2005-01-27

Virginia Senator George Allen supports torture too...

From: senator_allen@allen.senate.gov Dear James: Thank you for contacting me regarding President Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzales to become the next Attorney General of the United States. I appreciate your concerns and value to opportunity to respond. I applaud President Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzalez. He is the embodiment of the American dream, a man whose hard work, legal sense and intellect have already lifted him to some of the highest positions of trust in our nation. I look forward to his confirmation hearings and a fair vote before the U.S. Senate. I am confident that he will make an outstanding U.S. Attorney General. Once again, I appreciate you contacting me regarding this matter and hope you will not hesitate to contact me again about issues important to you. If you would like to receive an e-mail newsletter about my initiatives to improve America, please sign up on my website (http://allen.senate.gov). It is an honor to serve you in the United States Senate, and I look forward to working with you to make Virginia and America a better place to live, learn, work and raise a family. With warm regards, I remain Sincerely, Senator George Allen

2005-01-26

MOVIE REVIEW: The Big One (1997) (Michael Moore)

Just watched Michael Moore's 1997 movie "The Big One". Very interesting. I too am pissed off about corporate welfare and the fact that our tax monies get turned into free handouts for corporations, all the while many americans do not have any health care at all. The free money we give to corps that don't need it vastly outweighs the free money we give to people in the form of welfare and free medical aid. What the hell is wrong with us? Do we really worship the dollar so much nowadays that we can turn a blind complacent eye to the suffering around us? Does everyone really live in such an isolated media bubble that they think they are immune to the effects of the madness all around us? And I can't stand people who bash Michael Moore for knee-jerk reasons. I challenge anyone to watch the film and to take issue with anything he said at all. The only time he showed any mean-spiritedness is when he sicced the police on his "media escort" as a joke. And it was hilarious! He has always had an element of comedy in his work, and it helps keep things down to earth. Really, I think he could be another Jon Stewart (who I *don't* watch) if he just lost a few pounds. :) Regardless, for a fat ugly dude who failed English in 12th grade, he has made a bigger difference than whoever you are reading this blog right now. He gave $10,000 to the Flint school system in order to get the Nike CEO to match him. That's $10,000 more than *I* have given to charity. People who bash him are hippocrites when they themselves have done little to better the world around them. I haven't done my part either, but I'm not going to go bash someone who is actually positive for a change. Interesting was that he sent 4 politicians (Clinton, Perot, Buchanan, and Bush I think) 4 $100 checks from made-up groups, to see if politicians really will take money from anyone. Buchanan cashed his first, from "Abortionists For Buchanan". Perot cashed his from "Pedophiles For Free Trade" and even sent back a thank you note saying "Thanks" and mentioning that he was thanking pedophiles. Automated, but funny nonetheless. These symbolic acts are viewed as harassment by naysayers, but are incredibly symbolic of the fucked up state things are currently in. People who miss the symbolism are over-simplifying things. I pity them. Anyway -- this is not his best work, and has a very "camcorder" feel to it, very homey, very down to earth. I would still recommend someone not experienced with Moore's work to start out by renting Season 1 of "The Awful Truth" from Netflix. He saves a life in the first episode. Someday, *I* would like to be able to save a life. Most people who are lucky enough to save a life do so only in a life-or-death situation, and only physically (i.e. pull someone out of a burning building, perform CPR). Moore did it for a non-life-and-death situation via media pressure (cancer is not *immediate* like being on fire, so it's much more easy for an HMO to turn the other way and ignore you til you die). Either way, it was fucking brilliant that he could get a corporation to save a life by -- gasp -- actually spending MORE money (no pun intended). That's more than you and I can do. Quit knocking him for being a liberal fatty. Remember, he bashed Clinton a-plenty too. Or do you not remember due to self-imposed doublethink?

In case anyone doesn't think fascism is rapidly creeping up on us... Boy arrested for stick-figure drawing...

Does anyone else read this and view this as anything BUT an abuse of authority? When I was a child I made all kinds of messed up drawings. I'm sure some of you have read my dirty haikus. Were they felonies? I talked about other students being dead. Maybe the police should have draggedme away in handcuffs? Article below. I am fucking outraged: Boys arrested for stick figure drawings [cnn.com] Wednesday, January 26, 2005 Posted: 7:29 AM EST (1229 GMT) OCALA, Florida (AP) -- Two boys were arrested for making pencil-and-crayon stick figure drawings depicting a 10-year-old classmate being stabbed and hung, police said. The children, charged with a felony, were taken from school in handcuffs. The 9- and 10-year-old boys were arrested Monday and charged with making a written threat to kill or harm another person. They were also suspended from school. One drawing showed the two boys standing on either side of the other boy and "holding knives pointed through" his body, according to a police report. The figures were identified by written names or initials. Another drawing showed a stick figure hanging, tears falling from his eyes, with two other stick figures standing below him. Other pieces of scrap paper listed misspelled profanities and the initials of the boy who was allegedly threatened. The boys' parents said they thought the children should be punished by the school and families, not the legal system.

2005-01-25

RECREATION: CAMPING: Mosquito advice.

Helpful camping hint: I hear "Avon Skin-So-Soft" brand soap helps prevent mosquito bites while camping. Some groups of park rangers are using it. While not specifically designed to repel mosquitos, new science is currently coming out that mosquitos are attracted to an order ALL of us emit; only some of us mask it. Apparantly, this soap masks it as well.

PETITION: CHEAPER TEXTBOOKS: http://action.virginia21.org/petition/

See article below and sign the petition at: http://action.virginia21.org/petition/ I myself have personally been effected by high-priced textbooks. Spending $100 on a book that is a "new edition" (via the change of 10 or so pages of content) while never realizing the "old edition" would be good enough to learn the concepts at hand. As a student, I spent many Ramen-noodle meals on overpriced textbooks! Article: Va. public-school students would have more options under legislator's plan BY GARY ROBERTSON TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Del. G. Glenn Oder, R-Newport News, says one of his daughters, a junior political-science major at the College of William and Mary, recently spent $600 on books. And a woman who was taking an evening education course told him she had spent $94 for a textbook. At the end of the class, she had to tear pages out of the book to take a test -- which meant the book couldn't be resold, Oder said. Those are some of the reasons that Oder is sponsoring what is being called the Textbook Market Fairness Act. "This is a step toward halting the rapid rise of textbook prices," Oder said, noting that students will be able to "level the playing field" by being able to buy books without going through the college bookstore. He said a free and fair market for textbooks does not exist. [So true! -Clint] His proposal, now in the House Education Committee, seeks to prohibit publishers from giving inducements to public-college professors or other employees for requiring students to purchase specific textbooks. It also would require colleges to post assigned textbooks on their Web sites as soon as professors decide on them, so students could search elsewhere for books. "I would expect that students could save as much as 20 to 40 percent," Oder said. He said a companion study would seek to investigate the entire system of college textbooks sales. Oder credited Virginia21, a group that seeks to mobilize those in the 18-24 age group on nonpartisan issues, for pressing for reform in textbook sales. Sumeet Bagai, Virginia Tech's student-body president, said, "As any student or parent with a child in college knows, the price of textbooks has gotten out of control." He said more than 3,000 students at public colleges throughout the state have already signed the Petition for Textbook Fairness. Oder said he expects the number of online signatures for the petition in support of his bill to multiply as students become aware of the petition. A ranking spokesman for the Association of American Publishers was at yesterday's news conference announcing the textbook initiative, to offer his industry's perspective. "Publishers do not overcharge for textbooks," said J. Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education for the publishers association. "The significant, upfront investment for a textbook must be spread over a small, niche market," he said. [Typical excrement from a corporate fatcat. -CL.] Contact Gary Robertson at (804) 649-6346 or grobertson@timesdispatch.com.

2005-01-21

Yay! We finally have heat!

After 3 (or 4?) very hard winters, we finally have heat in our house again! (3-ton capacity heat pump in our attic, underutilized until the rest of our addition is built so it can only get the house up to about 67 degrees.) I'm very happy! Went barefoot and everything.

2005-01-18

I cannot yet describe how this makes me feel. Planting seeds is illegal??

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/14/2254236&tid=191&tid=123 Friar_MJK writes "Now even traditionally non-tech-savvy farmers are getting the rap for piracy. This isn't your grandma's p2p filesharing, but rather replanting bio-engineered seeds. Somehow the powers-that-be got the idea that replanting seeds grown from your own soil is a crime. A company called Monsanto sells those specially engineered seeds, and according to their license agreements, they make it illegal to replant the seeds harvested from a previous crop. To enforce this, they have brought many hard-working farmers to court and even thrown some in jail. According to the story, the company has not lost a case yet." This totally reeks. JoeBuck writes: "...There's a problem with this. He was doing what plant breeders have been doing for ten thousand years: noticing which plants have a desirable property and saving the seeds from those. Monsanto is basically arguing for the end of agriculture as it was traditionally carried out, and certainly the end of subsistence agriculture (as their seeds, if they have a property that lets them out-compete other seeds, will spread everywhere). You'll either pay Monsanto or you won't eat." Do people out there really not see how the corporations are attempting to close in on and control most aspects of our lives? Capitalism is our own worst enemy when allowed to grow unchecked. Although I am a Libertarian, this is exactly why government must indeed stay somewhat involved in things. Of course, you could argue that government involvement is what created this: We never should have allowed lifeforms to be patented. I was against this from Biological Patent #1. Hate to say I told you so...

Why Unix Still Sucks In Many Ways

I thought it was funny to run into "The Linux Incompatibility List" (http://www.leenooks.com/). It lists hardware not compatible with Linux. I am sure it is by no means a complete list, but let's check it out and see if I have ever used anything that is not compatible with linux... Soundcards: Guillemot Maxi Studio (i had to get this when it came out because it was the first consumer card I was aware of that had RCA *inputs* for excellent audio capture quality when doing video capture) Webcam: Creative Webcam Go (fortunately, it is a piece of crap anyway, but we still used this one for years... under windows) Webcam: VEO Stingray. (This is our current webcam brand, dunno if the model is the same.) Video cards: ATI Radeon 9550, 9800, 9800 Pro, 9800SE, and 9800XT on x86_64: ATI's Radeon driver doesn't work at all with 64 bit Linux Kernels. OUCH! I consider an ATI card (with s-video tv-out) to be the foundation of a good system. TV-OUT on other brand cards does NOT live up to ATI quality. I have used an ATI AIW, ATI AIW Pro, ATI Radeon, Radeon 8500, Radeon 9700, and Radeon X600. Their drivers for windows suck which explains why their drivers for Linux suck even more. Video cards: ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder: No TV Tuner. (Good thing I used my VCR--and windows--for tv tuning!) So, it looks like I have been using at least 1 piece of incompatible hardware in at least 1 computer since 1995 (when I got my first ATI All-In-Wonder). Not to mention that Redhat 6.2 doens't support Soundblaster for Quake3. Let's face it boys... Linux isn't ready for the common man yet. Computers are supposed to be Swiss Army Knives that can adopt, adapt, and improve with the situation. Linux is anything but. They adopt new hardware slower than unix which means if you want to stay on the cutting edge of capability you have no choice but to use Windows! That being said, I vastly prefer any webserver or email server to be running Unix. (Though, mine run under Win2K.)

One more thing: No WMDs found.

Ain't it interesting that the announcement that we are giving up in the search for WMDs came out just this week? They couldn't possibly come out BEFORE the election, no. We've been searching for what, two-ish years now? And we could have kept on searching for years more. But no, we choose to stop at this exact time: Right after one election, but as far as possible from the Senate election of 2006........ Do you really think that is a coincidence? I think it's naive to think so.

Forced blood tests allowed to stand

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/18/scotus.drinking.tests.ap/index.html It's so nice to know we are not in control of our own bodily fluids. Cop wants your blood? You're gonna bleed, baby. Whether you like it or not. I love how zealous everyone is over prosecuting drunk drivers. If every american had their blood forcibly extracted from them, we'd see some major backlash, but since this is for drunk drivers, everyone will complacently look the other way. The thing is, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty, and you are supposed to need a warrant for searches! And how this doesn't violate the spirit of the 4th Amendment amazes me. My blood can testify against me far better than my mouth! But because my blood doesn't literally put its hand on a bible and swear itself in at court, it's not really considered testimony, so it's not really considered forced self-testimony. Now our blood is "evidence". What will be evidence next, our brains and hearts? Will they forcibly extract our lungs to see if we've been smoking crack? After all, crack-laced lungs would be valid evidence. I'm all for punishing drunk drivers who abuse their position as a driver. Unfortunately though, specific quantitative measures like BAC do not uniformly apply across the board. There are people who drive better drunk than certain people drive sober. I've chosen a drunk driver over a sober driver in situations where I know the drunk driver is still going to perform better. (A drunk-but-sane driver is generally safer than a sober-asshole-driver.) I'm not defending them here, but the idea is that police need to test your blood THAT VERY SECOND, before the measured BAC level goes down. Now, either a crime was comitted or it was not. If no real crime was comitted, they can give them a DUI, but only if it measures over the threshold. This attempt to bypass warrants and get results sooner is an attempt to make everyone's measurements higher (due to eliminating the delay). It is actually a de-facto way of lowering the legal BAC level without actually doing so. Those crazy "activist legislators"... Always willing to take away OUR freedoms if it helps THEIR numbers.

2005-01-16

Firefox still not up to IE standards.

I hate to say it, but Mozille Firefox isn't as good at rendering pages as IE is. And that's the main point for what a web browser is supposed to do. Oh, it's superior in many ways, like security purposes and such. And Gmail seems to run a lot faster in Firefox than in IE. Too bad in only 1 day of using Firefox I have already managed to find another situation where IE works right and Firefox does not. (The first situation was reading slashdot: I have trouble grabbing window edges so I always make my edges 5px thick instead of the standard 1px thick. Firefox incorrectly counted the thick border as the edge of my window, which made CSS position definitions 5px off, which meant that when I read Slashdot.org, the grey sidebar overlapped with the news articles. Yucky.) This situation is a crying shame, because IE is annoying me currently by trying to re-install a critical piece of Office XP that I removed. Yet, I still will be forced to use it because IT WORKS. What a shame. The background is: I have a script called "image-index" which generates a temporary HTML file that contains all the images in the current directory. I've been using this for various image management purposes for a good 6 or 7 years. The script has suited me fine, but now I have to update it to work with Firefox. Or specifically make it use IE instead of the default browser (My default browser is Firefox currently). When a program is supposed to assist me, but instead makes me to work, then it is having the oppositte effect. It's wasting my time instead of saving it. How hard is it to parse this HTML (Firefox=Wrong, IE=Right):
img href="c:\a.jpg"
In my head, I know what is. "Show the image at c:\a.jpg." I can render it in my HEAD! And what does Firefox do? It shows the word "a.jpg". IE shows the image. The quibbletrons will doubtlessly inform me that backslashes are not valid HTML for indexing a file. And yet, that IS the filename, I am using this on a local machine, and IE is smart enough to realize that I MIGHT BE USING FORWARD SLASHES. I am not a heathen for using a backslash in HTML This is a local file on a local machine. No webservers are involved. Addressing is absolute, not relative. Yet Firefox is too lazy to even bother looking to see if that file really exists. Most people will miss the point of this posting entirely. But my point is thus: Computers must serve us, not the other way around, and they must DO WHAT WE MEAN, even when we break the rules a little bit. Strict adherence to all standards merely thwarts things from becoming mainstream by restricting the group that can properly use them to an elitist group of ubergeeks. Things need to work and they need to work as the user intended, even if the user is an asshole like me.
The computer geeks will disagree because they want strict adherence to standards so that things can be uniform. But look at Unix? It's the least uniform OS there is. 32 flavors at some points in time? Even Windows does not have those many flavors, and Windows has much greater interoperability between versions than unix does. (We sure as hell never need to recompile our kernel, or consider what window manager we are using before compiling something.) HTML is another language like English. Sometimes things, like the word "ain't", are not syntactically valid, but they become de facto valid nonetheless. Imagine having a conversation with someone who refused to acknolwedge what you said, simply because you used a word that was not in the dictionary, like "Ain't". That's what my conversation with Mozilla Firefox was like today. Time to edit my image-index script I guess...

2005-01-14

Mandate My Ass

"Fifty percent of Americans believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and 59 percent say the war there is going badly for the United States, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released Monday. Fifty-six percent said they disapproved of President Bush's handling of the war." Yeah... We gave Bush a real clear mandate. (This is sarcasm.)

2005-01-12

Unix vs Windows, round 1000: Why is installing so damn hard?

This came from an anonymous slashdot comment. I didn't write it: I wish there was a way to install programs common accross all versions of linux. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup". Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments: User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?" Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!" User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?" Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!" So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

oh fuck... i'm dead

Clint's Dead: http://www.sciscoop.com/story/2005/1/6/61521/08655

2005-01-07

More Police Bullshit

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/01/07/force.allegation.ap/index.html Leon Nins said officer Michael Lee also beat him after he took too long to stop his car. Police deny that and say Nins attacked Lee. Nins, a World War II veteran who stands about 5-feet-7 and weighs 145 pounds, said to him, "I'd have seen you, I would have stopped....he started beating me on the leg and on the side of the arm. He pushed me down on the floor, and he was slamming the door on my legs." This 85 year old was jailed for 2 days. The cop used pepper spray on him "to subdue Nins, but only after Nins refused to produce identification and began flailing at the officer." WHAT A FUCKING PUSSY. Are we to believe a police offer needs a weapon to subdue an 85 year old [black] man? Is this anything any officer should be proud of? Can he even call himself a man? Speaking as someone who's had an officer point a gun at me when he really shouldn't, who's had officers lie in court against my friends, who's seen officers brutalize an intoxicated 16-year-old minor, this is just one more bullshit event by bullshit police, who have the right to walk all over citizens without any fucking recourse whatsoever. This is just another story to throw on the pile of other stories about police shootings and abuse -- where they always get away with it. Police are expendable. They are trained thugs issued weapons and training. Their duty is to use force, much like a soldier of the Army. We are more than willing to send thousands of soliders to their death, yet when an officer's life is threatened, he can shoot people in the back, pepper spray an 85-year-old, and totally get away with it. It fucking reeks, people, and you should be mad as hell. Violently mad. Recall the police officer investingating a New York marijuana case. He searched a woman's apartment. She was pregnant and asleep. He prodded her in the back with his gun, accidentally firing and killing her. HE FUCKING GOT AWAY WITH IT. Why? She had sandwich baggies in her kitchen. Seriously. Fucking weak.
"The only reason you are alive is because someone else chose to let you." -KMFDM Be scared. Be very scared.

Do Liberals Really Hate State Rights?

I read an article called "The New Blue Federalists".
It implied liberals do not like state rights, and that they should. (Yes, everybody should.) Is this really true?
Are there really liberals against state rights out there?!? My friend Evan Goldstein says:
It started during the depression/new deal when the courts started interpreting the commerce clause so expansively that today it has no meaning (the commerce clause gives the fed govt the right to regulate commerce between the states - it is the clause by which 99% of fed power flows from today - because today, all the govt has to do is claim their policy is related to interstate commerce - no matter how hypothetical, tangential, or epherial the relationship really is. ) Then, the death knell for federalism came when the south asserted states rights as a means to continue to enforce segregation/jim crow. Thanks to the red states, the govt had to become the goliath it is today in order to preserve basic human rights throughout the nation. Fuck the south - they ruined it for everyone.

2005-01-04

Offensive Haikus I Made When I Was 14 In 1988

(These came from a boring, hour-long bus ride to a school I now live near)
These are posted on my webpage (http://www.acm.vt.edu/~clint/haiku.htm). I've actually had random people email me to tell me that I am evil and the reason for the destruction of the moral fiber of the country. These people apparantly have less so-called "moral fiber" than myself, since I support free speech and they obviously don't. Plus, people without sense of humor should be killed painfully. (And probably didn't realize that last sentence was a joke either .)
These are the product of teenage angst, pent-up agression, and other ninth-grader difficulties, and do not necessarily reflect my current mindset. I wrote these in 1988 when I was 14. Keep that in mind.
Without any further hesitation, here are the "masterpieces":
I saw a sad dog On the roadside sleeping sound. I kicked the fucker.
Suicidal boy Stabbing himself with a knife. You burn forever.
See all the dead bops Their naked [or dead] bodies glist'ning Necrophilia.
I hope you enjoyed these. I made about 20 during that busride, but I forgot most of them.
Maybe some day I'll find them and post them here. :)
Thanks to Brent Ingrebretsen for helping me remember the "bop" one.
(Since 1/24/1997, 2572 read the webpage version of this.)

Marriage? A worst-case scenario?

http://www.dontmarry.com I agree with much of what this says, although the author's tone could use improvement. I think this page is a worst-case scenario that almost everyone should read at least once. Again: I agree with much of what this page says, but absolutely do not think it is a reflection of my relationship with Carolyn in any way whatsoever. And I'm not just saying that because she's on this blog.