Remember that Irish reporter?

Yeah, she’s written a bit about how she was bullied by the White House after not letting George “lead the interview.” (Via Atrios.)

At the studio I handed over the tapes. My phone rang. It was MC, and her voice was cold. “We just want to say how disappointed we are in the way you conducted the interview,” she said. “How is that?” I asked. “You talked over the president, not letting him finish his answers.” “Oh, I was just moving him on,” I said, explaining that I wanted some new insight from him, not two-year-old answers. “He did give you plenty of new stuff.” She estimated that I had interrupted the president eight times and added that I had upset him. I was upset too, I told her. The line started to break up; I was in a basement with a bad phone signal. I took her number and agreed to call her back. I dialled the White House number and she was on the line again. “I’m here with Colby,” she indicated. “Right.” “You were given an opportunity to interview the leader of the free world and you blew it,” she began. I was beginning to feel as if I might be dreaming. I had naively believed the American president was referred to as the “leader of the free world” only in an unofficial tongue-in-cheek sort of way by outsiders, and not among his closest staff. “You were more vicious than any of the White House press corps or even some of them up on Capitol Hill . . .The president leads the interview,” she said. “I don’t agree,” I replied, my initial worry now turning to frustration. “It’s the journalist’s job to lead the interview.” It was suggested that perhaps I could edit the tapes to take out the interruptions, but I made it clear that this would not be possible. As the conversation progressed, I learnt that I might find it difficult to secure further co-operation from the White House. A man’s voice then came on the line. Colby, I assumed. “And, it goes without saying, you can forget about the interview with Laura Bush.”

Wedding Week: T-01:19:30:30

Our friends Mike and Anne got married secretly at the Cambridge, MA courthouse years ago.

As things get more complicated and less done and the zero-hour looms larger, we think of Massachusetts courthouses as much more romantic locations than we did previously.

Who We Could Have Been

Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has much to say about what we could have done about Katrina and New Orleans, which brings us back to the missed opportunities we’ve had since 9/11. He references a 2003 Mother Jones article that discusses an alternative world where our country’s response to disaster anywhere is rapid, effective — and communicative:

And so this doppelganger Bush would have seen the advantage — oh, about a year ago, when half the world seemed to be wearing NYFD caps — in stationing a fleet of C-5 cargo planes at Kennedy Airport. When an Iranian earthquake or a Bali bomb blast occurred, 200 of New York’s bravest and all that rescue paraphernalia for which we are famous — Jaws of Life cutters, search dogs, remote cameras — would immediately be dispatched. In my dream, I see NYFD pulling trapped Persian grandmothers out of that collapsed mosque. And the fantasy plays on out, with the president — Bush would be especially great at this part — taking to a podium and saying, “Al Qaeda blows up buildings and kills people. We dig through rubble and save human lives. This is what America does.”

This is who we could have been. Instead, Bush started a war.

Dept. of Mason Subrequest Bug Fixes

This post is HARD geeky, but I’m putting it out there for Googlejuice reasons.

Recently, some code over at Spacetaker stopped working, and I couldn’t figure out why. The salient bit of code is this:

  my $req = $m->make_subrequest( comp => '/httpdocs/newsletter.html',
                                 args => [ id => $ff->{id}, fridayfotoflag => 't' ],
                                 out_method => \$newsletter,
                                 autoflush => 0 );


  my $mail = MIME::Lite->new( From => $sender,
                              To => $where{$ARGS{do}},
                              Subject => "FridayFoto for $ff->{week}",
                              Type => "text/html",
                              Data => $newsletter);

  $mail->send('smtp', $server, Timeout => 60, Debut => 1);
      Newsletter "$ff->{title}" for the week of $ff->{week} has 
      been sent to $where{$ARGS{do}}.);

Ideally, this assembles the newsletter itself with the $m->make_subrequest call, and then mails it with the calls to MIME::Lite to whomever it appropriate. It then went on to display a success message noting to whom the the mail (a weekly newsletter) had been sent. All good, right?

Well, no. All of a sudden (see below), the page in question would churn and churn and churn, but never actually load. The problem was clearly NOT the MIME::Lite calls, as (a) they continued to do their job even as the page churned and (b) the page churned endlessly even with those lines commented out. Under no circumstances did the text in the $m->out call get shown, but debugging output to STDERR would show up pretty much all the way through.

I consulted my MasonGuru for help, and we finally sat down to chase it this morning. Step one was upgrading Mason; I was a version or so behind. After upgrading from 1.28 to 1.3101, we started getting errors instead of silent failures, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Turns out, the subrequest call was failing (silently under 1.28, but with an error under 1.3101) for no apparent reason. Much Googling finally pointed out the issue, which we found referenced here and detailed here. For posterity, I’ll reproduce it:

There is a known problem in MasonX::Request::WithApacheSession 0.30, which is the most current release. Subrequests may work once, but after that they fail in a sort of endless loop condition for reasons I don’t understand.

To make this work, do this:

From: Derek Poon  OCF.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: MasonX::Request::WithApacheSession 0.30 bug: subrequests
Newsgroups: gmane.comp.web.mason.devel
Date: 2005-07-10 02:03:23 GMT (12 weeks, 3 days, 12 hours and 14 minutes ago)


There is a bug in MasonX::Request::WithApacheSession 0.30 that causes  
an error when executing subrequests.

I have this in my httpd.conf:

PerlSetVar MasonRequestClass MasonX::Request::WithApacheSession

When running  $m->subexec(...)  in Mason, I get this error in the  

Can't call method "exec" on an undefined value at [...]/HTML/Mason/ line 538,  line 2.

Trace begun at [...]/HTML/Mason/ line 128
HTML::Mason::Exceptions::rethrow_exception('Can\'t call method "exec"  
on an undefined value at [...]/HTML/Mason/ line 538,   
line 2.^J') called at [...]/HTML/Mason/ line 538
HTML::Mason::Request::subexec([...]) called at [...]/autohandler line 58

Here's the fix:

--- MasonX-Request-WithApacheSession-0.30/lib/MasonX/Request/    2004-03-19 23:27:55.000000000 +0100
+++ MasonX-Request-WithApacheSession-0.30/lib/MasonX/Request/       2005-07-10 03:52:35.000000000 +0200
     -74,7 +74,7     
      my $self = $class->SUPER::new(  _);
-    return if $self->is_subrequest;
+    return $self if $self->is_subrequest;
      # backwards compatibility
      $self->{session_param_name} =

For the unitiated, this means:

  1. Find the Perl module named, which will be in a directory called MasonX/Request/ that is contained in one of the directories listed when you do a perl -V from your server’s command line. On my OS X server, it’s
  2. Locate the line “return if $self->is_subrequest;“, which should be around/about 74.
  3. Change it to “return $self if $self->is_subrequest;
  4. Stop and Start Apache (not a restart; do a full stop and start).
  5. Bob’s your uncle.

The reason this mysteriously started breaking was that I installed the module in question to support sessions, and it steps in to handle all subrequests, causing the problem to occur in non-session-related code.

We’re sure this is in no way troubling

Tropical storm Tammy — with a T, for crying out loud — has formed off the coast of Florida.

Can anyone remember any other storms beginning with T? The above-linked story notes that this is the 19th named storm of the year, two shy of the record set in 1933.

Dept. of Horn-Tooting

The annual Houston Press Best of Houston is out (though their web treatment is nearly useless), and Infernal Bridegroom rocks as always:

  • Best Original Show: Tamalalia 10 at IBP
  • Best Performance Space: The Axiom
  • Best Director: Charlie Scott for Medea at IBP
  • Best Production: Medea at IBP

In addition, our dear friends and associates walked away with four others:

  • Best Microcinema: Aurora Picture Show
  • Best Art Show: Thought Crimes at DiverseWorks
  • Best Modern Dance Company: Suchu Dance
  • Best Political Art Exhibit: Thought Crimes at DiverseWorks


Slashdotted by Crooks and Liars

Well, not literal crooks, but these folks, who were amused by this entry from last October enough to link directly to OUR local copy of the ten megabyte video.

The good news is that our server didn’t blink at all about serving out all the extra traffic, and blithely served out 700 copies overnight.

The even better news is that our Colo people noticed the wildly out of pattern bandwidth usage (70GB overnight vs. about 30 for all of September) and contacted us this morning, first thing. It didn’t take long to figure out what the problem was, especially since the first thing we did was take down Apache to see if the pain stopped, and lo and behold it did (thanks, by the way, to all those folks who emailed us about the apparent Heathen outage; even though it was under control, it’s good to know folks are paying attention).

The file’s been removed, but the original copy is still available. I’m told that the nice folks at C&L will be hosting a copy themselves soon, so if you’re here looking for Cheney being more vulgar than usual, wander over there. (They really are nice; they offered to cover our bandwidth overages, which we’d certainly have if we hadn’t moved last month.)

It’s Dick Fucking Cheney, “mang”

Dangerous Squid gives us this excellent mashup of Cheney’s RNC speech and everyone’s favorite iconic coke kingpin. (Original link here.)

Update 4 Oct 2005: We been slashdotted by, who linked directly to our local copy last night. This caused our colo to have a mild freakout and contact us, creating a genuine freakout until we figured out why this 18GB/month site served 70GB since last night. The local copy has therefore been removed. Sorry.

Wedding Week: T-05:09:15:33

Mike points out that a naive Google search for our wedding site produces first a link to a certain almost certainly awful romance novel, blurbed thusly by a quasi-literate Amazon reviewer (all punctuation original):

In [Jacqueline Diamond’s] latest release The Stolen Bride Erin Marshall, the heroine has had an accident and can’t remember one particular day. The day she accepted a proposal from Chet…her fiance.

Update: Links fixed.

In which we acknowledge the aging process

Longtime Heathen Danno turned thirty fucking five yesterday, which means it’s been five years since this happened. If you’re in the Louisville/southern Indiana area, drop me a line and I’ll tell you where he lives.

(Yes, we know that there have been significant personnel changes in Team Danno and Team Heathen since these photographs. That doesn’t make them less funny, though.)

And now, a leetle joke

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: “Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed.” “OH NO!” the President exclaims. “That’s terrible!” His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands. Finally, the President looks up and asks, “How many is a brazillion?”

More proof that the music industry is stupid, stupid, stupid

Upset that their business model is, well, broken, they’re now trying to force Apple to raise iTunes music store prices from 99 cents by threatening to take their ball and go home. They figure that music sales via iTMS drive iPod sales, and that therefore Apple will listen. They are wrong; all evidence is that it’s the other way around, which means pulling out of iTMS really just screws the label.