May 06

Against a Guest Worker Program

There are many fine arguments for and against a guest worker program, but the whole thing should be a non-starter. Not only is it unconstitutional, it is clearly at odds with every legislative advance made in the rights of Man since… Magna Carta?

It’s bad enough on its face, but consider the implications for the future. Those like me —  who see the dark hand of communism not behind every mishap, but certainly hovering somewhere nearby, ready to capitalize (if you will) on America’s every mistake — will feel a particular threat from a guest worker program.  As Marxism is fueled by dissatisfaction and steered by class struggle, we could hardly invite revolutionary agitation any more efficiently than by creating a dissatisfied underclass in this land of plenty.  And as always, not even one of the underclass would benefit from the destruction of our system. Only the cause itself, communism, would.

It is absolutely true that there are honest people willing to come to America and work hard, and thereby share in the blessings that America has to offer.  Let us not short-change them, ourselves, or the country itself. Let them be legal citizens — let them become citizens the right way.

I get the feeling that nobody on the right is even checking to see if a proposal is conservative or not. A guest worker program can be justified on either of two grounds — that the “guest” workers need it, or that America needs it. If America needs it, then we are in grave trouble.

America is a system of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Those whom the government is of, by, and for should be the same people in all cases.  The most basic principle on which America was founded, and to which it is committed, is that one group of people should not rule over another.

Now if we can create by law a new class of people within our borders who are protected by and subject to our laws, but who are neither allowed nor invited to create those laws, how can this be squared with our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or with the bloody wars we fought to establish and defend the basic principle?  Could we invite a righteous revolution any more directly?  And shall those workers within our borders who have no representation be subject to American taxation?

There is nothing conservative about a guest worker program. Come to think about it, there is nothing liberal about it either.

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Apr 29

The Sound of Love

From time to time I hear a song and I think, “Now *that* is the sound of love.”  Don’t get me wrong — I have serious epistemological issues with the whole damned thing, but there is a sound that seems to fit the bill.

Now I am not talking about the sound of (ahem) making love (see Aerosmith, Back in the Saddle, ahem ahem, if you get my drift), or music which puts one in the mood for love (paging Dr. Barry White).  Just the sound of the emotion itself.

The first song that seemed to capture that sound for me was Sara by Fleetwood Mac.  There’s a story behind the song, layered and poignant, which sort of fits and not fits.  But the sound is wun hunnert percent what I am talking about.  There’s an echoing, swaying, almost *sloshing* ease; a wash of waves over an expectant shore, and it rises and falls to a longer rhythm of acceptance and recrimination, and acceptance again.

The actual story told in the song is difficult to pick out — I wound up reading it somewhere.  The sound is the thing, and so I place it at the top of my list despite there being no particular order.  Nor depth, as I only have two that come to mind right now.  But I will update this from time to time.

  1. Sara, Fleetwood Mac
  2. Head over Heels, Tears for Fears

Brief note from work (de minimus): I have been sifting through Carpenters songs looking for what must surely be in there.  Closest I can get is either Goodbye to Love, or Only yesterday.  Goodbye to Love is not so much the sound of love, but of acceptance of its passage.  Only yesterday comes close, but it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for.  But pretty much anything by sung by Karen Carpenter, to include a phone book, sounds like love to me.  She was special.

The search continues.

[UPDATE 11 May]

So, this is tougher than it would seem.  Most of the “Love” songs are about longing or loss, and convey that in the sound.  And while I have a plethora of favorites in those flavors, songs which seem to capture the sounds of love itself are surprisingly rare.  Now the word “love” is a ridiculously broad (!) term, so I am positive that I am not explaining this well.  Perhaps you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, the song Sara is emphatically not a love song proper.  It is about longing and loss, but the sound of it puts it on this list.

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Apr 15

A Shovel’s Work is Never Done

I have around 8K users on this site. Most of them are nonsense, but I do have several who actually exist. I want to bulk delete a bunch, so I am going in search of a tool which is better than the default ability in WP.

[Gave up on that.]

Here’s where I knew I had a problem. I have become kind of a numbers nut, seeing a power law distribution everywhere. If you can group things, you can get them to show you a power law. Well, typically. In the past I have gone into the WP user management area, searched for users from a given domain, and gone from there. For example, anybody with an email address ending in @mail.ru is gone for sure. Except on this, the first pass, there are over 4K users from @mail.ru. Now WP handles user bulk deletion in a terrible way — the user interface (the web page served on my computer) allows me to check “all” of the users displayed on a given screen.

Fine, but there are two things wrong with this — first, the page can only list something like 259 users at a time, which means that for over 4K users, I will have to do this entire process more than 167 times. And believe, me, waiting for each page to load and then entering the search criteria, selecting all of the users, hitting delete, confirming, and starting over again is a pretty annoying mindless behavior. Skinner boxes have netter schemes.

[And yet that’s exactly what I did.  Again!]

Second, what my browser will actually return to the system up on the server s a LONG URL filled with the user number of EACH user tacked onto the end of some sort of URL string. There is no way that the meaty long user numbers are going to survive the trip in a URL — they just don’t let URLS get that long.
RFC 2616 and RFC 7230 address the maximum length allowed in a URL. There isn’t one, but a request that each server be able to handle URLs of at least 8K characters, and an admonition that each server be able to handle URLs as long as they dish out. Fair enough, but the internet is not a point to point connection, in most cases. It is, as Senator Ted Stevens aptly puts it. “a series of tubes”. You don’t get to pick which tubes. So any node along the way can have its own limit on the length of a URL. I have experienced failure due to something kicking back long URLs before (hate when that happens), so I already know that simply hacking the code on my WP site to allow me to list more users on a screenful is not going to work.

I need more power just to get rid of the very first group of user, the @mail.ru bunch.

A bit about my methodology:
I would like to group, count, and sort (descending) users by domain, so that I get a list with the most populous domain (in this case @mail.ru) and its user count (in this case, 4.606) listed first, and then the second-most populous, and so forth.
This way, the first action I take will be the most effective, followed by the second most effective, and so forth. Think of the worst case scenario — I work n the list in reverse order, so that I spend an entire afternoon chewing through a whole bunch of domains which each sourced only a single user to the blog. I would consider it a minor victory to reach the level of knocking out users two at a time!
The problem is that, like many mail services, WP will not give me this listing without adding a plugin of some sort, or of course, rolling my own code. Well, I have sworn off of writing PHP/SQL/HTML code, as I do not want to bear the maintenance burden. I want everything I touch to be maintained in whole by somebody else. I’ll integrate the pieces, but I’m not diving under the damned hood ever again*.
I cannot get this listing directly. So I must use indirect methods. I assume (and there is a lot of fun math I want to do, but haven’t) that the first screenful of users is overwhelmingly likely to contain a user from the most populous group. Oh, the list of users is presented i alphabetic order, but if we assume all spammers may or may not be using the same tricks, then alphabetization should not matter in selecting the most populous spammer domain.  In fact, all things being equal, it is likely to be the first entry. So I look at the domain of the first entry and search for all users matching that domain.

There are 8,295 users. 4,606 of them are from @mail.ru.

Total users: 8295
@mail.ru 4606
@gmail.com 846
@yandex.com 260
@… 145
@yandex.ru 111

And so on. I did some of this on another machine at home and am now trying to dredge these up from memory. I mean, who remembers things like this?

 

Anyway, this post is a work in progress.  I’ll post a graphic of the expected power law when I get it done.

One thing I noticed once I got down to about the yandex.com level of things was that the memorable “___Medamelve” pattern of bogus names is really numerous. By the time I was don to ~3500 remaining, 298 of the were named “JuliusMedamelve” or something like it, for differing values of Julius. I decided not to do the obviously productive thing and wipe out that population, as they were from all over the domains, and I do have a blog post about domains to finish, after all.

* Actually, I like diving under the hood, but just like having enough money to pay somebody else to work on my car — I will work on hobby cars, but not spend an afternoon under my daily driver just so I can get to work the next day. Done with that.

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Apr 15

Enjoying the Windows Subsystem for Linux

I am, I suppose, the worst sort of computer user. I know so much about this stuff that I am acutely aware of the sheer magnitude of what I do not know, and I know that it is hopeless to attempt mastery, because I do not care that much. So everything is hard and futile, but if you ask me I have a thousand opinions, and each one is the definitive answer.

I am currently enjoying another attempt at learning emacs and trying in general to get back into the unix swing of things. I also just bought a Microsoft Surface Pro (AKA Surface 4). The sweet spot is supposed to be the i5 with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. The i3 is not enough, and the i7 is too much.

Windows 10 has a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), so I have been using that new-found capability to get my linux and emacs fixes.  WSL is not actually new — apparently, it’s been in the mix ever since NT, which should surprise nobody — early to middling NT was like using unix with an out-of-date Windows theme on it. Being able to access it — well that is new.

And so it turns out that no matter what you read about this WSL, it’s better than what you read. There is a lot of outdated information available online, because MS is bringing a lot of capability to the front, in rapid order. I’ll address these things in a series of posts, not one of which will be definitive. I am truly enjoying the learning process.

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Jul 04

Underway on Negligible Power

I write from a Starbucks in Japan, on a tiny little Amazon Kindle Fire 7 tablet.  I purchased a ZAGG auto-fit keyboard, which works great.  I am connecting through my iPhone, so that I don’t teach my Fire a bunch of bad habits on wi-fi hotspots.
I will add pictures to this post.
I now have a magnificent mini-office set-up; a peripheral office made up entirely of peripherals.
I husked an old Case Logic CD carrier by taking the CD-page insert out of it.  That was easy — just hinge the “book covers” backwards and wiggle the plastic page roots out of the covers.  Try it, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
This CD case has a medium pocket on front, which was supposed to hold a CD Walkman, but now hosts a power cable and a 1 Amp wall-wart, and a pair of cheap reading glasses.  There’s a smaller pocket on the front which I believe was intended for batteries or a wall-wart for the intended CD Walkman.  That pocket now holds a deck of 3×5 cards and some pens.
With the CD pages removed, the interior is roomy and sized well for the Kindle Fire in its ZAGG keyboard/case, as well as an old Kindle 3G (keyboard) in its own nice case.  Frankly, I prefer the older Kindle for reading straight text.  The battery lasts forever, and while it’s no PaperWhite, the display is certainly optimized for text.
The ZAGG keyboard is straightforward to set up via BlueTooth to the Kindle Fire, which in turn connects via wi-fi to my iPhone, operating as a hot spot.  That guy goes out on the cell phone network, which is miserably insecure of course, but not at the client end.
So with that as my connected terminal, I can still listen to tunes on the phone (or indeed, on the Fire, as now), while using the Kindle 3G for reference.  More to follow.

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Feb 20

Whew!

has been topsy-turvy around here, including an unexpected reassignment in one of my lines of employment, some crucial deadlines being miracles off of me, and not least, a collapse in my email and hosting.  Long story, basically my fault, but they don’t make it easy.  This site was offline, and all email sent to me beginning 01FEB has simply been dropped, not delivered.  I hope fail notices went out — I have no way to know.

Anyway, going skiing this weekend.  I’ll post pics!

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Mar 08

Outlook, Access, Excel

I have a utility database  that tells me what my inbox looks like.  You see many people asking how to get a count of mails BY SENDER.  It’s the ultimate spam-whacking tool.  This is why places like Gmail don’t support it and never will. They want that spam sitting right where it is, spilling metadata.  The more junk mail sits on your Gmail account, the more they know about you.

Well, long story short, here’s a pivot table of the whole thing.  This is mail received by week, but with an important caveat — this is only what remains after some mail is moved, and some is deleted.  The dip at the end of 2014 is not a reduction in inbound mail, but the result of a cleanup I did in January.  I whacked several thousand e-mails — more than the link to my hosting could keep up with.  I’ll get back to it.

Mails

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