Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Global Warming or Not Global Warming

That is the question. In a sense, the answer is obvious: of course it is warmer now than a couple centuries ago. It's been a long time since the Potomac or the brackish canals in Holland have frozen. To which I reply, "So big fucking deal? What else do you expect coming out of a period called The Little Ice Age?" I sure as hell hope it's getting warmer, because I'd rather not go through another 1800 And Froze To Death phase.

The next question is whether humans are causing the warming. There are more unknowns than knowns on this question, but there are several lines of reasoning that would argue that we have little if any long-term impact on climate. First, the climate of earth has been both much warmer and much colder than it is today. It has also shifted from one to the other, repeatedly, sometimes over very short periods of time. All this happened millions of years before humans walked the face of the earth, so I find it hard to believe we had anything to do with it. Second, the current warming on earth is paralleled on Mars and Jupiter as well. If someone can explain how my SUV is causing Martian warming, I will happily eat a pound of dog shit. Third, natural events easily dwarf human activity. Mount Pinatubo put more carbon dioxide, water vapor, sulfur dioxide, and soot into the atmosphere in a matter of weeks than all human activity over the last 100 years. Bottom line: humans are puny, and our affect on the atmosphere is puny as well.

All that aside, the latest prediction is that a couple degrees C increase in global average temperature is supposed to raise the oceans 21 feet. If the global warmers want to convince me that they have a fucking clue what they are talking about, then please explain why ocean levels were not 20 feet higher 1,000 years ago when the global average temperature was far warmer than even the worst-case global warming scenarios being put forward today? So warm, in fact, that Greenland was growing grapes on land now buried under glaciers.

All this was brought on by yet-another global warming conversation over on Jerry Pournelle's site that starts here, and continues here.

All Quiet

I know I haven't posted much, but I really haven't had a lot to say. This is just a ramble so I'll know what I was doing for an entire week.

For one, I've been busy getting ready for a yard sale. I am hoping to put a serious dent in 20+ years of accumulated shit. My ultimate goal is to fit all my worldly possessions into a couple suitcases. I actually think I can pull that off, for the most part. My concern is the CD collection, my books (including a seriously large to-be-read pile), and movies. I'm not much of a movie buff, so switching what few movies I really want to drag around from VHS to DVD should cut way down on their volume, but I may have to modify my goal to "a couple suitcases and a big plastic bin." Still, it would be a vast improvement over my current biggest-moving-van-you-can-rent full of mostly worthless shit.

I received my notification from Xandros that I was eligible for a discounted version of Xandros 4. From what I have heard, this upgrade is a definite step up. I will likely move my user files off to my external drive, plus make a full backup of everything to DVD, then do a clean install. Many of my recent Xandros complaints are addressed in version 4, so we will see how it goes. I really don't use a PC for much; it shouldn't be hard to make me a happy camper. I've already moved a couple spreadsheets onto Google Spreadsheets. It just works. For what I use a spreadsheet for, it is more than adequate. Writely, if Google ever gets it running, will take care of my word processing needs. If they delay much longer, I will likely upgrade my Backpack account. The only problem with using Backpack for word processing is that there is no spell check and limited formatting. In any case, I can easily see the day when I won't even need Open Office on my home machine.

Except paradise will have to be delayed. It seems our cable is out, so I have no internet connection other than when I'm stealing from my employer.

Those who keep up here know that I've been contemplating just giving in to the Borg and buying a copy of WinXP, but this has encouraged me to tough it out with Xandros for now. Microsoft has definitely gone over to the Dark Side. There have been rumors for several years now that the point of product activation and other scary measures is to give Microsoft the ability to disable your machine and make your data unavailable. That sounded like black-helicopters-spying-on-us-through-our-toasters bullshit paranoia, but every move Microsoft has made since reinforces the paranoia. Two thoughts: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, and what if I just decide not to play? If I'm running Xandros, why would I give two shits what Microsoft (or Apple, for that matter) does or does not do? If it turns out to be just paranoia, then so what? If it doesn't. I at least have a fighting chance to maintain control of my data and my hardware.

Other thoughts. In the interest of getting mobile, I have considered purchasing another laptop. But the more I think about how I use a computer, I'm wondering if it wouldn't make more sense to go with a small-form-factor PC running basic components (meaning a standard Intel motherboard using the on-board video, sound, and networking). It would sure as hell be a lot cheaper. I could build a kick-ass, small-form-factor PC for half the cost of a laptop and have the added bonus of a full-sized keyboard, a real mouse, real speakers, larger screen, etc. If I could load Xandros on my existing laptop, thus freeing it from the Borg from Redmond, that would be icing on the cake. It's old and beat up, but I could probably get another few years out of the ol' girl.

Of course, as I have said before, I have zero cash right now, so I seriously doubt there is an all-new PC in my future. At best, there may be a new monitor in my near future if I do some serious selling this weekend.

And I should probably get back to work. It's getting harder every day to focus on what I am supposed to be doing. September 22 can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fred on Race

The latest from Fred Reed is a bit of a meander, but he raises a lot of good points that get lost in the shouting. Not being from the South, I'll never get Moon Pies, but in the last 40 years or so, I've seen a lot of what Fred describes. Someday, America may have a rational conversation on race. More likely, we will try to solve our problems by killing each other, but one can always hope.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Los Angeles Spy Planes Shot Down

Maybe the cure for the ever-increasing size, scope, expense, and intrusiveness of government is more of this. If the busy-bodies can be kept occupied with interfering with each other, the productive people can go back to, you know, being productive.

Just a thought.

Religion Strikes Again

Tara, the World's Cutest Biologist, points out an article that should make your blood run cold: a "Christian" arguing that a quarter of a million women a year deserve to die from cervical cancer because the HPV vaccine might encourage young women to have sex without God/daddy/clergy approval. Got it.

And people wonder why I ran screaming for the church exit.

They Just Don't Get It

Western women have been coddled so long, they have forgotten the way things used to be (and the way things are going to be again, and, in such enlightened places like Germany, already are).

Homework assignment for any women reading this: look up the origin of the phrase "rule of thumb."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Linux Fun

There is a new version of Xandros. The description makes it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Since I purchased version 3, I get a discount on the new version 4. Of course, nothing is automatic. I have to send a message to the Xandros sales team begging for my meager $20 discount. And wait. For God-only-knows how long. I was ready to make an impulse buy, but now I wonder if I even want to bother.

Meanwhile, last night I tried to remotely access my e-mail from work. It requires that a Java runtime is installed. No big deal, because I had already taken care of that so I could get into my e-mail from home when I was healing up from having my sinus cavity violated. Except for some reason, Java seems to have uninstalled itself. Firefox offers to install it, but when you tell it to go ahead and do that, it just blows up. I tried following some of the links that Firefox offered to manually download and install and even managed to download some sort of fucking script that I couldn't figure out how to run. Double-clicking just opened the script up in an edit window and right-click, open-with gave me a list of every application I have installed. Fuck that. Now I have no Java runtime. Hope I never need to use my work e-mail from home, because, once again, I just don't seem smart enough to use Linux.

Yesterday, I needed to get some information from my resume seeing as I am quitting my current job. All my documents are in the latest Open Office format (open document). Of course the version of Open Office that shipped with Xandros version 3 doesn't know what that is. No big surprise. I first try the Xandros Networks, which is supposed to handle installing and upgrading Xandros-approved applications. It doesn't show any updates available for Open Office. I head over to, but they doesn't seem to have anything for Xandros/Debian, but they had a link to this site that at first glanced looked useful, until I started reading:
Installing for debian is very easy with apt-get/dselect or dpkg.
Now that sentence may make sense to one or two-tenths of one percent of all computer users, but once again the Linux/open source community demonstrates a complete disregard for the vast majority of the user community, which just drives them back to Windows, except for the few that make the jump to Apple.

OK, maybe if I just push on, all will become clear. The next paragraph reads:
1.Installing with apt-get.

If you are using debian-unstable (aka sid), debian-testing (aka etch) or debian-stable (aka sarge) you do not need to change /etc/apt/sources.list. If you are using debian-oldstable (aka Woody or Debian 3.0r4), you have to choose a mirror of our debian-packages-mirrors from here and put it in your /etc/apt/sources.list.

Ok, we will go ahead with the installation of
Type apt-get update ; apt-get install
You can do apt-get install too, this will work! Choose$CC for your CountryCode, that you want. is now already installed in the debian-package, so, the only thing you need to do is just type openoffice into a shell or click on the icons at your WindowManager.
If you have a tar-ball off installed, please delete it before you are starting from the debian-package. Just do these steps for this:

If you have already installed on your system, you have to remove the installation of and the configurations files in your $HOME directory - rm -rf .openoffice .user60.rdb .sversionrc ; rm -rf /path/to/your/
Well, I don't know about you, but even with 22 years in IT working at a pretty low level on PC's and various IBM midrange and mainframe systems, I have no fucking clue what the hell they are blathering on about.

And, once again, a major player in the open source community makes it dumb-fucking easy to install the latest version of Open Office on a Windows or Apple machine while making nearly impossible to do so on a Linux installation. Nice work, guys. Way to defeat the Evil Hoard from Redmond: force people to use Windows in order to run the latest version of your software.

In any case, I cannot open any of my documents because I foolishly "upgraded" all of them to the latest Open Office file format when I installed OOo 2.0.1 on my ugly, bug-ridden, virus-laden, corporate-ass-kissing Windows 2000 machine months ago.


Once again, I'm receiving the message loud and clear: I'm just not smart enough for Linux. If this is the best the open source community can do for something as fucking simple as installing the latest version of a software package, I have better things to do with my time.

I was digging around in a pile of debris the other day and came across an old PC that I had originally been using as a Xandros box. I needed more disk space and I knew there was a 30 gig drive buried in there along with a DVD-ROM drive that I could install along side the DVD-RW I already had in my current machine. An hour or so later, and my Xandros box had a second hard drive and dual DVD drives. Remembering Xandros' spectacular failure to adjust to me replacing a CD-ROM with a DVD-RW, I fired it up with some trepidation. I made it through boot-up, logging on, and got to my desktop. Promising. At least I hadn't broken anything major.

I fired up the administrator version of the file manager, and there they were: a DVD writer, DVD-ROM, and device hdb2 (the second hard drive). Well I'll be damned. I almost started feeling guilty about all the nasty things I said about Linux/Xandros. Almost.

One of the main reasons I installed a second drive was so I had room to copy the files I use most often from my USB drive onto an internal drive in an attempt to be able to access them in less time than it takes me to grill ribs for 50 people. I started the copy of all my digital photos from the USB drive to the internal drive, then got busy doing something else. It was a couple hours before I had a chance to poke my head in to check on the progress. Unsurprisingly, it was done. Cool.

I started the copy of my mp3 files. This was over 16 gig of data, so I started the process and wandered off to do something else (most likely stuff my face and watch Family Guy reruns). A couple hours later, I decided it was time to hit the sack. The copy was still running. Worse, the estimated time to completion was over 4 hours! A total of 6+ hours to copy just over 16 gig? That's one impressive data transfer rate. I know that USB drives, even USB2, are way slower than an internal drive. But I have moved large amounts of data on and off this exact same device under Windows, and I can guarantee that it wasn't at some paltry 2.7 gig per hour rate, or I would have returned the drive as defective. I have no idea if this is some sort of problem with the hardware or with how Xandros addresses USB drives, but this is nuts.

But it gets better. You knew that, right?

I try to use the data from the second internal hard drive. I can only see the drive if I'm using the administrator version of file manager, unless I mount a network share under my user ID. That's right, folks; Xandros forces you to set up a second internal drive as a network share and grant permissions to each person that is allowed to see it. Stupid and not well documented. Just like in Windows, Help isn't. Luckily, I paid the extra money to get a hard copy manual. It's all in there, but you have to bounce around a lot to get all the pieces together. I finally got it all set up, then logged off and back on to make sure it reconnected. Problem one. No matter what I do, I have to put in the system administrator password to mount the drive. This is just stupid, but not fatal. I open up DigiKam and download a couple pictures and try to do some minor edits (rotations and cropping). The download worked. In Digikam's edit mode, I can delete pictures. But I cannot save changes to pictures. Access Denied.


[Aside: Thank you Xandros and the Linux community for making "fuck" a habitual part of my vocabulary.]

More fiddling. More rebooting. No joy.

OK, maybe it's just DigiKam. I already know this isn't the most stable piece of software. I fire up GIMP, load the image, rotate the image, crop the image, modify it from color to black and white. No sweat. Save the changes. Access Denied.

Fuck fuck.

Save to My Documents. That works. Exit GIMP, fire up the administrator version of the file manager, give the administrator password, move my one file from My Documents to where it belongs. Finally. My data is where I wanted it instead of where Xandros thought I ought to be putting it. Isn't it That Mortal Enemy Of All Mankind, Microsoft that is arrogant enough to tell me what I can and can't do with my own data?

While I'm bitching (like that's anything new), there is one behavior that has been in every version of Windows that annoys the hell out of me and every other person I know that has ever laid hands on a PC. Say you have a window displaying thumbnails of a directory of photos. You want to select all of them from a three-up list like this:

1.jpg | 2.jpg | 3.jpg
4.jpg | 5.jpg | 6.jpg
7.jpg | 8.jpg

Now any rational person would assume that a single-click on 1.jpg and a shift-click on 8.jpg would select them all, right? As anyone who has used Windows for more than five minutes knows, the answer is absolutely not. You have just selected the first two columns in a list of files in row order. Just plain stupid, right? So would one of the High Holy And Pure Ones Of The Community Of God, er, Linux please explain why the fuck you would imitate this stupid, irritating behavior?

Jesus H. Christ and All Twelve Butt-Fucking Apostles!

And I'm giving up and going to bed. I grow weary of being made to feel stupid. I'm about one more aggravation away from buying a copy of Windows XP.

Long Damn Day

The only problem with giving notice almost four months in advance is coming into work every day and trying to give a flying fuck about anything. It all seems completely pointless. I just want to work on selling everything I own and getting the hell out of here NOW!!!

Well, I need to get back to work. I need to set up a new user.


Stopped in Mid-Blog

I was just about to write a long, bitchy post about my horrible Monday dealing with massive incompetence, rudeness, and general stupidity. Then I read this. Then I decided I would give it a rest. Sometimes, shit just ain't that important.

Sex Ed Where it Should Be: At Home

Parents need to start getting real. Abstinence "education" is about as effective as underage drinking laws. Maybe less. I worked with teens for years and there is one thing I can pretty much guarantee: parents, you don't have a clue. Little Susie that is dating that nice boy down the street went way past French kissing and through-the-clothes groping a looooong time ago. If you are ready to get real, read this. If you prefer to remain ignorant, then don't. Just don't be too surprised when Susie is one of the half-dozen or so pudgy girls at her high school graduation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Women Revisited

I know a lot of women who need to read this and take it to heart. Here is a big hint to the vast hoards of women who I just know read this site: "I forgot" is a code phrase for "Do your own shit-work and stop ordering me around." If the sex is smoking hot, we may put up with you for a couple months, but don't expect it to last. And you may not want to think too hard about what that makes you.

Money quote:
The truth is, regardless of sex, when people reliably demonstrate a reluctance to be around you, the problem is very rarely with them, it is almost always with you.

Big-Ass Baby Step

I just sent the following e-mail to my PHB:
After 7+ years at Munson Medical Center, I've decided it is time to move on. With everything in the queue, I wanted to give you as much notice as possible. My last day will be Friday, September 22, 2006 (end of pay period 20).

This decision should in no way be taken as dissatisfaction with the people I have had the privilege to work with and for while at Munson. It is simply a reflection of the fact that I have been in the IT field for 22 years, and it has become obvious to me over the last year that it is time to do something completely different. So my wife and I have decided that we will be relocating to Arcosanti ( in Mayer, Arizona to live and work.

There was more administrative blah blah blah, but this is the important part. There is now a firm date and I have a shit-load of stuff to do between now and then. Probably more than I could ever hope to complete, but whatever isn't done will just stay undone, because we will be out of here.

And of course, I'm lying through my teeth when I say I'm not dissatisfied. People don't leave satisfying jobs. But the rest is true enough, so that should balance out my karma for today.

I think I have figured out how all this is going to work, so of course everything that can go wrong will and I will end up living in a cardboard box with my underwear outside my pants. But at least I will be living in a cardboard box somewhere warm instead of in god-forsaken northern Michigan where it is in the 60's on the first day of summer.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Linux Revisited

Recent relocations have forced me back into the Linux camp. I had a PC setting around, but I didn't have a copy of Windows XP to install. I wasn't about to spend the price of a brand new PC to buy one, so I installed a copy of Xandros I had from a previous flirtation I had with Linux. There had been a couple significant updates since I last played with it, so I thought I would give it one more try.

Now understand, I am not your typical computer geek. I view a PC as a tool, not as a political statement or some sort of pet that requires constant petting and grooming. That seems to put me at odds with the majority of the Linux community. Here is how my experience with Xandros has been going:

Installation: This couldn't have gone smoother. Pop in the CD, boot up, tell it to take over the entire hard disk, go eat dinner, then come back. Done.

Hardware changes: The PC originally had just a CD-ROM drive, so I snagged a Plextor DVD burner and swapped it in. I booted up Xandros, and... nothing happened. OK, maybe it already sensed the drive and made whatever changes seamlessly. The boot-up sequence displays a "hardware detection" message, so maybe I was all set. No joy; when I put a blank DVD into the drive, Xandros tries to read it and reports that the CD is in the wrong format. Hmm. I hadn't really done anything at that point, so I just re-installed. The installation detected the DVD burner and all seemed well.

DVD flakiness: Sometimes, when I burn a DVD, it gets to 99% completion, then just hangs there forever. The entire system is hung. The hardware is even hung. The only way to extract the DVD is with a paper clip jammed into the little emergency eject hole, which results in the DVD being spit out still rotating at 5000 RPM (or whatever an 8x DVD burner runs at). I'm sure that is real good for the hardware and the DVD. Xandros is hung to hardware reset.

File manager flakiness: I want to find and beat senseless the moron that thought it was a good idea to program the file manager to collapse the directory tree on one disk just because your mouse rolls over something else in the left pane.

Slowness: The above wouldn't be nearly as annoying if Xandros wasn't so god-damn slow about reading the directory from anything other than internal hard drives. USB drives, CD's, DVD's, whatever. It can take several minutes just to get a list of files in a folder. I have no idea what takes so long, but it is annoying as hell. Worse, playing MP3 files from my USB drive always results in random hiccups, like a USB2 drive is too slow to spit out data fast enough to keep up. Which is absurd given that I used to play MP3's off the same drive connected to a USB1.1 port on a slower Pentium 3 PC. But of course that was under the hideous, ugly, inefficient, bug-ridden, virus-laden Windows operating system, not slick, beautiful, bug-free, delivered-by-God-himself Linux.

MP3 files: I'm sick and tired of being lectured about how I can't possibly want to rip tracks from a CD to that hideous spawn of Satan file format called MP3. Would I rather rip them to God's own standard, otherwise known as OGG? Well, as almost no MP3 player in existence knows what an OGG file is, actually no. I would like MP3 files. I'm told I simply need to get some sort of license and install some sort of software from someone somewhere. Except no one seems to know who, how, or where. Maybe I lack patience and if I just spent four or five hours on Google, and a week being insulted on message boards for the thought-crime of defiling my Linux box with MP3 files, I could learn how to do it. I refer you to the second paragraph of this article.

Software: Linux is an open source operating system, yet most of the open source applications (excluding those that ship on the Xandros disk) only have binaries for Windows machines. I'm expected to download and compile source code. There may have been a time in my life when I had nothing better to do, but that was a long time ago. If the Linux desktop landscape is so fragmented that it isn't possible to have binaries for applications, then I guess the only thing I can say is, "Nice knowing you. Say 'Hi!' to Gem and BeOS when you hit the dustbin."

Digital camera flakiness: I recently purchased a Sony DSC-S600. It works in either USB Mass Storage mode, PTP Mode, or Auto, which detects how it is being access and responds either as a USB mass storage device or a PTP device. I plug it into a Windows XP machine, and the OS immediately pops up a window showing the image and video files. I didn't bother to test it, because I generally don't bother with photo album software, but I'm confident that if I had opened up something like Kodak's PhotoShare, it would have automatically found the camera, accessed it as a PTP device and that would have worked without a hitch as well. I carried the camera over to my Xandros box and plugged it into a USB port and opened File Manager. Nothing. No sign the camera is even plugged in. I hit the Xandros message boards and find someone singing the praises of Digikam. I realize it is already installed and fire it up. I go into the screen to configure the type of camera I have and hit the auto detect button. Camera cannot be auto detected. Hmmm. Back to the message boards. No real help there; just a lot of Linux cheerleading and "I have completely different camera than you, and I mine works perfectly!" Yea, thanks. And up yours. I change the camera setting from Auto to USB Mass Storage mode. Now Digikam auto detects the camera as a generic USB device. I can see the pictures on it and download them. However, I cannot delete them, and I cannot download video files. Well, to be precise, I was able to download exactly one video file, and have never been able to since. Also, if I unplug the camera, then plug it back in at a later time, I have to go into the setup, delete the camera, then re-auto detect it before it will recognize that the camera is plugged in.

OK, maybe this is because I have it set up as a USB mass storage device. Change the camera setup to PTP Mode, open Digikam, delete the existing camera configuration, then auto detect. It detects my camera as some other Sony camera. Progress, of sorts. Except it's just like before: I can see the pictures. I can download them into photo albums. I cannot delete the images off the camera. I cannot download videos. No matter what order I do things in, I have to delete and re-auto detect the camera after every session. None of the problems are insurmountable, but they are annoying as well as being an indication that Xandros and the software distributed with it need a tad more baking.

AJAX: This complaint isn't just about Xandros, but again, many of these problems are an indication that those involved with this project are not, and do not consult with, typical computer users. I'm a big fan of AJAX and what it means for the desktop. I use Flickr, which requires nothing but a web browser. And we have Writely and Google Spreadsheets in the pipeline. Fully functional versions of what has always been assumed would be locally installed desktop software, that involve no installation whatsoever. They don't care if you run Windows, OS-X, or Linux, as long as you have a reasonably modern browser (meaning a recent version of Opera, Firefox, IE, or Safari). When Writely and Google Spreadsheets were announced, I said, "Ya know, if someone comes up with an AJAX version of Power Point and iTunes, that would pretty much cover the software needs of 90% of the PC users in the world, outside of video games."

Then I find a web site that promises an AJAX version of iTunes that (for the mere sum of $40) would allow you to store some unspecified, but limited amount of MP3 files on their servers and thus available to you from anywhere in the world. Cool! It's only after you pony up the $40 dollars that you find out that it really isn't an AJAX application; it's a bunch of Python scripts. By the way, I never found out how much storage space I had.

So far, none of this is Xandros' or the Linux community's fault. What happened next is.

I double-click on the script and Xandros brings it up in an edit window. Huh. Too bad I had no interest in editing a Python script. Well, maybe there isn't a Python interpreter installed. I poke around and finally in desperation just bring up a console window and type "python". I get some blah, blah back that indicates that Python is installed. So I type in "python and a really long fucking string of characters that I hope to God actually points to the script" and hit enter. I get an error that the script requires some library.


The scripts came with a readme file. It has three lines in it. The first tells me that the software is written in Python. The second tells me what version of Python I need installed. The third tells me that the script requires some library. No links. A grand total of 30 words in a readme file is all the documentation you get for $40 these days.

Double Fuck.

I'm starting to think I just threw away $40 on a scam. I send a note to the help desk e-mail hoping for some links or something. I get this:

"Our engineers have suggested that you read the documentation provided on"


So I did that. (correctly) asserts that I already have Python if I am running Linux. OK, thanks, but I know that. What I wanted to know was why I had to type in 200 characters of shit at a command prompt to run a script. No clue. Well, I'll worry about that later. I find a web site that looks like it may be the home of the Python library I need. After wading through the typical open source community manifesto crap, I find out there are no Linux binaries, just source code I'm supposed to download and compile. Unless I'm running Windows. Then they have a binary.

Triple Fuck.

My response to the help desk, involving suggested sex acts their "engineers" could perform on themselves that were physically impossible and illegal in 10 states, was somewhat intemperate, but I think I was a sufficiently-large asshole that they were convinced they would rather give me my $40 back rather than deal with me. [Update: I got a refund; once again it pays to be an asshole. I'm sure if I had been polite, I would still be getting fucked over.]

If we were talking about a Windows application, I would have downloaded a Setup.exe file, run it, and everything would have Just Worked. OS-X would have read my mind, found the software while I was asleep, automatically installed it, and put a sticky note next to my alarm clock to tell me that my wish had been granted. (OK; slight exaggeration. But not by much.) Linux? Just one frustration after aggravation after annoyance adding up to a giant pain in the ass.

Miscellaneous annoyances: File manager crashes for no apparent reason. Folders and/or files that have been moved or deleted continue to show in their original location. No amount of clicking on Refresh will convince it that the file or folder no longer exists. You have to close and re-open the file manager.

Firefox crashes for no apparent reason. The Windows version has never done this to me. If the initial page that displays in place of my specified home page is to be believed, a new version of Firefox is auto-installed about every 12 hours, yet the version number never changes. I have no idea if anything is being installed or not. Maybe the Firefox team is just trying to annoy me.

Limewire crashes for no apparent reason, or turns into a large, brown square that won't go away until you reboot the system. The Windows version has never done either of these things to me.

Mouse controls behave in odd ways. For example, in the Blogger editor, if I click on the icon to make the highlighted text a hyperlink, the icon is copied to the clipboard, then pasted into whatever document in whatever application that I happen to click on next.

Scroll bars don't appear when needed. Sometimes.

Random hangs when only one or two applications are running. The system eventually comes back, but only after several minutes of not responding to any keyboard or mouse input. Unfortunately, all keystrokes and mouse clicks are queued up and executed after the system comes back to life.

Audio is horribly out of synch with video. Worse, if you close a video while it is playing, the audio continues to play. I have found no way to shut this off (including deleting the file and emptying the trash) other than starting another video. Which, of course, you have to allow to play to completion, otherwise, you have phantom audio playing.

Xandros doesn't have any idea what a movie DVD is. My seven-year-old Win2K laptop knows and can play it full-screen with the audio in synch with the video.

All of this and more is why Linux will never get out of the server room and on the desktop except for the biggest technoweenies. Everything is just too damn hard and/or too damn annoying. I'm no fan of Bill Gates, and Apple's we-know-what-is-best-for-you attitude is somewhat off-putting, but at the end of the day, I just want to get some fucking work done. I can do that with Windows. I can do that with style with OS-X. Linux just makes everything too damn difficult. I'll stick with it for now, because a) I'm flat broke; b) I promised myself I would never buy another Windows box; c) Macs are expensive (see a)); d) everyone says waiting for Macs with the new Intel chip due in August is the smart move. We'll see how much more aggravation I can take before I go nuts and head over to the Apple web site with credit card in hand.

Teacher Unions

A self-appointed spokesperson spokesbeing for the teacher unions takes issue with Jerry Pournelle's characterizations of That Beloved Institution.

A bit of advice, cupcake, if I may. If you are at an intellectual level where you think "humyn" makes you look clever or smart, don't cross swords with the likes of Dr. Pournelle. Or the vast majority of his readers, for that matter.

It makes one wish that the stocks would make a comeback.

What Have We Become?

Fred: "Perhaps the decay is the inevitable destination of mass democracies."

Read all of it here. And remember; despair is a sin.

When Really Smart People Speak...

... why don't we listen? Now Stephen Hawking is joining in with Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, and hundreds of other Really Smart People (tm) telling us that humanity needs a frontier. Instead we have NASA launching one crew every five years into LEO. At least the Chinese seem to be listening. As Jerry Pournelle has repeatedly pointed out, there is no Law of the Universe that says English will be spoken at the first moon base.

A Little Clean-Up

I re-arranged the order of the Columns and Blogs link section. I had them organized roughly by topic. Now I have them roughly in order of update frequency. Sites that are updated daily or every other day come first, then weekly, then monthly, then the almost-never's. I also added links to Edge and Why God Won't Heal Amputees.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is God Dead, or Just Imaginary?

If you read through all the material on this site, it will eliminate any belief in God you have. Don't say I didn't warn you. If you want to read the author's primary arguments, go here. For a summary, go here. But I would encourage you to read all of it from start to finish.

A while back, I mentioned that one area that secularists were weak on is coming up with a coherent morality apart from some religious base. This guy does a decent job of it, although he doesn't really develop it out. It's more or less a notion just to demonstrate that it is possible to come up with a workable morality without a supernatural being declaring, "Thou shalt not."

Anyway, just a quick post before bed. I really need some sleep.

Friday, June 09, 2006

So What Comes Next?

This is related to this. Read both of them carefully.

I don't like the implications. I don't have an answer, either. I have no burning desire to live in Haiti where the economy exists for the benefit of 5% of the population and the rest live in poverty wondering where the next meal will come from. Or waiting for the knife in the back from someone looking to take your next meal as their own. America without a middle class is not America.

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday and we both have the same nagging feeling: we are in the end game of a historically unique set of political and economic circumstances. I've suspected as much since high school, but I had always expected a long slow decline. Now it feels more and more like stress building in a tectonic fault. Everything just goes along uneventfully from one day to the next. Maybe a little rumble or some shaking here and there, but nothing serious.

And then, SNAP!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Designer God

Over at the Panda's Thumb, an article took up the issue of God/The Designer leaving a message for us. The question was asked, "If you designed a universe, wouldn't you want to leave a message inside?"

The response:
When I was a kid, I had an ant farm. It was a fascinating little world, but I never felt the need to try to communicate with the ants.

Doesn’t it seem like a being smart and powerful enough to create an entire universe would probably have very precious little to talk to us about. Even today, much less 3000 years ago.

God: “I dabbled with an entirely new method of superstring formation in a distant galaxy today, what did you do?”

Man: “I disemboweled a goat, and splashed its blood on a fire to please you. Then I foretold the future by looking at its intestines.”

God: “What?”

Man: “And then we went to the afternoon crucifixions. Good double matinee today, heathens and masturbators.”

God: “Right. Well, I’ve got to go create some new worlds now…”

Man: “OK, we’ll just be here circumcising ourselves till you get back!”

I wish I could be both that funny and that spot on about religious belief.

Monday, June 05, 2006

More Baby Steps

Friday was a bad day. First, I was late for work. That in itself isn't really a big deal, but the reason for being late was. A month ago, I traded my monster-sized Silverado 3500 in for a more-manageable-sized Durango. As I expected, I was not able to transfer my license plate because Michigan has different number/letter schemes for different classes of vehicles. The dealership filled out the paperwork for the new plate and stuck a temporary tag in the back window. The plate never showed up. I visited the friendly local DMV and was given a lot of blah blah about why it hadn't shown up. Six forms later, I was told I was all set and the new plate should be coming in the mail. Which of course it didn't. So Friday (a month after purchasing the vehicle) I was back at the DMV. The bottom line was that I ended up paying to stand there while the bitch behind the counter repeatedly called me a liar. It was all I could do to not punch the bitch dead in the face. For the rest of the day, every encounter with another human was a confrontation. Those encounters were surprisingly rare, probably due to the huge I-don't-give-a-fuck-so-you-better-get-the-hell-out-of-my-way sign I was wearing, which is likely the only reason I am blogging today instead of giving Bubba a blow job. I managed to get home without killing anyone, although I may have run a couple old people into the ditch. Once home, the vodka helped a great deal.

That was when I decided I need to get the hell out of here. Now. Not someday. Fucking Now!!! I spent Friday sending out requests for letters of reference, etc. I even have a date: My last day working at Munson Medical Center will be Friday, August 25, 2006. I get my last check September 1 and head for the high desert.

The rest of my weekend was relatively uneventful. I did a couple graduation open houses on Saturday, followed by not stepping foot outside the house from 6pm Saturday until I left for work at 7am this morning. For most of that time, my only human contact was a TV screen.

Now that's living.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Just In Case You're Not Already Depressed

Get this:
"having a future time orientation" (academese for having long-term goals) is among the "aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype and label people of color."
Jesus Fucking H. Christ.

Never forget; the people who come up with this shit consider themselves intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

This will shock everyone: "More than half of the experts who prepared the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ... have undisclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry...."

No! Really?

Remember this when your 4-year-old child that you find to be perfectly normal is suddenly diagnosed with a mental disorder and put on psycho-active drugs.

[Note: When the link prompts for a password, just hit cancel. That will display enough of the article to make you good and queasy.]

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More on the Hobbit

This back-and-forth is how science comes up with robust explanations; it is not a sign of weakness. I don't know how to explain this in short enough words for creationists, IDists, and other anti-science types to understand. All conclusions in science are tentative; only theologians deal in absolutes (and they shouldn't, given the shaky foundation underpinning their beliefs).

Marriage Is for White People

Or at least for now it is. Change is happening and it is happening fast. It looks like black women have figured out the same thing over the last 30 years as white men: marriage is optional.

Yet More on the Constitutional Crisis

From a reader of Jerry Pournelle's site:
Subject: Legislative Immunity Explicit in Article I

Dr Pournelle,

Does not Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution make the principle of Legislative Immunity explicit? The last line of Section 2 says; "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment".

Section 3 says; "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law."

Article I makes it clear that it is Congress that has jurisdiction over elected officials, whether it be the President or one of its own members. Note in particular that it says a party convicted under impeachment proceedings is then liable to indictment and trial, but only after convicted in impeachment proceedings and removed from office (the sole allowable punishment).

Does this not make it clear that The Executive and Judicial Branches have no business stepping in until Congress has concluded its impeachment proceedings? Does this not make the principle of Legislative Immunity explicit in our Constitution? Executive immunity as well? After all, the executive branch (FBI) cannot execute a search without a warrant issued by the courts and Article I does state that the Senate shall have the "sole power to try all impeachments", which to me means that no court may issue a warrant for such a search.

I am no Constitutional scholar but this whole thing has prompted me to dust off a copy and re-read it. Am I missing something? Thanks very much.

Matt Kirchner
Kirkuk, Iraq

and Jerry's response:
That was the principle I was taught. But that was a long time ago, and the Constitution is a Living Document, and Mr. Jefferson is obviously a cheap crook and a Felon, so we may dispense with all this needless moomeraw and get on with searching his office and jailing him.

Living Documents change to suit the times, and the times they are a'changing.