Monday, October 18, 2004

Least Imaginative Graphic Ever

When you have a story like Gunman with Hooks for this the best graphic you can come up with? Come ON people...

A three hour tour

Like the Earth will eventually, we ran out of gas on Lake Michigan during a boating expedition. Dave Irish rescued us, and the whole sad affair is chronicled here.

Museums that no one will want to visit

Yo, Cleveland. Before you do something like spend money on a museum to the steel industry, which is more or less fading away here, consider one word: Autoworld(of Flint, Michigan ). Perhaps we should not attempt to follow the example of what has not become a tourist mecca in Michigan.

Friday, October 08, 2004

And another thing

Jack notes:
Today's intention is to stay clear of judgments of others.
I always notice after I ramble I appreciate minimalism much more...

Pre Vacation Ramble

Warning - there is no live-blogging or fact checking in this. Just random yammering. I don't rant so much as ramble...I've been so put off by some of the happenings, and reporting on the happenings in the news, I simply had little to say over the last few weeks.

I attended a dinner last week to watch the debates and skipped the spinning afterwards. Itís quite refreshing. It was a clear Kerry victory. I note, with dismay, that many right wing bloggers declared it a tie, and some even said it was a Bush victory. I might also take issue with those going after Bush for fractured sentences, facial expressions, and mixing up Osama and Saddam in a verbal gaffe. None of those things really matter. If he had all of these traits and was doing a bang-up job, Iíd consider voting for him. I think on the right and left there is a tendency to become an echo chamber, playing to people who already believe what you believe. Itís fair to do so I suppose, but makes for some dull reading. The Veep debate seemed more substantial, with one interesting twist. With his command of the facts, Cheney made it crystal clear to me that in many ways, heís the real President. I know itís a clichť tossed around, but it should be disheartening, to those who support Bush as to those who decry him. At work, Iíve noted little common ground between Bush partisans and Kerry partisans. Alas, their arguments usually are pretty meaningless "Kerry will raise my taxes, heís a liberal"."Bush is stupid, plus he used cocaine". And if I hear someone mention gravitas again, I may lose my mind. What specifically do they mean by it? Why is it something you would want? I knew when I first heard this word bandied about in the political realm back in 1999 or 2000 that we were in trouble.

Rather than pretend to be completely neutral, I have admitted that I support Kerry versus Bush. However, I doubt that I would every join a political party. I don't like being told who I have to support. Unlike Ted Rall, I don't actually think Bush is evil, or has pointy teeth, or whatever the hell Rall is drawing in his cartoons. I'd love to disavow every left-wing nut with whom I disagree, but odds are I won't live to be 400. Since by most definitions I would be called left wing - the very tiny left wing that likes guns and doesn't see why law-abiding people should not have them - so I am not called upon to disavow anyone on the right so far.

According to this electoral college site, Kerry currently leads. I'm not sure why some people find their belief that a candidate should be elected gains support from polls. Perhaps at a gross level they tell us that Nader, for example, would not be elected. It reminds me of people rooting for sports teams with utter abandon. That's all well and good, but the actions of sports teams, riots aside, rarely have as much riding on them in reality. I'm curious if after the election the blogs with the heat turned way up now will apply such ferocity to whoever wins - even if he's their man. That being said, some of the best, independent writing on the election is on blogs, many great ones of which are on the blogrolls to the right. They are, compared to me, like fine wine compared with grape juice mixed with Canada Dry. I'll be on vacation in northern Michigan for the next week, so if I blog it will be by dial-up or by audiopost.

Ignorance? Not so much bliss

Tom Hayes, Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, has fired a man for running Seti@Home. Seti@Home is a computer screensaver that attempts to analyze radio data from space for organized signals. By distributing the analysis across many individual PC's all around the world, it essentially creates a supercomputer made up of many small computers. It uses up CPU cycles that would otherwise go unused. As per the FAQ
Will running SETI@home overload or burn out my CPU?
No. The CPU on most computers is always executing instructions (often the operating system's "idle loop") whenever the computer is turned on. It's no additional strain to execute SETI@home.
. The Plain Dealer article indicates the computer in question was not being used, so it would not have any effect on the processing of data in their systems. The bandwidth needs of the program are minimal, perhaps 300 kilobytes every few days. So was this a waste of resources for the department? Only if you are ignorant of the above facts. If it's against their policy to install unapproved software of any kind, I suppose they had grounds for firing him. However firing someone apparently without any warnings for installing completely and absolutely harmless software that advances a scientific project seems rather draconian. Perhaps because Director Hayes decided he didn't like what Set@Home was trying to do, he felt it in the same category as downloading porn, which has resulted in other firings in his agency. I am given reason to pause that someone with so paltry an understanding of how computers work at all is making such decisions. I'm sure such persons as he are unaware of what distributed computing is capable of...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Warning - beware of people

Now here's a useful warning. In response to the Russian school terrorist attack, the government is advising people to be on the lookout for:
Interest in obtaining site plans for schools, bus routes and attendance lists
Has anyone ever asked for any of these things anywhere? This seems highly unlikely
Prolonged "static surveillance" by people disguised as panhandlers, shoe shiners, newspaper or flower vendors or street sweepers not previously seen in the area
So now we expect teachers to make out terrorists on the street disguised as flower vendors. This makes sense. It's what they're trained to do.
Observations of security drills
People staring at or quickly looking away from employees or vehicles as they enter or leave parking areas
Look he's staring - whoops now he's looking away. So if you look at - or don't look at them, it's suspicious? That about covers it.
Foot surveillance of campuses involving individuals working together
That would be groups. So if you see any people walking around, alone or in groups, looking at you or not, call the feds. That's a great warning.