Reverse Engineering is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/02/04/reverse-engineering-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery/

I was cleaning out the spam trap today, when I stumbled on a link from Aaron Fischer.

Hrmmm. Does this seem at all familiar to you? Maybe? Just a little? His top index page reveals the influence of a superior web designer too.

I love you, Aaron! Now publish an RSS feed so I can follow you in my aggregator!

Meanwhile, if you like to post data about your finances on the web, I have a pretty sad-looking graph to share as well:

dannymans cash flow

Yeah, kind of extremely flat there in the middle. I just started started using Quicken in July 2002, when I saw a major income spike from severance pay that helped tide me over for the next six months of world adventuring. Then it was back to America, and only this past December did I land a middle-class income, incurring some credit card debt on new home furnishings.

Not as responsible as Aaron, but I have my good times.

I’m still kind of freaked out that I have a job. And that despite my misgivings, I’m actually digging the gig much more than not. And, it is really damned nice to have my own place, and a girl to share it with. Too bad she’s allergic to Cats, but then Jordan’s been letting his kitten run around the office during the day, so that he’ll be less hyper at night.

Got it all.

For now.


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Point, Click, and Kill: What is Humanity?

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/02/01/point-click-and-kill-what-is-humanity/

Special multimedia feature, from someone else’s website:

This is a video clip that’s been raging around the Internet the past few days. It is a one-minute clip from an Apache helicopter, shot from the sights of a night-vision gun. In it, you hear one man giving instructions to the gun operator, who tracks down three moving figures, squeezes the trigger, and blows each one into a great big mess on the sand.

I’d have warned you that it was graphic, but aside from the fact that the figures going splat are actual human beings, it is nowhere near as graphic as a kid’s video game.

Welcome to future warfare. Now, even men are glowing blips on a video screen. Configure your weapon, spot your enemy, point, and click.

I got a thrill out of watching this video, because it is educational. I’m not living in the sandy, gritty, heat and cold and cultural alienation and homesickness and constant fear of death that my countrymen are going through over there, and I have even less of a chance to really understand the Iraqi experience over there, but I appreciate … knowing. Seeing a little bit, of what it is like. It gives me a chance … to wonder, what is that guy behind the video screen, pointing the weapon and clicking away the lives of his enemy, what is he going to go through later?

There’s a big, and old, and to many people, a tired debate in this country over what constitutes a human life. This is the abortion debate. Many of the same people who adamantly advocate the humanity of even the smallest collection of cells, gestating embryonically inside a woman’s uterus, are the same people who support the subsequent murder of convicted criminals, who may even feel a sense of righteousness at a video like the one above. The philosophy is that human life is sacred until it has proven itself to be evil. Only then, may we exterminate it, and in doing so, we can take pleasure in eliminating evil.

But I don’t think that way. To me, every human being is a source of potential. Potential good, and potential evil. An embryonic human? A fetus? Its potential is based in large part upon the determination and capacity of its birth parents. The potential is infinite, but the investment is also small. I feel uncomfortable at the thought of abortion, but morally, I can accept the idea that it is better to back out before you embark down a difficult road you are ill-prepared for. In the old days mothers and communities that could not accept the burden of the newborn dispatched with the baby soon after birth. Abortion is the modern equivalent, for a world that remains imperfect, where the new being is smaller, even less identifiably human. We erase potential. We erase life, before it has happened.

But the debate wears on. Was that baby a human being?

And the debate wears on. Was that blip on the screen a human being?

Or was it an arbitrary, non-human arrangement of cells, which for some unfortunate accident found itself trying to kill our human beings, and had to be aborted?

Are the murderers on death row, are they human beings? (Well, there’s the harder question of whether they’re even murderers, and would they have made it to the executioner’s hall had they been wearing another color of human skin.)

Are they human only before death? Are they human even after they’ve ceased to be alive? Is the embalmed corpse, cold to the touch, in the casket, human? What of the steaming streaks of entrails in the sand?

We know why we kill convicted murderers, and we know why we kill enemy soldiers, but from a video console from far away, these recipients of our justice are no more than abstractions to us. How many inmates awaiting execution have any one of us known, face to face, in a human capacity? How many idealistic, or just plain confused, and desperate guerilla warriors have any of us known? They remain just as unknown to us as the babies who are never born. We must trust that to others, they were human beings.

A big problem is, we’re hung up on this question of abortion, and we’re rolling along full steam into the DNA age. We are already changing the cellular blueprints of living cells, and designing altered organisms. We have a debate on the legality of using “stem cells” … human cells that can grow into any other human cell, because they come from the process of conception. But if these same stem cells come from bone marrow, that’s okay, because bone marrow doesn’t normally grow into a baby … though it probably could, under the right circumstances … is a fetus that is not itself the product of conception a human?

It gets worse. We’re working on the transgenic pigs … pigs grown under very careful conditions, because they are pigs who have bits of human DNA in their own pig DNA, and these pigs are conceived, birthed, fed, grown and killed, not for their delicious pig bacon, but to harvest their organs, which thanks to their hybrid, human DNA, can be used to replace the failing organs in a human being. Are these pigs human?

But, wait, it will get even worse. We currently train intelligent animals, including dogs, dolphins, and our primate cousins, to assist us in ways in which they are uniquely capable. Some dogs lead the blind, or sniff for contraband. Dolphins are able to spot and tag explosive mines underneath the water. Some species of monkeys are trained as service animals, who help humans with physical limitations to get through their day, by opening the fridge and whatnot. Let us not also not forget the innumerable animals currently confined to laboratories, which are using them as test subjects that will educate us on the dangers of the world, and potential medical practices to improve our survival. Any number of these creatures might serve their function better with a little human DNA. Once upon a time we marked black people as non-human, so that they could labor in the brutal heat of the southern fields, growing sugar and cotton in the worst of conditions. What will we make of some future race of especially intelligent gorillas, designed, “manufactured” and marketed as companion animals, who may have sufficient aptitude to drive the car, perhaps fix it, or work in factories. Are they human? What if we design them without human DNA, but they have sufficient intelligence to do our taxes?

We’ve got plenty of work cut out for our philosophers.

I had a minor epiphany in Thailand. I walked into an American-style shopping mall. It felt like any store in America, except that every five feet, peppered through the merchandise, was an employee. How can they afford so many employees? Because labor expenses are low. There’s a question of supply and demand … the most alien thing for me about Thailand was the population density in Bangkok. I come from one of the largest cities in the United States, but what passes for a crowd in the U.S.A. with its mere 280 million human beings, aint as impressive as New Years Eve in Bangkok, where getting off the Sky Train, I was in a mind-boggling human gridlock, that started a few feet from the train platform, that took me half an hour to walk a block to my destination.

Someone remarked on Colin Quinn the other night that “sure, the Middle East is full of Weapons of Mass Destruction — they’re called Arabs.” I attended the lecture of a Neoconservative “Objectivist” last year in California. He explained that the solution to the War on Terror was to eliminate Radical Islamists. This meant that we had to invade not only Afghanistan, but Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else there were Islamic Radicals, figure out which people were predisposed to killing us, and kill them first. Aside from the logistical problem of scale, the real problem I have with this strategy is that, well, you just don’t know who is, or who would be, a Radical Islamist. If the roles were reversed, which among us would be the suicide bomber? And just what would it take to bring us to such an act?

Malaysian Hobos
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Human potential: where are you going to go today? These folks are hopping a freight across the Malay-Thai border.

I looked around, when I was in Eastern Asia, agape at the density … the sea of people. The amount of life surrounding me. And I had just passed through Jordan, a poor, easy-going Arab country, sandwiched between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iraq. I travelled in Southern Thailand and briefly crossed the Malaysian border. Muslim territory, where the women wore scarves on their heads. I wondered at the people I met, the people that passed before me, the infinite seperate stories, and I wondered how does Thailand provide for all its people? How does China provide for all its people? Japan is very crowded, with limited resources, but they are one of the most successful nations on Earth. In contrast, how do we do in America? How do they do in Afghanistan, mess of a nation that it is. How are they doing in Arabia?

The key is potential. If you have humans, they could go either way, or both. A woman can be both mother and suicide bomber. All these humans, spinning off in their various directions, could go either way. We can be saints, and we can be monsters, devoid of what the rest of us understand as “humanity” … and it is a matter of potential … we are what is made of us. If we can not give our gestating baby humanity, then we will not have a baby. And whether we have babies or not, we must reassure the rest of us that the humanity in each of us, the good, is more valued than the inhumanity, and the evil. Whomever operated that gun in that Apache, had to call on their inhuman capabilities, their capacity for evil, to kill three more humans who were themselves, as best as we can tell, operating from that same evil. Each evil was done in the service of a larger perceived good. We murder to make the world a better place.

But at the end of the day, we each have to live with our humanity, and our inhumanity …

Maybe I should just stay away from videos.


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The New Roommate

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/01/16/the-new-roommate/

So … where to start? On Sunday, Yayoi went back to Champaign. By Tuesday, she had determined that yeah, she really was better off in Chicago, and I said yeah, I think you really are better off in Chicago, won’t you please come to Chicago? And she said yeah, well, but you’re enjoying having your space to yourself and getting it kind of cleaned up and room and time to think and I said you know what, that is not so important that I couldn’t have you.

So, I have a new roommate. She came up on Tuesday and registered at Harold Washington College. On Wednesday we ran around and bought a lease form at the office supply store and then got it filled out so that she has saved 70% on tuition, she now being a bona-fide resident of Chicago.

And it is kind of nice, since she’s a foreigner, that since I’m working full-time at home, I can sponge some of the enchanting alienation of being a Stranger in a Strange Land off of her own private odyssey that she now shares with me.

Tangentially, I was watching the Daily Show last night and I was digging that Carol Mosely-Braun was a guest. You know, I think she’s put on some weight? But nevermind that, I really like her. And I was thinking that I should vote for her in the Illinois primary because I like her and she should get a few votes in her home state! Ah, well, but today she dropped out and endorsed Howard Dean! HAHA! Well, I guess nowadays a vote for Carol is a vote for Dean.

Yayoi and I were both enchanted with the latest Republican smear ad on Dean, that he should take his latte drinking, sushi eating … body piercing freak show back to VERMONT, where he belongs! I love that ad! It is awesome! Yayoi is further enchanted with the notion that some Americans would equate “sushi eating” with being unforgiveably liberal. And, well, we saw this on the Daily Show, but as Jon Stweart pointed out, the type of person described doesn’t exactly belong in Vermont anyway. I love that the only people this ad would appeal to would be the people who are inclined to believe it anyway. What, if Dean’s so bad, don’t you want him to win the Iowa thing so he can be an easy foe for Bush to defeat? Who are you trying to convince: the xenophobic, homophobic portion of the Democratic party? It is more entertainment value than anything else!

Ya, anyway, Yayoi is calling me away for dinner, so I guess we’re done here.


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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2004/01/12/oreo/

Wow. It has been nearly a month since I’ve written anything here. Well, you know, I have a few pretty good excuses. First off, as of 15 December I have a job. Woo! And, as of 15 December, I have an apartment. Woo! So, I’ve had to spend a lot of time outfitting said apartment. And, well, the holidays, right? Woo! So, for the holidays, Yayoi came up and spent a lot of time helping me to outfit the apartment. Woo!

Mom’s got a new cat. Woo! Mom’s got another new cat, too! Woo! Okay, the cats? One is named PJ. She is a yellow cat, not at all unlike Madeline. Well, okay, she isn’t Madeline, but the physical resemblance is close enough to be really weird, okay? But the other day Mom was chasing off the little black and white kitty who’d been wandering around several weeks in the cold. She was pregnant, and the neighbors had been neglecting her. It was painful. Then the neighbors explained that the owner had moved out and left her, barefoot and pregnant, out in the very cold cold. (It got really cold here a ways back.) I said hey, if there’s abandoned pregnant cat who needs a home, I’ll put up with her and the kittens! After all, I got room, now. Well, Mom since let her in the house.

But the story gets more complex than that. You see, she really likes this cat, who is horribly affectionate. Except, well, she don’t get along with PJ, so well, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This new cat, Mom took her to the vet, and the vet said we can get this cat fixed up, kittens and all. You know how they fix girl cats? Well, they do a hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is actually an interesting word. The Greeks or some other ancient types called the womb hysterium, or something, and so anytime women got crazy, it was attributed to that organ that woman had that men didn’t. Thus, hysteria is in fact, a general label for women acting crazy. It is, or at least, was, in fact, sexist. Kind of like getting gyped, or receiving and Indian gift, but we can talk about that later.

Anyway you see, they take the womb out of kitties so they won’t go having baby kitties. This helps cats mellow out, because when you take the womb, you take the ovaries, and you take the hormones. Hormones can make you a bit, if you’ll pardon my choice of word, hysterical. So, there’s two things going on here: if you take all that stuff out, you will have a more mellow cat. You’ll also have no kittens, who were until so recently busy gestating in that womb.

I thought it was pretty bad for Mom to have to go and make so many feline life and death decisions, especially after Madeline was sick. Well, she contacted me, to get my opinion, and explained that while she’s totally pro-choice for human women, she doesn’t like making choices for others. She said the cat shelter was full of kittens who needed homes. Well, you know, if a homeless cat can’t get adopted, in our imperfect world they don’t live long. So, well, I agreed, with the same sadness, that yeah, getting the new cat fixed that way, that was wise.

I still feel kind of bad, though. Having choices can be tough, but making tough choices beats being stuck without options.

Well, so, me and Yayoi visited the new cat today. She sure is cuddly. She’s black and white, looks kind of like Joe and Lorah’s Max. Well, not really, except that Max is also black and white. Anyway, I’ve never been much for naming cats. I got one in high school and called him Kitten until Grandma came over and pronounced him Dinkum. Well, in California I found myself with two more kittens, and took to calling them Stripey Cat and Gray Cat. This because, well, I’ll let you figure out why.

Mom said that this new cat was kind of struggling without a name. Well, Mom was struggling. The cat herself didn’t seem so worried about that. She was more concerned with PJ, and whatever crazy hormone balances were floating around her body since her life-changing surgical procedure. She tends to hiss at PJ, and then at whomever is petting her, even though she really loves petting and actually doesn’t mean to hiss …

Well, so, you see, PJ came to Mom from my Sister, who has another crazy cat who used to terrorize PJ. So, if this new cat can’t stop being a nut, well, I might have to take her in. PJ was really horny and weird today and this new cat wasn’t exactly herself either but after Mom gets PJ fixed this week, she’s hoping her girls can settle down a bit, and live in playful harmony. She says the vet said that if you have kittens, better to have a pair, because they can entertain each other, even while the humans are busy spending most of their time going to work, sleeping, reading books, and sewing quilts, like my Mom. That, and Mom really likes both of her new cats.

Well, so I was talking about how I don’t name cats but today I looked at sweet little black and white cat folded up in my arms purring in ecstacy, and Mom explained that Uncle called her BF as in “Bare Foot” as in “Barefoot and Pregnant” but Mom, being the liberated woman that she is, had a hard time liking that name, and I did too, and I looked down at this cat and called her Oreo.


Cookie, for a nickname. And then we can call PJ “Biscuit” for after all, she does have that nice honey color.

PJ’s got her own name problem. She was named, as I recall, by my Sister and my Sister’s then-boyfriend, and they … well, they think divergently from each other, so PJ stands for Persephone José.

Yeah, I can’t handle “PJ”, so maybe, just maybe, Oreo Cookie and PJ Biscuit or something? Well, Mom likes “Oreo” so as far as that goes, maybe Oreo she is.

I was actually thinking of the time that Sheila said that she’d gotten pregnant with Dad’s baby, and they referred to this would-be black-and-white baby as an “oreo cookie” so when I had to go thinking about aphorisms for black and white critters, this half-sibling that I may in fact have out there somewhere in the wild jungles of the South Side of Chicago shares a very strange nomial heritage with Mom’s black and white kitty.

Well, it beats “BF” anyway.

Speaking of which, time to return the GF’s call. I had to drop her off in Kankakee today so she could drive home to Champaign, thus freeing me up at long last to start writing some more here for a change. That I had to drop her off in Kankakee is another story. So, I guess I got plenty of material to work with this week, in terms of telling stories, but like I said, first I gotta call the GF.


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Got Miles? Support our Troops!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/12/11/got-miles-support-our-troops/

Are you doing enough for the war effort? I just discovered that the government is giving soldiers two-week furloughs to visit home, but the air fare only takes them as far as Baltimore, Atlanta, or Dulles. That is the suck, and hopefully an embarassment for the Commander-in-Chief, but that’s not the point, the real point is that plenty of patriotic folk are chipping in their unused frequent-flier miles, and the airlines are allowing this, so the troops can make it home for Christmas, and in the coming months, to visit their loved ones, without having to shoulder the steep financial burden of short-notice airfare on their modest military pay.

Got miles? Support our troops! http://www.heromiles.org/


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“I am Qualified …”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/12/09/i-am-qualified/

Sometimes I’m sending out a cover letter for a job, and you know, sometimes it’s time to have some fun. I prefaced one today as follows:

My resume, below
Will show there’s
Little about e-mail
That I don’t know

Dedicated, I am
To the task at hand
I am qualified
To Kill your Spam

I figured this was fair game because the company is a start-up and I was going to brag about my word-ic background among my bullet points anyway:

The company had listed “an almost fanatical desire to kill spam” in the job req’s bullet points, at which point I figured we had some shared mentality. I then pasted my little poem on IRC, and got a local job lead at another fun-sounding company who needs someone to engineer better ways to send out lots of e-mail.

Meanwhile, I’ve got one month and one day of unemployment income in the pipeline. So … I’ll start checkin’ out the market for waiters later in the week.


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Thank You Magic Civil Servant Supervisor Lady!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/11/19/thank-you-magic-civil-servant-supervisor-lady/

So, I called California’s DMV and I got through on the second call. I navigated through the phone tree, and spoke with a woman who was exceedingly friendly. She confirmed that I’m still blocked by Palo Alto, there was nothing she could do, but she managed to fill me in on the details of the incident. It was 9/8/01. You don’t remember? Well, that’s over two years ago … wait … that’s near 9/11/01, which was a few days after I crashed my car. Apparently, in the haze of frustration with being broke, unemployed, and car-less I was supposed to go to court to explain myself for driving in to the poorly-lit obstacle upon which I crashed my car. Ah! So, I’m being haunted by the ghost of one of the darker weeks of my life! So be it!

So, I called up Palo Alto and after a few years on hold got to spoke to a public servant who was moved from indifference to compassion, because after all the abstract was mailed to DMV a month ago, and it got lost in a purple haze somewhere, there’s nothing to be done, but send them another abstract, which means another $12 fee, via certified check, which itself costs $5, or running a friend around again …

… so she gave me the phone number of the supervisor, and told me to call her after 2PM CST, when she would be back from lunch. If anyone could do anything, this lady had the power to print out a copy of the abstract and fax it to DMV directly. I’ve just gotten off the phone with the woman who has the magical power to print out a document and put it in the fax machine. She told me I should contact the DMV in another week’s time and see if they had managed to receive and process her facsimile. Huzzah! Gratitude! Thank You Magic Civil Servant Supervisor Lady!

In other news, I received a package in the mail today. Mom’s mouse pad had turned in to the skank, so last time I ordered prints, I ordered a custom mouse pad with a picture of Madeline, Mom’s cat, on it. I threw out the scummy old pad, and slipped in the new one, on the idea that she’ll get a kick out of it when she gets home.

I also have a fairly promising lead for a job that sounds pretty cool, thanks to good old-fashioned good will from good old-fashioned networking with an old colleague. I shant elaborate on that just yet, so as to avoid jinxing anything. There’s been a bit of that going on this year.

Oh, I have a tip for those who are calling somewhere with a phone tree and they’ll be waiting on hold. Of course, you’ve got a note pad in front of you for such calls, right? Well, first thing you put on that note pad is the number you are dialing. Then you leave space just below that to jot down what numbers you press to get through the phone tree. That way, if you get tired of holding, or disconnected, or have to call them back, you can get through the tree quicker without listening to a bunch of boring, long-ass recordings. The Palo Alto Courthouse is especially annoying, because before they tell you the numbers, there’s this long spiel about what sort of cases they handle in what local municipalities. I can feel my life force being shredded slowly and painfully whenever I have to sit through that just to hit another damn number so I can listen to the next long informational recording, and so on and so forth in hopes that some day I will have the great privilege to wait on hold to speak to a human being. Whew.

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Bureaucratic Mysteries

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/11/19/bureaucratic-mysteries/

I received a credit card in the mail today, which is kind of interesting because I haven’t applied for any credit cards lately. It was from Chase. I used to have a Chase credit card, which I layed off as soon I was able to pay off the balance that I had transferred to it to reduce my interest expenses. After puzzling over the enclosed literature, I determined that they were sending me a replacement credit card. Since MBNA yanked my Linux Fund MasterCard, because I’m a dirt broke po’ gangsta with no credit, I figured this $1,500 credit limit might be worth keeping anyway. I called them up to get the story straight that it just plain slipped their mind that I’d ever cancelled anything, and make sure they weren’t going to charge me any annual fees, then I called them again so I could pull the sticker off the front of the card and now I’m qualified to float an extra $1,500 short-term debt at 6.99% APR.

So I went downtown to file some paperwork for Mom to get the title to her old van which, along with Grandpa’s old van and Papa’s old pickup truck, have been rusting away in our backyard for many a year now. Once we get the title we can give it and the other rusting hulks in the backyard to charity, and we’ll look a little less like rednecks. Unfortunately, Ford still has the lien registered on the vehicle, so Mom gets to call them and they get to fax something over to staple to the application which we mail to Springfield with $60. When I brought the paperwork back, Mom sighed that she’d been through this before.

But I was able to feel her pain, because I had gone to get my driver’s license. Somewhere is my Social Security card, but it wasn’t on me, so I ran across the street through City Hall, where I stopped to register to vote, then go to the Eugene “Gene” Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office, and around the corner and down the stairs and down the hall to the microfilm archives section, where they pulled my DD 214s. What’s a DD 214, my civilian readers ask? DD 214 is the form issued by the Defense Department describing your discharge from military service. For $1.25, a stamped copy of your DD 214 can be retrieved, and constitute a bulky proof of your Social Security number.

So, I got through the DMV, and the lady asked for $10, and then her computer told her something, so she talked to her computer some more, and it told her that I still had something I need to clear up with the State of California. I could hear Arnold in my head grunting like a bull in heat “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah it’s naht a toomah!!” As if I haven’t spent enough time on this crap. So, I’ll call them again tomorrow, several times, until I get through, without getting dropped, to find out have they still mysteriously not received the abstract that Angel mailed off to them weeks ago, or have they found a new reason to hate me. I wish I could terminate this issue already.

I spent $5 of my $10 on a slice of sausage pizza at S’barros. They gave me two for one, I think because they were closing, so I sprung for a pop to wash it down, else I’d have paid a bit less.


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U.S. Stands Alone Beside Israel’s Policy of Pissing Off Muslims

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/10/22/us-stands-alone-beside-israels-policy-of-pissing-off-muslims/

Since I’m being a news dork this week, allow me to paraphrase an AP wire report on our nation’s latest outrage:

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Tuesday demanding that Israel halt construction of a barrier jutting deep into the West Bank and dismantle the section already built. It raised the possibility of further U.N. action if Israel doesn’t comply.

The vote was 144 in favor, 4 opposed and 12 abstentions.

The United States … voted against it along with Israel, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia.

The resolutions of the 191-nation General Assembly are not legally binding, but they are considered a reflection of international opinion.

Of course, we vetoed a Security Council resolution last week, because it was written by hot-headed Arabs. So, they took their message to the streets and got it cleaned up by the EU, so that we could demonstrate just where we stand in our War on Terrorism: with a nation founded as a result of the Holocaust busily walling its religious minority in to ghettos.

When we ask, “Why do they hate us,” this vote might lend a clue.

I’m driving to Boston tomorrow. It will be nice to be away from my news aggregator project for nearly a week. I’ll take some pictures with the digital camera I recently splurged on and post them here. It is nice that I get to live in the United States, and not have to worry about things like a failed national security regimen, and an administration hell-bent on pissing off anyone who might feel compelled to take advantage of these failures.


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TSA Ignores Box-cutter E-mail Tip

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/10/20/tsa-ignores-box-cutter-e-mail-tip/

If you have any curiosity about the box-cutter kid, I recommend this excellent AP item.

The kid attends a Quaker college, which has inculcated him with an ethic of civil disobedience. After he snuck these items on to the planes, he sent e-mail to TSA:

The e-mail provided details of where the plastic bags were hidden — right down to the exact dates and flight numbers — and even provided Heatwole’s name and telephone number.

“The e-mail author also stated that he was aware his actions were against the law and that he was aware of the potential consequences for his actions, and that his actions were an ‘act of civil disobedience with the aim of improving public safety for the air-traveling public.'”

In a mere five weeks his information was forwarded to the FBI, when Southwest Airlines discovered the contraband. Remember September 11, when we missed the impending attack because our national law enforcement bureaucracies failed to share information? Thank goodness we created more new bureaucracies that don’t share information!

The government’s response?

Deputy TSA Administrator Stephen McHale: “Amateur testing of our systems do not show us in any way our flaws. We know where the vulnerabilities are and we are testing them … This does not help.”

If they know where the vulnerabilities are, why does it take them five weeks to figure out that an “amateur” has gamed the system? It would seem that what is not helpful is that a bright college student can so easily embarrass our “security.”


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Public Radio, Mini-vans and Cell Phones

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/10/20/public-radio-mini-vans-and-cell-phones/

Overhead on WBEZ, during their pledge drive, just now:

“Maybe you’re driving the kids home from school and you’re sitting in the mini-van, just pull out your cell phone and call in your pledge of support!”

Because if you’re trying to pilot a mini-van around a school, with excited kids in the back, through rush-hour traffic, this is an ideal time to dig into your purse to find your credit card number to read off over the phone.


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Misquote for BayLISA

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/10/15/misquote-for-baylisa/

From: Danny Howard <dannyman@toldme.com>
To: baylisa-chat
Subject: Re: misquotes & sidesteps (and hiding behind podiums)

[A response to some random flame-fest.]

If I may misquote here:

Friends, colleagues, SysAdmins, lend me your eyes;
I come to bury this thread, not to praise it.
The sniping that we post gets archived;
The good oft trimmed from attribution;
So let it be with LISA. Danny, unemployed;
Tells you that LISA hath noble purpose;
‘Tis so, we should be nice to each other;
With fortune shall LISA answer for it
Here, by your involvement and the rest —
For the poster is an honorable man;
So are we all, honorable men —
And women — here, to help each other;
In our professional capacities.
We ought to say of one another, that;
“You are my friend, faithful and just to me,”
And I say each of us is ambitious;
And each member an honorable man —
Or woman — who hath paid their annual
Dues, and thus does LISA’s coffer fill:
Does this LISA seem professional?
When the poor have cried for advice, some
hath flamed: Our trade should be made of
Sterner stuff. Yet we are professionals;
Each of us honorable men — and women.
I write not to insult the poster’s skill,
But here I am to post what I do know.
You all do love your trade: not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to reply again;
Without flames — reserved for brutish beasts;
That we have not lost our reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in our shared careers, with LISA;
And I must pause ’til it come back to me.

My apologies to Mr. Shakespeare.


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Steady Progress on All Fronts

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/10/15/steady-progress-on-all-fronts/

They are emptying our dumpster. This is normally done on Thursday, except that they’ve missed the past few weeks due to the garbage haulers’ strike. The strike is now over and it would seem our dumpster in now emptied. Yay!

It has been too long without a camera, so as soon as I had a few dollars in the bank, I ordered a new one. My Canon S400 with a 128MB memory card should arrive tomorrow. I also have a number of 8×10 prints of some of my pictures on the way, which I have a modest ambition to frame and try to sell. I’ve also got my license nearly cleared out, the car is in the shop to fix up all its annoying quirks, not to mention the front brakes, and I’m hitting Boston next week so Yayoi can attend an international job fair and we can both explore this ancient American city together. Life aint all that bad.

Meanwhile, my aggregator project is coming along. If you have any interest in aggregators, combined with any interest in testing software that is being actively developed you are welcome to check out http://dannyman.toldme.com/scratch/toldme/?mode=myfeeds and provide some feedback.

Before I work on that more, I have to compose a cover letter for a gig in Luxembourg.


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No One Expects the Spanish Imposition!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/10/12/no-one-expects-the-spanish-imposition/

Oct 12  Bahama Natives discover Columbus of Europe lost on their shores, 1492

Surprise is the key element.

I once parroted Monty Python at The Pizza Place. “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

Jorge, a middle-aged man with wry wit and a little boy, who was waiting tables in California because of age discrimination in Mexico, reminded me that “The Indians do.”

I thought a moment, and offered that if the Indians had, they might still be around. He smiled and agreed.

Of course, in Mexico, the Indians are definitely still around. Unlike the English settlers, the Spanish came as conquerors. A mighty empire felled by a fairly small group of pale men, armed with little more than ambitious zeal and some mighty impressive technology. What they neglected to bring in their quest for gold was a supply of pale women.

So, in Mexico, most people are still Indian, even if most of them are also European. And they’re migrating North to fill the vacuum left by all the Indian blood that we have squeezed nearly dry from our own nation. In my heart, they are entirely welcome. Our Great American Melting Pot still tastes somewhat bland, and our friends from south of the border are bringing their hot sauce to help us out.

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Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2003/09/26/pimpin/

Getting over a nastily sneezy cold. It’s raining outside but the weather was nice when I did my shopping today. I got deoderant at Walgreens and then browsed through the newest, largest Dollar Store among the handful already occupying the strip-mall at Howard and Western. They had a strict $1 price for each item, so there were no price tags, except for a few places where there were say, two for $1 or four for $1 items. Nevertheless, I overheard somebody ask an employee how much an item cost. They had some fairly nice things in there. I left the store with the impression of a garage sale gone full-out retail.

Then I checked out the clothing/shoe store next door, run by a taciturn Korean couple. I was the only customer there. I need some shoes, see? So, I looked in the back where they had the nice shoes, and it was all PIMP SHOES … exotic colors and textures, including snakeskin. Then there were pimp threads, and even more post-pimp gangsta-chic styles. Too bad I’m not feelin’ so pimpin’ but it is nice to know where I can go. I headed over to the Centrella on Touhy, stopping by Biewald’s used car lot, where I saw a maroon 1979 Buick LeSabre for a few grand. It looked nice from ten feet away – new tires, shiny chrome rims. Close up you could see some less-than-perfect paint touch-ups, and a minor ding here and there. All the same, it looked sharp. Pimpin’.

Over to Centrella for Orange Juice, bananas, sweet corn, peaches, and back home with my fruits and vegetables to work on The Next Big Thing on a broadband connection that doesn’t suck. That’s sweet. I’m interviewing with a company in Mountain View as well, and if things continue going well, they’ll fly me out in a few weeks. I’m feeling more and more motivated to slip back in to a slighty-more-stable techy lifestyle. This opens the very real possibility that I’ll find myself living in the Silicon Valley again, and I’ll have to shift from digging on dollar stores, Buicks, and the mom and pop grocery to finding new things to dig in my new home. If it is back to Mountain View I’ll at least have a grip on the neighborhood.

Oh, and today I received my latest unemployment check, and the back-dated claim for July, so now I can afford to get my license out of hock. Sweet!


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