I don't always test ...


That pretty much sums up the current Obamacare debacle. As a programmer for a mission-critical web-based EHR, and one in charge of deploying updates to production, I feel a bit of sympathy for the actual programmers who worked on this monstrosity. And monstrosity is the perfect description. At 500 *million* lines of code, there is no possible way this could have been released without problems. 500 *million* lines of code says that this was not only poorly built but that it was poorly designed, poorly managed, and poorly tested. It's just not possible. Yet it happened anyway.

However, in this case, the sheer ineptitude on display is astounding. This would certainly be one contract job I'd omit from my resume if I were one of the programmers!

What a perfect metaphor for our government in general.



Borepatch sums up the issues with the "surge" very well. Highly recommend reading this post and his blog in general

Occupy Pittsburgh: Finally Jumped the Shark

It's official. The Occupy Pittsburgh movement has jumped the shark. According to today's Post-Gazette, Occupy Pittsburgh vows to seize and rename Mellon Green.
Organizers of the Occupy Pittsburgh tent encampment said today they are "seizing" the BNY Mellon's privately owned park in Downtown, will rename it "People's Park," and will serve BNY Mellon with an eviction notice Monday.
Ken Miller, 38, of the North Side, said he expects occupiers will win their fight in court

So, BNY Mellon gives the Occupy Pittsburgh permission to use the privately owned park, Mellon Green, as long as the protesters weren't disruptive and didn't damage the park. After several months of "occupation," the permission has been rescinded and the protesters were told to leave by noon today. And, like the spoiled brats they appear to be, they're refusing to leave and plan on filing an eviction notice against BNY Mellon? The inmates truly are running the asylum.

I've watched the Occupy "movement" grow from its infancy and chuckled as it's continued to make a mockery of itself. I even agree (to some extent) with one of the messages they speak about: I would love to see corporations lose the massive influence they have in Washington. We differ in that the Occupy movement doesn't mind lobbying in general, they just want a different group of people doing it. I, on the other hand, want all the parasites out of Washington - corporate and union, private and public.

But seriously, evicting a company from their own property? I'll start making the popcorn.

Senator Casey (D - Moronic)

Senator wants accounting from US Airways on Philly fares
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has sent a letter to US Airways objecting to the upcoming increase in the cost of flights from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

The Post-Gazette reported Tuesday that when Southwest Airlines drops its flights between the two cities next month, the price for a US Airways round-trip ticket will increase from $118 plus taxes to $698 plus taxes. US Airways would be the only airline operating direct flights between the cities.
Mr. Casey asked the airline to provide him with regular updates on the impact the increase would have on Pennsylvania travelers.
Maybe US Airways has been pricing flights way below cost just to stay competitive with Southwest. Maybe now US Airways is just raising rates to finally cover the cost of carrying passengers from Pittsburgh to Philly. Maybe it's just the opposite and US Airways sees an opportunity to screw over its potential customers and charge them way more than they need to charge. I really don't care! They're able to do so in a free market and they'll have to suffer the consequences, whether they deserve them or not.

I'm really not sure how in the hell this is any of Senator Casey's business. And I'm not really sure where he thinks he has the authority to "request regular updates."

If only Senator Casey was as concerned with what the government's policies are doing to drive up the unavoidable costs of living - food, gas, energy - as he is with how much an airline is charging someone to avoid a simple five hour drive.

More Liquor Law Stupidity

Bill Toland has an article in the Post-Gazette on the Pittsburgh Whiskey and Fine Spirits Festival. One of the vendors will be the brand new Wigle Whiskey which is just about to open in the Strip District here in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, they won't be able to actually let people sample their whiskey. Why?
Wigle Whiskey -- being produced in the Strip District, in Pittsburgh's first whiskey distillery since the Prohibition era -- will not be among the spirits sampled. Though the festival had advertised Wigle's presence in press releases, Wigle won't be pouring tomorrow, because the federal government has not approved Wigle's bottle labels.
Got that? We're not allowed to actually try this local whiskey because at least one federal agency is required to approve the bottle labels.


In addition to Wigle, an Indian whiskey (Amrut, out of Bangalore) is now available in Pennsylvania but, since it's not a regularly stocked item, you have to special order it. And special orders are done by the case!
Amrut brands are now available in Pennsylvania, but only by special-order -- meaning that if you want to try a bottle, you have to buy six of them, because the PLCB doesn't maintain an Amrut inventory.

So, to recap, if you want to take this highly-rated whiskey for a test drive, instead of buying one bottle of Fusion for $67, you have to buy six, for $400.
I have mentioned this before regarding Evan Williams 1783 bourbon and the PLCB is still a bloated train-wreck of government stupidity. It's time to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania.

Quote of the Day - Handjob or Cancer?

Today's QotD comes from a video by Rebecca Watson, of Skepchick, titled F the TSA:
My main concern at this point is deciding which I prefer the TSA to give me: a handjob or cancer.
She continues:
Now, of course that's a joke. ... First of all, yes I'm kidding. I don't think that I'm going to get a handjob. As I understand the term, handjob is generally a pleasant experience and usually involves, I don't know, a glass of wine before hand. What the TSA is planning to do is something more akin to sexual assault.

Cancer? I probably won't get cancer from the TSA. But, of course, what I'm referring to are the backscatter x-ray machines. However, there is a group of concerned scientists out there who think that the FDA's science is not exactly sound.
And also, I don't think that it's protecting anyone. I don't feel like I'm any safer because people went through these machines. A few people took issue with my joke about cancer because they felt that I was sort of fear-mongering in a way. I don't think that's fear-mongering to make a joke about the potential real effects that these machines could be having. What I do think is fear-mongering is forcing people to give up their privacy and go through machines that force them to be photographed naked basically. And if they don't do it you threaten them with a public groping. That, to me, is using fear to reach your ends.
Well said, Ms. Watson! As I've said previously, the TSA is nothing but security theater designed to make the general public think they're safe.

I'll take 'Best way to run a business' for $200, Alex

In Thursday's Post-Gazette: Liquor store privatization hits major roadblock
Talking to reporters this afternoon, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati was critical of the current plan from House Majority Leader Mike Turzai to auction off licenses for the stores.

Mr. Scarnati, of Jefferson, questioned whether the state would be getting the most profit possible in that sale, given what he sees as constraints on the profitability of those stores.

"I don't think that we have allowed the Liquor Control Board to run like a business," he said. "We're the ones with the handcuffs on them, and then we're out there saying, 'Well, this is an archaic, terrible system and doesn't work.' Well, take the handcuffs off of them, get the bottom line better, and you'll get a better price."

He suggested allowing those stores more flexibility in pricing, based on the product and geography, as initial reforms.
I'm going to suggest, Mr. Scarnati, that the best way to let it run like a business is to let it be run BY a business. Let's ignore, for a minute, the fact that the state government should not even BE in the liquor store business. Does anyone think it's a bad idea to have the same Board that is tasked with enforcing liquor laws and reducing liquor consumption also be the Board that is tasked with running alcohol sales like a business?

Pennsylvania has some of the most backward and archaic laws regarding alcohol out of any of the states in the country. Let's work on getting the government out of the sales business once and for all.

TSA: Incompetence Redefined (Yet Again)

Authorities Investigate Stun Gun Found on JetBlue Plane
An image of the Striker 1800 stun gun was obtained by Fox 5 News. It was found by a cleaning crew inside the back pocket of a seat on board Jet Blue flight 1179.

The plane had just arrived from Boston and all of the passengers were off of the plane when it was found.
I'd say that the incompetence of the TSA is stunning. But they fail so often and so easily that it's really just a mundane story. I'm guessing they were too busy searching the underwear of wheelchair-bound grandmothers and feeling up six-year-olds.

It almost seems like they're being a bunch of ass-clowns on purpose - considering the "security" they provide is just badly-produced security theater, that's not surprising.

I do not think that means what you think it means ...

LTE in July 5, 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kids need to be protected from video trash

Our Supreme Court ought to be ashamed of the latest decision it made about video games ("Supreme Court Strikes Violent Video Game Restrictions," June 28).

Is it no wonder many countries are so totally against our values when it comes to TV shows and music and want to ban our influence from their citizens? I wish we could ban so much of the trash that is available for our children in this country.

It is said that we should rely on parents to examine and decide what their children should or should not view. Some parents will. But who helps and guides those children in homes where there is little apparent supervision and children are left to continue to make harmful decisions?

Yes, I understand the argument about freedom of speech and such, but historically when folks lobby long and strong enough (money talks), some considerations of freedoms fall to the wayside.

Come on, USA, how about instead of choosing to pour more and more money into the video industry, we choose what is best for our children and, for once, just once, decide on the side of our youth?

Observatory Hill

Wow. Ok, Joyce, which is it? Are we banning things or are we allowing people to choose? Or are a small group of people choosing to ban something for everyone?

I'll be the first to agree that much of the "entertainment" that is produced in this country is utter crap. It's mindless nonsense designed to remove the need for logical and rational thought. And to sell advertising. And, as much as I wish for that nonsense to not be available, I am completely and totally against having the government force that to be the case. Down that road lies only danger.

And I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that other countries are "so totally against our values when it comes to TV shows and music and want to ban our influence from their citizens" - have you seen some of the nonsense that comes out of just about every European country? Japan? The Middle East? We have no monopoly on violence, sex, or stupidity.

It's easy to ask the government to do your job for you. It's much more difficult when you actually have to be the one to say No and set a good example. Your request for the government to ban something you don't like is the kind of behavior you decry in your letter: "But who helps and guides those children in homes where there is little apparent supervision and children are left to continue to make harmful decisions?" By outsourcing your parental responsibilities to the government, you're no longer guiding the children and they're certainly not getting any lessons about how to make good decisions. All you're doing is freeing up more time to watch So You Think You Can Dancing with the American Idols Got Talent.

No thank you. As a father of two, I think I'm more capable of successfully raising my children and being a better role model for them than some faceless bureaucrat.

Mother Nature Has Rights Too!

I honestly don't even know what to say to this. Only two things come to mind:
  2. Are you fucking kidding me?
LTE: A planet's rights
A planet's rights

The June 20 article "Defending Mother Earth" reports on the Bolivian president and Parliament passing a "Bill of Rights for Mother Nature." But this is only the first step in a process of getting the United Nations to make a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. In Cochabamba, Bolivia, during the World People's Conference on Climate Change in April, Bolivia and other Third World countries passed a resolution to move the process to the world forum at the United Nations.

The PG article quotes "local stakeholders" such as Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources, who states that the Bolivian policy "is a little out there." Also quoted is Joe Osborne, who states that "the practical effects will probably not be very significant."

My opinion, however, is that this is a development of monumental significance for humanity and the planet. Further, the passing of such a universal declaration is well nigh a necessity if the planet is to be saved from the depredation enshrined in our economic and social policies. It is possible to dismiss this movement as rhetoric, but could one not say the same of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1947? But in the aftermath of that declaration came the decolonization of the world, the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, to name just a few of its profound effects.

To get a perspective other than the kind of voices quoted in the article, the Thomas Merton Center is bringing to Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 Vandana Shiva of India, one of the pioneers for the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. She will be receiving the annual Thomas Merton Award and giving this movement a jump start in Pittsburgh.


The writer is a board member of the Thomas Merton Center.
Props to Matt Pitzarella for the understatement of the day.

Marine Corps uniform? Not at North Allegheny High School

UPDATE @ 20:15 (Original Post follows)

Looks like North Allegheny has posted a response
For several decades, the graduation dress protocol for the North Allegheny graduation has been simply defined and clearly enforced to maintain an emphasis on the class as a whole and to establish a sense of decorum for the ceremony. The only deviation from this protocol has traditionally been the addition of a gold cord designating membership in the National Honor Society, for graduates who have earned that distinction.
The purpose of Mr. Sieminski's call to this family will be to inform them of the following:
  • There is a new state law passed in March 2010, which prohibits the restriction of wearing military uniforms on school property. Therefore, there will be no restrictions imposed on this student in regard to the wearing of her uniform to graduation. She may choose what she wishes to do at graduation.
    • The student may wear her uniform; she may wear a cap and gown; she may wear her cap and gown with her uniform under it and remove the cap and gown upon receipt of her diploma.
  • As calls came in to the District today, the Marine Corps League made contact with us. This ultimately led to communication with and counsel from the Marine Corps Uniform Board, located at the Pentagon, regarding the issue of wearing Corps uniforms to these types of events. Their statement offered recommendations for compromise and permission for the student to wear her uniform under her cap and gown at the ceremony until after she accepted her diploma, if she desires to do so. This information will be shared with the student to provide her with a point of reference.
  • The student's decision will have the full support of the Principal. North Allegheny requests that the family would communicate with the school regarding the student's plans.
Looks like they ended up doing the right thing. Whether it's for the right reasons or not is another debate, but at least this young woman will have the option to wear her uniform.


Looks like the very high school from which I graduated made the front page on Fox News: Semper No: Pennsylvania Marine Barred From Wearing Uniform at High School Graduation
Lindsay Starr told KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh she wanted to wear her dress blues during Friday's graduation ceremony at North Allegheny High School in Pittsburgh, but that school officials denied her request, citing the requirement of wearing only the traditional cap and gown.
Here was the response I sent to Ms. Joy Ed, the Director of Public Relations:
Dear Ms. Ed,

As a graduate of North Allegheny's 1996 class, I was saddened and disappointed to see that the current administration is not allowing Lindsay Starr to wear her Marine Corps uniform to the graduation ceremony.

I can understand the reasoning behind the policy - I remember the beach balls that some of the more immature students tossed around at my graduation - but I think that this "zero-thought" approach is doing more harm than good. I would think that showing that the school district can use good judgement and allow a student to wear her dress uniform would set a good example for the student body.

This student has already graduated, has made it through one of the more grueling boot camps, and will almost certainly see combat - and possibly be killed - very soon. Military uniforms are acceptable, if not honorable, attire for weddings, funerals, and award ceremonies and they should be no less acceptable for a high school graduation ceremony.

Please do the right thing and let this young woman wear the uniform of the country to which she has committed much of her life.
Now, I really do understand the reasons that policy was likely put in place. High school students, especially today, are often incredibly immature and lack any sort of common sense or respect for others. This policy will help prevent people showing up for graduation in jeans, bathing suits, costumes, etc. Likely, prior to the policy, one or more of those happened.

But one of the differences between an adult and a grown up is the ability to employ critical thinking, common sense, and to make decisions that uphold, enforce, and prove the principles that for which you stand.

You would think that the administration of a high school would be able to differentiate between a clown costume and the uniform of a branch of our military.

You would think that the administration of a high school would be able to argue successfully, and with ease, against the likely "Why can't I wear my Hooters uniform? You let her wear a uniform!" argument.

You would think all of that and, if you're talking about the administration of the North Allegheny School District, you would apparently be wrong.

I hope the school district doesn't double down on stupidity and reverses its policy.

If you'd like to contact the Director of PR, please be courteous in doing so:

Ms. Joy Ed
Phone: (412) 369-5445
Email: jed@northallegheny.org