Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Nazis were Marxists... ?

At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, with the attendant risks, I stumbled across an article on the American Thinker site which claims that Nazi ideology is actually closer to Marxism rather than right-wing ideology as is commonly expressed.

From the article:

The Nazis were Marxists, no matter what our tainted academia and corrupt media wishes us to believe. Nazis, Bolsheviks, the Ku Klux Klan, Maoists, radical Islam and Facists -- all are on the Left, something that should be increasingly apparent to decent, honorable people in our times. The Big Lie which places Nazis on some mythical Far Right was created specifically so that there would be a bogeyman manacled on the wrists of those who wish us to move "too far" in the direction of Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater.

Obviously some incendiary commentary, but further on there is this:

The first and only platform of the National Socialist German Workers Party called for very Leftist economic policies. Among other things, this platform called for the death penalty for war profiteering, the confiscation of all income unearned by work, the acquisition of a controlling interest by the people in all big business organizations and so on. Otto Strasser, the brother and fellow Nazi of Gregor Strasser, who was the second leading Nazi for much of the Nazi Party's existence, in his 1940 book, Hitler and I revealed his ideology before he found a home in the Nazi Party. In his own words Otto Strasser wrote: "I was a young student of law and economics, a Left Wing student leader."

Consider the following text from that platform adopted in Munich on February 20, 1920 and ask yourself whether it sounds like the notional Right or the very real Left:

"We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within its confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand an end to the power of the financial interests. We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. The government must undertake the improvement of public health."

I have to admit, "broad extension of care for the aged" sounds like "socialized medicine" to me. The anti-business / capitalist "end to the power of financial interests" also hardly sounds like the invective of current right-wing types.

Further on, there's these two quotes:

Consider these remarks of Nazi leaders. Hitler on May 1, 1927:

"We are socialists. We are enemies of today's capitalistic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions."

Goebbels, who was the only major Nazi leader who stayed with Hitler to the very end, wrote in Der Angriff in 1928:

"The worker in a capitalist state - that is his greatest misfortune - no longer a human being, no longer a creator, no longer a shaper of things. He has become a machine."

Neither of those strike me as particularly right-wing, at least as is understood today.

I'm not sure how much credence to give the American Thinker article, but it does seem an interesting idea.

Both Nazism and Marxism led to totalitarian states which practiced wide scale democide; even if one could say one is right-wing and the other left-wing, it's not like either ideology is somehow exonerated by that distinction.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Unaware they were in a stand off with SWAT, suspects surrender

Yeah, really.

Apparently three people in the home, two 19-year-olds and a 21-year-old, had fired some shots around 1 this morning and then went to bed. The 21-year-old was apparently playing around with the gun and decided to shoot it.

When police responded, they apparently never knocked on the door. Instead they tried calling the home and had no luck. During the time police were trying to call the home, officers called in the swat team and began to evacuate the neighbors as a precaution.

Around 8:30 this morning, the guys finally woke up, realized what was going on outside, and peacefully left with the cops. All three were arrested for possessing a firearm and firing it.

Wow. Great job there.

A Cthulhu tract

Artist Steve Ellis and writer Fred Van Lente have come up with a Cthulhu Tract, similar to some of the religious pamphlets one sees scattered about near bus stations and all night eateries.

Worth a laugh, especially since it's in the same vein as some who take themselves very seriously.

Monday, May 26, 2008

French families adopt American graves

As seen on NPR:

Eight years ago, a French couple founded an organization that adopts graves of American servicemen who died during the Normandy invasion of World War II. The volunteer group encourages French families to lay flowers on the graves when the Americans' own families can't do it.

Damn, that's cool.

While the governments of our respective nations may quarrel, it's good to see the people of France and the US remember the sacrifices one made for the other.

Woman still recovering from dine and dash hit-skip

As a follow up to an earlier post, the woman hit by dine and dash suspect Michael Rose is still recovering.

From 10tv:

Earlier this week, doctors said it was doubtful Widomski, 28, would ever walk again.

On Friday, Widomski's aunt, Martha Manciano, confirmed the diagnosis.

"(Her spine) was severed in two places and crushed in multiple places," Manciano said. "Naturally she will never walk again."

Liu's husband, Paul, said his wife was recovering from a number of injuries.

"Julie has suffered a fractured sternum, multiple fractures on her ribs, a broken collarbone, her wrist is dislocated and she suffers from a serious concussion and a bruised brain," Liu said.

Let no one say someone trying to run you over isn't using lethal force. Injuries like that would seem to make gunshot wounds almost a simple matter in comparison.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is this coming Monday.

While it's usually a time for picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and the Indy 500, it's original purpose is a bit more solemn; to commemorate those who have died in military service.

Without getting into politics, I suggest a return to Memorial Day's original purpose is more timely than ever.

If you can spare a moment, swing by the gratitude campaign. Doesn't cost anything to say "thanks" and those of us who served appreciate it.

Just remember those who aren't here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hand grenade trifecta in play

First, a woman brings a hand grenade to a fire station:

GROVE CITY -- Columbus Fire's bomb squad was called out to the Jackson Twp. department, 3650 Hoover Rd., on reports of a hand grenade, NBC 4 reported.

A woman drove up to the department with the grenade in her vehicle. She said she found it while going through her father's estate and thought firefighters would accept it.

Since it still had its pin, firefighters and the bomb squad were worried the grenade was live.

Second, some kids picking up trash find a hand grenade:

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - Three children picking up trash along a river in Hudson for community service work found much more than garbage. Charlie Thompson, 11, Maddie Roth, 10, and Demetri Roth, 8, came across a hand grenade, picked it up and headed home to show off their discovery.

On their way back Monday, they ran into a neighbor, who immediately called 911. Hudson police cordoned off the block, then determined the grenade wasn't a danger, even though it still had the firing pin inserted. Sgt. Eric Atkinson says the grenade was rusted and contained no powder.

Have to wonder if there's a third hand grenade incident out there waiting to happen...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oracle: ORA-12545, part deux...

As a follow up to an earlier post, I think we found the problem.

Earlier, we were experiencing intermittent ORA-12545 errors.

Before this happened, the server group was performing some disaster recovery testing. Somehow, and of course they say they didn't touch it, the file permissions were changed on the /etc/hosts file. Only root had read permissions.

This caused commands like NSLOOKUP to fail completely. Really, you'd think this wouldn't be a problem with a tnsnames.ora entry where the HOST parameter was an IP address. I mean, with an IP address it's not like you have to resolve it.

Apparently though, that's not the case. Oracle appears to sometimes attempt to resolve the host name of the "HOST=" parameter even when it's an IP address.

As soon as we enabled world read access to the /etc/hosts file, the problems stopped happening.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another link to the Smiley Face drownings?

There's apparently some interest in a 10 year old drowning case which may be linked to the Smiley Face Drownings:

From 10TV:

ATHENS, Ohio — 10TV News on Tuesday learned that investigators were re-examining evidence in the drowning of an Ohio University student 10 years ago.

Police originally determined that there was no foul play in the death of Keith Noble, 10TV's Cara Connelly reported.

According to investigators, Noble, 19, disappeared after a night of drinking on April 24, 1998. About two weeks later, his body was found in the Hocking River.

Now two retired New York City police detectives believe the drowning deaths of 40 male college students – including Noble's – are connected, Connelly reported.

How the investigation is going from "no foul play" to homicide is a question. I'll be interested in seeing if this pans out, or is just speculation.

Update on athens students drowning

Seems there's some new information on the two students found dead in a bathtub

ATHENS, Ohio (WSAZ) --New details were released Tuesday in the deaths of two college students found dead in a bathtub.

Preliminary autopsy results show that Kelly Armbruster and Christopher Theil probably died from a drug overdose.

The report also ruled out drowning as the cause of death -- there was also no sign of significant trauma.

Theil's mother found the pair dead in a bathtub at the River Park Tower Apartments in Athens last month.

Armbruster was a student at Ohio University; Theil attended Hocking College. Police say they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

I'll note the word "probably". Seems like the toxicology reports aren't in yet. That or "drug overdose" is the new excited delirium

Also, there's a photo circulating apparently from a facebook profile:


Monday, May 19, 2008

Oracle: ORA-12545

I've no idea what happened, but one of the applications at work started to refuse to connect with the database. The error was ORA-12545.

Normally this is an easy error to correct. First thing, check the TNSNAMES.ORA entry for the service name in question.

An example looks like this:

ORA11 =
(ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = zedatabaseserver)(PORT = 1521))

First thing: Check to make sure the host name is correct. If it is, try resolving it on the client; use either nslookup or ping.

If that resolution is correct, the next thing to try is to change the host name to the IP address. So, in the above entry changing the host name would look something like this:

ORA11 =

That usually does it. Further problems are usually easy to diagnose; a complete lack of all network connectivity indicates the NIC has a problem, or someone's tripped over the cable again.

This time, none of the usual fixes worked. Even stranger, the problems only showed up in part of the application. Anything that used Crystal Reports, which itself used an ADO connection object, was refusing to connect.

The main application, and tools like SQL*Plus, worked fine. Eventually, multiple edits to the TNSNAMES.ORA file seemed to fix the problem, but I don't see how. We rather suspect someone from the server group was fiddling and "unbroke" whatever it was after they applied patches.

Very strange. If anyone else out there has seen something like this, feel free to leave a comment here.

UPDATE: Think I figured it out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

So, which Lebowski character are you?

Fun little quiz to see which Lebowski character you are:

Not much of a surprise what I got:

According to the "Which Big Lebowski character are you?" quiz:

Why don't you check it out? Or we cut off your Johnson!

If you've no idea what I'm on about... dude, read this.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dine and dash suspect turns himself in

Ok, so this is still unfolding, but a man ran over three people who tried to stop him from leaving without paying.

The initial crime was rare enough: Fleeing a Short North restaurant without paying.

But then the man did something violent, Columbus police say: He intentionally backed his sport-utility vehicle over two people and hit a third who had chased him into the Haiku parking lot Thursday night.Late last night, police charged Michael A. Rose, 43, of 2348 Graydon Blvd. on the Northwest Side with four counts of felonious assault and sent alerts to officers in the Cleveland area, where they think Rose might be heading. Police were asking Rose to turn himself in.

Detective Aaron Mall said earlier yesterday that police had recovered the vehicle used as a weapon. Mall would not say where the SUV was found.

Meanwhile, two of the victims remained hospitalized, one in critical condition. Business owners in the dining and shopping district just north of Downtown are stunned.

The restaurant in question is Haiku, a decent sushi place in the short north area of Columbus.

Apparently the suspect, Michael A. Rose, has turned himself in:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The man who police said intentionally backed his sport-utility vehicle over two people and struck a third after he fled a restaurant without paying turned himself in on Saturday afternoon.

Michael A. Rose was charged with four counts of felonious assault after the Thursday night incident, 10TV's Lindsey Seavert reported.

Rose, 43, turned himself in at about 2 p.m., 10TV News reported.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Detective Mall in the Assault Squad at (614) 645-4189.

There's also a web site taking donations for the victims medical bills. While I don't know any of the victims, since they worked in the restaurant I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have health insurance.

Note: I probably don't have to say this, but I'm in no way associated with the Haiku Help site.

Happy Caturday

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prepare to repell... oohh... shiny!

Probably a photo from the Falklands War.

Ah... learning from the old folks

Didn't see that one coming...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just kidding...

There is no candy...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Follow up to Upper Arlington threat

The Dispatch has a follow up story to yesterdays story of a student in the Upper Arlington school district posting Columbine like threats to an internet site.

Police continue to investigate the threat of a "Columbine-style attack" that caused Upper Arlington High School to cancel all activities last night and classes today.

A student at the high school was taken into custody by police yesterday afternoon. He is cooperating with authorities, police said.

The student, who has not been charged, has been released to his parents, city spokeswoman Emma Speight said. She said police have "no concern he has access to weapons at this time."

Last night, no one answered the door at the boy's home.

The school closing came after the 15-year-old sophomore wrote on the Internet about planning an attack, an FBI source told WBNS-TV (Channel 10).

Seems like this is nothing; just a 15 year old talking smack on the internet. Like that never happens.

Mexico to send 3,000 more troops to combat drug gangs

Apparently as a response to drug gangs killing the Chief of Mexico's Police the Mexican government is assigning 3,000 more troops to fight the drug cartels.

Nearly 3,000 more soldiers and police officers will join the fight against the drug barons, bringing the total to more than 30,000 spread across Mexico.

The new forces are being sent to the state of Sinaloa in the north.

Some infantry troops have already started arriving in Hercules aircraft.

Given that the drug trade is worth some $20 billion, one has to wonder just how effective this can be.

Either way, somehow I don't think I'll be vacationing in Mexico any time soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FBI Thwarts Terror Threat At School

Specifically, the Upper Arlington City Schools.

From NBC4:

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- Classes have been canceled for a local high school as authorities investigate an online threat.

According to officials, local law enforcement are investigating recent online threats involving Upper Arlington High School, NBC 4 reported.

Officials said that federal agents notified police on Tuesday morning of suspicious online activity that was traced to an Upper Arlington home where a U.A. high school student resides.

According to a source within the district, the high school principal made an announcement at the end of the school day, directing all students to leave the school grounds immediately because of an emergency situation.

The source said the principal then called faculty and staff to gather for a meeting, in which staff members were told that the FBI somehow intercepted electronic communication that indicated that an Upper Arlington sophomore student was planning an assault on the school with guns and hand grenades -- and that his goal was to kill at least 60 people on Wednesday, May 14.

The FBI said it considers the threat to be credible, prompting the cancellation of classes.

The emergency call system was used to notify parents of the cancellation.

Authorities took one suspect into custody, who they said is cooperating with the investigation.

"Suspicious online activity". I have to wonder about that; seems like it might be anything from ranting about how the suspect would punish all those who offended them, trying to get explosives, what have you.

Tracing an IP address is laughably simple, more so when you're the FBI.

It's just a matter of identifying the ISP, ringing them up and asking for the info. If the ISP doesn't volunteer the subscriber info a warrant is required; in the case of a credible threat, warrants would seem easy to acquire on short notice.

Deadly mob beating unnerves Cleveland neighborhood

This story on the AP gives me pause.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Even by tough, urban-crime standards it was a grisly attack: Up to 15 people chased a man, then kicked and beat him to death on the street. Before police arrived, one attacker urinated on the victim's head.

When the crime-hardened neighborhood awoke later that morning, two people reported a man lying on the pavement, his clothes being dragged off by his assailants.

"You got a male being assaulted by 15 other guys. He's laying on the street," one 911 caller said.

The April 27 attack on Charles Gooden Jr. happened in the most murder-ridden neighborhood in one of the nation's poorest cities. But it was also within a 10-minute drive of the city's skyscrapers, sports venues and tourist attractions.

The motivation for the attack seems so childish as to be laughable. The sort of thing that if a writer put it in their story most people wouldn't find it credible.

Conwell said the motive was based on an argument involving a woman and a threat by her cousin against Gooden, 41.

"He went to defend his malehood honor. He hit the cousin in the mouth. When that happened, the other gang members jumped on him," said Conwell, relying on information from police and neighbors.

Charged in the slaying were Latangia Anderson, 23, Johnny Brown, 20, and Paris Moore, 19, all of Cleveland. They were each jailed on $1 million bond.

So that's it. One guy feels offended, so he hits a guy. Then the crowd beats him to death and pisses on his corpse.

I'll note, in an attempt to salvage something from this sad story, is that apparently none of the parties involved were armed.

Sad proof, if some was needed, that people's actions aren't defined by their tools. The absence of firearms does not equate to the absence of violence.

In fact, that the witnesses were unarmed and no police were around seems a likely contributing factor to the man's death. There was no one there to stop the mob. Just people left to call 911:

"They're stomping somebody and ripping their clothes off. You need to come," another caller said. "Like 15 of them beating the hell out of him."

The emergency dispatcher asked if an ambulance should be sent. "You better bring a stretcher, too," the caller replied. "Please hurry."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dad jailed because daughter fails GED

No, really.

Brian Gegner is in jail for 180 days for failing to keep an eye on his daughter's education. The problem is his daughter is 18 and has passed all except the math portion of the GED which she has failed several times. The order stems from 2 years ago.

When the original truancy happened, Brian Gegner had custody of his daughter even though she was living with her mother. Brittany and her mother both say they should be the ones to go to jail if anyone had to. "It's ridiculously wrong," said Brittany.

The court says that even though Brittany is now an adult the order can be upheld since she was a juvenile at the time. Gegner is also facing the possibility of losing his job, which he has had for 15 years, over this situation.

WTF is it about the Ohio educational system that is nucking futs?

Earlier there was a bill to force parents to volunteer in their school district or pay fines. Now parents are responsible for their kids... even if they don't live together?

This is just another reason I'm glad I don't have any kids.

Doctor Dispels Myth that Corpses Spread Disease


I saw this story on NPR. Outside of the brief blurb, there's not much text.

So some googling turned up this link with a bit more detail.
Dr. Claude de Ville de Goyet, MD writes:

The myth that dead bodies cause a major risk of disease, as reiterated in all large natural disasters from the earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua (1972) to Hurricane Mitch, and now to the Turkish earthquake, is just that, a myth. The bodies of victims from earthquakes or other natural disasters do not present a public health risk of cholera, typhoid fever, or other plagues mentioned by misinformed medical doctors. In fact, the few occasional carriers of those communicable diseases who were unfortunate victims of the disaster are a far lesser threat to the public than they were while alive. Often overlooked is the unintended social consequence of the precipitous and unceremonious disposal of corpses. It constitutes just one more severe blow to the affected population, depriving them of their human right to honor the dead with a proper identification and burial. The legal and financial consequences of the lack of a death certificate will add to the suffering of the survivors for years to come. Moreover, focusing on the summary disposal, superficial "disinfection" with lime, mass burial, or cremation of corpses requires important human and material resources that instead should be allocated to those who survived and remain in critical condition.

Our experience in the aftermath of the earthquake in Mexico City showed that health authorities and the media can work together to inform the public, make possible the identification of the deceased, and the return of the bodies to the families in a climate free of unfounded fears of epidemics.

So the doctor seems to be saying that the risk to public health is minimal compared to the emotional and mental strain of seeing their loved ones end up in a mass grave.

Perhaps so; however I think they'd like seeing their loved ones picked apart by critters even less and watching them turn into bloated, gassy bags of slowly liquefying meat would be right out. In those cases where facilities aren't up to the job of storing a large number of corpses, mass burial might be the only option.

Either way, I don't expect I'll be keeping any corpses around. Can't be too careful, you know. ;-)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Caturday

Happy Mothers Day everyone!

Saw.. in 30 seconds... with Bunnies

I don't know if you've seen Angry Alien's 30 second Bunny Theater but it's hysterical.

Here, for instance is the movie SAW, in 30 seconds, with bunnies.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Chief of Mexico's Police killed

As a follow up to earlier posts on the drug wars in Mexico, there's this story in the New York Times:

The acting chief, Edgar Millán Gómez, was ambushed by several men wearing rubber gloves and carrying weapons as he entered his apartment building in the Guerrero neighborhood of Mexico City with two bodyguards at 2:30 a.m. He was hit eight times in the chest and once in a hand. He died a few hours later at Metropolitan Hospital.

Commander Millán was the highest ranking official to be killed since Mr. Calderón’s campaign against drug dealers began. Intelligence officials said it was highly likely that he was killed in retribution for the arrest on Jan. 21 of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, one of the leaders of a cartel based in Sinaloa State.

Hell of an event. NPR commentators mentioned that it seemed like an inside job. An ambush of this nature would almost have to be. For US readers, this is equivalent to the killing of someone like the Director of the FBI.

CNN notes the US State Department has issued a travel warning for Mexico:

The violence in Mexico appears to be worst in the north, prompting the U.S. State Department to issue a travel warning for American citizens.

"Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades," said the warning issued last month.

"Armed robberies and carjackings, apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence, have increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez," it said.

The State Department noted that the attacks are "aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials and journalists."

"There is no evidence, however, that U.S. citizens are targeted because of their nationality," the warning stated.

Even with that last line, it's hard not to think that the violence won't head north.

Japanese Autopsy Scrolls

Over on Pink Tentacle they have some wonderful images of Japanese Autopsy Scrolls such as this one:

Unlike European anatomical drawings of the time, which tended to depict the corpse as a living thing devoid of pain (and often in some sort of Greek pose), these realistic illustrations show blood and other fluids leaking from subjects with ghastly facial expressions.

The fact that the bodies used in scientific autopsies in Edo-period Japan generally belonged to heinous criminals executed by decapitation adds to the grisly nature of the illustrations.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

CCTV cameras in UK fail to stop crime

For some, this isn't much of a surprise.

In the UK the government decided to place a large number of closed circuit television cameras in public places to deter crime and terrorism, particularly IRA bombings.

The so called ring of steel was widened in 2003 as a response to rising crime rates.

Now some are calling the effectiveness of the camera system into question:

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

The warning comes from the head of the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) at New Scotland Yard

One has to wonder if that 3% was worth the investment, or if the funds could have been better spent to achieve the same, or better, effect on the rate of street robberies.

For a completely different take on the ring of steel, Charles Stross's work The Concrete Jungle is a very good read if you're into Lovecraftian horror.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Missing: Brian Shaffer ... connected to the Smiley Face Drownings?

Again, there's nothing but speculation that this is related to the Smiley Face Drownings, even though some do seem to think there's a connection.

Given that there's no information on Brian Shaffer since 2006, I figure a mention can't hurt.

From the find Brian Shaffer web site:

On the night of Friday, March 31st 2006; Brian Shaffer, a 27 year old 2nd year medical student at OSU went out with friends to have a few drinks and celebrate the beginning of Spring break 2006; it was his 'time out with the guys'. At around 9:30pm, the men headed to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, a bar located near the OSU campus. At 9:56pm, Brian called Alexis -his girlfriend- who at the time was visiting her family in Toledo, OH. He told her he loved her and that he would see her when she came back to Columbus; the two had planned on taking a vacation to Miami and were scheduled to leave for Florida on Monday, April 3rd. Shortly after talking to Alexis, Brian and his friend walked down to the Arena District in Columbus, OH; they stopped at the North Short Tavern and then went to Brother's, where they met with other friends. One of the friends drove them back to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, where they are seen in the surveillance tape at 1:15 am. The next time Brian is seen on cameras, he was outside of the Ugly Tuna, at the top of the escalator, talking with two girls; he appears to say 'bye' and turns towards the bar, he then disappears from the camera's view and has not been seen since.

There's also a PDF of the flyer:

Obviously, if any of you dear readers has some pertinent information to share on what happened to Brian Shaffer call 1-877-645-TIPS (8477). I understand they permit callers to remain anonymous, although how that works with the reward I couldn't tell you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Armed Revolutionary Nationalist Faction

I heard about this group on Marketplace and was intrigued.

The idea of catching criminals on camera is more popular than ever. The Brits have spent billions to keep a remote eye on citizens. But today a senior detective is making headlines there, claiming surveillance cameras have barely made a dent in crime.

In France, you might say they've actually caused it. Since speed cameras were introduced there in 2003, vandals have smashed them, blinded them with paint or taken aim with rifles. Lately, a group calling itself the Armed Revolutionary Nationalist Faction -- or F'NAR -- has turned to blowing them up. John Laurenson reports from Paris.

Which is fascinating. Anecdotally, red light and speed cameras are presumed to be less about safety and more about increasing government revenue through increased traffic citations. That lack of public support would seem to mean when the cameras are attacked, if there are any witnesses they wouldn't come forward.

The economics are interesting as well.

Like the cafe customers, Mister Iosca believes money is behind the cameras. Speed cameras cost $150,000 each but generate, on average, twice that in revenue in a year. According to the French government, speed cameras brought in $700 million in 2007.

So, one wonders how many $150,000 cameras have to be destroyed to make replacing them cost prohibitive, given expected revenue.

The means of destroying the cameras seems very cheap. Sledgehammers, gasoline... things commonly available and effectively untraceable.

Perhaps people, if they don't support a political action, aren't always content with the ballot box as the only means to implement their dissatisfaction.

Lio played with dolls?

Well, just their heads really.

From Lio, of course.

Monday, May 5, 2008

2 Athens students dead in apparent drowning

Now, I've no idea if these deaths are somehow related to the Smiley Face Drownings. In fact, there's apparently no evidence of outside involvement at this time, according to the police.

Perhaps it's just because the story has been in the news but when I heard of two Athens students found dead of an apparent drowning in their apartment, I thought of the Smiley Face Drownings.

From the Dispatch:

Police: No obvious signs of foul play in deaths of two college students
Monday, May 5, 2008 11:50 AM

The Columbus Dispatch
ATHENS, Ohio — There was no obvious sign of foul play in the deaths of a pair of college students in a off-campus apartment near Ohio University, police said today.

Christopher A. Theil and Kelly Armbruster were found dead around dawn Saturday at an apartment complex at 35 N. McKinley Ave.

Theil's mother discovered the bodies and called 911 at 6:18 a.m., said Capt. Tom Pyle of the Athens Police Department.

Theil's mother, whose name was not immediately available, told the dispatcher of a “possible drowning,” Pyle said.

Police are awaiting toxicology results before releasing possible causes of death.

She was from Powell in Delaware County and was a student at Ohio University. He was from Dublin and attended Hocking College. Both were 22 years old.

The Athens News has some more info:

911 tape: Man's mother found deceased couple in bathtub

By Jim Phillips
Athens NEWS Senior Writer
May 5, 2008

The tape of a call to Athens County 911 indicates that the mother of a Hocking College student, in town for Ohio University Mom’s Weekend, found her son and his OU student girlfriend dead in the bathtub of an apartment at Riverpark Towers early Saturday morning.

Athens Police Sunday evening identified the students as Christopher A. Theil, 22, of Athens, and Kelly P. Armbruster, 22, of Powell, a northwest suburb of Columbus. Theil was a Hocking College student and Armbruster a senior in OU's College of Business.

Authorities have been slow to release information on the deaths of the two students, saying they’re awaiting autopsy and toxicological reports on the bodies to complete their investigation. Police have said, however, that they don’t suspect any third-party involvement in the deaths.

The Athens County 911 system released the tape on Monday afternoon, providing the first substantive information about the incident.

On the tape, a woman caller tells a dispatcher, “I need help... I think my son and his girlfriend have drowned themselves.”

As one after another dispatcher tries to get information out of the clearly distraught woman, she explains that she is “just down here visiting for Moms Weekend,” and doesn’t even know for sure what apartment complex she is in. At first, she suggests it may be the Athens Garden Apartments, but later describes the facility, allowing a dispatcher to identify it correctly as Riverpark Towers, a student apartment complex near OU’s South Green.

“I pulled my son and his girlfriend out of the bathtub,” she tells a dispatcher, later explaining that they were both under water.

In response to questioning, she states that she has checked her son and his girlfriend for breathing and pulse, and found neither.

She goes on to give her son’s name, and say that he was a student at Hocking College.

It is not clear from the contents of the tape whether the two students shared the apartment, though some comments of the mother seem to suggest that she had been staying there that night and had awoken to find the pair dead in the tub. Other reports indicated that Armbruster lived in the apartment, located on the fourth floor of Riverpark’s Building 35.

The woman called 911 from a cell phone based in the 614 area code, which she told a dispatcher was her company cell phone.

So, if it was a suicide... damn. I'd hate to be the one that found the bodies, but of course it's worse that the mother of one of the dead found her son that way.

As to the Smiley Face Drownings... if such a gang exists, they apparently target young men. In this case, the dead are a man and a woman. That doesn't seem to fit the pattern.

While the police are apparently still waiting for more test results, the son's Mother seemed to think it was a double suicide. Perhaps there's some history there which led to her perception. Either way, it's something which caught my attention.

SQL Server backup list timeout

While I'm normally an Oracle DBA, I also work with other databases, such as SQL Server.

Recently I was attempting to restore a database from backup for a client. I say "attempting" because the enterprise manager (yes, we still have SQL Server 2000 in places ) kept timing out. I'd go to the list of backups and it seemed like everything would just hang.

After some manic googling, I found this post on the SQLTeam blog.

In short, and against my instincts as an Oracle DBA, apparently you have to manually clean up the MSDB database to remove old backups. As this is equivalent to mucking about in the SYSTEM tablespace in Oracle ( a serious no-no ) I was hesitant, but after running though the procedure I got functionality restored.

The code I used was as follows:

use msdb

set nocount on
declare @oldest_date smalldatetime;
select @oldest_date = min(backup_finish_date) from backupset with (nolock)
set @oldest_date = dateadd(dd, +1 ,@oldest_date)
EXEC sp_delete_backuphistory @oldest_date;

-- If you'd like to keep the backup history for 30 days
use msdb;

declare @oldest_date smalldatetime;
set @oldest_date = dateadd(dd, -30,getdate())
EXEC sp_delete_backuphistory @oldest_date;

Ok, lets look at what this is doing. In the first statement, we're declaring a variable of type smalldatetime. Then we populate that value with the oldest finish date from backupset; in other words, we're finding the last record in the table by date.

After we find that oldest date, we add one day to it, then run a stored procedure ( sp_delete_backuphistory ) to delete records before the "oldest day + 1" which we pass to the stored procedure as an argument.

Another poster on the SQLTeam blog called it a "nibble script". An apt description, as it removes records from the table one by one.

I found it didn't time out if I increased it to remove the last 10 records or even the last 30; if you've more records in your table than I had you may find different results.

Still, it worked for me. Once old backup records were removed, the long running query which was causing the apparent timeout completed in a reasonable time.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Great Movies: Death Wish

For those that haven't seen it, the 1974 film Death Wish is worth your time.

And no, not just for the action scenes.

The story is one that's become common place in action movies. Criminals kill the wife and rape the daughter of the protagonist ( Paul Kersey in this case ). He files police reports, helps his son in law find medical treatment for his daughter, but then takes up arms and hunts down criminals himself, vigilante style.

Unlike later movies in the Death Wish series, the first goes beyond mere action to ask some interesting questions, like this line:

Paul Kersey: "What do you call someone who when faced with a condition of fear does nothing about it?"

Jack Toby: "Civilized?"

Looking beyond the action there's some interesting questions; questions which seem as relevant today as they did so long ago.