Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kid who got snatched by eagle

EagleShitYouNot From in response to this hoax video.

Guns, WTF.

Guns are obviously great things to have.  They're fun to shoot and you can also protect yourself from people who might want to harm you.  Not long ago there was that guy in the hoodie terrorizing that neighborhood, what was he doing again, carrying candy and ice tea home from the store or something, but it was dark and he was black.  If you have a gun you can protect yourself from people just like that, and you can shoot them.

Historically, guns have been great too.  In America before the revolution there was a democracy, and then the taxes got high and there was tax on everything, even tea, and people got annoyed, but the more annoyed they got, the less the government behaved democratically, and the less democratically the government behaved, the more annoyed the people got.  This, of course, got worse and worse until it was a war.  Since then, Americans have legally ensured that citizens could shoot their way out of oppression, and shoot their way right back to democracy.

This worked in Iraq too, and Afghanistan, and in Libya, and Syria, people are just shooting their way to democracy and peace, so guns essentially are like an envelope you can use to send peace and democracy anywhere you want. 

Another amazing thing about guns is that the more of them there are, the less they can hurt people.  That may seem counter-intuitive, but wait, this is how it works:  Criminals harm people using guns, but if there are more people carrying guns, criminals will also be subject to harm, and so the fear you might have of getting shot turns you into a mean killer, which makes the criminals scared and they'll shoot first knowing they might get shot at, but then the good guys'll shoot back and with all the shooting, well, as we discussed earlier, shooting everything up is how to get out from under oppression, and the safer everyone will be, obviously.

And not to belabour the point, but not only are more guns safer, but guns that shoot more bullets are also safer, so like this kid that shot all the kindergarten kids was using one of these so called, automatic assault weapons, but imagine how much safer things would be if the principle had one.  She came out of her office and was immediately shot, but if she'd had more and better weapons, and if other teachers were similarly armed, this would never have happened.  The kid would have been too scared to show up at school since all the teachers would have just shot him first.

So, as you can see, guns are great things to have and they are also fun, but most of all, they are a tool that makes everything safer for everybody, and the more people who carry more destructive guns, the safer and more free we all will be.

Eagle Snatches Kid

Unbelievable.  Good thing the kid was just a little too heavy ...
Edit: Despite our incredibly rigorous journalistic standards here at TFM, we were hoaxed. Check it out.  Montreal 3D animation students needed 100,000 views on YouTube to get a perfect grade, and these guys got 5,000,000 in one day.  That video represents 400 hours or so of work.  Nicely done dudes!
Edit II:  Click here for a reaction from the kid.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

OMFG Penguins

Here's a video my wife shot on South Georgia Island with her iPhone ... 200,000, give or take, King Penguins. The brown ones are the young. The parents go fishing and come back to feed the kids and that's what all the noise is about: "Are you my mommy? Are you my kid?" Incredible.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Love Penguins

Hey internet, I just got back from a trip to Argentina, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Antarctic peninsula.  Escape the madness of the latest bad news in the world, and check out some cool photos here.  Here's a sample ...

More later.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

How to create a public shared instance of a class module in VBA

To create a public shared instance of a class in VBA, export a class module to text and load it into a text editor of your choice.  You'll see something a lot like this at the top of the module...
  MultiUse = -1  'True
Attribute VB_Name = "Class1"
Attribute VB_GlobalNameSpace = False
Attribute VB_Creatable = False
Attribute VB_PredeclaredId = False
Attribute VB_Exposed = False
Option Compare Database
Option Explicit

Property Get Notice() As String
    Notice = "This is a shared class"
End Property
Then, change the values of the GlobalNamespace and PredeclaredID attributes to True and re-import the module. To test it in the immediate window type...
? Class1.Notice
...and you'll see This is a shared class printed in the immediate pane. I'll use this capability to create a single cSystem class that can both raise and handle events, and that provides system-global exposure for classes and members that I like to hang on to for the lifetime of an application.  I'm curious to see how this affects load speed of an application, since until now I've opened a hidden "Form_fSystem", but it seems to load very slowly. 

How to create a collection class in VBA

What you need is a NewEnum property of type IUnknown, which is a type exposed by the stdole library which Access, and presumably other VBA environments, references by default.
Private m_items As VBA.Collection

Private Property Get Items() As VBA.collection
   If m_items Is Nothing Then Set m_items = New VBA.Collection
   Set Items = m_items
End Property

Property Get NewEnum() As IUnknown
Attribute NewEnum.VB_UserMemId = -4
    Set NewEnum = Items.[_NewEnum]
End Property
Note how the NewEnum property returns an enumerator for the collection object that is contained by the class module.  Also note that the code to populate that collection is not shown. You could define an Add method...
Sub Add(Item, Optional Key, Optional Before, Optional After)
    Items.Add Item, Key, Before, After
End Sub 
...that simply leverages the Add method of the collection contained by your class, but the cool thing is that consumers won't be able to distinguish your custom collection from a VBA.Collection.  But note also the Attribute line.  To add an attribute, export the module to text, add the Attribute in a text editor, and re-import the module.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

How to create a default property in a VBA class

To create a default member in a VBA class you add the attribute...
Attribute MemberName.VB_UserMemId = 0 the second line in the procedure you want to make the default, so something like...
Private m_value As Long

Property Get Value() As Long
    Attribute Value.VB_UserMemId = 0
    Value = m_value
End Property
...makes the Value property the default, but the trick is you can't do it in the IDE's text editor. Export the module as a .cls file and add the attribute in WordPad or NotePad or something, and then re-import the class. The attribute line in the default property will not be visible in the text of the module in the IDE, but you can see in the object browser that member has the default property indicator.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Elon Musk: Foundation 20 Interview

Interviewed by Kevin Rose. Musk is the humble genius behind PayPay, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

First MSL Images From Mars

FirstMSLMarsImages Here are the first couple of images from Mars, a shadow of the machine looking forward and a view of the rear left wheel. Amazing!!!

Friday, August 03, 2012

CBC: How to watch the Mars rover landing

Get info here from CBC about how to watch the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory's robot, Curiosity.  There are a bunch of options, and that CBC article contains a ton of links.  NASA coverage starts Sunday at 8:30pm PST, and the landing is two hours later.

Don't expect much awesome Mars imagery during this event.  Mostly it's going to be a bunch of tense mission specialists in front of screens at various NASA locations around the US alternately biting their nails, crossing their fingers, and knocking on wood.  Fully half of all missions to the surface of Mars have crashed.

In addition, round-trip light-time to and from Mars right now is about 28 minutes, so it's impossible for NASA to receive data from the spacecraft and respond with timely commands.  Re-entry is totally autonomous, and landing at Mars will take about seven minutes.  We'll hear about it at the speed of light--14 minutes later.

And then there will be great joy, or great sadness. 

And if there's great joy, it will be another number of hours before the rover powers up, checks its health, and starts returning pictures.

And then:  All eyes on Mars!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Memo to fans of Joe Paterno

I saw this at blogontherun by Lex Alexander:
“To everyone mad about Joe Paterno’s statue being taken down — just look the other way and pretend it’s not happening.”
He'd heard it from his friend Rob Campany, who'd in turn seen it on Amanda Mahaffey's Facebook page.  Brilliant.

On Joe Paterno And How The NCAA Got It Right

The news story, ICYMI, is that yesterday the NCAA hammered Penn State with what some consider to be exceedingly harsh penalties for not responding appropriately to a number of incidents of sexual abuse of young boys by Jerry Sandusky, an assistant football coach under Joe Paterno.

Penn State must pay a 60 million dollar fine, is banned from post season play for the next four years, has had vacated all 112 wins from 1998 to 2011, including 111 by Joe Paterno--removing him from his position as winningest coach in NCAA history.  These penalties, and a reduction in the number of scholarships Penn State can carry, will do significant harm to the football program at the University for the foreseeable future, a bitter pill for some given that the football program was one of Penn State's most significant assets.

On Sunday, Penn State officials also ordered Joe Paterno's statue removed from the university grounds.

Joe Paterno, a very powerful and influential figure as a result of his tremendous success coaching the team, knew about Sandusky's abuse but decided not act on the information. 

What I like about this judgement is that it punishes not just the individual abuser, but also punishes individuals and institutions that effectively sided with the perpetrator by failing to act decisively in support of the victims of that abuse.

This reminds me too of the final scenes in a Few Good Men, where the two soldiers, PFC Downey and LC Dawson, who were ordered to execute the code red against the victim, PFC Santiago, didn't understand, after Col. Jessep was found to have ordered the code red, why they were still dishonourably discharged.  Eventually it dawns on Downey, and he explains to Dawson, that they "failed to stand up for those too weak to stand up for themselves."

Congratulations to the NCAA on having the courage to recognize the severity of the violation and breach of trust, and to respond with clarity and decisiveness.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Sonic Boom Smashes Courthouse Windows

These Brazilian fighter jet fly-bys are just a little bit too low and too fast for the windows of the supreme court.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tesla Motors Regenerative Braking

I just read an interesting overview of regenerative braking in electric cars.  When you step on the throttle, torque is applied to driving the motor and this consumes battery power, but when the car is rolling and you step off the throttle, reverse torque is applied to the engine and it immediately becomes a generator, not a consumer, of electrical power. 

I was always curious how this worked, and if you are too, and want more details, read the article.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Minute Physics' Letter to the Universe

Awesome, as seen at

MS Access SQL IN Clause

I use the MS Access SQL 'IN' clause infrequently enough that I routinely forget the syntax, so this post encapsulates that information in an easy place for you and me to find.  Here's the most basic example...

SELECT * FROM tblTable IN 'C:\Folder\File.mdb'

You can get lots more details here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Simplified: Authenticity

Authenticity matters to people, relationships and groups.  Authenticity is the state of being such that there is no difference between what a thing is, and what it appears to be.  This implies a lack of deception, and suggests an absence of misdirection.  When people are being authentic, it's like slaking your thirst on a hot day with a long cool drink.

Authenticity dispels illusion between people and allows them to gain traction in communication with each other, which is essential in order to resolve differences, which is in turn an essential component of intimacy.  Given that the world is a chaotic place where the difference between awesomeness and fuckwittery is only very slight, therefore being able to distinguish reality is not trivial, and distinguishing the reality of who a person is and where that person stands makes a difference.

Honesty differs from authenticity because I can be both honest and pretentious at the same time.  Honesty is a measure of the veracity of the information I communicate, and that is then a subset of authenticity.  Authenticity is not just honesty, but it's also a statement of the fact of who I am in respect to that honesty, so authenticity communicates in multiple dimensions.  Honesty is boolean.

Authenticity dispels confusion.  If you are left feeling confused in a relationship, family, or group, then you might be participating in an interpersonal confusopoly, which profits from promoting uncertainty and insecurity.  Interactions in these arenas are almost certainly not authentic, because authenticity confronts those problems.  Authenticity is OK to not know the answer, and to be wrong, and to be confused, and so the exercise of authenticity encourages processes that always have the net effect of reducing confusion and disorientation.

Authenticity employs and is exercised via acknowledgement.  If authenticity could walk, acknowledgement would be its legs.  Acknowledgement is an action you take after you see, understand, perceive, hear, or in some other way receive a communication from someone, having the effect of producing a sense of validation in that person. Acknowledgement produces validation, which assures the other of the realness or accuracy of his or her perception, so acknowledgement promotes clarity and understanding, and dispels illusions and confusion.

Acknowledgement is not always pretty.  Acknowledgement applies to failures and successes, bads and goods, critiques and compliments.  If in relationship I can't raise a complaint, have my complaint validated, and begin a process of deconstructing the problem in which the other will acknowledge participation, then I am oppressed.  If I am oppressed, then I will not be free, and I will be tempted to profit from misdirection in hidden efforts to undermine the oppressor, and authenticity dies.  In this sense the death of authenticity, or it's vital presence, is ultimately the responsibility of the whole group.

In a group that is mired in illusion, you should be authentic, but if your authenticity doesn't make a difference, you should quit that group.

Authenticity is the state of being such that there is no difference between what a thing is, and what it appears to be.  Be authentic.  Demand it from others.  Demand that others demand it from you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On the Difference Between Awesomeness and Fuckwittery

An observation I have about the world is that the difference between stunning awesomeness and incalculable fuckwittery is only a fraction of one percent, and I expect this principle is built into the universe.

The universe, for instance, is expanding at the perfect rate for it be really hard to determine if it will expand forever, or eventually contract in a 'big crunch.' It's a legendary urban myth that if gravity was slightly stronger, the fusion reaction in stars would burn too fast and there wouldn't be time for life to evolve. And by the same authority, if gravity was slightly weaker, stars wouldn't form. Their fusion reactions would never start up, and we'd never get elements more sophisticated than hydrogen and helium.

I think history, or at least how we look at history exacerbates this misunderstanding. We look back in time and paint Hitler in black and white as a completely unredeemable fuckwit, and a whole procession of Catholic saints as unmitigatedly awesome. But nobody confronted Hitler.  He wasn't always powerful, and as a young man learning to be a painter in Austria, do we know for certain that he was unkind to cats and, say, other lousy painters? Maybe he smiled at the baker when he was buying bread, and maybe he took his lunch by the river and greeted passers-by with cheerfulness. And the saints, could they always, all of them, be clearly seen to stand head and moral shoulders above everyone else, with visible halos abounding and good works created and distributed by the dozen? By the oxen-cart load? No, the saints were dicks to people too, and had lousy days, and might have been cruel to cats.

For myself I'm never quite sure if I did the right thing. I make a call, do a decision, usually by the seat of my pants, and then I pray and cross my fingers and hope for the best. Maybe you had this feeling: you're at the outdoor rink in the park and you shoot a puck at the boards and it's a little high and it bounces up and into someone's back yard and hits the brick just an inch away from a window. Holy shit that was close, and how different might things have gone if you'd applied a force a fraction of one degree to the left?

And that time in traffic you accelerated at that yellow light?  You were in a hurry...

And Rob Scuderi, if he'd been prepared for the hit, which he should have been? It's a game of inches, all of life, from beginning to end.

Dear internet, people who think they know something with some kind of absolute certainty, they frighten me, because the difference between remarkable awesomeness and stunning fuckwittery is, in fact, very subtle.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

On How a Good Law Prevents a Harm

I read an interesting article at Popehat today which opposes North Carolina's Amendment One, in which voters there have been asked whether they want to add this text to the state's constitution.
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
The content of Patrick's argument against the law is encapsulated as follows.
All laws restrict freedom in some fashion.  All laws harm some subset of people within the body public, by punishing them for exercising their freedom, but sometimes that's justifiable.  A good law is one that protects the public, or individuals who make up the public, from a discreet, identifiable harm, while doing as little damage as possible in the process.
A heterosexual marriage is not harmed when a gay couple marries, so forbidding gay marriage does not prevent a harm.  Nothing is harmed by gay marriage.  So Forbidding it is a harm.

Unfortunately, this amendment has now passed, and North Carolina joins 28 other states that explicitly forbid same sex marriage in their constitutions.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Double Back Flip

Quote at the end, "Finally accomplished what I've been trying to do for years." Cool.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Escaping the Narcissistic Family IV

I've decided to remove this post.  Though I stand by the content of the observations I made, I am not comfortable with how I made them.

My thanks to everybody who took the time to comment, including comments that don't appear below.

Simplified: Misogyny

Expand your understanding of misogyny: read this article.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sciaphobia: Fear of Shadows

Delightfully spooky.  Nice piece of work you guys!

Fun With Power Tools: Belt Sander

Klondike Bar Misogyny Fail

I was watching TV last night and was shocked by this ad...
Like, WTF?!?!  Does this increase Klondike bar sales?  Really?  I'm done eating Klondike bars, which I used to like, and which I now think of as Rush Limbaugh bars, or Misogyny bars, or Shit bars.  And if you think I just didn't get the joke, I feel sorry for the women in your life.  To the people at Klondike, I hereby award you the Fanatically Misogynistic Bullshit Product of the Month Award.  Congratulations guys!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

US Deploys and Recalls 'Pain Ray'

As reported in this article by Al Jazeera, check out this $120 million 'pain ray' deployed to Afghanistan, and then immediately recalled as, not surprisingly, a PR disaster.  I'm not arguing that pain rays are evil while water cannons, flash-bangs and tear gas are good, but people are very easily frightened by things they don't understand.  I can see how a pain ray, packaged in an camouflaged truck with a big satellite-dishy thing on top, would be super juicy low-hanging fruit for Taliban propagandists to make America look like an even greater Satan.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

News From America: Obama Ate Romney's Dog.

We've got some weird news filtering in from across our southern border.  It appears that Barack Obama ate Mitt Romney's dog.  There are unconfirmed reports that this happened a while ago, when Obama was young and living in Indonesia, and hungry.  There are also reports that Romney put the dog on top of his car and drove from Boston to Canada, and presumably stopped in Indonesia on the way.  It is not clear if Romney has arrived here yet, but we're keeping a bit of a lookout for a half eaten dog on a car.

Obviously this issue has become central to the campaign, since eating dog, and even just risking a dog's life, are both not fashionable in America, and so it appears that both campaigns are in full-blown damage control.  Obviously the economy must be fine again down there, and probably all the wars are over if they're arguing about dogs.  For myself, I wouldn't eat dog, but I also wouldn't fasten one to the outside of a moving vehicle, but I wouldn't have invaded Iraq either, and I'd make sure everyone had free doctors and police and fire men.

I've heard that in America you have to buy special insurance otherwise the firemen show up and won't put out fires, so they'll put out attic fires but not basement fires, or they'll put out kitchen fires but not bedroom fires (depending on your insurance) or if you've ever had a pre-existing fire, then they just let your house burn down, because you can't insure it. 

I understand it's the same for police.  Police will only solve crimes for you if you bought crime insurance.  Anything else would not really be a free market, where police would show up and just do work for you for free, so in America you need to have a deal with your employer to help you pay crime insurance, since it's really expensive, but what else can you do?  When you need the police you simply need them, so you better have insurance.

I hear doctors are free though, in America, so at least there's something down there that's civilized.

And did you hear that Obama ate Romney's dog?  Frickin' crazy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tories Honour Charter, Fail to Mention Trudeau.

In a fanatically petty move today, the conservative government released this statement honouring the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms...
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act of 1982, which was formally signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on April 17, 1982, in the presence of tens of thousands of Canadians on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

This anniversary marks an important step in the development of Canada’s human rights policy. Building on Diefenbaker’s Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960, the Constitution Act of 1982 enshrined certain rights and freedoms that had historically been at the heart of Canadian society into a constitutional document known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Constitution Act of 1982 empowered our government to amend every part of Canada’s constitution, for the very first time.

As we look ahead to Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017, we encourage all Canadians to commemorate the milestones that have built our nation and made us the great country we are today.
... and utterly failed to use the word Trudeau anywhere, which is ridiculous.  I don't mind Tories per se, and even though I didn't vote for one, I didn't think they did a bad job in their various minority incarnations over the past few years.  Yeah, there were some issues, but in my view it's a form of extremism to salute this Charter and mention Diefenbaker and not Trudeau.  So today I honour Heritage Minister James Moore and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson with FanMod's first Fanatically Petty Jerk Of The Day Award.  Congratulations guys!

Monday, April 16, 2012

If what you're doing isn't working, keep doing it. - Harper

At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Stephen Harper conceded that the war on drugs isn't working, which strongly suggests a continued and vigorous prosecution of the war on drugs.  The failure of the war on drugs has been so obvious for so long, and drug policy has remained so obviously ineffective for so long, that there is no reason to expect anything to change.

What we're in denial about as a society is that using drugs appropriately is pleasurable, just like using sex appropriately is pleasurable.  And we don't prosecute people as criminals for adultery, so we shouldn't prosecute people as criminals for abusing drugs.  Making mistakes is easy.  Eating too much chocolate cake is easy.  When we criminalize the drug abusing behavior we perpetrate a secondary harm that is commonly more harmful than the behavior itself.

So getting arrested for possession of pot is more harmful to a human life than using pot.  And the fact that people are dying over pot, killing each other over the illegal profits, is as stupid as people killing each other over chocolate cake.  Let's stop it.  Let's stop criminalizing the behavior.  Let's stop criminalizing the supply chain.  Let's stop declaring war on people and things and start helping them instead. 

Where I live there is no market for illegal booze.  A kid walking down a street in my city has an easier time buying a joint than buying a beer.   Making something illegal makes a thing artificially scarce, which drives up the price, which drives up the profit, which is a gift to criminals, which is a gift to enforcement agencies, which is how our current system works; paradoxically promoting the thing it's intended to prevent.

Aren't the real criminals the people, like Harper, who know what's going on, who see the harm, who can do something about it and don't, even when the leaders of a variety of ostensibly friendly nations want to talk about change and want to talk about solutions?  We are the fat cats, and we are corrupt, and we are hurting ourselves by maintaining this silly status quo.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Canada Post in Postal Code Copyright Fail

A company in Ottawa has crowdsourced a database of postal codes and now it appears that Canada Post is suing them for violation of copyright.  If you can't believe it, read it for yourself at CBC.   

Postal code data is a set of facts, and facts are not protected by copyright.  Yes, the format of those facts, so the A9A 9A9 character/digit sequence or format might be protected, so if you set up your own postal code system and you used L0L 0L0 somewhere, then they might have a case, and you might be a pirate, rrr, but even then it's not clear to me how you'd have damaged Canada Post's interests in any way.  Like, what is the harm?

In the current case Canada Post is trying to protect it's right to price gouge by making it illegal for other companies to compile and sell public facts.  In a free market this is called competition, and I can see how Canada Post might not like that because access to their own database of postal codes is extraordinarily expensive.

This is exactly the same situation as in other copyright cases, where rather than innovate to provide an awesome product at an awesome price, fat-cats in business lobby the fat-cats in government to protect lousy old business models with overreaching copyright law, protecting the interests of business over the interests of the consumer and of the society at large. 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

On Atheism and his Agnosticism: Neil DeGrasse Tyson

I love this guy.

US Allows Police to Strip-Search Anyone Arrested for Anything, Anytime.

The United States' supreme court has allowed police to strip-search anyone arrested for anything, anytime.  Yeah, for a speeding ticket.  Yeah, for not paying alimony.
“People detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals,’’ wrote [US Supreme Court Justice Anthony] Kennedy. As an example, he cited McVeigh, the domestic terrorist who was executed for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, who was first arrested for driving without a license plate. Kennedy also pointed out that one of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93.
- Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe
Left as a weird exercise for us all is to understand how strip-searching a speeder might offer predictive evidence of some terrorist activity he or she might be planning in the next few days.
A more sinister view is offered in this article by Naomi Wolf, writer of The Beauty Myth, about the connection between sexual humiliation and control of the masses, and how this ruling is just one of many recent events that are eroding personal freedoms in America, the country that used to call itself, with pride, the land of the free.

Of greater concern to me than the fact that these erosions are occurring is the fact that nobody seems to care.  Yeah, you can find out about this story if you search for it specifically, but if it was the cold war and Russia enacted this law, it would have been all over our news.  But enacted here, where it can do us significant harm?  Our media are mostly silent.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Can't Go For That: Cool Hall & Oates Cover.

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, as seen here at

Simplified: How to be a Sound Banker.

I saw this quote today, which I think is really quite brilliant. 
The "sound" banker, alas! is not one who sees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows so that no one can really blame him.
–John Maynard Keynes
If I was as lousy at my job as are many politicians, bankers, and business executives, I wouldn't just be fired, I'd be jailed. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Constitution Day

Hey, it's Constitution Day! Who knew? If you need help understanding what a constitution is, check out this video from, which uses simple to understand hockey analogies, but watch out, there is a bit of blood during the description of what might happen if hockey had no rules.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trayvon Martin III: Mother Seeks to Trademark "I Am Trayvon"

Like the murder and the subsequent failure to prosecute the perpetrator, our system supports much that defies common sense, and so it should perhaps come as no surprise that Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, is seeking to trademark the phrases, "Justice for Trayvon," and, "I am Trayvon.

I have mixed feelings about her choice.  On the one hand it seems dirty to capitalize on this misfortune this way, like racism is evil but greed is totally cool. On the other hand, if I was in her situation and saw that others were capitalizing, what would I do?  She'll probably make millions with T-shirts and book deals and movie rights.  Can I begrudge her that?  And if not, and if it still feels wrong, where is the problem?  I don't know.

If the focus of past civilizations was religion, as evidenced by archeologists finding objects of ritual and cathedrals having been the most significant architectural efforts put forth, our society, by contrast, worships wealth.  Our cathedrals are shopping malls, and our sacred objects are plastic cards, but there's something that feels wrong about that in a case like this.

I've heard that some ancient societies had no concept of ownership or personal property, and as a thought exercise it seems interesting to contrast that with what we do.  In our society it seems that everything, if not already owned, is at least subject to ownership, and so Trayvon Martin's death can become a commodity, and if I want to sell T-shirts that say, "I Am Trayvon," I should owe money to his mom. 


Friday, March 23, 2012

GOP Misogyny: Out There for the World to See

From, this video powerfully repeats comments made by prominent US Republicans.

Guns Don't Kill People, Hoodies Kill People: Trayvon Martin II

I don't know what to say.
I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman.
- Geraldo Riviera
Well then, someone arrest the f**king hoodie.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

RUIN CGI Animated Short

Tres cool from

Trayvon Martin: Wrong Place, Wrong Time.

Trayvon Martin is that kid who got shot by the neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, who is alive today because he had a gun, which was smart of him.  Guns don't kill people in much the same way that cigarettes don't kill people.  The only thing that can kill people is, of course, people.

Or maybe the flu.  I guess the flu can kill people, if it's Spanish or Swine or SARS, so I guess flus that start with 'S' are the most deadly.  Oh, and there's snakes of course, sometimes people can die at the hands of snakes, except snakes don't have hands, nor do they seem to need them. But it's clear that just because they can't handle guns doesn't mean snakes are safe, so clearly deadliness is not something we can strictly associate with guns, or cigarettes, really, since there are so many, many ways for people of frighteningly large minorities to die, and not just gunshot wounds.

So really it's more of a 'wrong place, wrong time' kind of thing, since in the right place at the right time everything would have been fine.  So Trayvon was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it was dark, which is not surprising.  It could probably be proved that a lot of 'wrong place, wrong time' kinds of events happen when it's dark, and when seeing is clearly hard.

So the lighting could have been better, and if he was carrying skittles and ice tea it might have looked like a gun, which couldn't have killed people, but might have frightened George Zimmerman, and what if he was afraid?  It was dark, and Trayvon had dark skin so maybe it was harder to read his intentions, and if he didn't get a bag for his ice tea then probably he was grasping it and pointing it at George.

Nobody deserves to die, obviously, but just yesterday I was sitting at home and *bang* a bird flies into the living-room window and breaks it's neck, and so can we blame the window?  If the bird leaves it's nest it takes a chance, really, and hopes for the best for that day, like we all do.

To sum up, guns are a symbol of our freedom and our right to keep ourselves safe against--you know--the living-room windows that any of us might, and often do encounter on a dark night, or if it's so bright that you see a tree reflected in the window and you go to fly into that tree and *bang*.  Also, if I was Mr. Martin, I would think about carrying a gun in the future, not so much to hurt somebody, but so I could feel safer, and to exercise my inalienable second amendment rights.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stunning Video of Earth and Space From the ISS

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Fads, a Free Internet, and Paying Attention

The Kony 2012 craze is a fad like a hula-hoop.  In the first half of March 2012 the Kony video was watched 80 million times, and in the late 1950's the hula-hoop sold 100 million units.  Both of them were heavily promoted with the best of modern technology, and both are pretty inconsequential in terms of content.  Kony, since his peak in the late 1990s, is mostly a spent force, and 'hula-hooping,' well, who cares?

The thing exists because it can.  If it wasn't Kony, and if it wasn't the hula-hoop, it would have been some other asshole and some other toy.  Darwin showed that given constant variation and a nourishing medium, natural selection happens.  Kony 2012 has celebrity endorsement, YouTube, and a shit-load of users demanding entertainment.  The hula-hoop had celebrity endorsement, TV, and a shit-load of viewers demanding entertainment.  If the medium is the message, then Kony and the hula-hoop are strictly message.

What's interesting is the medium, and if hindsight is 20/20 then let's start with the hula-hoop, which flourished in a semi-euphoric, post-war, televised, affluent, civil society.  In a similar fashion, what's interesting about Kony is not Kony, but rather the fact that a complex idea expressed by a small organization can 'go viral' in the medium of our internet connected society, and millions of people across nations can participate in the conversation in a matter of days.

Kony, the Arab Spring, WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Copyright, SOPA, ACTA, all these messages point to the incredibly interconnected medium in which our society exists, and how messages within that medium increasingly bypass governments and corporations.  They are now the old authorities--the old keyholders and the old gatekeepers--and they are not pleased, but neither are the people.

Now is an important time.  I'm going to be paying close attention.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Avoid Extreme Wrist Angles

I'm writing an inventory control system so I bought a barcode scanner. I guess it can be dangerous...
Who knew?
That says, "Have a nice day," in barcode.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Mountain Bike Helmet Cam in Chile

Wow, what a ride! Hold on.

Simplified: Why it's Easier to Take the Side of the Perpetrator

Through my sister, through her therapist, Andrew Feldmar, I read and re-posted this quote on Facebook.
"It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering."
--Judith Lewis Herman
But after a little Googling I found more of the quote and some info about the author.  Judith Lewis Herman is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Training Director of the Victims of Violence Program at The Cambridge Hospital.  A fuller version of the quote follows, and loses none of it's power...
"It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of the pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering...

In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator's first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.

The perpetrator's arguments prove irresistible when the bystander faces them in isolation. Without a supportive social environment, the bystander usually succumbs to the temptation to look the other way. This is true even when the victim is an idealized and valued member of society. Soldiers in every war, even those who have been regarded as heroes, complain bitterly that no one wants to know the real truth about war. When the victim is already devalued (a woman, a child), she may find that the most traumatic events in her life take place outside the realm of socially validated reality. Her experience becomes unspeakable. . .

To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins the victim and witness in a common alliance. For the individual victim, this social context is created by relationships with friends, lovers, and family. For the larger society, the social context is created by political movements that give voice to the disempowered."
This crystalizes for me some dynamics I've observed in my family of origin, where injustices seem to be swept under the table, and "the problem" is the person who is upset about having been victimized.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In Science We Trust

ha ha

I found this item at Unfollowing Jesus. Fail

This is what I see when I go to a article where they've posted a John Stewart video: a note indicating that the video is not available at my location.
In Canada those shows are the property of The Comedy Network, who would rather damage their own product than let me enjoy it at some other site.  If this issue was judged by King Solomon, The Comedy Network would obviously be happy to cut the baby in half.  And they provide no link, and no assistance finding this video if I go to their site.

The outcome is that I don't get to see the video, and I lose respect for The Comedy Network, and for their parent company Bell Media, who put financial gain in front of integrity and lose both in the process.  Idiots.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Altering My Mind All Of The Time

When I was in high school I was yearbook photographer and almost always had a camera with me.  I shot and processed hundreds of feet of black & white film, but what I noticed back then, when I didn't have a camera, was that I was always looking for the beauty in a scene, or looking for texture, or a striking contrast, or some kind of special light.  So the thing I was doing some of the time was altering my mind all of the time, and I feel a similar effect here and now running with this Fanatical Moderate thing.

I feel the growing presence of a similar practiced perspective, like that frame I used to have in my mind's eye in respect to photography, but not visual.  Stuff happens that I think about, or do, or read about, and I increasingly consider how I might post it here with a comment, so this thing I do some of the time, again, is altering my mind all of the time, and more profoundly it seems, since it involves composition that goes beyond visual.

World Record Distance For Paper Airplane Toss

Sunday, March 04, 2012

How Internet Censorship Is Surveillance

Check out this article at The Guardian on how you must do surveillance in order to implement censorship on the internet. In brief, the issue is that a network is an object that routes traffic, and it routes traffic without judgement or prejudice, so in respect to a network there is no good traffic or bad traffic.  The result is that if you want to censor traffic to or from a particular address you need to interrogate all traffic and compare that traffic's origin and destination to a list of forbidden locations.  Surveillance is the part where you interrogate all traffic.  This is like listening to all the phone calls or opening all the packages.  And that is the same as guilty until proven innocent.

But what really makes it silly is this: spoofing the origin or destination of internet traffic is only moderately hard, so people highly motivated to not get caught--criminals--will still not get caught.  And for the rest of us, our every move online gets recorded in a big database.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Martian Dust

opportunity solar panel dust
Opportunity's solar panel. This machine landed on Mars in April 2004 for a 90 day mission. That was about 2900 days ago.

Iceland Considers Switching To Canadian Dollar

It could be that the days of the Krona are numbered in Iceland.  Check out this article at The Globe And Mail.
For 150 years, no country has expressed interest in adopting the Canadian dollar -- the poor cousin to the coveted greenback.
But now tiny Iceland, still reeling from the aftershocks of the devastating collapse of its banks in 2008, is looking longingly to the loonie as the salvation from wild economic gyrations and suffocating capital controls.  And for the first time, the Canadian government says it’s open to discussing idea.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wealth As A Mind Altering Substance

There was an interesting article in the LA Times yesterday about how the wealthy are more likely to cheat.  Apparently drivers of expensive cars are more often guilty of discourteous driving, and if you're rich you're more likely to keep the change from a $20 when you only paid with a $10. 
There is a strong notion that when people don't have much, they're really looking out for themselves and they might act unethically, but actually, it's the upper-class people that are less likely to see that people around them need help — and therefore act unethically.
And it seems that most cultures, historically, have known this somehow, and even in Matthew 19:24 we have the camel-thru-the-eye-of-the-needle image...
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
How come we don't produce a poor wise man in our society?  Kurt Vonnegut has this to say in Slaughterhouse Five...
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. [...] Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. [...] The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”
Maybe wealth, like any other mind altering substance, should only be taken in moderation.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

TED: I Am Enough

How one's only real strength is vulnerability...
Lean into the joy.

Fanaticism Fail Or Authentic Anger?

I posted this article earlier today, but I'm having second thoughts...
Afghanistan Fanaticism Fail
Given that this blog is called The Fanatical Moderate, I have a nagging sense of responsibility that won't allow me to let the outrage in Afghanistan pass by without comment.  In case you don't follow news, local garbage collectors at Bagram Airbase found evidence that someone had burned a Koran.  That was five days ago, and since then about 30 people have died in the rioting and unrest.
Burning a holy book is a harm, I get it, and I can see how people might be insulted and hurt, and that that might cause anger that legitimately needs a public expression.  Maybe there would be madness and marches, bullhorns and banners.  Maybe a few thugs would go too far and flip a police car and set it on fire, but omfg, 30 human beings have to die?
How about I print you another Koran, and you return those husbands to their wives and you return those sons to their fathers!
The problem is that the harm, the burning of a Koran, was perpetrated by an occupying foreign army, and maybe that changes everything.  Has this event triggered an authentic and legitimate objection to a foreign occupation?  I know I would resent occupation by a foreign army, particularly if they showed a lack of sensitivity to my culture and my values.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Escaping The Narcissistic Family III

I think it's common in our society that the relationships we have with family are held to be sacred.  Obviously our family are the people we have known, and who have known us, the longest in the world, and it is impossible to really see and understand ourselves without seeing and understanding our family.  We played together as kids, and suffered losses and celebrated gains together, and at face value, and all things being equal, this is completely understandable and correct.

But consider this:  On November 24, 2011, I sent my brother a Facebook message after he'd stopped making payments on a debt and had not communicated with me for over a year...
You owe me money. I want to know what your plan is. I will print up a complete record of all my expenses and all your payments and send it to you. The total is around $72,000 outstanding.  Let's solve this problem together, finally,
His response was...
Fuck you
I wrote...
He wrote...
Sue me
...and he unfriended me, and he's happy to leave it at that.  And I can't really fathom that,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hunger Games Trailer

Release date March 2012.

The Government Heard Me

I wrote a couple of letters to my MP, Mark Strahl over the past few of weeks, one of which went like this...
I believe it's very important to not hobble the internet to protect copyright. Like the streets of a city, the internet is simply a thing that conducts traffic without prejudice.
Though some parts of a city might be rife with crime or social harms and some individuals or groups eminently worthy of arrest, nonetheless we do not--in a free society--curtail freedom of movement.
Please protect the rights of the individual in respect to the internet. Please protect freedom of movement, presumption of innocence, common carriage, and due process.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
In a second letter I expressed my concern about the plan to make the circumvention of digital locks illegal.  
I received this today from Vic Toews' office...
Thank you for contacting my office regarding Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act.
Canada's laws currently do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation and we think there is widespread agreement that this is a problem. 

We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combating crime and protecting privacy. 

Rick Mercer vs Vic Toews

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Simplified: Public Key Cryptography

Here's how public key cryptography works.  I send you a box with an open padlock in it, and only I have a key to that padlock.  You put your message in the box and lock it and send it to me, and only I can open it.
The padlock is the public key, which is a kind of filter that an algorithm uses to uniquely scramble a message such that it can only be unscrambled using the private key.  So when you connect to a website using the https protocol, your browser receives the public key and scrambles everything it sends back to that address, including things like your credit card number.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bret Victor On Invention, Ethics, And A 'Principle Driven Life'

A computer conference presentation by Bret Victor, an Apple "human interface inventor," that shows what a paradigm shift looks like.  Computer nerds will love this, but I think a far broader audience than that will be inspired...

Bret Victor - Inventing on Principle from CUSEC on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Transparency Grenade

Rick Mercer: Why Governments Want You To Be Afraid

Our Privacy Is Only Protected By Their Transparency

The danger of Big Brother is not that he knows everything about you, but rather that you know nothing about him.  It's the one-way flow of information that Big Brother leverages to undermine any effective opposition, and it's that kind of power that absolutely corrupts.
That being the case, the so-called "lawful access" bill tabled by Vic Toews, that would give police warrantless powers to surveil your internet activity, moves the law in exactly the wrong direction.  If society needs something for it's safety it is that government and law enforcement be more transparent; more scrutinized by more people more of the time.  Not less.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Access Database ADO Reference Breaks Moving From Windows 7 to XP.

I first noticed this problem deploying software from my Windows 7 box to a customer's XP machines, that assigning an New ADO.Recordset object to a previously declared ADO.Recordset variable was raising a type mismatch error, which is the kind of thing that makes you go, "Hmmnn?"
- I found I could solve the error by changing the ADO reference to a different version, say from 2.5 to 2.8, and/or back again, and then recompiling the database, but that got tedious.
- Here's an article at Microsoft that explains what is going on.
- Here's the code I run at startup that resets the reference to 2.8, which shipped with XP, and it seems to have solved the problem for me...
Private Sub ResetADOReference()
On Error GoTo handler
   'remove ref, raises err 9 if not present
   References.Remove References("ADODB")
   'add reference
   'References.AddFromGuid "{00000206-0000-0010-8000-00AA006D2EA4}", 2, 6
   References.AddFromGuid "{2A75196C-D9EB-4129-B803-931327F72D5C}", 2, 8
   Exit Sub
   If err = 9 Then
      'subscript out of range
      Resume Next
      MsgBox err & " " & err.Description & vbCrLf & _
         "ADODB reference may be broken.", vbExclamation
   End If
End Sub
Article: Breaking change in MDAC ADODB COM components in Windows 7

Content Theft Penalty Comparison

I read an interesting article by Mike Masnick of Tech Dirt this morning comparing the severity of penalties for copyright infringement and for other similar crimes.  He argues that jumping the turnstile at the subway or not paying rent are similar crimes since the only real harm is that they deprive the plaintiff of revenue they might otherwise have gained.  In the case of rent the amount of money due is typically the rent you didn't pay.  In New York the fine for jumping the turnstile is $100.  But a woman is currently being ordered to pay $54,000 for downloading 24 songs she could have bought for $24, and that was lowered on appeal down from $1.5 million dollars. 
And copyright holders want to strengthen copyright law???
If 24 songs cost $54,000 then each $1 song cost $2,250 and by that math, jumping the $2.50 turnstile in New York should cost $5,625, which is obviously a ridiculous penalty.
But read the whole article here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Escaping The Narcissistic Family II

The thing I like about my process so far is that I really don't want to hurt them, but rather I want to not get hurt.  By way of example, If I met new narcissists now, I would simply not form any sort of expectation of safety in relationship with them, and that would not be that hard to do.  That, I think, describes the pattern that I need to import into my relationships with the 'golden circle,' that I form no expectation of safety.
I remain mostly in a state of 'no contact' at this time, and I am feeling the freedom.

Guy Fawkes Mask

Just right-click and 'save image as...'

CBC's Take on Hacktivism

I read an interesting article today about 'hacktivism' at CBC's website.  I like the idea that there are social/political/technological forces bringing power to the people in a way that might offset the anti-democratic forces that seem to be embodied by the growing corporate influence on government.  Of particular interest to me were statements by Molly Sauter, a researcher at the Center for Civic Media at MIT, that distributed denial of service (DDoS) are coming to be seen as being prosecuted too harshly.  From the CBC article...
Several people in the United States and Britain were arrested and charged in relation to the WikiLeaks-related DDoS attacks on PayPal and the credit card companies, which could lead to a court challenge of computer laws that many observers, including Sauter, view as overly restrictive.
Sauter noted that demonstrators arrested at a protest in the United States such as the Occupy movement's events are rarely charged or prosecuted, but a politically motivated DDoS attack is deemed a felony on par with the same attack for the purposes of extortion.
Sauter blamed the broad language in the [US] Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which she said has led to prosecutors "overreaching" in DDoS protest cases.
"You are seeing prosecution of acts of digital activism that are being prosecuted as computer crimes, not as acts of political speech, which is chilling and, in my opinion, incredibly misguided," she said.
Germany has already recognized in its court system that DDoS attacks can be a form of valid political protest, she said.
"We haven’t seen this type of jurisprudence in this country yet," she said. "I have a certain amount of hope that it will happen, but I'm not holding my breath."
I believe it is a valid form of protest that a group of people might show up at a street corner and block traffic.  I believe that people should have a right to do this same thing at a web site.

Read the whole article

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Shotgun Pizza

Pizza is not a sophisticated dish.  Pizza is something you buy, by the slice, when you are in a hurry.  You order pizza when you have been drinking like a fish and are tired to death.  You fill your empty stomach with pizza when you're high on dope and your boyfriend has just ditched you for some more appealing flesh.  Pizza is warmth to a chilly soul.  Pizza is a candle in the window.  A light in the darkness.  Perhaps most of the 'Joy of Pizza' is in waiting for its arrival.  You can almost smell it, taste it, and feel it fill your deepest voids.  The mere idea of pizza can grip you and turn you full circle.  Darkness to daylight.  A friendly call when you least expect it.  Then you devour it.  You cram it down your throat as fast as you can.  Shotgun Pizza.
Then the high wears off, and when it does, you're left with greasy lips and greasy fingers.  The music stops and the lights go dim.  You feel like you just got slugged by a cannonball.  The image of comfort explodes like a twenty-one gun salute and the door that led somewhere slams shut.  Bam.
However, when you pass the Pizza Hut tonight, you feel a tingle.  Saliva fills your mouth and your legs falter.  You make yourself walk past it, but your mind stops at the door.  Your mind sits down and orders a slice…or does it?  'Do they have slices there?' you wonder as you look in the window of an Indian restaurant two doors down.  Your mind flirts with the idea of the PIZZA BUZZ.  You stamp your feet. Your mind stamps its feet.  You look at the menu in the Indian restaurant window, but your mind looks only to the potential pizza TOPPINGS.
          Voices start to fill your head.  Rev. Guilt is there with Mrs. Indulge Me.  They are yelling.  Old Man Reason has his fingers in his ears and is not listening.  Big Hunger shouts, "PEPPERONI!"  Mz. Denial licks her lips and rubs her hips.  Sweet Seduction grabs your hand, and Uncle Resolve goes flying for the hills.
          You turn back and enter Pizza Hut.  Your mind enters Pizza Hut.  All your friends enter Pizza Hut and pat you on the shoulder.  Curious George tugs on your sleeve and asks gently,  "Do they have slices?"  You look blindly at the menu board on the wall above the soda refrigerator.
          "Do you have…?"  Silence.  You have a startling case of Mr. Mind Block.  'Do you have, do you have, do you have…?' Files are being rifled through and the embarrassment committee is preparing for a full-force launch. 
          "…slices!  Do you have pizza-by-the-slice?"
          There is a young woman behind the counter.  She is prepared to deal with you because she is being paid five dollars an hour.  She points to the menu board and says,  "We have Personal Pan Pizzas."
The alliteration plays on you.  You examine the menu board with a little more determination.  Personal Pan Pizzas….  There are four kinds.  You try to see them all next to each other in front of you.
          "What is on the Supreme?"  you ask.  Some wild fantasy pizza appears before you with 49 different types of cheese.
          "Uh," says the counter girl, "roast beef, ground beef, chorizo sausage, bean sprouts, mayonnaise, pickles and frosty whip."
          "???"  All voices are checked into the boards.  "I'll take the pepperoni.  How big is it?"  She puts her hands together and makes a circle the size of a small sand dollar.  "Fine.  Oh.  And I'll get myself a Sprite."  You walk towards the refrigerator as you speak.
          "Can I get your phone number please?"   The music stops.
          "What?"  you ask quietly.
"Your phone number?"
"What for?"
          "It's for security reasons."  But this is ridiculous.  You consider the pizza crooks in her head.  The back-load of cases that the police have to deal with.  You imagine the life of a pizza fraud artist, an underground ring bent on sabotaging the pizza industry.  A bunch of health fanatics, possibly.  You are hungry and impatient, so you give her your number.  She types like a machine gun.  "Can I get your name?"  she asks and you hurl it at her.  "Patsy Cline?"
          "Eh!" says Fonzy.  You give her a thumbs-up and lay a five dollar bill on the counter.  "Keep the change."  Fonzy winks and grabs your ass.  The counter girl is now finished with you.  She disappears to the back.  You are alone in the store.  You wait at the counter for a while, checking out the certificates from the health board.  Then, lazily, you walk over to a booth and sit down.
          It's coming.  A double-barreled shotgun with a twist of pepperoni.   A doughy casing with a cheesy shot.  They bake it and throw it in a little cardboard box.  You pull the trigger.  Five...Four...Three….  The PIZZA BUZZ is on its way.  You have only to wait.  Your fingers tap on the table.  Your foot taps on the floor.  You open the Sprite and take a small sip.  Then the counter girl returns carrying your dinner.  You rise slowly, unable to speak.  She puts it, in all its steaming glory, down in front of you.  Two…One….  You open the little box.  Go!
          You cram one slice after another down your throat, unaffected by its scalding heat.  You pause, only briefly, to wipe the grease as it drips off your chin.  A roar booms from the fans as they pound on the table, "Go, go, go, go!  Go, go, go, go!"
"Schnell!" yells Mr. Gestapo with a shotgun to your head.  And as you are taking the last bite of the last slice, you crash.  You feel as if you just had a head-on collision with a Mack Truck. You stop in mid-chew.  You slump.  Your eyelids get heavy.  Through your nostrils you take a deep breath.  Flags get lowered to half-mast.  Just before the bell tolls, you give one last concerted effort to swallow.  Slowly your body slides to the floor.  A groan escapes from somewhere deep.
          When the dust settles you find yourself stuffed, but empty, like the smoking shell of a shotgun.

The End

Eric Says...

Eric says to cherish the pain I have in my heart.  Most of the time I consider pain a bad thing; I had certainly never considered cherishing it.  What is it like to cherish pain?  To some degree, I suppose that I have been cherishing it, because it has been unavoidable, to a large extent.  I can savour it and ‘roll it around on my tongue,’ as it were.  I sit down with it and have cigarettes with it; I take baths with it, and come home to it.  There is something sweet about the pain. 
The bad thing about pain is that it hurts.  You can only take something from ‘pain’ retrospectively.  While you are suffering from it, there is no gain.  While experiencing pain, one’s aim is primarily focused on keeping the pain to a minimum, if not subduing it all together.  And sometimes one doesn’t have the choice.  There are some pains for which there is no anaesthetic.
Eric says to cherish my heartache because it is real.  I think that I understand what he means.  Today, since there is no other option, I will cling fondly to my pain and hope for a better tomorrow.

Stoopid Cool

...starts about 1:15, and check out for more about the music...

Chinese Scenes from Base-Book - Matt Gerdes on Vimeo.

Computational Rights and Freedoms

I recently read a fascinating article on 'computational freedom', I guess, is the best way to put it.  It's called Lockdown, by Cory Doctorow of, my favourite blog.

For the tl;dr crowd, the capacity of a (Turing-complete) machine to execute code is judgement free, so to the machine there is no 'good code' and no 'bad code.' Code is a thing that has a current instruction to execute if possible, and then the next instruction to execute. If execution fails or if there is no next instruction then execution halts. There is no evil and no altruism.

And these same properties can be argued to exist for networks. From the perspective of a network, everything is traffic. There is no good traffic or bad traffic, simply traffic, and censorship--an object that might impede the flow of traffic--is regarded by the network as damage.

Add a little fear-mongering and it's easy to sell the idea that we need to implement a mechanism to limit "bad" traffic. Crime exists on the internet, and people do bad things, including stealing movies and songs and stuff, but--to use an image from the article--we can't outlaw the use of wheels because criminals use them on their get-away cars.

The thing about a computer and a network is that you can't just control parts of it. How it functions anywhere and all the time is exactly the same, so its like it has a completely flat topology. If we give somebody the right to kill a part of a network based on certain criteria, then we've given him the right to kill any part of a network based on any criteria, because no part of a network is easily distinguishable from any other part, and because there simply won't be time for them to get a court order.

But I strongly recommend this article.  It presents a clear and entertaining vision of what 'computational freedom' is, how it can and does provide us with incredible democratic power, and why corporations and governments are afraid of it.

We need to be assured in a free society that our freedom to compute is as natural and inalienable as any other of our basic human rights.