Bird Feeder

BIRD FEEDER: Heavy rains coming. Took the feeder off the top of the porch table and put it underneath, providing a “roof” to keep the feeder and seed dry. The little birds figured it out in a couple of hours. The big birds never figured out how to get seed out of the little feeder slots, but the little birds are messy eaters, so the big birds got fat on the spillage. Today, I watched a puzzled big bird, perched on the rim of the bottom tray that holds the spilled seed. He was staring right at the relocated feeder. He couldn’t figure out what had happened. “DUUHHH, where did the food go, George, where did it go?”

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Server Reboot February 9

Our host advises it will be performing a server update and reboot next Monday, sometime after 10PM Pacific Standard Time, lasting about one-half hour.

“This maintenance window will occur on Monday, Feb 9 between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. MST. It is estimated that the maintenance will take no more than 30 minutes.”

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A Boy Named Hoshi

As told by a friend. Original source unknown.

There was a high school teacher who, every day before class started, would repeat some famous quote from American history. Whichever student could identify the source got extra credit.  One day, the teacher said, “Four-score and seven years ago…”

No one in the class reacted.  Then, a little Japanese boy, the son of immigrants, raised his hand, “Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Pennsylvania, 1864.”

The teacher said, That’s right, Hoshi, but then she looked back through her records and saw that Hoshi had answered most of the questions for quite some time.  So, she decided to give the rest of the class a try with a second quote, “I have a dream…”

Nobody reacted.  Finally, in frustration the teacher asked, “Do you know, Hoshi?”

He replied, “Martin Luther King Jr. Washington DC, 1963.”

The teacher said, “That’s right.  The rest of you should be ashamed of yourself that a Japanese kid who is new to the US should know more American history than you do!”

A smartass in the back yelled, “Fuck the Japanese!”

Hoshi replied, “Lee Iacocca, Detroit Michigan, 1981.”

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Charlie Hebdo

The terrorists who assassinated staff at the offices of the satirical Parisian magazine “Charlie Hebdo” also attempted a hostage situation at a kosher supermarket outside Paris, where they were shot dead by police within the last few hours.

Much attention has rightly been paid to the acts of terror themselves, and to the increasing threat to free speech in Europe and beyond, and to the absolute necessity of fighting by whatever means, if necessary, to preserve that right. But there is a finer shade of question to these awful events, France’s “911,” which as yet has received scant examination.

We must ask ourselves what we might expect if a satirical cartoon “intended to highlight public issues” ridiculed and disgraced the Christian Jesus with a humiliating and mildly pornographic image. In some parts of Europe and America, the lynch mobs would be still be assembling. It’s not a question of free speech – of course we are free to speak plainly in the western world – it’s a question of matching the message to the issues. While I admire Charlie Hebdo’s courage in the abstract, their implementation was very junior-high-school and puerile. It was a gratuitous slap in the face to the majority of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world who live in peace for much the same values as we do. None of this in any way mitigates or ameliorates the terrorist attack of Charlie Hebdo offices, and I am glad those terrorists were shot dead. But it is worth thinking about.

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New Posts for 2015

It’s not a full-fledged “new year’s resolution,” but I neglected this site in December, with only two posts – an all time low, I believe, since 1995. I can do better!

I had cataract surgery in November, the fastest and safest procedure in the world. All went well, but any such procedure seems to take the wind out of my sails. I pampered myself, slept outrageously (but it was glorious), and re-thought how I’d been pursuing a massive Perl project I’ve had on my mind for some years. You know what that means!

430PM Update: new Quotes database installed. Links updated!

It involves our venerable “Quotes” database, accessed from the front page of this site for years. I don’t have a counter on it, so I have no idea who else uses it, but I use it all the time. With about 6,000 quotations amassed over the decades, the database has only one keyword field.

Take this quote, for example:

Bumper sticker seen on "Support our Teachers" auto: 
"Why is money always available for war, not for education?" 
Our guess: there's four whole syllables in 'education', 
only one in 'war'.

With only one keyword, I’d assigned the keyword “war.” Should that have been “teachers?” Or “education?” Why not all three?

No, no, the NEW quotations database and app is not available yet. It will be, much sooner than I’d expected:

A former manager used to tell us, Simplicity comes at the end, not the beginning.”

I rewrote all the Perl code and supporting libraries in connection with the project, in addition to adding four keyword fields. I created two new apps for my own use, Entry and Update (so I can add keywords, among other reasons). The first two months of coding were a minefield of unsatisfactory trials, mistakes, and “almost pretty good” results. I took the core program apart and worked on each piece again, then put them all back together. Voila, mon ami!

So it took about 2-3/4 months to work up the three prototype apps that finally worked perfectly. And then, only an hour or so each to convert them to “production” apps. That’s “portable!” You should see the new Quotations database version 81 in a few days.

In the meantime, as if this makes up for December’s lapse, I’ve today posted a new photo by my friend Swan, and a short personal recollection of a remarkable candlelight dinner in the Mojave Desert. You can see the short excerpts and links to the post pages below.

May 2015 bring happiness, laughter and friendship your way!

Alex

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“The Interview” and Hacking of Sony

We’re getting a little tired of reading harebrained opinions by pundits and experts about Sony’s decision to yank its movie “The Interview” after Sony was hacked, apparently by the petulant North Korean regime.

1) It’s Sony’s movie. There is no “right to be shown a movie.”

2) By all accounts this was a B-grade comedy with very little artistry or other redeeming merit. There are very few right-to-free-speech issues here.

3) The movie is Sony property and Sony’s decision to run it or not, not the media’s, and not the so-called cybersecurity experts’.

4) If Sony decided to run the movie anyway, and even one of 18,000+ theater outlets had been victimized by a terrorism bombing attack, the media and the public wouldn’t be screaming “capitulation,” they’d be screaming for Sony’s head on a platter for risking public safety by inviting a terrorist response.

5) The only appropriate response to North Korea is beyond Sony’s expertise, and hopefully Anonymous is working on that now.

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