The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Entry-level work

| September 28, 2006

The pay is entry-level, but the experience you'll get will be good, and there are good benefits on top of it.

Job Posting

Code

| September 25, 2006

Here is a short answer bunch of questions for all the hackers in the crowd.

(1) What are your opinions of the usage of the following keywords, in any language which supports them: return goto break continue

(2) What is wrong with the following construct:

for(i=0; i 

(3) If your whole department did not see a problem with using the following:

  • multiple returns
  • breaks (aside from switch statements)
  • continue

But felt that “goto” was bad, and “select *” from a DB is even worse, what would be your reaction?

Cats

| September 25, 2006

The downstairs folks have a bunch of kittens.

One of them is this cute little calico girl, who loves to visit Lizzy when she's outside.

We had thought of taking her in, but since we know she's not a stray and belongs to the people downstairs, we didn't.

We don't let our cats outside, because of the amount of traffic on this road. We're worried that they might get hit.

Today, the little girl was hit by a car.

The downstairs neighbors took her to the vet. We don't know how she is.

We should have kidnapped her. She would have lived longer.

Update: Dislocated jaw, some minor head trauma. She's going to be held overnight for observation, but she's going to pull through.

Logistics

| September 22, 2006

Why is it that people just can't seem to do logistics?

It's very simple.

(1) When giving people directions to your house, include the address. That way, people can look it up on a map, put it into a GPS, etc.

(2) When you need help for something (let's say – moving) and you're asking family members for help, be mindful of the headcount – too many people just get in the way, and they stand around bored which leads to them getting pissed off.

(3) When people are helping you move, they will track dirt all over your house. It happens. Buy a vacuum. Don't slow people down by making them take their shoes off, bring 2 pairs (“indoor” and “outdoor”) or break them into two teams (once again – “indoor” and “outdoor”). It's just stupid.

If you're too much of a pain, you'll likely find that your friends are busy next time you need to move.

In other news, my Tau army is all put together – now I can start painting them (will post pics).

What's Your Political Persuasion?

| September 13, 2006

Because took this.

You Are a “Don’t Tread On Me” Libertarian
You distrust the government, are fiercely independent, and don’t belong in either party. Religion and politics should never mix, in your opinion… and you feel opressed by both. You don’t want the government to cramp your self made style. Or anyone else’s for that matter. You’re proud to say that you’re pro-choice on absolutely everything!

A Rifleman's Prayer

| September 9, 2006

I'm not a praying man, but for some reason, this prayer appeals to me:

Oh Lord, I would live my life in freedom, peace and happiness, enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I would die an old, old man in my own bed, preferably of sexual overexertion.

But if that is not to be, Lord, if monsters such as this should find their way to my little corner of the world on my watch, then help me to sweep those bastards from the ramparts, because doing that is good, and right, and just.

And if in this I should fall, let me be found atop a pile of brass, behind the wall I made of their corpses.

A few honeymoon pics

| September 9, 2006

These are the more.. peculiar ones.

First, for , we have “Purple Cows, Alaska Style”:

Purple Moose

Then, we have a rather, interestingly named outreach program:

Glory Hole Sign

But, it's legit – it's a service of the Juneau Cooperative Christian Ministry

Glory Hole Poster

US Senate Candidates for RI

| September 9, 2006

In further support of the insurrection, here are some opinions on various candidates running for US Senate in the state of Rhode Island.

As near as I can tell, there are three advertising currently: Chafee, Laffey, and Whitehouse.

Chafee is a known quantity – he's been the senator from Rhode Island since his father passed away. He's not a bad guy, just on the opposite side of me from many issues, so I won't really talk about him any more, except to say that the ads he's running are basically saying “He doesn't vote with the party, he votes his conscience” as in “He's the un-Republican Republican.

Laffey is a complete unknown. Sure, he's been Mayor of Cranston, but I don't live in Cranston. You'd think that he'd have some type of position paper on the election site, but it's completely devoid of anything useful.

Now, Whitehouse is different – he actually has information on his site. Of course, he just happens to be mostly wrong. So, I sent him feedback on his site.

(Feedback for Sheldon on the Key Issues page) The Iraq War Sheldon Whitehouse supports a rapid and responsible withdrawal of our troops from Iraq that gets most, if not all, of our troops redeployed out of Iraq by the end of this year. To do that, we need to make it clear to the Iraqis and to other nations that we are in withdrawal mode. Iraqis must understand that very soon they will assume responsibility for the security, governance and administration of their country. Fair enough. The Health Care Crisis We’ve been hearing Members of Congress talk about the health care crisis for years, but nothing gets done. Health care costs are escalating. Families are paying more for health insurance. And each year, more people are left uninsured, where they are one health care problem away from bankruptcy. Sheldon Whitehouse’s number one priority in the United States Senate will be to take on the special interests and create a better health care system. This is not the responsibility of the federal government to create a better health care system. The government should deregulate the industry and let the free market handle it. A Better Prescription Drug Plan Sheldon Whitehouse has proposed a simple, straightforward plan that gives Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, offers a Medicare-administered alternative to the private plans, and gives seniors the flexibility to switch plans if an insurance company changes the coverage it promised to provide. Medicare should not exist. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to provide health care. (see the 10th amendment to the US constitution) Retirement Security When Sheldon Whitehouse gets to Washington, he’ll put our seniors first. He’ll help block attempts to privatize Social Security and cut benefits for the middle class, and he’ll work to make sure that seniors’ hard-earned retirement savings are secure. And he’ll fight to scrap the disastrous Part D prescription drug program, and replace it with a simpler plan that really lowers costs. Social security should not exist. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that I put away for my retirement. (see the 10th amendment to the US constitution) Better Schools, Better Opportunities America’s teachers and schools don’t have the resources they need, and our children are paying the price. Sheldon Whitehouse supports fully funding No Child Left Behind, as well as special education and after-school programs. Endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA), Whitehouse will also push for significant funding increases for Pell Grants and other federal assistance to help many more young people afford a higher education. In some districts, “No Child Left Behind” has been implemented as “hold everyone else back”. Additionally, schools are a state issue, not a federal issue. The federal government should stay out of education. It is up to the state/town/etc. to provide schools, if so desired by the citizenry. The federal government also has no say in what is taught in said schools – there is nothing which says that the curriculum in the US needs to be homogeneous, or even that such an approach is beneficial. (see the 10th amendment to the US constitution) Preserving Our Natural Resources The recipient of Save the Bay’s 2003 Environmental Advocacy Award, Sheldon Whitehouse is a proven and passionate fighter to protect our environment. Sheldon argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to protect our public wetlands from development, and sued to block Bush administration efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act. He led the investigation into a devastating oil spill in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, and made sure the fine – the largest in the state’s history – was used for conservation. As Rhode Island’s next U.S. Senator, he’ll protect our wild spaces from oil exploration and support the development of clean, alternative energy sources. You might have my agreement on this one, right up until we’re talking about: “support the development of clean, alternative energy sources.” How about this plan of attack: (1) Remove any and all subsidies to oil companies (2) Petro-Fuel prices go up (3) Alternative fuel prices become competitive. (4) With this initial cash infusion, the alternative fuel technology develops and it gets even cheaper. It will probably take 10 years or so to see the result. However, there is an immediate benefit – I get to deal with fuel prices by buying more or less fuel, rather than having money taken from my paycheck and given to fuel companies. If you propose any federal subsidies for alternative fuel companies, you lose all support from me on this issue. For the record, I already drive a diesel VW which gets 40mpg and can run on biodiesel without modification. Clean Up Washington Sheldon Whitehouse is a former U.S. Attorney, Attorney General, and advisory board member of Common Cause. He twice received public service achievement awards from Common Cause for his work on reform in Rhode Island. A reformer and firm believer in upholding the integrity of our government, Sheldon has proposed a tough, aggressive plan to reform the rules governing federal lobbyists to stop the culture of corruption that has tainted the Capitol under Republican leadership. I’ve read this plan, and can find no fault in it. Can we add reforming the BATFE to this list? They’ve become a firearms control gestapo. Fighting to Keep Guns Off Our Streets A former U.S. Attorney appointed by Bill Clinton and Rhode Island’s Attorney General, Sheldon Whitehouse has successfully fought for tough new gun control legislation that strengthened penalties for armed criminals and prosecuted members of the Rhode Island Latin Kings, a violent criminal gang that committed murder, drug dealing, assault, and racketeering. In the U.S. Senate, Whitehouse will work for common-sense solutions that help local law enforcement fight gun crime and to hold irresponsible gun makers and dealers accountable for their actions. I’ve read the page linked to off this page You have no support from me for anything on this page. Specifically: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Which means: (1) Not only is the Assault Weapons Ban unconstitutional, so is most firearms legislation from the last century. (2) Private individuals should be allowed to purchase and own everything available to our military. (The second amendment is not about hunting; it is about defending the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic). (3) There should be no limitation on this right for convicted felons. If you’ve paid your debt to society and your parole is over, you’re done. All rights as a citizen should be restored, including the RKBA. (4) Given (3), a federal background check becomes unnecessary. (5) Waiting periods constitute “infringement”. (6) The idea of concealed carry permits is unconstitutional. (Carrying a firearm is the “bear” part of “keep and bear arms”). For the non-constitutional arguments: (1) Firearms manufacturers cannot be held responsible for misuse of their products. Design defects and manufacturing flaws are subject to the same laws as everything else, but suing a gun manufacturer because you got shot by someone wielding one of their guns is exactly the same as suing an auto manufacturer because you got run over by someone driving one of their cars. Honoring America’s Veterans Sheldon Whitehouse’s Honoring America’s Veterans plan outlines a renewed federal commitment to the brave men and women who fought to keep our nation free. Whitehouse will work to make our veterans’ health care system a national leader in health care quality, through reforms that address veterans’ most urgent needs, and ensure that no soldier returning from the battlefield is left behind. And he will support efforts to guarantee that our retired service members and their families receive the benefits and services they’ve earned. Yes. This is part of “providing for the common defense”, which IS something the federal government is supposed to be in charge of.

McCain-Feingold

| September 9, 2006

For those of you who are not aware, we are entering the McCain-Feingold dark period. This is a period of 60 days before an election where varieties of “Coordinated Communications” are banned, because they may constitute “contributions” to a campaign. The fear here is that these “Coordinated Communications” may apply to random folks as well. If I say that I approve of a candidate, then that is a contribution to his or her campaign. If I criticize a candidate, then this may constitute a contribution to some other politicians campaign.

This is all a very grey legal area – no one knows how this applies to private individuals on the internet. So, a few folks are standing up and saying “this does not apply to private citizens. Of all things that should be covered by the first amendment, political speech should be at the forefront, and we will speak.” They are the McCain-Feingold insurrection (see the What is.. for more information).

So, here is where I throw my hat into the ring. Not only should political speech be protected at all costs, but I will go so far as to say that this whole series of “campaign finance reform” bills is predicated upon the idea that the American people are stupid and therefore are offensive and insulting.

The basic idea behind all campaign finance reform is that we need to limit who can give money and support to whom and how much can be given. Why? Well, the oft-stated reason is roughly the following: “Well financed politicians would win elections and poorly financed ones lose elections. If people were allowed to give as much as they wanted, then we would have candidates getting elected who are controlled by rich men”. Now, let’s examine the various problems with this sentiment:
  1. The people still need to elect them.
  2. Money is a necessary condition to getting elected: you have to get your message out. However, it is not a sufficient condition. Witness Steve Forbes and H. Ross Perot – despite all their money, they did not get elected.
Now, (2), above, tells you why the sentiment is silly, not why it’s offensive. (1) above tells you why it’s offensive. It is predicated upon the idea that “well financed politicians will spend money on advertising, sway the people to their side, and get elected”. This implies that the American people are too stupid to see through the advertising and will be easily duped. I, for one, think that the American people are very smart, and if we start to see candidates who are merely the puppets of rich men, then the American people will elect replacements. If they do not, then it is their own fault. Ultimately, they are in control of their own destiny. Therefore, campaign finance reform should work like this:
  • Anyone should be able to give any amount to any candidate which they see fit.
  • There should be no restrictions on political speech by any groups.
This will lead to candidates from all walks of life – from folks bankrolled by a huge group of supporters to those bankrolled by a few rich ones. Just because someone is rich, doesn’t mean he can’t think someone would be a good statesman.

News

| September 5, 2006

From Sabin, a good article about government failures during Katrina

In a nutshell, the welfare state bred a bunch of people to depend on the government – when the government couldn't help them, they couldn't fend for themselves, and all they did was complain about how other people should help them.

Other people took responsibility for themselves and either prepared to stay or left ahead of time.