Search This Blog

Monday, June 28, 2010

Revanche (some spoilers)

This is a German language film set in Austria. It starts out being a story about a Ukrainian prostitute, Tamara who becomes involved with a man, Alex who works at the bordello. Tamara is against Alex's criminal scheme but insists in coming along when Alex robs a village bank. She sits in the stolen getaway car praying out loud with hands clasped while he robs the bank. Alex plans to buy Tamara's freedom with the loot. He wants to pay off her $35K debt to the mafia so they can be together. Tamara owes the mob the for smuggling her into Austria.
As the couple flee the crime scene, a cop accidentally shoots and kills Tamara. He was aiming for the getaway car's tires. This is just the beginning of an engrossing, complex tale filled with marvelous, understated acting and gorgeous shots of European farm country. The cinematography is superb. There's a scene set in a sunlit beech forest that's just sublime. I just realized there was absolutely no music in the film yet somehow you don't miss it.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Join the Fuzz
We heart violence!


Also, you have to love those nasty, white tufts of ear hair on Tom Waits' devil character. The details are in the devil. LOL!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mechanized Hop Harvest

This video explains it all pretty well. I knew that hops were a perennial but I didn't know the entire vine was cut down for the harvest. Looks like a modern hop farm needs about a million dollars worth of machinery to function.

"American hop growers rely on export markets for the sale of over 70% of their annual production."

Mount Wachusett

Note to self: don't hike when it's +80F and 90% humidity. In such conditions a puny six mile hike on a hill like Wachusett becomes nothing but a grueling workout. I had a microfiber "camp towel" in my trunk that I should have carried to mop up the gallons of sweat pouring off my head but I forgot it was there.

The blueberries are just beginning to come ripe up on the summit.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not a spelling error

Random dude makes a post to craigslist computer gigs:

Can you solve this problem?
Need help building a Machine Vision System that
will recognize most parking signs autonomously
with the aid of a high resolution video camera placed
in a car keeping up with traffic. The machine vision
system will also need to read the text on the parking
sign and categorize the parking sign in the database
based on what the text actually says on the parking sign.
Please provide a proposal which would include how
you would approach creating the solution and how
you would like to be enumerated

So I let him know he's got "enumerated" where he should have used, "remunerated." It's a freshman year high school vocabulary word where I'm from. He replies, "I am a horrible speller so thank you so much!!"

Yeah right. Spelling.

Friday, June 25, 2010

ZOMG Adobe Flash Everywhere!!!

Just for kicks I configured Nessus today. Turns out the configuration web interface is pure Adobe Flash. My midterm exam was a Flash app and I was unable to enlarge the (8 point) font size. Had to stare at the screen from eight inches away. Funs!

1. There was a bug that did not allow me to select the new policy I just created. After poking at the interface for about half an hour I logged out of the web interface and logged back in again. Now it lets me load my policy :P

2. Flash is proprietary, i.e. closed source software. Unless you're a big Adobe customer Adobe is likely to ignore your efforts to communicate with them when you want to report a bug, etc.

3. Flash has had a lot of security issues of late. Does Nessus have a Flash scanner plugin? Heh.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Security Camera with "DHS Technology"

For those of us who need to be even more paranoid there is the Archerfish Solo. This thing is being marketed aggressively on the AM talk stations. A cheaper alternative would be practically any old USB webcam with Vitamin D software running on your personal computer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Berkshire Brewing Company Maibock

Note to self: this style of beer has too much malt for you. I'd call this a good fall and winter beer.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Head still buzzing from ACBF

Buzzing from the noise. The hall has a capacity of 5,000 and people drinking beer tend to get loud.

I volunteered to help out at the American Craft Beer Festival (brought to us by and it was a great time. I had never attended a beer festival before so it was quite an experience to work in one. Being in such a large, noisy crowd was difficult at first. Thankfully, most of the other volunteers were nerdy white folks like me so there was plenty to talk about when we were not emptying swill buckets and lugging four gallon coolers on our shoulders 150 yards across the floor of the Seaport World Trade Center in South Boston. Friday's session was a pretty intense workout but by Sat. the crew chiefs had a more sensible water delivery scheme worked out. Next time I hope they have some kind of wheeled conveyance on hand for transporting those heavy water coolers.

I learned some interesting things about the workings of such events. For instance, the union laborers that came with the convention hall were incredibly lazy and completely ignored me when I politely asked them for simple things like a mop and bucket. There I was offering to do their job for them (when they were refusing to do it) and they acted as if they didn't understand English. Other volunteers had identical experiences with them. The union schlubs wouldn't lift a finger unless their boss cracked the whip.

I think of myself as pro union in principle but after meeting those slobs my opinion has been altered somewhat.

Speaking of unions, NPR's Ira Glass had an interesting segment about what happened in Barbados during a recession in 1991 when the IMF forced austerity measures on the nation.

The Barbadian unions met with govt. ministers and industry representatives and together they managed to make the necessary pay cuts that would prevent mass layoffs. Some of the largest privately held corporations opened their books to the union reps and a brave new era of cooperation and transparency was born.

To this day in Barbados there is an annual meeting of labor and corporate reps organized by the government in which all the parties sit down an essentially listen to each other talk about what they're up against. This respectful relationship between management and labor has endured ever since, according to those interviewed on This American Life. There is a reasonable level of trust between the parties which is maintained in part by the establishment of annual meetings between the three blocs.

It's hard to imagine such events transpiring here in the States where sadly the cold war between labor and capital is still being waged (to everyone's detriment.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

NPR not above pop media drivelspeak

"You can listen back to the show, and read about what she said regarding financial reform and women in power in D.C. One of her memorable lines of the night, on that latter topic: ““Let’s face it. There’s still no line in the ladies’ room…” " -- Elizabeth Warren

Uh, "listen back?" WTF does that mean? How does one "listen back?" Do they really expect this phrase to catch on? Good luck with that, Glynn.

Billions in Mineral Wealth Found In Afghanistan

"Ministry of mines spokesman Jawad Omar said he could not confirm the exact value of Afghanistan's mineral wealth but had no doubt it would have a very big impact on the country's development.
If exploited, Afghanistan would become self-sufficient, he said, and no longer need foreign aid."

To which I said, "nplz." You mean like how Peru became prosperous because of its vast mineral wealth? I do hope it raises the standard of living over there but I can't see it happening in my lifetime. I can't see it happening without the US continuing to occupy the country, but I guess any American president is willing to do that in the name of national security. They can justify it by saying we have a strategic need to keep all those rare earth metals out of Chinese hands.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Face In The Crowd

I was dubious about this film but thought Elia Kazan directed it so it couldn't suck. All I knew of Griffiths was his sheriff character on The Andy Griffiths Show. You know the show about a town in Dixie that has no black people in it? In case you're wondering about that here's a map of race distribution in the U.S. I'm not offended in a politically correct way by this; it just bugs me for being untrue.

//** digression
There is a show on FX called, Justified. It's supposed to be set in rural Kentucky. There are constant references in the script to Kentucky. Kentucky is practically a character in the show and yet the show is filmed in southern or central California. The producers could have used B.C. or even northern California but no. The vegetation doesn't match. Live oaks and palm trees simply don't grow in KY. The mountains don't look right either.
**// end of digression

Griffiths gives a stupendous performance in this film. Really nailed the megalomania of his character, Lonesome Rhodes. Nailed the hillbilly drifter bit too.

This must be the earliest instance in film where someone inadvertently ends his career by forgetting the mic is always on.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lenny Hearts Eunice, by Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart has a superb short story in this week's New Yorker (June 14 & 21) magazine called, "Lenny Hearts Eunice." It reminds me a bit of George Saunder's writing. Well, not in terms of style. They both do a great job at harpooning consumer and corporate culture.

This NYer issue is entitled, "20 Under 40" because all the authors published in this issue are under forty years old. The TOC lists only eight stories so I'm not sure what the 20 represents.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lithia Springs

I used to live in a town in GA called Lithia Springs. Back then I never bothered to figure out how the town got it's name although I did ask some locals. Nobody knew. Lithia sounded vaguely Greek to me so I figured the founders named it after some ancient city.

Years later I discovered that there are several towns in the US named Lithia Springs; one is in Florida. There's a place in the Holyoke Mountain range in West-Central MA named Lithia Springs but it's not a town. It may actually be a spring. You can see it on google maps.

After some digging I found a web page regarding some religious sect that held retreats at a site somewhere in the Midwest which had a "lithia spring." Years ago "lithia" is how people referred to the element lithium, and somehow folks knew this metal was in the water issuing from the spring. Lithium was used to treat gout in the nineteenth century, at least according to wikipedia. Good to know.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

OpenLDAP on Debian Lenny

Why the hell do we need to mess with /etc/defaults/slapd? Shouldn't files in /etc/default be left alone, and if need be overridden elsewhere as with the BSDs? Isn't configuring LDAP with StartTLS complex enough without spreading the config across three files? There's already ldap.conf and slapd.conf. I guess I still prefer the BSD style after all these years doing Linux.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The MBTA and why I need to avoid using it.

When I arrived at the Alewife T station yesterday there was a lunatic at the turnstiles yelling at the MBTA pseudocop about how he had just been released "from Walpole" and that he was going to get on the train "one way or another." He was refering to Walpole State Prison aka "MCI-Cedar Junction" for you non-Massachusetts people. It's a maximum security state prison. Apparently he had no money.
I hurried past him and got on the train. Two minutes later the same guy is sitting a few seats down from me on the train; I guess the pussy MBTA cop let him pass so he would become someone else's problem. I immediately got up and moved myself to another car. Thankfully he stayed put.
On the return trip we were treated to the African American acrobat who performs standing back flips inside the moving train. Why can't the T ban this very obviously dangerous guy? He's busking inside the train and I fear he'll accidentally rearrange someone's face with his foot. But the Red Line liberals seem to love him. They clap convincingly while tossing coins into his hat, despite having seen him do his trick a dozen times before. Can't he belt out some shitty rap instead? He could call himself Brother Blue II.

Usually the Red Line has a technical problem with the tracks or train or someone has a epileptic fit which causes a well-meaning bystander to pull the emergency lever, as if stopping the train between stations would help the victim get to a hospital faster. Shit like that happens every damn goddamn day on the Red Line, especially when I'm riding it ;)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm a hacker and Windows 7 was my idea.

The above was seen posted on slashdot. And in the same thread I saw the link,

Just one small incident in a vast sea of Microsoft misery.

The Wolfman movie. Get out the pooper-scooper.

I hope Anthony Hopkins and Benny Del Toro are donating all their proceeds from Wolfman to a good cause. I want to think that's why such talented actors take on such meritless projects. This movie is boring, predictable and formulaic. I stopped watching it about 2/3 through and I don't think I'll finish it. There was no suspense whatsoever. I'd rather watch any old episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer than this assembly line product.