Polite work: Process rules. Heirarchy is observed and treasured. It is risk averse, and loss/failure is far more detrimental than incremental gain. This work rewards people who need a clear path to succeed.

Craft work: Craft work is result focused, and follows a mostly predetermined path. Others have blazed the trail, the craftsman refines, contemplates refinements, and moves forward. This work rewards people who need a direction and a history of people following that direction to succeed.

Not Safe for Work work: NSFW work is knowledge and creation focused. Failure is as acceptable a result as success, and sometimes more useful, because if carefully bound, can eliminate inefficient pathways to new reults. NSFW workers have no trail to follow. They may have tools, but they frequently have to invent both the tools and the methods. Politeness is less important than progress. This work rewards people bored with paths.

I recently had a client who wanted a shared corporate calendar (displayed on a corporate dashboard site done in Google Sites) to update whenever anyone added something to it.

Unfortunately, there's no way to push data from Google Calendar to external services, so I decided to poke around and find out how other people have resolved this. I learned that apparently most folks are ok with having the calendar refresh with a page refresh. This wouldn't do for my client.

The route I took to solve the problem was to create an Google Gadget iframe wrapper (the bulk of which I took from an existing Google Gadget (written by an Iranian English teacher) and inserted some javascript to make it refresh itself every 120000 milliseconds. This seemed to do the trick. The xml for the Google Gadget iframe wrapper is attached in case it helps anyone else.

To use the attached file as a Google Gadget , you need to save it as an .xml file stored on a publically accessible server somewhere. Then, in Google Sites while editing a page, go to Insert:More gadgets:Insert from URL, then put in the url of the xml page).

Something that's been on my mind for a while. Yahoo news has been my morning home page for a while, simply because it used to be an easy way to compare coverage from AP, Reuters and Agence France Presse all in one spot.

Over the past few years I've noticed trend with AP (maybe it's always been there, I don't know). Their stories, if not simply short fact pieces, lean right 95% of the time, sometimes significantly and in a distorted manner.

Today's special is brought to us by Ken Thomas (http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas), "GOP-leaning group targets Senate Democrats" (http://news.yahoo.com/gop-leaning-group-targets-senate-democrats-0441241...). The story is how Crossroads GPS, a subsidiary of American Crossroads, is firing up campaigns against 6 Democratic senators. American Crossroads is as soft money PAC whose purpose is to support Republican candidates and opposed Democratic candidates. An interesting story on their recent fundraising efforts here: http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/09/american-crossroads-shadow-rnc.html

I guess you could call it "GOP-leaning." "GOP shill" or "GOP mouthpiece" or "GOP straw dog" might be a more accurate description though. The Center for Responsive Politics details it's spending for and against various politicians here: http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/indexpend.php?cmte=C00487363&cycle=2010. American Crossroads spends for right-wing Republican candidates, and against Democrat and moderate-Republican candidates.

Ken Thomas is either guilty of being stupid or gullible, OR, is deliberately misleading AP readers. Either way, this was too much for me.

It strikes me that AP's local news focus is inherently biased to the right because of the institutions that dominate "local" news: local chambers of commerce, large retail advertisers, and banks: none of these are forces of progress. Using this as a thesis, I'll start to compile some examples of how this works.

Totally cool, but longish, video on the history of the wah pedal. Definitely worth the time to watch.

Best line in the video: Charles Pitts talking about working with Issac Hayes on "Shaft" and only staying on the G for the entire song until the very last phrase: "To me it seemed repetitious, redundant, and ridiculous. It shows you what you know." (27:52 or so). Just goes to show you that you never know where something will take you.

I was looking for a lightweight, easy to use systems performance log for a Debian 5.5 server and came across Webminstats

Systats is a Webmin module that tracks cpu, memory, disk and io statistics over time.

It doesn't install without a few additions to the standard Debian install.

Of course you need Webmin installed, and then perl. Once you've installed Webmin and perl on your systems, run the following command lines (as root or sudo) in your shell BEFORE you attempt to install systat:

apt-get install rrdtool
apt-get install librrds-perl
apt-get install librrdp-perl
apt-get install libwww-perl

Once these packages and libraries are installed, download the webminstats .tgz file from http://sourceforge.net/projects/webminstats/ onto your computer.

Then, install that file through the Webmin module installation interface by telling it you want to install a Webmin module from an uploaded file, then point Webmin to the file you just downloaded.

Screen shot 2011-03-08 at 10.22.52 AM_0.png

Restart Webmin, and watch the magic happen.

The Federal statute:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113C > § 2340
§ 2340. Definitions
How Current is This?
As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

§ 2340A. Torture
(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

President George W. Bush admited in his memoirs that he personally approved of waterboarding prisoners. This is a confession to violating both the Geneva Convention and Federal statutes on torture. The Federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia needs to indict now.

I traveled to Afghanistan in the late fall of 2005 (limping badly due to just getting out of a walking cast due to a broken leg) to study how the Afghanistan Nongovernmental Security Organization (ANSO) collected and disseminated security information for humanitarian NGOs working in Afghanistan, (report here).

It was clear to me then, and it is apparent from this story in Foreign Policy, that the conditions and issues I witnessed and experienced in 2005 still exist. Nothing has changed in any substantial way, even though four years of learning opportunity have passed. Why?

My guess is a combination of:

1) The deployment tempo of staff at ISAF and US command, embassies, UN organizations and NGOs mean that once people "figure out" the reality on the ground in Afghanistan, they rotate out.

2) There was little incentive under the Bush administration to collaborate with anyone, even troops in ISAF. That incentive has changed a little under the Obama administration, but the learning curve, changes in strategy, and increase focus on military operations has shifted focus away from potential collaborative efforts.

3) Old guard resistance to new ideas. Obama's administration employs a lot of former Clinton administration senior officials who missed the opportunities in the first place and failed to take any substantial action to improve information sharing between collaborative organizations at the tactical and operational levels. Those officials lacked the temperament and incentive to figure out how to make inter-organizational information exchange work. The efforts I participated in were done quietly, under-the-radar, so as not to draw the attention and wrath of people higher up on the food chain.

These same officials have resisted opportunities to question the fundamental underpinnings of our national security and foreign policy architecture for political reasons (they're coasting on a good gig), and because they lack the necessary imagination and fortitude to remake our national security and foreign policy institutions because it would threaten a lot of existing relationships between individuals, organizations, institutions, and nations.

The new people that Obama has brought in lack experience, but have energy. But they are still responding primarily to the demands of status quo administrators, generals, and diplomats. And the current status quo isn't functioning effectively. Dedication to how things work now is a guarantee of long-term failure. Our current defense and foreign policy architecture is geared to a pre-information age dynamic. An age where collaboration was difficult, where secrets could be kept, where transparency was the exception, not the rule.

The internet has ushered in expectations of institutional collaboration and transparency unknown, unthinkable, unachievable prior to the last decade. We now have over 20 years of knowledge about what works, what doesn't, how to fund it, how to staff it, how to build, monitor and maintain working, effective, collaborative structures. But our defense and foreign policy institutions are still taking tiny baby steps because of fear of political retribution by ignorant lawmakers, an apathetic public, and antipathetic complex of defense industries and "security" contractors.

Then, there's that whole "classification" thing to deal with.

It's depressing to see that very little has changed since I left DC to learn more about local politics and the "real" America. Stories like this one underscore my hunch that there are opportunities to be exploited to raise the profile of these issues, but no institutions who are interested in exploiting these opportunities.

http://martinlutherking.org/ is being run by racists, and is being hosted by the Dallas-based
company, The Planet.

A post on Reddit.com today brought the issue to my attention. As usual, I ran a traceroute on the site and found that it was hosted in the Dallas colocation facility of The Planet.


The Planet's Acceptible Use Policy prohibits spamming, child porn, phishing, and "violation of any federal, state, local or international law, regulation, ordinance, court order or other legal process," but seems to allow hate speech.

This is the second time I've traced racist material to a Dallas-area ISP.

The first time was in 2003 when members of the Church of The World Creator/The Creativity Movement, a white supremacist group, threatened a local artist via email because of an exhibit he was organizing about hate speech. A day or two of research revealed threats coming from home computers in Ohio and Florida, stemming from a bulletin board conversation by Creativity Movement members being hosted on servers run by EV1 in Dallas. (The former leader of the Church of the World Creator, Matt Hale, is serving time in federal prison for threatening a federal judge).

Attempts to get that bulletin board shut down were met with a response from their former host that stated that unless EV1 was served with a court order, they would continue to provide hosting for that group.

I guess that's a legal approach, but it's not a particularly civic-minded approach. I added EV1 and their subsidiaries to my "Never do business with this company" list. Little did I know that several years later, I was able to steer a single contract worth about $20K/yr. away from this companies hosting services, in part, because of their policy of hosting sites promoting hate speech.

I'm happy to tolerate difference of opinion, I will not tolerate intentional distortion of fact whose primary purpose is to incite hatred and violence. Had this current case (martinlutherking.org) been an isolated instance, I probably wouldn't spend any time on this, but given our current political climate and the amount of hyperbole that is bordering on incitement to political violence, I'm feeling compelled to act.

In the past 20 years, ethnic and sectarian violence in Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, Zaire/Congo, have all been preceded by campaigns of hate speech transmitted over mass media. How we deal with this issue as a society at this particular time in our history will determine the balance between promoting freedom of expression and educating others on difference of opinion through a process of discussion and intellectual exchange; and promoting violence through speech that encourages emotional response and polarization (I suspect I'll write more about this later). Bottom line is there has to be a balance between free expression and promoting violence. I think Emanuel Levinas's ideas of the Self-Other dialectic provides tools to unravel this knot, but that a different discussion.

For now, I'm concerned with business making money from hosting content whose sole purpose is to deceive, and promote and inflame racial, ethnic and religious hatred. I do not find this acceptable. I'll try to take both passive and active steps to discourage these kinds of business practices.

So, this morning, I entered the following message on The Planet's contact us form at http://www.theplanet.com:80/about/contact.aspx :

"Do you know you're providing hosting for a racist website? It appears that martinlutherking.org is using your servers to spread disinformation about Dr. King and encourage racial hatred. Stormfront, the source organization, is a well-documented hate group whose primary focus is to spread racial and ethnic hatred.

Free speech and all, but I help clients setup hosted services, and considered The Planet as a potential host (your Dallas site is near their office), but ended up going with Neospire instead. I'll continue to steer folks away from your services as long as you provide safe haven for haters and will encourage my peers and clients to do the same.

I suspect you'll get some more feedback on this shortly. A post on reddit appeared this morning highlighting it's existence.

Please do the right thing and ask Stormfront and martinlutherking.org to take their business elsewhere.

Best regards,"

I'm wondering where to take this. I'm going to do a little research on whether anyone is keeping track of who is hosting hate sites in the United States, and how they're rationalizing it. More to come.


Doing a little reading, I found out that EV1 merged with The Planet in 2006. So, not so much a coincidence is it? A few google searches have revealed that The Planet seems to be involved in hosting more than their fair share of hate sites. Interesting.

Update 2

The Planet is also hosting Stormfront.org, a site boasting more than 166,000 members dedicated to the white supremacy movement. Here's part of a plea for money:


Interesting that they also use PayPal to process their subscriptions.

Upadate 3

Tiggee LLC is hosting the German Nazi site www.alpen-donau.net referred to in this article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110524/ap_on_hi_te/eu_austria_nazis_on_the_net

Tiggee also the popular DNS Made Easy service.