It’s A Sickness

So, my new win/lin laptop, the low end acer dealy… I have a six gig partition set aside whose only purpose is to allow me to try out alternative linux distros and whatnot while causing as little damage as possible to the parts of the machines I actually use for work. Here’s what I’ve done with it so far.

  • GoboLinux. Cool but gaudy and some things didn’t work right.
  • DeMuDi. Rockin cool for what it was designed for.
  • Breezy Badger (Ubuntu unstable) Didn’t work at all.
  • Debian Sarge. All I can say is that as of Sarge, Debian isn’t quite as horribly painful to deal with as it had grown under Woody. But I still wouldn’t really recommend it to anybody when Ubuntu is an option.

Lotta time wasted there.

UPDATE: I went back to Sarge and the more I use it the more I like it. It’s not as smooth an install as the big Ubuntu, but I get sick of “Ubuntu Brown” everything (computers and earth tones don’t go together for me), there are some really sweet fonts and color schemes in a default Debian desktop install… I think I might stay here in Debian for a while. I can always turn to the Ubuntu fora for hints on how to do things too.

Leaked emails claim Guantanamo trials rigged. 01/08/2005. ABC News Online

Leaked emails claim Guantanamo trials rigged. 01/08/2005. ABC News Online

Leaked emails from two former prosecutors claim the military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.

Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in March of last year – three months before Australian detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his trial began.

The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to his supervisor.

Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are marginal.

“I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people,” Maj Preston wrote.

“Surely they don’t expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time.”

Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.

“I lie awake worrying about this every night,” he wrote.

“I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission.

“After all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don’t really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer.”

Maj Preston was transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions less than a month later.

I’ve got nothing to add. Just wanted to link & draw attention to it.

GIMP 2.0 and XSane on OS X using Fink

It’s not that hard, but it was hard for me to figure it out how to do, so now that I know, I’m posting it so people who need to do it can find it.

Gimp 2.0 and XSane are both ‘unstable’. If you want to use them, read Q5.8 in the Fink FAQ thoroughly. You do *not* want to enable all of unstable. That way lies madness. You want to snag the .info and .patch files out of the unstable directory and put them in your local directory so you can build them with the least possible use of unstable, have-to-compile packages. I’m not going to go into detail on exactly which packages you need to do this for because I don’t remember all of them. Just do it as much as you need to. It won’t take forever.

Let’s take the Xsane problem first. You can install gimp 1.x from binary. If you want xsane to work as a plugin with your copy of the gimp, you need to install gimp and gimp-dev before you build xsane! If you do not have gimp-dev installed before you build xsane, xsane will happily build and then refuse to work with gimp, because it was compiled without gimp support. It will give you a “gimp support missing” error when you start up gimp. This is frustrating, and it’s hard to find documentation on how to deal with this, which is why I’m writing this blog post. Install xsane using “fink rebuild xsane; fink reinstall xsane” to make sure you get a nice fresh copy with gimp support.

That gets you xsane and gimp 1.x. If you want xsane and gimp 2.x, read on.

If you want gimp2 playing nice with xsane, you do the same thing, but uninstall all the gimp1 stuff, install all the gimp2 stuff (from unstable) (including gimp2-dev), and purge your install of xsane completely. Go edit the local copy of the file you copied over from unstable (it should be at something like “/sw/fink/10.4-transitional/local/main/finkinfo/graphics/”) and replace ‘gimp’ with ‘gimp2’ everywhere you see it in the file. Then “fink rebuild xsane; fink reinstall xsane” just to be sure.

You should get a working copy of gimp2 with an xsane plugin, and you’ll never have to worry about downloading scanner drivers from the manufacturer again.

(Actually I’m not sure you *have* to blow away your gimp1.x install to get it working with gimp2.x, but if you’ve got gimp2.x, why would you want to keep gimp1.x around? Gimp 2 crushes 1 like a ripe grape.)

Spotten On A Whole New Level

Ever play Credo, the card game from Chaosium where you play out the Council of Nicea and determine the future path of Christian orthodoxy, assembling a creed in the process?

That’s small potatoes compared to The Last Supper, an entry in the Iron Game Chef 2005 competition.

The Last Supper must be played in a single session and incorporates a potluck supper. Each participant should bring one or more dishes, and they are encouraged to coordinate for a satisfying meal. The GM will provide the beverage.

One participant – the GM – takes the role of Christ. The remaining participants – the players – each play one of the twelve Apostles. Of these Apostles, some – the evangelists – will go on to write the Bible. Others – the proselytes – will travel unto the corners of the world and spread Christianity to the masses. And one – the traitor – will betray Christ to the Romans and initiate the crucifixion. Without a traitor, all other efforts will fail.

The story of the “real” Last Supper should be considered simply one example of how the game might turn out, just as our world should be considered an example of how the world might be shaped by Christianity over the millennia which follow this event. There is no guarantee that Judas Iscariot will be the traitor, nor that any other disciple will follow the destiny we see for him in our world. Ultimately, the point of the game is to interpolate the doctrine of the church which will form around Christ, and to simultaneously extrapolate the effects of this doctrine on the world to come.

Credo was really cool. Sounds like this would be too.

(“Spotten,” [thanks to Jonathan and James for spelling correction in the comments], is an admonitory word older Reformed people of Dutch extraction in West Michigan sometimes use to describe speech that threatens to go over the line, or actually falls over the line, into blasphemy. “Hey, that’s spotten’.”)

UPDATE: Hours after I write this I happen to see a post on the author’s blog, describing a playtest of the game — and noting that the final rankings for the game chef contest are out — and the Last Supper was one of the two runners up! Neat.

There are far more cool ideas and designs on the Iron Game Chef entry list than made it into even the finalists. To enter that contest, and make a serious effort, is in a real sense to win.

Full of Stars

We’re on vacation, sort of. I forgot to ask for time off so I’m going in to work and hanging at the beach cottage in the evening. That’s why I have the laptop with me.

A few weeks ago I saw Stellarium on’s OS X section so I downloaded it to my ibook.

Night before last Mary and I stayed up late and watched the stars. There were zillions of ’em and some obvious planets. We figured the super bright and fairly bright planets must be Venus and Jupiter, but weren’t sure beyond that and the Big Dipper. I remembered Stellarium so I ran in and got it and clicked on our location and told it to plot the current time. It showed us a map of the sky as it was then and there, zing zing. We were right about Jupiter. The other really bright star in the sky was Arcturus. We also saw Spica near Jupiter, and Vega, and lots of other great stuff.

The next night we let the kids stay up that late and we showed them all the stars that we’d found out about the night before, bolstering our reputation for parental omniscience.

It was really cool. They’d never really looked at the stars before.

Kudos to Stellarium.