September 2008 Archives

Thank You Congress!

Well, thank goodness, the House of Representatives saw the light and voted down the immensely ill-conceived bailout plan. Thank goodness for easily offended fiscal conservatives. Full details on the vote are available on Think Progress.

Wall Street responded with its normal maturity by throwing a temper tantrum and slamming the Dow by over 600 points. Way to act like grown-ups folks! Let's hope that sanity will return and prevail, and soon.

Protest Bailout with CODEPINK

FYI - In case anybody is able to get away over noon time in downtown DC Monday and Wednesday.

CODEPINK invites you to join us in a "TAXPAYER REVOLT," two days of resistance to the bipartisan BAILOUT for BILLIONAIRES about to be foisted on the American taxpayer! The House will vote on the bill on Monday, and the Senate will likely vote on Wednesday. Please join us!

Action No. 1 -- House of Representatives
WHEN: Noon, Monday September 29th
WHERE: Outside the Cannon Building, Independence and New Jersey Aves.

Action No. 2 -- Senate
WHEN: Noon Wednesday, October 1st
WHERE: Start at the office of Finance Chair Senator Christopher Dodd (Russell Building Rm 448), march to offices of Senators McCain and Obama

Some of us will be performing "Die-Ins" at both of these actions. Others will be simply expressing their outrage. Feel free to bring your own messaging!

Tell Congress we won't take this lying down (even during the "Over Our Dead Body" Die-Ins): "No Bailouts for Billionaires," "No Swindles for Speculators," "Protect Main Street Not Wall Street," "No Taxpayer-Funded Golden Parachutes!"

Let's protest against this latest power grab by the administration and the Congress that never stops TAKING!

First Kettlebell Workout in 5+ Weeks... Oof!

I finally got a chance to work out yesterday after laying off for about 5 weeks thanks to the baby. First of all, wow, it is amazing how heavy the 24kg kettlebells feel, no matter how heavy the 32kg bells are. Second, gosh am I ever sore today (the day after)! :) It's a good kind of sore, though. The workout entailed:


  • Single-hand swings w/ 24kg to warmup

  • 2-hand anyhows w/ 24kg and 16kg kbs

  • side press with 24kg

  • deep squats with 2 32kg kettlebells

  • single-leg deadlift with 2 32kg kettlebells

  • pullups

  • swings to cool down


I look forward to the day that I can curl up 24kg for the 2-hand anyhows... :)

SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon 1

In case you're a fan of rocketry and space exploration, but were distracted by football today... SpaceX has successfully launched their Falcon 1 rocket into orbit. Congrats to their team!

The Bailout in Perspective

Read in The Week (10/3/2008):

"The $700 billion being proposed for the Wall Street bailout is about $175 billion more than school districts, states, and the federal government spent last year on all forms of public education."

Do you start to understand why this bailout is such a big bad deal?

Man oh man do I loath Congress. They've gone and reached an agreement on the so-called "$700B bailout" (which some have estimated will reach closer to $1T) and then made the announcement after midnight, guaranteeing minimal coverage and reaction. This just reeks of bad politics.

Economists don't even consistently agree with the necessity of the bailout plan:
http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/09/substitute-brid.html
http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/09/is-a-potential.html

Some point out that Warren Buffet favors it, so it must be ok. Well, maybe, except he's going to do what's best for his own personal financial interest, right? What's best for him is not necessarily what's good for the other 90% of the country.

More concerning is that this bailout completely undermines any tax cuts that either presidential candidate had discussed thus far. It effectively nationalizes a huge segment of the mortgage industry. It adds a tremendous burden to the taxpayer, despite the Fed handing out money like it's free.

The good news is that there is still time. The bill has not been written down yet, and thus it has not been voted on. It's time to call Congress and demand hearings. This is not a time for swift action with little forethought and discussion. Quite the opposite, this is time for careful, deliberate, well-conceived actions. Do not let the government drive itself into insolvency, with the net effect of triggering a complete collapse of the country. This plan is ill-conceived and does not benefit the average person. Worse, it will guarantee at a minimum current tax rates, if not a major increase in taxes, which will further reduce consumer confidence and spending.

Call Congress - demand accountability to the people, not the corporations!

Bumper Sticker Idea

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"Caution: Baby On-board. Driver may be agitated and sleep deprived. Call for help!" :)

All this bailout nonsense is really starting to irritate me. It is pure, unadulterated FUD created by a White House that is very well experienced with the use of fear tactics to drive through very bad policies. They did it with the USA PATRIOT Act after 9/11. They did it with the Iraq invasion and occupation. Now they're doing it with a $700B no-strings subsidy for Wall Street when there is plenty of cash on hand to buy this "bad" paper, should the banks and investment firms simply take a loss and reduce the price.

There's an excellent discussion of this in a recent interview with Ralph Nader, which you can read here.

American citizens, you need to call your elected Representative and Senators and demand that the brakes be put on this nonsense. Demand real, detailed hearings now, BEFORE any bad commitments are passed into law. Demand resistance to artificial deadlines meant to distract you from McCain's major losses in the presidential election. Demand accountability, and an explanation as to why this bail-out is really "necessary" - if it is at all. Now is not the time to be hasty, nor is it the time to be lulled into trusting a government that has screwed us over and over and over and over and over again, trashing the US Constitution consistently for the past 7+ years.

Summary of IEEE Key Management Summit 2008

I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Key Management Summit this week in Baltimore, MD. The IEEE hosted it in conjunction with the Mass Storage Systems and Technologies (MSST) conference as the IEEE P1619.3 key management standard (under development) is part of the IEEE Security in Storage Working Group.

Overall, the conference was interesting and enlightening, but not perhaps in the way that I'd hoped. In general, it really highlighted the dysfunctional nature of IEEE standards committees, as well as how far removed these groups can be from reality. It was intriguing to the see the contrast of 1619 against the OASIS EKMI technical committee, which itself had to demonstrate business value and buy-in just to be launched; against the IETF committees, which were similarly dysfunctional; and against the ANSI X9 committee, that has apparently covered much of the ground under discussion, or leading up to the key management topic, but which has played almost no direct role in any of the other committees because their focus is technically limited just to the financial services industry (despite a lack of involvement with BITS).

IEEE Key Management Summit 2008

I'll be in Baltimore Tues-Wed this week (today and tomorrow) attending the IEEE Key Management Summit 2008. If anybody else is around for the event and wants to hang out, please feel free to leave me a comment.

As far as blogging, I'm planning to write at least a couple posts based on the sessions and what I might learn. If I manage to get vendor interviews, I'll try to post those, too.

Open to Opportunities

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Just a quick note... Over the next 9 months, I'd like to find a new opportunity... my specific wants are the following:
- Be allowed to be based in Montana.
- Willing to travel up to 50-65%.
- Must make a solid big-city salary with full medical benefits.
- Must be interesting, diverse work, preferably with leadership responsibilities.

I thought I'd post this up here and just let folks think about it or provide input. What do you think? Does such a gig exist? If so, how do I find it (or let it find me)?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Pulled from http://www.artofeurope.com/yeats/yea11.htm. Hat tip to Bob.

The Value of Dissension

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"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." Albert Einstein

There seems to be a fallacy in American politics and corporate life these days that conformity and blind acceptance of the prevailing BS perspective is the apex of social evolution. Nothing could (or should) be farther from the truth. The fact of the matter is that conformity and the oppression of dissent is a fundamental threat to the very foundations of this society. It undermines creativity and innovation, causing an erosion not only in social values but also in the ability to solve problems.

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character." Albert Einstein

The prevailing problem, as I see it today, is that the powers that be believe their way is the only way, and that anybody who dares question that way is in fact threatening the basis of their existence. One need only look at the examples of oppression at the RNC in St. Paul earlier this month, or to the classrooms that are oppressed by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Taking NCLB as a prime example, we find that students and teachers are now almost solely focused on preparing for a single high-stakes test, to the degree that all "education" is rote memorization, with little or no time spent on extension.

Extension of learned concepts and facts is a vital component to being educated. It's not enough to know that 1+1=2, but to then be able to extend this to knowing that 1+2=3 and beyond. It's also the ability to see that 1+x=2 means that x=1, and then to be able to expand that to other topics, like multiplication, such that when you go shopping you can look at a package of 100, 250, and 500 napkins and calculate out the per-napkin cost to see which package is in fact the better deal (yes, I know, many grocery stores put this on the label now).

Just a brief note... I was on travel a good chunk of last week, combined with having a newborn in the house and several deliverables due last week, leaving me no time to blog. I have a couple topics lined up, just need an hour to research and write. I realized last week that I never posted an August goals summary. At this point, I think I'll just wait until October first to post a joint August/September retrospective. There's just something about having a newborn in the house that seems to absorb all of one's time. More to come!

Comms. Guide for Gen X/Y

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There's a decent, short BusinessWeek article posted up on AOL.com titled "A Boomer's Guide to Communicating with Gen X and Gen Y" that is actually pretty decent. I'd love to see this presented to a couple of my old bosses so that they might try to understand why most of us didn't enjoy working for them! :)

If I were to add anything, it would be under the "Compensation" section: Time off is compensation, and should always be negotiable. Give me 5 weeks off per year plus sick leave and I'll settle for a lower salary no problem. However, put stupid limits on what is and is not negotiable and, well, you already have me thinking your org is outmoded and outdated, needing a major HR overhaul (of course, what org doesn't need a major HR overhaul these days?). fwiw.

Fedora 9 Upgrade Snaffus!

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Keywords: inittab, upstart, daemontools, djbdns, qmail, X.org, supervise, svscanboot

Howdy race fans! If you've noticed a little downtime here in the last 24 hours, it's because a "routine" upgrade to Fedora Core 9 went a little haywire. Apparently FC9 changes a bunch of key things and we didn't know that ahead of time. So, I thought I'd briefly share lessons learned.

installed upgrade, reboot hangs
We found that the install/upgrade DVD didn't install anything, but screwed up the boot loader. Bob had to go into the rescue mode and reinstall a functioning boot loader and then run yum update. Instead of using the DVD, I recommend using preupgrade as it will likely work better. FC9 makes a lot of changes to functionality, so it's good to get some automated conversion done.

inittab out, upstart in
If you were relying on anything starting from /etc/inittab previously, it's now obsoleted. Instead, you need to put a script into /etc/events.d/ and configure it properly. For daemontools, this is a bit of a problem, but one easily solved. Here's what my /etc/events.d/svscanboot script looks like:

# svscan - daemontools
#
# This service starts daemontools from the point the system is
# started until it is shut down again.

start on runlevel-1
start on runlevel-2
start on runlevel-3
start on runlevel-4
start on runlevel-5
start on runlevel-6

stop on shutdown

exec /command/svscanboot
respawn


(source: http://blog.blinkenlights.nl/2006/10/29/daemontools-with-upstart/)

BTW, you'll use the initctl command to start, stop, or status the script. So, you can add the above script to /etc/events.d/svscanboot and then do initctl start svscanboot and it should launch your proc(s).

X doesn't start
This error can occur for a number of reasons, such as your having an ATI card for which there are possibly no drivers. The biggest challenge, however, could be the outdated config file. Apparently the latest X.org install auto-configures a lot more stuff, so you don't need much in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. If you're not getting a GUI, try moving your xorg.conf file to xorg.conf.bak (or backup or old or whatever) and then rebooting. You'll likely then need to do a bunch of display reconfiguration changes, but at least you should be in a graphical mode.

Bottom line: there's a ton of info on Google if you put in good search terms - it just takes some good searching. Good luck!

Blind Acceptance of Mediocrity

"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death." James F. Byrnes

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
Thomas Jefferson

I'm of the opinion that American society has peaked and is now in the throes of an implosion. It's the only reasonable explanation I can find for the hubris of stupidity I see in a full half of the population. When lies are heralded as great conquests, when hyper-aggressive law enforcement can be applauded for trampling on the Constitution, and when we see other countries pursuing scientific achievement while we flounder, bickering over petty religious squabbles instead of finding common ground - well, let's just say it's rather disturbing.

Let's not stop there, however. American business is in shambles. Fannie and Freddie are about to be taken over by the government, which has already artificially sustained, if not rewarded, very bad decisions. What sort of free market doesn't allow idiots to fail? If you make bad decisions, you should suffer the consequences. Instead, our government sustains those bad decisions, drawing them out endlessly (seen the American airline industry lately?).

I have a high school acquaintance who likes to rail about how Obama is too liberal, possibly a Marxist, FUD, FUD, doom and gloom. Yet the present administration has done far more to undermine the country than any future leader will be able to do. Look at the despotic and violent tactics in St Paul this past week while the administration's party had its convention. Not only were police initiating violence against peaceful protesters and peacekeepers, but they actually targeted journalists and medics. What sort of country are we living in that not only actively seeks to oppress the citizens, but goes out of its way to quash reporting on the incidents and medical support?!? Yet they congratulate themselves on a job well done!

Then there's the mediocrity of American business. I've seen many IT shops throughout my career and one thing is constant: they're all a mess. I view IT as a window into the soul of the business. If you can't figure out how to properly manage your technical organization, than you're not going to be able to manage the rest of your org well, either. Simply put: I often wonder how any company stays in business.

The irony is that this industry of ours relies on so-called "best practices" - which, as Scott Adams noted in Dilbert this past week, is just code for mediocrity. When did we get to the point that this was blindly acceptable? When did we decide as a people that average was fine, innovation was too much work, creativity was crazy talk, free speech was threatening, and medical care too much hassle?

So, I wonder, is there any recovery for our ailing, failing society? Can we cut from ourselves the cancer of negative, angry politicians corrupted beyond recognition? Or will we remain in the grasp of organized crime by way of dispassionate multination corporations? It is these orgs that are threatened by freedom, liberty, and civil rights. The more freedom and open disclosure we have, the more likely their corruption is to be exposed. Their mediocrity will be questioned, and they will either fail or be forced to correct their ways.

I fault the managers of the economy in the government and the Federal Reserve for not allowing the economy to nose-dive and then self-correct. Instead, we limp along seeing real inflation out-pacing growth in income, we see Americans without health coverage, and we see outright despotism in places like the White House, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and played out in the streets of St Paul, MN. A properly structured and trained DHS organization should have been on the side of the protesters, defending them against overzealous law enforcement, rather than organizing the thug squads to drive out, raiding protest planning parties, manufacturing conflict where none existed.

You'll note that hundreds of arrests were made. Where are the charges? They're few and far between, if they exist at all. Law enforcement was used to oppress freedom of speech, expression, and journalism. As in business, the tyranny of despotic rule and police state oppression serve a purpose counter to the best interests of industry and society. If the goal is to suppress and placate, then congratulations, we're doing swell. However, there is then no room for complaining by politicians and business leaders as their organization erode and collapse from the lack of innovation and creativity. You lose your right to complain when your actions have directly resulted in the problem at hand. The only path to recovery and revitalization is a wholesale redress of the system, including the arrest, fair trial, and eventual imprisonment of those thugs who are responsible for the present environment. No, that's not bin Laden and al Qaeda. It's people like Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Clinton, Podhoretz, and so on.

I leave you with a couple more quotes from Jefferson:

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."
Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787.

"Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one's country. They do not distinguish between acts against the government, and acts against the oppressions of the government. The latter are virtues, yet have furnished more victims to the executioner than the former, because real treasons are rare; oppressions frequent. The unsuccessful strugglers against tyranny have been the chief martyrs of treason laws in all countries."
Thomas Jefferson: Report on Spanish Convention, 1792


Protesting Now Considered Terrorism

terrorism

1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Blocking traffic: not inherently violent, depending on methods.
Marching: not inherently violent.
Journalists reporting on protests and convention: not inherently violent.
Police attacking protesters with riot gear and gas: inherently violent.

Do you see the disparity here? Do you understand why this is so vexing? The same principle applied to Iraq in justifying the invasion is being used to justify LE interdiction in RNC protests. Pre-emptive arrests are distinctly Unamerican and Unconstitutional.

Nearly 300 protesters arrested at GOP convention
Terrorism charges filed in alleged plot to disrupt GOP convention

Hyprocisy and Irony in Minnesota

Pardon the brief rant, but I'm tired of the airtime these Republican wonks are getting for the excrement they're spewing. Minneapolis/St. Paul appear to have been turned into a police state, where peaceful protesters are attacked, and where legally booked concerts are harassed and shut down. But none of this should surprise us...

The Republican party, under the leadership W. has become the party of fear. Ironically, while they spew forth hateful language and issueless rhetoric trying to induce fear, they are the ones who are afraid. The outright mocking and oppression of opposing views proves that their owns beliefs are so shaky that they cannot bear anything contrary.

On this neophyte Palin, there is so much irony and hypocrisy that it should churn the stomachs of every voting American. She represents much that is wrong with this country, insomuch as she very clearly self-identifies as a soccer/hockey mom with a bad attitude who thinks the way to be heard is to dictate. Yet, for representing the party of traditional values, she does not herself have traditional values.

Of course, the Republicans say we're not supposed to question her background, lack of inexperience, or clear disconnect with the fundamentally extreme Republican platform. But again, none of us should find this surprising.

The Republicans have become the party of oppression. They trample on the Constitution when it's convenient, and laud it as written in stone and not open to interpretation (hmmm, kind of like some other "holy" document) when it suits them. The media plays nice, because they want access, failing to cover the aggression perpetrated against protesters. And they scream "sexism" when people question the background and experience of their VP candidate, while at the same time attacking the character of Barack Obama. Could they be more transparently hypocritical? They clearly don't even care any more. The party of corruption, the party of oppression, where it's unpatriotic to exercise your Constitutional rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, where we must live by Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), where Christianity is seen as the one true religion, and that all others must be driven out, even to the extent of using violent force, where it suits them.

For the record, sexism is defined as:
1. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.
2. discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; esp., such discrimination directed against women.

The criticism from the loyal opposition of Palin as a VP does not fit these definitions. People are pointing out the apparent contradiction in the strong conservative values contrasted with the lack of embodiment of those values. In just 21 months, Palin appears to have become quite corrupt, eagerly playing vicious political games to undercut her opposition, and even going so far as to having her Wikipedia record modified to misrepresent the truth about her stances. She's a complete novice in the political arena - definitely more so than Obama, who had held Illinois State office before joining the US Senate. The snarky defensive remarks about sexism are purely designed to elicit sympathy votes from other soccer/hockey moms at a time when we should be seriously questioning why this group of people seems to feel so oppressed when they're oftentimes in the driver's seat. Self-victimization is lame, and so is this candidate.

And as if that's not enough, now there are interesting rumors (albeit from somewhat biased sources) that there are strong mafia ties to McCain and co. Not surprising, I guess, but we'll never hear about it.

Security Industry in a Nutshell? :)

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Me certainly thinks so! :)

Dilbert.com

GOP Uses Strong-Arm "Security" Tactics

Oh, oh, oh - very interesting! So, we have a Republican president, who's Executive Branch contains the FBI, which is in turn assisting local law enforcement in Minneapolis/St. Paul (Minnesota) with actively oppressing protesters as they prepare for the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week. Links on the story from Slashdot here and a note here about some of these groups filing suit against law enforcement.

Simply put, these are strong-arm tactics intended to oppress opposition, masquerading as "security" measures. The implication that all of these groups were somehow planning massive violent demonstrations seems a bit far-fetched, especially coming on the heels of the Democratic Convention, which, to my knowledge, only had a few minor issues, including the arrest of 3 meth-heads in a suspected assassination plot.

Ironically, nobody cares about the RNC thanks to Hurrican Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast. I think it would be absolutely perfect if the RNC were to be marred by a "Katrina 2" styled meltdown that once again shows the supreme incompetence of the Bush administration and GOP lawmakers. From what I've read in print, New Orleans is in a particularly bad state, with very few real improvements since 2005, meaning the city could be nearly wiped out this time given a direct hit from what looks to be a potential Category 4 storm. Anyway...

More on the RNC change in plans due to the weather at the following sites:
Think Progress
Pioneer Press
BBC News
MarketWatch

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