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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Always Vote NO 

The Chron has an article about an unanticipated consequence of the Stem Cell Initiative. It turns out that all those Billions and Billions of dollars California is sure to reap as a result of priming the Stem Cell Research Pump with the $3,000,000,000.00 from the initiative may not be available because of details in the Federal Tax Code. This is yet more proof that Hank's Initiative Voting Algorithm is the only proper way to decide how to vote.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hank's Initiative Voting Algorithm, it can be easily stated as Always Vote NO. Even good ideas like funding Stem Cell research have subtleties that aren't adequately addressed by the Petition then Vote way that initiatives work. If funding Stem Cell research is a good idea (and it is) the Legislature should do its job and properly research all the details and write a law that ensures the desired outcome. I'm really tired of having supposed good ideas turn out to be crap once they are already carved in stone.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Friday Random 10 On Saturday 

  1. Goodbye Lucille #1 Prefab Sprout
  2. Heart Broken Bopper The Guess Who
  3. Elle Cosmic Psychos
  4. Die Hard The Hunter Def Leppard
  5. The 500 Club Steel Pole Bathtub
  6. Strong Enough Sheryl Crow
  7. Nobody's Fault But Mine Led Zeppelin
  8. Get Out The Map Indigo Girls
  9. Keep Young And Beautiful Annie Lennox
  10. Waiting in Vain Bob Marley & The Wailers

Friday Kid Blogging On Saturday 

YW Bicycle YA Tricycle

The other day we took the riding implements over to a flat patch of pavement near the house (we live on a pretty steep hill) and let the boys roll around for a while. Good fun was had by all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I've been working on a CGI script that needs to write anywhere from a few to a few thousand entries into a few tables in a MySQL database. The fun part is that I'm tracking foreign keys between the tables (ie, tableA.id can be found in tableB.tableAId and tableB.id can be found in tableC.tableBId). So I need to know the last id value inserted into tableA or tableB before I can write into tableB or tableC. Luckily for us this can be obtained with the following query: "SELECT LAST_INDEX_ID() FROM tableA". This is supposed to give the last id value written into tableA.

When I was testing the performance of the page, it was inconceivable slow. The page was timing out before I could even write 20 values to the database. That's just weird. I thought it might be something to do with the way I was formatting my INSERT statement. But doing an INSERT by hand from the MySQL prompt showed that a typical INSERT from my CGI was about as fast as you would expect. So I tried retrieving the lastest id from tableA and it took a while. And was, in fact, returning a list of all the ids from tableA with the latest one as the first in the list. So a table with around 70,000 entries was returning a list of 70,000 numbers. This isn't, as far as I know, what is supposed to come back from that query. So in my usual kludgy style I changed it to "SELECT MAX(LAST_INDEX_ID()) FROM tableA" and that's really fast. Now the CGI is usable.

I should, in fairness mention that I'm using the MySQLdb module to connect to MySQL from Python. But even from the MySQL prompt itself I'm getting that behavior so I don't think it's a synergistic reaction between Python and MySQL.

I Saw One! 

When I pulled up to YW's After School Daycare today I saw a minivan sporting a Flying Spaghetti Monster decal. I was so excited I just might have to get one for myself.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Tamiflu Update 

Today's Chron has an article about how a Pharma company in India is going to manufacture Tamiflu (well to be precise, the chemical compound that Roche like to call Tamiflu).

Patents are strange thing. You have to describe the thing you are patenting sufficiently well that a person skilled in the appropriate arts can replicate your invention. Respect for law and a desire to avoid costly lawsuits are all that keep companies from making competing identical versions of everything that gets patented.

So yesterday Roche said that there was no way they would license people to make Tamiflu even with royalities for Roche built into the deal. Today we find that a company in India, a country which is not renowned for its respect for patents from other countries, is going to throw caution to the winds and start making Tamiflu, with no royalties for Roche. Oops.

And this isn't some fly-by-night meth lab in Madras. These guys make anti-retrovirals that are used all over the world. And they manufacture precursors for First World pharma companies. If they say they can make Tamiflu, I'll bet they can.

Friday Random 10 

  1. Save My Soul The Lime Spiders
  2. All The King's Friends Soul Asylum
  3. Mr. Brownstone Guns N' Roses
  4. The 4 seasons; Winter Antonio Vivaldi
  5. Backdoor Man The Doors
  6. Fear Doe Montoya
  7. I've Got A Feeling The Beatles
  8. Just Trying To Be Jethro Tull
  9. Incident On South Dowling Paul Kelly And The Messengers
  10. Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine James Brown

Friday Kid Blogging 

Sick Day

Last week YA had to stay home from Preschool for a couple days due to the dreaded non-specific-fever. This means Dad does the telecommuting thing from the comfort of the couch instead of the designated office area and YA watches movies and naps. For some reason putting Elmo chair in the laundry basket and then lounging was the perfect way to watch Ice Age.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Can You Say Compulsory? 

The Chron has an article about Roche and their drug Tamiflu. Tamiflu, if administered within 36 hours of infection is able to prevent the worst aspects of having the flu (ie, not finding oneself dead). It's the only non-vaccine drug capable of doing that. What with the coming of the Great Dying when the avian flu making its way around the world finally mutates into a form that can pass from human to human (instead of bird to human as it does now), it would be good if governments around the world had large stockpiles of Tamiflu so they could flood the area of a flu breakout with Tamiflu before the epidemic goes worldwide and thus perhaps prevent the Great Dying. But the people who run Roche have said that will not license the manufacture of Tamiflu by other companies.

Now, having worked in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry, I am sympathetic to the notion that it is very very hard to get a new drug to market and that the company that does so should be able to make themselves a nice profit from all the hard work they did to find and test the drug in the first place. But. But in this particular case, where a rapid response with large amounts of the drug could prevent literally millions of deaths, it is my, not even mildly humble, opinion that the people running Roche have their heads up their respective asses. The article mentions that the proposed licensing scheme includes royalty payments to Roche. But Roche wants to sit on their Intellectual Property and so protect their profit margins.

In the event that Great Dying does occur, I hope that the (well dosed with Tamiflu I assume) people in charge of Roche are able to talk their way out of the confrontation with the mob of survivors that will come after them.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Monday Soccer Blogging 


It's a good thing that no score is kept in AYSO Under-8. Because if they did, we'd have to deal with the fact that YW's team got shelled on Saturday. While freely admitting that the quality of the coach (that would be me) leaves a lot to be desired, the other team had this one kid who was really amazing. He must have older brothers. This week in practice we'll be working on covering someone on the other team when they have a corner kick or a throw-in.

YW did pretty well during his stint in the goal. He has started rushing the ball even if the guy on the other team is going for the ball too. Now if I just figure out how to get him to leave his feet for the diving save...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Random 10 

  1. Break On Through The Doors
  2. Every Grain Of Sand Emmylou Harris
  3. Le Chanky-Chank Francais BeauSoleil
  4. Love Ridden Fiona Apple
  5. Let Me In To Your Heart Mary Chapin Carpenter
  6. Garageland The Clash The Clash
  7. Boots Noe Venable Boots
  8. Broken Hearted Savior Big Head Todd & The Monsters
  9. Soundtrack To Mary Soul Coughing
  10. Shelter Lone Justice
Noting the BeauSoleil in the list, if you like your Zydeco and haven't seen Schultze Gets The Blues, get yourself onto Netflix and move it to the top of your queue.

Friday Kid Blogging 

Picture Day

It was Picture Day at school yesterday. Earlier in the week, when asked what he wanted to wear, YW said he wanted to wear a shirt with buttons and a tie. MLWN spent some time at Mervyns and you see before you my little lawyer on Casual Friday. It's kind of scary. Actually, maybe he's starting his rebelling against parental authority early. I'm all about the jeans and the t-shirt; maybe he'll show me who's boss by being a sharp dresser. There are worse ways to act out.

We'll just have to hope he hadn't gotten too wrinkled by the time his class got their pictures taken.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Still Losing? Yup. 


What's wrong with this picture, internets? Well, Ok I'll tell you. The weapon the Marine in the picture is holding is an M79 Grenade Launcher. It's a giant, single-shot shotgun that shoots a 40mm grenade at the bad guys. That sounds pretty cool. Having something go boom over by the bad guys instead of right next to you is a good thing. But, the M79 is, for lack of a better word, obsolete. It was front line equipment during Vietnam. It has since been replaced (in the 1980s, I do believe) by the weapon in the picture at the bottom of the post. Do you notice anything different? That's right, it shoots 40mm grenades just like the M79, but the whole thing is attached to an M16. That seems like a much better weapon to carry around. You can still shoot grenades one at a time, but you also have an actual rifle you can use to shoot at the bad guys.

So now in addition to still not providing body armor to the troops, the Pentagon is sending them to war with weapons that their Grandfathers carried around in Southeast Asia.

Modern Bloop

Monday, October 03, 2005

Monday Soccer Blogging 


YW played soccer again over the weekend. For the first time we actually had more than enough boys show up so in addition to shuffling them around from position to position I actually had to keep track of who had already sat out for a quarter.

YW's stint in the goal went much better this week. It's hard to get 7-year-olds to actually pick up the ball when they just know that you're not allowed to do so. But at practice last week we devoted most of the hour to the theory and practice of goal keeping. So in addition to not getting scored on, YW picked the ball up several times and kicked it back into play.

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