Once again, I am failing to live up to my promise to deliver more talk about tractors and less about politics, since I don’t seem to agree with anyone about politics, anyway…

but damn, folks…

The other day, I was listening to the news on the radio and thinking thoughts about quagmires, national hubris, bad policy, that sort of thing. And then I thought, “I should put a counter on my site that counts down the number of days before the neo-cons start trying to blame this cluster-fuck in Iraq on ‘liberals,’ or the French, or Bill Clinton.” Because saying “Sorry, we were wrong,” just doesn’t come out of the mouths of people like GW very often, especially with approval ratings heading south for the winter like they are.

Looks like I didn’t get the counter up fast enough. It’s already started. What’s worse, being a wanker and a hack, or a predictable wanker and a hack?

OH, how I wish I had put up that counter.

best weekend ever

Just got back from the firing range, where many clay pigeons were turned to dust by guys with nice shotguns. Joy is mine. Now we are going to eat Indian Food. I am having such a nice weekend, and thanks the the Labor Movement in this country, we get an extra day of it. Salud, comrade!

More sounding off about windows in other places-
this is something I had to say over at A Small Victory about the guy that was arrested for propagating the Blaster Worm:

“I understand the criticism that people should be more conscientious about running the once-a-week security updates from Redmond and patches from their anti-virus software vendor, but I think that they are off-base. Here’s why- I don’t run any anti-virus software. None. No firewall either. Seriously. I don’t even update my system because I use such an old computer that new OS updates make my DVD player act all funny.

Read that again:
I don’t do any of that stuff.

And my computer runs fine. It’s a three year old Mac Powerbook running OS X, rev. 10.2.1

Why doesn’t windows work this well? Because no one forces them to.

Should every computer user be a sys admin? Hell, no. Do you recalibrate your own brakes? Change you own oil? How about adjusting the alignment on your front end? Cut our your own appendix? Fix your own watch? Pushing this responsibility off on the end user is a cop-out. Microsoft can do better- they don’t because no one makes them.”

The Wi-Fi tour

W00T! Decided to come up to my old stomping grounds to do some work, make a little money and see some old friends. (and my brother, David Strain)

I have been wearing the wireless card out- I have been on four different wireless networks in two days. My favorite was the one on campus at UGA. Just sit by the fountain on North Campus and log on.

What fun. My friend B.- is up here with me. He thinks that I should get little stickers to put on the lid of the laptop with little W-Fi logo like you used to see on the side of the fighter planes in WW2.

I dread the day when I get to where I don’t get a huge kick out of logging on to a Wi-Fi network. One day I’ll probably start taking it for granted. But until then, I still feel like I am getting it for free.

Interesting new web site

New to me anyway-
Soldiers for the Truth. It’s retired and active duty military guys sounding off.

From their site:
“Inspired by the outspoken idealism of retired Colonel David Hackworth, SFTT aims to give our service people, veterans, and retirees a clear voice with the media, Congress, the public and their services.”

Col. Hackworth, if I racall correctly, was the man who wrote “About Face,” which took Bob McNamara and company to task for trying to bean count the Viet Nam conflict.

Today’s lead-off article is about Pfc Jessica Lynch. Interesting stuff.

This is what I think of when I hear the phrase “support the troops.” I mean to REALLY support the troops- to make sure that they get paid a living wage, that they aren’t thrown into harm’s way for poltical or otherwise spurious reasons, to make sure that they have adequate health care and retirement when they come home.

By now we are all familiar with the aphorism that “War is politics by other means.” The outright cynicism and callousness of that remark irks me daily. I grew up around these guys. My dad is a retired Air Force Colonel and Viet Nam vet. The friend that I trust most in the world is a retired soldier with more bullet holes and broken bones in him than any living man I have ever met. I have always known combat veterans as the men that I call “Sir.” I love these men- I often feel unworthy of their company. “Politics by other means” is such a flip dismissal what these guys have endured.

If I had any respect at all for the sort of people that called me “treasonous” for questioning the advisability of the war in Iraq, it would have really angered me. But one thing I have learned about these men- no one loves peace more than a combat veteran. And the redfaced, war-crazed jingos that wanted this war so badly got it after all. I hope they lie awake at night. I sincerely do.

Sorry, I know… more tractors… I just got carried away there…

Go check out this site and see what their take on things is. It might surprise you.

Gates to Windows Users: “It’s your fault.”

Look, it’s not our fault that you got hosed. Don’t you have a sys admin living in your closet to keep all of your computers up to date?

Why are people still using Windows? (That’s a rhetorical questions- Why are people still using heroin? They don’t know how to stop….)

Email me, Windows users- we’ll find a way to get you off the junk. The first step is admitting that you’re powerless over the OS, and that your computer has become unmanageable.

Justin Who? is reporting that some bald kid beat Johnny Cash for one of the MTV Music awards. That boy needs to put his little mouse ears back on and go back to Orlando…

Well, it kinda figures… It is MTV, after all, and when was the last time that you watched it?

Clark looks like he’s in.

If you have signed up to read the NY Times online, you can go check out this article. (If you haven’t, hey, it’s free, what are you waiting for?)

I realize that I made a promise to some of you to tone down the political rhetoric on the blog. (I think that my exact words were “Less politics, more tractors…”) So I am not going to rant about this, just thought that I would lead you folks there and let you draw your own conclusions.

I will say this: Clark is a lot more moderate on a lot of his positions that I am. On the other hand, waiting for a candidate that I like personally to come along is like waiting for medicine that I like the taste of when I am gravely ill.

Live from the Lab

This is coming to you live from my C++ class lab. Right now we are being lectured on why variables that are assigned floating point values are rounded up (or down) after they have repeated for five decimal places.

My brain is spinning.

This stuff is difficult…

Gotta go pay attention.

Renaming the Blog

I am still thinking seriously of renaming the blog. I was thinking of “Where is Buddha?” (A play on the title of Salaam Pax’s blog “Where is Raed?” and a little levity about last week’s crisis.) Other titles seriously considered: “Hackerish”, “[mylife:~] # rm -r knuckleheads” (that’s probably a way-too-inside joke), “Scattered Showers”, or “Tractor Worship.”

Any thoughts or suggestions are hereby solicited.

How do you say “Unsafe at Any Speed” in machine language?

Ralph Nader didn’t just spring from the forehead of George Bush as a Democratic Spoiler in the 2000 Florida election results. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, he was the author of a book called “Unsafe at Any Speed.” It was an indictment of the insanely top-heavy Chevy Corvair (it rolled over if you looked at it funny) and other unsafe manufacturing and design practices at GM in the 1960s. Of course, the fact that he was insisting on better crash performance and shoulder belts for all cars got him labeled a Bolshevik and “anti-business” at the time. (whatever…)

The gist of the consumer advocacy movement that sprang up around the book was essentially “If you’re going to take billions of dollars a year from us for things that we need, then how about making sure they work (and won’t kill or maim us)?”

Someone needs to write a book about the Windows operating system. For all of XP’s “user friendliness” (like bundled drivers and that sort of thing), it still leaves all the doors unlocked and it’s functionality is still MARGINAL.

But don’t take my word for it. Rob Pegoraro has a nice rundown of the differences between the various OSes. Window’s security issues figure prominently in his description of the OS. My favorite section of the article:

“Even if that changed, Windows would still be an easier target. In its default setup, Windows XP on the Internet amounts to a car parked in a bad part of town, with the doors unlocked, the key in the ignition and a Post-It note on the dashboard saying, ‘Please don’t steal this.’ ”

You’d think that the richest man in the world could find engineers that could write an OS that wasn’t such a risk to the user. There really is no excuse for such slipshod design.