Monthly Archives: October 2009

Ares I-X Takes Flight

That needle leaping skywards is NASA’s first new launch system in some three decades. It’s intended to be the first step towards a new rocket to launch people into space. It’s the tallest rocket we’ve currently got going, and is only 11 meters shorter than the historic Saturn V. I didn’t have any involvement with this rocket, but many of my friends did. Congratulations, y’all. You’ve done good.

Perhaps Microsoft Could Hire Count von Count

Today is Windows 7 day. How exciting! I began wondering why Windows 7 was called Windows 7 and started trying to count versions to figure out the numbering scheme.

Why, how simple!

Let’s see. If we consider consumer-oriented versions of Windows, then 95 could be version 4, 98 would be 5, ME would be 6, XP would be 7, Vista 8, and Windows 7 would be 9. Hm, that can’t be right. Maybe we should restrict our numbering to the versions using the NT kernel. Then Windows 2000 could be 5, XP could be 6, Server 2003 could be 7 — or maybe we should skip that and make Vista 7, so that Windows 7 could be 8.

Geez, this is hard. I feel like I’m trying to explain the timeline of pre-Tribulation eschatology. Maybe Microsoft can clear things up.

I’ll say up front, that there are many ways to count the releases of Windows and it’s been both a trip down memory lane and quite amusing to read all the different theories about how we got to the number “7.”

Anyway, the numbering we used is quite simple.

Oh, excellent! Do explain.

The very first release of Windows was Windows 1.0, the second was Windows 2.0, the third Windows 3.0.

I’m with you so far.

Here’s where things get a little more complicated. Following Windows 3.0 was Windows NT which was code versioned as Windows 3.1. Then came Windows 95, which was code versioned as Windows 4.0.

But I thought Windows 3.1 was Windows 3.1, and Windows NT was a completely different beast! At least Windows 95 as Windows 4.0 makes a kind of sense. I bet Microsoft then counted Windows 98 as Windows 5.0 —

Then, Windows 98, 98 SE and Windows Millennium each shipped as 4.0.1998, 4.10.2222, and 4.90.3000, respectively. So we’re counting all 9x versions as being 4.0.

What the what what what? 4.10.2222? They’re just pulling numbers out of a hat now.

Windows 2000 code was 5.0 and then we shipped Windows XP as 5.1, even though it was a major release we didn’t’ want to change code version numbers to maximize application compatibility.

So Windows XP was a major change, but they gave it the version number 5.1. This is adding support to my Numbers From a Hat theory.

That brings us to Windows Vista, which is 6.0. So we see Windows 7 as our next logical significant release and 7th in the family of Windows releases.

Oh, man. This is the quite simple numbering scheme? Where you have a major release that you number as 5.1 instead of 6 just because? Though given this rule, I’m sure Microsoft will number their Windows versions consistently going forward.

So we decided to ship the Windows 7 code as Windows 6.1 – which is what you will see in the actual version of the product in cmd.exe or computer properties.

In three years I can’t wait for them to release the new version, which will also be called Windows 7.

We Are All Connected

John Boswell, aka Colorpulse, can keep making these songs starring Auto-Tuned scientists and I will happily keep listening to them. This one has Richard Feynman (including his bongo playing!), Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Carl Sagan.

If you want to hear more as they come out, Boswell’s set up a new site, Symphony of Science, for these songs.

“I wanna do a craft!”

What crafter doesn’t want to hear these words from their children? Painting though is my least favorite because it involves water. Both kids really love to paint, so it’s always a special treat at our house. These are from this past week when it rained and rained and rained.

Painter Liza is covered in paint
Yes, that’s paint all over Liza’s face.

Two Artists, Four Hands, One Giant Mess
You can see the potential for mess in double portions right here.

Jeff Sessions, My Pro-Rape Senator

Dear Senator Sessions,

I am stunned and appalled at your vote against SA 2588 to H.R. 3326, the 2010 Defense Appropriation Act. The amendment would prevent government contractors or subcontractors from receiving federal funds if they require their employees to submit to arbitration if they are sexually assaulted while on the job by other employees. In short: your vote against this measure is a vote for companies escaping culpability in rape cases. Shame on you.

This amendment was driven in part by Jamie Leigh Jones’s experiences. As a 21-year-old working for KBR/Halliburton in Iran, she claims to have been gang raped after sipping a drugged drink. Guards following KBR orders confined her to a shipping container; she was freed only after she managed to call her father, who involved Texas Representative Ted Poe. Hers was one of several rapes involving KBR personnel. KBR claims none of the raped women can sue KBR due to arbitration clauses in their contract. Even worse, KBR has continually delayed arbitration in these cases, preventing due process.

In your speech on the Senate floor, you claimed that arbitration is a fair substitute for a court case, and that it can be better and less expensive for employees. Consumer Reports, a non-partisan advocate for individuals, vehemently disagrees. As Consumer Reports points out, arbitration involves a third party selected by the corporation. No public record is kept. There is no accountability; there is no transparency. It substitutes private corporate decisions for public decisions by a jury of peers, and subverts the justice system that you, as a former U.S. Attorney, once swore to uphold.

Furthermore, you said that the Congress should not be involved in writing or re-writing contracts. This is not a re-write of contracts; this is a statement of who the U.S. Government will do business with. The Congress has the power of the checkbook, and can decide where that money goes and why. The amendment did not specify how contracts should be written; it specified that contracts should not be let to companies hiding from their employees behind the shield of arbitration to prevent rape victims from suing them. If this is untenable, then so is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has prevented the government from doing business with companies that discriminate on the basis of race or gender.

On your website, you state that, like me, you are a Christian. Christ’s concern was for the downtrodden. He broke bread with the tax collectors and the prostitutes, not the religious leaders and the politically powerful. On this issue you have sided with the corporation over the individual, with Halliburton over Jamie Leigh Jones.

In your remarks during Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, you stated that empathy was a bad thing for a judge to have. Based on your vote on this matter, I can only assume that you think empathy is a terrible thing for a Senator to have as well.

I have a two-year-old daughter. Because of your vote, I cannot imagine her working for the federal government as a contractor. Your vote signals that you accept corporations covering up rapes as a matter of course. You have two daughters; I am appalled that you are comfortable with this behavior, and can only hope that you would feel differently if it were your daughters in this situation.

As a father and as a Christian, I can only say again: you should be ashamed of your vote. It betrays the very values you claim to hold.


Stephen Granade

This turned into a long letter, and was far more reasoned than I would naturally have been. My first reaction was to write a letter that read, in its entirety, “Senator Sessions: Fuck you.” That a man who has two daughters could sleep comfortably at night having said, “Hey, you got raped and your employer tried to cover it up, but that’s okay” enrages me beyond belief. With this vote, Sessions (and his compatriot Senator Shelby) have shown that they are hollow men incapable of empathizing with women.