This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



December 2007

Curmudgeon’s Corner: The Importance of Third

Sam talks about:

  • Sam’s Computer Woes
  • MacWorld Prospects
  • Iowa Democrats
  • Iowa Republicans
  • Third Place Matters
  • Hoping for Chaos
  • That Odd Interholiday Time
  • Graphic Violence Redux
  • Multiple Sources

1-Click Subscribe in iTunes

View in iTunes

Podcast XML Feed

Partially Back

So I did the system install and that took a couple of hours. Then I went ahead and did Migration Assistant to move stuff over from my old system. That took about 28 hours or so. It looks like all the normal user stuff is there. I haven’t spent time making sure everything is all happy though. I had assumed it wouldn’t transfer over my trash, which is where those bad files are, but it looks like it did. I’ll have to investigate that later. I essentially now have a backup though, so I’ll feel more confident doing more aggressive things to get rid of those files.

Right now I have it doing software updates to get back up to speed with the last few months of updates.

After that I’ll have to work on restoring the webserver, php and mysql stuff I’d set up before, which I’m pretty sure is not there at the moment… but which is of course all on the old drive. I should be able to move it all over pretty easily I hope.

But all that will probably wait until morning.

DVD: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 2nd Season: Disk 5

imageIt has been a long time, so it was time for another Buffy. The next in line was Disk 5 of Season 2. This had four episodes.

  • Passion: Everybody still reacting to evil Angel. Angel kills Ms. Calendar. That’s about it.
  • Killed by Death: Buffy in the hospital, a death thing is killing children
  • I Only Have Eyes for You: Ghosts at the school relive a murder suicide
  • Go Fish: The swim team turns into murderous fish things

Anyway, of these the first one is the only one that really moves forward the overall season arc. The rest are just one offs for the most part (with the occational scene pushing the arc). Decent episodes, but not great. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Candidate Times

Very interesting analysis of how much exposure the various candidates got in the debates. Well worth the read:

Graphing Debate Time by Candidate
(Charles Franklin, Political Arithmetik)

A brief break from polls to comment on graphics and politics. Today’s New York Times has an op-ed by NBC’s political director Chuck Todd and a graphic designed by Nicholas Felton. The text and graphic are here. The text describes the data (quite completely– an unusual but welcome touch!) noting that candidates are stratified by time in rough line with their poll standing and that debates played a part in both the rise of Mike Huckabee and the slippage of Hillary Clinton.

When what we want to compare are magnitudes, rather than shares of a whole, the data are more clearly presented as distances rather than areas. It is easy to compare which distances are longer than others, and relatively difficult to see differences between the areas of pie slices, especially when the slices are not adjacent to each other.

So let’s look at the same data in a different format and see what we can see.

Clean Install

I am now in the process of doing a completely clean system install on my external drive for my Mac. After that I will semi-manually start transferring everything over from my internal drive. (OK, maybe I’ll use the Migration Assistant for some stuff.) But I’ll have to do tons of stuff from scratch. Wish me luck, I may be offline for awhile. (And of course my webcam and the wiki will be down while this is in progress.)

Now, I don’t actually no for sure that my recent woes are because of my iunternal drive having issues, or that they are because of years of cruft built up through multiple OS upgrades using the upgrade process rather than archive and install or clean installs. But I’m willing to give it a try and see what it does.

Also, when recovering from my mail meltdown I found that one version (I had several) of a mailbox file from October 1999 was corrupted. That original mailbox file could not have been more than a few hundred meg max, but the system now thought it was 33 Gig. And when I try to open the folder… or empty the trash with the folder in the trash… Finder chugs for an hour or two then crashes and restarts with nothing done. It did let me COPY the directory though, so now I have 66 Gig of unusable messed up directory. And I know I have other copies of the content that was in that now messed up directory. So I’m not too concerned about it. But I couldn’t figure out a way to kill it in a way that didn’t make me nervous given that at the moment I have no recent backup of my system.

So, although I guess it may be overkill, I guess reinstalling the whole system on a new hard drive and then copying everything EXCEPT the corrup directory might do the trick. :-)

We shall see. As I type (on another computer obviously) the initial system install is about 30% done. After it comes up I then will migrate my relevant content and settings, then reinstall needed applications, then start working on getting the webcam and wiki and such all operating again… this could take quite awhile. I am starting early Saturday to allow the worst case of this taking all weekend. I hope that will not be the case.

Bleh. And then if I end up continuing to run on the external drive for the semi-long-term, I’ll probably snag a second external drive to to backups too. Cause I’m not sure I’d want to backup back into the external drive even if I could.

If I get this all working though, at some point I might try reformatting the external drive then restoring back onto it to see if that works smoothly again or not. (Separating out the possible bad drive issue from the crufty upgrade on top of upgrade potential issue… I’ve done nothing but upgrade installs since OS 9… well… and one system migration to a new machine as well I guess… so maybe only the last upgrade really counts… but whatever.)

Anyway, wish me luck. :-)

Graphic Violence

In the days after the beginning of the current gulf war (before the days of this blog) I remember talking to several friends via email about the radical difference in the coverage of the war on the mainstream US news networks and what one was being shown and reported in the rest of the world, specifically in middle eastern news outlets. Because of the internet it was now possible to find and see some of that coverage. Due to language barriers the TEXT was often not easily accessible, but one thing that stood out immediately was the PICTURES. The US versions were cropped, sanitized and heavily censored. Usually not by any governmental authoority or anything, this was self-censorship by the major media outlets. You would look at some middle Eastern news site covering the results of some bombing and you would see blood and gore and mangled body parts and pictures that were often downright horrific. Horrific, but obviously reality. On CNN or the like you would see a close up of someone crying or whatnot, but you would rarely see the horror and gore that surrounded them.

I felt that this was dramatically distorting how we viewed this war, and conflicts we were involved in generally. (I felt the same thing by the way on the more explicit pictures of the September 11th aftermath.) The various bombings and casualties inflicted by us might well be justified. And perhaps some of that can be viewed by observing the results of the attacks ON us and balancing them in some way. But one can not make an honest deliberation on that by just looking at “X number were killed today”. Yes, it is a number, it is a measurement, and measurements are important. But they allow one to gloss over the reality of what is actually happening. Actually SEEING it, and seeing it directly, without filters or sanitization, gives one the real picture. It is much easier to say, for instance, that collateral civilian casualties are “unfortunate, but necessary” when it is just a number than when you actually see the remains of the child that was killed with all the mess of reality. Now, it may sometimes actually STILL be truly a necessity for some larger important goal… but if one is to make that judgment, one really needs to do so with one’s eyes wide open, staring that reality straight in the face, rather than hiding from it behind numbers and euphemisms.

Wonkette has been mostly useless and annoying since Ana Marie Cox left, but in the last couple of days Megan Carpenter has taken up this exact topic mentioned above in a “snark free” way, and it brought me right back to those thoughts I had back in 2001 & 2003. Her two recent posts:

This is of course in the context of the Bhutto assassination and some of the pictures taken there. The first post has a gallery of some of those pictures, unsanitized.

Now, basically mainstream news in the US is almost completely useless at this point. Definitely TV news. Except when big breaking news like this happens the front page of for instance is usually filled with meaningless uninportant crap. (I mean, even now with Bhutto still leading the news, above the fold on CNN are stories about the Tiger escape in California, something about a murder/suicide in PA, a freak accident a toddler was involved in and some other random stuff that may be interesting from a sort of perspective, but which in no way is actually important or informative on larger issues.) Some of the newspapers are still a bit better, but are a shadow of what they were decades ago. It is a shame.

But in any case, they are showing the cleaned up stuff because they can tell you the facts, but not have the sort of image that would potentially make someone upset and change the channel (or decide not to buy the newspaper again the next day, or go to the website, or whatever). And of course because kids might be watching and we want to protect the kids. Yeah, OK, whatever. But it also doesn’t really give the full reality of the situation. Of whatever happened. It doesn’t make you as mad, or as upset, or care as much. It lets you sit back fat dumb and happy, looking at things clinically without understanding or caring about the human reality.

Now, if every day we saw graphic images from the wars we are involved in (or for that matter other wars, or just plain crime scenes in our own cities) would we get completely immune to it and still not care? Maybe. And maybe most people would just decide to look away because they would rather not see the reality. But perhaps also it would just enable us to have a better perception of the reality of situations, and be better able to evaluate the consequences to what we are doing. Because we would take away the soft focus filter and be able to see something a little closer to “truth” (whatever that is).

Of course, there are still issues of such things distorting things in other directions… the horrible thing we have pictures of suddenly being far more vivid and consequential than the horrible thing for which there are no available pictures, or which aren’t even capturable in pictures…

And sometimes seeing the full reality of a situation can just inflame people’s emotions and lead toward further escalations, when perhaps a little careful censorship could keep a lid on things by just keeping people a bit calmer…

So there is no perfect answer.

And hey look, I don’t WANT to look at the extremely graphic pictures of human beings killed or maimed either. It is not pleasant. It is horrifying. But I think when trying to formulate opinions on events, it is IMPORTANT to see that reality ANYWAY. And I think every time the media blurs something out of a picture, or crops it to not show the “disturbing” bits, or chooses not to show anything at all, they are doing a massive disservice… because they are letting their viewers/readers/whatever develop an internal viewpoint on the events that is cleaner and less horrifying than reality… and which therefore is a fundamental misrepresentation of what is happening… and therefore results in opinions and viewpoints… and then actions by decision makers… that are fundamentally divorced from the facts of the situation. And while there may of course be exception cases, and of course nobody can ever have a complete omnicient view of all of the facts and reality of a situation… it seems like willfully excluding a significant part of the reality of a situation from the picture is not the way to produce eduicated viewpoints that can lead toward good decisions on the right course of action.

And you know, no, it is not good enough to just say something was horrible or horrific. That just does not have the same effect as SEEING it. It is important to SEE these things.

Now, in this particular case, the aftermath of the Bhutto assassination, does it fundamentally change or alter my opinion on the events in the region? No. Perhaps not. But does it give me a better and more complete view of what went on? Yes. I think it does. Is it worth it? I think it is.

At least these days with the wealth of sources available on the Internet, one gets to see events like this from many different perspectives, including some more graphic than others. It is no longer the case that if the big media outlets don’t say it or show it that it becomes a lot of work to find alternatives. This is a very good thing.


For the last couple of hours I’ve been half sleeping, half watching BBC World with breaking news on the Bhutto assassination. (The breaking news alert woke me a couple of hours before I would normally wake up.) No big comments at this point, other than the perhaps obvious note that this will increase the odds of chaos and trouble coming out of Pakistan. And those odds were not exactly low to start with.

Dalek Thay and Human Amy

Oh Yeah…

I finished recovering my email and am thus reading and answering email regularly again. Although of course if I didn’t answer any emails you may have sent within 48 hours of you sending it, it probably means that it has rolled into one of the categories that means I won’t be answering it for a long long time, so if it was important, maybe send it again. :-)

There was indeed one corrupted folder, but I believe it was a duplicate of others that were not corrupt, so nothing was lost.

I’m thinking though that as a separate thing, since I’ve had so many issues lately, I’m going to try a completely clean install on my external drive, then migrate things a bit at a time from the old drive as needed. That is a lot of work, but I find myself hankering for a nice clean system. If I do that, it probably won’t be until this coming weekend, but if I do it it will probably put me out of commission for awhile as well. We shall see.

Santa Day!