They simply have not been able to find three Wise Men in the nation's Capitol.
A search for a Virgin continues.
There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Why? Because the passenger didn't want to go through the X-ray equipment, fearing that it might interfere with her defibrillator. The usual alternative is a pat-down search (something I've had done myself), but in her case, they opted for a strip search.
Why? That's a bit unclear, as the passenger didn't fit any threat profile I've ever heard of: she's white, 85 years old, weighs 107 pounds, and uses a walker.
Somehow in the process of doing the humiliating strip search, they managed to injure her as well.
The only reason the TSA would strip-search a passenger like that is in their eagerness to avoid “profiling”. In an all-too-familiar example of the triumph of multi-culturalist political correctness over common sense, our TSA has decided that we cannot recognize the rather clear fact that terrorists seem to be overwhelmingly (1) Muslim, (2) young men, and (3) Middle Eastern. Not that there aren't exceptions (though I'm pretty certain that 85 year old Caucasian women are not amongst them), but the preponderance of terrorists do, in fact, fit this profile. There, I did it: I used the politically-incorrect word.
The good news: Europe, where our “elites” get their cues, seems to have figured out that the multi-culti movement has been a disaster for them. The first steps to reversing the ravages of multi-culti are underway. If they can avoid a new Nazi takeover as the pendulum swings the other way, even our “progressives” will wake up and start singing a different, politically-incorrect song.
I can hardly wait!
Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.
It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.
For almost 10 years, that pulse of light (or flash) has been expanding outward from V838 Mon, illuminating an ever-expanding light-month thick “bubble” of interstellar gas and dust. The Hubble telescope took the photo below in February 2004. The accompanying description says the bubble at that point is about 6 light-years in diameter, but I think that must be mistaken – it should be 4 light-years in diameter at that point. Via APOD, of course.
The massive corruption, the transfer of our wealth to themselves and their cronies, the endless vacations, golf trips, parties, a private jet for their dog, the sheer hypocrisy of it all!Wow. Not a fan, Mr. Muir...
Clinton at least pretended there was any kind of law, but Obama truly is the example of the self-stroking ego of the boomers.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
I have no desire to run for any elective office. I'm certain I'd make a terrible politician. But if I did want to run for office, the crap that candidates must endure (whether justified or not) is not something I would ever sign up for. I don't know about you, but I know about me: my life has been far from perfect, and there are a great many things I've been responsible for that I regret. They've also made me a better man. But there's no way I'd offer my life up for the kind of scrutiny (and potentially false accusations, as if the true ones weren't enough!) that a candidate like Herman Cain had to endure.
You have my deepest sympathy, Mr. Cain. I have no idea what kind of a president you would have made – and our corrupt, low-substance political process has unfortunately ensured that I never will...
Me, I think that person who gave up (assuming they really did) is just as much unemployed as the person who hasn't given up – and they should be reported as part of the overall unemployment number. But I'm a well-known crank about such things...
By the way, Reason magazine is one of the very few periodicals I still subscribe to. I get the same sort of joy from its arrival that the heroin addict gets when his next nickel bag is in his hands...
Friday, December 2, 2011
Personally, I don't think that's an accurate account of events. The Mainiacs I know would never convict these guys of a crime...This actually happened with some guys from Maine.They dressed the truck up with the guy dummy spread eagle on the roof.The driver and passenger put on Moose Heads.Down the Maine Toll interstate they went causing about 16 accidents.They went to jail.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I found the text of the bill, and below is the language in question (Section 1031 of Senate Bill 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012). My reading of this: it authorizes the President to use military force to go after the 9/11 terrorists, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or others associated with them. Assuming that the last part of that is faithfully followed, I don't have any problem with this. If a member of the Taliban happens to be an American citizen, I still want the Marines to put a bullet in his heart. I believe our military is far better equipped to deal with many terrorist attack scenarios than our police forces are.
If I'm interpreting the hyperbolic fire-breathing of those wailing about this correctly, they're afraid that just about anybody could be accused of collaboration with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and would then become subject to indefinite military detention (or even direct military action). I understand this fear, but I don't think this bill significantly expands the probability of such a thing. Both Bush and Obama have unilaterally asserted all sorts of Presidential powers that reasonable men believe were not theirs to grab. For example, it's not at all clear that Obama actually had the authority to order U.S. troops to fight in Libya. There has been precious little resistance to any of these power grabs. Even in the absence of this bill, if Obama decided to incarcerate (let's say) some citizens of Detroit accused of being al-Qaeda funding sources in Guantanamo, do you really thing the absence of clear authority would stop him? I do not, nor do I think it would have stopped Bush.
So I think this is much overblown...
SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(e) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons' for purposes of subsection (b)(2).