Author Archive: Dan Klarmann

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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45% of Mississippians Vote That Dividing Cell Rights Should Trump Those of Women

November 9, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
45% of Mississippians Vote That Dividing Cell Rights Should Trump Those of Women

One of the more watched ballot initiative this week was the Mississippi Personhood initiative that would have granted full human civil rights to a fertilized human egg. Almost half of the voters were for this measure. Here’s the CBS report, but you can find it everywhere this week.

Basically, it would have outlawed most birth control and, of course, abortions.

The issue as I see it is the tension between the rights of a host and a guest. Should an unexpected guest be permitted to stay as long as they feel necessary, no matter how the host feels? What if the guest makes unreasonable demands, such as requiring up to half of your assets and most of your attention while living there? Note that the laws are set up to require you to support the guest for an additional 24 times as long as she stayed after she decides to move out.

At the root of this ballot initiative really was the need to make sure that Republicans get out to vote. It is a pity that the Democrats cannot figure out how to seed a ballot with an issue that will fire up their base in this manner. What about resurrecting the Equal Rights Ammendment?

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Dealing with Microsoft PowersHell

October 20, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More

Why, one may wonder, would I be delving into something that ubiquitous Microsoft decides unabashedly to call PowersHell? To start with, and in full disclosure, they capitalize it as PowerShell, a new and improved version of the command line interface that we old timers sometimes still call the DOS prompt.

But why would I use this, when the Gooey does so much? It has to do with too many cameras and too many memory chips. You see, I just went on vacation, a two week, 3,550 mile drive to Yellowstone, the Tetons, and many places in between. I brought home over 4,000 snapshots and video clips taken with 4 cameras.

Why would anyone need 4 cameras? Well, I have a SuperZoom 12Mp, and a pocket camera (the SD1100 that we’ve raved about), and my new Droid. That’s three? Well, I also got a back-up SD1100, that I’ve also rigged up with my first to use as a stereo camera.

So with three of the four cameras all of the same brand, and so many pictures, eventually the 8 character file names (the first four of which are fixed in 3 cameras at “IMG_”) began to overlap. And when I filled up a memory chip, each camera decided to reset to IMG_0001, so I have many overlaps in the lower numbers. Very clumsy. Also it is hard to match up the images from the left and right cameras (each eye stored in its own folder) without looking at each enlarged, and the Windows Photo Viewer doesn’t let me look at two files from different folders side-by-side.

So I decided to rename all the images to use longer names, and decided to use the picture date and time to rename them. My former XP machine had use a nice re-namer that would do this. But now I have Win7, and the old Win95 app won’t run.
But I keep in mind that “Every O/S Sucks”

So I Googled for a new renamer that could handle the task, and stumbled on to this post: Rename multiple files as “Modified Date/Time” using cmd or Powershell. Yee, I thought, Haw! Why install another utility when the O/S does it for me.

But it can’t be done with the old command line. One has to figure out how to use the new, powerful, dangerous PowerShell. I could have just used the code snippet in the Super User post linked above. But I wanted to, a) Know how it works, and b) Do it a little differently.

So once I returned, I did some reading, and playing. But after a minimum of profanity, I got it working on a test folder, and then ran my new script on all my files. Now I can tell at a glance when each picture was taken, and therefore easily glean the where and why.

Just for a laff, here’s a bit about the code name Microsoft used while developing this new shell:

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Is it Spam or is it Poe?

August 29, 2011 | By | Reply More
Is it Spam or is it Poe?

I came back from a weekend getaway, and my inbox had a large number of messages from some group I’d never heard of, the Nation of Change. I was suspicious, especially given my recent unsolicited addition to the Christian Coalition mailing list. Also they were using an email contact that has been dormant for a decade that they could only have found by scanning whois data or buying some old spammer contact lists.

I was curious enough to read one of their messages. It appeared to be some sort of addled parody of a liberal call to action newsletter. I immediately did some Googling to try to confirm my suspicion that it was a conservative group attempting to make liberals seem a) Loonier than thou, and b) Abrasive and annoying by pushing subscriptions on undesiring readers. The clearest description I found was, “Nation of Change”, who are you and why are you spamming me? at the Daily KOS.

In essence, this organization is a fairly new web site with stealthed contact information. They claim to be a legitimate registered not-for-profit, but one cannot look up their bona fides anywhere to confirm it. Although they don’t appear to break any laws in their published documents, they do violate several BBB standards. Read the KOS article for more details.

But I could not actually confirm that this is a conservative group posing as liberal in order to sow dissension and disaffection. As with religion and Poe’s Law, it can be hard to tell sincere political extremism from parody. But this one trips my irony meter.

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A Subtle Change to the Way the Web Works

August 14, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

A recent article on ZDNet, 10 things you should know about HTML5, brought to mind the good old days. I wrote my first web site in early 1995, back before there was a World Wide Web Consortium, before there were hundreds of thousands of web sites, before Internet Explorer was even a gleam in Bill Gates’ eye, and HTML 1.0 had recently been ratified. I had to manually install a TCP/IP stack in DOS (underlying Windows 3.11), and bought a book on the proposed HTML 2.0 standard to use with my purchased 3½” disc of the new Netscape 2.0. Yes, I wrote my first several sites using Notepad, before moving up to the superior Notepad++. Netscape had some good debugging tools built in that IE never felt the need to mimic.

The first deficiency that I noticed in the HTML standard was that there was no graphical mode. They had no way to draw a box, a line, a circle, or any graphical image except for the img tag to import Microsoft BMP and CompuServe GIF files. The open JPG standard was just coming out. I couldn’t believe it. The HPGL vector language seemed pretty standard to me back then, and has since become the universal vector drawing protocol in plotters and such. But somehow the designers of the new, image-based World Wide Web addition to the Internet had no apparent plan to explicitly support graphics.

Sure, one could buy Flash and embed it as an object on a page. But it was expensive, clumsy, and not widely deployed back in the 300/1200/2400 baud world.

But now, only sixteen years later the W3C is finally putting together the new HTML 5.0 standard, including both vector and video graphics as part of the basic language! Because of the now-entrenched nature of Flash, that isn’t going away quickly. After all, many web sites still use the CompuServe GIF 1989a (formerly proprietary) image format. But Flash or DivX or QuickTime will no longer be necessary to build fully graphical web pages.

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Scary News from the Christian Coalition

August 7, 2011 | By | Reply More

I did not opt out of the Christian Coalition newsletter mailing list that someone unknown signed me up for some months ago. It helps to keep an eye on what the other side is up to. The Aug 5, 2011 issue includes the following scary observation:

“Critics and supporters of the Budget Control Act … agree that the Tea Party now controls the agenda in Washington D.C. As one who attended Glenn Beck’s Tea Party event last August — along with over a half million other Tea Party supporters — when looking at the hundreds of thousands of families near the Lincoln Memorial on Washington D.C.’s Mall, I realized that those families represent the large majority of the American people, as anyone with any kind of commonsense would.

Why in particular do I find this scary?

  • Open admission that The Tea Party (not even an official political party) controls the actions of our legislature. This group is a powerful vocal minority, arguably smaller but richer than the 1980’s “Moral Majority.”
  • Lack of fact checking: The attendance of the Glen Beck event is well established by several independent sources. They range from Beck’s hopeful “300,000 to 600,000” and Michelle Bachman’s “at least a million” to several actual counts from aerial photos between 60,000 and 87,000.
  • The massive innumeracy that equates “thousands of families” with “large majority of the American people.” Please divide several thousand by hundreds of millions and show that this is somehow more than half.
    87,000 / 330,000,000 = 0.00026 or somewhat less than a majority, however you massage it.
  • The implication that the openly theocratic ideals of the Tea Party are somehow related to common sense. Even Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” argued against a government supported by the church (as is England’s).
  • And in totality, the tone that says that the oddball ideals of this group are somehow mainstream. They seem hopeful about Lenin’s maxim that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. And the Christian Coalition is all about The Truth.
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Credit limits: A Simile

August 3, 2011 | By | Reply More

Consider having finally bought the sports car of your dreams, getting your bills paid, and being able to afford the interest on your credit cards, even paying them down. You drive down the interstate smoothly, and see signs of construction ahead. That would mean a slow-down, but nothing insurmountable.

But then you are told to hand the keys over to another guy, a good old boy with whom you’ve never agreed. But now he has the roadster, and is seeing what it can do. But shortly, through no fault of his own, a rock is kicked up, and cracks the windshield.

“Duck this,” he yells, and steers that roadster off the pavement and heads out at right angles from the obvious way forward to bounce through the desert. Rocks, gulleys, and sand are not really where a roadster belongs. So this fellow runs up the credit cards to the limit seeing to the incessant need for repairs. And he increases the limit regularly, as he cannot pay the bills. Seeing that this keeps the car running, he wants to see how far he can make it jump.

Finally, the car is damaged almost beyond repair. He spends and raises the limit several times, in a last ditch effort to get the car almost running. But then he is told to hand the keys over to another guy: A tall, dark, erudite type with training specifically in aspects of handling a roadster.

The new guy tries to steer the car back toward smooth roads, but the car barely runs when he gets it. He spends up to the limit just to keep it running. Then he begs to extend the credit limit enough to make it fully road worthy. But the friends of his predecessor are determined to prevent any extra spending.

“Too much!” they cry. They don’t feel that the car really needs work. Perhaps it should heal itself.

Now, that makes sense!

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Insider Trading Writ Large

July 31, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More
Insider Trading Writ Large

Imagine, if you will, a country in which banking regulations were stripped down so far that worthless paper again becomes a hot commodity. Now consider that this had (as it inevitably must) blown up and caused a crash in the lending market and equities market and thus the economy in general. Further note that a necessary result would be a rapid rise in the price of precious metals, notably gold.

After a couple of years, that gold bubble would be ripe. People who had assets remaining when the junk bonds or sub-prime mortgages or whatever collapsed could have conservatively moved their money into gold, further depressing the equities market and inflating the price of gold.

But, wait. Because of government investing, the market was recovering too fast! So fast that the wealthy were unable to swap their inflated gold for depressed stocks at the optimum time. What to do?

Congress to the rescue! The wholly owned carriers of the banners of freedom and independence could be employed to create a palpably unnecessary crisis with a distinct deadline. Yes! This would quickly depress the markets and allow those holding too much bubble-gold to buy depressed stocks.

Meanwhile, those elected to carry the load of screwing the middle class could also jump on the wagon and buy up stocks just before the deadline hits. Then the price of stocks returns to normal levels, and the gold bubble can be allowed to pop.

I, for one, would like to see the trading histories of all those involved in the current crisis, and their friends and kin.

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Denominations of the Tea Party

July 6, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
Denominations of the Tea Party

There appear to be three overlapping major factions of the current political movement called the Tea Party. I had thought there were really only two until recently.

The two to which I allude are the Theocracy Movement, and the Libertarians. Sure, there is actually a registered Libertarian political party. But as of the last election cycle, unelectable Libertarians like Rand Paul were elected under the Republican banner due to Tea Party support.

But today I found the article The Tea Party Stormfront that shows a real and dangerous overlap between the Tea Party and Stormfront, an umbrella for the KKK and other White Nation groups. This article shows how you can look up the data yourself, and how to find the instructions given by StormFront for their members to blend in with and lend their support to the Tea Party.

With luck, this is the least fraction of the whole. It does seem to me that the Theocracy branch is really the bulk of this tail trying to wag to political dog. And making scary progress.

Discussion?

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Just Doing What God Said. Right.

July 6, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
Just Doing What God Said. Right.

“Don’t put the blame on me; I’m just doing what God said.”
Excellent.

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