Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Holiday Safety Warning...

Via reader Bob F.:
A recent joint study conducted by the Department of Health and the Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol related.

This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes who drink bottled water, Starbucks, soda, juice, energy drinks, and shit like that.

Therefore, beware of those who do not drink alcohol. They cause three times as many accidents.

This message is sent to you by someone who worries about your safety.

Only in America!

Via reader Jim M:
Only in America could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes - be
accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

Only in America could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black while only 12% of the population is black.

Only in America could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the Treasury Department and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

Only in America can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.

Only in America would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the
privilege while we discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens.

Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."

Only in America could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

Only in America could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity
invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

Only in America could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a Trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7-Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000.00 a plate campaign fund-raising event.

Dave Barry's Blog...

Friend and reader Doug W. let me know that Dave Barry is actually not in hiding – and he has a blog that he posts on frequently (and hilariously).   This is now on my daily reading list!

Great Quotes...

Passed along by blog friend Jim M:
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
-- John Adams

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
-- Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.
-- Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
--Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
-- G. Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
--James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
-- Douglas Case, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University.

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
-- Frederic Bastiat, French economist(1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
--Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
-- Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!
-- P. J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
--Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!
-- Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
-- Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it.
-- Anonymous

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-- Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.
-- Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
-- Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class, save Congress.
-- Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
--Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
-- Thomas Jefferson

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
-- Aesop

Texas Sheriff Exam...

Via reader Jim M.:
A young Texan grew up wanting to be a lawman. He grew up big, 6' 2", strong as a longhorn and fast as mustang.  He could shoot a bottle cap tossed in the air at 40 paces. When he finally came of age, he applied to where he had only dreamed of working: the West Texas Sheriff's Department. After a series of tests and interviews, the Chief Deputy finally called him into his office for the young man's last interview.

The Chief Deputy said, "You're a big strong kid and you can really shoot. So far your qualifications all look good, but we have what you might call an 'Attitude Suitability Test' that you must take before you can be accepted.  We just don't let anyone carry our badge, son."

Then, sliding a service pistol and a box of ammo across the desk, the Chief said, "Take this pistol and go out and shoot:

six illegal aliens,
six lawyers,
six meth dealers,
six Muslim extremists,
six Democrats,
and a rabbit."

"Why the rabbit?" queried the applicant.

"You pass," said the Chief Deputy. "When can you start?"

Apparent Multi-Disk Failures...

Seven or eight years ago I worked for FutureTrade (a now-defunct electronic stock and options trading company).  I was their CTO, and our datacenter (our very own, not a co-lo) was one of my responsibilities.  The 300+ servers in that datacenter actually executed our electronic trades, so there was a lot of money riding on their proper functioning.

Most of the servers used disk only for booting and logging, and these just used locally attached disks in a mirror configuration.  Our database servers, however, had fairly large storage requirements for the day (several hundred GB) and their performance was disk-bound.  So those servers used attached RAID5 subsystems. 

One fine day fairly early in my tenure there, we had a disk failure in one of those arrays.  This failure was picked up by monitoring software, and we scheduled a replacement/rebuild (a standard RAID5 activity) for that evening, after trading hours.  When we ran the rebuild, though, we got non-recoverable errors across a total of three drives (including the one that originally failed).  WTF?  Three drives failing simultaneously?  This is so unlikely as to be dismissible, which I did.  There had to be another explanation. 

One possibility was that the RAID controller itself (or its power supply) had failed, not the drives.  So we swapped the drives into another controller - same three drives reported bad.

Another possibility was that two of the three disks had actually failed some time ago, and we never noticed – and that turned out to be the real situation.  It turns out that if bad blocks exist on rarely read sections of the disk, the RAID controller won't know about these problems until the next time the entire disk is scanned – which is something that happens during a rebuild operation, of course.  Bingo.

So we then set up a periodic disk scan on all our RAID5 systems (we had 6 of them).  To our surprise, on the first such scan all 5 of the RAID5 systems that had not failed had bad blocks on disks – bad blocks that would have caused a rebuild operation to fail.  We ended up replacing all the disks in all six of our RAID5 systems, replacing the old consumer-grade disks with enterprise-quality disks (and paying a pretty penny for them!), and then doing the full-disk scans on a weekly schedule.  That ended our multi-disk failures, but it was a bunch of work to maintain.

This post triggered my memory of this incident; the author does a fine job of explaining how these apparent multi-disk failures can occur...

Public Laboratory...

Here's an interesting stab at “open source” science, with some intriguing projects already...and here's another project that was inspired by the Public Laboratory...