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Pro-Life Nation

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 15:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


There are other countries in the world that, like El Salvador, completely ban abortion, including Malta, Chile and Colombia. El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor’s office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal.


“Back-alley abortion” is a term that has long been part of the abortion debate. In the United States, in the years since Roe v. Wade, it has come to seem metaphorical, perhaps even hyperbolic, but it happens to conjure precisely D.C.’s experience. And it’s easy in El Salvador to find plenty of evidence that D.C.’s story is neither isolated nor the worst case. A report by the Center for Reproductive Rights offers this grim list of tools used in clandestine abortions: “clothes hangers, iron bars, high doses of contraceptives, fertilizers, gastritis remedies, soapy water and caustic agents (such as car battery acid).” That list is meant to disgust a reader in the same way that imagery of mangled fetuses is meant to when employed by those who oppose abortion. But the criminalization of abortion in the modern age, in El Salvador at least, is not so simple as a grim return to the back alley. For the most part, the new law has not resulted in a spike in horror stories of painful and botched clandestine procedures.


Abortion as it exists in El Salvador today tends to operate on three levels. The well-off retain the “right to choose” that comes of simply having money. They can fly to Miami for an abortion, or visit the private office of a discreet and well-compensated doctor. Among the very poor, you can still find the back-alley world described by D.C. and the others who turn up in hospitals with damaged or lacerated wombs. Then there are the women in the middle; they often rely on home-brewed cures that are shared on the Internet or on a new underground railroad that has formed to aid them.

This is why the separation of Church and State is essential. Allowing one group to enforce its moral code on another is destroying lives, not saving them.

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  1. John, you completely gloss over an important benefit of El Salvador’s culture – Forensic Vagina Inspector as a profession. Sign me up !

  2. Banning abortion is one of the most oppressive and insidious crimes against woman. The hypocrites who promote this rubbish, example – the U.S., are the same ones that are against the necessary social programs that ensure that the children properly raised, fed ands educated. Further, the case can be made that it is an attack on the poor who are forced to stay that way due to unwanted children. The rich, after all, always could, and always will, be able to get an abortion.

Leak reveals official story of London bombings

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 13:51 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia, News


The official inquiry into the 7 July London bombings will say the attack was planned on a shoestring budget from information on the internet, that there was no ‘fifth-bomber’ and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan.

The first forensic account of the atrocity that claimed the lives of 52 people, which will be published in the next few weeks, will say that attacks were the product of a ‘simple and inexpensive’ plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom.

Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet. Their knapsack bombs cost only a few hundred pounds, according to the first completed draft of the government’s definitive report into the blasts.

That’s no surprise, really.


Especially after the US and its local allies forced al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan, the threat of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is not centralized, but globalized and dispersed. The subway bombings in Madrid and London in 2003 and 2005 were the work not of disciplined al-Qaeda agents acting on orders from above but of small bands of young men with little or no connection to al-Qaeda, and little or no previous record as terrorists. Benjamin and Simon see these attacks as signs of a “new breed of self-starting terrorist cells,” and argue that the development of such cells has been vastly facilitated by the Internet. In 1998, they report, there were only twelve Web sites for terrorist groups; in 2005, there were 4,400. The Web sites spread both religious doctrine calling for violence and practical instructions for carrying it out. The consequences have been dire: according to the RAND Corporation, three quarters of all suicide bombings since 1968 took place in the four years after September 11.

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Tree Sweater

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 13:35 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture



Tonight while I was out on a smoke break, I looked at the tree and thought, “Man, that is one sad tree. It looks cold and wet and pathetic. It needs a sweater!?

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Protesting French youth invoke nekkid revolutionary icon

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 13:30 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture, News


A certain young woman participating in the recent labor protests in France bears a resemblance to the bare-breasted icon of Eugène Delacroix‘s “Liberty Leading the People” (“La Liberté guidant le peuple“). Here are more snapshots of la Marianne, sans chemise, in the streets of Bordeaux: Link, link, and link.

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OS X vs Vista

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 11:30 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft

What’s the difference between OS X and Vista?

Microsoft employees are excited about OS X…

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Several Asinine and/or Risky Ideas Regarding Apple’s Strategy That Boot Camp Does Not Portend

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 11:30 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Software


Regarding anything related to Apple’s strategy going forward, it’s essential to keep in mind just how Apple functions as a business. It’s not very complicated. Apple now has two fundamental businesses: selling Macintosh computers and selling iPods. And I think if you wanted to, you could argue that this is really one core business, selling computers, and that some of their computers are Macs and some are iPods.

I’m not offering this as anything other than a statement of the obvious, but it’s apparently not so obvious to many of the pundits speculating on Apple’s future plans.


Boot Camp doesn’t pit Mac OS X against Windows, and so it doesn’t pit Apple directly against Microsoft. What Boot Camp does is pit Mac hardware that can run both Mac OS X and Windows up against all other PC-hardware that can only run Windows.

Excellent reading. But check this out as well:


And this is the big point to remember, folks: it’s all about Toshiba and Sony. This is most emphatically not about Apple vs. Microsoft – instead, this is about Apple taking a nice, big slice of the high-end Windows PC market to double their share. If I’m Sony, and I sell high-end Vaio laptops, Boot Camp is Steve Jobs’ way of telling me that my customers are now in play. (Frankly, skywriting it would have been more subtle.) After all, Apple makes the tastiest hardware in the computer business and it’s priced competitively with other quality PC brands. So if I’m a consumer, and I see a Sony laptop for $2000 that runs Windows alongside an Apple laptop for $2000 that runs Windows and Mac OS X, well, which is the better value? The Mac is. No question. It’s the no-compromise choice. In one fell swoop, Apple has just captured all of the value of its rival PC makers, while continuing to provide the same great stuff (iLife, OS X) that comes with their own machines.

If I were Sony, or Toshiba, or HP, I’d be freaking out right now.

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  1. I think this is overstated. I’m technically capable, and I find the idea of running two OSes and having two maintain two installs unattractive. Being able to run both OSes is only an advantage if I’m considering using OS X but must have some access to Windows as well. Otherwise, forget it.

    Furthermore, at least theoretically, people who are looking primarily for a Windows machine would be wiser to buy one from a company that has years of experience with Windows installs, drivers, etc. Why would you go for the new guy on the block which has limited motivation to make Windows work well on its hardware, seeing how it sells a competing OS?

    In my mind, Bootcamp provides peace of mind to buyers who are on the fence: if they don’t like OS X, they won’t end up with a door stop, they’ll still be able to run Windows.

  2. It also provides for departments where the company standard says “windows computer” – they won’t have to go through all kinds of red tape to buy the Mac they want.

More xml/xslt numbers

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 10:40 by John Sinteur in category: Sun Coolthreads T2000

A collegue was kind enough to run the test set on one of his linux boxes.

The specs:

Debian GNU/Linux 2.6.15
Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition (build 1.5.0_06-b05)
Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 2.00GHz (with 2MB level2 cache)

The results:

fastest transformation
saxon xalan
chess 26 156
game 0 1
nitf 1 2
recipes 2 4
table 0 1
topic 2 4
wai 0 8

(“zero” microseconds doesn’t mean “zero time”, it means less than half a microsecond)

number of transformations done
saxon xalan
chess 27066 11433
game 193012 34978
nitf 118298 12136
recipes 71345 7181
table 136911 9918
topic 79239 7401
wai 90454 14324
average time for a transformation
saxon xalan
chess 423 n/a
game 53 n/a
nitf 93 n/a
recipes 143 n/a
table 84 n/a
topic 128 n/a
wai 126 n/a

I can’t give any xalan numbers, the individual threads for each case reported numbers that were so wildly different from each other that a sensible “average” wasn’t really possible. Apparently xalan does something weird on this setup.

A nice, fast, modern laptop, and no surprises other than the xalan test: an individual transformation is a lot faster than on a T2000, but on total capacity the T2000 still wins. And again it’s clear that if you’re running a website with a lot of traffic, the T2000 is an excellent choice. Your visitors won’t get the fastest possible response time, but you’ll handle far more visitors for the same amount of dollar investment than if you’re buying the other machines I’ve tested so far. If you’ve only got a few visitors, or each visitor needs the fastest possible response time, don’t pick the T2000. The T2000 isn’t a formula 1 car, it’s an 18-wheeler truck.

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Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 10:05 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon





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Creative Writing

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 9:22 by John Sinteur in category: News

You are working on your family genealogy and for sake of example, let’s say that your great-great uncle, Remus Starr, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

A cousin has supplied you with the only known photograph of Remus, showing him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture are the words:

“Remus Starr: Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889.”

Pretty grim situation, right? But let’s revise things a bit. We simply crop the picture, scan in an enlarged image and edit it with image processing software so that all that is seen is a head shot.

Next, we rewrite the text:

“Remus Starr was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.

Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

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More T2000 xml/xslt numbers

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 8:41 by John Sinteur in category: Sun Coolthreads T2000

I just finished a test run on a Sun Enterprise V440. The machine has 8 Gb of memory, and 4 CPU’s. It’s an older machine, the CPU’s are UltraSparc IIIi, each at 1 GHz. The original purchase price, however, is quite a lot higher than the price a T2000 fetches. And the T2000 blows it away, no contest. The V440 outperforms my Mac, of course, quite significantly, but it cannot begin to match the throughput the T2000 reaches…

fastest transformation, in milliseconds. Lower is better
T2000/saxon T2000/xalan  Mac/saxon Mac/xalan V440/saxon V440/xalan
chess 155 698 2237 4783 1573 2350
game 5 8 4 5 4 5
nitf 8 13 10 11 8 10
recipes 14 31 18 19 19 21
table 5 14 7 9 8 9
topic 17 32 19 22 21 23
wai 7 53 42 44 45 46
total number of transformations done. Higher is better
T2000/saxon T2000/xalan  Mac/saxon Mac/xalan V440/saxon V440/xalan
chess 29310 10100 756 1052 1000 987
game 968610 865870 31807 27629 133376 102090
nitf 693270 580570 19491 19260 63888 56685
recipes 363270 247490 13124 14296 32565 29648
table 905800 558570 23317 22697 69766 58713
topic 335350 230930 12093 13311 28720 27038
wai 770380 110780 8715 9261 16043 15374
average time to do one transformation, in milliseconds. Lower is better
T2000/saxon T2000/xalan  Mac/saxon Mac/xalan V440/saxon V440/xalan
chess 334 988 13207 9557 9991 10120
game 9 11 313 361 74 97
nitf 13 17 510 520 154 174
recipes 25 40 760 697 303 335
table 10 17 430 445 142 169
topic 27 43 825 747 344 367
wai 12 90 1140 1070 620 649

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Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 7:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was “preposterous” to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

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Last minute diversion takes Mars rover to safety

Posted on April 11th, 2006 at 7:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


NASA’s Spirit rover has reached safety after weeks of scrambling with low power supplies to reach a place from which to weather the approaching Martian winter. The northern-tilting slope of the spot, dubbed Low Ridge Haven, will help maximise the sunlight reaching the rover’s solar panels, ensuring its power stays above the minimum needed.

“We’ve got a safe rover,” say principal investigator Steve Squyres. Spirit is now parked with about 11.5° of northerly tilt, towards the Sun. Squyres told New Scientist: “We’re much, much safer than we’ve been in quite a while. That’s huge news for us.”

Amazing how long these things are holding out… My guess is that NASA mixed up metric days and imperial days when they were making their lifetime estimates.

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  1. Well that is what those 250 imperial years old scientists do.

  2. Please, John. When you refer to the days of an Empire, the term ‘Imperial days’ does require a capital ‘I’.

  3. You’re right, of course. But then again, the British Empire has been gone for so long one tend to forget that…

  4. Well, I’d forgotten about them too, John. I was thinking of the Bush Empire. You really ought to keep up with the times…

  5. Well, the metric versus imperial mishap I mentioned in my post happened during the Clinton administration, so I can’t really in all honesty blame Bush for that as well…