SF Squee

Some selected bits from Michael Flynn's forthcoming novel, On the Razor's Edge:
In the beginning, there were three, because in these matters there are always three. One was a harper and one was a Hound and one was nine. 
There was a treasure, because in these matters there is always a treasure. And there was a far quest, and an ancient tyranny; and longing and greed and ambition and treachery. There was courage and cowardice, as one often finds when something very small stands against something very large. One man had let his fears become the master of his acts, and so men died and cities burned.
"... and one was nine."  Sends a chill up my spine.  This isn't just good SF, it's absolutely bloody amazing story telling.  If you haven't read the other books, give them a try - they're a rare treat.

Elections Matter

Because, you know, Choices:
Here's something that you don't hear much of amid the current well-organized ZOMG Thermageddon press blitz: the developing world cannot afford the pie-in-the-sky "renewable" energy sources so loved by Progressives...
Choose, progs. You can have your SWPL environmentalism or you can help a billion people get out of grinding poverty. Pick one.
As a friend pointed out on FB, "You remember the guardian at the chalices in Raiders of the Lost Ark, no?"

Up, Up And Away!

Wired reports that the Classic Max Fleischer Superman Cartoons are available on YouTube.
Something to cure your post-Back Friday sticker shock blues: episodes of the wonderful 1040's Superman cartoons, whose stylish look strongly influenced the late 1990's Superman: The Animated Series, have been put on YouTube by Warners in their remastered DVD-quality glory.
Now, understand - the 1040's version of the Superman cartoons are really quite excellent.  As I understand it, that particular project was headed up by GorTechie, who (on the recommendation of the Mandarin) outsourced the production studio to the 9th century.

Which really makes sense when you realize they were able to take advantage of some pretty impressive local talent located right next door [1] in Machu Picchu.  Throw in a simple time loop, an AI-replicate of Max F., an awesomely stocked break room and weekly team-building human sacrifices [2], and voilà! - you have yourself a seven-season cross-generational and cross-species hit, and a brand new shiny Emmie [3].

So, yeah - if you can get your hands on the 1040's Superman series (only available on Dendritic Mem-Shards, sadly - and believe me, the DRM on those things is pure bloody murder), then you're definitely in for a treat.

In the meantime, you can hit YouTube and watch the 1940's cartoons, which are nearly as awesome.

[1] Temporally speaking.
[2] Well, more pour encourager les autres, but you get the idea.
[3] No relation to the Emmys, the last of which will reportedly be awarded just before the Great Purge of 2023.

China's CV

No, not their résumé - their carrier.

Eighteen months after setting sail, China's aircraft carrier Liaoning has launched and landed jet fighters for the first time.
Video at the link.  More detailed information on the aircraft involved (including photos of the air ops) at the Bayou Renaissance Man.

TAILS Review

A friend introduced me to the world of the TAILS distribution of Linux and secure, anonymous internet usage under the TOR Project.  I took a vacation day today (if one short week is good, two short weeks are better!) and played around with for a few hours.  You could spend a lot of time at the TOR project, and all of it would be well spent...
So what do you get?  TAILS boots into a Debian based Linux that looks remarkably like Windows - it's the Gnome interface to Linux that Ubuntu used to use a few years ago.  There's even a "look like XP camouflage" option for internet cafes and places where you want to blend in like everyone else...
You'll have a browser (Ice Weasel = Fire Fox clone), an email client (CLAWS = Thunderbird), a communicator (Pidgin), and you'll have several "Best of Linux" programs installed - GIMP, Open Office, and a fully functioning system.
All of your actions - web use, emails, anything, is run through anonymizers.
An interesting looking distro. 

Blatant L.A. Times Bias Against Israel

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was tested Friday... One young man was shot and killed, Palestinian officials said. Nineteen other people were reportedly injured. The shootings marked the first episode of violence since the cease-fire went into effect.
It did? Israel was the first to break the cease-fire? Are you sure you want to stick to that story?

Be Honest - You'd Just Fritter It Away On Food And Housing, Anyways

Aaaaaaaand here we go.

Your 401(k) is costing the government billions.


You greedy bastards.

How dare you save for your retirement!

Update: Just in case you thought this was another isolated incident...  nope.

I'd rather deal with locusts; at least they just consume food.

1910s America in Color

We often perceive the past in black and white – after all, the vast majority of photographs from the 1910s through in to the 1930s and 40s are monochrome. Yet a color photography process called the Autochrome Lumière was patented in 1903. It remained the foremost color process until the second half of the 1930s. The pictures you are about to see are mostly dated about 1915-18 with some earlier and a few from the 1920s.

Paging Tyler Vernon...

Via Jerry Pournelle - a working reactionless drive?
A chinese research professor, Yang Juan, professor of propulsion theory and engineering of aeronautics and astronautics at the Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xian, claims in a peer reviewed journal to have built a model that produces 720 mN from 2.5 kw of input power.
If that holds up, it is revolutionary. Professor Yang is at this time unable to answer questions about the device, and it is not available for inspection by Aviation Week or anyone else so far as Aviation Week can determine.

Where The Welcome Committee Numbers Nine Mortal Souls

Walter John Williams want to wish you a hearty Welcome to Mt Doom:
Behold Mount Doom, or as it’s known locally, Mount Ngauruhoe. This, wreathed ominously in cloud, was the (still active) volcano used by Peter Jackson to stand in for Orodruin in The Return of the King.
Unofficial motto: "Come for the lava, stay for the phosphorescent, carnivorous, cannibalistic maggots."


American Digest channels George Carlin:
Think of how stupid the average [progressive] is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

Copyright and Teh Stupid

Lots of traffic recently over a report on copyright law issued by the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives.  The report was released on Friday, and unfortunately, it took less than 24 hours for pressure from entertainment industry lobbyists to result in the report being pulled.

Once something's on the internet, though, getting rid of it is awful difficult... so the report is still out there, and man, it is a wonderful piece of work.  As Mike Masnick at TechDirt comments about the retraction:
But we shouldn't let that distract from the simple fact that the report was brilliant -- perhaps the most insightful and thoughtful piece of scholarship on copyright to come out of a government body in decades. You can still read the whole thing as uploaded to Archive.org. 
David Post wonders if the Republicans are going copyleft:
The Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives has issued an extremely interesting (though rather clumsily written and clumsily titled) Report on “Three Myths About Copyright Law, and Where to Start to Fix it...
I have no grounds for believing that this was an RSC ploy to increase readership of the Report. [Admit it - you're more likely to read a Policy Brief on Copyright Law (yawn) if it was deemed too hot to handle by those who released it ...]
Now, some observations.

Following the announcement, I saw more than a few comments along the lines of "This is a desperate attempt by the GOP to woo back young voters!"

Gentlemen?  Put down the political kool-aid.

I mean, I'm sure that - in the wake of the recent Presidential election - the Republicans leadership are going to do the best they can to win back the younger demographic.  Tell me, though - in what world do you imagine GOP leadership looking at the issue, identifying copyright reform as a critical first step, and then banging out a spot-on policy paper that they're completely unwilling to defend?

I mean, I know that they're teh Stupid Party; but even they're not that stupid.

Do you really think that's more likely than, say, a smaller group of reform-minded Republicans that have already taken the time and effort to produce a solid policy position paper?  A paper that happens to tick off the more hidebound leadership of the GOP?

Yeah, I'll go with door #2, thank you.

Second observation.  This one's for the GOP leadership.

You have got to be kidding me.

Aside form authors, artists, computer programmers and the entertainment industry, almost nobody in the US gives one flying flip about copyright law.  Putting this policy paper out got you a ton of good press, a whole lot of "Whoa, this is cool!" even in largely left-leaning corners of the internet, and... you promptly killed it.

Let me reiterate.

Completely by accident, you did something completely right... and then you killed it.

You know what?  I retract my previous statement.  You are that stupid.

Totally Unsolicited Endorsement

Baen is one of my favorite publishers.

I've always appreciated their catalog - some of my all-time favorite authors are included therein - but, until recently, my interaction with the company has been limited to my general approval of their ability to find and publish good authors.  Said approval being demonstrated by buying an unusual number of their books.

The recently had a Veteran's Day contest, though, which required naught but an email to enter.  Being a veteran (USN, if you're curious), I fired off an email in the faint hope that I might win a couple o' books.

Didn't happen.

What did happen, though, was that I got a this reply from Baen:
Dear Mr. Robb,
Thanks for taking part in our Veteran's Day contest! (Though another vet did win the free books.) I wanted to take the opportunity to personally thank you for your service to our country on behalf of the entire Baen staff. We were very moved by the enthusiasm of the responses.
I am unsurprised to report that Army took the honors, by a comfortable margin (there are a lot of Hammers Slammers fans out there), but the Navy came in second and all the services were well represented. Canada had the most from our foreign contingent, but we also heard from Australia, Sweden, the UK, New Zealand, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Croatia, Finland, Belgium and even Former East Germany.
You should know that we are happy to send "care packages" of books to any service members currently deployed. Just let Laura at [ info at baen dot com ] know a mailing address and preferred format (hardcovers, pbs, CDs for the submariners) and we'll be happy to send them out. This we do year 'round, not just for Veteran's Day. 
Most sincerely,
Toni Weisskopf
Publisher, Baen Books
We'll ignore the obviously rigged vote here (Army?  Really?) in favor of the last paragraph, which - as far as I'm concerned - contains the real prize of the contest.  While I didn't win anything personally, which is a bit of a bummer, Baen has let me know that they'd be delighted play the role of Santa Claus for my friends overseas.  Not just for Christmas, either - they'll do it any time of the year.

Seriously?  I send you some info, you send out some books, and someone far away gets a few hours of happiness in the middle of an otherwise mind-numbingly boring and/or terrifying deployment?

This is made of win.  Pure win, topped with Nutella.

Ms. Weisskopf?  You're awesome.  Laura?  You're awesome, too, m'am.  All you folks at Baen who have anything to do with this?  Again - awesome.

Put all that awesome together, and I submit to you, there's really only one possible conclusion.

Baen rocks.

WSJ Inanity

Violin Memory Inc., a fast-growing storage company, has filed for a public offering in what could turn out to be the next big exit in the flash storage industry.
Posting this for two reasons...

One: Yay Violin! Congratulations! I guess this is semi-official now.

Two: What kind of freaking idiots do they have editing the tech section of the WSJ?

Violin is a enterprise storage company whose product uses flash memory, so naturally, they accompany the article with a picture of... an iPhone.

An iPhone.

Just so you don't get confused, they include the caption, "Many modern smartphones and tablets use flash memory to store data." Thank you so much for that bit of inanity. That's like putting a picture of a tire on an article about Ford, and saying, "Many modern vehicles use tires."

Seriously? Get a clue, people.


John C. Wright receives a Message from Morlockland, and responds in part:

But, without addressing the argument further, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the tone. The first line is an accusation of hypocrisy. Against whom, I am not sure. It does not seem to be addressed to me. The accusation makes no sense even on its own terms: as if anyone not a monomaniac were insincere. To accuse the motives of the foe is the only argument of the Left.
The rest follows in like manner: mere pontification, self-glorification, sneers, scorn, disorganized and illogical thinking.
You see, the Morlocks raised in modern schools are not taught to use reason or rhetoric. They can neither persuade the intellect with prose nor rouse the passions with poetry.
All they can do is vomit scorn.
Such is the voice of the Morlocks, gentle reader. These are the kind of half-formed and foetid thoughts which the cannibals craving to consume our nation, our life work, and our lives tell themselves as they take our goods, our taxes, and our liberties.

Readin', Writin', 'Rithmatic

... or not.  In any case, some bits about our educational institution that have impinged upon my consciousness recently:
  • Students are 100 times more likely to be sexually abused by a teacher than a priest, according to that eeeevil bastion of conservative Tea Baggery, the Department of Education.
  • Professor Grover Furr of Montclaire State University believes that communism in Russia was not responsible for any deaths.  He also has a nice certificate attesting to his ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge as well.
  • Of course, if talking about how Jews faked the Holocaust in order to gin up support for Israel is more your style, you can always mosey on over to Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and hang out with associate professor of English and journalism Kaukab Siddique.   Which is amazing, as pro-Palestine, anti-Israel professors are rarer than hens teeth these days.
  • Finally - though it's easy enough to find anti-Semitic communist sympathizers in the classroom, if you really want a sure thing, you'll need to skip school and head out to the 2012 Midwest Marxism Conference instead.  As with any convention, don't forget your badge, don't let hygiene become an issue, and above all, make sure that you're ideologically pure before attending, comrade!  Or else.


Commenting on the Papa John's boycott at Legal Insurrection, Windbag said:
One of the revealing things about these calls for boycotts against businesses being forced by reality to cut back or refrain from expanding is the notion that the left thinks that it is normal human behavior to financially cripple others as a means to a political end–and despite the financial cost to the punisher.


There's been a lot of discussion about the election, the results, and what it means or doesn't mean.

My personal opinion is that a lot of the analysis - the vast majority of it, in fact - is more or less worthless.  Honestly, since when has anyone in the media ever really been concerned about the prospects of the Republican party?  Their goal for the past four years has been to marginalize and diminish the conservative grass roots represented by the Tea Party, and weaken the GOP as much as possible.  Why in the world would you pay any attention to their suggestions, other than to hear what they're saying and do the exact opposite?

With that in mind, in my reading over the past week, I found myself appreciating articles both practical and the inspirational.

Practially speaking, there's the reminder from Gallup that conservatives are not the minority.  Joel Pollak's article on How Conservatives Can Win In Blue-Sate America.  Borepatch's platform for Republican victory.  John Hinderaker's suggestions on how conservatives can and should deal with social issues.

In terms of inspiration, I find Sarah Hoyt's reminder that we can stand athwart history so long as we don't lie flat wonderful.  Greg Gutfeld's admonition to fight the tyranny of cool is awesome.  Finally, The Dissident Frogman really sums it up for me:
Old Glory doesn’t mean anything, simply because you woke up last Wednesday to a measly 4 millions popular votes difference? A battle of nearly 121 million voters finds you outnumbered by four and hear, hear: the Republic is dead and the war is lost? 
Once again, you don’t need a lecture from this Frenchman, but it seems to me that some of you, in the emotion of that unexpected electoral defeat, forgot this simple fact: America is always outnumbered. 
Yet it doesn’t matter: America’s strength isn’t in numbers, it’s in her soul.
As Chesty Puller said, "We're surrounded. That simplifies things."

Just something to keep in mind.

Update: Perry de Havilland gets to the point...

Ok Tea Party, start your engines in earnest this time. Get nasty, really nasty. And all you Republican apparatchiks? Help the Tea Party drive the Big Government Republicans from office and drum them out the party, because not only are they The Enemy, they keep loosing elections and that can negatively impact your precious careers and that, even if you are almost all amoral scum no better than the Democrats you purport to oppose, should get your undivided attention.

"Go, Speed Racer..."

The Vestas Sailrocket team has had its eye on the world record since their first boat was launched in 2002. Now, over ten years later, the team finds themselves in Walvis Bay, Namibia hoping to achieve just that with the VESTAS Sailrocket 2, sailed by Paul Larsen of Australia.
"Sailrocket 2"?  Really?  Meh.  Re-christen it the Mach V, ya pansies!


Via Matthew Sablan over at Althouse, commenting on social conservatives and the GOP:
... Republicans, as a party, want less government. However, try and step back and instead of using snark, think of it from their point of view. When it comes -- specifically to abortion -- if you believe that the fetus is a person, then they aren't asking for -more- government. They're asking government to do its current job and prevent murder. You can disagree with their opinion or reasoning, but if you understand it, you realize that it isn't a more/less government issue here.

"I want to play a Scythian!"

Formerly in the collection of the Reverend Chauncey Murch (died 1907). Collected between 1883 and 1906 while Murch was a missionary in Egypt. Collection purchased by the Museum from the Murch family with funds provided by Helen Miller Gould, 1910.
I expect that analysis will eventually show that the symbols on half the sides were inked in for some unknown reason.

Delay-Tolerant Networking

Say hello to the interplanetary internet, thanks to Vint Cerf and DTN-BP:
NASA is calling it the interplanetary Internet... what’s truly cool is the technology enabling it — it’s a protocol called Delay-Tolerant Networking, better known as DTN...
In a nutshell — we’ll get down and dirty with the tech lower in the piece — DTN allows a standard method of communication over long distances and through time delays, agency officials said. Its centering tech is similar to the IP protocol (that is the TCP/IP protocol) that is the building block of the Internet we use on Earth. That’s called the Bundle Protocol (BP).
The big difference between BP and IP is that, while IP assumes a more or less smooth pathway for packets going from start to end point, BP allows for disconnections, glitches and other problems you see commonly in deep space, Younes said. Basically, a BP network — the one that will the Interplanetary Internet possible — moves data packets in bursts from node to node, so that it can check when the next node is available or up.

Just A Thought

Given the current world - where obtaining weapons of mass destruction are not impossible for a motivated nation or international movement - the proclivity of urban centers to vote for leaders who espouse a foreign policy based on military weakness is a self-correcting problem.


Grumpy Old Fart, commenting on "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" at Smallest Minority:
I think Obama neglected to point out that beheading someone also "fundamentally transforms" them too.

Quelle Surprise

Take The Hobbit Character Quiz.

Certain friends will be shocked - shocked, I say! - to hear that I'm a dwarf.

Talk About Forgetting History

Even with the somewhat muted (by Apple standards) demand for the iPad mini, Apple still had a fantastic weekend of iPad sales. It seems that even the company’s non-hits are hits. That’s not the case.
What - no Newton?  OpenDoc?  Pippin?  Lisa?  MacTV?  Copland?  G4 Cube?  eWorld?  ClarisWorks?

Seriously, folks.  Do a little research.  Apple deserves kudos for repeatedly being willing to take risks on potential new products.  That they can identify when those products just aren't working out is a strength.

$ man inet_ntoa

Well, OK.  Not a man page, but it should be.

If you have an IP address passed on the command line or something, this is the easiest way to get a struct in_addr to connect() to, or whatever. If you need more power, try some of the DNS functions like gethostbyname() or attempt a coup d'État in your local country.

Veterans Day Deals

For the veterans in your life, The Military Wallet has a list of 2012 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts.  I'm thinking that lunch will be Red Robbin Sunday.

While We Double Food Stamp Participation

China wants to double incomes.
Hu Jintao, China’s soon-to-retire party secretary, delivered the opening address of the weeklong Party Congress on November 8 before some 2,300 delegates in the cavernous Great Hall of the People in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square...
Hu’s 90-minute political report summed up China’s past achievements and highlighted challenges ahead, and hit all the expected notes...
Hu stressed the importance of striking “a balance between the role of the government and that of the market,” an issue of growing importance as the influence of China’s state sector has surged in power in recent years. And he set a new growth target for China. “On the basis of making China’s development much more balanced, coordinated, and sustainable, we should double its 2010 GDP and per capita income for both urban and rural residents [by 2020],” said Hu...
“Combating corruption and promoting political integrity, which is a major political issue of great concern to the people, is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the party. If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state,” warned Hu...
One way to fight against corruption and improve overall governance is to expand “intra-party democracy,” or efforts to make the Communist Party more accountable to the Chinese people and more transparent in its decision-making, another theme that was stressed in the political report.  
Balance?  Between government and the market?  A focus on economic growth and political integrity, accountability and transparency? [1]

Man!  What a racist tea-bagger!

[1] Yes, yes, I know.  Words are... words, and despite the nice sounding ones he's spouting, he's still a Communist, and China doesn't just have a few human rights issues - they've got the entire freaking subscription.  I get that.  The irony was just to much to pass up.

Tiny! Shiny!

We live in a great time to be an electronics tinkerer. What with the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard and other single-board computers, it’s cheaper and easier than ever to get started with hardware hacking. And the options available to prospective makers continue to grow — case in point: the Stellaris LaunchPad from Texas Instruments, an ARM-based single-board kit that sells for only $13.

The Stellaris LM4F120 LaunchPad kit includes the evaluation board and a USB cable; all the software and documentation necessary to program the board is available as a free download from TI.

Going Dark

Tomorrow, the country will be in roughly one of two camps.

Either you will wander through a normal day, blissfully unconcerned with the process of electing a new chief executive; or you will be glued to your phone/tablet/computer, frantically clicking "refresh" while mainlining your major televised news network(s) of choice.

Me?  I want to be in the second group.  Desperately.

Instead, I'm going to be going absolutely cold turkey. [1]

Yes, I will be out working in our local polling place once again.  The votes must flow, and someone has to make it happen.  Still... in an election like this, it's maddening, regardless of whatever flavor of political junkie you happen to be.  

No radio, no TV, no internet access.  From the look of things, there wouldn't be much time for paying attention to the news, anyways.  Regardless of the final outcome, it is going to be a busy day.  Only time will tell whether it turns out to be 2008 busy or 1980 busy.  

So: while you're clicking, reading, commenting, listening, watching, screaming, sobbing, ranting, wishing, hoping, praying, and occasionally correcting the internet... please remember the poor poll workers who labor to make it all happen.

Then bring us donuts.  We loves us some donuts.

They take away the pain.

[1] Except for text messages from friends.  Oh, and updates when my wife comes by to visit.  Then there's reports from folks as they come in to vote.  And... look, it's still going to be rough, OK?  I want to take the day off and drink from a fire hose stream of minute-by-minute details on the political process.  Instead, I'm going to be getting a sippy-cup trickle of news, and it's going to be tepid, backwash-y news, too.  Seriously, if it wasn't for the donuts, I'd crack.


Dozens of National Guardsmen, and Army and Air Force personnel who have been sleeping at Manhattan’s Lexington Armory in between hurricane-relief shifts are being booted — to make room for Victoria’s Secret models in anticipation of Wednesday’s runway show.
The Bloomberg. Apparently, it can't learn.

Update: a friend pointed me at a different spin - How Victoria’s Secret Saved the National Guard During Hurricane Sandy:

On Monday night, Hurricane Sandy hit the armory of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, leaving the soldiers without power, hot water, or anything but the most rudimentary means of communicating with the outside world. So the next morning, the Regiment’s officers made an emergency plea — to the producers of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. 
As they had done for the last three years running, the lingerie company was holding its annual television event at the Regiment’s historic armory, located at 25th street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For the show, the producers had hauled in eight massive 500 kilowatt generators. Of course, the producers said, we’d be happy to help. Hours later, the lights flashed back on. 
“We were dead in the water until Victoria’s Secret showed up,” says Capt. Brendan Gendron, the Regiment’s operations officer.
Amazing.  Not only is Victoria's Secret better looking than Bloomberg, they're also better at disaster recovery planning than FEMA.

What Goes On In My Compiler

CC: Alright, then!  Good job on that last function.  Especially that loop unrolling, AS.

AS: Just doing my job.

CC: Let's move on to the next translation unit.  CPP, did you have any problems preparing it?

CPP: #define NOPE NADA.

CC: Outstanding!  Parser?


CC: What's our first declaration?

PARSER: Appears to be a function, sir - "log_message".  Ooh, how descriptive.  Would it hurt him to spice things up a bit?

CC: Not our concern, P.  What's the signature?

PARSER: Bog simple.  One pointer to a character for an argument, and no return value.

CC: Excellent.  AS, please set up the normal scaffolding - function entry, frame pointer, and so on.

AS: Aye aye!

CC: Parser, make sure you coordinate with Lexer.  He'll need to know what's coming up.

PARSER: Already on it.

LEXER: Hmm, first token is an unsigned 64 bit value.  Let's see where it's initialized and... oh, no.

PARSER: What?  Oh... crap.

LEXER: Crap is right.

CC: Language, language, people.  What's so... oh, crap.

PRINTF:  Oh, hey!  Hewwo evewy one!

PARSER: Uh.  Hello, Printf.

LEXER: *mutters under his breath*

CC: Well, now, isn't this a surprise.  Always... always good to see you, Printf.

PRINTF: What game are we going to pway today?  Is it piwates?

CC: No, it's not piwa... pirates.  It's the same game as always, Printf.

PRINTF: *jumps up and down excitedly* Oh, oh, oh!  I know this game!  Is it pwinting?

CC: Uh.  Yes.  Can you take this format string string and these arguments, and make us some nice, pretty output?  Hmm?

PRINTF: Oh, I would wove to!  Onwy...

PARSER: Only what?

PRINTF: Onwy, it's won't work.  The awgument is all wong.

LEXER: Look here, you moronic half-wit, if you're telling me I got the data wrong...

AS: *soothingly* Looks just fine to me, Lex.  Stellar job.

CC: *ignoring them* What do you mean, "all wrong", Printf?

PRINTF: Well, the format stwing says to pwint an integer.  But the awgument is an unsigned wong integer.

CC: ... and?

PRINTF: And?  AND?!?  They're compwetewy diffewent types!

PARSER: They're both integers!

LEXER: Even AS and I treat them the same!  Right, AS?

AS: Well, yeah.  Pretty much.

LEXER: So, just... you know.  Format is as an unsigned long, and be done with it.  Problem solved.

CC: Can you do that?

PRINTF: Absolutewy not!  It's.. it's not wight!  The format stwing says...

CC: Yes, yes, I know...

PRINTF: ... I said, the format stwing says to pwint an integer!

CC: Well, and unsigned long int is still an integer, right?

PRINTF: *stares at CC in shock* I can't bewieve you just said that to my face.

Just A Reminder

These are the people who want to run our country for another four years.

They are violent...
...  lying ...
... racist, sexist and misogynistic ...
... thugs.

And that's just what I saw in my news feeds over the last few weeks.

From The "Journal Of Irresponsible Ideas"

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey will allow residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote by email or fax. 

Officials announced Saturday that registered voters can vote electronically. A resident must submit a mail-in ballot application by fax or email to the local county clerk. 

When the request is received, a ballot will be emailed or faxed back. Ballots must be returned no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday.
There's about 1000 reasons why this is a horrible, horrible idea - and it has everything to do with basic security issues, and nothing to do with Democrat vs. Republican. It would be a bad idea if we were talking about the election for local dog catcher; for a federal election... oi.

Problem #0: Anyone can request a ballot application.  Voter registration or other voter information is a matter of public record in some states.  Say you log in tomorrow morning, see that you can request a ballot application by email... but someone else has already done so, using your name.  How could that happen?  Well, you see...

Problem #1: email is insecure.  Period.  The SMTP protocol is insecure by design.  There goes your secret ballot - anyone with a packet sniffer can see who you voted for.  Even worse, anyone feeling really nefarious can intercept, modify, and then submit your altered ballot, because...

Problem #2: email is not point-to-point. Your message may go through any number of servers before it reaches it's destination.  Each relay server is a point at which your ballot could be intercepted, modified, or just plain lost, because...

Problem #3: email is unreliable.  Say everything else works perfectly, you email your ballot... and one of the servers along the way hiccups.  Do you know the MTA timeout on your primary mail server?  On each of the servers it will be contacting?  At this point, an overall timeout greater than 2 days means your vote will not be counted, because it will arrive after the stated deadline.  But, hey - I'm sure that 's not really a worry.  After all, it's not like a category 1 hurricane has trashed IT infrastructure on the east coast or anything.

Four problems off the top of my head, and I'm not even an email or security expert.  I'm just some random geek who happens to know a bit about the hardware, software and protocols involved.

It's a bad, bad, bad idea.  Whose time has come, apparently.  

Well, Then. Let's Just Go Look.

The O'Floin comes up with twenty-one possible answers to Fermi's Paradox.

Personally, I like a variation on #10 - they're out there, but they're either using a communication technology we're currently unaware of, or they're using technologies we are aware of (radio) along with techniques (spread spectrum, stenography) that mask their signals unless you know what you're looking for.

The again, maybe we don't want to look too hard...

Where Did That Come From?

BEIJING — At 30, Chen Kuo had what many Chinese dream of: her own apartment and a well-paying job at a multinational corporation. But in mid-October, Ms. Chen boarded a midnight flight for Australia to begin a new life with no sure prospects.  
Like hundreds of thousands of Chinese who leave each year, she was driven by an overriding sense that she could do better outside China. Despite China’s tremendous economic successes in recent years, she was lured by Australia’s healthier environment, robust social services and the freedom to start a family in a country that guarantees religious freedoms.

Awesome!  Except... there's something strange in that summary.  We'll get back to that.

Continuing through the article, there's some explanation of the details:

“It’s very stressful in China — sometimes I was working 128 hours a week for my auditing company,” Ms. Chen said in her Beijing apartment a few hours before leaving.
Interesting.  Ms. Chen continues:
“And it will be easier raising my children as Christians abroad. It is more free in Australia.”
A bit further on, we see:
Few emigrants from China cite politics, but it underlies many of their concerns. They talk about a development-at-all-costs strategy that has ruined the environment, as well as a deteriorating social and moral fabric that makes China feel like a chillier place than when they were growing up.
Based on the article, I'd say it's safe to say that Ms. Chen - and, by implication, many of the professionals leaving China - are looking for an increase in personal liberty with and emphasis on political, economic and religious freedom.

Now go back to the second paragraph of the article, and you'll see that it mentions all of these elements in one way or another... plus something that, to my mind, seems particularly odd:
Despite China’s tremendous economic successes in recent years, she was lured by Australia’s healthier environment, robust social services and the freedom to start a family in a country that guarantees religious freedoms.
I can give the Times a pass on the "healthier environment" comment - that may be a portmanteau phrase meant to encompass physical, business, and social environment all in one handy phrase.

But... "robust social services"?


If you read through the article, there is no other mention of social services.  None at all.  There's discussion of corruption and political instability in China, the difficulties of finding business opportunites when state-run corporations dominate the economic landscape, and even mention of unease with social and moral decay in modern China.

Not a single person said, "Well, what we're really looking for are better social services."  Now, I may be crazy, but I imagine that may be because they're coming from a communist country where every "social service" is a branch of the government.

Makes me wonder how in the world that ended up in the article at all.  I mean, it's almost as if the NYT simply can't imagine an individual who wouldn't just love them some "robust social services".

Nah, that couldn't be it.  Nobody's that dense.

Voting For Your Boss

Military Endorsements For Obama And Romney

By my count, that's 354 to 5.

What ID Requirements?

This is North Carolina Democrat Jim Turner. He’s allegedly committed voter fraud, having voted for Barack Obama four times, and intends to vote again... 
He allegedly said so on his Facebook page. 

Allegedly.  I didn't see the original posting, and of course, the post is missing from his FB page now... instead, you can see that he acknowledges that a post has gone missing, and claims that his comments were "deleted as part of a conspiracy."

Stay classy, Dems.


Spent the evening visiting with my Dad.  As is usual, we sat in the living room with the TV on low.  That lets us chat about what's been going on in our lives, how the kids are doing, and stop to watch any particularly interesting bit of reporting on Fox News (my Dad's news channel of choice).

We talked about my eldest getting her first hunting license, whether or not we'd have Christmas at his house this year, how my brothers were doing... all the usual stuff.  We also shared stories we had read about life in NJ and NY post-Sandy, which of course caused us to veer off into politics (also as usual). My Dad's a lifelong Democrat, but of the conservative variety; so we generally see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and tonight was no exception.

What did surprise me were some of the topics he brought up.  Benghazi, for one - thank Fox News for his being aware of that.  Early voting and voter fraud.  He was also very concerned, not with the reporting on the presidential race, but with the lack of reporting on various Senate races nationwide.  One that got special mention from him was the Brown/Warren race in MA.

Overall, I came away from talking to him feeling optimistic.  I'm pretty sure there are millions of people like him across the country.  They may not be hardcore political junkies, they may not know all the details... but they've got some idea of what's going on, or not going on, right now.

And they're not happy with it.

Four more days.

I Stand Chastised

I thought I had come up with a pretty damning list of Obama's most obvious... oh, let's be kind and call them gaffes, why don't we? [1]

A complete recounting of Obama’s shoulda-been October Surprises would fill a book, an encyclopedia, an entire library. But I think this is a good time to initiate a crowd-sourced list of everything Obama has done since 2008 (and every fact about his earlier life that emerged since 2008) which you thought was scandalous, shocking or outrageous. Just for the record, let’s remind the world that every freakin’ day for the last four years has been an October Surprise.
Scroll down to read "The Complete List of Barack Obama’s Scandals, Misdeeds, Crimes and Blunders" - 79 (yes, that's seventy nine!) entries and counting.

[1] Because it's not nice to mock the mentally incompetent.

Case Closed

If I could have been assured that the GOP would control both houses of Congress, I might have thought Obama would be good. I like balance, moderation, and pragmatism. If one of the hardcore righties had won the Republican nomination, I would probably have gone for Obama. But Mitt Romney got the nomination, which is what I had been hoping for (after Mitch Daniels decided not to run). It was time to pay attention again to Obama The Candidate, and his campaign centered on vilifying Mitt Romney in the most inane Occupy-Wall-Street style that was completely alienating to me. Romney seamlessly transitioned from being my choice in the primaries to being my presumptive choice for President. I remained open to Obama. Obama could have won me.
Then came Benghazi, and a door closed.
Believe it or not, there was a time early on in 2009 [1] when I thought that Obama, while not ideal, might not be so bad.  He made what I thought was a decent call to protect an American civilian, let the commander on the scene make the final decisions, and backed him up.  IMHO, all good things.

That didn't last very long at all.  In particular, the way that he let Pelosi et. al. handle Obamacare convinced me that he was very much lacking in the leadership department.  I mean... he couldn't even lead his own party, and they had a majority in both the House and Senate!  We called the bill "Obamacare", but really, it's "Pelosicare" or "Reedcare".  He phoned it it, did some stump speeches talking about how wonderful the bill was, and later we were told that even Congress didn't know what the heck they were passing.

"I won".  Republicans having to sit in the back seat.  The derision, divisiveness, gaffes, bungling, and sheer incompetence just kept piling up faster than I could keep track of it.  For me, Obama had an open door for a very brief moment at the start of his term.  He made sure he slammed it shut pretty darn quickly, though.

The Truth, It Hurts

Look out, Pittsburgh: Steel Town's getting a superhero whose power set doesn't include a whole lot of responsibility in the five-issue Marvel Comics miniseries 'Alpha.'
"I think the last time we saw Pittsburgh in a Marvel comic, it was destroyed."


Priorities, Mayor Bloomberg?

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

There is real tragedy in New York. People have died in Staten Island. Queens had dozens of homes destroyed. And lower Manhattan remains a mess. Yet the New York Marathon not only will go on but also will pass through some of these distressed places.

"Help! Help! No... not you. Help!"

Alabama crews sent to help in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast were told they can't do any work there since they're not union employees.

Via Barry Campbell, who noted, "I'm sure glad everyone has their priorities in order."

"What We Used To Be"

Saw this bit of... fluff...  making the rounds today:


Know what I remember from the last decade?  You know, before all us low-brow conservative and libertarian types got all uppity and above our station in life, and started challenging our liberal betters?

And that's just off the top of my head.

So, yeah.

What did we used to be?

  • Before the Tea Party?  There was MoveOn.org.
  • Before the Koch brothers?  There was George Soros.
  • Before Rush Limbaugh?  There was the lying main stream media.
  • Before the birthers?  There were the 9/11 Truthers.

When liberals long for "what we used to be", they don't want a return to a more civil, more noble, more caring America.  Oh, they'd like you to think that.  What they really want is a return to a time when they were the only voices the American people every heard.  When they were able to call all the shots because they were the only real players in the game.

They don't like the idea of dealing with those nasty, informed, aware citizens.  They'd much rather return to the halcyon days when they had all those nice, pliable, subjects voters instead.

Here's a clue, folks.  Not going to happen.

As Borepatch likes to say, "The Dinosaurs sniff a change on the breeze, and roar their defiance."

My Karma Ran Over My... Karma?

Approximately 16 of the $100,000+ Fisker Karma extended-range luxury hybrids were parked in Port Newark, New Jersey last night when water from Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge apparently  breached the port and submerged the vehicles. As Jalopnik has exclusively learned, the cars then caught fire and burned to the ground.

Our source tells us they were “first submerged in a storm surge and then caught fire, exploded.” This wouldn’t be the first time the vehicles, which use a small gasoline engine to charge batteries that provide energy to two electric motors, had an issue with sudden combustion.
Erm. That's what you get when you take government loans to build luxury vehicles, and then name  your car "Karma".

"Let Me Sing You The Song Of My People!"


So long as you conform, flesh unit.

Our reader Tim in MT shared this video with us that he had made after catching Michelangelo Signorile on SiriusXM radio yesterday.

The left-wing radio talker, twice in the segment (at about 2:15 & 3:45) advises his gay Romney-supporting caller to drink arsenic or other poison so he can commit suicide. At 2:57, he tells the young man that he should not be allowed to vote.
So, so classy.

"Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant. Purge the unclean."

Star Wars is ruined? Meesa begs to differ
Fans of the original Star Wars movies may fear what Disney has planned, but a new series makes room for another generation of fans... 
Look, this isn't a defence of Star Wars I-III as the better trilogy. I bought a battered box set of the originals on VHS from a pawn shop sometime during high school, and I immediately recognised them as the more accomplished visions - ones that children and adults alike could enjoy. But it's the Phantom Menace which I look back on most fondly. 
... and yet, they wonder why people distrust the media.


The north wall of the great hall was a ruin, the blocks tumbled outward, as if a siege engine had been fired from the inside of the room. The cold wind came howling through it, stirring up snow and sending stinging flecks of ice into the patches of exposed skin around my eyes.  Show piled in banks against the heavy furniture that the wind had tumbled and scattered across the room.

Crouching down in the lee of an overturned table, I found a bit of relief.  A sudden gust swirled the snow on the floor away, uncovering a body both preserved and mummified by the cold.  Sightless frozen eyes stared past me at some unnamed horror.  The  tip of a blackened tongue peeked out from the corpse's open, snow-filled mouth.

There was a soft crunch of old snow behind me as the prefect eased himself down behind the table with me.  Janus was as bundled up as we all were, in heavy cold-weather gear and a balaclava pulled up to leave only his eyes exposed.  His gaze flickered across the room, checking on the rest of the men before focusing in on the body sharing our temporary refuge.

I gestured at the body, and whispered just loud enough so that Janus could hear me over the noise of the wind.  "Died screaming."

He nodded, and leaned past me to carefully brush more of the snow away from the corpse.  A few passes, and he had revealed the corpse's hands, clasped together over its heart.

Clasped so tightly that the jagged ends of broken finger bones jutted from the dead, twisted hands.

Janus closed his eyes, and I heard him sigh out a soft word in a language I wasn't familiar with.  While I couldn't understand he said, I knew exactly what he meant.  A corpse in this place was bad enough, but a corpse in this condition?

I had not found a happy thing.

Now that I knew what I was looking for, I peered around the room.  There, over by where the Twins were making their way down the right hand side of the hall - more bodies in a pile of snow and broken chairs.  To the left, where Valish and Bear had slipped off to flank the broken oak door leading off to an adjoining room, another mound that had to be at least a dozen corpses, piled up against a raised stone platform.

We were silent living men, moving among the screaming dead.

Not the sort of thing that a recruiter for Her Majesty's Imperial Legions would ever bring up, I don't think.  Not that I got to talk to a recruiter, mind you.  If I had, though, I'm pretty sure that they would have left out the bits about traveling through the Outlands to the dead keep of a mad baron.  No, they would have told me that every day in the legion was a day filled with wine, women and song.

By pure coincidence, in my case, they would have been absolutely correct.  It's just that in the 13th Legion, the wine tastes of wormwood, the women are hags, and the song is a funeral dirge.

NaNoWriMo begins today. I'm not participating, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to at least put something creative down on paper. Or... magnetic media. You know what I mean.