February 28, 2002

A word of THANKS! for all you out there that check out this site on a regular basis!

We have been getting hits from all over the world! Keep it comming people! Tell your friends, have their friends tell their friends ect...

Keep comming back to visit. Please also email us for ideas on articles YOU want to see posted on here!


Posted by Ellen at 09:09 PM | Comments (1)
Interesting Doohicky

Found this tiny tiny computer storage device. Plug it into a USB port and you've got the equivalent of up to 100 floppies (128 MB). Slick!

Posted by scott at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)
Stupid Tugboat Tricks

This one comes from my brother, who got mad at me last time I didn't credit him on a link I put up. Talk about unsinkable.

Posted by scott at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)
The Real Big Blue

I've always been fascinated by blue whales. Not sure why, but the biggest of the big is always interesting, and blue whales are the biggest animal that's ever lived. ABCNEWS.com has an interesting write-up about them. Maybe we'll get a Discovery documentary out of it.

Posted by scott at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)
When Designers Attack

iMac, eat your heart out. Ellen would have to have a cat put on it.

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
February 27, 2002

Ever wanted to know what it's like to rescue a cat? Or what a rescue group does?

I can tell you it's just not dumping 20 pounds of cat food outside and hoping for the best.

Please check out this link! It has made its permanent debut on this site! :) Alliance for Stray Animals and People

Joanna Harkin runs this organization first hand and she is totally awsome. I've never seen a more dedicated person to cats in my life. Please leave a donation!!!! Joanna pays for most of the cat care out of her own pocket.

BTW...did you know donations make the puuurfect gift for that someone you NEVER know what to get?

If you want to come back and hit this link again, check out the side recomendations. It will remain permanent on this site.

Posted by Ellen at 07:15 PM | Comments (2)

Pity poor Europe (NOTE TO AMERICANS: the UK is not Europe). What was once a collection of the most powerful states the world has ever seen has now been reduced to a bunch of whiners trying to have it all their way.

The latest craze is to claim how the USA is doing everything unilaterally and not asking anyone (i.e. Europe) their opinion. Listen carefully folks. What they're actually saying is "You are bad because you're putting your interests ahead of ours!" Well, duh.

As a great man once said, before complaining about the mote in your friend's eye be sure to first remove the beam in yours. The French are the most pitiful of the bunch. They made news all over the place when they pitched a fit over echelon. Want to know how France figured out we were listening to some of their conversations? We let everyone (everyone, not just our buddies) know they were bribing every third world official they could get their hands on to win international business contracts.

Then they start talking about the Kyoto treaty. Who the hell do you think was putting its entire auto industry out of business with clean air acts thirty years ago? A lot of European cars weren't brought over to the USA after 1969 because they didn't comply with even basic emission standards of the time. It took decades for the Europeans to set air quality standards as high as ours.

Then we start hearing about how we're part of the problem in the war on terrorism because we don't call the EU every time we think about scratching our ass. They'll do this with a straight face! Remember a few years ago when we did what they asked and let them try to handle the Balkans on their own? The result? Death camps we thought had gone out of style sixty years ago. A set of civil wars that made them long for the good old days when all it took to settle matters was an army of teenagers, a trench, and some machine guns. And we still had to go in and clean it up for them.

And what a mess that turned out to be. Think Johnson picking out Vietnamese targets on the White House lawn was bad? These poor airmen had to have targets approved by the politicians of six or seven different countries before they could drop a bomb. Europe had quite merrily dismantled their defense industries and military when the Sovs pulled up stakes from eastern Europe. The damned things were expensive! Of course, now they have to ask us for rides when they want to go help (cause trouble) somewhere in the world, but hey, that just shows you how unilateral and uncaring we are, making them hitch rides like that.

And don't start about how if we'd just be a little more sophisticated about things how it would all be a lot easier. The vast, vast majority of the problems the world is dealing with today were caused at root by Europeans and their policies.

Want to know why Africa can't find its way out of a paper sack with a map, compass and flashlight? That's what happens when a bunch of white guys with boats and guns get together (sometimes literally on a dark night) and draw lines on a map to suite themselves. How can anyone possibly be amazed? These borders were drawn specifically to cause internal strife and weak governments. They weren't, and aren't there to help. They were, and are, there to make Europeans money.

Asia only tossed the Europeans out when Japan showed them it was possible. Of course, before you think Japan is one of the "good guys" please remember that they were only interested in setting up their own little colonial empire. The only reason they're still not a problem is because we a) wrote their constitution for them (the one they wrote for themselves would've put Tojo back in business in two years) b) helped finance their country's reconstruction and c) sat on them all until the old soldiers literally faded away.

The only reason anybody cares about the middle east is they happen to be sitting on the largest, easiest-to-get-at oil reserves in the world. This fact alone is enough to enrage the entire Arabic intelligencia, who have been raised from birth with the myth of Islam as an irrisistable force historically destined to take over the entire planet. The roots of many of the Palestinians' problems go to the baldly self-serving and conflicting secret agreements the Europeans (and this time it includes the UK) made with all the parties involved in W.W.I. They sold shares for that particular bridge six times over to everyone and anyone interested.

Are we any better? Yes, but not much. We at least believe there are higher principles to be served. Most of us anyway. We don't pay enough attention to what our government and corporations are doing overseas, and a lot of us don't care even when we do. The rest of the world needs to realize that we don't trust our government any more than they do. The times in history when we did correspond roughly to the times in history when our government and industry caused the most trouble. We want to trust them, which is why we have to be taught and retaught that people who try that hard to be powerful are, at the very least, people who need to be watched very carefully.

So if you're a European, please get over the fact you don't run the world any more. It's your own damned fault we do. If you're an American, please realize that what happens in the outside world is important and no, it's not so far away and yes, it does affect you and yes, you should, must, care.

And please, stop whining and just get on with it.

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (1)
February 25, 2002
The Rainbow Bridge

My southern Mama sent this to me. I mentioned it in Orangie's update.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge..

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that a pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor, those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing, they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge....together.....

Posted by Ellen at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
The Journey

I got this from a friend in an email. I wanted to share it. If you have a pet, you will understand.

The Journey

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey - a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage.

If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark. Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life's simple pleasures - jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles, and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears.

Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound.

You will learn the true measure of love - the steadfast, undying kind that says, "It doesn't matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together." Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the human race.

And you will learn humility. The look in my dog's eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway.

If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will be not just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be - the one they were proud to call beloved friend. I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down. And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go.

A pet's time on earth is far too short - especially for those that love them. We borrow them, really, just for awhile, and during these brief years they are generous enough to give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left.

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray. Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken. But give them we must for it is all they ask in return.

When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead - young and whole once more. "Godspeed, good friend," we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.

Posted by Ellen at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)
February 24, 2002
On the Fanaticism of Christians

Nearly everyone out there, that lives in the USA at least, has been confronted with examples of glassy eyed religious fanaticism in their daily lives. While the main flavor I'm familiar with is Christian, it exists in every religion and every area in the world where there are people that feel believing is at lot more fun than thinking. Because such folks nearly always neglect the mental (and, in the case of people like Tammy Baker, sometimes the physical) side of their being in favor of the spiritual, attempts at logical argument can lead you down extremely bizarre paths. When arguing once with a Christian fanatic, I had a conversation that went like this:

Fundie: "My faith is strong because God has revealed this knowledge to my heart. Anyone who has felt such a revelation cannot deny its truth. He revealed to me the bible is the word of God, requires no special interpretation, and cannot be wrong in any particular at all. It is the Truth."

Me: "So if God reveals to me in my heart that Evolution is fact, that it accurately describes how life as we know it reached the forms we see today, then that makes it the Truth too? Just as real and as accurate as yours?"

Fundie: "Of course it is! I'm so happy for you that you finally understand faith!"

It's no wonder they resort to bombs and guns so quickly.

But one of the things I've found in my studies is that Christians, in particular, have always been this way. The most interesting accounting of this fact comes to us from a Roman citizen known as Pliny the Younger. His father-in-law, Pliny the (wait for it!) Elder, was a pretty famous scientist who got himself broasted getting too close to Mt. Etna when it buried Pompeii. Why no formal last name? Junior and Senior weren't in broad use at the time, and they had to be told apart somehow I suppose.

Anyway, Pliny the Younger, who lived from about 62 A.D. to about 113 A.D. (less than two generations after Jesus died), was a Roman lawyer, just famous and rich enough to be popular but not so famous and rich as to be perceived dangerous (which was a quick way to get nailed to a stick and lit on fire so the emperor could read at night). He wrote dozens of letters over his career to folks both famous and unknown, at least to us. Eventually he was appointed proconsul, a sort of imperial watchdog, of a place called Pontus-Bythnia, on the south coast of the black sea in what is now Turkey, by the emperor Hadrian.

The letters were preserved and published after his death, and through no small miracle managed to make it through history to us. One of the most famous and interesting was his letter to Hadrian on the Christians in his province.

Remember that Jesus had only been executed about seventy years before. The last of the disciples had only just died off, and so there were still plenty of people who knew people who had talked directly to Jesus himself. It was a very, very new religion, and it puzzled the Romans of the time a great deal.

In Rome, as long as you paid your taxes and didn't piss on the emperor's statue, they didn't much care what you did inside your temple, church, or synagogue. They did require you to say that the emperor was more important to you than your own personal gods, at least in public. Because this wasn't all that far from the truth, seeing as how his representatives could separate you from your head with little justification and no warning, the vast majority of even religious people complied easily. But not the Christians.

The Christians were, to the Romans, extremely weird. Rumors got around that they married their brothers and sisters, drank blood and ate human flesh, and even stranger things (which only proves that the lady that buys and believes the Enquirer at the grocery checkout isn't all that different from your garden variety Roman citizen a full two thousand years ago). Because they wouldn't admit the holiness of the emperor, they were outlawed and became convenient targets any time something particularly weird or bad happened in the empire. There were quite a lot of Christians in Pontus-Bythnia when Pliny arrived and sort of took the place over. Hadrian trusted Pliny, and so he asked him to look into just what exactly made these people tick while he cleaned them out of the province.

Now I would again like to point out that the Romans at this point in time were more puzzled by than afraid of Christians. They separated Christians from the regular populace in the most basic way imaginable... they asked. If someone said "Christian? Christian?? Never heard of them!" then they were usually let go, even if they promptly crossed themselves as the legionaries left. The amazing thing was they managed to catch so many with this simple technique.

Now, from their perspective, this may not be as puzzling as it sounds. Fanaticism is a lot easier when your grandad actually walked with the savior himself ("I myself heard Jesus speak in a synagogue" "Synagogue? Lucky bastard. In my day we were so poor we didn't have any buildings, just a boat that we carted him back and forth on" "Boat? Lazy git. In my day Jesus had to walk across the bloody water to get to a mountain to preach" "Mountain?!? Old fart. In my day...").

So here we have Pliny interviewing Christians as they are brought in. When reading his letter, you can almost see the scene as he confronts a pair of young Christians standing wide-eyed before him in his office near the yard where they're industriously nailing people up as fast as they can find crossbars.

"So," he says, "you're Christians, right?"

The pair nod enthusiastically. "Oh yes, very much so, our savior is--"

"Yes yes yes I'm sure he's a wonderful gentleman, very well mannered. Pays his taxes, yes? Nevermind. Look. I want you two to understand something. We Romans are a very just lot. We don't go around hacking people's heads off willy-nilly. It's just bad policy. We especially don't want to execute anyone that isn't a Christian. In fact, we're so very concerned about this that anyone who tells us they aren't a Christian is quite free to go home. Do you understand me?" Polite nods. "Good. So, I'll ask", wink, "you again... you're Christians, right?"

The pair again nod enthusiastically and without blinking say "yes, very much yes, our savior--"

"Now hang on a minute", Pliny says, obviously getting frustrated with such enthusiastic hard-headedness. "Come over to this window and have a look. See those people out there?" Nods. "Those are the folks that told me they were Christians. Now getting nailed to a cross like that doesn't seem very pleasant, does it?" Heads shake. "Right. It can take days to die, and that's only if you get lucky and a vulture comes and plucks out something important. Quite unpleasant things happen to people who tell me they are Christian, wouldn't you agree?" More polite nods. "Okay", he says as he claps his hands and then rubs them together with a deep sigh, "I'm going to ask you this question one last time. All you have to do is say no. We're not going to follow you, we're not going to ask your mum if you lie, in fact I don't personally care what you do when you walk out these doors. Am I clear on this?" Even more polite nods. "Okay then. So I was wondering, just between you and me, are you two Christians?"

Again, even more polite enthusiastic nods, beautiful clear eyes, "oh yes, if you'd only read this pamphlet--"

"Yes, yes. Please hand it to the man on the left as you leave. Next?" (in the background: "Crucifixion? Good... first door on your left, down the stairs, and across the courtyard on your right.")

Luckily not all Christians were this forthcoming, and in what has to be one of the most unlikely turnarounds in history they ended up eventually ruling the entire world for about two hundred years.

Of course nowadays a lot of fundie wacks think they've returned to the time that simply saying you're a Christian results in immediate and punishing persecution, and they'll tell you this with a straight face and clear eyes.

Which just goes to show that fanaticism can rot even the most promising brains throughout history.

Posted by scott at 11:09 AM | Comments (3)
February 23, 2002
Orangie Update

I got a call today from work. It's my day off. Orangie is not feeling well at all today. They found him in his litter pan crying and not able to move.

Orangie was walking around yesterday, playing and loving on everyone that went past him.

I walk into work, they are unable to get enough serum from his blood to run some internal organ screening. What serum is there, is bright yellow. This is not good.

I sat there and held him for a bit, asking him if he was tired and thought it was time. It was. He did give me his signature face rub *what he could give me* and purred a bit when I walked in the room and scooped him into my arms. He just wanted to be held, to be loved for some time more. I was the only one at work that would let him sit on my shoulder when I did my morning rounds, and hold him up to my face and give him all the hugs and kisses he could stand.

It was fast, painless. He was gone in a moment. It was private. It was just me and Orangie. Brad was there to help me with the catheter and support.

I get his ashes back in a few weeks. To add to my growing stack of "All the cats I've ever known and loved." After all, Orangie only had me to love him. I know I did the kindest thing for him. I'm upset I coudln't do more.

I know Scott will tell me, "In a few days his spirit will run off to go and get reincarnated". I don't know. I still like the idea of the "Rainbow Bridge". I like the idea when I go, all of the cats Ive ever known and loved will greet me and we would all run off together.

Posted by Ellen at 03:46 PM | Comments (4)
February 22, 2002
Old Figher Pilots

Here's a really cool interview with an old Luftwaffe ace who survived the war. Because the airforce was never as indoctrinated as the rest of the services, you almost (ALMOST) end up rooting for the Germans when you read Luftwaffe accounts.

Posted by scott at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)
Well, at Least They Didn't Spend Your Tax Dollars

Unless you live in Spain anyway. Spanish scientists have compared the Marvel Comics society with the real one and have come up with some interesting, if at times somewhat obvious, revelations.

Posted by scott at 02:11 PM | Comments (1)
Mars News

A slow day at work means a busy day at AMCGltd! Here's an article about water on Mars and here's another one about the latest Mars probe.

Posted by scott at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)
IL-2 Rules!

I love this game.

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)
Damned Computers

One of the more surreal things about computers is the way they come together sometimes. I'm putting together 2 Linux (see below) servers for DNS/DHCP work. The first one took me 3 days to put together. Lots of "try this, reboot, try that, reboot, etc."

My brother is famous for his "nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" attitude. Any time any computer does anything wierd, his advice is "fdisk and reformat". By doing this you not only erase the contents of the hard drive, you also erase the structure of the hard drive itself. Reformatting is like getting all new furniture for an office and re-arranging everything. Fdisking is sort of like gutting the building and putting in new insides.

Well, while banging my head bloody trying to get IDE Mirroring (a way to make two hard drives act like one, so if one dies the whole thing doesn't stop) working, I decided I'd screwed it up so bad I needed to nuke it from orbit and start all over. So I pulled out my trusty DOS boot disk (the sonic screwdriver of sysadmin tools), fdisked and formatted both disks (one at a time), and then re-started it.

This is when a really frustrating situation turned into a really wierd situation. Imagine my surprise when, after this re-start, the goddamned thing booted up. Well, sort of. The linux install was so badly frelled at that point that it got about 1/3rd of the way through and croaked. It was doing that before. But it shouldn't have been doing it at all. I'd erased all that stuff! Twice!

Now I'm sure all the *nix gurus out there are thinking "MORON" and "OF COURSE IT DID THAT", but to someone who grew up using DOS, Windows 2.x, 3.x, and 9x, this was bizzare beyond belief. Fdisk is the tac-nuke in the PC hardware guy's arsenal. Nothing is supposed to survive it.

Imagine you're a king (or queen) back in the middle ages. Someone makes you so mad you take a sword and lop off their head just to get them to shut up. What was happening here was sort of like having that person proceed to get up, pick up their head, tuck it under their arm, and start beating you with a stick. It's just not natural!

I did eventually get it working.

The first system took three days to build. The second will take three hours. Computers are wierd.

Posted by scott at 09:38 AM | Comments (2)
February 21, 2002
Star Trek Just One Step Closer

Just wanted to pass along that scientists have figured out how to capture real antimatter. They've been able to capture anti-particles (ever wonder what a PET scan really is?), but this is the first time they've managed to capture whole anti-atoms. Kewl.

Posted by scott at 08:46 PM | Comments (1)
Collateral Damage

Now that the war is (mostly) over in Afghanistan and it is (relatively) safe for the news readers to visit the place, hundreds of them are descending on it with visions of Vietnam in their empty little heads and pulitzer prizes in their greedy little hearts. This is why we're suddenly hearing again about civilian deaths during the war.

The biggest advantage of an air-dropped bomb is that it is very difficult for the bomb-ee to shoot back at the bomb-er. In war, this is a Good Thing. The biggest disadvantage is that people don't just stand around with "bomb me, I'm a bad guy" signs on their heads. If they did that we'd just have to strap fins to a rock and drop that. Instead, they tend to hide in buildings and disguise themselves and walk amongst peasants and come up with all sorts of other ways to inconvenience the bomb-er and make their job difficult.

Now, we've gotten a whole lot better at hitting targets with our airplanes. A lot better. This is why I applaud the actions of the doves out there... you're mostly wrong, but your irritations have made the military a much more precise place. Even from a military perspective, this is a Good Thing. Fifty five years ago, it took thousands of bombers and tens of thousands of men to destroy a single factory (taking out most of that quarter of the city in the process). Today, it takes two guys and a single bomb. Cheaper, faster, safer, and more effective by orders of magnitude.

We did a good job in Afghanistan, perhaps even a great job. There were people that got killed that shouldn't have, and that's just awful. But I think we did a good job for reasons that aren't immediately obvious, and won't be reported in the press. You see, the Afghans were the ones that really won the war. We just provided the big stick they needed to do it with. But that still counts as help, because the Taliban is and al Qaida will soon be out of business. And, most importantly, they're still helping us by snagging Taliban and Al Qaida when they can catch them.

The day after September 11th, A lot of folks thought we shouldn't need to ask permission, build a coalition, or attempt to work with the locals, and instead should've carpet bombed the place into a kitty litter box. As satisfying as that would have been to watch, it wouldn't have worked.

It wouldn't have worked because, like we learned in Vietnam thirty years ago and the Soviets learned in Afghanistan twenty years ago, guerilla warfare doesn't respond well to so called "conventional" strategies and tactics. The main problem is that you don't really have a conventional force to fight. Who do you bomb if nobody is wearing a uniform? This matters even if you don't care who is and is not a good guy.

Historically the key to winning such a war has proven to be the support of the common people. As with air supremacy in a conventional war, who ever has it can't be beat. Why? It works something like this:

Here's a peasant farmer, let's call him B'hab (or Chin or Bahakamahulili or whatever). He and his fellow villagers (all 40 of them) mostly don't care what is happening in the larger world. They're busy enough scratching out a living, feeding their kids, keeping their wives happy (no small task with them hearing about the latest thing over the transistor radio), and perhaps having a smoke or drink with each other in the afternoon. What's happening in the next village is newsworthy. What's happening in the capitol or the rest of the world is just not worth caring about.

Now B'hab knows that there is trouble in the capitol. They do get news out here thank you, they just don't much care about it. He also knows that a lot of kids in villages closer to the capitol have decided that the government is hopelessly corrupted and have got themselves a leader that is shooting people to change it. B'hab knows that these kids are badasses and no damned good at all, but they have guns and are capable of anything, so he pretty much leaves them alone. He's heard recently that some white guys have come from across the ocean to help the government. He knows that the government is no damned good either but since they have guns too he pays his taxes and quietly grumbles to his buddies in the afternoon.

One day B'hab is out with his ox tilling his field when a group of badasses come out of the mountains with rifles over their shoulders, looking harried. B'hab recognizes two or three of them from other nearby villages. Most aren't much more than sixteen. They explain that they are tired and hungry and (holding their rifles) if B'hab doesn't mind they're going to sleep for awhile in the basement of his house and eat some (most) of his food and by the way does he have any daughters? B'hab is no fool and points at his hut and says a small prayer to himself that his 13 year old daughter realizes something is up when she comes home from the fields, before it is too late.

A few hours later, a bunch of white guys come roaring out of the sky in helicopters. They're bigger than any people B'hab has ever seen in his life, they have bigger guns than he's ever seen in his life, and while he's never seen a helicopter before the things hanging off it sure look like weapons of some sort. To say B'hab is impressed is an understatement.

Watch carefully. There are times and there are places that are pivot points, cruxes in the flow of time. One set of actions taken, one door chosen, by just a few people can send history down one sort of hallway, another set, another door, can send it elsewhere. It's easy for us to see, and bitch about, because we stand outside that point. We're already half way down the hallway these people picked for us.

Let's open the first door:

Lieutenant: "Ah goddammit, another gook farmer. Here we go again. You sure you saw them head this way Sergeant?"

Sergeant: "Yup, I sure did sir. They're hiding in one of those mud houses, not sure which, and they had a lot of gear when we last saw them. Gonna be a bitch to get them out."

Lieutenant: "Ok. Let's see what Mr. Farmer here has to say. Hey you! Did you see anyone come this way?"

B'hab: "[I do not understand what you are saying]"

Lieutenant: "Great! Anyone here speak gook? Anyone?"

Sergeant: "[Men come from mountain, come here, hide here, tell us where men]"

B'hab: (who knows that by now the badasses are probably watching, and that they have friends, with guns, that don't live far from here) "[I don't know about any men]" (twitch twitch, wink wink)

Sergeant: "He says he doesn't know anything about them."

Lieutenant: "I'm so sick and tired of lying gooks. What's he twitching for anyway?"

Sergeant: "Don't know. Probably something in his water."

Lieutenant: "Right. Well, time to teach Mr. Farmer here what happens when you lie. Sergeant, you got the co-ordinates?"

Sergeant: "Yup sir, got 'em."

Lieutenant: "Call it in. Let's roll."

And so B'hab watches them leave, just as mysteriously as they came. A few minutes later, jets come roaring out of the sky and level the entire village, destroying everything he's worked so hard to build, killing his wife, most of the small children, and a few of his best friends. The badasses dig themselves out of the basement and tell B'hab that this happens to everyone the white guys talk with, but in time they will destroy the government and make the white devils go home. All B'hab knows is that he's going to have to start all over again, but he damned sure knows which side he should be on now, and so do the surviving villagers. A few newly orphaned boys ask if they can travel with the badasses. B'hab asks the badasses if they need some food to carry on their journey.

Now, open the other door...

Lieutenant: "You sure you saw them head this way Sergeant?"

Sergeant: "Yup, I sure did sir. They're hiding in one of those huts, not sure which, and they had a lot of gear when we last saw them. Gonna be a bitch to get them out."

Lieutenant: "Ok. Let's see what Mr. Farmer here has to say. 'Scuse me there sir. Did you see anyone come this way?"

B'hab: "[I do not understand what you are saying]"

Lieutenant: "Hey J'hill, get over here!"

J'hill: "[Hi, I'm J'hill from the capitol. My friends here saw some really nasty rebels come this way, and think they may have hidden in your village. They are very dangerous, and have stolen property and raped women and killed children. My friends here would like to capture them. If you help us, they promise to return and build a road and a school for your village, and clean your water supply so your children don't die the week they're born. You can ask the next village if this is true, as they just last week set up a water tower there.]"

B'hab: (who knows that by now the badasses are probably watching, and that they have friends, with guns, that don't live far from here) "[I don't know about any men]" (twitch twitch, wink wink)

J'hill: (nods knowingly) "[I see.] Lieutenant, they're in the village all right, but they're hiding inside this farmer's house. (quietly) [If we wait in the hills over there]" (nods her head), "[could you point them in our direction when they leave?]"

B'hab: (winks and says very loudly) "[I do not have any idea where the brave lads who are keeping our country free from you infidels may be, but I hope that you and your white devil friends roast in the sixth level of hell before you find them!]" *spit* (and then, in a quick whisper) "[They should leave some time tonight.]"

J'hill, who has played this sort of game several times before, mainly because teenage boys never learn, nods her head and departs with the soldiers. They all leave with a great deal of noise, but then a different set of soldiers creeps in from the hills.

B'hab lies in his bed that night. The badasses didn't get to his daughter, but they did get to his wife. She'll survive, and, as he hears the rattling sound of gunfire in the distance, he knows that having running water and a baby that doesn't die will go a long way toward healing her wounds. He checked with his friends and knows what J'hill said was true. He also now knows that his cousin B'hill knows someone who has a nephew that married a lady whose father works for the white guys. B'hab doesn't know what the white guys would do for them if he turned in another group of badasses, but he sure means to find out.

A few months later a bomb falls out of nowhere and blows B'hab's cousin B'hill into the afterlife in the nosiest and most spectacular way possible, taking his family with him. B'hab mourns his cousin, as does the rest of the village, but fortunately the bomb didn't take out the water tower they now own, and B'hab knows deep down that it was probably an accident. He is staggered beyond belief when strange white men come to their village in a jeep a few weeks later and hand them money, apologizing for blowing B'hill up.

A whole new world has opened up for B'hab's village, and now there's one more place a Taliban patrol can't hide in, one less place to get food from, a whole set of young men that will farm instead of fight.

And that's how you win a guerilla war.

Posted by scott at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)
BOFH, My Hero

Here's the latest entry from the BOFH archive.

This is what every single sysadmin really feels like all the time. It's fiction, but it's oh-so-good.

Posted by scott at 12:42 PM | Comments (4)
February 20, 2002

No essay today (hooray!), because I spent all day wrestling with a new Linux server at work. Some of you will know what Linux is, others won't. In a nutshell, Linux is an operating system for a personal computer based on System V Unix. And no, you're not supposed to just automatically know what the hell I'm talking about. The best writeup I've ever seen of this subject came from Neal Stephenson's In the Beginning was the Command Line.

The whole essay has a ton of just great stuff in it, but here's the excerpt most directly about Linux that non-geeks won't need a translator to understand:

Imagine a crossroads where four competing auto dealerships are situated. One of them (Microsoft) is much, much bigger than the others. It started out years ago selling three-speed bicycles (MS-DOS); these were not perfect, but they worked, and when they broke you could easily fix them.

There was a competing bicycle dealership next door (Apple) that one day began selling motorized vehicles--expensive but attractively styled cars with their innards hermetically sealed, so that how they worked was something of a mystery.

The big dealership responded by rushing a moped upgrade kit (the original Windows) onto the market. This was a Rube Goldberg contraption that, when bolted onto a three-speed bicycle, enabled it to keep up, just barely, with Apple-cars. The users had to wear goggles and were always picking bugs out of their teeth while Apple owners sped along in hermetically sealed comfort, sneering out the windows. But the Micro-mopeds were cheap, and easy to fix compared with the Apple-cars, and their market share waxed.

Eventually the big dealership came out with a full-fledged car: a colossal station wagon (Windows 95). It had all the aesthetic appeal of a Soviet worker housing block, it leaked oil and blew gaskets, and it was an enormous success. A little later, they also came out with a hulking off-road vehicle intended for industrial users (Windows NT) which was no more beautiful than the station wagon, and only a little more reliable.

Since then there has been a lot of noise and shouting, but little has changed. The smaller dealership continues to sell sleek Euro-styled sedans and to spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns. They have had GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! signs taped up in their windows for so long that they have gotten all yellow and curly. The big one keeps making bigger and bigger station wagons and ORVs.

On the other side of the road are two competitors that have come along more recently.

One of them (Be, Inc.) is selling fully operational Batmobiles (the BeOS). They are more beautiful and stylish even than the Euro-sedans, better designed, more technologically advanced, and at least as reliable as anything else on the market--and yet cheaper than the others.

With one exception, that is: Linux, which is right next door, and which is not a business at all. It's a bunch of RVs, yurts, tepees, and geodesic domes set up in a field and organized by consensus. The people who live there are making tanks. These are not old-fashioned, cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S. Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army tanks. They've been modified in such a way that they never, ever break down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets, and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away for free.

Customers come to this crossroads in throngs, day and night. Ninety percent of them go straight to the biggest dealership and buy station wagons or off-road vehicles. They do not even look at the other dealerships.

Of the remaining ten percent, most go and buy a sleek Euro-sedan, pausing only to turn up their noses at the philistines going to buy the station wagons and ORVs. If they even notice the people on the opposite side of the road, selling the cheaper, technically superior vehicles, these customers deride them cranks and half-wits.

The Batmobile outlet sells a few vehicles to the occasional car nut who wants a second vehicle to go with his station wagon, but seems to accept, at least for now, that it's a fringe player.

The group giving away the free tanks only stays alive because it is staffed by volunteers, who are lined up at the edge of the street with bullhorns, trying to draw customers' attention to this incredible situation. A typical conversation goes something like this:

Hacker with bullhorn: "Save your money! Accept one of our free tanks! It is invulnerable, and can drive across rocks and swamps at ninety miles an hour while getting a hundred miles to the gallon!"

Prospective station wagon buyer: "I know what you say is true...but...er...I don't know how to maintain a tank!"

Bullhorn: "You don't know how to maintain a station wagon either!"

Buyer: "But this dealership has mechanics on staff. If something goes wrong with my station wagon, I can take a day off work, bring it here, and pay them to work on it while I sit in the waiting room for hours, listening to elevator music."

Bullhorn: "But if you accept one of our free tanks we will send volunteers to your house to fix it for free while you sleep!"

Buyer: "Stay away from my house, you freak!"

Bullhorn: "But..."

Buyer: "Can't you see that everyone is buying station wagons?"

Posted by scott at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)
February 19, 2002
True Lies

People lie to get on TV. Well, duh, of course they do. But in spite of the instantly cynical reaction I got out of you by that statement, I'll bet, deep down inside, you really don't believe this. Not about everyone. I know I didn't. If a person was sincere enough, and I personally couldn't think of any reason for them to lie, I believed them. This led me to all sorts of really fun beliefs... the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, alien abductions, men in black, ghosts, and all sorts of other things that made the world really cool. I knew my beliefs were true because I saw documentaries on them in theaters, on PBS, Discover, TLC, and other "accepted" channels of learning (mostly on TV).

What really turned me around was the story of two girls named Elise Wright and Frances Griffiths. The link gives the particulars, but briefly: in 1917 two young girls came back from a late trip to the woods saying that they not only had met fairies, but had in fact taken pictures of them using their camera. To our modern eyes, used to sophisticated CGI graphics that can make Jar-Jar Binks the murder target of geeks everywhere, the pictures are almost laughably fake. And yet well-known experts for decades either firmly believed in them (Arthur Conan Doyle), or would go on camera and testify that the pictures could not have been faked.

I saw a section of an interview both ladies did in the late 1970s. Now classic elderly Britsh matrons (right down to the blue hair and horned-rimmed glasses), they quite sincerely stated that the pictures were not fake. Clear eyes, steady voice, looked right into the camera and said those pictures were real. You couldn't help but believe them. What purpose would little old ladies have lying about such a thing? Why, after all these years, would they bother?

In 1983 a now 76-year-old Frances admitted all the pictures were fake, and produced some of the "fairies" (paper cutouts) to prove it. Elise eventually also admitted they were fakes. The little old ladies were lying.

That was just the most memorable moment I can recall. There were others. Like when one of my favorite childhood documentary movies, In Search of Noah's Ark (a film my mom still remembers facts from) proved to be a badly researched hoax. Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, a book my dad still believes, turned out to be mostly made up. Accounts of disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, documentaries that used to scare the bejeezus out of me as a kid, tended to cut out little details like "we couldn't see the end of the barge <cut> [because there was a howling storm outside] </cut> and eventually the tow cable just snapped <cut> [when the thing finally sank]</cut> and the barge disappeared".

And these were not in some hand-stapled bible-belt fundie pamphlet cranked out on the preacher's wife's mimeograph, they were in documentaries! On TV! Networks like Discovery, TLC, A&E, BBC, PBS, all had entertaining documentaries that, when you really thought about it, consisted of nothing more than hearsay and the sincere testimony of people who, in retrospect, had nothing to back them up. I watched what purported to be a really scary ghost documentary that claimed, for the first time, to have for real actual videotape of ghosts. Their ghosts? Grasshoppers zinging out of the back yard.

And these are just the easy ones. It just makes me ill when I see what are obviously just recycled press releases regurgitated on the nightly news. Did you notice that at the start of the Afghanistan conflict we were constantly hearing about civilian casualties, and then we suddenly weren't? The reports came from Taliban authored press releases. Afghanistan was too dirty, dangerous, and remote for the really pretty news readers (you can't call these people reporters or journalists) to do a good job, so they sat on their asses in Islamabad and breathlessly reported paraphrased accounts of what the Taliban was telling them.

The reports stopped not because we were or were not dropping bombs on some poor bastards in mud huts, but because the Pakistani government had shuttered the Taliban's embassy. When it turned out that all the journalism BA's with nose jobs might actually have to get a little dirty, the "news" dried up fast. The real journalists were too busy trying not to get shot to file daily reports, and substance takes a little longer than just reading a paragraph to a camera that you read to yourself fifteen minutes earlier. The former is journalism, the latter dictation.

The next time you watch a documentary, pay attention. Remember that these things are created by dozens of people that you never see, not just the people being interviewed. The chances for making stuff up are many and varied. You don't get on TV if you don't tell an interesting story, your film doesn't get made if you don't have an interesting concept, and nobody will watch it if it doesn't say something interesting. And, really, who's gonna know?

The next time you listen to the news, listen to the locations. Remember that a huge number of journalists live in New York or Washington DC. If you hear a byline of " Virginia" or " Maryland", it means the goddamned reporter didn't even bother to leave their house to do the story. Great if you actually live here, but not so great if you're in, say, Boulder facing a completely different problem.

The media conglomorates form what they think are a sort of self-appointed guardianship of truth and culture, when for the most part they're actually dedicated to selling advertising and nothing more.

And how hard do you really think it is to let the truth... slip... a little when a billion dollar advertising account is on the line?

Posted by scott at 04:27 PM | Comments (3)
February 17, 2002

I have a kitten at work named Orangie. He has been with me for 6 weeks now( in case you have not figured this out, Orangie is orange:)). Orangie has had a fever of 105.3 for 4 weeks straight.. He no longer has one now, but he is suffering from its consequences. He is ataxic (walks in circles and falls over). I think he is brain fried. I gave him IV fluids, SQ fluids, special food, 5 differenet antibiotics ect..over the course of 6 weeks.

Oranige has come up with a strong postive for a corona virus. The FIP specific test was negative, but it could be the dry form of FIP. THis is not a good thing. This mean I'll have to put my special little guy to sleep forever. Dr V wants to do a biopsy on him next week for me to confirm any diagnosis of the FIP. He knows I'm way to attatched to this kitten. Oranige just turned 16 weeks old. He weighs 2.5 pounds. He should be much bigger. I am very nervous on the outcome of this. He is extremely delicate. I'll have to do the anesthesia for the surgery. I'm also concerned that I may have to make my final decision on this kitty during surgery if we find somthing bad. He was supposed to get better. *is is is* He is supposed to go to a wonderful home with someone that will love him forever.

I am upset to the point I'm sick to my stomach over this. I hate my job sometimes. *most of the time* It's not fair. He is a loving kitty and deserves to get well and have someone dote over him the way I do. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

Posted by Ellen at 03:26 PM | Comments (4)
February 16, 2002

Apparently I am many things. I'll go over them with you. Clarification of a subject tends to make it easier to understand.


Selfish 1. Concerned chiefly with oneself. or 2. Arising from, characterized by, or showing selfishness.

Yeah, I know I am this. I have also been told this many a times. I don't know why I am. Perhaps its a learned thing. Perhaps I just want to pay attention to myself for once and not worry about other people or things. I do alot of things for people. And still, I'm selfish.


Anger 1. Feeling or showing anger;incesed or enraged. or 2. Indicative or or resulting from anger. or 3. Having a menacing aspect;threatening.

I KNOW I am angry. It consumes most of my day. People make me angry. Life makes me angry. Stupidy makes me angry. This is WHY it consumes a great part of my day. The only time I'm not angry is when I am sleeping. I do not understand why people expect me to be happy. What is there to be happy about? I do have things that make me happy, but not 100%* I'm NEVER 100% happy- and this is a problem*. Small nit-picky, dumb-ass shit makes me extrodinarily angry. It's not supposed to, it's not worth it, but it still happens.


INTELLIGENT 1.Having intelligence. or 2.Mentally acute. or 3. Having sound judgment and rationality. or 4. Appealing to the intellect, intellectual..

I am intelligent, this I know. Now by the time you have gotten to this part of my essay, you are probably thinking I'm stupid. I'm not. I have a college degree, I am a professional in my field of work, I am respected *most of the time*. I just want you to know what other people think of me. It's all true, all of you know me know this.

Whatever, save the compliments. I am a miserable human, this I know. I think I should know myself.

I can be happy. My cats make me happy. Dorking around with my fish make me happy. Learning new things make me happy. Presents make me happy * no I don't expect this-but they are nice to get*. Other things in my life make me happy at times also. Scott can make me happy, sometimes.

I need to learn how to be happier, people would like me more.

Posted by Ellen at 07:55 PM | Comments (1)

OH MY GOD!! The tiger oscar has ACTUALLY come out of hiding! It actually came out for FOOD!

This is progress!

The other oscar is still a pig.

Posted by Ellen at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)
February 15, 2002


Posted by Ellen at 07:35 PM | Comments (2)
Oscar x2

Apparently I did not know that fish get lonely. Even aggressive fish. You see, my new tiger oscar won't come out of hiding behind my plastic Amazon Sword plant. *fucker*

Scott is like, "I dunno kiddo, he don't look like he is going to make it." *thank god for receipts and a return policy* I don't give up on my fish that easy. I brought a water sample into work, and had the fish guys test it for me. Everything is OK. My temp in the tank was a little too low, about 74 degrees. They told me to hike it up to 80. They like warm water. They also suggested I get him a buddy.

Yeah, I bought ANOTHER oscar. I got a Red Oscar this time. Except he is not red, he is more like a coral-pink color, with black fins. Kinda neat lookin. This one is kinda personable too. He actually swims around.

We DO see the tiger oscar swimming around. Once you get about 5 feet to the tank, he runs and hides. I have a shy fish. I mean, it's only been 2 days, I should give it more space to get used to it's new home.

I'll keep you all posted on the fishy stats.

Posted by Ellen at 07:14 PM | Comments (1)
Pax Americanum

The world could do a lot worse than having us in charge. And we are in charge, make no mistake. As a country our we are doing writ large what Augustus did personally when he reorganized the Roman Republic and created, through sheer will alone at times, the Roman Empire.

Augustus knew that the remembrance of power which the senate had was something not soon forgotten. He also had the abject lesson of his great-uncle being pinata'ed just outside the senate building a few years before to instruct him on just what the senate as a group thought of people that tried to take away all their perqs.

But he also knew that this fractious bunch of old white guys couldn't govern themselves out of a paper sack any more. The Roman Republic was set up to run a city and a smallish state, where everyone pretty much knew everyone else, and everyone else's business. It was not set up to run the largest and most diverse empire the world had ever seen.

So he took the place over, but he did it carefully. No naked power grabs, or at least no real large ones, paying attention to, or at least pretending to pay attention to, the petty bullshit of the senate, making sure powerful people were happy and weak people were secure, and personally ensuring the army could keep the entire empire safe. Happy powerful people don't raise their own armies to oust you, and safe poor people don't riot and yank you out of the senate in pieces (this happened to rulers all over the world quite often in history. It was only the development of the machine gun in the 20th century that the mob ceased to be a very real threat to the governing classes). If it wasn't important, he let the senate handle it. If it was, he handled it himself and let the senate approve of his actions. Luckily for Rome, Augustus was one of those 5% of despots that actually have a clue, and Rome prospered.

Unluckily for Rome, Augustus made the common mistake of despots through history by assuming he was immortal. When he did finally keel over, at the ripe old age of 73, he left no real mechanisms in place for the transfer of power. This would prove to be one of the main reasons for the empire's eventual disintegration. It was bad for them, but good for us. We'd all probably still be speaking Latin if it weren't for this mistake.

The USA as a nation seems to be, so far, doing for the world what Augustus did for Rome. We didn't ask for it, and as a nation (the "people" part of the "we love the American people but hate the American government" saying) we don't much like it. But nobody else seems to be capable of doing the job, and now that nuclear weapons have been invented problems can get a lot worse than a bunch of butt-scratching barbarian tribesmen sacking a few cities.

Europe used to be, if not good, at least effective at ruling the world. But they were mostly interested in using the rest of the world to gather up enough cash to pay for the next war they felt like having for themselves. Think the middle east is chaotic? The machine gun, an American invention, nearly didn't make it until Hiram Maxim went to Europe, because he was told "Europeans will always pay top dollar for new ways to kill each other."

The only reason Europe is peaceful today is because they managed to drag the entire world into their little killing sprees not once but twice. The US and the Soviet Union got so damned sick of it the second time through they sat on them all for the next thirty five years (on the US side) before turning them loose. The Soviets never really got over it, which is understandable when you remember that roughly every tenth person killed in the war was a Soviet citizen. They only let go because they had to. This is the first time in about fifteen hundred years that the Europeans have played nice with each other, and probably the first time in history that they didn't have anyone else making them.

Japan made a stab at taking over the world at around the same time, or at least the part of it they were interested in (Asia, mostly China). It looked like it might actually work until the US, which was supplying the oil they needed to run their little war of conquest, cut off the taps. Someone over there, we're still not quite sure who because they burned all their papers before we took the place over, decided it was time to take those damned round-eyed gaijin out of the picture. It only took us four months to finish them off when we focused on them.

Both China and the Turks had a real good shot at running the world. China had invented paper, gunpowder, iron smelting, and a whole raft of other near-industrial items by that time, and sent a fleet over Europe's way to see why it had gone all quiet over there a thousand years ago (they really do think like this). But the fleet was recalled and then China just sort of ossified for the next few centuries. They're still recovering.

The Turks had taken over pretty much all of the old Islamic kingdoms by this point (we know them as the Ottoman Empire), and were literally knocking on Vienna's door. Due in no small part to one Vlad Dracula's efforts at slowing them down (having 25,000 prisoners impaled in a nice neat stadium pattern tends to unnerve even the most hardy of warriors), they weren't able to crack the place, and fell back. Again, for reasons not completely clear to anyone they never really seemed to recover from this setback. And so the people that were on the forefront of knowledge and culture when Europe was a bunch of scrabbling hicks seeing who could build the biggest dung pile ended up less than two centuries later prostrate before those same people. They're still recovering too.

And so the world is left with us. In spite of all the shirt-tearing and breast-beating done by the world's media, you all could do a helluva lot worse. Here in the US we're all so busy bickering with each other that we can only get it together for the really important stuff. Our government isn't any better than anyone else's when it comes to dealing with the outside world, but savvy people at least can get the media to expose the worst of our excesses. Transfer of power is built into our government, giving the truly dangerous and incompetent a chance to both grasp power and have it destroy them in a short enough time not to break anything important.

And, at the core, we are you. America, time and again, takes both the best and the worst the world has to offer. Be repulsed by us, but realize that we learned to be repulsive from you. Be inspired by us, and take heart in the fact that what is inspiring in us comes from you. Be angry at us, even afraid of us, but always realize what angers and scares you is only what you brought or gave to us.

And always remember that, no matter what we're like right now, the one thing that is always remarkable is that we change. Don't like us now? Wait. Learn. Work with us to change us. We're running a planet with no instructions. We need all the help we can get.

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (6)
That's One Big Bug!

Here's a writeup about a fossile track of an ancient scorpion-like critter that was about 8 feet long. Yowzah!

Posted by scott at 08:57 AM | Comments (3)
February 14, 2002
Astronotus ocellatus

If you don't know what Astronotus ocellatus is, I'll give you a hint. It's a fish. Give up yet? It's an Oscar.

I bought my first oscar yesterday, a tiger oscar to be exact. Right now its 1 inch long or so. It's not happy. I think I'm the only person in the whole universe that can pick a shy fish.. It likes to hide behind the plants that I got for the tank.

My grandfather, Pop Pop Joe used to have an oscar. I think it was a tiger oscar too. I remember him feeding goldfish to it. He had this 10 or 20 gallon tank in the basement FULL of feeder goldfish. Now to a young person ( I really dont remember my age when this happened) thats ALOT of fish! The oscar seeemed huge too! I'm sure it was only 8 or 9 inches long though. It just seemed big!!

My tank has cycled, the pH is at 7.6, but it's not happy. I have no luck.

My new goal is to keep it alive....thank god for reciepts and a 10 day return policy.

Posted by Ellen at 07:03 PM | Comments (1)
Stamp them out like meowing cookies

Well, I guess it's a good thing Ellen stores all the bits she cuts off our cats in jars (YES! I THINK IT'S GROSS TOO!), 'cos now it would seem that they have cloned a cat. Just what I need. Six of each!

Posted by scott at 03:40 PM | Comments (1)
Hey Mellie

How's this for your banner? Sorry it took so long. Dimensions are 467x59. Maybe this'll be worth a mention of our website on yer diary? :)

2-15-2002 Update Changes made per your request. Click the link again.

Posted by scott at 01:40 PM | Comments (2)
Romance the Geek Way

Ok, here's how one geek did it. Slashdot is a geek site that serves 200, 300 pages per minute to a very large techie crowd. The guy posting is the boss of the operation. Sometimes it's good to be the king :).

Posted by scott at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)
Don't F*cking Open Me

Sometimes I really wish this was a real thing. As a system admin for a large network of social-science majors, I get this sort of thing all the time. People around here still open messages "asking for you advice".


Please forward to all your friends. Just once I'd like to see an e-mail chain letter that was actually useful.

If anyone ever sends you a virus warning, simply assume it's a hoax and delete it. You will be correct 99% of the time, and your antivirus software will catch the last 1%. REPEAT THIS THREE TIMES BEFORE TURNING ON YOUR COMPUTER: ALL VIRUS WARNINGS I RECEIVE VIA E-MAIL ARE HOAXES! EVERY SINGLE ONE! I WILL NOT FORWARD VIRUS WARNINGS!

Never open an unexpected file attachment, even when it's from someone you know. ESPECIALLY if it's from someone you know! Even if it says "this is SOOO COOL, you MUST MUST OPEN IT!", or "I love you so much I just wanted to see this" or "click this to see something sexy" or anything else, DO NOT OPEN IT! NEVER OPEN AN UNEXPECTED FILE ATTACHMENT, NEVER NEVER NEVER!!!

If someone sends you something that talks about making money, it's a hoax. If all you needed to do to make money is forward chain letter e-mail around, everyone with an AOL account would be a billionaire by now. Delete it and do not forward. Repeat: IT'S A HOAX! REALLY!

If someone sends you something that talks about how you should forward an inspirational message to six people to bring you good luck, don't do it. Just because it's electronic doesn't make it any less of a chain letter.

Do you believe everything you are told by your friends? NO! Do you believe everything you are told by the government? NO! Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper? NO! THEN WHY DO YOU BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU GET IN AN E-MAIL JUST BECAUSE IT IS IN AN E-MAIL?

End of rant.

Please forward this to seven other people you really care about, because if you do I promise that a wonderful thing will happen to you tomorrow. You will also learn to MAKE MONEY FAST! by forwarding this e-mail. I forwarded it to eight of my friends and I now have $34,961.27 in the bank! Be sure to forward this message, because it contains instructions to cure a virus that your antivirus software won't catch, and if you don't follow these directions completely and forward this message to nine people immediately then your entire hard drive could be erased!

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)
February 13, 2002
F/A-18E Superhornet News

I like airplanes. Big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones, if it's got wings I like it. :) Anyway, here's a pretty interesting article about the F/A-18E from one of the lead test pilots of the program. Not exactly unbiased, but definitely a primary source.

Posted by scott at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)
Ball Lightning

I once knew someone who saw ball lightning. He said it bounced through the outside wall, across his room, through two interior walls, and then through the opposite outside wall, only to disappear in the field behind his house. Now they have a new theory about where this wierd stuff comes from. Strange!

Posted by scott at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)
February 12, 2002
Except for the Children

There are no innocents in the Palistinian/Israeli conflict, except for the children. People all over the world keep looking to the USA to find an answer to this problem and we can't, because there isn't one. Just a lot of bloody-minded people persuing bloody-minded objectives and bedamned with everyone else.

Folks in America are lead to believe that Israel stands alone and innoncent in the middle east amongst a sea of peoples intent on their utter destruction. This has never been completely true, and has become less and less true over time. The first generation of Israelis pretty much taught the post-WWII palestinians (Arafat's bunch) how to be terrorists, by example. Radical Israeli factions, splinter groups, the most famous led by Menachim Begin, did whatever it took to make sure the British left what was then called Palestine, including blowing up a hotel full of British and American nationals just to show us all they were serious.

Common, decent, peace-loving Israelis are hamstrung by the historical decisions of their government and by the actions of other Israelis who are not common, decent, or peace loving by any but their own standards. By building settlements in territories taken in war, by busily trying to create "facts on the ground" and by filling them up with the most wild-eyed radical wacks they could dredge up, the elected Israeli government has given the "person-on-the-street" Israeli an albatross around their neck that cannot be removed.

The settlers with any damned common sense are swallowing the bitter pill of lies their government sold them when it talked them into moving out there by pulling up stakes and moving back. The ones who are left have a glittery-eyed fanatacism that simply beggars the imagination. How does one deal rationally with a woman that looks for all the world like just another housewife with young kids who will quite calmly tell you she would rather kill her children and then herself with a knife before leaving that particular spot of land? And she's one of the rational ones.

There are no truly innocent Israelis. Except for the children.

Folks in Muslim countries are lead to believe that Israelis are a bunch of conspiracy-minded devils come to take their land and eat their children. They are told that the only reason the USA can't solve the problem is because we blindly support Israel and if we'd only listen to the Arab League things would be all right.

Jews didn't walk up and steal the land they got before 1946, they bought it, from arabs. It was such an embarassment to the Palestinians that some of them restorted to shooting landlords caught selling land to Jews. Israel's internationally recognized borders were formed only after the arabs around it decided it would be simpler to just squish the nascent state instead of deal with it. Instead of an easy cakewalk they found that the Jews had learned a great deal from Auschwitz and would not go quietly into anyone's dark night. The Jews, now Israelis, got the borders they wanted because the Arabs gave them the opportunity to do so. Israel then had to deal with huge pulses of refugee immigration from the middle east because, well, if the Jews want their own state in Palestine they can damned well have these Jews too (boot).

When Arafat was given a crack at governing the Palestinians he allowed the state-to-be to slip into the corruption and cronyism so common elsewhere in the arab world. What are Israelis expected to do when they see that the first acts of the Palestinian government are to open up an airport and buy helicopters? What are they to think when the only group that shows any real capability of running the place is the same group that merrily straps bombs to kids and sends them into shopping malls (hamas)? When Barak offered 90% of what the Palestinians have been asking for, including shit he knew would put him in the crosshairs of the same gun that shot Rabin before him, Arafat and his cronies dug in their heels and insisted on the last 10% that they knew would ultimately destory Israel.

There are no truly innocent Palestinians. Except for the children.

And what the hell do you expect us to do about it? We can't get a straight answer out of anybody. Nobody trusts us, and hell even we admit they all have good reasons not to. You can't expect us to be rational with the Israelis. They are the only functioning democracy in the region, and are the only ones that helped us fight communists and are related to people that vote and fund elections. And when it comes right down to it, we like Israel. Americans have a thing for the underdog.

You can't expect us to be rational with the Palestinians because their buddies keep trying to blow us up in their name, and are becoming alarmingly good at it. Their most famous leader has proven that he (or at least his buddies) can't be trusted with power, and the only ones that can keep blowing things up.

How are we expected to even begin to understand people so desperate that sticking a grenade in your mouth and pulling the pin is actually preferable to living with Israelis? How are we expected to even begin to understand what it's like to live surrounded with people that are cooking up, 24x7, creative ways to turn your insides into outsides just because you're a jew? If we can't understand them, how the fuck are we supposed to help them?

If it all makes you feel hopeless, angry, and dispairing, well, good! At least you're paying attention. Israelis and Palestinians feel this way all the goddamned time.

There are no innocents in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Except for the children.

And, as always, it's the children that have to do the dying.

Posted by scott at 02:40 PM | Comments (2)
Ellen's Just Gonna Love This

Woo hoo! Friends will be back next year! $1M bucks per, not too shabby.

Posted by scott at 02:26 PM | Comments (1)
Feeling Chilly?

Want to know why? Apparently Scientists have the answer, or at least one answer. Your tax dollars at work :).

Posted by scott at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)
February 11, 2002
High-Speed Low-Drag (technical)

Bob X Cringley is a techno-pundit with a weekly column at PBS.org. For those technical readers out there (assuming Jeff reads this every once in awhile I know there's at least one), here's an article about how he managed to get a 2.2 Mbps internet connection via wireless networking technologies. Those of you who live in the boonies (you have told slack about our site, haven't you Jeff???) might be interested.

Posted by scott at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)
Wierd Science

I found this little tidbit of news about "artificial wombs". We're living science fiction folks, this is stuff that I encountered in the Dune books years ago. I thought it was more than a little ironic that some feminist wacks decided that it would mean the "possible end of women". Did they not notice this could, perhaps eventually, replace one of the most onerous and dangerous tasks a woman has to put up with in her life?

Posted by scott at 12:27 PM | Comments (1)
February 10, 2002
Real Science

Creationism is not science. This may seem axiomatic to most of you, but I've always found it very surprising how many people that accept this view have trouble defending it against those who think creationism is science, as valid as evolution (which is, after all, just a "theory"). Can you explain why creationism should not be taught in public schools? In a way that can't be talked around easily?

I'm here to provide you with a simple set of tools to argue rings around the wacks that will try to impose their particularly cracked view of both science and religion not on you, but on your kids. So listen up people. It's us against them, and right now they're the only ones paying attention.

Ok, the main problem is that so few of us really know what science is. I know I didn't until I was well into college, and I was the geek everybody went to in high school. Pop quiz: explain how science works.

Not as easy as you thought, eh? At its root, science is simply a way of explaining the way something, anything, works. First you watch how it works (observation), then you come up with an idea that explains everything that you've seen so far (hypothesis). However, it can't just be any sort of idea! This is the really crucial part. Your idea must make some sort of prediction about stuff you don't already know, ones you can test (prediction). If the tests fail, your idea must be wrong in some way, and if they succeed then your idea is right. The more tests you can think of that your idea passes, the more you know you're right (unless you're my wife, in which case you're already right and it's the universe causing the problem). If your predictions aren't borne out by these tests, then it is wrong either in part or in whole. It's especially useful if you can tell your friends about these predictions and tests and they can perform them and get the same sorts of results.

We all do this every day without realizing it. You come home at night and flick the light switch on the wall. Nothing happens (observation!). You think that maybe the power is out (hypothesis!), so if you look at the VCR in the living room it shouldn't be on either (prediction!). So you walk over and look (experiment!). If the VCR is still blinking 12:00 am, then your idea, your hypothesis, is wrong, because it failed to predict something you didn't already know. If the VCR is dark, then you know you're probably right, because your hypothesis successfully predicted the results of an experiment.

That's all well and good, you may say, but how's it going to help me keep that wierd old white guy in the cheap blue suit from successfully thumping his bible into my kid's homework?

The key points to keep in mind are prediction and falsification. If a hypothesis explains what is observed but makes no predictions, it's not science. If a hypothesis can't be proven false, it's not science.

Creationism fails on both accounts. Because it was created as a kneejerk reaction by people who at best lack imagination and strength of faith, it only really explains what has already been observed. It makes no predictions about things that aren't yet known, and therefore it cannot at any point be proven false (or true, when you get right down to it). It is not, at root, science.

Evolution is science. It was created by first observing the world around us, makes predictions that can be proven false, and suggests experiments that can be followed to do so. It is, therefore, science.

Please note that nowhere in this am I arguing which one is right (Creationism is in fact wrong, but that's a different story). I'm arguing about which one is science. Creationism is, like everything else created by fundamentalists (of any sort), both bad science and bad religion. By making no falsifiable predictions, one cannot create experiments that prove it to be right or wrong. It's really that simple.

And that's why it has no damned business at all in a science classroom of any sort.

Want to learn more? The world's best source of information on all this stuff can be found at the talk.origins archives. It's got everything you need to hand a creationist's or fundamentalist's head back to them ninja-style if they try to get into an argument with you. Highly recommended!

Posted by scott at 01:31 PM | Comments (1)
February 09, 2002
New Stuff

Woo-hoo! New logo! If I could figure out how to convert hex colors into CMYK, it'd match the background of the banner too. Probably some time on Monday, when I have a better set of tools.

Too late tonight for an essay (and there was much rejoycing), so here's a quick one:

Grow some balls people! I didn't go to all this effort to allow you to comment just so's you could ignore the feature. I'm full of sh*t and I know it. Ellen rants until you can pratically see her foaming. This is the internet, not the bible. What you write here won't be set in stone, and won't be held against you in a court of law. We require a name and an e-mail but if you don't want to give us your real one make one up. WRITE US BACK DAMMIT

Except for Mellie. She writes :)

Posted by scott at 09:40 PM | Comments (3)
February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Hey all! I'm just letting you know its National Pet Dental Health Month! Take time out for your pet and get it a professional cleaning!

Did you know:

85% of cats and dogs over the age 4 suffer from some form of periodontal disease? (There are 4 stages)

Purebred cats and dogs including the bracheocephalic breeds (smushed faced) are MORE prone to periodontal disase?

The earlier you start a good home dental program, the less likely your pet will need to go under anesthesia to have a professional cleaning?

This is speaking from experience people!!! I see more and more pets under the age 3 comming in for thier first dental cleaning in the past few years.

FACT!!!!**** WET FOOD IS A LARGE CONTRIBUTOR TO DENTAL DISEASE!!!!**** FACT!!!!**** Severe dental disease can cause secondary heart, liver, brain and kidney problems!!!!****

Remember, just like any trick, you need to train your pet to like having its mouth handled to have its teeth brushed at home. Lots of love and praise and play time can contribute to a cooperative pet. MAKE IT FUN!!! Talk to your vet. If they are not giving you all the information you need, or just recommend a yearly cleaning without doing home care, FIND A NEW VET!

NOW GET OUT THERE AND CLEAN YOUR PET'S TEETH!- You WILL add more years to your pet's life

Posted by Ellen at 03:43 PM | Comments (7)
February 08, 2002
To Declaw, or not to Declaw (rant)

I had a couple of interesting cases today..

I won't go into graphic details about cat declaws either. NO wait, I will. How would YOU like to have the ends of all your fingers chopped off and tossed in the trash because your favorite human *who you trust* thinks a 3 foot tall or taller scratching post is tacky to put up in the living room? OR that they just bought a new LEATHER couch?

I usually tell the owner to give me their hand and I take a scissor out of the drawer and say,"This is what is going to happen to your pet (shows where the cut will take place). It's orthopedic surgery. You are selfish, and you are punishing your pet for no reason".

*SELFISH SELFISH SELFISH!* If you don't want claw marks or scratchin, GET A FUCKING GOLDFISH! You own a fucking cat! Get over it! They have claws. Fuck you and your children who tease and play to hard with the cat. THEY DESERVED TO GET BIT AND SCRATCHED! But no, you decide its SOOO much easier to just take away the problem. Your problem is with you and YOUR children, NOT the cat!

I also like it when they say, "Oh, I just found out I was pregnant and I don't want it to scratch my poor darling offspring!!" (holds abdomen protectivly as if the cat will disembowel her and eat her unborn child). You are 'supposed' to laugh and just educate them by saying, "what the person hears you say-- NO NO! you silly girl! Your kitty is far too smart to go near your baby. You must learn to trim his nails weekly and teach your wonderful little child that the kitty is one of God's creatures and must be respected" What I actually say is, "Look, just because you are having a baby, doesn't mean its time to punish your cat for somthing that isn't here yet. You have how many more weeks till you are due? Get your cat used to nail trims, get it used to the idea of a new baby comming into the house ect.. and you CAN forget the idea about declawing it for such a dumb ass reason"

Some people still want it done, and it gets done. Some are really sorry they did it after the cat develops a secondary infection, *did I mention it takes 10-16 weeks for his feet to heal?* OR that kitty has decided that it's SOOO much better to piss and shit on the carpet cause the litter sand hurts its toes.

Some people you can change their mind. This works, they are smart and actually listen. To them, their cat is a family member and they were listening to a friend or other relative on how 'every cat' has had it done, and it's so routine.

I like the people you can change, the rest of them can go to hell.

Posted by Ellen at 08:08 PM | Comments (3)
Kitten Crazies

As the husband of a woman that is a licensed veterenary technician, my house has turned into a kind of "land of the misfits". We have five cats right now (only because I won't let her have seven), and all have some sort of story to tell. One of the funniest comes from Coconut.

Coconut was one of the first really hard luck cases Ellen ever brought home. She was a c-section baby, the only one to survive. She looked like this when she was brought home.

The problem with kittens that small is they make china cups look tough. Very, very easy to lose them, and in fact we had lost one just a few months before. So we were very careful with this one, and didn't even name the little bugger until she'd got to be about three weeks old.

It's really funny to watch kittens learn to walk. For awhile, it's as if each leg has its own separate control set, and the kitten must methodically work each lever and pulley one at a time. They'll even watch their own front feet sometimes. This gives them a wonky "lift foot... move foot... STEP! lift foot... move foot... STEP!" gate as they methodically work each leg one at a time. It's slow, but it does eventually get you to the food bowl. Sometimes they'll get confused and try things like "move foot... lift foot thud", or "lift foot, scratch ear, lift other foot, thud" and other such combinations that usually lead to them wobbling over on their sides like a badly balance trycicle. Let's just say it's a good thing they don't have all that far to fall.

At about three and a half weeks, Coconut figured she had this walking thing down pat. She'd actually managed to move on to the "lift foot-STEP! lift foot-STEP! " routine, doing away with the conscious move that made each leg placement look like a construction crane operation. It gave her a very tank-like gate. This was efficient enough that she had begun to trundle around the apartment exploring and swatting her much larger (grown) brother when she could catch him. She was not, however, capable of running. You just can't "lift foot-STEP!" that fast.

One afternoon while I was watching Coconut trundle around the living room Ellen began to vacuum an adjacent hallway. Now, both of the grown cats we had considered the vacuum cleaner as some sort of Dragon from Hell come to suck them up and chew them to bits. They both blasted past Coconut, one on each side, going about mach 2 and hid behind the couch. This quite obviously puzzled Coconut, who had never seen either cat move that fast. She looked back where they went (over her shoulder... actually turning was quite an operation), then looked at where the noise was coming from. You could almost hear the little voice inside her head say "well humpf! That doesn't sound so bad... I wonder what it is." So she began lift foot-STEP! lift foot-STEP!-ing over to see what was going on. It was just as she rounded the corner that something bad happened.

Ellen sucked a penny into the vacuum cleaner.

What Coconut was suddenly confronted with was this gigantic whirring snorting CLATTERING EXPLODING monster from hell come to eat her upHOLYSHIT!!! Her ears laid back flat to her head, eyes went to pinpoints, but because she didn't know how to walk properly she pivoted in place to get away. Looked just like a teeny-tiny bulldozer pinwheeling around an axis. However, turning around and walking forward are two different locomotive actions. It took two visible tries for Coconut to get her legs in gear before things started working properly. She looked just like a car driven by a 15 year old the first time they use a stickshift. After two gear-grinding false starts she started to get away by lift foot-STEP!-ing very, very fast, liftfootstepliftfootstepliftfootstepliftfootstepliftfootstep until she'd managed to get behind a box.

She has never trusted vacuum cleaners since.<

Posted by scott at 05:13 PM | Comments (27)
February 07, 2002
New Toy!!!!!

Ok, my "zills" came in today. For all of you that don't know what they are, to put it simply. FINGER CYMBALS! They are totally kewl! My southern mama (Scott's mom) got them for me as a gift. All the way from Turkey! They are so neat. They sound like champagne glasses clinking together. *Clinkity, cLiNkiTy, ClInKiTy CLINK!* ---the cat's, especially Magrat, does not like them. Scott says I need to get zill mufflers for them now. :)

I STILL cant' walk and shimmy at the same time...

Posted by Ellen at 09:39 PM | Comments (3)
Intergalactic Perspective

Just about everyone has heard of the term "light year", and (hopefully) everyone knows in at least a vague sense what it means. But I know that I, for one, didn't know what that really means for a very long time.

Think of it this way. Lets say you have one of those funky little laser light things, the kind you hang on your keychain and drive the cats bonkers with. If you go outside, point it straight up, turn it on, and start counting seconds, the light that comes out of it travels 186,000 miles by the time you say "one-onethousand".

Now, that's a pretty big number. Big enough that it's hard to get your head around all by itself, but it's important to understand just exactly how far 186,000 miles is for the rest of this to work. So, two examples:

  • A dollar bill is about 6 inches long (I think... Ellen took all my money and I'm kind of working from memory). 186,000 one dollar bills stuck end-to-end strech almost 18 miles.
  • If you got in an airplane and flew west for 186,000 miles, you would go around the entire planet not quite 8 times.

So, to repeat, that little laser's light is so fast that if you could curve it (you can't, at least not easily), it would go around the world not quite 8 times in one second. BeebeepzipBANG! indeed.

Ok, now to you and me that seems like a damn far distance, but it's not, at least not on the scales we're talking about. For example, the moon is so far away that when the astronauts were talking to us it took just a little more than a second for the signal to reach us. Sort of like talking to someone on a bad international phone line. But this is just the closest planetary body the earth has.

The sun is the closest star to the earth. It averages to be about 93,000,000 miles away from us (the earth's orbit is eliptical, so the values change a bit). Lets say you happen to be standing in the middle of the New Mexico desert when you're flashing your laser beam into the sky, so of course some aliens swoop down, abduct you, and take you to their specially-made prison near the surface of the sun. While sitting in your cell trying to figure out if the chrome plated lawnmower in the corner is the toilet or your bed, you try to blink a distress signal to earth using a big honking version of your laser light thingy the aliens gave you when they tossed you in here (snickering while they did so). The sun is so far away from the earth it takes that (now supercharged) beam of light, that same beam that can go around our whole planet nearly eight times in a second, 8 whole minutes to get to the earth. And it would take that long for you to see us signal back "you're screwed". The entire message exchange, from start to finish, would take longer than half of a Friends rerun (and we know how important those are). And the kicker is that's the closest star we got.

The next closest star is actually a pair of stars, Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. Lets say these aliens get tired of you complaining about canned ravioli every night and so ship you off to an orbiting lab around Alpha Centauri A. If you were to signal with your laser from there, the beam of light that goes 8 times around the planet in a second takes a whopping four and a half years (hence "light years") to get to earth. But it gets better.

The earth is on one edge of a bar-spiral galaxy containing, as Mr. Carl Sagan (formerly living proof that pot doesn't always make you stupid) liked to say, billions of stars. Lets say you got confused and instead of pointing at earth you pointed your light at the other side of the galaxy. It would take about 175,000 years for that beam of light, the same beam of light that reaches the earth from the sun in just a few minutes, to reach some ammonia-breathing amateur astronomer ("send clean underwear" being the way you choose introduce yourself to such a creature). But it gets better than that.

The next nearest spiral galaxy to ours is the Andromeda galaxy. It lies three and a half million light years away. The closest thing to humans that lived on our planet at that point were some short, hairy, sad little bipeds that were literally still swinging from the trees. And we're not done yet.

our galaxy contains billions of stars, but our universe contains billions of galaxies, each one with at least as many stars. The most distant galaxy we've been able to find so far is 8 billion light years away, a time span roughly twice the age of our planet. It is estimated that the universe itself, the leading edge of the big bang, is about 4 billion years beyond that.

So the next time someone sits too close to you at a theater, have some fun thinking just how far away they could go if you really wanted them to "get lost".

Posted by scott at 04:32 PM | Comments (3)
February 06, 2002
Iran & the "axis of evil"

One of the problems of only getting your news from the TV is that you miss so much. For instance, until I started getting, and reading, my local daily newspaper, I thought Iran was still some camel-spit-soaked backwater with scary old men in turbans getting young men to find creative ways to blow us all up. I'm afraid a whole bunch of you out there still think of them this way.

Now, I will preface this by saying I have not actually visited the place. I'm not sure US citizens can, can't remember if they've been interdicted the same way as Cuba used to be (still is?) What I have done is gotten interested in this large, enigmatic country and, as noted below in a previous entry, when I get interested in something I tend to read a lot about it. Not just in newspapers, because I know our news media can be just as ignorant and biased as Al-Jazeera if it suits them, but also travel books and history.

What I have found is that Iran just isn't like this. What called my attention to this first of all was when they elected, and yes I said elected, Mohammed Khatami president. Khatami seems to be a man of the people. His platform was wrapped around economic reforms, reducing corruption, building roads and schools, loosening up on the media, and a bunch of other stuff that makes him sound not all that much different from any other politician anywhere else in the world. It's also important to note that at no time does he seem to ever have included "and blow up Americans" in his agenda. I've never heard anything even close to that attributed to him.

And he got elected not in the way G. Bush got "elected" (stupid people voting with stupid ballots), or even the way B. Clinton got elected (you suck... ok you suck too... ok you suck even more... so, um...), but rather by this monstrous majority, with most of the eligible population voting. And, the most important part was this wasn't the guy the scary dudes with the turbans wanted! But, and I think this is very important, since such a huge number of people voted for him the clerics felt they had no choice but to let him in.

Of course, it's never really that easy. At Mr. Khatami's election, the legislature was filled with the cronies of the scary dudes with the turbans (hereafter: SDWTT, also known as "the clergy"), so he couldn't get anything done. Boom! Next election, adios cronies, hello newbies. This one seemed to have scared the SDWTT, because they started busily "disqualifying" as many of the newbies as they dared, and managed to zorch quite a few. The SDWTT also still seem to control the judiciary (the government appears to be constructed sort of like ours, but only if you squint at it till you're cross-eyed), so the SDWTT are still very powerful and it remains to be seen if Khatami will actually end up getting the reforms he wants. But he sure does seem to be trying hard.

Iran is not some big sandy wasteland with a few nosepicking bedouins that got lucky and inadvertently ended up sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world (*cough*Saudi Arabia*cough*). Iran is old. They more or less invented their own brand of monotheism all by themselves (Zoroastrianism) when most of the rest of the world was still using the "in" technology... stone tipped arrows and your basic heavy rock. They built a government that lasted for hundreds of years, coming down to us through history as the Persian empire. But, and this is something that seems to happen to Iran a lot throughout history, they had the bad luck of stumbling across the second most pigheaded group of people that existed in the ancient world (the Greeks), and lost big wars to them not once but twice. The second time around the conquering general of the Greek army got blind drunk one night and decided it was "party on dood" fun for him and his buds to toss lit torches into the main palace, a building whose origins dated back to legend. They burned it to the ground. You can still see the ruins to this day. Incredibly, the Iranians continue to hold a grudge over this, even though Alexander the Great has been dead for over 2500 years.

Modern history has been no kinder. There's a reason the Iranians, especially the older ones, don't like the USA one damned bit. And it's not because we grin at everything in the world and try to get farmers on the way to market to stand still long enough so we can get a picture with them (hawvey! ... oh look hawvey!... that is just SOH proVINchall!) The Iranians were taking their first crack at democracy back in the mid 1950s after the British had finally packed up and left. They picked a president that actually wanted US oil companies to pay a fair price for all the black gold they were making billions on. They just had the bad luck that he had the balls to say so publicly. Unfortunately oil companies to this day donate big bucks to politicians, so just a few phone calls was all it took to take care of that little problem. Yessiree folks, we overthrew the first democratically elected government in Iran, and installed us our very own little tinpot dictator, because tinpot dictators are a helluva lot easier to keep happy. We just had to ignore what was happening behind the curtain.

As always, it came as a complete surprise to the USA when Iran boiled over 26 years later and everyone started chanting "death to America". Khomeni and his friends were a lot of things, but they were not fools. They remembered what happened the last time an uprising started happening in an oil-rich country the US was interested in. So, when a bunch of hothead students overran the embassy of the most powerful nation in the world (and had the good sense not to kill anyone), they saw an opportunity and took it. Waving hostages around like a cape kept the raging bull of our government distracted long enough for them to get their house in order, and they released them only when they were damned sure we wouldn't try anything.

But like I said, Iran still has a long, long way to go. Iran is not the only country in the world that likes Americans but hates the US Government. They may quite rightly point out that our government does bad things for rich white guys that make people so mad they fly airplanes into buildings. However, it must be pointed out in no uncertain terms that Iran has this same problem.

Khatami can't get anything done because their government was set up to give all the power to just a few clerics, aka SDWTT-type folks. The vast majority of people in Iran are just trying to get on with life, raising their kids, making their corner of the world a better place for them, maybe saving enough to buy a timeshare on the Caspian Sea. But because so much power is concentrated in the hands of so few, things can happen behind the scenes that nobody else knows about. The Iranian people were quite sincerely horrified by what happened when the towers fell. But not everyone in their government was.

And Iranians must ask themselves... what happens when just a few people in a government get enough power to start doing things behind their backs?

Does 1953 ring a bell?

Posted by scott at 02:23 PM | Comments (4)
February 05, 2002
Boomers Must Die! Someday!

While I fully expect the boomers' bug-eyed fear of death to sweep all of us to immortality in the next 30 years, they may yet fail (and then of course die), or I could get hit by a bus or keel over before then. I hope I don't, because I want to be one of the people that throws a pile of dirt on the grave of the last of the self-righteous boomers. The ones that take such vocal pride that "their" generation became hippie peacenicks when the vast majority of them were bagging groceries at the Food Lion. Many of these same folks then went and boinked themselves so stupid in the discos of the 70s that entirely new brands of VD had to be invented to slow them down. When that became too tiring or dangerous they then settled down to *become* the establishment in the 80s (remember "yuppies"?), only to bitch about how lazy their own kids were in the 90s. For some reason a metric ton of them have ended up in the media, so they're just that much more prominent. Am I the only one in the world that smiles when Roger Daltry now sings "I hope I die before I get old" and an increasingly gray audience raise their (and now their grandkids') fists? Pretty soon they're all going to be in walkers and wheelchairs swaying to "Purple Haze".

I often wonder just how we got to this point, where stuff is all that matters. Inner-city kids shoot each other over shoes. Suburban kids shoot and blow up whole groups of other kids because they get picked on in school and their parents never paid attention to all the funny smells coming from the basement. My grandparents' generation grew up with infant mortality rates in the teens, a depression that threw a third of their parents out of work, then fought a ragnarok of a war so bloody it bludgeond Europe, which up until that point had made the middle east look positively idyllic, into making peace with itself. For some bizzare reason, the next generation, *their kids*, ended up creating and defining what the world would look like for at least the entire time they were alive, and perhaps forever. While other folks get the blame for the "me" generation, yuppies, and the "greed" of the 90s, each period was ultimately created and defined by boomers for boomers. So, as a generation that I argue can be left with both the credit and the blame for what western culture has become, I ask why do we have to take our stuff to Antinque Road Show to find out how much it is worth? Why do we only think the expensive stuff is interesting? Why do so many people always quote the price of something when they talk about it? Why do so many people rack up huge debts on *credit cards*, which by definition can only be used to buy what are ultimately just life's decorations?

Of course, there are probably dozens (well, probably only one or two) of boomers reading this that say "that's not me, I'm not like that at all". That's right! So who *are* these people that we let define our culture for us? Why did it all turn out this way?

Stay tuned...

Posted by scott at 04:59 PM | Comments (7)
February 04, 2002
Second Week of Class

OK, why oh why can't I relax during class. You are supposed to be loose, not tight like me. Let it all hang out and relax. Tightness is a NO NO.

I STILL can't walk and shimmy at the same time. I'm going to have to practice my shimmies at work when I'm on the phone or somthing. My teacher also does not break down the steps for you in an easy way. She expects you to know it w/in 3 times showing you.

I also don't like her hand circles. They MAKE me want to be tight. You are supposed to hold an imaginary egg between your fingers . and then circle your wrists bakcward as if you are wiping out a jar. * you MUST be fluid in order for it to look right* If not, you look just plain dumb.

*Practice, Practice, Practice*

I DON'T even want to talk about traveling steps....

Posted by Ellen at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)
Its not pink!!! Where's the cats!?

OK, where the hell are my f**ckin cats? I like the color pink. Scott changed it and got mad at when I asked him where my cats went.

I need some cats on it.

Posted by Ellen at 08:03 PM | Comments (3)
WA-HOO! Got it! As you can see, a huge change in the site! Movable type is pretty g-d slick!

There'll be a lot more changes to come. Ellen hasn't got home yet, so she doesn't know what the thing looks like now. She'll almost certainly want cats on it again. Maybe I can talk her into something a little less pink.

Posted by scott at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)
Currently trying to get this Currently trying to get this thing moved over to movabletype so you guys can makes comments and we end up with something a bit more flexible. As with all Linux programs, installing it is turning out to be bugger-all difficult. More as it happens...
Posted by scott at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)
February 03, 2002

I like funky old Eurpean cars, specifically italian cars, Alfa-Romeo. However, as noted below, I tend to obsess about such things and in the process I learned a lot about how other folk make cars. I wrote this as a sort of distillation of what I found.

Each carmaker on the planet has a different philosophy about How a Car Should Be Put Together. Let's take a single case...

Let us say there is a single hypothetical panel in a hypothetical car. It covers something, I imagine it acts as a side panel of a center console. As a baseline, a totally unbiased (and therefore, Martian) engineer examines this cover and determines that it should be held in place with five phillips-head (crosshead) screws.

JAPAN: The japanese would hold it down with exactly five (5) screws. Boring, reliable, soulless, exactly what is needed.

UNITED STATES: For a long time, a US car's panel would be held on with three screws. This has changed, and now not only does it have five screws, all floor workers must have a communal decision as to how many screws it needs, and have the ability to stop the line entirely should a single screw be a funny color.

GREAT BRITIAN: As with the US, previously this car's panel would be held on with three screws. Additionally, these screws would be flat-head style and made of Britishinium Metal, a mysterious alloy that can rust sitting under six inches of oil. Nowadays all the car companies have been sold to the US or Germany, so see those entries.

FRANCE: Only Americans would be so obnoxious as to think how a panel is held on is important. Unions and employee pride are of far more concern. Please come with us to strike for ten more weeks paid vacation and a 25 hour work week.

GERMANY: Every panel on every car is held on with precisely ten aircraft-grade titanium/tungsten alloy nuts, lock washers, and bolts torqued to precisely 15.402 Newton-Meters. Replacements are sold only in sets of 20, and typically cost $350US. A German mechanic will explain to you, in graphic detail, exactly what would happen should you use a "lower quality" nut, washer, or bolt.

RUSSIA: Owing to parts shortages, each panel is welded in place. A cutter costs 8,000,000,000,000,000 rubles (about $12.15 US), and the official wait is approximately 28 months. However, a stranger named "Igor" will sell you a cutter right away for $40 US (cash only). You notice PROPERTY OF SOVIET ARMY scratched out on the side.

ITALY (Goes Fast approach): The Italian is somewhat different. If the panel has something to do with making the car Go Fast, it will be just like Germany's entry, with the addition that every bolt head will have a beautiful logo cast into it.

ITALY (Everything Else): The Italian panel has no screws at all. Rather, it is held in with a very clever arrangement of grommets, snap rings, and C-clips so that it seems to be Part of the Car. However, due to lack of testing, the rubber in the grommets rots in a few years, and since the panel can only be removed with special tool 001.2399943.011034444.2.1.1, the rubber is hardly ever replaced and so tends to rattle. Enthusiasts of this car (all 18 of them) will have endless debates on the value of this panel, some will remove it, some will maintain it religiously, and at least one author will write a book telling you how to make a tool that will work out of a '73 GMC lug wrench.

SWEDEN: The panel in a Swedish car is held on with 25 rustproofed phillips-head screws with lock washers. Curiously, one has to put the car in reverse in order to remove it.

Posted by scott at 08:22 PM | Comments (2)
Hellooooo! OK, going to talk


OK, going to talk about my current favorite subject right now.. BELLY DANCING! WOOOWOO!

I practice, almost daily. One of my biggest problems with this dance is doing a move, and walking at the same time. For some reason, I cannot do it w/out f*ckin up. My mind says to do one thing, but my body does the opposite. I got the basic stationary moves down fine.

Why is it also that I get dizzy when I orbit?? *this is a turn move, usually a quick turn* Even when I look in the direction I move in (like I'm told to do) I STILL get dizzy. My teacher, who is from boston, will shout out "Oh-bit!, Oh-bit!, Oh-bit!" and make it look easy! Everyone in class is dizzy and green from all the orbiting. * you are the earth, now orbit around the sun * - did I mention one foot needs to stay on the ground at all times?

I got 'snake arms' down pat. I can do those. I can shimmy my ass till it jiggles so hard it hurts. "You're supposed to slap those thighs together like a circus seal!!", my teacher says. She makes it look sooo easy! Thank god for video tapes and dvd's. You can actually buy a video to practice with it in between the week of your classes!

Did I mention you wind up using muscles you never thought you had? I think I found at least 5 other leg/hip muscles that have never been used before. I do have good control over abdomen moves. I got a semi-stomach flutter down. One thing that does gross people out (*girls at work*) is that I can push out my lower obliques at an odd angle during certain hip moves. I think this is a good thing! I'm just proud that I have *control*.

My next class is tomorrow night. I think I have improved since then. I'll keep you posted on how it went.

Posted by Ellen at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)
We're moving stuff around today We're moving stuff around today and tomorrow. The site will go off-line as the DNS servers update, but we should be back up very soon. We're moving to a non-lame web host service, and then I'm going to probably upgrade to a different logger program. See you soon!
Posted by scott at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)
February 02, 2002
Scott says I need to

Scott says I need to write something for this site. ARRGGHH!! I must think of a subject.

*ThInK, tHiNk,ThInK*

OK, WHY does Scott hang out with me???

To be totally honest, I have no idea why. Must be my cars. Did I mention I have a 2001 cranberry Pt Cruiser? I also have a 1971 Alfa Rome Spider*its white*. I do belive the actual color code I have for it is "porceline white", like a toilet bowl.

Scott and I "click". I complement him, he compliments me *despite what you all think*. I'm spoiled RoTTeN, and I like it that way. PLUS he is older than I am, and he must BRIBE me with gifts in order to stay with him. *WINK*

I mean, I can be..no wait, I AM mean, cruel, stressful, way too serious, don't fuck with me person. I can't stand stupid people. I CAN be lighthearted, and laugh. It's a rare thing, but it does happen. *rare,rare,rare*

I'm obsessed with cats. He lets me have 5. I spend way too much money on them. Teddy alone costs me a few grand per year. Last time I saw my grandfather, he asked me why I haven't put the cat to sleep since he is so much trouble. I looked at him and said, "Pop, you have had heart surgery, and a stroke. Would you like to be put to sleep? I think you are suffering, and cause trouble". He just looked at me and said he got my point and smiled.

He also indulges all of my other obsessions. He says this is one of the reasons he really loves me. It's when I have an interest, I will totally absorb myself in it(like he will with one of his obsessions). Scott lets me get what I want when I get obsessive..to a point.

My newest obsession is belly dancing. Its kewl, and it's alot harder than you think. I take a class for it monday nights by myself with 30 other people that just need to get out.

Scott and I have been together for 6 years. That can be a long time for some people. Scott and I are like, "damn, has it really been that long?" Sometimes it feels like forever, and sometimes it feels like yesterday.

Must be a comfort thing? I dunno. I do love him, I know that.

Posted by Ellen at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)
My dad used to work

My dad used to work on the Apollo space program. He has any number of stories, all of them funny. Some of them may actually be true. Here's one of them:

The big white building that they roll the shuttle out of is called the V.A.B. (Vehicle Assembly Building). The damned thing has to be at least 500 feet high, because the Saturn V it was built to hold was over 300 feet high, and the crawler and the tower over it added at least 100 feet over that. It is said that the top is so big you could fit Yankee Stadium on the top of it and have a whole acre of clearance around it. It was a time of giants.

Well, that particular giant needed its roof worked on, and the work involved sandblasting. The problem with sandblasting the roof was that the elevators didn't go all the way to the roof. They stopped about three floors from the top. You had to walk up staircases to actually get to the roof. This meant the construction workers involved had to schlepp 50 pound (22 kilo) bags of sand up three flights of steep, un-airconditioned stairs. Not fun.

So, when they were done, it was discovered that they had a few extra bags of sand left. This being government work, they would not be allowed to just leave the damned things up there, so the bags had to get to the ground. But it would be an even bigger pain schlepping them back down than it was getting them schlepped up. This is, apparently, when one of the "smart" ones had an idea.

This is where my dad comes in. The story goes that he was walking up to the V.A.B when he noticed guys on the roof motioning frantically at the ground. Further investigation revealed a white, flatbed, open-sided truck on the ground with a guide looking up at the guys on the roof, directing the driver to move the truck around. Eventually everyone decided that the truck was in the right position, and "thumbs-up" were motioned all around. The guys on the roof disappeared. A few seconds later (at this point in the story you can almost hear them shouting "ONE! TWO! THREE!!!") a small dot arcs over the roof of the V.A.B, decending rapidly. 50 pounds of sand began to demonstrate the newtonian theorem of gravity, with a 500 foot space within which to accelerate. You do the math to figure out how fast the damned thing was going when it reached ground level.

The amazing (!) thing was, they actually didn't miss the truck. They did, however, miss the truck BED, not that it would have made any difference. Apparently the bag hit with an allmighty BANG. It didn't actually smash the truck to bits. Instead it punched a cookie-cutter like hole in the roof, went through the cab, punched another hole in the passenger seat, and another in the floorboard, none with any other sort of cracking or tearing. Like you took scissors to the thing. It proceeded to tear the transmission completely from the mounts and bury it and the sandbag two or three feet into the concrete pavement below.

It is said that the roof workers were quite amazed.

Posted by scott at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)
Ellen is Empress, I'm just Ellen is Empress, I'm just the morlock that keeps the thing running. Lots of experimentation, probably at least three or four major revisions are in the works. We want to add the ability for you to comment (as if you care), and Ellen wants to be able to put even more cat sh*t up (gak), pictures and things. The goal is to keep it updated with whatever we please. If you don't like it, great! We *like* p*ssing people off. Once we get comments working you'll be able to tell us how full of sh*t we are. :)
Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
Hrmmm... where to start. I'm

Hrmmm... where to start.

I'm currently totally obsessed with Belly Dancing. I dunno why, but I am(maybe its my J-lo booty?). I'ts just sexy! I'm currently taking a class on it monday nights. Keeps me busy, what can I say. Perhaps one day I'll quit my professional job (licensed veterinary technician/veterinary dental technician-yes!!! I clean cat/dog teeth for a living!) and become a professional belly dancer.*SHIMMY!!!!* I'm actually good at it. You don't need lots of room, and I haven't fallen down yet!...did i metion yet? PLUS.. you don't have to wear shoes! WOOWOO!! The costumes are pretty damn elaborate and cool too. Take a look at some of the Belly Dance links I set up, they are pretty informative if you are interested. ** its the art of the dance..not the way your body looks...I already have a self-esteem issue on that (working on it..working on it)**

Posted by Ellen at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)
Hello! FINALLY!!! a new fucking Hello!

FINALLY!!! a new fucking web site!!! Its only been what, 2 years?? BOUT TIME!

~(BlOG-bLoG-BlOg-bLoG!..bloggity blog!!!!)~

I have no clue how to operate this thing, hopefully cat photos will be posted soon.

As for a web cam? You pervs can go whack off somewhere else... persiankitty is FREE!

Posted by Ellen at 10:28 AM | Comments (3)