Archive for August, 2006

Pornography

August 28, 2006

From cnn.com:

NEW YORK (AP) — Pornographic movies now seem nearly as pervasive in America’s hotel rooms as tiny shampoo bottles, and the lodging industry shows little concern as conservative activists rev up a protest campaign aimed at triggering a federal crackdown.

A coalition of 13 conservative groups — including the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America — took out full-page ads in some editions of USA Today earlier this month urging the Justice Department and FBI to investigate whether some of the pay-per-view movies widely available in hotels violate federal and state obscenity laws.

The coalition also is trying to draw attention to CleanHotels.com, a directory of hotels and motels nationwide that pledge to exclude adult offerings from their in-room entertainment service.

Though porn is now cheaply and readily accessible on the Internet, and through many other outlets, the activists chose to target the hotel industry in part because of the well-known brands of corporations that cater to family vacationers as well as business travelers.

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NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK DUE TO LANGUAGE.

Is this porn? Perhaps it is. However, nutter groups do not have the right to decide what is porn or to use our tax dollars to decipher the question. Federal crackdown of what guests do privately in hotel rooms is just another NSA measure. Stay out of our hotel rooms, off our bodies and get out of Iraq already! If you don’t want to watch porn, then don’t order it. End of story.

As for cleanhotels.com. Any hotel that is on that list will not receive a dime from AG. It’s not that AG watches porn — it’s that repressed wingnuts do not have the right to determine whether an adult should have access or not.

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Hey Nineteen

August 28, 2006

AG survived the Steely Dan concert that UC dragged her to last night. It wasn’t as bad as one would have thought. The pouring rain was no fun, but we survived.

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Plan C

August 25, 2006

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The women’s movement celebrates a win this week with the FDA approval of non prescription Plan B. Women aged 18 and older will be able to obtain the emergency Plan B pill over the counter in pharmacies throughout the United States. Unfortunately for teenage women, a prescription is still required. It’s sad that the FDA has put obstacles in place for young women seeking to control their bodies by requiring them to consult with a doctor. Either the drug is safe for pediatric use or it is not. End of story. Despite a limited win, it’s a win nonetheless. Having heard Becky Bell’s parents speak recently on how they wished she had just come to them about her pregnancy, my biggest hope is that this will reduce the number of unsafe abortions and resulting deaths like Becky’s.

This flies in the face of the recent mandate of the state of South Dakota to ban all abortions within state borders. One wonders how many young girls in that state will die from botched abortions all so some masochist with a sacrilegious symbol hanging from his neck can feel good about himself. Pregnancy is fundamental to the lives of women across this vast nation. Neither a physician nor a politician should stand in the way of women making choices for their own lives and bodies. Coming from three generations of women who supported abortion services, I rejoice with my grandmothers and mother in this celebration today. We won big, ladies! Next, we are going for full throttle emergency contraception.

And for the trolls who desire leaving some hate comments, each hate comment will result in a $25 donation to Planned Parenthood in your name. AG is not playing and AG needs some serious tax write-offs this year.

Ojibwa Prayer

August 25, 2006

This is for Madame Rouge.  You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds
And whose breath gives life to everyone,
Hear me.
I come to you as one of your many children;
I am weak… I am small…I need your wisdom
and your strength.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever
behold the red and purple sunsets.
Make my hands respect the things you have made,
and make my ears sharp so I may hear your voice.
Make me wise, so that I may understand what you
have taught my people and
The lessons you have hidden in each leaf and each rock.
I ask for wisdom and strength,
Not to be superior to my brothers, but to be able
to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me ever ready to come before you with
clean hands and a straight eye,
So as life fades away as a fading sunset,
My spirit may come to you without shame.

{i heart grants.gov}

August 24, 2006

…because it keeps me abreast of all the neat-o things that the Federal Government is doing with my money!

To wit:

HETEROGENEOUS URBAN RSTA TEAM (HURT), SOL BAA 04-05, DUE: February 13, 2004; POC: Dr. John Bay, DARPA/IXO; 703-741-7853 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency?s (DARPA) Information Exploitation Office (IXO) is soliciting proposals for the Heterogeneous Urban RSTA (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition) Team program under this Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). PROGRAM OBJECTIVES The HURT program will develop technologies enabling mission-driven command and control of a heterogeneous team of uninhabited platforms for the conduct of coordinated urban operations. The class of uninhabited platforms of particular interest in the HURT program is aerial vehicles. The roboticized RSTA team, under HURT control, will provide services to warfighters according to user demand as modulated by mission priority subject to resource availability. HURT technology will be used to decouple users from direct platform control and tasking. HURT Platform Modeling technologies will provide symbolic representations of platform, payload and algorithm capabilities that allow mission-level planning and tasking. HURT User Management technologies will permit multiple dispersed users to formulate and register mission-centric service requests and will provide context-dependent service arbitration mechanisms. HURT Planning and Control technologies will permit tasking/retasking of RSTA team resources based on symbolic representations of available capabilities, mission-level service requests, arbitration policies and subject to operational constraints. Importantly, technologies developed in HURT will permit rapid integration (disintegration) of platforms into (out of) the team. HURT will not be pursuing any platform-based autonomy, control, or sensing technologies; only collectively managing and controlling arbitrarily-teamed components. The HURT program has three objectives. First, allow warfighters to directly request real-time RSTA services from a team of unmanned assets in complex, three-dimensional urban terrain. Second, aggregate the information gathering capabilities of diverse platforms into collaborative teams that provide robust services on demand. Third, control multiple platforms to simultaneously and autonomously maneuver through the urban battlespace in order to deliver those services. Technical objectives include 1) Developing an expressive platform-independent representation for diverse RSTA assets, to include both mobility and sensing parameters, 2) developing a tasking prioritization mechanism that allows the system to serve RSTA data to multiple users who may lack a complete tactical picture, 3) implementing a planning controller that continuously and robustly serves user requests by appropriately controlling each asset through its native interface, and 4) demonstrating the RSTA team in multi-vehicle tactical experimental scenarios at a MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) training site. BAA TOPIC AREAS This solicitation requests ideas in four topic areas. Proposals may be submitted in any, all, or any combination thereof, of the following HURT research topic areas: Topic Area 1: User Management: Design and construct the user interface mechanism, implementing tactical commands from a nominal original set and augmenting them throughout the program. Develop the mechanism for accurately prioritizing, queuing, and determining necessary quality-of-service parameters for user requests so that the best service can be achieved subject to commander?s guidance for mission achievement. Topic Area 2: Platform Modeling: Develop and implement the common capability representation, to include platform mobility, sensor models, and the semantics of any on-board autonomy, exploitation, or interoperability that might be available. The representation must be compatible with the planning and control component. Topic Area 3: Planning and Control: Determine and implement an appropriate planner, task allocator, and controller that accurately matches prioritized user requests with available RSTA team services. Perform plan monitoring, real-time re-planning, plan repair or a contingency capability for robustness, and manage the return of RSTA data en route back to the user. Topic Area 4: System Integration: Formulate a systems architecture for all the component technologies and assemble the pieces into a coherent, scalable, maintainable, and robust system, with the necessary platform interfaces and data interfaces between all HURT internal components. Include communications management as necessary. Interface with military test sites to perform experiment coordination, design, verification/validation, range safety, and data/metrics definition and gathering. Coordinate and lead the field experiments. It is expected that the System Integrator will provide and maintain a sufficient number of vehicles for development and testing for the duration of the program. PROGRAM PHASES HURT will be conducted in three phases, lasting 14 months, 16 months, and 18 months. Bidders should propose tasks for all three phases, but funding for later phases is entirely contingent upon meeting system-level performance goals established for earlier phases. Phase I ? Remote Autonomy: HURT must demonstrate that coordinated autonomy can be achieved through control by the external (i.e., off the platforms) HURT system. This will require coordinated flight in a small MOUT site with large, well-known obstacles. The system will have to accomplish the simultaneous tasks of persistent wide-area surveillance and the ability to dispatch a sensor to a single user-designated point for a rapid-reaction close-up look (?911 response?). Phase II ? Collective Autonomy: The HURT system must manage diverse assets such that they achieve the collaborative task of maintaining a moving area of regard (AOR) around a moving ground target (e.g., to follow a suspect vehicle, or to maintain a moving zone of blue-force protection). These tasks will be in addition to the tasks in Phase I. Phase III ? Tactical Autonomy: Through continued consultation with the military user community, develop, implement, and experiment with operationally critical tactical commands to the system. These tactical scenarios for HURT should illustrate the spectrum of collaborative platform control capabilities, and at a minimum must demonstrate the system?s ability to manage multiple users with conflicting priorities, demonstrate robustness to platform attrition, and implement a line-of-sight (LOS) communications infrastructure to a specified point Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches and techniques that lead to or enable revolutionary advances in the state-of-the-art. Proposals are not limited to the specific strategies listed above, and alternative visions will be considered. However, proposals should be for research that substantially contributes towards the goals stated. Research should result in prototype hardware and/or software demonstrating integrated concepts and approaches. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvement to the existing state of practice or focuses on a specific system or solution. Integrated solution sets embodying significant technological advances are strongly encouraged over narrowly defined research endeavors. Proposals may involve other research groups or industrial cooperation and cost sharing. This BAA shall remain open and proposals received up to one year following this BAA?s release. GENERAL INFORMATION The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency/Information Exploitation Office (DARPA/IXO) has an electronic upload process for proposal submissions for BAA 04-05. The BAA tool is intended to facilitate an electronic process beginning with the proposal uploads through the review and evaluation of submitted documents. Instructions for use of the DARPA/IXO BAA Tool are available for download at http://www.darpa.mil/ixo/solicitations/hurt/index.htm. Failure to comply with these submission procedures may result in the submission not being evaluated. Proposers must be willing to cooperate and exchange software, data, and other information with other contractors if it contributes to the success of the program. This includes coordination with a contractor or integrator, chosen by DARPA, if appropriate. A statement of cooperation must be included in the final proposal. PROTECTION OF INFORMATION: It is the policy of DARPA to treat all proposals as competitive information and to disclose contents only for the purposes of evaluation and assessment. The Government may use selected support contractor personnel to assist in administrative functions only. Those contractors sign binding, non-disclosure agreements with DARPA. REQUIREMENTS/PROCEDURES: The Award Document for each proposal selected and funded will contain a mandatory requirement for submission of DARPA/IXO reports. These reports will be electronically submitted via the DARPA/IXO Technical ? Financial Information Management System (T-FIMS), utilizing the government furnished Uniform Resource Locator (URL) on the World Wide Web (WWW). Further details may be found in the Proposer Information Pamphlet (PIP). PROPOSAL FORMAT All Proposers MUST register at: http://www.tfims.darpa.mil/baa 2 weeks prior to submitting a proposal. PLEASE NOTE: The deadline for registration is 30 January 2004, at the URL listed above. Only the lead or prime Proposer should register. One registration per proposal should be submitted. This means that a Proposer wishing to submit multiple proposals should complete a single registration for each proposal. By registering, the Proposer has made no commitment to submit. Proposal submissions must be unclassified. The Proposer must upload the electronic version of the full proposal to the DARPA website by 12:00 PM (ET) Friday, February 13, 2004, in order to be considered during the initial evaluation phase. However, BAA 04-05, HETEROGENEOUS URBAN RSTA TEAM (HURT), will remain open until 12:00 PM (ET), Monday, December 13, 2004. Thus, proposals may be submitted at any time from issuance of this BAA through Monday, December 13, 2004. While the proposals submitted after Friday, February 13, 2004 deadline will be evaluated by the Government, proposers should keep in mind that the likelihood of funding such proposals is less than for those proposals submitted in connection with the initial evaluation and award schedule. Proposers must obtain the BAA 04-05 Proposer Information Pamphlet (PIP), which provides further information on the areas of interest, submission, evaluation, funding processes, and full proposal formats. The PIP is available for viewing or download at http://www.darpa.mil/ixo/Solicitations/hurt/index.htm. Proposals not meeting the format described in the PIP may not be reviewed. This notice, in conjunction with the BAA 04-05 PIP and all references, constitutes the total BAA. No additional information is available, nor will a formal Request for Proposals or other solicitation regarding this announcement be issued. Requests for same will be disregarded. The Government reserves the right to select for award all, some, or none of the proposals received. All responsible sources capable of satisfying the Government’s needs may submit a proposal that shall be considered by DARPA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Institutions (MIs) are encouraged to submit proposals and join others in submitting proposals. However, no portion of this BAA will be set aside for HBCU and MI participation due to the impracticality of reserving discrete or severable areas of this research for exclusive competition among these entities. Government contractors are required to register at the Government?s Central Contractor Registration site in order to negotiate contracts with most government agencies. This URL is provided as a reference: http://www.ccr.gov. Evaluation of proposals will be accomplished through a technical/scientific/business decision process with technical and scientific considerations being most important. Evaluations will be performed using the following criteria listed in descending order of relative importance: 1. Relevance to HURT mission objectives 2. Technical innovation and depth 3. Consistency with HURT program concepts 4. Personnel and corporate capabilities and experience 5. Cost realism and value of proposed work to the Government All administrative correspondence and questions on this solicitation, including requests for information on how to submit a full proposal to this BAA, must be received at BAA04-05@darpa.mil by 12:00 PM (ET) Friday, February 6, 2004. DARPA intends to use electronic mail for correspondence regarding BAA 04-05. Proposals MUST NOT be submitted by fax or e-mail; any so sent will be disregarded.

More Tales from the Road

August 24, 2006

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Go west, young man or woman, with a road trip through the Black Hills, SD. Despite being busy with the partnership, the client in Rapid City needs to be terminated. We drew sticks to determine who was the least angry at a state that requires bringing a coat hanger and bottle of rat poison (in case you run into any anti-abortionist who seemed a bit too proud of their actions). Given that I am way more angry and willing to do something about it, it was decided I should go because after all, AG slipped Babs “the letter”. AG has quite the reputation amongst the scientist at the office now…

First, dinner in Hill City. Hill City is a town without a hill and a population of less than 900. Northwest airlines magazine recommended the Alpine Inn there. Figured it might be worth checking out. It’s a double-take restaurant. By day, the cozy 1886 wood frame edifice hosts lunch. In the early 1970s, it was converted to a restaurant by then owner, Waldtrout Matush from Stuttgart, Germany. Today, his daughter Monika presides over the establish. The building itself looks like a turn of the century Victorian saloon. What happens inside is magical. At night, the German fare is pushed to the side for one entrée, filet mignon. AG doesn’t eat much red meat, perhaps a few times a year along with cheating with summer BBQ burgers. Tonight, a good choice was made to throw caution to the wind. Monika and camp will serve you their freshest beef and thank you kindly for sharing the experience with them.

Back into the car where our next stop finds us at Crazy Horse in Custer, SD, a mere 11 miles to the west of Rushmore. I had never been to Crazy Horse prior to tonight. It’s worth the visit if you’ve come all this way, but not worth coming if you are local.

Zipping along, we are at Mount Rushmore. I’ve been to Rushmore twice before – once in the middle of the day and once in the evening. In the summer months, the rangers host a free of charge evening program. It details the history of the creation of the monument and ends with everyone out of their seats singing the national anthem in unison. (More red meat, I know, I know.) The first time I saw this American beauty, I actually gasped out loud. Gasped. Out. Loud. It truly is breathtaking and a slice of America that one should sample. Pictures do not adequately capture the serenity of the monument and it was dark. Custer State Park and the bison will have to wait for my return in late Fall.

Lastly, on an unrelated side note, AG found out last night that for all you lovers of McDonald’s — Brando, McFlurry with Take-5 is available!

{happiness is a bright blue light…}

August 24, 2006

…shining on the front of my server.

I think this thing might actually be some sort of laser?

The reconstruction of my RAID array appears to have succeeded. The drive that had failed now has a green light, and the PERC BIOS utility says that it is “online” and in “optimal” condition. Furthermore, I was able to boot the OS, log in and receive this cheery sight:

I've never been more happy to see this stupid desktop

Since reconstruction restored the drive to functionality, I can only assume that the data on the disk became somehow corrupt or inconsistent, rather than an outright hardware failure. I think that can happen when parity data gets out of synch. So that all sounds pretty good. One the other hand, it is no longer part of the array, which has gone from being a 3-drive RAID 5 to a 2-drive RAID 0.

Oh well. We’ll survive one day without redundancy. I don’t have time to reconstruct the array again before my users get here and start logging on. For now, i’m just running various disk diagnostics and maintenence utilities on the logical drive made up of the two disks remaining in the array.

UPDATE: I need a tape drive with an autoloader. I’m over sitting here and waiting to change the tape every time I do a full backup.

{i hate moving parts}

August 23, 2006

Hey guys, there’s some orange light flashing on the front of my Dell PowerEdge server. Is that bad?

I think that means it's on fire!

Just kidding. Of course it’s bad!

At 5PM today, I brought our entire network down so I could replace the intermittently faulty UPS that powers my Big Momma file server where all my user’s profiles and documents live. We had already powered the new UPS and situated next to the old one, so it was a simple matter of unplugging the server from the old one and plugging it into the new one 12 inches away.

Unfortunately, when I powered up the server, the cheery, insanely bright blue light that normally shines from the front panel to assure me that all is well (hardware-wise) was gone. In its place, there is now an angry, flashing (and still insanely bright…really, like you can’t look straight into this thing….these LEDs are out of control) orange light. There was also a matching orange light flashing spastically on one of the three SCSI drives in this machine’s RAID 5 array.

I am Jack's total hatred of moving parts.

Feel my hate. And my allergies.
The system booted normally, and gave me a message to the effect that one of the drives has failed.

So. It’s two hours later. I’m sitting here staring at the PERC configuration utility as it attempts to reconstruct the array.

Now I'm at 19%! Only 2 hours later!

This is taking for fucking ever.

Can someone tell me why computers still have moving parts? With MOTORS?? In the freaking year 2006?!?

Res Publica's World Domination Headquarters

Also, just FYI, don’t buy anything from TrippLite. They shipped us a replacement UPS right away, but neglected to mention that we will have to pay the shipping costs to return the defective unit. I have a couple of problems with this. On principle, it seems unfair to make us pay for shipping to return a defective product. Also, I’m pretty sure it won’t be cheap to ship. If you’ve never worked with an uninterruptible power supply, it’s basically a steel box full of batteries. There’s some lights and wires and shit in there too, but the point is that it’s heavy, as one would expect a steel box full of batteries to be.

My assistant had a nice long phone-fight with a customer service supervisor at TrippLite this afternoon, wherein said supervisor told my assistant that he didn’t “give a fuck” if we think we should have to pay the shipping or not.

What’s wrong with people in this country? When did everyone become such a knob?

Anyway…I’m going to go back to staring at the screen. I’m up to 20%!

How AG Spent Summer Vacation II

August 22, 2006

Niagra Falls 1.bmp

Last week, UC and AG went ‘home’ to Ontario. The journey began in Buffalo, NY. First and foremost, never never give Budget Rental Car any of your money. Not even one shiny new penny. The discriminate against foreigners. They will claim that Canadians have to complete a form, which they conveniently do not have, to rent a car in the United States. Many have analogous policies, but Budget actually enforces it.

Cautionary tales aside, a quick drive brought us to Niagara Falls, NY. Begin with a walk along the roaring rapids that give birth to the waterfalls. A beautiful park adorns the rapids that is a picturesque setting for a picnic or romantic stroll. One of the few tourist attractions will please children and adults alike is the historic Maid of the Mist. Enter the boat from the less crowded US side for a more intimate and quieter ride. A sparsely narrated tour takes you into the heart of Horseshoe Falls, which is a crowd pleasing misty delight for the eyes and soul. The photographs you are afforded make up for the lack of student or AAA rates at the ticket booth.

Niagara Wine region grapes.bmp

Next, it was on to wine country. Many, especially Americans, are unfamiliar with ice wines and the Niagara wine region. Ice wine grapes are harvested in the winter when ice particles clothe the ripe grapes. They make for a sweet dessert wine that is a warm welcome to any dinner table. Having never been to Sonoma, contrast and comparisons are not available. Nevertheless, the wines are exquisite and suggest completion to the wine regions of the United States. We began our journey at Harbor Estates. While it is one of the least pretentious of the wineries it is one of the most rewarding tucked into a quiet corner of Jordan, ON. It’s not about the presentation here with Rieslings so divine and red wines that satisfy both the red connoisseur and the white admirers’ advanced palate. They create aperitifs like they have got no right. The barista will spend more time discussing what makes the wine unique than assisting you with a purchase. It really is about the love of the wine at this hidden gem. Equally respectable is the willingness of the team to recommend local business upon your departure. Less than 100 feet is a family owned farm stand. White peaches are in season and you can sample them before you purchase. When Greg Allman suggests eating a peach, this is what he actually meant. Two days later, they were like candy and butter birthday gifts to the salivary glands. We chased some asphalt further along Jordan Road to the Upper Canada Cheese Company. You haven’t lived until you have spread cheese that spreads like butter and tastes like ecstasy on the tongue. $18.00 is worth a trip to heaven for the mouth.

We enjoyed one of the most romantic dinners, second only to our dinner last year at One if By Land and Two if by Sea, at the Inn on the Twenty. Don’t waste precious time sampling their overrated and overpriced wines in the tasting room. Head directly to the dining room and share a dinner and appetizer. Antagonize yourself with the fruit and crepes for dessert. Your stomach and credit card company will thank you clearly and dearly.

Onward to Muskoka brings us to our main destination. We arrived at the cottage in the late evening. The ride was pleasant given cottage country traffic can be excruciating in the summer months. Sadly, chains have moved onto the waterfront. Luckily the cottage remains desolate and ensconced in nature and the bucolic countryside that this vast land has been blessed with. The cottage has undergone renovations aimed to please from the shoe closet to the marble countertops to the addition of the new kayak. We had our own room in the basement that was aglow with amber colors from the bonfire the neighborhood kids and family teenagers started. UC missed out on his marshmallow but traded it for snuggling with AG. Next year, we’ll have to get in on the marshmallow action and be less in enthralled with each other. Yeah right!

We spent the weekend with UC’s family. There were awkward moments when AG showed her WASP-y side trying to shake hands with U.B. who insisted a hug and kiss were in order and discussions of birth control practices with the youngest Canadian. There were also tender moments with Dad Canadian in the paddle boat and party island with the Jewish camp song boys. Canoeing on tranquil Loon Lake on Monday morning encapsulated in the sound of the paddles in the water was the piece de resistance. We even had Dan the question mark and his professional water skiing show for free. It was an REI moment that pictures cannot do justice.

We headed for ‘the States’ several days later stopping briefly in the quaint village of Niagara-on-the Lake. Unfortunately the rain showers did not put out the welcome mat and we headed onto the Canadian side of the falls without much of a visit. Don’t worry, UC did manage to purchase some fudge before we exited center right. The fog also showed no mercy for our desires to see more of the falls. A quick stop at Swiss Chalet proved worth its weight in gold. If you are ever in Niagara Falls, you must go to Swiss Chalet and thank “Dan-the-Directions-man”. He totally connected us with the best route. The Peace Bridge was stellar advice. It was the first time in nearly 11 years that UC wasn’t stripped search for cocaine in his bum at a border crossing because after all, he’s a foreigner and certain folks would have you believe everyone just wants to live in the United Fucked-up States. Afterall, it’s got good simmered leadership and baked-in intelligence in folks like Sean S. and his ass pirate, Stevie.

They say you cannot take it with you when you’re gone. The great land of Canada suggests otherwise. Canada – now, that’s good country!™

Did Hell Freeze Over When I Wasn’t Looking?

August 22, 2006

That’s the only way that I can think to explain this.  And I totally missed this a couple of months ago.  I’m waiting for the right-wing nut job religious fanatics to start protesting this and organizing a boycott of Wally World.  Not because of all the other horrible shit that they do, but because now they’re going to be involved with Teh Gays.