Mike's wedding

I spent all of last week in Indiana for my brother's wedding. Here's a short video I made with wedding day highlights.


Good advice

Saddam Hussein is a terrible person, he is a threat to his own people. I think his people would be better off with a different leader, but there is this sort of romantic notion that if Saddam Hussein got hit by a bus tomorrow, some Jeffersonian democrat is waiting in the wings to hold popular elections. You're going to get -- guess what -- probably another Saddam Hussein. It will take a little while for them to paint the pictures all over the walls again, but there should be no illusions about the nature of that country or its society. And the American people and all of the people who second-guess us now would have been outraged if we had gone on to Baghdad and we found ourselves in Baghdad with American soldiers patrolling the streets two years later still looking for Jefferson.

-- Colin Powell, 1992

Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in ‘mission creep,’ and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs,” Bush and Scowcroft wrote. “We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.

-- George H.W. Bush, 1998

The emphasis above is mine.

"Mission creep" is exactly what happened in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The original rationale was that Saddam was an imminent threat because of his nuclear program and WMD. When those didn't turn up, the mission was changed to liberating Iraqis and establishing a democracy.

If only George Bush had paid more attention to what his father and his Secretary of State had said on this issue, then maybe the world and the US would be better prepared to handle the scary situations we're facing in the Middle East and North Korea right now.

New phone

I finally broke down and got a cell phone. If anyone wants my number email me. It's Cingular, so if you use that then we can talk for free. I assure you, a conversation with me is not worth paying for.

New b2evo out: Digg it

If you have a Digg.com account, go here and digg this:

Possible Wordpress killer: b2evolution 1.8 beta released

If you don't have an account, get one! Let's digg this up to the front page so more people can hear about this release. Sorry for the sensational story title, but those are the ones that grab attention on Digg.

The new version of b2evolution has some very cool features. Brendoman.com has been upgraded. In a somewhat related story, I'm now listed as a contributor to the project in the linkblog that comes with a new install. Go here and look in the section on the right side labeled "contributors" if you want to see.

Sideblog Plugin for b2evolution

The Sideblog plugin allows you to insert another blog in the sidebar of your skin with simple plugin call. A sidebar blog can be used for brief posts, links, photos or any other list you want arranged chronologically.

Requires b2evolution 1.8 or later

  1. Download this file: _sideblog.plugin.txt.
  2. Replace the .txt in the filename with .php and upload it to your b2evolution plugins folder.
  3. In the backoffice, go to Settings > Plugins and find Sideblog in the list. Click "install".

To use the plugin, just add this code to the skin where you want the sidebar blog to appear:

// MostComments plugin:
$Plugins->call_by_code( 'sideblog', array(
'limit' => 5,
'blog' => 3,
) );
// Add parameters in the array.

Limit is the number of posts you want to show. Blog is the blog you want to display there. Refer to the plugin source for other parameters you can adjust.

Moving on

Today I turned in my resignation at the bank.

I'm taking a job with a transportation company doing PHP development. I'm going to be a real live programmer. Over the last few months I've realized two things: 1) I'm spending a good deal of my time at the bank doing banking things (loan processing, teller, etc), which I do not find interesting or exciting, and 2) I'm not making very much money, compared to other IT workers. This new job will fix both of those problems.

My last day at the bank is July 21 and I'll start at the new job on July 31. I will be driving about 55 miles to Kansas City, but at least I have a car that gets good mileage now. This will be my first full-time programming job and I'll be working with a team on a project that is already underway. It should be a great learning experience.

New Car: Toyota Prius

Toyota PriusWe got a new Toyota Prius this week. The short story is that we needed something more reliable. Fuel economy is more important all of the time and the Prius gets 55 mpg. If you want to hear the long story, click through to the full post. I'll try to have some more details about cool features of the car soon. And I've got another announcement to make.

Read more »

Introducing Nate

I'm excited to introduce a new blog for brendoman.com. No superman is Nate's blog. Nate and I were roommates our freshman year at Truman. He stood up with me in my wedding. He's from Iowa and he came down last weekend to visit us. We had been in touch off and on, but we had not seen each other since graduation. Nate is in his fourth year of medical school. He's brilliant, ambitious and funny. Check out his new blog and leave him a comment to welcome him.

Peasant multiplication

I just learned that there is another way to multiply numbers on paper. In school I learned this method:

US Mulitplication


That works fine, but it requires you to know your multiplication table well, which I never did until . . . ok, I confess I used a calculator to multiply 39 x 5 and 39 x 2, so I still don't multiply very well.

But there's a method called Peasant Multiplication that only requires that you know how to double and halve numbers. With this method you put the two numbers you want to multiply at the top of two columns. Then, for the first column you halve the number over and over (discarding any fractions) until you get to one. For the second column you double it the same number of times as you were able to halve the first number. Next, strike out any rows where the number in the first column is even and add up the remaining numbers in the second column:

Peasant Multiplication

  39  X  25
  19     50
   9     100
   4     200
   2     400
   1     800

This method is more common in European classrooms than in the US, but I like it, despite its disparaging title.

Open mouth, insert foot


I felt bad for George Bush when I saw this clip. It could have happened to anyone. Yet, somehow I can't help posting it. Bush did apologize later that day and Peter Wallsten, the reporter, was very gracious. His only complaint about the whole matter was that the President didn't give a straight answer to his question in the press conference.

Bush reportedly waved at Stevie Wonder a few years ago (though Snopes says it didn't happen).

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