Microsoft Still Suffers from Persistence of Legacy Systems

About 10 years ago, pictures of crashed ATMs and other public systems that operate on Windows NT and XP were the subject of much ridicule for Microsoft because, well, Wimdows stability was quite inadequate for demanding applications. Now that Windows is quite an excellent operating system–with Windows 10 wrapping one of the fastest and most stable operating systems ever in the worst graphical user interface in the history of GUIs–one wonders if Microsoft is expending any effort in getting legacy systems like the one below at New Orleans airport upgraded or moved out of circulation. 

No, Microsoft no longer sucks, but it’s still fun to mock them as if they do. 


Desert Solar Plant from Above

Above the Spirit Airlines Airbus A319’s engine, the vast area of solar arrays can be seen in the Mojave. I think this is the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm.


To Which Crime Will Rob Ford Confess Next?

Rob Ford, embattled Toronto mayor, admits he has bought illegal drugs | CBS News

“What is this man thinking? What was this man thinking?” Those are the questions that every human being on earth asks after each Rob Ford revelation. How could an avowed conservative and ostensibly scrupulous man commit the lowest of crimes and then confess to them? Worse yet for the man–but absolutely wonderful for the entertainment starved world–each crime confessed is more outrageous than the last: getting drunk too often, smoking crack cocaine, buying crack cocaine! To what will he confess to next? Here is a list submitted for consideration, in no apparent order.

  • Shooting heroin.
  • Speed balling every time one of his initiatives pass the city council.
  • Running over a hobo before every Canadian Thanksgiving.
  • Acting as a mule for free joint.

Somewhere in the United States, former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is assuredly sitting, aghast, mouth open, and utterly incensed that a pasty Canadian honky is flourishing under the spotlight for the same acts for which Barry was jailed.

Marion Barry ultimately reclaimed his elected position, and Rob Ford’s appeal seems not to be waning. Yet, this feels decidedly different from the apparent maturity we ascribe to the French populace when they wisely ignore their politicians’ dalliances.

Marion Barry was indignant even after he was re-elected. Ford is repentant to the extent that he seems to be preparing to offer “I was on crack” as an excuse for any poor decisions he may make or may have made as mayor. He and Barry are the only two politicians in all of history who could use that excuse. This is rarefied company, indeed.

I extended my warmest thanks to the citizens of Toronto for having provided the distraction that I desperately needed, as did countless overworked Americans.

Seminal Act of Civil Disobedience

Artist nails his scrotum to the ground in Red Square | World news |

Picture of the act from The Guardian.

Pyotr Pavlensky, the artist in the photo, has a substantial history of employing self mutilation in performance pieces that protest the increasingly repressive nature of the Russian regime, according to The Guardian article above. About the man’s possession of boundless will power and tolerance for pain, no doubts can be harbored. One only hopes that this act is more successful than his previous protests. This writer certainly wishes that this extraordinary act of self mutilation inspires the tsunami of rebellion that the artist desires to incite against a political system that has indeed become a shadow of the Soviet autocracy against which so many people like the artist gave their lives.

The most unfortunate question thus arises. Is a mere scrotum enough of a sacrifice? Should he have gone as far as being incarcerated without due process like Pussy Riot, a cause for which he mutilated himself to no apparently productive ends? Should he have immolated himself like the many Tibetans who do so annually in a final, desperate expression of defiance and self determination against an omnipotent, malevolent government? Must roads to freedom and self determination be paved with entire corpses, not just limbs and valuable appendages like the scrotum?

The political artist’s expression will forever be deconstructed. The desire for attention will forever confound any legitimate expression he or she may have made. It will be a shame if Mr. Pavlensky’s remarkable act of defiance is dismissed as a shameless act of self promotion. It rings sincere, in this writer’s mind, in its desperate expression of a desire for rights and dignity for every citizen in Russia.

Should its impact and distribution be limited to the pages of odd news sections and blogs like this, then the inescapable conclusion is that it is more effective to stick one’s neck out than it is to go balls out in the quest for freedom. Given how extraordinary it is to see a man go balls out like Pyotr, it is hard to imagine that anyone will stick their necks out. This may be the ultimate sign of resignation in the western world and the ultimate assertion of the current price of progress.

It is, perhaps, time to contemplate Syria, Chechnya, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia and myriad other countries where necks are slashed in plain sight of western citizens far too apathetic to vote to protect their own interests. Political and military power are tools we developed to stroke our own balls, it seems, rather then to save necks.

Pyotr, may your balls be safe and your scrotum whole again someday.

The Annual Joke That Still Delivers

BBC News – World air guitar championships won by American

In September, 2007, the New York Times had one of the most hilarious articles I have ever read. The subject was the highlights and the lowlights–meaningless ascriptions, really–of the 2007 Air Guitar Championships in Finland. To laugh at the contest even more, watch the video of the grand champion runner up from that year below.

The following passage is the least funny in the article:

The contest showed the participants’ individual styles and approaches, from the polished routine of Mr. Litz to the improvised moves of Mr. Stathatos, who tended to play more with his hair than with his air guitar. (He finished last.) Contestants played their nonexistent guitars behind their backs, jammed on their knees and leaped into the air. There was a lot of crotch-grabbing, lip-licking and tongue-flicking.

Leading the American comeback this year was a fine fellow who dressed up like a viking and rocked the crowd with his antics. You can see that video in the BBC article linked above. I plan never to attend this fiasco, but I am eternally grateful for all of the laughs it provides every year.


Even Baby Coyotes Are Cute

This baby was sighted for the second time on the company parking lot on my way to work. One day she or he will be big and mean enough to eat the adorable quail and bunnies that also call this place home. It’s damn adorable in its childhood, nevertheless.

An Adorable Baby Coyote


Corrected and Enlarged

Of Integrals and Egos
What this book did for integrals may well be said to have happened to my ego.

The author of the volume has a Russian sounding name. The description is likely an innocent mistake. “Corrected and enlarged edition” lends itself awfully well to many jokes.

I’ll say it applies to my ego. This past year has been good, after all.

The End of Chemical Weapons

World is safer with Utah chemical stockpile gone, Army commander says | The Salt Lake Tribune

It’s hard to believe, but there is good news out there. At least, there was two months ago when I cam across this article. The efforts to eliminate chemical weapons according to the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty to which the United States became a signatory in 1997.

This particular facility in Utah is but one facility in which chemical weapon stockpiles were destroyed, and the numbers are quite staggering:

Since the Utah plant burned its first GB nerve agent-filled rocket on Aug. 22, 1996, it has destroyed more than 1.1 million munitions containing 13,617 tons of chemical agent, said Ted Ryba, the Army’s site project manager, who has worked at the depot throughout the incinerator’s life.

Wikipedia claims that as of July, 2010, approximately 60% of the known stockpiles had been destroyed. The above story is dated January of 2012. It will be interesting to know how much that percentage has increased.

Adding to the iPhone 5 Rumor Mill

About an hour ago I received this text message from AT&T. The iPhone 5 rumor mill is working at fever pitch, and the timing of this offer seems coincide ominously with the rumored release of the iPhone 5 in September.

The nature of the offer seems to imply that the new iPhone plans will be cheaper and available from all carriers. Why else would AT&T be offering me free minutes as a “valued customer”?

What vexes me, however, is that I would rather have more text messages. I have thousands of rollover minutes. It is text messages that I usually run out of. Why aren’t they offering me free text messages?

Oh, yeah, because they don’t care. If they did they would have offered something of value to me. This lack of attention to detail may well explain why their customers move away at first opportunity, and I may do the same when my contract expires.

To be sure, I will accept the minutes. I’ll even try to use them. Anyone wanna call me?