19 December 2008

That's how they do it in Europe

I have been peripherally following the Senate election mess in Minnesota and it struck me this morning how there’s such a definite pattern in these election result slugging matches, which is that the GOP candidate is initially ahead, but by a slim margin. The recounts start and continue, with continuing changing and loosening standards, until the Democratic Party candidate is ahead, and then the election result is finalized. That would be a good investigative effort for an enterprising journalist.

Leave 'em asking for more (information)

NPR has a story on this morning about the hardships some businesses are experiencing these days. Getting beyond the cognitive dissonance of NPR having any sympathy for businesses or business owners, the story struck me as odd in a couple of ways.

First, one big problem was the owner not paying his suppliers promptly and therefore the suppliers weren’t selling him any more product, which was apparently a big problem despite the fact that his business was failing because he couldn’t sell product to customers. But if the latter, why does he need new supplies? As far as I can tell from the story, the stuff got sold even though no one is buying and the money disappeared.

The other one was that the guy might have to shut down one location because the rent went up 30%. Huh. How bad can the economic situation be there if building owners feel free to hand out 30% rate increases even when the current renter threatens to just shut down? Moreover, the business owner was “locked in to a four year contract”. If the guy signed a four year contract that allowed the building owner to arbitrarily change rent without recourse, I can see why his business is not doing so well.

Naturally the NPR guy didn’t ask any of these questions, either because it didn’t occur to him or (more likely) it was just a propaganda bit, although to what purpose wasn’t clear (a last parting shot at President Bush? Or just general nihilism and schedenfreude?).

Nothing important, it just struck as another example of NPR quality reporting.

Is that a remake?

I have been seeing advertisements for the movie Valkyrie with Tom Cruise. Is that a remake? I thought it had already been in theatres and left. Weren’t there big promotions about it last year or something? It seems to have had a longer ramp up than the Presidential election.

18 December 2008

That's just for the suckers customers

Haha, yet another major security flaw in Internet Explorer. What’s truly funny to geeks like me is that the Dark Empire has been touting its new Common Language Runtime(VS.71).aspx with its Managed Code as technologies for building more robust applications with fewer security flaws. One of the ways this is alledgedly achieved is that because managed code has all sorts of meta-data the run time environment can verify that the code is not misusing its data structures. Such data mishandling is probably the number one vector for external attacks on applications, so closing that hole would be a big deal.

But it didn’t work for Internet Explorer, did it? Is the CLR / Managed Code approach fundamentally flawed? Badly implemented? Or just not used in Internet Explorer? I can’t think of an answer that looks good for the Dark Empire.

Of course, it makes my decision to avoid the entire CLR / Managed Code fiasco look smarter. What’s additionally amusing is that there are plenty of good C++ code habits that avoid this problem as well as CLR / Managed Code does and which I adopted years ago so my code simply isn’t vulnerable in this way. The downside is that using these techniques requires having the discipline of a craftsman, to always do The Right Thing, which is usually not the easy thing, to do it always even when it really does not matter, so that it becomes habit. But that’s old fogey talk, isn’t it? Especially for Microsoft, Code Spew Central.

16 December 2008

Remember, “it’s history” is a pejorative here

Old Media is still not willing to see what’s before them with regard to President Elect Obama. Steve Chapman from the Chicago Tribune writes

[Governor] Blagojevich’s comments suggest that someone from the Obama camp was communicating on the matter. […] If that’s so, it doesn’t prove that Obama is just another crooked Chicago pol. But it is a reminder that though he is not of the Democratic machine, he has never been exactly against it. Former congressman and federal judge Abner Mikva said of Blagojevich, “You don’t get through Chicago like Barack Obama did unless you know how to avoid people like that.” Note the verb: not “challenge” but “avoid.” His approach to old-style politics was wary coexistence.

“Avoid”? Does Chapman mean like Obama avoided helping run Blagojevich’s 2002 election campaign? Or being friends with Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, one of the epicenters of corruption in Illinois? It’s one thing for Old Media from the Left Coasts to not realize who these players are or Obama’s history with them, but a political reporter for the Chicago Tribune. That’s pathetic.

All that said, I think that Obama’s path out of this is to keep the focus on the latest scandal, which it appears that if he’s willing to toss Representative Rahm Emmanuel under the bus, he could escape with only minor damage, as opposed to what could happen should the rock that is the state of Illinois get turned over and those bodies exhumed, just like former President Clinton kept the focus on sex and not the coverup.

Lord, please do not let me be trendy

I have been looking at upgrading my cell phone to something a bit more modern but the problem is that the Apple iPhone honestly seems like the superior product. I don’t like to buy Apple stuff because it makes me look trendy. On the other hand, the AT&T coverage here is poor to terrible so it might not be a good choice regardless of the quality of the device. I have looked at a number of other devices (such as Samsung, my usual preference, and LG) but they just don’t seem as well designed. I am so desperate that I will be looking at the Blackberry Storm, which is even trendier than the iPhone. Ah well.

Price cliff

Now that’s a serious discount.

And yes, I found that while Christmas shopping.

The silver lining

There is certainly one thing that Senator McCain has done for me since the election — made me feel much less bad about his losing to Senator Obama. It’s as if McCain’s primary disappointment is that he didn’t get a slot on Obama’s election committee. I don’t like to be one of the “worse is better” types but dang — it seems like a bullet dodged (maybe in to a truck, but still…).

Inexplicability Files

We’ve discussed a bit here the inexplicable re-election of Illinois Governor “The Rod” Blagojevich. But I find it just as odd that Al Franken is in serious contention for winning a Senate seat. Al Franken! At least President Elect Obama looks nice and can speak very well if he has enough teleprompter support but Franken is just plain unpleasant. Why would any one vote for him, and why would so many in the Minnesotan political class make such efforts to try and get him elected? Is simply that large sections of American voters and the chattering classes hold as a first principle that Republicans are Evil and all other considerations are secondary? That would certainly explain both of these results.

13 December 2008

How to motivate

There’s a lot of negative reaction to the current re-make of The Day the Earth Stood Still as you can see here which is the best of the rants. It reminded me of one story I read long ago that treated the idea more realistically.

In that story, Earth is discovered by a community of super-powered immortal aliens who decide humans are mistreating the planet, which is a very nice planet, so they plan to take over. Their clever plot consists of laying about on nice beaches in South America and teasing the natives until the natives wipe themselves out. But, you say, (as one of the characters did), that might take centuries or even millenia. So what? They’re fricking super-powered immortal aliens. Why would they be in a hurry? Ten years, ten thousand years, what’s the difference to them? Better to just relax and let time take care of things for you.

I wondered, remembering that, whether such a stance by aliens might not actually be more effective than threats if making humanity eco-aware was the goal.

Alien: Gosh, this will be a nice place once all you humans are gone.

Human: You’ll see, we’ll clean it up and survive! You can’t just write us off!

Alien: Yes, of course. [sips piña colada] You are all so dedicated. Truly, my plans are now in ruin. You don’t mind if I just sit here until I can compose my quaking psyche again, do you?


[Via Twisted Spinster]

12 December 2008

Geek lust

Hey, if any one is so gratified at being able to read this weblog and wants to buy me a Christmas present, this would be really cool.

11 December 2008

Staying one step ahead of the conspiracy theorists

Oh, my. Suppose Senator Clinton becomes Secretary of State. That puts her fourth in line for the Presidency. Then the Illinois cesspool reaches up and drags down (then) President Obama along with Vice President Biden, aided by leaks from Cheif of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Byrd decline the promotion (the former because nobody likes her, the latter because it would be crazy). Boom, President Hillary Clinton.

Suddenly it all makes sense…

10 December 2008

Cleaning out the tool shed

Having watched Illinois politics for quite some time, it goes far beyond plausibility that President Elect Obama wasn’t hip deep in the sleaze while he was a player here.

However, I find it quite believable that he was not involved in the selling of his soon to be former Senate seat1 with Governor “The Rod” Blagojevich. Obama is no genius intellect light worker, but he’s not stupid. It would be obvious on 5 Nov that if there was one tool in his shed that was going to be more trouble than its future discounted value, it would be The Rod, because The Rod is, in fact, dumber than an editorial board meeting of the NY Times2 and the target of a major FBI corruption probe3. I don’t like to throw the ‘M’ word around, because it’s usually just a cheap shot a political opponent, but in this case it’s spot on.

And what could The Rod do for Obama now? A quick trip to the bus undercarriage was in the works regardless. It’s just a bit more urgent now.

Based on the evidence, I think they met, but that Obama fed The Rod a lot of the no information content “that’s interesting … definitely a point to consider … keep that in mind …” that Obama does so well. That’s consistent with The Rod being so upset in the wiretaps. I don’t see any of this sticking to Obama directly. It’s the stuff that went on before Obama went nation wide that Obama has to worry about.

1 As some wag noted, why do we need a replacement? It’s been empty for two years to no obvious detriment.

2 Just read through the wiretap clips for lots of evidence on that score.

3 It wasn’t officially announced, but anyone with the slightest clue knew. Which likely means The Rod was the only political player in or from Illinois who didn’t.

Still not a learning experience

Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar blamed voters for re-electing Governor Blagojevich in a landslide in 2006, despite the fact that he was a stupid crook was well known in the state — “All these things were raised during the last campaign”. You know it’s painfully obvious when Old Media writes about a Democratic Party candidate that way. Yet the election wasn’t even close and just as stunningly, the GOP challenger (Judy Barr Topinka) could get no help from the national GOP.

But I expect nobody will learn anything from this. I put the odds as better than even that we’ll see the same thing for the next governor.

09 December 2008

What will we do with the interns now?

Remember all the jokes about how you needed to have people stand around and flap their arms to keep the motion detecting lights in cube farms from turning off? That’s so old school now — instead you can buy a mouse jiggler which plugs in to a USB port and waves the mouse around so the screen saver doesn’t come up. The wonders of miniturization.

We're number one!

I saw this headline

Feds arrest Illinois Gov. Blagojevich for trying to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat

and thought “that sounds like an amusing clip from The Onion” and hit the link. However, it looks like it’s true. Wow. Take that, Lousisiana! You elected a smart, honest guy after former Governor Blanco, but not Illinois. We elected not only a crook, but a stupid crook. Not only that, but think of this — Gary Hart used to be the touch stone for arrogant political stupidity.


Hart was just a wanna-be moron compared to The Rod. In your face, Colorado! You’ve been owned.

07 December 2008

One last bond to break

My detachment from popular culture is almost complete. Orrin Judd posts a list of the “Best Songs of 2008”. Not only have I not heard a single one of these songs (or even their titles), I recognized only one of the musicians. Almost there…

06 December 2008

Repeating failure on purpose

Sure, let’s move on to something more substantive than character flaws, although it might not really be a different thing. So, what about President Elect Obama’s plan to re-create the WPA? Is it an artifact of Obama’s instinctive socialism, unimpaired by any knowledge of history, or a payoff to his union supporters?

Sadr Fade Watch

Hot Air on how Muqtada Al Sadr is fading into irrelevance — on the other hand, that’s what they said about Nixon, too.

Finally comes acceptance

No, no, I have not reconciled to the upcoming Obama Administration. Instead, I did something almost as painful — I installed Microsoft Vista.

We’ve had a lot of hardware failures here over the last couple of months and I finally got one of the boxes back online right after we returned from vacation. I had to buy a new case, motherboard, CPU, and memory, but I did get to re-use the hard and optical disks so, technically, it’s the same computer (as I tell SWIPIAW when she points out that I am forbidden from buying a new computer).

As long as the machine was coming back from the dead and wasn’t going to be used as a front line machine anyway, I decided to load Vista on it and try out a 64 bit operating system. Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned ahead and I only put 2 gigabytes of memory in it (using all of the motherboard memory slots). Booting up Vista sent the memory utilization to 40% with no other applications even installed. Yow!

I never liked the “My Blah” cruft that was in Windows XP and I like the enhanced cuteness of Vista even less (“Personalize” for adjusting settings? bleh!). Still, it’s not completely horrible although I haven’t had to use it for real yet. But it will be handy for testing and reference and Firefox and Opera seem to work fine on it so at least I can cruise the Inter-Tubes there. I will have to have Boy One try out some games on it.

05 December 2008

State of Detachment

I noticed on the drive back from Florida that Kentucky has a little chunk of land completely surrounded by other states which is, as far as I know, the case for any other state. Michigan has the upper peninsula, but that’s just separated by water. Looking at my detailed maps I do not see any way to get there from the rest of Kentucky without cross in to another state, even along the river. Anyone else ever notice that?

Everything is better with more electronics

I wonder how long it will be before we see drive by wire motorcycles. Modern ones, especially the ones with the big trunks, are already a good distance from the classic motorcycle. Why not take the next step to electronic steering?

Maybe he's just moved up from teasing neighborhood cats

Hot Air has a post on the President Elect Obama’s birth certificate issue. My personal opinion is that something is there, but something that is far more dangerous to Obama’s exaggerated self-image than his Presidency. In addition, there’s the instinctive Obama reaction to any quest for hard facts of “that’s none of your business, peasant!”.

Yet what I have not seen is any plausible explanation for why Obama doesn’t just release the CLOB to the general public if there’s absolutely nothing of interest. The response to, say, 9/11 Trutherism wasn’t generic assurances from authorities, but explanations backed up by detailed, specific, hard facts. I am willing to accept the explanation that Obama won’t release because he’s a narcissistic $&%^#! who considers himself above the law, custom, and interests of the citizenry, but is there an explanation that doesn’t presume substance to the conspiracy theory or massive lack of character on the part of Obama?

P.S. What the heck is this lame excuse

State law prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record

He’s the President-Elect! Every registered voter has a tangible interest in that document. Presidential candidates are expected to release tax returns, detailed medical records, spreadsheets of all of their financial interests, yet not a CLOB which goes directly to two Constitutional requirements for office?