The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

A quick synopsis of Atlas Shrugged

Someone on a mailing list I'm on asked for a synopsis of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Since I had read it (a few years ago) and no one else had yet written one, I decided to jump in and provide it. So, here for your reading enjoyment is my quick synopsis.

“Who is John Galt?”

“I dunno.”

“Oh Dagny!”

“Oh Hank!”

“Isn't unbridled capitalism and selfishness grand?”

“And aren't socalists, communists, Kantian philosophers and Shakespearean actors the epitomy of evil?”

“Oh Dagny! I want you to have my hot new metal for your railroad!”

“Oh Hank! I want your hot new metal. Give it to me! But first, let me expose my shoulders.”

“Who is John Galt?”

“I still don't know.”

“Oh Francisco, why did you let them nationalize your copper mines? You Socialist turncoat! Hank needs your copper for his hot new metal!”

“Oh Dagny, I did it to show how evil it is for government to nationalize industries. Don't you understand? Joh—Someone told me that it was in my best interest to let them see the folly of their ways.”

“I don't fully understand, but I still like you.”

“Care to expose your shoulders to me?”

“I like you, but not that much.”

“Who is John Galt, Dagny?”

“He was an engineer for a company, who, with his incredibly rational and objective mind, made a perpetual engine machine but his company went socialistic so he left taking his idea with him, and dropped out of society, Hank.”

“My God! He was a God!”

“I must find him!”

“Care to expose your shoulders to me?”



“Oh woe is me! Francisco disappeared! Hank disappeared! What else can go wrong?”

“Hi. I'm from the government. I'm here to nationalize your railroad.”

“Over my dead body.”

“Give up!”

“Never! I think I'll go look for Franscisco and Hank!”

“What happened?”

“Your plane crashed in the middle of the Rockies, Dagny.”

“Where am I?”

“A capitalists wet dream of a utopia. I didn't save you because I'm altrusitic. The price you have to pay is to bare your shoulders to me.”

“Who are you?”

“John Galt.”

“Oh God, I'm having an orgasm! Of course I'll bare my shoulders to you.”

“The country is in ruins! What ever shall we do?”

“Let's nationalize everything that hasn't been nationalized and go on television to tell people it's for their own good.”

“But we can't! Someone took over all television transmissions!”

“Hi. This is John Galt. Communism is bad. Socialism is bad. Kant is eeeeevil. So was Shakespeare. Greed is good. Altruism is bad. So is charity … ”

Five hundred thousand hours later …

“This is John Galt, signing off.”


“Isn't it wonderful? I showed the world how bad communism, socialism, Kantian philophies and Shakespearean plays are. Now the world as we knew it is dead! We can leave our Utopia and take over the world, Dagny!”

“Oh God, I'm having a orgasm! Here John, let me bare my shoulders to you.”

Good news is no news at all

I've long given up reading, listening and watching the news; it's just too depressing and makes me want to crawl up into a hole to avoid the nasty horrible world that we live in.

Okay, so it's a form of “poking my head in the sand” response, but it keeps me sane and happy, instead of psychotic and depressed.

So now it seems I should stop reading Slashdot. Between the DMCA forcing Alan Cox to censor the Linux Kernel changelog, Microsoft calling viruii “Industrial Terrorism” (no doubt using the September 11th attacks for publicity), the FBI wanting to see every packet, any article about the SSSCA, and unreasonable searches when going to and from work I'm afraid to say anything, much less step outside the door of the condo here.

Whatever happened to “News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.”? Or does this mean I should pull my head out of the sand?

The Bluescreen of Bliss

I'm reading CamWorld and I come across a link about Microsoft's new default background screen. The author of the piece claims it looks like the set from the Teletubbies, but I think it looks more like the set for the movie Toys.

But in any case, what exactly is Microsoft trying to say here? Their customers should be treated as children? That their operating system is nothing more than a toy? Come on, what could they be thinking?

Scientists drink beer to solve problem

The phenomenon of beer turning skunky after exposure to light has been reported in the literature for more than 100 years, Forbes notes, but only now have scientists pinpointed the underlying mechanism. Using a type of spectroscopy that exploits electron spin, the researchers compiled a computer simulation of the reaction by which light-sensitive molecules in hops degrade into unpleasant-smelling products.

Via techdirt, Chemists Determine Cause of ‘Skunky’ Beer

I don't drink beer (I don't really care for the taste, stinky or not) but a few friends of mine do drink it, so I'm passing it along.

Limited, sure. Compared to the age of the Universe …

Finally, the case of Dmitri Sklyrov is perhaps the most appalling of all. Among its other problems, the DMCA has taken what has traditionally been a civil matter (copyright issues) and criminalized certain actions. Dmitri Sklyrov wrote a program that removes protections from Adobe e-books, restoring traditional fair-use rights to e-book owners. Furthermore, he wrote this program in Russia, where it is not illegal. His company (and I don't believe there are any claims that he did this personally) distributed his unlocking software from a U.S. website, and on the basis of this Sklyrov was arrested when he made a trip to the U.S. Sklyrov has actually spent time in jail on these extremely flimsy grounds, and faces a criminal prosecution in the matter. Despite the fact that Adobe has subsequently said it doesn't wish for Sklyarov to be prosecuted, the government is continuing in its case. This is apparently the reward that the government gives for people who stand up for their fair use rights under copyright law, and is the primary reason I'm remaining anonymous.

Interesting Rant on Copyrights Along with MS DRM Crack

Aside from the rant (which should be read) this issue brings up an interesting way to do an end run around the Constitution. I'm sure the Founding Fathers had no idea that corporations could get so powerful but well, they have and it does suck.

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