September 2005 Archives

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September 30, 2005
Reputation Rehabilitation

O.J. Simpson — signing autographs for a fee?

I guess Charles Manson was unavailable.

Posted by Russ at 06:33 PM | Comments (1)
September 28, 2005

Travis County, Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle today managed to get an indictment against Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, as well as against two of his associates.

Ronnie Earle has been after DeLay for quite a while, to no practical effect before today. He seems to be obsessed, perhaps out of sheer partisan hackery, perhaps because he's simply a bad prosecutor, perhaps because he's a complete nut.

This is, after all, a man who indicted himself — thereby proving that if no ham sandwiches are readily available, you can get a grand jury to indict a fruitcake.

I suspect DeLay will weather this storm and come through vindicated.

Update: Captain Ed weighs in.

Posted by Russ at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

Dale, the host of Mostly Cajun, has lost his home, all his possessions, and his four beloved cats to a post-Katrina/Rita housefire.

He's OK, but... how do you define "OK?"

Posted by Russ at 12:46 PM
September 27, 2005
You Can't Take The Sky From Me

I've been eagerly looking forward to the premiere of Joss Whedon's Serenity, the follow-on film to the cancelled (because Fox programming executives are nitwits) series Firefly.

I don't often go to the theater to see movies anymore, mainly because most of them are unadulterated crap, but occasionally I do decide well in advance that I ought to enjoy certain films on the silver screen, rather than waiting for the DVD or cable. Master and Commander, e.g., was one such. Having enjoyed Firefly on the air and via DVD, Serenity is definitely in the "must see on the big screen" category.

Even better was the prospect of getting to see it early, as a potential blogger reviewer. Sadly, however, the preview here in the Raleigh area is tonight, at 7:30... and here I am, working the swing shift, chained to my desk. My work schedule was apparently not taken into account when the time and place for the preview were set.


I'll just have to wait, like everyone else. But I will not be denied my dose of Serenity.

At least you can rest assured that the Internet won't come apart at the seams on my watch tonight.

Posted by Russ at 05:17 PM
Die. Just Die.

Is it just me, or have the comment and trackback spammers been particularly active over the past few days?

Hanging's too good for them. But it'll have to do.

Posted by Russ at 10:53 AM
September 23, 2005
Still Got It

How to have fun and surprise the maintenance/janitorial staff at your office: address them — properly — in their native language.

The janitorial staff at my office (and many offices all over the country, I would guess) consists of recent immigrants. Unlike California (for instance) where the immigrants are more likely than not to be of Latin American origin, the people here (and at many other offices in Research Triangle Park, NC) are Asian, usually Korean. The pre-printed bi-lingual "this is trash" and "this is not trash" stickers that are used to identify materials which can or cannot be disposed of are a bit of a giveaway to an old linguist like me.

In the past, I'd rarely ever run into any of the staff – they tend to come after hours when most of the engineers are long gone. But now, I work in a 24x7 facility, on the 2nd shift (nominally 3pm to midnight, but I'm usually here cleaning up network messes until 1am or 2am. Or later... as in, racing to get home before sunrise.) The cleaners come through at about 8.

So last night, while passing their crew-leader fellow in the hallway, I whipped out a little Korean on him. The polite version, not the informal almost-slangy GI version.

Me: "안녕하십니까?" (Roughly, "Hello.")

Him: Stunned disbelief.

Me (to myself): "Heheh."

I think maybe I'll try chatting up the 20-something girl on the crew.

[Maybe I could show her the moderately amazing Google Translator, so she could read fine sites like Outside the Beltway... in Korean.]

Posted by Russ at 12:37 PM | Comments (3)
September 20, 2005
Quote of the Day

In memory of the man who gave us the "laser," Gordon Gould:

"If I were creating a world, I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, day one!"

– Evil personified, in "Time Bandits"

(But could he give us sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads?)

Gould passed away Friday. (via Ace.)

Posted by Russ at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

The newly-initiated PorkBusters blog-campaign to find waste in the federal budget is a good idea, but it won't do a lick of good unless the people who actually appropriate the money can be persuaded or pressured not to do so.

I would therefore propose an appropriations rule (or perhaps even a law) which might have a positive effect for the national budget: prohibit the naming of any federally-funded project after any living person. If that's too extreme, prohibit naming them after any serving legislator. Removing the self-aggrandizement motive for federal spending might rein in some of the more extreme spenders' projects for which we all have to foot the bill.

One could start, for instance, with the projects brought to us by the King of the Swineherds, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).

Byrd is so notorious for his ability to bring home the bacon (as well as sausage, tenderloin, pancetta, Boston Butt, chops, baby back ribs, ham, and crispy rinds) for his home state that he has his very own tribute page at the website of Citizens Against Government Waste.

How many of the West Virginia projects below would not have been paid for with federal tax dollars (read, our money) if there was no incentive for a certain Senator to use them as campaign ads?

  • Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center
  • Robert C. Byrd Highway
  • Robert C. Byrd Federal Correctional Institution
  • Robert C. Byrd High School
  • Robert C. Byrd Freeway (what, having only a highway wasn't good enough?)
  • Robert C. Byrd Center for Hospitality and Tourism
  • Robert C. Byrd Science Center
  • Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center of West Virginia
  • Robert C. Byrd Cancer Research Center
  • Robert C. Byrd Technology Center at Alderson-Broaddus College
  • Robert C. Byrd Hardwood Technologies Center, near Princeton
  • Robert C. Byrd Bridge between Huntington and Chesapeake, Ohio
  • Robert C. Byrd addition to the lodge at Oglebay Park, Wheeling
  • Robert C. Byrd Community Center, Pine Grove
  • Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarships
  • Robert C. Byrd Expressway, U.S. 52 near Weirton
  • Robert C. Byrd Institute in Charleston
  • Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing
  • Robert C. Byrd Visitor Center at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
  • Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse
  • Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center
  • Robert C. Byrd United Technical Center

Really, it could just as easily be any Senator... any one at all... but when a target just walks into the crosshairs, it seems so wrong not to pull the trigger.

[In a strictly metaphorical sense, of course.]

Posted by Russ at 09:06 AM | Comments (5)
September 19, 2005
Yo Ho Ho

My broadband has been out all afternoon and evening. Just got it back. Someone at Time Warner Cable needs to walk the plank.


Yes, it is indeed International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Now, where in North Carolina might a fellow find a dead man's chest and bottle of rum at this time of night?

Posted by Russ at 11:11 PM | Comments (2)
September 17, 2005
Wolf, My Ass

You know how sometimes a space shuttle launch will be scrubbed, the crew severely peeved, the ground crews work overtime to find and fix the problem, and then it turns out to have been nothing more than a faulty indicator?

And then at the next launch it happens again, and the entire find/fix process has to be done all over, even though it's most probably just another faulty indicator?

And then it happens yet again, and they know it's a bad indicator, but there's no way the troubleshooting process can be bypassed, because this time it might not be just a bad indicator?

That's how my day is shaping up to be. A long series of bogus "network down" alerts, but each must be investigated fully.

I am beginning to develop a great deal of sympathy for the angry townsfolk in the story of the boy who cried wolf.

Posted by Russ at 07:04 PM
September 15, 2005
Art and Artists

Ace opines on the proposed Flight 93 Memorial "Crescent of Embrace" as a work of alleged "art."

But can the heroism of a group of strangers -- of Americans -- coming together to save the lives of their fellow human beings dare be expressed in something less symbolic, and perhaps more vigorous, than red trees and lilting windchimes?

And on that-- why is always our assumptions which need to be provoked?

Can we have a monument to the brave dead of Flight 93 which shows them in cool reflection as they decide to make their attack? Huddled together as they collectively decide to give their lives to spare others? And just before they mount the first battle in the war on terrorism?

And yes, engraved at the base of the statue, the rallying cry: "Let's roll."

Ahhhh... but such a tribute would "provoke" and "challenge" the wrong people-- the tastemaking elites who presume to rule us. Their beliefs and assumptions are never to be provoked or challenged, always to be reassured and reinforced by their preferred sorts of meaningless symbolic nothingnesses. It is we who need to be shaped and scolded like schoolchildren; it is they who wield the rulers.

So that I don't forget or lose it, I reproduce here the comment I posted:

A statue could have been good.

A handful of men and women huddled banded together, in the midst of plotting their counterattack; one looking over his shoulder, keeping an eye on the unseen jihadists; another with cellphone in hand; and perhaps another pair actually praying (!) before their desperate attack.

Something simple. Something inspiring. Something that actually memorializes those who fell that day in the first defeat of those who would kill or enslave every single one of us who remain.

Something everyone can look at and say "Thank God it wasn't me up there... but if it had been me, would that I had the courage of those men and women to face the evil that showed itself that day."

That's my idea of a memorial.

It is my idea of a memorial. Something people can look at and know precisely what it stands for.

No one has to wonder about the meaning of the Marine Corps Memorial. The six men raising the flag on Mount Suribachi is an enduring image, with meaning that no abstract geometrical construct could ever by any stretch of the imagination hope to convey.

If a work of Art isn't meant to convey meaning, then in exactly what aesthetical way does it differ from, say, interior decorating?

Posted by Russ at 09:56 AM | Comments (1)
September 14, 2005
Quote of the Day

Jonah Goldberg, on the Senator from Delaware, Joseph Biden:

The man loves his voice so much, you'd expect him to be following it around in a grey Buick, in defiance of restraining order, as it walks home from school.

Mr. Goldberg has additional thoughts on the Senator, in a post entitled "Biden's Brains." Worth reading.

Posted by Russ at 12:36 AM | Comments (2)
September 13, 2005
Direct Action

In the aftermath of Katrina, one man decided to do something to help. He didn't just write a check. He loaded up a deuce-and-a-half truck and drove to Louisiana.

Read his incredible story.

(via Kim du Toit)

Posted by Russ at 01:23 PM
September 11, 2005
Four Years


(Graphic via A Small Victory)

Posted by Russ at 02:02 PM
September 10, 2005
Green Checklist

Space shuttle Columbia . . . check.

Gas prices . . . check.

And now New Orleans flooding . . . check.

What's next?

Posted by Russ at 01:27 PM | Comments (1)
September 09, 2005
More Nets Down


As the days add up since Katrina's passage through the Gulf Coast, more of my customers are able to check on their stores. More of them are discovering nothing but a concrete slab, a pile of rubble, a flooded-out ruin.

And I end up with more disconnects to handle.

I can't help but think of the hundred or more jobs lost at each one of those sites... and so far, I've cleared five this afternoon and evening.

Recovering the economy of the Gulf Coast will likely be a far bigger task than cleaning up the physical wreckage.

Posted by Russ at 06:32 PM
September 07, 2005
No Kidding

You know that motto for Altoids Mints? "Curiously Strong?"

Well, they mean it. I just broke a tooth on one.

Posted by Russ at 09:49 PM | Comments (4)
September 06, 2005
Random Observation #9

If I can't see that you have a dinky little cellphone inserted in your ear while you apparently talk to yourself, don't blame me if I treat you as either senile or deranged.

I mean, c'mon people, wear a sign or a pointy hat or something.

And watch out where you're walking.

Posted by Russ at 07:47 PM | Comments (2)

Apparently, something was pounding my comments script hard enough to wedge the server on which this domain resides. The webhost (LiquidWeb – good outfit, been with 'em for years and years, though they are a bit pricey – but their service is top-notch) did the responsible thing and suspended this domain's account for a few hours.

Now, if it had been me, I'd have killed the out-of-control process and chmoded the offending script to be non-executable, but hey, it's all of a piece. Problem resolved.

I just wish their "this account suspended" boilerplate didn't make me look like either a deadbeat or a warez d00d.

So, I'm back. Did you miss me?

Posted by Russ at 12:15 AM | Comments (2)
September 05, 2005
Tribes and Sheepdogs

Bill Whittle has posted again.. and as usual, it's excellent reading. Tribes.

My Tribe doesn’t see black and white skins. My Tribe only sees black and white hats, and the hat we choose to wear is the most personal decision we can make.

Read the whole thing, of course... just be prepared for a bit of harsh language — Bill has decided in this effort to let slip the Dogs of Swore, but it serves the purpose of the essay.

Posted by Russ at 03:09 PM
Net Down

The company at which I work provides network management services to a variety of companies here in the US and around the world. Our system here periodically checks the routers and switches that we manage. We can tell that a network interface has flapped, we can spot a T1 problem, we can tell that a router has crashed – usually before our customer knows about it. The system alerts us, we let the customer know about it, and then we fix it.

Sometimes, we get a special kind of alert due to a "disconnect." It's not an operational problem, it's just a case of the customer permanently shutting down a piece of equipment, usually to replace it with something bigger and better. We then have to remove said equipment from our monitoring system. Doing so is a fairly specialized piece of database jiggery-pokery, so it's bumped upstairs to my level, where we senior-ish folks handle it.

Usually, it's a good idea to verify that the equipment we're about to stop monitoring is really no longer in service — it'd be a bad idea to stop keeping an eye on hardware that's still in operation. So we look in the customer log file to verify that a Service Request to turn off our connection has been properly filed.

Since Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, it's been a bit difficult to verify some disconnects. In far too many cases, there have been no Service Requests at all; rather, there will be brief notes in the logs:

"Customer evacuated."

"Store flooded; will be permanently closed."

"Site no longer exists."

No longer exists. I've seen too many of those in the last week.

They're just routers, just networks... but every one of them represents jobs, aspirations, and lives ruined or destroyed.

Posted by Russ at 02:48 PM
September 01, 2005
Quote of the Day

On lawlessness and looting:

That many progressives I’ve been reading are so willing to advocate for an anarchic condition wherein stronger, better armed, and more ruthless civilians are able to lord it over the weaker victims of Katrina — all for the sake of maintaining their critique of materialism — is, frankly, astounding.

Jeff Goldstein

Posted by Russ at 01:52 PM