Hey Chief Heathen, What Do You Hate Today?

Active Directory. “Hey, how do you get a list of nondisabled users from a given group?”

dsquery * ou=associates,dc=manassas,dc=[companynameredacted],dc=com -filter (!userAccountControl:1.2.840.113556.1.4.803:=2) -attr name samaccountname > Associates.txt


It’s just that kind of day.

Extremely high-volume mid-80s metal is pretty much the only thing keeping me from exploding in a paroxysm of sacrilegious profanity, cynicism, ire, and misanthropy.

Gather round, children, and let me tell you once again what a terrible idea code outsourcing is. The abominations I’ve seen rival the Great Old Ones for Things Which Should Not Be. As Cthulu is my witness, the dev manager showed me a place where they’d used string functions to determine absolute value, I shit you not.

Not even once, people. Not even once.

The TSA: Still Cowardly, Still Worthless

Security expert Bruce Schneier was scheduled to testify before Congress yesterday in hearing about the efficacy of the TSA.

On Friday, he learned that the TSA had struck him from the list of witnesses on the flimsy pretext that he is involved in a lawsuit over the pornocancerscanners.

As noted at Ars: “With Schneier booted from the panel, the remaining witnesses were all representatives of the Obama administration: two TSA officials, an admiral from the Coast Guard, and a member of the Government Accountability Office.”

Also of note: the TSA appears to be completely unwilling to appear on any panel with any critics:

This is not the first time the TSA has engaged in brinksmanship to avoid having to appear on a panel alongside its critics. The TSA abruptly canceled a planned appearance before the same committee last year. The agency objected to sitting alongside a representative of EPIC, a privacy group that also had a pending lawsuit against the TSA.

The TSA’s refusal to participate at last year’s hearing prompted a public rebuke from subcommittee chairman Jason Chaffetz. The TSA eventually backed down and agreed to appear on a separate panel following the other scheduled testimony.

Demand accountability from the TSA. They’re spending our money. Insist they act like it.

Edit: Nice graf from TechDirt:

Schneier is a clear thorn in the side of the TSA, and if it’s so afraid of having him speak to Congress, that really says a lot about the (lack of) confidence it has in its own arguments. If you can’t stand to let a critic speak, it suggests that perhaps your own argument isn’t very strong.

Dept. of Very Smart Football Writing

It’s rare you see a piece about any sport that’s both accessible to non-maniacal fans and astute in its analysis, so I urge you to take a moment and read Grantland’s piece on Tebow and the Jets. It includes this very succinct discussion of the mechanics of play design and what the “spread” or “wildcat” is that, even for a fan like me, seems perfect in its clarity:

With 11 players to each side, every play — but particularly run plays — often comes down to how the offense does or does not account for one or two particular defenders. In the modern NFL, if all of an offense’s players block their counterparts on a running play, the defense will have two defenders unaccounted for: The counterpart for the running back carrying the ball and the counterpart for the quarterback, who most likely has handed the ball off. Good quarterbacks like Peyton Manning seek to control their counterpart by faking a play-action pass, so that a deep safety must stand in the middle of the field.

But the ballcarrier still has a counterpart. NFL offenses work extremely hard to dictate who that guy will be — with motion, different blocking schemes, and even using wide receivers to block interior defenders — but at some point the math is the math. Until the quarterback is a threat, the math will always work against the offense. But spread coaches, without subjecting their quarterbacks to undue brutality, have learned to change the calculus.

(Via Rafe Colburn.)

The Economist Debate: Has the TSA done more harm than good?

The whole thing is here (sadly, the navigation is a bit wonky). On the affirmative (i.e., “yes, post-9/11 airport security changes have done more harm than good”), we have security analyst and expert Bruce Schneier. Defending the TSA is its former head Kip Hawley — who, it will surprise no one to learn, has no security resume to speak of.

As you may imagine, Schneier completely destroys him. Hawley rattles off talking points, but doesn’t actually address the basic points of logic that Schneier advances, and in his first rebuttal comes dangerously close to the old “well, if you knew what I know gambit.”

This debate, fun though it is to read, amounts to pulling wings of flies. Hawley is getting his ass handed to him because his position is untenable: the TSA is a colossal waste of money and effort, and the divergence of resources into this money pit actually makes us worse off. The sooner we fix this problem, the better.

Dept. of Movie Theaters Committing Suicide

There is apparently now talk of theaters addressing the lack of demand for (and therefore lack of revenue from) more expensive 3D tickets by raising 2D ticket prices and then charging the same amount for both.

The official Heathen position is simple: Fuck 3D, and fuck absolutely everything about this idea. Hello, home rental! I mean, seriously: we barely go to the movies as it is because on nearly every metric important to us, the home experience is superior. There’s no chattering. There’s no texting. There’s no $17 “small” soda. There’s no parking. We can sit in the center of the room and control the volume. We can back it up if we need a line repeated, or pause it if we need to take a leak.

What, exactly, does Regal offer me besides overpriced snacks, extortionate ticket prices, and the “opportunity” to share the movie experience with a few hundred mouth-breathing jackasses.?

What Rick Perry and the GOP Did To Texas Women

My friend Andrea really nails it here, but I’m copying-and-pasting for brevity:

1. When Texas joined the Women’s Health Program, which officially happened in December, 2006, the rules were the same as they are now. Planned Parenthood was an approved provider. In other words, Texas knew that funds would be going to Planned Parenthood, and our state government was OK with that.

  1. In December, 2006, and in the lead-up during our application process, George W. Bush (R) was the President of the United States and Rick Perry (R) was the Governor of Texas.

  2. So, the Women’s Health Program (a.k.a. the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver program) was overseen by Republicans at the federal and state level. Republicans approved our state’s application. Under the rules that allowed Planned Parenthood to be a provider.

  3. The Texas legislature, a majority of whom were Republicans in 2011, decided to change the state law in order to exclude Planned Parenthood as a provider. They did this knowing that the waiver would expire in December, 2011, and that Texas would need to reapply in order to continue receiving the highly advantageous and money-saving 9 to 1 federal matching funds.

  4. The federal government, following the rules established during a Republican administration, warned Texas that dropping Planned Parenthood would terminate the state’s right to participate in the program.

  5. The Republican Texas legislature dropped Planned Parenthood anyway.

Apparently, in Florida, it’s legal to pick fights with people and then kill them in “self defense”

Trayvon Martin’s murder by a gun-toting neighborhood watch doofus with delusions of grandeur (reports note his “criminal justice degree,” which says “cop wannabe” to me) has gotten the attention of the Justice Department because, apparently, Florida’s stand your ground law means local prosecution is unlikely (though apparently a grand jury will look at it).

We at Heathen are all about citizens being allowed to protect themselves, even including lethal force, but laws that protect people defending themselves should not be so broad as to encourage would-be vigilantes like Zimmerman (who, it should be noted did pretty much everything wrong in his zeal to catch that suspicious youth armed with Skittles and soda).

More at NPR and, via them, The Orlando Sentinel‘s “Breaking New” page, onto which updates about this (and other) stories are frequently posted.

The $8 Billion iPod

Groups like the MPAA and the RIAA are so openly, brazenly mendacious that they make Republicans look like Girl Scouts. Seriously.

To put this in perspective, have a look at this video, which explains the brand-new field of “copyright math” — wherein the absurd figures for economic loss due to piracy are compared to actual facts.

It’s short. Watch it.

No wonder they named a town after him

On this day in 1861, Sam Houston was forced to resign as Governor of Texas for refusing to secede and swear allegiance to the Confederacy:

Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas . . . I protest . . . against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.

Houston retired to Huntsville, and was dead by 1863. To say he’d had an interesting life is to understate things rather dramatically. Immigrants to Texas like myself would do well to review that Wikipedia article, since we missed the no-doubt otherwise inescapable “History of Texas” classes in middle school.

“Poor Bernie”

In 1998, Texas Monthly‘s Skip Hollandsworth wrote a long piece called “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas” about Bernie Tiede, a somewhat effeminate undertaker in rural Carthage, TX, who befriended a nasty but wealthy local widow named Marjorie Nugent. He left the funeral business and took a job basically looking after her; they’d travel together — first class all the way — and he would tend to her affairs.

Until, they say, he killed her. Which was unfortunately about 9 months before anybody actually noticed she was gone; he’d stored her body in a deep freeze at her home, which he continued to tend. The residents of Carthage were, somewhat amusingly, untroubled:

Sitting at his regular table at Daddy Sam’s BBQ and Catfish (“You Kill It, I’ll Cook It”) in the East Texas town of Carthage, district attorney Danny Buck Davidson began to realize that he might have some problems prosecuting Bernie Tiede for murder.

“Bernie’s a sweet man, Danny Buck,” a waitress said. “He’s done a lot of good things for this town. He’s given poor kids money to go to college and everything.”

“You got to admit nobody could sing “Amazing Grace’ like Bernie could,” someone else said.

The bulldog-faced Danny Buck took a bite of slaw and sipped his iced tea. “Now y’all know that Bernie confessed, don’t you?” he said, trying to keep his voice calm. “He came right out and told a Texas Ranger that he shot Mrs. Nugent four times in the back and then stuffed her in her own deep freeze in her kitchen.”

There was a long silence. “Danny Buck,” one man finally said, “it’s just hard for me to believe that old Bernie could fire a gun straight. He acts…well, you know…effeminate! You can tell he’s never been deer hunting in his entire life.”

“And you know what?” a woman told Danny Buck later at a convenience store. “I don’t care if Mrs. Nugent was the richest lady in town. She was so mean that even if Bernie did kill her, you won’t be able to find anyone in town who’s going to convict him for murder.”

Yeah, I know. It’s total Southern Gothic territory. I only read this story because it showed up in inbox thanks to the excellent SendMeAStory people (whom you should check out, if you like that sort of thing). It’s a bizarre but compelling account.

It turns out that Richard Linklater thought so, too. Jack Black is Bernie. Matthew McConaughey is local DA Danny Buck Davidson. And Shirley MacLaine is the widow. In theaters next month. Here’s the trailer.

Dispatches from Mississippi

Longtime Heathen R. supplied this anecdote from his father, who still lives in our former state. Both R. and his pop are, like Heathen, Cracker-Americans:

Went into vote in the primary. Went to the Democratic side, manned by three elderly black volunteers. “I want to vote.” “You don’t understand, sir, this is the Democratic side.”



I am:

In celebration thereof, we’re heading to the Mythbusters live show this evening, preceded by some happy-hour tomfoolery at Samba.