Actual powers of Congress

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Here are the things that Congress is actually empowered to do. Congressional actions outside this list are actually unconstitutional:


The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Amazon books

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I've set up a seller account on Amazon. Buy my books!

Microsoft 7 RC testers must pave machines

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I'm as much of a Microsoft fanboy as the next, but this recent email to Windows 7 RC users put me off a bit:

It's time to upgrade from the Windows 7 Release Candidate

While most people who tested Windows 7 have now moved to the final version, some are still running the Release Candidate. If you haven't moved yet, it's time to replace the RC.

Starting on March 1, 2010 your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Your work will not be saved during the shutdown.

The Windows 7 RC will fully expire on June 1, 2010. Your PC running the Windows 7 RC will continue shutting down every two hours and your files won't be saved during shutdown. In addition, your wallpaper will change to a solid black background with a persistent message on your desktop. You'll also get periodic notifications that Windows isn't genuine. That means your PC may no longer be able to obtain optional updates or downloads requiring genuine Windows validation.

To avoid interruption, please reinstall a prior version of Windows or move to Windows 7. In either case, you'll need to do a custom (clean) install to replace the RC. As with any clean installation, you'll need to back up your data then reinstall your applications and restore the data. For more details about replacing the RC, see the Knowledge Base article KB 971767. For more information, visit the Window 7 Forum.

Thanks again for helping us test Windows 7.

When I installed Windows 7 RC, I had to re-install all my programs:

  • Microsoft Office
  • all my development tools
  • my favorite text editor
  • screen capture application
  • WInSCP
  • Git+Mercurial+SVN
  • python (Django, Twisted, PIL, numpy, setup-tools+pip+virtualenv, fabric, nltk, etc.)
  • WinZip
  • Adobe *
  • Paint.NET
  • WinDirStat
  • a zillion other things.

I was reluctant to do it. If I had known that installing this RC would require me to reinstall the universe twice, I'd never have put it on my machine. Thanks, Microsoft!

Double full full full

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Awesome video from

United States Olympic Aerialist Ryan St. Onge and Science reporter Henry Fountain, break down the "double full full full", a jump St. Onge may perform at the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver.

Flixxy video


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I upgraded my copy of WinSCP "(WinSCP is an open source free SFTP client and FTP client for Windows. Legacy SCP protocol is also supported. Its main function is safe copying of files between a local and a remote computer.") last night and during the installation, I was offered Xobni to install, too. It looked cool, so I installed it. I upgraded at home and was offered WeFi. I liked that so I installed it, too.

By now, I was intrigued. I checked up on OpenCandy, the company that does the offers, and found that there is a network of companies that allow additional products to be pushed out during the installation of their products. It looks to me as if all of the products are pretty cool, but here are my favorites:

Russian tunnel of death

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My friend Michael Chepovetsky forwarded me this video link from inside an underground roadway in Russia with this explanation:

The 3150 meter Lefortovo Tunnel in Russia is the longest in-city tunnel in the world. It is nicknamed The Tunnel of Death. See for yourself why. There is a river running over the tunnel and water leaks through in some areas. When the temperature reaches nearly 0°C (as it does during winter in Russia), and the road freezes. The result is the attached video which were taken during a single day with the tunnel's surveillance camera.

Congratulations to the dual-carriage bus driver - imagine the passengers in the back! What a ride! The next time you complain about traffic, remember this video... Russian Engineering!

According to wikipedia, the video is a compilation and not necessarily over a single day. Still.

Comment CAPTCHA compromised on Movable Type and WordPress?

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The number of google-able spam comments I have started to get on my blog in the past two weeks suggests that the CAPTCHA from Movable Type that I use is compromised; it looks as if there is an automatic way to identify CAPTCHA images. And googling for these comments shows that many WordPress blogs are falling for this, too. I'd be interested to see comments (but not spam comments!) on this point.

Github subtree merge

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I had a GIT problem on GitHub. I had projects in a directory hierarchy like this:

root/src/lang1/project1 root/src/lang1/project2 root/src/lang1/project3 ...

that were in Git locally. Each was a separate Git repository. I then tried to (1) move the source to GitHub and (2) add other projects that were at the same level or higher:

root/src/lang2/project-x root/src/lang3/project-y root/release/... root/docs/... ...

And Git took my intentions the wrong way. Instead of a single hierarchical repository from root/ down, I then had all of the stuff in root/ down except the lang1/ directories were all islands which GitHub thought of as submodules. Except not quite. These projects did not display with subfolders -- they displayed with the submodule icon, but I couldn't get the source from GitHub via them.

The fix was quite easy once I'd contacted tech support at github and exchanged email with Tekkub. He recommended this URL for a description of how to merge a subtree. I ended up with a script like this:

# Put repository at # ../temp/DazUtility/DazUtilitySetup # into subtree at # git remote add -f A ../temp/DazUtility/DazUtilitySetup git merge -s ours --no-commit A/master git read-tree A/master git commit -m "Merge with DazUtilitySetup" git push git remote rm A

Using the ours strategy for the merge did not work with all my projects and I ended up using resolve in one case:

git merge -s resolve --no-commit A/master

One final word: tech support at Github is awesome: fast and knowledgeable with great follow-up.

I am not much into reading...

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Okay, if you get this blog remark:

Dude.. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often.

then you have spam.

Update 2009-12-03: Similarly, if you get

"Good post mate!! Keep 'em flowing!"

then you have spam. I guess comment spammers are going for generic remarks that look like they are paying attention to the blog's content as an alternative to, say, having a genuine interest in the blog's content.

My so-called life

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  1. Contract programming

    Translating VBA to VB.NET for use in a web-distributed Excel product; Access 2007 programming for managing the workflow of telemarketers in a company that re-sold telecomm services until they closed the telemarketing business.

    The first is actually cool, if you do any Windows work. For a start, the state of Excel and .NET integration is locked in 2005. You can't write VB.NET/C# UDFs that are called directly from an Excel cell. You have to expose the functions in a COM server, and the runtime burdens that imposes are annoying. For a start, calling Excel from the COM server is an order of magnitude slower than VBA within Excel, so I ended up re-implementing a lot of Excel functions in VB.NET: statistical functions, portfolio analytics, financial functions, etc.

  2. Meetups and conferences provides a lot of opportunities to network. I go to NYC-Python, django-nyc, NYC .NET, and Alt.NET regularly.

  3. Interviews, job searches

    I had a good interview this week and the company is making very encouraging noises. They've given me a programming assignment to complete this weekend.

  4. Pro bono work

    Django programming for a micro-finance company that uses the Django admin to manage their volunteers.

  5. Travel

    I was at DjangoCon in Portland in September followed by ten days in Spain. I have some family time coming up over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Recent discovery: is great for keeping track of your travel. In particular, it is great for having a single point to track all your airmiles.

  6. Show-and-tell dates

    I've recently concluded that having projects to show is way more important than a resume. No one gets my resume. Taking my laptop to meet friends and for coffee is a fairly productive networking technique.


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