As nice as some things are...

I'd really like a car that I can drive for 200 thousand miles and only change the oil regularly. It'd be really nice. Really.

As much as I love the 1997 LHS that we own, it's been a serious pain in the backside. Fuel o-rings, fuel rail, steering rack, ac head unit going bad, condenser failure, mechanics breaking the headlight doors (due to admittedly poor design)... the list is staggering. I'll give it that it's 10 years old. I just rolled over 80 thousand miles.

It has some great points. The sound it makes when you crack the throttle is just glorious. When you're on the interstate, the car just eats miles like candy. It has enough power for its size so you don't feel like the thing is a laggard when attempting to pass someone. It feels planted for something its size when you need to twitch it to miss that piece of tire that the semi lost. The body roll is noticeable, but not unmanageable.


It's getting to where the 20 year old Maxima with over 200 thousand miles on it is a more reliable car. And it's more fun to drive. It's Not quite as comfortable, but more fun. It'd be a hell of a lot more fun if I would dump the coin into it to get it right, but it's a 20 year old car with 200 thousand miles on it. Why bother for something that, realistically, isn't *that* much fun. If it were something really special, it'd be different, but it's a 20 year old Nissan Maxima with an automatic. My luck, I'd get it completely square and the engine would leap out of the engine bay, or the transmission would spread itself all over the interstate while I was driving it from a job site. Probably both at the same time. It's just the way my luck goes. I've come to accept this, and generally try to plan around it.

Bah. I still love my cars, but sometimes, they seem very fickle.


Misc. rumours floating that I find somewhat interesting:

The Kia project "Snowflake". Looks great, but it needs a hard top, and preferably a more powerful engine than Kia currently offers. Rear wheel drive or four wheel drive would be nice as well. I'd prefer to see rear wheel drive before four wheel drive, considering the power output of most of Kia's engines.

A rear wheel drive Hyundai Tiberon. An interesting development. The V6 that they put in the current Tiberon is not a complete slouch. Hyundai's quality control has been excellent over the past few years. Something to look into if you want an inexpensive sports car, assuming they put a real suspension under it.


Why can't the big three design beautiful cars anymore?

I'm going to step out of my pragmatic box, and tread on subjective waters for a little bit. Please bear with me. This is new to me.

Style wise, about the only thing that really moves me from any of the US manufacturers is the new Mustang (God, WHY did you not offer a real independent rear suspension! Optional even would have been nice!), the upcoming Dodge Challenger, the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro, and the Pontiac Solstice. The first three only because of nostalgia. I'm not really that excited about the Camaro. Too many angles. I begrudgingly put the Pontiac Solstice on here, but it isn't that unique: GM wanted a piece of Mazda's pie. I think the Miata does a better job of it anyway.

Don't get me wrong, the Corvette and the Viper are impressive cars, but neither one of them make me want to go out to the parking lot and say "wow, that's a beautiful car.".

It's been this way for a number of years too. Annoying as hell. If you want beautiful cars, you have to go to Europe. Most of them can't be brought here for one reason or another either, without some finagling from your Congresscritter.

Aston Martin. You name it, if it has that nameplate, it's likely beautiful. Been that way for years. Here's an excellent example.

Jaguar. Not quite as consistent as Aston, but still, a lot of beautiful specimens. Oh, hey, another example.

Alfa Romeo, Bugatti (check previous posts), Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, some of the Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi stuff... Many, many beautiful cars. Not all models from these manufacturers are beautiful, but they each offer one or two, some more. Some are even brought over here and approach affordable.

But not a single US made unit. It makes me sad, because we were the first to mass produce cars, but can't design anything that I'd really love owning, outside of "loving it for freedom". The US was the reason why cars really became a serious mode of personal transport. With the huge distances to cover, it was really not practical any other way. Horses and trains can only go so far.

It's not that we didn't know how to make them beautiful either. We did. Look at the 60's Corvette, most of the Dodge and Chrysler stuff from the 40s and 50s are beautiful, curvy, if a bit on the portly side. The Ford GT40 and GT are both gorgeous. The Chrysler Prowler wasn't bad either.

Now, it's Econoboxes (not even very good ones... The Ford Ka, available almost everywhere else gets almost 50 MPG from it's tiny engine and light weight. I don't think there's an econobox over here that gets close to that.), Trucks, or the nasty oversized station wagons called "Crossover Vehicles". Please. Please. I beg you, get something beautiful released over here. Preferably in rear drive and not costing over $80,000. I know that we have designers that can draw pretty pictures. Don't be afraid of trying to produce something like them.


Concerning my love of cars

Don't get me wrong. I love supercars, some of the hypercars are interesting, but my love of cars comes from something completely different than what many would think.

Second only to the firearm, a car represents freedom.

Without a car, your options from anywhere are as follows:
1. Walk/bicycle. 80-150 miles a day on a bicycle if you're a monster. Less than a quarter of that walking.
2. Public transport. Basically, you are relegated to where the line will take you, when it will take you. That line may or may not be on time, full, or otherwise out of service with or without notice.

With a car, you are liberated from both of these limitations. You are free to go where the road goes... when you wish. If you're adventurous, get a large off road vehicle and make your own path. Even to the North Pole. It's been done, in a heavily modified Toyota Hilux.

So even if I have to drive a Trabant for the rest of my life (God, PLEASE forbid), I will be happy, and I will love it. I will have the cheapest form of freedom that can be bought: The freedom to go. Where I wish, when I wish.

Well... in a Trabant, it's kind of iffy, but you get my meaning.


Randall Munroe of XKCD strikes again

I do this all the time, except for the IPod part: http://xkcd.com/337/


Because I like to give links and props to things that pull my ass out of the fire, part 3 in an ongoing series.

One of the problems that I've had with my current server is that it's a laptop. This, generally is a good thing, but I have 2 problems with my current unit:
1. There's no battery, so when the power flickers, I lose power to the machine. This wouldn't be such a problem if...
2. There's no "power on after power fail" setting available on the BIOS of the machine.

So what happens is that the power hiccups at my apartment, and I have no access to the machine until I get home.

Umm... No. Not really a nice thing, especially when I store some notes and stuff on said machine so I can access them from anywhere, as well as have a 3rd box from which to test connectivity items.

Skip ahead, my boss brings back an old iMac G4 from a customer. It has a dead hard drive, and the machine is old enough that it's not really worth fixing to the customer. He says "I want it out of my office". No one else says anything, so I grab it and throw it into my car.

I get it home and take it apart... a procedure that has a 2 week delay because they used torx screws to hold all the guts inside the base, and I don't have the right bits to take it apart.

After wrestling with it for an hour or so, I managed to get a 120GB drive in the case. I downloaded a Ubinto 7.04 iso for powerpc and go to town. To my surprise, everything works. It even sees the wireless card.

However, I still don't have a machine that will deal with a power failure gracefully, and I still don't have a battery to get me through the brownouts. Damn.

Google to the rescue! This post discusses how to turn the G5 Mac Mini's "server mode" setting on, which tells the machine to automatically reboot after a power failure. I know from experience that the firmware on the G4 and G5 are similar, so I try what is described in the article. It works great! Thanks to Raam (the post owner), mwnovak (from who Raam got the information), and Rich Johnson, maintainer of AutoBoot for pointing mwnovak in the right direction.


This is going to be a car related post...

I've been getting into the BBC2 show "Top Gear" as of late. Jeremy Clarkson is an absolute riot to watch and hear. He's doing what I picture Jay Leno doing, if Jay wasn't doing his variety show: Witty, scathingly honest reviews about cars that he can get his hands on.

I know I've written about this before, but I must do so again: The Bugatti Veyron will be the finest piece of road going machinery we will probably ever see in our lifetimes. I think it can deserve another few paragraphs of gushing.

In 2005 and 2006, Top Gear ran a couple of shows with information about the Bugatti Veyron. Michelle will tell you that if money were no object, I'd own one of these in a heartbeat: A gorgeous body, wrapping up a monster of a turbocharged heart. The w16 with it's 4 turbos generates 1000+ horse power, and can drive the car up to a electronically limited 253 miles per hour. That's outstripping everything but drag cars at that point, and considering that it's an amazingly civilized car (according to Clarkson (who drove the car for 13 hours straight from Italy to London), and one of his co-hosts, James May (who took the car up to it's top rated speed of 253 MPH on a controlled course)), the car is an engineering feat of staggering proportions. Clarkson states "This is concorde [I assume that this is a reference to the Concorde SST. Not being from Europe, I get a bit hamstrung on some of the colloquialisms]. Not just the best car that's ever been made, but possibly, the best car we'll see in our lifetime."

This make me a little sad, as I'll probably NEVER even SEE this car driven in person, much less be able to touch or DRIVE said vehicle. At $1.7 million US, it's a bit out of reach, not including whatever one has to do to actually get to where you can drive one. To bring one over will invariably require some sort of Federal intervention, as you're not going to want to give the DOT 5 or 10 of these to put through their wringer. While it's probably an outstanding track car, who really wants to drive something like this only on the track and on the show concourse? The other option is to relocate to somewhere in Europe. Not quite my speed, as while I have my beef with the Feds, it's genuinely better here than anywhere else. Also, it costs VW (Bugatti's parent company) something along the order or $10 million US *EACH* to produce, so it will be a very limited production run. No, that's not a typo... the car is "a technical exercise". Perhaps that number will go down now that the engineering is done (I don't have a cost breakdown as to where the $10mil is spend), but I still expect it to stay firmly in the realm of "completely unattainable".

Don't get me wrong, there are many other great cars out there, that are great in their own right. The Ford GT, The Opel Speedster, Caterham Super 7, Ariel Atom, Chevrolet Corvette C6, Dodge Viper R/T10, Saleen S7... the list could go on. Many on that list are (with a bit of saving for a few years), actually something that many of us could actually have in our garage if we so chose. But nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, comes close to the work done on the Veyron. It's as inspired as German/Italian/British engineering gets.


Morally retarted... proudly.

Of all the innane things to complain about your tax dollars going to, supporting our military should NOT be one of them. But hey, lemme quote this guy here...

But to answer the question, what I mean when I say I support our troops is that I actually pay for their food, their ammo, their upkeep, transport, everything. I pay for all of it.
And I do that not only because I’m a patriotic American, although I am, but also because they take 35% out of my check every week and if I don’t pay it I will end up in jail.
That is what I mean by ‘I support our troops’. I mean I am involuntarily, under threat of prison, forced to pay for their support. Now do I resent that?
You’re damn right I do. Because it is stupid as hell. Other countries pay taxes, but they get something for it, like health care. What do I get? I get to kill a bunch of Iraqis. Whoopdeedoo.

Let me also inform you that most people in other countries pay more than 50% of their income to taxes. Please do some research before you run your mouth.

Now, as to the title of this post, same blogger:

I resent my support for the killing of Iraqis for which I get not even a memento or trophy. But do I still support the individual men and women who have given so much to serve their country?
No. I think they’re a bunch of idiots. I also think they’re morally retarded. Because they sign a contract that says they will kill whoever you tell me to kill. And that is morally retarded.

I can't make this stuff up. Someone actually posted this.

This person actually thinks that our boys (and girls) over in the sand box have no moral compass. The insanity of that statement just leaves me dumbfounded.

The thing that the person making these statements doesn't get is that our troops are trained to be warriors: That training does NOT remove their moral compass. It equips them to deal with the violations of that compass that is required by being a warrior. There's a huge difference between "warrior" and "psychopath" (Google define entry), which is what this guy is describing.

If we lived in an ideal world, warriors would be a dying breed. The thing is that we still have a bunch of people on this planet who hate us for existing.

On a side note, aren't liberals supposed to be known for "compassion". I don't hear compassion in that statement.

If I were Kim DuToit, I'd be heading to the firing range.


Concerning the ownership of firearms

I use StumbleUpon as a time killer on the net, and I stumbled upon a blog post that advocates a worldwide firearm registry. The poster was from the UK, so they have some different views than we do over here in the states, but the poster seems insistent on attacking the gun lobby for not wanting a registry, nor wanting to slow the sales of firearms.

I put some thought into this, and while the following opinion didn't get posted as a reply (I went into left field tangent mode), I thought it'd be good thinking fodder for anyone who happens to read this blog.

The problems that the "evil gun lobby" in the states has with a registry like you propose here is that it violates the spirit of the second amendment.

The second amendment was placed in the constitution for the express purpose of allowing the people of the US to keep their government in check for the inevitable time when it grows far to big and powerful for it's own good. Some posture that this has already happened, but this is beside the point.

A register like you suggest would inevitably lead to abuse and the disarmament of the citizens that the government deems "dangerous". While it sounds like it could be an ideal thing, eventually the entire population would be deemed "dangerous", thus stripping the right to keep our government in check.

Votes are just pieces of paper. When there is no check on power, those pieces of paper can be safely ignored, and thus the US representative republic now becomes some sort of sick dictatorship. It won't happen overnight, but entropy reigns every system, including political systems.

And finally, in a somewhat tangential point, firearms are just tools. Just like your car, the set of kitchen knives you prepare food with every night, the pen you jot down quick notes with, and the air powered nail gun that roofers use to put shingles up. Every single item mentioned can be used to hurt and/or kill someone, as well as it's designed task. The firearm's designed task was to allow a person to hunt for food, and defend their own lives, both of which are noble goals. You mock this in your post, but when the balance of power is no longer in your hands in a situation (say bear attack, or your friendly neighborhood tweaker that's lost his mind with a knife), you look for a way to correct that. When your, or your significant other's, life is endangered. the firearm is the great equalizer. Ask your friendly neighborhood police officer: In the hands of a competent, trained, and practiced person, the firearm is a great tool.

All tools can be used for noble and evil purposes. Please don't assume that all guns and sidearms are evil, or only used for evil purposes.


Concerning the recent developments in the UK:

I really wonder how many people are going to trust the health care system over there anymore. Really.

I mean, there was essentially a cabal of people in the medical field over there that basically took it upon themselves to break the Hippocratic oath for a religious cause. The problem that I see here is "how long until they infect their patients with something really nasty to infect the populous with?".

I was genuinely surprised when I heard the words "doctor", "terrorist", and "explosives" in the same sentence. I believe the people in the medical field have access to things that are so much more insidious, more horrific, and more panic inducing than explosives. Hell, we've seen what we do with suspected Anthrax and Eubola samples. I'm not saying our reactions are not justified. They are, as these two items are huge on the list of destructive potential, but what about stuff that we haven't seen or heard much of? How about a manipulated strain of Necrotizing Fasciitis? I do not believe these things are not out of the reach of modern medicine. I also believe that items needed to facilitate work on stuff like this were probably available to at least a few of these physicians.

Then again, I just might have too much time on my hands for my brain to work.


Mel Martinez, you're fired.

Mel is "dissapointed" about the defeat of the latest amnesty bill to cross the Senate floor. I'm sorry that you felt it necessary to vote for it in the first place, Mel. Deeply sorry.

I must admit that after I heard about the first successful cloture vote concerning S. 1639, I was a bit livid. I was disappointed that our Senate would say "Well, the existing laws weren't enforced properly, but by God, we will make shure that the resources are available to enforce these!" and actually expect us to believe that the enforcement would happen differently than it has in the past. I'm sorry ladies and gentlemen, I'm not buying it.

These are my desires concerning illegal immigration currently:

  1. Seal the borders. With a fence and concrete car barriers. Make shure that it's prohibitively difficult to get in. No cameras, no UAVs. FENCE and CONCRETE. This will be passed in an independent bill with simple language that will have no more than a few pages to it. All other legislation concerning immigration will be put on indefinite hiatus until this first provision is resolved. We work hard to keep tabs on those arriving by plane or boat, placing huge checkpoints in those points of entry. Why should the land border be any different?

  2. Make it easy for employers to verify identifying papers that people present for employment. I'd be happy with a 10 business day turnaround for verification. This should be plenty of time to search a database for a green card/Social Security number/work visa. This process will need to be streamlined over the next few years to bring the turnaround time to less than 5 business days.

  3. Penalize the crap out of employers that give illegals jobs, after number 2 has been enacted. Make it painful to get caught employing illegals. Extremely painful. Something on the order of a significant percentage of the company's gross income.

  4. Require existing illegal immigrants to contact the US Embassy in their country of origin IN PERSON to get a work visa. Limit the number of these visas to the number of employers asking for employees from this labor pool. Each of these work visas will have the employee's sponsor's name attached to it. The work visa shall be valid for 1 year, renewable indefinitely annually by the visa's sponsor. If the employer does not employ the number of people requested for a minimum of 1 year, slap a stiff fine on them. If the employee finds work for another employer, it will be the responsibility of the new employer and the employee to have the sponsor name changed on the employee's work visa. These work visas will be cataloged in the database mentioned in number 2. If it is discovered that the employee is gaming the system, or shell corporations are being set up to bring people over, all of those involved will be brought up on racketeering and human transport charges. Immigrants convicted of these charges will be deported immediately, with no hope getting another work visa or hope of returning. Natives will spend a very long time in a Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison, with all assets seized.

  5. One of the primary requirements of attaining a work visa will be a semi-fluent grasp of the English language. We are not going to conform to your society here. You are being welcomed into ours. The phrase "When in Rome..." applies here.

  6. One of the primary requirements of attaining a work visa will be a clean criminal record in your country of origin. Those who break their society's mores are not welcome here, as you will probably be breaking ours as well.

  7. Those getting work visas shall be held to the same standard that the rest of us are: Obey the law in their area. Anything more than a misdemeanor charge means they lose their work visa and are deported back to their country of origin with no hope of getting another work visa or no hope of returning.

  8. Illegal immigrants that refuse to leave in a timely manner after the passage of the legislation above shall be arrested and held in a local Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison until another group of deportees are being escorted out of the country. This should help with the cost of deporting people by doing it in groups rather than individuals. Deportations will happen by bus if the deportee is going to Mexico or Canada. Deportees to other countries would go by boat. Pending approval of the Pentagon, in the brig of our U.S. Navy ships. Forgoing that, other means would have to be worked out.

I believe these steps will be a great start to meaningful immigration reform: Control the flow of immigrants. Make it difficult for illegal immigrants to get work and many will go home. Those that don't get arrested and held until they get to ride home with several of their closest friends. Regulate the number and quality of those coming back. There are probably loopholes (some may be gaping) in my statements above, and I would hope that people smarter than me would help us find and close them, but I feel that it's a good baseline to start with.

Mel, this bill didn't do any of that in any sort of meaningful way. You can point to provisions that hinted at it, but most of those provisions are on the law books already. This sir, was the last straw. You have lost my vote in 2010. Have fun in the private sector. Hope you liked being a lawyer.


Big damn (motorcycle) hero

The movie "The World's Fastest Indian" is a great psuedo-biography of a motorcycle racing legend: Burt Munro.

Burt was a genius and a madman. Read more here.

Then watch the movie. I highly recommend almost family friendly movie.



In the context I'm using it, Quoted for truth. Nothing else better applies to the following: KXCD for 2007-05-07. I'll be damned if Randall Munroe didn't just hit it on the head.


An open letter to Bank of America

One of my pet peeves is seemingly poor programming practices, especially when it comes to something that I perceive as easily worked around or corrected.

Well, the Bank of America online banking website just earned my ire in this realm.

I'm trying to reset my password to use an algorithm that I've developled for myself. My algorithm generates very secure passwords that are easy for me to remember, and different for each place I use it, using letters, numbers, and symbols. Well, the online banking site has some specific rules for creating passwords:

- It cannot contain special character $ < > & ^ ! [ ]

Now, these are probably metacharacters for whatever language is running the site on the back end. The problem is that, from what I can assess, they don't FRAKING QUOTE the password that you supply them that would prevent whatever language they're using on the back end from interpreting the symbols as metacharacters. Either that, or they don't trust the front-end (the part that we enter our username and password into) to pass the symbols to the backend properly, which should also be solved by quoting the string.

Now, unless someone from Bank of America calls me on this, I'm going to assume that someone in the web development team is a moron, and didn't do enough homework when he/she got their Computer Engineering degree.

I'm not studied in this field, but I know enough to talk to professionals about this on a reasonably intelligent level, having done web development in PERL. If anyone can give me a reasonable explanation, I will post it here, and issue an apology if needed.


To Senator Harry Reid:

I sincerely hope you choke on your own words.

Traitor. I do not use that word lightly.

To explain: Google search for "Define:Traitor". Second entry.

Merriam-Webster defines "traitor" as one who commits treason.

Senator Reid is giving comfort to our enemies abroad, and endangering our troops who protect us from those who would do evil to us.

In my opinion.

Does anyone want to fire up the "Impeach Reid" website yet?

Victor Wooten shows why he's in the "inner circle" of great bassists... Again

If this doesn't inspire young bassists, I don't know what will.

There's really not much to say except "watch the video". Vic has always been regarded as one of the A list bassists on the planet. This is yet another demonstration as to why.

Oh, if you liked that, check out the band he plays with, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.


I'll be damned if she didn't hit it on the head:

One of the bloggers that I make it a point to read at least once a week is Kim DuToit. He's a naturalized South African national now living in Texas. I don't see eye to eye with him on everything (firstly, he's a professed atheist), but I do like his ideas behind firearm ownership and the freedoms that are granted to us by the second amendment.
I say that to say this: His wife also takes to the keyboard sometimes, and she completely *NAILED* my feelings on the recent crime that occurred at Virgina Tech, and the idea of "gun control". Her rant on this can be found here.
By the way, my idea of gun control is "use both hands". If you don't like it, you're welcome to take your opinion and file it in /dev/null along with the rest of the garbage.


Because I like to give links and props to things that pull my ass out of the fire, part 2 in an ongoing series.

I had attempted to upgrade my Ubuntu/Dapper server (it had many things on it, including Web, SSH, XWindows, and the beginnings of Mail) from Dapper (5.x) to Feisty (7.x, currently in beta). I do the usual upgrade items for any Debian based distribution, change my sources, update the source list and do a dist-upgrade.

From Dapper to Edgy (6.x). Worked with little fuss. No problems.

From Edgy to Feisty... well... to make it short, I lost contact with my Logical Volume Manager definitions.

When I rebooted the machine at 0300 this morning after finishing the update (with much complaining) I rebooted, figuring the complaining to be nothing more than warnings about localization and such.
Well, the machine started.. but not much else. I couldn't load the root file system after boot, so it just sat there. Bummer.

I dd'ed myself a copy of the hard drive, to ensure that I had a recoverable copy of my data in the event that I hosed anything too much. Then I started digging, thinking that I had formatted the file system in ext2. Well, I did, technically. INSIDE THE LVM PARTITION!!! BAH!!! I'M SUCH A USER!!! It took my brain a few minutes to think about "hey, let's use fdisk and figure out what that partition is exactly!".

Actually, LVM isn't that bad of a thing. It's just a bit of overkill for a 20GB drive that's in no danger of filling up.

Anyway, I consult our benevolent almighty data overlords Google for info recovering LVM partitions, and lo, I find the this. Section 7 to be exact. I'm currently copying the data from the recovered partitions to an external USB drive as I type this. I should be able to format the drive and start over tomorrow, with all of my data. Thanks Richard!

God rest his soul.

Jonny Hart, creator of the comic strip "BC" died Saturday before Easter. His wit and insight will be sorely missed.


The "good old boy" system never dies...

The numbers just get bigger.

A big "thank you" to Senator Feinstein (office phone: 202-224-3841) for taking money, at gun point, from the taxpayers, and channeling it to her husband's investments.

Oh, did I mention that she wants Attorney General Gonzoles FIRED because he was in on the firing of 8 federal attorneys that can be fired FOR ANY REASON THAT THE PRESIDENT DESIRES?

The money quote:

Now he's saying he doesn't know. I think the day of the dual-hatted Attorney General should be over. Attorney General Gonzales has had the view that he serves two masters, that he serves the President and that he serves as the chief law enforcement officer.

He serves one master, and that's the people of this country – in being straightforward, in following the law.

You do know that farming public work out to private companies that you have a personal stake in is at best shady, and at worst, misuse of TAXPAYER DOLLARS, right? It gets even more unethical if you do the above with NO BID PROCESS.

Senator Feinstein, do you have something you want to tell the taxpayers?



Thank you Tony Blair

I don't have a citation for this, but I agree with the sentiment:

In case you find ourselves starting to believe all the anti-American sentiment and negativity you we should remember England 's Prime Minister Tony Blair's words during a recent interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America , he said:

"A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in ... And how many want out." and ...

"Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you: 1. Jesus Christ 2. The American G. I. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom."


Although this could be another political rant...

With a big thank you going out to our elected officials of the 110th House of Representatives for attempting to pass pork and defeat along with the Iraq defense spending bill (link), I found something fun. The site is in German, but the video content speaks for itself.

Concerning the latest stunt by "our Representatives" in the House: If you're not angry, you're not paying enough attention. A short list:
A minimum wage increase
Asbestos abatement in the Capitol Power plant, $50,000,000
Power subsidies for the poor, $200,000,000
Flu outbreak and subsidies for vaccination, $969,650,000
Fish research, $60,400,000
And finally, my favorites, Spinach farmers bailout, $25,000,000
Dairy farmers bailout, $283,000,000
Peanut farmers storage cost offsets (read: bailout), $74,000,000
and lastly, A fish farming bailout of $5,000,000.

Just those totals alone are by my calculations, $1,405,850,000. Out tax dollars being taken by the federal government and spent on private entities. And that was just 10 minutes of digging through this gargantuan bill with over *7000* sections. How things get done in Washington is completely beyond me. Perhaps this is why the government is the way it is now. I digress, however.

Whatever side of the fence you're on, NONE of this $1.4 BILLION dollars is going to finance *ANYTHING* to do with the war, or the fallout thereof. If that's the case, why the hell is this bill (HR1591) called The "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007"

Guess it turned into a political post after all. This stuff just makes me fume.

edit: They freaking don't have static links to any of the bill stuff. Thanks a lot.


I would like to thank my district rep

Steve Oelrich for attempting to make the cost of post primary education go up in Florida. It's not enough that the state university system gets over $1.7 BILLION of tax revenue (from my state sales tax, thank you, NOT including cash from the state's lottery fund), they now want an extra $1000 per-student, per-year to have access to the state's university system.

Now, I'll give you "it's just $20 per week". That's as far as I go with it.

Statements like the following are what anger me:

[Representative Oelrich] said 95 percent of UF's in-state students receive Bright Future scholarships to further offset the relatively low tuition of $3,300 annually for residents. And he said the median family income of students is $100,000.

My rebuttal to that would be "so what". Lemme rephrase that statement into what I read there:

"A lot of rich people send their kids to our university, so let's get more money from them."

Thanks for playing.

Besides that, while there may be a group of students whose families have a medical doctor/surgeon/whatnot in the family, the majority of prospective students in the area don't have that kind of fiscal backing.

The surrounding counties' primary economic systems are agriculture based. Between that, and the skewed population size (year 2000 Census data) vs student count (UFL.edu fact page) in Gainesville, getting a decent paying job (Gaineville, Florida's Wikipedia entry supports this statement.) around here requires basically being in the medical field. Which requires a degree. Which Rep. Oelrich is trying to make more difficult to get for the very people who support and work at this particular university.

I wouldn't gripe about this so much if it wasn't for the sheer audacity of the statement above. It just reeks of class warfare to me. *Another* tax, except this time only on university students.

How about this, Rep. Olerich: You show me that you and the universities are working as hard as you can to cut the fat out of the university budgets, and then we'll talk about it. For now, I'll call it what it is: A TAX on STUDENTS who are trying to get a piece of paper to make more money. While we're talking about budgets, how about more work on smaller government?


These kind of things just chap my ass...

Apparently, destroying property is now an acceptable form of political protest:
WXYZ, Detroit (ABC affiliate)

Also, apparently, it's now the US armed forces at fault for the trouble in Iraq, and anti-semitism is back in vogue:
Little Green Footballs

Note that none of these assholes have the nuts to do this without their identity being concealed.

If I were less of a man, I'd say it's tire slashing time.

Thing is, I'm better than any of these people. I'll just show their disrespect for property and our hard working troops to my small audience with a statement that "the vandals need to be arrested, and the other guys are just twits".


Random snippets

Watched Invincible this weekend. Good sports movie that has all of the typical feel-good elements that a sports movie has. I believe that it was well executed. If you like this kind of movie, you won't be disappointed.

Since I don't have any sort of entertainment connection aside from my DSL connection, I am often behind the times when it comes to the stuff I'm interested in. The British car show Top Gear did a segment on the Bugatti Veyron, arguably one of the fastest production cars ever. They've had 2 segments concerning this vehicle, the first a courier race between the aforementioned car and a private aircraft delivering a package from Alba, Italy to London, UK. My understanding is that the man driving the Veyron won handily.

The second, and much more interesting (in my opinion) segment that they did was testing the claimed top speed of the vehicle. Sucessfully. Roughly 250 miles per hour. Faster than most purpose built racing vehicles. The video above is a copy of that segment. It's rather impressive.

I caught this from Stumble Upon, which is one of the most informative time-wasters on the net, second only to Wikipedia. I've found more interesting car wallpaper and tech data that's good for my current job with StumbleUpon than I have with any other tool. It's available for IE and Firefox, so there's really no excuse to not at least try it.

I finally had to replace the mainboard on my game rig, as it had succumbed to the failing caps that it was using. I had played around with doing a full system upgrade, but decided that I need to replace my daily driver before I do that, (I'm looking for a Miata BTW. Closest thing you can get to a rear drive sports car that's affordable and fun to drive, in my opinion. The Mustang is a Pony car, and it's solid rear axle, while charming, moves it out of the sports car category. Ditto the Camero. But I digress...) as it is the second tool in my toolkit for work, the first being my brain. I managed to find a derivative board of the original for $90 delivered. Kind of expensive, considering that it's still a Socket A mainboard, with AGP video bus, but I suspect it will be as reliable as it's predecessor. Hopefully, moreso if the capacitor problem has been worked out.

The Maxima is doing allright, considering. It's getting time to replace a bunch of stuff on it, tho. The outer CV joints on both axles are shot. The only thing holding up the right front corner is the spring, as the strut is toast. These are just the pressing issues that need to be resolved, not including the rest of the work (AC, power seat belt motor intermittent, power steering, oil and transmission leaks... the list goes on) that it would take to make it a nice vehicle to drive again. My boss questions my sanity in driving it as a daily, but doesn't give me too much static about it. He did volunteer his wife's car for me to drive on a south Florida run because of the car, tho.

His wife drives a 2006 Mini Cooper S convertible. Shortly, it's a mixed bag. I don't think I could justify spending the coin on it, but the experience might be different with the hard top version.

The S motor is fairly potent. Coupled with the 6 speed auto, it's enough for you to know that it has the muscle to push the "little" (in parentheses due to it's curb weight of over 3000 pounds) car around with authority, even if it does have the 4 cylinder whine behind it.

The transmission has nice close ratios, and the bump-shift option makes an acceptable substitute for a clutch. I still think that a real clutch would make the vehicle launch much better.

The convertible top up makes it nearly impossible to see anything on the right side of the vehicle, even with mirrors adjusted. I lost a vehicle in that corner while passing it on the interstate. It has the usual complaints about convertibles (loud while the top's up, wind noise, blah blah blah), and I suppose the massive blind spot comes with the territory, but it's an awful price to pay in my opinion. The blind spot problem goes away with the top down, and the rest just fades, as you get the idea behind a convertible, but using it for a daily... I think I'd go mad. If it was a weekend car, or something that I just tracked with the top down, I think I'd overlook all of these problems. It's just too expensive to have as a "fun" car, tho.

I do like the cheeky sticker that's on the convertible top's button guard. I need to take a photo of it, but it says something to the effect of "Is it necessary to put the top up? Be honest." I felt that it was hilarious, if incongruous (It is made by BMW, after all) statement that was in the car.

Not that I was considering this as a replacement vehicle anyway, but it was just something that crossed my mind while I was typing here... So sue me, I'm a stream-of-consciousness writer.