Friday, December 29, 2006

How old are the rocks? Don't ask the NPS

A very interesting news release regarding geology, books and the National Park System. Read on - feel free to post comments refuting this; I'm too lazy.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility: News Releases: As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan[...]

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Today we had snow. And ice. Well, most of the ice came down yesterday. But nonetheless, no school today for Alec, so he got to stay home. Tonight we played outside - watch the video to see more!

(click to open the video in a new window)

Oh, the eye? He got something in his eye Tuesday night when we were driving home. Flushed it out at home, still hurt Wednesday, so off to the pediatrician. No luck there - still hurt this morning, so over to Childrens Mercy Hospital to see the pediatric opthamologist. She found a bit of debris under his eyelid and cleared it out. Slight scratch on his eye (corneal abrasion), so he gets to wear an eyepatch till Saturday. Should all be healed up by Saturday! Tough kid...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How were Stalin and Lenin alike?

An essay I wrote for History class - 

After Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin rose to power and corrupted the plans, vision and goals Lenin had worked toward during and after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.  Stalin deified Lenin and himself, creating a ‘religion’ or cult of personality around his rule.  He changed the goal from international communism and social revolution to a single socialist country.  He changed the government from government by the workers to a dictatorial system ruled by him.  He twisted and used the principles and powers created by Lenin to enrich himself and protect his power.

Stalin was originally a ‘hanger on’, flirting around the edges of the Bolshevik party and revolution of 1917.  He came to greater power as Lenin rose to power with Trotsky.  Lenin had grand visions and ideals for implementing world socialism and eventual communism along the lines of Marx and Hegel.  However, the reality of governing the divisive Russian people led Lenin to realize that more autocratic means were required to implement his vision.  He put in place things like the secret police and government structures that were used by Stalin.  Lenin died in 1924, possibly from stroke, possibly from poisoning by Stalin.  After his death, Stalin rose to power against Lenin’s wishes as documented in his ‘Letter to the Congress’ of 1922 (MacKenzie, p140). 

Many views exist concerning the relationship between Lenin and Stalin, and the continuity of their leadership.  The official and contemporary Soviet view was that Stalin was the direct descendant of Lenin’s power.  An interesting point, though, is the official party history refers to the original Bolsheviks as the “dregs of humanity” (MacKenze, p144).  This begs the question how Stalin could be the true inheritor of the movement, if the original creators of the movement were considered enemies.  Dissident historians of the period, including Roy Medvedev, call Stalin’s rule an “unlimited dictatorship”, and a “tyrant […] cold bloodedly destroying millions of people” (ibid., p145).  Medvedev referrers to Stalin’s rule as a cult of personality.   A Russian exile, Alexander Solzhenitsyn considers Lenin, Stalin and the whole concept of the Soviet system a repressive, totalitarian system that was never well suited to the Russian people (ibid., p147).

How were Stalin and Lenin alike?  They were both powerful men, both capable of mastering internal Party intrigue, ruthless cruelty and hostility toward the Western world (MacKenzie, p147).  How were such similar people capable of creating such a diversity of opinion?  American specialist in Russian affairs, George F. Kennan points out some critical differences.  Lenin ruled autocratically to meet the needs of the Bolshevik movement.  He had the confidence to seek the best ends for his party.  Lenin also wrote most of the theories of the new Communist party, allowing him to speak from a position of authority (ibid.) Stalin had a much ruder upbringing, and combined with his minimal role in early Bolshevik actions led to a sense of inferiority.  This inferiority caused Stalin constant concern for the loyalty and respect of his colleagues.  Stalin was also paranoid and power hungry.  This created an atmosphere of fear and divisiveness under Stalin that was not present in Lenin’s rule (ibid., p148).  Under Lenin, the government and foreign policy were of a movement, under Stalin the government and foreign policy were of a single man.

Stalin betrayed the Communist movement, corrupting it and turning it into a totalitarian system.  He used the principles and tools of Lenin for self aggrandizement and to counter his deepset feelings of inferiority.  Lenin knew Stalin would be a poor leader and would corrupt his vision.  Stalin proved him right.  Among the diverse opinions about Lenin and Stalin, the most compelling one is that Stalin used the institutions created by Lenin for his own selfish ends.  He corrupted and twisted the vision Lenin left behind.

MacKenzie, D. & Curran, M. (2002). Russia and the USSR in the Twentieth Century (4th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth/Thompson.

iCal performance tip

When working with iCal, especially on older Macs (I have a G4-866 laptop), uncheck every calendar you have except the one you are working with. Especially uncheck subscribed calendars. There is a huge lag for some kind of string comparison when you have multiple calendars visible. Doubt if it's a problem with modern (G5 or Intel) Mac's but on this old beast it's a real PITA.

Post a comment if you know more about it, or have other suggestions!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

MacRumors Apple Ad Contest Results

The website, MacRumors, sponsored an ad contest for Apple fans - here's the winners at: MacRumors Apple Ad Contest Results

Well, I just spent 90 minutes browsing all the entries - all I can say is WOW! You can see all the entries, plus links to the music used at this MacRumors Forum thread. Remember - none of these are paid ad agency films, and the winner is a college student studying music history!

The winner, Generations, used this video technique to animate the foreground and background images separately.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sloppy - the slow proxy for dial-up modem speed simulation (slow down)

Sloppy - the slow proxy for dial-up modem speed simulation (slow down): "Sloppy deliberately slows the transfer of data between client and server.

Example usage: you probably build web sites on your local network, which is fast. Using Sloppy is one way to get the 'dial-up experience' of your work without the hassle of having to install a modem."

Four Seconds Max

This is an excellent article discussing the speed of web pages: (dead link 2015)

A couple of bullet points from the article:

  • The consequences for an online retailer whose site underperforms include diminished goodwill, negative brand perception, and, most important, significant loss in overall sales.
  • Online shopper loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers and those with greater tenure.
  • JupiterResearch recommends that retailers make every effort to keep page rendering to no longer than four seconds.

Also, Jakob Nielsen has two good articles on the same topic:

Those reference research dating from the 1960s' - 10 seconds is about the max you want to go.

Interesting stuff.

You can also check out the original papers by Goodman and Spence from the 70s

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cottonwood Falls and Chase County

Friend of mine at work sent me these great links after we were talking about the Flint Hills.

Cottonwood Falls River and Bridge

and a huge page about Chase County and the Chase County Courthouse

Mighty cool stuff right here in our back yard. . .

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I Love Commerce Bank Online Bill Pay

Just got off the phone with this nard from one of my less savory creditors. They claimed I owed them another payment, and that I hadn't made a payment since September!

I pull up the Online bill pay page, search for the payee and see a payment was sent out last month. I had the check number, confirmation number, and the cancelled check, front and back. I read off the info from the back of the check to this nard and he conceeded that I may have made the payment (may?!?) and that'd he'd mark it as paid.

All that took about 3 minutes.

I imagine if I had to try to do that with paper checks and a check register it would have taken more effort than just giving the guy another payment.

I love commerce bank online bill pay!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

THE FATAL FREEDOM (The Tragedy of the Commons)

THE FATAL FREEDOM (The Tragedy of the Commons): "Coercive force which is centered in the modern state cannot be sustained in the face of the active resistance of some 10 percent of the population unless the state is willing to embark on a deliberate policy of genocide directed against the value dissident groups. The factor that sustained the myth of coercive force in the past was the acceptance of a common value system. Whether the latter exists is questionable in the modern nation-state"

What's truly bad - I sit here reading this horrible text, well backed up with quotations from Locke, Hobbes, Goffman and Dawkins, while I eat cheezy potato chips and drink a cold brewski. I am an American! Pass the dip, please...

PS - don't even go to this website if you're feeling a bit down about things. It is incredibly depressing.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday at the Zoo

Carol, Alec and I decided to take a trip to the zoo this afternoon. Perfect weather and the trees are at the height of their fall colors. I took a few photos and posted them to my photo gallery. Click on the image (below) to see the rest!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Comparison between scp and sftp

The good people have created a comparison between the protocols - including technical details and a comparison grid. Nutshell: SCP is faster, SFTP is more feature rich.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Inside the Worst Congress Ever

Rolling Stone : COVER STORY: Time to Go! Inside the Worst Congress Ever: "One could go on and on about the scandals and failures of the past six years; to document them all would take . . . well, it would take more than ninety-three fucking days, that's for sure. But you can boil the whole sordid mess down to a few basic concepts. Sloth. Greed. Abuse of power. Hatred of democracy. Government as a cheap backroom deal, finished in time for thirty-six holes of the world's best golf. And brains too stupid to be ashamed of any of it. If we have learned nothing else in the Bush years, it's that this Congress cannot be reformed. The only way to change it is to get rid of it."

Clean Up PHP Form Input

Clean Up Form Input [php] [forcodegrrl]: "Basic cleanup of user form input."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sprint / Cableco partners new purchase

Sprint and the cable companies have made a joint venture to do something wierd with wireless and wired communications. So, step one: Spend 2.37 Billion - with a B - to buy up honkin big chunks of new radio spectrum. And, what are they going to do with this?

Comcast Investor Relations: Investor News: "While no plans have as yet been finalized, including no specific plans to build out the networks at this time[...]"

Outch. Very nice. They dropped 2.3 billion and have no idea what they want to do with it.

More detail at the link above, and you can read all about cellular phone radio spectrum and the recent auction at PhoneScoop in their in-depth guide.

Monday, October 16, 2006

21 protests in 5 hours!

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Mark Thomas on demonstrating near the Houses of Parliament: "I really should get a proper job."

Four Days in 30 Seconds

Nathan has set up a web cam for pointed at 9th and Main streets in Winfield. He takes an image about every 15 minutes and has combined them into a quicktime timelapse movie.

It's really amazing, watching the traffic and shadows and daylight move across in such a short time.

Check out the video!

(Quicktime, opens in new window, about 10 MB)

More neato-wizardry: Overland Park has put the feeds from their traffic cameras online. You can view it on a map with neat mouse-over images from around town, or as a list - you can also view live video from some of the intersections. 119th and Glenwood is the Sprint Campus entrance / exit.

Kansas City DOT has the "KCScout" traffic cameras on all the busy highways around the area. Note that most of em are the ones by my house. Sigh. Anyway, check the 'camera' box on the left of that page to see the camera locations.

Fun with public surveilance!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Finally uploaded the photos from the trip to the HSTA STAR rally in Avon Colorado:

Click the photo for the gallery!

Alec Fall Photos

Alec and I have had a busy month - we went to a birthday party at the end of September:

Then, he made a book to keep his Yu-Gi-Oh cards in:

And went to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival:

Then this weekend we played out at Shawnee Mission Park:

(Click any of the photos to see the Gallery at Mylanders...)

TexSTOC Motorcycle Trip Photos Online

Back from TexSTOC, great ride - 2500 miles, 4 days and a bit. Must see country. To see more of the photos, check out the TexSTOC 2006 Photo Gallery at Mylanders. 42 of the best photos from the trip, even a few of the people!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Response from Dennis Moore

In my previous post, I sent a letter to my congress man, Dennis Moore asking about the defnition of terrorism in HR 6166. I got a reply back - a pre-printed meom with "Here is the material you requested" and a printoff of the Congressional Quarterly fact sheet on the bill. More than likely, all that he knows.

And, no, it never did address the definition of a terrorist, as specified on para 24 of section 950v, HR 6166.

It did mention that hearsay evidence is now allowed in military tribunals, until the defense can prove it's wrong. . .

Y'all best be voting come November, Mmm Kay?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Definition of terrorism

Quiet day at work, so I surfed out to the Library of Congress to check out the text of the latest terror bill, HR 6166. (note - big-old-pdf file there, 90 pages)

Specifically, the definition of a terrorist (page 76, starting on line 21). As I read it, it's rather fuzzy, so I sent the following letter to Dennis Moore, my representative here, who voted for this measure.

In the recently passed HR6166, I have a question about paragraph 24 of section 950v, the definition of a terrorist:

It reads that a terrorist is any person who (kills) or (engages in an act of wanton disregard for human life to intimidate the gov't or civilians)

Then it gets fuzzy. The next clause says "or to retaliate against government conduct" - is that an explanation of (engages in an act), or is that a separate clause that could be read as:

"A terrorist is a person who engages in an act to retaliate against government conduct".

If it's the second reading, I have a real problem with that - Donating to the Green party, attending a demonstration or voting against Bush could all be seen as acts retaliating against government conduct. This e-mail could be seen as such an act.

Could you please have your staff research this and get back with me?

I wonder what I'll get back on this. . .

Friday, September 22, 2006

Movie to rent The Librarian

Quote about security engineering

It's hard to find all the security bugs in a piece of software:

"It's like microwave popcorn. You nuke it and in the first few minutes you can get almost all of the kernels (exploits) popped. Then the rate of popping slows down. After a while, you simply have to stop or else you'll burn right through your profit (of warm, yummy popped corn)."

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Ah, Fall. In Kansas, Fall is when everything turns green again, after the harsh dry summer.

Click for a short video of my lawn and flowers...

Awesome Quote

"Makes me want to reach for a rapid-fire assault-lawyer"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Odd hack - negative screen

On your Macintosh, press [ctrl] [option] [command] 8 all at the same time.

Flips all the colors to negative.


Fun, but weird. Odd bit - you cannot screen capture the reverse image.

New Photo Links

Over ---> There! On the right - down a bit - I've added the most recent and 'random' images from my personal photo gallery over on Mylanders. I think it's stable enough that everyone can go look at the photos. If you get a lot of 'broken' or missing images, drop me a line.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Picture Share!

Whit Brown still working at 8pm!

A Picture Share!

Clear view was the vendor today. Free hot dogs and test rides with their screens.

WeSTOC Photos - The Road to WeSTOC

Photos from the trip out to WeSTOC are online at my gallery:

Sept 2006: The Road To WeSTOC

A Picture Share!

Now that is a wind screen!

A Picture Share!

Time to wash the bike

How do you call in sick to a vacation? After the rain in New Mexico I came down with a nice cold. Today I rest and head to the library.

A Picture Share!

After a rainy first day we had great riding weather in Colorado.

A Picture Share!

Saturday we arrived in new mexico. Now I am in Golden Co. Finally have PCS service!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Off to WeSTOC!

Heading out for WeSTOC 2006 in Colorado. Like before, watch this space for SprintPCS picturemail posts, Audioblogger posts, and this time maybe even a few real photos. I have to take my laptop for my college course, so when I stop to do my quiz, I may even update the blog...

Till later,


Monday, August 28, 2006

The Dot and The Line

I just bought this book yesterday, after looking off and on for the past 15 or 20 years. I had a copy when I was a kid, and fondly remember the animated special, directed by Chuck Jones. While the book is easily available, if you care to click and buy, you cannot for love or money buy the animated special by itself. However, a pointer from the Math Fiction website mentioned that a recent re-relase of an old Doris Day movie has this short included as a special feature.

So I go digging and find "The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)" at Amazon for $11 or so. They even mention in the DVD features section that it includes the "Oscar-winning cartoon The Dot and the Line"

How cool. They should reverse the text - Oscar-winning cartoon The Dot and the Line, includes a free Doris Day movie. :-)

To the vector belong the spoils!

Mathematical Fiction Homepage

Mathematical Fiction Homepage: "The Mathematical Fiction Homepage is my attempt to collect information about all significant references to mathematics in fiction."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Alec's First Day of School

Alec started Kindergarten on Monday; both his mom and I got to spend the first half hour there with him. He was really excited, and after 4 days still seems to like it. Kind of a change for him having to be to school at 8:00 AM (change for me too!)

A few photos from that wonderful day:

Here we are hard at work coloring his first project!

It's Alec!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dem in 08? Not likely

Why? Easy. They have 18 months (less really) to build a cohesive broad platform other than "Bush is Bad". And they are rearranging the deck chairs making sure everyone has a 'special' seat to sit in.

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 08/18/2006 | Catering to constituency groups rouses friction among Democrats:
"the Democratic National Committee's Rules Committee debated and adopted two new proposals - one aimed at creating 'inclusion programs' for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and the disabled; the other designed to enforce a new party move to give African-Americans and Hispanics a bigger voice in picking presidential nominees."

Great. Include everyone. But lets hear some IDEAS. Some PLANS. A *real reason* to vote for your party. Sheesh.

I'm cranky today.

UPDATE, 30 seconds later.

I figured I should check my sources before I go off on a tangent. So I went to I see 1) "Bush Sucks". 2) Send Me Money. 3) Oh - more deck chairs!


And these folks haven't a chance, but they're saying the right stuff...

Kung Fu Monkey: FISA in One Syllable Words.

Kung Fu Monkey: FISA in One Syllable Words.: "Have you secured the ports yet? Secured the chemical plants? Figured out a way to scan all the luggage on US flights? Worked out the kinks in the retarded 'No Fly' list? Started buying up some of the 2,000 loose nukes in Russia? Gotten first responders the equipment they need in case of emergency? Fixed FEMA and Homeland Security? Caught Osama Bin Laden? Tell you what, nail down the jobs that don't require you to wipe your ass with the Constitution first."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Elgato equips Macs with digital, analogue USB TV tuner | Reg Hardware

Elgato equips Macs with digital, analogue USB TV tuner | Reg Hardware: "TV tuner maker Elgato has announced EyeTV Hybrid, a twin-tuner - digital and analogue - dongle that pops into a USB port to deliver television programmes straight to your Mac's display."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Something to ask your childs teacher

Do you teach critical thinking, logic, problem solving, and the scientific method as applied to making everyday decisions?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kung Fu Monkey: "Wait, Aren't You Scared?"

Must Read:

Kung Fu Monkey: "Wait, Aren't You Scared?": "Who the hell am I supposed to be scared of? Joseph Padilla, dirty bomber who didn't actually know how to build a bomb, had no allies or supplies, and against whom the government case is so weak they're now shuffling him from court to court to avoid the public embarassment of a trial? The fuckwits who were going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches? Richard Reid, the Zeppo of suicide bombers?"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Caves in Kansas?

Caves in Kansas?

Actually, some kind of deep underground storage cut into the limestone bluff above the Kansas River near Bonner Springs, KS (click for sat. view)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Motivational Posters from games

Some I thought were funny, from the forums


More to follow . . .

Motivator: Inspire! Motivate! Mock!

Motivator: Inspire! Motivate! Mock!: "you now have the power to turn a simple photograph into an inspirational message that will burn forever in the hearts and minds of dozens."

Make your own (de-) motivational posters. Some examples above...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Compress For The Web With 3ivx

I've been using 3ivx to compress videos for this blog - the last few have been big because I was using 1600kbits/sec, 29.97 FPS etc.

However, a (poorly indexed by google) video blog has suggested to use the following settings:

800 kbit/sec
32kbit/sec AAC audio

I'll try that in the future; see what happens.

Cat vs. Pizza

Peridot may not be quite right in the head. But she did win the battle! Click for the 2:15 video (15 meg)

PS - an hour after I taped that she's *still* going after that pizza crust!

First Time in 8 Years

8 years I've been using Macintosh computers, starting with the Rev 'A' iMac. For the very first time I have had a hard crash (kernel panic for those UNIX geeks out there):

Click for an enlargement.


Johhny Playing T-Ball (video)

Clip from Johnnies t-ball game last night. (1:36, 18 meg QT6)

(copyright 2006 w. england)

Side note - all that was shot hand-held. The zoom at the end was 10x to 4x! The optical image stabilization on the camera works really well!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

First video from new Camcorder

New camcorder, new videos. First pass - works as designed. Captured 'widescreen', imported to iMovie and exported as QT .mov file with the letterbox bars as designed. Click the photo to look at the 43 second clip. (2.4 meg)

(No, I wasn't at my best when I taped that clip...)

Update: OMFG I need a *faster* mac. I imported 16 minutes of 16:9 anamorphic video. Before iMovie can do anything with it, it has to letterbox it. So far, 20 minutes later, it's less than 1/2 done with letterboxing the imported video. Argh! 866mhz just doesn't cut it anymore for DV editing...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!

Alec shooting fireworks

Fixing the Basement Floor

OK - house is emptying out, just Alec and I. So, time for that 30 year old stained nasty carpet to go and something better to be put in. Not that I have the immediate cash flow, but here's a few notes for my own reference on concrete basement subfloors and so on.

The two problems:

1) The basement floor is concrete and gets slightly damp.
2) The basement ceiling is only 7'. No room for a true framed subfloor

Solutions? Engineered basement subfloors.

The original product, Dri-Core is a waferboard with waterproof backing and air flow spacers underneath. Basically, you just toss it on the floor, and put your carpet, engineered wood or tile on top.

A few user installation notes:

Another new competing product is 'SubFlor' - looks interesting, although I don't find much on Google about it.

Seems like the major difference is DriCore is sold through Home Depot, and SubFlor through Loews. :-)

Next Steps: Carpet (safe) or engineered hardwood (bit riskier) over the subfloor?

Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Our 'ValGal' prez

This blogspot post outlines a few of the more egregious 'Valley Girl' phraseologies from dear Pres. Bush...