I think free speech is the greatest thing about the USA. It’s what makes this country a true democracy and it’s the benchmark of any country claiming that they are a democracy. Holding free and fair elections is only part of being a democracy. The other part is free speech and freedom of information.

So it’s really cool to see Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia University – and it’s even cooler to see Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, exercising his own right to free speech by telling Dinny exactly what he thinks of him.

The WSJ got it very wrong today when they said “Columbia is a selective institution in its choice of students as well as speakers; its choices confer distinction on those whom it selects.”. Columbia is conferring distinction on the principle of free speech and freedom of information. Dinny is just a tool they’re using to demonstrate that even in extreme cases, freedom of speech does more good than harm.

I’m endangered!!

From my (non-red-headed) brother:


REDHEADS are becoming rarer and could be extinct in 100 years, according to genetic scientists.

The current National Geographic magazine reports that less than two per cent of the world’s population has natural red hair, created by a mutation in northern Europe thousands of years ago.

Global intermingling, which broadens the availability of possible partners, has reduced the chances of redheads meeting and producing little redheads of their own.

It takes only one red-haired parent to produce ginger-headed babies, but two redheads obviously create a much stronger possibility.

If the gingers really want to save themselves they should move to Scotland.

An estimated 40 per cent of Scots carry the red gene and 13 per cent actually have red hair.

Some experts say that redheads could be gone as early as 2060, but others say the gene can be dormant for generations before returning.

National Geographic says the gene at first had the beneficial effect of increasing the body’s ability to make vitamin D from sunlight.

However, today’s carriers are more prone to skin cancer and have a higher sensitivity to heat and cold-related pain.

The perils of high traffic

I have this little 64 bit dual core opteron that I’m busy torturing with way more traffic than it’s creators intended. I sometimes edit code on my live servers – only when I’m sure it’s not going to break anything and only when I’m wide-awake and fully caffeinated.  Today I tried to edit a file on a live box. In the time that it took ViM to delete the file and rewrite it to disk during the save operation (about 1/50th of a second), the webserver threw out 20 messages saying file not found.

Not to self: No more editing-code-on-live-cowboy-crap.

Quote of the day

“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” – Drew Carey

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe mass harvesting salmon out of Lake Sammamish

I rode my bike down to this little singletrack that leads to Issaquah creek mouth today on South Lake Sammamish and it’s nuts down there right now. The Muckleshoot tribe is doing their yearly salmon harvest. The whole south of Lake Sammamish is covered in gill nets they’re using to harvest the salmon – courtesy of the 1974 Boldt decision which gives them rights to half the salmon catch every year.

I chatted to one of the tribe members and they’re allowed to gill net from today until Friday (3 days). I have a bit of a mental block about gill netting because it’s highly illegal to do it in the ocean where I come from – but for different reasons. When a gill net breaks free from its anchor it becomes a death trap until it biodegrades. Fish swim into it, they die and become bait that attract more fish which swim into the net and the cycle continues for years.  River and lake gill nets are different assuming they’re all recovered by their owners.

I did some research  into how safe it is to eat the salmon from Lake Sammamish and it’s perfectly safe. According to the WA dept of Health you can eat more than 16 meals per month and still be OK – based on toxicology levels for PCB, DDT and Mercury. Here’s an extract:

Sockeye salmon had the lowest levels for all contaminants tested in this
study. All calculated meal limits were above EPA’s unrestricted level of 16 meals per month for
a 60 kg person (Appendix C, Table C9). Consumption rates were not calculated for chlordane
because of the low detection frequency (no samples were above the detection limit).

In case you’re curious, Safeway seems to be buying most of the salmon from the Muckleshoot tribe and you should see a few specials on Salmon at Safeway in the next couple of weeks.  I’m probably not going to support them – there’s just something wrong about seeing the whole of Issaquah Creek mouth and the south lake covered in wall to wall gill nets.

I think I need to re-think my fish eating policy in general. I think the same thing is happening in the Ocean – I just don’t see it first hand.

Bring it!

This is taken about 50 miles from where I grew up in South Africa. It’s from one of my favorite documentaries of all time “Air Jaws”.

We have big fish back home.