Saturday, November 25, 2006

Off to Edmonton...

for about 5 days...keep safe, be happy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Idaho Zamboni caper...

HERE (Seattle Times)

BOISE, Idaho • Two employees have been fired from the city's ice skating rink after making a midnight fast-food run • in a pair of Zambonis...[the drivers]...had to negotiate at least one intersection with a traffic light on their late-night creep from Idaho Ice World...The rubber-tired vehicles, whose top speed is about 5 mph, drove about 1 1/2 miles in all.

Parks Department Director Jim Hall: "They were fired immediately...We're pretty sure it was just the one time. When we interviewed them, they didn't seem to be too concerned about it. I don't think they understood the seriousness of it."

Although neither of the $75,000 Zambonis nor their $10,000 blades appeared damaged, Hall said Boise may still try to press charges against the former employees for allegedly operating an unlicensed motor vehicle on a public street.

Hall again: "They could have been hit by a car."

"They could have been hit by a car"?!?!?!?!?! At 5 miles an hour, being the size they were, they coulda both been hit by a baby-carriage. And I can see that it would be easy for a distracted driver to overlook two drag-racing Zambonis in the hustle bustle of midnight traffic in Boise.

Totally adolescent stunt? Sure.

Fair to fire 'em? Well, yeah, firing's among the allowable responses (mind you, now they're two of the most terrain experienced Zamboni drivers on the planet)...

"operating an unlicensed motor vehicle on a public street"? Got 'em. Stone cold. That's what the courts are for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Conway Twitty & Sam Moore

Conway Twitty and Sam Moore got together for this re-make of Brook Benton's 1970 hit (written by Tony Joe White): Rainy Night in Georgia (AOL video).

Take a few minutes out to watch and listen right through--even if you've seen it before (it ain't new). Sam Moore of Sam & Dave working with early-rock & country crooner Conway Twitty. This is what happens when "Hold On, I'm Comin'", "Soul Man" and "I Thank You" meets "Hello Darlin'" and "It's Only Make Believe".

No one grandstands, no one overplays, no one gets all artsy about it...

I'm trying to tell you why this video means so much to me and it's hard because I can't find the words I'd like, but I know it has to do with stuff like self and mutual respect, honesty, appreciation, restraint, credit-where-credit-is-due, friendship, "making room" and generosity, working for the tune...just a whole whack of serious, serious musicianship. Artistry. And not just from Sam and Conway (although they IZ truly spectacular here), but from everybody.

Lemme know what ya think.

And, by the way, didja know that Conway Twitty holds the record for the most #1 country singles (40) and most #1 singles across the combined various US charts (55)?

What kind of guy was he? <---it'll give ya a clue.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Trust the Government?

OK, admittedly this is the US government, but still...

The FBI framed four innocents for murder back in the sixties because they wanted to use the real guilty guys as informants. The innocent folks spent decades in prison (two of 'em died there).
In his opening, Hartford attorney Austin J. McGuigan, representing [one of the 4 innocents], cited a score of FBI memos and reports showing that numerous FBI agents - including Hoover - not only knew the identities of Deegan's real killers, but had the information before he was killed.
One of the FBI agents in on the scam was later arrested for murder himself:
He was accused of conspiring with the murder of Roger Wheeler, president of the World Jai Alai corporation. Rico and [another mobster] were part of an underworld attempt to take over a substantial portion of the East Coast parimutuel wagering on jai alai. Rico died in January 2004 while awaiting trial in a Tulsa, Okla., jail.
Trust the Government? Yeah, right.

Meanwhile, Leonard Peltier is still in jail. He's there based on FBI testimony.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Small Victory for Tobacco Nazis...

So I'm reading FARK and it seems the little burg of Belmont, California is debating banning smoking anywhere except single-family detached homes including on the street, in parks, apartments, duplexes, and private cars. Fark Headline Comment: Personal Freedom's head asplodes.

So the debate is on. Go read it; it's fun. Sorta.

Anyways, in the midst of the curfuffle, I ran into an adult (2006-11-15 11:54:58 PM mastethom), a guy posting as mastethom. He wrote:
What a bunch of weak, soft, pussy-assed people this country is turning in to. As a life-long non-smoker, can I please be allowed to take care of myself? Anyone who wants to ban smoking and 1) actually thinks it's a good idea and 2) thinks it will work should be shot in the face.
I admire this person.

It's always inspiring to run into someone who understands freedom.

Either you think he's right or you can fuck off.

I'm quitting smoking just so I can back this guy up.

(Yeehaw!! Mastethom has a website!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sheena: "The Forgotten"

Some days the blogosphere can be a wondrous place.

This post, from Sheena, at her blog SheenaVision.

Thank you, Sheena.

I think you just earned every good thing that ever happens for you.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thank you, Joanne...


Fuck. I have waited a loooooooong time to see an article this comprehensive (Ottawa Citizen) on a subject usually ignored, denied or evaded.

Thank you, Joanne Hatherly, Victoria Times Colonist.

--found here (also interesting).

Variation on a Theme...

I've simply never seen a better set of intructions on how to do a job well. What you read here can apply equally well to just about any job, whether you are working for someone else or yourself.

Don't miss it--and don't let yourself think you know how good the advice is based on how you feel about the writer. It's good advice. Period.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Enemies and Opponents...

I don't know much about Tony Snow but I've linked to Wikipedia if you want to find out more.

That's not my point.

This is:

Snow was recently quoted (CNN) as saying:

"...We do have an opportunity to return to a prior period where you still had big, vigorous disagreements, but at the end of the day you could still acknowledge that the people with whom you're disagreeing are respectable, likable, good people."

Kate McMillan points to an article by Victor Davis where Davis notes some of Donald Rumsfeld's accomplishments. Check the Rumsfeld's history here or here. Lord knows that the guy has made mistakes, big freaking mistakes, on the world stage no less. But I've gotta hand it to a guy with enough modesty to say this: "Learn to say 'I don't know. If used when appropriate, it will be often."

Anyways, I went looking for Rumsfeld quotes. I found them here ( and here (Slate) and, well, all over the place once I went looking.

Sorry--but warts and all, I like the guy. I might not want him as Secretary of Defence, but I'd be tickled to have him over for coffee.

A few Rumsfeldisms...

"I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said."

"There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

"Everyone is so eager to get the story, before in fact the story's there, that the world is being fed things that haven't happened."


Read what Billy Beck has to say on Rumsfeld. Billy is spot on about this (and why Bush Jr's actions are more than callous), and I'll add that I agree that the situations Rumsfeld had to deal with were skewed enough by the time he took the reins that shortcomings are understandable and certainly not entirely Rumsfeld's fault. And I'll agree that Rumsfeld handled the episode of his dismissal with grace.


Enough about Rumsfeld and back to my overall point, which is also Snow's point, I think:

People are not their caricatures. Very few people are as fully evil as painted by their histrionic enemies, nor are they often as good as described by their most fervent admirers. Instead, most folks are some mix of wise and foolish, knowledgeable and ignorant, caring and thoughtless, and--consequently--correct and wrong.

Don't misunderstand me. One of the most valuable points ever made by Ayn Rand (The Cult of Moral Grayness/1964)was that very few things--and certainly not moral proinciples--are gray in this life, but that it is most important when things look gray to carefully work to discover exactly what is white and what is black. Put another way, Rand noted that "there may be "gray" men, but there can be no "gray" moral principles" which is connected (but probably not intentionally) to the Alcoholics Anonymous sophism: "Principles before personalities."

An example: As closely as I remember the details, there was a debate I saw between John Ridpath and Leonard Piekoff (Capitalist/Objectivists) on one side and Jerry Kaplan and Jill Vickers (both ideological socialists). At one point an audience member asked Ridpath a question in terms that clearly identified Caplan and Vickers as Nazis or murderers or some exaggeration of that sort. Ridpath took the time to explain, as much as he disagreed with his opponents, that he would be very hesitant to state anything like that without strong, clear and specific evidence. Ridpath, in other words, kept the debate to principles not personalities.

I try to do the same; I try not to see those I disagree with as enemies. Sometimes they are merely opponents. Enemies and opponents are not the same thing. I've put something similar this way, for years: No one was ever insulted into changing their mind. But people have had their minds changed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Iraq: An Interesting Exercise for those...

...who like reading between the lines.


Hmmmmmm...Sunni & Baath (sometimes the same folks) Iraqi insurgents loyal to Saddamare being asked by Saddam and his lieutenants (including a Saddam/Baath second in command, former vice-president Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri , still at large) to cease hostilities.

That doesn't mean all the Sunnis will stop--or even all the Baathists who happen to be Sunni, but still...

And I'm looking at the CBC News picture of Saddam today. So should you. (I'd post the photo here but I'm not sure if that's legal).



Friday, November 03, 2006

Compusec (free & spyware/malware free)

HERE, available for Windows or Linux.

It seems like every week y'hear a horror story about a stolen or lost desktop computer or laptop--and everybody is freakin' because of sensitive data, ready for the taking.

OK...for most folks the sensitive data may be entirely personal. For others, it's business related information like detailed membership or customer lists, financial information, passwords and so on.

Or maybe you just don't want unauthrorized folks poking around your computer, even though it's sitting right where it should be.

Well, if someone steals your computer--or just decides to boot it up and have a look--and you have Compusec running, what they get is nothing. Even if they take your hard drive out of your machine and put it in another computer, they still can't get at your data. Period.

OK--maybe the CIA could get in--but even then it would be expensive, and likely prohibitively expensive. But, bottom line, no street level thief is gonna be able to do anything to get around Compusec. For that matter, neither are nosy kids, friends or anyone else...

Here's how it works (quote from the Compusec website):

FREE CompuSec® intercepts all reads and writes to the hard disk. Just before information is written to the hard disk, Free CompuSec® encrypts it. Conversely, right after any data is read from the hard disk, FREE CompuSec® immediately decrypts it. So the process of encryption and decryption is transparent to the user. Note that first-time encryption takes a longer time than the subsequent encryption and decryption process.

Then, just for fun, Compusec writes a pre-boot access program (where you have to enter a password) to the very first sectors of your hard drive. In other words, the very first thing on the hard drive is the Compusec login. If the login isn't successful, then the computer is not gonna do anything except keep asking for the password.

Again, from the Compusec website:

CompuSec® has a pre-boot authentication mechanism that requires a modification of your Master Boot Record (MBR). Your MBR are files that contain important information on how and where your operating system is and other system information. Therefore, in order to authenticate the user before the operating system boots up, we are required to modify the MBR. Why do we need to do so? Well, as you might probably know, many [programs] (i.e. keylogggers) are able to spy and record keystrokes that are performed when you are using your PC. However, these programs can only run using the windows operating system.

In short: this is way more secure than a bios password: no password, no access. The data is encrypted and password protected, right from the get-go. As I mentioned, even if the hard drive is taken out and put in another machine, or even if the bios battery is removed and replaced, the pre-boot access control still works, and unauthorized folks get nowhere.


1) Read the instructions carefully, and don't forget your password (although Compusec does provide a workaround that only you can use if you do forget your password).

2) Your mileage may vary. I've used this software for months, trouble-free but always backup data you can't afford to lose, and store your backups somewhere else where you can get it if you need it.

3) It's an unlikely circumstance, but somone could always beat the password out of you. Assume that torture will work.