6/30/2007

06-30-07 - 1

The respectable Judge John Roberts has shown his true colors, and it is no surprise to the wise that he just bald-facedly lied at his confirmation. The whole idea of the confirmation hearing is rather ridiculous since there is absolutely no requirement that they tell the truth or answer in detail, and no forces holding them to their words. Roberts claimed (much like GW Bush did) that he wanted to be "uniter" to stick with precedent, to form concensus and work for the middle ground. Instead his court has rapidly struck blow after 5-4 partison blow on the majority of cases before them.

The most depressing thing to me is that they are striking down protections which were enacted in earlier era when the government was actually forced to do some reasonable things. In the period of 1900-1910 the government and its capitalist cronies had created a nearly feudal society where the poor were just treated horribly and had little influence or hope to improve. The result was close to a revolution; huge nationwide strikes that often turned violent, huge popularity of the Socialist and Communist parties, etc. The government finally got worried and decided to make a few small compromises in order to keep the people pacified and get their beloved capitalism back under control. The result was some of the anti-trust legislation, as well as various social protections.

Over and over in American History you can see a pattern of the laws being created to favor the rich, and big business. We are most definitely in one of those phases again, where taxes have been massively cut for the rich (so that many of the rich pay far far lower a percent than the very poor), and the rights of corporations over individuals continue to grow. The only time it snaps back is when the people get so disgusted and mistreated that they rise up in protest and stop the system from working. The idea that voting for the liberal party accomplishes anything is only an illusion, the only time we make significant progress is when a mass groundswell of direct action forces the power structure to make some concessions - and then they make just enough so that the people get lazy and fall back into the system.

At the moment we are in a horrific period of popular inactivity, which has allowed the powers to run rampant and do absolutely what they will.

6/26/2007

06-26-07 - 1

God damn, people who fucking RAR their torrents are so fucking retarded. How can you be smart enough to cap a video and post it and all that and not understand the basic fucking way that torrents work, which is that you can share the data while it sits on your disk in a usable format! (I could understand it if packing a video file actually shrunk it significantly, but it doesn't!!).

6/24/2007

06-24-07 - 1

The peach/nectarine/etc. supply is moving more and more towards "white" fruits and more generally to "super sweet" , "high sugar" fruits, basically juicy, sweet, mild fruits, which I think are disgusting and totally lacking the character of the individual varieties and basically representative of the tastebuds of the masses getting more into fresh fruits. It's the equivalent of the "red delicious" takeover that happened a while ago, but this is what happens when the twinkie-eating crowd converts to fruit.

6/20/2007

06-20-07 - 2

Can we just fucking vote to change the spelling of "guarantee" to "gaurantee" already?

06-20-07 - 1

Dan's computer started making funny noises so I took it all apart and cleaned it. Turned out the fans were just filthy, coated in this awful sticky grime making them spin wobbly. It made me think that computers are starting to be used longer and longer and last longer than they were really designed/tested for and lots of these kinds of problems are going to be coming up. Some day computers will be like cars where you need a 3 year / 30,000 boot regular service to replace your heat sink, clean your fans, etc.

6/19/2007

06-19-07 - 1

Watched "Barry Lyndon" with Dan last night. About 2 hours into it I realized I'd seen it before, hehe. The cinematography is gorgeous, but the acting and casting is just atrocius. The lead guy Ryan O'Neal seems to be the friend character "Buddy" from "Charles In Charge", and it generally feels like it's from the 70's even though it's a period piece. Kubrick also generally misunderstands the lead character and turns him into almost a noble/tragic anti-hero rather than the charming scoundrel he should be. All the clever devices from the novel are removed and we're left with a plodding trite story which is little more than a structure for Kubrick to hang his beautiful pictures on.

"Kitchen Stories" was pretty good; I mean it's totally predictable from the first minute, but it's not supposed to be a surprise, it's simple, sweet, charming, archetypical, but like so many recent Brittish movies it can sort of get away with doing a very old fashioned heart warming slice of life because it doesn't try to doll it up with movie stars and tear-jerking scores and all that Hollywood junk that makes the American versions of these movies so cheezy.

6/18/2007

06-18-07 - 1

Flexible Love sounds like a porn site, I know, but it's this poseable furniture thing, very coolio.

6/15/2007

06-15-07 - 1

I think a big undiscussed factor in the whole islamic militant problem is the lack of booze. People think of booze as causing problems but really it's a huge passifier. Booze + TV keep all the American poor from taking any action. Think of the trouble that might've been in Ireland if not for booze. In the Islamic countries they aren't killing their fervor with booze, so they keep their anger and get agitated and bored and turn it into action.

Sometimes I wonder what I might have done had I not ever touched a drop of booze. (I was "straight edge" in high school which I now look on as a mistake, I thought booze & drugs were for the weak, a cop-out, a way to avoid life and thinking, which is of course exactly what they are, but I could've had a lot more fun in my youth). Anyway, what would've happened to me without booze? Maybe would've worked on string theory and solved some major scientific problems. Perhaps, unlikely. Maybe would've started a company and done a bunch of software and become a millionaire? Yeah, that's possible. Started a home-based internet porn company? Yeah. But most likely I would've gone insane and committed suicide.

6/14/2007

06-14-07 - 5

I think part of the appeal of skinny girls with big boobs is that it's sort of freakish; it fulfills the fantasy of having sex with an alien or someone with Down's.

06-14-07 - 4

There's this new oddity in the tax code for HSA's. As I understand it - if you just have a medical problem and pay for it, that expense is deductible like a normal expense, eg. if you use the standard deduction like I do it does nothing for you. On the other hand, if you first put the money in an HSA and then pay for your medical expense from the HSA, the money is deducted from your income like a 401k deduction - eg. it comes off the top before the deductions, which is way better.

06-14-07 - 3

Ok, here's the plan : first you give arms to Iran for hostages, then you give arms to Saddam's Iraq to fight Iran, then you give arms to the Shi'ite rebels under Saddam to arm their revolution, then you get some frogs to eat the locusts, then you bring in the tree snakes to eat the frogs, then you get some eagles to eat the snakes, then you feed DDT to the eagles - problem solved!

(to be fair, Russia and others are probably at least as guilty as we are of pumping the unstable areas of the world full of weapons).

06-14-07 - 2

"Video game inpired" movies might be the worst thing to ever happen to hollywood. I'm not even talking about the movies based on games, yeah, those are bad, I'm talking about movies that are designed to have the "feel" of video games.

06-14-07 - 1

Google maps' directions know about one way streets and such but don't seem to know about all the "no left turns" and other crazy regulations around SF which ruins their usefulness for navigating the tricky corridor that is Market St.

6/12/2007

06-12-07 - 2

Funny example of how completely retarded and broken the NBA is :

At the end of the game tonight, the Cavs are down by 3 and there's like 5 seconds left, they have to make a 3 pointer or some other magic to win. San Antonio has the right idea that they'll just intentionally foul so the Cavs only get a chance to make 2 points and can't possibly win.

So, the pass comes in to LeBron and Bruce Bowen obviously lays an intentional foul on him to get the call (this is a pretty standard move). The refs don't call the foul and the game is over. He laid an *intentional* obvious foul and it wasn't called at a crucial moment.

Such a retarded game.

06-12-07 - 1

Biked around town and wandered into the Fort Mason hostel today; wow, what a cool spot. It's kind of a bad location in the sense that there's nothing around, but beautiful grounds and views up on a hill in the middle of a park, and it's $20 a night.

6/09/2007

06-09-07 - 1

It's a good measure of the degredation of our democracy that many of the "dirty tricks" used by Colson & Haldeman on behalf of Nixon and other Republicans are now considered standard political tactics, largely popularized by Rove. A few of them are :

Fake news articles & fake impartial experts. Colson & Haldeman had a network of writers and editors that they could plant stories through, which they had won with favors, information, etc. They would just let them know that they wanted an article about some opponent and it would happen. This is still employed today, along with directly paying "reporters" to present political information as if it were impartial. It's quite shocking to me that this is legal (in fact it isn't, but it's hard to prove that it's being done for political purposes as opposed to education of the populace, which is legal). Of course it's hardly necessary these days, the administration can simply pass on whatever they want to certain reporters and its printed in our major newspapers.

Fake biographies & old friends. In this technique a fake "expert" masquerades as a professor-type and writes a biography or articles that are intended as political poison. A similar method is to find people from the opponents past that will spread dirt about them, true or not.

Fake grass-roots opposition. In this technique a supposedly-local grass roots opposition movement arises to protest someone's position or oppose their reelection, perhaps making a big stink. In fact the movement was funded and created by the political operatives, and is often manned by staffers from the home office pretending to be concerned locals. We saw this in heavy use in the Florida recount, but it's now become a totally standard technique.

Staged photo ops and interviews. This one is so over the top it's become hillarious, even Nixon didn't have the nerve to believe that you could create totally scripted town hall meetings and have them be believable, but our standards for our politicians and our news reporting has plummeted so far that these hardly raise an eyebrow any more.

In fact the only thing that isn't being copied (so far as a I know) is wire-tapping, breaking & entering, and other illegal spying techniques to gather information on the opposition. There is such a great ability to gather information legally these days that these methods just aren't necessary.

As usual, the history that most people know is this watered down pleasant version that doesn't get into the real muck. People think of Nixon's sin as "Watergate" which they either think of as the taping of calls or the break-in. Both of those were relatively minor offenses compared to the long-term scheme of political sabotage and media manipulation that his underlings had orchestrated. And even that is pretty minor, which you consider that basically Rove does it today out in the open and nobody cares. In fact, Nixon should be remembered for negotiating the allowed genocide in Bangladesh, and the bombing and invasion of Cambodia which led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge.

6/08/2007

06-08-07 - 1

I wrote this in my todo list about a week ago :

"Maybe sell some more stock as a hedge; put in a good MM"

Of course I didn't act right away and now I'm hosed. I have to decide now if I think it's gonna keep going down or bounce back.

6/06/2007

06-06-07 - 2

Russia is not our enemy. They greatly enrich the small upper class while impoverishing the majority. They discriminate against immigrants. They villainize ethnic guerillas and slaughter them. They murder political opponents, and control the press through fear and direct manipulation. Yes, Russia is shaping up to be just like a western country. Russia is our ally against "extremists" who oppose our "ideology".

06-06-07 - 1

I saw a bike get stolen yesterday and I didn't do anything about it and I'm really mad at myself. I always like to think that I would take action in those scenarios, and I think I would, but the problem is I get easily startled and it takes me a while to realize what's going on. Dan and I went to chinatown to eat congee at Hing Lung and get some char siu bao (pork bun). On the way back we were in the Muni station waiting for the train, and this hobo guy rushes up behind us with a bike as a train is arriving and yells "excuse me excuse me", we were chatting and sort of jumped and got out of the way and he went past, and I noticed he had a nice bike he was wheeling with no front wheel. I was out of sorts and just got out of the way, but as he got on the train I put it together - he obviously stole the bike; the fool who owned it obviously locked the front wheel and the homeless guy detached it. In my dreams of myself I would've grabbed the guy and stopped him, taken the bike away. But I didn't because I'm slow to react, easily confused, and a coward. Everyone else in the Muni failed to act as well, but I expect that from them, they're the human scum that surrounds me constantly, of course they wouldn't do something good that inconvencied themselves, they're garbage. Maybe I am too.

6/05/2007

06-05-07 - 2

There's this hot pregnant woman who walks in front of the apartment every morning going to work; she's got sort of a pale Parker Posey look. When we moved in she wasn't preggers yet, and is now blown up and waddling but still manages to get up the steep hill. It's interesting seeing the change over time, it's exaggerated by the fact that I only see her for a few seconds each day through the framing device of the window, so her transformation is like a flip book.

06-05-07 - 1

Business suit = normal
Business suit + funky hat = hipster
Business suit + sunglasses = douchebag
Business suit + sneakers = dork/nerd/geek
Business suit + bowtie = psychopath

6/03/2007

06-03-07 - 3

NTFS really gets destroyed by lots of small flushes. If you take a file, write a byte to the end of it, close it, write a byte, close it, over and over, you will really fuck up the NTFS records for that file and all future accesses to that file will be incredibly slow (all reads & writes).

The way NTFS tracks files is that each file is a linked list of contiguous sectors. Each link in the list is a sector address and a number of sectors defining one contiguous chunk. If the file is in one contiguous spot, it's just one link. As it gets fragments, NTFS add links pointing to other spots on the disk.

Basically what I'm imagining is happening is that NTFS is like a non-relocating greedy hole-filling linked list allocator. First of all when you flush a small file, NTFS seems to stick that file at perhaps the smallest space it finds that can hold the file, or perhaps just at the first space it finds, but definitely not at the biggest space. Then when it needs to add a sector to the file, it doesn't move the whole file to a spot that can hold the whole file contiguous, instead it just adds a link at the end of the file pointing to the next block. If you are only doing small appends your file will become a huge linked list of single sectors pointing down a chain, so just reading the file in will make the head seek all over and take forever.

This sort of non-moving link-appending works great in many cases, eg. if you have some 10 MB file and you add 1 byte on it, you obviously don't want to find a space that fits 10MB + 1 and move the whole thing there just to keep it contiguous, the link is perfect. Also sticking in the smallest space to fill holes works great if you never append to files, eg. say I just atomically make a file of size N and will never grow it - then the ideal spot to stick it is the smallest space that fits it (well, this is not actually quite true if you have some model of what you expect future file sizes to be).

They could have very easily added an auto-defrag mechanism to handle this common appending case, just by seeing how many frags are in a file when you close it, and if it's super fragged then just move the whole thing out to an open space (presuming there is one). I mean eventually if you're doing lots of evil disk ops you're going to have too many little holes and no big spaces, and you'll have to do more of a defrag, but even that could be done sort of incrementally in the background from time to time. In fact this is all so easy and would improve the average computer's performance and hard disk lifetime dramatically, I'm not sure why they didn't do it, I think perhaps I'm missing something.

BTW if you actually just had a little incremental background defragger running all the time, then the append-often case doesn't even come up. You treat your disk as having two regions, the "mostly condensed" and "mostly empty". New allocations are initially put somewhere in the mostly empty space where they have lots of room to grow. The background defragger then just takes idle files from the mostly empty region and stuffs them somewhere they fit well in the mostly condensed space.

Meh, I guess this is a retarded amateur ranting about a hard problem that lots of smart people have surely worked on extensively, I'm just bothered that it's so easy to horribly break NTFS with a pretty standard access pattern. In the real world, file systems (just like memory allocators) are not used randomly, so you don't need to make them optimal for totally arbitrary usage; you should make them work really well for the very common usage, and just make them work okay for bizarro rare usage.

06-03-07 - 2

I have another bizarro super annoyance. If you have Windows Defender installed and ShellOpen html files - it causes an exception "The RPC server is unavailable" in your app. I traced the call stack and this is because Defender has hooked shellapi and when you open a page, Defender is trying to do some internet talk with MS (I have no idea why that's failing) and the fun guys throw an exception when it fails (though apparently it's caught and it goes ahead and opens the html anyway).

06-03-07 - 1

So this research program autostitch is pretty cool. I posted about it before; it does some of the things you should obviously do, like gain compensation, automatic warping to match features, etc. When it works it really works awesomely well, but sometimes it just totally freaks out and creates these bizarro fisheye distorted images where it seems to be trying to wrap features around a torus or something. So, I still haven't found an actually good photostitcher yet.

An ideal photostitcher would be semi-interactive. You would tell it to automatch and it would set up warping and blend lines and gain compensation and show you what it came up with, then you could play around with the controls until it was perfect, then you tell it to go.

Addendum from Graham : Well, it turns out AutoPano Pro does exactly what I want and more. It's a really well designed piece of software and just kicks Pano butt. I've run the trial on a few of my old panos that failed to stitch with anything else, and you can do a tiny bit of tweaking and they stitch up awesomely and gain-correct and all that. It has a ton more features I haven't used yet including automatic HDR combining which is pretty rad and handly if you're doing that.

6/02/2007

06-02-07 - 3

Well I'm back from Sequoia. It was pretty great, saw a bunch of bears, big trees, hiked up to the alpine area where it's still snowy to see the barren rock and moss and clear lakes and whatnot.

I returned to further dicking by corporate america. Almost everyone I have contact with dicks me. My landlord is ripping me off for $90 while totally neglecting this shit-hole. The paint in the bathroom is cracked and water's getting in it and I know I'm going to be charged for it. My storage site just raised my rent. My health insurance has now gone up for the 3rd time since signing up.

It all really makes me want to move up in the woods. I need a better bed though. And some rain-proofing. And some indoor heat.

06-02-07 - 2

It's fucking 2007, can't your ascii to int converter handle A FUCKING COMMA !?!?!?

I mean obviously the underlying problem here is the lack of a decent way to share solutions and the constant use of broken old standard libraries and reinvention of everybody's own helper libraries.

06-02-07 - 1

The entire modern world is an elaborate scheme to funnel money to the rich while keeping the rabble down. It works marvelously. Our rabble is placcid compared to those of the past, the serfs, the factory workers of the early 20th century, they took up arms against their oppressors (usually to little end). These days we are given the myth of "upward mobility" to keep people placcid, we are given the illusion of choices in politics or politicians who "support the little guy", we are given constant distractions of worries and fears which are trivial and irrelevant to get people to worry about anything but the reality of society. But you know this and you don't care because you're mostly on the winning side. This is why whites didn't speak out against slavery, etc. the reality is when faced with a horribly immoral unequal social structure, as long as you're comfy and prospering, you love it, and will make up all sorts of rationalizations to convince yourself that the suffering really don't have it that bad.

"Globalization" in theory is not a bad thing. The problem is that "globalization" in reality in our world is a way for multinational corporations to screw the citizens of the world by putting various parts of their business in different countries that are more favorable to the corporations (and less favorable to human beings), basically playing the variations in the laws of various countries to their own benefit. So you can employ people in countries where you don't have to provide them a decent standard of living, you can grow crops and package food in countries without health inspectors (which add a ton of costs). The mouthpieces of the establishment talk about globalization as if it's this war of ideas between closed markets and pure capitalism, blah blah blah, that has very little connection to the real world and the massive complex of differing taxes, worker regulation, tarrifs, subsidies, etc. which create an absolute cornucopia of ways for corporations to manipulate the system.

old rants