Category Archives: Society

Today’s New Word: “Tuttled”

So remember Jerry Taylor, the man from Tuttle, OK that threatened to call the FBI on a Linux vendor because an unrelated hosting company had misconfigured Apache?

Well, this story is just getting funnier and funnier.

First off is this story from the Tuttle Times. It basically repeats Taylor’s view that the CentOS people were expected to help him with his problem, and that he was somehow entitled to their help. But there are some funny tidbits in the story:

“Phone calls from across the country started coming in to the newspaper and city offices, and e-mails from Switzerland, Australia, Wales and England were received. Many of the web sites discussing the exchange are in foreign languages.” I hate to break it to you, but Australia, Wales, and England all speak English.

(Ok, so they did switch from talking about email to web, but it still sounds funny.)

“In their search to find out more, web surfers discovered that the Tuttle Times online forums were hacked, and theorized that it was in retribution for the e-mails. Those forums, however, were corrupted several months ago, and the newspaper’s now former web hosts did not repair it after numerous requests. New forums should be available at the Times site in the coming weeks.” I’m so glad to know that your forums were merely corrupted for months and not hacked. Sounds like the IT problems in this town extend well past the city building.

Taylor said: “[CentOS is] a free operating system that this guy gives away, which tells you how much time he’s got on his hands.” Grumble.

Quoting Tuttle Mayor Paxton (trying to say what was more important than this): We have issues with sewer. People here want better park facilities. They want a library. I think this has just validated every stereotype people have about Oklahoma.

Tuttle is more than 7 times larger than my hometown in Kansas, and yet my hometown has had a library for years.

Jerry Taylor also reported having 500 e-mails and numerous phone messages when he arrived to work Monday.

There’s a new blurb on the Wikipedia page about Tuttle about all this. And in their talk page about the now-deleted article on Jerry Taylor, one person wrote: “Mr. Taylor’s actions have coined a new term of art “Tuttled”, in reference to the invocation of criminal consequences by one who is ignorant of the true situation. Since this is now a part of the English vernacular the story behind the term should be explained to give it an historical context. It is no longer about the action of a single person and an attempt to publicly vilify him, it is about a world-wide common experience of dealing with a Kafka-esque minor government official who, through ignorance, creates problems far beyond their normal sphere of influence. The page should be returned to the public.”

The Register has two new stories about it. The first reports that Taylor has been interviewed by all sorts of media and says that he did the right thing. The second, Linux conquered, Tuttle man takes on London is a story about the grandson of the namesake of Tuttle, OK — who happens to be the current US ambassador to the UK. This person is refusing to pay the regular London car fees. The mayor of London said: “It would actually be quite nice if the American ambassador in Britain could pay the charge like everybody else and not skive out of it like some chiseling little crook.”

And finally, there’s some incredibly funny photoshop work on this one over at fark.com (you have to scroll down a ways). Also, this comment:

“A small-town American politician wants a British newspaper to turn off the Internet.

Say that to yourself a few times. Please.”

Tuttle, OK city manager offered choice about being an idiot

I just read a story on The Register entitled Oklahoma city threatens to call FBI over “renegade” Linux maker. Quite hilarious.

Apparently Jerry Taylor, city manager for Tuttle, Oklahoma, noticed that the city’s webpage wasn’t working right. He got the default “test page” for the Apache webserver on CentOS.

Instead of calling the hosting company, he sent a series of vicious emails to CentOS, even threatening to call the FBI. The CentOS folks really went out of their way to help this guy — he was not even their customer. And he repaid them by saying they should have helped him sooner.

Of course, there was the obligatory comment about being computer literate: “I am computer literate! I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation. Now, can you tell me how to remove ‘your software’ that you acknowledge you provided free of charge? I consider this ‘hacking.'”

The Register story is hilarious, and the original discussion even more so because it includes a full transcript of the event. Favorite quote (to the city manager):

If you will not let me help you, or at least talk to someone who knows what Linux is, then you will look like an idiot.

Your choice.

Should anyone wish to write to the city manager of Tuttle, OK, to complain about his outrageous behavior, his e-mail address is citymgr@cityoftuttle.org. Assuming they have figured out how to properly configure e-mail.

He’s probably not worth his $63k salary and with a personality like this almost certainly isn’t giving his employees the “feeling that we’re ‘working together'” (see that link).

Sigh. Why do people hire a guy like this in the first place?

Cliff, This Link’s For You

I haven’t had a chance to check this out much yet, but it sounds interesting, and I think Cliff would love it:

The Fray is a site where people tell stories and others comment on those stories, and once a year there are worldwide gatherings to do open-mic storytelling live. (from a post on the Creative Commons blog)

UPDATE: I should have linked directly to the audio archive, which looks like the really interesting part of the site, and the one that CC linked to.

Control Room

Have you ever wondered why so many Arabs hate Americans? Why they view us as occupiers? Why they want to be rid of both Saddam Hussein and us?

We watched Control Room tonight. What a fascinating documentary. There was no narration. Just journalists talking. Arab journalists, American journalists, Pentagon spokesmen. Lots of different viewpoints. Lots of insight.

It was hard to watch at times — they showed footage of how events were covered in different countries, and it was graphic sometimes. They also showed the journalists talking about why they covered things in a certain way.

It was very moving, and thought-provoking.

Sometimes it is useful to have a view from an outsider (to America) or an insider (to the Middle East).

Small Town Festivals

Just over a week ago, Threshing Days took place in my hometown (population: 550). Yes, the event that causes the town’s population to swell to many times its normal levels for a few days.

This year, I had no camera with me. So you will not see a photo of the line of 1930-era tractors at the bank drive-through window, unfortunately.

However, I did have my camera with me previous years, so I’ll be posting some photos here soon.

So what can you do at Threshing Days? Well, here are some of my favorites:

  • Admire the 24-ton flywheel on a large Diesel engine. (Or the engine itself, weighing 25 tons). Yes, they actually fire up this thing every year.
  • Walk through the house that originally stood on my parents’ farm, and was owned by my great-grandfather.
  • Visit the one-room schoolhouse that my uncle attended. Maybe even sit in some of the original chairs.
  • Admire some of the old tractors (some of them steam-powered). These are monstrous machines. Very impressive.
  • Eat some traditional Russian Mennonite food (the best part!). Or settle for some funnel cakes.
  • Watch the parade down Main Street (length of parade route: about 2/3 mile. length of Main St.: 1 mile).
  • See the tractor tug-of-wars, tractor races, or (my favorite) the slow tractor races. Last one over the finish line without stalling wins.
  • Watch a threshing crew in action, using a historic threshing machine and old tractors to power it.
  • See how to bake in a brick oven, then sample the result.
  • See the scale model house my grandfather built.
  • Hear stories of small town life 100 years ago.

24-hour news == crap

Today, CNN turns 25. To that I say: bah. CNN was once useful.

As we were traveling last week, we spent time in different waiting rooms. One had Fox news on; another, CNN. I had never really seen Fox broadcasts, and haven’t watched much CNN in the past 5 years either. The lack of any kind of actual news on Fox was terrible, and CNN was almost as bad too.

Here are the big stories of the time, in the eyes of Fox and CNN:

  • A child managed to climb into a stuffed-toy machine
  • A tree climber rescued a cat
  • What Michael Jackson wore to court

Fox, for some stupid reason, broadcast in front of a live audience. So, on Fox, we also got to hear what the audience thought of stuffed-toy machines, cat rescues, and Michael Jackson. Let me tell you, it was nothing newsworthy. Fox also seemed to try to turn these non-stories into national partisan debates at every opportunity.

Here are some of the stories of the time that we heard nothing about:

  • Changing 200 years of Senate rules (the filibuster issue) (CNN gave this about 30 seconds out of an hour)
  • The upcoming votes on the EU constitution
  • The trouble facing the ruling party in Germany
  • The UK elections
  • Continuing genocide in Sudan

Thank you ever so much, CNN, for inspiring two other 24-hour non-news channels. And it is truly fascinating how you have been doggedly trying to remove any actual news from your channel as well.

Maybe in 25 years, you’ll call it the Cable Tabloid Network. It would be more true.

Women in Computing/Linux

Hanna Wallach wrote recently about the article HOWTO encourage women in Linux. I had read that article some years back, maybe in 2002 when it was first written, but it is interesting to re-visit it. It is a good read, and a thought-provoking piece even if you disagree.

I find myself mostly agreeing. There are some truly appaling examples of sexism there, such as a conference inviting someone to speak on a “wives of hackers” panel instead of give a more technical talk that she was qualified for.

I also wonder how much has changed in the 2-3 years since the document was written. For instance, the “Computing perceived as non-social” section. I know this was the case not long ago, but is it still? With the proliferation of IM software, it seems that it is sometimes becoming the trendy social activity.

In general Linux or Debian lists, there are still people that act disrespectful towards women, just as there are in society at large. I have noticed that when this happens, the other people on the list — especially the men — are far more likely to take action today than they would have been a few years ago. Personally, sexism in either direction offends my sense of treating each human being as a person, and feel it reflects poorly on Debian/Linux/whatever context it’s in. I wonder if women feel that it’s getting better too, or am I just not reading the right lists? (Yes, there have been ugly incidents in Debian, but my point is that the instigators of these incidents were roundly criticized. Granted, this is not where things should be, but it’s an improvement.)

I would like to suggest expanding this howto to be “HOWTO encourage *people* in Linux”. A number of things mentioned there would apply equally well to most men.

I was particularly amused the authors thought that these tips applied specifically to women:

* The article complained about LUGs that have pizza all the time, or meet at 10PM in a warehouse downtown. I’d prefer fruit to pizza too, and would probably avoid the slimy warehouse at 10PM.

* “Try to schedule your meetings at family and school friendly times” — men can have families and kids, too, and we seem to be seeing more of that in the Linux community of late (though they are probably still a minority). Perhaps we also need to explore why there are so few older people in the community and why there are so few “family” types here. CS has been around longer than many people think and there are incredibly talented people in the (very broad) 50-80 range.