Older blog entries for dalke (starting at number 36)

3 Oct 2003 (updated 3 Oct 2003 at 02:04 UTC) »
crhodes: Lisp is not big in bioinformatics. There's a whole bunch of C and Perl code, and some Java and Python code, and a bit of Ruby, but very little Lisp.

nymia: Yourdon's "Decline and Fall of the American Programmer" came out in 1993. In 1997, after the events he predicted didn't happen, he came out with "Rise & Resurrection of the American Programmer." Copying from the Amazon.com review:

In 1992, Yourdon wrote The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer, warning of impending loss of leadership by American software engineers. But a great deal has changed in three years, and Yourdon now sees a complete reversal of many of the trends he previously documented, as well as new trends such as the WWW, Java, "Good Enough" Software, and the enormous impact of Microsoft on the world of software and computing, that together signify the Resurrection of American software engineering.

You mention how the first book predates the internet, with the implication that that is more likely to cause a decline, but your argument goes contrary to his second book.

I've read a few of his books ("Decline", "Rise", "Death March"), and haven't been that impressed. Remember, this is a guy who moved from NY to New Mexico because of Y2K. He said something like "NM public infrastructure is the least dependent on high technology so the least likely to fail." (Oh, wait. I live in NM.)

So I now discount his ideas.

But that yes wasn't really a yes, and now it's no more.

2 Jul 2003 (updated 2 Jul 2003 at 23:15 UTC) »

After nine months of dating, and during a trip to Paris (after EuroPython), I proposed, and she said yes.


dyork: That Python vs. Scheme page is out of date with respect to Python. Python 2.1 (or 2.2?) added proper closures, with lexical scoping. Python 2.0 added support for collecting cyclical structures, with improvements to the gc API since then. (Eg, you can get a list of all uncollected references, since cycled with object which implement __del__ are not automatically gc'ed.)

In the meanwhile, working on documentation for one of my clients. Yawn, but it pays the mortage.

dyork? You can use Python-DSV but that effort is being merged with other projects to create the 'csv' module, which will be standard in Python 2.3. For more info, see PEP 305.

Thanks Cardinal! I just put a 'return false;' in the bit of code, so there is NO WAY to quit by accident. I'll just close each window one-by-one. See, I agree with Matthew Thomas on this -- there's no reason to even have a 'quit application'.

Anyone know how to disable "Quit" (Ctrl+Q) in Mozilla?

Here's how I work with Mozilla -- when something is interesting, I open it in a new window. When I finish, I close the window. I'm on a laptop and the mouse control is hard, so I press "Ctrl-W" to close the window. On the other hand, if I don't have time for it, I minimize the window, to read for later.

My laptop is up for days on end. Right now I've an uptime of 9 days. I'll leave windows iconified for several days, because I know I'll get back to them given time.

However, about once every 4 or 5 days I accidentally hit "Ctrl-Q" which is RIGHT SMACK DAB NEXT TO "Ctrl-W". This closes *everything*. All those pages (the ones I'm using for work and the ones I've saved) GO AWAY. There's no way to recover them. Plus, on restart I need to refix settings like "wrap-around search."

I can't find a way to disable Ctrl-Q to quit. I did find an essay by Matthew Thomas which says

It annoys people, because occasionally they choose ``Quit'' by accident, losing their careful arrangement of windows, documents, toolboxes, and the like with an instantaneity which is totally disproportionate to how difficult it was to open and arrange them all in the first place.

Elsewhere, he mentions Bugzilla thread on the topic.

Matthew is right. Quit sucks. I want it ripped out.

In the meanwhile, I'll try to switch to use Alt-F4 to close a window, so I won't accidentally his Ctrl-W. BLECH. The F4 keys on my laptop are too small, and if I hit it wrong I force my machine into suspend mode. At least that doesn't usually cause massive data loss.

19 Sep 2001 (updated 19 Sep 2001 at 01:21 UTC) »

Unbelievable. There are only two google hits for Kirby black beans. These are, IMO, the best canned, preseasoned ("Creole seasoning"), ready-to-eat ("listos para comer") black beans you can buy. I can't find them here in Santa Fe, so I restock when I'm visiting family in Florida. I'm out of beans and won't be back home for a while. Maybe I can get my Mom to send me a care package. Been years since that last happened :)

Mmmm.... Kirby black beans. Soul food for a Miami son.

My apologies in advance for the length. OTOH, I only post every couple months so it evens out.

I don't see anything wrong with our current counter terrorist policy. Rather, I don't see any good way to improve it, and I fear what's likely to happen will end up making things worse. Our policy is (was):

  1. make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals
  2. bring terrorists to justice for their crimes
  3. isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior
  4. bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of those countries that work with th e U.S. and require assistance

Bush wants a "war against terrorism." What does that mean? Here are the 44 groups the US said in year 2000 are terrorists:

  • Abu Nidal organization (ANO)
  • Abu Sayyaf Group
  • Armed Islamic Group
  • Aum Supreme Truth
  • Basque Fatherland and Liberty
  • Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya
  • HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
  • Harakat ul-Mujahidin
  • Hizballah
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
  • Japanese Red Army
  • Al-Jihad
  • Kach and Kahane Chai
  • Kurdistan Workers' Party
  • Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
  • Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization
  • National Liberation Army
  • The Palestine Islamic Jihad
  • Palestine Liberation Front
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command
  • al-Qaida
  • Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
  • Revolutionary Organization 17 November
  • Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front
  • Revolutionary People's Struggle
  • Sendero Luminoso
  • Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
  • Alex Boncayao Brigade
  • Army for the Liberation of Rwanda
  • Continuity Irish Republican Army
  • First of October Antifascist Resistance Group
  • Irish Republican Army
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed
  • Lashkar-e-Tayyiba
  • Loyalist Volunteer Force
  • New People's Army
  • Orange Volunteers
  • People Against Gangsterism and Drugs
  • Real IRA
  • Red Hand Defenders
  • Revolutionary United Front
  • United Self-Defense Forces/Group of Colombia

The geographic areas listed under the "external aid" section: Iraq, Libya, Syria, "Islamic extremists in the Middle East and South Asia," Sudan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Cuba, "reside in South America", Iran, Saudi Arabia, Western Europe, North America, "other Gulf and Islamic states", "Pakistanis and Kashmiris", "Central and South Asia", Europe, Asia, "Laurent Kabila regime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo", "sympathizers in the United States", Balkans, "Afghan Arabs and the Taliban", "Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom", "Islamic NGOs", "Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen", "Islamic extremists in the Middle East", "President Charles Taylor of Liberia", Gambia, and Burkina Faso. (elsewhere includes North Korea).

Take a look at the list of countries. Yep, people in the US help fund what the US calls terrorist organizations. Indeed, on May 16, 2001, Bush designated the Real IRA, 32 County Sovereignty Movement, and the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association as "foreign terrorist organisations." Before then it was completely legal for US citizens to give them money.

It is believed that American supporters send hundreds of thousands of dollars to the [Real IRA] each year and that these funds are used to purchase explosives and weapons
    - Foreign Policy Association

Think the US is going to attack US citizens who fund terrorist organizations in other countries? Think the US will go after terrorist organizations in South Africa? In Ireland?

Hmm, just scanned the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. (Went into law in 1996.) Specifically, "SEC. 324. FINDINGS":

  1. international terrorism is among the most serious transnational threats faced by the United States and its allies, far eclipsing the dangers posed by population growth or pollution;
  2. the President should continue to make efforts to counter international terrorism a national security priority;
  3. because the United Nations has been an inadequate forum for the discussion of cooperative, multilateral responses to the threat of i nternational terrorism, the President should undertake immediate efforts to develop effective multilateral responses to international terrorism as a complement to national counter terrorist efforts;
  4. the President should use all necessary means, including covert action and military force, to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy international infrastructure used by international terrorists, including overseas terrorist training facilities and safe havens;
  5. the Congress deplores decisions to ease, evade, or end international sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism, including the recent decision by the United Nations Sanctions Committee to allow airline flights to and from Libya despite Libya's noncompliance with United Nations resolutions; and
  6. the President should continue to undertake efforts to increase the international isolation of state sponsors of international terrorism, including efforts to strengthen international sanctions, and should oppose any future initiatives to ease sanctions on Libya or other state sponsors of terrorism.

Who has power to say that something is a terrorist organization? SEC. 219. DESIGNATION OF FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS says it's the Secretary of State, but the designation can be overriden by an Act of Congress.

Under Clinton, the designation was a very laborious and difficult process.

So pretty much Bush can declare any foreign group to be a terrorist group and, using some of the $40 ,000,000,000 requested from Congress, attack said group in any fashion whatsover.

What's a terrorist? Go to http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/unframed/8/1182.html and search for "''Terrorist activity'' defined".

Interesting - looks like carjackers are terrorists:

(I) The highjacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle).

Scanning down further:

(V) The use of any - [...] (b) explosive or firearm (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.

If matters in the US are going the way I think they are, then we need to be very, very careful not to do things that, were they turned about, could be construed in turn as terrorism. Yes, perhaps we are justified, but it wouldn't be American.

One American ideal - treat others as equals. ("Ideal" doesn't always mean reality, sadly ):

As the sole superpower, it's too easy to ignore treaties, policies, and agreements we don't like. If this is indeed a foreign terrorist attack on the US we have to wonder what was the cause for this. Perhaps by not following international rules we end up making things worse.

We've got a justice system which can extradite and prosecute criminals. (Again, assuming foreign terrorists.) If whoever was involve hasn't been extradited, round up the evidence showing who did it and present the result to the world. (I'm reminded of Adlai Stevenson at the U.N. during the Cuban Missile Crisis.) That puts a lot of pressure on the host country.

But could they receive a fair trial in the US? I don't think so. Unlike, say, the trials of the terrorists involved in the American embassy bombings in Kenya or Tanzania in 1998, it will be hard to find unbiased jurors.

(BTW, in that case, two men were found guilty of terrorism and of killing 213 people. Their sentence? Life emprisonment. The jurors said they didn't want to turn the two men into martyrs. Yes, at least one was a follower of Osama bin Laden.)

If there's no chance of getting a fair trial in the US, the only solution I can think of is to prosecute that person in international court, as this would likely be called a "Crime Against Humanity."

But the US doesn't like international courts. (BTW, I'm not all gung ho for a single, world-wide system myself, except for limited circumstances. This counts.)

That idea assumes everyone prosecuted is a foreign national. Question: If a US citizen is prosecuted, is it at all possible to get a fair trial? (The news is estimating 50+ people involved and some having been in the US or some time, so it's possible.) Who could be on the jury but wouldn't have heard or been affected somehow by this disgusting event?

Tell me how I'm wrong. Assuming this was done by foreign terrorists, how can we use our military might (or covert operations, as allowed by law) to get these people? The only way I see would be to use them as police, not as a military.

This all assumed things weren't state sponsored, so everything can be treated as a crime - a heinous crime, but a crime. If it was state sponsored, then it's an act of war, and different rules apply. I really hope it's state sponsored.

Sorry, only states can legitimize crimes through war. In that, all states (or at least those who signed the Geneva Convention) are agreed.

BTW, what ever happened to diversity in Congress? Who can forget Jeannet te Rankin's voting against the US involvement in WWI (1 of 56) and against US involvement in WWII (1 of 1).

In the true spirit of democracy, once war had been declared Rankin promoted Liberty Bonds, which were sold to support the war effort, and she voted for the draft. However, she voted against the Espionage Act, which targeted foreign residents of the United States and suppressed dissent. [...] In 1985 a bronze statue of Rankin was placed in the U.S. Capitol

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