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+ paul e. [LJ]
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· RPC::XML 0.54 Uploaded
· The Books of Perl
· Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results
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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

Salon on the Cowardly Broadcasting System 2004.09.30.00:23

Reading this will require either an existing subscription to Salon.com, or willingness to watch an ad for a one-day pass. But for this story, I felt it was worth it to spread the word:

Sept. 29, 2004 | By relying on documents that could not be absolutely authenticated from a blind source to make the otherwise irrefutable case that George W. Bush shirked his National Guard duties in the early 1970s, CBS anchor Dan Rather dealt the credibility of journalism a "body blow," according to Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler. But just how damaging was that blow?

One measure of the debacle is a "60 Minutes Wednesday" segment that millions of viewers now will not see: a hard-hitting report making a powerful case that in trying to build support for the Iraq war, the Bush administration either knowingly deceived the American people about Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities or was grossly credulous. CBS News president Andrew Heyward spiked the story this week, saying it would be "inappropriate" during the election campaign.

The importance that CBS placed on the report was evident by its unusual length: It was slated to run a full half hour, double the usual 15 minutes of a single segment. Although months of reporting went into the production, CBS abruptly decided that it would be "inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election," in the words of a statement that network spokeswoman Kelli Edwards gave the New York Times.

Sorry, but in my opinion the gross inaccuracy of the reasons for invading Iraq is especially appropriate before the election. And if Rather is the target of scorn for reporting documents that may have been forged, why isn't Bush? Rather reports on possibly-invalid documents, people want him fired. Bush reports on proven-invalid documents, those same people want to see him given another term.

# [/politics]

Word for the Day: Kakistocracy 2004.09.29.02:12

kak·is·toc·ra·cy    (kăkˈī-stŏkʹrə-sē, käˈkī-)
n. pl. kak·is·toc·ra·cies

Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. [Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad; see caco- + cracy.]

# [/politics]

Forget Rather, Fire Rooney Instead 2004.09.27.21:42
# [/politics]

Job in Jeopardy 2004.09.15.23:22

Once upon a time, I was good. Real good. Really, really good. It may seem to anyone reading this that I'm stressing that to the point of maybe over-compensating. No. I'm just trying to get across the point that there was a time once when I could pretty much do whatever I set my mind to. In terms of coding, I wrote stuff that people liked. Several people have used my code in books they've written, boosting the user-base. I recently started a project with a different ISP, and learned that they have some of my code in their installed base, available for their clients to use. There was a time when I could pretty much do whatever I set my mind to. I spent time on my crafts hobby and finished things– airplanes, cars, etc. And those things I finished won awards in local contests pretty regularly (though I've yet to win anything on a national level). There was a time when I could pretty much do whatever I set my mind to. I made it to appointments, to meetings. I could be counted on to be at a place when I said I'd be there. I'd help people move, do housework, run errands on their behalf. I'd organize things for groups. I was an officer in a national scale modeling organization, and I actually did what was needed of me. The thing is, I didn't always do everything I wanted to, but I got things done. I certainly got the important things done.

Not anymore. Not for quite a while, now. And not really having anyone to blame, I'm blaming me.

My ability to sleep at night has all but disappeared over the last few years. These days, I'm rarely asleep before 5 or 6AM. I try to sleep– I lay down at a (fairly) reasonable time each night. But when I finally fall asleep, I sleep so soundly as to miss my alarms (that's plural, yes, there are three of them total) and wake up at a fairly-natural eight hours or so after I've fallen asleep. More like seven, actually, since here lately I fall asleep somewhere between 5 and 6, then wake up between 12:30 and 1:00 in the afternoon. Of course, at that point I've actually been in bed for nearly 12 hours, when you include the time spent staring at the ceiling.

And because of this, I have practically no spare time for anything, anymore. My personal open-source software projects are languishing, with features waiting to be added and bugs waiting to be fixed. I haven't finished a model in over a year. I haven't been able to get into a relationship at all. Any time I've managed to connect with someone on any level, I end up going days or even weeks without trying to contact them, because not only am I lacking in sleep, but my short-term memory is wrecked as a side-effect of it all. But the worst part is, I get in to work so late that it has finally started to affect my performance. And what's worse, it's not just my performance that is affected.

In plain terms, I'm in danger of losing my job. During a one-on-one today, my (recently-appointed) manager finally told me in plain terms that I needed to start getting in by noon, consistently, or it's my ass. Of course, the real problem for me here is that he's 100% right and reasonable. I can't claim any kind of unfair treatment. I have no identifiable medical condition causing this, and whatever psychological component there may be, it's not his job to accomodate me beyond a level that is reasonable and fair to the rest of the company. It's not that I'm not working an honest week's hours, it's that I'm not there when people need me to answer their questions or attend their meetings. I may be fretting, but I have only myself to blame here. The added stress sure isn't going to help me sleep any better at night, but he's already extended me more slack than just about anyone could ask for.

Thing is, I've never really been a morning person, but it's only been the last 3 years or so that it's gotten this bad. And I'm plum out of ideas. But I better think of something.

# [/thoughts]

Help Identify This Man 2004.09.07.00:33

Of all the pushable buttons I have, the biggest, brightest, reddest one is the one labelled, "Violence Towards Women". I guess it's the result of living with a domestic violence counselor for five years.

The following first seen in James L. Grant's LiveJournal:

But only if 3 Secret Service Agents are holding her down.

Watch him do it.

He is still unidentified. Have you seen him?
If so, reply here.

# [/politics]

Fishy Follow-Up 2004.09.03.22:43

Apparently this morning when she got in, all three fish were pining for the fjords. Witnesses say the water was very murky and the stench was impressive for such small fish.

(I, unfortunately, missed it all because a power-outage this morning killed my alarm clocks and made me later than usual.)

# [/funny]

The Fallacy of Fish as Pets 2004.09.02.23:23

The co-worker who's desk is to my immediate left recently got a Tetra in a glass jar as a "pet". I use the word extremely liberally here. Our boss (we answer to the same manager) got her two more, so that the one would not be lonely.

Understand, first off, that this isn't a very big container. It's a perfect cylinder of heavy glass, with no top. Like an extremely unimaginative drinking glass (if you were, say, André the Giant). Probably holds about a pint and a half or so (judging by my first-hand experience with pints). It's about 3/4 full with water, so we'll call the actual water-area one pint. In this, though, there is about an inch or so of bright blue gravel at the bottom, and a plastic plant of some sort that curves in on itself within the confines of the glass. And the fish. The three fish.

Fish are not pets. You can't take them for a walk, they don't come when you call (of course, neither do my cats, but in their case it's clear from the look in their eyes that I'm being purposefully ignored). You can't play with fish the way you would a reptile, unless the fish are piranha and your idea of a pet reptile is a Komodo Dragon. But this subtle distinction is lost on my co-worker.

She's like a child with its first kitten. She can't leave the poor fish alone. How they must gurgle a watery sigh of relief when she leaves for the day. She'll tap on the glass. She'll spin the jar around one way, then the other (something I compared to her riding out a 5.0 earthquake in her apartment). And once in a while, she'll just pull the jar closer to her and, well, almost hug it, for lack of a better descriptive. I don't think she's really hugging it in the sense you'd hug a puppy, but she's clearly taking some degree of comfort from the presence of the little fishies.

God help all of us within earshot if she comes in one morning to find any one of them floating. I'm just not sure how you explain the cycle of life to a 30-year-old married woman.

# [/funny]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

Category quick-links:


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Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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