18 December, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #13

A blast from the past, circa 1994!
Well here's a special feature on new groupz that appear on the IRC, this
feature is covering the mysterious and often misunderstood SK, better known as
SaTaNzKiDz. So who are these guyz? Well let me show their membership list
cum info sheet :


[ Satanz Kidz ]

Satanz Kidz is a group. The actuality of being a child of satan is
handled on a per-member basis. We are not here to re-structure irc. We
are not here to put out k-spiffy 'zines for people to chuckle at. We are
here to look out for one and other, we are here to merely signify an
alliance (excuse the pun) of irc kiddies that think in relatively the same
distorted, sick, perverted manner. There are only two requirement you
must fulfill in being a Satanz Kidz member; being a generally k-rad guy
(or girl), and having [Satanz Kidz] in your ircname in some form.
Tattoo's, brandings, and other semi-permanent markings may earn brownie
points in the Founding Fathers' eyes.

[Founding Fatherz]:

HappyMeal - *@*
Mr. p|pe hed - jacklin@cyberspace.net
Plexor - plexor@paranoia.com - he's too texan to
pick a new handle.
Mental Retard - retard@argyle.sox.net

[Memberz as of Oct 2, 1994]:

draftb33r - drunk@and.living.in.the.uk
whyteb0y - elastic@LAME.CAPZ.SITE.EDU
_fool - fool@dfw.net - his nick was funny enough
klueless j0e - rebel@warez.warez.warez
SH33P - oldsk0ol@iii.net - note: sh33p is dead, but his
old sk0ol memories live on in [SK]
crackh0e - noise@en.com
_kAHV_ - cavalier@shadow.net

[Wanna-Be lamerz]:

Skipjack - plexar@netcom.com (note: he's still lame, he just
changed his nick)

Reguardless, see all you fewlz on irc.

, ,
/( )`
\ \___ / |
/- _ `-/ '
(/\/ \ \ /\
/ / | ` \
O O ) / |
`-^--'`< '
(_.) _ ) /
`.___/` /
`-----' /
<----. __ / __ \
HappyMeal [SK] <----|====O)))==) \) /====
<----' `--' `.__,' \
"We have no purpose, | |
but we have eliteness, \ /
and from eliteness purpose will arise." ______( (_ / \______
-HM ,' ,-----' | \
`--{__________) \/
[artist unknown]


Heh! More on this later..

12 December, 2007

Call to Action - Kucinich barred from Iowa debate

The Des Moines Register has arbitrarily barred Democratic Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (OH) from participating in their Democratic Presidential Debate.

Please register your displeasure, politely, with the Des Moines Register here:


Also, you can, and should, email or call them and register your displeasure. Public debate, regardless of being sponsored by corporate media, should be beholden to equal time rules -- barring Kucinich may not be illegal, but it is surely immoral and unfair.

Call the Des Moines Register at 1-800-247-5346 and protest their private decision to censor a public election. The Iowa Caucus has National Implications and the Des Moines Register is excluding Dennis Kucinich from the Debate based on local politics. If that infuriates you, step up and call the Des Moines Register at 1-800-247-5346.

Better yet, call their Editorial Board too:
Carol Hunter - 515-284-8502
Laura Hollingsworth - 515-284-8041

Those of you calling The Des Moines Register to prtest their censorship of Kucinich, should also email their editors at the following...

Carol Hunter - 515-284-8502

Laura Hollingsworth - 515-284-8041

08 December, 2007

War is Over

27 years ago you were taken from this world, John.

This was the first time I remember feeling sad about something, about someone I never knew. I was not even 6 years old. Your's is also the only Christmas message that seems to have anything at all to do with the philosophy of the Jesus Christ of the Bible:

War is over (if you want it).

Rest in Peace, Mr. Lennon. You may be dead, but you are not gone.

Religious Freedom

[Note: this is in response to Joe Conason's Op-Ed regarding the religiosity of Republican Candidates for President over at Salon.com]

It is interesting that of the three supposed forerunners on the Democrat side of the 2008 race to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in order, the top to bottom, their pronouncements of faith are less and less disingenuous: Hillary Clinton, who no doubt is as religious as I am a Black-Asian Lesbian Amputee from Mars, to Barack Obama, who I am sure feels some affinity for a generic Church and form of worship, but whose real idols are secular progressive pursuits and their real-life embodiments in the Civil and Human Rights campaigns of the last century and Edwards, whose good works bely his Southern religious values of which I feel he genuinely and deeply believes (and, going through what his family is going through regarding Elizabeth Edwards, I'm sure that it is for him a source of strength and stability -- the only real purpose of spiritual belief in this supposedly rational age of Chemotherapy, MRIs and echo-cardiograms).

To accuse the left as a whole of not examining the role of religiosity in their own political backyard is an unfair, and untrue assumption. For me Senator Clinton's unseemly disingenuous embracing of religion, as well as any number of other genres, means that primary or not I cannot in good consciousness bring myself to vote for her. I fear that Obama may be tempted to fall into this trap, and as disdainful and unfair Clinton and others' criticisms of him are on the basis that he is young and inexperienced, that he would fall into the trap of trying to please everyone and in the end pleasing no one is a result of not knowing better -- being young and inexperienced affords him a certain degree of flexibility of thought, just enough to be flexible enough to fail. John Edwards will do himself, his family and the world a great service when, like Albert Gore Junior, he leaves politics and makes his mark on the world. Mark my words, in less than 20 years he will be invited to Sweden to receive an award from the King.

Dennis Kucinich holds what common Beltway conventional wisdom regards to be the looniest of views. But Kucinich neither runs away from them nor shoves them in your face. Unlike "serious" candidates, Kucinich really has no fear to state his views exactly as he holds them without parsing or affected speech (a common speech disorder of politicians is to make unclear what any sane or rational person would see as cut and dry). 'Anyone who would not grant the right to marry to gays,' to paraphrase Kucinich, 'does not believe in equality for all people.' Bra-vo, Dennis, bravo. That is exactly right, and that is a more righteous stance than any supposedly pious mouthpiece in the field, Democrat or Republican, has managed to articulate in any debate before or since. So, we must quickly change the subject on Kucinich to his belief in UFOs (which is like saying you believe in pasta -- both things exist, spaghetti and objects, which while in flight, that cannot be identified). Salon.com, to its great discredit, has engaged in this hypnotic lack of discourse by citing that example. Who cares? You know what, I saw that same UFO, and so did all of my friends, and hundreds of other people, if not thousands. But somehow it is crazier to say I saw something flying and glowing that I couldn't identify than to say that I believe in a cosmic Jewish zombie who is his own father?

Which person sounds like a lunatic? But because these ideas of religiosity are attached to authority of consensus does not alter their real face value. Going to war because God told you to do it is a bad idea, whether that God is Allah, Yaweh, Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And if your God tells you that two adults in love cannot be married because their plumbing is the same, then you are against freedom for all people. Period. End of discussion. Maybe people resist considering Kucinich because to consider him valid, one has to consider his ideas valid, and to consider his ideas valid, one has to consider their own to be suspect, and worse, to make the difficult choices required to divorce oneself from the status quo. That is why Kucinich faces an uphill, but worthwhile battle. And if Jesus came back today, I'm sure he'd be Kucinich's running mate.

If Jesus ever actually existed anyway. But that's not for my Government to decide, and you would think that they made that pretty clear when they wrote the US Constitution. Sadly, that seems not to be the case.

05 December, 2007

For Immediate Release

Fuck the DEA.


Contact: Casey McEnry
Number: 415-436-7994

Everyone is encouraged to call Agent McEnry and communicate how you feel about the illegal capture of political prisoners by our lawless prohibition junta thugs and their mendacious supporters in the legislatures.

Thanks for ruining my New Years plans. LSD is harmless.


Rudy Giuliani, you are a liar. Your own kids hate you. Stop lying for once in your sorry political career.

03 December, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #12

After taking an incredibly unscientific poll of friends and colleagues, I have discovered that the Linux users tend to lean toward Ron Paul and the FreeBSD users tend to lean toward Dennis Kucinich.

That said, I have a handful of 7.0-BETA2 and BETA3 boxes up and running at ApartmentNet. So far so good, no major upsets. I even managed a "JumpStart"(*) install of 7.0-B1.5 on a box without a CD/DVD without too much hassle. SMP seems to handle noticeably faster, but like the Ron Paul/Kucinich test, there is no hard data to back that up.

What I've also never had any hard data to back up is why I have never really been comfortable with Linux and more specifically the Linux "community." It would be cliche (and also false) to say that my disdain goes back to the 0.9X kernel days where you had to download 20 floppy disk images over 28.8k modem, but I think that the real turning point actually came shortly thereafter when people started distributing their pre-packaged versions of Linux on CD-ROM. "No good," I thought to myself back then in 1994 and 1995, "can ever come of this."

It should be noted that even that early on I was already well on the path of Unix snobbery having been given or taken shells on various AIX and Sun machines, not to mention having a brief stint as a junior systems administrator for an extremely small ISP running BSDi on literally two 386 boxes whose combined horsepower pales in comparison to my shitty cellphone -- hell, an iPhone today probably outpowers those boxes by an order of magnitude, and if you could figure out how to hook up a dozen serial modems to an iPhone, you would have twice the dial-in capacity.

My first ever legitimate shell account (using the term legitimate in its loosest possible sense) was on a research server at Case Western Reserve University run by the then wife of one of the local stoner/hackey-sack/2600 geeks. The machine was an RS6000, roughly the size of a small "beer" refrigerator running AIX, and we all used tcsh (the Turbo C Shell) because you could use arrow keys to edit your command line or page up and down through a buffer of recently typed commands -- an innovation later picked up by the Linux community and applied to the Bourne shell in bash, the Bourne-again Shell. Despite the extremely cumbersome conditional syntax of tcsh, the desire for rapid command-line editing won over sh (Bourne)'s easier structure.

Ironically, I still use tcsh for my login shell (along with an environment that is essentially 15+ years old), but I code shell scripts exclusively in Bourne.

Having as real-world examples only academia to rely on in the very early days I became accustomed to there being a right and wrong way to do things on the command-line; ourselves, right or wrong, not actual students or academics by any stretch of the imagination (some of us being 13 or 14 at the time, still some even younger) would nevertheless mimic in our own burlesque way the formalities of proper Unix habits. As teenaged crackers, we kept neatly (if not clandestine) organized home and working directories, wrote properly tabbed and commented scripts, and would even go so far as to fix or preempt problems on machines we weren't supposed to have root on.

For some time Linux remained a marginal pass-time for like-minded hobbyists, something you could install on an old 286 and show off to your fellow hacker friends, bragging, "yeah I have root@my house." ${DEITY} forbid your modem should fail forcing you to spend 8-10 hours recompiling your kernel to accommodate a new or different modem -- especially considering the fact that the odds were not in your favor that the new driver would even build, much less work. Everyone running Linux back then would also become intimately familiar with "fsck", and would run it at their own peril.

Regardless, running Linux at home was a convenient way to stay logged onto (and logging) irc all day, provided you ran it inside screen. And having a stable, always up dial-in connection to the internet, or a machine on "the backbone" whose resources you could purloin for the purposes of running screens and irc put us scallywags at a strategic advantage compared to our peers, fellow hitchhikers on the 1nph0rm4t10n sup3r h4lfp1p3, all vying for dominance of one thing: Internet Relay Chat.

In the ancient times, the days of lore, there were BBSes -- bulletin board systems. The BBS was like the New York punk scene for anti-social losers in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Massive amounts of wire fraud and toll theft was perpetrated for the express purpose of one teenager in one area code being able to call into a BBS run by another teenager in another area code or even country. In fact, to say it was just teens is to be unfair to the burgeoning cottage industry of international software piracy run by enterprising adults in that era; these criminal enterprises relying on a small and powerful subculture of phone phreaks and crackers to grease the wheels and pave the way. Out of this came the distinct subculture that came to be known as the "H/P scene" for hacking/phreaking scene, or "the scene" to be ominously short.

Entire BBSes were set up as electronic hang-outs devoted exclusively to "the scene." Some scene members began to shun piracy, the porn trade, and cheap hucksters trading in calling and credit cards, not to mention the underground art scene on the BBSes (ANSI kids -- a subject for a future post). Rifts were formed, and naturally turf wars and rivalries erupted out of the BBS h/p scene, which brings us back to irc.

The Internet Relay Chat was a natural evolutionary step above BBSes because it enabled users to communicate across the globe in real time en masse at a scale that far exceeded the biggest BBSes. IRC was essentially a globally networked version of multi-user chats available on BBSes with more than one dial-in line. Some BBSes could have as many as 30 or 40 dial-in lines -- although these bigger BBSes were almost exclusively paid-subscriber systems (AOL, famously, was originally nothing more than a multi-line dial-up BBS), meaning h/p scenesters would have to purloin accounts subject to frequent suspension, and BBS systems operators (sysops) would limit the time users could tie up limited phone resources. Internet Relay Chat offered scene kids chat rooms on servers that were always online with practically no limit as to the number of simultaneous users. If you had access to a stable shell account on a server with a perpetual connection to the internet, you could literally stay on irc 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And if you are going to be online that long, you might as well make yourself at home. But like any frontier, when the settlers started getting in each other's way, conflicts naturally arose.

Like a young Ian McKay being in the right place at the right time to see the Bad Brains come onto the punk scene in DC, I happened to butt my head into the burgeoning IRC scene at just the right moment in internet history and subsequently got caught up in the maelstrom.

For sure, it was a wild ride that took me places I could have never imagined as a teenager living in the suburbs of Cleveland.

(*) Its not really JumpStart, but it sure isn't KickStart. But, it's getting a bootfile from DHCP (which is bootp on steroids) and then NFS mounting root and running an install.

02 December, 2007

Grow a Flower, Go to Jail

As this (early) political season and Christmas season heats up, remember that millions of Americans, wifes, children, fathers, mothers are separated from their loved ones held as political prisoners in America's war on Black Men and The Poor. Remember as our wars become more and more existential, our freedoms suffer as a result: the war on hunger, drugs, terror, ephemera, et cetera, et cetera.

I saw Ethan Nadelmann give this speech, repeated several times on public access cable in Cleveland, Ohio over the Thanksgiving break. Nadelmann heads the Drug Policy Alliance, one of many organizations dedicated to decriminalizing victim-less crime and bringing awareness to alternatives to imprisonment of drug users and dealers. To be sure, Nadelmann forcefully points out that when someone harms someone else, whether or not as a result of drug or alcohol use, then that person must be held accountable. But in the drug war, he points out, usually no-one is helped and those harmed most are people on the margins of society: overwhelmingly persons of color, and the poor.

Here is a talk Nadelmann gives in Detroit, Michigan. In Michigan, the statistics and the census is very similar to the make-up of Ohio, both in minority population (under 15% African-american) and prison population (50% and over African-american). Please watch this video with an open mind.

24 November, 2007

Merry Goofballs Christmas

I know its a little early, but apparently department stores were open since 4am yesterday until midnight last night, so fuck it.

17 November, 2007

Go Go Gadget Kucinich, Planespotting

Looks like Dennis the Menace managed to Ron-paul the Kos post-debate poll:


And now for something slightly substantive. I'm sitting between gates 29 and 30 of terminal 1 of KSFO, San Francisco International Airport. The airport in general and this terminal in particular seem to have been designed by someone with a real love of flying: directly in front of me is the Bravo-Hotel taxiway, followed by 1L/19R and 1R/19L, and a view of approaches, plus the end of 10R/28L, approaches from the southeast. In the distance, the San Mateo Bridge, any frequent fliers favorite approach landmark coming out of 4000 feet. A Quantas B74 just taxied by on followed by a CO B73 and an AA B76.

That I can't, whenever I want to, take the train in from the city into the BART station located just South of United International in terminal 3, walk through security and spend an afternoon watching planes is probably the most annoying feature of our new security apparatus post 9/11, more annoying that the degrading shoe ritual, or not being able to smuggle booze on-board (I used to put Jim Beam in a ginger ale bottle). Okay, the booze thing is the most annoying part.

A JAL B74, JA8076, taxis by followed by a Ted Airbus, then an AA B71, N964TW(?). Ted is now on his take-off roll, as a two-engine wide-body floats down onto 28L, probably a B77.

It's 10:34, I'm listening to Norcal approach on iTunes and looking at my battery I know I'll have to plug in and charge soon, which I dread, since that will take me away from my view of the runways; despite the fact that I am baking in the sun.

I board at 11:55, an Airbus 319. I don't have a tail number just yet because my equipment is not arrived at the gate yet. She's going to PHX and then on to EWR, but I will part company with her in Arizona for another A319 destined for beautiful Cleveland, Ohio -- the Forrest City -- home of one Dennis Kucinich, the next President of the United States, and one Michael Symon, the next Iron Chef America.

When Kucinich wins, I'll write him a letter and ask him if there is anything he can do about opening up our airports for observation again.

ETA - 11/18/2007

Tail numbers were N833AW and N828AW respectively.

While whoever designed KSFO has a real love of air travel, the designers of KPHX do not. In fact, it is possible that they hate humanity itself. It felt like the airport was intended to be a giant particle accelerator with evenly placed spokes as terminals. At least, that is what it felt like for the 1/2 mile hike from the A terminal to the C terminal, where, mind you, jets of the same carrier and same type were "docking" (Phoenix Airport -- the "Sky Harbor", as they fashion themselves).

As you can see from this link, its really a series of different length particle accelerators. Regardless, its ugly. And "Harbor" is not the first thing that comes to mind when I walk around in the airport, nor is it the first thing that comes to mind when I am in Phoenix, smack in the middle of a dessert. In fact, if I think of harbors at all, it is that I would much rather be at one as opposed to being in the middle of a fucking desert.

I do not see the appeal of Arizona, but I am not a well-to-do baby boomer with burgeoning interests in sepia and sienna toned faux-Native spiritual "connectedness with the land." If you really felt connected to the land, perhaps you wouldn't choose to live somewhere without an abundant nearby source of fresh water.

Being there made me think of a Coen Brother's film, title slightly misspelled. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to dwell on what I mean by that.

ETA - 11/19/2007

Dennis the Menace does it again: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/15/politics/main3508272.shtml

13 November, 2007

Ringing Endorsement

Wait, I'm confused.. a Republican.. with nice things to say about.. a.. liberal.. Democrat.. does not compute.. head.. exploding..

10 November, 2007

Just say "no" to Newt Gingrich

Here is my response to a recent article and interview with Newt Gingrich over at Salon.com:
How about "no."

How about "no" to sky-god worshipping white-male imperialists who want to turn the clock back to 1830 and the empire back to 1948.

How about "no" to people who feel neither guilt nor shame at the systematic, institutionalized racism applied to our continent's first settlers and African slaves, and their decendants?

How about "no" to old, white men who spend so much time and energy trying to figure out how to control a woman's uterus (especially now that the hysterectomy has gone out of fashion). Why? Is it out of jealousy?

No. How about a "no" to those dirty, nasty men who will not let two people who are in love have the same rights as any other couple in love because they had the misfortune of being born with the same sex organs. These same dirty nasty men who seek illicit and unsafe trysts in public restrooms or prey on young gay men or use gay male prostitutes, paying extra for the privilege of going without a condom -- as if the threat of HIV is as unreal to them as their own homosexual urges.

A thousand times no!

Surely, polite society will take up the mantle of green policy, slowly, ineffectively, deliberately, as long as it pleases the shareholders.

But I'll be damned if that means I have to cast a vote in favor of the enemy of humanity and progress and liberty, these white men and their angry, racist, sociopathic, narcissistic sky god: truly, they created him in their image, and continue to fashion his countenance to fit their insatiable needs.

Two words: fuck Gingrich!


07 November, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #11

Shotgun Re-org

A shotgun re-org is my own term for what happens when a business runs out of operating funds and immediately shuts down operations, or worse, posts a message like this:

Feedster is Changing...
We'll be back up soon with exciting news!
I am citing this particular (and very recent) example by name because they failed to notify my company, their paying client, of their feed shutdown.

As a result, my pager would go off twice every six hours: first, when my cronjob would complain that no new feeds were coming in and second, when our offshore "noc" would ditto the page (I swear, I think they just exist to infuriate me).

Last night, as I was going to bed, I had the amusing thought that "wouldn't it be funny if they had gone tits up?" This morning, that intuition was confirmed when my co-worker IMed me to tell me that they had, indeed, gone tits up. I literally LOLed, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I worked for a marketing firm in 1997 that had a version of a shotgun re-org. What had happened is that they bounced a couple of payroll checks, and after that I left. Not long after that, a similar "Coming soon!.." not appeared on their main page, I can only assume there was a mass quit or mass firing. Amazingly, years later I checked their web page -- somehow they got additional funding and actually pulled themselves out of the weeds long enough to be acquired by a larger firm.

Conversely, I have been on the ass-end of shotgun re-orgs as an employee of an acquisition-oriented company that grabs a company only to have all of its employees quit en-masse. In one case, myself and ravinald worked practically around the clock for three or four days to integrate user shells, dialup accounts, DNS, dedicated customers and mail from an acquisition into my network.

Regarding the latter service, mail, when you consider that in 1998 one couldn't simply turn to Google to solve all your problems, it is nothing short of miraculous that we were able to convert and import this companies qmail/maildir spools into a Berkeley mail spool format under sendmail replete with aliases and virtual domains, given the extreme conditions: neither myself nor ravi had barely heard of qmail and maildir, much less used it; the large number of users; the, for the time, size of the dataset (we enforced mail quotas, they did not), number of files, NIC wire speeds (we ended up moving their mail server onto the same switch as ours to speed up xfers) and the method we used to concat the files together (formail and procmail).

This was, of course, back when you actually had to read man files. I oftentimes miss those days.

Coming soon.. trading porn with Cisco support at 4am!

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Wow, is our government really this stupid?

Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.

The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.
Watch out, Rainbow Coop! Big brother is watching what you eat!

Stupid, stupid, stupid..

06 November, 2007

Meta- and Pro-Blogging: Ron Paul Edition

Meta-blogging is a term of my own invention about bloggers who blog about blogging (which, unless you are a moron, I bet you could have figured out yourself).

I developed an aversion to meta-blogging, and its kissing cousin pro-blogging, out of a disdain for the types of blogs which are written centered around the idea that the object of blogging is to (a) attract readers and (b) create revenue.

Certainly, it would be wrong of me to suggest that no one should blog for profit, to wit, pro-blogging; however, I can find nothing less interesting in than bloggers talking to other bloggers about the best way to snare readers and the best way to place ads or exploit patronage. That is my personal opinion on the matter. I have drawn criticism on places like stumbleupon for thumbing down meta- and pro-blogging related sites and articles. Incidentally, I've also been called everything from a fascist to a liberal to a racist and everything else, and I suppose I deserve it, since I am opinionated and not very tactful (fuck you if you can't take a joke).

Anyway, in the interest of levity and a little light-hearted hypocrisy I offer you this tip, Bloggers of the World:
If you want to attract attention to your blog, simply mention Ron Paul. -me
Far be it for me to break my own rules and not back it up with some content, I offer you this irc snippit for your arguing pleasure:
<chris> damn dude, youre guy is blowing up
<ian_:#channel> ?
<bruce:#channel> yeah, he is eating all the shrimps
<ian_:#channel> that makes me hungry
* ian_:#channel admits that i'm really just a 12yr old iranian hacker stealing ppl's paypal accounts to vote for ron paul so that we can take over the great satan while they sleep
<bruce:#channel> chris still need to explain what the hell he meant
<chris> what?
<chris> your candidate, he is blowing up
<bruce> yer dood is blowing up
<ian_> 4.2 million in one day
<bruce> yeah, what does that mean
<bruce> that means like 50 things
<chris> ticker tape parade,
<chris> it means what it means in current american urban slang, you idiot
<bruce> chris, when all those republicans were in texas a while back he made more money than all of them put together
<chris> what is it about you kool aid drinkers that makes you so sensitive
<chris> i was paying a compliment, you douche
<bruce> i am a facist, i dont like ron paul :)
<chris> but you're going to vote for him
<chris> i'm still voting for kucinich
<bruce> yeah.
<ian_> people need to be angry about the media's treatment of him regardless of their voting intentions
<ian_> it is an insult to the underlying idea of journalism
<bruce> if it is denise -vs- ron i have to take ron based on gun control
<chris> although, i think its great, great that he's drawing attention to this stuff
<bruce> well ron paul needs to start paying for ads on national tv
<chris> and i'll vote for kucinich because of abortion
<tim> Sweet, so you can buy your way into the house.
<chris> neither candidate is going to win the primary
<bruce> i'm not a chick.
<bruce> i could care less about abortion atm
<bruce> women will go back to what they used to do, pills, hangers, and kicks in the stomach
<bruce> there are greater issues at stake
<chris> well, i'm particularly sensitive to the abortion issue right now, and gun control is a non-starter
<ian_> i'm sick of ppl saying so-and-so can't win.. regarless of the person; it is that faulty logic that perpetuates self-fulfilling defeat
<bruce> bush won, anything is possible
<chris> there will be and never has been any serious gun prohibition in the united states
<ian_> im fine with paul being against abortion because i agree with him that it is not a federal issue
<chris> that is not his position
<bruce> well, i think it is a federal issue.
<ian_> the more important the controversy, the more local the laws should be.
<ian_> Yes, it is.
<bruce> no, that is his position chris
<chris> he is for a federal ban on abortion
<ian_> No, he has stated MANY times that it is not a federal issue
<bruce> he is against it but he does not believe it is up to the federal gobberment to decide that
<ian_> he wants to remove roe.v.wade and make it a state-based deal
<bruce> he has stated very clearly that it is up for the states to decide
<chris> until and unless he says otherwise, i refuse to believe it when his "supports" dismiss that they heard from someone else that he is against a federal abortion ban. if he is against it, get on tv and say it
<bruce> i feel that is incorrect myself, but it lends itself to stronger states rights
<ian_> i dont speak from other ppl, i speak only from what i hear from him... dont act you know where i get my info.
<bruce> please show me something he has said that gave you this confusion
<bruce> i've not seen him back pedal on anything he has said thus far
<chris> well, nevertheless, i havev my criticisms of the guy, i will not vote for him, but i appreciate what he brings to the political discourse or lack thereof in this country
<bruce> i have also not seen denis back pedal
<chris> you guys are free to vote for and support whomever you want to, and may the best candidate win
<bruce> well, we know yer vote is to the obama or the woman
<ian_> do whatever you wish but don't bring up points that arent correct then give them as reasons not to vote for the guy
<bruce> chris, remember when you called kevin all those names because he voted for bush?
<chris> i'll take the obama over the woman any day
<chris> obamas have more soul
<bruce> recall how you felt about him?
<ali> sofrito
<chris> yeah, i felt he was an idiot
<bruce> you have 2 choices, denis or ron, if you vote for anyone else you are the same idiot
<chris> but he has a right to vote for whomever he wants to
<chris> i still think kevin is a moron
<chris> ;)
<bruce> yeah, ppl have a right to be as dumb as they want
<chris> and i'll be happy to remind him if he wants a refresher course
<bruce> so, you can vote for hilary, and i will love you but realize you are a fucken tool.
<chris> well, we do live in the world greatest dumbocrasy
<chris> trust me, i am never, ever voting for hilary
<bruce> i like denis and my views are in line with his except one issue
<chris> unless we are talking about REDACTED
<ian_> mike gravel rocks too
<bruce> a vote for the obama is the same
<ian_> he gets no respect
<bruce> the only acceptable ppl you can vote for and not look like a tool are denis and ron
<chris> gun control is a non-starter, and i will develop a position so that i can make that clearer to you in person
<chris> yeah i like gravel too, and i kinda wished he'd be the left's ron paul
<chris> well, chris dodd scores points for standing up against telco amnesty
<ian_> you must clarify this non-starter idea...
<ian_> gravel is the number one reason why we finally left viet nam
<chris> the kind of gun control that dennis kucinich may advocate, whatever it is, cannot be legislated, enforced or enacted
<ian_> that isnt the point.... someone who--in most ways--points at the constitution should have a better knowledge of taking arms from the people.
<chris> congress makes the laws concerning gun control, and as long as americans love owning guns, and american gun makers love giving money to candidates, there never will be a meaningful ban on guns. however, and i want to make this very clear, guns are easier to get than a driver's license
<ian_> the whole point of us being able to arm our selves is to protect us from our government not foreign.
<chris> and, i think that there are pro and con anguments about the ease with which either should be available, and they should be, as they are, left up to the state
<ian_> guns are not a state issue
<ian_> its a constitutional issue
<chris> in fact, governmental control of driving regulations (seat belts, license requirements and ages, drinking ages) are more stringent than gun control on all cases
<chris> ian, it is, in fact, both a state and a consititutional issue
<bruce> chris, denis is not a protector of the constitution, he is a facist who just happens to support many of our social views
<bruce> he is you or me as president
<chris> and that is what would make kucinich's ideas of federal gun bans impossible
<ian_> i'm against off of it... fokways, mores, and normative community control has--in all human history--been far better at controlling
<bruce> he is for more federal mucking about in our lives
<ian_> off=all
<chris> i would vote for ron paul if he advocated a people's constitutional convention convened to give each american the right to health care and education
<chris> i will vote for kucinich because he is for those things, even if they are extra-constitutional
<tim> chris: You're asking a lot there..
<bruce> the reality is denis doesnt have a chance.
<bruce> ppl laugh at him for seeing ufos
<chris> i haven't seen anything that suggests that ron paul is against the idea of health care, other than the fact that it is not provided for by the constitution
<tim> We'll be living in a marshal-law world soon. So it won't matter.
<bruce> no one is giving him money either
<ian_> health care and education need to be a cultural achievement, not an enforcement.
<chris> in fact, his position on that is very very clear
<tim> You won't be able to fart because it contributes to global warming.
<bruce> so, if it is anyone -vs- ron paul, you need to vote ron paul
<bruce> period
<tim> You'll need a permit to watch TV.
<ian_> he has stated that he'd much rather be spending trillions of dollars on education and welfare rather than war
<tim> and you know, watchign TV is a privledge, not a right.
<ian_> in a lesser of two evils sense
<chris> but as much as he is against the federalized education system as it stands today, he is also against the unconstitutional national security state that has been in existence since 1947 and had its beginnings in 1898
<tim> You'll have no privacy. Your RFID will log you into the internet.
<bruce> which has helped the 5 jew bankers keep the black man down
<ian_> his primary argument against federal level education is that fed level education sucks at doing its job
<chris> spending trillions on healthcase and education is exactly what we *should* be doing
<tim> Sounds a lot like Cyberpunk:2020
<chris> school teachers should mnake as much as plastic surgeons
<ian_> well, chris, no you are going to vote for ron paul :)
<ian_> his stance is to turn all of our war funding into those until we can change our dependence on it.
<chris> if its giuliani versus clinton, i'll think about it
<tim> chris: I think you solved the root of the stupid american problem :)
<chris> but i'm more likely to write in joe walsh
<ian_> yea, stupid americans.
<tim> ian_: It's true, most are fat and lazy.
<tim> and dumb.
<chris> our public education system is third-rate, third world
<ian_> i'm aware ... i'm allergic to stupid
<tim> Kids in other countries know more about the US than our own kids.
<ian_> i agree.. and even on that i agree with you more than i do with ron paul BUT my choice to vote for him is all about methods of argument over issues more than the issues themselves.
<tim> oh, I don't do politics. I just state the obvious.
<chris> we have an ever growing class of restless, jobless and stupid people, mostly inner city and rural, and they think they have nothing in common but when they realize that the toothless rednecks are the same as the yo's on the corner slinging rocks, we're going to have a big problem on our hands
<tim> chris: You're scaring me.
<ian_> cuz he's right
<tim> chris: Since when did you start making sense?
<chris> however, ron paul is correct, good or bad, public education is extra-constitutional and should be federally defunded
<bruce> yes, and if we are lucky the mexican will come in and get good educations and those rednecks will die off
<chris> these are beliefs i have pretty much always held
<chris> but the poilitical dialog is usually so vapid in this country its hard to get these ideas out
<chris> so, hats off to roin paul
<chris> anyway, back to work
<ian_> word
<chris> ron paul even
<ian_> groin paul!
<bruce> chris is gonna vote for hilary.
<tim> chris: I dunno man, you've always just talked in circles and sounded like a babbling idiot. :P OK, more like everything you said had about 30 gallons of sarcasm on it.
<bruce> he still sounds like an idiot here
<tim> GROIN!
<chris> bruce: only if steve jobs is her running mate.. smell ya later!
Also, for your amusement: http://letters.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/11/06/paul/view/index.html

[ ETA - 6th Nov, 2007, 19:12 PDT: ]

Ron Paul is interviewed over at PBS.ORG here, explains his position regarding abortion (follow the link to read the whole interview, which is excellent):

JUDY WOODRUFF: Abortion, you've said you'd like to make it impossible for the federal government to regulate abortion, which would, in effect, I guess, negate Roe v. Wade.

REP. RON PAUL: Yes, it would, because I think that's a state issue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And then the states would be able to do away with abortion.

REP. RON PAUL: That's right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, in effect, would you like to see abortion banned everywhere? Or what's your position on that?

REP. RON PAUL: I'd like to ban the federal government intervention in abortion. So since I've only been a federal official -- a congressman and then running for the presidency -- I say that we should keep our hands out of it.

And there are some extreme circumstances that I may not even endorse but I recognize that we're always arguing about it. The states, they should deal with it, because they're difficult. The more difficult an issue is, the more local the solution ought to be.

Once you get into a difficult problem, and then you have one monolithic answer, like Roe v. Wade, then you come up with a solution where the courts legislate and allow abortion to be done a minute before birth, and I can get paid for doing one of those, yet a girl, because she throws her baby away, we arrest her for murder. There's something awfully inconsistent about that.

And I have so much legal responsibility as a physician, if I do harm to the fetus, I can be sued. So the fetus has legal rights, but we should figure that out at the state level on the extreme circumstances and not legalize abortion at any time during pregnancy, which is essentially what the Supreme Court did.

[ ETA - 7th Nov, 2007, 22:19PDT ]
It is difficult to summarize the raging debate that ensued on Salon.com after Greenwald's post about the meaning and impact of Ron Paul's candidacy, however this letter stood out to me, making a point about the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution that I have often had trouble putting into words (except):>
there was a draft during the Revolution? How does THAT square with the 2nd Amendment types that separate well regulated militia and the right to keep and bear arms (for the militia)? Not very libertarian is it? A draft? But there it was, right in the middle of the Founding BY the Founders themselves!

The well regulated militia being a necessity (according to the Constitution), citizens who can be CALLED INTO THE MILITIA have a right to have arms for the purpose of serving in said militia. Of course, that is bad policy in the modern world. Require your soldiers to pay for and keep their weapons? Ever check out the price of a good military weapon these days? I have one...they are pricey. The militia is for the rich then under the R Paul system. Same with edumacation.
I have often said that the 2nd Amendment doesn't guarantee the right for the average citizen to carry an Uzi, or even own one, nor does it say that there cannot be limits on the wait time for getting a fire arm such that you cannot simply walk into your local WalMart and walk out 5 minutes later with a shotgun and shells. I have used guns, and I like them. I have friends who own guns, and are gun enthusiasts. I have friends and relatives for whom owning a firearm is a necessity (for fending off foxes, bears or other predators). I am not for banning guns, but I do not think a gun should be an easy thing to acquire, and I do not think guns should ever be regarded casually.

Most everyone I know who use firearms with any regularity that I have spoken to agree that guns are to be taken seriously. I have never heard any of them ever advocate immediate access to any and all weapons. I think this resistance to waiting periods is driven by the manufacturers. Anyone who "needs" a gun "right away" probably really doesn't need a gun, especially right away(*).

(*) The only exception to this rule I can think of is the coming Zombie Apocalypse. In that case, the laws and bureaucracy will very quickly be superseded by mayhem and bedlam. I'll be going for the liquor and the pills, I'm a terrible shot and wouldn't be much help.

01 November, 2007

Wait, what?

The piece of tooth fell out after game 1, where I after who knows how many agonizing moves finally checkmated my roommate(*).

On Halloween.

I was literally on the third pack of Smarties when I felt something weird.


I thought to myself,

"The factory must have fucked up, because one of these Smarties has a crunchy part."

I pulled the candy and everything else out of my mouth, and looked at the offending chunk of hardness. That's right around the same time my tongue found the gaping hole in the interior side of one of my right molars.


My roommate went to bed, but I'm loosing as white: I have her queen, one rook, one bishop, one knight and two pawns but she has my queen, one rook, one knight and four pawns, and a positional advantage.

The point is, (1) Happy Halloween and (2) brush AND FLOSS..

30 October, 2007

Dear Norm Podhoretz

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is not Adolf Hitler. He is not anything like Hitler.

Shut your war mongering fascist pie-hole, Norm.

26 October, 2007

Colbert Nation

Have you joined "1 million Strong for Steven T Colbert"?

Well, have you?

If the election were held today, Steven Colbert would be President-elect tomorrow. Easily, handily.

19 October, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #10?..

Yes, let's call this one ten. Nine needs a rewrite anyway.

I just spent 24 of the last 48 hours racking and stacking since one of my hosting companies decided they needed to move me.

I'm venting toward the middle of the room since I'm pretty sure that they are 4+1 CR/AC units short of what they will need if they fill their room up with servers (not to mention the power, but that's another issue -- I have three extra 20amp circuits for an insanely cheap $150/mo, so I'm good to go and fuck everyone else, haw haw). Also, 80amps per cabinet is twice as much as the hosting company upstairs lets me get away with, although, as I said before, the lack of air condition and UPS may just bite me later -- nothing too important down there though.

So, here's how you know you have been working too long on racking and stacking: when, at 5am, you drop a 1u grid machine (don't worry, the thing had a value in today's dollars of probably $350, but it cost $1700 back in 2005 when we bought it -- rest in peace).

Power, space, cooling.. first principals. Next week I have to find space, power and cooling for 18 new machines (including another SAN tray). I have ROR for space adjacent to my 5 upstairs racks, but they aren't sure they can give me two 20amp circuits. *FROWNY FACE*. I saw someone carting out three dozen Dell's last week, there better fucking be power. I hope we don't have to go downstairs, because I will have to go with something cheaper for SAN, like a sucky commodity 3WARE on-board JBOD.

Oh, also, I wanted to return to the idea of mise en place when talking about jobs like this.

At minimum, each machine getting racked will need two rails, measured to length, 4 square nuts with threaded screw-holes, and four screws. For the thirty-five or so machines I moved, that's 70 rails, 140 nuts, 140 screws. How does one divide up this tedious labor (the most tedious of which, in my opinion, is adjusting the rail lengths to the horizontal length of the front and back risers on the rack, left and right)? By 5am this morning, I had devised the following attack strategy:

Working 5 machines at a time (5 boxes, 10 rails, 20 nuts, 20 screws), I marked off and installed the nuts, measured (or had pre-measured) a length template for the rail, adjusted all the rails (not including the template) and hand installed each rail, screwing in the screws with my fingers and tightening or adjusting them with a screwdriver when the machines slide into the rails.

Then I would drop the power (because my retarded hosting company put the power receptacles on top of the racks as opposed to in them, on the bottom), bundled 5 power cables at a time, on the left, and I would pull and drop the cat5 on the right. Cat5 goes in first, then power, then a KVM to verify that (a) I'm in the right NIC (all hosts were dual NIC) and (b) that the machine actually boots.

Which brings me to admin pet peeve #272 -- there is never, EVER, *EVER* any reason to boot into runlevel >3. I'm talking to YOU, Lunix lusers.

A datacenter grid machine or server NEVER EVER EVER needs some fucking gimpy stupid fucking douchebag GUI. Its in a RACK, its not a DESKTOP, idiot. So, to the previous admins who initially installed these machines, I say to you, thanks, thanks for making me edit /etc/inittab to undo your stupid runlevel 5 moronocity. On a dozen machines!

Next week: software RAID, stupid or just mean-spirited?

17 October, 2007

08 October, 2007

03 October, 2007

Dear Mr Lebron James, Millionaire

Sir, let me first say that I appreciate you remaining in Cleveland and playing for the Cavaliers, and continuing to support the community. Certainly, I do not need to remind you that Cleveland is a city with numerous image and economic problems, and while I do not agree that having a successful sports franchise is in any way a panacea or even a suitable Band-Aid for our city's ills(*), I cannot argue that your continued support does do some good.

That said, when you (allegedly) tell your friend not to tip a valet because "they get paid to do that anyway," I feel I must take offense and correct you. Certainly, valets are paid. Usually, they are paid a fraction of the minimum wage. The reason this is possible is because they are employees, like waiters and bartenders, who earn a portion of their income from tips.

In July, the minimum wage for Cleveland, the lowest in the nation, went up to a dismal $5.85. According to the text of the bill, an employer may pay 'less than [the proposed minimum wage] but not less than half of [the minimum wage] if it can be demonstrated that the employee also earns tips.' Half of the minimum wage is $2.93, and you can bet that almost every employer will pay their tip-earning employees the exact minimum the law allows.

So, sir, with all due respect, if you do not tip valets, and if you tell others not to tip valets, then that means that not only are you a cheapskate, you are also a douche-bag.


(*) Regarding the phrase "successful sports franchise", I do mean a winning one; in the words of Stringer Bell to Omar Little and Brother Mouzon, "get on with it, motherfucker."

A Recipe for Sadness

I just finished watching a surreal interview with Chris Matthews and Jon Stewart on last night's The Daily Show.

"This is the worst interview I've ever had in my life!"

Damn straight, Matthews.

The book is called "Life's a Campaign: What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation and Success." If that doesn't make you NOT want to read this book, I don't know what won't.

In fact, if that title does make you want to buy that book, you are probably a fucking scumbag.

I will not deny that there is a place for politics and political tactics: politics. But there is a reason that "politics" gets a bad name: politics are bad. Politics is what politicians are doing when they aren't helping their constituents (voters, not companies) -- which is my not so subtle way of insinuating that politics is what politicians are doing 99.9% of the time.

And what are the lessons, the aims of politics: get out there and make the most money, say the most whitewashed generic things you can say, do not offend anyone by not having any distinguishing characteristics, smear your opponent and have no soul.

The person with the combination of the most charisma and cash "wins." What do they win? They win the chance to shill for their corporate and special interests masters while failing entirely to accomplishing any of the lofty goals they may have had decades ago when they first decided to enter politics; "to make a difference."

Or perhaps your goal is to win for the sake of winning. This makes you a perfect "candidate" for politics. More likely, if you don't play the "game" right, this makes you a perfect mark for people selling self-help books or "The Secret" DVDs. You are a prick with a false sense of entitlement, you think the Universe owes you something and you are willing to compromise ethics, morality and common sense to get your way.

Pat yourself on the back, if this is you, and go out and buy a copy of Chris Matthews' book.

30 September, 2007

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

I you haven't watched this movie, you should do so ASAP.

Also, G. Gordon Liddy is a douchebag.


I didn't know the Pentagon hired trans-genders. Maybe I've been wrong all along about the administration.

Oh, wait.. "I hate all Iranians." Looks matches the ideology.

28 September, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #8


What is this?
INFO   | jvm 1    | 2007/09/28 02:20:33 | 2:20:33> |||| [inprogress/] S! 
[clown]/1/gg_cars-com.product.spd5//-1/1{t:119 c:gg-cw01.dev.COMPANY
p:100.30 ems:3839652 qms:28414413
I'll tell you what that is.. that's Java running our application on Free-fucking-BSD, that's what..

How you like them apples, Product Manager?

23 September, 2007


Wondering where to find resources online to help in the struggle to defend the sovereignty of Iran against criminal mad-men Bush and Cheney?

Look no further: http://www.iransolidarity.endofempire.org/

If you live in New York, or you simply love the first amendment, please let this scumbag know:
As the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, prepares to address Columbia University today amid a storm of student protest, state and city lawmakers say they are considering withholding public funds from the school to protest its decision to invite the leader to campus.

In an interview with The New York Sun, the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, said lawmakers, outraged over Columbia's insistence on allowing the Iranian president to speak at its World Leaders Forum, would consider reducing capital aid and other financial assistance to the school.
Regarding the World Trade Center debacle, in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad wanted to place a wreath of mourning from the Iranian People on Ground Zero, well, why not? I think that's nice. Iranians held vigils after 9/11/2001 for the victims, and offered material and "spiritual" support.

The only real problem we have ever had with Iran is conflicting views of who should control what oil interests in the region. This is why we backed the Shah's illegal coup against a democratically elected government in 1953. This is why in 1979 when the public resentment for the brutal lawless leadership of the corrupt, US-backed Shah government reached a boiling point, US government officials and citizens were captured.

To say that Iran is the enemy of the US is backward, the US is the enemy of Iran. That we continue to bait and taunt them, to drum up our war rhetoric against them, is further proof that foreign policy in this country is off the rails. Statecraft no longer embraces a philosophy of valuing democracy, freedom, human rights and the betterment of all mankind but focuses on the allocation and distribution of wealth and resources, and being the biggest gorilla on the top of the mound.

KBR and Halliburton are considered by our corrupt government as having more rights than a human being. How more obvious can this be? Look at this Blackwater business. Bush claims to believe in a religiously revealed Truth of the Culture of Life, yet he holds back a helping hand when real, living people needed it in New Orleans and he attacks and kills with the other hand in the Middle East in a war of choice for control of oil and a support of the Biblical prophecies regarding the fictional battle of Armaggeddon.

So why wouldn't we let one fanatical, religiously aligned leader speak in New York city when we allow criminals like Bush to do the same there all the time? Why don't we ban Bush from using Ground Zero as a bully pulpit if we won't allow a world leader to make a gesture of mourning and solidarity there?

ETA - of course, as Fmr Ambassador Peter Galbraith will tell you, the Iran situation is complicated.

21 September, 2007

Datacenter Confidential #7

As if I needed more evidence that the Project Manager title was a secret cabal intent on interfering the the affairs of operations personnel I give you the following example:

This morning the same project manager described in Datacenter Confidential #6 sent an email to my boss complaining about, well, let's put it in his own words:
We’re running short on PROJECTNAME grid machines. I wonder if we have a status on PROJECTGRIDWORKER, which went down few weeks ago. Also, is it possible to run Linux on PROJECTMYSQLSERVER? It appears that in order to run our java programs on it, we have to modify/port the underlying scripts. We’re really have no time to do such a thing. It will be much easier if all grid machines are consistent and run on standard operating system. I’d strongly recommend we standardize on Linux for all of our production and development grid/non grid, as it is consistent and seems to be the industry standard.

We need a couple of machines to be configured for golden gate grid with sufficient memory and horse power ASAP. Can you please help us?
Regarding the shortage of grid machines, well, we have an RMA out to the vendor on the missing worker. Regarding resources, we can and will order extra RAM for all the machines. Regarding running Linux of PROJECTMYSQLSERVER, the answer is a resounding NO.

This is a development environment, and there were 6 machines purchased for it. The specifications for the hardware were clear, three of these machines would have RAID storage built in, and three would serve as JVM "workers", or dumb machines running java processes which would populate the various MySQL databases on the other three large storage servers.

These machines were purchased months ago, and per the production standards, the JVM "workers" run Debian GNU/Linux and the MySQL servers run FreeBSD 6.2.

The Project Manager is raising a stink because he wants to run a JVM on the FreeBSD machines. Luckily, I have solved this problem, and in fact run JVMs on FreeBSD machines in production. I have even gone through the trouble of changing the startup scripts for the wrapper utility we use to control JVM processes to play nice with either BSD or Linux. I have even checked this code into the source revision control system, Perforce, for the exact reason of avoiding such petty OS related debates.

Yet the Project Manager wants to "standardize" to Linux.

I for one am all for homogeny. I truly am. But I will be damned if I let some Project Manager tell me what I am and am not going to run on the machines I am responsible for maintaining. So I sent this to my boss:
my boss Ahh, if only it was so simple. I will be meeting with PROJECT MANAGER. Maybe you want to join.
Not really. If a someone above me wants to tell me what OS to run, they will be receiving my badge, keys and laptop. It is absolutely a waste of time for E-staff to even be discussing this, and if PROJECT MANAGER is not satisfied with what I tell him my operating environment is then that is cause for me to officially complain about cross-departmental interference or obstructionism. My word on this is the law, and if E-staff does not agree, they are free to remedy that however they can. I cannot be any more clear or unequivocal about it. PROJECT MANAGER needs to stop wasting my time, your time and THE CTO's time. Moreover, I will not tolerate E-staff second guessing trivial details such as this: that is the very definition of micro-management, and I will not be micro-managed. Feel free to convey my feelings on this matter however you deem appropriate.
Once I had a few hours to cool off, I drafted this response and sent it to my boss:
There are a number of OS choices available to technology companies running a Java Development Platform, ranging from MS Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Solaris, FreeBSD 5.4, FreeBSD 6.2, Linux 2.4 Kernel, Linux 2.6 Kernel as well as platform choices like Intel X86 32-bit, AMD X86 64-bit, SPARC or even IA64 (Tru-64).

More confounding, Linux offers literally scores of distribution choices, the most popular of which range from fully-commercial, for-pay distributions like Red Hat and Novell SuSE, or free varieties like Gentoo, Fedora-Core, Debian and Ubuntu.

Unfortunately, choosing one distribution over another, or even Linux over BSD in many case, is not as simple as making an arbitrary choice for an overall common operating environment unless you are not vendor agnostic; moreover licensing, and therefore budget concerns play a role in the choice. For the latter reason we have shied away from embracing Red Hat, SuSE or Solaris X86 due to the cost of licensing the number of CPUs we use.

What is also oftentimes the case is that new hardware, or varying system hardware configurations do not allow all distributions or operating environments to even install or run correctly: in many cases, we had to make distribution choices based on what would run on a system at the time the machine was needed rather than what we would have preferred.

One thing is true in the arguments for BSD versus Linux, and that is that in the majority of cases, CPUs, boards and peripheral support is more mature and support is more universal and standardized in the BSD kernel than in Linux, meaning that often newer hardware will not even run Linux. This has been the case in production nearly half a dozen times. For instance, the Sun AMD Opteron servers officially supported Red Hat and SuSE originally, we have three unlicensed SuSE servers and one FreeBSD server on the X4200 platform. By the time we acquired the X4100 and X2100 servers, Sun had added support for Ubuntu, which is based on the Debian distribution and packaging system, and is ostensibly free. The Dell 2950 servers, which are Intel 64-bit platform, would not, at the time we purchased them, run any current, non-beta or non-development Linux distribution freely available: not debian, not Fedora, not Gentoo, not Ubuntu, etc. As a result, those machines are all FreeBSD. Which is good, because the stated purpose of those machines are to run MySQL, and MySQL always runs on FreeBSD because that is the industry standard, and more subjectively but just as significantly, that is our standard. FREEBSDSERVER1, a content window, is a SuperMicro Intel-based 64-bit server and also would not run any Linux, so it too runs FreeBSD. I am sure there are more modern Linux distributions that would run on these machines if we installed them today, but that would not change the environment for the Dells and we are not going to take down a content window to satisfy a Linux-leaning operating environment preference.

A note about Debian Linux: newer machines and newer Linux distributions mesh better, which is why we run Debian on LINUXSERVER1 and LINUXSERVER2, and Ubuntu on LINUXSERVER3, LINUXSERVER4 and LINUXWORKER1, LINUXWORKER2, LINUXWORKER3 and LINUXWORKER4 (because these are Sun systems and they do not support Debian). Debian is a natural choice over Red Hat (commercial, bloated) and SuSE (ditto), as well as Fedora Core (bloated) or some lesser distribution such as Gentoo, etc, because Debian has better package management, and the package maintainers are more responsive. That we continue to run Red Hat and Fedora Core in production is only a function of legacy, and as always as machines running FC or RH are aged out, they will be replaced with either Debian or Ubuntu Linux, or FreeBSD.

In fact, there are few or any arguments not to run a uniformly FreeBSD environment except for legacy binary issues such as SVM, i18n, Chasen, Sleepycat and so on. One of the arguments in favor of Linux touches the UFS/FFS versus ext3 or ReiserFS debate. It is true, ext3 is somewhat faster than UFS/FFS, but ext3 is also less stable and therefore more dangerous than UFS/FFS, more so with ReiserFS. The choice, then, is clear when data-protection is made a priority, as it is in our architecture. ReiserFS is something we have used to side-step the need for an inode table for filesystems, allowing a filesystem to grow to hundreds of millions of objects in some cases. More recently, however, we have made a decision to move away from this model for several reasons: loss of objects is a very real threat with ReiserFS, filesystems with that many objects are hard to manage (move, transfer, archive) and filesystems over a certain number of gigabytes are undesirable for this same reason, not to mention Lucene has a limit of X number of objects and Y number of gigabytes it can reasonably be expected to manage per index. And, obviously, Lucene is effectively agnostic about UFS/FFS versus ext3 because the indeces are held in large files where platter RPM is as much a factor as the relative speed of the filesystem for I/O, and Lucene's "MAILDIR" type object store format allows fast-traversal of actual objects (eg, files). I'm fairly certain that if we tested a UFS Lucene index versus an ext3 index, the speeds would be marginally different, or at least within acceptable parameters.

So, in fact, the question of what the standard is can be answered succinctly enough for the sanity of upper management and project managers: if the platform allows, the OS will be one of Debian Linux or Ubuntu Linux, except for MySQL servers, which will run FreeBSD. All other machines will run FreeBSD, unless there is a package dependency that requires a Microsoft platform; however the onus is on project management to remove all Microsoft dependencies and that objective has been in place since 2005. All other distributions and platforms are supported as legacy platforms to be aged out and replaced with one of the above stated platforms.

Hopefully I have made myself clear on this issue and we can put this to rest. Thank you and have a good weekend.
Hopefully this will shut down the Project Manager interference into my fiefdom. Or, you will see me soon blogging about job hunting in the Bay Area.

For the Record

If you are a "pro-blogger" you are a columnist.

Saying "pro-blogger" is like saying "professional amateur."

goofballs has spoken!

(Watch this come back to bite me later.)

19 September, 2007


Here is a link to an interview with Reverend Lennox Yearwood, the man illegally battered and politically imprisoned by fascists in the video above. Government should fear the people not the other way around. Revolution now.

Vodka, again

Apparently (and it comes as no surprise, again), I can list as an intellectual ally one Anthony Bourdain:
Chocolate martini: Both chocolate and liquor are good in bars, but ordering them together announces that you don't like or appreciate either. Anyone who requests this drink should also get a T-shirt that says "I am an asshole, please take my money."
Chef Bourdain has been known to guest blog over at Michael Ruhlman's site, who is a fellow Clevelander. And of course the Bourdain quote is a direct ideological validation of my previously stated thoughts regarding the state of the modern cocktail in general and "status" vodkas in particular.

18 September, 2007

Goofballs Music Reviews #2

Here is the playlist and text of the "liner-notes" I am sending to my Aunt and Uncle in upstate New York. Briefly, on background, I used to send them tapes when I was much younger. My Aunt, who was then a school teacher for troubled children, would play my mixes and discuss them with her students. My Aunt, my Father's Sister, has always demonstrated a greater appreciation for music I deemed "cool" or "relevant" than my actual parents, probably as a result of dealing with a large number of individuals in my age group.



01) The District Sleeps Alone Tonight / The Postal Service / "GIVE UP" 04:44
02) Easy On Yourself / The Drive-by Truckers / "A BLESSING AND A CURSE" 03:28
03) Don't Leave the Light on Baby / Belle and Sebastian / "FOLD YOUR HANDS CHILD, YOU WALK LIKE A PEASANT"
04) Between The Bars / Elliott Smith / "EITHER/OR" 02:21
05) Just Like Anyone / Aimee Mann / "BACHELOR NO. 2" 01:21
06) Arabian Knights / Siouxsie & the Banshees / "JUJU" 03:07
07) Misery is a Butterfly / Blonde Redhead, "MISERY IS A BUTTERFLY" 05:08
08) Family Tree / Belle and Sebastian / "FOLD YOUR HANDS CHILD, YOU WALK LIKE A PEASANT"


09) Feb 14 / The Drive-by Truckers / "A BLESSING AND A CURSE" 03:41
10) Crooked Teeth / Death Cab for Cutie / "PLANS" 03:25
11) Spellbound / Siouxsie & the Banshees / "JUJU" 03:17
12) Angeles / Elliott Smith / "EITHER/OR" 02:57
13) Faded From Winter / Iron and Wine / "THE CREEK DRANK THE CRADLE" 03:18
14) Two of Us / Aimee Mann / "I AM SAM SOUNDTRACK" 03:32
15) Waiting for the Moon to Rise / Belle and Sebastian / "FOLD YOUR HANDS CHILD, YOU WALK LIKE A PEASANT"
16) Each Coming Night / Iron and Wine / "OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS" 03:28
17) Rose Parade / Elliott Smith / "EITHER/OR" 03:28

It seems like 20 years since I have done a mix tape for you guys, and I'm pretty sure that's not too far of an
exaggeration. So it is approriate, then, that this compilation comprise of three decades of music from the 1980s
to today, to quote just about every generic Clear Channel owned "Lite Rock / Less Talk" venue in a city near you.

The mix begins with the opening track to 2003's "GIVE UP" by The Postal Service, a side-project of Death Cab for
Cutie vocalist Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello. "GIVE UP" features tightly crafted pop melodies over
obsessively tweaked pops and beeps of modern electronica. The LP features the ubiquituous single "Such Great Heights"
which is featured in a number of television advertisements, including the introductory "thrive" campaign of
Kaiser-Permanente, and has been covered far and wide, most noteably by Iron and Wine, whose acoustic version is
featured on the "Garden State Soundtrack".

We move on to Athens, Georgia rockers "The Drive-by Truckers" with their song "Easy on Yourself" from 2006's
"A BLESSING AND A CURSE". The band is lead by Patterson Hood, son of a Muscle Schoals studio player, and was
founded in 1996. The band has been cranking out one superb record after another of pitch-perfect Southern-
rock and country influenced music ever since. Their "SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA" 2-CD set is an essential for any
serious Y'allternative (alt country) fan.

"FOLD YOUR HANDS CHILD, YOU WALK LIKE A PEASANT" marks the return-to-form of "chamber pop" mavens
Belle and Sebastian, and "Don't Leave the Light on Baby" is probably as close to personal band
leader Stuart Murdoch tends to get in terms of songwriting, following his breakup with former bandmate,
cellist and vocalist Isobel Campbell (who has since enjoyed a successful solo career).

The next song is the cellphone ringtone for someone very special to me. Honest. Isn't technology great?

Aimee Mann is an indie heroine, former leader of 80s pop group "Till Tuesday", who saved up enough money to buy
back her back-catalog from Geffen later in her career and maintains sole rights on all of her music to this
day. She is married to composer and pop artist Michael Penn, brother to Sean and the late Chris Penn. Mann
gained a recent bump in popularity with the 1999 Paul Thomas Anderson film "Magnolia" by scoring the entire
soundtrack. Anderson and Penn had previously worked together on "Boogie Nights," and Mann had worked with
Anderson's then-girlfriend Fiona Apple.

Siouxsie and the Banshees was a post-Punk art-rock band popular in the 1980s lead by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux,
and was formed in 1976 as a last-minute fill-in for a UK punk rock festival. The band has (some say unjustifiably)
been given the post-hoc genre designation of "goth" (although old coots like me still refer to that genre as
"death rock"), along with other post-punk icons such as The Cure and Bauhaus. The "goth" designation emphasised
style often over substance, two qualities that are not at all lacking in the music and stage presence of
Siouxsie and the Banshees.

A more modern version of the highly stylized music of Siouxsie and the Banshees might be the art-rock trio
Blonde Redhead comprised of members Simone and Amedeo Pace and Kazu Makino. Their first album was produced by
Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. Sonic Youth is the famed New York City punk, post-punk outfit comprised
also of bassist and vocalist Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. As in the 1960s with the Velevet Underground,
Sonic Youth is both a cool-barometer and a cool-magnet.

Death Cab for Cutie lead by frontman Ben Gibbard has been recording for a decade and shot to "post-indie"
superstardom with the inclusion of several of their songs on the popular television drama (dramedy? trageo-comi-
drama? soap opera for teenagers?) "The O. C.", a show about a bunch of dumb, rich white kids getting into
fistfights and car crashes with sexy results. Regardless, the pop stylings of Gibbard and company are
unassailable, and they deserve all that fame and fortune.

Iron and Wine is singer/songwriter Sam Beam. A native of South Carolina, Beam plays guitar, banjo, slide
guitar, piano, mouth-harp, and an attick full of other strange and magical instruments, and tours with a
full band of sometimes more than half a dozen players including family members and friends. Beam is a
graduate Florida State University Film school (go Gators!) and writes introspective and folk-inspired
songs. Ironically, he rose to prominence after covering a Postal Service song for "The Garden State
Soundtrack" as previously mentioned.

The mix ends with "Rose Parade" off "EITHER/OR" by Elliott Smith. Born Steven Paul Smith on August 6th, 1969,
Elliott thought his name made him sound too much like a "jock". He showed signs of musical talent early on,
composing songs in Sunday school, and putting on talent shows. His mother, a caberet singer, divorced Elliott's
father when Elliott was young and moved the family to Texas, where Elliott stayed briefly before moving in
with his father instead. His mother had remarried, and there was a great deal of tension between Elliott and his
step-father, who he considered to be abusive. Elliott's estrangement from his mother is a common theme in
many of his songs. His solo career began in 1996 after leaving the Portland, Oregon band Heatmiser. Elliott
shot into the public eye after being nominated for a "Best Song" Oscar for "Miss Misery", a song from the
"Good Will Hunting Soundtrack", a film directed by friend and fellow Portlander Gus Van Sant. Elliott battled
drug addiction throughout his career and tragically ended his life on October 21st, 2003. It's too bad, because
he really was probably the best songwriter of my generation.

17 September, 2007

Monday Mid-afternoon Miscelany

A few items (possible future blog topics):

  • watching a short promo for a KQED program entitled "immigration in-focus" i looked up to notice that they were subtitling the, in english, words spoken by an indian woman with a slight accent. i was having no trouble understanding what she was saying until my brain was suddenly saddled with reading and listening (at the same time! omg hard). are americans really that dumb? of course we are, and, in fact, i often wish there were subtitles in real life when some of them speak (and i'm not just talking about the president).
  • allen greenspan insinuated that the war in iraq is about oil, but then insinuated that is wasn't. we report, you decide.
  • meta. let's talk about meta-blogs. you know, blogs about blogs. worse, blogs about writing better blogs. almost without exception, a blog written about writing a better blog is not worth reading. moreover, the raison d'etre of writing a (boring) blog about how to write blogs is slanted in the direction of writing better blogs to attract eyeballs to your blog, which inherently is meta-ironic, since these blogs SUCK to begin with; to-wit, if you sit down and write a blog giving advice to others how to write better blogs, with the intention of, ultimately, sucking of the teat of ad-revenue or attracting eyeballs, you have already lost entirely the whole point of blog writing in the first place. in fact, i'm sick of myself for even talking about it at all.
  • "I CAN HAS" grammar -- just really awesome or also a great way to attract attention to your new blog?

    xoxo, dr von drinkensnorten
  • 15 September, 2007

    14 September, 2007

    Idiots, Redux #1

    Folks, let's talk about a menace creeping across the nation. It may already be in your town or province. You may know someone who has succumbed. You may have already fallen victim.

    I am talking, of course, of "premium vodkas."

    What is vodka? Well, vodka is a grain alcohol and it can be made with wheat or potatoes, or in a pinch, rice. Here's how wikipedia defines it:

    Vodka is one of the world's most popular distilled beverages. It is a liquid containing water, ethanol purified by distillation from a fermented substance such as grain or molasses, and an insignificant amount of other substances: impurities and possibly flavorings. Except for various types of flavorings, vodka is a colorless liquid.

    Vodka usually has an alcohol content of 35% to 50% by volume. The classic Russian and Polish vodka is 40% (USA 80 proof). This can be attributed to the Russian standards for vodka production introduced in 1894 by Alexander III from research undertaken by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. According to the Vodka Museum in Moscow, Mendeleev found the perfect percentage to be 38. However, since spirits in his time were taxed on their strength, the percentage was rounded up to 40 to simplify the tax computation. At strengths less than this, vodka drunk neat (not mixed with other liquids) can taste "watery": above this strength, the taste of vodka can have more "burn". Some governments set a minimum alcohol content for a spirit to be called "vodka". For example, the European Union sets a minimum of 37.5% alcohol by volume.[1]

    Although vodka is traditionally drunk neat in Eastern European and Scandinavian countries of the "vodka belt", its popularity elsewhere owes much to its usefulness in cocktails and other mixed drinks, such as the Bloody Mary, the Screwdriver, the vodka tonic, and the vodka martini.
    First of all, the term "vodka martini" will make any purist shudder, since a Capitol M Martini is made with Gin; I suppose this may be where the slippery slope begins, and the humble grain alcohol of Eastern Europe can be manipulated into a "status beverage."

    In 2005, the New York Times Dining & Wine section reviewed several unflavored vodkas. Their conclusion?
    After the 21 vodkas were sipped and the results compiled, the Smirnoff was our hands-down favorite.

    Let me put it in perspective: a fifth (750ml) of Smirnoff retails for $17 at the local bodega. The same amount, by volume, of Stolichnaya retails for about $20. Grey Goose, Ketel One and Belvedere can fetch in the high $20s, low $30s. It bears repeating that the winner of a blind and supposedly fair tasting by the food snobs at the New York "Paper of Record" Times picked fucking Smirnoff.

    Good old handy, dependable Smirnoff. Of course, I have long been a fan of Smirnoff, and so it came as no surprise to me that it beat higher-priced status vodkas handily.

    In poker, players with experience develop a keen sense of their opponent's intentions by reading what is called a "tell." This person is bluffing. This person is holding a good hand. This person has a playable hand but can be faked out into folding.

    The same principal can be applied to real-life situations, or, if not quite "real life", the zoo that is the modern bar scene. It is easy to read, for instance, a drinker who goes up to a bartender and orders a popular mixed drink, such as a cosmopolitan, vodka and Red Bull or kamikaze or some other such aberration and then makes a point of calling out a top shelf vodka.

    "I'll have a Grey-goose Cosmo, please."

    Really? Well, that will be $10, jackhole.

    What this is "telling" me is that this person is a moron.

    Invariably, these are the same animals who tip $1 on a drink you had to stop everything else you were doing and make. A cosmo is not a hard cocktail to make, and it follows a simple ratio that every bartender on the planet is well familiar with called "the margarita formula": 4 parts base liquor, 2 parts flavoring liquor and 1 part juice. Add or subtract a splash of this or that and you have 90% of all the cocktails anyone will order in any given bar. The cosmopolitan is Vodka, triple-sec, cranberry juicy, perhaps a splash of Rose's Lime and a lime wedge, traditionally served up. It is standard practice to chill the cocktail glass (aka, martini glass) before straining the meticulously mixed and shaken cocktail into the glass. All this takes some time and skill, especially maneuvering around behind a busy bar with perhaps another bartender or a bar-back, while taking other orders or dodging customers.

    It's not rocket science, but it does take some effort. In the end, you will get the same result ordering a beer and a shot, and in the process ingratiate yourself to the bartender.

    Because people order these concoctions, some genius invented a device used in every bar known as "the speed well" or just "the well" for short. In the well you will find various cordials used in common cocktails like the cosmo or the margarita or martini, plus lime syrup, grenadine, bitters and the 5 common liquors: gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila.

    "Well" liquors are usually bargain generic varieties such as Vat-69, Powers, Kamchatka, Two-Fingers and Gordon's. Consumed in large quantities, these cheap libations will contribute greatly to a bad hangover. But poor taste in liquor alone is not the only factor in having a terrible morning-after.


    To be specific, our favorite villain, high-fructose corn syrup. The darling of well mixers and cordials. Let's return to our example of the premium cosmo for a moment.

    "Grey-goose cosmo, please."

    The bartender reaches for a cocktail shaker, strainer, pint-glass and cocktail-glass. She fills the cocktail glass with ice and a spritz of soda from the gun (soda gun), fills the pint glass with ice and reaches to the top shelf for your precious Grey Goose. In goes a four count of vodka (two ounces as the crow flies), a two counts of the cheapest, shittiest Triple-sec money can buy from the well, a one count of cranberry juice in a speed-pourer equipped bottle in the well or more commonly from the gun, also the cheapest cranberry juice money can buy and a splash of lime syrup, Rose's if you are lucky. All told, about 3 tablespoons of corn syrup just went into the pint glass with your vodka, which gets a shake, the cocktail glass is dumped into the service sink and you get a nice pink cosmo for the bargain price of $8 or $10.

    Putting it into perspective, imagine searing off a slice of foie gras, and putting it on a McDonald's Big Mac. If spending the extra money on premium vodkas wasn't a waste of money in the first place, it certainly is now that you have added the equivalent of Coney Island cheese sauce to your cocktail.

    There is a proper way to make a cosmo, and I will get to that at the end of this post. But first, let's explore the vodka hall of shame..

    If Little Lord Fontleroy drank vodka, surely it would be this one:
    Clear. Verbena, coriander, cinnamon bark and cream aromas. A soft entry leads to a glycerous, dryish medium body of sweet cream, powdered sugar, lemon verbena, and peppery cinnamon flavors. Finishes with a long warming fade of sweet cream, confectioner's sugar, and peppery spice. Very refreshing and palate cleansing.
    Say what? That doesn't sound like vodka, that sounds like some kind of Republican bath-house fantasy. No thanks, and not for $100 a bottle.

    Speaking of "gold", what the fuck is this?:
    Gold flakes in liquor is not new (Goldschlager anyone?) but this is the first time I have seen it in vodka. The Gold Flakes Supreme vodka is made with 24-karat gold flakes. The vodka is quadruple distilled and uses underground spring water (the press release doesn't specify what the base ingredients are). No word on when it will be distributed yet either but it will sell for $60 and will be distributed by Shaw-Ross importers.
    Oh yes, a whole $0.001 worth of gold in each bottle! Nothing says "I'm a nuveau riche douchebag" like willingly drinking a potentially poisonous heavy metal! Pass.

    Speaking of lethal, here's a vodka I can get behind:
    The brand probably started out as moonshine. A clear, potent drink developed in 1906 by a family called Sigurdsson, the spirit got its moniker from the local Icelandic, “Svarta Daudi,” or “Black Death.” One surmises this name must be the outcome of the pre-distinguish “describe” phase. For the next 80 years, Black Death would stay largely out of the spotlight.
    Yeah, there's truth in advertising! It's made from beets and its cheap, this is a real man's vodka.

    And speaking of real man's drinks, here's a decent cosmo for you:

    Hardware --
    1 stainless steel cocktail shaker
    1 stainless steel cocktail strainer
    1 pint glass
    1 8 ounce tumbler or cocktail glass (pro tip! real drunks don't mess with stemware, it breaks)

    Software --
    2 ounces of Smirnoff
    1 ounce of Grand Marnier orange liquore
    1/2 ounce premium, organic cranberry juice
    2 teaspoons of home made lime syrup (recipe follows)
    enough crushed ice to fill the tumbler and pint glass, about a 1 1/4 cup
    1/8 of a key lime, cut into a wedge shape

    Fill tumbler and pint glass with ice, and top off tumbler with water from the tap.

    Pour vodka, Grand Marnier, cranberry juice and lime syrup into pint glass, cover tightly with cocktail shaker and give no more than three vigorous shakes, upend so that the ice and liquor are in the shaker, remove pint glass and dump the ice and water from the tumbler. Strain mixture into tumbler and garnish with lime.


    Bring 1 cup of cold (preferably filtered) water to a simmer on the stove over medium heat in a sauce pan, reduce heat to low, add 1/3 cup of table sugar, 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice and two tablespoons of fresh grated lime peel and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar is melted. Strain into a bottle and refrigerate.

    Na Zdrovya!