There is a terrible crisis in our nation at this time. It is a crisis that is coital in nature. The Prince of Darkness, Joe Biden, has been elected Vice President of the United States of America. This is a man who bred hideous creatures in an underground lab and then created a tax shelter for them. The Prince of Darkness will bring terrible things upon the heads of patriotic Americans such as myself and my friend Chopper. Our tax money will be used to teach the feeble minded how to swim, provide trips to Disney World in Florida for violent criminals and drugs lords (who could at least be asked to pay for the trip to Disney out of their own deep pockets – but that won’t happen with a Democrat in the Office of Traitor), and to repair roads that are already being driven on. Instead of being rewarded for our ingenuity and our dedication to fine workmanship in the craft shops around our great country, we will soon be rewarded for taking craps on public floors.

This is why I, Berhardt Goats, sensible man, am announcing my run for Vice President of the United States of America in 2012. We must regain faith in icons and statues. We need to put the money back in the hands of people who have experience having lots of money for really long periods of time because those who do not always have very much money on them obviously cannot be trusted with any of it any longer. Changes must be made. We must become a nation of first born children, something that will start with the very necessary enslaving and brutal mistreatment of all the people in this country who were not first born children, unless the first born child died before any of his or her siblings were born in which case a second born child could receive a special dispensation.

Changes MUST be made. The progress of our fathers cannot be permitted to be stopped by the malignant tumor of our mothers and their sickening ways. We must look to the man, the man who stood strong and tall at the gates when the battle was about to begin and did not blink or become in the least bit flinchie. That is the kind of man we need. That is the kind of man I am. I am a non-flinchie man.

Color with your secondary children before they are rightfully put into irons and forced to do underground labor to build a mysterious dark city in which we will rise from our own ashes after Phoenix is destroyed by terrorists. Color with them and help them to enjoy games and diversions. In the near future there will be no more of that for them. There will only be suffering. And you will only have one man to blame for this. Joe Biden.

I am not a crank. I am a fully tenured professor of ethics in the Greater Maryland University System. This position is only given to people with knowledge and ability, not to cranks.

The text of

Honey! Come look! It's a long node title. The author must be possessed of a certain mad joy for life! Their poetry must be insightful and witty and special. I'm certain of it.

included here for histrionic purposes.


When the new system was put in place,
I was totally gay for it.
(I'm trying to get people to use that phrase,
blank is totally gay for blank,

It is funny to use in a serious context,
or when it has to do with straight people,
Geeks are totally gay for Linux,
My mom is totally gay for my dad.)

Lots more nodes,
lots of really exciting stuff. A larger contingent of the other stuff.
A lot more throw-it-at-the-wall-lets-see-if-it-sticks stuff.
Which is marvelous.
Except,
sometimes it doesn't stick.

And this needs to be addressed.
Because history will repeat itself.

Remember a year ago,
when an editor deleted a poem by an older user?
And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth?
Some people are totally gay for his work,
and they considered it a transvesty that the poem was deleted.

Read the damn thing.
Put your hand over the name.

I'm not attacking anybody.
I'm just sayin'
If we are working on a free for all model,
we need more aggressive editorial policy.

One with less pussy-footing.

Short Post-Poem QA

Q: Who get's to decide what stays and what leaves? You? *snort*
A: Editors decide what stays and what goes.

Q: It's not like we're hurting for space. It's not hurting anyone. What's the big deal?
A: Signal to noise ratio. If number of nodes rises, the number of substandard nodes will rise. The important thing about E2 is that it not be a slog through dreckville to find quality.

Q: Doesn't this node advocate for it's own deletion?
A: Yes, I guess it does.

Q: Why post it then?
A: Honestly?

Q: Yes.
A: To see if I can get away with it.

Q: What instructions do you have for those who find you reactionary, childish, profane, and moronic?
A: Go eat a dick.

Notes from the Surf

Stacking Bricks on Your Head
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=lV-iP1jSMlI&fmt=18
One person's everyday chore is another person's amazing ability.

The Shape of an Ant City
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQERRbU23bU
Skip to 4:00 if you're bored.

Merlin
http://xkcd.com/270/
I guess this would make sense only if you've seen the movie...

There you go, Little Seed!
http://www.amazingsuperpowers.com/ComicArchive/123.htm
Let's hear it for the Oily Noodle.

Latest News from Iceland... Translated
http://newsfrettir.com/
"I lost my job at the end of October as a result of the depression so, for now, I consider my job to be translating Icelandic news for those of you who are interested in this crisis that is shaking the very foundations of the Icelandic society."

Free-Market Meat Market
http://nymag.com/news/features/artifact/51814/
Here we observe the Ayn Rand follower mating in his natural habitat...

The Guardian: "Tony Blair helped Murdoch overcome an official investigation which was jeopardising one of his big investments"
http://www.socialist.net/how-blair-felt-instant-sympathy-for-murdoch.htm
Judging by the rest of Blair's record, this is hardly surprising.

The Chicago Conspiracy
http://www.subversiveactionfilms.org/english.php
"Chile soon became a classic example of free market capitalism under the barrel of a gun."

Ecuador Asserts Debt Taken by Dictators Illegitimate and Illegal
http://www.alternet.org/audits/108769/as_crisis_mounts,_ecuador_declares_foreign_debt_illegitimate_and_illegal/
"Ecuador's use of legitimacy as a legal argument for defaulting would set a major precedent; indeed, the mere formation of a debt auditing commission does so."

Poland: There is an alternative to privatization of health care
http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos21728.html
Picketing hospital workers call for turning hospitals into cooperatives instead of traditional privatization.

Couldn't sleep again last night. I've been sick the last few days, some kind of all-over achiness and coughiness and head stuffy, but no fever or any really clear symptoms, making it almost impossible to sleep.

Yesterday I was feeling somewhat better, but still couldn't sleep. I'm hoping this is not a resurgence of the insomnia that I had for most of my adult life. To this day I don't know how or why that stopped, although I have a pet theory that it might have been caused (somehow) by celiac disease, and cured by an extended period of eating no gluten whatsoever. The celiac has been acting up lately, because I got complacent and ate a hamburger with bun here, a slice of pizza there, and am probably still getting a regular dose of hidden gluten in the supposedly safe things I eat.

I found out the other day that there is wheat in my favorite brand of hot dogs. To say that this pissed me off would be a wild understatement. I've been eating these hot dogs (Nathan's) for years without ever thinking I had to check the label.

If you have celiac, you must ALWAYS check the label. And you always have to assume that there is no "safe" amount of cheating, because you are always getting invisible gluten from somewhere. It can't be avoided completely. If it's not in your hot dogs, it's in your fries, toothpaste and cough drops.

Anyway, I finally got to sleep at sometime past 3 AM (probably way past) and promptly had The Cannibal Dream. And if you think that sounds like some bad shit, you're right. It's a half hour or so, which feels like days, full of decaying industrial settings, nameless monsters stalking me, my friend Susan getting eaten by someone, and eventually discovering who that someone is and being caught by them in the act of discovery, being captured, tied up, and forcing myself to wake up just before I start to be devoured.

Not much chance of sleep after that.

*****

I discovered a few days ago that I can actually still draw. This was quite shocking, since I haven't drawn anything but crayon pictures with the Spawn in a good ten years or so.

When I was a kid, I kind of assumed that I would be a working artist one day. It was all I ever did. I was the kid that always had a sketchbook, the one whose bedroom walls were painted floor to ceiling with phantasmagoric scenes, whose jeans were always full of paint splashes. Art was the only thing I cared about doing in school, and although I was probably never going to set the world on fire, I was good enough to get into the local art college even after flunking out of regular high school and becoming known in educational circles as an extremely problematic kid.

Unfortunately the IDF didn't like the "bum around in art school for another couple of years" plan, so I never finished that. But all through the army and well into adult life, I kept drawing right up to the second I decided I was much better at writing than at painting or anything else I had done. All my life I had flirted around with various artistic fields, from painting and sculpting and creating comics, to photography and filmmaking, to "singing" in a fledgling Goth-punk band whose complete failure and subsequent disintegration probably had something to do with the fact that I was about as commited as a butterfly. When I eventually started to grow up, rather late in life, I decided I had to focus on something. I chose writing, and I haven't drawn since then.

After a while, you tend to assume that you've lost the artist muscles. I know for damn sure that I don't remember a thing about photography, and it stands to reason that I'd lose all my other skills, like a ballerina who hasn't taken a step on a stage in years would lose her balance and stamina.

I should have realised that ten years later, that dancer can still burn up the dance floor down at the club, even if she's lost any chance of joining the Bolshoi. (I really should have known this, because I married that dancer. Yes, I'm a little slow sometimes.)

So, I'm sitting with the Spawn on Sunday and telling her to come up with something for us to do together - no movies, no DS games, something that involves doing, not experiencing. She says we can write poems. I say fine, we can each write a poem and a drawing to go with it.

She writes a pretty good one about winter. I do a haiku about chipmunks in winter, and start to draw a chipmunk in ink dots, because her latest unit of the TAG program was about pointillism and I always used to like doing that kind of thing. Spawn was not all that impressed with her own pointillism, but she was amazed by my chipmunk. And even though a big part of my job is doing things that will amaze the kids, after a while, I had to admit that it was looking pretty good. You could tell it was a chipmunk, not a squirrel or a mouse, and it had a glint in its eye and depth and shading and it fit into the scenery properly. I kept working on it on and off until my wife came home from the restaurant and said, "that's really good. We could hang that in the kid's room." And then it started to sink in. It *was* a good drawing. Not MOMA quality or even "sell it at the coffeeshop" quality, but certainly good enough to hang in our own house.

I could still do it. That's a wonderful feeling.

(Don't even ask about the poem. Poetry was never one of my strong suits, even in my GAF days.)

*****

Just finished reading Greenmantle by Charles de Lint. Wonderful book. With all the fuss in the mainstream press over Neil Gaiman's urban fantasies, people forget that guys like de Lint were doing that "ancient gods are still amongst us" thing when Neil Gaiman was wearing superhero underwear. Charles de Lint also has something that the Gaiman (talented though he is - I like Gaiman a lot) doesn't seem to have developed - his ordinary people's stories are just as interesting as those of the characters touched by magic. That is to say, the mundane in de Lint's stories is as well written as the fantasy. This is pretty rare in the horror/fantasy field, and is one of the things that make Stephen King such a standout and a major publishing force beyond the walls of the horror ghetto. King's secondary characters and minor side stories shine. De Lint is just as good at it, and it shows beautifully in Greenmantle.

Today I woke up to about 2 inches of snow outside our bedroom window. The baby woke me, crying because he thought he was hungry, but then when I tried to feed him he decided he wasn't, and just went wide-awake instead. No chance of sleep after that. Normally this would be a very bad start to my morning at 8am, but I always feel invigorated and overjoyed by even the sight of snow, and when I came downstairs to make coffee and saw the peaceful whiteness everywhere, I smiled to myself like a kid. I mean, there's peaceful, and then there's the kind of peaceful that comes with a thick layer of fresh snow all over a quiet country town. Little stone walls and trees covered with the stuff. Kids out flinging snowballs at windows dressed in hats and gloves with the labels still hanging off them, because for some reason no one was ready for this winter. I blame Al Gore. He told us all that we were only going to get warmer, so everyone forgot to buy hats.

It's time for...what? Traffic is clogged up on the slushy main roads all over North Yorkshire, and schools and offices everywhere have shut down for the day, but I can't call off work claiming that I'm snowed in, because I work from home. So, it's time for work. However, work is not what I'm going to do. I'm going out for a snowy walk along the river with my family to go and have tea in Josh's grandmother's house a little further down the valley. Yes, valley. I'm not a city boy any more, and I love it.

Of keyboards and storage

I'm looking for the ideal keyboard. So far the best I've found would be either the Unicomp EnduraPro, Das Keyboard professional or the various Cherry mechanical-switch keyboards - though the Matias Tactile looks pretty nice too, in a glossy-plastic Apple-circa-PowerMac-G5 way. Well, those, or the classic IBM Model M, which is an awesome piece of engineering. I do have a 24 year old Model M, still working, used as the main keyboard on my SGI Octane. The snag is, though, I'm unreasonably enamored with shiny little extra-functions keys, like those offered on the Sun Type 5/6/7. If I could just get a Sun Type 7 with mechanical keyswitches or buckling-spring action, possibly with a thick plastic or metal reinforcing plate, I'd be in heaven. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the Type 6 and Type 7 as it stands - they're some of the best rubber-dome keyboards out there - but buckling springs are so much nicer.

Then there's the storage server project. For a little background - I live in a complex of flats with a bunch of friends. (Although I'm deployed overseas right now.) All our flats are wired together with Category 6 cable, so I've bunged a gigabit Ethernet switch down in the wiring closet so that we can more easily network all our various computers without resort to slow, insecure, unstable wireless. So between the lot of us we got the idea to build a central storage server to keep all our files on. Well, we also have about 600 DVDs, between about 6 of us. It would be so much easier to have all these stored on one central server. So, I'm gathering up the parts to build it, and it'll be my big project upon return.

Specs are as follows, for now:

  • Tyan Thunder K8WE motherboard - eBayed for less than $90.
  • 2x AMD Opteron 250
  • 6GB RAM
  • 8x 750GB and 4x 1.5TB SATA disks (Seagate Barracuda series)
  • 2x Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA disks for the OS
  • Adaptec 31605 PCI Express SAS controller
  • Intel 2-port PCI-X gigabit ethernet card
  • ATi Radeon 9000 PCI graphics
  • Antec 800W energy-efficient PSU
  • Norco 4u server case with 20 hot-swap SATA/SAS bays
  • Sun Solaris Express community edition b100 or later OS (for ZFS)

The budget to build this was split 6 ways so it wound up pretty cheap, and some of this was pre-existing kit or cast-offs from other upgrades. The storage will be allocated as 6 RAID1 blocks, striped, making a RAID 10 array. Eventually we'll add 5 more 1.5TB disks and a 250, 4 for data (two more mirror sets) and one hot spare for each zpool. I'll be using ZFS for volume management. If you've never played with it, it's downright cool. Maybe not quite as slick as Veritas VxVM, but a whole hell of a lot cheaper! It also includes end-to-end checksumming to shield against data corruption.

Is that kind of hardware overkill? Yeah, you bet your asteroids it is, but why not? I figure, we build this thing once and it'll still be purring along nicely 5+ years from now - with some disk swaps, obviously, but hey, that's the point of ZFS + RAID10. And while I'm at it, I'll figure out some of the pitfalls and tricks to managing a proper storage server, rather than just a too-old gaming box pressed into service as a jimmysquidded file dump.

I have to have projects to keep me sane - even if I can't poke at them for another 4 months yet.

Hmm, I haven't actually posted anything here in some time.

Truth be told, I've been quite busy learning things and putting them to use against forces that want to see me fail at life - in all possible ways.

But, I just had an idea for a fantastic node that nobody else has written about yet, but I noticed we have this new system for noding.

So, I'm writing this to check it out and see how it handles.

Well, I'm fairly pleased so far. Now to post...

My mother is a TV news junkie. In a way this is to be expected from a former professional politician, but she falls asleep to CNN. And like many around the world, we spent last Wednesday watching the horrible news of the terrorist bombings in Mumbai, India. So there we were watching angry crowds, burning hotels, and jostled reporters, all through layer after layer of graphics.

It's like this: My mom has a 37" T.V. not huge by modern standards, but still pretty darned big. Yet somehow the networks managed to turn it into a 17" set by overlaying layer after layer of graphics. First there's the news scroll. Just above it, in big bold print they remind you that you're watching the bombings of Mumbai, as if we somehow had missed the obvious. Finally, in the upper left corner is the actual picture, surrounded by a window of blazing orange and yellow. It even had its own event scroll, unreadable as it was buried beneath yet another layer of graphics. It was as if the network was parodying itself by laying on so much crap that you couldn't see the picture. I always thought pictures were the strength of television news, with an image or clip conveying information that might take pages to write.

The reason, ladies and gentleman, is multitasking. Even though we have the internet, the iPhone and podcasts, it seems Americans watch every bit as much TV as they did back in the day, when there were three networks, local channels pushing re-runs and B movies, and one tube in the living room, which we all fought for. We watch TV with our laptop in our lap and the ear buds from our iPod firmly implanted. We're doing two or three things at once and it seems the younger we are the better we are at it.

So while I think the media's current case of graphic overdose stupid and self-defeating, I get it. They don't have our attention, just a sliver of it. They, (and their advertisers) want it all. And so they pile on the crap, hoping that we'll take a moment to glance up from World of Warcraft and notice there's a story on.

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