Monday, April 30, 2007

A Classroom Wish

Maybe Don't be a Court Hater too Quickly...

Techdirt: Supreme Court Makes Two Good Decisions On Patent Law: "The Supreme Court is clearly recognizing that patent law has spiraled out of control and reached an unconstitutional level, where they're being used to hinder, rather than promote, innovation. "

Crap Weasels

Think Progress » Pump bid for New Orleans may have been rigged.: "When the Army Corps of Engineers solicited bids for drainage pumps for New Orleans, “it copied the specifications — typos and all — from the catalog of the manufacturer that ultimately won the $32 million contract."

This is Better

End of Semester

I can use all the help I can get...

Thanks Bean!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I Never Really Cared for Rocapella

Too Tired

-Liz Phair.

I would post, but I am too tired. The Verizon is no longer Comcastic if you were keeping track. Maybe Ellipses tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Verizon DSL Still Comcastic!

So I had another day of non-connectivity at home, and therefore another post stifled :-(

Last night's post would have been about the Chicago Bulls, wondering if they are for real and waxing on about how I don't know any of the players names. Maybe later.

I did manage to get the DSL to connect for a couple of minutes. I had this thought that if the static was the problem and that there were noise floor and signal to noise ratio issues that I might be able to solve them by using the dial tone. The thought being that if I picked up the phone and the dial tone kicked in that the static would be comparitively insignificant to the normal sound on the line and then maybe the DSL would connect. It worked, I can't tell you if it worked for the reason I tried it, but it did connect, slowly.

Hopefully it will be fixed Thursday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blogis Interruptis

So I was all ready to do a post yesterday. It had a title and everything: "THIS IS HOW YOU RUN A BOWLING ALLEY." It was a post about a particular cut in Ultimate that you run against a zone defense. See I had come out the door at school, and the weather was real nice, and it was really windy, and I thought "good zone day," and then I heard in my head this guy screaming this is how you run a bowling alley!!!

But, last night when I would have written this treatise on zone-O the Verizon DSL at my house got all Comcastic - which is to say it crapped out.

And so the same thing happened to my post. :-(

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Way to go Barney

So this is worth the time it takes to listen to. It seems that even with a change in management and an opening of the rules that there are still ways of blocking legislation you'd rather not have come to a vote.

Would that there would have been someone with the nads to say the same thing to the Senate. I swear, every single senator supporting this anonymous block ought to lose their seat in the next go around.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Weather Report

It cannot possibly be Spring Carnival Weekend.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Some Days its Hard to be the Prop Guy

The prop guy at work, Norm, always includes a story like this when he talks about being a propmaster on a show with weapons. I wonder if this was a prop for something during carnival... - Police To Charge CMU Student After Scare: "Police, emergency crews and the Allegheny County bomb squad responded to the CMU campus around 1pm after someone reported seeing some sort of device in a vehicle parked on campus."

'Suspicious liquid' at CMU shuts section of Forbes Avenue - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "A police bomb squad removed a suspicious cylinder from the campus of Carnegie Mellon University this afternoon."

CMU Scare Closes Forbes, Ends Up False Alarm - News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh: "Joel Chestnutt, a 26-year-old philosophy major, will be charged with disorderly conduct and possession of a facsimile of a weapon of mass destruction, police said." - Police To Charge CMU Student After Scare: "According to Pittsburgh police, investigators found a cylinder containing what they thought to be a suspicious liquid; but the object was later determined not to be a threat."

OSC Not Happy

Civilization Watch - April 1, 2007 - Honor - The Ornery American: "We will fight this war, whether we like it or not. But if we don't fight it now, when it's still cheap and our enemies are still weak, then we'll fight it later, when it's on American or allied soil, and the cost in blood -- ours and theirs -- will be appallingly higher."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


A demonstration/training exercise for a SWAT team breaching a door...

I guess the controller goes to eleven!

I Must Be Well Informed

Think Progress: "A new study by the Pew Research Study shows that viewers of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have the highest knowledge of national and international affairs, while Fox News viewers rank nearly dead last"

A Clean Bill

The President has charged Congress with delivering to him a clean bill for the supplemental funding of the "War on Terror." Seems he feels like he should be able to order up legislation like he's at Burger King: "hold the deadline, no pork projects, special orders don't upset us..."

I'm not sure that a bill for this funding without a deadline for troop withdrawal and without domestic funding measures is such a bad thing. How about this:

Whereas the United States of America states clearly that Saddam Hussein and the sovereign nation of Iraq had no participation in the events of 9/11...

and Whereas the United States of America states clearly that prior to our invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq that Saddam Hussein, his government, and the country he ruled were not providing support to the terrorist network known as Al Qaeda...

and Whereas the United States of America states clearly that regardless of any earlier protestations claiming the sovereign nation of Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction that we recognize there were none....

and Whereas the United States of America states clearly that regardless of any speech given by our President and any of his subordinates claiming that Iraqi agents sought to buy weapons grade nuclear material from Niger that we know those attempts never happened...

The congress of the United States of America authorizes this last supplemental funding bill for the maintenance of the military efforts currently underway in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any further funding of these efforts must be accomplished through the standard appropriations process and this congress states unequivocally that no other military operations are currently authorized.
There. No artificial time line. No partisan pork. All the funding he's asking for.

Sign it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

CAD Question

Anyone out there in the world ever have a CAD drawing that doesn't display entities with dotted or dashed linetypes as dotted or dashed? The items are on the layer we think they are on, that layer has the proper linetype loaded, it appears to not matter what machine, file, or version of CAD.

It is not related to LTScale, as I have tried the entire range of values.

I have one student who has the gift for producing this effect and I have so far been unable to backtrack it to the cause. Is it possible there's something like a "displaylinetype" system variable? Although I am certain he hasn't ever typed DISPLAYLINETYPE [ENTER] 0.

I'm stumped.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Boing Boing: Are cellphones killing bee colonies?: "It's been long understood that bees respond to electromagnetic radiation. Dr Jochen Kuhn at Germany's Landau University has shown that bees don't return to their hives when cellphones are present."


Enough with this weather crap. I mean I am glad we got rain instead of snow, but I didn't want rain either... Apparently there are people that think my office couch needs a pillow with the word "HOTTIE" on it... If I have said it once I must have said it hundreds of times, the thing about giving homework is that you have to grade it... I don't understand the concept of a slow news cycle. I think its more about lackluster reporting... I missed the first half of my show Friday. Someone is going to have to teach me about torrents... Tomorrow maybe I will clean the garage. Probably I won't, but maybe I will... I wanted the leftover Mac & Cheese w/Chicken, but alas it was gone... The cats don't appear to be all that concerned about the pet food recall... Monday is Tax Day. The Tax Guy has our stuff. I wonder if we'll be getting anything back this year. Apparently I did just enough freelance work as to be completely useless... This week at work I was glad to have read Are You There God, It's me Margaret. Who knew that would come in handy 30 years later... Traci apparently tracked down the Cami in the pictures I posted a few days ago. Their 20 year reunion is coming up... The last show of the season is into their tech rehearsals. What will my shop do now? We will have to come up with something besides labeling... I have a new stapler. I couldn't be happier... BabelBabe's birthday is coming up. Should we do something here to celebrate? She's a reciprocal linker, that should earn her something... I have to stop reading Toolmonger. The links direct to Amazon make things way too easy... The GPS thinks that "The Waterfront" is "The Waterworks." Silly GPS, and more importantly too bad for anyone unsig it that doesn't know the difference... I got a $40 tool belt for $9. I didn't really want a tool belt, but I guess if you have to get one by mistake this is a nice way to get it... Mrs. TANBI and I went out for dinner and came home with a TV. I guess that makes as much sense as going out for patio furniture and coming home with kittens... I got my inbox down to zero this week. Now I am working on the "to do" box. I think it is achievable, although I don't know what I will do then... Carnival is this coming weekend. Bring a raincoat... How many missing emails do you think equals an eighteen minute gap? I can't wait to find out...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Photos From My Desk II

Once upon a time I did a post like this that gave me the opportunity to embarrass some other people. I guess this one is the turnabout post.

Today, while preparing a handout for my rigging class I set about looking for a drawing in a particular book. I couldn't find it right off and one thing lead to another and suddenly I was removing every single book from my bookcase. Upon removing one book that must have been unopened since I left my job in Chicago these photos dropped out. And now I share them with you.

If I recall correctly this was a surprise snap for the company newsletter. We all had little cubbies in this office, not so much offices but probably a little more privacy than you generally see from an office cubicle. I love how I would save the little post-it fax stickers for the next time I needed that number. There must be 16 of them there. That stack of files off to the right looks fairly intimidating, I wonder what that was.

I believe these are here because some of the people around the office thought it would be fun to bring in Prom pictures. So here are two pictures from my date Cami's dad's roll.

She'd selected quite the dress. We went to prom, downtown for dinner and a show, then to a friends house to watch movies over night and then to Great America the next day (we changed clothes in there somewhere - actually there was like a dead drop of my tux for my dad so he could return it). We had the big fun.

This next one is a photo someone took when we did a site survey at the Field Museum. I can't remember the woman's name, but she was the manager of the "mount shop" (maybe Katy will recognize her). I have no idea who the guy in the background is.

I kind of like this last picture: David working on something. I'm tricked out in my shop sweatshirt and what could be the geekiest of all possible baseball hats. It's logowear for Partspec, which is a CAD plugin. I got the hat at the National Industry Week convention.

The fax post-its are gone. I wonder if this is before and I hadn't done that yet or after and I'd cleaned them up. A mystery we'll just have to live with I guess.

So They Fired Him

One can only speculate all the good things that could happen if the effort dedicated this week to the firing of Don Imus was put to work on a regular basis solving bigger problems. I'm sure he'll land on his feet, I just hate what it says about the state of things.

I wonder if he goes on the air tomorrow or if the action was immediate. Might be kind of cool if he got an opportunity to get all Colonel Jessep on them:

You fucking people, you have no idea how to defend a nation. You just weakened a country today Kaffee, that's all you did. You put people's lives in danger. Sweet dreams son.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Knot Dating '07

The interactive peer-to-peer rigging class experience returns. No theme this year :-(

I have to say that this continues to be one of the most successful class sessions I do - probably because I do so very little. Maybe I should take a hint from that.

Last year I wound up learning the Zeppelin Bend and the Double Dragon although they didn't stick very well. This year I think between the USITT session and the class today that the Carrik Bend might stick. Nobody undertook the Sheepshank Man-o-war this year, but we had our first Highwayman's Knot and that's fairly cool - although its no sheepshank.

Former students are inevitably asking "what the hell room is that?" This year rigging is in Doherty, that first classroom on the left when you go in the building. I'm not sure why, other than perhaps I didn't say "my classes have to be in Purnell" and others did. I like getting out of the building to teach though and this room has the moving blackboards and all that. I just wish it weren't like 600 degrees in there these days. We could have done Sauna Knot Dating with everyone in towels and I think we would have been comfortable.

Here's a short clip of me trying to be funny:

If you can't teach anything you might as well provide a few laughs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leave Imus Alone

Yes, he said something stupid. Yes he insulted all the women on the basketball team, and yes he did so using language that really has no place in every day discourse. I haven't been listening to Imus since I moved away from Connecticut, but I'd wager he does something like that every day. Seeing the line has to be difficult, and occasionally crossing it a likely occupational hazard.

But really why does anyone care? If you listen frequently you probably can make the assessment that he isn't a bigot or a moron. He is a provocateur, and he says such things because they get a reaction, because they are funny, and when he's on because they are both. We ought to understand what is hate and what is stand up, and that stand up is a critique of life. Do I believe in the moment he's that high minded or that cynical? No. Do I think as a person he's one or the other? Yes, and I would lean toward high minded if forced to choose.

But really, why do we care? This isn't someone that sets policy of any kind. This isn't someone that was elected because we thought he was one kind of person who turns out to be another kind of person. This isn't someone children look up to and emulate (at least not normal children). It's just a guy on the radio. If you are a basketball player at Rutgers and someone says something crass and thoughtless about you on the radio, in the midst of a report detailing your achievement are you disappointed? Maybe, but should it have any lasting effect on you? I'd like to think it wouldn't.

Clearly there was a poor choice made here. I think the man stood up and took responsibility and apologized for any harm done, and I believe him. I don't think for one minute he intended to cause any distress to the women on the team or appear to be culturally out of step (if anything it was a lame attempt at trying to mimic being part of a group he clearly isn't). For someone with something like 40 years of experience, he ought to get the benefit of the doubt.

If we're going to get after people, we ought to put that energy toward people that either are in a position to change policy, seriously influence others, or even worse actually believe what they are saying. You can say many things about Don Imus, but I really don't think you could seriously apply any of those three.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dateline: Egypt

My uncle Don sends...

If the Passover Story Were Reported by modern media it might go like this:

EGYPT- The cycle of violence between the Jews and the Egyptians continues with no end in sight in Egypt. After eight previous plagues have destroyed the Egyptian infrastructure and disrupted the lives of ordinary Egyptian citizens, the Jews launched a new offensive this week in the form of the plague of darkness. Western journalists were particularly enraged by this plague. "It is simply impossible to report when you can't see an inch in front of you," complained a frustrated Andrea Koppel of CNN. "I have heard from my reliable Egyptian contacts that in the midst of the blanket of blackness, the Jews were annihilating thousands of Egyptians. Their word is solid enough evidence for me."

While the Jews contend that the plagues are justified given the harsh slavery imposed upon them by the Egyptians, Pharaoh, the Egyptian leader, rebuts this claim. "If only the plagues would let up, there would be no slavery. We just want to live plague-free. It is the right of every society."

Saeb Erekat, an Egyptian spokesperson, complains that slavery is justifiable given the Jews' superior weaponry supplied to them by the superpower G-d. The Europeans are particularly enraged by the latest Jewish offensive. "The Jewish aggression must cease if there is to be peace in the region. The Jews should go back to slavery for the good of the rest of the world," stated an angry French President Jacques Chirac.

Even several Jews agree. Adam Shapiro, a Jew, has barricaded himself within Pharaoh's chambers to protect Pharaoh from what is feared will be the next plague, the death of the firstborn. Mr. Shapiro claims that while slavery is not necessarily a good thing, it is the product of the plagues and when the plagues end, so will the slavery. "The Jews have gone too far with plagues such as locusts and epidemics which have virtually destroyed the Egyptian economy," Mr. Shapiro laments. "The Egyptians are really a very nice people and Pharaoh is kind of huggable once you get to know him," gushes Shapiro.

The United States is demanding that Moses and Aaron, the Jewish leaders, continue to negotiate with Pharaoh. While Moses points out that Pharaoh had made promise after promise to free the Jewish people only to immediately break them and thereafter impose harsher and harsher slavery, Richard Boucher of the State Department assails the latest offensive. "Pharaoh is not in complete control of the taskmasters," Mr. Boucher states. "The Jews must return to the negotiating table and will accomplish nothing through these plagues."

The latest round of violence comes in the face of a bold new Saudi peace overture. "If only the Jews will give up their language, change their names to Egyptian names and cease having male children, the Arab nations will incline toward peace with them," Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah declared.

I Hate Insurance

Somewhere along the way I think we got something wrong with insurance. I hate insurance. I hate car insurance, I hate health insurance, I hate liability insurance, if I though about it I'm sure I would hate home owner's insurance. If I were in charge this insurance thing would work differently.

Have you ever been working on something and had someone tell you that you wouldn't be doing what you thought you would because the insurance wouldn't cover it? What is that about? And who are they to be making that decision? I have a better one. How about finding out you wouldn't be doing something even though your insurance will cover it because someone else's insurance won't cover it and you want to be sure in the event of an emergency their insurance will pay and not yours.

The whole business is built on a lie - save for a rainy day, and pool your savings with others. Seems simple enough. I pay them so that they have my money when something goes drastically wrong for me. They get to hold my money while I don't need it and invest it to make more money - plus they have a zillion people do this at once because something awful can't happen to everyone at once so when we need the money it will be there. It's a nice idea. It's a good idea. It should help the world go more smoothly.


But it should stifle creativity, or tell people they can't do things.

But if a government requires it they damn well ought to provide it.

But they shouldn't turn into complete crapweasels when it is time to pay.

There's too much money being made, too much fine print being used, too much obfuscation through process, too much plain ill will. Insurance came about as a way to help people, why on Earth is it such an unhelpful industry?

I think maybe we're to the point in history where we need an insurance revolution. Why do we need insurance companies, why can't we all be self insured? Why can't all insurance efforts be required to be not-for-profit ventures? Doesn't it seem reasonable in this day and age that all insurance should be some kind of co-op?

You get together a group of people, they each pay in a given amount of money for the year. If any of them have problems they get a payout from the plan. At the end of the year, a charge gets assessed against the fund to pay for the next years expenses... and any surplus gets paid back to the co-op members.

If the profit motive were removed, if there was really no interest for the people running the fund to have money left at the end of the year because it was going to be rebated to the co-op members anyway don't you think the companies would be less likely to make it so hard to get a pay out? Why should my not getting sick be a financial gain to some stock holder in an insurance company? If I pay in and I don't get sick and there's a surplus of funds I think maybe I should get that money back.

I'd even be cool with only getting maybe 50% back if the other 50% were paid into an endowment account to offset future expenses. Under that scenario there would likely be a time that if you were a member long enough you could probably stop paying in.

So yes, this is probably an invitation for graft; and yes, there would likely be a fair amount of discrimination among co-op membership; and yes there would have to be something for people that couldn't find a co-op. But aren't all those things true now anyway? Its just that in the existing system the graft goes both ways. In a strange light, you can almost feel like the person robbing the company is a hero because you are pretty damn sure the company spends most of their time robbing everyone else.

Why is it that when we talk about social problems people always want to depend on "a thousand points of light" but if there's money to be made then it has to be left to business and the free market? Even if it were run exactly as it is right now, I would rather pay my premium to a civic organization, a club, a religious body, or even a government entity than to a private company. At least in all of the former cases whatever profit is realized goes at least in some small part to me. In the case of the latter I am helping to buy some douchebag a Porsche.

Why on Earth would I want to do that?

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's Back. Do I care?

HBO returned to the business of giving us our Sopranos fix tonight. I'm not sure I care, and I hope the people at LOST and Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who and Weeds (to name a few) are watching.

To my recollection it has been about 74 years since the last new episode of The Sopranos ran. In the interim we've had reruns on HBO: "Go fuck yourself!" and older reruns on A&E: "Go freak yourself!" Leaving the issue of the verbal mosiacing for another day I have to wonder if HBO gave us too long. I didn't get any kind of addict's rush when the theme came on in 5-channel surround tonight. When I was watching I didn't really think I cared what would happen, or more accurately how I have really not liked pretty much any plotline involving Janis or AJ - that made tonight somewhat less inspiring.

Mostly I was thinking how much I wanted to know what was going to happen with Vince and Ari, and how I was going to have to slog though an hour of Sopranos to get to Entourage (that and how thankful I was that there would be no more Dane Cook Tourgasm to dodge).

I know that the production paradigm that begun with The Sopranos (or maybe really NYPD Blue) was supposed to be something good for television. That excellent writing and complex, well crafted television is a good thing, and that giving people flexibility in their delivery schedules lets show go longer, hold on to better people, and gives them more creative freedom. I'm just not sure I care. As shows go later and later into the fall before premiering for a season, go to reruns earlier and earlier, and end earlier in the spring I have to wonder if maybe the harder delivery schedule was such a bad thing.

Or, perhaps watching TV on TV is what is over. I have friends that watch 24 that have never once watched it when it is on. They rent the DVD from Netflix and watch the whole series over three days. Maybe DVD and on demand video combined with strange production schedules will be the end of this whole discussion and ten years from now my own kids will wonder what I am talking about when I mention CBS's Sunday night lineup or NBC's must see TV - or watching Doctor Who with the lights off, an ear piece in, and my finger on the power switch late after my bedtime so I wouldn't miss it.

What I do know for certain is that coming back after a long hiatus with a Janice & Bobby story was weak. I certainly hope the people over at SciFi don't have a Geata story planned for their '08 premiere - Starbuck's back, Tigh is a Cylon, "hey lets do a Geata story!"

They can all go frack themselves.

Clearer Heads - Good Advice

Think Progress » Kristol: Proper Response To Iran’s Kidnapping Of Soldiers Would Have Been Military Strikes: "The Guardian reported this weekend that, “The US offered to take military action on behalf of the 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, including buzzing Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions with warplanes.” The article added, “The British declined the offer and said the US could calm the situation by staying out of it.”"

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Theater apologizes for horror film mixup "National Amusements, operator of Island 16 multiplex and 1,500 movie screens in the United States and abroad, said the R-rated 'The Hills Have Eyes 2' was 'started in error' at 8 p.m. Thursday instead of the scheduled PG-rated movie, 'The Last Mimzy,' but declined to elaborate on the nature of the error."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Link of the Day

Like all those cat pictures with the funny sayings? Me too, remember, I made my own:

Well, here's a billion: Cats

It's the link of the day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Maybe I am Wrong

I know I say There are no Bad Ideas but...

Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending Muslims | the Daily Mail: "Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Governmentbacked study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial."

The Same in the Land Down Under

Think Progress: "Andrew Sullivan emphatically states, “If you think this was in any way a legitimate court process, you’re smoking something even George Michael would pay a lot of money for. It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is.”"

Monday, April 02, 2007

Why Some People Should Stay Out of the Kitchen

I found myself revisiting an old thought this evening. It's a time of the year when people have to think about making many foods without ingredients they normally have available. A while back, Kevin and I had a similar thought.

The idea was that Egg, Sugar, and Oil were sort of like primary colors and that many recipes are somewhat like color mixing, manipulating the contributions of each primary. The idea develops by next looking at the secondaries, the product of mixing each of the primaries.

If you've followed the lunacy so far you might be seeing something like this in your head:

Egg and Oil make Mayonnaise. Egg and Sugar make Meringue. Sugar and Oil make Frosting.

The thought was that if you were in some very bizarre kitchen where you didn't have eggs, but you did have mayonnaise and meringue that you could still complete a recipe that called for eggs by carefully mixing the adjacent secondaries.

I'm not sure it would work, and really what kitchen wouldn't have the primaries but would have the secondaries?

But it might make an interesting cooking contest.