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User Journal

Journal Journal: It's about time, Ernie Fletcher!

The headline from the New York Times states, Kentucky Governor Signs Plea Deal.

Well, finally.

Governor Fletcher - you rode into office after the idiocy of Paul "the luv gov" Patton on a promise to clean up our State Capitol.

No one expected you to be perfect. So when the first hints of a merit hiring problems came out, you have a golden opportunity to reprimand some people who worked for you, apologize to the public, re-instate the guy who should not have been fired ... and then ride your way to the highest approval rating possible.

I can forgive a mistake whenyou act to clean up the mess.

Instead, you chose to PARDON everyone. And you never seemed to "get it" and never seemed to understand why that was such a boneheaded thing to do.

Do you realize that you have sabotaged the careers of every Republican that works in your administration? They all carry the taint of your promise to clean up Frankfort, and your failure to even act like you meant it.

I am a Republican - and I am voting against you, sir, even if it means I have to vote for Jim "Pop" Malone (check the 1989 campaign results in Kentucky and count how many Democrats lost in Jefferson County that year ... one. Guess who?).

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sal - ute!

March 25, 2006

Buck Owens, you will be missed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: PETA Seal Clubbing and Ohio River Bridge Painting Company

On Saturday, February 25, 2006, I was had tickets to attend a show called, An Evening with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood in Louisville, Kentucky. During the show, one improv bit that they do is to send Brad Sherwood out of the theater so Colin Mochrie can collect a "crime" that Brad has "committed" and must confess to.

The gimmick is to get 3 unusual things that Brad wore, a strange "crime" that he committed, some other action that he was doing, a local (but unusual place name) where he committed it, a company that he was working for at the time, and what he used to do it. Let's see if I can get it all from memory:

While wearing bubble wrap, a Christmas tree and a green fedora, I tickled a kitten with a disco ball while eating Cocoa Puffs in Waddy-Peytona while working at the PETA Seal Clubbing and Ohio River Bridge Painting Company using a prosthetic leg.

While building this, a lot of it was just random shouts from the audience. However, when Colin started asking about the "place name", he rejected a few audience response because they were too simple. The reason I took note was what happened when "Waddy-Paytona" was first shouted out. The entire audience had been hemming and hawing up until that point, yet with those words, we immediately locked onto that name, and would not budge. Colin picked up on the shift and ran with it, even though he never quite said it right ... he kept saying "Pay-tone-ya".

Like it matters. There really is no such thing as Waddy-Peytona, that just happens to be the description put up on the signs on Interstate 64 for the road that leads to the two small towns of Waddy (south of I-64) and Peytona (North of I-64). Still, anyone who has driven from Louisville to Lexington has seen the sign, so we all know what it is.

"PETA Seal Clubbing" was another crowd "lock" once it was suggested. Colin did not seem to know what PETA was, but Brad Sherwood figured it out pretty fast when he was on stage (he said something like, "that's an extreme change from their original mission"). I've never been a fan of PETA (*) - but they have not endeared themselves in Kentucky after they started picking on Colonel Harlan Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame).

Then Colin asked for more, and got "Ohio River Bridge Painting Company". That clearly confused him, but he perceived another "lock" from the audience, so he ran with it. Locally, we have had a little problem with the John F. Kennedy Bridge (I-65 bridge over the Ohio River) where it needs to be painted, but contractors quit or are fired, inspectors get arrested for soliciting bribes (i.e. worse than normal graft and corruption) and there the bridge sits, partially painted and draped in cloth, waiting to be turned grey, again.

The rest of it was fluff, but I felt those three audience "locks" ... and writing about it gave me an excuse to post the words, "PETA Seal Clubbing" several times.


(*) Any group that stands up and shouts, "rats have rights" has lost its grip on reality. A right is an agreement between two or more parties (individuals, governments or deities), and nothing more. The key part of a "right" is communication - both parties negotiating with the intent of following through on their promises. When a rat antes up and starts negotiating "we'll stop invading your homes if you stop using us for lab experiments", then they have met my criteria. I'm not going to hold my breath for that, though ...

User Journal

Journal Journal: It bears repeating ...

Quoting This article, which is turn quotes Stewart Baker, the assistant secretary for policy with the United States Department of Homeland Security:

It's very important to remember that it's your intellectual property -- it's not your computer. And in the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it's important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days.

Thank you, Mr. Baker. That sums it up, perfectly.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Coyote65 (831666)

This entry is in reference to an article where Coyote writes:

Where what you play on the screen is what you COULD do in real life. There's no reason people who play Madden NFL Football can't go out and toss a pigskin around.

and then adds on this gem:

Computer games are supposed to allow you to do things you couldn't do ordinarily

I wanted to suggest just one reason to Coyote - Disability.

  • Let's start with the worst cases that I can think of off the top of my head: SCID and Osteogenesis Imperfecta
  • Then I'll continue with the one that has been a factor of my entire life - poliomyelitis. The vaccine did not exist when my dad caught that disease - so I never even had a chance to go "throw the pigskin" with him.
  • And in case you think I'm just talking about rare conditions, how about the very common: Asthma.
  • Then there are the non-disease reasons, such as paralysis due to spinal injuries (trampolines, anyone?)

It only takes an instant for a fully able-bodied person to become disabled ... just ask anyone who survived a automobile accident.

I doubt that you will ever see this page, but I'm putting it here just in case you do, Coyote. If you see the point I'm making, respond to this entry and I will remove the "foe" setting - education is what matters.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ruminations on a Dead Man

One evening, while bored at work, I started poking around the web looking for current events for people that I knew when I played chess during high school and college in the 1980s. I stumbled across the text "MORTON WENGER (Deceased)" on this web page, which floored me.

I knew Dr. Wenger primarily as a chess player. He was a "personality" in the area, on his best behavior, he bordered on mean and selfish - if things did not go precisely the way he wanted them to, he would threaten to sue. This intimidation was more than just an empty threat - he actually did sue his employer at one point (they passed him over for a promotion - go figure).

Dr. Wenger may have been a "personality", but he wasn't much fun to be around, especially if he was losing. Complaints were the norm for him, and the constant barrage drove people away, and isolated him. It makes me wonder if he was compensating for his isolation by complaining - thereby forcing people to pay attention to him.

A few years after I started playing, Dr. Wenger brought his son to start playing. I remember having a conversation with the father of one other high school player because Dr. Wenger was hovering over his son's game-in-progress, and the other player's father wanted him to back off. The irony is that when we got Dr. Wenger to back off, his own son relaxed and promptly started blowing the other kids off the board. Dr. Wenger was intimidating his own son worse than the competition!

Just after I graduated from high school, I was suckered into taking an officer's position in the state chess association . . . at the end of my first year of service, I realized that I was now just as likely to get sued by Dr. Wenger as my predecessors were, and I arranged to get myself out of that situation. I stopped playing chess actively for some time - it just wasn't enjoyable when the game ceased to be able the board and pieces, and mutated into the ongoing soap opera of "how not to get sued."

About a year later, I returned to play one weekend. I played a few games, and then overheard a conversation between Dr. Wenger and the president of the state association that ended in shouting. The specific situation dealt with the state high school championships, and a political problem that had been plaguing the state chess association for years - how to make the "state" organization (which was really just Louisville and Lexington) truly be "state-wide". To that end, there had been several outreach programs for a tournament director in western Kentucky, a complete reorganization of the state officers and organizational structure to be more inclusive ... and a major program to include high school players from all across the state. So at the end of the school year, the state organization found itself in a quandary - the rules published at the beginning of the season stated that the "top 6 rated" high school players would play in a round-robin tournament to determine who the state high school champion would be. Unfortunately, that plan had a flaw - the bulk of the rated tournaments had been held in Louisville, Lexington or the surrounding counties, so the top six were all from the middle of the state. The top-rated player from Western Kentucky was seventh on the list . . . a mere handful of rating points lower than the sixth player - Mort's son.

Had Mort's son been fifth, I believe that there would not have been a shouting match that day. The sixth player would have been silently bumped in favor of number 7, and no one would have known. I walked out to talk to the president, and told him point blank that for once I agreed with Mort, and that Mort even had a case. My point was that the player being screwed over by that plan wasn't #7 . . . but was #6, who had worked hard to be there, and achieved it, despite his father. Ultimately, the president agreed that the as-published rules would be followed, and Mort's son played. I think that the people from Western Kentucky were unhappy with this, but that single day was enough to remind me how much I hated the politics . . . and I did not go back.

So, having remembered Mort as being his own worst enemy - I went looking for his obituary to see when he died. As I was looking, I found this article by Alan Spector of Purdue University-Calumet. The rest of this journal entry is a response to that article.

Wow. I had forgotten that Mort was a Marxist. Someone had told me that, once, but I did not believe it. Mort did not strike me as an "out for the good of everyone" sort, but more of a "me first - do it my way or else" sort.

Reading Mr. Spector's text shocked me - it goes against all of my memories of Dr. Wenger. For example, I love this line:

He also leaves behind a life's work that is a model for all who struggle against this old world of racism, fascism, and war -- all who struggle to destroy this old world of capitalism and build a new world of economic, social, and interpersonal relations free from exploitation and inequality.

In my experience, Dr. Wenger was a candidate poster child for exploiting anything that he could possibly turn to his advantage, except that he went so far overboard that things usually blew up in his face and left him in a worse position than before. Mort had a reputation for wanting to be "more equal" than everyone else. It was so bad that when I was arguing that his son merited that sixth position, one bystander wanted to exclude Mort's son just as a way to punish Mort!

Morton was a tireless fighter for humanity in many ways.

I flagged this statement, and then realized that I could neither support nor challenge it. He may have fought for humanity in general, but if so, he fought with a disdain for the specific humans that were around him - we were all in his way. I finally got tired of fighting him, and wandered off - it wasn't any fun anymore, and Mort was a major reason why it wasn't fun.

He often commented about how constricted he felt by the immediate circumstances of his employment

And those of us who were around him when he did that replied, "well, duh - you sued your employer . . . who can't fire you because you have tenure!" Now, in retrospect, I find it amusing that such a determined Marxist would want to become the boss in a capitalist society. I could chalk it up to him wanting to improve the life of his family, I guess, but that does not seem to fit, properly.

As an activist and debater, Mort was scrupulously committed to advancing towards the truth of an issue, whether or not it made him unpopular. He sometimes displayed a too-short temper and an impatience with those with whom he disagreed; some felt he was overly critical. But this impatience flowed not from a fundamental arrogance, but rather from a deep understanding of just how destructive capitalism is in so many ways.

"Fundamental arrogance" describes him perfectly - thanks for the phrase. Mort displayed that same "too-short temper" in chess, lashing out on a regular basis in a situation where competence could be easily determined across the board. You cannot claim that Dr. Wenger had a "deep understanding" of chess after reviewing his tournament record - he simply lost too many games.

He would often say things like: "Well, you can't really condemn him. He just doesn't understand." Or "He's a product of his class situation. He's doing what is sensible from his standpoint." And he did not say this in a condescending way, just a way of keeping his anger focused on capitalism as a system rather than personalizing it.

In the process of "focusing his anger on capitalism", Dr. Wenger appeared to dehumanize the people around him. It is almost like he could not accept the possibility that a good idea could come from someone who was in a higher class than him. Now, that brought forth an interesting thought ...

In a way, his attempt to force his employer to promote him would have expanded the number of people that were his "equals" and "inferiors". By being promoted, he would have had more people that he could have accepted good ideas from, and being denied that promotion kept him trapped in the limited space that he was already in.

That seems to fit. It explains why I did not have problems with Dr. Wenger when I was in high school, and a lesser player than he was - and why I started having trouble with him when my skills improved and I started volunteering my time to help the club and the state association. I had advanced past him in that small part of the universe, and was now to be ignored.

The sad truth is that, having met him and having known him, I find that I have almost no interest in what Dr. Wenger had to say. I found one thread from 1997 where he signed as "Mordechai", and I dozed off in the middle of his rambling. I found another where he wrote about the inherent problem with "Intelligence Tests", and forced myself to read it . . . only to learn that I had reached the same conclusion he had a long time ago (hint: they are flawed).

But that is just part of the deal. If you (or anyone) want me to listen to you, then you have to be willing to listen to me. I may not have the answers . . . but if you disregard me entirely, then don't be surprised when I disregard you.

All of this, because of an obituary for a man that I did not like that much. Ah, well.

The Courts

Journal Journal: IBM's Doomsday Weapon 1

The amazing thing about the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit is watching the IBM lawyers work in their element. I had the pleasure of working for IBM off and on during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and one thing that the company was very good about was ... patents.

Inside the company there were regular reminders about making sure that any patentable ideas should actually get patented - and rewards for people who generated viable ones for the company. The rewards were good enough that people responded, and IBMs portfolio of patents is huge as a result.

Patents on Mice? IBM had them in the mainframe days. Patents on Hyperlinks? British Telecom does not have a chance when IBM pulls out its prior art. Patents on XML? I think I still have my SGML references around, somewhere - you'd think that Mr. Berners-Lee concept of HTML might have come from somewhere, eh? (For the subtlety-challenged: he used an old IBM reference manual as his base to work from.)

All along, IBM has played nice with everyone and let them squeak by without licensing fees on a lot of things in the software industry, presumably because, eventually, someone would patent something that IBM would run afoul of, and that . . . to keep from losing big bucks in a lawsuit, the patent portfolio could be brought out of the vault. A mere threat of a huge and easily provable counter-suit could quash the other guy, and get him to agree to a simple, "we'll let you use ours if you let us use yours" point of view. "Detente" or "Ultimate Destruction" - very 1970s/1980s, and very, very effective.

When you talk about "Enterprise Class" software, who do you think built the big mainframes? Technology to coordinating how Multiprocessors worked together? Sure, they were using EBCDIC instead of ASCII, but a technique described in Spanish is just as valid as one described in English.

So, it took a long time, but someone decided to finally challenge IBM. IBM - an organization that has been paying top-notch legal talent to plan and prepare for this kind of situation for DECADES. I think that this shows in IBMs briefs in the case. SCO may have paid for highly talented lawyers, but how long did they have to plan for this lawsuit?

The dragon has been awakened by the barking of a little yap-dog. The real drama is in waiting to see how IBM deals with the situation - will the dragon merely move a paw and silence the annoyance? Will the dragon bite down on the poor thing and spit it back out? Or, will it breathe fire into the air in a display of power as a warning shot, and convince SCO that maybe this wasn't such a good idea? Or will we have charcoal brickettes where SCO used to be?

One can only wonder.

Frankly, given how easily debunked each specific SCO claim has been, I doubt that IBM will have to use their patent portfolio against SCO. It's almost a shame. They have this big toy, and they will not have to use it.

The Courts

Journal Journal: Quotes of Importance ... (SCO)

Too good to pass this one up: (from groklaw, talking about SCO):

Imagine if a company sold pencils which it did in fact own and later said, "Well, I didn't realise they were mine. If I had known I owned them, I wouldn't have sold them to you/you have to pay me more money/I am changing the terms of sale".

-- Brendan Scott, 2004

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C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]