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"The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb." -- Marshall McLuhan, 1969

Ben’s Chili Bowl owner dies - Washington Business Journal:
Topic: Local Information 8:42 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2009

Ben Ali, founder of the iconic U Street restaurant Ben’s Chili Bowl, died Wednesday evening. He was 82.

Ali, a native of Trinidad, opened Ben’s Chili Bowl with his wife, Virginia, in 1958. The spot has been known for, among other things, being a date night place for comedian Bill Cosby and his wife, and being the only U Street business to last through the 1968 riots. The restaurant is famous for its chili and half-smokes, the latter considered by some to be D.C.’s signature dish.

Those outside of DC may not realize what a huge deal this is..

I love Ben's Chili Bowl.

Ben’s Chili Bowl owner dies - Washington Business Journal:

The Halliburton/KBR employment contract rape clause.
Topic: Politics and Law 8:40 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2009

This whole situation is truly mind boggling. It's ironic that the person to drive this into the limelight is the Senator that everyone likes to think is a joke. Nothing about rape is a laughing matter.

Decius writes:

This is absolutely mind boggling.

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad... Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Seriously!? In my time I've seen many examples of lawyers abusing the imbalanced negotiating position present in employment contacts but this takes the cake. An agreement not to press charges for rape? Are you fucking kidding me?!

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it “a political attack directed at Halliburton.” In the end, Franken won the debate. His amendment passed by a 68-30 vote, earning the support of 10 Republican senators including that of newly-minted Florida Sen. George LeMieux.

30 United States Senators voted against this? What could the basis of their opposition possibly be? Al Franken is not above political grandstanding at all, but when push comes to shove, why would you oppose this? I've searched on Google for an alternative perspective to no avail. Does anyone know a source where these people have articulated their position? As LeMieux put it:

"I can't see in any circumstance that a woman who was a victim of sexual assault shouldn't have her right to go to court."

If anything Franken's amendment does not go far enough. This is prima facie evidence that there is a serious structural problem with employment contracts. No contract clause of this sort ought to be respected in any context relevant to US law and major reform of rules surrounding US employment contracts is needed.

People who voted against this amendment include:
Alexander (R-TN)
Bond (R-MO)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Corker (R-TN)
Isakson (R-GA)

More on this from ThinkProgress, including video of Franken's speech on the floor.

The Halliburton/KBR employment contract rape clause.

US FTC tells advertisers to disclose blog payments | Reuters
Topic: Blogging 5:59 pm EDT, Oct  5, 2009

Companies and advertisers must let consumers know about any money or free products they give to bloggers as payment for their endorsement, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

Cory Doctorow's world just blew up.

US FTC tells advertisers to disclose blog payments | Reuters

The EFF is representing Decius vis-a-vis TI
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:02 pm EDT, Oct  1, 2009

Decius wrote:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has graciously offered to provide me with pro bono legal representation regarding the threat I received from Texas Instruments. The EFF is also representing some other individuals who were served. There are some important principals at stake here and we may be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take a stand on them. Stay tuned...

The EFF is representing Decius vis-a-vis TI

BarCampDC3 2009 - RSVP
Topic: Technology 2:45 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2009

BarCamp DC is an ad-hoc unconference and is part of the larger BarCamp movement. While there are topics suggested for discussion, there is no set agenda until everyone gathers. Attendees are required to participate to some degree: either by leading a discussion, showing a demo, or by creating another type of collaborative session.


November 14th, 2009
Registration: 9:30 AM
Agenda Creation: 10:00 AM
Sessions: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Bar hopping afterwards


Martin Luther King Library in Chinatown (MAP)
901 G St NW
Washington, DC 2000

Last year, I made a hire due to BarCampDC. It's a good event. I'm looking forward to it again this year.

BarCampDC3 2009 - RSVP

Obama Appoints Scholar as New Copyright Czar | Threat Level |
Topic: Intellectual Property 1:22 pm EDT, Sep 28, 2009

The “copyleft” and the “copyright” are both applauding the presidential appointment Friday of Victoria A. Espinel to become the nation’s first copyright czar.

Congress created the new czar position last year as part of intellectual property reform legislation.

Espinel, who requires Senate confirmation, has a past in teaching and government. Most recently, she was a visiting scholar at the George Mason University School of Law, where she taught intellectual property and international trade. The White House said she was an intellectual property adviser to the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Finance Committee, House Judiciary Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. Espinel, in 2005, served as the nation’s top trade negotiator for intellectual property at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The czar’s position is charged with overseeing government anti-piracy crackdowns and, among other things, training other countries about IP enforcement. The Pro-IP Act also called for the creation of an FBI piracy unit and allows for the forfeiture of equipment used in large pirating operations. The legislation was strongly backed by Hollywood, the recording industry, unions, manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce.

Obama Appoints Scholar as New Copyright Czar | Threat Level |

Hey, TI, Leave Those Kids Alone | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Topic: MemeStreams 4:31 pm EDT, Sep 26, 2009

TI’s response has been to target programmers and bloggers with cease and desist letters telling them that the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act require them to take down the keys, remove links to forum discussions, and delete blog posts.

The law, however, is not on TI's side.

EFF on the DMCA takedown MemeStreams received.

Hey, TI, Leave Those Kids Alone | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Sun Unified Storage System
Topic: Computers 1:51 pm EDT, Sep 23, 2009

The Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System is ideal for enterprises requiring mission-critical storage and provides dramatically easier and faster ways to manage and scale your storage up to 288 TB[1].

If you are looking into storage systems, you've gotta check these things out. (Sun is not paying me to hype. These things are just making me happy.)

I'm staging two 7410 HA clusters right now. These things are so damn rad. The DTrace Analytics stuff is amazing (watch this, seriously). Even though it uses 7200 RPM drives, the NAND/HD hybrid ZFS storage pool tech makes it super fast. Also due to the usage of slower (and cheaper) drives, the power consumption is super low. While I'm staging, I've got both clusters running off a single 15 amp circuit. That's a total of four heads and two drive racks. No shit.

Support for Active Directory and CIFS is flawless. The LDAP/NIS and ID mapping support is very robust, so no problems with dual MS(CIFS)/*NIX(NFSv3&4) environments.

Also, no god damned RAID. It's all ZFS. That means insanely large volumes without insanely long volume rebuild times after a drive failure. No more RAID!!! W00h00!

Cluster failover takes less than 30 seconds. I've already tested various file operations while failing over the cluster, and the results are good. When hosting VMs off the cluster, there is a pause in all file operations for about 20 seconds, but nothing times out or fails.. In general, that's about as good as it gets.

I'm still in the process of testing out replication to different targets, but so far it seems brain-dead simple to configure, both continuous and scheduled replication.. Everything you'd expect to be able to do with snapshots works perfectly and can be done quickly.

The only complaint I have with it is that the networking is half baked. Out of the default four gig interfaces, you technically lose one on each node in the cluster because of the way it handles port bindings. The same network settings apply to both nodes in a cluster, so in order to have a unique IP for each head unit, you have to bind the address as a private resource to an interface. That means on the opposite node, you can't use the same interface for anything.

Also, while it fully supports multiple interfaces on different VLANs, it doesn't have separate routing instances for different interfaces or allow you to tweak what file sharing protocols (NFS/CIFS/etc) are available on each interface. That means if you want to provide file services to multiple networks, you must have a security gateway in the mix. Plan out your deployment as such..

Good job Sun!

Sun Unified Storage System

Lake Georgia
Topic: Local Information 9:33 am EDT, Sep 22, 2009

Parts of four major interstates in Atlanta were closed by flooding Tuesday morning, and emergency officials warned people not to drive unless it was absolutely necessary.

Northwest of downtown Atlanta in Vinings, muddy water rose from the Chattahoochee River and flooded into the parking lot of the high-end restaurant Canoe. The waters rose into businesses, some of which were nearly half full of water. In the parking lot, water almost covered cars.

Down the road in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, near Nancy Creek, multimillion-dollar homes were flooded. New Corvettes, BMWs and Lexuses sat submerged as residents banded together to try to push them out of the rising water.

Near Marietta, northwest of Atlanta, a flooded bridge blocked the only road out of a residential area surrounded by a national park and the Chattahoochee River. Two buses picked up elementary schoolchildren Monday morning, but flooding prevented them from picking up older students later, and the buses couldn't return with the first batch in the afternoon, said iReporter Pritam Jaipuriar, who lives there.

How are you guys making out down there? The news yesterday and today is making it sound like it's chaos down there..

Lake Georgia

Rattle's Prius hits 31337
Topic: Travel 5:10 pm EDT, Sep 16, 2009

You may remember this post where my Prius hit 1337:

And now, because only I can out lame myself, here is the sequel:

Rattle's Prius hits 31337

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