Friday, June 18, 2004

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

ThinkGeek :: PlusDeck

Once again, that is all.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

ThinkGeek :: USB Mini Desktop Aquarium

That is all.

4:45 am and no end in sight...

I have a serious sleep problem, in that since I work from at the earliest 2:00 pm to 10:pm every day, I don't wake up until 1 or 2 pm depending on the day, and I stay awake until 4 something or 5 something am every day. I'm getting a normal amount of sleep, for a college student anyway, it's just shifted off by 6 hours or so. I can't help but feel slightly useless everyday I don't get anything done, but then again, I guess that's why I have days like today and Tuesday to keep me on my toes. Tuesday's example, from an email I sent to my boss:

We may get a call from a <name removed> who will probably be breathing fire down your neck about how we didn't loan her the things she thought we did.

As I understand it, she called at some point this morning and spoke to Lundy about her class in ArtSoc 3217. Apparently, somoene in the art building told her our number and said "talk to them for stuff." She called here and asked for a VCR and projector and Lundy told her that wouldn't be a problem because we deliever to 3215 or some such logic (I only tell you because she tried to use it back on me, so I guess it'll come back again) and that if there were any problems we would call her back (also apparently; I wasn't here for that). Anyway, she told us to set up at 4:00 in the message or 4:15 when she talked to Josh, and Toby actually did take stuff up there at 4:15.

Now comes the fun part. Toby calls back to say "hey, there's already a class in here and there is no '<name removed>' teaching it. What should I do?" I told him to come back because it was for an EDUC class in ASY and that's about as unsupported by us as you can be. Well, 5:35 rolls around and Ms. <name removed> calls us to ask where here equipment is, asking for Toby. Toby didn't know what to tell her, so I talked to her and explained that her class is unsupported by our office and her only real recourse is to call OIT or possibly nonprint media. She regails me with tales of lesson plans and requests, and fills me in on the details of her conversation with Lundy. I am puzzled because I have told her we don't support her, and so on and so forth. I forgot temporarily about the fact that we had actually tried to deliever her stuff, and told her, I'm sorry, but there's really nothing I can do for you here. We don't have the resources for loaning outside our college. At this point she told me EDUC has their own equipment that isn't supposed to go beyond building walls and how she's scheduled for some other building, so on and so forth, then asks for your name and says she'll be calling back.

I was definitely having a Dante day, given that I bothered to show up first thing in the morning and half an hour before my shift started, thus getting me into that mess in the first place. Fortunately, my boss doesn't care tremendously much, and that makes me a lot happier.

Then today happens.

The world's largest thunderstorm decided to ravage and otherwise have its way with several of the buildings on campus, most notably my building and Skinner hall. The AV rack in skinner decided to start shorting out, as evidenced by Rice Crispies in the sound system, meaning it's never a good day when you wake up to Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Those smarmy bastards always looked like they were up to no good. Anyway, we also had one projector in the celing of Key 0106 and one of the old ones in the closet get water on them, and we're no longer sure that we should be using them. Always a positive feeling when dealing with over $15,000 worth of equipment. We had to rustle up OIT tech support, too, and that was fun, talking to all kinds of people who didn't seem too thrilled about dealing with flood damage.

I came home though to find a letter from Katy. She's doing well, survived the gas chamber. This was her first letter that didn't have a feeling of her not thinking she'd make it through BCT. Hearing that makes me happy; I know it's a lot easier to do hard-work-and-deprivation stuff like that when you believe you can actually do it. I wrote back my first substantial letter, which I need to drop off in a couple hours. (I don't think I'm going to sleep tonight, instead choosing to subside off naps.) The post office should pick up from me. And I don't mean my mailbox; I mean I want them to waltz up in here and take my letters from me when I have them ready. Lazy bastards.

Anyway, the real reason I wanted to write today is I can't think of any good birthday gifts to ask for from my parents. My birthday is in... 19 days or something. I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to buy for my computer, all of which was related to music. But given my computer's dismal performance at track mixing and its simultaneous playback/record operation or lack thereof, I'm not sure I want any of that anymore. I'm having trouble deciding if I should ask for it anyway and just hook it up to a new computer when I get my loan money, or if I should ask for help buying a new computer and just get the music stuff later. I think I've decided on a powerbook G4 12", since it's a reasonable amount of power for 1400 bucks, and it has everything I need in a computer plus portability. I really want the portable aspect because I'd like to start working in earnest on teaching myself valid programming skill. Maybe then I can successfully get Gaim to compile. Filthy Gaim. Regardless, if you have any suggestions, I am open to them.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Newdow got slapped and Farkers are jackasses


(No. 02-1624)


from the concurring opinion by Chief Justice Rhenquist

I do not believe that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge converts its recital into a "religious exercise" of the sort described in Lee. Instead, it is a declaration of belief in allegiance and loyalty to the United States flag and the Republic that it represents. The phrase "under God" is in no sense a prayer, nor an endorsement of any religion, but a simple recognition of the fact noted in H. R. Rep. No. 1693, at 2: "From the time of our earliest history our peoples and our institutions have reflected the traditional concept that our Nation [*50] was founded on a fundamental belief in God." Reciting the Pledge, or listening to others recite it, is a patriotic exercise, not a religious one; participants promise fidelity to our flag and our Nation, not to any particular God, faith, or church. n4

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

n4 JUSTICE THOMAS concludes, based partly on West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), that Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992), coercion is present in the School District policy. Post, at 3-5 (opinion concurring in judgment). I cannot agree. Barnette involved a board of education policy that compelled students to recite the Pledge. 319 U.S., at 629. There was no opportunity to opt out, as there is in the present case. "Failure to conform [was] 'insubordination' dealt with by expulsion. Readmission [was] denied by statute until compliance. Meanwhile the expelled child [was] 'unlawfully absent' and [could] be proceeded against as a delinquent. His parents or guardians [were] liable to prosecution, and if convicted [were] subject to a fine not exceeding $ 50 and jail term not exceeding thirty days." Ibid. (footnotes omitted). I think there is a clear difference between compulsion (Barnette) and coercion (Lee). Compulsion, after Barnette, is not permissible, and it is not an issue in this case. And whatever the virtues and vices of Lee, the Court was concerned only with "formal religious exercises," 505 U.S., at 589, which the Pledge is not.

- - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes- - - - - - - - - - - - - - [*51]

There is no doubt that respondent is sincere in his atheism and rejection of a belief in God. But the mere fact that he disagrees with this part of the Pledge does not give him a veto power over the decision of the public schools that willing participants should pledge allegiance to the flag in the manner prescribed by Congress. There may be others who disagree, not with the phrase "under God," but with the phrase "with liberty and justice for all." But surely that would not give such objectors the right to veto the holding of such a ceremony by those willing to participate. Only if it can be said that the phrase "under God" somehow tends to the establishment of a religion in violation of the First Amendment can respondent's claim succeed, where one based on objections to "with liberty and justice for all" fails. Our cases have broadly interpreted this phrase, but none have gone anywhere near as far as the decision of the Court of Appeals in this case. The recital, in a patriotic ceremony pledging allegiance to the flag and to the Nation, of the descriptive phrase "under God" cannot possibly lead to the establishment of a religion, or anything like it.

When courts extend constitutional [*52] prohibitions beyond their previously recognized limit, they may restrict democratic choices made by public bodies. Here, Congress prescribed a Pledge of Allegiance, the State of California required patriotic observances in its schools, and the School District chose to comply by requiring teacher-led recital of the Pledge of Allegiance by willing students. Thus, we have three levels of popular government -- the national, the state, and the local -- collaborating to produce the Elk Grove ceremony. The Constitution only requires that schoolchildren be entitled to abstain from the ceremony if they chose to do so. To give the parent of such a child a sort of "heckler's veto" over a patriotic ceremony willingly participated in by other students, simply because the Pledge of Allegiance contains the descriptive phrase "under God," is an unwarranted extension of the Establishment Clause, an extension which would have the unfortunate effect of prohibiting a commendable patriotic observance.


So not only did Michael Newdow get slapped around on his custodial standing, but Chief Justice Rhenquist actually slapped him around on the establishmentary nature of "under God." I can't say I feel sorry for him. His girl's mother filed a motion for leave citing her own legal custody of the child, which Newdow immediately turned around and dodged by saying "Well, I'm not really acting on the behalf of my daughter anymore." I find it somewhat amazing that the lower courts managed to ignore the fact that his argument essentially works against him by proudly pointing out that he has no legal standing in the case any more anyway. That issue aside, The issue of the establishmentary nature of the phrase is moot anyway because the pledge is not compulsory. The court ruled previously, as you can see in the footnote inline with the text above, that a school-led pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional if it is required. In that West Virginia case, if a student didn't participate, he was expelled for 'insubordination.' I think we can all agree that, in that case, the requirement was unconstitutional. However, in California, participation is optional. The consideration of the child's emotional welfare must come into question at some point, especially with regard to how much abuse the child takes due to his nonparticipatory stand on the issue. However, that too is almost not worth worrying about when you see the whole picture: lots of kids are made fun of for lots of reasons, and nobody presents a constitutional challenge for any of those. Essentially, if it's good enough for Rhenquist on this particular issue, it's good enough for all of us.

Farkers, however, don't seem to get this. Most of them say that the court dodged the issue; no, the court held to its constitutional duty to evaluate the case based on the legal issues that applied to it. In Federal cases, you have to establish standing in order to be able to argue a case; if you don't have standing, then the case cannot be judged one way or the other regardless of how coherently you present an argument for it. In one such case in Alabama, an inmate sentenced to death by lethal injection challenged his sentence on the basis that, if a suitable vein could not be found in his legs or ordinary insertion points in his arms, a procedure known as a 'cut down' would be used, involving making a two inch incision in his upper arm to find a vein to use there. This procedure takes place while the inmate is fully conscious and not numbed, and is barbaric and exploratory surgery at best. The justices agreed on that point, however the violation of the Eighth Amendment could not be addressed because the prisoner had already challenged his sentence in the same fashion and lost his case. Had he not, the decision probably would have gone his way. Nelson v. Campbell, 347 F.3d 910 It is clear that the courts must first ensure that the legality of the suit is intact before they address the legality of the issue at hand. This is not "dodging the issue." Newdow himself did that when he changed his stance from representing his daughter to crusading against the inclusion of the non-"religious" use of the word God. Why non-"religious"? Something you have to remember about the word religion is that it does not apply to faith directly; it only applies to the doctrine and observation of that faith. Establishment of Religion implies tying a specific observational system to the government and its procedures and literature. Indication of faith implies no such establishment, especially when you look at the rich and developed history of faith-based action in the United States and the agents of its government. Chief Justice Rhenquist's concurring opinion handily deliniates some important points in that history, should you feel curiosity's tickle (as well as indicating just how much times have changed: he cites an internet site for the lyrics of the "Star Spangled Banner").

In conclusion, the court decided correctly, and I for one applaud them in upholding their duty to act according to the law and not their own whim. The decision regarding the establishment should not have been included in the majority opinion, which would have established direct precedent. Even so, Rhenquist did well to write about the implications of the word God and its relationship to faith, not religion.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Yes indeed it's fun time

Every now and then I am reminded of why I hate living here. Right now there is a cat yowling wildly (we can only presume) in the laundry room because it's locked out of its owner's room. Jeff says this is why we don't get cats; I am inclined to agree. We like Trouble, but trouble is also much more self contained as he is "adult" and can be ignored. The kitten however is not in our intrest nor is it low key. Nobody upstairs right now has the desire or energy for it, and it only served to remind us that we want to get the hell out of here. As quickly as possible.

Which reminds me, I need to go talk to my aunt and uncle tomorrow about what I'm going to do with myself at the end of the month. So depressing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Open Source

In an unrelated note, I embarked yesterday on trying to get mozilla Firefox and Gaim 0.78 to build on my mac. I failed miserably, but only because firefox won't build as anything but mozilla 1.6 and gaim has some serious problems with the international locales not matching each other or something. I'm thinking about contacting the maintainer of the fink-gaim package to see what he does to get it to build, but hell, who knows. Anyway, I figured that putting the list of packages I needed to put together to build GTK+ 2.4.2 and the preliminary dependencies for Mozilla and Gaim.

Open Source Software compile notes.

Build system information:

Power Macintosh G4/400 (sawtooth)

Mac OS X 10.3.4

Xcode 1.1 (gcc3.3)

Unnecessary compiles:

render-0.8: ok;

xrender-0.8.4: ok;

libxrender-0.8.4: ok;

renderext-0.8: ok;

Initial dependencies for GTK+2.4.2:

pkgconfig: ok;

libpng: ok;

libtiff: ok;

libjpeg: adjusted;

copy from /usr/share/automake-1.6:



pass into ./configure --enable-static;

build ok;

gettext-0.14.1: ok;

freetype-2.1.8: ok;

expat-1.95.7: ok;

fontconfig-2.2.2: ok;

libXft-2.1.6: ok;

GTK+-2.4.2 packages:

glib-2.4.2: ok;

atk-1.6.0: ok;

pango-1.4.0: ok;

xcursor-1.0.2: ok;

#note: can and probably should be moved to prelim deps.

gtk+-2.4.2: adjusted;

added line "#include " to


#note: I did this on a backup.

build ok;


libIDL-0.6.8: adjusted;

since GLIB 2.4.2 didn't install glib-config, I had to

copy this file over from fink.

build ok;

firefox-0.8: ok;

#note- used "--with-x" to configure


aspell-0.50.5: ok;

gtkspell-2.0.5: ok;

#note: used --enable-gtk-doc=no to work.

tcl-8.4.0: ok;

tk-8.4.0: ok;

libxml2-2.6.9: ok;

libao-0.8.5: ok;

audiofile-0.2.3: adjusted;

may have needed --disable-shared then --disable static;

build ok;

esd-0.2.8: unneeded;

nas-1.6: bitch to build, going without;

O great and exalted potentate of stupitude!

Ren and Stimpy is on SpikeTV every morning at 2 am. Not the new crappy one, either. The old one. Where they said things like O great and exalted potentate of stupitude. I am tempted to adopt that as my official job title soon. Why? Because I can!

Nobody has stolen my house yet, thank God, although with each passing day I fear more that my car will be missing when I wake up. Oh well.

As for my government class, I talked to my professor and he seems to think I am some kind of troubled Genius. He says it's very typical of students like myself to make procedural errors while getting caught up in the creativity of the moment. He also seems to think I need to go to the counseling center to get advice on a good way to do assignments without being stupid about them. Moreover, I think it's great that A) I am recognizably talented and B) someone finally believes me when I say I need some kind of help. Well, there are plenty of people who believe me, however they're Jeff and Katy and that's it. All the rest of you are lying to yourselves or something. Anyway, they didn't accept my first paper so I had to redo it. I turned it in today, and my professor seemed more pleased with the fact that it was under the limit pagewise, so hopefully, that'll end well for me.

I'm a troubled genius.

I'm the great and exalted potentate of stupitude.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

In the Ghetto

Well, I am back in PG county.

My house has been broken into since I left, and I am afraid enough for my safety that I'm going to be sleeping with my 1/2 inch drive breaker bar next to my bed.

And to think... I never actually thought I would get the chance to use it as an implement of kneecap destruction.

<edit to remove misinformed anger... > At any rate, I am back. I start work tomorrow, and thursday apparently I need to talk to my government professor about my grade in the class. I am terrified because I dont' know why he wants to talk to me when I am pleased with the C I got (underachieving engineering student still guides my grade acceptance policy), but at the same time, he reviewed my appeals and my final. Scary, because it may become evident that I don't actually know anything. Well, whatever, I won't have to deal with him by requirement ever again should I be angry at him. But on the positive side, he did talk to my TA who I believe thought I was ... well some kind of star. I don't know, I just don't. Will keep you posted though.