Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Global warming

Is our wasteful, polluting society causing global warming? Maybe. Who knows?

Is pollution therefore harmless? No, of course not.

Everybody forget about global warming in politics. It's like arguing over whether it will rain tomorrow, when right now your house is burning down. Tree-huggers can find plenty of other environmental disasters that greedy slobs will have a harder time dismissing.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

You can't get fooled again

A couple of thoughts stirred up by a recent Motley Fool on NPR:

First, the CEO of Netflix claims that he does not know the meaning of the word "throttling." Nor does he know the meaning of the word "unlimited."

Hastings said the company has no specified limit on rentals, but "`unlimited' doesn't mean you should expect to get 10,000 a month."

I'd be okay with it if Netflix advertised "up to 9,999 movies per month." But that's still not unlimited. Perhaps this guy has been using the same dictionary that Congress has.

Second, some guy was pitching his book, The Wal-Mart Effect, which is deliciously ironically available on walmart.com. He didn't quite have the spine to call Wal-Mart evil, but apparently he dug up enough dirt to make it obvious.

He explained that Wal-Mart creates and takes advantage of sweatshops in other countries even though OSHA wouldn't stand for such things here. What he didn't mention (at least on the radio) is that Wal-Mart creates them here, too.

While it would be nice if the United States would forbid or at least restrict trade with countries that don't respect human rights, it's not going to happen. China would be first on the list, and it would be political suicide to even mention cutting off trade with them.

Here at home, though, we can make baby steps. Wal-Mart, like all big companies who are practiced and skilled at breaking the law, points its finger. "It was the contractor who hired the illegal immigrants, so you can't blame us." Bullshit. If a person gets caught buying stolen goods from a shady character in a dark alley, that person isn't allowed to keep the stuff. The stuff goes back to the proper owner. And the buyer may be facing charges for possessing stolen property.

If Wal-Mart makes (saves) money by hiring out its dirty work, it has no right to that money. That money should go to the workers from whom it was taken, illegally, in the form of unpaid wages. Wal-Mart should be fined punitive damages as well, the amount increasing each time they do it.

Corporations have no soul, no morals, and no God save The Bottom Line. They aren't swayed by stern warnings the way people can be, and you can't put one in prison. They will follow the law if and only if doing so is more profitable than otherwise. We must make it too expensive for them to break it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dubya in 2008

Please join me in my campaign to repeal the 22nd Amendment. With the lesser Bush's approval rating in the toilet, there's no better way to show what we think of him.

Each so-called Republican needs to look into his heart and ask if Bush deserves a third term. Gas profits are at an all-time high. Osama is as free as a bird. Iraq is in civil war. And all in just six short years! Think what other missions we could accomplish in another six. The Constitution shouldn't stand in the way of Patriotism. If you believe in true American freedom, you'll reelect Bush.

Update: An Executive Order establishing a Continuity Presidency is on its way.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

DVD burning resolved

Lately I've been suffering from a couple of ultimately unrelated problems when trying to burn DVDs (in Linux). I'm repeating what I found elsewhere in hopes it's easier to find for the next guy.

First off, burning was horribly slow, and the CPU usage was abnormally high while burning. Turns out KDE has copied Microsoft's dubious auto-insert notification. The solution: turn it off. BTW, KDE, it's ridiculous that the dialog box that pops up does not offer an option to turn off the daemon forever. As others point out, K3B should also detect the problem and warn about it. I wonder if I should give Gnome a shot.

The other problem was that double-layer DVDs wouldn't burn in some modes. The solution here was to upgrade the DVD burner firmware. In particular, I upgraded my Sony DRU-800A from KY04 to KY06. I found the firmware version in /proc/ide/ide1/hdd/identify. The firmware upgrade utility only runs in Windows, but after all the box does say "for Windows" on it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why Sonny Bono is unconstitutional

Not the dead guy, the Act.

First, let's take a look at the relevant part of the Constitution (emphasis mine):

The Congress shall have Power [...] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Now, notice right away that the Act is retroactive to works already published. That means Mickey Mouse gets twenty more years of copyright. It is not difficult to conjecture that Congress might, in twenty more years, extend copyright another twenty years. Then they might do it again. Obviously, if they did, forever, copyright would not be secured for a 'limited time.'

'But they haven't!' says the Supreme Court. Of course they haven't done it forever, dummies. And they never will. That's the way forever works. Forever is the infinity of time. So let's look at infinity.

Infinity, colloquially speaking, is where you can always add one more. (Or twenty more.) So, can Congress always add one more? More precisely, will the Court always let them add one more?

Suppose the Court allows Congress to make an unlimited number of limited-time extensions to the copyright term. Clearly, this is not a 'limited time.' We need not actually reach infinity to be unlimited; we merely must have no limit.

Since the Court cannot allow an unlimited number of extensions, it must therefore at some point limit the number of extensions and, consequently, the number of years. One day the Court has to draw the line. '99 years is enough,' perhaps. Hold it! Go back to Constitution. Only Congress has the power to decide the term of copyright. The Supreme Court does not.

We're left with an inductive proof by contradiction: If any retroactive extension to copyright were constitutional, then an unlimited number of them also would be constitutional, which is, of course, unconstitutional. Therefore, no retroactive extension to copyright is constitutional.

Monday, February 27, 2006

SCO: I get it now

Until just now, I couldn't fathom why Judge Wells continues to put up with SCO. Their ploy is obvious; doesn't she get it?

Ah, but she does. She is stringing them along very much on purpose. We all know that SCO will lose this case. We all know that SCO will appeal, and so does the judge. At least, they will try to appeal. SCO will continue to try to win until it cannot convince its lawyers that they will be paid.

Wells' handling of the case will be picked apart in an appeal, so she is dotting every i and crossing every t and giving SCO the benefit of the doubt wherever she can. Before the case gets to appeals, SCO won't have any lawyers left because the smart ones will know that the ruling will stand. Therefore SCO will go belly-up, and nobody gets paid.

Plus, for whatever reason, IBM feels like spending the money to slowly grind SCO into the dirt. Wells is letting them, which is good because IBM is probably the only company with the resources to stay in the game.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


This is a test post. Yay.