Archive for September, 2004

Shameless Self-Promotion: Linux Journal Article

September 20th, 2004 No comments

My article Coverage Measurement and Profiling was published by Linux Journal.

It’s in the online edition only, no dead trees involved. Still, I’m pretty happy about getting published.

Now, if I can manage to do this on a regular basis rather than once every blue moon …

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What I Learned At The Zoo: Part 2

September 15th, 2004 No comments

There was a plaque on the trail honoring “Detroit’s Own Polar Bears.”

No, not Ursus maritimus. The other “Polar Bears” — members of the 339th Infantry, 1st Battalion of the 310th Engineers, the 337th Ambulance Co., and the 337th Field Hospital of the Army’s 85th division, many of whom hailed from Michigan.

I had hear rumor before of American troops in Russia after the Russian revolution. But this was part of one of those college political arguments, presented with the perspective of “of course the Soviets were belligerant; the Evil Americans™ tried to take over at the Revolution and they never forgot.” Filed, stored, taken with a large grain of salt.

And now here I am looking at a memorial marker for the men who fought and died doing just that. It’s amazing where one picks up these tidbits of history, because it sure isn’t in the schoolroom. (Have I mentioned lately that we homeschool?)

Besides the plaque in the Detroit Zoo, there is a a “Detroit’s Own” Polar Bear Memorial in Troy. There is an online summary of the Polar Bear Expedition hosted by the University of Michigan.

Long sad story short: In the waning days of The Great War (to end all wars), President Wilson was persuaded to lend American support to a multinational attempt to defeat the Bolshevik faction in Russia which was in the process of taking over in the chaos following the fall of the Tsar. They were under British command, along with French and Canadian troops, and were originally (or ostensibly) sent to re-open an eastern front against the Germans. Fighting the Bolsheviks was what actually happened. Of course, morale was terrible when their fighting continued after the German defeat, and (as we know from the rest of 20th-century history) the Bolsheviks plagued Russia and beyond for quite some time.

Some of the men were able to return to Russia (now the U.S.S.R.) in the twenties to recover the bodies of fallen troops; these are now interred at the Troy memorial.

It is a pity they did not succeed. And a double pity that the men who tried are not more honored and remembered.

“[Marxism will] in a generation or so [go] into the limbo of most heresies, but meanwhile it will have poisoned the Russian Revolution”

— G. K. Chesterton, ILN, 7/19/19.

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What I Learned At The Zoo: Part 1

September 13th, 2004 No comments

(or, “Isn’t it great when technology shows us things we didn’t care to see?”)

The Frey family made a pilgrimage to the Detroit Zoo last week. (“Field trip!”) It was our first visit to the new Arctic Ring of Life exhibit.

One of the stations showed some useful equipment used in the far north, including a thermal camera. We had great fun looking at the heat images, doing the trick of making “handprints” that show up for a while on the camera before fading, etc.

And then, we tried to get educational. Big mistake. I noticed that David’s head fairly glowed for the camera. This makes sense; the kid has a buzz cut and is no doubt loosing lots of body heat up top. So, I pointed this out, and got Josh, who’s got a thick head of hair on him, to get into the camera’s field as well. Josh’s head showed hardly any heat loss. So, we used this about how the body sheds heat and practical impacts of haircuts on comfort.

So far, so good. The problem comes when I get under the camera. Oh, sure, I know my forehead’s a bit taller than it was back in high school, but overall I think my hair looks mostly the same. I even still comb it the same way.

But, the thermal image shows a huge heat loss out of the top of my head, completly and utterly obvious to anyone looking at the camera.


Of course, the effect is not helped by the burst of laughter this triggers from my lovely, wonderful, and almost always tactful and diplomatic wife.

Thank you, thermal imaging. Have I mentioned lately my neo-Luddite and quasi-Amish tendencies?

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September 8th, 2004 No comments

When words fail, poetry sometimes suffices:

And I am sickened by complicity in my race.
To kill in hot savagery like a beast
is understandable. It is forgivable and curable.
But to kill by design, deliberately, without wrath,
that is the sullen labor that perfects Hell.
The morning's news drives sleep out of the head
at night. Uselessness and horror hold the eyes
open to the dark. Weary, we lie awake
in the agony of the old giving birth to the new
without assurance that the new will be better.
I look at my son, whose eyes are like a young god's,
they are so open to the world.
I look at my sloping fields now turning
green with the young grass of April. What must I do
to go free? I think I must put on
a deathlier knowledge, and prepare to die
rather than enter into the design of man's hate...

Wendell Berry, The Morning’s News, from Farming: A Handbook

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No Threat to Wildlife

September 2nd, 2004 No comments

… nor to anyone’s berth on the archery team in 2008, either.

BUT, after a twenty-year break (give or take a bit), I am finally shooting a bit again. [Thanks to an incredibly generous neighbor with an extra bow.]

So, after tuning the sight, and tuning the shooter, I have gone from “not reliably hitting the backstop” at ten yards to “reliably hitting the target bag, some evidence of shot clustering” at ten yards. (Bullseye? What’s that?)

Deer have no reason to fear … yet. It’s a good thing my family is not relying on my marksmanship to put meat on the table.

And my neighbor’s trick of bagging bear this way? To quote Larry the Cucumber: “Nope. Not gonna do it.” (“Aw, c’mon. It’s for the kids.”)

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