The Golem Speaks
Americans for Petraeus - Peter Mains - February 07, 2011 at 06:45 PM - Comment

Hi everyone. It's been a long time since I've updated this space, but I wanted to announce a project I've been working on for the last few months. Americans for Petraeus 2012 is a non-profit dedicated to encouraging General David Petraeus to run for President in the 2012 election.

Why General Petraeus? Why not someone else who has already thrown his hat into the ring? Frankly, the usual candidates just do not have the experience and credentials for the job. Barack Obama, for all his grandiosity, looks completely overwhelmed by the position. Can any of the governors who have been talked up -- Palin, Christie, Jindal -- boast of 40 years of leadership experience? With multiple graduate degrees and a proven track record of tackling tough issues, General David Petraeus is the obvious choice.

But we can't wait. In order to get General Petraeus to run, we need 1,000,000 online supporters by July 4. Visit today. Show your support and help us to bring results oriented leadership to Washington in 2012.

Fantastic Catholic Group! - Peter Mains - August 08, 2010 at 12:11 AM - Comment

I just discovered (via a friend) a fantastic Catholic band -- Marian Grace.  Their album Marian Grace is being released soon, and Ignatius Press has agreed to promote it. The arrangements of traditional hymns and chants are refreshing in that they eschew the need to make Christian music "contemporary." Rather, the music is just hauntingly beautiful.

Imagine if Michaelangelo's murals, or the cathedrals of Europe were "modern." This is a criticism I've had for a while about Christian music. Christian artists shouldn't be building malls, but cathedrals. Marian Grace pulls that off.

Listen for yourself.

Vindication on the Tea Party Crashers! - Peter Mains - July 27, 2010 at 02:35 PM - Comment

As I predicted, the Tea Party Crashers were a failure. I would say I actually overestimated their abilities.

After several days of hype and hand-wringing about liberal plans to infiltrate Thursday’s tea party rallies, the great 2010 Tax Day Tea Party Crash did not produce much of a bang in Washington

To be sure, a handful of obvious crashers engaged in some mostly non-confrontational back-and-forth with tea party activists at a Thursday evening rally that drew thousands to Washington’s National Mall near the Washington Monument. And some less overt crashers subtly mocked activists from amidst their ranks at both the evening rally on the Mall and an earlier event at Freedom Plaza near the White House. And there could have been other infiltrators who evaded immediate detection.

Yes. Some may have been so successful that they were barely noticed. On the other hand, wasn't that the whole point?

I wish I could find the article where the embarrassed crashers ran for it as soon as they were detected. Down the memory whole I suppose ....

What Libertarianism Isn't - Peter Mains - June 28, 2010 at 08:21 PM - Comment

Someone asked me yesterday about libertarianism. There are various definitions out there, and I'm not going to recite them here. Suffice to say, the impression that libertarians are against "all government" is the kind of thing that doesn't help us. Someone who is opposed to all government is an anarchist.

Murray Rothbard is sometimes described as both an anarchist and a libertarian, but even he admits that he is "simply smuggling the state back into society in another form." As I understand it, it's an odd sort of anarchism, where you break down the current government and wait for society to reform those institutions that we think of as government. So, anarchism in that sense is merely radicalism and opposition to our current form of government.

Ayn Rand, though, was very critical of anarchism. I would take her word over Rothbard's. My impression is that Murray Rothbard seems to have a lot of interesting ideas, but I've always found him far less clear in his thinking than Ayn Rand. Then again, I've never read any of his books, whereas I've read several of Rand's. That may bias me.

Upgrading Ubuntu Hard Drive - Peter Mains - February 12, 2010 at 07:56 PM - Comment

Well, it may not have been pretty, but I was able to upgrade the hard drive on my Ubuntu Linux laptop. Hopefully this will save someone else the difficulties I had.

  • I connected my new hard-drive to my existing system using a USB cable.
  • Booted into a live CD of Karmic Koala Ubuntu (9.10) so that my hard drives weren't mounted.
  • Copied the contents of my old hard drive to my new using the dd command.
    • I first had to ascertain the locations of my drives. In my case, /dev/sda was my old hard drive, and /dev/sdb was the new hard drive that I'd connected via USB. These were found using the "sudo fdisk -l" command.
    • The syntax of the dd command was "dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb"
    • I was able to check dd's progress occasionally by issuing the
  • Shut down my laptop, and physically replaced my old hard drive with my new one.
  • Rebooted, again into the Live CD, and repartitioned my hard drive with GParted.
    • I copied the swap space to the end of the device (visually on the right).
    • Deleted the original swap space partition.
    • Copied the main, partition (in ext3 format) so as to be right next to the new space at the device's end.
    • Deleted the original ext3 partition.
    • Resized the new ext3 partition to fill all the new space I had.
  • Popped Super Grub into my CD-ROM drive, and booted into my new hard drive.
  • Re-installed grub using the instructions found on Super Grub's wiki.

Now, this was not a short process, and there were some pitfalls that I glossed over. For starters, dd and gparted took several hours each. To copy roughly 80GB of files via USB, dd took about 4 or 5 hours.

The first pitfall was trying to repartition while booted into my old hard drive. Since the new hard drive wasn't yet mounted, I figured I'd be able to go into GParted and partition away. Wrong. If you have two identical hard drives and one is mounted, then it just confuses GParted. Both have the same UUID, and that's apparently how GParted identifies devices.

The second pitfall was that I made the mistake of resizing my new ext3 partition twice. First, after I copied it to the far right of the drive, I resized it to take up all of the remaining space. I didn't delete the old ext3 partition, though. When I did and resized again, I was surprised to find that I was waiting an extra 2 or 3 hours. I should have realized that Linux would be moving all of the data again, sector by sector. In fact, it was much worse the second time, because it was moving 160GB of empty space as well.

The third major pitfall is that my newly partitioned drive no longer had grub installed properly! I'm not sure why. It may have been because I aborted my first attempt at doing the disk dump (dd). It may have been that GParted simply ate it. I don't know, because I didn't try to boot into my new hard-drive until after it was partitioned. All I know is that Grub failed to load, and left me with a cryptic "Error 22."

This is where Super Grub came to the rescue. I burned a Super Grub disk, and booted up with it in my CD-ROM. It asked me if I wanted to boot into Ubuntu Linux. I did. Using the sequence of commands found here, I was able to reinstall Grub. (If the link has moved, you want the "GRUB2 solution (Linux shell) (Recommended)" from the Super Grub wiki.) After that, I was able to boot directly into my new hard drive with the Super Grub disk.


A Primer on Objectivism - Peter Mains - November 12, 2009 at 10:44 PM - Comment

Ayn Rand's "intellectual heir" gives a brief talk on Ayn Rand and, in particular, her philosophy of objectivism. It's an interesting primer. His comment about emotion is, I think, quite profound. So often we focus on how our emotions can blind us and hinder our faculty of reason, and yet, emotion is a gift that, properly used, can also bolster reason.

I had no idea that Branden was a psychologist. Actually, I thought Ayn Rand's "intellectual heir" was Leonard Peikoff, so I suppose that I didn't think much about Branden at all. Ayn Rand week at Reason TV has given me all kinds of tidbits like that.

Why the Slow Updates? - Peter Mains - October 13, 2009 at 10:21 PM - Comment

If you've been following my site, you've probably noticed that the frequency of posts and articles has slowed considerably over the last 2 months. Well, there are a couple reasons for that. One is that Chapter 14 of John has given me a lot to ponder. So much, in fact, that I postponed any future writing on it until I finished "Jesus of Nazareth," by Pope Benedict XVI.

If you haven't read it, I recommend you get a copy. It's been an invaluable aide to me in understanding scripture and the person of Christ. It answers many common questions about who Jesus Christ is, and demonstrates why attempts to secularize the "historical" Jesus always fail. What we know about Jesus Christ can't be "demythologized." His person only makes sense if we accept that he truly is the Son of God. Turning him into a political radical or a squishy, apolitical liberal rabbi just leaves more questions than it answers.

Even more tremendous, though, is the way in which Benedict argues. He assumes a certain level of sophistication on the part of his audience. This allows him to take a bird's eye view of the various arguments, while also thoroughly arguing his points. That is, he doesn't get bogged down in explicitly defining every contrary position, but he does address them. And, for the curious reader, he provides a fascinating bibliography (no, seriously, even the bibliography of this book is interesting...) if you want to explore those other views.

The genius of this is that he's rejecting the small-minded constraints that often bind authors who are too monomaniacally focused on the scientific method. The manner in which he argues is authentically Christian.

Anyway, that has sent me on a lot of other reading (Charity in Truth, A Rabbi Talks to Jesus ...), which I suppose I should blog. But, I haven't yet.

Michael Moore Doesn't Know What Capitalism Is - Peter Mains - October 03, 2009 at 07:49 PM - Comment

Michael Moore is going around telling people that capitalism has done nothing for him. This really makes you wonder how serious he is. Doesn't he know any better? Did he bother reading up on the meaning of the word, "capitalism?" He must understand that all of his box office profits are the result of capitalism.

His rationale is intersting, though. In his telling, the banks and corporations were against him. Banks and corporations are agents of capitalism. Therefore, he fought capitalism and won.  Of course, every entrepeneur has his critics and naysayers. Was Michael Dell's success not a product of capitalism because his business school professors doubted his business model?

This raises the question, is Michale Moore a cynic making nonsensical statements for the simple sake of controversy? Does he realize that his conception of capitalism is fundamentally flawed, but feels the need to save face? Or is he just fantastically underaware but just not willing to put down the camera and microphone?

I think it is the latter. Consider this quote.

I don't remember in my lifetime where the President starts off a speech says, "And now class, today's topic is capitalism." They started using these words, so now it's on the table. Let's talk about it.

There you have it. Capitalism is apparently a new invention in Moore's world. All of a sudden, we have this nefarious newspeak that nobody bothered to explain to poor Michael. Well, I won't be spending $9.50 to let Michael Moore share his complete political illiteracy with me.

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