Saturday night, after the AYMF Club canoe outing (that story is waiting for film developing to see if I have any usable illustrations), I went over to my parents’ house for dinner, along with my sister and their neighbor Monica. As we were relaxing and chatting after dinner, the still night outside was jarred by the sound of screeching tires and crunching metal. My sister’s first guess was that somebody had smashed into Monica’s car parked in front of the house, and everybody ran out to see what the damage was.
Apparently, he’s the guy in charge of finding all those missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You know, the ones that Saddam had ready to use against us at a moment’s notice, the reason we had to destroy Iraq again, the ones Dumbya keeps promising we’ll find to justify his war (and on at least one occasion, he’s falsely claimed we’ve already found them. If you didn’t know that the hunt for the elusive WMD’s fell on Stephen Cambone’s shoulders, don’t feel too bad. According to a recent Timearticle , neither did Bush, or any of the top commanders in Iraq. It’s unclear whether Mr. Cambone himself even knew this was his job.
Fortunately, the airport security screeners didn’t seem to think so. I didn’t receive any unusual attention, except for the sweeps with the handheld metal detectors after I triggered the walk-throughs on both trips. (Note to self: no more flying in Wranglers. Having every rivet on my jeans carefully checked out might be fun if the screeners were female, but they weren’t). Unfortunately, my encounter with the National Park Police was a little more frustrating.
The day before I fly to Philadelphia on Northwest Airlines, through their Detroit hub, I see a Wiredstory reporting that the Transportation Security Agency is suspending the CAPPS II (Continued Assaults on Personal Privacy and Sanity) system which inspired my earlier support of the Delta boycott. OK, I’ll confess, this is just a weak excuse for something to write about, since my “participation” in the boycott had no visible effect on me or Delta.
Here’s a ray of hope for all of us geeks in the boondocks struggling to keep a 56kbs (which is usually more like 44kbs) dialup connection active over a barbed wire line, waiting for downloads from unnecessarily bloated sites designed with no thought to bandwith limitations. Wired carried aReuters report on a world conference of electric companies and equipment makers interested in channeling Internet service through power lines to homes. I’ve seen discussion of this before, and I was always skeptical. I ain’t no electrical engineer, but I just don’t see how they can push all those bits through transformers, meters, etc. and get them into my computer. But according to the article, it works; the technology isn’t the challenge. The problems seem to be cost and marketing. The equipment is expensive (it doesn’t say how expensive), but somebody in Spain said they could make money with one home in 10 subscribing; surely they can find that many takers. The article mentions marketing problems, saying “power companies never known for marketing prowess must compete against phone companies, Internet firms and cable companies”. Now I understand that most power companies have never had to compete for business, but this is like selling beer in a desert! There are a lot of us out here that the phone companies, Internet firms, and cable companies aren’t even trying to sell service to. They don’t have to be better or cheaper than anybody else, they just have to be available. Well, OK, there is a top-end to what I’m willing to pay for broadband access, but the first company that makes me an offer in a reasonable range doesn’t have to worry about competition undercutting them by a dollar or two. Unfortunately, this service seems to be catching on faster in Europe than North America.
He’s not running, but maybe he should be. Email from a local activist alerted me to an article in The Nation about the recent Take Back America conference. Not surprisingly, the conference attracted a number of Democratic presidential wannabes. But, according to The Nation‘s John Nichols, “it was a non-candidate (Moyers) who won the hearts and minds of the crowd with a ‘Cross of Gold’ speech for the 21st century”, in his acceptance of the America’s Future Lifetime Leadership Award. The article provides a link to Moyers’ speech in PDF format, but since I hate messing with PDF downloads, and since Moyers said to “pass it on”, I don’t think anybody will object if I include the text that Richard thoughtfully mailed.
I’ve had to make a few minor adjustments as a result of the sudden and unexpected move to a new host. I found a hack to make times display in EDT, even though the server is running in PDT (although it’s apparently located in Houston). That had the side effect of skewing all the times on all previous entries. A few hours with an SQL tutorial should find a way to fix that.I also had to restore some of my small enhancements that got dropped. Like any true systems programmer, I loathe the concept of source control, because it interferes with getting the job done, just to make the auditors happy. But having two copies of this site on computers at home and work, in addition to the “live” site, is an auditor’s nightmare. I make a change at home and upload it, and forget to update the work copy, or vice versa. And sometimes I edit the live copy directly and don’t copy the change to either local copy. So when I uploaded to the new host from my work computer (because that was quicker, even though I was home at the time), I lost some of the work that had not been added to that copy. I’ve done some quick eyeballing, and think I have things back in sync now.
I also noticed that my Miscellaneous topic category, which is where I put (hopefully) amusing stuff that’s not related to my main obsessions, hasn’t had any new content since April 22. I guess I really am getting old and boring. I’ll try to do better .. but no promises.
If you can see this, jmatt.net is back on the air with a new hosting service. I think I’ve got most of the site working OK, but there may be some anomalies for a while until I get all the wrinkles ironed out. My former host, Affordable Host, had another major outage this weekend. That, combined with their customer-unfriendly attitude about the fiasco, convinced me it was time to move once again. Either I’ve been incredibly unlucky, or the low-cost web hosting market is incredibly sleazy. I’m now on my fourth host in less than three years since I started this site.