September 2001 Archives

Accession of the refugee king

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Accession of the refugee king

Southern Sudan is a wartorn no-man's land, with no government, no reliable roads, little fresh water, no electricity, no guarantee of transport. But Adams was travelling under the protection of a remarkable man, an African refugee who had been working in a recycling plant in Ottawa. The man's name was Adongo. Fifteen years after he fled his birthplace, Adongo was going home to save his people, the Anyuak. He was now their king.

Edward Tufte on web design.

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Edward Tufte on web design. (via xblog)

This page clued me

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This page clued me onto a very cool CSS technique: alternate style sheets. Basically, by putting links like:

<link rel="alternate stylesheet" title="Alternate"
href="alternate.css" type="text/css" media="screen">

in the of your document, compliant browsers allow users to switch style sheets. Currently only mozilla and netscape 6 have this capability (look under the View menu/Use Stylesheet) but there are some favelets that allow you to switch stylesheets in some other browsers.

This is a very cool testing tool, and I spent a few minutes developing an alternate stylesheet.

From the speech that

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From the speech that launched the Marshall Plan:

I need not tell you, gentlemen, that the world situation is very serious. That must be apparent to all intelligent people. I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. Furthermore, the people of this country are distant from the troubled areas of the earth and it is hard for them to comprehend the plight and consequent reactions of the long-suffering peoples, and the effect of those reactions on their governments in connection with our efforts to promote peace in the world.


An essential part of any successful action on the part of the United States is an understanding on the part of the people of America of the character of the problem and the remedies to be applied. Political passion and prejudice should have no part. With foresight, and a willingness on the part of our people to face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country, the difficulties I have outlined can and will be overcome.

I don't know what's

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I don't know what's worse about this Washington Post editorial, the writing or the sentiment:

The terrorists who attacked the United States last Tuesday have made
the gravest blunder any human being possibly could commit. They have
trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; they
soon will find that they have loosed the fateful lightning of a
terrible, swift sword.

Today I took my

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Today I took my pencam for a walk around Trout Lake

Game Over Did the United

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Game Over

Did the United States deserve to be attacked? Of course not. That argument is ugly and dangerous. But here's a different question that must be asked: did U.S. foreign policy create the conditions in which such twisted logic could flourish, a war not so much on U.S. imperialism but on perceived U.S. imperviousness?

The era of the video game war in which the U.S. is always at the controls has produced a blinding rage in many parts of the world, a rage at the persistent asymmetry of suffering. This is the context in which twisted revenge seekers make no other demand than that American citizens share their pain.

Since the attack, U.S. politicians and commentators have repeated the mantra that the country will go on with business as usual. The American way of life, they insist, will not be interrupted. It seems an odd claim to make when all evidence points to the contrary. War, to butcher a phrase from the old Gulf War days, is the mother of all interruptions. As well it should be. The illusion of war without casualties has been forever shattered.

A blinking message is up on our collective video game console: Game Over.

The sanest thing I've read

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The sanest thing I've read all week, from the sanest person I know, Phil Agre.

Should we go out and get the people who blew up our buildings? Of
course we should. If we can't get them nonviolently law, should we
start dropping bombs on impoverished countries? Maybe we should, if
it will actually achieve the stated goal. A world that has graduated
beyond the traditional conceptions of war may not be able to avoid
military action, regrettable as it always is. Evil is real, whatever
excuse it might present. The important thing is to draw a distinction
between military action, as the exercise within a framework of
international law of the power of a legitimate democratic state, and
war, as the imposition of a total social order that is the antithesis
of democracy, and that, in the current technological conditions
of war, has no end in sight. We can reorganize our infrastructure
along more intelligent lines, and we urgently should. But more
fundamentally, war will end only when the rest of the world enjoys
the same institutional conditions of justice and freedom that we
do. We can hasten that day by supporting civil society, education,
reconciliation, institutional reform, Internet connectivity, and
nonproliferation throughout the world. Or we can retreat into a
conservative conception of war as a way to live our lives. That is
our choice now, in our policies and in our hearts, as we decide how to
act on the pain that we feel.

Psychopaths Among Us, an article

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Psychopaths Among Us, an article I actually meant to post when I read it on Saturday.

For his first paper, now a classic, Hare had his subjects watch a countdown timer. When it reached zero, they got a "harmless but painful" electric shock while an electrode taped to their fingers measured perspiration. Normal people would start sweating as the countdown proceeded, nervously anticipating the shock. Psychopaths didn't sweat. They didn't fear punishment -- which, presumably, also holds true outside the laboratory. In Without Conscience, he quotes a psychopathic rapist explaining why he finds it hard to empathize with his victims: "They are frightened, right? But, you see, I don't really understand it. I've been frightened myself, and it wasn't unpleasant."

While I'm still collecting

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dead flag blues, by godspeed

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dead flag blues, by godspeed you black emperor. (released in 1998)

the car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel

and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides

and a dark wind blows

the government is corrupt

and we're on so many drugs

with the radio on and the curtains drawn

we're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine

and the machine is bleeding to death

the sun has fallen down

and the billboards are all leering

and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

it went like this:

the buildings tumbled in on themselves

mothers clutching babies picked through the rubble

and pulled out their hair

the skyline was beautiful on fire

all twisted metal stretching upwards

everything washed in a thin orange haze

i said: "kiss me, you're beautiful -

these are truly the last days"

you grabbed my hand and we fell into it

like a daydream or a fever

we woke up one morning and fell a little further down -

for sure it's the valley of death

i open up my wallet

and it's full of blood

I'm seeing some truly

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I'm seeing some truly frightening rhetoric on editorial pages today; at the suggestion of Phil Agre from RRE, I've stared a web page to collect as many examples as I can find. Please distribute this URL as widely as you can and mail me any examples you find.

There are no words. I've

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There are no words. I've spent the day completely stunned. There has been amazing coverage by people like cam, jason kottke, and many many others.

Geeks, you gotta love

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Geeks, you gotta love 'em:
silly window

Mindblowing Mindstorms - a lego

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Mindblowing Mindstorms - a lego robot that can solve Rubik's Cube.

Canada's Parliamentary Library blows budget

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Canada's Parliamentary Library blows budget fighting Linux (Ok, that's putting things a bit strongly, but it's damn near the truth.)

Ry Cooder fined $25,000 for

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Ry Cooder fined $25,000 for Buena Vista Social Club:

A couple of years ago Los Angeles guitarist Ry Cooder made a documentary film in Havana called "The Buena Vista Social Club." It was nominated for an Academy Award and was seen by millions of Americans. Some have said it has done more to improve relations between US and Cuba than 42 years of rhetoric by the politicians on both sides of the Florida Straits. An August 18 report in the Santa Monica Daily Breeze indicates that Cooder has now been fined $25,000 by the US Treasury Department for spending money in Cuba without its permission.

This article is titled "A

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This article is titled "A case for Linux," but what I find compelling about it is how how works Microsoft's sales staff works at moving everything in the corporation to a Microsoft product.

Under this proposal, annual licensing fees would increase from $40,000 to $300,000, but uptime performance would be guaranteed at a specific rate and there would be rebates should those rates not be met on a consistent basis. The company had invested over a million dollars to make the switch from the old to the new, and at this point, going back was not a viable option. Reluctantly the agreement was made and they moved forward.

The next couple of years saw a dramatic increase in data storage requirements and internet use as employment rose to nearly 7,000. The server redundancy helped ensure a higher level of uptime, but maintenance costs were going up as the internal IT team spent more hours working on the extra units that did go down, prepping them to go back up again. As redundant servers went in and out of service, data synchronization was becoming more critical and ensuring data integrity became an even costlier proposition.

During further licensing negotiations, Microsoft proposed that the company transition away from other suites and applications to Microsoft Office. In exchange for this move and the earlier commitment to the NT server line, Microsoft would give them a significant break on site licensing for these applications. They would even aid in transitioning their data warehouse from Oracle to SQL Server.

Red Hat's sales staff seem to be on the ball though:

Red Hat was key in helping them realize the benefits to the bottom line. Within 60 days of the first overtures, they were on site with a demonstration that completely blew the corporate team away. Red Hat brought a single Pentium class system for a site visit and thanks to the early legwork their engineers had done, were able to integrate the box into the network and take over all file and print server requests for one busy segment within four hours. The system ran for the next 10 business days without any downtime, something NT machines had not been able to do very often. All issues that did come up were fixed on the spot without a single kernel restart. File and print transactions were stored in ques and processed without incident. Samba allowed the Linux box to seamlessly integrate into the file network and actually increased overall performance. Nightly backups were performed from the master NT server without any sign of incompatibility. Print jobs were also handled seamlessly with fewer delays and error messages along the way. This limited demonstration was an absolute success and had most of the corporate advance team nodding their heads in approval.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2001 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2001 is the previous archive.

October 2001 is the next archive.

This is, a weblog by Bill Stilwell. I take the occasional photo.


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