There are good rides, and I have plenty of them. Most of my 10-milers into town are good, the rest are pretty decent. Only a couple in the four months so far have been very unpleasant.
Then there are great rides. Here in Central Oklahoma we got only a little of the ice, and lots of sleet and snow, from a wet warm front blowing up off the Gulf and dropping all its juice down through a cold front lying heavy upon the ground. Today my elderly friended called and needed to get out to a few stores, having hibernated through this nasty weather. When I left the house, it wasn’t quite warm enough for serious melting. I got to ride over lots of packed, clean snow on my mountain bike.
That was utterly delightful. Then I got to hop of few plow drifts which had been dropped on the off-street paths set aside for bikes and such. I wonder of any of these Okies know that’s a violation of the ADA? Nah. Most Okies don’t care about such things. For me, it was just another way to test my skills, jumping ice mounds.
Coming home was a different matter. It was nearly 60°F and slush, run-off and lots of other nastiness plagued me. It could have been worse, but not by much. Still, today ranks up there with one of just a few memorable rides. Snow in Oklahoma!
It echoed in his mind, with the not-quite-painful thud each time the back of his head rocked against the wall behind him. It occurred to him the rail beds were in no better shape than any other public infrastructure. Thus, the freight cars rocked back and forth without any regularity in rhythm or depth, but with a rather annoying frequency.
It reminded him of the regret he felt in not waking up to the reality of things until it was past time to act.
Like a fool, he believed there would actually be some food given away as the fliers promised. He was cagey, but not shy enough.
A couple of blocks from the rail yard, he sat behind an abandoned house, up close to the rusting hulk of an old car. Watching the streets, he tried to gauge the kind of people heading down to the tracks. No good. He couldn’t tell much, couldn’t see any discernible pattern. A few hung back, but not as far back as he.
Shifting his position just a bit, he spotted some rail cars moving slowly in the yard. It was a wide, flat sand bed, covered with the double-fist sized chunks of hard stone common to all rail beds. He could see where some of the rails had been pulled up, cannibalized for the steel. The high fence which had always been there was now topped with a row of concertina wire. Hadn’t seen that stuff since his time in Iraq. He rubbed the twisted wreckage of his left lower leg, where he was one of the lucky few to survive a blast which killed all his friends.
It got him sent home, at least. Too bad his wife had already taken the kids and moved to Mexico with her boyfriend. At least, that’s what the note said at the nearly empty apartment. Sure, lucky.
The rail car on the far end of the siding track had one door slid open, and it looked just like FDA food boxes. He decided it was worth the risk, and joined the small but growing crowd just outside the gate at the end of the pavement where the street ran into the yard. Maybe this time, he really was just a little bit lucky.
On the edge of his consciousness, something nibbled. How many guards did they have securing that open rail yard gate? Too many, it turned out. It wasn’t a total lie, because the boxcar with FDA boxes did hold food, and it was being handed out. But no one got to leave. He turned just in time to see the gate closed behind them. Someone stepped up with a bullhorn, as more armed guards formed a circle around the crowd. The bag of food would be enough for the long ride to a work camp, they were told.
They could climb quietly and orderly into the empty boxcars or be subdued. It took only three examples of dissenters trying to climb the fence to explain what “subdued” meant. Death by roadside bomb would have been better.
A dozen times he could have made a different choice, but each time he took the wrong route. In just three months he went from wounded veteran shoved out the clinic door in a badly worn wheelchair, wounds hastily dressed and probably not all the shrapnel cleaned out. At least he was stitched up properly. He passed through three charity homes just before each one shut down, just missed out on several make-work jobs with room and board, got robbed of his chair, stayed too long in his old apartment building until it burned down… Yeah. Lucky.
No more. It didn’t matter any more. Something rose up within him.
He had been drafted for Iraq, and like other men who didn’t want to be there, didn’t believe in it, hated the whole thing, he obeyed orders just enough to keep from getting shot on the spot. That was a new, unpublicized means of dealing with the first wave of reluctant draftees. Unit commanders were permitted two rounds for any draftee who malingered. Fill out the paperwork, bury the body in country, and requisition another unwilling trooper. In spite of himself, he did learn the soldierly skills they tried to teach him.
No more regrets. From that moment on, he was a soldier again. He chuckled at the thought of fulfilling the old stupid ad campaign, “Army of One.”
They were headed to a work camp, and any operation involving that many people would inevitably leave gaps in security. Somewhere along the way, he would spot the vulnerability in the system, and fight back. He began visually scanning the rail car.
It wouldn’t matter if he died in the process. Anything was better than living in regret, a prison far worse than any slavery the government goons had planned for him.
I love playing good classical music when I’m trying to think. Notice I don’t claim to actually succeed at thinking, but I do succeed at listening to music.
It works best if you can find something capable of doing it consistently. It seems different on every distro I try. So here we are on Debian Lenny AMD64, and the desktop is KDE. No GNOME stuff, thank you. With my favorite, Xine, it kept locking up. I also tried Kaffeine, but relying the Xine engine, it did the same thing. I also tried Mplayer/Kmplayer. That would skip and hesitate, as if it couldn’t buffer enough. Of course, Kscd has no sound at all, so that’s pointless.
Finally, I tried Amarok. Immediately it did all the things it was supposed to do, and played my CDs just dandy. It’s a keeper.
My time in the limelight has faded; the tools here on this blog indicate very few visits the last couple of days. I’ve had my 15 minutes it appears, and only a precious few friends are likely to read this. It never mattered in the first place, because this blog is nothing more than my what the subheading says it is: “brain spew not fit to publish elsewhere.” For me, the Linux articles which got all the hits weren’t really central to my efforts here. People who think of me as Linux blogger don’t know me.
The business with Israel attacking Gaza was similar: It’s not what it appears to be. First, it’s very easy to prove Israel violated the cease-fire first. All Hamas ever really demanded from Israel was to remove the blockade. It’s also easy to prove Israel created Hamas as a foil to the PLO. When Hamas won a fair election, it ruined some big plans. So Israel has made themselves odious to most of the human race, and things will change. But it won’t really change what matters most.
While we are all distracted about something which is truly horrific there in the Levant, even worse things are taking place in the background. It’s more than the profits made by war materiel suppliers, though that is certainly a central issue. These people are supplying both sides of almost every war in every part of the world. War is their primary business, and business is booming for them. While it’s wholly unlikely Israel will fall as a nation, it wouldn’t matter to these people who make money from wars. They created Israel, but not for the ostensible purpose of giving back to all the world’s Jews, nor even the Holocaust survivors, their ancient homeland. The purpose was to keep attention away from efforts to centralize control over the whole world.
Not every nation today is on the same banking grid. Very big chunks of human economic activity are outside the grasp of these people. Several of the Islamic nations of the Middle East are off that grid. Some South American nations are threatening to pull off it. While the near-global economic crash is having the desired effect where it holds, those nations off the grid are relatively safe. What no one seems to realize is this is what every nation should want for themselves. Globalism may look nice, with its presumed efficiency of resource use, so-called free trade, and free access by all people to all places, that’s not the way it will turn out. Those things are being sold so the mega-bankers can gain control over every particle of human activity.
By having a nation without such wide open boundaries, problems in one place won’t affect another so much. That economic problems are inevitable is mostly ignored. These things come in cycles, and all the efforts to minimize the cycles, to dampen the natural waves, only make things worse, only increase human misery. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, and probably knows they are lying. Humans were designed by God to remain in discrete nations, and inside each of those are supposed to be smaller, tribal governments, clan governments, etc., down to the extended household. Actual civil governments have only one purpose: Defense and some limited coordination to mediate disputes. Civil government control of any degree is simply evil at that level. Social issues were meant to be resolved within the small society where they appear. Every effort to walk away from this model is doomed to failure, sooner or later. Brilliant theories to the contrary are just a delusion.
There have been previous efforts in human history to gain a truly worldwide governmental control, but it always failed when time ran out. The natural cycle of empires is fairly routine in human history. This time around, it may actually come pretty close before it collapses. Previous collapses meant truly grand loss of life. Because the scope of this current effort is so very large, the collapse will bring death on a scale undreamed of so far. Stalin’s 10 million will look small by comparison. Israel’s ugly little slaughter in Gaza, the US slaughters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, are just getting warmed up. Next up: Iran, Syria and another round for Lebanon. Except, somewhere in there, a lot more US troops are going to die.
That’s where the money is, death and destruction. Money is the the current means of control, and as long as we don’t see that, we are simply headed for a day darker than at any time in human history so far.*
*Note: The term “history” refers to events recorded, not events we believe came before good records were kept. The Fall and Babylon I were pre-history.
I’m not a mindless fanboy. There are things about Linux which fail. Just now, as I was doing some research on this post, I ran into a website which caused a race condition on my Lenny box. I had to start closing tabs one by one until the CPU meter dropped to a normal level. For the most part, it happens on sites with heavy media apps, and usually it’s Guardian or Telegraph, online UK news organizations. At least, that’s where I notice it most. Such hammering never happened on Windows machines when I visited those sites, because the browser plugins work better on Windows.
However, that’s a small price to pay for a certain level of security. I’ve had Windows machines compromised several times. I’ve never had a Linux box compromised. I keep wondering if each new killer virus is going to bring things to a crisis point. This Downadup/Conficker thing is grabbing a lot of machines. Peaking at 15 million or so, we’ve been told the experts expected worse. However, this is just the latest in several versions of the virus, and the creator is a highly skilled expert. It gets meaner with each upgrade. Take note: Even if you applied the patch from MS, it can still be passed around inside a network, via a USB memory stick, via email, and some other typical user behavior. Simply turning off AutoRun may not solve the problem.
Just what would constitute a crisis point? I’m not sure anybody knows. Right now, everyone is waiting for the virus to download part 2, whatever it is the thing is waiting to download to all the machines it now controls. I’m wondering just how nasty this thing can get. Of course, we note the worm is not having such good luck in Western Europe and the US, because of the higher likelihood of those machines having been patched, we are told. The virus seems strongest in locations where pirated copies abound. However, I note it’s not hard to get a pirate copy of XP which updates just fine, yet does not phone home via WGA. I can get one tonight, but I have no desire to make my system the property of the Redmond Borg.
I’m going to guess whomever is producing this virus is waiting until it gains traction here in the West. That is, the current herd of 15 million bots will be sending out the next version, or something even nastier. Whatever he and his friends plan to do with that large of a bot-herd can’t be nice.
Meanwhile, I’m keeping Lenny up to date, and I don’t trust my DSL router/firewall to do all the work. I’m using a fairly simple script I found here [dead link removed]. While it seems crackers do try to grab Linux boxes, or other types of Unix(-like) systems, such attacks are rather hard to automate. A part of me wonders whether such attacks will be stepped up if a large number of Win-boxes disappear or are replaced with Linux boxes, so that the target share for Linux gets bigger.
Over the past few years, as I began to apprehend the logic behind the Bible, I realized increasingly just how difficult it is to put into words. That is, all my years of training and experience in writing with clarity, translating difficult concepts into more common terms, I find myself utterly at a loss for words. It’s not something you can simply talk about in clinical terminology.
Even among committed fellow believers, it is very hard to get across. It doesn’t help the mere mention of it suggests they might have been taught wrong all this time. I’m not interested in correcting a millennium of Christian scholarship. There is simply this matter it doesn’t add up, and maybe there is something we’ve been missing for a long time. The problem is, how do I describe it without dredging up terms with bad connotations?
Because of my heavy background in Philosophy courses, I first began using standard academic terms. The problem is, they are all dismissive in nature. To call the culture of the Old Testament “Near Eastern Mysticism” implies right away it’s illogical. That’s not true. It has its own logic, and it’s not a form of logic we are used to, so it requires some time to absorb it. Trying to analyze it in Western terms, using a Western frame of reference, inevitably ends in painting Bible logic as suspicious, at best. Saying it’s more deductive than inductive might sound neutral at first, but because our whole orientation about just how it is minds can know something favors induction, it’s as if Bible logic is primitive. It did come first, but that’s no grounds for assuming we have somehow gotten better at thinking and knowing.
Adding to the problem is the realization no culture today is quite like it was then. There are tastes of it here and there, but most every place on earth has long since been swamped by tidal waves of other cultures. There’s too much proof modern Judaism is hardly Hebraic in outlook. Even by Jesus’ day the Jewish rabbinical colleges were too Hellenized to be genuinely Hebraic. Most of His arguments with the Jewish leaders of His day was criticizing their inability to regard their Scripture from the same set of assumptions under which it was written. They were bogged down in a shallow, literalist application of something produced from a very non-literal viewpoint.
So while I could attempt to use familiar terms, I can’t be sure readers would not still end up somewhere far off track. Try to realize, something which is not “logical” in the familiar, linear sense we are used to, does not automatically become “illogical.” The first pointer is trying to understand symbolic logic. The point behind word choice in Hebrew is not a concrete description, but to an attempt to transport you to the scene being described. You aren’t supposed to walk away knowing something you can recite, but come away with an imperative to act. There is a myth Hebrew people memorized huge tomes of material word-for-word, but all we see are paraphrases. So some New Testament writer “quotes” from an Old Testament passage and comes up with something we aren’t sure makes sense. That’s because they probably saw something we missed, because we are too doggoned literal minded about it. Let me suggest the Hebrew people didn’t memorize word-for-word until much later, when they were less Hebraic. Instead, they memorized the impact a story had on them, and transmitted that impact, though surely using some of the same words.
Context was everything. The Hebrew language itself was all about context, with far fewer words than modern languages, pulling them together and conjugating in strange ways. The intent was for the words themselves to transmit a sense of experience, not an objective and detailed description. They understood such a thing, but wouldn’t use it for something which really mattered. They could cite specific numerical counts, but we find their relaxed attitude about what numbers meant to be rather alarming. Words for numbers were often used with other meanings, and it gets real confusing to us. So a story told by one speaker in one context might be told quite differently in another context. That’s because the point in telling it might change. They were pretty casual about dropping out a lot of detail, because the impact was more important than the story itself.
So calling Bible logic “intuitive” is misguiding. It resembles intuition in the way it works — there is no straight-line path from question to answer. Part of it passes outside the realm of precise calculation, detours through an area which can’t be recreated by another person, because some part of the calculation is just not possible to put in words. Yet it is far more reliable, on its own terms, than something with mathematical precision. That’s the hard part for us to swallow: “success” is not measured in the same terms. They don’t consider being and doing in the same way we do, so knowing the precise nature of a thing is not necessary. They would be more interested in knowing just what it is you are committed to, not what you are (nature) or what you actually do (behavior). Results are measured in a changed or sharpened commitment, not so much what performance points were hit or missed.
And I’m still trying to figure it out myself.
In a certain sense, there is no law on the Internet. Sure, there are things you can do with the Internet which will get you in trouble with some governments, but that’s invariably a matter of governments protecting their prerogatives from the Net’s freedoms. As I understand it, the procedures for avoiding most governments’ notice is surprisingly easy for a savvy computer user (most of it has to do with using something besides Windows). By its very nature, the Internet is a place where plain old blind trust is the only way you’ll get much of anything done.
We are used to a certain amount of give and take. We tolerate ads on most sites we like to use because that’s how the sites pay the bills for hosting. If some sites are backed by large commercial operations, there is a certain transfer of trust bleeding over from the legal and ethical restraints which apply in brick-n-mortar space. Longevity of any service, coupled with popularity implying a certain level of user satisfaction, is the ultimate trust rating on the Net. However, should some service violate that trust, there tends to be a certain stickiness of continued use.
For example, YouTube recently removed some controversial videos, in particular those related to the 911 Truth Movement. This sort of action rubs Net activists the wrong way. It puts a dent in the level of trust for YouTube, tarnishing their image as generally fair. The difficulty for those who see any similar action as a problem of principle itself is in knowing it may prove difficult to get the average user’s attention.
The vast majority of those who enjoy the Net freedoms tend not to notice anything which doesn’t hit them square in the face. Further, many of them have developed a sickeningly high level of tolerance about such losses. Even when you do get them riled up and active, it’s often just one more form of entertainment, for which they quickly lose interest. These are the users on the Net who make it hardest for the few of us who take this more seriously. The biggest threat to us is really big companies using their really big viewership as a buffer to ignore the principles of trust.
I’m guessing YouTube will get away with this.
A couple of months ago, one of my clients asked me why I liked Linux so much. We discussed things we liked and disliked about various operating systems. This was no clueless user, but she was searching the options for finding something that was less work than XP. She knew enough to realize it was never going to be pain free, but she was unhappy with the constant hassles. I’m not a salesman, and she didn’t come to any particular conclusions, but the conversation got me thinking.
First, it got me wondering if there was a way to make Linux easier for people who didn’t love computers, just wanted to use one. Over the past month I took a grand tour reviewing the distros and alternatives, and ran through a fresh sampling of several. The whole point of the review was how well I believed I could make Linux easier for non-hobby users. My current conclusion is the result of messing about with Debian Lenny and Etch, openSUSE 11.0 and 11.1, CentOS 5, FreeBSD 6 and 7, several of the *buntus, etc. Having two harddrives makes it possible to remain sane and keep track of my other work on one drive while horsing around on the other.
Second, I found I could easily tie myself to a project like that and neglect my own personal preference. What I like for myself is not something I can recommend to average non-techie users. I admit I’ve gotten really tired of rolling release as well as any other system which requires I keep moving to newer stuff, even if it’s only yearly. Most of my clients would hate that vehemently, but I simply weary of it. I don’t have any problems with complicated configuration, but if there’s a wizard to do it for me, why not take advantage of it? For my clients, wizards would be obligatory, but for me it’s okay if I have ways to work around it. For example, during my OS wandering, I used SUSE’s SaX to create a really detailed and near-perfect
xorg.conf. It was good enough I recycled it when the distro (or BSD) in question didn’t do such a good job. It made a huge difference, and I wonder why more distros and BSDs don’t simply appropriate SaX for themselves, or create something similar. Politics, I’m sure, but while I readily permit Boycott Novell to link to my blog, it’s not out of any sympathy for their cause. My dislike for MS, and large corporations in general, does not extend to boycotts on principle if any of them offer something I can use without hurting myself. You have your principles, and mine are likely way-out-there compared to yours.
So while I’m keeping CentOS 5 on one harddrive, in order to support the project of creating a more non-techie friendly Linux meta-distro, it’s not what I really want to use for myself. I’ve always liked SUSE, regardless who owned it, but lately things aren’t going that well with SUSE on my hardware. I’m also not happy with certain package decisions, and it doesn’t help I find KDE 4 utterly repugnant. I actually prefer 3.x, and will encourage you to snicker or frown, or whatever else you might do to express your disagreement. Since SUSE leaves so many parts of KDE 3 broken, I’ll just take advantage of the SaX product and use it elsewhere. That “elsewhere” is running Debian Lenny for AMD64 on the primary harddrive.
My disparaging comments about Lenny 64 were in the context of what I could offer my clients. They would never have a clue how to develop a fully functional
xorg.conf. Unless it just so happened their combination of hardware was readily recognized by Xorg itself, they would revolt. Worse, they would have no idea how to search for and select the standard complement of multimedia packages, completely at a loss to pick through the all-too-generous inclusion of just about any Open Source software made by anyone anywhere. I still say having no default firewall configuration (such as SUSE and RHEL have) is a mistake, even as an option you can refuse. However, since no one has run into serious trouble with it, and complaints aren’t that loud, I don’t expect the Debian folks to change on that issue. It’s not enough to drive me away from running Debian.
The installation narrative follows.
I used the most recent ISO for Lenny’s KDE Installer CD. With my archived SaX-made
xorg.conf it was necessary to change the
FontPath statements to match Debian’s locations. I made sure none of the lines had that ancient “unscaled” tag, and put the 100dpi fonts before the 75dpi, simply because I’m using a large CRT. Most of the rest was copied wholesale, to preserve the full set of IDs for various sections in the final ServerLayout. Here is the relevant section for my Dell P-1230:
Section "Monitor" Option "CalcAlgorithm" "XServerPool" DisplaySize 404 303 HorizSync 30-130 Identifier "Monitor" ModelName "P1230" Option "DPMS" Option "PreferredMode" "1600x1200" VendorName "DELL" VertRefresh 50-160 UseModes "Modes" EndSection
A critical element for font display is the
DisplaySize line. Those are very close to the physical dimensions of my screen, and offer a perfect 4/3 ratio, so I end up with 100dpi as the hardware resolution without any other tweaking. I find generally nailing down as many variables as possible prevents unexpected behavior in the X server, so I included the nit-picking mouse and keyboard definitions, etc. Once I had this configuration in place, I restarted X and was rewarded with an excellent display. In particular, I note favoring 100dpi fonts on larger display resolutions produces a lot less fuzziness whether you choose TTFs or bitmapped fonts. I also made sure to run
dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config, selecting to enable bitmapped fonts, since I prefer Misc-Fixed in Konsole.
As you might expect, I added a few repositories to my
sources.list because I know what I like:
deb http://mirror.anl.gov/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free deb-src http://mirror.anl.gov/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free deb http://security.debian.org/ lenny/updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://security.debian.org/ lenny/updates main contrib non-free deb http://debian-multimedia.informatik.uni-erlangen.de lenny main deb http://deb.opera.com/opera/ lenny non-free
This allowed me to add easily the NVIDIA drivers, Gspca for my webcam, and includes:
- IcedTea Plugin
I removed the
swfdec because I have the Flash 10 beta for 64-bit in my
~/.mozilla/plugins and it works fine in Opera.
However, that’s only because my religion work includes dealing with a lot of videos online, and a few sites I visit require a graphical browser. For document rendering into plain text, nothing beats the Gecko engine, but it won’t work with the Flash beta. I’m pretty selective about which browser I use for the broad collection of sites I visit, and none of them do it all for me. Most of the time, for simple surfing and reading, I use Elinks. While it’s available in the repositories, I find the latest
0.12pre2 a significant improvement over previous versions because the developers have finally gotten rid of the ghost text effect which plagued my use of it in the past. I compiled that from source, making sure I had the development packages for SpiderMonkey, among others.
For email, I’m currently using Opera, but I’d much rather use Fetchmail, Postfix and Alpine. However, in this day when some 90% of all Net traffic is spam email, I understand the limitations which makes all the servers treat my internal mail server as a potential spam source and block me based on my IP address, which arises out of the AT&T home DSL pool. For now, I’m forced to use a client connecting directly to my remote mail server, and Mutt and Alpine both make that entirely too complicated. Yes, I’ve used Thunderbird, Kmail, Evolution and Claws. In the balance of evaluating the relative merits of each against the sometimes unreasonable preferences we all have, I’m finding Opera is the most tolerable for the way I like to work.
For no other reason than I like it that way, I’m sticking with the “pure 64-bit” theme. If everything we did made perfect sense, we’d be less than human. Despite reasonable arguments from Thomas Vander Stichele to the contrary, I still prefer 64-bit audio and video, and I’ve not found anything to compare with Xine. I make sure KDE calls that first on just about everything it knows how to play. It works the way I do for such things.
It bears mentioning here again: For the Logitech QuickCam Messanger which uses the Gspca5 driver, there is a conflict during the modprobe process. The system attempts to load the webcam as the default audio device, simply because it includes a microphone. The simplest way to prevent this is add one line at the end of your
options snd-usb-audio index=-2. This causes the webcam driver to load after the sound driver for my onboard MCP61 High Definition Audio is loaded and running.
I won’t pretend this makes any sense to most Linux fans, and Debian fans in particular. However, I think we can agree freedom is a good thing.