Trust A Skinny Chef?

Well, yeah... if you're interested in A Chef’s Guide to Losing Weight, that is.
The following guidelines are a mere foundation for simple, healthy living. Of course, I’ve supplied some of my favorite recipes to help you reach your goals. For those of you looking to renew that New Year’s resolution – here’s your chance. Become your best!
"No, Low, Go".  I think I could follow that... and walk more.

I mean, once the temperature gets above freezing, and the wind just dies down to pre-hurricane levels...


To Stay Resilient Long Term: Walk
Walking is one of the keys to personal resilience. I strongly believe that walking is by far the best exercise you can do. Not only are the benefits amazing for your mind and body, it’s one of the few exercises you can do for your entire life.

How to Avoid Huge Ships

Yes, there is a book on How to Avoid Huge Ships.

If it were a treatise written by a gonnagle of the Nac Mac Feegle, you could quite logically assume that it was an explanation of how it is generally easier to make off with a lamb than an ewe.  However, this particular instructional manual was apparently written by a captain of a larger vessel who, after years of experience at sea, determined that the education of most small ship mariners was somewhat... deficient... in this particular area.

It looks like it has pretty pictures and everything!

This is not a pointer to the book, though, noble as it might be.

This is a pointer to the comments about the book.

Go now.  Go to Amazon.  Read the comments.

You may want to put down your coffee first.

What Was That, Officer?

"When everyone's a criminal, we're all safe from Bad Guys!"

So sayeth Tom the Dancing Bug.

Remember. though.  When progressives complain about crony capitalism, rent seeking, and other unholy unions of government and corporations, they think that the problem is that the government just doesn't have enough power to keep those dang companies in check.

At a company I used to work for, their unofficial development motto was, "If brute force isn't working, then you're not using enough."  It occurs to me that this is a pretty good summary of the progressive philosophy as well.


It's Acronym Day!

Well, OK.  The last isn't anything new, nor is it even meaningful in a day and age where you would have to search long and hard to find a system with as little as eight megabytes of memory.

As a vim user, though, it still tickles my fancy :-)

Speaking of amusing: apparently someone at Organizing For Action, the new progressive "grassroots" organization du jour, dropped the ball.  Badly.  The LA Times reports that all three major variations of their obvious domain names - organizingforaction dot com, dot org, and dot net - are now registered to conservatives.  In the case of, the site is already set up to redirect visitors t to the NRA web site.

I'm wondering if any other interesting acronyms might turn up today... perhaps someone could help me come up with one for these overbearing, fumbling amateurs.

Oh, hey!  Lookie there.  That was actually pretty easy.

Things Everyone Should Do

The biggest thing that makes Google's code so good is simple: code review. That's not specific to Google - it's widely recognized as a good idea, and a lot of people do it. But I've never seen another large company where it was such a universal. At Google, no code, for any product, for any project, gets checked in until it gets a positive review.

Everyone should do this. And I don't just mean informally: this should really be a universal rule of serious software development. Not just product code - everything. It's not that much work, and it makes a huge difference.

Well, I mean, developers, obviously.  Unless you're really into code reviews, for some reason.  Hey, man - I don't judge.  Whatever floats your boat.

As a friend commented, "I didn't realize code review is still a topic of of 'should' instead of 'how'."

A combination of git, trac, and reviewboard helps make the whole process surprisingly painless.

The Darth Side

Did you know that Darth Vader kept a diary?  Yes, just like a teenage girl.

Calgon, Take Me Away
Darth Vader and the stinking, rotten, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Do you ever have one of those days where you find yourself asking, "Hey, I know I'm bad, but what did I do to deserve this?"
Have I mentioned before that I am surrounded by idiots?
An oft amusing, sometimes disturbing time sink.

Culture Is, Of Course, Immutable

Stephen King has apparently published a short ebook, "Guns", where he says that "... to claim that America’s 'culture of violence' is responsible for school shootings is tantamount to cigarette company executives declaring that environmental pollution is the chief cause of cancer."

Because we know that media never influences culture, right?

That's why you see cigarette advertisements on TV and hear them all over the radio, and prime time TV depicts characters smoking all the time.  It would be foolish to think that media depictions of smoking somehow influenced young people.

That's why the cookie monster is still a cookie monster, instead of delivering the message that cookies are a sometimes food.  Because children's television is pure entertainment, sans influence.

That's why you hardly ever see a positive portrayal of womengay couples, minorities, or Muslims in the media.  It's not like depicting any of those groups in a positive light would influence anyone's opinions, after all.

That why there are almost no negative portrayals of conservatives coming our of Hollywood these days.  Hardly anyone uses that type of negative campaigning, because frankly, media just doesn't have an effect on how people think about the issues.

Of course, if you were to think otherwise - that, perhaps, just perhaps, the media had some sort of effect on the culture of our country - well, then.  You might be right insofar as it comes to smoking, health, minorities, gays, women, and a few other piddling subjects.

But not guns.  You see, guns are different.


Well, you see, it's because shut up, peon.

Stephen King said so.

Interview with Daniel Reeve

Law and the Multiverse interviews Daniel Reeve, the head calligrapher for LoTR and The Hobbit.
Daniel Reeve is an artist and calligrapher who created the maps and calligraphy for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, including the contract from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
I had read Tolkien’s books as a teenager, and had tinkered with calligraphy – including elvish calligraphy and runes – ever since then, so when I heard that The Lord of the Rings was being made into a film, practically on my doorstep, the opportunity was too good to miss. I submitted some samples of elvish calligraphy to the film company; they phoned me immediately, and the next thing I knew, I had the job of doing all the calligraphy for the films.
I thought that the contract was particularly well done, and a that the implications behind it - that the Dwarves as a race were very much legalistic, fastidious about details, and concerned with recording even the most minute detail of an agreement - helped more than anything else to set the character of the Dwarves' background.  Compared to that contract, you can see just how flighty most of the Dwarves really are; which in turn makes it obvious how seriously Balin and Thorin are taking the enterprise.


I'm really looking forward to 2014.  There's going to be a lot going on in 2014.  There's the 2014 midterm elections, for one.  Plus a number of other interesting things that will be going on in 2014.

The Olympics, however, are not one of those things.  Despite that,  the IOCC has already trademarked the number '2014'.

Note - not "Olympics 2014", or anything like that.

The number 2014.


Two thousand and fourteen feet of it, please.

Oh, Man...

I am very, very, very fortunate that I was not drinking coffee when I read this.

Coffee in the nasal passages is not nearly as pleasant as it sounds, especially when you are rolling on the floor laughing...
Navy To Apologize To Junior Officer
WASHINGTON, DC – After months of high-profile deliberation, a US Navy spokesperson has confirmed that the military organization is prepared to issue a public apology to Lieutenant Junior Grade Jeffrey Hurst for wasting the first two years of his professional life.
“We obviously made a big mistake not recognizing Lieutenant Hurst’s potential sooner,” the spokesperson said in a phone interview. “He deserved much better than the assignment he got, and we all feel just awful.”
... Hurst, whose education was paid for in full by the Navy, says that despite injuries he will not hold a grudge. “I’d even consider returning to the fleet,” he said while being fed grapes, “so long as the Navy guarantees that I won’t get yelled at by another XO ever again.” Hurst’s previous Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Mark Parsons was relieved of duty and replaced with a teddy bear shortly after Hurst’s unhappy story broke.
Teddy bear.  Heh!

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.
  • Larry Correia's gun control interview on Fox News.
  • Via The Smallest Minority, we have a link to David Mamet's op-ed piece on gun control in Newsweek.  Come for the facts and insightful opinions, stay for the YouTube-level commentary from internet mouth breathers.
  • Dire Straits performing "Telegraph Road" live.  Just because.
  • - "Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying."  Truly, teh intarwebs are a marvelous place.
  • Borepatch wants to know "What's wrong with this light bulb?"  Aside from the fact that it is both required and prohibited, I mean.
  • China prepares for war.  "Dai Xu, a Chinese Air Force Colonel, is arguing for a short, decisive war with one of China's neighbors--Vietnam, the Philippines, or Japan--in order to establish sovereignty over the Pacific region without risking war with the United States."
  • Gao Zhisheng is still alive, thankfully.  Apparently the Chinese don't feel the need to kill him in order to establish sovereignty.
  • A glimpse into what might be happening in Chinese banks.  Essentially, it's their own subprime mortgage scandal, without all the transparency, expert management and good intentions that the US version had.
  • Photos of pollution in China.  It's not pretty.  Well, I suppose that's just what you get when you're an unrepentantly capitalist nation.


This could have been written about Holder and Fast & Furious; Hillary and Benghazi; Geithner and the fiscal cliff; Newtown and gun control; or... well, just about anything significant that has happened in the halls of Congress, really.
Our Congress [1] met in December. A diverse conglomeration of ages, social backgrounds, races and genders… but with a single political affiliation. More than six hundred people [2] who say they represent a nation, when in reality they only speak in the name of one ideology. The pantomime of plurality, with statistics designed to impress, given the number of women, youth, mixed-race or workers within it, but not with diversity of thought. A rainbow with seven bands of the same color...
The truth is, I no longer believe anything. Not the passive government [3], nor a     secretary [4] who practices secrecy, nor the official journalists who were in that session of Congress [5] and didn’t report on the absence of such an important topic, nor a newspaper that only publishes when its silences are uncovered.

The author is not talking about any of those situations, though.  Instead, it is a description of the government of Cuba, and the secrecy surrounding a new fiber optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela.

While it is nice to know that we Americans have something in common with the Cuban people, I find it depressing that our most immediately obvious common bond seems to be ingrained cynicism about the corruption of government.

[1] Parliament.
[2] Deputies.
[3] National Assembly.
[4] Minister.
[5] Parliament.


Well, gamers can now rejoice and take up arms on their computers once again. Sony Online Entertainment has acquired the license and is now going to release the Wizardry world into a permanent home online. Wizardry Online is set to open the doors to a new dungeon on January 30th of this year.
On the plus side: Wizardry Online!

On the minus side: It's being done by SOE.

That's... one heck of a minus.

Home Is The Hangman

The world got its first inkling of the quick wit that would make Apple’s Siri an icon during a packed press conference held before an auditorium of tech elite.
"Who are you?" an Apple executive asked the assistant.
“I am a humble personal assistant,” Siri answered to appreciative laughter.

More like humbled personal assistant. That press conference was actually Siri's second coming-out party. When the virtual assistant first launched in early 2010, it was a standalone iPhone app called Siri created by a 24-person startup with the same name, a company Apple would later acquire...
As impressive as those talents were, most failed to realize that Apple's version of Siri lacked many of the features once built into the program. This, after all, was no ordinary iPhone app, but the progeny of the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history: a Defense Department-funded undertaking that sought to build a virtual assistant that could reason and learn."
HAL.  Pallas Athena.  Harley.  Obie.  The Hangman.  Ralph the Wise and Powerful.

Wikipedia has an entire list of them.

Personally, I'm really hoping we end up with Culture Minds, instead of something like Skynet.

Just sayin'.

PARIS 1914

Amazing photographs of Paris in 1914.

I'm just stunned that Calvin's dad got it wrong.  The world obviously turned color sometime in the 1890's or thereabouts.

How Did We Get To This Point?

When I was in Texas a few years ago, I was struck by the fact that almost all businesses had signs in their doors or windows reminding people that it is illegal to traffic in human beings. I thought, “Maybe if they’d call it slavery, folks would remember from their schooling that it was made illegal some years back.”
The answer is pragmatically obvious, I guess. If we were moral enough that we didn’t need the warnings, we would be moral enough to not have the problem... Perhaps we should just say, “If you engage in the slave trade, you will be lynched in your own guts.”
HT to Jenny at Cradle of Liberty.


I’ll not rejoice if your delusions come crashing down. I’ll not celebrate the day you discover that evil comes in many forms and will use any tool available. I hope that day never comes...
I’ve looked into the eyes of evil myself, and I hope you never do. I do not have the luxury of trusting in the mercy of demons and response time of law enforcement. I hope your faith in these things is never tested or tried.

The Prosecutor's New Clothes

Ortiz’s spokeswoman, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, said last night the Swartz case won’t affect the office’s handling of other cases. “Absolutely not,” she said.
How dare you question the prosecutor, peon!

They hounded a young man in to suicide by threatening him with a 50-year prison sentence for "hacking", and she can't come up with a single reason to even consider reviewing her department's actions?


"Boot to the HEID!"

Recently Overheard: Comcast Booting
I’ve been a Comcast subscriber for over ten years now, and quite frankly, their customer service leaves A LOT to be desired.
So when a Comcast van gets booted, there's a chance for some excellent mockery... such as:
Did you try disconnecting the van from its power source for sixty seconds and restarting it?


Arlington, Va.—A federal court today just struck down the IRS’s new licensing rules.
In 2011, the IRS imposed an unlawful licensing scheme that benefits powerful industry insiders and harms hundreds of thousands of tax preparers across the country and the tens of millions of taxpayers who rely on them to prepare their taxes. 
Three independent tax preparers—Sabina Loving of Chicago, John Gambino of Hoboken, N.J., and Elmer Kilian of Eagle, Wisc.—joined forces with the Institute for Justice in filing suit against the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 
Late today, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ruled against the IRS and in favor of the tax preparers.

Of course, "X Defeats the IRS" works for just about any X.

If you wrote an article about "Murdering Nazi Zombie Cannibal Cyborg Fundamentalist Hate Machines From The Future Defeat the IRS", I suspect that a majority of people would pronounce that "good"... and the remainder would merely be somewhat conflicted.

"Singing bye, bye..."

If you’ve never been inside a "real" arcade, it could be hard to distinguish one from say, oh, a Dave &Buster’s.  Authenticity is a hard nut to crack, but there are a few hallmarks of the video game arcade of days gone by: first, they have video games. Lots and lots of video games, and (usually) pinball machines. They’re dark (so that you can see the screens better), and they don’t sell food or booze...
The defining feature of a “real” arcade, however, is that there aren’t really any left.
I had the fortune to grow up in the golden age of video arcade games.

When the lovely Mrs. and I were in California in the late 80's / early 90's, we used to look for arcades that had the original Gauntlet game.  Stacks of quarters in hand, we'd plug away together for as far as we could get in the game, until the inevitable cries of "Blue Elf needs food badly!" finally sounded our defeat.

The last real arcades in the area that I know of are the ones in Kennywood.  I seem to make it there every few years, and it is always a pleasant surprise to see that they have managed to keep the Galaga and Time Pilot machines up and running.  One of these days, I will stop in for a visit, look in vain for my favorite games... and know, finally and truly, that I am old.

Fast Times

Why You Truly Never Leave High School
New science on its corrosive, traumatizing effects.
"Corrosive, traumatizing effects?"  Really?  I rather enjoyed high school.

Grade school, on the other hand... ugh.

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.

    CS 2 & 3 : Snarky and Snarkier

    Shamus Young continues his commentary on the Id Software coding standards.

    As I mentioned in the last post, I read the Office document that describes the internal coding conventions of id Software, and I thought I’d go over it... 
    According to programming lore, there was a time when managers would measure programmer output by how many lines of code they’d written. This was ostensibly a real thing done by human beings who were at least smart enough to operate a necktie.
    And so we continue discussing the Office document that describes the internal coding conventions of id Software. Why? Because I hate having readers and I’m trying to bore you into going away. So far this plan has backfired spectacularly. You people are just as strange as I am. Let us revel in it.
    One nit to pick:  in Part 3, the esteemed Mr. Young [1] comments about Id's rules on floating point values ("Use precision specification for floating point values unless there is an explicit need for a double."):

    This particular rule is odd because it's not just about personal style, readability, or aesthetics. This particular rule needs to be followed if you don't want a bunch of annoying warning flags every time you compile. This one is so important I'm surprised it was listed at all.
    Keep in mind that the coding standards we're reviewing probably date from the early 90's - probably 1991 or 1992, only a couple of years after the first formal specification of ANSI C was ratified.  Having worked with pre-standard versions of C++ compilers, I really don't have any trouble imagining that there were different pre-stadnard versions of C compilers that had... quirks.  Like making different sorts of decisions on how to interpret the desired precisions for an otherwise unspecified floating point value.

    In other words, this may not be a nit-picky rule about compiler warnings; it may have been an attempt to ensure that code would remain portable between different compilers.

    [1] No, I am not being sarcastic.  I would love the chance to meet Shamus.  I have even - fanboy squee moment! - seen him at the mall, as he lives in the same general vicinity of our clan.  I still kick myself for not stopping to say hello and introduce myself, since now he's a big time blogger and if I saw him and gushed "Oh. Em. Gee.  SHAMUS YOUNG!  I have been reading your blog for-EVAH!" he would probably just give me a cool, calculated glance and back away slowly into a more defensible position while silent-dialing 911 on his cell phone.

    Game Over

    Atari SA’s U.S.-based video-game- making businesses have filed for bankruptcy protection in Manhattan with the intention of separating from the unprofitable French parent and seeking independent funding.

    A moment of silence, please.

    Or, you know, an 8-bit "beep-beep-boop".  Which is probably more appropriate.

    Sophie In North Korea

    Not that we were allowed to talk to them, but riddle me this: How do you explain to someone that she's a YouTube sensation if she's never heard of the Internet?

    Message in a Binary Bottle

    It’s 20 or 30 years ago. You’re working on a videogame. You don’t get any credit for your work, blogs don’t exist, there’s no internet and no fanboys.  It’s just you, a crusty old terminal, and got a few spare bytes left in the ROM. What now?

    More Equal, Redux

    In my column this week, I asked why police officers should be allowed to have so-called high-capacity magazines if they have no defensive value. Since "no one needs" to fire more than X number of rounds before reloading (and assuming that "need" should define what people are allowed to possess), why not apply the same limit to everyone? It looks like the New York legislature, which this week reduced the state's magazine limit from 10 rounds to seven, did take an evenhanded approach—but only by accident. According to and WABC, the ABC station in New York, legislators were in such a rush to impose new gun restrictions that they forgot to exempt active-duty and retired law enforcement officers from the new magazine rule. Whoops.
    Naturally, the police and ex-police are all in a tizzy over the idea that they might be treated the same as everyone else under the law. calls the absence of a law-enforcement exemption a "loophole in the law," but in fact it is the very opposite of a loophole: Cops are outraged at the possibility that they might be treated the same as "a regular citizen" under the law.
    You are the same as a regular citizen, boyos.  At least, you're supposed to be.  Part of the problem is that you think you aren't.

    Chicago Aldermen Take Up Pan Handling

    Two Chicago mindless jerks alderman want a complete or partial ban on Red Bull and other energy drinks:
    Chicago would ban the sale and distribution of high-caffeine energy drinks — not just to minors, but to consumers of all ages — under a surprise crackdown proposed Thursday by the City Council’s most powerful alderman...
    Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, proposed the blanket ban, citing the popularity of drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle and 5 Hour Energy among teenagers and young adults and the dangers those drinks can pose to their health...
    The ordinance defines energy drinks as “a canned or bottled beverage which contains an amount of caffeine exceeding or equal to 180 milligrams-per-container and containing Taurine or Guarana.”
    Complete idiocy.  A 16 oz. Monster has the same caffeine content as a strong 8 oz. cup of coffee.

    Just in case you thought this was about, you know, the children, another alderman (who only supports a partial ban on energy drinks, mind you) lets the mask slip and lays that quaint notion to rest:

    Cardenas said he wasn’t really interested in banning the sale of energy drinks to minors. He simply wanted to get the industry’s attention and educate parents and young people about the dangers of energy drinks.
    Which, when you think about it, is kind of like how that pan handler at the stoplight isn't really interested in cleaning your car windows.  He just wants to get your attention, you see.

    The idea being that once he has your attention, you will give him some money to go away.

    Aldermen Burke & Cardenas are just pan handling at a slightly higher level.

    As Radley Balko said on Facebook: "From my cold, jittery hand."

    Sure As Sure

    If you're a fan of Dan Abnett, then there's an excellent chance that you'll go all fanboy "squeee!" at the (very unofficial) Gaunt's Ghosts - Lego Edition.

    Colm, Viktor, Bragg, Caff, Tona, IBM... they're all there.

    Even Major fething Rawne and Elijah fething Cuu.

    Made. Of. WIN!

    And Lego.

    But mostly WIN!

    That's All You Have?

    Jenny has some words for you, You Selfish SWPL Monster

    What kind of despicable, loathsome creature puts their own selfish desire to get buzzed first while things like this happen? That doesn't even count all the other lives ruined by alcohol - the addicted derelicts on city streets, the raped college girls, birth defects, the... 
    What do you mean "all that's not my fault?" 
    You're a good person? That's what I'm supposed to believe? That's all you have?  
    Let's say I actually believe you've never driven drunk. Let's assume you're not that kind of lush who just can't wait to open that bottle when you get home every night. 
    Heck - let's say I'm actually kind of sorry for you, victim of the glossy distillery lobby and all that. You're still the one creating the market. You're the one making it possible. You're the monster here. 
    Still - after that last pile-up on the freeway, I'm sorry. The world has changed. Enough. It's time to shape up.
    Seriously, RTWT.

    Of course, you realize the flaw here.  As an idiot leftist friend kindly pointed out to me, it's just not the same thing!  Alcohol doesn't just walk into a school and start killing people! [1]

    Ah-yep.  That there's the mindset, in a nutshell.  What I want is perfectly reasonable, what you want makes you a monster.  Because shut up, peon.

    Then pass me the bottle, will ya?

    [1] She was right.  It doesn't.  It gets brought in by students, by teachers, by the staff, by the media... pretty much every day, day in, day out.  You think kids in school haven't formed an opinion on alcohol, one way or another, by the time they're old enough to understand what it is?  Then you're a fool.  I see people who have had their lives ripped apart by alcohol every week.  It destroys more lives, more families, and kills more children in year than guns ever have or ever will.  Anyone who thinks gun control is more important than alcohol control in schools is either a mindless jerk or a manipulative psychopath.

    No - There's Too Much To 'Splain.

    So let us (well, not us, really, but The Everlasting Phelps) sum up Obama’s New Executive Orders.

    Just a sample:
    1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
    Tell the government to follow the law. 
     Oh, OK - one more:
    4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
    Tell the Attorney General to do his job.
    I was sniggering by #4, chuckling by #8 and laughing out loud by #13.

    Yeah, yeah, I know - this is srs bsns.  We shouldn't take anything lightly, especially since one of the favorite tactics of this administration is to be as vague as possible and grab as much power as that will allow.  However, we should also remember Alinsky's 5th rule:
    Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
    So take a few moments, have a laugh... then share and enjoy.

    You Ain't Nothin' If You Ain't Got Style

    If you've ever read that silly screencap comic about The Lord of the Rings, you probably know who Shamus Young is.  You probably also know that he's a pretty good writer, definitely entertaining, sometimes wickedly funny, and 101% geek.

    So, in keeping with the reference to the Doom code review from earlier, here's Shamus with Coding Style Part 1:
    I think most software companies have a set of rules for writing and formatting code. This is often referred to as a “style guide”. This tells the programmers on staff how to make code that will fit together in a coherent system...
    It’s pretty common to write code and then forget what it does or how it works. So when you’re writing code you should always be thinking of the other programmer. The dumb programmer. The programmer who doesn’t understand this code and has no idea what’s going on. The odds are very good that this other programmer is going to be a future version of you.
    Haven't read it yet, so... let's see.  That makes for one article on a particular coding style that I want to read; an article about coding styles in general that I want to read; and... um, this blog post, in which I write about articles about coding style.

    Three layers of indirection.

    "Forget it. We go any deeper, we just raise the stakes. I am sitting this one out on this level, boys."

    Linked List

    Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.

    I'm Looking For A Snappy Little Number To Match My Shoes

    Surplus Military Vehicles, Tanks Army Trucks, Jeeps for sale and Hire. Warsaw Pact & NATO Tank APC and Truck specialist.Defence Industry vehicle procurement. Export worldwide. Vehicles for hire for business Promotion, parties and special events, & Themed Parties.
    There are days when I absolutely love the internet.

    T'dr'duzk b'hazg t't

    Today was a good day for someone (else's code) to die.

    I worked around a major problem (and, as far as I can tell, a specification violation) in a third party's software.

    I helped track down, identify, and kill a leak in our own code.

    And, to top it off, I ended up digging through the C++ spec to try and understand why the compiler happy to use a static const int member from a class on one line, but decided to complain that the same value was "undefined" a few lines later [1].

    It.  Was.  GLORIOUS.

    Seriously.  Any day that gives you an excuse to grunge through the C++ spec is a good day.

    [1] For the C++ geeks in the audience, here's an example of the what I was seeing:

    $ cat -n 
         1  template T min(const T& l, const T& r) {
         2      return ((l < r) ? r : l);
         3  }
         5  struct A {
         6      static const int X = 1;
         7  };
         9  int main(int argc, char** argv) {
        10      int x = A::X;
        11      return min(0, A::X);
        12  }

    $ g++ -g
    /var/tmp//ccLpbLY5.o(.text+0x22): In function `main':
    /home/samrobb/ undefined reference to `A::X'

    Source, Beautiful Source!

    This is a story about Doom 3's source code and how beautiful it is. Yes, beautiful. Allow me to explain.
    Why, yes, I am a geek. Why do you ask?

    The article includes has a link to a six-part analysis of Doom 3's source code by Fabian Sanglard, which I will no doubt spend some time on this evening. Because.... well, just because.

    Not Notable?

    So, there's apparently an argument going on over at Wikipeda.  Yes, yes, I know - what else is new?  Apparently one of the editors tried to argue that the entry for the webcomic Schlock Mercenary should be deleted, as it was "not notable".

    Heh.  Excuse me while I finish wiping some tears of laughter from my eyes.  Howard's published what, something like 14 books now?  Plus a game?  Been nominated for multiple Hugos?  Inspired a trilogy of books from a well-known military SF author?

    Yeah.  That's not notable at all.

    How much do you want to bet that the jerk who's pushing for this deletion, citing the letter of Wikipedia law, is also quite enthusiastic about the President exercising executive power to do an end run around Congress for any number of issues?

    Yeah.  Funny how, in the end, it's always about power and control, isn't it?

    What We Make Work Is What We Want Working?

    I played a video game, which of course essentially means goofing off — using technology. Then I attended to some businessin’, again using technology. My irritation detonated while in the second of those two activities, during which time not only did seemingly everything in the world go wrong, but I experienced a pretty-much-constant confusion about states of things... 
    I find this aggravating because, having mucked about somewhat with the intricacies of 3D rendering, I have an understanding of what’s going on at the “bleeding edge” and what an organization has to do to meet with these arcane concepts, for just the visual experience of playing the game. It involves considerable effort just to get everything coordinated. And yet this common pattern holds up, that if your effort has to do with goofing off, then everything works great.
    I would argue that the main problem here is not focus, but complexity as measured by inputs.  A game has relatively few inputs.  The more complex the game (for example, World of Warcraft) and the more inputs are possible, the more difficult it is to handle those inputs properly.  When you exit a relatively controlled realm and enter into an environment where any number of inputs outside of your control can happen in arbitrary order, you're going to constantly run into edge cases.

    Which doesn't make it any less frustrating.

    Who You Know

    I know some people.

    I know police officers.  I know jarheads, ground-pounders, wing-wipers and squids.  I know a bank robber.  I know people who catch bank robbers.  I have friends at NASA, in India, in Iraq, in Australia, in China.  I know at least three people with MS.  A handful of people with cancer.  A child that almost drowned in a swimming pool.  Several people who nearly died in automobile accidents.  People who have lost their homes to fires.  People who have been busted for DUI, others who have been busted for possession.  Alcoholics and drug addicts who can tell you, in years, months, days and even hours how long they've been clean; and those who can't.  Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Socialists, and every shade in between.  Saints, sinners, and the undecided.  Gay, straight, asexual.  Chinese, Irish, Afghani, Indian, Russian, Polish, English, German, French, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Canadian, Portuguese, Australian, Israeli, South African.  Legal immigrants, H1-B workers, illegal immigrants, American expatriates.  Militant atheists, evangelical Christians, staunch Catholics, Lutherans, reformed Jews, strict Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and Wiccans.  Lawyers, gunsmiths, programers, architects, engineers, mechanics, landscapers, pastors, priests, mayors, doctors, nurses, trappers, carpenters, counselors, machinists and shift workers.  People who have built their own homes, people who have built their own businesses.  People who ride the bus, drive fancy cars, fly their own planes, can drive a train or an 18-wheeler, walk to work or work from home.  People who work for the government, work for themselves, work to live, live to work.  People who have raised children, had abortions, adopted from overseas, fostered children, lived childless.  People who are single and hopeful, who have never married, who never plan to marry, who married early, married late, married more than once.  People who live in mansions, people who live on farms, people who live in section 8 housing, people who live in apartments, people who live in shelters, people who live on bases, people who live on call.

    That's just off the top of my head, without really thinking about it.

    I know an awful lot of people.  I know an awful lot of different types of people.

    I do not know a single person, outside of those involved in law enforcement and the military, who has ever fired a gun at another human being.

    Gun control?  Shouldn't be a major issue.  Heck, it shouldn't even be on the menu.

    Yet it is... because after all, the "gun" bit is just a convenient adjective. Guns are just the excuse.  The "discussion" is about control.

    Controlling all those people.

    Make no mistake.  They may have the best of motives at heart; they may intend to rule you with the best of intentions.  When push comes to shove, though, their intention is to rule.

    To turn citizens into subjects.

    And before you can do that - before you can rule - you need to control.

    Think carefully.  Choose wisely.

    And don't think for one moment that you get to choose for me.

    Five Years In The Making

    For the past five years, there has been a massive espionage malware targeting governments.
    Researchers have uncovered an ongoing, large-scale computer espionage network that's targeting hundreds of diplomatic, governmental, and scientific organizations in at least 39 countries, including the Russian Federation, Iran, and the United States.
    Operation Red October, as researchers from antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab have dubbed the highly coordinated campaign, has been active since 2007, raising the possibility it has already siphoned up hundreds of terabytes of sensitive information. It uses more than 1,000 distinct modules that have never been seen before to customize attack profiles for each victim. Among other things, components target individual PCs, networking equipment from Cisco Systems, and smartphones from Apple, Microsoft, and Nokia. The attack also features a network of command-and-control servers with a complexity that rivals that used by the Flame espionage malware that targeted Iran.

    This isn't just a well-written virus; it is a toolkit for infecting and monitoring a broad range of computer  resources that was targeted not just at specific institutions, but also at specific individuals.

    Chinese?  Possibly.  Someone else entirely?  Maybe.

    It took five years to dig up this little gem.  What else might be out there?

    Linked List

    Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.
    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return to the real world and attempt to muddle through the current Dibert-esqe tragedy.

    Gregory > Swartz

    Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23,2012 broadcast.
    A comment from a friend, who I quote in full, because he's absolutely correct:
    Aaron Swartz is hounded by prosecution to his death over an alleged crime, while David Gregory is untouched "despite the clarity of the violation" of a law he willfully and knowingly violated and which many others who unknowingly violated were convicted of. 
    The power that prosecutors exercise at their whim to spare or destroy lives corrodes the respect for the law when being a criminal or not depends more on who you are than what you did.
    David gregory gets a free pass while Aaron Swartz gets hounded to his death, because David Gregory is more important than the law, and Aaron Swartz wasn't important at all.


    Looking Good, Congress!

    For sufficiently small values of "good", that is.

    Congress Begins 2013 With 14% Approval
    Americans give Congress a 14% job approval rating as the new year begins, the lowest since September of last year and one point below Congress' 15% average approval for 2012, the lowest yearly average in Gallup's history.
    Wow. I had no idea their approval rating was that high.

    New Year, New Look

    A slightly updated look to the blog, just because.  Hopefully, the changes will make the whole thing somewhat easier on the eyes.

    Why, yes - I am the type of person who rearranges his room every year or so.  Why do you ask?

    Earth Bags, Fire Pits, N'at

    Part of what I found interesting this week was what John Robb [1] Found Interesting This Week:
    Here's the first resilience round-up for 2013. It's going to be an amazing year...
    Bubble wrap insulation for windows, DIY Chicken coops, raised-bed gardens, earth bag construction, plans for a DIY fire pit, building a paludarium, a kit for pickling anything, and a DIY aquaponics system.


    John always manages to turn up interesting stuff. I would have posted this earlier, but got sucked into teh intarwebs to read about earth bag construction techniques.

    [1] No relation, as far as I know.

    Secrets, Secrets...

    Robin Fleming was arrested for breach of peace after flying his sailplane over the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station at an altitude of 1,518 feet msl—by his estimates, about 1,000 feet over the power plant’s dome. Why?
    Well, why not? We have secret no-fly lists and secret courts to make secret decisions about secret laws and even secret executions. We're going to need law enforcement specialists - especially police - who know all about these secret things soon.

    What will we call them, hmm?

    Listen To The Big Bear Butt

    While I normally follow John Patricelli's blog for his discussion about World of Warcraft, he's got a nice post up today about another nice post (well, really, the nice post) about "gun control".

    Mr. Patricelli's not only a former Marine, he's also a freaking character in John Ringo's Troy Rising series.  So, as you can probably imagine, he's got a particular point of view as regards the current "discussion" about gun control.  As with Mr. Correia, though, he does a good job of presenting his point of view matter-of-factly without veering off into the nether regions of emotion.

    So, yes.  I highly encourage you to go read his latest post.  If for no other reason than so you can tell folks that you spent some time today reading a post from a big bear butt.

    Linked List

    Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.

    The Purton Ship Graveyard

    The Purton Ship Graveyard
    The banks of the river Severn have historically suffered from erosion by the tide. Between 1909 and 1965 redundant and unwanted vessels were beached on the foreshore and allowed to fill with silt.
    Fascinating pictures at Flickr; more information available at The Purton Barge Graveyard site.


    With regard to comparisons between Katrina and Sandy, Tam points out the number of deaths in each instance, at which point the math kicks in:
    This provides us a handy metric for future use: If you live in flyover country, you're right around 1/16th of a real person to the bicoastal power elite.
    As one commenter points out, it's less that that, because according to the BPE, all us'n flyover country inhabitants are worth less than 1/16th of a "real person" [1].

    [1] Ostensibly defined as a latte-lapping, granola-eating, hair-shirt wearing, tree-hugging, union-supporting, sissified mindless jerk with a major in mumble studies who may not know their place in the world, but by God, they know yours, peon.

    Government Is What You Do Instead Of Common Sense

    Tax code hurts U.S. revenue, IRS tells Congress in annual report
    Annual report to Congress calls for reform, says budget and identity theft are also critical issues for agency.
    "Simplify the tax code while increasing revenue? Sounds like a great idea!"

    ... said no Congresscritter, ever.

    So That's What It's Called

    Michael Crichton explains the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect:
    Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them. 
    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
    Emphasis added.

    Something to keep in mind when you read the paper and the pundits and they're all telling you that of course we have to do X, and of course we should absolutely avoid Y, and of course there is no reason to worry about Z.

    tl;dr - The mainstream media may lie sometimes, but mostly, they're just incompetent.

    "I Ain't afraid of no ghost!"

    Some wonderful picture of the "ghost town" of Bodie, California.

    Wikipedia has an entry on Bodie, of course:
    As Bodie Historic District, the U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes it as a National Historic Landmark. Also registered as a California Historical Landmark, the ghost town officially became Bodie State Historic Park in 1962, and receives about 200,000 visitors yearly.

    So, not really a ghost town.  Still interesting.

    W-2, Taxes, N'at

    Just got my W-2 for 2012.  My effective tax rate (federal, state, local, FICA, et al.) ended up being about 18%.  That rate is before adding in a couple of other variables (mortgage deduction, etc.) that generally end up lowering my effective tax rate to 15% or thereabouts.

    So.  Progressives - tell me one more time how I am a right-wing nutjob and a money-grubbing capitalist oppressor for arguing that the United States should get rid of the current tax code, including loopholes, and move to a flax tax rate of 20%?

    Let me say it again, so that you can understand.

    I am willing to pay more in taxes if you would just make the process simpler and fairer.


    Quinn's First Law in action again.


    Because shut up, peon.
    DC police finally complete investigation of that thing David Gregory did on national TV
    It's illegal to possess a high-capacity ammunition magazine in Washington, DC. Nonetheless, David Gregory waved one around on Meet the Press a few weeks ago...
    Gregory’s defenders, such as Howard Kurtz, point out that Gregory wasn’t hurting anybody. His intentions were pure. Therefore, the law doesn’t apply to him. Is that how it works?
    Apparently not:
    While Mr. Gregory got away without being arrested or going to jail, the police arrested 105 other people in 2012 on charges that included possession of “high capacity” feeding devices.
    One of those cases was James Brinkley, an Army Veteran and federal employee, who was handcuffed, arrested and jailed for possessing two so-called high-capacity magazines and an unregistered firearm. The OAG refused to drop the charges, despite overwhelming evidence that he was legally transporting through Washington.
    Mr. Brinkley contacted the DC police for advice, attempted to follow the law, and had the book thrown at him.

    Mr. Gregory contacted the DC police for advice, flagrantly disregarded the law, and was not even arrested.

    Is it any wonder that trust in the government and the media are at all-time lows?


    There's A Hole At The Bottom Of The Sea

    But that's perfectly OK, because it's supposed to be there.  Well, eventually.
    With Subsea Compression Technology, Offshore Platforms Could Become Obsolete
    OSLO – Lying at the bottom of a giant water-filled pit in western Norway, a thousand-tonne gas compressor is humming along, going through gruelling tests as engineers prepare it to change oil and gas production for good... 
    Pushing the limits of subsea innovation, Shell and Norway’s Statoil are now racing to build the world’s first subsea gas compression unit, a key building block in the “subsea factory,” which would all but eliminate the need for many platforms... 
    Once the integration is complete, the technology can be standardized, eventually creating smaller and more portable modules that can be deployed more rapidly and on a smaller scale, allowing firms to develop fields previously considered too small to make a platform worth while.
    Very interesting.  On one hand, the companies that are looking at this are not the kind of people who like to pour money into something that is completely unfeasible.  Not to mention the fact that they have a whole heck of a lot of experience in these particular domains.

    On the other hand, the technology is only a decade away, so you may want to read the article with whatever grains of salt you might have handy.

    Weapons Of Mass Literati Destruction

    If you're up for it, lend a hand a help get Larry Correia nominated for a Hugo:
    The Hugo awards are the most prestigious thing you can get in sci-fi/fantasy (other than fat royalty checks, obviously). Getting nominated for a Hugo is a great resume builder...
    The Hugo is pretty fancy, but basically, like most awards, it is a popularity contest. So who decides? Anybody who attended the last WorldCon (Chicago 2012) or who is a supporting member of the current WorldCon (San Antonio 2013) or next WorldCon (London 2014) can nominate.  But you need to buy your membership by January 31.
    Well, sure, Larry - it would be a feather in your cap, sir.  But what's in it for me?

    But wait there’s more! See anybody who buys a supporting membership is allowed to vote on all the nominees in every category. In previous years, in order to have informed voters, they’ve sent out the “Hugo Voter’s Packet” which includes eBooks of every nominees’ stuff. This isn’t just best novel, but all the Campbell nominees’ books, all the short stories, novellas, novelettes, all of the supporting works, comic books, graphic novels, supporting works, and pretty much all of that. Heck, I got Schlock Mercenary stuff last time!  Basically, you get more money worth of reading material than the cost of your supporting membership, plus exploding literati heads!
    Well, now...  keep going there, young'un [1], you've got my attention...
    So for $60 you can stick it to the man, and the next time one of your coworkers looks over your shoulder to see what you’re reading, and they’re all like “I’m a douchebag that only reads what English professors or Oprah’s book club say is profound. That’s stupid and has guns and is stupid in your stupid face.” And then you can say, “But it got nominated for a Hugo.” And then they will EXPLODE!** 
    ** Disclaimer, annoying coworkers may not literally explode.

    Yes, that's part of the article. Seriously, though - I didn't realize that a $60 supporting membership could come along with ebook copies of *all* the nominated titles. That's an awful lot of potential reading, and may be well worth it.

    Plus, y'know, exploding literati.  It's a heck of a twofer!

    [1] Serious, Larry?  1977?  You're barely older than my youngest brother, ya whippersnapper!  Good grief.  Thanks for making me feel even older than I am already.  Of course, that has zero impact on my inclination to pick up a copy of everything with your name on the cover, so really, I'm just practicing my old man grumping, here.  Now get off my dang lawn!

    I'd Buy That For A Dollar!

    Home invasion suspect killed in gunfight...
    A home invasion robbery suspect died overnight when he jumped out a second-floor apartment window, apparently after his intended victims opened fire on the alleged intruders.
    Two intruders, one gun; result one dead intruder, one intruder in custody, and two safe adults and two safe children. I happen to think that is a pretty good deal.

    Phone == Computer

    That means that they are subject to all the computer security failures that we've seen over the years...
    When you put a computer in something, you turn it into a computer. That's life. The faster everyone catches on to that the safer we'll all be.
    Very, very true.