Sunday, June 27, 2004

Mocking my Mocumentary

Since no one really sees this blog but a very small number of friends, little I say here will have any lasting or significant impact on anyone's life. However, the friends who did read my earlier post about Fahrenheit 9/11 (yes, the both of you) have sent a little feedback. Mr. Light Green may or may not post a comment to the story. If he does I strongly recommend anyone interested in this issue to read what he says. And as for you, ya hardass union maker, I hope you get to post about this, too. I am sure that I will learn more from LG and the Beach Bumb about what is really happening in the world of politics. There was a time not so long ago when I was much more active in political issues. Now I haven't the strength to actively do anything. I can hardly take care of myself and my son these days. I do try to follow as much as I can. And not only the propaganda of one side, either. I prefer to get as much information from both sides that I can wean out of the highly political and partisan information that comes from the news and the rest of the media, like the afore mentioned Michael Moore film.

My previous rant against it didn't really make clear what I wanted to say about the movie. First; I do not care what political slant Moore wants to put on him films. If he'd have done something like this at the height of the Clinton presidency he'd have had enough for two or three films. And had this Clinton movie been made with the same care and passion of F 9/11 it would have been a big hit as well. And would still fall into the category to which I misnamed "Mocumentary".

I couldn't think up a better, more precise word at the time (and still can't, though I'm so doped up I can Barlow tupe... Uh, make that "barely type"). The bottom line beef I have with F 9/11 and any other kind of contrived and manipulated film, is that they shouldn't be called nor classified as documentaries. They are political propaganda, which is just fine. Nothing wrong with political propaganda, the current administration is a whiz at it. Clinton was a master. And the greatest of all just passed away a short while ago. Have you seen the movie Wag the Dog? That's really the way it's played when you get to that level of politics. You take a grain of truth, gather as much as you can to support this grain then use "the other side" to show how they messed things up and how you (or we, the "good guys") need to band together to fight this terrible evil government and it's leader.

Reminds me of The Passion of the Christ. Ol' Mell made a film as his depiction of the last days of Christ. It was done as a movie but it was intended to be as close to a documentary as possible. Of course it wasn't a documentary. It was a personalized expression of something that he thought and felt to be true. In it's way it is just the same kind of movie that F 9/11 is. Showing a slanted, jaded, biased, take a grain of truth and build a house of cards from it is just fine as a fiction or drama, like the Law and Order "Ripped from the headlines" catch. And just in case someone might think that I'm just saying this due to my political leanings, I an not a fan of GW at all. I think he really blew it in so many areas since 9/11 that this country could be in it up to it's neck for years. But had Michael Moore made a movie that was 100% the opposite, one that showed the world what a great leader GW was in the time of crises and all that I would still be sitting here typing away at this message.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is, by all accounts, a funny and sad and thought provoking movie. That's a good thing. If Moore has released this film honestly, as a fictional drama based on reality, in stead of a Documentary1, I'd be all for it. That's my real problem with his, and many others in the media industry. Hell, half the "news" reports these days are slanted one way or another.

If Michael Moore ever makes a real, documentary as defined by the very word "documentary", I might go see it. But, probably not. With a 7yo in the house all I get to see are Disney or Nickolodean or whatever Pixar might have out. With luck I will be taking him to see Spider-Man 2 this Wednesday. SP2 is not a documentary so there's little to be worried about if I go see it, huh?

1) From Merriam-Webster:
Main Entry: 1doc·u·men·ta·ry
Pronunciation: "dä-ky&-'men-t&-rE, -'men-trE
Function: adjective
1 : being or consisting of documents : contained or certified in writing
2 : of, relating to, or employing documentation in literature or art; broadly : FACTUAL, OBJECTIVE <a documentary film of the war>

Snakehead Terror - The Movie

SciFi pictures presents
SCIFI.COM | Snakehead Terror
"When a horror from the deep hunts
on land, there is no place to hide."

Just got finished watching this. Definitely not a lot of Science in this SciFi movie. But, since I live in the area where the move supposedly took place (it was at some fictional lake in Maryland) and, for the last two years, there have been Snakeheads found in the local waterways (including the Potomac River) I wanted to watch it anyway.

First off I was quite surprised at the level of graphic gore displayed in the movie. Lot's of dismemberment of bodies and blood squirting all over the place. It looked fake but still the idea of showing a mans or leg head being ripped off is still more than I'd expect from the SciFi Channel.

Bruce Boxleitner and Carol Alt starred in this film. Now, I have always like Bruce (he is Captain John Sheridan, after all) and he did a decent job. Carol is, as usual, very nice to look at. I wish she'd have shown more skin (I know, I'm a sexist pig; can't help it... I like to see women in as little clothing as possible).

As for the fish, the special effects weren't so bad considering the budget of this film had to be quite small. They probably spent most of it on the stars to give it the name factor. The plot was stretched paper thin but held together enough to make it to the end of the movie. All in all, though, not a movie I'd pay money for. If it hadn't been on the SciFi Channel I wouldn't have seen it in the first place.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Writing about Linux

I am not a writer. My brother is a writer. Yet somehow I have been writing articles and reviews, primarily on Linux and the web, for a few years now. I haven't quite figured out how I got into this.

Recently I've been writing for Linux Weekly News. I'm not at all pleased with the over-all quality of my writing but it's been fun. I plan on doing some reviews of various Linux distributions for next month. My intent is to focus on some of the lesser known and specialized distros. I am a little worried, though, about whether I can write anything good enough for publication anymore. Some of my previous work is decent but lately it seems like I can't get my thoughts in order well enough to write a coherent article. Maybe it's the fact that I have to write now (I promised LWN some articles for the summer). Or maybe it's just that I lack the in depth knowledge to write about specific things. That's one reason I'm going to be doing reviews for a while. It's easier to write about something you're playing with than something that's more esoteric like programming. Either way I hope that I can get some better quality stuff done. Even though I'm not an actual writer I'd still prefer it if the stuff I do write is worth reading.

Friday, June 25, 2004

2004 United States Grand Prix comments

Ferrari takes 1-2 again.

Man, what a strange race. It started when Juan Pablo Montoya couldn't get his Williams-BMW to start on the grid for the warm up lap. He jumped out of the car and sprinted in to the pits to get the second car. He started the race from pit lane and ran 57 of the scheduled 73 laps before the stewards black flagged him for not having a proper sticker in the car. Now, this was something the officials knew the minute he got in the car and, as the TV commentators said, they should have stopped him from leaving the garage let alone run 57 laps.

Then there was an accident at the first turn that took out 4 or 5 cars. A few cars blew tires on the shrapnel that was left on the track from the accident. The worst wreck was when Ralf Schumacher lost a tire and spun into the wall at over 300kmh. He was sitting in his car for over 15 minutes before they got anyone out to him. And the real strange part is that they didn't red flag the race. Even with the safety car out they ran through nearly 10 laps under the caution. Thank $DEITY Ralf is alright. Seems he's got a bruised back but is planning on ruinning in the French GP that's in 9 days 6 hours 30 minutes away (as I write this).

With all the attrition there were only 9 cars running at the end of the race compared to the 20 that started. One of the big happenings was that Minardi-Cosworth got their first F1 points in decades and Zsolt Baumgartner became the first Hungarian to score F1 Championship points. Takuma Sato also had a big day. For the first time in three or four races he didn't blow the engine in his BAR-Honda. Not only did he finished the race running, but he also gained his first podium ever. I can see good future potential in this kid.

The Schumacher/Barrichello 1-2 finish was the 6th or 7th of the season for Ferrari (to tired and lazy to look it up). Ferrari also moved within one win of ting Ford for the engine manufacture with the most total F1 wins, ever.

Now it's on to the July Sumo Basho. Gotta start making my picks for the Cyber games.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


I'm sure that everyone has already heard about Michael Moore's mocumentary "Fahrenheit 9/11". As one reviewer on the local news radio station said, if you're a liberal you will like it and if you are a conservative you won't. The movie is being seen as a great window on reality and a pile of dirt full of lies. I don't think there's anyone in any kind of middle ground on it. Moore is quite good at making these kind of movies, just look at his "Bowling for Columbine". Now, I haven't seen either of these films, nor have I seen anything done by Moore. I don't plan to, either. This has nothing to do with my political stance, though.

I can remember when Mr. Moore first came to the spotlight. He made "Roger & Me" documentaries for fun and profit. He knew they were not factual. We knew they were not factual. He even declared they were mocumentaries (think Spinal Tap). But somehow, between those first days and today, everyone seems to have forgotten that the movies Moore makes are all factious. He takes something that is happening in the world and makes entertaining (though, some may argue that point) fictional movies about them. I don't care what his political or social views are, I just don't like that people are taking his opinions as gospel truth.

I just finished a "discussion" with a co-worker, Light Green (aka LG), about Moore and his movies. LG is quite animated in his social and political views (but in a very rational way, something I admire him for) and he did regale me for making an opinion without ever seeing any of Moore's movies. He's right in that respect but my issue isn't with the movies themselves, It's with Moore's methods. LG commented that Moore's movies are put forth in such a way to balance the common media perception. Maybe this is true. But I don't like when anyone, whether it's on something I agree with or not, slants (or even blatantly misrepresents) the information they present.

Maybe I am being a bigoted, closed minded dumbass. I wouldn't doubt it. But I am getting to damn old to deal with so much BS that's in the world these days. I guess I'll just go see Spider-Man 2.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The Banzuke is out!

The Banzuke is the list of all the ranks for every rikishi active in Sumo. The current one was just recently released. This is a link to the top division known as Makuuchi. Sumo is a sport like no other. Most westerners think it's just two fat guys wearing a diaper trying to push the other out of a ring. It's so much more than that. Sumo has very deep cultural and religious roots. Sumo is probably the only thing in Japan which carries on the traditions and ways of the old samurai and the Shinto priests. The pre-Basho ceremony and the pre-fight rituals are stunning and marvelous to watch. You can see many of the matches on video at the above mentioned Banzuke site. You will be impressed, I promise you.

Sumo is a culture as well as a sport. It's over 2000 years old and embodies so many more things than just the physical aspects. There are some excellent books and references on the subject which you will likely find on eBay.

In a few weeks the 4th Basho, or tournament, of the 6 per year will be held. The most significant thing that has happened over the last few years is the absence of a Japanese Yokozuna, or Grand Champion. Right now there is only one Yokozuna, Asashoryu who is Mongolian and only 23yo. Just last year the only other Yokozuna, Musashimaru (from the US) retired. The last Japanese Yokozuna was the great Takanohana. The current crop of rikishi do not seem to be at the level of Asashoryu. The three Ozeki, or Champion rank, have been there for nearly a decade. Kaio is probably the best of the bunch. He's quite strong and has good technique but is a little inconsistent. Chiyotaikai is simply unable to beat Kaio or Asashoryu. The final Ozeki is Musoyama. His problem is that he just isn't good enough. He's got enough trouble trying to keep his Ozeki ranking.

Of the younger batch I think that Hokutoriki could have a chance. He's finally up with the big boys so we'll have to see how he does this Basho. It must be noted, though, that he beat all three Ozeki's and the Yokozuna last Basho. It looked like he fell apart on the last two days (a Basho lasts 15 days) probably from nerves and pressure. He ended the Basho in a tie with Asashoryu and lost to him in the playoff. If he can make a good showing this time I feel he has the potential. One other good, and very interesting, younger guy is Kokkai. He's the first wrestler from Georgia (the ex-USSR state, not the Peach state). He's still learning the way of Ozumo but he's doing pretty good so far and has a lot of fighting spirit. When the July tournament commences I will be rooting for Asa, Hoku and Kokkai.

I will also be playing many of the virtual Sumo games online. They are like Fantasy League Baseball or Football, but much more fun (at least for me). The ones I will be entering this coming Basho are -

o  GTB (Guess The Banzuke)*
o  RotoSumo
o  Sekitori-Oracle
o  Sekitori-Toto
o  Totoro's Hoshitori
o  CyberSumo
o  ISP (Internet Sumo Pool)
o  The Chain Gang

The one I have played the most is Totoro's Hoshitori where I have achieved the rank of Maegashira 1 (see my Sumo page for my info). It's only a shame that there aren't these kinds of games available for my other sport, Formula 1. You'd never guess that though, right?.

And speaking of F1, I'll have to give a rundown and comments on the US GP run this last Sunday. It was one wild rude, that's for sure.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Selected driver quotes From the US GP Qualifying

As I post this there's 1 hour and 23 minutes till race start. It will be interesting to see if Rubens holds the lead or gives it up to Michael. And if Sato can keep from blowing his Honda engine things could be really fun.

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (1st, 1m 10.223s):
"It is great to take pole here at Indy where there were so many Brazilians cheering, I could even hear them in the cockpit. The car has been good all weekend, although I think Michael made a bit more progress than me today."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 10.400s):
"I cannot complain, because I am on the front row with my team-mate alongside me, so we have to be happy with that."

Takuma Sato, BAR (3rd, 1m 10.601s):
"I'm pleased with third on the grid for tomorrow. It was a shame that we couldn't reach the Ferraris as we were looking good in practice this morning. I'll settle for third and an all-BAR second row is great for the team."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (14th, 1m 12.470s):
"We suffered with lack of rear-end grip in qualifying, which we expected after yesterday. Although my lap today was not perfect, I know we have a good race strategy. In other races we have had good race pace and proved that we can do well, so I'll be pushing hard again tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli, Renault (20th, no time):
"Naturally, I'm extremely disappointed. I had trouble exiting the garage because first gear would not engage, and then the car would not change gear properly on my lap; at this time, we think the problem was caused by the steering wheel. Looking ahead, it will be tough race tomorrow but we can still look to score points."

Saturday, June 19, 2004

What's In A Name?

Obviously I've changed the name of my blog.

An old online friend ran across my blog the other day and asked me why I didn't name it "My UnKNown Blog". This is a reference to the old BBS days when I ran a board named My UnKnown BBS. Ironically, my board became quite well known globally. I hadn't thought about those days in years. But the idea of naming this blog My UnKnown should have been my first choice. Guess I'm getting old in my old age.

You know, in many ways I miss the old BBS/Fido days. The boards were much more communal. Since dialing long distance wasn't so cost effective the users of a board were generally local. Having a virtual community that was also a physical community made things very cozy. Don't get me wrong, I love the web. But there is more than just simple nostalgia when I think back to the days of yore when you could actually meet in person the people you knew online.

Last week with my son

I've been divorced for two-and-a-half years after a one-and-a-half year separation. During this time the physical custody of our son went from me having him only every other weekend to us alternating weeks with the weekends to the current setup of me having him all week during the school year and her having him all week during the summer. We still alternate weekends and the major holidays. Tomorrow I take him over to spend the summer with her.

This is going to be a long three months.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Ferrari lead BAR in session one

The US GP is just two days away. After the final results from Canada last Sunday, things are looking good for Ferrari. Can anyone come close to the two red devils?

It looked like things we going to be a lot closer at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit last week. The first third of the race had many teams in contention. But Ferrari ran a two stop race, as opposed to a three stop strategy that the rest of the field ran, to hold off everyone. At the end of the race Michael Schumacher held off his brother Ralf to take his 7th win in 8 races this season. Rubens Barrichello came in third to give Ferrari a 1-3 finish. Things didn't stay this way for long, though. Both the Williams and Toyota were disqualified for improper specs on their brake ducts. This moved Rubens up to 2nd and gave Timo Glock, driving in his first F1 race ever (driving as a replacement for the Jordan-Ford team) 2 points. Ferrari widened it's lead in the Constructors race with 124 points over Renaults 61. Michael also became the first F1 driver to win 7 races on the same track.

One other thing that is strangely interesting is the plight of Takuma Sato driving for BAR-Honda. For the third race in a row he's had his engine let go in spectacular displays of smoke. I think he could be a real star in the sport if he could get a complete race out of his Honda engine. It doesn't seem to be a problem with the Honda engines overall performance as his teammate Jenson Button has finished well (he's currently in third place in the Drivers Championship with 44 points).

We will just have to see what comes out of the race Sunday at the Brickyard. Will Sato finish the race? Will Williams get back into form? And what about McLaren? They finished 5th and 6th in Canada for their best team showing of the season. And will Renault get back on track this week? Ask me again in two days.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Lots of Linux this Weekend

I am planning on doing a bunch of things this weekend. First, I'm already in the middle of upgrading my main workstation from Fedora Core 1 to Fedora Core 2. Shouldn't be a major problem there. Then I need to redo the new server (ok, I've had the damned thing for 7 months so it's not "new"). I had it running with Whitebox Linux but the partition setup I had was not quite optimal. The 500MB I'd allocated to /var was not nearly enough. The system has a 120GB drive in it and I'm thinking about putting another 60GB drive in as well. Still need to figure out a good partition scheme. I usually have these partitions on servers -


This should be good enough to handle what I need to run on this box. The only question is how much space to allocate to each one. I'm also thinking about trying cAos CentOS-3 instead of Whitebox. No major reason other than wanting to see how they look against each other.

I also want to play a little with SUSE Linux. I really believe that Novell has a clue this time and Novell SUSE Linux will be even better than it is now. I haven't really looked at SUSE in many years. It'll be good to get a feel for it.

Lastly, I have a couple of articles I need to write for Linux Weekly News. There's two in the queue right now, though the editors are thinking about combining them into one. that should work as they are very similar articles that have a lot of overlap. I have another one outlined that needs to be put together. Then I'm going to do some reviews of different, lesser known linux distros. There's a couple of them out there that look pretty interesting. I just wish I had the time and resources to spend doing this more often.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Slashdot | Linus Torvalds Moving to the Silicon Forest

Slashdot | Linus Torvalds Moving to the Silicon Forest. I wish I was someone important enough to have news organizations track where I move to. But then again, maybe it's better that some people don't know. :-/

The Daily Grind

Unless I'm jinxing myself by saying this already, when I go to work tomorrow it will be the first full work week I've had since I don't remember. Missing all that work has made a real impact on my income. I only get paid for the hours I work. The last few paychecks were between half and 2/3's. I had to borrow money from my mother yesterday just to get gas in the car. Hopefully, with the warmer weather and the adjustments to the medication I'm on, I will be in much better shape and have a better chance of being able to work the hours I am supposed to.

There is one thing that annoys me on occasion. My ex-wife will complain that she's short on money and needs her girlfriend to work in order for them to have enough to live on. Yet I, with virtually the same net income, have to pay for almost everything related to our son (child care, school lunches, school clothes, health insurance/medical costs, food and lodging for the school year). Not to mention any extra curricular activities like Tae Kwon Do (tuition, uniform, testing, graduation, etc). It's just me and him in a house I am renting for $1180/mo while most of the time is her and her girlfriend in an apartment with a much lower rent and no child expenses. She does have a brand new car (well it's a 2001 Ford Taurus) and doesn't seem to have any trouble going out every other weekend or going to a concert.

But it's not the crying of "I'm so poor" that's the worst. It's the fact that she has someone there with her to help her with our son. If she's not feeling good her girlfriend can spend time and play with him. When I'm under the weather, which happens often due to the medical disability I have, I got no one to help me with him. He is such a sweet and intelligent boy, though. When I am hit hard (i.e. unable to get out of bed at all) he does a great job of taking are of me. He really is an incredible and wonderful child.

I get paid on the 15th so hopefully that will let me pay off the big-ass stack of bills sitting on the table. Playing the bill juggling game really sucks. After next week our son will be staying with his mother for the summer (I get him during the school year and we alternate every weekend and major holidays). It will be very difficult to be in the house alone. Last summer I spent the time lying on the couch watching crap on TV that sucked because I didn't even feel like moving enough to change the channel. This summer I am going to put forth an effort to get back into programming again. That and start going back to TKD again. It's been nearly a year since I've been there regularly. I am hoping that the hacking and TKD will keep me motivated enough so I don't fall into the "Pit of Despair" when he's not here.

And with a little luck I can kick this Eclipse habit that's stuck on me worse than white on rice. I was able to stop for a few months using Skoal but about two weeks ago I fell back into the cigarette's. There are just some days that you can't get through w/o something to give a little kick. What I need is a wife.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

My personal home page

It's been many, many years since I worked on my useless vanity page. So this evening I redid it. It's even more sparse than before but the directories are cleaned up and now I should be able to make a simple but decent looking bunch of pages. Something like what I did with the now defunct WebTrek site.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Sumo videos

Natsu Basho 2004 Movies. The Natsu Basho is the third tournament (Basho) of six that happen every year. Sumo, along with Formula 1 racing, are my favorite sports. Most people think that Sumo is just two fat guys trying to push each other out of a ring. On the surface this is true. But Sumo is so much more. There's a culture and history that goes back 1500 years or more. And the Sekitori, or professional Sumo wrestler, are really very athletic. If you watch their practices you'd be amazed at their flexibility and strength and, especially, their conditioning. They aren't going to be running any marathons but in the few seconds that a bout normally lasts they will expend as much energy as someone playing a full game of soccer. These guys are like NFL linebackers covered by a good sized layer of fat. And the fat is actually a help in Sumo. It's all about balance and center of gravity. If you want to see something amazing look at the bouts with the Yokozuna (Grand Champion) Asashoryu. You will never view Rikishi in the same way again.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Blog this: Network Your Shell Scripts with Netpipes

Network Your Shell Scripts with Netpipes by Robert Bernier -- Shell scripting and automation are an administrator's most powerful tools. Unfortunately, many processes require transferring data back and forth between machines. Instead of tunneling yet another app over HTTP or writing yet another ad-hoc protocol, why not use netpipes? Robert Bernier explains this set of utilities that provide network-aware pipes to shell programmers.

This looks interesting. I wonder how it would fair against ssh, though. My opinion based on a quick browsing of the article suggests to me that Netpipes covers a different kind of situations from what ssh can do. With luck I will find a few minutes to really look into this and maybe write an article on how it compares with ssh's remote script execution capabilities.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Results and observations of the European GP

The headline says it all. Schumacher unstoppable at the Nurburgring. After a strange outing in Monaco where Michael hit the wall in the tunnel late in the race, thus ending his season winning streak at 5, he came back to take the European GP. After building a "devastating 17s lead" by the 7th lap it was just a matter of keeping it on the track. Rubens Barrichello, driving the second Ferrari, used a cunning two stop strategy (as opposed to the three stop strategy that the majority of teams used) to take 2nd. This gave Ferrari their 4th 1-2 finish in 7 races and puts them 45 points ahead of the next team in the Constructors Championship. Michael leads the Drivers Championship by 14 points. Second place is held by Rubens so it's looking good for the 6 time world champion to get his 5th consecutive title. It's still early in the season, though, and there already are some interesting happenings this year.

The most significant is the success of both the Renault and BAR-Honda teams. They stand 2nd and 3rd respectively in the constructors championship. Williams-BMW being 4th would normally be the talk of the season except for the situation at McLaren-Mercedes. The disastrous showing of the once proud and storied team is shocking, to say the least. They only have 5 points so far, just 1 more than the young Toyota team. The success of the Renault and BAR teams has not gone unnoticed by Ferrari. They are already working to try and get a little more speed from their engine and chaise. If Toyota could keep their engines from blowing they might be much higher in the standings, too. I'm sure that there will be some interesting races coming in the middle third of the season.

Can Ferrari keep their dominance? Will Renault or BAR find that little bit of performance that can catapult them to the top? Can Toyota fix their engine and keep it from blowing, albeit in such spectacular fashion? What about McLaren? Will Minardi-Cosworth ever get any points this season? We'll just have to see what the future holds.