Octopodial Chrome

Stuff that Made Sense at the Time

The Personal Weblog of Bob Uhl

Tuesday, 30 December 2003


I’ve just been watching the first few episodes of Firefly, a short-lived series by Joss Whedon. It’s space science fiction set in a thinly-disguised post-War Between the States American West. For foes there are inhuman man-eating savages (analogues to the American aborigines) and the neo-fascist Alliance (Union) government which has recently finished a war to suppress an independence movement; its troops are even called Federals. Our heroes are a captain and exec, formerly of the independence army, a pilot, an engineer, a doctor, his sister and a travelling preacher. It’s a decent series, although the constant reminders that it’s the West in space do get a bit wearing after awhile.

It’s a pity that the series was cancelled so soon; I think that its second season could have been even better. The writers seem to have been on the way to building up some interesting story arcs and letting the Old West theme settle into the background a bit.

Monday, 29 December 2003

On the Importance of Worship

Yesterday as I exited my shower my pager went off—I’m working hotpager duty this week—and thus I put off my morning toilet of hair-combing, tooth-brushing, face-shaving and hair-braiding to answer the summons. I ended up needing to drive all the way up to Boulder in order to deal with a hosed machine which had lost network connectivity (and its mind, but that’s another tale). As a result of all this, I was unable to go to church. I don’t know how the irreligious do it

I missed going to church; my whole week is now a lesser thing; I have left something incomplete. It’s not that I am a creature of habit; those who know me can vouch that I am too sloppy to have habits. It’s just that it is important to worship God properly and to receive the sacraments regularly.

I suppose that the irreligious get through it because they don’t know what they’re missing. Much like the blind man cannot conceive of colour or the deaf man sound, neither can those who deny God understand what it is to worship Him.

Anyway, I’m rather put out by the whole thing.

Sunday, 28 December 2003

I am Bread’s Master

Yesterday I made an absolutely wonderful bread which involved honey and, of all things, vinegar. It tasted amazing. Soon, very soon, I shall have knocked this breadmaking thing into a cocked hat.

Saturday, 27 December 2003

A Man’s Home is his Castle

On Christmas Day I’d my family over for mulled cider—well, all of my family save Thomas, who’s at his future in-laws’. While they were over, he called me, and so I spoke to him, then passed the phone around the family. At the end, when my father had finished speaking with him, Dad handed the phone back to me. I’d already spoken to Thomas, so why did I get the phone again? Because it’s my home, and it’s the host’s due to finish the call if he wishes. It made a mighty big impression on me.

Friday, 26 December 2003

On the True Meaning of Christmas

Well, we once again find ourselves in Yuletide, that fine season when once again we meditate upon Our Saviour’s Nativity. Or do we? Many don’t. We’re told by the secular society that the true meaning of Christmas is sharing, or giving, or kindness or some such flimflammery. This is, of course, utter nonsense: the meaning of the season is that the Creator of All, God Himself, became Man through His Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and walked among as one of us. Next to that kind of thing, gift-giving rather pales in comparison.

Note, too, that for the secular the celebration of Christmas begins sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving (the pagan and civil, or evil and neutral, holidays on our modern calendar) and ends on the day itself. The world does not remember the great good which has been done for it. For we Christians, though, Advent is a time of preparation and fasting second only to Great Lent—and Yuletide is a time of celebration second only to Eastertide. Then we proclaim that Christ is Risen; today we proclaim that Christ is Born! And so we do for twelve days, until Epiphany comes to mark a twofold feast: on the one hand the arrival of the wisemen—heralds of the heathen, our forefathers, who would recognise Him—and on the other hand His recognition by the Father and the Holy Spirit after the Forerunner baptised Him in the Jordan. Just as the period from Easter to Pentecost (another visible visitation of the Holy Spirit) is a time of great joy, so too is the time Christmas to Epiphany.

We Christians should do our best to keep that time festively, as we ought, and not wake up on Boxing Day believing that Christmas is over. It is never over: it always is, but in this season we celebrate even more than usual.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Daily Bread

We pray give us this day our daily bread, and we also admit that God helps those who help themselves. Thus, out of a kind of piety I decided to turn my hand towards bread-baking today.

It’s a lot more difficult than it looks. Baking is orders of magnitude more difficult than simple cooking—and thus worth orders of magnitude more effort. Be that as it may, I produced a tasty, albeit somewhat dense, loaf from beer-barm, flour and water. This is a subject into which I feel a need to delve. The word lord, after all, derives from hlaforda, which means loaf-guard. How can a man be expected to guard that which he hasn’t?

Thursday, 25 December 2003

Merry Christmas!

No, not Happy Holidays; not Season’s Greetings—Merry Christmas. Our Saviour is born: let us glorify Him!

Wednesday, 24 December 2003

Bachelor Recipes

I am the champion! I am the king! I am monarch of all I survey! My bachelor recipes are the first results one finds when looking for bachelor recipes in Google (note: this may not last—but today it’s true!). Not middling, not second: first.

What’s sad is that they’re not anywhere near complete—I’ve but five (ugly number) recipes at the moment: azteca, basic grilled chicken; bean soup, punch and tequila lime chicken. I shall strive to add more, although I’m a bit stuck for ideas on what. Still, I’m number 1! I’m number 1!

Lena & the Teapot

Anyone who’s dealt much with computer graphics has come across a few standard images, the teapot and an image of a young woman gazing alluringly over her shoulder. Well, here are the true stories behind both the teapot and the gal.

Michael Crichton on Science & Scepticism

Michael Crichton has written a quite cogent article on ETs, nuclear winter, second-hand smoke & global warming. Unfortunately that (official) page is somewhat difficult to read; this unofficial one is much easier on the eyes, but may go away in time.

Tuesday, 23 December 2003

Ownership Leads to Loans

Ever since I purchased my fine condo, I’ve been hounded by hundreds of letters offering me huge sums of money (at not-negligible interest rates). Most if not all of these are sucker’s loans—only a fool would sign up for one. Just today I received one claiming that I could receive $20,000 just by asking for it. No mention was made of how much that $20,000 would cost me, but I’ve a nasty feeling that it’d be not a small amount.

On the one hand, I do believe that it is important for folks to be able to freely arrange their affairs. On the other, it worries me that there are enough morons out there for this type of business to be profitable.

Monday, 22 December 2003


This article has been retracted.

Saturday, 20 December 2003

Herring Communication

Apparently, herring communicate by breaking wind. Words fail me.

Friday, 19 December 2003

Hanson on Europe

Victor Davis Hanson addresses the European question. Aside from his typical pro-Israeli boosterism (as if on could reasonably be happy about a state whose sole commendation is that it is not quite so evil as its neighbours), it’s a very good piece.

The Truth about Halliburton’s Petrol Charges

Byron York explains the real reason for the so-called overcharges for petrol: in short, they’re not. When Basra was in the middle of civil unrest due to fuel shortages, the Army Corps of Engineers had Halliburton purchase petrol from Kuwait (the nearest supplier) at $2.27/gallon. Later on, they started purchasing it from Turkey for $1.18/gallon. They’ve since been importing from both sources, since neither on its own is enough, and since Turkey is too far from southern Iraq.

Halliburton’s contention is that it actually saved money by opening up the Turkish source.

Thursday, 18 December 2003


Recently, a good friend of me begged me not to become a hipster. At the time, I laughed it off—me, a hipster?!? But now I fear it has come. Last night I was at a bar which was playing music videos, and one of the bands was one which I have enjoyed in the past (whose name eludes me at the moment: not the White Stripes, but someone with a similar name, beginning in S). And in the newspaper I saw an interview with Azure Ray, whose CDs I had purchased well over a year ago.

I did not seek hipsterhood: it sought me.

Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Return of the King

Well, I just returned from seeing Return of the King. It’s the end of an era: three years, three films, three opening days—and now it’s over. Well, I’m young yet; before I die hopefully it will be made again.

The movie was pretty good. More faithful in many ways that The Two Towers, and a better film in several respects than Fellowship of the Ring. Even the absence of the Scouring of the Shire was not nearly so bad as I had feared—and the most important part of the entire tale remains intact.

See this film.


My dear brother has taken issue with my statement that the Unix culture expects users to program. My point is not that I expect every user to write operating systems, word processors, graphics manipulators or the like, but rather that it seems proper to me that all should have some idea of what a computer is. Simple programming is a dead-simple activity; the introduction to The Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs demonstrates this more neatly than I ever could:

Educators, generals, dieticians, psychologists, and parents program. Armies, students, and some societies are programmed. An assault on large problems employs a succession of programs, most of which spring into existence en route. These programs are rife with issues that appear to be particular to the problem at hand. To appreciate programming as an intellectual activity in its own right you must turn to computer programming; you must read and write computer program—many of them.

A computer user who doesn’t know how to program is like a driver who has no idea of how his car operates; a pilot who knows nothing of ærodynamics; a sailor wholly ignorant of the behaviour of water. I’m not arguing that all users should be hackers or software engineers, but that they know how to bend the computer to their will; that they reason logically; that they are more than mere lumps of clay.

Tuesday, 16 December 2003


Beer & nutmegs go well together—a fact known well unto our ancestors, but little-remarked upon in these sad days. The proportion can be tricky, though: too much nutmeg and one becomes a raving, hallucinating madman. Great stuff.

rm -rf

From the classic tale:

Have you ever left your terminal logged in, only to find when you came back to it that a (supposed) friend had typed rm -rf ~/* and was hovering over the keyboard with threats along the lines of lend me a fiver ’til Thursday, or I hit return? Undoubtedly the person in question would not have had the nerve to inflict such a trauma upon you, and was doing it in jest. So you’ve probably never experienced the worst of such disasters…

It was a quiet Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday, 1st October, 15:15 BST, to be precise, when Peter, an office-mate of mine, leaned away from his terminal and said to me, Mario, I’m having a little trouble sending mail. Knowing that msg was capable of confusing even the most capable of men, I sauntered over to his terminal to see what was wrong. A strange error message of the form (I forget the exact details) cannot access /foo/bar for userid 147 had been issued by msg. My first thought was Who’s userid 147?; the sender of the message, the destination, or what? So I leant over to another terminal, already logged in, and typed grep 147 /etc/passwd only to receive the response /etc/passwd: No such file or directory.

Instantly, I guessed that something was amiss. This was confirmed when in response to ls /etc I got ls: not found.

I suggested to Peter that it would be a good idea not to try anything for a while, and went off to find our system manager.

When I arrived at his office, his door was ajar, and within ten seconds I realised what the problem was. James, our manager, was sat down, head in hands, hands between knees, as one whose world has just come to an end. Our newly-appointed system programmer, Neil, was beside him, gazing listlessly at the screen of his terminal. And at the top of the screen I spied the following lines:

# cd
# rm -rf *

Oh, shit, I thought. That would just about explain it.

I can’t remember what happened in the succeeding minutes; my memory is just a blur. I do remember trying ls (again), ps, who and maybe a few other commands beside, all to no avail. The next thing I remember was being at my terminal again (a multi-window graphics terminal), and typing

 cd /
 echo *

I owe a debt of thanks to David Korn for making echo a built-in of his shell; needless to say, /bin, together with /bin/echo, had been deleted. What transpired in the next few minutes was that /dev, /etc and /lib had also gone in their entirety; fortunately Neil had interrupted rm while it was somewhere down below /news, and /tmp, /usr and /users were all untouched.

Meanwhile James had made for our tape cupboard and had retrieved what claimed to be a dump tape of the root filesystem, taken four weeks earlier. The pressing question was, How do we recover the contents of the tape? Not only had we lost /etc/restore, but all of the device entries for the tape deck had vanished. And where does mknod live? You guessed it, /etc. How about recovery across Ethernet of any of this from another VAX? Well, /bin/tar had gone, and thoughtfully the Berkeley people had put rcp in /bin in the 4.3 distribution. What’s more, none of the Ether stuff wanted to know without /etc/hosts at least. We found a version of cpio in /usr/local, but that was unlikely to do us any good without a tape deck.

Alternatively, we could get the boot tape out and rebuild the root filesystem, but neither James nor Neil had done that before, and we weren’t sure that the first thing to happen would be that the whole disk would be re-formatted, losing all our user files (we take dumps of the user files every Thursday; by Murphy’s Law this had to happen on a Wednesday). Another solution might be to borrow a disk from another VAX, boot off that, and tidy up later, but that would have entailed calling the DEC engineer out, at the very least. We had a number of users in the final throes of writing up PhD theses and the loss of a maybe a weeks’ work (not to mention the machine down time) was unthinkable.

So, what to do? The next idea was to write a program to make a device descriptor for the tape deck, but we all know where cc, as and ld live. Or maybe make skeletal entries for /etc/passwd, /etc/hosts and so on, so that /usr/bin/ftp would work. By sheer luck, I had a gnuemacs still running in one of my windows, which we could use to create passwd, &c., but the first step was to create a directory to put them in. Of course /bin/mkdir had gone, and so had /bin/mv, so we couldn’t rename /tmp to /etc. However, this looked like a reasonable line of attack.

By now we had been joined by Alasdair, our resident UNIX guru, and as luck would have it, someone who knows VAX assembler. So our plan became this: write a program in assembler which would either rename /tmp to /etc, or make /etc, assemble it on another VAX, uuencode it, type in the uuencoded file using my gnu, uudecode it (some bright spark had thought to put uudecode in /usr/bin), run it, and hey presto, it would all be plain sailing from there. By yet another miracle of good fortune, the terminal from which the damage had been done was still su’d to root (su is in /bin, remember?), so at least we stood a chance of all this working.

Off we set on our merry way, and within only an hour we had managed to concoct the dozen or so lines of assembler to create /etc. The stripped binary was only 76 bytes long, so we converted it to hex (slightly more readable than the output of uuencode), and typed it in using my editor. If any of you ever have the same problem, here’s the hex for future reference:


I had a handy program around (doesn’t everybody?) for converting ASCII hex to binary, and the output of /usr/bin/sum tallied with our original binary. But hang on—how do you set execute permission without /bin/chmod? A few seconds’ thought (which as usual, lasted a couple of minutes) suggested that we write the binary on top of an already existing binary, owned by me…problem solved.

So along we trotted to the terminal with the root login, carefully remembered to set the umask to 0 (so that I could create files in it using my gnu), and ran the binary. So now we had a /etc, writable by all. From there it was but a few easy steps to creating passwd, hosts, services, protocols, (etc), and then ftp was willing to play ball. Then we recovered the contents of /bin across the ether (it’s amazing how much you come to miss ls after just a few, short hours), and selected files from /etc. The key file was /etc/rrestore, with which we recovered /dev from the dump tape, and the rest is history.

Now, you’re asking yourself (as I am), what’s the moral of this story? Well, for one thing, you must always remember the immortal words, DON’T PANIC. Our initial reaction was to reboot the machine and try everything as single user, but it’s unlikely it would have come up without /etc/init and /bin/sh. Rational thought saved us from this one.

The next thing to remember is that UNIX tools really can be put to unusual purposes. Even without my gnuemacs, we could have survived by using, say, /usr/bin/grep as a substitute for /bin/cat.

And the final thing is, it’s amazing how much of the system you can delete without it falling apart completely. Apart from the fact that nobody could login (/bin/login?), and most of the useful commands had gone, everything else seemed normal. Of course, some things can’t stand life without say /etc/termcap, or /dev/kmem, or /etc/utmp, but by and large it all hangs together.

I shall leave you with this question: if you were placed in the same situation, and had the presence of mind that always comes with hindsight, could you have got out of it in a simpler or easier way? Answers on a postage stamp to:

Mario Wolczko

A true sysadmin to the core—an impressive tale of victory snatched from the very jaws of defeat.

The True Path

The ancient anti-visual editor humour:

When I log into my Xenix system with my 110 baud teletype, both vi *and* Emacs are just too damn slow. They print useless messages like, C-h for help' and "foo" File is read only. So I use the editor that doesn't waste my valuable time.

Ed, man! !man ed

ED(1) UNIX Programmer's Manual ED(1)

ed - text editor

ed [ - ] [ -x ] [ name ]

Ed is the standard text editor.

Computer Scientists love ed, not just because it comes first alphabetically, but because it's the standard. Everyone else loves ed because it's ed!

Ed is the standard text editor.

And ed doesn't waste space on my Timex Sinclair. Just look:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root 24 Oct 29 1929 /bin/ed
-rwxr-xr-t 4 root 1310720 Jan 1 1970 /usr/ucb/vi
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root 5.89824e37 Oct 22 1990 /usr/bin/emacs

Of course, on the system I administrate, vi is symlinked to ed. Emacs has been replaced by a shell script which 1) Generates a syslog message at level LOG_EMERG; 2) reduces the user's disk quota by 100K; and 3) runs ed!!!!!!

Ed is the standard text editor.

Let's look at a typical novice's session with the mighty ed:

golem> ed
eat flaming death

Note the consistent user interface and error reportage. Ed is generous enough to flag errors, yet prudent enough not to overwhelm the novice with verbosity.

Ed is the standard text editor.

Ed, the greatest WYGIWYG editor of all.

Ed is the true path to nirvana! Ed has been the choice of educated and ignorant alike for centuries! Ed will not corrupt your precious bodily fluids!! Ed is the standard text editor! Ed makes the sun shine and the birds sing and the grass green!!

When I use an editor, I don't want eight extra kilobytes of worthless help screens and cursor positioning code! I just want an editor!! Not a viitor. Not a emacsitor. Those aren't even words!!!! Ed! Ed! Ed is the standard!!!

Text Editor.

When IBM, in its ever-present omnipotence, needed to base their edlin on a UNIX standard, did they mimic vi? No. Emacs? Surely you jest. They chose the most karmic editor of all. The standard.

Ed is for those who can remember what they are working on. If you are an idiot, you should use Emacs. If you are an Emacs, you should not be vi. If you use ed, you are on the path to redemption. The so-called visual editors have been placed here by ed to tempt the faithless. do not give in!!! The mighty ed has spoken!!!

Could it be any better?

Joel Spolsky on The Art of Unix Programming

Joel Spolsky reviews The Art of Unix Programming. Spolsky’s a Windows programmer (indeed, I believe that at one point in his life he worked for Microsoft), so he’s rather a biased source. He writes There are many details and subtleties, but for the most part it comes down to one thing: Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers. I rather disagree; say rather that the Unix culture expects users to program, while the Windows culture does not.

The typical Unix user hopes one day to better himself, to improve until he too is considered a guru of great renown. The typical Windows user, on the other hand, is content to wallow in ignorance, never learning about computing, happy merely to use the computer. Unix calls man to better himself; Windows tells him he needn’t bother. I suppose that’s why I like Unix: it’s much like God & the Church, both of which continually encourage one to do better. Windows is like Satan: constantly tempting one into sloth, telling one that ignorance and folly are good &c.

Further on, Spolsky writes:

I’ve encountered too many Unix programmers who sneer at Windows programming, thinking that Windows is heathen and stupid…It’s rather rare to find such bigotry among Windows programmers, who are, on the whole, solution-oriented and non-ideological.

That line itself seems quite bigoted to me. Why are Unix programmers sneering; why are Windows programmers solution-oriented? It seems to me that the reality is that Unix programmers are technical: they appreciate beauty in code, in applications and in APIs. Windows programmers are the real ideologues: rather than use that which better, they use what will make them more money.

The fact that so many intelligent people like Unix should say something. I’m reminded of why I first started to learn Lisp: so many excellent programmers suggest it that it seemed to me that they cannot all be wrong. Likewise, so many bright folks like Unix, and Unix has lead to so many great things, that it’s very difficult to think that they’re mistaken. By their fruits shall ye know them; compare Windows & Unix, their cultures, their code, their APIs, their apps, their achievements, their adherents—it’s rather obvious which will come out on top.

Monday, 15 December 2003

Eighties Music: The Only Music

I was just browsing the John Hughes Film Jukebox, and it occurred to me once again how truly excellent the music of the 1980s often was. Of course, in a time when no film was complete sans musicla interlude, how could pop music not be much better than before or since? The music of the 80s is most notable for how fun it was. Grunge was a reaction thereto, and possibly a needed one—but who has a heart so stony that the simple happiness of Kids in America, Take on Me, Rebel Yelll, Video Killed the Radio Star, der Komissar &c.? The Seattle sound was so bloody gloomy, so unhappy, so angst-ridden, so pathetic-pimply-teenager that I really think that we might have done without it and been better off. Of course, it was an entirely new sound: who can forget the first time he heard Smells Like Teen Spirit?

Hussein–11-9 Link?

Deroy Murdock writes on a possible link between Saddam Hussein and the 11 September attacks. Featured is this line from a memo one of his intel fellows wrote about the July 2001 visit of Mohammed Atta: He displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy. Two-and-a-half months later, Atta was taking over an æroplane.

Sunday, 14 December 2003

Why Salesmen?

Why do mall stores bother hiring guys to sell things? Every red-blooded man is more likely to buy from a pretty girl than from another male, and from what I understand, women are more likely to trust other females. It would seem to be a no-brainer: don’t hire guys unless your intended clientele are homosexual.

Wednesday, 10 December 2003

Know Your Unix Sysadmin

A handy guide to identifying Unix sysadmins exists. I am a Technical Thug, but I wish I were a Maniac. So true, even after more than a decade.

Super Troopers

Just watched Super Troopers—lowbrow humour at its best/worst. Much enjoyment. One word: Bidibodi. Anyone who’s seen it knows what I mean…

Tuesday, 09 December 2003

Adventures in Babysitting

Saw Adventures in Babysitting tonight. Elisabeth Shue. Elisabeth Shue. She was—and is—so hot, even for a blonde. Mmm…Elisabeth Shue…

Monday, 08 December 2003

Master & Slave

Los Angeles County has requested hardware vendors to stop referring to the components of an IDE chain as master & slave. This is the same kind of lunacy which demands that male and female plugs be referred to by some other, less descriptive, moniker. It goes without saying that we cannot be free until these people are crows’ food.


Paul Graham writes cogently on taste. A must-read essay for any man who would like to consider himself at all educated.

Back to Work

Well, today I went back to work after a theoretical three weeks’s vacation. I write theoretical because, other than the two weekdays I was in Madison and the day of Thanksgiving, I worked. I even worked some weekend hours. So really I’m not going back to work; I’m just being honest about the arrangement.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Sunday, 07 December 2003

Sword Cane

I want this sword cane badly, very badly indeed. It looks reasonably attractive, and it’d be just too cool.

Skeet Shooting

Went skeet shooting today with one of the fellows from church. Had a grand old time knocking ’em out of the air. I wasn’t too bad, which is always a good thing—indeed, at times I was pretty magnificent. At others I…wasn’t. Hopefully several of us will be able to go hunting in the next month or so. That should be a blast.

Saturday, 06 December 2003

Gun Show

I went to my first gun show today with my buddy Dean. Had a pretty good time; it’s an interesting bunch of folks who show up to such things. First time outside of church that I’ve felt out of place for having only a Van Dyke.

Wish I could have picked something up. I feel the need for a new firearm. Well, to be honest, it’s not need at all: I want a new firearm. A rifle, perhaps—my only rifle right now is a piddling .22 which hardly deserves the name. Something which I could go hunting with would be kinda cool. Not that I’m actually likely to go hunting—but if it’s possible then I could claim that the new rifle is useful, not just a really, really expensive collection-piece.

What the Heck is…?

I saw on Sci-Fi Hi-Fi that Dan Sugalski has written a wonderful series of introductory articles on somewhat advanced subjects. I don’t agree with all he writes, but it’s well worth reading.

Friday, 05 December 2003

Richard Curtis on Women Vicars

I was watching an interview with Richard Curtis, the creator of the Blackadder series and other things (most notably to those who don’t watch PBS, Four Weddings and a Funeral) in which he stated a most remarkable thing: that the atrocious Vicar of Dibley was a political act. He wanted to support the idea that priestesses should be ordained because women are best at working out complex problems and that kind of thing. Not a single word about, I don’t know, priests being icons of Christ, or leading the congregation in the Sacraments, or worshipping God, or anything else: apparently a priest’s job is to act as an underqualified and underpaid psychologist. It’s sad.

Of course, on those grounds, there’s no logical reason women shouldn’t be made priestesses. Once one’s lost the idea that the priest is something, and the he represents Christ, one might as well throw in the towel utterly. Of course, this is the same denomination currently patting itself on the back for electing bishop a man who left his wife and children to find solace in the arms of another.

La Decadance

Been listening to La Decadance on Radio 1190 tonight. It’s an absolutely wonderful show which is kind of French-flavoured pop. What it ends up being is just about the most eclectic thing around, ranging from electronic New Wave-ish stuff to Western covers of the Star Wars theme (no joke—and it worked!) to whatever else the DJ feels like playing. It’s what radio was meant to be. Best two hours on the air.

Star Wars Databank

All the Star Wars goodness one man can stand is at the official Star Wars Databank. Why, it almost makes up for Episodes I and II. Almost. Almost, but not quite. What would make up for it would be for George Lucas to publicly apologise for making a complete dog’s breakfast of what had been a more-than-mildly enjoyable series. Of course, Episode VI was pretty bad, too. Come to think of it, two out of five is pretty bad.

Lucas was also responsible for American Graffiti and Howard the Duck, IIRC. The man must be stopped before he films again.

Thursday, 04 December 2003

Party Pig…of Root Beer

Yes, one can now get party pigs (i.e. mini-kegs) of root beer! I’ve one sitting in the fridge now. The world gets ever cooler.

Wednesday, 03 December 2003

Al Sharpton, the Unthinking Man’s Candidate

Rich Lowry writes on the turgid career of Reverend Al Sharpton. Of course, I rather hope he would get the Dem’s nomination.

Reagan on AIDS & Homosexuals

Deroy Murdock that Ronald Reagan was a friend of homosexuals and supporter of AIDS research, contrary to the libels of The Reagans.

Patty Reagan does the same, noting how approvingly her father told her about homosexuality when young. It just goes to show that leftists haven’t loyalty even to their friends.

Tuesday, 02 December 2003

Fathers & Sons

James Nee writes about his thoughts on his son’s growing up. A must-read for any guy.

David Schneider on Orthodoxy

David Schneider writes about the path which brought him from evangelicalism to Orthodoxy. A must-read for Protestants everywhere—it’ll raise questions you’ve probably not dealt with before.

On Truth

I saw this today:

Today many people, wishing for an excuse not to do what God asks of them, find fault with the teaching of the Holy Church and reject correct Christian belief. Instead, they choose to believe what they wish. This is akin to a man, not wishing to believe that he will die, simply because the notion does not comfort him. Not only will he fail to prepare for death, as one ought to do, but he will inevitably find himself in the snare of death. Correct belief is not based on what we wish were true, but on Truth itself.

Archimandrite Chrysostomos, The Ancient Fathers of the Desert

That about says it all. It also dovetails nicely with my thoughts on sin, which are that it is not bad so much because it is breaking divine law (although it does do so, of course), but because it is bad for us; sin is a disease. We may not wish to admit that murder, or pride, or lust, or greed are bad for the soul, but they poison it nonetheless—that’s the truth.

Monday, 01 December 2003

Why the Left Hates Bush So

Adam Wolfson writes on why the Left hates Bush so. I don’t quite agree with him that their hatred of Bush is so much greater than the Right’s loathing for Clinton. But certainly it often seems much more venomous, and much more undeserved: the man is held to be a fool when he’s actually quite intelligent; he’s held to be inhumane when the opposite is the case. I don’t agree with him on very much—in my opinion, he’s simply another annoying authoritarian statist and the most successful socialist of our age—but the bile poured forth on the man is in most cases undeserved.

Man’s Destiny: Under Sea or Outer Space?

This evening I watched a couple episodes of the BBC production Blue Planet: Seas of Life. It got me to thinking that the science fiction fantasists have it all wrong: it’s not the rest of the Solar System which beckons us (for the moment), but rather the other three quarters of our own planet. There are vast expanses under the seas which are currently of no use to us: we should tame them beneath man’s hand before we think of heading to the stars.

Indeed, it makes a good deal of sense to look at the oceans before we look to the sky. The one can be preparation for the other—but one is not at the wrong end of a gravity well. Both environments require sealed habitats (although underwater the condition is rather the opposite of a vacuum); both are hostile to man (although the sea actively attacks while space is simply indifferent); both require three-dimensional thinking. The sea makes a great deal more economic sense: it is full of life, and certainly if the best minds of the next several centuries turned their thoughts in that direction we could figure out how to farm and ranch the place.

The colonisation of the oceans would of course take millennia. We worry about over-population when on the other side of the shoreline there’s more land than the entire settled area of this world. Certainly, it would be a difficult endeavour: there are many strange creatures there against which we have no weapons; there are many scientific problems which would need to be solved regarding pressure, workable habitats, industry and transportation. But those problems are all much more solvable than those associated with space travel.

And yet more men have ventured into space than have travelled to the watery deeps.

Tasting Notes Additions

I’ve recently added some tasting notes from my Madison, Wisc. Beer Expedition. It was a great time; I’d like to return someday.

Angelic Brewing Co.
Enchanted Abbey
The Great Dane
Black Earth Porter
Cascade Mountain Porter
Crop Circle Wheat
Devil’s Lake Red Lager
Emerald Isle Stout
Old Glory Pale Ale
Old Scratch Barleywine
Potter’s Run IPA
Pumpkin Ale
Stone of Scone Scotch Ale
Wooden Ships ESB
New Glarus
Spotted Cow Kölsch

Read & enjoy.

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