Saturday, June 26, 2004

Joe Biden

Joseph Biden's confrontation with Ashcroft over the administration's apparent views on torture was priceless (I've got the .avi from the Daily Show treatment if anyone with broadband wants me to send 'em a copy). The quotes below from a Rolling Stones round table (pointed out by Kevin Drum) are even better:
Surely the Abu Ghraib prison scandal didn't help. Should Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or other Bush officials resign?
Biden: I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, "Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not." And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, "Mr. Vice President, I wouldn't keep you if it weren't constitutionally required." I turned back to the president and said, "Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they've been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they've given you. That's why I'd get rid of them, Mr. President -- not just Abu Ghraib." They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me.

Has the war at least produced a new respect for American military power?
Biden: The perception of us is that if we don't succeed, we're a paper tiger. We can project power, but we don't have staying power. The Bush administration has seriously damaged the legitimate and necessary role of power in our foreign-policy arsenal. What happens if we have another Milosevic? Will there be support for a U.S. president in taking down a genocidal maniac? No.

In the near term, is a change of administrations the best way out of the quagmire?
Biden: About six months ago, the president said to me, "Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead." I said, "Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one's following. Nobody."

Has he always been this dead-on and I haven't been paying attention? Or is this new stuff?

Friday, June 25, 2004


I'm not offended that Vice President Evil Cyborg told Pat Leahy to "go fuck himself". I'm offended that Vice President Evil Cyborg told Pat Leahy to "go fuck himself" after his boss's chief of staff Andrew Card nearly wet himself when John Kerry used the same word to describe the current administration's Iraq policy.

I'm not offended that divorce records show that Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan allegedly tried on a number of occasions to get his now ex-wife Jeri (7-of-9) to go to sex clubs with him. I'm offended that with that kind of messy divorce he could say the following in support of the "Defense of Marriage Act":
"The breakdown of the family over the past 35 years is one of the root causes of some of our society’s most intractable social problems-criminal activity, illegitimacy, and the cyclical nature of poverty.

As an elected leader, my interest will be in promoting laws and educating people about the fundamental importance of the traditional family unit as the nucleus of our society."

I'm not offended by the appearance that the Preznit is an evil, boozing, draft-dodging, ignorant lying sack of doggie doo. That's pretty much what I expected. I'm offended that this same apparently evil, boozing, draft-dodging ignorant lying sack of doggie doo ran in 2000 to "restore dignity to the White House".

I understand that people aren't perfect. I understand that people have bad days. I understand that people have views that differ from mine. But I don't like hypocrites. Nosir, I don't like 'em one bit.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

"So, what do you do?"

Got my hair cut yesterday - normally that wouldn't be a big deal but I was about six weeks overdue and thought I was going to be going out of town next week and my long-time cutter Jorge is on vacation and breaking in new cutters has been a traumatic experience since I first started wearing my hair a little longer in junior high and got hack jobs a couple of times, so it was. But it turned out to be fine and Carl did a great job and now I can save about 10 minutes of getting-ready time in the morning and all is right with the world. This is all getting around to the conversation I had with Carl, which began with "So what do you do?"

Jesus H. Christ - don't ask me that!! I have never known how to adequately answer that question. When I first graduated and went to work for IBM, my standard response was either "I do computer stuff" or "I play keyboards". The former I could usually get away with because while most people kinda knew what a computer was, they had no real idea what people did to support them. A vague answer like that was perfectly acceptable. For people that really did know about computer support, like Mom or my uncle Ted, then I could comfortably expand on that to talk about IBM mainframes and SNA networking and a whole host of other acronyms. The latter was my smart-ass answer, refering to most of my day being spend at the keyboard of an IBM 3278 green-screen terminal attached via an IBM 3274 controller to a cluster of IBM mainframes, mostly 3081s and 3084s, although I'm old enough that when I first started working we still had an old S370/168 that we were supporting. I'm sure that for most of you, your brains locked up as soon as I started spouting out model numbers and acronyms - hence the problem. Unless you knew what SNA, VTAM, JCL, NCCF, NCP, MVS, TSO, JES, etc. meant, there wasn't a lot I could tell you that would illuminate "what I do" any more than "I do computer stuff".

Much later, after moving from mainframe support to Unix server support to managing people who provide Unix server support, it got both harder and easier to answer that question. By that time lots more people used some kind of personal computer at work, some were starting to get them into their homes and suddenly everyone was a frickin' computer expert. Which now meant that they still had at best a vague idea of what it was that I did, but they were sure they knew much more about it than they really did.

Then I changed jobs to one that was probably the hardest to describe (and was mercifully shortlived). There was a period of time when the IT infrastructure support and management was "sold" internally within the company I was working for - instead of mandating its use by all the businesses in the company, we basically had to compete with groups that were providing their own support as a sideline to their real job. That meant we needed sales reps - "account managers". Let me tell you, that was NOT a role that I was particularly adept at, but even worse it made the answer to the question "so what do you do?" almost impossible for me to answer in any meaningful way without spending at least a half hour describing the company structure and corporate culture and a whole lot of ridiculousness that still probably wouldn't mean anything to anyone. Hell, we didn't really understand it ourselves.

So now, I manage people that do computer stuff. More specifically I manage a team of people across a number of sites in the US and Canada that engineer computing solutions and install Windows servers and Unix servers for our customer. That means I'm part people manager, part troubleshooter, part customer service rep, part workflow manager, part budget manager, part technology planner, part contracts expert (hah!) and almost entirely interupt-driven. For all the technology out there, I really use four things every day (almost every minute of every workday): e-mail client, web browser, instant messenger and Microsoft Excel. Sure, there's some Powerpoint thrown in and on rare occasions a need to use Word, but it's primarily those four. And a phone. Since almost no one that I work with on a regular basis is in the same town as I am, I get to do all this from home, which is something else that's sometimes hard to explain. So how the hell do I answer that question?

Carl: "So what do you do?"

Tony: "I do computer stuff."

Carl: "Oh, okay. Cool. Good that we're getting some rain, huh?"

John Kerry is cool!

Okay, you can tell I'm really not in the mood to write today if I'm stooping to not just quoting other blogs, but quoting comments to other blogs, but this was choice!

In The Poor Man's Veepstakes post, which is well worth a read in its entirety, we get the comment:
Yeah, Kerry is in a lot of ways that really cool uncle/older cousin that had a band back then and can totally dig your guitar playing and he snowboards 'nstuff but not because he thinks it will make him look cool but because he enjoys the thrill in a way that makes you feel ashamed about the time you didn't want to go down those rapids 'cause they looked too scary and you didn't think he would go down 'em either but he said "are you kidding me? You're gonna pass this up? Not me!," so you did it any way and you're really glad you did but then there was the time you and your friend tripped balls and your friend freaked out and you had no where else to go so you went over to his house because you thought it would be cool but it wasn't and he helped your friend come down but the next morning he talked to the both of you about how dangerous drugs could be and that while he wasn't going to tell anybody's parents, he was extremely disappointed and had thought better of you and instead of getting the 1.5, like you did the semester before, you got a 3.25 and over the summer as a reward he invited you to Nantucket but you weren't sure about it because you were kind of weirded out by his new wife because you had never met her and she was some kind of heiress or something but then you meet her and she's refreshingly devoid of bullshit and lampoons the pretensions of other rich people that you meet and you have the time of your life and for awhile you resent your parents for not being them but then you realize what unique people they are and they inspire you to carve out your own niche in the world, who the fuck knows what could happen?


Posted by Carpbasman at June 24, 2004 02:13 AM
I'll get back to actually writing in a day or two...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Worst Attorney General ever?

I know, you're wondering why the question mark is even there...

Paul Krugman must have had a terrific vacation and come back tanned and rested. His column today in the NYTimes is one of his best - I don't say this very often, but you really should read it. In discussing the apparently non-newsworthy find in April of a cache automatic weapons, pipe bombs and chemical weapons in Texas and the subsequent arrest of a right-winger in connection with it, Krugman rightly asks:
More important, is Mr. Ashcroft neglecting real threats to the public because of his ideological biases?
In comparing this to the Jose Padilla case, that would certainly be the conclusion I'd draw. And further:
Even in the fight against foreign terrorists, Mr. Ashcroft's political leanings have distorted policy. Mr. Ashcroft is very close to the gun lobby — and these ties evidently trump public protection. After 9/11, he ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. All government lists, that is, except one: he specifically prohibited the F.B.I. from examining background checks on gun purchasers.

Mr. Ashcroft told Congress that the law prohibits the use of those background checks for other purposes — but he didn't tell Congress that his own staff had concluded that no such prohibition exists. Mr. Ashcroft issued a directive, later put into law, requiring that records of background checks on gun buyers be destroyed after only one business day.
At least he's going to protect us from naked statues and pr0n...

Monday, June 21, 2004

Lord of the Rings as written by others

I've been too busy the last couple of weeks to keep up with some of my blogreading, so this one escaped me until now. Teresa has a link back to a compendium of selections from The Lord of the Rings if it was written by other authors, as in e. e. cummings
the ring being Brand
-new;and you
know consequently a
little big i was
careful of it and(having
thoroughly shined the elvish
script checked my pocket felt of
its chain made sure it was around my neck O.

K.)i went right to it jammed-it-on my finger straight …
and Lennon and McCartney,
Once there was a way to get to Mordor
Hope there’ll be a way to get back home
Sleep Master Frodo, do not cry
And I will watch for Uruk-hai
Part of the fun is figuring out who the "writer" is, so I won't include anymore (the two above were obvious enough that I don't think I ruined them for anyone). I think my favorites are 4, 11 and 15. Check 'em out!

(One more - you figure this one out)
Oh, the quest is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
To destroy this cursed ring!
Oh no, I've gone too far,
I put it on.

That's me going to Mordor
That's me in the Eye's sight
Losing my One Ring
Trying to keep up my strength
And I don't know if I can do it.
Oh no, I've done too much,
I haven't done enough.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Happy Pappy's Day, Daddy-dude!

I sometimes get the impression that there are very few people in the world that have yet to meet my father. And I'd be willing to bet that 99.99% of those that have met him would tell you that they like him. Dad's one of the best salesmen I've ever encountered and I always got the impression that it was because he sold himself rather than a product. Within five minutes of meeting him, his customers just knew that he wasn't going to sell them something they didn't need and that he'd back up what he sold - and they were right. That's the difference between one sale and a lifetime of sales. I also listened to him talk about managing people as I was growing up - what I've applied to my own management style is treating people like people rather than "direct reports" as long as they will let you and being astute enough to understand when they've stopped letting you by taking advantage of your trust. I think I'm a better manager, a better friend and a better human being for having had Dad's example.

None of that explains why the whole time I was growing up he cheated like a son of a bitch every time we played a game! [grin] It didn't matter whether it was checkers, Monopoly, Rack-o, basketball, tennis or poker (for chips, of course), he'd break any rule he could get away with. I don't think it was having to win (although I do note that once I started catching him, then started beating him, that he didn't want to play anymore) - I think getting away with it was the fun part of the game. I can hear him now:
[indignant sputter] What the hell are you talking about?! I never cheated in my life!
Yeah, well, Dad - comment field is below, so you have the right to defend yourself... if you dare! I'll grant him this - I have never, ever known Dad to cheat if there was money or anything of real consequence on the line. Just pride (usually mine).

So a big happy Father's Day to a great man, a great dad, a great yellow-dog Democrat, a great Carolina fan and a great friend. Just watch him like a hawk if you're playing for funsies... :)