October 30, 2005

We Will Be There Anyway

Posted by TMLutas

Brian Dunn is a tad bitter about Russian/Iranian cooperation on satellite launches and speculates that when the Iranians decide to march north, we'll just sit on our hands.

Dunn gets some things right and a march north can make sense for Iran (if Iran's current government lasts a couple of decades while Russia weakens), we won't sit on our hands. Russia will do what Russia usually does in these circumstances. They'll raise the banner of Orthodoxy and Christendom and the US will respond.

The US will respond for two reasons. Orthodox allies like Romania will be saddling up, marching, and calling in their chits with the US. But the big prize for the US will be a chance to demonstrate that things have changed, that western christianity gives a damn about eastern and will provide solidarity when the chips are down.

I hope the scenario never plays out to see who's right but we absolutely won't sit on our hands.

October 27, 2005

Public Service Printers

Posted by TMLutas

Glenn Reynolds asks:

But what I'd really like is a wireless printer that will show up on any laptop in range, and print from any laptop in range, without having to load any software or drivers. That way guests, etc., could use it with a minimum of fuss. I don't think that's even possible with current operating systems. Am I wrong?

Glenn, you're wrong. You can do such a thing for your most likely laptop targets, Mac and Windows OS ones. It's not necessarily a bright idea though. Your only security would consist of the transmission strength of your wireless network. If it were too strong, you could have random strangers printing things to your network. If that's what you want, though, you certainly can do it. Whatever print server you're using would just have to have drivers loaded for all the OS targets you want to support. Computers routinely ask the print server if it has drivers for a strange printer and will load those drivers if they can.

What's really fun is the legal conundrum that you've set up. Setting up a system as a public service like this is supposed to be impossible. Let's say that somebody randomly came up to Glenn Reynold's front door, got a signal, and printed an advertisement on Glenn's printer. Right now, that would be a pretty stiff crime if the printer owner didn't want that print to happen but it would be just fine if the owner was ok about it. There is, however, no recognized way for the guy at the front door to examine the open network and determine whether he can use the network resource or not. You've essentially got a property that isn't posted against trespass but there is no reasonable way to knock on the front door without risking some pretty severe legal penalties.

October 25, 2005

Drink Up!

Posted by TMLutas

Death from cirhossis may be a thing of the past soon. Such good news will save countless lives including an awful lot of creative types who famously drink themselves to death. The cure isn't getting trumpeted widely in those same circles and it seems a curious thing. It's an Adult Stem Cell (ASC) cure, of course, as all the real practical work is turning out from the ASC research pathway.

Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research gets a tremendous amount of press but doesn't provide any real cures. ASC provides cures but gets little to no press coverage trumpeting its triumphs.

Curious. It's almost as if there were an agenda there...

October 23, 2005

Miers Stand

Posted by TMLutas

I oppose the Miers nomination. I came down finally in opposition when I read about TTLB's poll and figured I've got to get off the fence. She's probably a decent vote on Roe but Roe isn't the only problem facing the nation's judiciary and my feel is that Miers is actually worse than O'Conner on several of these issues. I'm not sure that she'd have come out as far against affirmative action as O'Conner did.

What's more, I don't think President Bush is going to get his nomination approved. The crony problem, the mishandling of her presentation to the Senate and the country at large both conspire to make her thin resume carry more weight. With so many better qualified nominees being held up or voted down in the blood sport that nominations have become, what justification is there for letting her get past? Fortunately, Miers is a loyalist. If she sees that her nomination is hurting the President, I think she can be counted on to do the right thing and withdraw.

October 20, 2005

And in my Day Job

Posted by TMLutas

Ah, I finally got OpenGroupware configured on RedHat Enterprise Linux 3. Unfortunately, the instructions to do it simply weren't adequate. I ended up running through three different sets of instructions and, by trial and error, finding out which ones worked for me and which ones didn't. Now I have my own set. Here they are for posterity:

1. Download RedHat Enterprise Linux v3 (get a 30 day free account if you don't have the budget for a subscription)
2. The 850 comes with a setup disk that handles RHEL 3. Use it. It won't work otherwise (drivers can't detect the disk which is why I'm not using Fedora Core and, yes, I know other people have made it work but Dell changes hardware inside a model and it doesn't work right now).
3. Test the media. It's tempting to skip the step but I'm losing time right now because I didn't.
4. Install yum:
A. Install urlgrabber from here and don't forget to unpack the tarball, cd into it, and then execute python setup.py bdist_rpm
b. Install python-elementtree
c. Install sqlite
d. Install sqlite-devel (optional, but I did it)
e. Install python-sqlite
f. Install python-celementtree
g. Install the actual yum package by downloading, unpacking (tar -xzf), and then going over to /usr/src/redhat/SPECS, building the rpm (rpmbuild -ba), and installing (rpm -Uvh /usr/src/redhat/RPMS/noarch/).

5. Install postgresql, which RedHat has annoyingly renamed Red Hat Database (rhdb). Make sure the postgresql server rpm is installed.
6. Follow the installation instructions for postgres OGO for the most part. On my install, it was looking for all lower case letters on the db and the ogo user.
7. change the pg_hba.conf to accept tcp/ip connections as per here

local all all trust
host all all trust
host all all reject

This is not a secure setup. We're going to have to go back here later to make it secure.

8. download the red hat OGO rpms here and follow the instructions. I downloaded Third Party, Sope, and OpenGroupware and downloaded it to /root/ogo. I then cd to it and rpm -Uvh *.rpm installs the whole enchilada.

9. One of the things downloaded is the database schema so go back to the database install instructions and get your schema up.

$ pushd /usr/local/lib/opengroupware.org-1.0a/commands/OGo.model
$ psql -h localhost ogo ogo
Welcome to psql 7.3.3, the PostgreSQL interactive terminal.
Type: \copyright for distribution terms
\h for help with SQL commands
\? for help on internal slash commands
\g or terminate with semicolon to execute query
\q to quit
OGo=> \i Resources/pg-build-schema.psql
[output cut]
OGo=> \q

10. You're going to have to log in to ogo. This account, in my case was set to nologin. Set it up for bash (I used the KDE gui tool users and groups for this).
11. su - ogo from root and then type in Defaults read to see if the Defaults are set correctly. In my case they were not. The LSAdaptor was set to PostgreSQL72 when it needed to be PostgreSQL (ie no version number).
12. You need to adjust ownership because you're running as ogo but you installed as root. The problem is that the LSAttachmentPath directory isn't writable. That's bad. The following code fixes the problem.

chgrp ogo /var/spool/opengroupware.org
chgrp ogo /var/spool/opengroupware.org/documents
chgrp ogo /var/spool/opengroupware.org/news
chmod 775 /var/spool/opengroupware.org
chmod 775 /var/spool/opengroupware.org/documents
chmod 775 /var/spool/opengroupware.org/news

This should result in a working install on RHEL 3, OGo 1.1

Next on the hit parade, Windows account integration, but that will be a different article.

October 18, 2005

The Flu is not Overhyped

Posted by TMLutas

Instapundit passes on a reader remark.

As a medical researcher, I want to make a gentle but sincere plea to the blogosphere to calm down this flu hysteria just a bit. The main way that flu kills is by predisposing its victims to "superinfection" by bacterial illnesses - in 1918, we had no antibiotics for these superimposed infections, but now we have plenty. Such superinfections, and the transmittal of flu itself, were aided tremendously by the crowded conditions and poor sanitation of the early 20th century - these are currently vastly improved as well. Flu hits the elderly the hardest, but the "elderly" today are healthier, stronger, and better nourished than ever before. Our medical infrastructure is vastly better off, ranging from simple things like oxygen and sterile i.v. fluids, not readily available in 1918, to complex technologies such as respirators and dialysis. Should we be concerned? Sure, better safe than sorry, and concerns about publishing the sequence are worth discussing. Should we panic? No - my apologies to the fearmongers, but we will never see another 1918.

Patrick Cunningham M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Section of Nephrology
University of Chicago

No matter the method of flu death in the hypothetical, the reality is that we've got a bug that, in its limited spread to human populations, has a 55% mortality rate. These are real corpses and not theoretical deaths prevented by magical medical infrastructure.

If it retains that virulence, vast swathes of humanity will fall. They will fall in the Gap because there's no money, no infrastructure, no medicine available. They'll fall in the Core too, because we're going to run out of things. A rampaging flu virus is going to cause a huge surge demand in a field that Core-wide has come under either partial or full socialism, whether de-facto or de-jure. We've been eating our seed corn on the medical front for a long time now and we don't really know how bad the rot has progressed.

The truth is that we simply are not going to know how bad the flu is until it actually mutates and we know its characteristics. If its virulence is undiminished and its transmission follows standard human flu patterns, the statistics give pause. According to this CDC FAQ sheet:

Each flu season is unique, but it is estimated that, on average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu, and more than 200,000 persons are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. About 36,000 Americans die on average per year from the complications of flu.

Translating out from an estimated 300,000,000 residents of the US:
5% roughly equals 15,000,000
20% roughly equals 60,000,000
The normal human flu mortality rate is 0.06% to 0.24%
A mortality rate of 55% which is what we're getting with H5N1 would equal a US death toll of range of 8,250,000 to 11,000,000 if its virulence was unabated but its transmissability was brought up to H3N2 standards through random mutation or nihilistic genetic engineering.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that our medical system is going to save 90% of the deaths that would otherwise occur. That's 825,000 to 1.1 million dead and tens of millions in hospital. Do we have the beds? Do we have the home care substitutes? The logistics of saving these large numbers is daunting. We're not ready. We're not even close.

Yay! I'm back

Posted by TMLutas

Thanks to Bruce Rolston, (my blogfather) for fixing the little technical hiccup that's kept me from blogging the past few days.

October 13, 2005

Open Source Gets a Process

Posted by TMLutas

One of the weaknesses that has traditionally dogged the OSS field is that there are a number of important but nontechnical issues in developing software. These have tended to lag and the lags bring down the whole enterprise. Really good fonts is one example. Another example is in development process. It really is so bad that I played with the idea of reimplementing a really good one. Finally, software development process has gotten a major corporate boost. IBM is donating one of the best process systems out there, the Rational Unified Process to the OSS community. That's going to drive software development professionalism to greater heights across a wide variety of projects. The funny thing is, this is the very process that I had seriously considered reimplementing.

Kudos to IBM, Capgemini, BearingPoint, Covansys, Number Six Software, Ivar Jacobson International, Armstrong Process Group, Ambysoft, Object Mentor and Bedarra Research Labs, as well as Unisys, NTT Comware, Sogeti, Wind River, Jaczone and Object Management Group who are going forward with this project.

October 09, 2005

Arab Special Forces go to War

Posted by TMLutas

It seems that arab opportunists are smelling a shift in the wind and supporting Iraqi and Afghan governments by secretly sending special forces in support. This spells doom for the insurgencies as unofficial support routes for them largely depend on those same governments. Nobody's amused if their secret aid to rebels chews up their secret deployments of their most capable troops. The money will slow and stop as financial controls will against the rebels follow troop deployments.

It's one more in a growing list of signs that we're winning in these two fronts of the GWOT.

October 07, 2005

A Muppet Twosome

Posted by TMLutas

Thanks to the Anarchangel I found the What Muppet are you quiz.

I always liked Rowlf and now I know why:

rowlf jpeg
You are Rowlf.
You are a loner, and love classical music, You can
play the piano without opposable thumbs. Then
again, you are just a Muppet.

Ol' Brown Ears
Piano playing, punning, fetching.

"My bark is worse than my bite, and my piano
playing beats 'em both."

"The Dogfather"


"I've Never Harmed An Onion, So Why Should
They Make Me Cry?"

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

What was really fun was my wife took it too. Here are her results:

You are Kermit the Frog.
You are reliable, responsible and caring. And you
have a habit of waving your arms about

"Hi ho!" "Yaaay!" and
"How Green Was My Mother"

"Surfin' the Webfoot: A Frog's Guide to the

Sitting in the swamp playing banjo.

"Hmm, my banjo is wet."

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

October 05, 2005

Hardly a Difference Between Taliban and Current Afghanistan

Posted by TMLutas

I picked up The Peking Duck into my regular blog reading because I think I should get more information about the PRC in my news diet. The header of the comments page was really optimistic:

Note to commenters: All viewpoints are tolerated. Comments will never be deleted or edited except in cases of blatant disrespect or maliciousness as determined by the site owner. Thank you for commenting.

Unfortunately, the actual policy doesn't follow the header. I'm banned. I still read the thing and occasionally try to comment on the odd chance that the ban might be lifted. Sigh, to no avail so far. Anyway, this article on Afghanistan got my fire up. Under the Taliban, articles critical of sharia were a quick way to commit suicide. Now, they're an entry into a slow, deliberate judicial process to determine whether a crime against the state religion was committed, something you might have easily seen in 19th century England.

My rejected comment below:

A US that were imperialist, colonialist, would be a miserable failure if this is the result of our imposed government in Afghanistan. A US that is trying to set up a process whereby real governments, chosen by Afghans, start the long process of reconciliation with the modern world would view the Karzai government as a success.

Ultimately, the lash punishments will fall if the people want them to in a free Afghanistan. The forces that support such punishments would have already killed the author and possibly the publisher of the magazine in question. Today, they're submitting the article for the government to decide whether charges should be filed. If you can hardly see a difference between the two, get better glasses.

October 04, 2005

The RNC, Unindicted Coconspirator?

Posted by TMLutas

I just read the newest indictment of Tom Delay. I can't say why people are so excited about Tom Delay's indictment when the real news is that the Republican National Committee is essentially named as an undicted coconspirator.

The sentance is absurdly long but essentially breaks down to here is a conspiracy, here are some conspirators, and here is a list of people who committed overt acts in furtherance of the conspiratorial agreement. The key segment is below:

...the defendant, John Dominick Colyandro, the defendant, James Walter Ellis, and the Republican National Committee, did perform an overt act in pursuance of the agreement.

Funny enough, the list of people/groups that did overt acts that furthered the conspiracy does not include Tom Delay. The RNC, by the logic of the indictment, should be viewed as more culpable than Delay.

It is absurd that in this highly charged, cutthroat media environment, nobody seems to be covering this aspect, that a Texas state prosecutor has said that the RNC committed overt acts in furtherance of a felony and essentially is calling it an unindicted coconspirator in money laundering. How the court views the charge is yet to be seen (I suspect this indictment, like the last one, will not last long but we'll see) but that the RNC is named in the indictment but nobody covers it screams absolute media irresponsibility.

Donald Sensing's Missing the Changes

Posted by TMLutas

Donald Sensing thinks that GWB is Carteresque in that he's full of ideas but none of those ideas are long term or last much beyond January 2009.


Here's what I left in comments:

President Bush's most lasting legacy will be in very unsexy, nuts and bolts areas of the government. You have to go looking for this sort of thing and the news media isn't helping. Here's a few far reaching changes:

1. We now have an education system that actually tests for competence in a way that parents can use to judge spending effectiveness
2. We are committed to eliminating treatment favoritism in old age medical care. We used to subsidize expensive surgery and not subsidize cheap pills. Now we're moving to an even-handed system.
3. We're committed to forcing the medical profession to get out of the 1980s with their technology usage and, over the next 8 years (it's a ten year plan started 2 years ago) squeeze out enormous costs by reducing paperwork through automation
4. We're completely redoing the DoD personnel system in a way that will very much reduce the social pain of military life creating better soldiers in the bargain.
5. In fact, we're redoing the entire DoD in a way that hasn't been done since its creation (see Tom Barnett's recent Esquire interview with Rumsfeld)
6. The Government Accounting Office is now the Government Accountability Office and is starting to act like it.

There are others but I'm saving it for a blog post

All throughout the government, throughout every government, in fact, the big problem has been that feedback loops are either nonexistent or seriously distorted, not fulfilling their proper role of moderating bad behavior and encouraging good. In fact, what feedback loops exist are more often just the reverse, encouraging the most perverse sort of behavior. "If you solve a problem, you lose your job" creates an ethic of making sure that no problems are ever actually solved. The proposition that this can ever be fully fixed is a central tenet of communism and the proposition that this can never be fully fixed is a central tenet of capitalism as well as conservatism.

This does not mean that all governments are doomed to the same level of incompetence. George W Bush is our first MBA president and all jokes aside about his intellectual skills, the man is working hard at creating a government system that is much better at imitating free market feedback loops than it was when he arrived in office. Those reforms are not sexy, they're not generally covered by the media, but they'll be paying benefits for the american people for decades out in the future.

October 03, 2005

Hot off the Presses

Posted by TMLutas

correction: It looks like There are multiple Exodus ministries. Bush's pick seems to have served with this one which targets ex-prisoners for help. The ministry work is still satisfying for social conservatives but not explosive at all for liberals. This definitely pushes the nomination over into the "stealth nominee" category.

President Bush's nominee for the USSC, Harriet Miers is being sold as a stealth nominee, with no appreciable record and an example of President Bush ducking controversy in his weakened political state. Don't believe it. Her bio says otherwise.

So far, only The American Thinker has caught on, at least as far as web available media outlets go. Miers sat on the board of Exodus Ministry some time ago. Unless there's another Exodus ministry with a different area of activity and it's all a big mix up, a firestorm of controversy is guaranteed. Andrew Sullivan will need to adjust his meds. Exodus Ministry specializes in helping homosexuals choose heterosexuality.

It's very unclear how economic conservatives fared in this pick but social conservatives have a great deal of cause to put on a small smile and gird themselves for a huge upcoming battle.

A product of BruceR and Jantar Mantar Communications, and affiliated contributors. Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's half-informed viewpoint on the world.

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