April 27, 2003

Sue as I Say, Not as I Sue

Senator Rick Santorum's wife received $350K in a recent malpractice suit -- to which he provided testimony and full support -- which is $100K more than he now says anybody else should be allowed to receive, thanks to a pending GOP bill.

Geez, bad enough he's a bug-eyed lunatic... turns out he's a hypocritical bug-eyed lunatic. Chances he'll give back one hundred thousand dollars to show his support for limiting awards in malpractice suits? I'd say chances are as close to zero as they can get...

Posted by thom at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2003


The question for today is "Are Dallas Police stupid?" As far as I can tell the answer is yes...

Posted by thom at 01:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003

The Care and Feeding of My Head

I wake up this morning only to discover that I've managed to sleep wrong yet again. I wonder if neck amputation is a valid medical procedure. I tried to cure myself by fixing some eggs filled with bacon bits. I've got lots of bacon because yesterday I managed to cook an entire package and resisted the urge to eat half the bacon while it was still hot. While scarfing breakfast down I found "Die Puny Humans", a blog that manages to be way more interesting than my inane ramblings. Oh yeah, the eggs-n-bacon cure failed - my neck is killing me.

Posted by thom at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2003

Kiss your ass goodbye

It's a cloudy gray day here. The website to download Squeak seems to be down so I was just doing some random surfing when I ran across this story about dropping nukes from prop-driven aircraft. Sure, most planes wouldn't be able to escape the blast and would be destroyed by their own bombs but the pilots weren't worried since it was the end of the world anyway.

Posted by thom at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2003

Nerdfest 2003

Well, I finally managed to get my linux box back to a semi-working state. It took only a few hours to discover that Red Hat Linux insists that it needs to mangle the DNS server address you give it into something that, well, doesn't stand a chance of working. Fixed that. Now I just need to figure out how to make it boot without explicit instructions about how to do it successfully.

My brother-in-law has convinced me to take another look at a free version of SmallTalk called Squeak. Sadly the installation process leaves a lot to be desired. Download four different files. No, wait, it's only three. Now run an installation script - or are there four, er, three installation scripts? Try running the program and it complains about libraries being the wrong version even though when I check they seem to be the right version. Search for the error message on Google to see if anyone else had the same problem. SUCCESS! Unfortunately, they didn't know how to fix it either. Complain about the whole mess in my blog before finally giving up and going to sleep.

Posted by thom at 02:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2003

Major Weirdness

My computer is hopelessly messed up. I'm going to try over the next few days to fix it but I can't even figure out exactly what is wrong with it. First I thought I got hacked, now I don't think so. Then I thought the disk had gone sour, then I formatted and it worked with no bad blocks. Then I reinstalled Linux and that seemed to go well until I rebooted. Linux panics saying it can't find a file system on the disk. Now I don't know what in the hell is wrong with it.

Posted by thom at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

My brother-in-law, Todd, is in

My brother-in-law, Todd, is in town visiting (looking for employment). The first evening I discover my linux box has been trashed somehow so no internet access from home. No problem since Todd has wireless access through t-mobile which means we can sit in Starbuck's and surf the net. So, first thing in the morning we go to get coffee and nerd-out. We sit down only to find the signal is so weak as to be useless. We finish our coffee and head to another Starbuck's down the road. There we get absolutely no signal. Well, it's April 14th and electronic returns need to be filed so we head over to Buck's Restaurant in Woodside which is apparently famous for being a gathering place for VC's funding dot coms during the go-go days of the boom. They offer free wireless access as a service to attract VC's and nerds desperate to file tax returns. We sit down no more than 50 feet from the wireless node but get a uselessly weak signal again. When we left we found we got a great signal while standing in front of the restaurant so Todd checks his e-mail. He didn't attempt to file his return while standing there. Back home we fix things up enough that he can use my DSL and file his tax return. This whole wireless thing has a long way to go before it's useful.

This morning we're sitting around and get a phone call. Todd answers and within a few seconds I realize he's talking to his 2 year old daughter (my niece). I'm thinking my sister must have dialed the phone and given it to her. He talks to her for a few minutes before I start hearing him say "Are you still there Eileen? Did you wander away from the phone?" Eileen, at the tender age of 2, had apparently figured out the re-dial button (hereafter known as "the daddy button"). When she finally lost interest she wandered away from the phone leaving it off the hook.

Posted by thom at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2003

Ubi gubet ubit nubow

Ah ha! I know now how to speak UBBI DUBBI!

Posted by thom at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2003

Who'd Steal a Buick?

Actor Sean Penn is looking for a new car, this after somebody stole his old one... and we do mean old! Police in Berkeley report somebody made off with the actor's 1987 Buick Grand National Tuesday while he was lunching in a Shattuck Avenue Restaurant. Besides looking for Penn's 16-year old Buick, they're also looking for the two handguns he had inside the car. Penn, who lives in Marin County, has a permit to carry the weapons

Sean Penn drives a 1987 Buick?

Posted by thom at 04:42 PM | Comments (1)

The Mathematics of Crime

I read an article in the business section of the paper today about yet another executive sentenced for fraud. California as a rule is pretty tough on crime. We've sent people to the big house for 25-to-life for stealing a slice of pizza (really, this is not a joke). Anyway, Paul Jain was CEO of Media Vision. In 1993 the company reported a profit of $20 million on revenues of $241 million. Their stock price doubled, Wall Street went wild and there was much rejoicing by investors. A few months later they announced they needed to restate their earning for 1993: they actually had a net loss of $99 million on revenues of only $150 million (i.e. they lied to the tune of $100 million). Wall Street went wild again, but this time investors lost nearly $200 million in equity. On Friday Mr. Jain was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison. Steve Allan, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) received a much harsher sentence. Well, at least a slightly harsher sentence: three and a half years (the maximum sentence he could have gotten was only eight years). If you stole ten slices of pizza a day (at $1 per slice), every day, it would take you approximately 55 thousand years to steal $200 million worth of pizza.

Posted by thom at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

The Nerd Files

There is an interesting article about writing visicalc - the first spread sheet. Speaking of designing software...

How do you assign a value to software? I've been thinking about this and can't really think of a solution. How can you decide whether or not it's worth investing time and money into fixing a piece of software or tossing it out and writing something new from scratch if you can't answer this question? My experience is people sit around in a room, pull numbers out of their ass, communicate their vague impressions about the state of the software, then the boss pulls a number out of his ass and decides based on his number. I've heard Economics described as "the dismal science" but I think that fits the current state of software engineering too. Hopefully some wise software guru will find this blog entry through some search engine and tell me the answer.

Posted by thom at 10:35 PM | Comments (1)

Bushisms of a New Generation

"In other words, I don't think people ought to be compelled to make the decision which they think is best for their family."
- George Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2002
Posted by thom at 02:47 AM | Comments (0)

Warm and Free can't be Bad, right?

In December 2001 three Georgian woodcutters discovered something strange in the woods - a metal cylinder a little bigger than a flashlight sticking out of the snow. They noticed it was warm and had melted the snow around it. They congratulated each other on their good fortune and took their new compact space heater home. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the smartest move but I'm sure it gets really, really cold there so you really can't fault them. When they got it home they discovered it did a great job heating the old shack. Heck, they didn't even have to plug it in! Perfect! Not really. What they found is called a radiothermal generator. The device had a large chunk of radioactive strontium 90 as its power source. Within hours the men suffered severe skin burns and internal organ damage. Two of the three were hospitalized for over 3 months. The lesson you should learn: Beware of magical space heaters.

Posted by thom at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

Sunny Baghdad

Ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated by the technical intricacies of disasters. The latest news of the Colombia accident has an eerie, familiar ring to it: An unfortunate sequence of events. Avoidable, perhaps. Foreseeable, no.

I was watching the weather report in Baghdad and they super-imposed bright orange happy little suns over they map to show how hot it would be. As they zoomed over the map to each city each one got a happy little sun right on top of the city. It looked little atom bombs.

Posted by thom at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Arm the Homeless

April Fool's Day is one of my favorite holidays. Imagine my delight when I discovered a site that detailed The Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time. A Classic. Unfortunately, I also discovered there is no such thing as Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers. So sad. Oh well, I still have my pet Tasmanian Mock Walrus.

Posted by thom at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

My Lucky Number is, um...

Wow, what a day! Not only did I win the lottery but I just got a letter in the mail saying I've been declared Leader of the Entire World! Life is good.

Posted by thom at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)