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+ paul e. [LJ]
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Other journals I read:
= DJ Adams
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= Neil Gaiman
= Rafael Garcia-Suarez
= John Gorenfeld
= Lawrence Lessig
= Michael McCracken
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= Norm Walsh
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My journal at use.perl.org:
· Restless
· RPC-XML-0.57.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.56.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.55.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· Forgive Me, Bretheren Monks
· Extry Extry: Winer Leaves the RSS Advisory Board
· RPC::XML 0.54 Uploaded
· The Books of Perl
· Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results
· Errata Tracking Page for PWSWP
· Image::Size 2.992 Uploaded
· Props to Portland PM
· Lightning Talks
· OSCON, Tuesday
· OSCON Plans Now Set

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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

California Here I Come. Again. 2006.11.19.20:31

After weighing some very nice competing offers, I've decided to return to California to take a job with a company in Palo Alto. It means delaying my desire to migrate to London (and I say "delay" in an effort to assure myself that I can try again as some future date), and turning down an opportunity to work on the guts of the Mozilla SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine.

But lest you think I'm complaining, what it also means is that I'm going to get to do some very interesting work in high-traffic management of news feeds (as in actual journalistic feeds, not just any yahoo with a blog and an RSS link on the sidebar), with some added potential for research into semantic web issues as they apply to content itself. It also means that I'll be returning to the bay area, where I have a pretty nice circle of friends, all of whom (that I've talked to thus far) are eager to welcome me back. So while London held a certain romantic mystery for me, I'm awfully lucky to be able to go back to a place where I have so many friends and where I know the lay of the land so well.

Exact details of transition, starting-date, etc. have not been worked out (I'm actually in London as I type this). I'm eager to start as soon as I can, but in practical terms that will probably still take a few weeks, as I have to get things together in Denver, establish where I'll be staying until I've banked enough money to get a new place (not looking forward to apartment hunting again), and wrap up some contracting committments that are still outstanding. Plus, this upcoming week is Thanksgiving, and I had planned on visiting family in Mesa, Arizona. So there are several days this week where nothing will really get done, either. Still, I expect to start not later than December 11th, unless the company has paperwork-ish issues that take longer than that to work through.

So if you're in the bay area and have missed me, I shall be back in mere weeks. If you haven't missed me, at least pretend like you did. I'm going to be having enough self-doubt over the decision I made in the initial 2-3 months, until I can get more or less settled, at least let me think you're sympathetic...

# [/misc]

"Hacking Democracy" Now Downloadable 2006.11.07.10:10

Full version of Hacking Democracy downloadable from Google.

If you don't get HBO, this is your chance to check it out and draw your own conclusions.

# [/politics]

Please Please Please 2006.11.07.09:07

For all our sakes, get out and vote tomorrow. I don't care who you vote for (well, that's not true, I do care– but it isn't my business so I'm not asking or offering my own suggestions), just do it.

I don't share the optimism that so many liberals seem to be riding on. I think there are plenty of ways this can go wrong (from my perspective of "right" and "wrong"). But it would be nice to have an actual reasonable turn-out for a midterm.

# [/politics]

So, Why Did I Write in the First Place? 2006.11.07.03:08

So, yesterday I went to a church service for the first time in over 14 years. As I've written recently, I have a lot of crap rattling in my head. So I wrote to the pastor, seeing as I did in fact enjoy the service and the guy seems like a really genuine person, and, well, I found it really easy to be writing.

So now, I have a reply and I'm afraid to read it. After all, the guy might actually have something useful and/or helpful to say. Can't have that, now, can I?

# [/thoughts]

May I Leave the Country? Pretty Please? 2006.11.05.09:35

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (HSA) has proposed that all airlines, cruise lines-even fishing boats-be required to obtain clearance for each passenger they propose taking into or out of the United States.

This proposal would trump passports– whether you have one or not, you would still have to get a definitive "yes" from HSA to leave or re-enter. A non-answer would count as "no" until/unless clarified.

The article's author trips over Godwin's Law at the end, but there have been plenty of (other) regimes over the last 100 years that forbade their citizens from leaving without prior permission. And we don't want to be on that list with any of them.

May I please get a job overseas and get out of here, preferably before I have to rely on "permission" to move about freely?

# [/politics]

It Stops at My Skin 2006.11.04.09:06

I just got back (well, not just, as it's taken time for me to write and edit this) from seeing Shortbus, for the second time. I realized I hadn't reviewed it, and I will after I write this post. But for some reason, the movie leaves me highly emotional, so I want to get some thoughts written down before I dilute them with things like a movie review. They're diluted enough as it is, just from driving back home to the suburbs. Suburbs seem to have that sort of numbing effect on people, I've noticed.

I'll start off with a nice, bland disclaimer. Nothing in the whining-to-come should be interpreted as me feeling like I "identify" with some aspect of the movie. This is no tortured Emo kid's plea to be noticed and "understood". So if you think you'll find yourself smirking over any of this, you might want to just skip it. If you venture forth and end up smirking anyway, do me a favor and just move along. Don't send me e-mail tut-tuting my self-indulgent navel-gazing. Just don't.

I'll make it easier... I'll put in a cut-line to keep anyone from accidentally reading.


# [/thoughts]

A House of Worship is Not a Fortress 2006.11.04.00:01

Women acting as human shields aid escape of Palestinian militants

Okay, here's a little shift in perception for you. After establishing myself as mondo-Liberal (note the capital "L"), here's an opinion you'll probably consider to be inconsistent: the Israelis in this case should have levelled that mosque long before the women had arrived to act as shields.

I am no longer at all interested in or involved with any form of organized religion. I haven't since, hmmmm, around 1992 or so when I walked out in the middle of a Sunday-evening service when the preacher was using the pulpit to push a political, rather than spiritual, agenda. But I will say this: if you want to claim that your faith is basically peaceful notwithstanding a perceived need to fight for your own freedom, then you don't get to use your houses of worship as fortresses. If and when you do, you have defiled it and it is no longer sacred. I don't care if you are Christians holed up in a church, Jews in a synagogue or Muslims in a mosque. These 70+ gunmen were hiding in a mosque, counting on the reluctance of the IDF to seriously attack it out of concern over public perception. And to make it all the worse, they used, and I mean used, women as human shields to escape. And odds are pretty good that most of the stories we read in the media will focus more on the deaths of the two women, than on the fact that there were over 70 armed people using a house of worship as a bunker.

I'm not real fan of Israel these days. There was a time when I felt that they were just doing what they had to in order to survive as a nation and as a people. I think they've been over-stepping those bounds for a long time, now. But I have to side with them in this case, because the only thing about this situation that is more cowardly and base than hiding behind the walls of a mosque (what were the rest of the local Muslim populace supposed to use for worship, while they were doing this?), the only thing lower and more deserving of scorn, was putting out an appeal to women to come and risk being shot so that the "brave" fighting "men" of Hamas could skulk away.

That building should have been (and still could be) razed to the ground. And if I read about some weird separatist Christian sect using a church to hide weapons and/or armed persons in, I'll say the same. Ditto for temples. It's bad-enough when religion is used to justify violence in the first place, but when it's also used to protect cowardice, that's beyond the pale.

# [/politics]

"Oh my gosh, do you know what this means?" 2006.11.03.08:23

I'm fifteen minutes from the end of the HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy. And I'm having a reaction I have not yet had to any political issue before: I'm weeping.

Most of you who know me know that I am an unashamedly big-"L" liberal. And my reactions to the elections since 2000 have been pretty much all negative. I've responded with anger, disbelief, outrage and no small amount of profanity. But before tonight, I hadn't outright wept before.

In Tallahassee, Florida, on December 13th of 2005, several people from the Florida Election Commission and the organization Black Box Voting, are taking part in an exercise they're calling "The Hursti Hack". Finnish security expert Harri Hursti has claimed that the Diebold tally machines (the machines that scan the optical-recognition ballots) can be hacked in an effectively "hands-off" manner by attacking the memory cards that the machines use. Diebold officials had denied Hursti's originally written report. The report included the revelation that the memory cards contained not only data files for vote tallies, but an executable program. By hacking this program on a sample memory card, Hursti believed he could alter the votes as they were being tallied, obviating the need for trying to hack the central tabulation machines. After all, if the memory cards themselves have altered the data, your work is done for the day.

They set it up like this: Hursti is kept out of the room. He has no input in which of the scores of tally machines will actually be chosen for use. One is chosen by drawing it's number from a bowl. A test ballot is used, that has just one yes-or-no question: Can the votes on this Diebold system be hacked using the memory card? Hursti and Dr. Hugh Thompson, another security expert who had come to the conclusion that the Diebold machines could not be trusted, will vote "yes". Six others, including Leon County supervisor of elections Ion Sancho, will vote "no". After the machine is selected and placed on the table, Sancho fetches the memory card from Hursti in the other room. It is plugged in, the machine switched on, and the boot-up print-out spools from the box. We watch as all eight ballots are fed into the machine, followed by the special marker-sheet that instructs the machine to stop accepting new ballots and print the tape with the vote tally.

Final tally: seven votes "yes", a single vote "no".

Susan Pynchon, Director of the group Florida Fair Elections Coalition, utters the sentence that titles this post:

Oh my gosh, do you know what this means?

I do, Susan. I know what it means. It means the only reason I don't feel like I wasted my time voting in 2004, is because the state of California had already booted the Diebold machines out of the precincts, and offered a back-handed smack to Diebold in the process. OK, it was just one model, and Diebold got out of the suit with a laughable $2.6M settlement. But since it's already past, I'll have to settle for what reassurance I can scrounge together.

But this also means that I won't be the least bit surprised if I wake up November 8th to hear that a "surprising Republican voter turnout" is credited with them retaining control of both houses of congress.

I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.

– Waldon O'Dell, then-CEO of Diebold, in an August 13, 2003 fund-raising letter to Ohio Republicans

# [/politics]

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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