A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 28 May 2001

Warlock writes:

Jon -

Thanks for your link to Suzette Haden Elgin's site. Trusting your judgement (which I have come to rely on over our sporadic correspondence and daily reading of your Journal) I clicked to The Story. It took a while, but I very contentedly wended my way to the triumphant end of it.

Like some other Daynoters, "I knew all along" that Henry was not a real person. Nor did I give a tinker's dam. Ms. Elgin writes a powerful and inspiring parable - as Kaycee was, in the last analysis: an inspiration to live a bit better life than I am; to be a bit better person than I am - always a worthwhile venture, without possibility of any loss to anyone. How can anyone feel ripped off by this? "Hoax? Who cares?

If this is a subtle response to the Kaycee controversy, I truly admire it. I fear, however, that those most in need will not "Get It" and simply continue in their overweening pompous and infallibly didactic and pedantic manner. They do not wish to be confused by facts injected into their reasoning. Their loss - not ours.

A am also impelled to look up The Lost Continent at Amazon. The quote is intriguing.

You are ever a good read, Jon. Isn't that what we all strive for here?



Thanks for the vote of confidence, John. Readers can find what they will from Suzette Haden Elgin's writing. It's thanks to Dr Pournelle for pointing me to this intriguing piece. I have found all of Bill Bryson's books that I have read so far fascinating and amusing.

What I strive for in my writing is to share my discoveries and to write about them simply and clearly. No hidden agenda. And I am gratified when others find reading me worthwhile.


Many new pictures of The House of Steel.

Thought for the day:

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Tuesday 29 May 2001

Dave Farquhar writes intelligently and eloquently about my Sunday piece, where I said "I think many of us want to think about the spiritual aspects of our lives and enjoy being able to do so. The problem is, when we seek such at the accepted fountain of spirituality in the west, it's at church. Instead of enlightening stories, we get lectured at for our sins. And harangued for our money. Not much fun at all. So when we find someone witty, amusing and spiritual, we go weak at the knees."

Dave is a committed Christian and believes that there's a tailor-made Christian church nearby for anyone that cares to look. After all, he set a pretty high standard for his needs and his request was answered. I have no problem with that. In my own circumstance, living in a rural community of only 3,000 households, it's not so easy.

Most of the Christians I meet won't pick up hitch hikers because, "if they were God-fearing Christians like me, they would have an expensive new car, like me". Presumably they would also have as much trouble giving away free, encouraging smiles and working for on (not specifically church-related) community projects. Apparently, poverty in their eyes is proof positive you are a sinner condemned to eternal damnation in hell.

The Encyclopaedia of Christianity tells me that there are 33,800 Christian denominations world-wide. It's entirely possible that there's one to suit me -- probably The Society of Friends -- one of the few that doesn't believe that every member of other Christian denominations is condemned to eternal damnation in hell. But they meet an inconvenient distance from where I live.

Dave recommends reading the Bible and mentions several translations. They and many more are conveniently packaged on CD-ROM along with Strong's Concordance and available here. Much cheaper than buying 50 or more paper books before finding the one that suits. Easier to find what you are looking for, too. But I wouldn't limit myself to the Bible. 

Read the words of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, the Sufi Idries Shah, anything by Richard Bach... The Christians do not have an exclusive stranglehold on spirituality. If reading is too much, there's film. Last night I watched Baraka for the second time. Here's some of what Greg Noone had to say about it:

This film is different as there is not a single word of dialogue and the opening credits were simply "Baraka-a film produced by ..."

The film simply consists of a series of scenes taken from 37 different countries around the world. The scenes had a definite environmental, religious and humanistic touch. It showed the miracle that is the planet earth and our blatant destruction of it. It showed how thru all the different religious perspectives, many are searching for a deeper meaning to life. It showed the plight of the common man in many different cultures. But most importantly it showed that regardless of our culture and race and creed, we are all truly one and that we are somehow on a common path. It showed the universality of man and, dare I say it, the universality of our struggle to find a deeper meaning to our existence. And it showed the earth is our mother and father and that to destroy it is truly immoral and madness.


On a completely different note, the following from my inbox:

Most error messages that you encounter each day actually come from lines within Hamlet and other plays by William Shakespeare. Sure, you've read the revised work of the Bard in high school, but the original lines are much more informative:

What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals; and yet your login is incorrect, try again, you quintessence of dust.

'Tis nothing to you, for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so, except for that bad command or file name.

Brevity is the soul of wit; too many arguments.

A little more than kin, and less than kind, and even less memory.

The fs type is out of joint. Oh cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!

What is the matter that you read, my lord? Read error, file not found.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are in your kernel, but it's still too big.

Your process hath shuffled off this mortal coil.

Oh, what a noble drive here is o'erthrown!

'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played upon than a pipe? OK, maybe not that pipe.

I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room, or just dump them in your root directory.

Something is busy in the state of your mount point.

Revenge should have no bounds. As for floating points, I'll make an exception.

Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I, to this server what reset my connection!

Fie, thy grief is a fault to heaven, a fault against the dead, a fault to nature, and a fault of segmentation.

Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play The Murder of Gonzago? Memory access error.

Your login flies up, your password remains below; to logins without passwords authentication never goes.

Something wicked this way comes -- oh good, permission denied.

Bus error: the rest is silence.

As he did command, I did repel your packets and denied you access to me.

And flights of angels sing thy process to its rest!

And this:


A team at UC Berkeley has been distributing data gathered by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in northwestern Puerto Rico to home computers since early 1999 in a distributed computing project designed to ferret out possible signals from an extraterrestrial civilization.

Those signals have been found! Project leader Seth Liver says, "We detected the signal on May 15 at 9:48 PM. Our first reaction was to announce the discovery to the press immediately, but we collectively decided to wait until translation efforts could begin.

"We soon discovered the ETs used the universal language of mathematics to encode a primer into the message, making full translation surprisingly easy."

What follows is the full content of the first message ever received by an alien civilization:



Thought for the day:

There is no easy formula for determining right and wrong livelihood, but it is essential to keep the question alive. To return the sense of dignity and honour to manhood, we have to stop pretending that we can make a living at something that is trivial or destructive and still have sense of legitimate self-worth. A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.

Sam Keen


Wednesday 30 May 2001

After a busy day working on The House of Steel, I cooked chips (French fries), hamburgers and fish fingers for Thomas and myself. Marguerite was out at Yet Another Meeting, so we listened to The Cure singles -- loud. I remarked to Thomas that I couldn't imagine anything more pleasant than eating a good fry-up and Listening to The Cure with my son.

Afterward, we watch a little television: a British show about a family that deprives itself of television and other electronic entertainments for two weeks. The breadwinner husband works 80 hours a week to pay for this stuff and does the cooking, his wife and daughters being too busy watching television! What a contrast with our lifestyle -- we have access to the same electronic entertainments, but they do not rule us, we rule them! After that, The Bill, which is all that I usually watch these days.

Thought for the day:

Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is its ultimate reward.

Patricia Sampson


Thursday 31 May 2001

I am somewhat hungover today. John, a visitor from Canada arrived to help with The House of Steel. With him he brought a copy of Dave Farquhar's Optimizing Windows and e-smith. Conversation with John and reading the eagerly awaited book left me with little time to write.


Interesting website design here.

Thought for the day:

Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young.

Fred Astaire


Friday 1 June 2001

Today, John from Canada and I went to Hobart. I needed to do a little shopping followed by a relaxing afternoon with the gang at The Vic Tav. My long awaited PC Hardware in a Nutshell by Bob and Barbara Thompson had arrived. John said that it has to be ordered in Canada, as it appears not to be warehoused there either. Curious, as a quick skim on the bus home in the evening indicates it to be as worthwhile as expected from these talented writers.

Garry arrived with the promised 10/100 hub, so it's likely we'll have a faster network sometime tomorrow. Late in the day Margie told me that the promised overdraft for finishing The House of Steel is available at the bank. Other good news is that OneTel, the owners of the execrable ISP OneNet that keeps demanding money for what it didn't provide has gone into receivership. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving company! Curiously, their solicitors' letters com from a different firm each time. I just pass them on to my solicitor.

Old news by now I suspect, but an interesting read about Internet security at Steve Gibson's website.

In perhaps the most exciting story of the week, a Linux developer got laid. Hopefully, this won't become a regular occurrence and consequently bring yet more delay in for some useful productivity apps on the Linux desktop. I believe that this is only the third such occurrence since 1991, so there does not appear to be much danger.

Thought for the day:

I think that one of the qualifications of artists should be a vow of celibacy. They should be confined to ruining only their own lives.

Roger Lewis


Saturday 2 June 2001

A quiet day spent tidying the office (well, sort of) and installing 10/100 NICs in the server and my workstation. Thomas was already using a 10/100. The server got the Intel NIC and my workstation got the anonymous Taiwanese clone NIC. The server recognised the Intel device, but the workstation demanded a driver disk. Bummer! A quick search on the Internet for the chipset found it was a Macronix and fortunately there was a Win2k driver available.

Initially, the changeover killed DHCP being provided by Win2k Pro's Internet Connection Sharing. I have no idea why. Re-enabling it was a simple matter of enabling it for the other ISP Connector and click OK for the change, then enable it for the original ISP and click OK for the change back. What didn't work was manually assigning the IP to the NIC and restarting the DHCP service.

John from Canada and I had an interesting conversation about this sort of malarky yesterday. Where he works they are moving from Novell Groupwise and Netware to NT and Exchange for no particularly good reason it seems. But the instincts and knowledge accumulated by the IT staff are being discarded. It takes a different mindset to troubleshoot MS systems. I agreed that the metal state one acquires getting there probably does not == sanity <vbg>

In theory, Linux is much easier since the configuration data are contained in readily edited text files rather than the evil Registry. My problems with Linux have often been that you first have to find the correct text file and then persuade the system that it should pay attention to what you have just done. And it doesn't necessarily want to. So it seems to me that it's not too far removed from my bit of voodoo with Win2k today. It's just different voodo.

John also came up with an explanation for some bizarre SCSI behaviour years ago. After the experts had given up on persuading a Mac to see a new external SCSI drive, I for no particularly good reason swapped the connection cable end for end. And it worked! Even though the signal leads were all electrically equivalent, the earthing was different at each end -- normal for SCSI cables apparently. So the experts were incorrect that there was no rational explanation for my solution. 

Thought for the day:

A goose flies by a chart which the Royal Geographical Society could not mend.

Oliver Wendell Holmes


Sunday 3 June 2001

We took John from Canada for a walk on Tarn Shelf in the highlands of central Tasmania today. It's a beautiful place. On the way we saw a platypus crossing the road just a few kilometres from Lake Dobson. That's a very rare occurrence. They are extremely shy creatures. A special memory for John to take back to Canada with him. None of us are particularly fit so we didn't walk to the end, just as far as the first tarn. 

Now it's off to relax my weary bones. I will post some pix when next i go to Hobart Town.

Thought for the day:

A wonderful realization will be the day you realize that you are unique in all the world. There is nothing that is an accident. You are a special combination for a purpose-and don't let them tell you otherwise, even if they tell you that purpose is an illusion. (Live an illusion if you have to). You are that combination so that you can do what is essential for you to do. Don't ever believe that you have nothing to contribute. The world is an incredible unfulfilled tapestry. And only you can fulfill that tiny space that is yours.

Leo Buscaglia


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Jonathan Sturm 2001

Jonathan Sturm 2001