Cultural Weapons of Mass Distraction

by Terry 4/28/2008 11:25:00 AM

It is interesting how little effort may actually be needed to make an impact. The power in the weapon (Cultural Weapons of Mass Distraction) is implied in the comments made by the Iranian officials and clerics.

Official sees "destructive" Barbie influence
<snip> TEHRAN (Reuters) - Imports of Barbie dolls and other Western toys will have destructive cultural and social consequences in Iran, the Islamic Republic's top prosecutor was quoted as saying on Monday.</snip>

<snip>Najafabadi, a high-ranking cleric, said Iran was the world's third biggest importer of toys and suggested this posed a threat to the "personality and identity" of the new generation."The unrestrained entry of this sort of imported toys ... will bring destructive cultural and social consequences in their wake," he wrote.</snip>

Cultural Weapons of Mass Distraction are imported into Iran, with no apparent influence from the western governments. Even if there were western government influence, it would be hard for the majority of the UN membership nations to see any kind of toy give-away as a declaration of war. If I had any control over Western Europe, I would start funding a toys-to-the-middle-east program as long-term insurance from immigration.

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Opinion

X-Prize for animal-free meat

by Terry 4/28/2008 9:42:00 AM

PETA Offers $1 Million Reward to First to Make In Vitro Meat
<snip>Scientists around the world are researching or seeking the funds to research ways to produce meat in the laboratory—without killing any animals.</snip>

I bet this would produce really good veal. Of course this is to reduce the general cruelty of slaughtering “40 billion chickens, fish, pigs and cows” in the United States. This begs the question, what to do with all the animals? I guess there will be a demand on neutering.

The end of the article, while not intending so, I am sure, has a sweet bit of irony.

<snip>Judging of taste and texture will be performed by a panel of 10 PETA judges, who will sample the in vitro chicken prepared using a fried "chicken" recipe from VegCooking.com.</snip>

Is it right to have vegetarian judges using a vegetarian recipe rate a meat dish? I would go for the executive of Tyson Chicken as judges.

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Papers, Please!

by Terry 4/23/2008 5:10:00 PM

Border Patrol "spot checks" on ferries provoke outrage in San Juan Islands
<snip>A couple of months ago, the U.S. Border Patrol began occasional "spot checks" of every vehicle and passenger arriving in Anacortes off state ferries, the lifeline between these islands and the mainland.</snip>

<snip>The Border Patrol responds that the stops are annoying but necessary, the cost of keeping the country safe.</snip>

<snip>San Juan Islanders are used to customs inspections in Anacortes if they take the ferry that comes from Sidney, B.C. Before now, though, they were never subjected to checks on domestic ferry runs.</snip>

Outrage is mild. To me this is outright criminal behavior on the part of the Border Patrol. Maybe someone from California has some insight. I seem to recall a freeway check point off Interstate-5 looking for illegal aliens from the Mexico border. What shocks me is the customs checks are being directed at ferries that have no international stops, but happen to come from US ports where an international ferry sometimes stops.

A few weeks ago a couple friends of mine, both Canadian citizens legally in the US on a work visa, and their visiting British parents were stopped at this non-international customs inspection after a weekend trip to San Juan Island. On returning to the mainland US, having never left US territory, they were grilled for several minutes. This put a bit of worry in their vacation with the parents.

Their treatment by the agents was described as rude at best. The agents made a big stink about not having their passports on them. My friends left them at home thinking that they were not needed as they were not crossing any borders. Their parents had their British passports and were left alone. My friends were told they should carry passports at All Times, even if just walking to the neighborhood grocery store, which, while true in a technically legal stand point, is absurd in practice. Where should I keep my passport while I am swimming at the beach? Their state-issued drivers’ licenses were insufficient proof of residence.

After several minutes of demeaning treatment, they were let go. One friend commented to me the day after they returned home, “next time I will just lie.”

What is interesting is the article puts great sympathy on one family of illegal immigrants caught in this checkpoint. I am sorry to hear they are having issues. I would wish they were not here illegally. Shouldn’t we be fixing that problem on the Mexican-US border?

Papers, Please!

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Policy

Scientific American and Rethinking Nuclear Fuel Recycling

by Terry 4/22/2008 1:02:00 PM

I do not have a subscription to Scientific American. I saw this article in the checkout lane at the grocer near my home.

Rethinking Nuclear Fuel Recycling: Scientific American
<snip>But reprocessing is very expensive. Also, spent fuel emits lethal radiation, whereas separated plutonium can be handled easily. So reprocessing invites the possibility that terrorists might steal plutonium and construct an atom bomb.

The author argues against reprocessing and for storing the waste in casks until an underground repository is ready</snip>

I think this is interesting. If I were a terrorist, I would go after far easier toxics to inflict damage or incite terror. Particularly, I would pursue items that would attract minimal attention in acquisition. Nuclear waste is rather high profile. Home Depot has enough raw materials for a creative terrorist, no? I would think it relatively easy to secure a 200 acre facility to protect the few items of interest on site. This is technical issue.

I also think the processing of radioactive materials into, say, blocks of glass, is an engineering issue; far simpler and less costly than Yucca Mountain, for example. Hanford in eastern Washington has had its issues, but is the issue political, in implementation or outright bad engineering? Even if it is all of these, it must be far less expensive to dilute radioactive materials in glass blocks to the point where they are nearly as radioactive as the ore originally pulled from the Earth than to build a mile deep hole in the ground that has never been filled. A barely radioactive 100kg block of glass is not a tempting item for a terrorist to steal.

I do agree it is a bad idea to leave concentrated materials sitting around in a barrel.

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Policy | Opinion

caspol, mscorcfg.msc and trusting applications on a network share

by Terry 4/22/2008 12:50:00 PM

I finished coding data publisher I started last week. That works smoothly, except the annoying hoops to try and register the application with .NET 2.0 caspol.exe. I am not sure why, but that command line utility is completely counter-intuitive. I had partial success with it, provided the application is running in the context of a local server administrator. I need my application to run with a limited-access domain service account, which I have completely verified has all the correct rights.

I am trying to grant FullTrust to an application that lives on a file share (UNC path). I used caspol.exe to register the application, which worked for the administrative account when running the application, but did not work with the service account. I so far found these links, Using CasPol to Fully Trust a Share and Code Access Security Policy Tool, to be my best reference so far. Neither was completely helpful and I resorted to installing the .Net 2.0 Framework SDK to get the full suite of GUI tools. I ran mscorcfg.msc on my development server, now found under Administrative Tools, configured the application with the GUI and all is now well.

Unfortunately, I do not want to install the framework SDK on my Acceptance Test and Production servers. I am hoping I can use the GUI to figure out what settings to use with caspol.exe. So far, I have had little luck. Time pressures being what they are, I will likely install the SDK on the servers and use the GUI tools.

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Travel plans and training courses

by Terry 4/22/2008 7:30:00 AM

I took a few days off from the journal to recover from painting high ceilings. Now it’s back to work; and busy work is. I have two trips coming up, Orlando in May, Atlanta in June. Orlando is for a conference, VSLive and TechMentor, for software developers and architects. In June it is training for Hewlett Packard’s Server Automation System 6.5. I am participating in systems validation for a suite of tools and processes under evaluation by my company.

I am also trying to prepare course work for teaching Leadership skills to the martial arts students at my school. Figuring out what to cover, how to break out assignments and making sure I know what to teach is a time filling tasks. I tend to be a perfectionist and I want the students to get high value for their time. The age range is a challenge too. The youngest in the class is seven and the rest are evenly divided between teens and adults.

The seven-year-old I will exclude from much of the course-work, having him only do the mat-work for now. This is an 18 month curriculum, so I will have him work the course work next year. His father is one of the students too, and he is happy with the accommodation. Several of the students are working toward their black belts this September. They will have considerable workload meeting those requirements, so they will be given their class assignments in October or November. I do not want to burn them out. The class is a work in progress and a balancing act between age, skill and various goals.

All the activity makes me want to pull my hair out. Fortunately, I keep my hair short.

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Martial Arts

Puget Sound should secede

by Terry 4/18/2008 9:32:00 AM

A friend sent me this.

Venting Nickels suggests secession
Frustrated by the state and federal gridlock on solving Seattle's transportation problems, Mayor Greg Nickels suggested secession at a Thursday luncheon.

While all said tongue-in-cheek, my reply was, “our taxes would go down for awhile.” My friend replied that Eastern Washington would get crappy roads for a long while and Western Washington would get a power cost spike. This is largely true. Maybe we should re-build some nuclear power plants. The ones we scrapped in the 70's and 80’s, today would appear cheap and profitable had we kept them; hindsight and all that. I am not sure how that would help the roads in Eastern Washington. Of course, if there was a secession, Eastern Washington could charge a tariff.

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Conjunctivitis and old posts

by Terry 4/18/2008 9:21:00 AM

My headache is finally gone and the conjunctivitis is nearly gone. Kaitlin, like most kids recovered almost instantly. She is basically back to normal. For me it has taken longer to recover. My eyes are still sensitive. I make my living basically reading and writing on a computer and staring at my monitors all week has been painful. It is scary to contemplate the possibility that any permanent eye injury would be like.

I started looking at my old journal posts briefly this week. I need to decide how to best import them into my new web infrastructure. I like that BlogEngine.net supports BlogXML, which gives me an XML schema I can save and transform should I have to change web frameworks. I am not looking forward to the work of importing my old journals. They are all in .asp static pages. They are kind of entertaining to read through, and I have years of posts I would like to keep, so the temptation to manually process each post is very tempting.

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BlogEngine post list debugged

by Terry 4/16/2008 4:54:00 PM

On a different note, I did manage to fix my chronological PostList.aspx control for my implementation of BlogEngine. I worked on this last night. My Pink Eye headache had started and I just could not work the bugs out. I stepped away for the evening and before bed pulled out my notepad (real paper, not Notepad.exe) and worked out the code in a few minutes. I attribute that to having the lights low and not sitting in front of my workstation. I implemented the changes in about half an hour this morning.

My changes are largely improvements to range checking and displaying the results. Soon I will make a set of pages to share the code. One step at a time.

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Pink Eye and my brain

by Terry 4/16/2008 4:24:00 PM

My head hurts. I have Pink Eye; a gift from my daughter and to her from the herd of children we associate with. Kaitlin appears to have caught it Monday; I think I caught it from her yesterday. I took an hour off from work to go get eye drops for the both of us. Kaitlin is out of school for the day, but I have to work. The down-side of being a ‘virtual’ worker is that it is somehow more difficult to claim I am sick. I have an annoying headache which is killing my ability to task-switch when I work, however.

I think multi-tasking is largely bunk. No one really can do that. What people can excel at is task-switching. I can, at times, be extremely efficient switching rapidly between differing tasks at work. This is where I think a great deal of my productivity derives. Not that I get things done faster, rather, I can keep more time-critical tasks moving forward, specifically short-order tasks. This keeps other people I work with able to continue their work with less delay.

Not all tasks are like that. Yesterday I churned a remarkable amount of useful code. I could not do that with constant distractions. Today, with the eye-strain induced headache, my ability to switch tasks from code writing to anything else killed all my productivity, even though the interruptions where trivial.

I am taking the night off from Tae Kwon Do. Since I just started the eye treatments, I think it would be wise to stay away from the kids for a night. That and my headache do not make a child-friendly mixture.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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