All day I couldn’t wait ’til Tuesday…

First, a diversion. I came home, popped in Peter Murphy’s Deep, which I’d never listened to, and I called a friend. An hour later all was well with the world. Well, not really. But Dave’s world was fine.
And Deep… It starts off with a really dark, brooding song, but when you listen to the lyrics it sounds like a love song. A goth love song? Huh? So I looked at the lyrics. I think the song is really about going swimming. I love that kind of irony. I need to make a mix CD:

Not Love Songs
1. Drive — The Cars (about mental illness)
2. The One I Love — R.E.M. (about a barbecue joint)
3. Cruel Summer — Bananarama (not a breakup song–it’s about a hot beach)
4. Deep Ocean Vast Sea — Peter Murphy (sounds like a love song but it’s about going swimming)

I’m sure there are others. I need to go find them.

Work. Yesterday was my first day supporting a new client. And wouldn’t you know it? After we led off the morning with a visit from SirCam in one of the finance departments, the hard drive in the PC sitting in the president of the company’s office conked out. You turn it on and it sounds like a jackhammer. If you let the drive rest for a while, you can operate it for anywhere from 1-2 minutes before it completely stops responding. So I connected the president’s drive to another system and started copying data, a few files at a time. Finally I wised up and optimized the box I was using, while the president’s drive rested. I defragmented the destination drive, and I set the system to load absolutely nothing at startup. It’s NT, so it takes about a minute to boot, but at least I can get about a minute’s worth of copying per hour.

But I just realized I’ve got a P3-866 with a nice 7200 RPM disk in it sitting on the desk, waiting to be rebuilt. I think I need to draft that machine into data recovery duty first. That machine might boot in under 30 seconds, especially with nothing loading at startup. That’d make me at least 50% more productive. I still haven’t recovered his PST file, and that’s what concerns me the most. We’ve gotta get his e-mail back, whatever it takes.

I seem to attract problems like this. At least I have a decent record of solving them. (And yes, I do know the trick of putting a hard drive in the freezer for four hours–I won’t do it this time because the drive is under warranty.)

And in the meantime, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This might as well be like a chance to hit a grand slam to win the World Series.

Where did we come from?


Today’s the Fourth of July
Another June has gone by
And when they light up our town
I just think
What a waste of gunpowder and sky…
–Aimee Mann

Cynical? Who, me? Murel, my next-door cubicle neighbor, asked me a question today that made me wonder, is what this country is today worth our founding fathers risking their lives for?

That’s assuming anyone knows anything about them these days. Which leads me to the question my coworker asked.

“Dave, you’re the resident history buff. What political party did Thomas Jefferson found?”

Why, the Democratic-Republicans. I thought everyone knew that.

“And what party does that correspond to today?”

Most directly, the Democrats.

Murel asked that question because he’d just read an editorial talking about “The Evil Republican Slave-Owning Thomas Jefferson.” I rolled my eyes at that.

“Abraham Lincoln was a Republican!” Murel said.

He’s right. Though that plays into another misconception. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery. That’s what the Politically Correct crowd wants to say, but that’s not true. Fundamentally, the Civil War was about a number of things. One big, forgotten issue is that of tariffs. The industrial north wanted protective tarriffs. This made American goods cheaper than foreign goods, encouraging people to buy American. Plus, in those days, there was no income tax, so tariffs were a major source of revenue.

The rural South didn’t want tariffs. Tarriffs increased the prices they paid for goods. Plus tarriffs made it more difficult to sell cotton and tobacco abroad. In short, what was good for the North’s economy was bad for the South’s economy.

You can see the other big issue by looking at the forms of government each side chose during the Civil War. The North maintained its centralized government, while the South chose a loose confederacy. The South valued states’ rights much more than the north did.

Where does slavery fit into all this? Well, it was an issue of states’ rights. But, truth be told, only a small number of southerners actually owned slaves. Everyone today seems to think the typical Southern family had a slave as a sort of live-in butler or something, because that’s how Hollywood portrays slavery. You had to be wealthy to afford slaves, so the majority of slaveowners were plantation owners. The majority of southern farmers weren’t large plantation owners. They may or may not have been pro-slavery. The issue certainly didn’t directly affect them all that much.

And the North was hardly a haven for escaped slaves. The North had experimented with it and found it cost too much to literally own your workers. So they abandoned it. The majority of northerners probably didn’t care one way or the other. Slavery wasn’t an issue that affected them. There were militant, outspoken anti-slavery activists, and they were loud, just like today’s activists are. That’s why they’re remembered. Slavery gets more people worked up than tarriffs. There are probably a lot of people who don’t even know what a tarriff is.

So why was there a war? Simple. The North was more populous than the South, so the only way the South was going to get what they wanted was by walking out the door.

And Lincoln’s goal wasn’t to abolish slavery. Lincoln’s goal was to preserve the union at any cost, with or without slavery, and he is widely quoted as having said so.

The irony here is that Lincoln was willing to consider abolishing slavery. And he was in favor of high taxes. Sounds pretty liberal. The only resemblance to the Republicans of today is the protection of big business.

The Republican party as we know it today didn’t come into being until after the Civil War, and its history as the party of big business and lower taxes is hardly consistent. Although Teddy Roosevelt was more conservative than his cousin FDR, he was running around busting up businesses at the turn of the century.

But I’ve digressed a lot. Murel talked about the failings of some of the Founding Fathers that have come to light in recent years and cast a shadow on their credibility. We’re horrified to find they had flaws. (Though somehow it doesn’t bother us that Bill Clinton and Jack Kennedy had flaws.) I disagree. The Founding Fathers were human. They were very forward-thinking and insightful and wise, but human.

But worthy of respect. Remember why they were here. European aristocrats were old money. When you couldn’t get land, you moved. So these were men whose ancestry had come across the Atlantic and started over. Yes, some of them were spoiled brats. John Hancock and Samuel Adams come to mind. But Alexander Hamilton was the epitome of the self-made man. Benjamin Franklin’s beginnings weren’t as humble, but he arrived in Philadelphia with little more than his pocket change and his training as a printer and became a tycoon.

These were men who knew what they wanted and knew how to go get it. They knew their interests and England’s interests weren’t the same and they weren’t going to get what they wanted from England, so they headed for the door.

The country we have today doesn’t bear a whole lot of resemblance to the country they fought to create. Political correctness is the rule of the day. You can’t let the facts get in the way of what’s politically correct. Nor can you let your constitutional rights. Freedom of speech, the free press, and freedom of religion are all in danger. (And you thought I was going to say something about guns, didn’t you?)

I won’t go to the extreme of calling Independence Day a waste of gunpowder and sky, because it makes sense to celebrate what we do have. We’re still a whole lot more free, than, say, Red China.

But most of us don’t know why. And as a result, most of us really take it for granted.

I want to go live with the new server…

And for a few minutes last night I had it cranking. It was fast and wonderful until I got into the forums. Everything was there, but when I tried to read the messages, I got error messages. I’ve had that problem all along. At first I figured the problem was due to the files being stored somewhere else under TurboLinux, so I reconfigured Apache to store everything in /var/www like it does under Mandrake. Then I figured the :8080 in the URL was throwing it off. So I flip-flopped the two servers, so as far as YaBB knows, it hasn’t moved. All the permissions are the same on everything. But it still can’t find the files if I move it.
I’m really sick of this P-120’s speed, or lack of it, especially since I’ve got a Celeron-366 sitting under my desk in a case that once housed a Pentium-75 (how’s that for irony?) that’s fast and lovely and chomping at the bit to go.

We’ve got 149 messages on the forums at the moment. A couple of the topics are active. Nothing’s stopping me from grabbing the text of the messages and dumping them somewhere on the site where the search engine can still find them and the wisdom (or lack thereof) they contain.

Anyone have any thoughts? If there aren’t any big objections to it, I’ll make the move tomorrow night.

In the meantime, I’m not feeling so great. So I think I’ll just rev up the Farquhar Time Machine, make my server think it’s Tuesday, post, forget that there are such things as e-mail and telephones, and call it a night.

03/16/2001

Mailbag:

Questions; CS UK; Music

Why didn’t I answer any mail last night? Because I was getting cultured. My friend Jeanne was planning a trip to a natural foods market called Wild Oats and asked if I wanted to come along. Another friend had recommended I go there to get some soy powder when she found out I’d temporarily become a vegetarian. So hey, why not? I’ll try anything once, right? Well, not quite anything, but what harm can it do?

An irony hit me, of course. The natural market called Wild Oats… A juice place in Columbia called The Main Squeeze… Why is it so many health-related places use double-entendre names? I mean, strip clubs aren’t that provocatively named. Oh well.

So I got there and I noticed an awful lot of signs that said you had to pay before you started eating. Isn’t that common courtesy? Sheesh. The first thing I set out to get was an eggplant. I know I can get eggplant at the regular grocery store, but hey, I was there, so why not? Besides, maybe organically grown eggplant is better for you. I just have a suspicion that eggplant would make a killer pizza topping. So I got myself a nice one-and-a-half-pound eggplant while Jeanne talked about this guy who used to wander around town holding an eggplant like a baby. Hey, I might be eccentric, but I’m not that eccentric.

Then I spied alfalfa sprouts, which I suspect would make a great soyburger topping. Probably even better on beef, but hey, I won’t be eating that for a while yet. Unfortunately they only sold those in huge packages that’d probably last me a month, but I doubt they’d keep that long. Then I spied seeds. “Make your own sprouts!” it proclaimed. A 4-oz. package of seeds is supposed to make several pounds of sprouts. Hmm, $2.99 for that, versus $1.99 for a pound of alfalfa I’ll end up throwing out because most of it goes bad, and I can make whatever quantities I want… Easy decision.

We walked down the vitamin/mineral/herbal aisle. I picked up some manganese because it’s hard to find. And I found soy powder in some manly-sized containers. My friend Brenna had said to put a scoop in the blender along with some fruit. Cool. I had my powder, now all I needed was some fruit and a blender… Then I realized a manly man doesn’t need a blender. Why blend with a blender when you can blend with a Dremel?

We walked down the snack aisle, where I spied Soy nuts. Barbecue flavor. “These’ll be good for my image,” I said, grabbing a bag. I’ll keep the empty bag at work when I’m done with it. Cubicle decoration.

We walked up and down the store. In the pet food section I spied something curious: vegetarian dog food. I picked up a can. “Yes, some people force it on their dogs too.”

“Forcing vegetarianism on your dog is just wrong,” I said. “It’s not natural.” I half-regretted it afterward, seeing as there were probably a lot of vegetarians around, but I didn’t get any dirty looks.

I noticed Wild Oats was very heavy on people with dreadlocks and tattoos. I noticed I got a few looks, mostly from girls. I suspect it’s because I was dressed conservatively. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with looks from girls, mind you.

“I bet I was the only Republican in there,” I said as we left the store. Jeanne laughed. “I should have applied for minority status.”

And after we walked out to the car in the rain and drove off, I realized I hadn’t inspected the lot too closely. “Was that an SUV liberal place?” I asked.

“Yes it was,” Jeanne said.

I said there weren’t many things more hypocritical than a big, oversized SUV with environmentalist bumper stickers on it. She agreed.

Mailbag:

Questions; CS UK; Music

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