21 April 2008


...if instead of invading, occupying, and truly screwing up a country half-way around the world - a country which posed no significant threat to either this country or its "allies in the region" (i.e., Israel) - we invested some of that energy in our own backyard, say, Haiti or Honduras.



Came across this on Steve Dekorte's blog. Interesting philosophical perspective (from the 'pedia):

Zapffe's theory is that humans are born with an overdeveloped skill (understanding, self-knowledge) which does not fit into nature's design. The human craving for justification on matters such as life and death cannot be satisfied, hence humanity has a need that nature cannot provide satisfaction for. The tragedy, following this theory, is that humans spend all their time trying not to be human.

Here's my sardonic (some may say cynical) take on his "four principal defense mechanisms":
  • Isolation: work ethic, keep busy so you don't have to think about things too much
  • Anchoring: religion
  • Distraction: TV, web, reading blogs...
  • Sublimation: philosophy, science

20 April 2008

Robert Reich endorses Barack Obama

Robert Reich, labor secretary in Bill Clinton's administration, endorses Obama for President.  This is so good I have to post it in its entirety:

The formal act of endorsing a candidate is generally (and properly) limited to editorial pages and elected officials whose constituents might be influenced by their choice. The rest of us shouldn't assume anyone cares. My avoidance of offering a formal endorsement until now has also been affected by the pull of old friendships and my reluctance as a teacher and commentator to be openly partisan. But my conscience won't let me be silent any longer.

I believe that Barack Obama should be elected President of the United States.

Although Hillary Clinton has offered solid and sensible policy proposals, Obama's strike me as even more so. His plans for reforming Social Security and health care have a better chance of succeeding. His approaches to the housing crisis and the failures of our financial markets are sounder than hers. His ideas for improving our public schools and confronting the problems of poverty and inequality are more coherent and compelling. He has put forward the more enlightened foreign policy and the more thoughtful plan for controlling global warming.

He also presents the best chance of creating a new politics in which citizens become active participants rather than cynical spectators. He has energized many who had given up on politics. He has engaged young people to an extent not seen in decades. He has spoken about the most difficult problems our society faces, such as race, without spinning or simplifying. He has rightly identified the armies of lawyers and lobbyists that have commandeered our democracy, and pointed the way toward taking it back.

Finally, he offers the best hope of transcending the boundaries of class, race, and nationality that have divided us. His life history exemplifies this, as do his writings and his record of public service. For these same reasons, he offers the best possibility of restoring America's moral authority in the world.

I couldn't have said it better.  His blog, by the way, is well worth reading.

19 April 2008

It's all about character, kids

From Cogitamus (via Nobody Knows Anything):

Do you think if Barack Obama had left his seriously ill wife after having had multiple affairs, had been a member of the "Keating Five," had had a relationship with a much younger lobbyist that his staff felt the need to try and block, had intervened on behalf of the client of said young lobbyist with a federal agency, had denounced then embraced Jerry Falwell, had denounced then embraced the Bush tax cuts, had confused Shiite with Sunni, had confused Al Qaeda in Iraq with the Mahdi Army, had actively sought the endorsement and appeared on stage with a man who denounced the Catholic Church as a whore, and stated that he knew next to nothing about economics -- do you think it's possible that Obama would have been treated differently by the media than John McCain has been? Possible?

And -- this is fun to contemplate -- if Michelle Obama had been an adulteress, drug addict thief with a penchant for plagiarism -- do you think that she would be subject to slightly different treatment from the media than Cindypills McCain has been? Anyone?

Indeed, one wonders. Good thing I'm not a Busch drinker...

Adventures in 64-bit Windows

I stumbled across this recently, and the lesson here (as it is frequently) is don't make assumptions.

Back in the day (16-bit Windows 3.x era), all the Windows system files (KERNEL.DLL, GDI.DLL, and USER.DLL) were in the System folder.

As Windows slowly made the transition to 32-bit with things like Win32s, the System32 folder appeared as the place where all the 32-bit files lived.

Continuing through Windows 95, NT 3.1, 98, 98 SE, NT 3.5, NT 3.51, Me, and XP, this behavior was maintained, up until the present day with the train wreck known as Vista.

Despite having done some work on 64-bit systems, I never paid much attention to the details of the file structure, which is probably good, because it's crossed the line from crufty to absurd.

When you're spelunking through the Windows tree on an XP x64 or Vista x64 system, you'll see folders called System32 and SysWOW64.

The assumption you're likely to make is that System32 contains 32-bit code and SysWOW64 contains 64-bit code. Seems reasonable, right?

Well, the truth is exactly opposite.

System32 holds 64-bit code, and SysWOW64 holds 32-bit code. Crazy, right?

On OS X, I'm not on Leopard yet (I'm not even on an Intel machine yet!), so I don't know what weirdness one encounters there with 64-bit Cocoa. I think it's a safe bet, though, that it won't be as unbelievably stupid as SysWOW64.

17 April 2008

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a recent addition to my ridiculously large set of Google Reader feed subscriptions (182 at present).

Since a couple of family members are journalists, I find his commentary especially interesting and relevant.  For instance, here's his take on last night's debate:

My favorite (unintentionally revealing) media commentary about the debate is from The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz, who devoted paragraph after paragraph to describing the substance-free "issues" that consumed most of the debate -- Obama's "remarks about small-town values, questions about his patriotism and the incendiary sermons of his former pastor . . . gaffes, missteps and past statements" -- and, at the end of the article, they added:

The debate also touched on Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, taxes, the economy, guns and affirmative action.

It's just not possible to express the wretched state of our establishment press better than that sentence does.

Indeed.  Back to you, Katie...

Today's amusement

So, like many technical people, I like playing with the latest and greatest.

I installed Visual Studio 2008 on my crappy HP notebook (dimmest screen ever) and built some of the Employer's code, 140 KLOC of lovely C and not-so-lovely C++.

One thing I've managed to do with this stuff is get it all building at warning level 4; still a few warnings, but there are limits to what I can do to compensate for the failings of others...

Anyway, one of the C/C++ warnings which has been strongly encouraged by Microsoft in Visual Studio 2005 - to the point of it being on by default when you create a new project - is the portability warning about code which may not make the transition to 64 bits so cleanly.

This makes sense, since 64-bit OSes are no longer red-headed stepchildren and are quickly becoming mainstream. Also, most desktop and server CPUs are now 64-bit, and there will probably come a day soon when all consumer CPUs will be 64-bit.

So imagine my surprise when I see this:

VS 2008 build results

Yep, that's right: something Microsoft went to great pains to get people to adopt is now deprecated.

Frigtards, as FSJ would say.

UPDATE: despite MSDN being utterly useless to explain this, a Microsoft blog post comment (not the post, but a comment on the post) explains the deprecation in sufficient detail.

16 April 2008


Astronomy Picture of the Day is almost always good, but today's and yesterday's posts are unusually spectacular.

09 April 2008

A life of honor

LA Times - A life of honor, one day at a time

This story resonated with me. Here's someone who managed to turn himself around without religion (a crutch for many, and for some, an addiction).

Instead, he thinks about what he's doing (and done), and he's honest with himself.

Sometimes, all it takes is someone saying "It stops with me."

07 April 2008

Best line of the day

A coworker on his driver failing in code it wasn't supposed to contain:
Since this can't happen, it is best from a mental health standpoint to ignore it.


So, after weeks of trying to get the Employer to purchase a Visual Assist X license for me - I can't function without refactoring support in an editor any more, Visual Studio 2005 doesn't implement refactoring for C++, and Visual Assist X adds this and so much more - I finally got a license code this morning... registered to the email address of the CEO's personal assistant.

You can call me Sheryl now.

Two "takeaways" for this:
  • be careful what you wish for
  • if you want things done right, do them yourself
Update: after contacting support at Whole Tomato, they were able to generate a new license key. Like I told them, I'm now a happier customer.

This is one of the things the former Employer got right, by the way. Jack understands the importance of customer service, even if some of the customers - John *cough* Chewter comes to mind - are quite obviously daft.

01 April 2008

Best line of the day

On encountering Ruby for the first time:

My sense is that Ruby is not a distinctive language in itself so much as a mostly good mix of other languages. I say “mostly” because I’m not sold on the syntax. It reminds me too much of Perl. It’s like they created a great new flavor of ice cream and then mixed in glass and razor blades.