Saturday, July 14, 2007

Noh Reservations, Patty Dew

Anthony Bourdain kicks a$$ and takes names. I thought that the Food Channel was going down the tubes when the show No Reservations left. Compared with the pablum that is usually served by the foodie network I thought Tony Bourdain was GREAT. I was televideologically devastated when he abandon the ship and left it to only us rats.

Ah but my faith in humanity was resurrected... The Travel Channel had the good sense to recognize that Bourdain's travels to eat in exotic places were twice as interesting as just the eating as displayed on the Fud Channel.

Enter of all groups... Red Hat - those wacky Linux folks... who in an attempt to show just how well rounded they are... publish a 'Summer Reading List'. Now sure there are some 'nerd' titles... Infotopia and Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software... But I was very pleasantly surprised to see the first book listed as The Nasty Bits by none other than Anthony Bourdain. Oh yeah!

Bonus: Anthony Bourdain sometimes slithers into the blog of his alleged friend Michael Ruhlman and post rants and raves.

Progressive Urban Folk

In my world 'The Saint' is not the fictional character recently portrayed by Val Kilmer and earlier by Roger Moore. 'The Saint' is my wife of nearly 25 years. To have put up with me for nearly a quarter century is proof in and of itself that she has saintly qualities. So when The Saint speaks I pretend to ignore her...while hanging on her every word...

She was listening to Tom Waits'* (Looking for the) Heart of Saturday Night featured on NPR's Barren River Breakdown. Her observation was that she never hears Waits on the radio. Which in turn prompted me to observe that it is difficult to classify Waits' music. What genre does it fit into?

The Saint replied, "Progressive Urban Folk".

I liked the sound of it. Spoke clearly to me of his musical experimentation style (Progressive). His gritty inner-city themes and flavors (Urban). As well as his just plain down to earth, street level raw emotion (Folk). So you can imagine how surprised I was to see him labeled; Rock/Pop.

Any hoooo, I will be sticking with The Saint - seein' as how she's stuck with me all these years. :)

Wear our hearts on our...T-Shirts.

borrowed from NobodyAsked

Thanks Frank

Thursday, July 12, 2007

LenovO vs. LenovA

If you Google 'lenova' you are asked if you meant 'lenovo' which is a courtesy extended by the great and munificent Goz. Which would be alright but the Goz then goes on to list a number of entries for 'lenova'. Which prompts me to ask if there is a mass misspelling of the name of the company? Or is it a gender thing; masculine lenovO or feminine lenovA?

Anyone have any insights on this?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Don't even consider Linux!

I have a growing feeling. A feeling that I cannot deny. It is a sense that Linux is suffering. It is suffering from 'Joe-Average-Everyday-Desktop-itis'. And I would like it to stop. So I am pleading with you gentle reader - Don't even consider Linux.

When I came innocent to the Linux fold in 1996 I wanted a better Operating System. I wanted to be unshackled from the bonds of corporate megalomaniacs who insisted that they knew what was good best for me. I wanted stability, security, and a clean fast PC. I wanted to be captain of my own ship, steering my own computing destiny.

By sheer dumb luck I stumbled upon Slackware. I would like to tell you that it was a well researched intelligent decision. I would like to tell you that I made an informed choice. I would like to tell you that I listened to the voice of popular opinion. Nope, I just bought the book and CD-ROM that caught my eye. A book that at the time I could afford.

So when I read the following article from Think Thick it struck a resonate chord with me. Among other things it speaks to the work that a user must do to make the most of Linux. I believe this work is exactly what set Linux apart from the other OSs. In addition I believe that this prerequisite work is what is missing from the 'Joe-Average-Everyday-Desktop-itis' distros that tout themselves as the next great Linux.

Then I came across this excellent article from entitled Slackware 12: The anti-'buntu. From the title alone I knew the author had hit the nail on the head. Then I had this great idea. I would respond to the Think Thick '10 Things' article (in RED) with excerpts from the 'anti-'buntu' article (in GREEN). So here goes... (NOTE: You should read each article independently too.)

Confessions of a Linux Fan: 10 Things You Might Want To Know Before Switching Over To Linux

1. The basic installation of most mainstream Linux distributions is very easy, but a first time user might run into trouble when trying to depart from the defaults.

The "setup" script is a simple menu-based utility. The SlackBook, a well-written reference manual and tutorial on how to install and use Slackware, has a good walk-thru of the process (including screenshots). It's quite simple and fast, if you take the setup utility's recommendation and install everything (which avoids the setup utility asking you which packages you want to install).

2. If you want a proper Linux installation, you are going to have to mess around with the partition table.

Before running setup, however, you will need to parition your hard disk, if you haven't already. (I personally prefer to create partitions prior to installing a distro, regardless, using the GParted live CD.) Instead of providing a graphical partitioning utility (like gparted), Slackware offers you fdisk (which is completely command-line-driven) and cfdisk.

3. You will have to learn how to use the command line.

Now it's time to get busy adding a regular user account and configuring the X server. There are two utilities you can use to configure X, "xorgconfig" and "xorgsetup". The former will prompt you to provide quite a bit of detail about your hardware; the payoff is an "xorg.conf" that's extremely well-commented (i.e. the purpose of each section is explained). The latter will do the configuration automagically, but leaves the comments out.

4. All those pretty effects of wobbly windows and cube desktops require some work from the user.

If you're planning on installing the proprietary NVIDIA driver, this is a good time to do it. If you installed everything, you'll already have the needed kernel source. Using "xorgsetup" is the better than using "xorgconfig" if you're going to install the NVIDIA driver. I chose to let the NVIDIA installer write its own entries to "xorg.conf" after running "xorgconfig", and it made a huge mess of the comments.

5. Yes, more hardware works with Linux than with Windows. No, not all hardware works 100% like it's supposed to.

(See #4)

6. If you need/want to install a package not included in the repositories, or install from source, you might need to do some research.

To help you compile programs from source, there's a utility named checkinstall. After running the standard "./configure" and "make" commands in your source directory, you run "checkinstall" instead of "make install", and it will create a Slackware package for you (and also install it, if you choose). See checkinstall's README file for more information. (Although checkinstall was included in the "/extra" directory of the Slackware installation media until the very last minute, it was removed due to some sort of incompatibility. As of this writing, a new version hasn't been released yet.)

7. Most mainstream software manufacturers forget about Linux.

My guess (by looking at my package logs) is that the entire Slackware distro proper consists of somewhere around 800 packages, give or take. (Contrast this with Debian's pool of around roughly 18,000 packages.)

8. Linux is not for the meek of heart.

Compiling from source can sometimes be frustrating, but that's usually the fault of the software developer. For example, Slackware includes a nice bittorrent client named "bittornado" in its "/extra" repository, but doesn't include wxPython, which you need to install in order to run bittornado in GUI mode.

9. Linux is almost entirely virus/trojan/spyware free, but you will still need some kind of protection.

The Slackware article makes no mention of virus/trojan/spyware so I am including the '10 Things' answer...
Protection for Linux usually means a firewall, either installed in your computer, or in a router/hardware firewall. This, of course, implies a little bit more work for the user.
10. Linux assumes that you are an intelligent person.
And then there's Slackware, which is more traditional. Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution; its first version came out in 1993. Version 12 was recently released. As its Wikipedia entry notes, it's got a reputation for sacrificing ease-of-use (in terms of configuration and package management tools provided by the distribution) in favor of letting the end user configure the system and its software by herself.
If you want an easy-to-use Linux distribution that doesn't make you work too hard, Slackware might not be for you. On the other hand, if you want a distro that's quick to set up, and know how to configure it by hand (or aren't afraid of learning to), you might fall in love with Slackware. It's definitely an interesting way to learn how to use Linux. And it's definitely a way to get a stable server up and running in very little time.

So your only real choice is Slackware! And if you are not up for the challenge then please ... Don't even consider Linux!

New Perspectives in Psychology ...just not PC!

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature


Human behavior is a product both of our innate human nature and of our individual experience and environment. In this article, however, we emphasize biological influences on human behavior, because most social scientists explain human behavior as if evolution stops at the neck and as if our behavior is a product almost entirely of environment and socialization. In contrast, evolutionary psychologists see human nature as a collection of psychological adaptations that often operate beneath conscious thinking to solve problems of survival and reproduction by predisposing us to think or feel in certain ways. Our preference for sweets and fats is an evolved psychological mechanism. We do not consciously choose to like sweets and fats; they just taste good to us.

The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.

Emphasis mine...

It is about (explicative deleted) time that somebody called a spade a shovel!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My daughter is on mission...

Rosemary, my eldest daughter, is on a mission trip. I cannot say where, only that it is half the world away. She is acting upon her faith. I must act accordingly.

Rosemary is truly away from home. For the first time she is not within emergency driving distance of concerned parents who would come if she called. Though she is with a group of good people she is alone with her God. Alone she can turn only to prayer and faith. Alone she is her own person.

I learned long ago that the greatest gift that I can give my children is to leave them alone. This is not to say that I cease to exist. Rather that I, while being available, allow my children to make their own way in the world. To that end it is I who must have faith. Faith in the knowledge that my children, autonomous, are capable of meeting the world without my heavy hand resting gently on their shoulder.

I must have faith as well that what ever might befall my child(ren) is as it should be. Early in their lives I observed that I could not prevent them from falling off their bicycles. Short of banning bicycles there is no way to prevent the inevitable pull of the Law of Gravity. I realized that my children will suffer at the hands of the world. Let me be clear that I take absolutely no personal comfort or pleasure in this awareness for I too have fallen and have endured skinned elbows and road-rashed knees. I do have some small insight into the implications of 'taking things on faith'.

So it is upon faith that I place my fears and concerns. The mind is a fertile field. In it can grow any number of horrific scenarios. My responsibility is to sow the fields with the seeds of faith knowing that what grows is as it should be - not as I would have it.

I can hear the critics voices, echoing a classic concern, "What if your daughter does not return?" I would be heart broken. A light in my life will have been extinguished. Here the key words are 'my life'. Too often we mourn the loss of a loved one as though it were their responsibility, something that they 'did' to us, something that they 'took' from us. When in fact our loss is a selfish clinging to what we knew not what we know.

It is my daughter's faith that has taken her on mission. She has no real knowledge of God's plan. She can take no solace or succor in personal comfort. She will be challenged in all her senses. Even the very concept of faith that has empowered her to take this bold step will be challenged. She knows that her life and perhaps her death is in God's hands. Who then am I to argue with God? Who am I to question the outcome of my daughter's journey of faith?

If my daughter does not return then my heart will be broken. A far greater catastrophy would be to have my daughter return and learn that her faith had been broken. I would much rather have my daughter wrapped in the loving arms of her Lord than returned to me empty and broken.

I cannot prevent my children from falling off their bicycles... I can only stand by the side of the road and watch.
Bless you and keep you Rosemary where ever you may ride.


- Papa

Curious juxtaposition

Here it is my intent to report a blog phenomena, to faithfully represent these posts as they were actually presented in my reader ... the presentation of two completely different bloggers in proximity to one another.

Great minds ... think!
thanks Frank
thanks Hugh

P.S. Notice their choice of tags.

Power, patronage, and popularity

The historical situation that is being pointed to is one in which artists have ceased to be attached to some nobleman’s entourage and now form a “class” of their own, a group apart, so that their circle of acquaintance consists of other artists. No longer enjoying aristocratic patronage but unable to look to the bourgeois for comprehension… their poems can be dedicated only to each other. But two further points arise in this connection. First, to the extent that the traditional function of the dedication as a means of seeking “political” protection and hence as an acknowledgment of social power survives here in a new guise, the esthetic dedication reveals to us an interaction, in Baudelaire’s social environment, between the world of art and the world of the “majority” with its “strength” - a majority whose taste, as a consequence of its strength, is what determines artistic reputation.
Baudelaire’s Dedicatory Practice
Ross Chambers
SubStance, Vol. 17, No. 2, Issue 56

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