antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

how do you negotiate a ceasefire with terorists?

This question has finally started dawning on the unwashed liberal masses. For the past almost 5 years, the United States has been directly confronting terrorism in several different global locations. And in the past several days, Hezbollah has finally reared its ugly head and given up on sporadic attacks against Israel and has instead launched an all-out war.

Every news network I have seen in the past several days has been asking this question, which is good – it means they’re starting to think, always a big plus.

Unfortunately, they haven’t yet gotten to the only possible answer: you can’t. They are not driven by a lust for land, power, resources, or people. Terrorists, especially of the muslim extraction, are driven by violence – seeing violence executed on those they disagree with, or just dislike this week.

There is only one way of negotiating with terrorists: you kill them. A ceasefire only occurs when they are shot – then they cease firing.

It may not be a popular response to the question, but it’s the only one that works.

what rights?

More proof the American Civil Liberties Union is on crack: they are supporting a lawsuit filed by inmates to revert a recent decision made by Indiana’s Department of Corrections to ban sexually explicit magazines, letters, etc (CNN story).

Fortunately Java Ahmed from the IDoC isn’t just bowing to the lawsuit: “We don’t have any current plans to make any changes. If throughout the process the court says it’s constitutionally inappropriate, we would do so, but we don’t think it’s unconstitutional.”

Criminals voluntarily give up lots of rights the rest of us have guaranteed to us by the very act of committing their crime. People in jail for murder, rape, theft, drug possession, or anything else, have no reasonable, definable need to have access to pornography. They’re supposed to be paying back society in some fashion for their crimes, not sitting in a health spa fantasizing about Miss November or Pet of the Year – at least not with those pictures in front of them.

I have a problem with prisons providing anything beyond basic living needs to inmates: they don’t need a gym, cable TV, special catering, or girlie magazines. They need to sit in their cell and think about what they’ve done. They should perhaps be put to work doing useful things in their area (North Carolina utilizes lower-risk inmates to clean up the highways). I also think they should be allowed to read novels, historical accounts, biographies, religious works, etc. Low-risk inmates could be encouraged to take distance education classes, hopefully to help them stay out the system in the future.

There is no reason to make life easy on inmates: they are convicted felons, and need to be punished – not rewarded. Chain gangs were great ways to get work done basically for free. Outside of a given warden’s abuse of his authority, there is no better way to utilize otherwise waste time of those criminals than by making them do real work.

Imbibing pornography is not punishment. Criminals who are focusing time and energy on porn are probably also fantasizing about doing something to those girls (or guys). Rapists, murderers, and other criminals don’t need extra fuel for their minds to work on while they’re in prison. They need to be punished.

oh vista, vista, whyfore art thou vista?

I’ve been playing with Windows Vista Beta 2 recently on my home computer, and my overall impression is pretty blah. I must agree with many other reviews I’ve read that it’s really XP SP3. The eye candy is nice (taken from Apple and the OSS world), but nothing worth upgrading over. The new Start menu is better laid out, but again – not worth upgrading for. User management is a bit better, and the side bar is a spiffy feature – but you can already get that for free with either Google Desktop or Konfabulator.

I kinda feel sorry for the engineers at Microsoft who’ve poured millions of man hours and years of effort individually into this new edition of Windows – there’s no compelling reason for anyone I know to buy it.

When you factor in the minimum system requirements (and you lose a lot of eye candy if you go with the minimums) – 1.5G CPU, 512M RAM, 64M video card, 16G free drive space – the system is hogging all the basic resources of any new computer. Budget-minded consumers who snag Dell’s latest weekend special won’t have enough oomph to run Vista. XP Pro runs fine on a system with 256M RAM and a 1G CPU (I should know – one of my home boxes is such a beast). I do not see any reason why this “upgrade” has to be such a resource hog.

Sure, power users, gamers, and businesses will buy machines that can run Vista well – but Vista is going to be sucking the life out of those systems so those self-same buyers will end up needing even beefier hardware to get the “most” from their computing experience.

It’s sad when I can install any other desktop OS (distros of Linux with heavy or light window managers, XP Pro, OS X, Zeta, etc) on a system with 256M or 512M of RAM and expect it to run acceptably – along with all the apps I need to use – but Microsoft has to push its customers into machines formerly relegated to true heavy users (gamers, developers, etc).

Maybe some miracle will happen in the next several months and Vista won’t demand so many resources – but I’m not holding out for one.

a kinder, gentler HRT

As much fun as it would be to be a part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, what I’m thinking about now is a Hurricane Response Team.

Any church, charitable group, or even a business that wanted to engender some positive community goodwill could assemble a disaster team – volunteers and equipment that could be deployed to damaged areas easily, and self-sufficiently.

I envision such a group having a cargo van and a personnel van. Inside the cargo van could be stowed a gas grill, food, camp stoves, propane tanks, chain saws, wrecking bars, work gloves, and other ancillary safety equipment and tools. A 15 passenger van can comfortably accommodate 10-12 people, their extra clothes, beverages, a couple spare fuel cans, and personal items.

What else am I missing?

bounce

No, not the fabric softener. The church I grew up in in Albany NY (Albany Baptist) has been trying to move out of their old building for several years, and finally got a sale on their current facilities to be able to buy a new building. However, before they could move, they had to have their closing on the old building.

It had been waiting in semi-limbo for a couple weeks, but a week ago Saturday the officers got a call saying that the buyers wanted to close the following Thursday, the 8th.

I decided Monday evening that I was going to head to Albany for the last prayer meeting in the old building. It’s the only reason I went up, and I knew it was going to be a very long, tiring trip. Fortunately, a couple friends, one of whom grew up in Albany the first half of her life, were able to come along to help split the driving.

Last Tuesday a little before 7p, we left Mebane and started driving. Got into Cohoes a little after 7a Wednesday morning, crashed for a bit, then popped around the capital district for a few hours before heading to church that night. After the service, we hung around for a while to say hi and visit for a couple hours with folks we know there, then got back in the car and headed south.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of a hiccup going south and lost about 1.5 hours of travel time due to my not giving full enough directions to my friend driving while I took a nap, but we made it back to Mebane safe (and tired) Thursday afternoon.

All told, we were gone for 46 hours, and spent all but 16 of those hours in the car (either sleeping at a rest stop or driving).

While not the most ambitious bounce trip I’ve ever pulled off, it was still fun. If you know me, and would like to know more about the trip, feel free to leave a message in the comments.

cirque du randall’s island

On Friday, 26 May, my parents, sister, and I descended onto Randall’s Island from the Triborough Bridge to see Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo production.

We’ve enjoyed watching Cirque du Soleil’s productions for years on TV, but had never had a good opportunity to see them in person. CdS is a circus in the European tradition rather than the American one, so there are no animals – just clowns and acrobatics. The entire show is actually a story set to music and gymnastics rather than a spectacle of just noise and juggling atop elephants.

One of the cool things about the Corteo production was that it was done ‘in the round’, so the audience sat all around the stage, and the show is viewed from every side. It was also done in a tent – which I will be the first to admit I didn’t know was done anymore.

Being in a tent in New York City with a few hundred other people on Memorial Day weekend wouldn’t normally sound like an enjoyable experience, but apparently tent design and contruction has improved since the early days of PT Barnum: Cirque du Soleil’s tent has an integral HVAC system attached to it made from the same material with a slew of holes punched-out. It is quite effective – enough so that just sitting still under the vents could make a body chilly.

Tickets may seem a bit pricey (ours were ~$50 each), but it is well worth it. They’ll be in NYC until the 25th of June, and have other tour dates listed on their web site. I strongly recommend getting out to see the show if you can.

virtually speaking

I’ve gotten very interested in virtualization technology recently. There’s a high probability I will be working with VMware this summer, and several of my websites (including this one) run on a virtual private server provided by Tektonic, running CentOS 3 through Virtuozzo.

Virtualization is a fascinating concept. Instead of needing gobs of physical servers, by running operating systems through a virtualization layer, several servers can be run off one physical piece of hardware. With several options available – including Xen, VMware, Virtuozzo, User-Mode Linux, Virtual Server – deciding on a particular route is difficult at best. Depending on your budget, actual server OS requirements, and available physical hardware, all of the above may end up being viable options.

Because several guest operating systems will be running inside or on top of the host virtualizer, underlying hardware generally has to be pretty hefty. However, some of the available virtualization options will allow as many as 100 guest operating environments – so installing just a few high-end servers can replace potentially dozens or hundreds of pieces of hardware.

Solutions such as the new edition of VMware ESX Server are actually smart enough to automatically shift virtual instances from one piece of physical hardware to another based on server load, or in the event of hardware problems.

User-Mode Linux, aka UML, is actually Linux ported to run on an abstract hardware standard implemented in Linux – so it’s Linux ported to run on itself. Now that hurts to think about.

As I get more personal experience with virtualization technology, I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it.