Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Here's where it starts

    CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African activists and doctors have sued the government for not taking action against a prominent "AIDS dissident" doctor who promotes untested vitamins to fight the epidemic, officials said on Tuesday.

    The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the South African Medical Association (SAMA) said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had failed the public by allowing Matthias Rath to continue operating in South Africa.


    Critics say Rath's vitamin trials have not been approved by a research ethics committee and discourage people from using anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, which slow the progress of AIDS.


    Rath, who is based in the United States, and his foundation advocate nutrition and vitamins to fight AIDS and have used pamphlets and newspaper advertisements to attack ARVs, which he says are poisonous.

    Activists, doctors sue S.Africa govt on AIDS

    Let's consider this for a moment. Nobody's got a cure for AIDS. The best we're doing for most people is letting them live a little longer. But here we're talking about Africa, where HIV is rampant, along with things like malaria and various other nasty diseases. People are going to die regardless. Is it really more of a tragedy if they die on an herbal plan rather than a pharmaceutical one? What if the herbal plan actually works? Or what if, by shutting down all other types of study, this group shuts down the development of something that might be better than anti-retro-virals, or even a cure?

    I see no evidence in the article that this Rath guy is forcing anyone to use his method. He's simply selling a product. The people are not children. They can see what is working and what isn't, with their own eyes. Yes, some will make bad choices and may even die because of it. It's tragic. But taking away economic freedom of choice from the people by using government to eliminate competitors is wrong on so many levels. The choices need to be made, even if they're bad. It's the only way to explore every possible solution, and eventually come up with a cure.

    So what happens if the "establishment" activists get their way? 50 years from now, South Africa has the same mess the USA does right now: a monopoly on doctor training, on drug distribution, on medical service, outrageous insurance premiums, health costs through the roof, and so on. Just because some nitwits are afraid to let the market work.

    Posted by Tom, 11/30/2005 6:58:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    Do-it-yourself Behavior Modification

    A very good friend, who is a counseling type, described these five steps in behavior:

    Observation: We see, hear, or otherwise experience some stimulus.
    Interpretation: We interpret the meaning of this stimulus, using whatever information is at our disposal.
    Emotion: Based on our interpretation, we feel a certain way about the stimulus.
    Decision: Based on our feelings, we make a decision.
    Action: Based on our decision, we respond, or behave, in a certain way.

    These 5 steps happen whether we are aware of them or not. Sometimes we're only aware of Stimulus-Action, with no consciousness in between. The trick is to slow down and experience each step in turn. Generally in order to do this, we have to work from the end backwards. So we stop our Action and focus on the Decision for a while. If we can practice that, we can move back to Emotion, and finally to Interpretation. As we get to each step in turn, the ones following it become much easier to deal with -- it's easy not to scream at someone if what they say doesn't make you mad, for example.

    So let's say someone calls you a bad name. I'm particularly sensitive to being called ignorant or uneducated, so let's go with that:

    Stimulus: "You're nothing but a college dropout!"
    Interpretation: Yes, I am a college dropout, and that makes me unworthy in some way.
    Emotion: I feel hurt and worthless.
    Decision: This person has hurt me, I have to fight back.
    Action: I punch them in the face.

    The first step is to say, "they have hurt me, but I don't have to fight back. I can choose (Decide) not to respond, and simply remove myself from the situation." This doesn't deal with anything else, but it does stop our immediate Stimulus-Action knee-jerk response. I will probably have to deal with my emotions in some other way, which might be harmful, but at least I haven't punched anyone in the face.

    The second step is to move back to emotion. Do I have to feel hurt and worthless? No. Emotions are a product of how we think, not the other way around. I can make a conscious decision, if I am paying attention to the process inside my head, to feel good about myself in spite of the information I'm having to deal with. This makes the Decision phase much easier to deal with, and this phase is made much easier by addressing the next one...

    In the third step, we re-interpret the information. We do this by considering all the facts at hand. "I am a college dropout. But I have done a considerable amount of self-educating, and I have learned a whole lot about the world through my life experience that many college graduates may never learn. I am educated. I may not hold the same opinions as others, and I may not have the same educational background, but I have not been sitting on my ass watching TV and playing GameBoy since I dropped out of college." Armed with this new information, I can simply say to myself "this person is misinformed." Then I don't have to feel bad about myself -- it's the other guy who doesn't have all the facts. As I stated earlier, this makes every succeeding step much easier to deal with.

    Practicing these steps is often very difficult, but once you get into the practice of stopping yourself at the Interpretation stage, it's amazing how much different your outlook on life and relationships can be.

    Posted by Tom, 11/29/2005 7:12:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...


    Today I have three signs of the coming William Gibson world.

    In the first, we have Jon Jacobs, a man making real money in a virtual world. And this ain't chicken scratch, either:

    Let's say there's 20 hours a day of hunting, times as many as 100 hunters at a time. With my 5 percent tax, that's as much as $5,000 a day. That's $35,000 a week, $140,000 a month, or $1.68 million a year. I'm calling that the successful low end.

    Of course, he had to mortgage his real house to get a virtual space station for $100,000, but the very next day he was offered twice that. The stock market has SO much to learn.

    Second, the seedy side of things, as one person's studies show that cybercrime is outdoing drug trafficking as the pot o' gold at the end of the criminal rainbow.

    "Last year was the first year that proceeds from cybercrime were greater than proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs, and that was, I believe, over $105 billion," McNiven told Reuters.

    "Cybercrime is moving at such a high speed that law enforcement cannot catch up with it."

    Given the inflexible, slow-moving nature of government, it never will.

    Finally, on the medical front, bionic replacement parts come one step closer to reality with the Cyberhand:

    The artificial hand, which could provide patients with active feeling, is being developed under a European project.

    The project, aptly named ďCyberhand,Ē aims to hard- wire the artificially created hand into the nervous system, allowing sensory feedback from the hand to reach the brain, and instructions to come from the brain to control the hand, at least in part.

    . o O (Steve Austin... a man barely alive...)

    These are the signs of the coming Gibsonocalypse! Prepare yourselves!

    Posted by Tom, 11/29/2005 6:50:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, November 25, 2005

    Litany Against Fear

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    -- Frank Herbert, Dune

    Posted by Tom, 11/25/2005 4:59:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Libertarian / Christian

    Some have wondered how these go together. After all, isn't the Republican party the "Christian" party? Didn't Jesus say to take care of the poor like the Democrats do?

    Libertarian: It's about letting go, and not needing to control the lives of others, even for their own good. It's about knowing/trusting that things will somehow work out for mankind. In one's time of economic illiteracy, this probably looks a lot like blind faith. As one learns about the market, it probably becomes a lot more rational.

    Christian: It's about letting go, and not needing complete control of one's own life. It's about knowing/trusting that things will somehow work out for the good. In one's time of personal immaturity, this looks a lot like "childlike faith". As one grows up emotionally and physically, it ideally becomes a lot more like simple serenity.

    The bumper sticker version? Here's two.

    I'm OK... You're OK

    Let go... Let God

    Posted by Tom, 11/23/2005 6:49:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005


    The process of personal change is almost always painful, frightening, and arduous. Sometimes the pace is slow, and there's only a very little bit of progress. Sometimes you can't even see the next step, and you have to wait for guidance or risk everything and step anyway. You just keep climbing the hill, hoping that you're actually getting somewhere, but not really sure of how to measure your progress. You wonder if the reward is worth it.

    Then every once in a great while, you get a glimpse of where you're headed. You've been so focused on one particular task, like quitting smoking or getting out of debt, that it has become an end unto itself -- as if that's the whole point. Then you see a break in the trees, or you crest a rise, and spread out before you is not the little hill you've been trying to climb, but the mighty mountain you're trying to become.

    Suddenly nothing else matters.

    Posted by Tom, 11/22/2005 5:19:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...


    And people wonder why I'm against using tax dollars to fund Public Broadcasting...

    PBS Hops on Pop

    I'm without words.

    Posted by Tom, 11/22/2005 7:09:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Education Reform

    The December 2005 issue of Reason magazine has an article entitled "Let a Thousand Choices Bloom", in which they ask a dozen experts on education reform two questions. The first is what is the most necessary reform. On this point, I think I agree most with Marshall Fritz, of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State:

    None. "Reform" implies the government is still involved. We need to transform America's collectivist approach to education into free-market education. This means ending not only compulsory funding but compulsory attendance and content. We must separate schools from the state.

    A more in-depth version of his argument comes from Jacob G. Hornberger, of the Future of Freedom Foundation:

    The only genuine system of choice in education is one in which people are free to keep their own money and educate their children in the manner they deem best. No compulsory attendance laws, and no school taxes. No government involvement at all. A total free market in education.

    Public schooling is really nothing more than socialist central planning -- bureaucratic boards, compulsory attendance, and government-approved schoolteachers, textbooks, and curricula. Politicians and bureaucrats at all levels of government plan, in a top-down, army-like fashion, the educations of multitudes of students.

    Ultimately, the case against public schooling is a moral one. Under what moral authority does the state take control over the education decisions of the family? Under what moral authority does the state take one person's money in order to fund the educational expenses of other people's children, either to attend public school or, with a government welfare voucher, to attend a private school?

    There's only one way for freedom, the free market, moral principles, and genuine educational choice to triumph -- and that's through the total separation of school and state.

    I have heard many defenders of public education use the old "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance" argument (that's the bumper sticker form). Basically it goes like this: if we don't educate people now, we'll have to deal with their criminality in the future. Setting aside all of the assumptions made by such an argument (for example, that there is actually educating going on, which is highly debatable given the state of many public schools), it is not a moral argument but a practical one. It says that it is simply more expedient to educate children than to deal with them as ignorant adults. But this leaves the moral question unanswered.

    The second question asked is about the biggest obstacle facing education reform. My favorite answer comes from John Merrifield, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a senior research fellow of the Education Policy Institute and the Independent Institute:

    The largest obstacle is inertia reinforced by economic illiteracy. The differences between political and market accountability are poorly understood, and the present system's failure to teach basic economic principles helps it survive withering criticism.

    Again, I ask the question: Are your kids learning economics? Are you?

    This article should go online at at some point in the coming weeks. When it does, I will link it.

    Posted by Tom, 11/21/2005 9:31:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...


    Iím only a man in a silly red sheet
    Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
    Only a man in a funny red sheet
    Looking for special things inside of me


    Iím only a man
    In a funny red sheet
    Iím only a man
    Looking for a dream

    Iím only a man
    In a funny red sheet
    And itís not easy...

    Its not easy to be me

    -- Five for Fighting

    Posted by Tom, 11/21/2005 5:35:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...



    One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

    Romans 14:5

    That second guy? That's me. Now imagine feeling like that in this Hallmark-card-obsessed culture, and having not one but two families who totally buy into it.


    Again I say:


    Posted by Tom, 11/21/2005 7:04:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, November 18, 2005


    I have had a bunch of arguments with various folks lately about the "wisdom" of having a government agency like the FDA to "protect us" from "bad drugs" and such. The usual bugaboos are trotted out, especially our old friend Thalidomide and the flipper babies. Then there's the incessant worrying about whether a person could possibly know enough to self-prescribe medications without going through medical school and the like.

    So last night a friend stayed at our house. This friend happens to have been working as a medical missionary to places like Haiti. In a lot of these Caribbean and South American countries (and I'm gathering pretty much the rest of the world), antibiotics and other drugs available only by prescription in the USA are widely and freely available to anyone with a couple of bucks who walks into a convenience store.

    The problem they have in these Third World countries is lack of education and information about the drugs that are so readily available to them. This problem is solved by these medical missionaries by simply holding little classes and seminars for the natives, instructing them about what drugs are good for what ailments.

    So that leaves me wondering... if a third world person with a minimal elementary education can learn what drugs to use in a couple of hours being taught by interpreter, what exactly is it that makes a person in a modern industrialized nation, with a full high school education and access to more information via the internet than man has ever accumulated in one place, incapable of fixing their runny nose with a prescription-strength antibiotic?

    Posted by Tom, 11/18/2005 7:05:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Mona Lisa Overdrive

    William Gibson's dystopian visions of the future are coming true even as I write this. Data has long been increasing in value as a commodity, and now it has left the mainframes and supercomputers and corporate intranets and is being traded on the street the way recreational pharmaceuticals have for decades. Sure, the data right now is in the form of various entertainment products, but it cannot be long before some enterprising young Kevin Mitnick wannabe Burns Chrome and sells the info in a back alley.

    I have long believed that Gibson's is the most realistic idea of the near future (the next 100 years). Strangely, I even want him to be right, even though the world he describes is not a friendly or hospitable place by any stretch of the imagination. If I live to see it, I'll be too old to meaningfully participate, but I still want to see it. It competes with leaving Earth at the top of my list of "things to see/do before I die". Like D. D. Harriman, I'd go out with a smile.

    Posted by Tom, 11/17/2005 7:06:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Those who do not learn from history...

    The Mises Institute has posted an article about the history of price controls (aka "anti-gouging" or "labor protection" laws). It turns out that such laws are the oldest -- reaching back to Hammurabi's Code:

    In Babylon some 4,000 years ago the Code of Hammurabi was a maze of price control regulations. "If a man hire a field-labourer, he shall give him eight gur of corn per annum"; "If a man hire a herdsman, he shall give him six gur of corn per annum"; "If a man hire a sixty-ton boat, he shall give a sixth part of a shekel of silver per diem for her hire." And on and on and on.

    And what, pray tell, was the result of this wisdom?

    Such laws "smothered economic progress in the empire for many centuries," as the historical record describes. Once these laws were laid down "there was a remarkable change in the fortunes of the people."

    And of course, governments the world over learned from their mistake and never revisited such idiocy, right? Wrong.

    The Ancient Greeks did it, and even imposed the death penalty for breaking the law. Same result.

    The Romans did it in 284 A.D. Same result.

    Governors in colonial America did it, and nearly starved General Washington's troops to death because of the shortages. Wouldn't it have been an interesting history if America was never founded because those in power were ignorant of basic economic law?

    The French did it in the 1790's.

    The Americans did it to the Germans after WWII. Check this note:

    Price controls were finally ended in Germany by Economic Minister Ludwig Erhard in 1948, on a Sunday, when the American occupation authorities would be out of their offices and unable to stop him. This spawned the "German economic miracle."

    Again, what if Germany (ironically, increasingly in favor of heavily regulated economy) had never done such a thing? What feats of German engineering would never have materialized, like their famous automobiles?

    Moving back to America, there's the energy crisis of the 1970's and California's nitwit energy policy that resulted in widespread blackouts in recent years.

    In summary:

    For more than four thousand years, dictators, despots, and politicians of all stripes have viewed price controls as the ultimate "something for nothing" promise to the public.

    With the wave of a hand, or the flash of a legislative pen, they promise to make everything cheaper. And for more than four thousand years the results have been exactly the same: shortages, sometimes of catastrophic consequence; deterioration of product quality; the proliferation of black markets on which prices are actually higher and bribery is rampant; destruction of a nation's productive capacity in the industries where prices are controlled; gross distortions of markets; the creation of oppressive and tyrannical price control bureaucracies; and a dangerous concentration of political power in the hands of the price controllers.

    Over and over and over again, government interference in the market can be shown to create and encourage poverty. And yet the economically ignorant continue to say the same thing: "Gas/grain/electricity/medicine costs too much! DO SOMETHING!"

    Are your kids learning or going to learn economics in high school? Why not?

    Posted by Tom, 11/14/2005 8:19:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Gun Review

    Clayton Cramer has posted a weapons review from a friend of a friend whose kid is in Iraq. It's from what Cramer considers a reliable source, so I won't harsh his judgement. It's very interesting reading for the sheer academic joy of it, but there are a few things which bear mentioning. For certain people (you know who you are), I'd like to point out the following:

    The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.


    The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

    The review also calls out the Mossberg 500 and AK-47 as being highly effective and resistant to grime, while the cursed M-16 remains cursed.

    Posted by Tom, 11/11/2005 7:28:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    O frabjous day!

    My latest issue of libertarian standard-bearer Reason magazine arrived last night. This one promises to be a good one, just from the cover:

    How Bush Outspends LBJ
    After the Storm: Public policy failure and Hurricane Katrina
    Dinosaurs vs. Darwin
    Milton Friedman on School Vouchers
    Rick Santorum vs. Barry Goldwater
    Why Amtrak Sucks
    John McCain's War on Political Speech

    This last one starts at the "staple page" (the one in the middle of the magazine where the staples are), and has a hilarious photo of the erstwhile senator snarling at the camera. Must be his war face.

    (from Full Metal Jacket, contains some bad language)

    One neat little tradition is their "25 years ago in Reason". Turns out that 25 years ago in Reason this month, they did an interview with Thomas Sowell, and he had this to say:

    It's ironic that persons like myself and Walter Williams, who grew up in the ghetto, are regarded as being either middle-class or just aberrant, whereas people like Andrew Young, who grew up in the lap of affluence, are said to truly speak for blacks.

    Well, now that I have a new magazine to read, if you need me I'll be in the can.

    Posted by Tom, 11/11/2005 7:25:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Still Here Waiting

    It's cold outside
    Or is that just the chill I feel inside from standing here
    Steeping in my shame
    I can't deny
    I'm surrounded by the very thing You freed me from
    That's why I can't come home

    I don't know where I turned around
    From chasing what I always found completed me
    More than I could dream
    I don't know why I can't remain
    Safe here where I always came to meet with you
    And You always met with me
    And You're still here waiting

    I fail to see
    Why You'd still be waiting to forgive me
    After all that I have done
    But I cannot say
    That one time I returned and You had turned away
    Your love never fails

    I don't know where I turned around
    From chasing what I always found completed me
    More than I could dream
    I don't know why I can't remain
    Safe here where I always came to meet with you
    And You always met with me
    And You're still here waiting

    --Todd Agnew

    Feels good to not be the only one.

    Posted by Tom, 11/11/2005 7:15:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    The Sun Even Shines...

    A friend told me she really dislikes dcTalk. Well, I kind of like them, but maybe only because I know just a couple of their songs. Here's a snippet from one of them:

    Whatís going on inside of me?
    I despise my own behavior
    This only serves to confirm my suspicions
    That Iím still a man in need of a savior

    I wanna be in the light
    As you are in the light
    I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
    Oh, lord be my light and be my salvation
    Cause all I want is to be in the light
    All I want is to be in the light

    Check it out, it's worth listening to.

    Posted by Tom, 11/10/2005 7:28:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The revolution is here

    The DVR revolution, anyway. After killing DirecTV 15 months ago in disgust, I finally called up Dish Network and ordered one of their systems that comes with the Digital Video Recorder. All I can say is, "Sweet!" I am never going to change my social plans based on the TV schedule again.

    Now, some would say, "why not just do the VCR thing?" Well, I'm a computer programmer, and lately I've become a real Macintosh fan. The whole idea behind the Macintosh computer is to get the technology out of the way of the user. Interface design rules 1 through 3: simplify, simplify, simplify.

    Unfortunately, this new love for the Macintosh comes with a new hatred of my VCR. I'm actually one of those people who knows how to work it -- after all, it's all right there in the manual. But after using a Mac as my primary computer for about a year now, I just can't bring myself to hunker down and press Timer Record, Program, Channel Up, Channel Up, Channel Up, Set, Channel Down, Channel Down, Set, and on and on ad nauseam, just so I can maybe record House. And that's only if the tape isn't bad and I haven't forgotten to put one in. Not to mention the fact that if there's more than one show on the stinkin' tape, I gotta play hide-and-seek with the rewind button until I find the spot where the stupid show begins. AND I have to do it all again next week if I want to record that episode, and the next week, and the next, etc.

    Now, compare this with the Dish DVR experience: Hit the Guide button on the remote control. Find the show in the guide. Press record button. A new menu pops up, asking if I want to record just this episode, all episodes, or all new episodes. Select appropriately, press Done.

    I did this for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. Woke up this morning, hit the DVR button, and voila! Jon's opening monologue while I brush my teeth and such.

    TV will never be the same.

    Posted by Tom, 11/10/2005 7:14:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, November 8, 2005

    Imprisoned Soul

    The women say
    Sit down, with your ankles crossed,
    hands folded neatly in your lap.
    Settle down!
    Pay attention!
    Be quiet!
    Grow up to be dependable,
    and bring home a steady paycheck.
    Don't be a bother,
    don't rock the boat,
    don't make any waves.
    Grow old peacefully,
    and die quietly,
    without causing any trouble for anyone.

    Now I ask you --
    is that any way for a man to live?

    Posted by Tom, 11/8/2005 7:02:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, November 7, 2005

    Tech Tip of the Day

    If you, like me, are sitting here wondering why you can't get your WoW (World of Warcraft) fix because the login bug has reared its ugly head again, and if you, like me, are incensed at the fact that you have to keep ALT-TABbing in and out of the fullscreen mode to check the message boards and whatnot, here's a tip:

    Because Blizzard didn't make it easy to change your game from fullscreen to windowed mode, you need to go into your config file and do a little editing. If you followed the normal installation procedure, this file will be located at C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\WTF\ (for Windows) or Applications/World of Warcraft/WTF/ (for Mac). Open this file using WordPad or NotePad or TextEdit. Find the line that says:

    SET gxResolution "1920x1200"

    Note that the actual resolution setting (the numbers) may be different for you.

    Change this line to be something like the following:

    SET gxResolution "1024x768"


    SET gxResolution "800x600"

    And add a line that says:

    SET gxWindow "1"

    (if there is already a line that says SET gxWindow "0", just change the 0 to a 1)

    Save the file and re-launch WoW. It should now be running in a window, making it easier to switch back and forth between trying unsuccessfully to log in and flaming the customer service reps on Blizzard's forums. Just remember, nobody likes to read the same boring old rants. Be creative. I especially liked Joseibi's post:


    Appearently Bliz is running a 7 day trial version OS on their servers. So basically what happens is when the there are 12 hours left of operation a window pops up on every server console that hogs CPU time 100% which is why people start experiencing lag.

    Then the devs start $!@%ting their pants because all their beepers go off at the same time and interrupts their Halo 2 keg party.

    So every Monday night they run to the server room and attempt to apply a date set back hack to make it 12 more hours untill maintenance, but they are so wasted that they set the date forward instead. So the servers start dying off one by one. And by the time they make a DOS 6.2 bootdisk to apply dirty hack to the system time, they realize that it's a better idea to just reformat the servers and restore the database from tape.

    Once they reinstall Windows 98 SE on the servers it's time to hunt down all those outdated tape drive drivers on cus Bob forgot to burn them on CD again.

    Then they have to install WindowBlinds so the new Asian intern that maintains the server can have the Win98 desktop look like Apple OS X.

    Anyway, as you all can see, this is all lots of work. I just don't know why they won't tell us all this in the first place?

    Posted by Tom, 11/7/2005 8:12:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    All Saints' Day

    Yesterday I attended a church that officially recognized All Saints' Day. They had a service for families of people who have died in the past year, and recognized them by having them light a candle in memory of their loved one. With this simple act, they simultaneously bore witness to both the spiritual joy and the mundane suffering of this part of the human condition. By taking time to recognize that someone has suffered a loss, and to say with that action that the suffering shall not go unnoticed and that it is worthy of our attention, this church affirmed its relevance to our lives.

    Spiritually speaking, I can think of few things more powerful or moving than simply gathering together in a moment of shared humanity like we did at that service. I think the real challenge of Christianity is trying to be open to that kind of sharing every moment of every day, as Christ was.

    Posted by Tom, 11/7/2005 7:13:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Stop the Insanity!

    So now the Nanny State wants to protect us from ourselves in the area of free Wi-Fi. The twits in county government in Westchester County, New York apparently think they know what's best when it comes to everyone's network:

    The draft proposal offered this week would compel all "commercial businesses" with an open wireless access point to have a "network gateway server" outfitted with a software or hardware firewall. Such a firewall, used to block intrusions from outside the local network, would be required even for a coffee shop that used an old-fashioned cash register instead of an Internet-linked credit card system that could be vulnerable to intrusions.


    The proposed law has two prongs: First, "public Internet access" may not be provided without a network gateway server equipped with a firewall. Second, any business or home office that stores personal information also must install such a firewall-outfitted server even if its wireless connection is encrypted and not open to the public. All such businesses would be required to register with the county within 90 days.

    Ah, here we go. Let's make everyone register their networks with the county. Then of course we'll need to have licenses issued for network operation. All for a nominal fee, of course, that gets put into the county's general fund. Doesn't matter if all this government intrusion knocks some people out of business because they can't afford a firewall server and a $75,000/year MCSE to maintain the damn thing, it's for our own good.

    Why do I so intensely dislike government? Because government cannot do the one thing I really want it to do: Leave us alone.

    Posted by Tom, 11/7/2005 7:01:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, November 4, 2005

    Another dead WoW player

    Fellow players hold online funeral

    Yahoo! News China is reporting that a young girl, nicknamed Snowly, died after playing World of Warcraft for several days straight during a national holiday.

    As a result, China is moving to start enforcing a new law limiting the amount of time one can play online games. Apparently once you have a nanny state, there's no need for actual parents.

    Posted by Tom, 11/4/2005 6:47:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Hurricane, meet Blizzard

    In my free county newspaper that comes out at various times, there was this little tidbit that stood in vivid contrast to the culture of dependence and celebration of victimhood that's been front and center in the last couple of months:

    North Dakota and SW Montana have already suffered a blizzard this year. This text is from a county emergency manager in western Dakota poking a little fun.

    WEATHER BULLETIN: Up here on the northern plains we just recovered from a Historic Event... may even say a "Weather Event of Biblical Proportions". 23" of snow with 50 MPH winds that broke trees in half and stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks. The blizzard closed roads, isolated scores of communities, cut power to 10's of thousands.

    George Bush did not come, but he would be welcome. FEMA did not open staging areas. Nobody demanded $2000 debit cards. No one asked for a FEMA trailer house. No news anchors took notice...

    We just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars, fired up the wood stoves, broke out the coal oil lanterns, and put on an extra layer of clothing.

    Even though a Category 5 blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early... we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves. [emphasis mine]

    Everybody is fine.

    God I love living out West.

    Posted by Tom, 11/4/2005 6:32:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, November 3, 2005

    I'm such a nerd...

    Mrs. Digit always says she wants me to wear more colors (I'm gray shirt and blue jeans kinda guy). So here's what I came up with:

    The Austrian Economist T-Shirt Collection

    Posted by Tom, 11/3/2005 7:19:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, November 1, 2005


    Seen recently on a message board thread about teenagers misbehaving during trick or treat:

    On a darker note, a 15-year old kid got stabbed for not giving up his candy! What is the world coming to?

    This should not shock anyone, especially the poster, given her statist political views. This particular person must hold some kind of record for political activism posts on the board in question. You know the type: "sign this petition", "make so-and-so do this", etc.

    The perpetrator of this stabbing has learned well the lesson of modern democracy: if you can't get what you want through persuasion or voluntary interaction, force your desires on the other person. Consider the following statements:

    I cannot get others to believe the way I do about issue X. I will therefore endeavor to get the government to force them to behave in a manner I find acceptable.

    I want this kid's candy, but he won't give it to me. I will therefore stab him and take it from him by force.

    Morally speaking, there is no difference between the two. The same Diabolical Man that C.S. Lewis wrote about is behind both trains of thought. Unfortunately, our friendly poster can't seem to see that.

    Later on, another poster replies:

    Yeah, it is depressing...society is deteriorating.

    The question is, do they know why?

    Posted by Tom, 11/1/2005 9:34:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...