July 2007


From the BBC article Death verdicts for Iran reporters:

Iran has sentenced two dissident journalists from its ethnic Kurdish minority for being “enemies of God”.

A spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said that the two journalists had “taken arms to topple the system”.

No further details were released about the reasons for their sentencing, but the two are members of the Kurdish minority.

Does anyone else have a problem with the wording of the alleged crime? This imaginary God is said to have created the world (the Earth, the Moon, the Sun and the stars!) in just seven days; He has covered the planet with a physically-impossible amount of water; He has created every single one of the 2 to approximately 50 million species organisms currently on the planet (and many more that have ever existed and gone extinct). And the asshole can’t take care of two measly reporters? He needs to hire ‘outside consultants’ to take care of the bugs?!

Ignoring for the moment the fact that the reporters are members of a minority, they are being persecuted for an un-named crime against a fictional and apparently powerless character. Maybe I should change ‘Voldemort’ to something else, like ‘Waldo’ an enemy of ‘Waldo’. Yeah, that makes slightly more sense: he Waldo does nothing, is incredibly hard to find, but when you do find him, he’s in the strangest places. Like on a piece of toast.

Of course, most of this post is a joke. I don’t really believe that it matters if the religion of these morons makes logical sense. I care that this religion is going to cost yet more people their lives.

I don’t really know how to finish this post. I know that I’m upset about what’s happening, but I don’t know what to do.

Edit: Changed the Waldo analogy. It’s not much better, but whatever.

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The Pro Club has four pools: kiddie pool, lap pool and two general purpose pools. You’d think that the people in the lap pool would be free to, well, do laps. But no. We get everyone trying to muscle in on our turf, from the talkers, people who just walk laps and talk; to little kids, when they should probably be in either of the multi-purpose pools or, at the very least, in the kiddie pool. The pools are even labeled as such. But I guess some people can’t read.

Others won’t read, like an Eastern-European father and son. The son is about four or five and the father is an asshole. Here’s the picture: the son is ‘swimming’ laps in the left-most lane in the lap pool, while the father walks alongside him, out of the pool. The father is your typical too-competitive weirdo. He’s telling his son the proper way to swim, all the time ‘inspiring’ the kid by making fun of the other swimmers: “look at her, she can’t even swim, she’s almost drowning, you can swim better than her”, “that four-eyes over there is giving you dirty looks, show him your kick-ass doggy-paddle”. This is annoying to other swimmers, but they just assume that the dynamic duo will be gone tomorrow. Oh, how wrong they are.

The next day the father and the son are back, and they’ve brought their friends. Seems the father loved the pool, as well as the freedom to yell, so much, he told other Eastern-European friends of his. Now there are three pairs of boys and their fathers, all of them doing laps in the left-most lane, while the fathers walk up and down the side of the pool, yelling at their kids about this or that. Thankfully for the ear-drums of everyone involved, they sometimes pause and talks amongst themselves, catching up on the news from the old country and funny videos they found on YouTube. Go figure.

This continues for the rest of the week. Suddenly, over the weekend, the loud-mouths are gone. Oh, the joy! It seems that the silent treatment has worked, the group decided to take their activities elsewhere. On Monday, much to everyone’s surprise, the Eastern-Europeans are back. Full-force, so to speak: there are now 6 kids doing laps in the two left lanes. Their fathers, however, have decided to save their voices: they only yell intermittent ‘words of inspiration’ from the lawn chairs they set up on the left side of the pool. No one knows where they got the lawn chairs.

Then, the unthinkable happens, things actually get worse. The Eastern-Europeans have an almost permanent claim on the left side of the lap pool: from just after 5 PM until the pool closes at 11 PM, they are there, talking, yelling and hassling the other swimmers. They’ve moved from irritating to all-out rude remarks. Sometimes, they even splash other swimmers, but that only happened a few times, when the issue of the lane usage came up. The men seem to take their lane ownership quite seriously, and splash anyone who might try and challenge them.

While all of this is happening, this rise to power of the six Eastern-European men, a separate power is developing in the right-most lane: Keefer Schulze and his wife are teaching their kids to swim. The family comes to the pool around 7 PM for a few hours every day during the same time as the Eastern-Europeans. Soon, Keefer works out a system with other swimmers that allows his family to use the right-most lane exclusively.

At first, the Eastern-Europeans and Keefer go about their own activities, largely ignorant of one another. The only reason that the Eastern-Europeans noticed the family in the right lane was when, once again, a swimmer from one of the middle lanes tried to use one of the two left-most lanes. At the time the lane was occupied by a boy and his mother. The mother was lounging at one end of the pool, not swimming, so the swimmer decided that it was fair to share the lane with the boy. This act of ‘aggression’ caught the attention of the Eastern-Europeans. Some wanted to yell at the swimmer, others wanted to splash him. But one very cunning man realized that to be in power, they didn’t need to yell, or to splash, or to outnumber their foes, they just need the will to do what the other guy wouldn’t. It’s not clear what they did to the swimmer, but he never ventured past the middle lane after that.

After a while, the Eastern-Europeans gained reputation and decided to come after Keefer, to take his lane. They come to the right side of the pool and begin splashing Keefer’s family. They know Keefer is tough, so to show that they mean business, one of the men dives cannonball into the pool, soaking Keefer’s son from head to toe. The men tell him that they want his lane. Keefer looks at the bored faces of his family, and he shows these men of will what will really is: he cannonballs into the pool, splashing his family. He then proceeds to splash all of the Eastern-Europeans.

After his family is dried off, he goes after the rest of the Eastern-Europeans: he splashes their kids, he splashes their wives, he throws water balloons at their parents and their parents’ friends, he throws water balloons at the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he throws water balloons at the people that owe them money.

And like that, he’s gone. Nobody’s ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story parents tell their children in the pool: “misbehave, and Keefer Schulze will splash you.”

Some say the Schulze family left the state, some say Keefer changed jobs and moved to a different town, yet others say that they have a pool in their new house. But one thing is certain, if Keefer Schulze is still around, he’s not going to risk being splashed ever again.

Red Cross 9

More Keith David goodness.

I do have one problem with the trailer: the bad guy speaks English. Forget the fact that aliens wouldn’t have the vocal chords or the necessary sounds for that. That’s not what I care about. This guy hates humans. So why does he lower himself to our level by learning and speaking English? If the design was up to me, this guy would speak his own language and we would have to use translators to understand him. But, whatever, I’m still anxious to see how this game turns out. I’ve even signed up for beta testing. Here’s hoping.

…are for idiots.

I’m sure some people might take offense at this, but I think that most of the safety features we see around us are there for the idiots. I am not using idiots as a mostly-defunct scientific term, I am referring to people who try to cut their hedges by lifting up a running mower, drunk college kids, most computer users and, of course, the mental giants who have received a Darwin Award.

When such dangerous inventions as the automobile and the personal computer were first being created and used, their operators were exceptional scientists with a deep understanding of their underlying workings. Then came the “users”. You know them perhaps all too well: people who drive on the highway with the parking brake that has been on for the last 40 miles; people who decorate their computer case with magnets and complain at the errors; people who don’t check their car’s oil levels and ignore the “idiot lights” on the dash, then wonder “what’s that screeching noise?”; people who hammer an AGP card into a PCI slot (the fact that the card had to be turned around, the heatsink and backplate removed, and, once again, a hammer needed to be applied, probably should have signaled STOP to the damn user, but they somehow missed the clues). And of course there’s the modern-day Einstein who set his RV’s cruise-control on and went in the back to get a coffee, thinking that the cruise-control was an all-purpose auto-pilot.

So, what’s the point here? The major thing I am driving at is that while the invention was still on the workbench, while there were few adopters of new technology, those that did use it were quite good at it. They had to be. But, once something moves into the realm of popular use, finding its place in the world of soccer moms and Joe Six-pack, the technology is no longer “safe”. As the user base increases from the hundreds or thousands into the millions, the average relative intelligence plummets. (Intelligence is relative to the technology: a PhD in sociology could have the same computer skills as his 3 year-old nephew.)

One of the main points of car advertisement is safety. Why? Because with so many people driving, there’s a large number of idiots who are likely to crash into you. One of the major points of modern operating systems is the obfuscation of important settings: Vista requires you to click through a warning form every time you want to make any update, from setting the monitor resolution to changing firewall settings. Why? Because tech support is tired of answering questions of dimwits who decided to make space on their computer by deleting the Windows directory. People who can’t set the clock on the VCR are making changes to their computers that I wouldn’t attempt without a backup!

The more people there are using a particular technology, the number of idiots is obviously higher. So, now we build safety features around the fact that people are morons and can’t use the technology properly. I’m not saying that there are no safety features built for other reasons, but when’s the last time a car commercial advertised a sturdier frame for when your SUV goes into a roll from a tire blow-out?

In the ideal world, the people using a product would know what the hell they are doing. And there probably wouldn’t be that many idiots walking around. Oh, dreams of worlds that could be but aren’t.

After more than a year with Blogger, I have decided to take a different road. Certainly it is one less traveled by: Blogger has a hell of a lot more blogs than WordPress.com. But hopefully it will be a warm new home for my ramblings, religious rants, surrealistic mumblings and a few mentions of miscellaneous occurrences in my mundane life.

Quite a bit of thought went into the change. I weighed the possible alternatives, including a return to LiveJournal, but in the end WordPress.com won out. I’ve actually hosted my blog here for almost a week now, tweaking it in parts, making sure that right off the bat I start with a blog I can be proud of. Obviously you can see that all my Blogger content has moved with me: all the past blogs and their associated comments are here to peruse. There are some minor incompatibilities that I’ll have to resolve with a few of the older posts, but overall I’m very happy with how smoothly the move has gone.

So, welcome!

Here’s a brief example of how to do function pointers in C++ and C#.
The functionality is the same in both examples: either the minimum or the maximum of two numbers is returned by MinOrMax, depending on a bool that is passed in along with the int’s…

(more…)

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