Say Weeeeeee!

Monday, January 31


Strawmen Without Straw

In my previous post, I acknowledged that I was attacking strawmen, at least to some degree; I had made up some comments to represent the arguments of the Left which weren't actual literal verbatim quotes, as such.

I needn't have worried.

Little Green Footballs links to a report of a democracy protest in Spain - an anti-democracy protest.

And Glenn Reynolds links to Steve Stirling's fisking of comments at Democratic Underground - comments that are, if anything, even more extreme than the ones I made up.

My strawmen have retired with their feelings hurt.

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Sunday, January 30


Ideological Braindeath

It's perfectly possible for two reasonable, intelligent, well-informed people to disagree. That's because people are different, and find themselves in different situations, so they have differing values. A woman with children values stability and safety, because she wants a good environment for her kids to grow up in. A young man might value opportunity more highly than stability; he is willing to take risks because he has much to gain and little to lose. The goal of society is to find a way to reach a compromise where individual needs are met as well as possible. In a healthy society each individual must give a little, but stands to gain a lot more - that's why humans have always lived in social groups.

But the fact that reasonable people can disagree does not mean that people who disagree with you are necessarily reasonable. This is borne out all too clearly by the protestations of the left against President Bush. They usually run something like this:

You say "Bush speaks of the United States' mission as ending tyranny on the planet (and he really means it!). " Yes, and we all are shuddering about the potential consequences of that intent. You mistake his simplistic worldview and duplicity for idealism and enthusiasm. He surrounds himself with "yes-men" (and women) demanding loyalty instead of working for the greater good. I thought the Reagan years were bad, these years have been Orwellian.

You make it sound that we hate Bush because of his "Forrest Gump" mentality. No, it's because his agenda and particular Orwellian vocabulary have mezmorized so many millions into this "Team America: F***, Yeah!" attitude. People in opposition to Bush's actions are perhaps reacting to the average American's disinterest in global affairs and how the U.S. government interacts with the Middle East, Russia, China, Latin America, etc etc. So when these countries/areas have issues with the US, all these sheep we call citizens do is scratch their heads and go "Waddit we do, sheez? Stupid foreign weasels, they're just jealous of my 54 in Television and yellow Hummer..."

Bush and co take advantage of this simplistic, inward looking attitude to force an immoral and power-hungry agenda, and that's where we draw the line. Maybe we should take a page from Heinlein and define citizens as those people that can look beyond their own selfish, narrow needs and consider the health of society writ large. Everyone else, you're just civilians that shouldn't vote if you can't be bothered to consider life outside your suburb.

Or this:
But you're wrong on why people hate Bush. It isn't some post-modern disbelief in idealism or freedom or democracy. It's that many people just didn't and don't think Bush was or is sincere when he talks about idealism and freedom and democracy. Remember, for many months a huge majority of America - over 90% - coalesced around Bush because of his response in Afghanistan and in zeal in fighting Al Qaeda and Islamofascism. I was one of them. But when he started talking about Iraq a lot of people said, "Iraq?" Why Iraq? Why not finish the job fighting Al Qaeda and marshalling this massive support we have around the world to stamp out Islamic terrorism where it undoubtedly exists, like in supposedly friendly regimes like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Sure, Iraq was no friend of ours, but it never seemed to be a mortal threat. And it was when the great justifications for placing Iraq at the center of the next phase of the fight against Islamic terrorism began to fall apart - no WMD, no operational ties to Al Qaeda, just as the Administration's post-war plans turned out to be so hopelessly optimistic as to puzzle any sincere supporter of the Iraq invasion, many many good-hearted, patriotic, idealistic freedom-loving Americans started to ask, "What the hell is going on?" But instead of any recognition that some of the planning was off Bush planted his feet in the ground. His commitment to democracy seemed so much more about personal honor, political power and sheer stubbornness than a real, humane sense of the historic challenge of the mission. Liberals gave up on Bush after 9/11 not because he was an idealist, but because he clearly wasn't.
Let's review the situation from the point of view of a sane person:
The Taliban was bad. They oppressed women, supported terrorism, and gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden (who is also bad). Plus they blew up those giant Buddha statues.

President Bush got rid of them, and now Afghanistan is a democracy - with women not only voting but getting elected. This is good.

Saddam Hussein was bad. He ruled Iraq as a tyrant, ruthlessly crushing any opposition. He had people pulled off the streets to be tortured or murdered on his slightest whim; he employed men to rape his female prisoners. He also had appalling taste in art.

President Bush got rid of him, and tomorrow the Iraqis go to the polls to elect their new government. This is good.

So thanks to President Bush and America, and their allies Britain and Australia (and quite a few other countries), 50 million people are now free.

But, says the left, but, this is actually a bad thing because he is not an idealist. Without that idealism, he is forced to take on the world as it actually is, so his bringing freedom to 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq counts for nothing.

The logic of this position is difficult to untangle, but this is how it looks to me:

Axiom: America bad.
Axiom: Conservatives bad.

Postulate: Anything done by bad people is necessarily also bad.

Therefore: If President Bush speaks in idealistic terms, he must be lying.
If he frees entire countries from tyranny, it must be from base motives, and he deserves only scorn.
If people in the government support him, they are only in it for money and power.
If voters support him, they are stupid.

Against the strident opposition of the Left, America has fought two wars of liberation since 2001. The only contribution of the Left to this effort has been negative: to slow things down, to make every effort more difficult, to give hope to insurgents and terrorists.

Said Michael Moore:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.
Said al-Zarqawi*:
We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it.

Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion, and that is against the rule of God.

Americans to promote this lie that is called democracy ... You have to be careful of the enemy's plots that involve applying democracy in your country and confront these plots, because they only want to do so to ... give the rejectionists the rule of Iraq. And after fighting the Baathists ... and the Sunnis, they will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now, the signs of infidelity and polytheism are on the rise.

Oh, people of Iraq, where is your honor? Have you accepted oppression of the crusader harlots ... and the rejectionist pigs?

For all these issues, we declared war against, and whoever helps promote this and all those candidates, as well as the voters, are also part of this, and are considered enemies of God.

This was pretty much obvious to anyone paying attention to events. The insurgency is made up of two main elements: former Ba'athist thugs seeking a return to the good old days of rape and pillage, and Islamofascists seeking to crush yet another country under their 7th century theocratic regime. Both are obviously and of necessity anti-democratic movements, because people will not vote to be oppressed.

We - America, Britain, Australia, Poland, and more - we, personified if you need that by President Bush, we are fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan to create, restore, and preserve freedom. Our enemies are fighting in the name of oppression, so long as they are the oppressors. It really isn't hard to work out.

But the Left will never give any credit to President Bush for this; he is a bad man (see axioms 1 and 2) so the war of liberation in Iraq is a bad thing.

He freed the people of Afghanistan, who are now rebuilding their country under a democratic government with universal suffrage.

Only because Halliburton wanted to build a gas pipeline!

There is no gas pipeline.

He freed the people of Iraq.

We only invaded Iraq because of the WMDs!

It was never only about WMDs.

But it was really just a lie so he could steal their oil!

The oil hasn't been stolen. Instead, enormous amounts of money have been spent to help rebuild the country.

Give him time, he'll steal it.

The elections are tomorrow.

Oppression! Forcing democracy on an unwilling people!

Back when all this mess started, I was arguing the point with some friends online. They were against the war, not trusting America's motives. I pointed out that removing the respective regimes (the Taliban, Saddam) was unquestionably good; the real question was what they were replaced with. Rather than opposing the war, they should be focusing on promoting democracy.

Needless to say, I got no takers.

And still the shrill cries arise from the swamps. Months after a successful election in Afghanistan, and with voting in Iraq just hours away, they still make their complaint. The war is bad - even if it brings peace, prosperity, and freedom to the liberated people - because President Bush is bad. If good things come from bad motives, then they are really bad things.**

The invasion of Iraq was wrong, was always wrong, was based on greed and lies, has done nothing but harm, and we should leave now. America cannot be trusted, not now, not ever, and our enemies [Remember, the ones murdering election workers?] are upstanding and noble.

50 million people are free.

But, says the Left.

No. No buts. No more fucking buts. If I wanted that, I'd read Wonkette.

Tomorrow. The election in Iraq is tomorrow.

(Moonbat quotes courtesy of The Belgravia Dispatch. The uncannily lifelike strawmen are of my own devising.)

* Yes, I am aware that Zarqawi is a Jordanian. If you want to track down an genuine Iraqi-born insurgent and find out his particular reasons for blowing up policemen and election workers, I'd be quite interested in the answers.
** The corollary, that bad results arising from good motives are really good, is too complex (and too stupid) for me to deal with right now.

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Tuesday, January 25


Truth in Advertising

My new 8x DVD burner really is twice as fast as my old 4x model. When was the last time that happened?

Of course, I note that Pioneer now has a 16x model selling for less than I paid for my 8x (which was in turn much cheaper than my 4x). Fortunately for those of us on the upgrade treadmill, that's likely to be it, because at higher speeds than that the discs tend to explode.

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Monday, January 24



The air conditioning at the office has failed. Bleah. Bleah.

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Obligatory Casting Thread

Well, I've declared today a computer-free day and turned off my Linux box to let it think things over.*

In the meantime, here's a question for all my loyal Munuvians: When they make MuNu: The Movie, who will play you? And feel free to make nominations for the other Munus.

* Metaphorically. To put it another way, I got annoyed and went off to read Gene Wolfe's The Knight.

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Sunday, January 23


The Karma Chickens Come Home to Roost

So, my other RAID-5 array has dropped a disk, and refuses to raidhotadd it back into place?

And my Windows system is oscillating between 30MB per second and 3, for no apparent reason?

Hmm. Still waiting for the other shoe chicken to drop.

I'm kind of impressed with one thing: CuteFTP is getting 35MB per second between the Linux box and the Windows box. Some of the time, anyway. Yay for Gigabit Ethernet, boo for pretty much everything else.

Update: Oh there we go. The drive went clunk and died again.

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Saturday, January 22


Shiny Happy Raidsets

The response from the 'froup was along the lines of "It should work, and you don't have a whole lot of choice, do you?" So I bit the bullet and hit the button.

And it worked.

I'm sure I've just arranged for some seriously bad karma for myself in the near future, but right now I have my fansubbed anime* back and I'm happy.

* Yeah, it was my anime drive that went south. So you can appreciate the importance of this.

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The Wimpification of Unix

Back in the Good Old Days, Unix was an operating system for men.* If you typed in a command, which might be something arcane like mq or something more prosaic like Θ and it turned out that what that command did was to grind the drive heads into the platters, well, then the machine would take your word for it and grind those drive heads.**

Of course, you really meant to type mw or perhaps Φ which would forward all your email to the office in Bratislava or send a request to the vending-machine people to stop putting that Pepsi Max crap in the machine. But at least now you don't have to be concerned about such minor matters as you will need to focus all your energies on escaping from the burning computer room before the CO2 dump kicks in and you asphyxiate.

These days the wussification of Unix is almost complete. Say, for example, that you had a transient drive failure on a degraded RAID-5 array. Now, you can rebuild a RAID-5 array by using the mkraid command. In the old days, this would have been something more like but since people no longer have real keyboards we have to make do with letters and numbers.

Now, if you build a RAID-5 set without zeroing out the disks, the contents will be utter garbage. You could type another command to do the zeroing out, perhaps ς, but no, that's too straightforward. So instead we make our friend mkraid do the zeroing out automatically, and if you don't want that perfectly sane and normal behaviour you have to say so.

With what? A -n option? Not in this century. No, it has to be --dangerous-no-resync. And that only works if you use it alongside --force.

And in fact that doesn't work either. What it does do is tell you this:


NOTE: if you are recovering a double-disk error or some other failure mode that made your array unrunnable but data is still intact then it's strongly recommended to use the lsraid utility and to read the lsraid HOWTO.

If your RAID array holds useful and not yet backed up data then --force and the hot-add/hot-remove functionality should be used with extreme care! If your /etc/raidtab file is not in sync with the real array configuration, then --force might DESTROY ALL YOUR DATA. It's especially dangerous to use -f if the array is in degraded mode.

If your /etc/raidtab file matches the real layout of on-disk data then recreating the array will not hurt your data, but be aware of the risks of doing this anyway: freshly created RAID1 and RAID5 arrays do a full resync of their mirror/parity blocks, which, if the raidtab is incorrect, the resync will wipe out data irrecoverably. Also, if your array is in degraded mode then the raidtab must match the degraded config exactly, otherwise you'll get the same kind of data destruction during resync. (see the failed-disk raidtab option.) You have been warned!

[ If your array holds no data, or you have it all backed up, or if you know precisely what you are doing and you still want to proceed then use the --really-force (or -R) flag. ]

Of course, you'd only be trying this if your raidset was already toast and you have nothing to lose.

But the interesting thing comes if you follow those instructions: It says

DESTROYING the contents of /dev/md6 in 5 seconds, Ctrl-C if unsure!
Which is in fact exactly what it isn't (or isn't supposed to be) doing. What this command does is assemble your disks into a RAID volume without actually writing over any of your data. After all the dire warnings, we are left with a promise of disaster and destruction which is never to be fulfilled!

Unless, of course, it doesn't work. We shall see...

* And women, too, of course, but they had to be that special breed of woman who can take apart a carburetor, clean it, and put it back together without any parts left over.
** You might ask why a computer would have a command so pointless and destructive. The answer is, of course, that someday someone might want to grind the drive heads into the platters, and when that day comes, we will be ready!

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Same Old

So, if you have a drive failure in a RAID-5 set, what is the probability that another drive will fail while you are backing the data up?

All those who answered "one" go to the head of the class.

There is, apparently, a way to fix this, since the second failure was a transient glitch and the drive actually works. However, it involves scary things that I haven't done before.

Grumble grumble.

I've posted a cry for help in the appropriate newsfroup, and I'll see what happens.

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Saturday, January 15


Full Disclosure

No-one has ever offered me any money to say anything.


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