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 10 June 2002

Humdinger of a storm last night. The gale-force wind made The House of Steel shudder several times. Lord knows what it would have been like had we followed the original plans. For those unfamiliar with the House of Steel saga, we nail-laminated a second stud to every stud over 3 m (10 ft) long. We used 150 mm (6 in) instead of 100 mm (4 in) roof purlins. We used 1200 mm (4 ft) wide instead of 900 mm (3 ft) plywood braces at the corners and the plywood was the next higher grade in strength from that suggested by the engineers. Several walls were braced with strap in addition to the required corner braces. Additionally, we used three, rather than two nails to attach the studs to the plates. Of course a professional builder would not have gone to so much trouble and additional expense.

It's entirely probable The House of Steel would have survived this and many other storms without the additional strengthening. We just wanted to be absolutely sure the house was going to remain intact. I do know that the movement of the structure last night would have been greater and more nerve-wracking without our belt and braces approach.

The wind will have removed limbs from the trees in the windbreak, though hopefully not brought any trees down. Those limbs make fine firewood.


This morning we go to our new friend Sue's place to dispatch a cockerel for her. He's almost old enough to start fighting with her rooster. Sue is vegetarian, so we get to eat the bird.

When we were dining at her place Saturday night, I asked if she had a chain saw. She said not, so we had better remember to take ours. It's entirely likely that her driveway is blocked by a tree. Maybe even two, or three. And that means I have to find the chain file. People who are used to city-dwelling tend not to think of these things. Sue had actually thought about it and wisely decided to get some training in chainsaw use before using one.


From The Reg: Security through obsolescence

Here's an interesting way to secure an Internet-connected computer against intruders: Make sure the operating system and software it runs are so old that current hacking tools won't work on it. This was suggested by Brian Aker, one of the programmers who works on Linux.com, NewsForge, Slashdot, and other OSDN sites; he runs several servers of his own that host a number of small non-profit sites in the Seattle area. "I have one box still running a version of Solaris that's so old none of the script kiddies can figure it out," Brian says. "They tend to focus on the latest and greatest, and don't have the slightest idea how to handle my old Sun box."

I knew there was a reason to hang on to that copy of Back Office 4.5 with 50 CALs that MS gave me when I was part of a Certified Solution Provider.

Thought for the day:

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before, Bokonon tells us. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Current Listening

Blind Faith -- Self-titled


Tuesday 11 June 2002

I mentioned last week my discussion of The Precautionary Principle with my friend Martin. He defined it as: "The absence of knowledge does not argue for doing nothing to address concerns" and declared it to be central to an important part of his work these days managing scientists. Curiously, I could only find this construction, with nothing else remotely resembling it, here. The page goes on to say: "It highlights the importance of continuing and expanding voluntary emissions reductions and energy efficiency efforts, at at the same time intensifying and expanding scientific research into climate change." This is on one of the better anthropogenic global warming sceptics pages.

Not to be daunted, I spent a few minutes perusing the other finds in my search and found this document: Advancing Understanding of Knowledge's Role in Lay Risk Perception by Branden B. Johnson. The concluding paragraphs:

Some may take the case for both greater clarity and a broader definition of hazards knowledge, and criticism of factual and technical emphases, as advocating relativism. That is false, and failure to follow this agenda may actually foster relativism. Risk assessment and hazard management have flaws, even discounting some popular criticisms driven more by ideology than by logic. As such flaws become more obvious, society faces a potentially sterile choice. It either wholly rejects expertise, i.e., "anything goes" in weighing hazard claims, or adheres rigidly to scientific dogmas of a select few. A more creative and flexible approach to knowledge may provide a fruitful third way.

The hazards field needs more advanced study of the role of knowledge. Useful theories (some covered here) appear in other fields, and the mental models method is flexible enough to include non-technical types of knowledge. Measuring different knowledges held by different people will not be easy. Researchers will have to recognize when people know more than they can say, or grasp the "practical logic" behind new technologies far better than they can answer "direct questions about the nature of scientific inquiry." Further study of the varied nature of ignorance also would help.

People's relative knowledge (both within and between lay and expert populations) may indeed predict the issues they attend to or worry about, and what they decide to (or actually) do about these issues. Testing that possibility more definitively, whether for laypeople or experts, requires that hazards scholars first admit the depth and nature of their ignorance about knowledge. Only then may we truly begin to learn the degree to which knowledge affects hazard attitudes and behaviors.

Thought for the day:

If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secrete of getting along -- whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.

Bernard Meltzer

Current Listening

Kevin Coyne -- Matching Head and Feet


Wednesday 12 June 2002

Regular reader ^Z writes:

Hi Jonathan! I had meant to write you last week, to thank you for your "Thought for the Day" citation (4 June Ephemerides) by C. D. Larsen ("Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. ...") --- I had picked up a copy of almost the same platitudes (but they're excellent platitudes and I love them) via a multi-generation photocopied sheet on a bulletin board ~5 years ago, without attribution, labeled "The Optimist Creed" --- I liked it enough to type into one of my web pages (http://www.his.com/~z/optimist.html = http://leuf.net/zhurnal/zw?OptimistCreed ) ... glad to learn who was the actual source, long ago. There's an amazing amount of Good Stuff written back in the late 1800's and early 1900's, re self-improvement and homespun philosophy ... I feel it's usually better than the more recent works in that genre.

And sorry to hear of the loss of audio from your VCR ... hope that the Electronic Fairies bring it back soon. For several years here we had a conjugate sort of problem: our TV set had no (or intermittent) audio, and so we rigged up a small rat's nest of cables to route a sound signal out from the antique VCR through an antique amplifier/receiver/speaker set, and then flipped switches on several devices and used the VCR's tuner whenever we wanted to watch TV ... it was enough trouble that it helped cut back on our mindless video-watching time.

Funny how so many folks nowadays seem unable to live without a TV running in the background ... a colleague at the office told me of her husband's severe addiction, which she laughed at ... so bad that one time when their downstairs set broke, he felt compelled to go out that very night to get a replacement, even though there were other TVs in other parts of the house. My comrade is most concerned about her two-year-old, who is a bright and active boy when he's not hypnotized by the idiot box ....

So do please take advantage of your time without the audio channel, Jonathan, to get your old magazine articles reposted --- or at least do put an annotated bibliography together and upload it ... that's worth doing, if only for the comfort that one will feel in looking back on it years later. I tried that sort of thing (in http://leuf.net/zhurnal/zw?PetBibli1 and http://leuf.net/zhurnal/zw?PetBibli2 ) back in May 2000 and July 2001, and am already happy that I spent the time.

Alternatively, you can watch subtitled foreign films on the VCR, or perhaps old silent movies! Try The Thief of Baghdad with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. ...

And you're right about reliance on meta-meta-authority (and even higher powers of meta?!) much of the time ... tnx for that comment.

((Feel free to do anything you wish with this note....))


^z = Mark Zimmermann = http://www.his.com/~z/

ZhurnalWiki = http://leuf.net/zhurnal/

I'm fond of the early self-improvement stuff, too. The best of the moderns I've found has been Stephen Covey -- 7 Habits etc. Max Maltz's 196? Psycho-cybernetics was what sparked my interest. The main source for the aphorisms I use is Cybernation.

The VCR mysteriously fixed itself. We watch very little TV and few videos. We have access to two commercial and two non-commercial channels. Apart from watching The Simpsons a few times, we watch almost no commercial TV. While staying with my mother a year, or two ago, I got to see Buffy and X-Files. I didn't consider either worth the pain of sitting through TV commercials.

My son and I are fond of Hong Kong movies (subtitled, not dubbed) and he is enjoying some of the pre-war film I enjoy, albeit talkie stuff. We listen to ABC Classic FM radio more than watch TV. Mostly classical music, but some excellent jazz and occasional lighter material in peak listening time. Then there's my extensive collection of recorded music: rock, folk, jazz, ambient, pop, country, classical, opera...

We are mostly readers, with SWMBO reading mostly fiction and gardening books, while I read mostly non-fiction. The nice thing about music is that you can play close attention, or read, or dine, or just drift with it.

Thought for the day:

The effect of having other interests beyond those domestic works well. The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one's appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.

Amelia Earhart

Current Listening

Ronee Blakley -- Welcome


Thursday 13 June 2002


A man was telling his friends in a teahouse: 'I lent someone a silver piece, and I have no witnesses. Now I am afraid that he will deny that he ever had anything from me.'

The friends commiserated, but a Sufi who was sitting in the corner raised his head from his knee and said: 'Invite him here and mention in conversation, in front of these people, that you lent him twenty gold pieces.'

'But I only lent him one silver piece!'

'That,' said the Sufi, 'is exactly what he will shout out -- and everyone will hear him. You did want witnesses, did you not?'

From Wisdom of the Idiots by Idries Shah: Octagon Press, London, p. 164. Copyright (c) 1969, 1970 by The Estate of Idries Shah.

Thought for the day:

Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.

R. I. Fitzhenry

Current Listening



Friday 14 June 2002

From the El Mysterioso Department, the following email:

To whom it may concern we do not have you on our maling list could you please take me off yours as i have received 5 emails from your office today tellin me to take you off our mailing list.

Customer Service
Hellas Europe(Aust)Pty Ltd.

Tel: 0612 - 96 90 00 88
Fax: 0612 - 96 98 69 53
P.O. Box 403 Rosebery


The contents of this e-mail are confidential to the ordinary user of the e-mail address to which it was addressed and may also be privileged.If you are not the addressee of this e-mail you should not copy , forward, disclose or otherwise use it or any part of it in any way whatsoever. If you have received this e-mail in error please notify us by telephone or e-mail the sender by replying to this message , and then delete this e-mail and other copies of it from your computer system.Thank You.

We reserve the right to monitor all e-mail communications through our network. Currently Run Daily PC - Cillon Server Protect 2001.

I told them that there were no emails sent from my machine to their address, though I very politely (I thought) refrained from commenting on their illiteracy.


I just discovered that 21 June is International Gnome Day. Beryl the Gnome is a satirist of some talent. If, like me, you can't abide Macromedia Flash, use Beryl's back door. The Pompous Git plays a minor rôle in The Silent Sisters of the Perpetual Expletive.

Thought for the day:

Good taste and humour are a contradiction in terms, like a chaste whore.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Current Listening

Gong -- Angel's Egg


Saturday 15 June 2002


Environmental Consciousness Raising

Opening Ceremony -- A Sacred Circle Dance with Michael de Nolan Sisters

Music and dancing by Wimmen Who Drum Naked in the Forests

Global Warming stories by Dr Arthur "Con" Doyle PhD MA BSA MCSE etc

Purification lodges with Swami Pyjama Rama and Rainbow Diva

Dance of the Seven Directions -- Mindless Movement Meditation with White Feather

Herbal Emporium throughout the weekend -- Bring Your Own Bong

Anti-pollution Yoga techniques with Arty Farty Ross

Piano Concert with Forest Child

Chanting Circle with Divine Summerwood

Medicine Making Demonstration with Dawn Sister

Panel Discussion:

FOUR LEADING OCCULTISTS offering diverse approaches to a specific case study on the causes of Anthropogenic Global Warming -- Who is to blame?


Martin Pretzel, author, artist, shaman and teacher, was raised in New Mexico on a Pueblo Indian reservation. In 1971 Mindless Civilian, a Mayan shaman from Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala called Martin forth to become his disciple. Martin lived with him for years and after his teacher's death took his place healing and shamanizing 30,000 Tzutujil Mayans. After many years of shamanizing Tzutujil Mayans in Guatemala, Martin returned to his native New Mexico where he continues to shamanize people. Martin is extraordinary as a teacher for his ability to reconnect people with their own sense of place, their sense of the daily sacred, their indigenous soul and endless New Age clichés. Martin is author of "Secrets of the Farting Jaguar; Tales of a Mayan Shaman" and his recently released, "Wrong Wife; Honey We Must Part". Martin's evening presentation will be "Sky Paved with Leaves of Liquid Jade -- The Parallel Worlds of Plants and People."

As usual, just bundle up all your money, send it to The Pompous Git and he'll send this lot off to the South Pole so they can experience life as it could be without The Greenhouse Effect.


A Guide to MRML

The Mind Reading Markup Language (MRML /mur'mul/) is a proprietary extension of the HyperText Markup Language. This document, all MRML tags, and any ideas you come up with while reading this information are the exclusive property of the authors. This is an open specification that will be expanded as mind control technology is refined.

MRML tags can be embedded into any regular HTML document. They are completely invisible to all browsers. No one will ever know you are using them.

NOTE: MRML is not case sensitive. <freud> is equivalent to <FREUD> or <frEUd>.

Thoughts for the day:

The problem I have with these past lives consultations is that I always seem to come back as a fitter and turner.

-- Allan Gillespie

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore... in the Old Silurian Period the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long... seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

-- Mark Twain


Sunday 16 June 2002

I'm taking the day off to read The Oceans and Rapid Climate Change -- Past present and Future edited by Seidov, Haupt and Maslin. Mostly it's about research into THC. No, not that sort!

Thought for the day:

Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of their inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is in their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it.

Eric Hoffer

Current Listening

Steve Hillage -- 'L'


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© Jonathan Sturm 2002