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This is the archive for April 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Patriot's Day.

In all the talk of guns we're hearing in the last few days, the 800 lb gorilla in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge is the reason guns were important enough to address in the second amendment to the constitution. It's not sports, it's not hunting, and it's not even self-defense from individual psychopaths.

The reason it was so important to the founders is that it is the last-chance check on runaway government power. Along with jury nullification - now made de-facto if not explicitly illegal by a runaway government intent on retaining its power - arms in the hands of individual citizens are the only way that a government that has been hopelessly corrupted can be prevented from being turned against those whom it was supposed to protect.

Today is the anniversary of the day that was driven home in unambiguous terms - when the most powerful government on earth was held in check by farmers and merchants who no longer had recourse to the law for the protection of their inalienable rights.

It's argued now that "it can't happen here" because this is a free country and not a dictatorship, and that even if it did, there's no way individuals could stand up to the overwhelming power of the military. The first is simply wishful thinking. It can happen here, it can happen anywhere. The main reason this is still a nominally free country is precisely because we are aware that it could happen here, and in the main, the general public, liberal and complacent as they may be, have certain lines they still resist crossing.

As to the second, well, realize that gun owners in America constitute what is probably the largest, even if not most technically sophisticated, army in the world. If one of them has a beef, his guns won't help him. If it's important enough to enough people, their guns won't be stoppable.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It is no longer possible to argue that ABC News is not pursuing a specific agenda regarding guns.

This poll is about as biased as you can get. They might as well ask if you've stopped molesting your children yet.

How about: "No, gun control is why it is possible for one person to kill so many so easily."

UPDATE: Confederate Yankee has more about ABC.
It's probably a selection bias, but it seems like I'm reding more this time about how the gun-grabbers in Virginia share in the blame for the latest mass-murder shooting spree. And of course, the other side asks us how dare we politicize such a tragedy.

They're right. This kind of thing should not be politicized. So repeal all the damned gun laws.

You see, this tragedy was politicized long before it occured. And all the other ones that came before it have been politicized relentlessly.

The right to defend ones self, and to own and use the tools necessary for it are not controversial. They just are. It is taking that right away that is politicization. It is politicization that leads to these things becoming as bad as they are.

Do you remember the Appalachian Law School shooting? It happened back in 2002. A gunman rampaged through the school and killed lots and lots of people... Oh, wait, no he didn't. Because one of the students there was able to get his gun out of his car and stop the guy after he killed the school's Dean. Of course, that one was not politicized.

If not for this, the VT story may have been much the same, a local story about a guy who killed his girlfriend before her resident advisor intervened and dropped him. It might even have made the 6:00 national news, and page 3 of the morning paper.

And maybe 28 or 29 people who are dead today would still be alive. But they're not, because of politics.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A quote I saw somewhere sums up my feelings on the Virginia Tech massacre about as well as anything I could say, and far more briefly:
Imagine what could happen if university students are allowed to carry guns. Because now we don't have to imagine what could happen if they aren't.
I can't remember where I saw it, but if anyone can tell me, or I run across it again, I'll attribute it properly.

As to the legal wranglings over there a little over a year ago: You. Fucking. Assholes. I hope there really is a hell, so a special place can be made for you in it. (Hat tip to Billy on that one, Malkin had it too, and it's making the rounds.)

UPDATE: I made the above quote from memory, and this morning I'm remembering it slightly differently, so I changed the wording to make more sense.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Al, the Old Whig, informs me that The Objective American Daily is apparently gone. It's been on my blogroll from the start. E.G. Ross, the sole writer of what was essentially a blog before they were called that, was an outstanding writer and analyst, and his incessant optimism was as refreshing as it was rational. He died several years ago, suddenly from a brain aneurysm. I know it was after 9/11, but I think before the US invaded Afghanistan, certainly before the Iraq invasion. I really miss reading what he would have had to say about all that.

As I said in my comment below, I had started some time ago to pull down his articles, with the thought of possibly offering to mirror them here, at least to have them for myself to read, but I never finished. Alas, now I may never get the chance.

UPDATE Good news! The Wayback Machine has the articles. Enjoy Thanks a bunch, Rich.

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John T. Kennedy hasa good point in a comment over at Rich's place about the Rutgers girls. I heard roughly the same take from an offline friend just after posting about it. Basically it's this: they are young and naive, and, rather than knowingly trying to gain advantage from this, they just got sucked into the Sharpie vortex.

That could be, it's probably even likely, but it doesn't really change my take on it. Knowingly or not, they are playing the part that the pimp Sharpton would have them play. If it is just naivete, then the tragedy of what they have lost is all the greater for them. But either way, they will have lost something extremely important to a vile predator, something that could only be given willingly, and that Imus could never in a million continuous hours of slurs and epithets ever have come close to touching. Sharpton feeds on other people's honor, integrity, and dignity. He consumes them, and leaves the empty husks behind.

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ADMIN NOTE: Hmm, I just noticed that the title of this makes no sense whatsoever. Oh well, chalk it up to another brain fart.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Geeasuzuh Keerist, now I'm gonna have to write about this too...

The Rutgers Girls are both "highly angered" and "deeply saddened" by Don Imus' comments about their hairstyles, amnong other things. Too bad the highs and lows here don't average out to level-headed.

Lets get Imus out of the way right off the bat. I've never had any interest in him. The few times I've listened to him, he was like a verbal Quaalude. That's the last thing I need in the morning, let alone any other time of day.

But in this, he was right. Or, at least, it turned out to be right. There's a temporal paradox here that I don't want to get into for fear of having to kill my Grandfather in 1932, but, like a self-fulfilliing prophesy, his accusation became right only after he made it... and only as a direct result of his making it... thought it might not have been right at the time he made it... See, I knew I shouldn't have gotten into it.

No, he was not right about their hair. As you can see in the picture, the horribly demeaning accusation of nappy-headedness is quite beyond the pale. (Oh, shit, am I allowed to say "pale"? Cause, I wouldn't want to get on Sharpie's bad side.)

What he was right about was that other part. You know, those two letters that apparently cause full grown adults to become "physically and emotionally drained" and "scarred for life". They'll certainly claim that this physical and emotional drainage was quite beyond their ability to stanch, but really, it's just a career choice. Well, not really a career, more like an office temp.

The word "ho" is slang for "whore". Back in the day, "whore" simply meant a woman who trades sex for money. There's a certain kind of honor in that profession, and so I'm concerned that Imus' use of the term for these newest members of Sharpie's stable might be offensive to old-school whores. On the other hand, the kind of pimps those women are in thrall to have no concern for making hay except for the rolling-in kind, so I don't expect any tearful public apologies will be required on that count.

The reason "whore" became an epithet arises from the notion that to whore yourself is to trade something of fundamental, lasting importance - like your integrity - in exchange for some immediate but temporary benefit. In modern usage we have "media whores" (Paris Hilton), "karma whores" (in online forums where comments are rated), and "link whores" (in the blogsosphere). In todays wide-wide-world of whoredom, it is not even money the whores seek, but that most ephemeral and questionable of payments: attention and approval.

The pimp himself realizes much more tangible benefits, but then that's the nature of a pimp. He'll use 'em up and leave them to fend for themselves on the street corner once they get a little too long in the tooth for generating the levels of business required to maintain his stock of feather boas, gold chains, and 3-inch whitewall tires.

At some point, these girls' victimhoods will no longer be in the full flower of youth, and their finely crafted pouts will no longer be the irresistable come-on that drives helpless johns like Imus into Sharpie's clutches. Playing this kind of hardball doesn't come with any golden parachutes. They'll realize that what they gave up so cheaply during a week spent on their metaphorical backs has been so irredeemably and irreplacably consumed by Sharpie and his fellow media pimp-wannabes that it won't be there for them later, when they'll (hopefully) understand it's full value.

Sharpie rails endlessly about, among many other things, "exploitation" of minorities. If that isn't the pot calling the kettle... Uh-oh, I've really stepped in it now. I'm sorry, Al, please forgive me. I promise to only think pure thoughts from now on. Please, make it go away, just tell me which cleverly acronymed front organization I'll need to send a check to to buy off my sins .
So I'm in the bowels of the institutional-level financial software application, my small part in the production of which currently pays my mortgage, and I find that it simply blows itself up when it gets in a bad mood. It doesn't get into a bad mood often - in fact I have to intentionally stress it out, tease it mercilessly and egg it on in order to put it in a foul enough mood to snap back at me. This consists mostly of repeatedly telling it that it's a good for nothing lazy bum who will never amount to anything. Or something like that.

Turns out, that even with this relentless badgering, the chance of it getting into a sufficient funk is about one in a million, literally. Which means I can make it reliably happen at will in about 3 seconds. Literally.

I'm working in the bowels of this app (which is probably enough in itself to make anyone cranky). Its the engine of the whole thing, a framework that simply everything else depends on, so it's pretty important. This is a highly multi-threaded piece of work, which means, in normal-people talk, that lots and lots of parts are all whizzing around at the same time, rather than working in a nice polite single file the way computers are meant to operate.

The normal way to find a bug is to isolate the suspected parts until only one part is left and it still makes things blow up. Then that's the aprt to fix or replace. The problem is that with all this multi-threadedness, all those parts whizzing around each other, that it is usually the places where the parts meet that causes the problems. One gear can spin by itself forever without grease, but mesh two of them together, and sparks fly. This makes the divide and conquer approach tricky at best.

So, anyways, now, I've got the engine laying around in pieces, its vital parts spread out on the garage floor among little globs of grease and puddles of oil and those damn extra screws that I can't remember where they came from. And I finally see the problem. It's like a little grain of sand that's been cutting grooves in the crankshaft.

You see, there's a thing we'll call "x" (names have been changed to protect the innocent, and your eyes), and it has to be smaller than "y" in order to fit into the cramped little piece of the Linux operating system that I'm about to stuff it into. So I write:

if (x > y) ...

That says that if x is bigger than y, do some stuff - "stuff" in this case being to break x into smaller pieces.

But these damn computers are far, far pickier than that. Really, it's like trying to guide a three year old in doing brain surgery via a game of Simon Says. See, x has to be smaller than y, so telling it to do something if x is bigger than y is not good enough. What if x is the same size as y? Hmm? Simon says BOOM.

The line shoud read:

if (x >= y) ...

Oy vey! One damn character, and it took a day and a half to find it. And I wrote that line myself not a week ago. The initial problem was that the thing would blow up if the value of x was just any old kind of wrong. All my "fix" did was to make it blow up only when the value of x was one very specific kind of wrong, which only made it harder to find. The worst bit is that this is part of a fairly standard way of normalizing data (which means basically making it the right size to stuff into where it needs to go), and I should have known in my sleep that that extra little equal sign needed to be there.

Now I've got to put all the parts back together - which is why I'm writing about it instead of doing it... I swear, if there's any screws left over, I'm gonna start drinking again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My web host had a server problem yesterday, and when my site got restored, the CAPTCHA for comments was somehow lost. I've had to disable comments for now until I can fix it.

UPDATE: Comments are now reenabled. Have at it, unless you're a goddamn spamer, then please go somewhere and die a horribly painful and lingering death.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yeah, I'm still here. I'll post some real stuff one of these days, I promise..

Anyway, I posted this for Sal, she'll be really excited about it. She's got a thing for Bruce, ya know. ;-)



Do you recognize the sidekick? There's gotta be a joke in there somewhere having to do with officer McClane being past his prime, a little unstable, and always crashing something...