Friday, December 24, 2010

A little humor for your day

Some days, tech support feels EXACTLY like this:

(h/t to GBC, but I don't remember who over there)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A deodand by any other name

I learned a new word the other day.

Deodand: a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically, in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's death.

One of the fine fellows over in GBC (edit - it was RobbAllen) used it after I posted a link to this article - Legislation would order destruction of firearms used in fatal crimes.  From the article:
“This is a victims’ rights bill,” said Rep. Wayne. “We owe it to the memory of the deceased and to the surviving victims to ensure that a weapon that has stolen a life be taken off the streets forever.”
I'm sorry, but I'm getting rather tired of this argument.  The weapon didn't "[steal] a life".  Some miscreant with a distinct lack of social graces did that.  They chose to use a firearm.  This continued anthropomorphizing of inanimate objects gets very tiresome, very quickly.
Digiuro said it would be very difficult to think that the weapon that killed his son could be auctioned off and used again. “This bill will help victims families know that the weapons that killed their family member, or wounded their police officer or firefighter, will not be out on the street, possibly to kill again,” he said.

The only way I could find this even remotely palatable is if it called for the destruction of any "weapon" used in any crime.  Instead, it is singling out a particular type of weapon, and only for certain offenses.

Further, this is a lost revenue opportunity for the jurisdiction.  What happened to the old Sheriff's sales when they would clean out the evidence locker of stuff no longer needed?  Instead, they are going to spend even more money to destroy and object, and require even more regulatory overhead in order to comply with the regulations.

Personally, I think this is a bad idea.

Reading Comprehension Fail

So my boss sends out an email saying "Who's up for lunch today at 11:30, my treat?".

My team-mate's response?

"What time?"

I'm guessing 11:30, but I could be wrong on that :)

I need a new Irony Meter

So, let me get this straight.  Your current claim to fame is running a website that releases insider information, often obtained illegally.  And now, when the shoe is on the other foot, you don't like it so much?

According to the Australian:
Bjorn Hurtig, Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain. "It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position," he told a colleague.
"I do not like the idea that Julian may be forced into a trial in the media. And I feel especially concerned that he will be presented with the evidence in his own language for the first time when reading the newspaper. I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing - trying to make Julian look bad."
So, what happened to the desire for transparency?  From an interview I found online:
L: The ideology behind WikiLeaks is to enable transparency, or is there more of a thought behind it than that?
JA: There is. Our goal is justice. Our goal is to have a just civilization. That is sort of a personal motivating goal. And the message is transparency.
(emphasis mine)

The phrase "hoist with his own petard" comes to mind.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beware the White Death!!!

On the positive side, it's warmed up a bit.  It's only 22°F outside right now, and the high is supposed to get up to 30°F.  On the negative side, I've got 4" - 5" of snow in the driveway and it's still coming down.  It's not supposed to let up until midday, and there's the possibility for a bit more this evening.

It's on days like today that I'm thankful I can work from home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Inbox

Info on US/UK relationship revealed via WikiLeaks?

*runs away very, very fast*

Deaf leading the blind?

Not quite
A judge sent Dante Williams, who is visually impaired and can only see thanks to nine eye surgeries, to prison Thursday for stealing $38 from a blind man who operates the deli inside the Hamilton County Courthouse.
I just don't see how he could do something like that.  Only $38?  Seems a rather short-sighted decision now, doesn't it?  I guess he was blinded by his greed.

Ding, dong

the witch is dead


Now that's not something you hear everday

From the Beeb:
I do think this was the classic example where [he] should have been using his ... Bentley - it's far less conspicuous.
 It just boggles the mind that a Bentley would be considered less conspicuous.  But I guess when the other option is the limo, it would be.

Overheard on the bus

On the bus ride this morning, we got to talking about the Series 7 and various other certification exams, and the craziness they make you go through.  No electronics, you can only use their writing implements and paper, you have to return all of your paper and pencils after the exam, etc.  I then started musing about what else they might do:

Me: You know, it wouldn't surprise me if they started making us wear hospital gowns.
R: Yeah, they'll want to make sure you don't have answers tattooed on your body somewhere.
K: Wait, what?  No, no, no.  Think about the open back.  Do you really want to see that?
Me: Good point.  That's why I wear mine backwards.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

I don't know what could possibly go wrong

So Czechoslovakia is using fake police officers, kitted out in miniskirts, to slow down traffic.

Um, yeah.  They have a problem with people speeding, so to fix that problem they're going to do something that will take the driver's attention off the road?

I don't see anything that could possibly go wrong with that scenario.

Where not to live when you retire

Hey JayG, I found another reason for you to hate the Volksrepublik!!
New England had two other states on Brady’s list of worst places for retirees: Massachusetts, which has high taxes including high property taxes and a very high cost of living, and Connecticut, which has the third-highest tax burden of any state as well as high property taxes.
Kentucky might not be on the "best of" lists, but at least it's not on the "worst of" :)


How many times does it have to be said?  You need to pay attention to your surroundings!!

How oblivious do you have to be (or how loud does the music have to be) for you not to hear a train horn being blown at you?!?  This young lady is very fortunate she wasn't more seriously injured.  One can only hope that she learns a valuable lesson here.

It is too easy to get distracted in the modern world.  I must admit that I do walk around with my earbuds in.  However, when I do, my head is almost always on a constant swivel.  I check for traffic, check for other pedestrians, and just try to keep up with my surroundings.  Even with that being said, I have been caught unawares on occasion.  Usually, the better the song, the more distracted I get.  I am reminded of Cooper's Color Code.

What is your mental condition when you're walking around?

Oh wow. Meet the North Point iBand

Yeah, this is pretty cool.

North Point's iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Dear Friends

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.  I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And, without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee, by accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting.  It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Weather or not?

These are the kinds of weather forecasts I just LOVE

I have stuff to do this weekend, that I couldn't get done last weekend because it was snowing.  This is Not Good.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't be a victim

Don't be a victim.  Make a plan, take action, and remember that when seconds count the police are just minutes away.

The only thing I didn't see in the story is where the individual armed themselves for protection.  But you know, I can't completely fault them for that.  Buying a tool you are scared of or don't know how to use doesn't make much sense.  But they took notice of their environment, took proactive measures, and involved the authorities.

Not too much to fault in that story.

Virtualization coming to smartphones

This just seems very, very cool

I have two HUGE questions, though.  For SIM-based phones, where the SIM card identifies the device on the network, how in the world do you handle that?  I can envision some mechanism in the hypervisor that effectively lets one SIM card support two phones, similar to MAC address spoofing in VMs today.  The bigger question for me is radio contention.  If the personal instance is on a call, how in the world does it handle notification of a call on the work instance?   My initial thought there is that the hypervisor itself actually controls the radio, and spoofs both the physical and virtual phone instances into seeing it as a call-waiting event somehow.

Regardless of how they've done it, it's a great idea.  I know my office does not allow personal smartphones to be connected to email and other work resources because of the security issues.  However, if they could install a virtual phone on my personal phone, that the office had complete control over, that would be a different story.  And there is then the benefit of only having to carry one device or handset.  This seems a win-win all the way around, as long as there is an absolute wall between the host and the virtual machine.

So I wonder how much it will cost?

Ky. ponders park deer hunts to raise cash

Naturally, the Humane Society is experiencing an acute case of PSH:
"We think it's a travesty, because state parks are one of the few safe havens left, not just for animals but for people who enjoy watching wildlife," said Laura Simon, the Humane Society's field director for urban wildlife.
Um, so, deer hunting in the state parks is going to be unsafe for wildlife observers?  That's interesting, since they are planning on doing the hunts during times the parks are already closed.  Oh, yeah, and this will be part of the herd management efforts.  The state already uses private hunters on cull hunts.

And, as for the assertion that the park deer are practically tame and will just come right up to the hunter?  GREAT!!!  What's more humane than a can't-miss instant kill shot?  Oh, yeah, and I'm willing to bet that the deer will learn to be suspicious of humans pretty quick.

Objection: Assumes facts not in evidence

Oh really?

Hey, I'm all on board the stewardship of the created world train.  It's Biblical.  But, yeah, I think that word you keep using doesn't mean what you think it does:
A major focus of the book is the deep biblical basis for our engagement with global warming.
Um, yeah, you mean that warming that's been flat to non-existent for the last decade?

Is linking to a page an endorsement of its content?

That's what the Supreme Court in Canada is trying to decide
The Supreme Court in Ottawa on Tuesday reserved decision on whether simply posting a hyperlink could be considered defamatory and actionable.
Judges have long held you can't "point" readers to a defamation without sharing responsibility.
But what exactly is a hyperlink -- a bridge, a directional arrow, a new publication?
This worries me.  If I post something that essentially aggregates what others have said about an individual, am I now liable for their thoughts?  Will a disclaimer suffice to remove any liability on my part?  With Big Brother watching over everything, I fear that this will serve to chill online speech.

Police Officers do not have an expectation of privacy

It should not be a crime to record a police officer in the course of their duties

I'm sorry, but when an officer is on duty, he is an agent of the Government, and no longer a private entity.

I guess they just don't get it

In an editorial, the Dallas Morning News editorial board decries the fact that the Texas Supreme Court decided that dates of birth of public employees should not be released under FOI requests.
It's outrageous that the court saw things differently, guessing that the public interest is "negligible" as balanced, somehow, against a public employee's right to privacy.
Perhaps the DMN doesn't comprehend the idea of PII.  The board mentions that during investigations of state agencies, "[b]irth dates were important to establishing airtight matches in comparing criminal and payroll records."  It's boggling to me that they do not see this as a potential problem.  That merely highlights the fact that birthdates should definitely be controlled and widely disseminated.

The board also decries the double-standard that exists in the state of Texas:
Last is what amounts to an official, court-sanctioned double standard. Qualifying buyers remain free to obtain mass databases of information collected from licensed drivers including – of all things – dates of birth.
Today, courtesy of the Supreme Court, a watchdog can't lay eyes on a state worker's DOB, but an insurance company can buy it. Absurd.
I agree that the double-standard is a problem.  However, the solution is NOT to allow for wider dissemination of private data.  Instead, the legislature should act to RESTRICT the dissemination of that data.

Security is everyone's responsibility, and what "sticks in the craw" is the whinging attitude of the DMN Editorial Board that they are not getting their way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

That's going to leave a mark

Drug bust nabs 5 Dallas-area men, $1 million in cash, guns bound for Mexico

In the comments section, commenter "looker" says:
this is not illegal guns or money. it is just:
undocumented guns and
undocumented money.
Yeah, that's going to leave a mark.

The cost of tax cuts

Well, well, well.  It's interesting what you discover when you actually see the numbers associated with various government spending plans.

I've heard nothing but complaining from most on the left with regards to extending the Bush era tax cuts.  "We can't afford to give tax cuts to the rich!!", they say.  I'll ignore for now that this is NOT giving new cuts to anyone, but simply maintaining the current tax rates.  It's claimed that extending the tax cuts will cost over $400 billion and that the country just can't afford that.  This means that we should only preserve the tax cuts for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Well, according to this article over on CNN:
The package would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone for two years, including two years of relief for the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax. The estimated cost would be $458 billion, according to earlier numbers from the Treasury Department.
The bulk of that cost -- $383 billion -- is for the extension of cuts for families making less than $250,000. The rest -- roughly $75 billion -- is attributable to the extension of cuts that apply to the highest income families.
Only $75 billion is attributable to the rich?  Really?  That's only 16.4% of the cost.  If they wanted to be brutally honest, we could easily afford those tax breaks.  It's the other $458 billion that we can't afford.

So, how does that $75 billion compare to other measures in the compromise?  The extension of unemployment benefits has a projected cost of $56 billion.  That's 3/4s of the cost of the tax cuts for the rich right there.  Further, as best I understand it, Federal income taxes are not paid on unemployment payments.  Get the unemployment rate down and you have an increase in your tax base as well as a decrease in unemployment benefit expenditures.

The Social Security tax holiday has a cost of $120 billion.  The tax holiday is a 2 point reduction in the Social Security tax rate (4.2% instead of 6.2%).  Cut that in half and you've just about paid for these evil tax cuts for the rich.

The class warfare needs to stop.  As is plainly evident, these tax cuts for the rich are a drop in the overflowing fiscal bucket that is federal spending.  $75 billion will do next to nothing to bring the deficit under control, yet it has become the ultimate show-stopper.  If $75 billion a year were that crucial, then why all the pushback against spending cuts already proposed by Republicans?  Oh, wait, that's right.  Those are "too small", "gimmicky" and "not serious".

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turn out the lights, the party's over ...

"Dandy Don" Meredith passes away at 72

I'll be honest, I wasn't a Cowboys fan growing up.  As a military brat who spent a fair amount of time overseas, there just wasn't an attachment to any pro team.  But having adopted the Cowboys while living in the Dallas area, I quickly came to know about Dandy Don.  The first quarterback for the franchise, signed before Dallas actually even had formal approval for an expansion team.  A star at SMU (who spurned Bear Bryant and my Aggies).  He played all of his home games throughout his entire football career within 100 miles of Dallas (high school, college and professional).  Booth-mate with Howard Cosell.  An old relic from a bygone day.

Turn out the lights, the party's over ...

The Joys of the English Language

"She is going to kill me."

"She is going to be the death of me."

Two sentences, both relating to my (hopefully) unfortunate demise, yet with completely different meanings.

The first typically indicates that someone is upset with me, strongly enough so as to pour me a pair of cement overshoes.

The second typically indicates that someone is vexatious, and a problem, and causes enough angst as to be detrimental to my health.

It's good to keep the standard usages in mind, and not use the former when you mean the latter.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Month Six

Six months ago, on June 5th, I quit smoking.  As I said in my original post, it's hard.  It must be the hardest thing I've ever tried to do.  This is not the longest that I've succeeded in quitting.  I made it 7 months on a previous attempt.  But I've learned some of the pitfalls, and I now know some of the signs.

So far, I've been able to avoid some of the temptations that brought me low before.  It's still hard, very, very, very hard.  There are days when a whiff of cigarette smoke makes me cough and almost physically sick.  There are other days when it seems a breath of fresh air, and I'll try and follow the smoke trail until I realize what I'm doing.

But, I have succeeded so far in that I have not bought a nicotine product, and I have not lit, chewed, dipped or otherwise consumed any since I finished my transdermal patches.

I must say I'm a bit disappointed in that things have not been going as well as I'd hoped they would on the gym front.  I haven't ballooned up like the Michelin Man, but I haven't lost the weight that I wanted to either.  I guess maintaining the status quo has to count as something of a win there.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Range Report, or Making Sarah Brady Cry

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my Dad and I had the opportunity to take my 12 year old to the range for the very first time.  She was excited about it, and naturally a bit nervous.

My Dad is a member at a very nice outdoor range.  We were able to set up on the 25-meter range and had it all to ourselves.

We started off with a single-shot lever action .22LR rifle.  You open the breech, insert the round, close the breech, and then manually cock the hammer.  Excellent choice for a starter rifle as it gave plenty of safe opportunities for explaining the process and familiarizing her with the weapon.

Papa showing her how to hold and aim the rifle

I was quite impressed with her marksmanship.  The rifle was zeroed at 100 yards, so naturally her shots were landing high.  After she adjusted her aim point down, she started putting rounds right in the center, even without a scope.

There, that's where I hit it

Why yes, that is a bulls-eye I see!!

After she was comfortable with the lever-action, we stepped up to the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22.  This time she got to use a scope instead of iron sights.  The other interesting thing is that she naturally adopted a "sniper's grip", pulling the butt of the weapon into her shoulder with her offhand, instead of gripping the forestock.  It gave her a very stable position.  By the end of the day, she was getting 10-round groups that could be covered with 2 silver dollars (some with just 1 silver dollar).

At the end of the day, Papa let her try a slightly more powerful rifle.  She only sent one round downrange, but had a huge grin on her face the whole time.

My, what a big rifle you have

Perhaps the best part for me was when Papa suggested she could hang her target on the back of her door, and she looked at me with wide eyes and asked "Can I?!?!?".  How in the world do you say no to that?  Personally, I'd much prefer that she hang her targets on the wall than posters of the latest teen idol or boy band :)