November 30, 2004

Copyright: Kahle v. Ashcroft

Learned something about copyright that I didn't know before (because I was born in 1980): Kahle v. Ashcroft is asking that copyright go back to the way it was before 1976 where copyright was granted on request only and placed the burden on the copyright owner. Today, copyright is granted implicitly without burden. This is interesting.

I don't really know if I have a problem with copyright being granted implicitly so long as there's an expiration. I do know that the current trend towards infinite copyright is a real problem. An excellent story about this is Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson. (He's one of my favorite authors.) Part of the problem is basing copyright's expiration on death. People live longer today, and companies count as legal entities with the potential to never die.

Part of what this lawsuit is asking for, however, is that since some works are abandoned by their copyright owners, that work is "lost" to the world until the copyright expires. The owner has decided never to do anything with the work, but no one else can reproduce it or distribute it or derive other works from it without the owner's express permission. I can see a problem there. Maybe not much of a problem if copyright expired after a short time.

Posted by josuah at 11:27 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2004

Detectable Landmines

Apparently the US has announced that all future landmines will be detectable, as opposed to the historically non-detectable landmines which are still found in many places of the world. The non-detectable versions are left in the battlefield after a battle, and have been known to kill civilians years later. From the article: "The United States is setting an example among the major military powers by being the first to ban all of its persistent landmines -- both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle." The only thing is, if a landmine is detectable, doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Posted by josuah at 11:19 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stem Cell Research GOOD

Stem cell research was one of those topics that came up in the Bush administration and one that President Bush promptly shut down in large part due to the religious opposition. Stem cells can be harvested from umbilical cords and aborted fetuses, and are cells in a special stage of development that can turn into any other type of cell. This ability has enormous possibilities. And the benefits have just been demonstrated.

In Korea, a woman paralyzed at age 17 received spinal cord treament using stem cells and today, at age 37, she was able to walk using a frame (article). This is the first successful result of stem cell research, which is currently being held back in the U.S. due to the Bush administration's decision to disallow further stem cell collection. California just voted to overturn this as a state-wide measure.

Posted by josuah at 8:15 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 27, 2004


I purchased a black light from Target today, and was able to see the locations where cat urine was on the carpet. I didn't see any on the couches (probably because I laundered the covers), but I did see some splatter around the toilet. So I've ordered Anti-Icky-Poo, a chemical solution designed to eat the organic material left behind by urine. I ordered it from The Cat Doctor Store because they have a combo pack for cheaper.

Posted by josuah at 1:11 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 25, 2004

Chie's Urine

Chie urinated on the couch and my leather jacket today. I can wash the couch cushion cover, but I guess I need to bring my jacket in for a professional cleaning. Dryel did not do any good. I am losing patience with Chie. He just won't learn.

I rubbed his nose in the urine on the cushion and jacket and made him watch Asuka and Niea use the toilet. I also rapped him on the head a couple of times and forced him to watch me put the cushion cover in the washing machine. He did not like being in the garage and started to whine and try to get away, scratching up my right hand. I yelled at him when he did this. When he tried to get onto the bed with me, I kicked him off.

I have grabbed my Megatokyo blankets, the flokati rug, and the pet bed (which he urinated on before, and I just finished cleaning) and put them all out of reach. I do not want there to be anything which would encourage Chie to urinate anywhere except the toilet.

Posted by josuah at 11:21 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 24, 2004

Now Playing 1.1

A long time ago I wrote the Now Playing widget for Konfabulator so that the song currently playing in iTunes would display on my web page. Well, I just updated it so that it uses the iTunes object provided by the newer Konfabulator framework, rather than querying iTunes using AppleScript. A little cleaner. I had hoped it would allow iTunes to be quit without relaunching, but no such luck. Side note: I also associated the Now Playing widget with my home theater iTunes source, so the song displayed on my web site may be playing back through my home theater setup and not my computer.

Posted by josuah at 7:20 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2004

Software Patents: IMHO

I was asked today about my opinion on software patents. This person has the opportunity to file some disclosures on products he has been working on, but he feels some discomfort about doing so because he is not sure whether or not he agrees with the idea of patenting those products. On the other hand he is being encouraged to file. There would be a financial award and it would be good for his career. My reply follows....

Well, my outlook is that I should do my part, and state my reasons for doing so to other people so they understand what I believe, and then maybe they will decide that patents are also bad. But it is not as though I will think someone is a bad person for believing in patents or filing them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter.

I have a somewhat extreme view on patents. I've posted some of this on my personal blog, and also told my manager about it so she knows that although my career would benefit from it, I'm not willing to compromise. I think the issue is too important. If IBM ever decides patents are the only way they will value more anymore, or the only way I can advance, I will leave.

I am not 100% sure, but I believe I have met someone else in IBM who feels that their career has not moved forward because they do not have any patents. That could be true. But I also believe what one of the other IBMers I met said; that I should not be expected to or feel I need to compromise my morals or beliefs for the job.

Maybe it is easier for me to say that, since I'm a little younger. I don't worry about a job or stuff like that though; I've got enough people trying to hire me that I'm confident I could find something quick.

One of my CS professors told me that although he thinks the entire patent process is completely messed up, I should go for it because as one person I'm not going to fix it and it does mean he and I can get rich off the way things work. But I think that's exactly the problem with patents. People are naturally selfish and greedy. Shareholders are this way. Companies are this way. Employees are this way. Etc. That's why the system perpetuates itself.

In simple terms, I think of it this way. Where would our species be today if the first person to figure out paper patented it? Or fertilizer? Or the axe or screwdriver? The internal combustion engine or the wheel?

Of course, in your case, you don't have the option of sharing your ideas no matter what your decision. Work for hire means the company owns any IP. It's their idea and not yours. They will most likely get it patented somehow even if you don't have a hand in it. I am the passive protestor to this, I suppose. During Extreme Blue, there was a big push for filing disclosures. My team was the only one not to attempt any disclosures, as far as I know. If someone requests my help specifically on a patent application or anything related to a patent, I will refuse. I will not attempt to stop someone else, but I will not do anything to help.

There is also the argument that if your asset is your ideas, when why shouldn't you be able to patent those ideas and that will become the basis for your contribution to the species and how you make a living. You are the thinker, and someone else is the builder.

One of the problems I have with that mindset is that it is selfish and self-serving. Ideas are meant to be shared. That is how civilization has made progress for thousands of years. Everyone believes our children are our most valuable resource and that teachers are so important. But when it comes to making money, don't you dare teach! Keep it for yourself and milk it for all you can.

It also becomes a problem because ideas are not standalone things. All ideas are built on top of other ideas. At this point, it turns into that childish argument that goes something like this: I wouldn't have hit you if you hadn't broken my toy; I wouldn't have broken my toy if you didn't buy the toy; I wouldn't have bought the toy if you hadn't broken my other toy. Etc. It sounds crazy to apply to this patents, but due to the lifetimes of patents and copyright, it is applicable. A jet engine has so many patents on it that for someone else to build one would be the same way. You owe me for this and this and this and this and this.

The only reason we can write software today is because so much of it is coming out of academia where patents do not apply. Quicksort, arrays, try/catch, object-oriented languages, etc. We have competition for journaled filesystems today, but that would not have been possible if the idea came out of a company with a patent. Things that seem cutting edge today are the building blocks for the mundane tomorrow.

Crazy rant done.

I think for you, the two sides are the compensation+career, versus the internal discomfort of having your name associated with something you don't necessarily believe in. The majority of people you meet with will not feel that way but instead will congratulate you on your accomplishment. You'll just have to figure out which of those two sides is the one you would prefer to live with.

Posted by josuah at 11:56 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No Software Patents

Found out about this web site today: No Software Patents!. The site itself is somewhat inflammatory and as a result comes off a little immature. However, the issue of software patents is enormous and how it plays out in the EU will have a very serious impact on how software development proceeds worldwide over the next few decades, or even longer depending on how the legal environment changes.

The EU also has an opportunity to overtake the United States in software advances if the software patent issue is turned down. Software development in the United States has several problems. Some of them are:

  • Non-compete clauses that are extreme due to the size and reach of some companies. Thankfully at least California restricts this to the term of employment. Software is so important to the world's operation that this is like limiting blacksmiths or metalworkers in earlier time periods. What if Da Vinci's works were locked away, even today?
  • Litigation that can destroy a company, product, and for people not protected by a corporation: lives. The penalty for using an idea someone else patented, regardless of where you got the idea or if you had knowledge of the patent, is so severe an individual developer can lose everything.
  • Expenses revolving entirely around intellectual property law. Lawyers, entire legal departments focused on IP, etc.
  • "Paraphrasing becomes plagiarism." Because ideas can be implemented differently, the idea itself is patented. All implementations become subject. Things we have accepted as the best way for doing things, e.g. 2x4 frames for houses or wheel axels, become extremely expensive in the software world.
  • The development of entities whose only purpose in life is to capitalize on intellectual property forever, providing no value to society and draining resources from others.
  • A legal system that encourages people to not look for ideas from other places. Those ideas may be patented and once you've contaminated your brain with those ideas, you are liable.

If the EU rejects software patents, software development in the EU suddenly has a freedom akin to the personal freedom the United States Constitution symbolizes. The opportunity for the EU to become a the leader in technological innovation and development will be a lot greater.

Posted by josuah at 9:45 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004


The ants finally attacked the entire bag of cat food. This is the first time this has happened. I did a lot of vacuuming and had to vacuum some of the cat food out of the bag, because there were so many ants inside. I've rolled up the top and placed the bag on top of the refrigerator. The ants must be killed.

So, I have created a trap as suggested at the Berkeley Parents Network: Getting Rid of Ants. I took some cat food, dumped it into a cardboard box (one of the leftovers from the GFCI outlets) and then dumped a bunch of boric acid powder into it as well. I closed this inside the closet, so the cats can't get to it. Hopefully the ants will start munching on the cat food and bringing back the poison to their nest. I'll have to leave it there for a long time, so enough generations of ants from under the house are killed.

Posted by josuah at 6:20 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Water Heater Blanket

I installed a water heater blanket today, with Szu-Huey's help. I also insulated the hot water pipe that leads out of the tank. Hopefully this will help cut down on my gas bill during the winter months. I also decreased the heat temperature on my thermostat a couple of degrees and lowered the water heater temperature. This time of year, my gas bill will triple. I also installed the two GFCI outlets in the kitchen today.

Posted by josuah at 12:10 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2004

Ellen's Birthday

Today Ellen celebrated her 26th birthday. Her real birthday is on the 23rd or something like that. But she always celebrates early because of Thanksgiving. We had dinner at Buca di Beppo's at Oakridge Mall. Our reservation was for 7pm but because the restaurant couldn't kick out the previous large party, we ended up being seated an hour late. To make up for this, they gave us free appetizers.

There were 20 of us total. One of those was Ellen and three of them were small children, so the bill was split between the remaining 16 of us. I calculated an 18% gratuity on the check post-tax, and then that number was rounded up per person to the dollar. Ended up that if the gratuity was calculated pre-tax, then it ended up being a 20% gratuity. That's okay though because we did get like $100 worth of free appetizers and the waiters were very good. Of course there had to be more than one water for such a large group, although one guy was our head waiter.

This is the first time I'd eaten in this restaurant. Also the first time for Szu-Huey and Alla. The food is really good and we all over stuffed ourselves. I took home some pasta and salad leftovers. It is kind of strange if you actually pay attention to the hundreds of mostly black-and-white photos they have up on the walls. There are all sorts of strange people doing strange things in those photos.

Posted by josuah at 8:00 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GFCI Outlets

Today I installed GFCI outlets for the aquarium and all three bathrooms. GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupt, and these are the outlets you usually see in bathrooms with two buttons on them: test and reset. These outlets are now a code requirement for any location where water is likely to be on the floor or near electrical equipment. e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, garages. When an electrical appliance is attached to a GFCI outlet and falls into water, the circuit is immediately cut off before any harm to a person. It also means if water starts leaking from the aquarium, the electricity will cut out before the fish and turtles are electrocuted. Also likely to help prevent any harm to my cats.

I still need to install some GFCIs in my kitchen, and I'm going to want to install one in another location in the living room. I couldn't install in the kitchen yet because I don't have the correct faceplate for the outlet. The one near the sink is a double duplex outlet. There's also the outlet beneath the sink which the disposal and dishwasher is hooked up to, and the outlet right behind the sink in the sitting area. Unfortunately, it appears all the outlets are currently wired in parallel rather than series, so I can't just put one GFCI outlet in to protect them all. Rewiring would be a lot of trouble.

The other one I want to install in the living room would be for a future aquarium. I would like to get another 55 gallon hex freshwater aquarium. I would be able to put community and schooling fish in there without them being attacked by the turtles or the aggressive tiger barbs and cichlids in the turtle tank. I can use the hexagon mahogany cabinet-table I purchased from the previous owners of my house for the stand. But this will still have to be a long ways off because it will cost several hundred dollars to put together. Plus, I do still want a reef aquarium. Unfortunately, I think a reef aquarium might be a lot of hassle.

Posted by josuah at 7:48 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

Karen's Birthday

Today was Karen's birthday. So she had a little get together at one of her friends' places in San Francisco. Unfortunately, we got lost on the way. We left my place at around 6:10pm and the driving directions said it would take about an hour and ten minutes to get to Andrea's place. There was some traffic, but we got lost so much that we finally arrived at 8:45pm. That's more than double the time it should have taken.

I got Karen a copy of Supreme Beings of Leisure's self-titled debut album. Paula or Andrea got her some hair glitter, make-up remover soap, and a little carrying box for them. The other one of the two got her a card. I can't remember who got what. Some other people I'd never met before were there also: Mike, Nick, Beth, and someone else. Wade was there of course.

Turns out Andrea is a real Star Trek:TNG freak, so after most everyone had left, she and I ended up making Wade feel like a weirdo by talking about random episodes that no one else there had any idea what we were talking about. She has seasons 1-5, and 7 of ST:TNG.

Posted by josuah at 8:46 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sold Blue Circle MR1200

I sold my Blue Circle MR1200 on AudiogoN. This leaves my home theater in a minor power predicament. Things will have to run off of a power strip/surge protector for a while.

Posted by josuah at 8:33 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

Intellectual Property Protection Act

A new bill has been introduced called the Intellectual Property Protection Act (H.R. 2391). According to Wired, the bill groups several pending copyright bills together. While some of the parts in this bill are good, the bundling of bills in order to get things passed is once again causing horrible things to happen.

The following is mostly from the IPPA page at Public Knowledge. My comments added in italics.


  • H.R. 2391: Researchers and inventors can share information between organizations without losing patentability. A step in the right direction because patents aren't going away anytime soon.
  • H.R. 5136: Libraries are allowed to create copies of copyrighted works that have not been commercially exploited in the past twenty years. Copyright should die a lot sooner. Libraries are already supposed to be able to do this under fair use. What constitutes a library? I can make a library myself.


  • H.R. 4077: Making copyrighted material available (regardless of whether or not it was consumed) through reckless behavior is illegal. Go to jail for accidents, ignorance, or insecure electronic devices. I would be guilty of this right now.
  • S. 2237: The justice department gains the right to file civil actions against copyright infringers. Civil should stay civil. If the RIAA wants to prosecute someone, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayers.
  • S. 1932: Unauthorized use of a video camera in a movie theater now means go to jail. Fair use does not apply. Jail time is an extremely harsh penalty for this behavior. Plus, I should have the right to capture on tape anything I see or hear for my own reasons unless I agree otherwise. What about capturing illegal activity that happens to take place in a movie theater? I know many minors with camera phones are guilty of this right now.
  • H.R. 4586: Affirms the right to skip objectionable material in audio and video works (already a right, a la the fast-forward button) but commercials cannot be skipped. Since when did I agree in a contract that I can't skip through portions of audio or video works that I legally purchased? Another good reason I don't watch broadcast, cable, or satellite television. I will not purchase any material that behaves in this manner.
  • H.R. 3632: Penalties and jail time for trafficking of counterfeit records, software, movies, etc. Isn't this already covered under copyright penalties for goods in general?
  • S. 1933: Certificates of copyright registration applications do not need to contain correct information for the registration to remain valid. How stupid is this?

Posted by josuah at 10:20 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

Changing of the Guards

A lot of changes have taken place in the political area this past few weeks. Resignations on the hill include: Sec. of State Colin Powell, Education Sec. Rod Paige, Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham, Agriculture Sec. Ann Veneman, Commerce Sec. Don Evans, Attorney General John Ashcroft, counterterrorism coordinator Cofer Black, CIA leaders Steven Kappes and Michael J. Sulick. And probably the biggest news is Yasser Arafat's death.

Condoleezza Rice is the favorite for Powell's replacement. There are a number of criticisms of Rice, but while I've found her defensive of President Bush's policies (as she should be, as part of his cabinet), I don't think there is much truth to those criticisms. Her background indicates why she would be a good choice for Secretary of State.

A trickier issue is Arafat's replacement, Rawhi Fattuh is serving as interim president. Whoever ends up as the permanent president will make a big difference in the Middle East peace negotiations.

Posted by josuah at 8:32 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

International Web Site

Some of you may have noticed garbage characters displaying in the Now Playing section of my home page (upper-right). This is something that had been bothering me for a while but I wasn't sure how to best go about it. Another thing that was bothering me was the timestamps in all these blog entries. It may have seemed weird for my posts to be at 5am or even more disturbing, in the future.

Well, the reasons for this are because I was dumping the native character bytes into my Now Playing file on disk, and my blog timezone is set to UTC (as is my server timezone). Easily fixed after some investigation. Rather than encode the foreign language characters into unicode, I changed Apache's default character set to UTF-8. Then I did some digging in the Movable Type template tags documentation and found the <$MTBlogTimezone$> variable. Everything looks good now.

Posted by josuah at 7:54 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Litter Pan + Cardboard Tube

Since Chie refuses to use the litter pan in the toilet when there is very little sand, I am trying something new. Instead of just cutting out a hole in the middle, which forces any large amount of litter to fall into the toilet, I have inserted a paper towel cardboard tube into the hole. This allows me to have a hole in the litter pan, but also to maintain a high level of litter. Hopefully Chie will start aiming at the hole.

Posted by josuah at 6:46 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2004

Cutting Down Bubble Noise

I installed an undergravel filter into my aquarium a couple of weeks ago. It has made a difference in keeping my tank clean, as evidenced by the gunk that I've seen come up through the tubes. I've also noticed that when I swirl around the gravel, a lot less black stuff comes out. Unfortunately, the bubbling was a little on the noisy side.

To remedy this, I cut about 1.5" off the tubes (my aquarium is not filled to the top so the turtles have places to dry off and bask) pushing the top of the tubes beneath the water level. This, however, did not do very much to reduce the noise. But, after removing the carbon cartridges from the tubes, noise level decreased dramatically as the air was not being forced through as quickly. Less turbulence. Removing the carbon filters is not so bad, as compared to my canister filter they won't make much difference.

Posted by josuah at 8:51 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Forcing ES/EX

I finally figured out how to force 5.1 playback to 6.1 playback out the rear surround channels. There's a separate button on my Yamaha RX-V1400 remote that will allow me to force Dolby Digital EX or DTS ES. This will create a more enveloping surround experience for people who are sitting on the second row of seats, as my speakers are placed and calibrated with my primary seating position in mind.

Posted by josuah at 8:44 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2004

Too Fast? Too Slow?

I decided to compare the picture quality and performance of MPlayer against VideoLAN. The results are a little interesting. For starters, MPlayer advanced the film slower than my computer clock. But VLC advanced it faster. Playback side-by-side made this very obvious as the skew grew larger and larger and VLC played back the film faster. Color saturation was higher in VLC, and detail and smoothness was better in MPlayer both with and without post-processing on. Unfortunately, slight tearing is visible in both applications.

With both applications running, MPlayer was getting about 70% of the CPU, and VLC about 20%. Once VLC was stopped, MPlayer took the remaining CPU. VLC would peak at about 30% of the CPU. This is a significant difference in processing time. My PowerMac G5 is a dual 2.0GHz with 2GB of RAM.

Posted by josuah at 12:43 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King extended edition DVD will be coming out next month. That is the perfect excuse for a LotR marathon. However, the problem with such a marathon is that all three films are on six DVDs. I don't want the marathon to be interrupted by having to get up and change discs. Thus, I need some way to play back all the discs, in order, without pushing any buttons, and without disruptive credits. The solution? Mac OS X on a PowerMac G5, my Sony Ericsson T616, Romeo, and MPlayer OS X. The result is the perfect custom Mac OS X Home Theater PC (HTPC).

The first problem is how to get all the DVDs onto my Mac in a format that I can play back. If I just copy the VOB files straight off the disc, no player will be able to do anything with it. Plus, the audio and video won't be in sync. But, thanks to Jon Johansen (a.k.a. DVD Jon) I can read DVD movies from devices and software that the MPAA doesn't want me to, like Linux or the open-source program MPlayer. [Note to the industry: libdvdcss has resulted in me renting movies from Blockbuster, the exercising of my fair use rights, and my purchase of DVDs. So sue me.] Using MPlayer on my Mac and Linux computers, I dumped the non-credit chapters of the movies to disk.

In case people are wondering what commands I used to pull out what I wanted, here's the command I used for the first disc of The Fellowship of the Ring:
./mplayer dvd://1 -aid 2 -chapter 1-27 -dumpstream -dumpfile /Documents/LotR-FotR-1/lotr_fotr_1.1.1-27.vob
This dumps title 1, audio track 2 (DTS ES) into the file lotr_fotr_1.1.1-27.vob.

So now I have the capability of getting all three films on my hard disk in a format I can playback using MPlayer. If I put them all into a playlist, they'll play one after the other and it will appear to be a relatively seamless change. But what if I need to control the playback? I don't want to have to get up to use the mouse or keyboard. That's where my bluetooth phone comes in.

Bluetooth on my phone lets me sync its contact list and calendar with my Mac wirelessly. But more than that, bluetooth is a general communications protocol. That means I can send arbitrary signals and files between my computer and the phone. I've used bluetooth before to copy photos to and from my phone, but today I would copy some instructions to it.

There are two primary choices for Mac OS X bluetooth phone communication. Salling Clicker is a polished piece of shareware that's won a few awards. This is usually the software recommended when people are looking to turn their bluetooth phone into a remote control. The other choice is Romeo, which is an on-again off-again open source project. The only real developer is the author, but that may just be because it works so well in its current state.

Anyway, Romeo is a regular Mac OS X application that connects to my T616 using bluetooth. By sending commands back and forth between the phone and Romeo, I can control several different applications, including MPlayer OS X, turning my phone into a regular remote control for my Mac. And I'm done.

Posted by josuah at 10:08 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

Blue Circle MR1200

I just posted a classified for my Blue Circle Music Ring. I purchased an MR1200 back in May and it was a wonderful addition to my home theater, but I need something that can handle more than 1200W. So I'm selling my MR1200 on AudiogoN.

Posted by josuah at 6:06 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales was named Attorney General today, replacing John Ashcroft to submitted his resignation after the elections. Ashcroft gave President Bush a handwritten letter where he stated "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Some people wonder if his move was prompted as a bid for Supreme Court Justice. He wrote, "I believe that my energies and talents should be directed toward other challenging horizons." Gonzales as the new Attorney General does not mean that the polarizing conservative and orwellian beliefs of Ashcroft are going to be a thing of the past.

If you want to read Alberto's flattering bio, just go to the official White House version. But there is a lot more that a person should know about than his accomplishments.

John W. Dean, a former counsel to the President, wrote about Gonzales' Texas execution memos, which are very much in line with Bush's stance on the death penalty.

Also disturbing is Gonzales' role in the treatment of prisoners at Quantanamo Bay. To avoid prosecution of U.S. officials as war criminals, Gonzales' recommended that Bush push forward the view of excluding Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from the Geneva convention. Basically, the administration said that what they're doing would be war crimes, but only if we considered terrorists human beings. Amnesty International makes a point of this in their press release.

Posted by josuah at 3:58 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

Something Fish Sea

Stopped by a new aquarium store after work today: Something Fish Sea near the corner of Monterey Highway and Capital Expressway. It wasn't very impressive. They did have a lot of live rock and some exotic saltwater fish, but their tanks didn't look very healthy. One of the fish was swimming vertically and then upside down. Nothing particularly interesting.

Posted by josuah at 6:17 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 8, 2004

American Psycho

I watched American Psycho the other night. It is a very tense and freaky movie but not really a horror film. Although many people are killed, there is very little focus on the gore and a lot more focus on Patrick Bateman's behavior and mental state. In fact, many of the killings are not depicted at all. The movie is a very interesting character study of Patrick Bateman. Now I want to read the book.

Christian Bale plays the role of Patrick Bateman very well. I also liked him a lot in Equilibrium. You cannot help but accept Bateman's psychosis and behavior because to a large extent, there is nothing externally unusual about it. He is obsessive about the superficial but in a way people can identify with. And there is no "snap" that occurs to trigger his murderous behavior. In fact, it is when he is most emotional that he cannot kill others.

Unlike a horror movie, the point of American Psycho is not for you to become scared of the killer. Instead, you are supposed to understand him and live in his world. The entire story is presented from the view of Bateman and the narration is necessary for the audience to get into Bateman's state of mind. More than anything, what you find is not someone who would necessarily be characterized as psychotic, but rather someone who is an empty shell. This is stated clearly in the movie, in both words and in the state of Bateman's life. Bateman fills the shell with something he cannot buy, or aquire: the activity of murder. For someone who can spend $100 on lunch and doesn't do a bit of work, this is what can make him feel alive. It is what he can have that no one else can.

Posted by josuah at 7:48 PM UTC+00:00 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 4, 2004

250GB Hard Disk

Last night I replaced one of my server hard disks with a 250GB Maxtor drive I bought from Fry's. I also discovered that although Fry's claims to have really cheap prices, all the times I have bought something from Fry's it turns out to be significantly more expensive than online (see PriceWatch). I could have saved maybe $30~$40 dollars buying online.

Anyway, I decided to finally get rid of the old Western Digital Fireball 20GB disk which has been serving as my /boot and root drives since building this computer maybe 4 or 5 years ago. So, I copied my home directories onto the new 250GB disk. Then moved my /boot and root onto the 80GB disk that was previously serving as my backup drive. Now, the 120GB disk that was previously /home is now serving as the backup drive. I used dd to move files between partitions, but I still had to run SuSE's repair program off the boot-install DVD to get it up and running.

I've also decided to try JFS, an open-source journaled filesystem developed at IBM. I've made my home partition JFS. I also want to convert my root drive from the current ext2 to ext3, which is basically ext2 plus a journal.

Posted by josuah at 2:16 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (0) | TrackBack


On Sunday, I took Shannon trick-or-treating with Szu-Huey, David and Arthur, and McKenzie (all Shannon's neighbors). Shannon wanted to be a clown but Mei-Ling had donated the costume and wig. So instead she thought about being the rainbow-colored coat guy (Joseph) from the bible. She has a rainbow bathrobe that she could have worn. But eventually she decided to wear jeans and a weird fur vest over a red shirt. Since David and Arthur were pirates, everyone else thought she was a pirate too.

McKenzie was a pink unicorn with multi-colored mane and tail. Her hood got way too hot for her while we were out, so she stopped wearing it. We went to a lot of houses, but about half of the houses were darkened out or people didn't answer even though we saw lights on inside. McKenzie got tired first, so we eventually dropped her off back home. Then after we went to see FaFa at Thomas' house, David got tired. So after stopping at Shannon's abacus teacher's house, we all went back home.

Shannon was very generous and gave some candy to some guests Mei-Ling had, and also to Szu-Huey. Szu-Huey doesn't like chocolates, only gummy stuff. So she didn't want most of the candy. Then Shannon and I played Blades of Avernum. She didn't realize that she had to train her characters after gaining levels. Which is part of why she was having a hard time.

Posted by josuah at 2:13 AM UTC+00:00 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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