Tuesday, July 29, 2008

La Conserva Nostra

Meet the multi-indicted Dishonorable Republican Senior Senator from Alaska, Ted "the Internet is not like a truck- it's a bunch of TUBES!" Stevens.

This doddering old coot leads the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He can't actually explain the Internet. Anyone spot a problem with that? Thankfully, now that he's been indicted, he'll have to step down from his committee leadership by role, but the harm is largely done. He's also the one that refused to send so much as a penny of the money he stole for his "bridge to nowhere" project to help hurricane victims in Louisiana. Teamwork- he's heard of it.

So, now the question is this: are the people of Alaska ready to wake up and vote for some non-Republican?

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Monday, July 28, 2008


Meet Jim D. Atkisson. He hates Liberals enough to shoot up a Unitarian Church during a children's program, killing two in Tennessee.

Here's my declaration of bias- I consider MOST right wing people in this day and age to be cut of this cloth. Uneducated/Undereducated, reactionary, cruel and violent. I have no doubt that in time it will out that this guy is fond of Limbaugh/Savage/Hannity. On the one hand, I don't believe in God, so shooting up churches is of limited affect to me, but as Pastor Martin Niemöller said of the Nazi's (and yes- that's a comparison I'm entirely comfortable making):

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

My version starts:
"In Neocon America, they first came for the educators, And I spoke up, but no one seemed to care;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I spoke up, but no one seemed to care;
And then they came for the dissenters, And I spoke up, because I am a dissenter, and no one seemed to care;
They were all watching television."

It would be unfair to hold an ideological movement accountable for the actions of one person (who is/was not in leadership), but in this case, I believe it fair to hold a movement accountable for the product of their efforts. The "right wing" has delivered to us far more rage filled murderers than you ever hear about in the corporate news. Barry Goldwater was a Conservative, these people are fascists, and they are flirting with an American Kristallnacht. I am amazed in my fellow countrymen's ignorance, rage, violence, and absolute unwillingness to think. Frankly, it scares me. I'm finding myself thinking about emigrating more frequently these days, which is quite a shift from my historical pig-headed stubbornness in which I felt a part of this nation.

Maybe some northern European nation would be willing to take in a family of American refugees. I hear it's harder to do at my age, since they don't want to take in those that will be a burden to the medical/social support programs without having paid in to the system for the earlier working years. Perhaps I can make a case for political amnesty before some mouth breathing, NASCAR loving, Fox News watching, monster truck driving, high school dropout decides to shoot me and my family for daring to disagree.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

(This is the default page for IIS in Server 2008)

No Microsoft, you are not Apple. You are your own thing, for better or worse- don't try to be something you aren't. This is like when MC Hammer tried "gangsta" rap. To thy own klunky self, be true.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Square Pegs In Charge Of Round Holes (Long Rant)

At first glance, this may seem like a geek story, but it's actually indicative of a significant societal problem. This is the story of Terry Childs. Google his name and you will see loads of news stories about a "maniacal" or "rogue" IT Admin that is holding the infrastructure of San Francisco hostage. I'll invite you to temporarily withhold judgement.

At the outset, let me say that what he is doing (not what he has done) is wrong. I think I can shed some light on the situation even though I've never met the man, and in doing so indict the underlying problems of non-technical people making technical policy, typically inappropriate workloads, and the media- rushing to make you live in fear and conduct trials in public opinion.

I've lived some of these things first hand and can speak authoritatively about the nature of these problems, and how even well meaning idiots make matters worse. This tale starts with Terry Childs being responsible for the infrastructure of the city of San Francisco network. I'll keep it simple and say that he was THE responsible person for the security and uptime of this network. Really dumb idea number one. There is no network of that size that should be the responsibility of just one man. The alleged back story is that his boss and peers were (and possibly still are) incompetent, and for quite a spell they were all content to let him make all the decisions and do all the work. This is damning enough to get me to side with Childs at the get-go, but at some point recently a new boss came along who apparently rubbed Childs the wrong way. For those of you who watched Seinfeld, recall the episode where Jerry's mechanic stole his car in order to repair it properly and give it the TLC that jerry wasn't. Much the same is happening here. IT guys* can be quirky in their passion, and it's not uncommon for us to look upon our infrastructures as "our babies", including all the protective behavior that a parent would exercise with a child. Or perhaps it's simple pragmatism. "You can't touch anything, because you'll break something and I'll have to fix it at 2AM or in the middle of the busiest part of the workday, when the harm is greatest." I'm guilty of this to a degree, as are most IT guys who care about what they do.

This sort of thing needs to be tempered obviously, but in Childs case, no one was willing or able to work with him in this network. Lazy, stupid, or weak willed- perhaps all three characteristics apply to his supervisor(s). He built the network himself, apparently alone, and was in charge of it for years without help. Anyone with an interest in disaster recovery will already spot problems. What if he got hit by a bus? Dumbasses are in charge apparently in San Fran. He was profoundly overworked and not compensated for overtime. Interestingly, the medical and IT professions are the only two (last time I checked) that are specifically exempted form the usual rules of overtime compensation, according to the law. Just the two groups of people that you should be pissing off, eh? As a part of this creation, he established passwords necessary for network hardware configuration changes. This is as ordinary as copper wire, and would only be noteworthy if he DIDN'T do so. And for years no one but he knew/knows what these passwords were/are. Yes, it should be documented. Yes, he should be telling SOMEONE. No, the powers that be never asked or insisted.

So- to be clear, things are working, and apparently working well the entire time TO DATE. Childs gets this new boss with whom there is friction, and the ham handed fool presses Childs into a space where the boss has no leverage beyond employment, a thing Childs is willing to abandon. New Dumb Boss threatens Childs, and surprisingly, the boss (and by extension, the city of San Fran) gets burned. Wow. Who'd have thunk it? I like to know two things- one, what college turned out this genius of a boss, and two, who hired him? Don't get me wrong- it may have been unavoidable. I don't know Childs, and I may be giving more benefit of the doubt than warranted, but in my experience I side with the IT savvy every time over the bureaucrats. You show me a man* who has a passion for his work, and I'll show you a man who can be reasoned with regarding the welfare of said work.

So, now the problem is that the whole CIty of San Francisco network is on "auto-pilot", Childs did no harm (that has been substantiated so far- I discredit the reports that claim he placed bug or other nefarious mechanisms until I see credible evidence) to his creation, and in an ironical manner the quality of his work is now on display in that it has lasted this long without intervention- despite all the popularity and attempts to "break in". The City got the fuzz involved, and they demanded that Childs disclose the password. He either did, and the password he gave is no longer valid (mighty unlikely), or he gave them a false password. Either way, no progress was made and this even includes the active involvement of the hardware manufacturer, Cisco. Again, I'll say that he SHOULD give up the password, and short of causing embarrassment or pain to the City, I don't know why he wouldn't. In that he wouldn't or didn't give up the correct password, they arrested him on charges of computer tampering? Huh? I mean, huh?

Tampering is a ridiculous charge considering the history, and unless they have more evidence that shows Childs did something beyond the scope of his work, I'd say they've got nothing but a scare tactic on the man. Meanwhile he sits in jail with a $5M bail. Yeah. 5 Mil. The City says that undoing what he's done (or really, NOT done) will cost millions. If that's true, why did they allow such a big deal to be done by only one man? Again- what if he'd dropped dead? Maybe they should have some auditors stop by and get up their butts about how they so depleted the IT staffing budget that they are clearly failing in their duties? Bare with me while I focus my rant here for a moment- it's insane how most places these days are expecting something from nothing when it comes to IT expenses. Perhaps it's a backlash against the absurdity that was the dot-com bubble, I can't say. What I can say is that it is now the norm to see IT shops using their own version of "Enron accounting" to meet goals and these lies are only exposed when it makes the front pages. There are regulations (of arguable merit) that are not voluntary that govern IT systems- HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, an assortment of CFR's and credit card industry regs- and I know how burdensome they can be because I make the effort to comply with the ones that apply to my work. I talk shop with others and I'm astounded at the degree to which these are not truly met, or are obfuscated in one way or another. Mostly, they are deferred with a shrug, and this is mostly the result of either the wrong people driving the department, or lacking resources to make compliance happen.

One area related to this is H1B Visas for foreign workers. I know three facts about this that are important. One- having hired H1B's, I can say that this system is a fine way to bring in the kind of talent that we can use. I don't regret the hires I've made, and can say with clear conscience, that they were the best candidates for the jobs. Two, there are too may people in IT who are in it for the money and have no passion or skill. Yes, it's lucrative. So is air traffic control. Let's be selective- some of you need to go back to whatever it was you were doing before. Three, the businesses that hire H1B's almost always do so to undercut the prevailing wage (which is low, relative to the responsibility in my estimation) and to have slave workers who can never complain or leave. The H1B Visa rules should be amended to include a 15% premium over the prevailing wage for foreign workers. This way business will have no incentive to ignore the plentiful capable domestic workers that are available. Only the foreign workers that truly cannot be met with local help will be accepted. Hell, you might actually see some money coughed up for training now and again.

Then the mayor and others start characterizing Childs in the press as "rogue" and "maniacal". Maybe it takes one to know one? In any event, I'd throw out every word these people said, as they are not in the industry and do not know what they are talking about. Would you listen to the mayor tell you about induction in microcircuits, or about laser surgery on the hippocampus? He knows nothing- trust me. The day Bob Metcalf or Vint Cerf become mayor somewhere is the day I take that back. The mayors handlers have tried to distill it all down to sound clips designed to get the media types all hot and bothered. Great- situation normal, which is to say detached from reality. Remember, politicians make the rules about things they don't have the first idea about- The could intuitively tell the condition of Terry Schiavo and they know that they internet is "not like a truck", but rather it's a "bunch of tubes". It scares me that they can legislate what they can't even describe. These are the minds that decided to jail Childs on a charge of tampering. Holding hostage, perhaps- but not tampering.

Next the media does their part and sensationalizes the crap out of this, making Childs sound like he's all but shot up the town with an AK-47. Bullshit litmus #1- if you hear the work "hacker" in the coverage- ignore the whole story. Childs is no hacker. Problem employee, burned out by too many years of unrewarded overtime, perhaps. Pain in the ass? Likely. Hacker? No way in hell- in the same way the warden at the prison is not an escape artist.

Now, if it turns out that Childs has a ransom demand for release of the password, I'll need to revise this view, but until then, no matter how ugly this gets, I point the blame squarely at Mayor Gavin Newsome and his IT department leaders.

* In IT circles, there is a shocking imbalance of gender, such that I say "IT guy" or "Man" in lieu of gender neutral terms merely because in using male terms, I'll be accurate. Why females avoid IT is a sad mystery.


Friday, July 18, 2008

"It's OK. I'm a nudist"

Besides, it's hot out...

Oh, and then there is this

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Voluntary Nigger

Yes, I said it. Where are we with race, exactly? Some people can say nigger and some can't. It's a charged word and we're the ones who made it that way. The more we dance around it the more powerful it becomes, but none of it matters. Discrimination is a reality and it's our shame.

Those of you who know me know that I'm a fairly ordinary sarcastic fat white asshole. I don't like LOADS of people, but I don't like them based on things they can change. I've used the word nigger, and sometimes still do. I don't feel guilty about it, because I don't use it to be hurtful or to diminish others- that is to say, I sometimes say "Nigger, please". If I were to avoid the word like people on television "the 'N-word'- *gasp*" I'd be feeding this bullshit.

The lesson of Lenny Bruce is still valid. Use words as if you control them, because you do. There is only one way to fight hate, and that is with peace, love (if possible), and compassion. Hate is the right hand of fear, and fear comes from ignorance. So with that in mind, I volunteer to stand in for any hate roles you need to work through. I will be your nigger, spick, fag, dago, chink, gook, or whatever I'm missing. I don't want shit from you anymore than anyone else does, but were all on the same team (at least in theory) so I'll take my turn as I'm able.

I'm a cheapskate like any Jew/Scot. I love watermelon and crack like any other black person. I like to molest children like any other gay person. I stole your job like any other Latino. I can't drive like any Asian person. Whatever baseless bullshit you cling to that makes you feel better than other nameless person- that's me. Don't hold back.

Then maybe we can make some actual progress on this dirty little rock before we all go extinct.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dang! Where Did The Weekend Go?

(Weekend frolicking, doncha know?)

So, you know- another weekend is on the wane and I'm doing chores wondering why I'm not independently wealthy already so I can enjoy those seven day weekends. I think I'll feel better about the passing of time when it starts getting dark at night again. I friggin hate summer- long hot days (although while longer here in Seattle, they are not nearly as hot as Colorado), constant friggin sunshine, and too many people outdoors/at the beach. I hate the sun rising at 4AM or whatever and setting at midnight. On the plus side, there are the bikini's and really impressive low tides, but that's about it.

I can't wait for November. Bring the clouds and rain already.


Hey, How's Your Penis?

If it's tiny, you could use one of these, although wouldn't it make your peenie weenie look even smaller in the proximity? Crazy. Bet it's really loud and dirty too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Here's the list of shame: This is the roll call for H.R. 6304 (granting immunity to the telcoms for wiretapping us). An extra special "suck my dick, motherfucker" to Barack Obama.

Akaka (D-HI), Nay
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Allard (R-CO), Yea
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Nay
Bingaman (D-NM), Nay
Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Nay
Brown (D-OH), Nay
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Nay
Cardin (D-MD), Nay
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Nay
Coburn (R-OK), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Nay
Dole (R-NC), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting
Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Klobuchar (D-MN), Nay
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Nay
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Not Voting
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Nay
Sessions (R-AL), Not Voting
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Nay


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Gordo Reminded Me Of This

This really is just brilliant. Might've helped Gordo score a little better on his "how many countries he could name in five minutes" test.

Yakko's World - Free videos are just a click away


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

So, How Was Your Day, Dear?

Sheejus Tapdancing Christ. It was... novel. As a micro-moment of transition- we're back from vacation and all is well. It cost about $800 to get the doggies outta hock, and my beloved little Canon SD1000 camera was befouled by sand, and is no more. I ordered a new one today. I'll have more pictures posted soon, but the camera died before the vacation was over, so...

Today was my first scheduled day back and it started at 1AM local time. Everything at work was down and I couldn't remote in. Uh oh. A quick shower and a courtesy drive downtown from Schmoop and I'm on the job at 1:30 or so. Turns out a fibre switch failed (really? yea- whodathunk it) and triggered a cascade of bad things and possible data corruption. We have east coast users that start to hit out systems at 6AM EST (3AM PST) and that was my deadline.

I'll spare you the geekiness of it, and just say that I came in about 10 minutes under my deadline. Whew. I was there in the office until about 10:30AM when I shuffled off to catch the bus for home. I got a lot done when no one was around- all kinds of updates and upgrades that needed to be done, and I added an environmental sensor to the server room at the office- another thing to wake me up in the wee small hours, really.

So, looking like 40 miles of bad road, I collapsed on the bus and went about a block and a half and then the bus turned off the engine and camped there. Some people got off and walked. The streets were closed off on account of this lunacy. I figured I was in no condition to walk, so I got comfy and began to wonder if anyone would wake me when we got moving again.

45 minutes later, we're back underway and when I got to my bus stop, there was a chipper mob of second graders (guessing) in what looked to be a summer camp field trip. Envision 50 little people in bright green t-shirts milling about in excited confusion and not allowing a space for me to get off the bus or navigate the sidewalk. More delays. The smiled and laughed at my mustache (which is the point of the thing, really) and I finally shuffled home to my little beasties, who were being couch potatoes. They said "You're home early". *sigh*

So I got into bed about noon and slept to about 6PM. What do you want to bet, I won't be sleeping tonight? Bah.