Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This Captures It

Zombie posts a picture from the Oakland Museum that she believes captures the decline of Western Culture in one image.  I agree, but even better was a comment that someone left:
“Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.”
Tom Stoppard

At Least He Did Not Use A Gun...

But it is still a tragedy, and if not for the unusual choice of improvised weapon, this would have been only a local news story.  The headline is not an excuse, it appears.  From October 30, 2012 ABC News:

Widow: Man Who Killed Texas Pastor Mentally Ill

The man who rammed his car into a Fort Worth-area church then beat the pastor to death with an electric guitar apparently suffered from a mental illness, his widow said.
 From October 31, 2012 McClatchy News Services:
Birdow said that she begged her husband to get help and that he went to a hospital a few days ago. But "they let him go."...

Earlier Tuesday, Derrick Birdow's brother, Glen Birdow, said Derrick had been acting strangely for about a week, saying that people were coming to kill him and that someone had stuck him with a needle.

Glen Birdow said he drove from South Texas to Fort Worth on Thursday to try to persuade his brother to check into a hospital. But the brother resisted.

"I love my brother. The whole family loved him, but they know that wasn't him," Glen Birdow said.
Birdow died when police used a Taser on him.  According to family, he was not a drug user, and this bizarre behavior developed quite recently -- in the last few weeks.  He was 33, which is a little old for schizophrenia to develop, but certainly not unknown.  It also appears that the pastor had been engaged in marital counseling with Birdow and his wife.  I wonder if the pastor missed the signs of mental illness?  I would love to know the story from the hospital where Birdow's brother took it.  Did they not see that there was a serious problem?  Or was Birdow's unwillingness to be hospitalized the problem?

How many more of these tragedies does it take?

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/31/173145/texas-pastors-killer-was-mentally.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/31/173145/texas-pastors-killer-was-mentally.html#storylink=cpy

The Stuff You Find In Craigslist...

The ad has disappeared, but I saw this and all I could think was: I think I see a connection here:

Cadilac Escalade 26" Huge Wheels Tires - $1999 (DelinquentCreditOK)
Let's see, great big enormous wheels and tires strictly for show so you can "pimp your ride" and "DelinquentCreditOK." Gee, is there a connection there?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why I Am Glad That I Don't Live in Oregon

This guy who has just pleaded guilty to "10 counts, including kidnapping, attempted aggravated murder, assault, sexual abuse, strangulation and sodomy."  He did this to a 10 year old boy in the men's room at a Wendy's, while people are pounding on the door to stop him.  And guess what?  This guy was convicted in 1993 of raping children for the purpose of infecting them with AIDS -- even going so far as to inject a two year old girl between the fingers with infected bodily fluids because he figured that she couldn't talk, and no one would look for injection marks between her fingers.  (And yes, he had "come out of the closet" and left the Marines before cruising gay bars and getting AIDS -- he was not at all closeted.)  So the People's Republic of Oregon let him out several years ago.

Oregon: a state so blue that California seems almost pastel by comparison.

Perhaps secession for the Obama lovers wouldn't be a bad idea.  We could have border guards check creeps like this for criminal background history at the border.

Obama Better Hope This Hurricane Is A Disaster

Because even the mainstream media, in places, are beginning to point out the problems with what happened at Benghazi -- and specifically, the question of who refused to provide assistance when it was still possible to prevent those deaths.  From October 29, 2012 CBS DC is coverage of Senator McCain's, of course, "may" involve a cover-up.  The October 27, 2012 Christian Science Monitor reports on what Fox News was reporting, and other sources indicating that these were preventable deaths:
Among other things reported in some detail, Fox asserts that a Special Operations team had been moved to US military facilities in Sigonella, Italy – approximately two hours away – but were never told to deploy.

“The fighting at the CIA annex [in Benghazi] went on for more than four hours – enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.” ...

Writing last week in the conservative National Review online, former Marine Corps officer and Reagan administration senior Pentagon official Francis “Bing” West outlined much the same scenario as Fox News, including a timeline of events in Benghazi.

“Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours,” Mr. West wrote. “If the attackers were a mob, as intelligence reported, then an F-18 [Navy fighter jet] in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella.”
If the Christian Science Monitor considers this question serious and important, then Obama had better hope that the hurricane is so big that no asks the questions about General Ham's replacement as head of African Command.  The October 29, 2012 Seattle Times ran this AP news story denying that his replacement had anything to do with the Benghazi attack and his response to it.   More importantly, that story claims that the decision to not respond was a joint decision:
Last week, Panetta said he, Dempsey and Ham all felt very strongly that it would have been a mistake to insert U.S. forces into Benghazi during the attack, which killed four Americans.
 Yet this account from October 28, 2012 Front Page Magazine tells a story that while not directly contradicting, suggests otherwise:
We’re not dealing with anonymous sources here. This comes from an interview with Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz who sits on two Homeland Security subcommittees relaying the responses from General Carter Ham heading up the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) who had direct responsibility for the situation.

General Ham told Chaffetz that the forces were available, but that no order to use them was given. Defense Secretary Panetta had claimed that the refusal to use force had come from him, General Dempsey and General Ham.

General Ham appears to have broken with that story and is taking no responsibility for the decision not to bail out the consulate and the Navy SEALS. There have been rumors that General Ham has been fired or forced out. There is no way to confirm them at this point until they come from more reliable sources. 
 Those rumors?  This seems to be the first appearance, and like all rumors, probably juicier than reality
The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.

General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.
And sure enough: General Ham is being replaced as head of African Command by his second in command.

 Of course, since Obama has a good chance of winning re-election, it may not matter what the truth is.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not A Way To Make Friends For Hunting

At both ends of the old highway off which we live are signs explaining that all the land along the highway is private property, and hunting is not allowed.  (Some of this is written into the CC&Rs of the various subdivisions.)  As we were coming down the old highway this morning, we saw a rather huge gutpile extremely visible at the side of the road. 

My understanding is that this is not considered appropriate hunting etiquette, even ignoring that someone ignored the "No hunting" signs.  There is a measure on the November ballot here to add a guarantee of a right to hunt to the state constitution.  Gutpiles at the side of the road are not exactly a way to create a positive image of hunters.

Crete

I looked up Crete on Wikipedia because the daughter of my boss is stationed there in the Navy.  One curious description:
Cretans also have a tradition of keeping firearms at home, a tradition lasting from the era of resistance against the Ottoman Empire. Nearly every rural household on Crete has at least one unregistered gun.[17] Guns are subject to strict regulation from the Greek government, yet the authorities turn a blind eye, accepting gun possession as their tradition.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Obama Did Raise A Billion Dollars For His Campaign

Romney only about $860 million.  I just kicked in some money to the Romney campaign.  Yes, I know many are not keen on Romney's wishy-washy conservatism.  I am not either.  But the NPR program yesterday pointed out that the independent campaign groups pay more for their TV time than the campaigns themselves.  As a result, a dollar spent by Romney's campaign goes further than a dollar spent by the independent groups.

We have a choice this election: national bankruptcy in the short-term, and pretty well guaranteed with Obama, or a small possibility of avoiding national bankruptcy with Romney.  And yes, I am afraid that it is only a small possibility.  Obama is going to take us off the cliff full throttle; Romney will likely slow us down to 20 or 30 MPH going off that cliff, so there is a small chance that something semi-miraculous will happen to save us as we approach the cliff: fusion power; a way to make gasoline cheaply from algae; least likely of all, Americans actually start paying attention.

I had a very discouraging experience last night.  A guy who specializes in evangelism to Mormons -- especially the backsliding Mormons who are really mostly culturally Mormon -- spoke at my daughter's church.  He essentially argued that it was better for Christians to not be involved in voting or politics at all, rather than vote for a Mormon for President.  To say that I was disappointed was putting it mildly.  If the choice was a Christian with orthodox beliefs and a Mormon, I could see his point.  But our choice is someone who most Christians can agree with on lots of issues (examples: sanctity of life, one man, one woman as the definition of marriage), and someone who has not even made the trivial pretense of being a Christian by attending church since he was elected and who voted for allowing babies born alive after abortions to be allowed to die.  This is not a hard choice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disturbing Article About Jihadist Gunwalking

The October 22, 2012 Washington Times has this disturbing article about a very serious accusation, far worse than Iran-Contragate (if true), and likely an impeachable offense--if the mainstream media cared about such things.  The allegation is that the Obama Administration was running a weapons running program through the Benghazi consulate involving Turkey and the Syrian rebels--and specifically, the Islamist Syrian rebels, not the ones with a more Western point of view.

There might well be legitimate foreign policy reasons to do this sleight-of-mind maneuver -- but the partial, apparently inadvertent disclosure of classified information in Congressional hearings recently about Benghazi suggests the cowboys of the Obama Administration may be doing this on their own. Of course, arming the Islamist factions instead of the more Western factions would be a very bad idea.

Imagine a Republican were President...

Wind Power

One of my concerns about wind power is that most generators, at least a few years ago, were designed for moderate winds -- many did not even start to turn until they reached 12 MPH.  There is a good reason for this: power production goes with the cube of wind speed (or at least I have a recollection that it is something like that).  I see now wind generators designed to at least start generating some power at much more reasonable speeds.  GudCraft sells a nominal 450 watt generator that actually starts to generate a tiny amount of power at 3 meters/second (which is a bit more than 6 MPH).  The power production is tiny, of course, but if you have a place with a consistent wind and occasional bursts of 20 MPH, and it only costs $300 for the generator, you can start to think of having several of these running at once.

My guess is that these are an importer for somewhere in the Far East, based on price, and the tragically bad English on their website.  It does make me consider the possibility of using a generator, a charge controller, and a deep discharge battery to provide at least lighting and electric garage door opener power for the telescope garage.  The initial costs for something like this is around $500 to $600, if I do this myself, and that is cheap enough for a science experiment.

The downside is if you buy a charge controller big enough to expand to an orchard of generators, you have spent a good bit of money.  But it should be possible to figure out from one generator whether this is going to make sense to to scale up to a bunch of 450 watt generators.

Honesty? Or A Lack of Shame?

From a for sale ad:


2002 GT 2 Porsche TT 225 MPH - $58000 (Meridian, Idaho)
Beautiful ride, smooth, and has never given me an issue, treated better than the children, and sometimes the wife.
Curiously, he indicates that he paid $210K for it new, and is offering it for $58K.  The problems of wealth, I suppose.

Bargains Are Where You Find Them

I just bought some Federal Farm Credit Bank bonds with a 3.7% coupon below par.  (But by the time I finished the transaction, they were worth above par.)  They have a 30 year maturity, which would ordinarily make them not a wise investment with the current prospects for interest rates, except that these are callable, and in practice, GSE bonds like this almost always get called within a few years -- hence the quite high coupon for such a low-risk bond.

UPDATE: A little clarification.  There are two reasons why bonds get called early: interest rates fall, and the person who borrowed money that the bond is financing can refinance, or the original reason to borrow the money goes away (someone sells the item or property that the bond financed).  This tends to make the effective duration of these sort of bonds much shorter duration than the nominal term. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tired Of Waiting

Interest rates are never going to rise.  I bought some Alaska Communications stock (ALSK) yesterday (8.73% dividend right now) and United Online (UNTD), who owns FTD among others, with a 7.38% dividend.  I have been collecting these various high yield stocks, being careful not to buy more than 1000 or 2000 shares in each, and not to be overly concentrated in any market sector or region.  And amazingly enough, in spite of the disastrous day the stock market had today, ALSK was unchanged at $2.29/share, and UNTD actually rose to $5.46/share.

I may have to unload my Ruger and S&W stock if it looks like Romney is going to easily win.  These stocks are a good capital gain, but do not pay dividends.

Looked at iPhone 4

I carry an antique Motorola Razr right now -- so antique that there is no way to transfer photos directly from it to anything else.  I have to send them to another phone number.  So I looked at the possibility of upgrading my phone.  Verizon has a free iPhone 4...but it turns out that even with the 300 MB/month data plan, it comes to either $62 a month (if I believe the web page) or $80 a month (if I believe the live chat operator on their website).  Either way, that's a bit rich for me.  I think I will stick with my antique for a while longer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Java RMI: Apparently Considered Obsolete

I can't figure out if the inability to get Java RMI applications working reliably is because it is obsolete, and no one much cares about it anymore, or if it is obsolete because it was so hard to get working reliably.  It was certainly elegant on paper.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Beautiful Fall Day in Idaho

I am just about done with grading of the first set of papers for both classes, and my wife and I went for a walk along the greenbelt in Garden City.  All the trees are turning.




Adorable squirrels, everywhere, acting like they are eating meth, not nuts:


Ducks in vast numbers along the Boise River:


One of my wife's many talents is her ability to parody songs with very little provocation or forethought.  This started out as just me filming the ducks floating down river and demanding food (and were they disappointed):

video

More squirrel:


My Trip To Philly

Downtown Philadelphia has some marvelous architecture -- at least, compared to Boise.  Here's a view out the 24th floor window of the hotel that NRA put me up at for the Firearms Law & The Second Amendment Symposium:

There is some really quite astonishingly ornate building from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:


Philadelphia City Hall is a late nineteenth century structure that appears to be of similar style to the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House.  I understand that Philadelphia City Hall, unsurprisingly, involved an enormous amount of corruption in its construction:






However overdone the gargoyles are on Gothic cathedrals, they do not exceed this!


So kitschy, I almost like it!

There is a statute of William McKinley, and as is typical of the period, a bit overwrought in its description of him as a "martyr":



Here is one of those art deco buildings whose style everyone recognizes after Ghostbusters!




The Seminar itself was in a fairly non-descript Hilton conference room -- I could have been anywhere in the world, and not known any better.  There was a protest demonstration (you can read about it at Shall Not Be Questioned), but they did not stick around long enough for me to engage them.  This is a shame, because I often find grass-roots gun control advocates fascinating to talk to -- long on emotion, often short on facts.  Yet the more that we engage them in conversation, and point out the complexity of the problems that they are trying to solve with very simple solutions that have previously failed, the more uncertain they become.

I was part of the last panel of the day, with Professor Nick Johnson, who teaches at Fordham Law:


Nick and I have collaborated before on a law review article, the one with too long a title that was cited in McDonald v. Chicago (2010)

John Frazier, NRA-ILA's research director introduced us, and Nick and I both talked about new research areas we have been pursuing.  Nick talked about his examination of the history of how the black civil rights establishment went from support for the right of self-defense to support for gun control -- and traces the reason for the change to the manner in which black radicals with their talk of violent revolution discredited the idea of personal self-defense, in spite of a long and proud history of shooting back at the Klan.  I was touched to find that Nick's interest in this subject can be traced back to my 1995 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy paper, "The Racist Roots of Gun Control."  I talked about my recent discoveries digging through old California newspapers, and the importance of using non-legal sources when preparing challenges to gun control laws.





Thanks to Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned for these last four pictures!

It Is Going To Be Close...

The latest Gallup Poll of likely voters shows Romney with a six point lead on Obama (51-45).  Once you figure in the number of dead voters, voters who "Vote Early, Vote Often," illegal aliens, and the rest of the Democratic Party machine, it is going to be very close.

The latest RealClearPolitics map shows Romney with a slight lead in electoral votes, but a lot of states still toss-ups.  The fact that Oregon is only "leans Obama" is a pretty good sign of how deeply in trouble Obama is.

The real danger is Obama's campaign, just like in 2008, is refusing to turn on standard security measures to prevent non-citizens from making contributions from abroad.  This is not a hypothetical problem; non-citizens have made small contributions to test it out, and had their clearly bogus contributions (based on mismatch of state and zipcode) accepted -- and then been solicited for additional contributions that stay below the $200 detailed reporting requirement level.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Counterproductive Behavior

When I arrived in downtown Philadelphia last Friday, I was briefly surprised by how many of the young women were dressed on the streets.  Briefly I wondered, "Is prostitution really this common in downtown?" because so many of them were dressed in a style that screamed "working girl."  But then I saw the flyers announcing a Slutwalk.

What is a Slutwalk?  It is one of those misguided attempts by feminists to protest rape by dressing in unnecessarily sexually provocative ways.  I sympathize with the desire of victims to not be blamed for rape.  If a woman walked naked down a dark street, it would be stupid, but the full blame for the rape falls on the rapist.

What concerns me about events like Slutwalk is that the kind of men who commit rape are also the kind of men who would see women dressed in a provocative manner as, "She's asking for it."  Rapists should not be receiving any cues or indicators that make it easier for them to justify their actions.

The real tragedy is that in places where feminists think that Slutwalk makes sense, the problem is that the dominant political culture refuses to treat violent criminals with the severity that they deserve.  But rather than confront that the same political culture that glorifies sexual promiscuity and abortion also refuses to punish rape as a very serious crime, it is easier to blame traditional values -- the same traditional values that made rape a capital crime in some states, until the liberals on the Supreme Court decided that execution for rape violated the Eighth Amendment.

Why I Live in Idaho

My son took this picture over the telescope garage yesterday:


Friday, October 19, 2012

Corvette Air Conditioning Unit Gone Dark?

These are the guys to send it to.  I did--and saved hundreds of dollars over having a new unit put in.

More Obscure Stuff Associated With Java RMI

I rebooted my PC, and the very simple Java RMI example that I mentioned yesterday no longer worked.  Apparently, start rmiregistry is no longer enough.  Now I need start rmiregistry -J-classpath -J. (according to this web page).  Yes, that now works...but why?  I suppose it is time to figure out what those flags to rmiregistry mean.

Someone, somewhere, must be able to make some decent money consulting on Java RMI development problems.  The whole thing is beginning to look very obscure and fragile to me -- or perhaps it is just RMI development under Windows that is problematic.

UPDATE: It also appears that for all the technical merits of RMI, it simply did not catch on, and there's not much point to using a technology that is out of fashion: you can't hire people with experience with it, nor will it make you employable anywhere else.  (Not that there is much danger of me being employable in the private sector ever again.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Public Nudity and Appropriate Venues

From the appropriately named Supervisor Wiener of the San Francisco city government:

This month I introduced legislation to restrict public nudity to appropriate venues, like parades, street festivals, and beaches, while prohibiting the display of genitalia in other public places including city plazas, parklets, sidewalks, streets and public transit. This proposed ordinance came about as a result of a sharp increase in public nudity in the Castro, most notably in Jane Warner Plaza at Castro and Market. What was once an occasional sighting has turned into a near-daily nudist colony in what is essentially the Castro's town square. I hadn't planned on pursuing this ban, and I'd hoped this issue would resolve itself, but sentiment in the community, from gay and straight residents, small business owners, and others, has turned against this obnoxious behavior. The goal of this legislation is not to punish people, but to get them to put their clothes back on while in our neighborhoods so that everyone can enjoy our public space.
It is nice to know that "parades, street festivals, and beaches" are "appropriate venues" for "display of genitalia."  I learn something new every day.

By the way: the picture at the aforementioned link is not safe for work.

It's Bad Enough When Idiots Pass Laws That Make Your Son's Life Worse...

It's even worse when you are the one who passed the law.   A heart-breaking piece in the October 15, 2012 Washington Post by a former Connecticut legislator:
My son is schizophrenic. The ‘reforms’ that I worked for have worsened his life.
Those who have read My Brother Ron know some of what he has to say -- and some additional problems that I would not have thought about, such as the failure of public schools to adequately handle severe mental illness.

I have been doing a lot of radio talk shows the last few days, most of which start out about gun rights, but I rapidly turn the topic to mental health system failure, because that's really at the core of the whole "assault weapons" issue.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Is Going To Destroy This Country: Deficit Attention Disorder

Deficit Attention Disorder -- no one is paying attention to what is going to impoverish two generations of Americans.

A Better Java RMI Example Than the Oracle Tutorial

A Beginner's Guide to RMI.

Except, unfortunately, it still references the RMIC stub compiler, which is no longer needed.

Even more unfortunately, the very basic code that they supply does not work.

UPDATE: It appears that since this beginner's guide to RMI was created, not only is RMIC stub compilation no longer required, but
if (System.getSecurityManager() == null) {
    System.setSecurityManager(new SecurityManager());
}

is now required in both the server and client.  At least on the client side, this is needed to be able to load objects from the server.

Part of what makes this so complicated is the magic collection of command line arguments required when you start the server and client.  As an example: it appears that when specifying the security policy, it is expecting a file name (not a URL that can be coerced into specifying a local file name) and it needs to be inside apostrophes, like this:
-Djava.security.policy='c:/tomcat5/webapps/rmi/server.policy'
However, the server codebase is a URL, so if you are running the server locally, you need something like this:
-Djava.rmi.server.codebase='file:///c:/tomcat5/webapps/rmi/computer.jar'
Note: three slashes after file:, not two, not one, not four.  But I still have not resolved this security policy question.  By the time I have figured all this out, I will be able to write a guide to these mysteries.

UPDATE 2: Except it appears that the policy file uses a different format:

grant codeBase "file:C:/tomcat5/webapps/rmi/-" {
    permission java.security.AllPermission;
};
Yes, "file:" would suggest a URL type of path, and thus file:///, but this suggests otherwise.  Why have a consistent format, when you have multiple formats?

UPDATE 3: At least the -Djava.security.policy parameter for Windows I now understand -- and it is shockingly simple:
-Djava.security.manager=c:\rmi\hello\server.policy
 The sever.policy file (at least the one that is probably too wide open from a security standpoint, but at least it works):

grant codeBase "file:///C:/rmi/hello/*" {
    permission java.security.AllPermission;
};
UPDATE 4: It turns out that the example I mentioned at the top of this posting is actually valid.  The only parts that were a problem were the parameters passed to Java.  The following items are required to start the HelloServerImpl:
java -Djava.security.manager -Djava.security.policy=c:\rmi\hello\server.policy HelloServerImpl
The server.policy that seems to work where both server and client are running on the same Windows box:

grant codeBase "file:///C:/rmi/hello/*" {
    permission java.security.AllPermission;
};

Some web pages indicate that a - is needed, not a *, but I do not think that is current.

To start the client was much simpler:
java HelloClient


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Java RMI

You may have noticed not much blogging since I returned from Philly.  That's because I have been grading papers.  Every spare moment is either my day job, or doing the drudge part of a job that I really enjoy: teaching.  (If only there was a way to get paid to do what I am really good at: legal and historical research.)

I have been learning more about Java RMI, but I am running into some obstacles, and I am hoping that some of my readers can help me figure these obstacles out.

I have managed to get a sample Java RMI application running, as long as I start the RMI server and client from the DOS shell with something like this for the server:

java -cp .;c:\tomcat5\webapps\rmi\compute.jar -Djava.rmi.server.codebase=file:/c:\tomcat5\webapps\rmi\compute.jar -Djava.security.policy="C:\\tomcat5\\webapps\rmi\server.policy" engine.ComputeEngine

and this for the client:

java -cp c:\tomcat5\webapps\rmi;c:\tomcat5\webapps\rmi\compute.jar 
-Djava.rmi.server.codebase=file:/c:\tomcat5\webapps\rmi\ 
-Djava.security.policy="c:\\tomcat5\\webapps\\rmi\\client\\client.policy" client.ComputePi localhost %1%

You will notice that I am storing many of the components in the Tomcat directory, but Java RMI does not actually require Tomcat.  (This is actually something of a virtue.)  I can make it work with Tomcat stopped.
  
However, if I try to get this running from MyEclipse, with all the magic incantations (environment variables for the -D fields, for example), I cannot get either the server or the client to work.  The error message for the server is:

ComputeEngine exception:
java.security.AccessControlException: access denied (java.net.SocketPermission 127.0.0.1:1099 connect,resolve)
at java.security.AccessControlContext.checkPermission(AccessControlContext.java:374)
at java.security.AccessController.checkPermission(AccessController.java:546)
at java.lang.SecurityManager.checkPermission(SecurityManager.java:532)
at java.lang.SecurityManager.checkConnect(SecurityManager.java:1034)
at java.net.Socket.connect(Socket.java:524)
at java.net.Socket.connect(Socket.java:478)
at java.net.Socket.(Socket.java:375)
at java.net.Socket.(Socket.java:189)
at sun.rmi.transport.proxy.RMIDirectSocketFactory.createSocket(RMIDirectSocketFactory.java:22)
at sun.rmi.transport.proxy.RMIMasterSocketFactory.createSocket(RMIMasterSocketFactory.java:128)
at sun.rmi.transport.tcp.TCPEndpoint.newSocket(TCPEndpoint.java:595)
at sun.rmi.transport.tcp.TCPChannel.createConnection(TCPChannel.java:198)
at sun.rmi.transport.tcp.TCPChannel.newConnection(TCPChannel.java:184)
at sun.rmi.server.UnicastRef.newCall(UnicastRef.java:322)
at sun.rmi.registry.RegistryImpl_Stub.rebind(Unknown Source)
at engine.ComputeEngine.main(ComputeEngine.java:36)

This is apparently tied to the security policy settings.  My guess is that there is something rather magical about how MyEclipse is setting up the java.security.policy environment variable that explains the misbehavior: perhaps the use of backslashes in the DOS shell has to be done differently from MyEclipse.  I've tried a variety of different forms of this, without success.  It also looks like perhaps the security policy might require a URL, so I tried file:/// before the file name, without success.

Perhaps there is some way to force MyEclipse to show you what parameters it is passing to java when it executes?  

What is a bit annoying is that you can find vast numbers of questions on the Internet from developers running into exactly this same problem -- but real answers are surprisingly difficult to find.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blaming Bush, Iraq, and Afghanistan Isn't Working

Well, at least it does not work for those who let numbers influence them.

This graph courtesy of Instapundit is one of those reminders that Iraq, Afghanistan, and George W. Bush, fails to explain this deficit problem:

Yes, the economy ended up in serious trouble in 2008.  But this simply fails to explain the sheer scale of these problems.  On the other hand, 2008 is the first full year that the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and 2009, they gained control of the White House.  Do you suppose that might have something to do with it?

And yet, vast numbers of young people whose futures will be destroyed by that deficit are going to vote for Obama and Democrats for Congress next month.  What's wrong with this picture?

The Ambassador Should Have Retreated in a Volt, I Guess

From the October 10, 2012 Guardian (a left-wing British newspaper, by the way):

Two former heads of US diplomatic security in Libya have told a congressional hearing that requests for additional agents to protect American officials and premises in the face of a growing threat from armed militias were rejected by the state department ahead of the attack on the Benghazi consulate that killed the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other officials.
At a heated hearing before the House of representatives oversight committee, Republicans painted a picture of an incompetent state department failing to heed warnings of a growing terrorist threat or to prepare for a possible attack on the anniversary of 9/11, and then covering up the circumstances of the full scale militia assault that killed Stevens. They also accused Obama administration officials of attempting to suppress unclassified documents because they were politically embarrassing.
Democrats described the investigation as a partisan political move intended to embarrass the White House in the run up to the presidential election.
I would say that it worked, and with good reason.  Contrary to the claims the Democrats are making about Republicans not willing to spend the money on security, the National Legal and Policy Center on October 2, 2012 pointed out that the State Department is spending money on really unnecessary stuff:

A little poking around the web raises additional questions about government Volt purchases. A State Department contract from March of this year details the purchase of a Chevy Volt for $47,500 for use at a U.S. embassy in Norway. The sticker price for a 2013 model year is $39,145 (before the $7,500 tax credit upon individual purchase). Obviously the government doesn't get a tax credit because it's not an individual income tax filer. But it left me wondering, why did the State Department pay $47,500 instead of $39,145? Why did they pay an extra $8,000?
Then I noticed that the State Department also paid over $108,000 for another contract, dated May of this year, for a Volt-specific charging station at our embassy in Vienna, Austria. But according to GM's Volt FAQ site ("Charging" --> "Charging station -- Preparing for your Volt"):
Every Volt comes standard with a 120V portable charge cord that can plug into most common household outlets and will fully charge a Volt in about 10 hours, depending on outdoor temperature. You can also have a 240V charging station (additional cost plus installation) professionally installed in your home that will reduce the charging time to about four hours.
Even if a consumer needs an electrical converter, the 240V dedicated charging stations cost, at most, around $2,000 (and guess what? consumers get tax credits for these, too). What did the embassy spend the extra $100K on?
So they did not have the money to provide security for our diplomats in Libya--a nation that was in serious security trouble--but they did have the money to spend on "green" automobiles?  I guess our ambassador should have had a Volt so that he could show everyone how ecologically responsible he was, or something.

Stuff like this would be a killer for the media if a Republican was President.

Protestants in Decline

From the October 9, 2012 New York Times:
For the first time since researchers began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than half said they were Protestants, a steep decline from 40 years ago when Protestant churches claimed the loyalty of more than two-thirds of the population.
Much of this decline is the dramatic increase in the category that categorizes their religious belief as "none":
Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives.
I'm going to take a wild guess that much of this dramatic loss of both religious affiliation, and especially of Protestants, is because a whole generation of kids have grown up watching Mommy and Daddy go to church every Sunday...and still get divorced.  One of the core values of Christianity (not just Catholic but Protestant as well) is marriage: "til death do us part."  It is very difficult for kids to take seriously a religious belief system that has so little serious impact on the lives of their parents for the one thing that really matters.

If you are part of the rapidly shrinking Christian majority in this country, and you have kids, and you are considering divorce: think long and hard about this.  Look for ways to work through differences and problems if there is any way to do so.  From what I have seen over the last thirty years, it is devastating to the kids in their emotional stability and in their religious beliefs.  And worst of all: an enormous number of the second marriages fail, too, because the core problems that caused the first divorce still have not been fixed.

A point that I try to make often is that while same-sex marriage is a bad idea, and Christians have good reason to oppose it, the single biggest piece of destruction being done to Christianity in America today is the frequency of divorce.  There are circumstances that are specifically provided for by Jesus: infidelity, for example.  There are other circumstances where I can sympathize with a spouse who decides that he or she can't take any more: physical and emotional abuse; self-destructive substance abuse problems.  But so many of the reasons that I see essentially boil to one or both parties are too selfish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grading Papers

There is only one part of teaching that is really tedious, and that is grading papers.  If you are grading wonderful papers, the only thing that is tedious is the sheer volume of them.  If you are grading papers that are not so wonderful, it gets painful to keep hitting the same keyboard macro to insert [singular/plural mismatch] or [italics for book, magazine, journal, or movie titles].  (Yes, it is not all just hitting keyboard macros, but so much of marking up papers is remarkably repetitive, because the same mistakes happen again and again.)

The tedium of grading papers, however is a small price to pay in exchange for teaching.  On the plus side, grading student papers means that you learn things that you did not know (once you verify that the student actually found something that you did not know and is correct).  For example, if the Athenian assembly did not have enough citizens present to hold a vote, slaves would be sent into the streets with ropes dipped in red paint, to slap any citizens who were not present to make a quorum--a chance to shame them for their lack of civic-mindedness.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sick With Middle Ear Infection

Hence the relative quiet here.

UPDATE: Miracles of Augmentin.  I am still not completely well, and I'm not sure if I will be well enough to go into work Tuesday or not.  But it is at least a possibility this evening that I will be well enough to go to work tomorrow.  Imagine a world without antibiotics, or at least without working antibiotics.  This is one of the minor arguments against doctrine libertariianism, which asserts that restrictions on drugs like antibiotics so that you can't just buy them without a prescription are unnecessary limits on liberty.  This is exactly the sort of problem of individual benefit vs. collective injury were the most doctrinaire views do not work as well as a little bit of restriction--sort of like prohibiting handgun vending machines.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Must Laugh, Or I Will Cry

Red Bull + Research Paper Deadline = how many different ways to spell "Peloponnesian" in the same paper?

I'm grading papers, and to quote Kurtz, "The horror, the horror!"  Not all of them--some are pretty good.  But those that aren't...

Some Names...Do They Doom You?

The headline from October 4, 2012 KTVB is:
Stoner pleads guilty to drug charges
But that's his name, not a description:
BOISE -- A 33-year-old man from Boise pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of offering drug paraphernalia for sale.
Anthony Stoner is now the eighth defendant to plead guilty over the past two months in federal court to the charge of offering drug paraphernalia for sale. He is the owner/operator of Smoke-N-Accessories at 6419 Ustick Road in Boise. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chilling Speech By A Young Political Radical

From 2002, a young Illinois state senator spoke on Martin Luther King Day, and explained that nonviolence as a principle is attractive to rich people because they don't want anyone to take their stuff.



To be blunt, there seems to be a clear implication in Obama's statement that violence is sort of okay as a solution to social problems.  The full speech is available over at the October 3, 2012 Daily Caller and includes this piece of typical racist, leftist nonsense:


“Among African American males, one third to one fourth [are] caught up in the criminal justice system,” he noted, “so that the number of young men incarcerated exceeded the number enrolled in colleges and universities.” Obama called that situation a matter of “inequality up, trust in mutuality down.”
“It’s hard to imagine that the powerful in our society would tolerate the burgeoning prison industrial complex,” Obama claimed, “if they imagined that the black men and Latino men that are being imprisoned were something like their sons.”
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/03/obama-in-2002-wealthy-embrace-nonviolence-because-they-want-to-make-sure-folks-dont-take-their-stuff/#ixzz28OTLNHoI
Except guess what?  In many Western states, like Idaho, like Utah, most of the prison inmates are white men.  The powerful in these states would love to have a solution that would empty out the prisons, and not just because the inmates are "something like their sons."  There is a real interest in preventing these tragedies, by fixing the underlying causes of these problems, both because there is a very real human cost to the crimes that send people to prison, and because there is a very real economic cost to doing so.

And guess what?  The motivation for drug laws is exactly this desire to solve the underlying causes.  You may not think that drug laws are a good solution.  I think of them as a poor solution, but at the core, the support for drug laws is built on the desire to prevent teenagers and young adults from doing the incredibly stupid things that intoxication and addiction often causes: murder; rape; child abuse; aggravated assault; prostitution; traffic accidents; fraud; robbery; burglary.  You can disagree with the solution, without assuming that the motivations are the "prison industrial complex."

UPDATE: Let me emphasize that nonviolence as a strategy isn't just something that benefits "rich people" (by which, I suspect, State Senator Obama meant people that own their own homes, and own cars that don't need $2000 worth of repair to be emissions legal).  It benefits poor people as well, because the net effect of the enormous violence of inner city neighborhoods is suffering and poverty--but Obama, like other radicals, doesn't want to admit that the bulk of the violence problem in America isn't white racists, or rich capitalists, but young black men in poor neighborhoods killing each other, while robbing, raping, and brutalizing their black neighbors who are trying to make something of their lives.

The Most Awesome Yard Sign

Very effective, for those voters who are prepared to read this much:

Thanks to Urgent Agenda.

Is Oregon In Play?

Michael Barone at Washington Examiner says that there are reports that Obama is running TV ads on Portland, Oregon stations.  This is bizarre, at first glance.  Oregon should be a completely safe blue state:
It’s a state where public polling shows him Obama ahead of Mitt Romney—by 50%-41% in a September USAToday poll and 50%-42% in a Public Policy Polling poll in June. Obama carried Oregon 57%-40% in 2008, much better than John Kerry’s 51%-47% in 2004.
Every dollar spent advertising in a state where Obama has an easy win is a dollar not being spent in the swing states, like Ohio.  Is it possible that the Obama campaign is actually worried about Oregon?  Barone suggests that one possible reason is that:
someone in the Obama campaign somewhere are concerned that Libertarian party nominee Gary Johnson may cut into Obama’s vote in Oregon, which could make Mitt Romney competitive as George W. Bush was in 2000. After 2000 many left-leaning voters were wary of third party candidates like Nader, for fear that votes for them would elect a Republican. But Johnson differs from Nader in one important way: the former governor of New Mexico favors liberalizing the laws against marijuana.
And yes: Oregon is a pothead state.  A friend who lives there also points out that there are a lot more Mormons living in Oregon than many people realize--and while Mormons tend to be fairly conservative, having a Mormon running for President may increase turnout, and perhaps cause some of the somewhat liberal Mormons (yes, I run into them here in Idaho) to vote Republican this time around.

There's a comment at the article by someone who says that he is seeing pro-Obama ads on TV in New Jersey.  In New Jersey?  If that isn't safe, Obama is going down, clown.

I Could Almost Get Hopeful About November

Even in California, Romney was perceived as the winner, and by a large margin.  From October 3, 2012 CBS San Francisco:

Even more importantly — particularly in what is considered a ‘Blue’ state, where not surprisingly significantly more Democrats watched the debate than Republicans — it was striking that 48% thought Romney was the clear winner.
That’s according to aKPIX-TV CBS 5 poll taken right after the debate, which found only 34% of Golden State debate watchers actually believed Obama won.
Even better: the New York Times referred to his performance as "President Xanax."

What do you expect?  Obama can't talk without a teleprompter, because he lacks a decent education and any intelligence.  Beating McCain in the debate in 2008 wasn't much of a challenge.  Here he came up against someone with considerable skill and intelligence, and splat!  Even the left is admitting that their guy blew it.  Amazing!  The Lightworker isn't all that good!

I admit that debate skills aren't the only basis for deciding who should be President of the United States.  Other skills matter, such as the ability to write and pass a budget.  (Whoops!  Failed that four years in a row now, even when two of those years involved Democratic majorities in both houses.)  The ability to manage foreign policy competently.  (Whoops!)  The ability to enforce the laws fairly and impartially.  (Whoops!)  The ability to make progress on unemployment.  (Beyond whoops!)

Is there anything Obama can point to as a success, besides passing Obamacare, a law that a majority of Americans want to see either repealed in full or repealed in part?

An Inspiring Story

I work with someone who has one of those inspiring stories of starting out with everything going against him: the son of a black American GI and an Austrian woman after World War II.  He ended up in an orphanage that was primarily filled with other mulattoes for whom there was really no place in post-war Europe, eventually adopted by a white American couple (along with nine other mulatto kids).  He has an impressive collection of photos and what sounds like a pretty inspiring story of moving up in the world.  If I had any hope of finding a publisher, I would work with him on getting it written; by his own admission, he's not a great writer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Hope You Are All Enjoying Watching The Debate This Evening...

I am teaching Western Civilization tonight: fall of Rome, start of the Dark Ages, and the rise of Islam.

Or perhaps there isn't so much difference, after all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Need To Take The Personal Protection Course For Your Carry Permit?


NRA Personal Protection Handgun Course Sunday October 7th OR 13th 2012 Boise, Idaho 12 hour course 8am - 8pm




Course far exceeds Idaho State requirements for obtaining a Concealed Weapon License. Certificate recognized by all states as firearms training. Accepted by some Nevada Sheriffs for CCW license. $150 course fee includes NRA handbook, materials and NRA Course Completion certificate. Classes are small (8 at most). PAID advance registration by mailed check or charge card is required. Class is open to all citizens who have no felonies or other legal disabler. Liability Release form signature required. Includes Basic Handgun Safety, Familiarization, Hands-on Firearms Handling & Firing Instruction. Several hours will be spent on the firing range bringing student skills up to standards. Personal security & avoiding violent confrontations will be covered in depth. Idaho State Law involving firearms, concealed weapons, self-defense and after-event issues will be taught by a licensed Idaho attorney (a former deputy attorney general, prosecutor & defense attorney). A written test will be administered BRING: appropriate season clothing & hat, eye and ear protection and handgun (if you do not have a handgun, I have loaners, and can assist in choosing an appropriate defense firearm), 1 box of 50 rounds of target ammunition, Instructor may forbid any firearm he deems unsafe. Bring a lunch and drinks and snacks, a notepad and pen. Group classes, individual lessons available Website: www.TALLENHOOVER.com Email: NRAinstructor@tallenhoover.com T.Allen Hoover 208 631 3003 PO Box 6232 Boise ID 83707 Call for information on other upcoming NRA Basic Firearm Courses this Summer & Fall: NRA Personal Protection Handgun Course $150 NRA Basic Pistol Course $125 NRA Basic Rifle Course $125 NRA Home Firearms Safety Course $50
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Join the NRA, preserve your Constitutional Firearm Rights, discounted memberships available, call me







Firing Handguns Under Water

The Blaze has a couple of videos, one short, one long, showing what happens when you fire handguns under water, using high speed cameras.  Useful?  No.  Interesting?  Yes.

Very Busy Writing Java Swing Again

I managed to get the Java RMI sample working.  I am still trying to figure out why I can't start the server side from MyEclipse, but I can start the server from the command shell, and the client from MyEclipse.  Oddly enough, MyEclipse lets me set breakpoints in both the client and server code, and have it stop in both, even though the server is starting elsewhere.  I haven't spent anytime trying to understand while the breakpoints in the server are working; perhaps I should.

At this point, I have been coding Java Swing for the first time in many years, trying to create something elegant to produce the client-side facilities that are currently being handled very inelegantly by a really ugly combination of a browser, JSP, Struts, jQuery and a partridge in a pear tree.  I have forgotten how much more pleasant it is to write this stuff in a real language instead of this platypus of programming.

UPDATE: It turns out that I just needed to move the server and the client into separate Java projects.  The arguments, environment variables, etc. are associated with the project, so the settings that work for the server aren't going to work for the client.  Once I separated them, everything works as it should--and I am getting pretty ga-ga over this prospect! 

Unfortunately, the desktop that I use at work is suffering some sort of odd behavior that causes it to reboot about five minutes after I login.  I suspect some piece of malware is involved.  It's not hardware; our operations crew imaged the contents of my hard disk on to a different and much faster desktop, and the behavior is unchanged.  The failure shows up as blue screen with a complaint about a memory pool.  (Can't remember it off the top of my head, but our operations crew had no idea what it meant.)

Philadelphia Airport

I have an optional event in downtown Philly to attend at 7:00 PM on October 12--but my flight lands at PHL at 7:00 PM.  It looks like a 20 minute car drive, so a taxi should be able to get me there by 7:30 PM.  Anyone in Philly who wants to disabuse me of that notion?

I'm not checking anything, so I should be able to go directly from the gate to the taxis.  Yes, I had thought about bringing a pistol with me, but I'll either be in the presence of a bunch of heavily armed lawyers Friday night, in my hotel room, or in the presence of heavily armed lawyers most of Saturday.

It's a nuisance to transport handguns; you have to have it unloaded when you check it, with ammunition in closed boxes.  (And watching the way that the San Francisco International clerks responded when I opened up the gun case, you would think that I was checking my pet cobra.)  When you retrieve it at the far end, you have to wait until you are somewhere private to load magazines and then load the gun, so it is effectively useless to and from the airport.  (Yes, you could load and unload in the taxi, but this might lead to unpleasantness, and I would definitely not recommend it on mass transit.)

If only there was Hertz-Rent-A-Pistol at airports for travelers.  You show your concealed carry permit (valid for that state), have them run your credit card, and they issue you a Glock, S&W, or H&K already loaded with a holster.  When you get back to the airport, you hand back in your pistol, and they make sure that the magazines are full, or they charge you $2 a cartridge to clean and reload.