Sunday, October 31, 2004


Ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision?

When I chose the original template for this blog I cycled through the available ones on Blogspot and chose the old one more or less by default as being the best of a mediocre lot. I decided to take pity on everyone's eyes and go for better readability. I'll probably tweak this one a tiny bit, but I think it'll definitely read better (at least until you actually digest this bilious content).

Warner Brothers is releasing the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2 on Tuesday, and I gotta say I'm a bit disappointed in the Bugs Bunny disc from what I see on Amazon. Take a gander at the titles on the disc:
Out of this bunch there are perhaps three or four that I find quotable or notable (Bunny Hugged, Slick Hare, Baby Buggy Bunny and perhaps French Rabbit or The Heckling Hare). All of the rest kind of run together in my perception, and there's a couple of (IMSHO) outright mediocre ones on the disc (Hyde and Hare and Broomstick Bunny). I suppose that Warner is holding back some goodies for the subsequent releases, but this could backfire somewhat in that if a mediocre set fails to sell, there might be less incentive or desire to release the subsequent volumes. Uh, JL or whoever is in charge - hint - a set with Bowery Bugs, Homeless Hare and a few of the others I mentioned in my Bugs Bunny post of some months back would be kind of nice.

I used to have a higher opinion of Hare Conditioned, but other than the spot-on Hal Peary impersonation the cartoon really doesn't have a lot to distinguish it from other chases. Bugs Bunny Rides Again is mainly notable for its censoring (a line about Gandhi has been excised due to canonization and political correctness) but doesn't have the punch of other Yosemite Sam confrontations (Buccaneer Bunny being a personal favorite).

Saturday, October 30, 2004


You can never get silence anywhere nowadays, have you noticed?

Today's a busy day at Schloss Schadenfreude, we've got an overnight guest until Sunday, an old buddy of mine happens to be in the neighborhood and we're getting together, and I've got my usual Saturday tasks to keep me sane and busy, so not really a lot to talk about today.

The CD du jour is Neal Morse's new release, "One". I haven't dug into the main album yet, but the bonus CD had a couple of tracks on there I was really anxious to hear. Morse does some pretty cool covers (especially the Beatle-related ones) on various projects (Transatlantic's Abbey Road medley as well as it's Strawberry Fields cover are favorites of mine, and his Yellow Matter Custard Beatles cover project has been discussed previously in these pages). The bonus disc covers George Harrison's "What Is Life" beautifully with the added bonus of Phil Keaggy playing and singing on the track. I suppose Badfinger qualifies as Beatle-related, and there's a great cover of "Day After Day" (Keaggy did a great cover of "Baby Blue" on Crimson and Blue, or was it just Blue - I can't make sense out of what they did with that album; IMHO, Keaggy's version beats Badfinger's by a country mile). A dandy cover of "Where The Streets Have No Name" follows, a bit unusual to hear a U2 cover, and it's very close to the original, but it works in the context of the CD. The covers finish up with "I'm Free" segued into "Sparks", the former not being one of my favorites from "Tommy", but the latter works quite well. I would've liked to have heard this lineup tackle "Overture", "Eyesight To The Blind", "Pinball Wizard" and "We're Not Gonna Take It", but I guess that's an exercise in wishful thinking ("The Seeker" would've been cool also....). Great guitar work from Morse and Keaggy on this record so far....

One will probably be reviewed by me on Monday. Just as a note, you can't get the special edition of One on Amazon, it's only available from Radiant Records (Neal's label). Throw some support to labels like Radiant that are putting out great music in the classic/prog rock tradition instead of the Ritchie/Federline/Simpson Axis. Also queued for review is Salem Hill's "Be" which came highly recommended from a couple of sources.

The current CD playlist includes Jellyfish's "Bellybutton" and "Spilt Milk". Cool stuff, sounds like a cross between Queen, The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

Finally, the howler of the day, courtesy of Beat Gear Cavern:

This review by David Germain of the Associated Press on the new "biopic", as they say in Hollywood, of Ray Charles:

"Charles was able to view a cut of the film shortly before he died."

Uh, yeah.....

Friday, October 29, 2004


If you want to get laid, go to college, but if you want an education, go to the library

Finally, some people in the press are noticing the snakepit that academia has become. Not just the New York Sun, but the NY Daily News is starting to notice as well, both in articles and editorials. This is the crap I'm paying into 529s for? Reminds me of a conversation I had with a family friend some years ago. I inquired about his daughter, who had just started college at a well-known liberal arts school and he gave me a resigned look and said "They're turning her into a good little communist". You often hear about the importance of a well-rounded liberal education, with the subtext that if you're into the applied arts and sciences (e.g. engineering and finance) you're a robotic little stooge applying the wonderful concepts developed by pure academia and haven't a creative bone in your body. What a load of hogwash. When Merton and Scholes had their precious academic models at Long Term Capital Management they nearly managed to melt down the capital markets, all because they believed blindly in the superiority of the academic approach. Oh sure, I read a lot of the academic journal articles on technology (gotta keep the IEEE and ACM somewhat supported) but if you pop up in a meeting with a business unit suggesting a technical solution based on an academic approach you'll be shouted down or worse. Any tech consultant worth his salt can cite hundreds of stories of going bleeding edge and getting into a mess, all because some academic said "This is good".

One of my favorite examples of which was Stalag 13. Before my stint with them, they were an early adopter of ATM, and quickly found themselves in a pickle because of it. They rapidly bumped up against call count limitations in the switches, had ELANs extended all over the MAN, with the lovely concomitant result of routing loops (having the same broadcast domain in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey makes life interesting during troubleshooting), and just in general the network became an undocumented, unmaintainable mess (just trying to sort out the PVCs was a nightmare). But they liked ATM at first, because it was fast and all of the academics said "It Is Good". Stalag 13 had some major issues getting rid of the ELANs, mainly because of hard-coding in applications, but they bit the bullet and basically it works. My recent client Colditz would do well to follow their example in how they attacked the problem.

I have a couple of friends who are academics. One is a very nice, very Orthodox Jewish fellow who's teaching computer science at a Catholic college (his boss, a Jesuit, is a very cool fellow). Politics or doctrine never enters into the equation for him, as my friend is a propellerhead of the highest order and has a pedagogic streak (I suppose he would've been a melamed in earlier times). My other friend, who I have a somewhat strained relationship with, teaches business and CS at a public college, and he is incredibly dismissive of actually applying the concepts he teaches. I suppose it might be a simple case of "Those who can't do, teach", but in some conversations he's indicated a general disaffection amongst his colleagues with large bastions of capitalism, and the thought that people like that are teaching applied skills to the generation that's going to run this country soon enough scares the heck out of me.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go, it's pretty damn good

Congratulations to the Red Sox on their World Series win. An awesome team this year, with a lot of heart. Boston fans have a lot to be proud of.

The Yankees will own them next year :-)

And in the past few hours' news, we notice that my least favorite Husseini nephew will be moved to a hospital. Nothing trivial I hope. And I do so hope that before the bastard croaks they line up every single embarassing and painful medical test for him that those savages actually know how to do.

A bit of deductive reasoning combined with throwing caution to the wind has at least partially solved some of the DVD burning issues on the High Altar. It seems that the DVD burner in the High Altar is reported as an HP DVD Writer 200j, a device that for some reason HP steadfastly refuses to acknowledge exists. Considering the lineage of this computer, that's a bit surprising, but there was a firmware update up on their support site for a 200i. Now seeing as how my eyes haven't totally gone kerflooey at this point, I still think I can tell the difference between an 'i' and a 'j'. I'm normally loath to experiment with applying patches to something unless I've had anecdotal evidence that it works (being bleeding edge can be very unhealthy in my line of work), but seeing as how I just couldn't get a DVD to burn period yesterday, it was either try the firmware upgrade or spring for the new drive. Being a cheapskate by nature, I figured that in the worst event if the firmware upgrade failed I could always get an external burner and recover that way, but a bit of information nicely hidden on the support page at HP gave me some hope. Sho 'nuff, the upgrade said it was for the DVD Writer 200 series, not just specifically for an 'i', 'j' or whatever. I nervously applied the upgrade, all the while timing things carefully, as the upgrade said if it stops for more than a minute to reboot the computer and (hopefully) it would continue after reboot. The firmware downloaded without incident after a couple of nervous minutes, and the box had to be cold reset to get the system to recognize the upgraded drive. I power-cycled the box, and it came up without incident. I then burned a DVD using Pinnacle, and it burned faster and less problematically than the last few times. Next test will be to see if this resolves the DVDXCopy problems.

The Proprietor's simple maxim: Trust of any computer hardware and software vendor without knowing that any upgrade works and has been tested to a fare-thee-well is a silly and superfluous weakness. Doveryay, no proveryay (with apologies to my friend Sasha).

A humorous perspective on offshoring here. Naughty words, so beware at work or use headphones.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Miscellaneous Problems Today

Blogspot has been seriously farked all day, and only now seems to be getting back to itself. The support page blames routing problems (one thing I've learned over the years is not to mess with BGP once it's working to your satisfaction unless there's an absolutely compelling reason to do so). As a matter of professional interest I'd dearly like to find out exactly what happened (whatever change was applied has been backed out) but I doubt we'll get specifics. After all, you get what you pay for on Blogspot, there's no SLA here.

I tried a bit of tweaking on the High Altar today, and no joy in Mudville as far as burning DVDs with Pinnacle. I'm at about 60% coasters with the Memorex DVD+Rs, rather unusual as I've always had good results with them before. TDKs still seem to work, though. I'll probably pick up an external burner from Newegg just to see if it's indeed the internal drive (I have my suspicions), at the very least I'll get a dual +/- drive so I've got some flexibility in media, but I do have a lot of interest in the dual-layer drives. I suppose I'll need to upgrade Pinnacle to take advantage of a dual-layer drive, or I'll start thinking about higher-end solutions for DVDs (Premiere and DVD Architect, or Vegas Video).

My muse is failing me today after a pretty headachy and frustrating day, so I'll be parsimonious with the rants until the morrow.


Confesión Corta Miercoles

Blogspot is having another conniption this AM. Sigh.....

Big dinner in honor of a dear friend and colleague last night. Much food (heavy) and adult beverages. Late night. Although the shades of Moonie and Bonzo are doing a minor full-kit duet in ye olde head this AM, I'm functioning. Barely.

More later. Perhaps. Depends if my muse finds me or if the aspirins actually work.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


RIP Robert Merrill

I'm not an opera fan generally, but Robert Merrill was a class act.


Dribs and Drabs Of Useless Information

Spamford's at it again. This gonif has the cojones to infect your computer with spyware and then tell you only his magic snakeoil can remove it. A bit of Spamford history here.'

Related, Amazon's showing a new O'Reilly book by Brian McWilliams entitled "Spam Kings: The Real Story behind the High-Rolling Hucksters Pushing Porn, Pills, and %*@)# Enlargements". The first chapter is up on O'Reilly's site in PDF format and it looks like a good read, similar in style almost to The Cuckoo's Egg. Amazon doesn't show it as available yet, however O'Reilly seems to be taking orders at this point.

Those wacky mugu-baiters on are still at it with their Godwin's Law-defying scambaits. The latest developments can be seen here. Scroll down about halfway to see the "receipt" provided by the mugus to one notably disreputable person. Interesting thing about the receipt is the address, Bahnhofstrasse 24 in Zurich. Now, I haven't been to Zurich for quite a while (it's been over 10 years) but as I recall the Bahnhofstrasse is quite upscale, and I'm not sure that there'd be an affordable maildrop there (sans collusion of course). I'm unsure as to whether the numbering starts at the station end or the lake end of the street, but assuming it's starting from the station end the low number of course would probably indicate proximity to the general seediness that seems to associate itself with the environs of large city train stations no matter where they are. Zurich struck me as a strange city, astonishingly quaint in some ways, but a lot of very visible social problems. We were explicitly warned about the needle park on the Limmatt by the desk clerk in our hotel. Expensive, too. Dinner in the Old Town consistently ran over $100 per for Olive Garden-quality food (although I must say the pesto in one place was fantastic). One other thing that struck me about Switzerland in general was that the graffiti was much nastier than anyplace else we saw on that trip. There were a couple of "Tourist Go Home" screeds in Salzburg, and a more chilling "Auslander Raus!" in Vienna but some of the stuff we saw in Switzerland was beyond belief, in this most supposedly placid of countries.

Monday, October 25, 2004


It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but a matter of what is perceived to be true.

If anyone still wonders about whether lip-synching is rampant amongst today's generation of chanteuse, check out this interesting item from yesterday's NY Daily News:

Teen songbird Ashlee Simpson had a microphone malfunction on "Saturday Night Live" last night, scurrying off stage when a production glitch caught her lip-synching the wrong tune.

The pop star, younger sister of singer and TV star Jessica Simpson, sounded great belting out "Pieces of Me" in her first segment on the show. It was the same song that she butchered at August's MTV Music Video Awards, drawing withering reviews for a flat, out of key performance.

But the triumphant moment turned into a debacle when she came out to debut the song "Autobiography" for a second set. But whoever was responsible for piping in a studio-engineered rendition for Simpson to mouth screwed up, playing "Pieces" once again.

The raven-haired beauty hopped around briefly, then slinked off the stage as her hapless band half-heartedly faked away. It didn't take long for critics to vent their rage on Ashlee Simpson's official Web site.

"Finally, you're exposed for the fraud that you are," wrote an E-mail poster named drdrewby minutes after the embarrassing performance. "You have cheated your fans and people who actually thought that you had a lick of talent. You should quit the music business because you are now and always will be a complete and utter joke."

Said CowboyJeff99: "I knew she sounded like crap live, so I was 'wondering' what was going on when her voice sounded just like the radio edit."

When the cast of the live show came out to bid the audience good night, actor Jude Law tried to explain Simpson's slipup.

"What can I say folks, live TV," Law shrugged.

A still-humiliated Simpson apologized to her fans - and blamed her band for playing the wrong song.

Update: video available here . The Benny Hill version available here. A good op-ed from here. The money quote offered up by op-ed author Michael Allison:
I'm going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me.
- Ashlee Simpson in Lucky Magazine

Can I ask a really stupid question? How is it that the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Doors amongst others managed to play completely live amplified rock and roll under arduous conditions (no monitors, audience screaming at the top of their lungs) on the Ed Sullivan show 40 years ago without batting an eyelid? Does the word talent enter the equation for Ms. Simpson and her ilk?.

By the way, Ashlee. An Antares Auto-Tune rack unit costs about $500. Insert it into the signal chain between your Captain Scarlet microphone and the main mixer. Let the magic of DSP give you what nature didn't....

Finally, in a blinding glimpse of the obvious, yesterday's Sulzberger Personal Hygiene Facilitator came out with this money quote in an article about identity theft:
A leading bank regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, warned in June that increased corporate outsourcing of call-center tasks and other jobs overseas had heightened the risk of identity theft.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


The only kind of seafood I trust is the fish stick, a totally featureless fish that doesn't have eyeballs or fins.

Took the young'uns to see Shark Tale last night. Pleasant enough experience, cute touch having Michael Imperioli and Vincent Pastore amongst the "mob" voices. Beautiful visuals in the film, the soundtrack was a touch too urban contemporary for my taste (the best moment was when "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" kicked in; you could see fathers and mothers all over the theater going "Thank you" to whatever deity for some decent music. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the evening though was the pre-show trip to the candy counter. Same as our previous visit, the chimpanzee behind the counter was taking somewhere around five to seven minutes to fill each order (and of course there were several teenagers in the line ahead of us who purchased enough junk to keep their dentists and dermatologists in BMWs for the next couple of years), and by the time we actually made it to the counter, it was about 12 or 13 minutes past the published showtime. Needless to say Zippy The Chimp took about five minutes to fill my simple order to a large popcorn, three sodas and a bag of candy (one of the learned behaviors he was exhibiting was shuffling the ice in the bin for some inane reason unbeknownst to any sentient being) and by the time I handed my tickets to the lower form of life taking them, it was about 18 minutes past the published showtime. Imagine my chagrin at opening the door to the closet they refer to as a theater and finding the coming attractions still going full force, with two more forthcoming until the feature started. I thought back to the days when I was a kid, where you'd get two trailers. tops, and if you were lucky even a Pink Panther cartoon (at one now defunct local chain).

For some reason this brings up my favorite story related to the eponymous founder of the theater chain (yeah, I know a major Japanese conglomerate owns 'em now) I attended. It seemed that Arthur Loew married the ex-wife of noted wit Oscar Levant. Levant, in a display of chutzpah that I regard as a gold standard example, placed a person-to-person call to the happy couple on their wedding night well after what would be considered a decent hour, and upon, ahem, arousing (or detumescing as some versions of the story have it) them from their bed inquired, "What's playing at Loew's State tonight and when does the feature go on?" .

By the way, it was only eighteen dollars for the three sodas, popcorn and bag of candy. Value pricing strikes again!

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Wit, Witticisms And Obscurities

Folies Francais Du Jour - Via Little Green Footballs, a French legislator came out with this howler in regard to compulsory foreign language curricula for French schools:

"English is the most-spoken language today, but that won't last."
"If we must make a language compulsory, it should be Arabic," he said.

Koos emak Aravi.

And just to rub a bit of sel in la blessure, si ce n'était pas pour les Américains vous parleriez l'Allemand.

World Net Daily had a lovely little one yesterday about a Presbyterian elder showing his ecumenical position (which seems to be bending over as long as it's a terrorist on the other end, and you just know they aren't going to give him a reach-around as a courtesy). Quoth the article:

Three top church officials responded Wednesday, stating, "The visit to Hezbollah and the comments on that occasion by members of this Presbyterian group do not reflect the official position of the Presbyterian Church."

Notice how the "top officials" weren't named. As far as the elder goes, shouldn't there be some prosecution here for aiding and abetting enemies of the United States by providing propaganda?

My irascible streak seems to have gotten the better of me....

Friday, October 22, 2004


Beschissene Sicherheit

Blogspot mustn't be feeling well today, as this is the third time this crummy editing control has gone south on me (I know, edit off-line, but my thought processes sometimes work better this way).

Courtesy of Eric Olsen and mi2g, here's a charming observation about the leisure time activities of certain activists and militants (to use the terms so beloved of the weasel press):

Islamic hacking groups and criminal syndicates have caused more damage to global computer systems in the third quarter of 2004 than in any preceding quarter according to the latest study published by the mi2g Intelligence Unit, the world leader in digital risk.

The phenomenon of Islamic hacking for political purposes did not exist in any significant measure prior to the 9/11 events in 2001, save India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine localised cyber skirmishes. International Islamic hacking accelerated throughout 2002 as did global criminal syndicate activity on the internet to reach a new crescendo immediately after the start of war with Iraq in March 2003. The last one year has seen further increases. The targets have included assets belonging to the US, UK, Australia and other coalition partners on the one hand and within the domestic environments of Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Malaysia and Kuwait on the other.

There is mounting evidence that politically motivated hackers from amongst Islamic countries are collaborating with each other and with criminal syndicates from Russia, Latin America and China. They are devising and implementing new strategies for carrying out simultaneous attacks; subtle reconnaissance and surveillance missions including identity theft; organised crime activities to raise funds through phishing scams, spam and malware proliferation; as well as mount globally noticeable yet untraceable distributed denial of service (DDoS) business interruptions against publicly quoted household name corporations within the financial services, information technology and consumer goods sectors.

Pass me an Ativan.
5. The economic damage from all forms of digital risk manifestation - covert attacks, spam, phishing scams, DDoS, major malware, overt attacks - in 2004 has crossed $411 billion worldwide. The comparable figure for 2003 was $215 billion.

An unsurprising trend. Since I didn't read the full report (Respected Employer's Kenntnisleitungpolizei doles out access to external research very parsimoniously) I won't comment on the methodology or the numbers other than to say that on the surface they sound plausible.

Needless to say, the left and the UN would immediately blame this on the fact that Checkpoint is an Israeli company, and if the Israelis would only... (cue the bashing sophistry so prevalent amongst them). And of course if the UN decided to address the problem, it would issue several strongly-worded condemnations. Don't get me started on this one.

Reminds me of an interesting incident last year. I was doing a gig for a Major Banking Empire, and the CIO of their Capital Markets business unit, as well as the head trader asked me about the feasibility of implementing a "panic button" to isolate Capital Markets from the rest of the bank. They were much more concerned about worms than anything much else at that given moment, but the thinking was rather prescient in light of this report. Do you suppose that backbone and transit providers have panic buttons for cutting off (whether it's by filter or plain blackholing) areas such as the Middle East, South Asia, South America and Russia in the event of a major cyber offensive?

Which of course brings up another interesting scenario, the one which Tom Clancy used in "Debt of Honor", where the NYSE was crippled thanks to some backdoor code. One would think that SuperDOT is thoroughly desk checked, as well as things like CTS/CQS and OPRA on the SIAC side of things, but are they implementing security through obscurity or is it really well protected against bad code, or bad inputs for that matter. While Clancy's nightmare scenario is a bit different than the way things actually are out there (there are other venues for executing trades than routing directly to the floor after all), it's something that should be high on the agenda of things to check out.

Slightly related, here's an article from Front Page magazine on how US-based hosting providers will sell to all comers. Feh.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


My One And Only Comment On The New York Yankees


What's the difference between HR and a bowl of shit? The bowl....

One of the more frustrating aspects of blogging for me is that every once in a while there are some items I'd really love to comment on by virtue of having some inside information, as there have been in the business news for the past couple of days, but in order to protect the guilty (and ye olde paycheck) I've got to hold my tongue. It's impossible to obfuscate the recent items enough (at least while they're still fresh in the news) to safely dissect and dish some dirt. I suppose the trenchant commentary will have to wait a bit (vergeltung ist eine platte besser eseen kalt, after all).

One thing about Respected Employer that bugs me is that due to a reorg, we moved from having geographically-centered workgroups, where people's strengths and weaknesses could be recognized and addressed, and there was relatively efficient resource management. Instead, we've moved to function-focused workgroups which are dispersed all over the map, reporting ultimately to a pompous factotum in a low-cost location whose only function is to trumpet the party line. Anyone who's read this from the beginning knows that I've spoken of my very cool boss upon occasion, however, said cool boss was my boss before the reorg, and while I have tremendous personal loyalty to this person, officially I only have a dotted line report post-reorg. Practically this mattered little, as we worked closely through the post-reorg period, however, even more changes are coming down the pike in the next two weeks, and that means that the pompous factotum will figure more in my professional life.

The pompous factotum is an academic, and has precious little real world implementation experience. He's well published, a scary sign for someone who needs to implement real business solutions instead of elegant technology. And the bigger problem with him is his hatchet man of a resource manager, a gentleman whose qualification for same is that he has some manner of certification in a large ERP system. I've dubbed the hatchet man Dr. Mengele, as he holds the power of life and death over the consultants in our workgroup. Dr. Mengele also sits in a low-cost location, however, he's geographically separated from pompous factotum, a recipe for disaster in effective management (both are lovers of conference calls and instant messaging as substitutes for real personal leadership). And in case you're wondering, I do have a nickname for the pompous factotum, however, it's a play on his name, and keeping with my inviolable rule I have to keep that one to myself. Dr. Mengele is thoroughly divorced from any consulting reality, yet he demands constant obeisance. Little things like inept project management, difficult clients and tools that simply don't work don't matter, as long as he gets his precious little reports and forecasts. He sent out a lovely little message today about our performance evaluations, with plenty of implied threats. Comments about how our performance has to consistently significantly exceed expectations, which of course leads to an interesting discussion of how one rates a group of people all of whom significantly exceed expectations. If you're merely a superstar, you get an average rating and are completely screwed WRT bonus and salary increase. This is one of those people who read Jack Welch's book and bowed down to the gospel of sheer numeric evaluation of resources. After years of watching the ratings process be refined, point blank, it's manipulated. There is no way to objectively assign qualitative numeric rankings to performance. With quantitative rankings, perhaps, say with productivity. But to be brutally honest, productivity is a function of how well the sales guys are doing selling gigs. Perhaps a Turbo Pascal guru isn't going to be as productive as a J2EE guy, but that's a hiring function instead of a productivity function.

Which brings me to another rant, training. It's nonexistent. Oh, plenty of CBTs are out there on our intranet, and very, very few of them are relevant. I well remember one CBT I took a couple of years back that was so out of date it cited EGP as the Internet's core routing protocol. God forbid you'd actually want a real, in-class training session where you'd do something hands-on. Nope. No. Costs too much. I wanted to go to a seminar that Respected Employer was presenting to us on security and privacy, and I was told no. Understandable if there were travel expenses involved. The seminar was to be presented closer to my home than my office is. No expenses whatsoever involved. Rationale? There would be travel expenses. Logic doesn't cut it with pompous factotum and Dr. Mengele. As long as they have obeisance paid to them and you go along with their vision of the program, you're fine. If you aren't part of the clique, well.....

No chiding on Godwin's Law please. I'm in a venting mood today....

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Insert Aphorism, Maxim or Other Pithy Quote Here

Cool site du jour is Buzzwhack, which will provide nearly every management buzzword or phrase definition you need to successfully cut through the bullshit any management consultant spouts or to set up Bullshit Bingo cards. Interestingly enough they missed "running out of runway", the current office favorite for projects that are seriously in danger of missing deadlines.

Apparently Arafat has endorsed Kerry. Oh well, you're known by the company you keep. Speaking of Lurch, a comment from Pournelle could mean a lot of different things:
He continues to act as if his family background is Irish Catholic, which is an odd thing to pretend

Whenever Pournelle comes out with a comment like this combined with his comments about neo-Jacobins (and his unflattering comments about David Frum) I wonder if he's really all that free of prejudice.

Good news on the CWShredder front. Merijn has let InterMute take over development and distribution of CWShredder, and an updated version (2.0) that takes care of some of the newer and nastier variants is available here. InterMute apparently will incorporate CWShredder's functionality into its own products, but will continue to offer CWShredder as a free download.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Follow The Money

Courtesy of, an interesting article about following the money in spam, in this case for mortgages. I'm shocked, shocked.....

Wonder how much is phishing, and how much is actual lenders trying to drum up business? Speaking of phishing, looks like Romania is hosting most of the phishing links that have been popping up lately in my e-mail. Like they say in French, "dort zu voinen is nisht a fergenegen". Not enough mamaliga, hmmmm?


Random Skewers

Nothing blatantly obvious in the poll form code that explains the excessive breaks, at least based on cursory inspection. I'll dig further later today when I have more patience.

Freedom To Tinker has a great post on how the Department of Justice is putting resources into tracking down Susie Sweater downloading the latest Hoobastank (or whatever the hell it's called) while ignoring little things like guys named Abdul asking about chemicals with suffixes like nitrate and perchlorate. Your tax dollars at work. You know, I'm going to vote for W. But there's some entirely scary shit going down in this government where political correctness or expediency is ignoring some potential bad actors in favor of strutting like Heydrich in front of some teenagers who are sending a message to the entertainment industry. Urrrgh.

Mrs. Federline avers that she is going to take some time off to recharge her batteries. Look for stock in DSP companies to drop. That girl needs more signal processing power than a Navy sub to make her sound remotely good (and why is it that every freaking track she records she sounds like she's on a telephone? Yeah, we know she phones her performances in, but wouldn't it be nice if there was some real room ambience on the record?)

Courtesy of Little Green Footballs, we find this unsurprising example of French tolerance and ecumenism. Money quote:
RFI President Antoine Schwarz said Menargues will stay with the station in a position to be announced in the near future.

One could conceivably hope for the job description to include toilet cleaning and testing of orifice plugs used in lower digestive barium x-rays, however, knowing the French mentality, he'll probably be promoted. All together now, "Les Francais Sont Cochons".

Pet peeve du jour is people who say "outsourcing" when they mean "offshoring". "Outsourcing" means transferring job function to another company, frequently implemented by just making all of their IT, HR, etc. employees part of the outsourcing company. "Offshoring" is shipping the jobs to sunnier climes. You can of course outsource without offshoring, or conversely, there are loads of employees of Major Banks sitting in Bangalore and Hyderabad who aren't outsourced at all. Someone please give politicians a clue. I've taken to answering my phone at work with a "Yes, please, hello this is Sanjay". I took up this practice because of a story I read in Paul Brickhill's "The Great Escape", where one of the Allied officers got everyone to call him "Axel" so that he could get used to responding to it. The very air abounds with cynicism today here at Schloss Scheisse......

Monday, October 18, 2004


Do You Think They Had An MCSE Design This?

Today's computer election hilarity brought to you courtesy of Florida. Do the words scalability and stability ring a bell? (Whaddya wanna bet the contractor cheaped out on LoadRunner licenses?) Do you think the developers actually understand the difference between pooled and dedicated database connections? Do you think some doofus might've forgotten to close a database connection somewhere?

What do you think the database back end for the Florida E-Voting system is?

SQL Server
A deprecated version of any of the above
Btrieve rocks, dude

Some weirdness with the formatting from the poll code, I don't really have enough time to dig into it now, perhaps later. So it's fugly....


Eloquence Unbound

Still a bit sore on the right hand middle finger, but I should be back to myself by tomorrow. A tiny bit more work on the house project remains for this afternoon, but by the early evening the dust will have settled and everything should be back to normal. As much as I love watching home renovation shows, I've done too much of them this year for it to be fun anymore.

Which brings up the tale of a friend's former next-door neighbor, a chap by the name of Clyde (yes, that really was his name). Clyde was sort of the anti-Norm Abram, as any time he got his hands within the vicinity of a tool the end result usually involved damage to either his home or his person. My friend had a table saw which had a broken blade guard and a fence that had issues, yet one sunny day Clyde appeared and asked to use same just to rip some wood. Despite friend's continual warnings and protestations to the contrary, Clyde said he'd be OK, and my friend returned to whatever deviltry was in progress when the doorbell rang. They heard the sound of the tablesaw starting up, the sound of wood ripping, then a loud "zzzzzzzzziiiiiinnnnnnng" followed by an even louder "shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!". Clyde came up a few moments later, clutching his hand and thanked my friend for the use of the saw, and toddled off next door dripping blood along the way.

Clyde's other escapades included purchasing what he thought was a minivan and ending up with a full-size Econoline that had one teeny problem, every once in a while the brakes would fail. Clyde, being a man of utter self-confidence decided to fix his own brakes. In his driveway. Which just happenned to be a sloping driveway. Needless to say the end result involved crashing through the garage door. And then there were the heating system renovations. Clyde owned a two-family home, and like most two-family homes in that particular part of New York City, there was a single heating system for the entire house, meaning the landlord had to pay the entire freight when it came to heating. In his inimitable logic, Clyde decided that his tenant should pay their fair share of the heating bill, and decided to create two independent heating systems for the house. Which of course entailed him doing mighty damage to the water pipes feeding the radiators to create the two systems, not to mention the tons of drywall and flooring that needed repair. This in itself was merely inconvenient, but of course the key point of having two separate heating system is two separate heating units, in this case natural gas burners. Now, in that neck of the woods , the gas is provided by a large public utility, the kind that every so often has to run those public service announcements about calling them if you smell a gas leak. Fortunately, as a result of Clyde's ministrations (he apparently thought the word "plumber" offensive) there was only the minor disruption of a city block or two being cordoned off as a result of the installation process, and no damage was reported to any third party's home.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Short Shrift Sunday

Today's a Honey-Do List and Home Depot day, plus a slight injury to my middle finger on my right hand (not from excessive use, I assure you) is making typing difficult today. Bleccch. I'll be eloquent tomorrow to make up for it.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Groucho Had This One Right...

Such a lovely optimistic article about the future of computer programming in the US. Money quotes include:

Some experts think they'll become extinct within the next few years, forced into unemployment or new careers by a combination of offshoring of their work to India and other low-wage countries and the arrival of skilled immigrants taking their jobs.

Not everybody agrees programmers will disappear completely. But even the optimists believe that many basic programming jobs will go to foreign nations, leaving behind jobs for Americans to lead and manage software projects. The evidence is already mounting that many computer jobs are endangered, prompting concern about the future of the nation's high-tech industries.

Since the dotcom bust in 2000-2001, nearly a quarter of California technology workers have taken nontech jobs, according to a study of 1 million workers released last week by Sphere Institute, a San Francisco Bay Area public policy group. The jobs they took often paid less. Software workers were hit especially hard. Another 28% have dropped off California's job rolls altogether. They fled the state, became unemployed, or decided on self-employment.

The problem is not limited to California

Pas de merde, Sherlock.

The average wage for an American programmer runs about $60,000, says John Bauman, who set up the Organization for the Rights of American Workers. Employers pay H-1Bs an average $53,000.

A programmer, Mr. Bauman was out of work for 20 months before finally taking a job with a 40% pay cut. His experience is common enough that programmers are organizing to fight in Congress against H-1B and L-1 visas. But they face an uphill battle, says Mr. Miano, as business groups are far better organized and funded than the smattering of programmer groups. "They have the best legislation money can buy," he says.

Miano sees such a dim future for programmers that he decided to enter law school. "I saw the handwriting on the wall," he says.

One point that I have to keep harping on in this vein is that software projects that are offshored are often failures for a lot of reasons. Those reasons include the difficulty of phoning in project management, cultural differences that result in a lot of "yes" answers where "no" is called for, and frankly, just plain sloppy or inefficient work. Need proof? Take a look at a certain printer manufacturer's driver code. Bloated, inefficient, and doesn't work within the sort of normal security restrictions that any sensible system administrator should apply. Note to all developers - code should not require privileged access unless absolutely necessary. Printing isn't something that should require privileged access.

As to the cultural differences angle, remember I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a certain large Financial Services Institution (I will identify it further only by saying it's located south of Chambers Street) somewhat miffed about a Java developer whose background was with another renowned institution (in Ossining)? Said Large Financial Services Institution is really, and I mean really desperate for NYC-based Java resources for important projects. Why? Because they had a wonderful idea to set up a "coding factory" somewhere in sunnier climes to pump out code to do analytics and all sorts of stuff to replace all of their antiquated (in other words, C++) code, and they found that the stuff they were getting from the subcontinent was in two words, absolute crap. Projects sent there were completely out of control, late and incompletely tested. When someone from the home office tries to clamp down on the "factory", he gets yessed, and the end result is still continual patches and Sev 1 outages thanks to the quote unquote quality.

Groucho once zinged Chico in "Cocoanuts" with the comment, "There's my argument, restrict immigration". Amazing how there are 65K H-1B visas being issued when there are how many thousands of Americans out of work. And just how many of these guys are being vetted properly for being bad actors, or are the cost shaving artists that anxious to cut a few pennies from the budget that they might hire someone who's got technical skills but also might have an axe to grind against this country? How much code from these guys is being desk checked?

Paranoia strikes deep.... (and RIP Bruce Palmer)

Friday, October 15, 2004


Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

Speaking of frustrated architects, I think yesterday's post might've slightly invoked Godwin's Law or one of its corrolaries, so to make sure that doesn't happen again, I promise not to use the word "Gestapo" unless I am specifically referring to the Geheime Staatspolizeiamt for some reason in these discourses. Amazing how lefties will use terms relating to that regime to denigrate anything and everything that doesn't conform absolutely to their vision for the world.

That said, one of my favorite reads is, where various folk take on the Nigerian advance fee scammers. I'd always wondered why no one had yet assumed the identity of some of the more disreputable citizenry of Germany, however, this thread shows that there are other devious like-minded folk out there. Apparently, no one yet has taken on the identity of the late unlamented Adolf hisself (figuring that even with how stupid these characters are surely they would recognize that name) although there's talk of posing as one Adolf Schicklgruber to have some fun with their pets (and just as a note to the guys on that forum, his mother's maiden name was Klara Poltzl, sometimes spelled without the 't'; Schicklgruber is a family name from a couple of generations back). Oops, Godwin's Law again.....

There are some sea changes in the political landscape at Respected Employer, with two dear friends and colleagues announcing their departures. I've worked with both of these folks for ten years, and have nothing other than admiration and respect for them. Since one of these people is a Senior Resource (translation, a very comprehensive Rolodex) there will be considerable jockeying for that person's position and there might be some fallout in the process. I've learned to seriously hate politics of any variety, with office politics being the worst of all. Neither of these colleagues read these pages (at least to my knowledge), but buon viaggio, fratellos mio.

I would dearly like to sneak away and catch Team America today, as the combination of South Park humor and a Supermarionation tribute proves irresistible to my somewhat warped sensibility, but were I to do so on family time, undoubtedly the Mrs. would insist the young'uns accompany me (she apparently perceives Team America as a Gerry Anderson show clone), something I'm loath to do unless I've prescreened it in this case. There was a minor rumor floating around on one board I read that the next effort in this vein would take on the Beatles circa January 1969 (the Fabs in Supermarionation? Not unprecedented, consider The Shadows' turn in "Thunderbirds Are Go". No doubt about it, Gerry goofed that one big time. What a dreary coda to that wonderful series).

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Under our government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office

Ambrose Bierce had it right, thus this post. CNN has this comforting report about only 1 in 4 TSA screeners failing to detect weapons during security tests at Newark Airport, and there's this lovely bit of news about a woman who drove home from Denver to San Diego rather than submit to being felt up by the Gomer Gestapo (thanks to the Good Doctor Pournelle for that term). Money quote from the latter article:
Bob Kapp, customer service manager for the TSA in Denver, said that to conduct a thorough pat-down search of women, "it does require going beneath, between and above the breasts."
Kapp said a few people have been a little bit alarmed by the procedure. But he called it "a sign of the times" that is probably here to stay.

Uh, yeah. That idiot Mineta says that not more than a low percentage of the most likely potential perpetrators can be frisked at a security checkpoint because his feewings were hurt as a little boy (he should talk to a few people I know who have Himmler's autograph on their arms from resorts like Oswiecim. They can tell him what being brutalized is really about). Meanwhile, some chowderhead decides to feel up some Southern California cutie just because a random number generator clicked somewhere or they met their quota of towelheads to search for that day, and there's no recourse. The first link in the article is the icing on the cake, where these dopes who are entrusted with our hides cannot find an awfully high percentage of potential weapons. This is Newark Airport, where the 9/11 hijackers got on a plane, boys and girls.

Solutions, not easy. When appointing public servants to deal with problems like this the last thing I want is someone who feels my pain. I want someone who inflicts pain. First, fire that pansy Mineta. Sorry they threw your ass in the internment camp, but Michele Malkin quite nicely documents the rationale for internment back then, there was a serious chance of a fifth column (and of course it wasn't just the Japanese back then, the Operation Pastorius saboteurs had plenty of contacts and relatives ready willing and able to support them). Second, profile. The ACLU doesn't like it? I'm sure that the lady from Southern California would only fit a profile of inspirations for a Brian Wilson song, not the kind of profile of attending masjids and asking where the isotopes are kept. There are an awful lot of cops who will tell you that this is the best way of tracking down bad actors, but because of the ACLU and like-minded organizations, their hands are tied. When they were profiling in Jersey, a lot of drugs got interdicted on the Turnpike that would've been sold in Bed-Stuy and Washington Heights. A couple of college kids fit the profile? Think of the old joke, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this!" "Don't do this!!!!!". Third, allow some recourse for the citizenry. Here's where the ACLU could actually do something useful, but because they're more interested in supporting the fringe and the America haters than its normal citizenry, they wouldn't touch it.

There was a case about fourteen years ago where a New York company got into a bit of a disagreement with Alabama over some, ahem, content it was providing. The company had gone the extra mile in trying to prevent the content from reaching inappropriate eyes, however, an enterprising minor had managed to leverage a personal relationship to obtain access to the content. The state of Alabama decided to prosecute said company, and personally indicted the corporate officers as a result, who lived in fear of being extradited to Alabama while the whole sorry mess was being decided. The company's business relationships with various providers were immediately terminated, and said company was put out of business within a matter of weeks out of sheer inability to deliver to its customers its contractual obligations. In itself, it's a minor footnote, but the ACLU got interested in the case briefly because of potential free speech implications. They decided that it wasn't politically correct enough for them to defend the company and the officers. Ultimately, the case was thrown out because of lack of merit, but the ACLU's performance in the matter was disgraceful, not wishing to take on defending the unjustly accused because they were white capitalists.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Miscellaneous Bilious Pedantry

Seven "activist" groups are asking for election observers from the cesspool on Turtle Bay. Shall we Fisk (cha-cha-cha)?

You don't suppose that the Conservative Zionist Businessmen and Investors League is asking for voting observers from the UN, do you? (Hmmmm, if I had some more time to troll, I'd set up an organization titled as such and try to infuriate some lefties, but that'll have to remain wishful thinking. Reminds me of one of my favorite billboards of all time, a picture of a steak knife on a bulletin board for a well-known steak house with the caption "Horrifying Vegetarians Since 1950" or whatever year it was. And continuing with the stream of consciousness bit, my absolute favorite billboard was one that was alongside the Brooklyn Queens Expressway decades ago, heading northbound. The sign said "Before you cross the Kosciuszko, Smoke a Kool").

In the Blinding Glimpse Of The Obvious Department, the FBI has found human remains at a site that can be charitably described as industrial slop on the Brooklyn-Queens border. This is eloquent proof of Darwinism, as sooner or later there would be some evidence of said nefarious deeds turning up, linking The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight to more than a few unfortunate indispositions. You know, back in the old days, this stuff wouldn't have happened. The perceived offender would've been invited on a fishing party boat from City Island or Sheepshead Bay, which would have had a Wurlitzer jukebox on board. Somehow, the Wurlitzer and the supposed malefactor would disappear overboard during the trip somewhere well out past the 12 mile limit. If you're going to do something, do it well.....

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Shizzle My Tuchis

Courtesy of Little Green Footballs, we have this howler about Sean Combs (I refuse to call him by those inane monikers he dubs himself seemingly every few months) claiming total mobilization of the hip-hop generation for democratic change. Actually a fascinating read, in that it's an example of the blatant self-promotion that the so-called celebrities of this day engage in. A rather interesting related anecdote came from a friend of mine, where he attended a focus group several years ago on DEC's product line. When asked his opinion of DEC, my friend responded "Zsa Zsa Gabor". This intrigued the facilitator, who asked why. My friend responded simply, "Name a movie that Zsa Zsa Gabor was in". After much fumfering in the room someone chimed in, "Oh, that crummy science fiction movie" (he apparently mean "Queen Of Outer Space") and the room agreed unanimously. My friend's point was that DEC, like Zsa Zsa, was known far more by reputation than for actual works, and likewise with Mr. Combs, an expert at appearing in the gossip columns, tabloids, and other rags to promote his latest incarnation of whatever the tastemakers (read as Mr. Combs) in the hip-hop community have decreed as the latest must-have fashion, trend or other short-lived mania. While I'll admit my total lack of interest in whatever drivel he produces, I doubt that anyone can cite any truly long-lasting art or cultural contribution of this gentleman. Mr. Combs has apparently been convicted of some offense and as such may not even be a candidate to vote, depending upon what state he may actually reside in (I'd sincerely doubt his urban credentials would be accepted if it turned out his voting registration if any turned out to be in Bernardsville or Muttontown). Mr. Combs is one of those people who I wish would simply go away, or at least confine his self-promotion to venues where it doesn't reach my consciousness.

The truly sad thing about it is that while his motives are undoubtedly self-promotion and other forms of aggrandizement, it's a very good thing to get people to vote, although unfortunately there would more than likely be considerable pressure or manipulation applied to Vote For The Democrat in this particular context. Voter registration efforts are designed to take good and sufficient advantage of people's innate gratitude for some form of facilitation to put the bite on them for a vote (although there are a few characters who will hit up the precinct captains and their minions for rides and such and proceed to vote for their opposition; my cynical sense highly applauds this because of my intense dislike for political operatives of any sort). It's interesting at times like this to get the phone calls from various organizations that nominally have no stake in the election's outcome to shill for their (usually Democratic) candidate. Although the Republicans have pulled a couple of goodies as well - I remember getting a call trying to put the bite on me for a few bucks for the alleged privilege of hearing a special message from Newt Gingrich. Now, I happen to like Mr. Gingrich, but there is no farking way I'm going to pay to hear a politician. I'm somehow reminded of a funny bit in Mad many eons ago about building a better mousetrap, and there was a trap designed for the civic-minded mouse which would entice him into a political meeting, where the only available seat was directly in front of the "squeaker" (Michael Q. Rodent was the politician's name; I wish I understood the reference to who they were zinging), and the mouse would be killed by the blast of hot air coming from the politician.

Monday, October 11, 2004


I'm Ready For My Closeup Mr. DeMille

I don't know why the MPAA worries about consumers copying DVDs. The simple fact is that DVD burning is not yet a consistently successful process and as well all well know despite everyone's best efforts at testing all of the permutations of desktop configurations out there I still find that I'm burning about 35% coasters. TDK and Memorex media seem to get the most consistent results, but the variables that have entered the process for desktop video production at the High Altar, things like SP2, and various and sundry other processes like DLA that screw up the results (the blasted thing is that it's inconsistent - there've been occasions when I've burned perfect DVDs with some processes running that various software vendors have said should be shut down, and there are other occasions when I've assiduously followed the checklist and have gotten half a dozen coasters for my trouble). I suppose if I were truly serious about things like this I would get a Mac, but I have absolutely no interest in having one, as I have legitimate, licensed access to some of the most powerful software suites and tools out there, and that access provides me with bupkis for the Mac.

The latest frustration now involves a DVD of some video camera footage burned by a good friend. Said DVD won't read in the computer and one of our home theatre DVD players. It will read in an el-cheapo Sanyo player the kids use, as well as in a portable player we've got. The obvious answer was to somehow get the video into my computer and burn DVDs for the family that I knew would play on the good system. A touch of Windex on the disk just in case didn't help, and since I couldn't explore the disk (despite running the gamut of the checklist) the decision I took was to take the analog outputs out of the portable player, plug them into my analog capture device, and re-render the sucker. The analog device I have is a Dazzle USB capture board which I picked up last year, and it's done a decent enough job for me, but since Dazzle has been subsumed into Pinnacle there's really no more support for the hardware and software. I connected everything up, captured the video, checked the captured file in Windows Media Player, and it looked like I was in business. I really didn't want to use the Dazzle DVD editor, as it's pretty Mickey Mouse (it's serviceable, but I get better results out of Pinnacle Studio, which is also installed on the High Altar). I imported the captured video into Pinnacle, and guess what, no sound. Wait a freaking minute, I just checked the file in Windows Media Player and all the sound was there. OK, a couple of iterations later, it occurred to me that for some reason or other I'd have to re-render the MPEG file. Usually it's not necessary with the Dazzle captures unless you've edited them, but seeing as how I was getting ready to throw something, I figured it couldn't hurt. A little while to render, then back into Pinnacle. The sound kicked off wonderfully. About 6 seconds into the video all the motion stopped, freeze frame, nothing, zero, zip, nada.

At this point, I'll probably try one more capture/render cycle to see if it gets fixed (I captured using the S-Video output, so I'll try the analog video out just to see if there's a bug in the S-Video code somewhere), but given that the Dazzle device has gone the way of the dodo bird vis a vis support, I'll take a look at what's out there currently to get my analog stuff in. I'll probably look for a Firewire A/D converter, just to take it off the USB and dedicate some cycles to it, but then again with my luck when I finish rendering the video (I'm actually planning on editing it into some other video I've got using Pinnacle) I'll be back to worrying about coasters emerging.

I know, I know. Get yourself a dedicated video machine if you're serious about it, but compromise is the spice of life.

My other rant du jour concerns Musicians Friend and Rogue Sitars. I can't justify $700+ for the Jerry Jones version for an axe that's going to be used only for Paint It Black (although it would probably sound cool on Over Under Sideways Down), so if I want to get an electric sitar, I've decided that it's the Rogue (unless a used Jerry Jones pops up on eBay; they don't seem to very often. Incidentally, the Jerry Jones is a fine instrument, extremely well made - I played one for about an hour at 30th Street Guitars a while back). Problem is that Musicians Friend is real schizo with pricing this thing. It's either $299 or $399. Usually it's $299 when I decide it's totally idiotic to buy one, and it's $399 when I want it. After a discussion yesterday with bandmates, I was ready to pull the trigger on one today, but not at $399 (nope, no JJs on eBay, other than the baby version, and none of those at a good price either; I want the one with the sympathetic strings - even if the thing is made of masonite it's still farking cool). MF, love ya, but for cryin' out loud, these things aren't going to sell at the higher price. At $399 it's not that much of a stretch for a pro to say give me the Jerry Jones instead, and it's above the impulse purchase level for a weekend warrior like me to buy.

And speaking of MF and guitar dealers in general (assuming that Henry at Gibson comes to his senses), can someone please differentiate between what Gibson calls Iced Tea and what most people would call Iced Tea in finishes. It seems that what I would call Iced Tea is what Gibson calls Light Burst, but the damn pictures that are out there just don't tell the real story. Henry, for crying out loud, let your dealers publish hi-res pictures, so we know what we're getting. Otherwise a PRS Custom 24 might result......

Sunday, October 10, 2004


I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is two weeks.

Hurting a bit this AM as I had a wedding to go to last night. Old farts like me can't party like we used to. I'll be loquacious and articulate later, as soon as the room stops spinning on all three axes and when the Moonie and Bonzo clones in the space formerly between my ears decide to retreat.

Saxon dogs, throwing a party like that, knowing full well the aftereffects it would impose on the actual adults at the affair. Saracens. Spartan pigs. What other insults did they use in What's Up Tiger Lily?

The food was quite good, but one minor mishap in that the wedding party was supposed to have had the entire restaurant, and some idiot on the staff had given a reservation to some doctors or dentists and their POSSLQs who showed up just as we arrived and were quite indignant as to not being able to partake of this boite's fare. A sister-in-law or some related lower form of life managed to splash some surely indelible sauce on my shirt while excitedly chatting with another protozoan about some subject unrelated to anything of conceivable importance.

Acetaminophen. What a good idea. (FYI, I only had one, yes, one adult beverage. The combination of a Lucullan feast and a long drive very late at night are the culprits here).

Saturday, October 09, 2004


I Sure Hope Petrillo Doesn't Hear About This

I'm somewhat bemused to post this on what would have been John Lennon's 64th birthday, but it's somehow appropriate. Senator Orrin Hatch (CSOTEI1 ) who apparently took law drafting lessons from Hans Frank and Roland Freisler has temporarily shelved plans to present the Induce Act to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Money quotes include:

Hatch has previously said he intended to pursue the legislation next session if a bill wasn't approved. (....) The chief executive for the Recording Industry Association of America, Mitch Bainwol, acknowledged Thursday that negotiations need more time. "So long as illegitimate peer-to-peer services hijack a positive technology and intentionally offload their legal liability to America's kids, legislation will be a priority for the creative community," Bainwol said.

Boo-fucking-hoo Mitch. If your members stop selling crap (read as Mrs. Federline, Mrs. Ritchie and all of the rhythmic speakers) there's a significant chance that people will pay for quality product. If your members adopt a realistic pricing model (the White Album still lists for $34.98) they just might buy more. Putting a couple of shekels toward the artists to encourage them instead of inking deals that are punitive at best unless their name happens to be Michael Jackson, in which case he will be told that he is wonderful and can spend eight million dollars and untold months recording and mixing an album (for comparison's sake consider that Revolver was recorded and mixed in well under three months).

Business Week has an interesting commentary on the chilling effects that the DMCA has had already on innovation (thanks to Freedom To Tinker for the link), and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to extrapolate the additional impact of legislation such as the Induce Act. Garage inventing has been of great benefit long before Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started messing with oscillators (The name Edison should ring a bell, of course if you look at the history Edison was really a pretty nasty character. He was quite cutthroat against George Westinghouse, especially trying to embarass George with the fact that Westinghouse electrical equipment was used for New York's then-brand new electric chair. There's another nasty bit about old Tom and Henry Ford which we'll save for another discussion). The Induce Act would probably have Linus Torvalds swinging from the yardarm because it protects a soon-to-be bankrupt entertainment paradigm. The entertainment industry is on life support because of the profitability of its back catalogs. Whatever big bucks are coming in are probably disappearing into limited partnerships and other special purpose vehicles designed to hide cash, leaving the industry to cry poverty over small potatoes piracy. The big problems you have aren't Susie Sweater and her copy of EDonkey. Hint to Mitch - look at Brasilia, Seoul, Taipei and Beijing first.

Moving over to my minor Standells/Munsters obsession (I actually reposted my little blurb from May on Blogcritics in the hope of further tracking down leads) a tantalizing lead did indeed appear, when a casual mention of Lolly and Pat Vegas of Redbone in a newsgroup credited them with "Come On And Ringo". I headed straight for Soundfile and dug into their listings, alas nothing close was there. Soundfile is the tool used by the Harry Fox Agency to issue licenses for cover versions, and a quick perusal of the database reveals some hilarity. Searching for some Beatles songs you find every version in creation listed except for the Beatles' original. Oh well, at least they make the licensing process easy if you want to do low-volume covers.

A quick perusal of my local Borders found an interesting book by Genya Ravan. Ravan of course was the toughest chick in rock, leader of Goldie and The Gingerbreads in the '60s, and recorded one of my few favorite post-1975 albums, "Urban Desire" (check out her fierce "Jerry's Pigeons"). Genya dishes some interesting dirt on another great girl singer of the '60s, none other than Ronnie Ronette (I think that calling her by her ex-husband's last name isn't terribly cool considering his legal situation, besides, that's what John Lennon called her). Definitely worth taking a look at.

1: I was originally going to use R-Disney, or make some kind of fascist joke here, however that would immediately invoke Godwin's Law and thus invalidate any point I attempt to make. Instead, Hatch and his co-entertainment industry felcher Ernest "Sounds Just Like Pat Buchanan" Hollings shall be henceforth referred to in these pages as CSOTEI, Contemptible Stooges Of The Entertainment Industry.

Friday, October 08, 2004


The covers of this book are too far apart

If you wonder why I bother to use a nom de plume and keep certain details of corporate hilarity obscure, look no further than this unfortunate young lady's blog. Her employer has suspended her for the offense of blogging, on the nominal pretext of her publishing a photograph of herself on said blog dressed in a company uniform. A lapse of good judgment to be sure, but the young lady in question has published details of various corporate hilarity that would be instantly obvious to someone with a reasonable knowledge of the situation, and as such could easily become embarassing public knowledge for the company. Of course, since said young lady's employers are in an industry that will soon be demanding massive relief from the government either in the form of Chapter 11 filings or being excused from little things like pensions, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there's a certain reasonable stewardship (pardon the expression) of information that those of us with knowledge of various hijinks have to maintain in order to protect the innocent. I wish it were as easy as Jack Webb made it seem, using the same three people in Dragnet every week for various permutations of victims and villains.

In my case, since my beat is financial services, the community is a bit more insular, and as such I edit myself carefully (of course that's when the spelling and grammar errors creep in) whenever I tell a corporate hilarity tale. There's rarely six degrees of separation in my world, it's never more than three. At one memorable Christmas dinner a few years back we were chatting with a client we called Colonel Klink (all bark, no bite; his boss, surprise of surprises was indeed saddled with the moniker of General Burkhalter, and he had the same charming "Klink, shut up" disposition. The poor slob entrusted with running the technology deployment was a deer in the headlights type who of course became Sgt. Schultz). The conversation drifted to past lives, and we asked Colonel Klink where he was prior to Stalag 13 (which of course is one of the most eminent investment institutions on Wall Street), and he mentioned that he was at another large institution (now thankfully subsumed into another Even Larger Financial Services Firm) that several friends of ours were alumni of. We dropped a couple of names, and Colonel Klink indeed knew the gentlemen, and then we asked, "Do you know A?". A being a very good client of ours, for the simple reason that this person has the definitions of micro and macro reversed. "A" does indeed have a nickname, but that nickname is well-known in the Wall Street community, and I will not use it here. However, A does have a very distinct Noo Yawk accent and way of speaking, and Colonel Klink launched into a hilarious impersonation of A, leaving all of us rolling on the floor with laughter. (I should note that I consider A a personal friend in addition to being a good client). We were convulsing over the humor when the realization suddenly hit us that things like this tend to get back to people on our beat. In vino veritas, you know. A has a big consulting budget and it wouldn't do to offend the controller of that budget.

While the nicknames may be sardonic, they do serve the purpose of both relating the story in understandable terms for the casual reader, and protecting Klink and Schultz (both of whom became personal friends as a result of that gig; Burkhalter can take care of himself quite nicely thank you, but again, no reason to offend someone who controls consulting budgets).

The young lady who got herself into a pickle with her employer did so through what might be considered an indiscretion. Woe betide me, as someone with a bit of knowledge of skeletons in the closet in certain areas if I don't show discretion in my writings.


Quote With Almost No Comment Department

Courtesy of Jerry Pournelle, we find this cute article on software disasters being people problems. The money quotes (emphasis and selective editing all mine):

Too often, he said, programmers are handed a lengthy document explaining the business requirements for a software project and left to interpret it.

"Developers are least qualified to validate a business requirement. They're either nerds and don't get it, or they're people in another culture altogether," said Michelsen, referring to cases where development takes place offshore.

The lack of robust testing during and after such a project likely contributed to the September 14 radio system outage over the skies of parts of California, Nevada and Arizona. Though there were a handful of close calls, all 403 planes in the air during the incident managed to land safely, said FAA spokesman Donn Walker. A handful violated rules that dictate how close they are allowed to fly to each other -- but the FAA maintains there were no "near misses."

The genesis of the problem was the transition in 2001 by Harris Corp. of the Federal Aviation Administration's Voice Switching Control System from Unix-based servers to Microsoft Corp.'s off-the-shelf Windows Advanced Server 2000.

By most accounts, the move went well except the new system required regular maintenance to prevent data overload. When that wasn't done, it turned itself off as it was designed to do. But the backup also failed. Michelson said the failure was in inadequate testing. "On a regular basis, the FAA should have been downing that primary system and watching that backup system come up," he said. "If it doesn't go up and stay up, they would have known they had a problem to fix long before they needed to rely on it."

To be fair about this, part of the problem did arise out of Harris using a timer function in the Windows API that resets itself to zero every 49 days, but geez, handing developers requirements docs without analysts to tell them what it means? Everyone and their mother knows that MSFT servers have to be rebooted periodically - that's what we have maintenance windows for, boys and girls. In my neck of the woods, very few business people are going to apprive putting a system that requires true HA on a Wintel server platform. Everyone from the architects and analysts to the project managers here should be held accountable for this fiasco.

Thursday, October 07, 2004



So, Howard Stern has finally had enough of broadcasting and will move to satellite radio. Good friends who have satellite or have had the alleged privilege of hearing it on a trial basis have told me that it's entirely not worth the money. Howard's humor is very old hat at this point, and the show's entirely predictable (ranting, celebrity interview, lesbians, dregs of humanity, news). So Howard can drop an f-bomb on satellite? Big freaking deal. We all saw Private Parts already and got to hear him use a few naughty words. The constraint of having to keep his humor within FCC bounds makes him far funnier than he would be if he had the latitude to use whatever language struck his fancy (consider for example his one-time archrival Imus, who released a "comedy album" that dispensed with broadcast mandated proprieties which turned out to be one of the most spectacularly unfunny records ever made). The only part of Howard's show I can even stand to listen to at this point is the news, which has a spectacularly erratic airing time, usually falling right into the part of the morning where meetings and/or total focus are required of me, so it's an exercise in futility to even attempt to listen to it. I think the publicity will do well for Sirius, but as a money-making exercise, once the novelty wears off and the public demands more entertainment value I think it'll ultimately be a loser for them. It will probably be a graceful exit for Stern, whose considerable contributions to humor are fading to irrelevance. Kind of sad, really, seeing a great comedian fade out. You don't want to remember the Marx Brothers in Love Happy, right?

Today's actually a kind of thorny day, but not in a bad sense. Interesting multicast problem at Large Financial Services Conglomerate. Multiple vendor situation. Business guys screaming. Techies turning bald and getting flat foreheads. I might actually get my teeth into this one. Said Large Client isn't a bad place (they're an Immanent customer - check out the June and July archives for that saga) except for keycarding everything. OK, I can understand the machine rooms, IDFs and the building itself. The rest rooms, though??

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


A Collection of Rodney Jokes

Courtesy of The original list can be found here.

I'm not a sexy guy. I went to a hooker. I dropped my pants. She dropped her price.

I tell you, with my doctor, I don't get no respect. I told him, "I've swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills." He told me to have a few drinks and get some rest.

I tell ya when I was a kid, all I knew was rejection. My yo-yo, it never came back!

When I was a kid I got no respect. The time I was kidnapped, and the kidnappers sent my parents a note they said, "We want five thousand dollars or you'll see your kid again."

Some dog I got too. We call him Egypt because he leaves a pyramid in every room.

With my dog I don't get no respect. He keeps barking at the front door. He don't want to go out. He wants me to leave.

What a dog I got. His favorite bone is in my arm!

Last week I saw my psychiatrist. I told him, "Doc, I keep thinking I'm a dog." He told me to get off his couch.

I worked in a pet store and people kept asking how big I'd get.

My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.

I'll tell ya, my wife and I, we don't think alike. She donates money to the homeless, and I donate money to the topless!

One night I came home. I figured, let my wife come on. I'll play it cool. Let her make the first move. She went to Florida.

I asked my old man if I could go ice-skating on the lake. He told me, "Wait til it gets warmer."

My doctor told me to watch my drinking. Now I drink in front of a mirror. I drink too much. Way too much. My doctor drew blood. He ran a tab.

When I was born the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father, "I'm very sorry. We did everything we could...but he pulled through."

I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great uncle fought for the west!

My father was stupid. He worked in a bank and they caught him stealing pens.

My mother had morning sickness after I was born.

My mother never breast fed me. She told me that she only liked me as a friend.

My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.

When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.

I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

One year they wanted to make me poster boy... for birth control.

I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent back a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

My uncle's dying wish was to have me sitting on his lap. He was in the electric chair.

Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, "Do you think we'll ever find them?" He said, "I don't know kid. There are so many places they can hide."

I remember I was so depressed I was going to jump out a window on the tenth floor. They sent a priest up to talk to me. He said, "On your mark..."

When my old man wanted sex, my mother would show him a picture of me.

I had a lot of pimples too. One day I fell asleep in a library. I woke up and a blind man was reading my face.

My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.

Last week my tie caught on fire. Some guy tried to put it out with an ax!

I met the surgeon general. He offered me a cigarette.

One time I went to a hotel. I asked the bellhop to handle my bag. He felt up my wife!

This morning when I put on my underwear I could hear the Fruit of the Loom guys laughing at me.

I'm a bad lover. Once I caught a peeping tom booing me.

My wife only has sex with me for a purpose. Last night she used me to time an egg.

It's tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won't drink from my glass!

My wife isn't very bright. The other day she was at the store, and just as she was heading for our car, someone stole it! I said, "Did you see the guy that did it?" She said, "No, but I got the license plate."

Last night my wife met me at the front door. She was wearing a sexy negligee. The only trouble was, she was coming home.

A girl phoned me and said, "Come on over. There's nobody home." I went over. Nobody was home!

A hooker once told me she had a headache.

I went to a massage parlor. It was self service.

If it weren't for pick-pocketers, I'd have no sex life at all.

I was making love to this girl and she started crying. I said, "Are you going to hate yourself in the morning?" She said, "No, I hate myself now."

I knew a girl so ugly that she was known as a two-bagger. That's when you put a bag over your head in case the bag over her head breaks.

I knew a girl so ugly, they use her in prisons to cure sex offenders.

I knew a girl so ugly, I took her to the top of the Empire State building and planes started to attack her.

I knew a girl so ugly, the last time I saw a mouth like hers it had a hook on the end of it.

I knew a girl so ugly, she had a face like a saint--a Saint Bernard!

I was tired one night and I went to the bar to have a few drinks. The bartender asked me, "What'll you have?" I said, "Surprise me." He showed me a naked picture of my wife.

During sex my wife always wants to talk to me. Just the other night she called me from a hotel.

My marriage is on the rocks again. Yeah, my wife just broke up with her boyfriend.

One day as I came home early from work, I saw a guy jogging naked. I said to the guy, "Hey buddy...why are you doing that for?" He said, "Because you came home early."

I went to see my doctor... Doctor Vinny Boombotz. Yeah...I told him once, "Doctor, every morning when I get up and look in the mirror I feel like throwing up. What's wrong with me? He said, "I don't know, but your eyesight is perfect."

I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown necktie.

My psychiatrist told me I'm going crazy. I told him, "If you don't mind, I'd like a second opinion." He said, "All right. You're ugly too!"

I was so ugly, my mother used to feed me with a slingshot!

When I was born the doctor took one look at my face, turned me over and said, "Look, twins!"

And we were poor too. Why, if I wasn't born a boy, I'd have nothing to play with!


Short Shrift Today

Errands and administrivia are taking up the day, so I'll be brief.

This eBay auction has got to be either a practical joke or an account hijacking. Consider this, it's listed on eBay's UK site when the guy supposedly lives in Connecticut, not one picture posted with the auction, no COA, and Brian May himself laughs the thing off on his website. If it's a hijacking it's fortunate that the insertion fee is only $4.80, but this actually brings up an interesting point about eBay. Supposedly there are limits in place that are undisclosed for security reasons that put limits on buying and selling for Joe User. Understandable, and if you supposedly pass certain criteria the limits are increased for certain transactions. This clod is listing two pieces at a starting price just below $1M, and eBay lets this thing slide? Also, notice the payment methods, Bidpay (which of course has a $700 limit), and US Postal Money Orders (I'm sure you're going to walk into your local post office and get $1M worth of money orders and not attract attention from the Gomer Gestapo).

Nice job by Cheney in the debate last night. The man impresses me more and more each time I hear him speak. Class act, too, especially with the crude way Edwards tried to put him on the spot with the reference to his daughter.

Till later....

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


RIP Rodney

I tell you, I get no respect. I opened up a fortune cookie and found a summons. I get into a cab and asked him to take me where there's some action; he takes me to my house. When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother. I'll tell you one thing, I know how to satisfy my wife in bed, yeah, I leave. And so on.

Damn, this guy was funny. Most of the comics with real style are gone now, Hackett, Henny, Rodney. As much as everyone copped or copied their tag lines, these guys really defined stand-up. Hackett played the little imp to perfection, think about the memorable bit on the Carson show when he did the immortal "wax job" joke during a commercial break. Carson and the audience were in stitches throughout the whole next segment and no conversation of substance could take place. Henny and Rodney mastered the henpecked husband genre (although of course Henny kept it much cleaner than Rodney, but as much as he himself was the punchline, Henny was the definer of the genre). Rodney, well, just coming out and adjusting his tie could send an audience into hysterical laughter. Who can hold a candle to Rodney amongst the comedians still around? George Carlin, Jackie Mason, maybe Seinfeld, maybe Mal Z. Lawrence (Mal's probably the last of the real Catskills comics).

One thing's for sure, heaven's going to be a funnier place tonight.


Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one

Feel like being infuriated? It seems that at least one ISP is aiding and abetting spammers if an internal e-mail is to be believed. The odds on it being a believable e-mail are somewhat enhanced by the fact that the original link has been farked, apparently at the request of the ISP in question. The scandal has made the computer press as well. The e-mail includes the following charming observations about terminating spammers:

Our potential strategies and outlook:
2. Fire the customers as Spews et al wishes.
a. While our AUP gives us some power to do this it could develop into breach of contract issues.
b. It is not clear that even a mass firing would satisfy Spews.
c. Revenue loss ranges from $250k MRR to $2 million MRR depending on judgments about where to draw the line.
(Unnamed ISP) hosts a number of customers in the email marketing business including customers such as Sheck Media, High Performance Broadcasting, Bluestreak, Subscriberbase, etc. The top 10 alone represent approximately $200k MRR. Overall the business brings in $250k to $2million MRR.
There exist a number of volunteer antispam operations (eg Spews, Spamhaus). Many of these organizations do not distinguish between legal email marketing operations and the many illegal spammers using stolen bandwidth, hacked servers to market questionable and/or illegal propositions. Their goal is to eliminate any form of advertising or 3rd class mail from the Internet. To the best of our ability to monitor, our customers in this business, email marketers or spammers depending on your viewpoint, operate entirely with the law (CanSPAM) and the relevant stronger FCC guidelines.

First, note that the guy who wrote this is a CISSP. Certification does not equal Subject Matter Expert, the above memo constituting proof QED. Just because the guy passed a test does not necessarily make him the paragon of ethics.

It's entirely true that most of the bottom-feeding spammers host their operations in countries such as China, Korea and Brazil, as I've pointed out in many previous posts analyzing my own inbox. As to whether those servers are hacked, I sincerely doubt it. The moral compass of the ISPs in those countries seems to be ask no questions and as long as the spammers willingly pay the freight the domains will continue to be hosted. Complaining to the likes of Hanaro, Hinet and Chinanet is an exercise in futility, where only the most egregious hosting violations will bring any sort of action. The question here is why this particular ISP, which happens to make an absolute boatload of money from the financial services sector (ask the market data providers whose networks they use for delivery) feels that two mil a month from the spammers is worth its reputation. They've already been blacklisted and blackholed, so damage has already been done. The interesting inference that one could make is that the writer apparently believes that UCE is either integral or beneficial to the Internet, something that any person who's actually administered an e-mail server or firewall would disagree with in no uncertain terms. I would imagine that his secretary is quite busy sanitizing his inbox from spam before he ever sees it.

A couple of amusing tidbits from the entertainment news for a coda to the commentary. First, Elton John called 'em as he see 'em -

During the Q Awards in London, John referred to Madonna's nomination for Best Live Act but saying "Madonna, best fucking live act? Fuck off. Since when has lip-synching been live"?

Needless to say, the publicist immediately insisted that Mrs. Ritchie does no such thing, but any cursory look at the (ahem) chanteuses who perform the intricate dance bits with the Captain Scarlet microphones can see that they're huffing and puffing, or counting steps. Good on ya, Reg.

Second bit finds that Bruce Springsteen gets a favorable mention on Al Jazeera of all places for his current political idiocy. Funny how there was no mention of the Zionist Imperialists amongst the E Streeters (Roy and Max, if you didn't know already).

Monday, October 04, 2004


RIP Gordo

It's kind of sad to bookend the story of the X Prize being won today with this, but original Mercury 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper has passed away. If you remember "The Right Stuff", Gordo was one of the great mavericks and individualists (there's a story about him buzzing the office of a major NASA honcho at window level) and as cool as a cucumber (that story about him falling asleep during the countdown for his flight was indeed true). The damndest shame is that Gordo never got to the moon. Funny enough how NASA's politics worked back then; John Glenn was grounded in case of a "regrettable indisposition", after all it wouldn't do if a hero went kablooey. Scott Carpenter goofed up his reentry, and got blackballed. Of course, both Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton were grounded for medical reasons. Apollo was left to the real hard core engineering types of the original Seven, Gus Grissom and Wally Schirra. Gus unfortunately died in the Apollo One fire in 1967, and Wally only got to do the orbital checkout ride on Apollo 7.

Fly on, Gordo....


Way cool - X Prize Won

Absolutely awesome. So, when's the orbital run?


We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.

Big meeting with Major Honcho of Major Investment and Retail Bank Empire today, so the nervous nellies known as the sales team are pounding us unmercifully with last minute changes to the Powerpoints. It would be wondrous if these impeccably dressed people with perfect teeth actually had a clue that at least two of the "changes" they've suggested have radically changed the meaning and import of the pitch to Major Honcho, committing us instead of to a normal insidious type of engagement (do a short term appetizer, then keep putting the hooks in for more and more work if they like it) to a short-term nightmare of "work late, bill eight", then hoping we get the big nut all at once. Part of the problem are the unreasonable sales goals we have at Respected Employer, where even people who are stone-cold techies who haven't left the MDF room in years have absurdly large sales quotas. One fellow who works with me, an SME on MSFT technologies, who's as much of a salesman as Kofi Annan is a crusader against terrorism and corruption, has been saddled with a seven figure sales quota. The interesting thing is that if everyone actually made their sales quota, we'd probably be generating somewhere around the GDP of a smaller member of NATO, something not bloody likely in this consulting environment. It's obvious that the sales quotas that have been instituted are an evil HR measure to keep performance assessments down, thus eliminating any justification for things like raises, bonuses or options. For your amusement, my sales quota is eight figures. Well over $10M. The funny thing is that these quotas can be manipulated like funny money, where if you even contributed minutely to a successful sale (i.e. participated in a conference call, or red-pencilled something) if the person in charge likes you you can get at least partial credit for the sale. The problem of course is making oneself accessible to this sort of thing, when there's real work to be done.

Quote du jour of absurdity from none other than the nephew of the Hitler-loving mufti:
PA Chairman Yasser Arafat claimed that the rockets that Israel is talking about haven't killed anyone. "They only make noise," he said.

Like one of these, ferinstance?

BTW, check out some of Point 39 Productions' high power model rocket videos for some awesome action, including some CATOs of Very Large Motors for those with a more cynical view of things....

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