Grateful

November 27, 2008

I have much to be thankful for this year. Honestly, every year of my adult life has been great even with the ups and downs. My wife and I work very hard at living consciously and deliberately, so I feel like I’ve really earned whatever success and pleasantness I’ve experienced. Here’s a smattering:

  • My wife: I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I had never met her. I feel so fortunate that we have such a strong relationship after 15 years of marriage, but it doesn’t surprise me since I have so much admiration for her.
  • My girls: my three daughters (5, 5, 3) are the biggest joy in my life. They’re rambunctious, contentious, and mischievous but mostly they’re just marvelous. I think I’m a better man for having them.
  • My son: we’re three days away from the journey to pick him up from Ethiopia. That will be the culmination of over a year of effort, paying through the nose, and complying with maddening bureaucracies. He will complete our family and I just can’t wait to meet him.
  • My job: Go Daddy is a great employer. The benefits and pay are outstanding. I’ve been fortunate to have challenging and interesting work. My team is reliable, competent, and nimble. I’m taking a month off to be with my new son and had to move my plans up a week with only two days notice, but my boss was fine with it (much more than I was) and expressed excitement at my upcoming adventure. I plan to stay there as long as they’ll have me.
  • My friend Larry: he lives in San Diego and I don’t talk to him nearly enough, but whenever we do it feels exciting and refreshing. He’s also the smartest guy I know—besides myself, ahem. We see him several times a year and the kids adore him.

I was going to list my iPod, my MacBook, and my MINI Cooper but their importance in my life is different in kind from the items listed above. They’re great and all but their absence wouldn’t leave a void in my life.

Announcement

November 22, 2008

To those of my readers who are tired of reading my political writings, have hope! I am working on a new blog where I plan to do all of my political blogging. I will then try to keep bblog focused on computers, programming, and technology.

The new blog will have a stable of Objectivist authors commenting on politics, society, and culture. I have high hopes for it. I’m still setting up the blog—look for an announcement in the next week or so.

[UPDATE (11/25/2008): My new blogging partner has broken the news about The New Clarion. I am so excited about this.]

Hope’s Residue

November 22, 2008

The students at an elementary school spontaneously asked for their school to be renamed Barack Obama Elementary School. At least, some fifth graders who held a mock debate and who came to a school board meeting to request the change. And then the school board unanimously and immediately accepted the change.

I can’t say anything else about this. Do I comment about the sorry state of education, the deification of The One, or cynical manipulation of children? I’m at a loss.

Link Dump-President Obama Edition

November 10, 2008

Interesting news is coming furiously since the election and I just can’t muster enough wherewithal to write whole entries about it. So here’s another del.icio.us barf:

  • So Obama’s plans for enlisting teenagers and college students into national service morphed from “require” to a “setting a goal” after a few hours of bad publicity. I saw this on Friday too and was aghast at the thought, but it was something that both Obama and McCain had campaigned on all along. I don’t understand the furor and I was glad that he was finally coming clean about “expecting you to work.” Does this mean that he’ll be the panderer everyone right of him hoped he’d be? I had considered him to be a closet Marxist given the company he kept, the statements he casually dropped, and the path by which he had risen. This incident plus the hint that he’s going to pull from the Clinton dugout for his Cabinet makes me hopeful, but not too much so.
  • The encomiums continue as writers gush over the ascendance. I love how they delude themselves into thinking that he’s writing these speeches himself. And I’m sure they’re off the cuff. And those teleprompters are there just in case he gets distracted by a flash of inspiration. Bush is routinely accused of being anti-intellectual, but who looks to the president for inspiration or validation? Oh, collectivist writers.
  • Earlier I linked to an inspiring call to action by Representative Jeff Flake the day after the election. It was clear to me during the entire campaign (and really during the whole Bush administration) that the GOP had strayed far from its Goldwater days. Back then, it was a party in favor of limited government and individual freedom. (For the most part, that is, because there was a sizable states’ rights faction that fought desegregation. Goldwater wasn’t a part of that at all.) The neoconservative movement had systematically taken over the Republican Party, reorienting it towards big government. I had (and have) high hopes that this defeat will bring about a shift or retrenchment away from the neocon philosophy. There are now a lot of voices joining Flake’s in calling for a refocusing and a return.

    But I worry that Republicans might get the wrong lesson from this election. I worried that they might conclude that they weren’t religious enough (Pence, I retract my earlier praise), that McCain was too moderate, or that they should veer left to get back in power. Reading this conservative post-mortem, only Richard A. Viguerie nailed the proper conclusion. We must take back the GOP and put it on a principled footing of individual rights and limited government. Only then can the voters make a valid choice between two opposing viewpoints.

  • One of the oft-repeated canards of this election cycle is that voter turnout was unprecedented. The story goes that Obama is such a charismatic and inspiring leader that he aroused the average apathetic American out of electoral slumber. More people voted, but the turnout was about the same. It appears that the average apathetic American was just as apathetic—rightly so, given the contest between Socialism and Socialism Light—as ever, but the average Democrat was much more involved. And the youth really came through for Obama. This alarms me somewhat, but I think their expectations are so high that they’re in for a rude awakening. There’s already been some move to cushion the fall for when Obama Claus can’t deliver.
  • I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry about Al Gore’s recent editorials. On the one hand, I’m heartened by his need to disguise his eco-fascism as “capitalism.” That suggests that he thinks he couldn’t get away with baring his teeth openly. On the other, the prescription he lays out for making capitalism “sustainable” is so nakedly anti-capitalistic that I can’t believe anyone would be snookered by it. Yet surely they must be. “100% carbon-free electricity within 10 years” WTF? HFS! “At this moment, we are faced with the convergence of three interrelated crises: economic recession, energy insecurity and the overarching climate crisis. Solving any one of these challenges requires addressing all three.” Solving any of these “problems” will require massive dislocations, inconceivable expenditures, and unprecedented government interventions. None of these “crises” are legitimate: the bugaboo is but a dodge to distract while the statists expand their power. Taken together, it’s of a piece with 9/11 and the rise of Homeland Security—fear overcomes many people’s natural aversion to government intrusion.
  • This cartoon illustrates one of the things that Americans just don’t understand about immigration: it is almost impossible to do it legally. Yet hundreds of thousands do every year and a decent percentage of them go on to become American citizens. Freedom isn’t something that depends on where you popped out of the uterus; it is inherent in our humanity. If people want to come to America, then we should welcome them so long as they are not contagious or criminal. It worked—for the most part—the first hundred and fifty years so why not re-open our borders?

Thou Mustn’t

November 10, 2008

“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.” – William J.H. Boetcker, The Ten Cannots

SQLcached

November 10, 2008

I have to agree with Dare Obasanjo’s latest blog entry about in-memory caching. After working on high-transaction, heavy database-using Web applications for the last nine years, there is one thing above all else that I have learned and taken to heart: a Web application is only as good as its caching strategy. My career has seen a progression from light to heavy cache usage and each new application has benefitted in scalability from that.

Dare’s entry got me thinking: why couldn’t the RDBMS itself incorporate a distributed, in-memory cache like memcached or Project Velocity? What if a Web application could basically eliminate the need for its own caching layer by relying solely on the database, which would then aggressively and algorithmically use one of the caching services to expand its memory-based caching?

If the problem with query caching in MySQL or SQL Server is the amount of server RAM that can be installed, then distributed caching seems like the perfect solution. It’s what the Web server layer uses: why not bring it down to the data layer. Moreover, given the common replication and clustering scenarios, there are likely idle database servers whose memory is already going unused for the most part. Putting a distributed caching system in place would put them in action while still keeping them ready for failovers.

The main objections I can see is that going to the database might cause an increase in network usage since some cache calls in the Web server layer would never leave the server and that the database would have to work to decide between file-level and cache-level access. But that would be minimal and the simplification it would engender on the Web application level would make the costs even less objectionable.

It’s entirely possible that Project Velocity is being undertaken with exactly this thought in mind. (It’s not clear that there’s any movement afoot in MySQL AB towards this end—at least from my cursory searches.) This idea would have to be implemented at the RDBMS level.

My Golden Years Might Just Be Pyrite

November 8, 2008

A House committee is considering nationalizing 401(k)s but you wouldn’t know it from the press release they put out. Luckily, the Carolina Journal, a publication of the John Locke Foundation, investigated more deeply and has publicized the testimony of Theresa Ghilarducci. To read the aforementioned press release, the only notable outcome from the two witnesses was that the situation has workers and retirees spooked. (The later field hearing in San Francisco was much more muted and reasonable in its calls to action.)

Thus far, a call for better information and education is the only thing that has come from committee chairman George Miller. But he’s “considering” all options, including those of Ghilarducci and Weller. Their preference is for the government to offer Guaranteed Retirement Accounts to those worried about their retirement and eventually phase in a replacement of everyone’s 401(k) with a GRA, which is fully “invested” in Treasury bonds guaranteeing a 3% annual return.

But with a statement of commitment like the following, how long will Miller hold out?

“We will fight to restore workers’ rights, so that every American can benefit from economic opportunity. And we will make the preservation and strengthening of retirement savings a priority, so that all Americans can enjoy a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work.”

The whole retirement savings sector is suffused with government meddling and distortion. It needs to exit in an orderly fashion, protecting commitments already made but leaving those without such guarantees to make their own decisions. People earn the money that they segregate for their later years; why can’t they be allowed responsibility for managing it?

What’s Red, Black, and White But Not Green?

November 7, 2008

I just took a survey from QuikTrip about environmental perceptions. Here are the questions:

  1. Do you sort and recycle your trash?
  2. How concerned would you say you are about the environment?
  3. Do you perceive the plastic fountain drink cups sold by QuikTrip to be more environmentally friendly than styrofoam cups?
  4. Please select the following statement which best describes your fountain drink purchasing actions
  5. How do you perceive QuikTrip as it pertains to the environment?

When it asked for further comments, I left this:

Frankly, pandering to the environmental movement annoys me to no end. There is no way you’re going to be “green enough” for the crazies given that you sell liquefied carbon, transport goods from places distant, and contribute to an economy that prizes convenience over privation. Embrace your right to exist instead of apologizing for not being the eco-equivalent of a roadside stand. You are an amazing, modern enterprise that is only possible in the United States. Good for you!

Do People Really Fall for This?

November 6, 2008

I just got an email from Wells Fargo saying that my account was deactivated until I faxed some information to them. It was done to prevent any unauthorized transactions.

  • First name
  • Last name
  • SSN
  • Adress [sic]
  • City
  • Zipcode
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Credit/debit card number (16 digits numbers of your card)
  • Expiration Date
  • Code Verification number(3 digits number of [sic] the back of your card)
  • ATM PIN ( for bank customer verification)

I don’t have a Wells Fargo account so I just sent them my bank’s information. I hope they re-activate it soon as I need to buy gas this morning.

The Onion Never Fails Me

November 6, 2008

Hilarious. {via}