March 31, 2007


(written in response to a blank space, titled with the military not-joke FRONT TOWARD ENEMY)


Injection molded plastic, soldiers' arms of blood and sinew, blood accepting antibiotic mold injected via plastic into veins. Try to save the flesh and bone, hands moving in the frantic dance with fingers that must needs weep for you; there is no water nor time to spare. Sulfa here, powdered chitin packed within the rubbery confines of the wound lines where it will expand and seal.

The destinations waver in the heat. The front, the rear; they switch off in the haze above the LZ with the slickness of a dollar slot spin. The gear or the fear. Two steps forward, three steps back?

Shouting in the twilight heat, with staccato sounds of gunfire for emphasis. There are chittering noises out there as well, the mechs swarming over the barricades into the streams of wavering projectiles. Metal meets metal, and plastic, and ceramics; mechanical physics equations solve themselves into showers of fragments and toppling shapes intermingled with screams of pain, fear, malfunctioning systems.

The dustoff is almost complete. Heavylift flitters loft suddenly from the sand, cargo of bleeding patchwork humans nestled in their bellies, turning on columns of fan thrust to head for the illusion of safety back behind the wall of interdiction. CP fire laces the darkening sky, missing the unlit shapes by grace of surely absent Gods; the medevacs drop back to hug the terrain, slide out of sight. The position no longer important, soldiers begin to filter back through the clearing, flowing around the edges, retreating back into the foothills now that the wounded have been taken off. Shouts and commands, whispers of comlink traffic, occasional slicing phosporescence of tracer fire across the crushed and flattened sawgrass. Somewhere back in the direction of the hastily-erected breastworks they abandon, there comes the rising sound of mechanical destruction as the barricades are pulled down by swarms of small and cheap machines.

There are two stretchers on the field near the rubble and the imprints left by the flitters. One is empty, handles broken; one is occupied, a form still under foil blankets huddled waiting for the flight that has come and gone. Soldiers grimace as they pass, unable to help or even stop to check the abandoned husk; survival has all their moments now. Fingers absently gathering what they can from the scattered supplies, the 14th Detechnic Rangers pass through the LZ on their way to the denser scrub of the foothills where the machines have trouble moving quietly, silently; where the flicker and the mode clash with the simple silence of the trees. Humans can tap the silent years, move back inside their heads; brachiate if required, carrying their technology, but the machines - the machines are still baffled by kudzu and by wet rot, by fungus and fallen logs.

The soldiers move out, past the last of the concrete. Machinery moves in behind them, reaches the clearing; sensors myriad and varied lock on the stretcher lying near the center. There is a pause as a last human noncom pauses by the shape, startles; makes an aborted gesture towards it, but then pauses. Looks back, sees the silent mass of machines, and with a snarl both silent and streaked with tears turns and lopes for the clearing's edge, weapons clutched. The scavengers move in, analogues of exultation in their chittering flow, to surround the corpse and the bundles of equipment that it lies within.

Two command nodes, rare this far out from City Center and precious, await the quieting of the clearing, approach to evaluate the find. The scavengers have begun to cart away small packages from the piles, moving aside cardboard and cloth in their search, but none have disturbed the body. There is nothing there the machines need save perhaps information, and the command nodes will interpret that - remote units scavenging for them as they wait at the edge of the clearing, now, small shapes scurrying towards the blanket with lights and manipulators. Clacking eagerness, orders, maps, even unit identification; all will tell a tale.

The blanket comes back from the torso. Blood is smeared across the chest and face; the eyes are closed, the expression one of pain and anger at the last. The remotes confer, line up, and push to roll the body up onto its side-

It rotates slowly, face coming into direct view of the command nodes parked some twenty meters back, awaiting the contents of its pockets with cold patience. As it turns fully on its side, the eyes-

The eyes open, click.


A line, a neat line, of plastic shapes, olive drab, lined up along its leg as the blanket is whipped away; one hand gripped tight, and then a rictus smile-


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Welcome home, chickens. Roosts are this way.

Cheney, Wade, Cunningham, oh my.

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March 29, 2007

I have found my new source of all things news.

Between gems of reportage such as this and this, why go anywhere else? Especially with the most excellent photo editing.

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Minority Rights and the GOP

If anyone ever starts mumbling about 'voter fraud' in your presence, make them go read this. If they start spluttering defensive talking points, start hunting for a large bat.

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March 23, 2007


BAM. Need me a flat white box now.

I have to wonder if Apple is planning on doing something deviousweasel like doing a filesystem checksum a lá Tripwire during firmware updates, or just vacuuming out unauthorized add-on files (like Perian).

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I really just don't know what to say.

Pat Tillman's death was tragic. It was also a story of chaos and error and perhaps, we may find out, darker overtones; but it is a story that is repeated over and over again when we send soldiers into combat. Creating the conditions in which the likelihood of events like this becomes almost a statistical certainty is part and parcel of what makes war. Managing that chaos and uncertainty, that confusion and danger which can make things like this happen better than your opponent is one (some would say the only) way to prevail in war. Turning loose the conditions themselves, though, is what war is.

The message that I take away from the recent investigation into the circumstances of his death, however, is a somewhat grimly mixed one. On the one hand, a soldier's death is investigated with an eye towards preventing other such incidents and discovering if error or malfeasance was present; I approve wholeheartedly. But the headlines telling us that multiple officers, including general officers will be held accountable for a tactical encounter in the field makes me wonder - where are the general officers and policy makers who directly soiled my country's military and my country's honor at Abu Ghraib? Where are their indictments?

I guess the message is clear. If a football player dies in the darkened field on your watch under suspicious circumstances, the hammer of God will descend. But torture Iraqis by direction under klieg lights all you want.

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The White House, email and Obstruction of Justice?

CREW has a post up which starts off speculating on possible Presidential involvement in the decisionmaking to fire the US Attorneys of recent attention and fuss. It moves on, however, into something I personally find more interesting - the possibility that the White House has been using non-governmental email systems in order to avoid the specific requirements of the Presidential Records Act. In this particular case, they note the possible use of the domain (owned by the GOP) by Karl Rove's office to coordinate the plan to replace the USAttys.

As the PRA does not specify penalties for its violation, CREW notes, this may have caused the WH to become 'cavalier' about flouting its requirements. However (and here's where it gets interesting) if the US Attorneys who were being replaced were in the midst of pursuing cases involving government officials, then (CREW says) a case could be made that the explicit use of non-archived email systems despite a mandate for the President's staff to do so might be taken as obstruction of justice. If at any point it became necessary to investigate the motivation behind their removal, it seems to me, the deliberate use of non-archived email systems to discuss the process, in violation of requirements otherwise, seems like a bit of a problem.

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Quick, nail up the mail slot!

...Mom's cat has apparently spawned again. Must...not...allow...intrusion......must resist...CUTENESS....

Seriously. I've reached maximum cat density.

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AppleTV, I don't have one, and no, I haven't ordered one. I'm waiting for the inevitable blog post which explains how, precisely, to get DivX codecs installed on the thing. Then the credit card comes slashing down with the whistling ring of multiply-folded Damascus steel through sinew and flesh.

Recent posts stating that the thing runs a stripped version of OS X give me hope that there will be a sneaky way to just dump the QT codec on there somehow.

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March 22, 2007

Deep wisdom lulz

MySpace, the real definition.

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March 21, 2007

Texas, Texas, Texas.

The New Gig has me in Houston. I almost got run over by what I vote to be one of the most futuristic looking rapid transit systems ever. I was all set to be really impressed with it.

Then I checked the map.

Ah. It doesn't really go anywhere; it just looks good all day.


Still, the whole 'the fountains turn off to let the train slide through them' thing is neat-o.

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March 13, 2007

Thank you for playing, Mr. Thurrott.

Paul Thurrott, never one to miss a deflating riposte at Mac news, informs us that Bloomberg ranking Apple #5 in retail shipments in 1/07 is a 'pointless exercise' because the scores don't count direct sales. As he reminds us, Dell (which is the number one or two producer of machines in the U.S.) sells only through direct, which is what makes this list (and Apple's placement on it) silly.

This may be true.

It should be noted, however, that the list reflects Apple's shipment of laptops through its retail points of presence. According to the Apple guidance conference call for Q4 '06, 54% of Apple's sales were direct and not through the retail channel.

This is also a meaningless number; we don't know whether that is in units, dollars, what sort, whether it was biased towards the December holiday, etc. On the other hand, it certainly means that the number of Apple laptops sold and counted in that Bloomberg study is less than the total number of Apple laptops sold and shipped in January '07, which also might have some impact on where Apple fits on the list.

Does Thurrott think this is relevant? Or did he think of it?

Apparently not.

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The Business Model is Litigation.

Viacom makes it quite clear that its business model no longer (if it ever did) includes selling its product to consumers who want to buy it. Realistically, to get past the 10-minute clip limit, this 'content' is mostly the famous 150,000 music video properties that they sent cease-and-desist letters for after identifying them through a sloppy-ass regexp. The problem I have with this is that the quality of those clips was really for ass, and all those clips did was stoke up my nostalgia to the point where I started actively hunting for ways to purchase the ones I liked on DVD. Note that these were videos I hadn't thought about in fifteen years or more.

Of course, my hunt was doomed to failure. There wasn't any way to buy the content in nearly all cases.

Viacom has the opportunity to extract money from me, money neither it nor anyone else would have gotten had those videos not been posted, by simply figuring out how to put a 'BUY IT FROM US NOW' link on the video pages on YouTube. But rather than do that, they've apparently decided it's easier to sue YouTube for a billion dollars or so - apparently while also negotiating to put their content on some other service. That other service, though, is one I've never fucking heard of and still can't remember the name of. Nor have any of the other fifteen friends I was excitedly reminiscing about those videos with over IM.

Which means, of course, that either they're going to have to spend an awful lot of advertising money to make us aware of that new service, or simply accept that the fifteen of us (moderately affluent, impulse-spending, digital-happy types) are just going to regretfully decide not to buy any music video content over the web.


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March 9, 2007

What would I do with fuck-you money?

Someone asked me this a couple of days ago while they were buying a ticket for the recent massive lottery, which I had just called a 'statistics impairment tax.' At the time, I shrugged, but then just now I saw this.


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March 4, 2007

Losing Neurons

What bothers me most about this test is that I've taken it three times, separated by at least 24 hours between tests, and each time I've missed one. The worst part is that it's always been a different one.

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March 3, 2007

It's not my fault.

Well, okay, it is, but I was led astray by bad example.


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