December 23, 2009

Where was I?

Big Thanksgiving todo last month at my brother & sister-in-law's. Lisa posed with my niece and her (my niece's) friend:

Ugly duck.

House-warming party at the beginning of the month at Ivy & Jason's new mansion OTP. The next day I tried to get Lisa to get some antlers but she wasn't studying me:

Ugly duck.

Yearly holiday party in Asheville the weekend of the 11th with Shelby & Robert. We had big plans on hiking Saturday morning like last year, but with the 20-degree, damp weather we did a lap around the lake and then scurried back to our bed & breakfast.

Ugly duck.

Ugly duck.

Scary serpent.

Scary serpent.

Plan B was to wander around Black Mountain (where we actually stayed, near Asheville) and inject some money into the local economy. A robot and alien were purchased:

robot alien

Yearly dinner-with-friends at Miller Union. It's a small restaurant with tables set back and somewhat isolated yet still with an open feel. Very nice layout. Our waitress was Hungarian and grateful that none of us had names beginning with a W. I almost got everyone in the photo via the mirror:


Now let's go to Vegas!

posted by sstrader at 4:45 PM in Where was I? | tagged annual holiday dinner with friends | permalink

Today's reading list

  • C-SPAN helps MSNBC show and prove hypocrisy by McCain - Sen. Franken denies Sen. Lieberman an additional moment to speak, McCain denounces that action as unprecedented, Maddow dutifully hunts down a clip (with considerable help from C-SPAN) of McCain, in 2002, denying an additional 30 seconds from Sen. Mark Dayton as Dayton rails against the Iraq war.
  • How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room - Excellent, clearly written piece on how China emasculated the treaty and how the world press laid down on the job and put the blame on Obama.
  • Holy Baboon! A 'Mystical' Moment In Africa - Back in 2004, I commented on the continuum of consciousness across the animal kindom. This event with baboons appears part of that continuum as--although exaggerated in the NPR story--an example of group contemplation. Myth is our collective memory of events in our pre-writing past; here was the origin of a myth in baboon society.
  • THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION - Mocking Palin (easy though it is) for her tweet that shall be known in the archives of literature as: "Earth saw clmate chnge4 ions". I'm loathe to defend Palin, but Gin and Tacos' railings reminded me of an article I remember reading in Language Log (closest I could find was Shattering the illusions of texting). Their defense was, simply, that Twitter and IM abbreviations are akin to those used in early printed novels, newspapers, and broadsheets. Ink, paper, and typesetting were expensive, and so brevity became the soul of profit. To anyone who complains about Twitter but then uses "etc" or "1/4" or "&": get over yourselves.
  • THE DIZZYING HEIGHTS - The G&T blog is more interesting when he avoid linguistics and sticks to politics. His mocking of conservative solutions are spot on: There is not a single thing the government can do - from fighting a war to creating a last-resort insurance option - that can't be done better by a consortium of gigantic private interests with their eternal guiding light of the profit motive.
  • THE COOLER - The Senate and a weak majority: One of my favorite quotes from the founding era - which, like any tale of the Founders' wit and wisdom, may be apocryphal - is Washington's explanation to a skeptical Thomas Jefferson about the advantages of a bicameral legislature and specifically of a House designed for rapid action paired with a slow-moving Senate. GW is said to have asked Jefferson, "Why did you set your tea on the table before drinking it?" to which Jefferson said, "To cool it; my throat is not made of brass." Having made the point, Washington told his friend, "So it is with the legislature. The House is where we make our tea and the Senate is where we let it cool so we might drink it."
posted by sstrader at 9:51 AM in Today's reading list | permalink

December 16, 2009

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy; Lawrence Lessig

Just started this over the weekend. Quick read. Not as satisfying as I'd hoped. I'm reminded of some of the themes in The Recording Angel--specifically when Lessig talks about Sousa's warning that albums and player pianos are ruining the culture of amateur creative musicianship. These two books would be paired well in a reading list.

Continue reading "Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy; Lawrence Lessig"
posted by sstrader at 9:20 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

Outliers; Malcolm Gladwell

Read a few weeks back. In short: an argument against blaming the victim presented as an argument against congratulating those who are successful, often backed by direct quotes from those successful individuals. Gladwell's books are always a lesson that life is more subtle and varied than those beliefs that many declare to be basic "common sense."

Continue reading "Outliers; Malcolm Gladwell"
posted by sstrader at 9:11 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

December 15, 2009

Limiting noise

Slashdot asking at what point you should just ignore another's argument. Global warming discussions often include those ignorant of or willfully distortive to the facts, and so how much time can you really spend countering their wild accusations? Here's a challenge: prove to a YEC that the theory of evolution is true. How much geology, anthropology, biology, genetics, and even cosmology would you need to know to prove this? How would you condense over 100 years of intensive, interdisciplinary science into laymans' terms? A layman aggressively opposed to what you're condensing? How much time would it take?

Add to this the knowledge that many who doubt are simply political trolls purposefully injecting false information in order to cloud the issues. Why would you waste energy arguing with them? I considered this when I was reviewing the leaked CRU emails. People are listening to Rush Limbaugh as he deliberately quotes from the emails out-of-context, but they're ignoring more detailed discussions. These people don't care to learn and are a waste of energy to argue against.

But unfortunately: they have power.

Mason had a discussion with some people w/r/t the CRU emails. It's locked behind the walled garden of Facebook, but it is a model of bad information. Denialists were referencing Bjørn Lomborg and The Washington Times. They'll believe someone with political science degrees or a newspaper that's a mouthpiece for the Moonies, but will ignore the opinion of nearly 100% of science groups and scientists. At one point, the word "hide" from one of the emails was quoted as proof of deception. It boggles the mind. Stink factor is high here and begins to put these arguments in the realm of creationists and flat-Earthers. Far from a logical fallacy, ignoring flawed sources is simply weeding for relevance. Having a different opinion from others does not automatically make it equally valid. You could argue against every view that exists, but why?

[ updated the same day ]

Michael Mann on On Point addressing a caller's complaint that skeptics are ignored in the peer-reviewed platforms:

Scientist should subject their own ideas to as much scrutiny as possible... that has to be distinguished from contrarianism which is not skepticism. It's often in the form of a denial of what the science shows without subjecting that denial to the kind of scrutiny [and] scepticism that it deserves. Not all ideas are equal. Not all propositions are equally valid. [emphasis mine] 1 + 1 = 2. If there were a mathematician who felt that 1 + 1 = 3, it's very likely that he or she would not be able to publish that paper in the peer-reviewed mathematical literature.
posted by sstrader at 9:58 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

December 14, 2009

Converting a physical machine to virtual using VMware

(N.B. tl;dr notes at the end...)

I'm in the process of upgrading two very old machines on my home network to something a little more 21st century, so last week I picked up two Lenovo desktops from Newegg with:

  • 64 bit Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 (2.33GHz)
  • 4MB L2 Cache
  • 6GB DDR2 (8 max)
  • 640GB hard drive
  • DVD±RW

I've been doing a lazy port of software from the old machines and wanted to virtualize them for posterity. They're both Win2k SP 4 with sub-1GB memory and will probably run more smoothly virtualized on the new hardware than they did on the old. I looked at Microsoft's Virtual PC but had miscellaneous issues using Virtual PC 2004 SP1. A discussion thread recommended Disk2vhd v1.4 from Sysinternals, but it only goes as far back as Windows Server 2003 SP1. The conversion using Virtual PC was most likely possible, but I decided to give up in order to look at the much-recommended VMware.

I scanned through the VMware web site and quickly got lost in the combination of utilities and features and packages they offered. Instead, I went to the Wikipedia entry on VMware and immediately found the what I needed: VMware vCenter Converter (to convert from a physical machine to a virtual machine) and VMware Player 3.0 to run the virtual machines. Both free. There's a lesson in there somewhere when the Wikipedia entry is more informative than a company's web site.

I had to specifiy VMware Player 2.5 in the converter software because it was the highest version available. Creating the first image took three tries, the first two ending at 97% complete--after running an hour-and-a-half--with the error dialog "maximum registry size is too small". Solution is to increase the "Maximum registry size" setting in Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance Options > Change. I had to bump it up to 120 (from ~40) to get it to work.

Final hurdle in the virtualized machine itself was configuring the network adapter. VMware adds its own adapter and you need to copy the specific IP and DNS settings. Once I did that, applications had internet access, but DNS seemed to not be working. I followed KB837333 - How to repair network or modem connectivity issues in Windows 2000 (found via the VMware community thread "Network not working after Windows 2000 SP4 P2V") to finally get the image visible on the network.

  1. Install VMware vCenter Converter
  2. Convert the remote machine: destination type = "VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine", VMware product = "VMware Player 2.5.x"
  3. Install VMware Player 3.0
  4. In VMware Player, select "Open a Virtual Machine" and add it to the available VMs
  5. Select VM > Settings... and set the Netowrk Adapter to be "Bridged"
  6. Start the VM
  7. Install new hardware drivers
  8. Update the VMware network adapter with IP and DNS settings

Oh, and beware of your firewall settings!

[ updated 8 Dec 2010 ]

The article VMWare Server Temporary Files That are Safe to Remove lists and describes VMWare's temporary files that may be left around. These are useful to know if there was a crash of some sort and the virtual machine won't start. Deleting the temp files usually fixes it. Delete: .VMEM, .LOG, .NVRAM, and .VMSD. Keep: .VMX, .VMDK or .#.VMDK.

posted by sstrader at 10:20 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink

December 5, 2009


Some recent subversive arguments in support of gay marriage:

  • Let's just ban divorce. The fiction that gay marriage stultifies the value of straight marriage dissolves when presented with the choice of eliminating something that truly cheapens its value. This is similar to asking anti-abortionist how long a sentence girls who get abortions should get. Better yet, asking whether they would recommend the death sentence (abortion, in their eyes, being premeditated). If one believes that abortion is murder (and not simply a means to control women) they would without hesitation chose the common punishment for murder.
  • Let's make gay marriage only worth 3/5 of a real marriage. A nice way to emphasize the civil-rights issue that we're really dealing with.

Equally inspiring (although ultimately in vain) was Senator Diane Savino's argument in the NY State Senate [ via Reddit ]. Not a word was wasted in her speech.

I have a hopelessness with such issues, because the only argument I've heard has been a banal, illogical denunciation. There is no argument against the inane. It was pointed out recently that my frustration with the voting rights of the ignorant (though I would never suggest they be taken away) are similar to the right-wing talk show hosts that say the same thing when liberal beliefs are brought up. Does it really come down to such relativism? It reminds me of a thread on Reddit where, in response to Chomsky comparing Fox News tactics to Nazi media control, the comment was made that When a right-wing person uses a Hitler analogy: Reddit is disgusted. When a left-wing person uses a Hitler analogy: Reddit is elated. Can such an argument Ignore Chomsky substantial credentials when compared to those of the soft news entertainers on Fox, or most any, news show? The value of two opposing opinions should be measured on the reasoning that arrived at those opinions.

posted by sstrader at 4:12 PM in Culture & Society | permalink