Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How to view CNN Live Stream in Ubuntu Linux

I can't yet watch it through the browser, but here is how you can watch it in mplayer:

mplayer -playlist http://www.cnn.com/video/live/cnnlive_1.asx

Monday, June 23, 2008

Swiftboating from the Left - Paul Harris's "The Real McCain"

The teaser of Harris's article is this:
"To his fans he's a lovable patriot with a maverick streak. But to his critics he's an anti-abortion Creationist who surrounds himself with religious extremists. Paul Harris uncovers the dark side of John McCain"
I'm an Obama supporter, but merely from the teaser I already want to run to McCain's defense. An "anti-abortion Creationist"? Really?? Bullshit. This is like the Obama "Terrorist fist jab" teaser on Fox - its utterly stupid. And provably so from a not-to-long ago debate:

The rest of the article is blindingly obvious in its propagandistic machinery.
  1. Briefly mention a few reasons someone might think he's not such a bad guy (make sure to put it in the subjunctive).
  2. Claim this is all a facade to "propel him to the Oval Office".
  3. Expose the "dark side" that "lies behind his public mask".
  4. Pull out any dirt you can and start slinging.
Precisely this formula is being used against the Obama (mainly by the likes of Sean Hannity):
  1. Admit that Obama appears to be a charismatic speaker that claims to transcend traditional politics.
  2. "But what do we really know about Obama?" (said in a deep throaty voice, while zooming in)
  3. We'll expose "the real Obama":
  4. (On a loop): Wright, Ayers, bitter clingers quote, Michelle Obama's undergrad thesis (really??)
The Conclusion: These are the patterns of a radical anti-american leftest unfit to be president!!

FUCK OFF!! Yes, I'm speaking to you Hannity. You are not a great American. You are not a good conservative. You are an offensive disingenuous propagantist. And your tricks are heavy-handed.

Back to my present topic - this Hannity-esk hack-job on McCain. Follow the formula, Harris, follow the formula:

Step One: Briefly mention some characteristics those that respect McCain might mention.
"For a lot of Americans - including many Democrats - it is a beguiling vision. They see a war hero whose courage was forged in a North Vietnamese POW camp. They see a maverick who spoke against the tortures of Abu Ghraib. They see a reformer who acts against lobbyists and political favours."

Step Two: Introduce the turn: "But there is another, very different side to John McCain. Away from the headlines and the stirring speeches, a less familiar figure lurks."


Step Three
: (Start appealing to contextless speech-clips and common suspicions):
"It is a McCain who has sided with religious and political extremists who believe Islam is evil and gays are immoral. It is a McCain who wants to appoint extreme conservatives to the Supreme Court and see abortion banned. This McCain has a notoriously volatile temper that has scared some senior members of his own party."

Step Four
: NOW the real fun starts! Start cutting and pasting. Don't imply anything to directly, though. Let the "facts" speak from themselves (so we can decide!), but edit carefully. Draw a thread through the pieces just right, and you can present a very threating pattern. And it will simply be a "perponderance of the evidence". Here we go!
  • War-mongerer: "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."
  • Hot-tempered: "physically scuffling with aged Senator Strom Thurmond on the Senate floor"
  • Misogynist: "At least I don't plaster on the make-up like a trollop, you cunt"
  • Radical associations: "friends with G Gordon Liddy, one of the Watergate burglars. Liddy, who once plotted to kill a left-wing journalist, has hosted a fundraiser with McCain in his own home."
  • Ties to Lobbyists: "McCain is very much at home with K Street's sharp-suited denizens, their wealthy clients and their art of influence-peddling."
  • etc., etc.

Is the mosaic clear yet?

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Recent Politics: Obama and McCain - Weighing the Options

McCain has had a number of really interesting ideas lately. At least they are not the standard tired Republican BS that you hear spouted from the likes of Hannity and his dippy followers. Here are the ones I'm referring to:

Town Hall meetings with Obama - This is a great idea! It gets us away from the silly and uninformative debates where each candidate is supposed to boil down a solution to a complex problem into a 30 second sound-bite. Not only they get to deal with the public directly (which will probably lead to its own silliness though), but the newish format would suggest that both campaigns are really interested promoting a different type of politics. Unfortunately it looks like Obama won't take him up on it :( Here is a snipit from a recent Time article:
After expressing interest in the idea initially, Obama has since backed away, saying he will meet McCain for only one joint town hall, on July 4, when few Americans will be huddled around a television set to watch politics. McCain rejected the counteroffer as insufficient. The negotiations have since broken down, and the two sides are trading blame. "We made a serious counterproposal," Obama spokesman Bill Burton says. "They are content to snipe from the sidelines."
More investment in nuclear energy - Although nuclear energy may not be an ideal solution, I think it is the best idea anyone's got right now. Obama doesn't totally reject this idea either (good for him):
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Friday nuclear power was "not a panacea" for U.S. energy woes but it is worth investigating its further development.
$300M prize for new auto battery - Again, another interesting idea! Although it has a government incentive, it is nonetheless a market based solution (which I like). That said, I agree with comment on the Digg forum that "it should involve putting the patent in public domain. if you are going to give tax payer dollars, everyone should be able to use this knowledge".

Overall, McCain seems to be offering more creative and thought-provoking proposals about energy independence than Obama. In fact, I haven't really heard anything interesting from Obama in this regard. Am I missing it, or has he really not presented a vision of energy independence (and I'm asking this as an Obama supporter)?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How to Upgrade to Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex

It took me a while to find this, and it should not be done on a production machine (I'm installing it in Virtualbox), but here is how to install very early version of the next version of Ubuntu:

1. Install Hardy
2. change /etc/apt/sources.list so it contains only this:
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ intrepid main restricted universe multiverse
3. sudo aptitude update
4. sudo aptitude dist-upgrade

EDIT: You can now download an iso of Intrepid from here (note: These ISO's don't seem to work with Virtualbox - see bug report here).

EDIT EDIT: If you want to try a liveCD, look here.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: Now that the alphas are out, the easiest way to upgrade to Intrepid is with the following command (still not recommended for production machines):

sudo update-manager -d

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6 year old gets a shinny new credit card

And there was no fraud. His mom helped him to fill out the application that was sent to him, and they put in all of the correct info. You can find the story here.

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In 1932 Louis Armstrong Recorded A Little Known Song...

... that Britney Spears made famous 70 years or so later. I'm talking about:

Oops! I Did It Again

Check it out - you can listen to it online! I especially love the doo-wop section!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Leo Laporte - I Iove this guy!

This guy works his ass off. If you haven't checked out his live online broadcast, check it out here. You'll learn alot!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Pretty cool banner

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What do we call this decade?

I started trying to compiling a list of my favorite albums of this decade, but I ran into the problem of trying to figure out what to call this decade. Here is an NPR interview on it (I love NPR). Here are some of the proposals:

The Oughts
The Naughties
The Double Os
The Zips

Though none have really stuck. The first thing to come to mind is:

The Bush Era

Which means a couple of decades from here no one will really refer to it anyway (much like we don't refer to it in the last century). I guess it might be a decade worth forgetting, I've spent pretty much the whole damn decade in graduate school. I'm just hoping we will usher in the next decade with the change, hope, and vision Obama may bring. I'm looking forward to turning the page.

I'll just call it: The First Decade of the 21st Century. Unwieldy, but at least everyone knows what I'm talking about.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Base64 decode to file

The internet sometimes sucks. I spent about 20 minutes searching the internet for an easy way to decode a base64 file in linux. Shouldn't be that hard. In fact, there is a base64 command. But fuck me, I sure couldn't get it to work with the file I had (which was supposed to decode into a .jpg). There is tons of nonsense about the theory and some stupid unhelpful web applications, but no practical examples. That is, until I stumbled upon this little gem - which gave me exactly what I wanted.

perl -MMIME::Base64 -ne 'print decode_base64($_)' < file.txt > out

A one-liner in Perl (of course). The fact that this info was so easy, yet it was so hard to find pisses me off. I'm sure there are other ways to do this. In fact, if you know of other ways to do this, then please leave me a comment telling me how. I hate when good info gets buried under the load of crap clogging the internet tubes.

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Terrorist First Jab?? - You Decide!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Virtualbox Hardy Ubuntu (host) USB Support in Windows XP (guest)

For purposes of this tutorial, I will assume that you already have installed Virtualbox (th Personal Use & Evaluation License Version), have installed Windows XP as a guest, and have also installed Guest Additions. Here are the steps from here:
  • sudo gedit /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh. Uncomment these lines (arount line 42):
mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
domount usbfs "" /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
mount --rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb

  • sudo /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh start
  • Virtualbox - Settings: Make sure to enable USB
  • created a group named "usbfs" and added yourself to it.
  • sudo gedit /etc/fstab
  • Add (make sure that the devid is correct for "usbfs" in System - Administration - Users and Groups):
usbfs /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=1003,devmode=0666 0 0
  • sudo mount -a (which will remount everything in fstab)
That did it for me! Hope this helps someone.

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