Archive for February 2003

The War on Drugs is Completely Idiotic

[written 2-28-03]

On 2-25-03, some 55 web sites that sold “drug paraphernalia” like water pipes and bongs were shut down by the DEA.

I went to check out a couple of the sites that had been shut down, among them AHeadCase.com and SmokeLab.com. The sites have been replaced by this absolutely ridiculous government page. It reads:

By application of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the website you are attempting to visit has been restrained by the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to Title 21, United States Code, Section 853(e)(1)(A).

Dude, I was so stoned, it felt like my head was this big!

I noticed that these pages loaded peculiarly slowly so I took a look at the source of the pages… It’s such an obscene waste of HTML that it’s not even funny! They took the 40 word sentence, 230 characters in all and governmentalized the HTML. Take a guess how many characters are in the actual HTML? Think about it for a second… you need some header info, some font info… image referrer… maybe another 10 lines of code right? WRONG. They puffed this single sentence into 15,312 characters… That’s 15 kilobytes of information… 66 times the actual document size! How did they manage to vomit such a quantity of red tape on the internet?!?! They should be arrested for such an obscene display of code!

In case those pages aren’t up anymore, I’ve archived one here. The document is actually so fucked up, they couldn’t fit it in one .html file. There’s an index.html and a header.htm. And the big kicker is, they dicked around with 15 K of worthless HTML and then used the lowest quality background image of the American flag they possibly could. The image is only 10K! It feels like they are burning the flag!

Here I am, foaming at the mouth about this, and I haven’t even gotten to the part about our own federal government shutting down legitimate, profitable businesses!

Mr. Rogers Died

I just heard on NPR news that Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers died from stomach cancer today.

Thank you for your contribution to my life, Mr. Rogers.

I Eat Too Much

Yow! I was eating some cereal and decided to weigh it on my postal scale…. One bowl of cereal is 4-6 "servings"!!! A "serving" is 30 grams… My box went empty at 100 grams, and that was into what I consider an only moderately full bowl. That means I get over 800 calories and all of my USDA of vitamins from 1 bowl! Jeez, if I ate Total brand cereal, I might even be overdosing on some of my vitamins!!

And I'm supposed to consume 2,500 calories per day?

I'm going to have to take a close look at what I put in my mouth every day!

My thoughts about Saddam Hussein keep shifting

My thoughts about Saddam Hussein keep shifting… and always in the same direction. Travis just showed me a heavy article about the situation there. Now please be aware that I haven’t ever held any strong beliefs on the issue. I’ve just followed the popular media on the issue. I haven’t done the research on the topic that I would need to form a firm opinion.

Disclaimer: These are all ‘soft’ thoughts about the situation. I haven’t had a need to solidify my beliefs about the Iraq situation, though it should be evident from this journal entry where I currently stand.

I’ve thought for a long while that an embargo war would be moderately successful against Iraq, pulling them into a more passive role in world politics. It bugged me that I rarely heard about the Iraqi government; it was always about Saddam. I didn’t really think that one man ruled the country… maybe it was ruled by a small government, but not 1 man. I felt that the media had skewed our impression, putting a single face on a whole country.

When George Dubbya talked about the situation, I assumed that…. well, Dubbya just doesn’t look like an honest man to me.

Dubbya has a few speech giving habits that make me think he’s a big fat liar. I recently watched him closely for these habits and a hugely prominent one is his inappropriate smiles. He’ll say something serious like, “The Axis of Evil must be put down at any cost.” And then he’d smile with an intensity. That smile has always said to me, “You and I both know exactly what has to be done and why. We have this mutual understanding. We are completely together on this. Our mission is so plain and clear before us. We’ve realized something together that is remarkable! Now let’s act” It’s the same smile that a teacher might show a student to emphasize a point of Eureka, that epiphany moment when the student is supposed to ‘get it’. Well screw you, Dubbya. Your body language and mouth aren’t on the same page! You’re trying to suck me into your fantastic realization, but you haven’t explained anything to me bo me besides your dislike for the “Axis of Evil”… and you haven’t even tried to convince me that this axis IS evil. And he never does present an argument… it’s always just an opinion. He looks shifty, not like a leader.

Another awful habit, that he has, is to put, pauses in at completely inappropriate, moments. I listened to part of one of his speeches, today and found it almost unlistenable. It’s like he’s always pausing, so that a translator, can catch up, to him. It drives me, crazy!

Ah, but I digress. Let’s get back to my soft opinions about Iraq.

It also often bugged me that I never heard anything from the Iraqi government. Maybe the US or the media was stifling their voice. Maybe the Iraqi government was keeping a lid on everything. There’s a LOT of play there! Where is the Iraqi voice? And I know that the language of politics isn’t one that I can trust. For example, when it came up that the huge Iraqi disclosure paperwork was missing some weapons and some chemicals. Well, maybe the Iraqis buried them and really never wanted to use them again but it was more of a pain to destroy them than to just bury them…. of course they could never admit to having them in the first place or the bully Americans would cry foul. OR, maybe the Iraqis are busy loading smallpox into ICBMs and that’s why we couldn’t find them. I’m not qualified to say which is the truth, especially not by listening to the international politicians.

One of my alert mechanisms that I’ve relied on and has served me well is my wariness of repetition. If someone repeats something many many times, and goes to lengths to make sure I hear the message over and over, I become suspicious. I know that human psychology is wired so that we want to fit in… to believe what everyone else believes. This mechanism is played upon every day by advertisers and politicians trying to sway our opinions. And, by and large, it works. People buy Louis Vuittion handbags and Massingil douche regardless of their own style or the helpfulness of douching. So when our president tells me at every opportunity that we should blow up Saddam, but he doesn’t give a solid reason, bells go off in my head.

Then I saw Colin Powell. He sat there showing photographs and taped recordings of legitimately extremely suspicious behavior. My opinion shifted. The most striking and dramatic revelation to me was the satellite photos. He showed photos of a suspected weapons production facility. Two days before the inspectors showed up, a whole mess of trucks pulled up and took “something” away. When the inspectors showed up, the place was empty. He said this scramble took place over thirty times. Ok, you’ve got my attention.

I’ve rarely heard the voices of Iraqi people. Travis’ article gives some of them a voice and also tells me why I haven’t heard from them. From my previous close contact experiences with far-left politics, I feel empowered to mutter to myself, “Bleeding fucking liberals. They’re so wrapped up in their own frigging cause that they don’t even know what their real cause is.”

Indivisible, But Not Under God

[written 2-27-03]

It is possible that the phrase, “under God” will be removed from the pledge of allegiance shortly. I believe that to be appropriate. From today’s (2-28-03) online NY Times, “…a federal appeals court Friday refused to reconsider its ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because of the words ‘under God.'”

All 24 Circuit Court judges were asked if they thought the case should be reheard, but only 9 thought they should. So it’ll either go to the US Supreme Court or the 9th Circuit, most of the west coast, will be removing “under god” from their pledge time.

I remember wondering why the heck “under god” was in the pledge when I was saying it in 5th grade. It never felt right. I even recall muttering those two words under my breath in high school home-room in an attempt to lessen it’s hold on me. And I went to a catholic high school. I’m glad they’re putting that phrase down.

I wrote to my Senators and Rep about this in June, 2002. Over a year later, a senator wrote back to me about it. So I responded. Here’s the exchange:

* My original letter to Senators and Representative
* Senator Corzine’s response
* My followup (I also wrote similar letters to my other Senator and Rep)

If you’re not up for reading the exchange, my two points are:

1. About 15% of adult Americans are insulted by the phrase “under God”, either because they are non-religious or practice a religion that does not believe to be under one god. For 15% of adult Americans, the phrase “under God” is a direct affront to their religious sensibilities.
2. The phrase was added to the Pledge in 1954, in defiance of the “godless” communist threat. Well, the Cold War is over. In the current political and terrorist climate, one could easily argue that “God” is causing more problems for the U.S. government than he is solving.

update 9-14-05
Update

The latest distributed computing venture, Folding@Home

The latest distributed computing venture: Folding@Home via Google Compute. First, get the Google Toolbar. It’s good. Then install the compute thingie from my link (google doesn’t publicize the Compute link. I think that’s because the Folding venture has already gotten pretty much enough recruits. Hehe. The Google team is more than 1/2 of Folding’s distributed client base!

I now run both Seti@Home and Google Compute. I found that Seti sometimes slows down my tasks… a 1/2 second pause here and there. It’s nothing big but a little bother. So I run Seti in screen-saver-only mode. I haven’t ever had any performance problems with Folding, so I let it run all the time. Like right now!