Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcome to caste, American style

“Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don't have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.”

“[...] if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu.”

“[This] surely increases the number of people dependent on the ruling class, and teaches Americans that satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.”

[Emphasis added.]

Angelo M. Codevilla in America's Ruling Class—And the Perils of Revolution

What this guy says is fundamental to an understanding of where we've come since beginning the Great American Experiment. We all yawned during Civics about this topic because it was so just a part of our past and present. However, few if any other nations in the history of this planet have ever enjoyed the personal and professional liberty American have enjoyed.

Other people (many of us and all we meet from other countries who believe themselves free under their respective political system) do not understand this because they've always lived with oppression. A person born without the physical advantage of another rarely grasps that advantage since each adapts his life to his circumstances.

We ourselves are apathetic to our plight re-adapting ourselves to enduring the requirements of the new, national identity driver's license, what we must do to get our vehicles inspected that is quickly making it impossible to drive older cars, especially ones slightly damaged in accidents, that we must corral together an array of proofs of citizenship each time we begin a new job.

These little encroachments are excused on making us somehow safer and on the fact that, taken each by itself, it's not that big a deal or frustration.

Read this article to understand how a ruling class emerges that turns the rest of a nation's citizenry into slaves. It has been the plight of every country in the world and is now assimilating the United States. It is natural entropy to sink to this level. It has never been the expectation of a people to live truly free under the rule of law and without the boot of oppressors exercising arbitrary, unrighteous dominion upon others.

And there is the insulting insinuation that somehow others could know better for us than we do. Pride is ever man's tempter. Pride to think he's better educated, more intelligent, has better ideas, and can solve other people's problems. Pride is what drove the inquisitor to burn others at the stake for their religious ideas; it is what encourages the atheist to think it's necessary to persecute God-fearers and believers at the point of a gun.

The Great American Experiment is just this: that no expectations are created upon people enjoying life, liberty and private property that are not reasonable and crucial. No laws infringing upon their liberty of action will be created that are other than utterly critical to the well being of the citizenry.

Obviously, you can say that it's crucial that everyone have medical insurance and be forced to pay for it. You can say that everyone should be forced to pay into a pot to support those people who can't pay for themselves.

But, you'd be wrong. You'd be creating rights where none exist. We have the natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No human is born with any right to a job, medical care, guaranteed income or any certain standard of living. The fact that some teary-eyed liberal seizes the opportunity to get the state to pick some richer man's pockets to aid someone handicapped or worse, someone unwilling to lift a finger to help himself, does not create a magical right where none really exists.

It is right to help those who are in need. But it is a choice to do so.

And we put up with it. We debate, then embrace reluctantly all the burdens progressively imposed upon us by our rulers.

It's like a toad tossed into a pot of boiling water. He jumps back out immediately. Wilson and Roosevelt could not impost their ideas of ultimate social order on a people used to autonomy. Instead, they soaked us in a pot of cool water. FDR and every administration since has been turning up the heat a little each time. We lose the right to keep and bear arms. We endure limits to our right to assemble. Etc.

Obama arrives just a little early to impose his agenda of progressive socialism. It's rough on him, but he has faith that we've sunk this low. And I think he's right. I think we're going to get in line because he's done things in less than two years that would have gotten any other president impeached, then thrown into the pokey. We're screaming a little about the change in water temperature, but not too much. Things will go his way. He may even get re-elected.

Read here how this goes, then you can sit back and watch America become just another country in the world.

If you would like to understand how government is really supposed to operate in the United States of America, view this video illustrating a speech by a clear-seeing former United States Secretary of Agriculture.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

These are the dog days of summer...

...and of impending unemployment as noted in an earlier blog. Emerson, parent of Avocent, will shut the doors to its Salt Lake office come the first of October.

No, I haven't found the Java/JEE dream job yet. The dreamiest one slipped from my grasp as some lucky soul internal to the company in question got the chance of his lifetime. Alas for poor me; kudos for him.

But, as my best friend pointed out, grace is not in finite supply nor is it contingent upon the relative hardships, needs—or merits—of potential recipients.

In the meantime, the relief brigade from Infosys has begun arriving. We'll be handing the Avocent Management Platform (AMP) off to them over the next couple of months. It's always fun to work with people from out of town (in this case, way out of town places like India and China).

And, the ride home each afternoon at 1500 is nasty hot in ¼" of leather, gloves and a helmet. On the other hand, the ride into work at 0600 is ordinarily pleasant and cool.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It is unwell with my soul?

The last couple of weeks have tested me in a rather disturbing way: I depend upon the Internet for survival to an extent similar to food and sleep. You have to wonder just how healthy this can be.

Some background...

Broadweave, the local iProvo ISP monopoly, summarily took me off the Internet saying one of my IP addresses was maliciously attacking other IP addresses on the Internet. They said it's been going on since May and refused to work with me to identify which of my computers might have been doing this. As all of my computers are behind a router, it's not a no-brainer to discover the culprit. I would like to have known a lot more about the attacks (what ports if not what addresses). They rudely turned down all pleas for help. I was basically treated as if I were some evil hacker whose address should be Bluffdale, Utah (the state penitentiary) rather than Happy Valley.

I didn't even have words with them from my side (I try not to do that anymore; it's not productive and one inevitably regrets saying nasty things later).

The point here isn't to rant about Broadweave (although I'm keen to say some very disparaging things about them), but to note that I was without Internet service two weeks ago.

In case you are wondering, I relocated my web server,, and associated domains, to my nephew Richard's house. We actually relocated my Java Hot Chocolate pages to one of those five nine's sort of environments where its reliability will be total and never in question as it has been especially with Broadweave's unreasonable treatment.

I moved to Comcast for Internet service. They told me it was none of their business if I used their network for the most heinous denial-of-service attacks on record. They would not turn me off. I'm sure they were exaggerating, but I appreciated that their service will give me the time and liberty to figure out this problem.

Yesterday, I was doing some serious packet sniffing in an effort to discover if there is any malware on any of my computers. I launched Wireshark on Julene's Windows XP box and my Windows 7 box in an attempt to get started. I filtered out port 22, port 80 and port 1990 (SSDP) traffic hoping to minimize the size of the traces, since I don't expect whatever my computer(s) to be doing wrong will be happening on those ports. I kicked off Wireshark and retreated to other occupations including some television viewing.

The inhibitor of IT services strikes me again...

At an unspecified point, my Internet service went south last night. I came back around 2200 to see what sorts of packets were flying between my machines and the Internet only to find my Internet service gone. I rattled around for a bit, called Comcast, then went to bed.

This morning, I arose, mowed a couple of lawns, got some breakfast, chatted with a neighbor, then returned to do battle with the ugly Internet denial monster.

Trying out another router I had, I discovered that both routers failed to get a WAN address from Comcast. Otherwise, my internal LAN worked just fine, but no Internet service.

Comcast passed me off to some service that wanted $150 to fix the problem. I thought this sum might be a little steep to learn some basic factoid and, sure enough, after chatting with two nephews and a neighbor, I re-discovered the latency of cable modems. Comcast had me unplug and then plug back in my modem several times. That's not nearly enough to reset it. At one point, my nephew suggested I try powering down the modem for at least a minute. That jarred something in my distant memory of back when I had used Comcast cable Internet service in the past and so I did that and it immediately solved the problem.

What this comes down to, however, is that I'm not a viable person without Internet service. This fact struck me two weeks ago when Broadweave exorcized me from the human race, and it struck me hard again last night. This is very disturbing. My instinct is that there is something very, very wrong about feeling this way. Nevertheless, thinking about it, and about what I do for a living, it appears an inescapable state of things in my life: I simply work on the Internet. Not only is it where the work I do shows up now, but my very ability to do much work at all (software development using rapidly changing methodologies) assumes an Internet connection.

Alas, I'm useless without it.

Post script:

I know people say a lot of things about Comcast. However, I've been a customer of basic cable television and Internet connection service for a decade or so including at this house and our old house which I never moved to iProvo fiber. I've never found much to complain about. When I call them with a problem, they're usually about as helpful as they should be within the responsibilities of their service.

"Not my job!"

In Broadweave's case, they aren't too interested in helping a single customer remain a customer if they think it's going to be much work to help him. Is this not the conclusion I'm meant to draw? It may be that they don't have the technical competence to offer and just don't want to "get it all over themselves."

Their sanctimony is more than a little surprising, though, and it's odd that they would let a bad situation go on for a couple of months without alerting me, imposing a time limit beyond which they just cut the service off. If I had known in May and they let my service continue until late June, I'd probably have had more than enough time to figure it out even without their help.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Yesterday, my oldest son took us out for a simply sublime evening with Paul McCartney.

What a showman, this guy!

He played non-stop for just shy of three hours. The mix was probably something like 25% Wings and 74% Beatles plus a Jimmy Hendrix number. Now, there are a lot of Beatles-tribute bands out there, but you have to admit that the best one of all has to be the one coincidentally headed up by Paul McCartney.

There wasn't too much between-song banter, but just a bit. At one point McCartney adopted a sort of ashamed look and said, "You're probably wondering why we keep changing guitars all the time up here. We're just showing off." He then produced, and used, the guitar he recorded with during the Rubber Soul timeframe, a hollow-body Gibson. There were lots of Gibsons used in the show including a Gold Top and another very flashy, hand-decorated Les Paul. I was fighting back a strong case of envy.

Then he launched into an anecdote about Hendrix' first concert in England. It seems after a particularly grueling number during which he had really punished his guitar, flexing it, beating it, etc. he asked if Eric Clapton were in the audience (which he was) and then begged him to come up and tune it back up.

There was a song for Linda, one for John and another for George. There were big fireworks during Live or Let Die with raging gas burners across the front of the stage. Seated down maybe 20 rows back and to the right of stage, we were engulfed in gunpowder for much of the song. Fortunately, there was a light evening breeze.

At one point, he carried the flag of Utah around on the stage waving it while another band member carried the Union Jack.

After Paul left the stage at the end, we clapped for an encore, of course, probably planned. (Well, it's probably all planned, isn't it?) He returned to do Yesterday to the delight of my youngest daughter. I removed my ear protection at that point. After that, we clapped again and cheered. He said, "So, you still wanna rock and roll?!" Whereupon followed a particularly ebullient rendition of Helter Skelter and more clapping and cheering. Then he said, "Well this has to come to an end. We've got to go home and get some rest. And you have to go home too."

Then, they did The End from Abbey Road, the goodbye music, and we kept clapping and cheering. The last number was Sgt. Pepper's, which is goodbye music too, but just to underline the point, several tons of confetti were blown out nearly filling the stadium.

This was Sir Paul's first time in Salt Lake and Utah. I hope he felt our warm welcome. We certainly appreciated his show. All things considered, he very well may never make it back here. So, I count it as a very unique and memorable experience.

Oh yeah! All right! Are you going to be in my dreams, tonight?
Love you. Love you.
And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make!

It's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band, we hope that you enjoyed the show.

We did. Immensely. Thanks. And thanks, Vic, for taking us. We love you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

In search of the lost khurma

Yesterday, I almost nailed it.

The saag sorba wasn't particularly close to Bombay House's, but it was excellent nevertheless. (Note to self: find a way to excise the ginger fibers. Use a microplane instead of a fine grater?)

The tandoori chicken was as competent as ever, if not particularly stunning and somewhat lacking in spiciness.

I tried a new, yeast-based naan. I've see these here and there in Internet recipe land and I succumbed to the extra work (mostly timing). I shouldn't have. While it was okay, it wasn't nearly as good as my quickbread (baking powder) naan.

I dry-bloomed some cumin seeds to add to the rice along with a few saffron threads and finely chopped parsley. Competent, nothing to be ashamed of.

Last, however, I made a khurma. This has usually been my downfall, ending up with something sour, bizarre-tasting or otherwise inedible. As I couldn't decide on what to change in my ingredient list, I decided not to change anything and hope for the best. The best happened. I wouldn't trade the same dish from India Palace or Bombay House, but it was pretty edible nonetheless. And it was entirely vegetarian. This will please my daughter.

Unfortunately therefore, I learned nothing. I wonder how this dish will turn out next time since I changed nothing? I probably should think really hard about anything that I may have done differently and write it up all over again.

While I cook mostly only from ingredient lists rather than step-by-step recipes, I do try to write up the experiences as recipes. See my Indian cuisine page.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rumpole: my curmudgeonly master

This evening I finished watching my last episode of Rumpole of the Bailey with some regret. I last watched the collection of episodes over two years ago when I received it for Father's Day.

They just get better and better.

Rumpole is like an old friend who lives in a far away place. I don't get to see him that often, so something like a biannual reunion is quite an occasion to celebrate. After so long I get to missing old Sam Bollard (sic), His Lordship Mr. Injustice Graves, Hilda, Uncle Tom and Mr. & Mrs. Erskin-Brown.

And She who must be obeyed is very cooperative during these 44 little visits that last for 45 minutes each interrupting only 3 or 4 episodes with her little urgent business.

Of course, far from settling back with a glassful of Château Thames Embankment, I prefer a nice Fat Boy Nut Sundae; it is, after all a very hot summer here as well as at Number 3, Equity Court.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

RESTful web services in Java

Today I finished annotating a tutorial on this topic. The link at the very end of this post—past the social commentary.

Many, including me, publish tutorials; this is the salvation of the computer software industry in a day where no university program could keep up with the frenetic pace of technology even if it were possible for industry workers to maintain continuous enrollment in such an institution.

In the world of JEE alone, there must be more ways to implement Model/View/Controller separation than Paul Simon knows for dumping an old lover.

This said, many tutorials are written with very questionable literary skill. More still are written by experts who've long gotten beyond the elemental skills that others wanting to capitalize on their knowledge are still in pursuit of. The author can scarcely burden himself with technical accuracy, still less with organizational completeness in his expression's vehicle: the tutorial itself. He has no time at all to coddle the beginner through the process of following it. More's the pity.

In one recent tutorial I reviewed and annotated, the author introduced some new HTML code neither revealing the filename it should garnish nor even which, of half a dozen Eclipse projects written over the course of the tutorial, it should find its way into.

Well, I'm one of the great numbers of dummies.

So, I drop bread crumbs à la Hansel und Gretl in tutorials that interest me (not to mention in my own). I try to cross-reference more difficult operations, especially sub-operations, so that someone struggling to complete his "homework" isn't stopped dead in his tracks, unable to learn the subject because he doesn't know the Eclipse IDE well enough, how to build a library as a JAR, refresh a container server like Tomcat, work around an HTTP status 404 error, etc.

How does this benefit me? Am I fishing for compliments? Maybe. More likely am I proving to myself that I grok the tutorial I'm reviewing or the subject on which I'm writing my own.

My tutorial notes on RESTful Web Services in Java and Jersey can be found here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

G-dang, g-dang, g-dang...

—or the din summer makes as it pursues its monotonous march.

"Heureusement," say I, for it's my least favorite season.

We are hosting Helene and Taylor, along with baby Kingston, while they are here visiting from Halifax. Carma is here also. I work; Julene vacations.

My nephew, Jacob, is also rooming here until he wings his way off to West Africa. I'm not vacationing for him. I do force him into watching the odd episode of Rumpole.

And yet, it's during the long days that resemble each other that we get the greatest amount of work done, turning them into short days that seem to have disappeared as soon as we turn our head. (I'm never disappointed not to remember days whose temperatures exceed 80°.) These days are signed, "RESTful web services," now become my favorite topic.

Aside from this, there's little to say obviously. We just wait for September's promise of pre-Autumn wind to inflate our sails and pull us free from the doldrums.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Not the dog-days of summer...

...certainly, but the tedium of awaiting information on the larger parameters of my life such as...

- When and under what conditions will our Emerson employment be terminated?

- When will two promised offers come in so I can make the final decision regarding all three offers?

All three offers promise similar fulfillment. Well, there was a standing one, but I refused it this evening. I'm not ready to take the blue pill and consign myself to Matrix assimilation. Maybe someday when diving dumpsters behind McDonald's has become my last resort, I'll prostrate myself before the agents of Microsoft, bedim my horizons and intone the mantra of .NET. So, two potential offers only now, I guess. "Tell me when will you be mine, tell me quando, quando..."

In the meantime, I'm polishing off a recent review of SQL which, for me, was always a little like typing: something I began doing long before I sat down to acquire the knowledge formally. And, yes, as usual, I've made a stab at writing it up on Hot Chocolate.

And, just today, I'm initiating myself to RESTful web services using Jersey—on the server end of things. I've written to REST services before as a client, but I'm keenly interested in perfecting my understanding of this server end of things. After walking this road a few miles, there will of course be a tutorial. And, while I'm on the subject...

RESTful Web Services Cookbook: Solutions for Improving Scalability and Simplicity by Subbu Allamaraju rocks as a recipe book. It dissects each HTTP operation, discusses problems of idempotency, how to get around problems of and temptation toward statefulness, and describes schemes for asynchrony. Do you know what (and only what) to do with OPTION? Do you know what trouble awaits a service providing TRACE in production mode? What should you try to do with PUT versus using POST? Get this book at a hefty discount from

Summer tedium's remedy

As has happened before, running through the 44-odd episodes of Rumpole of the Bailey brings some relief. It also heightens my antagonism toward split infinitives, imprecision and other abuses of the English language. So, there is a back-slap effect obliging me to watch my tongue more carefully.