Monday, November 15, 2010

Still neglectful

Lots of exciting stuff going on at my new gig, and I'm really loving my new place. I've rethemed the blog, and I finally managed to get my shared links out of Facebook, so the Quick Links sidebar should be better than ever. Really, that's the most interesting content here :D Actually, it looks like the feed I'm using redirects through Facebook, and you have to be logged in and my friend to use any of them. Not that anybody at all reads this anyway, but they'll be broke until I get to messing with that Graph API.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bulding ipset kernel modules on Ubuntu (and probably Debian too)

Since this took me about an hour to figure out:

apt-get install ipset-source module-assistant
m-a prepare
m-a build ipset
dpkg -i /usr/src/ipset-modules-[blahblahblah].deb


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Packing it up

Haven't touched this thing in a while, eh? Been pretty busy and tired out lately what with the new job. John and I made a page on Facebook for Ike - The Eisenhower Expressway Dog, which as of this writing has a hair over 700 fans. They talked about the page on the WGN Midday News yesterday when they had Ike over to interview! So that was fun.

I've finally moved my personal domain over to be hosted on my personal server (who would have ever thought of that?), so I think I'm going to set up some blogging software over there and then transplant things. Expect another post in the next couple days (weeks? months?!?!?) directing to you to my new home, which hopefully, I won't ignore for nearly year-long stretches at a time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King of Pop is dead

(This post is adapted and expanded from some comments I left on one of my friends' Facebook status. I'm posting it here because I think it's something worthwhile to say somewhere more noticeable.)

When I heard Michael Jackson had a heart attack earlier today, my reaction was "pfft, whatever." People have heart attacks all the time these days and go right back to whatever they were doing. Due to modern medical science (and perhaps due to my Chicago roots), I would categorize a heart attack more as a major inconvenience than a spectacularly fatal event.

Now that I'm back home (or in my hotel room anyway, more on that later if I feel like writing about it) jacked into my newsfeeds, I have the whole story. According to the Los Angeles Times, paramedics were called, he his heart had stopped by the time they got there, and the man is dead.

A lot of what I'm hearing from people about this is along the lines of "good riddance, burn in hell, pedophile." I understand this reaction; sexual abuse of children is monstrous and must not be tolerated. However, both times, he was acquitted of all charges, there were multiple conflicting stories, and no really conclusive evidence of any abuse having occurred.

"Of course not," you say, "he's a celebrity; he just used his immense fame and money and power to buy his way out of it." OK then, let's say the courts got it wrong (and they frequently do, no argument there), and he did something he shouldn't have to one or more kids; you're still ignoring one important thing when you condemn him to burn in torment for all of eternity: compassion for the sick.

There's no arguing that Michael Jackson was severely mentally ill, or that he has obviously been so since at least the early 90's. It's a simple fact, which you can verify merely by looking at his appearance. At the very least, he clearly suffered from some form of body dysmorphic disorder. Various other accounts allege that he suffered an abusive childhood, and that he was addicted to various drugs. His lifestyle clearly indicates someone who has regressed to a child-like mental state; Neverland is not dissimilar from plans I drew in grade school for the "dream house" I would build "when I grew up and made a million dollars." Of course, my tastes have changed somewhat since those days; the dream house I would build today would be quite different from my childhood fantasy. Michael Jackson was (mentally, in any case) a deranged child, who had access to the resources needed to create his fantasy.

The question I keep asking myself when I examine the man's life is "where the HELL were his friends?" My friends and family are an essential part of my life in many ways, not the least of which is to act as a backstop against the occasions when I may be seized by madness. To put it another way, my friends stop me from doing all sorts of stupid shit that I'll regret later. If getting your face reconstructed into a duplicate of Diana Ross doesn't qualify as stupid shit you'll regret later, I don't know what does. Somewhere early on in his plastic surgery binge, someone (really, EVERYONE) in his social circle should have been yelling "HOLD ON! What the FUCK do you think you're doing?!"

It's true that we sometimes ignore the warnings of the ones that love us. Sometimes you get an idea that nobody can convince you is terrible, no matter what they do. Occasionally, you have some insight that nobody else had, or you just get lucky, and things turn out alright. Usually, you end up in flaming wreckage, cursing yourself and swearing that you'll listen to your friends next time. This is clearly not the situation in the case of Michael Jackson, however; that stuff went on for YEARS, right up until the day he died, and he just kept on getting more and more freakish and nobody ever stopped him. I'm just using the plastic surgery as the most obvious and publicly visible indicator of mental illness here; I'm sure there were a host of other various patterns of behavior that should have made it skullfuckingly obvious to anyone vaguely close to him that the man was in need of immediate mental help.

I'm no cheerleader for the psychiatric industry; I think we mis-diagnose, over-diagnose, over-medicate, medicate too early in life, over-charge, etc, etc. But for every hundred teenagers that get put on Paxil for behaving like teenagers, there's at least one person out there that needs help BAD, whose brain chemistry has gone seriously awry, who needs to be locked up and poked at and prodded not only for the safety of others but for their own well-being. I think Michael Jackson was one of those people, and I sincerely hope and believe that if I was deranged to the point of MUTILATING MY FACE, that my friends would identify me as another one of those people, and do whatever it took to get me committed somewhere so I at least had a chance of getting the help I would so obviously be in need of.

At the very least, one of the doctors involved should have put the brakes on the whole thing. It would have been nice if 10 years ago, one of the plastic surgeons would have said "Hey, you're starting to look like one of the bad guys from the X-Files. I've got a nice friend who's a counselor..." Score one for medical ethics, guys!

What I'm left with is a handful of scenarios, each one sadder than the previous and leaving me further unable to draw up much bile for the man. Maybe his friends and family did try to get him help, but were either unable or didn't know how. Maybe they knew there was a problem but didn't care enough about him to deal with it. Maybe they were so deranged that they thought his behavior was OK. Maybe he really didn't have anybody at all.

Times like these make me realize how lucky I am to have so many great people that love me and care about me. Thanks for being awesome, everybody. I know you won't let me die alone as a disfigured and tortured freak! I'll take at least a few of you with me...

So, even if he was a child molester*, I find it hard to hate him with much intensity. In the end, he was a diseased and damaged man, with an abusive childhood, multiple drug addictions, severe mental illness, and no support system worth mentioning. I cannot truly muster contempt for him, only pity. Despite his alleged crimes, I cannot spit on his grave. I only pray that he has finally found peace.

* What is a childlike person going to want to do? Hang out with kids and do kid stuff, of course. What's the first thing that you think about a guy who seems to really like and get along well with children? That he's probably a child molester, of course. Why do you think that? Because you watch too much fucking Dateline, asshole. People getting along well with kids should be a GOOD thing, but we're so sex-obsessed that the first thing we think is "pedophile!" And of course, kids never make this stuff up, especially not when they're prompted by parents and police whipped into a frenzy by sensationalist media outlets. Also, even if someone IS a pedophile, what makes you think your kid is so attractive?

Do I really think Michael Jackson is a child molester? No, not really, anyway. I don't think Michael Jackson was capable of anything resembling an adult sexual desire; I doubt he had any more desire to have sex than the average child does. I would be very surprised to learn that anything resembling an adult sexual act involving penetration and/or orgasm occurred. However, I do find it believable that he'd have just as much desire to play "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours" as the average child does, so I would not be surprised to learn that some highly inappropriate yet ultimately innocent activities involving nudity occurred that an adult may misconstrue as sexual in nature. How's that for a nuanced statement?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lies, damn lies, and soy protein

From a review of Delicious at Gaper's Block:
I'm in love with vegan sausage and egg muffin sandwiches... Forget what the non-veg version tastes like to clear your expectations.
This highlights my main problem with veggie[1] versions of non-veggie foodstuffs. With a disclaimer like that, it obviously tastes nothing like a sausage-and-egg sandwich; why is it necessary to try and pass it off as one? I'm a dedicated meat-eater, so I'm speaking as an outsider here, but it seems to me that vegan/vegetarian cuisine would be better advanced by focusing on creating tasty food that is honestly and unashamedly veggie, rather than spending what must be considerable effort in an ultimately futile attempt to make the food appear to be something it is not. If this object does not fulfill my expectations of a sausage-and-egg sandwich, then it should not appear to be one, regardless of how tasty it may be[2].

I think the people at Delicious are actually doing themselves a disservice by obfuscating the appearance of this sandwich. A person with a craving for a sausage-and-egg sandwich will order this and be disappointed, or at least, their expectations will not be met; I admit they may be pleasantly surprised, but they also might end up going somewhere else the next day to get some real sausage and eggs. Meanwhile, there are people who may not like sausage and eggs (or more likely, are simply not in the mood for them) who would love this sandwich. Alas, they will never know this love; they are repulsed by the sausage-and-egg facade.

I have not tried the sandwich in question, so I will not slander it. I'm sure it's very good. However, I have encountered a variety other counterfeit meat and dairy products during my lifetime (primarily as a result of interaction with females of my generation, who seem to be predisposed to vegetarian diets). Most of that stuff is gross. They're pathetic mockeries, fit only for Bizzaro-burgers ("hamburger is juicy so me am gritty!") I have a hard time understanding why a lot of this stuff even exists.

Let's think this through; we can divide vegetarians into two subsets: people who enjoy the taste/texture/experience of eating meat, and people who do not. We can ignore the second group; as they do not enjoy the meat experience, it is unlikely that they would be interested in any meat-like product. We can then categorize our remaining pool of meat-enjoying veggies based on their reasons for not eating meat: (a) because it comes from the abuse/death/exploitation of animals, and (b) other.

To the people in (a), I ask: if you're bothered by the concept of consuming a corpse, isn't it also gross to consume simulated corpses? (No? How do you feel about child-sized RealDolls? [linked to make it clear that I didn't come up with that idea])

That leaves us with (b), the people that enjoy meat and don't see any moral issue with it, but are abstaining from it for some other reason. I'm having a hard time coming up with a rational scenario here; be it for environmental concerns, health reasons, or a glaring significant other, wouldn't you be happier simply reducing your meat intake and only indulging in it occasionally/when no one's looking instead of taunting yourself with an unsatisfying fake?

So, here's my challenge to vegetarian and vegan cuisine: quit making fake meat, fake eggs, fake cheese, or fake anything, and start making food that is tasty and appetizing without pretending to be something it's not[3].

[1] I'm going to use this as shorthand for "vegetarian/vegan/lacto-ovo-whatever else you do or don't eat."

[2] This principle does not apply to the hamburger phone, because it is obviously not actually a hamburger; therefore, you do not expect it to perform the functions of a hamburger. It also does not apply to the Choco Taco; while it borrows its form and part of its name, it is obviously not a standard taco, and forthright about the chocolate it contains. Nobody is going to say "hey, this phone isn't a hamburger" or "hey, this tastes nothing like a taco" because, unlike a vegan sausagesqe-substance-and-egglike-matter sandwich, they are readily visually distinguishable from the objects that they imitate.

[3] If you MUST continue to make fake meat, please stop naming it after the devil.

Monday, March 30, 2009

IP Address Gadget

I've created a script that displays your IP address and a variety of information about it. It also supports being used as a gadget on your iGoogle home page. Check it out.

P.S.: I forgot to mention, if you're AJAX-inclined, have a look at the source - it supports being called as a JSON web service, too =)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The economy crumbles beneath my feet

I've been hearing the ads for "Free Pie Day" at Baker's Square on WGN lately, so I thought I'd drive over to the one in DeKalb and get myself a slice. I parked, got out of my car, and was immediately intercepted by a (now former?) employee. The conversation went something like this:

Employee: "Sir? Excuse me, sir?"
Me: "Huh?"
Employee: "We officially went out of business at 2 PM today. We're closed forever."
Me: (dumbfounded) ""
Employee: "Yeah."
Me: "Bummer."
Employee: "Yeah."
Me: "Good luck."

So, no free pie for me, and no more job for the people working there. I feel somewhat shocked, maybe even a little frightened. It was open when I made plans to go there, but closed by the time I made it there.

I ended up going to Maid-Rite instead. Their onion rings are epic.

Note: they have since reopened, as Annie G's.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holy police brutality!

The end of the semester has totally destroyed my sleeping schedule, and as a consequence, I've been up to see Transformers: Animated at 5:00 AM on a regular basis (which probably explains why I'm whacked-out enough to post about an old episode of a kid's cartoon.)

In the episode I'm watching now (about 2 minutes in), Optimus, Ratchet, and Bumblebee are just chilling out on the street, when a bad-ass car goes speeding past. Bumblebee transforms, produces a police siren, and speeds after the car, blasting lighting at it all along the way.

First of all, are the Transformers traffic cops now? They're pulling people over for dangerous driving? Is that even legal? They're not even U.S. citizens! I know I'd certainly be contesting the Autobots' legal authority in court if they pulled that crap on me.

My real problem is the lightning blasts, though. They're supposedly doing this in the name of safety, but I really can't see how speeding down the street SHOOTING LIGHTNING BOLTS could possibly improve the safety of the situation. The car they were chasing turned out to be an evil robot, of course, but what if it was just some crazed driver in a tricked out ride? If this is standard procedure for the Transformers, it's only a matter of time before they end up electrocuting some drunken teenager.

In conclusion, while I'm all for enforcing our traffic laws, I strongly disapprove of alien robots employing possibly lethal force in the pursuit of speeders, especially without taking the time to determine if the speeder is some sort of super-powered robot, or just a weak Earthling meatbag that can be instantly vaporized by a giant laser.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night 2008: Wrap up

We're back on the train, wainting for Metra to whisk us back to the suburbs. Chicago has gone completely Obama-crazy, with crowds sweeping through the street, cheering and literally jumping for joy. My tiny phone camera doesn't do it justice. I'll try to write all this up properly tomorrow, and talk about what it was like to be there, but for now I leave you with a couple blurry pictures of the madness.

Election Night 2008: Heading home

Well, as I'm sure you know, Obama won. Headed home, here are some pics from the end of the rally.