Regurgitating the Apple

This is absolutely worth a read. It’s a aritcle about how liberals think.

The only thing that rubs me wrong is the invocation of Brokeback Mountain. Really it falls prey to itself here because Brokeback isn’t something used in line with the argument. In fact, the way it’s used is counter to the argument. The argument being made here is for self-determination and discrimination (or judgement). Brokeback is a movie about two cowboys who want to be gay on their ranch. Fine, great, it’s not my thing. If they had wanted to make the correct point, they should have pointed out towns where they have pride parades, etc. There’s no pride in being “straight” and they make the point with Desperate Housewives saying the message isn’t “you’ll make a great family” but that “your life will suck if you’re a housewife”. It’s the tyranny of standards argument being put forward. That being said, towns with pride parades do represent a form of tyranny. With no pride parade celebrating wanting to be straight, or (my favorite) the white heritage day, celebrating any other holiday is flat out wrong. While this argument itself plays into the problem raised in the article that we’re treating everything as mediocre, I believe this is the point. If there’s no discernible mediocrity, if there’s nothing which is obviously evil then we can coexist. But this requires judgement and this is the crux of the article. The Brokeback reference is used wrongly.

On the other hand I am sympathetic to the idea that we have no moral compass as a society. If one group is off murdering your group, then you probably should go over there and kill them before they get you. As pointed out in the article and that godawful song Imagine (which is another pet peeve of mine I happened to lol at when I saw it come up), Hitler started in a beer hall. He didn’t have his own nation. Germany didn’t wake up one day and say “well lets give this nazi thing a go and hand out microwaves! we’ll tell those jews that they’re hats!”. There is evil in the hearts of men and we should seek to stamp it out and lament the fact that doing so requires armed conflict. Another opportunity is missed here, but brought up under the guise of Abu Graib. Treating people badly to prevent or persuade them from evil should be preferable to killing them outright. This is what separates the west from the middle east. We don’t go around bombing their civilian centers. We do give them a trial. We treat them badly, but we don’t actually hurt them. Again, the point is lost in the articles writing but the point he wants to make is restraint is a virtue. You should own a gun. You should know how to use it, be comfortable with it, and pop off rounds every weekend. This doesn’t mean when there is conflict you immediately smoke the guy, but it means that you understand the zen of gun ownership. You’re willing to treat people badly (pointing a gun at them) to prevent further evil (shooting them). Of course when their potential for evil outweighs the actual cost in terms of real evil of keeping them alive, our heros should be perfectly willing to shoot them with confidence and sleep like babies at night.

Try putting that on TV. It will be made an action movie, rather than a movie about self doubt, moral exploration and finally confidence and sorrow at conflict.

Minor quibbles about framing aside, it’s a decent read. I said to my brother the other day that we had, as a society, fallen prey to the spiritual danger of not owning a farm. The topic was the LL Bean catalog. The version they sent us, supposedly the full catalog, didn’t include any of the hunting section. Well it turns out they do have a hunting section and it seems to have some nice stuff. But the point was that a lot of these places make up crap so we can play dress up. We own boots which don’t keep our feet warm, we buy camo jackets which only serve to make our corpses harder to find when we freeze to death, etc. When we do make value judgements on things, we don’t make them because they’re rational or just, we make them because we want to play dress up and this camo is more military than that camo, etc. I realize this flies in the face of the plea above saying that barring egregious offenses to the general morality of society (murder), we simply shouldn’t care.

As above, so below, or what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If we say that something is crap we should ensure that we ourselves can pass our own judgement. This is why I’m not huge on EMS or Cabelas either. There might be good stuff there, it might work as advertised, but it’s overpriced and therefor it is vanity. My favorite hunting jacket is still an M65 Field Jacket. It’s warm, it’s built correctly (who in gods name thought velcro was smart to put on tactical stuff?), it’s camo, it’s got pockets in the right places and the best part is that they’re $20 when they’re on sale. Can’t be beat. But this is a good example of the middle road. Traps are on each side of the line. It’s possible to be too permissive as it is to be too iron fisted. How do we maintain the middle ground? We examine ourselves and we judge.

Oracle Sues Google – Software as a Tollbooth

I originally wrote this as a mail to my boss encouraging him to get off of java and start looking at HTML 5. The technical parts are glossed over but explained enough to make the point. I republished it here because I think it will generate discussion, especially among the SAP people, etc. <- this is tough to get your head around the “why” until you consider how the android (and thus the cutting edge of java) works.

Oracle has decided to become a patent troll as far as Java is concerned. Oracle’s moving towards an oracle box as a literal thing – and I think the trend here is for companies to get away from IP (intellectual property) because of how badly MP3s and whatnot have eroded case law. The music industry has problems prosecuting pirates, the movie industry has problems prosecuting pirates, and as we move into the brave new cloud world, I think software companies will go the same way. The mainframe is dead. Long live the mainframe.

So we’re back to the pressed CD, the pressed DVD (how terrible is it we’re advertising “includes digital copy” on the media, Disney), and now Oracle is making Oracle Boxes and suing google using phones as a fathom of piracy. I would say “oh but everything is going to be a VM now” makes sense for abandoning hardware and virtualizing the stack except that an OS is a complicated thing, and a company which makes databases isn’t into the business of making SCSI card drivers. Drivers aren’t Oracles game and I don’t think this is particularly about Java and I think it’s much more about virtual machine technology. Google is the cloud and frankly it’s a better cloud than the VMWare-ish cloud of pretending to be hardware. If you’re looking to make a literal box you install on your network and become a toll booth of sorts, it would behoove you to attack the cloud. Oracle is going to take a shot at google over how virtual machines work.

Where google ran afoul of Sun and Oracle is that each android runs a JVM for each process on the box, so any process has extremely strict controls of what it can and cannot do to the phone (Linux 2.6.26). Sun tried to patent “the network is the computer” and android is the realization of that – each phone can send a JVM-generated work-unit back to google to do Big Work and because it’s a JVM, it doesn’t really care where it runs or how many resources it has. Oracles game seems to be selling you an oracle box as a box, or selling you oracle-as-a-cloud, but either way you’re installing an oracle connector and talking to a big anonymous thing rather than installing oracle as a service somewhere. You can send your work to your oracle-box or you can send your work to oracle, but either way you’re paying the toll to use it. Google’s doing the same thing – but they hide their subscription charges in the carriers bill. Oracle looks at this and says “If we’re going to be the turnpike of the database world, lets try to become the turnpike of the cloud!”

The fallout from this is that Java is now going to have the albatross that Oracle can cry foul on how you use it. What makes me fairly sure of this whole thing is that Apple does a lot of the same with the iphone, except for sharing the work units. It’s pretty obvious that since the iphone runs IOS but keeps it’s work-units to itself, it’s not running afoul of any VM patents in any form. Now would be a good time to start pushing HTML 5 for what we do. Runs in IIS! Doesn’t need Apache/Tomcat on Windows! Won’t be sued into oblivion!

The linux community is pointing out that Google very obviously built their JVM from the ground up and it therefor doesn’t infringe.

The Weiners of 9/11

I’m going to sound terrible here but since we can make holocaust jokes on South Park I don’t feel too bad about this one: Anthony Weiner is a troll and he knows it.

It gets worse: The Daily Show was trolled. Stewart got off script and they had to edit him.

It’s rare that a show like The Daily Show or the Colbert Report gets trolled because they are in essence, trolls by themselves. However Weiner pulled off possibly the best political troll I’ve seen in quite a while (or he’s really out of touch with the Obama Politics). The whole bitchy episode from Weiner was bizarre from the get-go. He knows that there wasn’t a simple up/down vote like he states in his editorial. To be fair, later in the editorial he mentions the suspension calendar, but it’s puzzling why he says it was a simple up down vote (“simple majority”) when it clearly was not. He also knows that Democrats too, voted against the bill. Or maybe he doesn’t seem to realize that mentioning the specific number of Republicans voting against it (12) means he can’t plead ignorance to the amount of Democrats (16) who voted against it.

The problem?

The obvious problem is that the law violated the Obama version of Pay-Go where the President can spent a metric ton of money and everyone else has to fund their own legislation. In this case there was no provision for funding which was the sticking point for the legislation. The Obama Pay-Go has been on the books for six months now. So apparently from the word go, Weiner knew the bill had little chance of passing. When he tried to pull a procedural card which changed the voting process from “up/down” (simple majority) he got wrecked because it was now subject to special voting rules.

The not-so-obvious problem is that the bill stands on shaky intellectual ground. The “toxins” which were “released” are no more toxic than what would normally exist in any building and aircraft combination of reasonably modern manufacture. This isn’t to say the firefighters, etc aren’t getting sick, but there’s a vast difference between dust in the air and toxins. What toxins were there? Secret CIA toxins spread when Bush blew up the buildings? Weiner ends up coming off as a tinfoil hat hearing chemtrail guy when you actually read the transcript. There’s never any effort made to explain what toxins killed people or what those toxins are. More on the point they appear to be “talc and cellulose”, which appeared in James Zadroga’s lungs. Both of these materials make up pill casings for administering drugs, and it probably didn’t help that James Zadroga was addicted to oxycotone.

The question in my book is why, WHY JOHN STEWART? YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THIS.

Prop 8 Overturned on 14th Amendment

Proposition 8 was overturned, which I think is a good thing as I believe being gay is something central to someone’s identity, much in the same way someone’s race is central to someones identity, and therefor cannot be legislated. If you read the link to the ruling above, you can see that Prop 8 was overturned with the 14th Amendment. The 14th amendment I generally feel is a gross violation of the spirit of the constitution and I feel it’s a great example of backwards thinking. The spirit was probably in the right place when it was originally written – the authors were seeking to prevent discrimination. What it led to – affirmative action, no child left behind, fair housing act and our hilarious current mortgage problem – were unforseen consequences and a problem with the application of what amounts to a socialist law in a capitolist environment. When you try to legislate away poverty by claiming discrimination against poor people and thus a violation of the 14th amendment, banks end up making loans they wouldn’t even consider.

The wording of the ruling is absolutely bizarre. The challenge says “The Due Process Clause provides that no ‘State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'” Except that Proposition 8 is the due process of the law. (The spirit of this is that you must have a trial). Unfortunately this is a great example of working within someone elses framework. The state (in a general sense) treats marriage as something the state is party to, but treats it as something divine which the state does not regulate. Therefor it would seem to me, being the worst of the armchair lawyers, that a challenge to the regulation of marriage should call into question the state’s ability to regulate marriage prima facie. The answer is no, you can get a “quaker marriage” license and perform any such ceremony you wish and the license only serves as the regulation of paperwork. This should have been carried on through the ruling and in fact it seems like the judge was aware and sympathetic to this argument but looking for something to crouch the argument in. The state does not regulate being gay, or being a gun owner, or a racecar driver. The state regulates sodomy, murder and speeding. The entire body of laws is crouched in the idea that who you are doesn’t matter as much as what you do. This is both Just and Correct, and this is why the 14th amendment seems like such a miss. A church-and-state challenge is where I really wanted this to go and I would be interested in seeing someone challenge a similar law on that basis.

The 14th Amendment allows protected peoples to basically put their rule over the common agreements of society. The argument within the context of the 14th amendment therefor is an argument of entitlement. We could not argue that sodomy is legal between two consenting adults, because of their consent. The covenant of their consent would therefor be a marriage license, but we’ve fallen so far as a society that we’ve made womens rights such that consent can be withdrawn after the fact. Instead of strengthening the institution of marriage by making it inclusive of all, we’ve chosen to make gays a protected class (like the handicapped and the elderly) via the 14th amendment and therefor say a law is discriminatory by furthering legal discrimination. The problem here is that laws are based on the common good of society, and this was the original spirit of the sodomy laws in the first place. That being said, the problem with Proposition 8 was that it was poorly worded from the get-to and barely literate, so a challenge to it is roughly the same. This is why I believe the wording of the ruling is so strange.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

The first and possibly most offensive thing you will notice about this show is that it preys on every gay stereotype there is. Both of them are obsessed with personal appearances. The effeminate one is the mother figure, the provider, who slaves over a desk (or an oven). The masculine one (cleanshaven) orders the other one around almost to the point of being abusive and apparently is friends in addition to working with Martha Stewart. Both of them make it a point to let you know they’re gay. Both of them are obsessed with fashion and appearances. Both of them weirdly quote Sex in the City. I don’t watch Sex in the City and it’s heavy handed enough even I recognise the quotations. Which is to say they don’t seem like genuine, normal people – they seem interested in talking with a lisp and making convoluted gestures and trying to say we’re women in mens bodies. Therefor the show seems more about a gay couple than about a farm – albeit a gay couple who seems to be forcing a relationship. It feels awkward, frankly, much in the same vein as Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes. Seeing how I ran across this on Planet Green and not Logo, it surprised me when they also offered up “Farmer Joe”, who’s a Mike Rowe-ish manly man who tends the farm. Therefor we’re left with a program which isn’t about being green per se but more about being gay on a farm. Seeing as how nothing of value about farming is presented in the few episodes I watched, I’m wondering why this is on Planet Green at all. Talk about building raised gardens, or the goats and llamas, or the politics of pig farms which are innumerable and topical in the “animal rights” age. Now we’ve got a Gay Green Acres complete with meeting Martha Stewart in New York City.

One of the recurring topics on the show is “running a business”. This is where Farmer Joe fits in, he apparently does the actual farming while these two fuck off building raised flower beds. I can’t help but feel like these are two examples of missed opportunity. You could have a show which really ministers to the Future Farmers of America group or even people like myself who think owning a farm might be neat. You could have a show about building raised garden beds and the time over money investment. Instead we’re presented with the idea of one of these guys going into a local cheese shop to deliver cheese. Where did the cheese come from? What’s involved in “running the business”? Is it cheaper to take the train to NY or rent a truck for this cheese? What’s the cheese sold for versus the overhead of owning a goat, a farm, and the time it takes to make it versus what the goat is eating this week? We’ll never know, the show focuses more on their relationship than the specifics of the farm. This isn’t a plea to make it Dirty Jobs, it’s just that I was sold a show about two men owning a farm and the business aspects of it and that’s not what the show is about. It’s puzzling considering the fact that they have a website selling farm goods but there’s no mention of the production on the show. Cheese doesn’t make itself, and when they go on to describe the process and selling it to a cheese boutique, it would have been really neat to see them actually making the cheese and working out a deal with the cheese shop.

Now it’s not to say the show isn’t fun. There’s a guilty pleasure in seeing two people completely unprepared for the mud and blood of farming get eaten alive by it. This gets spoiled by the feeling that the farm is merely a set piece but seeing someone bounce an axe head off a log trying to split wood is fun. Seeing people getting knocked over by pigs into the mud is fun. Watching goats narrowly avoid having sex on camera is fun as is watching the llama fight the goats over food. It’s also cute. It looks like Pottery Barn threw up on the show but it manages to have enough trials to keep it fresh against the backdrop. It does have it’s moments of introspection, and this is nice because they do feel genuine. Talking about autumn and living close to the elements and the earth is a welcome change from the flash bang TV we’re used to. It’s something you don’t get out of the outstanding Dirty Jobs or Deadliest Catch which are entertaining but seem to lack a spiritual connection to the work.

Chevy Volt: Too Little, Too Late

The real vindication that Obamas bailouts didn’t work comes today with the Chevy Volt getting a pricetag. I’m a car guy, I like American built cars, I even went out of my way to try to buy 4-vin (assembled in America) Toyotas. This kind of crap breaks my evil little heart.

Obama “saved” GM, and for that they designed a hybrid who’s main selling point is that it plugs into the wall.

What’s it cost?

Fully twice as much as a Prius. The Volt base edition costs almost $42,000 USD. How much does the base Prius cost? $23,000 USD. It doesn’t even have the cool stuff the high end prius does. No sunroof, no LED lights which will never burn out, no rabbits VS barrels display, no auto tinting windows or solar panel on the roof and spoiler. In short it’s grossly overpriced for what market it’s slotted for.

My take is he bailed out mediocrity and our reward is further mediocrity.

If Chevy had put out a Caddy for this price, people probably would have bought it, especially since both Chevy and Ford are marketing their luxury brands as being “sporty” and “high tech”. It would have competed well against the Toyota Prius. Sure, Lexus has luxury hybrids, but when you think Prius you think soccer mom. Chevy should have released their hybrid under the Cadillac badging. Not to do so, in my opinion, is a serious miss.

What’s the Leaf weigh in at? $32,000 (the tax credit for an “all electric” vehicle actually makes this $25,000 which puts it firmly in Prius turf). This makes it only $5k more expensive than the highest priced Prius, but it’s packed with features which meet or exceed those on the top end Prius making it a decent value for the money. It too has sunroofs, LED lighting, leather, rims, and solar panel options.

The range of the Leaf is 100 miles, which is also more than twice that of the Volt. Not having to lug a generator around really helps. There’s been some grousing that this may not be an accurate number but even if it really is half that, 50 miles is still more than most Americans commute to work daily. (I personally would end up 10 miles short). The other grousing is from the Tesla camp saying that the battery packs total lack of active thermal management will cause them to fail, the likelihood of this being an actual issue in my opinion is slim to none. It looks to me like it’s using the frame of the car as a heat sink, and this doesn’t strike me as a bad idea. I think it’s much more likely that Tesla is seeing someone come to market with more than two braincells to rub together and they’re bent that they didn’t think of all this stuff first.

My take on the entire situation: GM will die spectacularly by the next Presidency who isn’t going to put up with this horseshit anymore. The Volt is a nonstarter. From their ashes will be born a new GM who will do what GM does best – trucks. Nissan will corner the all electric market unless Ford does something surprising and quickly. Toyota will continue to keep a stranglehold on the hybrid market. The Prius will continue to suffer terribly for reliability on the used market, but this will be overshadowed by the incredibly competitive pricing in the new market.

How about the boneyard?

You can pick up a 2006 rebuildable for about $5000. But, knowing how expensive they are even when they’re wrecked, why would you want to?