MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
Visit me at my new blog, MsGeek.Org v3.0

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It's book burning time! Yay! Let's get the S'mores!

Nazi book burning Berlin May 10 1933

The conservative (nee Fascist) magazine "Human Events" nominated their "Ten Most Harmful Books." There are predictable names and titles amongst the list: Hitler, Marx, Mao...but...Betty Friedan? Simone De Beauvoir? Margaret Mead? John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty"?????? OMGWTFBBQ?!?!

Well, that definitely shows where their head's at. Feminism bad. Liberty bad. Napster bad.

Here's some of the Great Deep Thinkers who came up with the list:

Harry Crocker
Vice President & Executive Editor
Regnery Publishing, Inc.

Phyllis Schlafly
Eagle Forum

Fred Smith
Competitive Enterprise Institute

AHA! There's what's wrong with this picture!

Anyway, here's the list, complete with sponsored Amazon.Com links. :P And here's the DailyKOS diary that brought the list to my attention.

I still can't get over the fact that John Stuart Mill is on the runners-up list. Why do you hate our freedom? Why do you hate America? Why? Why??????

From the eew, gross! files...

I'm not sure how many people know this, but Rush Limbaugh was able to get out of the draft because of a cyst in his ass. No, really, it's true.

Snopes.Com: Rush Limbaugh and the Million Dollar Cyst

If you have morbid curiosity about the nature of that cyst, here you go. It's safe for work, but do you really want your cow-workers getting the idea you have a pilonidal cyst? Eew!

For other tales of how pro-war blowhards managed to escape military service, visit The Chickenhawk Database.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Something to chew on for Memorial Day...

Wilfred Owen

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Yes, I do support the troops. I support them enough to want them off this fool's errand we are pursuing in Iraq and safely back home. Iraq, like World War I and Vietnam, never should have happened.

One thing I no longer support, however: the "Pottery Barn Theory." No poor kid who joined the military so that they could go to college should be forced to "buy" what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their gang of chickenhawks broke. If there were any justice in the world, all these bozos would have to either go to Iraq personally to clean up this godawful mess, or their children. But there isn't. So end this. Yes, we will again have the "paper tiger" reputation to live down. Yes, it will be "cutting and running." But is there honor in taking more and more children and feeding them to the Moloch-like maw that is the Iraq war?

End this. Now.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Most of the time, when you buy something, you should expect it to be crap. It's one of the rules of modern life.

I bought an external HD case which also doubles as an MP3 player, and wouldn't you know, the thing not only didn't work, but killed the laptop hard drive I was trying to install inside of it. I will be contacting the company I bought it from Tuesday. Hopefully I will be able to get an RMA and wash my hands of the stupid thing. It would be nice to get a replacement hard drive but that's asking far too much.

I don't think it's the fault of the people I bought it from. I have always had a good relationship with them. However, it's just another example of the lack of quality of products you buy. :(

Friday, May 27, 2005

Potemkin potholes and product placement: Herr Gropenfuhrer strikes again. At his own foot.

Ah-nold fockin' Schwarzenegger is looking more and more like a less-than-one-term governor. Here's what the polls are saying:

PPI of California poll

  • Do you think California is headed in the: right direction 35%, wrong direction 57%.
  • Overall do you approve or disapprove of the job Schwarzenegger is doing as governor: approve 40%, disapprove 49%.
  • Do you approve or disapprove of the job Schwarzenegger is doing in regards to the CA State budget: approve 37%, disapprove 51%.
  • Do you approve or disapprove of the way Schwarzenegger is handling K-12 education: approve 29%, disapprove 53%.

And now we have two interesting little scandals-in-the-making to call Ah-nold on.

First scandal: product placement in the pro-Special Election campaign ads.

According to the public interest group Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the ads that are blanketing California airwaves and shilling for the Special Election are subtle payoffs to big time Schwarzenegger donors. To wit:

The TV ad, released in May, features Schwarzenegger talking to people in a lunchroom, and places Pepsi and Arrowhead Water in prominent spots next to the governor for 1/3 of the ad. Donors connected to Pepsi Co. and Arrowhead Water's parent company, Nestle, gave the governor a total of $279,800 in campaign contributions. Also recognizable on-screen are Ruffles, Sun Chips, Cheetos and a SoBe Beverage, all brands owned by Pepsi.

Dammit, I like SoBe diet Green Tea! Too bad I'm going to be giving it a miss for a while. Same with Arrowhead Water, NesQuik, Diet Pepsi, Pizza Hut, etc. etc. However, the thought of Ah-nold and this new twist on "pay to play" would probably make me hurl if I tried to consume any of the crap being subliminally pushed in this ad.

Second scandal: the Potemkin Pothole.

Yesterday, the Schwarzenegger juggernaut rolled into San Jose with a photo opportunity. Not unlike Mussolini showing off how he made the trains run on time, Schwarzenegger posed with a San Jose city patch crew as they filled in a nice big pothole. Here's the well-crafted photo opportunity...I'd post the pic but it's too big for my layout. The only problem was, that pothole was dug a few hours earlier by the same patch crew.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, three witnesses saw the hole being ripped in the roadway in preparation for the photo op.

"They just dug it out....There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning."

Never mind there were real potholes down the road a few blocks away, which perhaps weren't in an environment deemed flattering enough to Ah-nold for his closeup.

According to the latter article, the whole dog-and-pony show was done on the City of San Jose's and the State of California's dime, in spite of vigorous protestations by Schwarzenegger "people" that the staging of the event was paid for by "Arnold's California Recovery Team" aka the California GOP. Then again, so is the entire fsckn' SPECIAL ELECTION. To the tune of $70 Million projected cost.

Repeat after me. Borrow-and-binge Republicans. Borrow-and-binge Republicans. Borrow-and-binge Republicans...

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit, I've been running around accomplishing less than what I'd have hoped to by now, but expending a lot of energy in the process.

One interesting thing: I'm now on the Interim Board of the Panorama City Neighborhood Council (Forming). I didn't even have to campaign, everyone just sort of agreed to my presence on the board. Uh oh. Someone's put me into a position of responsibility. The day has suddenly become sinister. (Daria reference.)

Will post at length when and if things calm down.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Nightfall in America, part 1005...

I saw a perfectly wonderful Nightline last night: America's losing its preeminence in medical science because of GW Bush's intransigence about stem cell research. Is anyone surprised? Where's the outrage? Oh yeah, it's all about the Paris Hilton Carl's Jr. ad. Never mind that Carl's Jr. had a far more egregious ad earlier this year, with a gangsta-talking fetus talking about "(B)ustin' out early, grab somethin' on the way out an' take it with me!" if his mom doesn't stop eating spicy food like the spicy $6 Burger. Never mind this all is pretty weird when you consider that Carl Karcher Enterprises has given tons of money to Right Wing/Christian Conservative/Anti-Choice groups throughout its history.

Changing the subject entirely...

It looks very good for my passing Math 114 now. Yeah, I know that's a big reversal from where I was at not more than a week ago, but now I have the information and have done the math about how I did throughout this just-ended Spring Semester 2005. The last math test I took I got an 80/100. This means that the scoreboard looks like:
Test 1 (Chapter 6) 75
Test 2 (Chapter 7) 70 *** eliminated ***
Test 3 (Chapter 4) 80
Test 4 (Chapter 9) 80

75+80+80=235. 235/3=78.33333333(infinite).

It's not a B but it is pretty close. It certainly is an "authoritative" C, just like Villaraigosa had an "authoritative" win at the polls a week ago. The weighting on grades goes basically like this: 65/30/5, where 65% is for the chapter tests, 30% is for the final, and 5% is for homework and class participation. However, for a quick thumbnail sketch, let's look at it as 75% chapter tests and 25% for the final.

75+80+80+45=280. 280/4=70.

When you play with the numbers even more to make it resemble the way Prof. Carthew is going to arrive at final grades, it becomes clear that even if I get a hideously low score on my final exam, I have a long way to drop before I go below the pass line of 70% total grade points.

HOWEVER...I am not going to use this as an excuse to slack off. I might even have the possibility of a B if I work really, really hard and do well on the test.

Anyway, what I'm saying here is that when I walk across the stage to get the super spiffy LA Valley College certificate holder (tm), I will have a very good chance of being able to fill it with an actual Associate of Arts Cum Laude in Liberal Arts (I) certificate a couple of months later. w00t.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Welcome to another thrilling edition of Geekback: Revenge Of The In_Sith_nificant.

Oh well, I didn't get a chance to see Episode III, but I'm finally seeing the Clone Wars shorts that I didn't see yet. Thank you very much, Peter Guerin. I got the tape.

Thurl Ravenscroft, the man who put Grrrreat! into the public vocabulary, has died at the age of 91. I was just mentioning to an LJ friend how it seems like all the folks from the golden age of Disney/Fleischer/WB animation are dead now. Sigh.

The mini-Dariacon was fun...CE Forman is a sweet guy, and he's also really, really bright. We basically hung out and watched Daria episodes that Kara had Tivo'd. Unfortunately we watched the only two Daria episodes that freakin' Noggin had the taste to leave alone..."Ill" had one cut in it, and apparently a lot of the episodes which were in the original rotation of episodes airing on Noggin's "The N" are still airing in mutilated form. So much for my hope that the late-night Daria showings would mean they'd get new, uncensored versions from the MTV Networks vault and start airing those. :P

The end of Spring 2005 semester is sneaking up on me. Tomorrow's the last day of regular classes for me. I will finally find out how I did on the last Math 114 test tomorrow, and we will be going to Sepulveda Dam Basin for a nature hike for the last Bio 3 class. I may have to leave that early to get to Valley in time to attend the last English 103 class.

I might actually complain about Prof. Roth and how he conducted Eng 103. Really, there was nothing about "Critical Thinking" in the class, which is supposed to be about "English Composition And Critical Thinking." The class was all about absorbing what Prof. Roth thought of a few texts and regurgitating his point-of-view in brain-dead True/False exams. We did exactly one paper that could qualify as "English Composition And Critical Thinking" and that was that. I am also still not happy about how shamelessly he promoted his colleague's chapbooks at the expense of reading really meaty poetry and essays. I still have to do 6 analyses of poems and 5 analyses of essays, all from one guy: Prof. William Wallis, who is a Los Angeles Valley College Professor in the English Department. I find his work insipid and uninspiring. :P This is going to be a pain in my ass. But I have to do it. At least it's not too big of a chunk of my grade.

One thing I won't complain about...Prof. Roth is a Vietnam Vet, and he often has very barbed things to say about Bush and the Iraq War. I happen to agree with him. The paper I did for the class was on the parallels between the current administration and Nazi Germany. I don't think that's showing bias: I think he's trying to wake some apathetic youth up, and I applaud him for it. David Horowitz the rightwing nut job can kiss my ass. However I don't know what happened to David Horowitz the crusading consumer reporter. Oh well. I miss his old show with all the commercial challenges...very entertaining.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mini-Dariacon tonight...CE Forman is here in LA from his Midwestern haunts and is visiting Kara Wild. I hope to hang out with them later tonight. I'll report back tomorrow with what happened or didn't happen.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I am never going to buy another product from Hawking Technologies.

I have been noticing that my DSL speeds have been going down precipitously. I noticed it as early as Tuesday, when I was downloading the latest episode of This Week In Tech. I figured that maybe they were throttling the connection in order to make sure everyone had a chance to download it, so I wrote it off. Then everything started feeling slow. I ran a Java-based speed test, and had a shock: my download speed was 200 kilobits per second, my upload was 384Kbps. Uh, oookay...

DSL Extreme, my ISP, reset my connection, but it was still slowish. Then last night, I lost my connection completely. I was on the phone with DSLX and Verizon for about an hour and a half while we tried to figure out the problem. The closest thing we got to it was that maybe my router/firewall box was dead. However, one of the ways I was able to diagnose some of the network problems was through the router/firewall box's web configuration screens.

After I got done with them, it hit me: could it be the cheap little 5-port router I was using to split off my connection? I have three IP addresses and the only way to use them is to have a switch or a hub connected to the DSL modem. I touched the thing: it was hot as a pistol and there was a nasty melted plastic smell coming from the thing. So I plugged the output of the modem right into the WAN port of the little firewall box. My connection sprang to life. w00t! Back on the air, and I don't have to replace the firewall box.

My connection is still a bit slower than normal...640Kbps down as opposed to the 730Kbps I get normally. But the Verizon guy clued me into something: Verizon is ripping apart their old copper network and replacing it with fiber optics. This is being done all over the areas served by Verizon, from the old Bell Atlantic zones to the areas served by the Telco formerly known as GTE. Since Verizon is my "Last Mile" this is going to definitely impact the speed of the DSL connection...eventually for the better, but until then I should expect "variability" on my downstream DSL speed. Eventually we'll have fiber at least to the curb, with the promise of fiber all the way into the wall in the future. My landlord would have to replace the Jurassic wiring in my building with something burlier, to handle the bitstream coming off the fiber. Apparently old copper can and does literally melt under stress.

Anyway, I was able to re-enact a favorite scene from "Office Space" with the little fscker:
Taking it out on an innocent HP Laser Fax!

and once the plastic was broken I could see the place where something burned on the circuit board. Ouch. No wonder no bits could get through.

Yes, Hawking Technologies was responsible for this. M.C. Hawking needs to pimp-slap them for taking his name in vain.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blogging again from the suburban splendor of Woodbury University. I really love using this iBook with wireless. It's what this little machine was made for, I think.

It's supposed to get hot today. Hella-hot. Volcano planet hot. Yes, I really do have the new Star Wars movie on my mind. Maybe I should take that in later today. I don't think Richie has any interest in seeing it, but all of a sudden I do. Jar Jar gets zero dialogue, Obi-Wan and Anakin have their epic lightsabre fight on a planet seething with lava, and Palpatine takes over. Sounds like just the kind of mindless fun I need today. I have a day's bus pass and I shouldn't let it go to waste.

Woodbury Connections is having a reception for incoming transfer students this afternoon. I'm here way early for it, the better to take advantage of the wireless bandwidth, and to make sure I'm not late. The bus that goes from Pacoima to Woodbury (well, it goes Downtown via Sunland Blvd.) only runs two times an hour, and in a situation like that you need to make allowances for broken-down buses and delays.

LA Metro buses bite. Bus travel needn't be as uncivilized and as screwed up as it is here. Portland, OR was wonderful in that respect...lots of buses running 24/7, no tagging, no whizz or barf to assail your nostrils. Clean and reliable. Same with Santa Barbara, only the buses don't run as frequently. The Santa Monica Blue Bus is also nice, and is world-renowned thanks to the late, great Jim Morrison. In LA proper, it's generally accepted that only lowlife scum ride the bus, and if you are anybody you'd have a car. That needs to change.

Metro seems to have the right idea with the subway and the light rail don't see tagging and so on there. In fact, a few commissioned graffiti art pieces on the trains might be a lovely bit of public art for Metro to consider. They need only look at the "gallery" out in back of Mr. T's Bowl in Highland Park to find candidates for such art. Anyway, I digress. What I mean is that the subway and the Blue and Gold light rail lines are well-maintained and you don't feel like you need a hour-long shower after you've ridden on them. You do feel that way after taking a Metro bus.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get a ride to Fry's Burbank after this. It would be quite easy to get home from there...or at least easier than taking the freakin' 92 and catching the second bus I need to get home in Pacoima. However, I had better be careful about not going in there and getting dangerous with the Fry's card. Maybe I shouldn't have asked for a replacement for that particular piece of plastic. Sigh...

Note at 2:19pm: Sylvia from Woodbury Connection gave me a ride home...that was so sweet of her. Saved me from perilous temptation at Fry's, and I didn't have to wait for a single bus! Too cool.

Friday, May 20, 2005

He a lie, he a lie, he a lie...

Here I am, watching Judge Mathis, thinking how this whole filibuster mess would be easily solved if he was presiding over it. Of course, my sympathies lie with preventing these scary people from getting on the bench. Of course my sympathies lie with preserving one of the last remaining checks on total majority power in the Senate. But there's enough bad behavior to go around, and I can't help but think that Judge Mathis with his no bullshit approach would get to the heart of the matter and solve things.

I found out about the Bio 3 test...I'm still doing pretty good, with a 87% grade on the last test, an A, and a 94% cumulative score in the class. All that extra credit work has kept my grade up, and it's quite likely that the final exam, which is not going to be a cumulative but only covers the stuff about ecosystems we're studying now, will go similarly well. And this is a 4 credit course, meaning it will be more strongly weighted in figuring out my GPA for this semester.

Since I don't have classes on Fridays, Thursday Night is the beginning of my weekend, so I got a rare chance to see Saccharine Trust at Spaceland last night. They really are one of the best live bands in Los Angeles, and I would think so even if my husband wasn't in the band. One incongruity: usually ST are the most "outside" band on a given bill. Last night, the rest of the bill was fairly experimental so ST sounded downright "pop" by comparison. I wish I could attend more gigs, but I will probably be pulling down 12-unit course loads at Woodbury so pleasures like these are going to remain on the rare side for the foreseeable future. Sigh...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Math 114 test went ok. I don't know if I got a great grade on it or not, but at least I finished the whole thing. I have three passing grades, so in the worst possible scenario I will be fine going into the Final Exam. We've also figured that even if the worst possible scenario happens I would have to get a 60 on the Final Exam to pull my average below a 70 for the course. And I'm not going to get that, will I?

Things are looking a lot better now. I still theoretically have my A in Bio 3. English 103 is a toss up because my Prof is such an odd guy who gives odd tests...I've mentioned it here earlier...but I am not likely to get less than a B in that class. Even if I get Bs in both of those classes, I'll be fine. Just get me through the last bits of Math 114. Please...

Villaraigosa won. It wasn't a "Landslide Victory" as some say, (this in an era where 51% to 49% constitutes a "mandate") but it was an authoritative victory. OK Antonio, now the tough stuff begins. Let's start with a plan to wean LA City from the teat of Microsoft with a solid pro-Free/Open Source Software transition plan. Buena suerte.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I will probably be silent tomorrow...I was able to get my math test moved to tomorrow. Hopefully I'll do ok. I probably won't get a chance to blog, and even if I do I will probably want to go to bed early. We'll probably also not know if Antonio Villaraigosa or James Hahn gets elected Mayor until tomorrow.

I'll be back Thursday. See ya...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Endorsement for tomorrow's Mayoral election: Antonio Villaraigosa. Totally unequivocal support for the guy. Villaraigosa will be the first Latino Mayor of Los Angeles since 1872.

There are several people talking about the parallels between Villaraigosa's campaign and the Tom Bradley 1973 campaign. I have a great deal of nostalgia about the Bradley years. Unlike President GW Bush, who claimed he wanted to be a "uniter, not a divider" but has been the most divisive President since Nixon; Bradley really was a uniter instead of a divider. He brought many disparate constituencies together: Unions, Industry, Valley conservatives, Westside Jewish liberals, African-Americans in South-Central...usually people who wouldn't have anything in common. If Villaraigosa is half the Mayor Bradley was, he'll be great.

History will be made tomorrow. Bet on it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I've got two tests tomorrow and only 3 more weeks before finals. I'm not very confident in my ability to get a C in Math 114, and even the Biology 3 test feels like it's going to be a struggle.

I need desperately to pass Math 114. If I don't, the Commencement ceremony I will be participating in will be a sham. Sure, there's retaking Math 114 this Summer as an option, and I will still get into Woodbury regardless of whether I pass or fail Math 114.

Right now my brain feels like used chewing gum, and my anxiety level is through the roof. I can't study to save my life. Even blogging is major effort.

I don't care if I only get a "Gentleman's C" on Math 114, GW Bush stylee. I just need that damn C.

Please, let it be over soon. And quick. And merciful. Sigh...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Geekback: propaganda videos masquerading as science education videos.

I've found out a little more about the company that made the video I was complaining about in the 5/9 entry. They're called Hawkhill Associates and they actually have the cojones to put the scripts for their videos up online. Here's the script for the very video I was complaining about in the blog entry. Read it and tell me I was imagining bias.

I put up a query on DailyKOS looking for someone who might know more about these guys and whether they have direct ties to the GW Bush administration. I'm going to do some more digging myself.

I figure the Academic Senate at LAVC would be quite interested to know that a professor is using right-wing propaganda in their Biology class. Yes, most of the professors there do have a tilt towards left-of-center. Some are even unabashedly, unreconstructedly leftist. It's cool, it comes with the territory, and even the most dogmatic of them are reasonable enough to set their politics aside when they arrive at your grade. I was concerned I'd be penalized for my beliefs in one class, but my concern was unnecessary. I hope that my Bio 3 professor will be similarly good about setting her beliefs aside when she gives me my final grade in her class. I don't blame her for tilting rightward: she's from Communist China and I'm sure has had her run-ins with "true believers" who might not share her views. I suppose it's fortunate, in this case, that she's here. However, these videos from Hawkhill are another matter entirely.

Teaching materials should not tilt either rightward or leftward: they should be as objective and free from political bias as possible. If one cannot distill an apolitical viewpoint from the material, one should endeavor to show both sides without comment. Raw sources are better than "cooked" in any event, be they leftward or rightward leaning. The videos from Hawkhill Associates are unacceptably "cooked" and should at least be presented with a little background stating that they do have a definite point of view. That's all I want to see.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I know that banner ads, particularly animated banner ads, are pretty damn lame. However, I put this banner up on the top of my site for a reason. The Downing Street Memo is the "smoking gun" that confirms that President George W. Bush wanted to go to war by hook or by crook and nothing was going to get in the way, not even the truth.

Some have said that this is the Stained Blue Dress that can bring Dubya down. It's going to take winning back the House and the Senate next year to do it, and it's going to take a landslide at that. But the more people who read this, the more who might be swayed to bring the Democrats back into majority status in Congress, then elect a Democrat to the White House to clean up the mess 8 years of Dubya has wrought.

And remember, those of you who are Christian, the Book of Revelation specifically states that whosoever loveth and maketh a lie will be kept outside the New Jerusalem (probably in the Lake of Fire) after the Great White Throne Judgment. That seems to describe this administration perfectly. And need I also remind you that the FDA under the George W. Bush administration approved human implantation of the VeriChip...this is the device that in the Christian fiction series "Left Behind" is used by the Antichrist as the Mark of the Beast.

Spread the word about the site. Put the banner up if you wish. I am pulling it from my own webspace. Share and enjoy. And kudos to Georgia10 for doing this. You rock.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

OK folks, start your browsers because the patch for the exploited unpatched vulnerability in FireFox is here. Unfortunately it's not in Debian Sid yet, so I'm going to have to keep using 1.0.3 plus the workaround on my "daily drive" Linux box. Oh well. At least I can get the Windoze side of my ThinkPad, the iBook and my Windozer desktop patched up.

Maybe I should transition my Debian boxes to KUbuntu? Sigh.


Update Friday the 13th 2005, 8:58pm: 1.0.4 is in Debian Sid now. Update yourself, Debianites.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wooohoohoo! Oww! Guess who was Separated At Birth?

That funky King TutJacko before he went Wacko

Yup, it's King Tut and Michael Jackson before the latter went in for all that plastic surgery and skin bleaching.

Tut Jackson gets funky in the Palace

The big "Sick, Sad World" question that remains: could King Tut Moonwalk, or was his idea of getting funky more like Steve Martin's?

Steve Martin gets Egyptian on our ass

As always, we report, you decide.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Apparently this Uninterruptable Power Supply I'm supposed to be plugged into isn't, because I just lost a post to a power failure. Great. One more thing to worry about. :P

I had a great time at a luncheon honoring those LA Valley College students who are transfering to 4 year Universities. I got a spiffy certificate, a good meal, and a fair amount of ego boostage.

Anyway, I had a lot more typed but it got lost. Thank Goddess for Ext3 because if this had occured on an Ext2 system I would have lost files. Bleah.

Note 5/12/2005, 9:35AM: I had my computer plugged into the wrong power strip. I have one that's plugged into my UPS and one that isn't, and I had apparently forgotten that I set up this arrangement a while back. Now I'm on the right power strip and the next time we have a power "oops" I should be well-protected. Chalk it up to an ID=10T error. Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair. :P

Monday, May 09, 2005

OK, we finally had the test on Death of a Salesman, and it seems that perhaps my complaints on the last two tests had been taken to heart by Dr. Roth. The questions asked this time were pretty much 95%-97% fact-based as opposed to being based on Dr. Roth's opinions on the text. Hence, I am expecting a higher score on this test.

I'm pretty much on track to receive an A in Bio 3. According to Prof. Huang, the next test and the final are on less difficult material than the tests that contained chemical, genetics or taxonomic material. However, there was something rather disturbing about today's class, which included watching a video about pollution and overpopulation that seems to have been produced by the George W. Bush administration. "Some pessimists believe we are on the road to ecological disaster. But there are optimists who believe that we have the intellectual and human resources necessary to find new solutions to our current difficulties." With apologies to John Stossel, give me a freakin' break. Who supplied Valley College with such a biased and obviously agenda-ridden film to show? Monsanto? ADM? ExxonMobil? I have no idea. But it stinks to high heaven.

As far as Math 114 goes...well, I knocked the 70% score out with the 80% I got last test. So basically I have two more tests to go, a regular test and a comprehensive final. This next test will be about the Quadratic Formula. Just one formula, but you know just how hard it is for me to memorize formulas. I am hoping that Prof. Carthew takes my advice and prints the formula at the top of the test page. However, I doubt it. I just have to hang on and do the work and keep cranking out at least passing scores on this test and the final. Because really, even with the uncertainties about English 103, I don't think I'm going to get lower than a B there. I know I can write and write well. By taking as many extra credit things as possible in Bio 3, I think I can keep an A there. Only Math 114 stands in the way of graduating. I just have to keep hanging on for another month, keep handing in passing work, and I graduate.

It looks like we'll have the money to upgrade the iBook and then some. We've lucked into something unexpectedly good, so I'm feeling a bit more confident. Rock. Everything else should go this smoothly. ;-)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Richie had not one, but two gigs yesterday so I had my hands full enough that blogging was the last of my priorities.

I'm on with Konqueror because apparently there are some serious vulnerabilities plus zero-day exploit code out for a Firefox bug. This is very depressing indeed.

It also goes to show that web browsers are one of the most difficult programs to code, apparently. Of all programs that seem to be across-the-board crashy, it seems like browsers are the worst culprits, and they have been for almost a decade. There is no such thing as a stable browser under MacOS 9.xx and below, even the WAMCom fork of Mozilla is a crashy pain in the butt. Both Firefox and Safari (Konqui's Mac sibling) are fairly stable under MacOS X, but they aren't perfect. Both Firefox and Konqueror have been known to segfault in Linux, as do other minor browsers save for the eternal Lynx. You can hammer on Lynx all day and nothing goes wrong, but it's kind of lacking in features, if you know what I mean. And of course, in the Windows environment, all bets are off. Even IE will crash or freeze on you if you try to do something funky.

The fix seems to be turning Javascript off in Firefox. Of course, that's a non-starter with most people because modern websites are so laden with Javascript, including Blogger/Blogspot and Gmail.

Hopefully this problem will be fixed soon. However, since the vulnerability seems to be one of those designed-in "it's not a bug, it's a feature" kind of vulnerabilities, it might be a tough nut to crack. Meanwhile I'll use Konqueror until it's fixed. Oh wait, Konqueror has problems of its own. Sigh.

Update, 3:30PM PDT: There is a temporary workaround in Firefox. Go into File|Preferences|Web Features and uncheck "Allow Web Sites to Install Software." This seems to work with every version. It's critical to do this in Windows but also do it if you are running Firefox on any platform whatsoever. Since the 'sploit is out, including code, it's only a matter of time when other versions of the 'sploit come out for other platforms. I'm back to happily running on Firefox. At least for now. Fix this quick, guys!

Friday, May 06, 2005

This might be the movie we're looking for.

Background: I grew up on Star Wars. When the first one, now called Episode IV: A New Hope but simply called Star Wars then, came out in Summer 1977, I saw it the first day at the Chinese. The only thing I knew about it was seeing a teaser trailer for it. They were passing out "May The Force Be With You" buttons, and even though I hadn't the foggiest idea what that meant (and hadn't the foresight to know that I should hang onto mine because they are now collector's items fetching insane prices) I knew that this was a sign someone at Fox thought this movie was going to be big stuff. I came away from that movie totally blown away. I laughed, I cried, I was 100% geeked.

When I was at San Diego Comic-Con last year, I was shocked by just how much popularity the Star Wars franchise still had. I saw Episode I: The Phantom Menace and was so heartsick afterward I gave Episode II: Attack Of The Clones a miss. The only bright spot in the avalanche of drek that has been the Prequel Trilogy so far has been the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars shorts for Cartoon Network.

And yet...there is another, as Obi-Wan reminded us in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

I have read what apparently is the authentic script for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and I'm blown away. I have had an inkling for a while that Lucas redeems himself for Episodes 1 and 2 with this one, and if this is authentic basically what he should have done was made only this movie, and made it a teeny bit longer and added the important plot points of the first two prequels into it in flashback. Hell, we geeks have plenty of sitzfleisch at this point: the Lord Of The Rings movies helped on that score. We could have easily handled a three-hour Episode III. The running time listed at IMDB says it's only 2:20. 40 minutes would have been more than enough time to condense the meat of the two previous prequels into flashback sequences.

I have yet to see The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which some have said sucks and some have said rules and even more have said is uneven but the scale tips in the "cool" direction. And I certainly was not one of the lucky ones to see a screening of Episode III at Skywalker Ranch. (Curse you Sam Rubin!) But I think I actually will break my MPAA boycott and see them both before they leave the theatres.

Yes, fucking Jar Jar is in this one. The script has him speaking briefly, and he doesn't say "Meesa scared, point dat lightsabre at meesa!" From the reports I've heard, his dialogue ended up on the cutting room floor, and all you see is a brief glimpse of The Hated Gungan. I would have rather they had left his appearance entirely on the cutting room floor, but oh well, gotta flog those toys for Kenner.

I like the fact that this movie is dark and depressing and tragic, just like Episode V. I like the fact that it's not for the kiddies. Darth Vader is not sweetness and light. He raped his own daughter in Episode IV. Remember the bit where Vader meets with Leia to try to get her to tell him where R2D2 went? The door closes menacingly, and the implication is obvious what happens next. He's enough of a monster to where when The Big Revelation comes in Episode V you are crushed by its weight just like Luke is. How could a monster like Vader be Luke's father? Of course in Episode VI it is confirmed, and Vader redeems himself by giving Palpatine the big shove. (Yes, I know these are spoilers, but you ought to know by now this is how the story goes.)

Will there be another three episodes, set after Episode VI? Lucas says no, but he's said no to things he later said yes to before. I'd like to see some fresh blood involved with them, including a new director and new writers, if they do happen. There's talk of turning Clone Wars into a series, although I would rather see it classically animated like the shorts rather than the 3D animation Lucas says he's going to use for that. Just let Genndy keep it going the way he has. Please? And then there's the possibility of a live-action Star Wars series, set in the gap between Episode III and Episode IV. Again, please get some new blood in there for that!

If this is the last Star Wars, please, Lucas...RETIRE. All indications are this is a return to the form of the first two episodes. Good. Just go out on this one and let a new generation of geeks do the next Star Wars projects. RETIRE, Lucas. Please.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Patriotism for Dummies...ganked from LA's own City Beat...

Unholy fsck, man...things are really scary in the Red States. I mean, REALLY scary.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

The religious Reich, the American Taliban, is really flexing its muscles now. Democrats excommunicated from a Southern Baptist church, just because they are Democrats. Kansas talking about banning the teaching of Evolution in public schools again. I'm speechless. Thank Goddess I live in blue Los Angeles, in blue California, where it's still OK to teach science and it's still ok to have differences about politics and still be a member in good standing of your local religious organization.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

When I started this blog entry at 11:30am, I should have been finishing my test on Death Of A Salesman. However, there I was, in the LAVC Lion's Den cybercafe, blogging about how angry I was. I was ready to take the test. (Thank Goddess for "Save as Draft" in Blogger!) But Dr. Roth didn't show up. At the time, I wondered if there was a daytime Dodgers home game today. After checking the Dodgers website, I found out that there's a home game but it starts at 7:10pm. Dr. Roth is a freak for baseball, and often conversations about baseball have cut into lecture time. If there had been a 1pm game he would have been so busted. I would have gone to the Academic Senate and complained. Seriously.

The way Dr. Roth does a test is pretty screwed up. English 103 is supposed to be English and Critical Thinking. However, a test in Dr. Roth's English 103 class is not about critical thinking at all: it's about regurgitating Dr. Roth's views on a given text in a 50 question, true-false format test. I think I understand why he's so popular on RateMyProfessor.Com...most students love the way he tests because they don't have to even read the frickin' text...all they have to do is commit to memory every single blessed thing he says in a lecture and the handout. Oh yeah, and it helps to watch the movie too. He always shows a movie version of the plays. (All four texts are plays.) This time it was the great Dustin Hoffman/John Malkovich version that was made for TV. I must say, ever since I saw it when it first aired I see Hoffman as Willy Loman. He made that part his own, and so did John Malkovich as Biff Loman.

However, I'm a freak. I want to do essay tests on each text. I want to be able to make my argument about what the text means and what my views are. I actually read, and I actually draw conclusions based on my reading of the text. This actually has worked against me on the two tests I have taken.

What do I think of Death Of A Salesman? For one thing, it hits a bit close to home. I'm not a self-obsessed jock like Biff Loman but 1.) I have watched family members die of Alzheimers and Alzheimers-like conditions, and it is clear to me that Willy Loman was dying from some sort of dementia; and 2.) I'm 41 years old and, as the subtitle of my blog puts it, I'm back in school trying to reinvent myself. I haven't quite found myself yet so far. So I feel a fair amount of kinship with Biff at this juncture.

I also can feel a lot for Willy Loman, even though he's an asshole who hurts everyone in his life and may or may not truly love them. There are times when I feel as broken-backed as he does; and the aspect of going back to school I hate the most, that of incurring more and more student loan debt, makes me sometimes think that if I died it would be better, that Richie would be released from the joint obligations we have in regards to my loan debt. Of course, I have spoken of this before in the blog, and I always come to the same conclusion: if I cannot live for myself, for my own sake, at least I can live for the sake of beloved family and friends. I don't want to model suicide as acceptable, and I don't want to hurt the ones I love. I have had family and friends die at their own hand, and it's the most cruel thing a person can inflict on their loved ones.

In Willy's diseased, damaged mind, he thinks that if he kills himself, his family would get the insurance money and he'd finally be able to provide for them at last. Of course, he has made previous attempts on his life, so a pattern has been established of suicidal ideation. There is no way in hell that the insurance company will pay on the claim. His last act on earth, like all of his others, is an act of futility.

My view that Willy Loman has Alzheimers is something Dr. Roth disagrees with. He thinks Willy suffers from "insanity" but isn't a dementia a kind of mental illness? I watched my maternal grandfather die of Alzheimers, and saw my paternal grandmother deteriorate from a dementia resulting from "mini-strokes." I saw what happened to their personalities, and recognized Willy's symptoms from theirs. Both of my Great Uncles on my mother's side also have gotten Alzheimers, and my Aunt and Uncle are both fearful their number will come up. The thought that maybe I'm due for it in the future is one that has crossed my mind more than once. If I do, I hope someone puts me out of my misery quickly.

Roth also disagrees with me about another aspect of the play: I think that "Ben Loman" is a figment of Willy's imagination, a composite incarnation of all the "self made man" mythology he has swallowed and the Horatio Alger pulp juvenile fiction he doubtless devoured as a boy. There seems to me to be some sort of weird ambiguity about who Ben really is. Is he Willy's elder brother? Is he Willy's uncle? Is he a family friend? He doesn't seem to really fit in with the rest of the family. The Lomans all seem to have a black cloud hanging over their heads, even though Hap Loman does a great job hiding his despair in sex addiction and substance (alcohol) abuse. Ben is sort of a Gilded Age Uebermensch, a combination of Teddy Roosevelt and the Robber Barons of the turn of the 20th Century, couched in the splendor of a Kipling hero. In the Hoffman/Malkovich version, the actor who portrayed Ben was about a foot taller than Hoffman and as robust and overfed as Hoffman was stunted and nebbish-like. You couldn't see Ben as part of the Loman gene pool.

Anyway, I read the material and I thought about it, and I came to different conclusions than my professor. However, I dare not let those different conclusions affect how I answer the test, which is probably now pushed back to Monday. No, I need to regurgitate the canned answers with all the critical thinking of a Clone Trooper. Some course in critical thinking this turned out to be. I'm glad I took Philosophy 20, Ethical Philosophy, so that I got a chance to flex my mental muscles in an environment where critical thinking really was valued.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

WiFi in LA: looks like it's going to be a going concern...the Mayor's Office has just released a report (warning: PDF) which suggests further development of WiFi all over this city of ours.

In three years, the commission hopes to have blanket coverage of the city with an "ubiquitous" network. Currently the City has WiFi access in some of its Public Libraries, and in small testing zones in places like the Marvin Braude (Van Nuys) Constituent Service Center and in Pershing Square downtown.

From the report, it looks like they have their sights set on something like what Tempe, Arizona is in the process of rolling out. Quite ambitious. Hopefully SBC and Verizon won't strangle it in its crib like they have in 13 out of 50 states so far.

Here's a link to an interesting article on C|Net, which talks about municipal broadband projects throughout the US. No mention of LA's efforts, unfortunately.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Blogging live from Gayle's Perks in Northridge. There's supposed to be an SFVLUG meeting here tonight, and a few of us are here. Brian hasn't arrived yet, though. The place has the general feel of someone's living room...if someone's living room has a kick-a$$ espresso machine.

I found out that I got 80/100 on my last Math 114 test. Nice. I had kept a vain hope that I did really really good on the test, like in the 90s good, but I'll take 80/100.

The meeting has started. We've got lots of people here, and there are some interesting implications for the future.

I think I want to wrap this up so I can participate better.

Oh yeah, one last thing...I got my replacement ID in the mail today. No more having to take the passport with me unnecessarily. Whew!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Not much has been accomplished today. Richie had a gig last night so we got in around 1am. The older I get, the less tolerant my body gets of changes in routine. I can't stay up late one night and wake up late the next morning and not feel sleepy and lethargic all fucking day long. I hate this.

I finally replaced my wallet yesterday. I lost mine exactly one week ago and am in the process of getting my cards replaced. As a temporary measure this past week, I have been using an elaborate badgeholder thing I got at one Spring Internet World or another. It's nice, but it's not really a wallet. I might take it with me to Comic-Con this time, would be quite helpful.

In a typical Ms. Geek fangirl touch, the wallet's got the PowerPuff Girls embroidered on it. I'm still a fan of the show, sue me. However, the wallet is so nicely designed I'd probably grab one if it didn't have some favorite cartoon characters embroidered on it. Adding one of those plastic photo insert thingies and a credit card case that fits inside one of the compartments of the wallet quite nicely turned it from just nice to damn near perfect.

Most importantly, the wallet has a "leash" on it. I think it's designed to be a mini-purse for a little girl, actually, but the shoulder strap becomes a "leash" when you disconnect one side from one of the d-rings on either side. It's now securely attached to the purse, so it can't go far. A biker wallet wouldn't even work as well...those are designed to be attached to a belt, not a D-ring on your purse. This way, hopefully, I'll not lose my wallet again. Then again, the hassle factor surrounding the loss of the wallet was enough to make me hyper-vigilant on that score.

Washington Mutual replaced my Visa Check Card in land-speed-record pace, beating all my other creditors. The replacement got into my hot little hands last Wednesday, which suggests the card was in the mail by Monday or Tuesday of last week. According to ChooseTheBlue.Com they are pinkish, with 53% of donations going to the Repugnicans and 47% to Dems. But most banks on their bank list are fairly red-shifted. Of all the recognizable names only World Savings Bank is a Blue bank, and they simply don't have the number of branches WaMu does. I think I'm going to stick with them at this point. Good work, WaMu.