Most People Are Idiots

September 7, 2006

A couple of days each week after I walk the boy and a couple of the neighbor kids to school I go for a 3.5 mile walk.  While walking this morning, it occurred to me that when people are behind the wheel of an automobile they often fall into one of the three categories:

  • Idiot
  • Ignorant
  • Malevolent

Now, number two, ignorant, is correctable.  You can learn and apply what you learn to bettering yourself and remove this label.  The other two, well, I’m sure some people have changes of heart, I know I have, but they are harder to come by.

Have you asked yourself, what brought this line of thought on in his head?  Relax, dear reader, I’ll tell you.  It all started when a lady (for lack of a publicly acceptable word) tried to run me down in the crosswalk while I was crossing with the light.  Notice in that sentence ‘crosswalk’ and ‘with the light’?  Well, I like to think of myself as a defensive driver and a defensive walker so I was expecting her to do this.  Why, you might ask?  Because she had a mobile phone pressed firmly against her face while she made a left turn in my direction.

Now, initially, I thought to myself, “what an idiot!” but on reflection I’m wondering.  Is it possible that she’s never heard about the studies linking lack of driving attention to mobile phone usage?  If so, then we’d say ‘ignorant’.  Is she incapable of learning?  Scary, but then the ‘idiot’ label would apply.  However, if she knows but either doesn’t think it applies to her or doesn’t care I’m beginning to think that the ‘malevolent’ label is more applicable.  The dictionary defines malevolence as “A desire to harm others or to see others suffer” and intentional ignorance seems to fall into that classification.

For the remainder of my walk, I decided to count the near misses – a total of six.  Three of these involved the driver talking on a mobile phone.  One, that left me laughing for half a block, was a lady walking out of the Challenger school across the grass towards her car which was illegally parked in front of a fire plug.  She was wearing an ill-fitting black skirt that was too small and too short so that her ample stomach oozed over the top of the skirt into a nice muffin top.  She was wearing three inch stilletto heels with no ankle straps so that every step into the damp grass caused her to sink those heels into the wet ground.  She was so intent on not getting stuck and keeping up her end of the conversation that she almost ran me over and when she realized that I was there she didn’t even make eye contact, just navigated around as I stood there in amusement.

The third involving a mobile phone was what appeared to be a young mother leaving the same school driving a behemoth of a SUV (a Cadillac Escalade).  She looked at me, directly at me as I was walking across the crosswalk, MAKING EYE CONTACT, and then pulled out anyway, forcing me to step back to avoid being her hood ornament.  All of the time, she is smiling and talking on her phone.  Definitely a ‘malevolent’.

I’ve just started this walking route; it will be interesting to see if these near misses are normal.  Perhaps I’ll think of something I can do to help … educate… these idiots.


A Win-Win Situation

September 7, 2006

Scott Adams has lately been on a roll with solving the world’s problems.  Today’s problem?  The US versus Iran.  Neither side can back down without appearing weak so  instead he suggests each side get something “different but of equal value”:

Suppose we agree to make George Bush and Dick Cheney wear school girl outfits and dance a jig for the mullahs while singing the “I’m Sorry” song. Afterwards, their testicles would be surgically removed and displayed in an Iranian museum. In return, the Iranians would allow U.N. inspectors to check on their nukes, they’d stop supporting Hezbollah and they’d leave Iraq to the Iraqis. You can’t tell me the Iranians would reject that deal. I realize that this would be a big sacrifice for our President and Vice President, but I’ve heard them say that sacrifice is necessary to achieve security. Why do our soldiers have to do all the sacrificing?

Oh man, talk about your win-win situation.  It’s not like they are needing them to propagate the species and perhaps the decrease in testosterone might mellow them out a bit…

Does This Smell Okay To You?

September 6, 2006

Lifted directly from’s article, “Does This Smell Okay to You?“:

Here is a collection … on how to tell if your food is spoiled.

  1. Eggs: If something is trying to peck its way out of the shell, the egg is not fresh.
  2. Milk: Milk is spoiled when it looks like yogurt.
  3. Yogurt: Yogurt is spoiled when it looks like cottage cheese.
  4. Cottage Cheese: Cottage Cheese is spoiled when it looks like regular cheese.
  5. Regular Cheese: Regular cheese is basically spoiled milk so really doesn’t spoil. But when your regular cheese begins to look like blue cheese get rid of it anyway.
  6. Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is spoiled when you have to have your stomach pumped because you became violently ill after eating it.
  7. Meat: If cats gather at your back door whenever you open your meat drawer, the meat is spoiled.
  8. Bread: Bread is spoiled when it attains the ability to cure an infection.
  9. Flour: Flour is spoiled when it has moving rice in it and you didn’t put any rice in it.
  10. Canned Goods: Canned goods are spoiled when they begin to resemble a rugby ball.
  11. Carrots: Carrots are spoiled when they take on the characteristics of a wet rope.
  12. Potatoes: Potatoes are spoiled when they have more eyes than your graduating class. Nor should they have a deep leafy underbrush.
  13. Chip Dip: Dip is spoiled when it doesn’t stay in the same place you put it in the refrigerator.
  14. Wine: Wine is spoiled when it becomes an acceptable base for a salad dressing.
  15. Lettuce: Lettuce is spoiled when its color and consistency can be mistaken for green jello.
  16. Raisins: Raisins are spoiled when they can be mistaken for bituminous coal.

And, why is it that when someone offers us something that obviously smells bad WE ALWAYS SMELL IT?!?  I see this happen all of the time;  someone makes comment similar to “Oh, man that smells nasty!  Here take a whiff!” and someone else leans over smells it and recoils in disgust.  WHY?!?

Okay, I’m done.

Reading today at web application security lab, I was intrigued by RSnake’s comments about internet security:

I’ve never been a fearmonger, but for the first time in my life I’ve found myself telling people, “I don’t know a company I couldn’t break into.” Every system I’ve found has vulnerabilities. There was something Bruce Schneier wrote a number of years back (and I’m paraphrasing here) that said that for every man hour it takes to build security it takes n+1 to break it. That is, if there are vibration mics in the ground it will take exactly n+1 the time it took to place them and test them and get them working properly as it would to break in.

On Mythbusters episode 59 the other night the crew cracked into several physical devices like fingerprint scanners, and walked past various versions of motion detection devices (with something as simple as a pane of glass). The point being here are always way around security, physical or otherwise. In the case of JavaScript port scanning it is similar to a Trojan horse. The idea is to sneak something otherwise normall and innocuous into an internal interface.

JavaScript seemed the most likely candidate, so we tackled that first. Yes, that means nearly every company on earth is vulnerable to that. Is that the only weapon in the arsenal? No way. Are there ways to fix it? We’re already working on them. Will that solve things? No way. It will just shift the problem elsewhere at best, and at worst, it will continue to be an esoteric attack vector that is only used by the few people who really get it’s consequences.

What really struck me is the concept that every system has vulnerabilities. William Gibson wrote about computers, networks and cracking those networks in Neuromancer,Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, a wonderful trilogy that started me out with a healthy skepticism and love of networks and computers. I love what you can do with a computer and linking them together but I have no illusions that anything created with and/or stored on a computer is anything more than 1s and 0s and can be altered or deleted with a moment’s notice. I’ve got a rather decent network set up at my home and neighborhood, wired and wireless, that neighbors are free to use (hopefully with permission) and a beefy firewall between me and that semi-public network and another one between the semi-public network and the internet at large. I know that all of these can be cracked; my only hope is in making it difficult enough that someone else is a more attractive target than I am.

If you haven’t read the above trilogy then hop, skip and jump down to your local library and get them, all three, at once. Trust me; they are quite entertaining. You might even learn something.

As a postscript, I still find it amazing that William Gibson published those stories between 1984 and 1988, long before the World Wide Web came into existence and the internet as we now perceive it was conceived of, let alone implemented. Even more amazing is that at the time, the world was experiencing the beginning of the personal computer with the IBM PC beginning its invasion and the Apple Macintosh nipping at its heels. I started college at Utah State University in 1984 and as a student had access to a rather advanced VAX/VMS mainframe computer. We did our homework on it, chatted with students at other universities in real time, sent email, even played text games that stretched the limits of that system (ASCII version of Star Trek rocked! Still one of the most fun games I’ve ever played). Twenty years has me typing this on a laptop that would dwarf that VAX System with a PocketPC sitting in its cradle, ready to go where I want to and still connect to any local network.

I can’t imagine what computers and networks will be like in the next twenty years – but I’ll bet William Gibson has.


August 25, 2006

Lord, I am messed up.

I’m angry, frustrated, and hurt.

I’m turning into something I despise.

On the positive side, I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t read any websites or web log posts from Bloglines until I had wrote SOMETHING for at least thirty minutes.  I’ve got a crappy short story and a start on a second one done now.

Nice preparation for NaNoWriMo though.

Bender rocks…

August 15, 2006

“Ah, computer dating. It’s like pimping but you rarely have to use the phrase ‘upside your head’.”
    — Bender, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” episode, Futurama

Yesterday afternoon, we had a rather intense storm pass through that
was rather pretty (no, I don’t have any pictures; use your
imagination).  Lots of dust and flying debris about the building at
work, but not a lot, if any, rain.

However, when I arrived home I discovered several largish branches in
my front lawn, broken from my neighbor’s tree, as well as the pool
cover partially removed from the pool.  It is one of those above
ground, inflate the ring and fill it up types and has been a great deal
of fun for the boy and his friends this summer… but I digress.

So, I went in, cleaned up the trash the dog had dug through while I was
away and promptly sat down to play a game or two before attacking the
yard work and house work.  About fifteen minutes into my solitaire
marathon (I set a time limit though, because otherwise I’ll play for
hours) the phone rings and I pick it up without thinking… probably my
first mistake.  One of my neighbors down the street is calling because
one of her neighbor’s has had a tree blow down onto his house and call
I call around to get people to help him?  Since it is one of my
responsibilities as a member of the Elders quorum presidency, I grab my
chainsaw and toolbox and drive down the street; no use wasting someone
else’s Monday night without seeing what was up.

So, Mr. S’s house had a ancient metal travel trailer next to his
driveway with a apparently very healthy cottonwood or poplar tree next
to the trailer.  As healthy as the tree appeared, it was no match for
the winds earlier in the day as the tree had toppled, hitting the
trailer and then settling on the roof of Mr. S’s house.  The house
wasn’t damaged, yet, but if the trailer let go of its burden the tree
would continue onto the roof.  Mr. S, a neighbor’s son and a neighbor
across the street were on the roof, cutting small portions of the tree
off with a limb saw in the hopes of reducing the mass of the tree so as
to save his home.

That isn’t the funny part.

I wasn’t much help from the ground and they already had plenty of
people on the roof and a few on the ground catching the falling pieces
so I opted to replace the dull chain on my chainsaw.  Now, I’ve taken
the bar off of this chainsaw a total of ONE time and that was a while
ago, so I pull the manual out of the plastic bag and found the diagram
for assembly.  Take off the housing, work the chain out of the gear,
work the new chain into the gear, reassemble the bar which has now
fallen off of the chainsaw, balance everything including the chain
guide while I find the housing I dropped and work it on, clamp it down
and set the tension. After ten minutes, I had it all done!  Yay me!

I set the choke, got it running, killed it, got it running again and warmed it up.  Heh. 

“I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…”

Anyway, I walk over to my best bud Bill, who had arrived a few minutes
earlier, and told him of my new chain.  He’d tried to use it a few
weeks ago but it was with a dull chain so it was less than successful. 
Feeling all cocky, I walk over to a branch, apply the chain saw to it
and… nothing.  A few seconds and all I’ve got is a mark from the oil
on the chain.  Strange.  So I try a smaller branch.  Same problem.

Then, and only then, did I realize I’d put the chain on backward and it wasn’t going to work for ANY branch.

If you are playing along at home, this is the point when my tool geek cred took major hit points.

I was saved though by the arrival of the husband of the first neighbor
in his van, carrying two chain saws, one of which sported an enormous
bar, probably three feet long.  I stowed my puny, chain maligned saw
back in the case and went back to helping move branches for which I am
adequately qualified.  I’ll fix my chain saw later.

Oh, and the tree was untimately felled without destroying the house,
which was good, and without further damage to the ancient travel
trailer, which was bad as he was going to try to salvage it.  It has
one destroyed wheel, a three foot dent in the top and one set of
windows now broken out, but he feels it is still “travel worthy”.  I’m
thinking it must have some special significance, like the only time
he’s been kissed or something, because it is just trashed.  Oh well, not my problem… yet.

Bathroom Etiquette

August 6, 2006

I don’t know if girls go through this, but dudes have these… issues… with the restroom. Such as if there are three urinals, take one on the side so the next bloke doesn’t have to stand next to you, stuff like that.
Anyway, the rather articulate young man over at jonsonblog gives a nice description of how to slow down the passage of time on a Monday.

My favorite comment is down a bit… the one from Fred on August 4th.

There is also a rather interesting description by a Japanese high school teacher on how to urinate.

Shimmer Summer 2006 Issue
The Summer 2006 issue of Shimmer: Available August 1.

Heat makes the air shimmer. It’s too damn hot to write marketing text. Buy a copy of the Summer 2006 Shimmer. Read it.

Why? 8 new stories, art, and an interview with writing team Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta.

Angela Slatter, Tom Pendergrass, Paul Abbamondi, and Marina T. Stern return with stories of books, bureaucracy, blood, and heartbreak. Amal El-Mohtar and Stephen Moss make their fiction debuts. Beverly Jackson tells a fish tale, and Michael Livingston talks about gnomes. (Check out our Featured Author page to hear Michael read the story.)

Bonus: after reading, the print version works as a fan! Our pdf readers are on their own.

A Passion for Food

July 25, 2006

I like to eat. Anyone who knows me can tell that at a glance; svelte I am not. Many of my friends may not realize that I also love to cook. I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it. I have grand ideas and recipes to try out – just not the time.

In the meantime, I browse through a few recipe and food related websites; some are quite interesting, the boring ones I drop rather quickly.

Earlier today, I stumbled onto a website penned by maki; she calls her place i was just really hungry which while it may sound simple is a wonderful exploration of fine dining. Her description of a visit to L’Esparance a Vazelay in France is a detailed, fantastic description of what seems to be a delightful evening of gastronomic delight for her.

Now, I’m quite sure many of the dishes she and her dining partner were served were tasty and wonderful to them but, frankly, they were not my liking by description and past experience. Still, it was a delight to voyeuristicly watch over her shoulder as she explored the culinary creations.

Too late and too hot to cook, but perhaps a nice grilling is in the future; I’ve got a bit of inspiration going.