Criminal Love

A Florida man releases some balloons with his sweetheart for Valentine's day, and is promptly arrested.
Anthony Brasfield saw romance when he released a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the sky over Dania Beach with his sweetie. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper saw a felony...  
Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act... 
Between 2008 and 2012, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said there were 21 arrests statewide under the rarely used environmental crime statute. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. 
Yes, you read that right.

Five years.


For releasing balloons.

This makes every child who's ever had a helium balloon in Florida a felon, because you know how well they manage to hold on to them...

Hemp.  It's environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and disposing of it does nor harm humans, animals, or plants!  It's a win-win!

Which is just another way of saying... rope.


From Larry Correia, on a Facebook post about the idiotic statements of Colorado Senator Jesse Ulibarri:
I know how to fight with my hands. I'm huge. Even as a now fat, chair sitting, writer type guy, I'm still much stronger than the average person. In my youth, I loved to fight. Loved it. I didn't mind getting hit in the face and there wasn't anything quite as satisfying as tossing a dude on his head. And despite all that, I still carry a gun BECAUSE I'M NOT STUPID.

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids..."

I disagree... and it seems like some other folks do as well.  Techdirt sums up a few recent articles about trips to Mars:
But as more and more space programs target Mars as a destination, it looks increasingly likely that humans will make it there someday. Here are just a few milestones on the road to Mars.
They mention The Mars Foundation's plans for a flyby, Elon Musk's more ambitious plans for a landing and a colony, and a couple of other Mars-related links.

Seems as if there are some folks who maybe don't want to live on this planet anymore.

How a Man Handles a Miscarriage

An excellent article from The Art of Manliness.
And a man finds himself in a unique spot. He’s often the silent sufferer, the one called upon to support and encourage and comfort. Yet inside he’s as equally torn up as his spouse or girlfriend, as unsure of what to do next, as grief-filled, discouraged, and aching.
No kidding.

I am pretty sure that I have mentioned before that all three of my daughters were adopted.  Dealing with infertility was not in the same ballpark as dealing with a miscarriage... but it was certainly within the same city limits.

Recommendation #1?  Best advice ever.  You grieve.  I managed that in a fairly, um, non-conventional way. What worked for me might not work for you.  Whatever way works, though - you have to grieve.  You can only be strong for so long before you start to crumble.

I will neither conform nor deny crying at the end of the article.  I will say that it's awfully dusty in here.


Seen on Facebook:
"The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."
In response to this article:

White House Report Claims Sequestration Will Affect Federal Department That No Longer Exists 
If you want a thorough agency-by-agency rundown of the budget cuts sequestration would deliver, the Office of Management and Budget has you covered. In compliance with The Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, the OMB sent a detailed report to Congress in September 2012. But there's a small problem with the report: One of the cuts it warns against would affect an agency that no longer exists--and didn't exist when the OMB sent its report to congress.
No, that is not the Onion.  Really.

You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Linux Tycoon!

Not Linus.  Linux Tycoon is a Linux Distro Building Simulator.

No, really.  See?  
Linux Tycoon is the premier Linux Distro Building Simulator game in the universe. 
(Truth be told: It's probably the only Linux Distro Building Simulation game in the universe.)
Now, keep in mind that I used to build Linux distros for a living.  Even with that factoid, I think that it says something about me that I thought this was both hilarious and intriguing... and I am afraid that that "something" is rather disturbing.  It takes a special type of person to immediately wonder if you get to decide what binary package format your distro will use, and how that will affect the game.


Lacking that particular disturbing "something", you might ask yourself, "Self, what exactly goes on in a Linux Distro Building Simulation game?"  To which the reasonable reply would be, "Self, why don't you quit bothering me about it and just read the rest of the web page?"

Let us do just that!
So what exactly do you do in a Linux Distro Building game? 
So glad you asked! Here's some examples of the thrilling challenges you'll find in Linux Tycoon: 
1. Analyzing and selecting software packages.
2. Fixing Bugs.
3. Managing volunteers and paid staff.
4. Keeping the total size (in MB) of your Distro at a reasonable level.
5. And so much more!
For Windows, Macs and - but of course! - Linux itself.

What's In Your Kit?

SEALs aren’t supposed to find themselves in trouble that they can’t get out of. That’s why the Navy is seeking to buy 300 new survival kits for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, sometimes known as Navy SEAL Team 6. 
... being military men, they have to prepare for worst-case scenarios. That’s where Wednesday’s solicitation for what they call Personnel Recovery and Survival Kits comes in...
While Navy folks didn’t rush to answer Battleland’s questions about how much the kits are expected to cost, and if they’ve changed recently, it’s neat to peek inside to see what’s there.
Surprisingly mundane.  My quick takeaway: you probably want more rope than you think you would  need, a good method of starting a fire, and a backup method of starting a fire.

Bunny Inspectors

Over at Chaos Manor, Jerry Pournelle talks about sequestration:

I note that the Department of Agriculture is threatening to lay off food inspectors, but there’s no talk of firing bunny inspectors. Every department has people doing things we don’t need done, particularly since we have to borrow the money in order to do them. 
Bunny inspectors, for those who don’t know, look for people keeping rabbits as pets and offering them for sale – or using them in a stage performance. Bunny inspectors go to stage magic shows and if the performance employs a pet rabbit they demand to see the federal license the magician must have, and no, I am not making this up. By the way, if the rabbit is killed in the act, say eaten alive, you don’t need a federal license. You may be in trouble with the ASPCA but not with the Department of Agriculture. And the bunny inspectors won’t be laid off under the sequestration. I bet if there were a 2% cut in the DOA’s budget they’d go. If not, a bigger cut would be in order…
Bunny inspectors never go.  At least, not willingly.  Jerry, of all people, should understand that.

I was just talking to a lady that we know earlier today; she's a federal fraud investigator.  While her department is apparently not going to have to deal with the sequestration, she mentioned that colleagues in the DoD and DCIS are going to either be furloughed or put on a reduced work schedule.  Roughy the same effect as a 20% reduction in staff.

Keep in mind, these are people who work to recover funds stolen from the government.

They are going to lay them off to save money.

Laying off fireman and police to scare folks into arguing against spending cuts?  Yeah, that stinks.  It's miserable and rotten.  Politicians do that sort of thing because it works, though.

This?  Laying off people who make up one of the very few groups who actually mange to save more money than they spend?  That doesn't even make any sense.  It is pure, unadulterated ignorance and stupidity at work.

Seriously.  I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Liberal Thought, In A Nutshell

"Yes, but I recycle!"  Heh.

Narbonic.  If you haven't burned several hours reading this yet, go ahead and start from the beginning.  The artwork was never bad; a little rough in the earlier strips, but it improves dramatically as time goes by.  The storyline starts off nicely, mutates into awesome and then kicks it up a notch or eleven into uncharted territories of incredible.


Respect MP accused of racism after walking out of West Bank debate at university, saying: 'I don't debate with Israelis'
Hey, man.  Stay classy!

"... a road that goes forever ..."

I'm not sure that I want to live on this planet anymore.

Half serious.

Texas may be on the same globe, but I'm starting to think it might be different enough at this point to count as a whole different world.

Or a gateway to new worlds, at least...

Warm winds blowing
Heating blue sky
And a road that goes forever

Been thinking 'bout it lately
Been watching some TV
Been looking all around me
At what has come to be
Been talking to my neighbour
And he agrees with me
It's all gone crazy

Well my wife returns from taking
My little girl to school
She's got beads of perspiration
As she tries to keep her cool
She says that mess it don't get no better
There's gonna come a day
Someone's gonna get killed out there
And I turn to her and say "Texas."
She says "What?"
I said "Texas."
She says "What?"
They've got big long road out there

Warm winds blowing
Heating blue sky
And a road that goes forever

I'm going to Texas
We got to get out of here
We got to get out of here

Well I got a little brother
Several meters high
Yea his built just like a quarterback
And he swears he'll testify
He says he's been to Texas
And that's the only place to be
Big stakes, big girls, no trouble there
That's the place for me

I'm going to Texas
I'm going to Texas
Watch me walking
Watch me walking

Guilty Until Proven Guiltier

The Des Moines Register’s Reader’s Watchdog tells the rather predictable tale of anti-meth zealotry run amok, as a 50-year-old farmer’s wife faces trial for buying too much pseudoephedrine at a Walgreens in the small town of Ottumwa, Iowa. Of note, even though she bought a lot of allergy pills, she actually didn’t break Iowa law. Yet she could still face a 25-year sentence for a conspiracy “with one or more persons to manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to deliver ... a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.”
Well, you know.  She didn't actually break the law... but the Authorities (TM) think that she might.  So she's arrested and charged anyways.

You don't have a problem with that, do you?  Because you know... having a problem with that isn't against the law.

Just like buying allergy medicine isn't against the law.

Kind of.

You know what you can still buy without getting arrested, don't you?



54 years ago this month, the northern part of the Urals played host to one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in the modern age. 
On the surface, what's become known as the Dyatlov Pass incident seems fairly explicable: Of a party of ten skiiers, nine perished in the middle of a high-difficulty trek in conditions that reached -30 degrees Celsius. But the details, which are mostly based on diaries of those involved as well as records from Soviet investigators, are chilling: On the night of February 2, 1959, members of the party apparently ripped their tent open from the inside, and wandered into the tundra wearing nothing but what they wore to bed.  
An interesting and weird story, but not really what I'd classify as "the strangest unsolved mystery of the last century."  Maybe "the strangest unsolved mystery of the Urals in the last century", though.

Hot Buttons

"You know," I said to the lovely Mrs. Robb just after I wound down from a very vocal rant, "I just realized that a lot of my hot button issues involve children."

Which gives you an idea of why this particular article - the source of the rant - sent me ballistic.
Finally, after a 12-year delay caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “golden rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. Over those 12 years, about 8 million children worldwide died from vitamin A deficiency. Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?
Partly responsible?

Partly responsible?

No, they are not "partly responsible".

They are wholly responsible for each and every one of those 8 million dead children, because they actively blocked access to the food that would allow them to live.
Yet, despite the cost in human lives, anti-GM campaigners—from Greenpeace to Naomi Klein—have derided efforts to use golden rice to avoid vitamin A deficiency. In India, Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist and adviser to the government, called golden rice “a hoax” that is “creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it.”
A hoax.  Right.  It exists, it's provable, but... it's a hoax.  Plus, this hoax is causing hunger!  Before it's even grown!  Not that it could ever be grown, because it's a hoax!  I mean, that is just how pure freaking evil this stuff is - it can kill you even when it doesn't exist!


My brain is currently trying to crawl out of my ear to escape the deadly levels of pure frelling stupid.  Do I even need to point out the irony of her last name?  If I ever have the misfortune of meeting Ms. Vandana Shiva, I dearly hope that I can escape with only the loss of a few dozen IQ points.  Which, as far as I could tell, would still leave me a couple of orders of magnitude more intelligent than Ms. Vandana Shiva, who apparently has a more feeble grasp of cause and effect than a brain-damaged dachshund.

But wait!  There's more!
Most ironic is the self-fulfilling critique that many activists now use. Greenpeace calls golden rice a “failure,” because it “has been in development for almost 20 years and has still not made any impact on the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency.” But, as Ingo Potrykus, the scientist who developed golden rice, has made clear, that failure is due almost entirely to relentless opposition to GM foods—often by rich, well-meaning Westerners far removed from the risks of actual vitamin A deficiency.
So.  It's not having any effect because... they have been opposed by anti-GMO organizations at every turn.  Organizations who have no problem spending money on keeping golden rice out of the hands of the people who desperately need it to save their children.  Organizations that would rather spend that money on lawsuits and bribery and propaganda than, you know, following their own advice and help supply vitamin A supplements to dying children.

Is that unclear?  Maybe this will help.


I very strongly suspect, though, that those 8 million children don't really count in the eyes of most environmentalists.

Why?  Because environmentalists hate poor people.

After all, they were foolish enough to be born to third-world parents who happened to have the wrong skin tone.  It's not like they were real, important people like a community organizer or a animal rights protestor or an OWS facilitator.  Besides, even if they did die, at least they died pure and untainted from those horrible, nasty GMO foods.  Why, I am sure that if those blind, emaciated, dying children knew just how much those environmental activists had done to for them, they would burst into tears of joy!


No More Hesitation

The subjects in NMH [No More Hesitation] targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training.
Apparently it's vitally important to teach police to not hesitate before shooting pregnant women and children.  Because, after all - there is absolutely no reason why anyone would ever think police were trigger-happy thugs who meant to do them harm, and no chance at all that a criminal would ever  impersonate a police officer.

I have to admit that I do like the title of their target line, though.

No more hesitation.


Time To Re-read "An Enemy Of The State"

That economic tsunami I warned about a few weeks ago? It's getting closer.
Fuel prices in the USA have increased steadily over the past two months, rising 51 cents a gallon on average since December 20th last year. They've now risen for 32 days in a row, according to the AA...
[John Williams] claims that overall, US inflation is running at approximately 10% at present, and expects it to worsen significantly over the course of this year. He warns that hyperinflation is a real possibility by the end of 2014. I agree with him. What we're seeing now, sparked by the weaker dollar and increasing fuel costs, is the beginning of that decline.
Yeah, yeah.  Gas prices traditionally rise in the spring.

/me looks out the window.

Well, whaddya know?  It ain't spring yet.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts that the price of gas continues to rise through March, and we get another 10% increase on top of what's already in place.  If I see $4.25 a gallon for regular in western PA by April 1st, I won't be surprised at all.

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! No...

It's a ship.  On stilts.
UAE rig-builder Lamprell announced today the successful of construction of the wind turbine installation vessel, Windcarrier 2 “Bold Tern.”

That is just plain freaking awesome.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Boo yeah!

Duke Nukem and Linux and Tablets, Oh My!

Fabian Sanglard, who recently did a review of the Doom 3 source code, is at it again.  This time around, he takes a look at the source code for Duke Nukem 3D.  In his own words, "It turned out to be a difficult experience".

Meanwhile, Linux has released version 3.8, which includes some interesting filesystem changes for Ext4, btrfs, and F2Fs.  Full notes are available at

Penultimately, Ubuntu has announced "Ubuntu for Tablets", which looks... sweet.  I suspect that this will be enough to push me over the edge and into the "Eh, what the heck" realm with regard to a Linux tablet.

Finally (promise!) the Rampant Coyote has a couple of guest posts up about choosing your game engine.  Part 2 is particularly interesting, as it has a list of interesting game engines along with a quick commentary on what they did well, what they did poorly, and why the author choose or ignored them for a project.

The Real War On Women

Colorado Democrat Rep. Joe Salazar knows women.  He also knows that those pretty little heads of theirs have trouble distinguishing between rape and, you know, rape rape.

Which is why, in his opinion, women should be disarmed:
It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop around at somebody.
Which is why, in my opinion, Colorado Democrat Rep. Joe Salazar is a sleazy, opportunistic, misogynistic scumbag of a human being who should be run out of office, run out of town, and shunned by anyone with any shred of common sense.

IOW: rope.

For the record, I fully intend to make sure that each and every one of my girls is equipped with the latest and greatest in rape whistle technology...

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.
  • Sarah Hoyt has been a roll lately.  Check out Educating the Benighted, Drinking Their Own InkTwo Sides Not Alike In Dignity and Keeping Grandma Atop The Cliff for some recent examples of her blogging awesomeness.
  • The Czar points out that Minecraft is an advanced economics simulator.  Stealth capitalism.  Sounds like it will be the Oregon Trail of my daughter's generation.
  • Parents in the LA school district work diligently to get a new charter school.  LA teachers union chooses to believe that they actually don't want a charter school.  Because... well, that's unclear.  On one hand, maybe they think that the parents are idiots who confused "charter school" with "not a charter school".  On the other hand, maybe they think that the public at large is made up of idiots who will actually buy their lame explanation.  On the gripping hand, maybe the LA teachers union is made up of a bunch of mindless jerks.
  • Mark Steyn points out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.  Oh, wait - I mean that Obama is a great performer, but a lousy leader.  Quelle surprise.
  • William Jacobsen points out that we are loosing the internet because... well, really, because progressives lie.  Repeatedly, and vigorously, and most of all, entertainingly.  For them, what matters is the performance
  • For example, it doesn't matter that Elizabeth Warren asked an irrelevant question at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.  She's being lauded not for doing a good job, but for putting on a good performance.
  • Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio may be provocative, but not in a way that progressives like... which makes their performance nasty instead of good.  After all, they're not entertaining progressives like the darling, provocative Elizabeth Warren, and they should just shut up and sit down like good little boys and let their progressive betters get on with doing the important work.  Or something.
  • Of course, the chances of Cruz and Rubio doing anything like that are slim to none.  Which means that they are racists.  Because shut up, peon.
  • Oh, and if you are wondering why I try to make a distinction between liberals and progressives, it's because of people like John Pepples.  Rather than pushing a particular political philosophy, he is genuinely interested in identifying problems and finding solutions. Take a look at some of his blog postings about leftists and religion, or his discussion of The Left's Priorities for examples.  I honestly think that John is closer to a small-L libertarian than he thinks.
  • John Robb discuses (among other things) standing pipe ground loop heat pumps.  Definitely of interest to me, as we have well water and a 60+ foot deep well.

Random Snippets, "Gun Control" Edition

You've probably already read Michael Z. Williamson's rant about liberals and gun control.  If you haven't, it's definitely worth a few minutes, as he explains how liberals have finally managed to push him to the point where he had to decide what was more important, his freedom or being one of the Right Thinking people.  The whole gun issue was apparently the final straw, because he ends his post saying:
So much for liberal tolerance... 
This is the end of my support for any liberal cause, because liberals have become anything but. 
Every cloud has a silver lining.  Yes, we're fighting the gun control fight, again.  If it drives people like Mr. Williamson away from the idiocy of progressive liberalism, then at least some good has come of the situation.

Bob Owens answers the "muskets" defense of gun control.  You know - the one that liberals like to throw up that says, "The Founding Fathers couldn't have imagined the deadly weapons that are available now."  Oh, really?
Yes, during the course of our founding war, the men who fought and eventually won it saw the creation and battlefield use of a firearm that more than doubled the rate of fire, almost a decade before they wrote the Second Amendment. Let us make it crystal clear; they were aware that technology existed that could double the rate of fire of a rifle. They’d already seen it happen, right in front of their eyes... 
The civilians of the Founder’s generation owned daggers, swords, tomahawks, “pepperbox” revolvers, pistols, rifles, muskets, fowling pieces, blunderbusses, hand grenades, swivel guns, cannon, howitzers, mortars and “every other terrible implement of war” that could be owned by a soldier.  The middle class of the day often bore arms (when they so desired them) superior in every way to the “lowest bidder” guns issued to conscript and recruits of the professional armies of the day.

RTWT.  He makes an excellent argument, and the historical data he provides is fascinating.

Should the worst come to pass, the Smallest Minority offers up some commentary on what we could expect if gun confiscation happens.  Hint: you can expect the same careful attention to detail and efficiency that you see at work in all government institutions:
If gun confiscation happens, it won't be a shoot out. You'll get 3 letters of advance notice filled with dire threats. Then a final warning (which will arrive a week late), and two late notices, full of threats... So you drive to the location to find out it was misprinted on the form. You call and google, and find the right place. You'll go through a humiliating pat-down for knives and drugs, but they won't take the gun or ammo you have in your hands - that's somebody else's job; wait in line. You'll wait in line all day long, to be turned away.

True Dat.


Through the Computer History Museum, Adobe has released the source code for PhotoShop 1.0.1.  There's a git repository for it as well.  They've also got the original MacPaint and QuickDraw source code and the System/360 APL source code from 1972 - all source code licensed for non-commercial use.

This puts me in mind of the "programmer archaeologists" of the Qeng Ho in A Deepness In The Sky.

On another note, Rainbows and Pwnies is working on rdis, a binary analysis tool with Lua scripting support.  While the current work is targeted at Linux, it doesn't look like there's any reason it wouldn't work on other systems that use ELF/PE and can build the required supporting libraries.

I can't really mention binary analysis tools without putting in a plug for pahole, a tool for finding unused memory "holes" in data structures.  Unfortunately also very Linux-centric.

Daniel Lemire has a short bit on the fact that big-O notation is a teaching tool:
The problem with the big-O notation is that it is only meant to help you think about algorithmic problems. It is not meant to serve as the basis by which you select an algorithm!
Finally, a discussion of antifragile systems.  This looks like it might be a concept worth exploring in more detail, if I can find actual concrete recommendations.  I dislike development methodologies that can't give me solid examples of how and what to do in order to achieve the desired goals.

Firestarting Techniques

A fire piston, sometimes called a fire syringe or a slam rod fire starter, is a device of ancient origin[citation needed] which is used to kindle fire. It uses the principle of the heating of a gas (in this case air) by its rapid (adiabatic) compression to ignite a piece of tinder...
Came upon a reference to this via a discussion at Chaos Manor (Jerry Pournelle's blog). There was also mention of techniques for using iron pyrite and flint as a firestarter as well. Plus, a little bit of additional wikiwandering resulted in my learning the principles behind making charcloth.

Fiscal Responsibility? What A Concept!

As part of debt reduction measures, North Carolina has cut unemployment benefits:
North Carolina lawmakers approved deep cuts to benefits for the jobless on Wednesday, in a state that has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates. 
In a debt-reducing effort, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to cut maximum weekly benefits to $350 from $535, a 35 percent drop; reduce the maximum number of weeks for collecting benefits to between 12 and 20 weeks from 26 weeks; and tighten requirements to qualify. The cuts would begin with new jobless claims on July 1.

Apparently, they owe the feds $2.5 billion they had to borrow to pay for previous unemployment benefits, and this is part of the effort to get back into the black.  They're not the only state taking making these changes, either:

Since the recession began, seven other states have reduced unemployment benefits: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina. But North Carolina’s cuts would be the “harshest yet,” according to the National Employment Law Project, an employment-rights advocacy group, since the reduction in benefits is bigger than in other states.

Unemployment should be a safety net, not a hammock.

Roses Are Red

Hey, folks - wishing you all a happy Valentine's Day!  Me?  I started the day off by coming downstairs, only to be greeted by my wonderful, amazing, incredible wife... and bacon roses.

Let me repeat that.


Roses are red.
Bacon is also red.
Poems are hard.

Yes, those are roses, made out of bacon.  Just in case that was unclear for some reason.

Dearest Mrs. Robb... you are completely, utterly, astoundingly AWESOME.

"The time has come..."

The Art of Manliness has an article on Wax Seals: A History and How-To
The use of wax seals largely disappeared along with the popularity of handwritten correspondence. But judging by the surprising number of sealed envelopes I receive from AoM readers, the practice has certainly not died out completely among those who still practice the art of letter writing. The appeal? They add an element of distinction to your correspondence, and, perhaps just as importantly, give you a chance to play with fire! If you’ve ever been curious about wax seals, today we’ll cover everything on the subject from their history to how to make them yourself.
While I have never used wax seals, as a consequence of having visited China several times as part of our adoption process, each member of our family also has their own personal chop:
Chinese seals are typically made of stone, sometimes of metals, wood, bamboo, plastic, or ivory, and are typically used with red ink or cinnabar paste (Chinese: 朱砂; pinyin: zhūshā).
I have not had very many occasions to use my chop, though not for lack of trying.  Now that I think of it, I will have to see about using it to sign my next employee evaluation.  Just because.

"Papers, please."

Earlier this week, we wrote about the latest defense by Homeland Security of their laptop search policies that (they claim) give them broad coverage to search laptops within 100 miles of the border... 
The 100 mile "buffer zone" part of that story gets most of the attention, but it isn't a new thing. They've been claiming that for a while. It's just that this is yet another attempt by them to give themselves additional support for those kinds of searches. In our comments, someone pointed us to a useful (and horrifying) map that the ACLU put together highlighting just how much of our country is within 100 miles of border/coastline, creating the Constitution-Free Zone Map -- which happens to cover about 2/3 of all American citizens.
Flyover country is looking mighty attractive all of a sudden.

Yo, New Yawk?  How do you media moguls and big-business banker types feel about the DHS saying they can waltz in and examine or seize your hardware, because... well, because you exist, and you might be trying to hide something?

Maybe they think you might have handled some transactions related to drug trafficking or money laundering.  Maybe they think that one of your customers or investors may have ties to a terrorist  organization.  Maybe they don't think anything at all, but just decide that they need the practice, or that you've been a bit too critical - or just not vocally supportive - of certain DHS policies.

Heck, maybe they don't really have any reason at all.  Except that their buddies in the IRS, or the Treasury, or the BATF, or the FDIC put a bug in their ear, and whispered some magic words like "possible terrorist connections" or "human trafficking" or "money laundering".  Because while those agencies  might not be able to just bust in and rummage through your data at a whim, well, what do you know?  The DHS can, and there's nothing you can do about it, peon.

A little bit scary, isn't it?

Yeah.  Now you're getting an inkling of the how we "right-wing nutjobs" and "bitter clingers" feel about our oh-so-wonderful federal government.

Welcome to our world.

Five Years?

Today is the five year anniversary of the Embedded Theologian.

Holy cow, time does fly.

The very first post was "It's an embedded kind of day", where I talked about LLVM and TinyCC.

Since then, I have changed my political registration from Republican to Libertarian.   I have gone from teaching teenagers to teaching 1st-2nd grade boys in Sunday school.  I was part of a team that built a storage system that was the world's fastest for about nine months.  We adopted two new dogs, and three new cats.  I have learned what it really means to be the father of a teenage girl.  I've continued to love an amazing and incredible woman, our three girls, my ministries and my Lord.

Not a bad run.

I have also managed to churn out another 720 more blog posts, which in turn have garnered over 18,600 page views. Potential investors: I would like to point out that I was able to reach this milestone without spending a single dime, which puts me well ahead of where was at any point during their brief existence.  If you are interested in investment opportunities, I am willing to entertain any offer that involves large denomination unmarked bills stuffed into a paper bag.


Speaking of meaningless blather, over the past years, my top five categories have been:
Politics?  The #1 topic?  Quelle surprise.  Meanwhile, the top five stories:
Hmm.  All of them in the past few months.  Trending upwards, as they say!  Either that, or people are just getting far less discriminating in their blog reading.

I'll stick with "trending upwards", thank you.

Of course, that positive incline may have less to do with my amazing writing, and slightly more to do with the fact that I've managed to attract attention from Borepatch a couple of times.  It turns out that his blog, one way or another, makes up seven of my top ten referrers.  Oh, and one of my top posts, really, was just some additional comments about an excellent bit of venting that Jenny did over at Cradle of Liberty...

I'm reminded of a quote that includes words like shoulders, giants, and so on.

What does the next five years hold?  We [1] have established the following humble goals:
  • Total world domination, of course.  Well, not permanently... that would be tacky.  If the Gormogons are amenable, though, I would be quite delighted to rule the world with an iron fist (in their name, of course) between 3:03 AM and 3:05 AM on February 26th, 2013.
  • Shave my head and attempt to pass myself off as Howard Tayler's long-lost, talent-impared and slightly less handsome twin.
  • Bring together Mr. Larry Correia with my good friend Jon, so that we can either (a) go target shooting, or (b) sit down and enjoy some pen-and-paper RPG fun.  Or both.
  • Pursue whatever circumstances would allow me to go all fan-boy SQUEEE! in the presence of one or more of the following: the insightful (and inciteful) Sarah Hoyt, the preternaturally eloquent Michael J. Flynn, and the previously mentioned, inimitable Borepatch.
  • Oh, yeah.  I guess I will be posting more stuff on the blog, too.  Demographic trends seem to indicate that I will only get snarkier as time goes by.  So, let's say... I'll be shooting for 2000 posts by February 12th, 2018.  If I can manage another five years without being hauled off to some sort of re-education camp, that is.
Here's to five more years.

[1] Yes, we are using the royal "we".  It helps put us in the right mood for setting goals, don'cha know.

Well, Of Course They Would Deny It

Oh, sure.  They let the emergency broadcast slip out, and now they have to pretend it was some sort of "hacker" who was playing a "prank".  What do you mean, who are "they"?  THEM!  Duh!

I suppose that the CDC's "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocoplypse" post is just a "prank" too, eh? And that it's just pure coincidence that Shamus Young, world renowned zombie survival expert, has just finished up detailing his four part zombie survival plan?


Look at the signs, man!  We are headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.  Real wrath of God type stuff.

The pope resigned and lightning struck St. Peter's Basilica!

There are spiders raining from the sky in Brazil!

Human sacrifice!  Dogs and cats, living together!

You want me, I'll be sitting up tonight with a halogen spotlight and a shotgun.

Just keeping an eye out for... raccoons, you know.

Shambling, undead raccoons of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

The Latest Fad In LA

Note to LAPD:

Update: It's not just for pickup trucks, either:

Asteroid Miners Wanted

... at Planetary Resources
Have you ever wished you could be out there on the high frontier, mining asteroids? Planetary Resources is looking for you!

I doubt that, even with significant effort on my part, I would pass a physical to go into space as anything other than a paying passenger.

I'm pretty sure they have some groundside positions that would be interesting, though...

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.
  • Packaging food for consumption in space.  Not as easy as you might think.
  • Drone strikes are bad enough, even without the moral preening and hypocrisy.
  • Who in the world ever could have thought that the Arab Spring might have some not-so-good consequences?  Aside from anyone with two functioning brain cells, I mean.
  • Ace of Spades notes that If It Will Save a Single Life, We Must Get Piers Morgan's Stupid Fat Face off the Television.
  • In a completely coincidental story totally unrelated to anything that Piers Morgan might have inspired, Noah Rothman notes that the media displays admirable restraint when they can't link a shooter to the Tea Party.  Baby steps.  Next goal would be to stop soiling themselves when around certain people, I suppose.
  • Oh, hey - Piers Morgan again.  You think that the man would eventually run out of feet to insert in his pie-hole, but you'd be wrong.  The Smallest Minority points out item number mumblety-large in the list of things that Piers Morgan doesn't get.
  • Ah, who am I kidding?  The Silicon Graybeard points out that It's Not About Guns and Maybe It's Not Even About Control, and really, I have trouble finding fault with his argument.
  • Low-Tech Magazine.  Ironically enough, available online, as it its sister site, No Tech Magazine.  Mind you, I am not complaining.  Just pointing out the irony.
  • Google releases a C++ B-tree library that implements STL container interfaces.  Good for them, and good for us code monkeys.  Seriously, if I had a quarter for every time I wished I had a good STL compatible B-tree implementation in the past year, I'd have... eh, half a buck.  So, you know, not life changing, but certainly very cool.
  • The O'Floinn talks about the price of tea in China.  Well, not really.  However, he does discuss the value of gold, which is marginally more interesting.
  • David Horowitz has some notes for the Republicans on that pesky "winning" thing they seem to keep leaving off of their campaign checklists.  Worth noting as anybody who ends up in the sights of the progressives will face these issues, because let's face it... they don't care about the issues, they don't care about the people, they don't care about anything except power.
Finally, for your entertainment: A production of F. Paul Wilson's classic short story. "Lipidlegging":

    Pandigital Handheld Electronic Encyclopedia

    Get in the know with the Pandigital WikiReader. This palm-sized electronic encyclopedia contains the entire English Wikipedia covering 3 million topics -- equivalent to more than 1,000 volumes. No internet connection is required, it comes preloaded with the entire Wikipedia and is ready to use right out of the box.
    $16.95 right now, 1 year battery life with 2 AAA batteries.  Whoa.

    No mention of the cover, though... which, IMHO, is absolutely essential:
    In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the 'Hitchiker's Guide' has already supplanted the great 'Encyclopedia Galactica' as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words 'DON'T PANIC' inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
    I find it hard to believe that there is not one single person at Pandigital who thought of this.

    When CCIEs Get Bored

    Fun with routing tables.

    Open a shell and type:
    $ traceroute
    If you're mired in the Windows world, that would be instead:
    C:\> tracert
    For me, the fun started around hop #11...

    Ryan Werber... you, sir, have just won yourself the internets today.

    Update: Credit where credit is due.  While I got the original pointer from a friend, who apparently got it from another friend, it looks like the original story was posted by Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing earlier today.

    John 15:13

    We’ve blogged recently about the passing of Mustafa Akarsu, the local guard at the US Embassy in Ankara who was killed in the suicide attack last February 1... 
    Now, David Root his supervisor at the embassy has started a fund-raising drive for Mustafa’s family.  David  is a Special Agent with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and is the Assistant Regional Security Officer at Embassy Ankara. He was also Mustafa’s American supervisor... 
    Here is what David wrote on the funding page:
    The United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey was attacked by a suicide bomber on Friday, February 1st, 2013.  Carrying a handgun, a hand grenade, and 6 kilograms of TNT, it is clear that the terrorist’s plan was to kill and do considerable harm to Americans and American Embassy employees inside.  
    His plan failed. 
    One of our own armed Embassy Guards, Mustafa Akarsu, immediately recognized the danger and stopped the bomber before he could get into the compound and begin his attack.  The suicide bomber, realizing his plan was failing, detonated the device, killing Mustafa instantly.
    John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

    Mustafa Akarsu died protecting innocents from those who would do them harm.

    He was a hero, and deserves to be honored as such.

    Give, if you can, and if you are so inclined.


    Eldest daughter, for her second and final year, placed first in her school spelling bee and so was able to attend the Chester County Spelling Bee.  Yeah, we live in Pittsburgh.  Westchester is a suburb of Philadelphia.  Cyber schools are funny that way.

    The Chester bee is a qualifying round for the Scrips National Spelling Bee.  She was hoping that she would win the whole enchilada [1] - which   However, that was not to be [2].  A pleasant young man by the name of Jacob George advanced on to the the first round of the nationals in DC, while my daughter placed a very happy second.  As she came in fourth last year, she was quite satisfied with her penultimate placing.

    She insists that Jacob had the much easier final words with "acquittal" and "bandicoot".  Such is the luck of the draw.  While she was able to puzzle her way through "adiabatic", alas, she inserted a stray "d" into "hegemonic", and so had to cede the Chester championship.

    The fault is mine.  If I had only had her read "Ender's Game", she no doubt would have crushed poor Jacob into the dust.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    As a consolation prize, she received a deluxe version of Scrabble, a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and a strange object - crafted from dead trees - that the announcer referred to as a "dik-sha-nary".  The later is apparently some sort of manually operated index that can be used as an aid to spelling.  Quite a cunning little device.  I am sure that it will be incredibly useful to her.  She's always looking for something nice and heavy she can prop the iPad against.

    Meanwhile, the lovely Mrs. Robb is somewhat relieved that we have reached an end to the incessant spelling drills.  For eldest daughter, at least.  We still have two school spelling bees coming up, and a couple of younger sisters who now have a glint in their eyes and a sibling's bar to raise.

    [1] Which was, by the way, one of the spelling words.
    [2] No pun intended.  Well, maybe a little.

    "Uncle Owen? Aunt Beru?"

    You may not have heard of Rä di Martino but since being born in Rome in 1975, moving to London in 1997 and then on to New York in 2005 and now back to Italy - Turin to be precise - she's amassed a staggering body of  interesting and well thought out work. 

    We could have picked any of her series of photographs, video films or installations to highlight but her Every World's A Stage series of photographs of abandoned Hollywood sets - specifically from George Lucas's Star Wars - in the Moroccan desert particularly caught our eye.  

    Cost-Saving Measures

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Citing budgetary concerns, the United States announced today that it would discontinue regular Saturday drone strikes on U.S. citizens, beginning in 2014. 

    In announcing the decision, the White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that the cutback in drone service was “bound to be controversial.” “In the United States, we’ve always prided ourselves on our ability to target our citizens with drone strikes, Monday through Saturday, regardless of the weather,” he said. “We know that losing Saturday drone service is going to take some getting used to.”

    U.S. Cancels Regular Drone Strikes on Saturdays

    U.S. Cancels Regular Drone Strikes on Saturdays

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Citing budgetary concerns, the United States announced today that it would discontinue regular Saturday drone strikes on U.S. citizens, beginning in 2014. In announcing the decision, the White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that the cutback...

    Time Cube

    Time Cube

    The ONLY Official SiteFor Gene Ray/TimeCube. I am a Knower of 4 corner simultaneous 24 hour Days that occur within a single 4 corner rotation of Earth.

    The previous post about the automatic conspiracy theory generator reminded me of the Time Cube, obviously. Time for some incoherence.

    Doo Doo Dee Doo DEE Doo

    The Truth Is Out There... at Verified Facts:
    Your parents may remember a time when we had basic human rights. That, of course, was before the CIA effectively ruled the world.
    Refresh the page to get a new, random conspiracy to sample every time!
    There's evidence that Madonna's rise to power was engineered entirely by Socialists, which profits from Madonna's influence in ways we do not yet completely understand.
    Find out the secrets behind Apple, Area 51, and Justin Beiber!
    In 1750, Benjamin Franklin was observed by over fifteen residents of Philadelphia as he branded an unidentified man with an Illuminati insignia. He was overheard telling one of his associates, “My work will be done once Justin Bieber arrives to complete it.”
    Learn what's really happening in the world! 
    Elementary school curricula are secretly developed and controlled by the Church of Scientology-- looking to recruit more to their cause.
    See what absurdities the RNG spits out!
    Marijuana helped Ron Paul achieve a meteoric rise to power.
    .... well, yeah, OK.  I'll give you that one.

    Spy vs. Spy

    What do you think it means to be an expert in hard-to-get elicitation? It means people tell you things. A competitive intelligence consultant discusses things that can help a business--at the expense of another.
    A fascinating article on competitive intelligence gathering.

    An ARM And A Leg

    The annual report for Cambridge, England-based ARM Holdings was just released, and two facts stand out: The first is that the company is on track for explosive growth. The second is that most of ARM’s future revenue, all of which comes from royalties, will almost certainly derive from licensing deals the company has already locked in...
    ARM does one thing exceptionally well: Design the innards of the microchips that appear in almost every smartphone or tablet you’ve ever laid hands on.
    tl;dr - everyone you know probably owns something with an ARM chip in it.

    That's a pretty impressive bit of market share...


    Before there was refrigeration, Frederic "The Ice King" Tudor figured out how to carve frozen water out of Massachusetts ponds and send it as far away as India.
    Obsession, trial and error, engineering, financial shenanigans, debtor's prison... it's all in there.

    "Book 'em, Danno."

    A 10-year-old Alexandria boy who brought a toy gun to school on Tuesday has been charged. The boy, whose name is not being released, was charged as a juvenile with brandishing a weapon, police said.
    David Gregory commits a felony on national TV.


    Ten year old boy brings toy gun to school.

    Arrest him and charge him with "brandishing a weapon".


    QOTD, Java Edition

    Comment from a friend on Facebook:

    ‎"Installing this update will ensure that your Java applications continue to run as safely and efficiently as always."
    Why all the dissing directed at Java these days?

    Oh, right.  That whole "pw0nzored" thing.

    ""Which way to the, you know, the... er..."

    Discworld: The Ankh Morpork Map For iPad
    The first ever Discworld app, The Ankh Morpork map for iPad. 
    Keep it under your hats! The first ever Discworld app is in production.
    Ahem. I do believe that a fanboy "squee" would be appropriate here.


    Well, Duh

    Along with the rest of the blogosphere, I saw this image of the president today, presumably shooting skeet down at Camp David:

    After looking the the image, my only real thought was, "Huh.  I never knew the president was a lefty."

    Yeah, yeah,  I know.  I'm kinda slow on the uptake sometimes...