HD, maybe?

I just snared a Magma 4-slot PCI expansion chassis for less than $200. It came with a PCI host adaptor.

Since my plan is to run Pro Tools on a used Macbook Pro with an ExpressCard slot (for expandability), all I need is to purchase an ExpressCard host adaptor. Then whatever I put in the expansion chassis will work with the Macbook.

With more and more PCI Pro Tools cards coming onto the second-hand market, this could be a semi-cheap way to get Pro Tools HD.

For now, the unit will serve as an external RAID drive. It holds four hard drives and I also just got a 4-port SATA card.

Vale Merlot

Our cat Merlot died today. We had him put down. No more purring, no more snoring. Just silence.

He had developed a severely diseased bladder. We don't know the origins of the disease but his condition became apparent after two urinary blockages brought on by fights with another cat. In time, he might have shown the condition anyway, but evidently his system couldn't take it any more and his bladder became perforated... twice. It was unlikely that he would recover and that, in another 24 to 48 hours, he'd have the same condition: urine leaking into his body, irritating and poisoning him.

It was a difficult decision to make. Whereas we humans can express our feelings and have agency—we can make decisions about our health and treatment—animals have neither the capacity to understand the medical treatment we provide them, other than perhaps a vague feeling of care, nor the means to articulate it.

When we made the decision we tried to explain it to Daniel. He cried for a long time. While he has been aware of people dying before, this would be the first confronting experience of death he has had.

We went to say goodbye and Lou held Merlot while the doctor administered the lethal dose of anaesthetic. Daniel sat not wanting to see and crying bitterly. It was a distressing experience.

Daniel had a play-date, a welcome distraction. Lou and I buried Merlot in the garden.

In the past, I have wondered about humans' attachment to animals. The relationship between animals and humans must have changed quite a lot since most people stopped using their animals for their labour and food. We tend to anthropomorphise animals and our popular culture reinforces this tendency. Perhaps that is not so new; many old stories and myths have animals speaking and behaving like humans. Maybe it is because many animals share certain behavioural characteristics in common and it is our animality, rather than humanity, that we see in them.

And pets, frivolous though our attention to them might sometimes seem, are always there for us, ready to be companions and to accept us without question. They, in their ways and in the routines of our care, show a contentment that we can only aspire to and seem destined never to achieve.

Would I feel the death of a human family member more keenly than this? For a member of our family Merlot truly was. A stray picked up on the other side of town, withdrawn and nervous in the animal shelter, we saw something special in Merlot and he in us. The shelter staff told us he did not like children, yet he allowed Daniel to stroke him almost immediately. It is no exaggeration to say that he chose us.

Not published in The Age

To the editor:

Dear Sir or Madam,
Tony Abbott is now bleating about forgotten families. They're not forgotten, Mr Abbott, at least not by me.

My modest rented house is overshadowed on both sides by their neo-faux-classical-European McMansions -- you know, the sort of garbage that passes for Australian domestic architecture these days.

And every time I venture on the roads, they insist on throwing their hulking great lard-arsed Surburban assaUlt Vehicles at me as they ferry their offspring to and from luxurious Halls of (L)Earning.

My heart bleeds not.

Yours sincerely,
David Rodger


Over the last dew years, we've procured a couple of games on CD-ROM. One is Pippi Långstrump (Longstocking). A more recent one is Kalle Kunskap Skolstart.

Pippi was easy to install on my Windows VM: load the CD-ROM and select Installera from the list of options. At least, I think that's how I did it. It was a while ago.

Anyway, today I tried installing Skolstart. After a couple of attempts, Windows crashed... I mean totally crashed and it took my Linux host with it. Well, after restarting my laptop and the VM, I still couldn't do it. So Daniel asked to play Pippi. Well, the crash took out Pippi as well and that game no longer works. Windows is now claiming that the Pippi files are not 32-bit files. Well, they might not be because the CD-ROM quotes Windows 95/98/2000 as the system, requirements. But that was never a problem before.

All of this just confirms that Windows is generally a huge stinking pile of shit where stuff breaks for no good reason. At least, no good reason that the casual user can discern.

Oh, and it insists on checking for and installing updates without seeking permission. Maybe after the current ones, it will work again, but who knows. No, it didn't. But at least I've figured out how to launch Pippi directly from the CD-ROM; attempts to re-install the startup app haven't worked.

Easter musings

As Easter approached, Daniel seemed to take a greater interest in the subject. While spending time with his grandmothers, he asked questions about what various items used in worship were for and what people at church do.

He doesn't get much at home. As you may know, God doesn't bother me and I don't bother Her. Still, I think it's important that he knows about it, if only to understand all the to-do about Christmas presents (which I'd happily dispense with entirely) and Easter Eggs.

We did sign him up for RE at school, although we now have considerable disquiet about it for reasons which have recently been publicised.

Sitting there this morning with people of like minds (but unlike mine), I felt a slight pang of nostalgia. I remember well the times I spent at church. There aren't many institutions that provide that sort of fellowship to people in the community. This is often cited as one of the important benefits of churches... and I think it's right. It seems difficult to think of other "groups" which might provide it. And in these hyper-individualistic and -materialistic times, it's hard to see why people would get together in such a way if they did not share some beliefs in common.

But there's the rub. It's those beliefs that bother me.

I was brought up in the church and I get it. I really do. But the core tenets of the faith are, to me, so very unlikely that they're not worth bothering with.

It has been suggested to me in the past that atheism is very arrogant... How can one be so sure that there is no God? Well, that would be because there's no verifiable and repeatable experiment that would reveal Her once and for all. Yes, I'm banging on about the scientific method again. A lot of people much cleverer than me over hundreds of years have worked very hard to find out more about the natural and man-made worlds. We've all enjoyed the benefits of that work. I wouldn't claim to know everything myself but if I have faith it's in those people.

My faith, such as it is, is not misplaced. There's knowledge and then there's what we do with it. If believers want to cite spurious scientific advances, I cite all the horrid things done in God's name. (Or Gods' names... that goes for the Muslims, Jews, Hindus,... insert your religion here.)

Let's turn it around. How can you be so sure there is a God, less one worth worshipping, especially when you insist that everyone ought to share that belief? That seems pretty arrogant to me. Furthermore, I'm happy to admit that our understanding of any phenomenon might, through established scientific methods, be turned on its head. Religious adherents, on the other hand, would deny that cannot be a God and would probably be incredulous if some experiment disproved Her existence. Now there's the fundamental difference in our positions.

Easter has me thinking about these things, so much so that I am prompted to commit my thoughts. Previously I wouldn't have, but in these uncertain days, there some really scary shit around.

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