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The Nexus 7K and ISSU

We recently had to upgrade the image on our Cisco Nexus 7010s, the core switches in our data center.  They had been running images that were demoted to “deferred” status and were unstable.  As these are our core switches and we wanted to reduce the risk of downtime, we decided to follow the in-service-stateful-upgrade (ISSU) process.  For a while, everything seemed to go well.  We did not drop a single packet during the upgrade, that we saw.  We tested our core application environment, Internet access, WAN access; everything looked normal.  We patted ourselves on the back for a job well done and called it a night.

It turns out we missed one environment in our testing and, would’t you know it, that was the environment that went down.  “And why did it go down?” I hear you ask.  Let me tell you.

The ISSU process for the 7K is not as thorough an upgrade as some documentation might lead you to believe.  That is because the  previous version of code is not fully cleared during the upgrade process.  It takes a full reload of the CHASSIS to accomplish that.  Yes, that’s right, you must completely shut down all power to the chassis in order to clear the old image and any residual bugs.  And that was the problem we were facing.  One of the bugs in the old image had an impact on forwarding at layer 2 that only affected one of the environments in a VDC.  It was only after ten hours of troubleshooting with TAC that an engineer finally conveyed that information to us.  When the switches were reloaded, they began forwarding traffic normally.

So, if anyone reading this post is considering an ISSU on the 7K (and probably other platforms), you may want to keep this information in mind.

By the way:  I must say this was a huge disappointment for us.  We made a substantial investment in this platform to help ensure near continuous uptime in almost any situation.  The ISSU feature was one of the selling points.  Though I’m fairly satisfied with the 7K in general, Cisco has some work ahead of them before that particular feature is ready for prime time.

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Back to work…

Having written last about play, it makes sense to spend time exploring men and work.  In a nutshell, real men work.  A real man finds something to set his hands to and labors at it with might and main.  He is not, as a rule, idle.  Depending on his time, talents and abilities he might find many things to work at for different reasons, but the crucial thing is he will find a  meaningful, profitable and enjoyable vocation and apply himself to it.  All of that sounds simple enough and it ought to be.  But the truth is that in a fallen world nothing is simple, so it is necessary to unpack this a bit more.

Let’s start by asking the obvious question: “why should a man work?”  The answers could easily fill a book, so I will focus on the three most important.  First, a man works because he has a mandate from God.  When God made Adam,  He gave him two specific commands.  First: fill the world, be fruitful and multiply.  In other words, marry and have children.  If anyone does not know this is work (delightful as it may be) he is not married and does not have children.  Second:  take dominion over the world, rule the beasts of the earth, the birds of the air, and the creatures in the sea.  God made man to be a steward; not a tyrant, but a manager over His creation, to care for it and every creature in it.  Eden was paradise, but it was not a place of leisure.  So Adam got to work, tending the garden and naming the animals.  In the fullness of time he received a wife and children.  All this labor was part of God’s work of creation and He proclaimed it “very good”.  It is significant to note that, when the Lord punished Adam and Eve after the fall, Adam’s punishment was not the creation of labor, but the addition of pain to his labor.

Now, God is not a cosmic slave driver ordering men to work for the sake of watching them sweat.  He gave man this mandate because work ennobles man, which leads into the second reason that men work.  Work is a blessing.  Man was created with a desire to work; it is part of his nature and gives meaning to his life.  There is something about labor deeply fulfilling to a man, a satisfaction that comes when he expends effort to achieve a goal.  All men want their lives to mean something, to leave a mark be it ever so small on the world around them, something that they can point to and say, “I did that.”  Unlimited leisure is not fulfilling.  A real man chafes when there is nothing for him to do for long periods of time.  My father-in-law was a physician and surgeon and worked until the day he died at the age of 80.  He commented frequently on the number of men he saw who retired at 65 and died within a year.  Without work, men lack an important component in their lives, one that makes life worth living.

The third reason men work is to provide livelihoods for themselves and their families.  Work enables a man to feed, clothe and house his family.  A real man is, by nature, the primary breadwinner.  The sad economic truth for many families is that both husband and wife must work outside of the home, leaving the raising of their children to strangers (which is a topic for another post).  But a man does not intentionally put his wife in that position.  If a wife works outside the home it should be because she wants to, not because she has to.

Putting it bluntly, a man does not sponge off his wife, his parents, his in-laws, his friends, or anyone else, not even the government.  He is not still living in his parent’s basement when he is 30 searching for himself.  He does not willingly accept handouts except in dire need.  By the way, he also does not envy and protest the prosperity of others.  Instead, trusting in divine providence to direct his steps, he seeks a vocation that will enable him to prosper to the extent of his ability and then gets to work.

As always, there are caveats.  This is not a critique of those men who are willing and able to work, but cannot find employment.  There are times when a man wants to work but no one will employ him.  Even then, though, he is not idle.  He finds employment around the house, helping with dishes, laundry and chores while he is at work trying to find a job.  When he cannot find work in his chosen vocation, he takes what comes to hand until he can return to the work he loves.  A real man would rather work at McDonald’s, if it will support his family, than take unemployment.

Nor should anything above be interpreted to mean women are only meant to be barefoot, pregnant and chained to the stove.  Women are fully as competent to work outside the home as men.  But when it comes to the vocation of making a home, women are vastly superior to men.  Just as men are purpose built to build and plow, women are purpose built to take what he has built and refine it.  To borrow from an old cliche, a man might build a house, but it takes a woman to make it a home.  If a married woman chooses to seek employment outside of the home, it is between her and her husband.  The main point here is that a woman is not forced into salaried employment because her husband is indolent.

Some readers may protest, saying there are men who are physically disabled to the point of being incapable of work.  But consider Stephen Hawking.  Few men are more physically disabled than he, but few have contributed more to our understanding of the universe.  While no one could claim that every physically disabled man is a Stephen Hawking, it must be acknowledged that even the disabled may find a way to work and provide for themselves, and we are blessed to live in a time when they are encouraged to do so.  When individuals are truly incapable of work, then it is up to the rest of us to make provision for them, but they should be the exception, not the rule.

So then, you men, if you be men, set your hands to the plow and do not look back.  Take time to play but do not begrudge the time when you return to whatever vocation puts bread on your table and clothes on your back.  As Elbert Hubble said, “If you work for a man, in heavens name work for him!  If he pays you wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, stand by him and stand by the institution he represents. I think if I worked for a man I would work for him.  I would not work for him a part of the time, and the rest of the time work against him. I would give an undivided service or none. If put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.”

Or consider the story of the masons:  Three stonemasons were working in a quarry when a stranger wandered by. The first stonemason was toting rocks to a pile near a wall. “What are you doing?” said the stranger.

“Can’t you see that I’m carrying rocks?”

The stranger asked the second laborer, “What are you doing?”

“I’m building a wall,” he replied.

A few steps away, the stranger came upon a third mason. “What are you doing?” he asked. This worker smiled. “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God!”

Let us work with glad hearts, grateful for the meaningful gift of labor, providing for our loved ones, and never losing site of the cathedral we are building.

One of my favorite fictional detectives is the combination of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.  The two of them rank up there with Holmes and Watson and compliment each other perfectly.  Each would be incomplete without the other.  More than Holmes, though, Wolfe comes up with many wonderful lines, and I need to write down if only to remember them or be able to look them up quickly.

“A woman who is not a fool is dangerous.”  The Silent Speaker

“How far have you got?” Cramer interrupted.  “Well.”  Wolfe smirked.  He is most intolerable when he smirks.  “Further than you, or you wouldn’t be here.”  The Silent Speaker

“In a world that operates largely at random coincidences are to be expected, but any one of them must always be mistrusted.”  Champagne for One

“Nothing is as pitiable as a man afraid of a woman.”  Champagne for One

Right or Obligation?

Recently, Roger Ebert posted an article about the death penalty in America on his blog.  It appears to have been inspired in part by two things: Into the Abyss, the new documentary by Werner Herzog about death row and the death penalty, and an article in the British Guardian about the racial disparity of death row.  The name of Mr. Ebert’s post is “Nobody has the right to take another life”, and it is no surprise that the general attitude of the article toward the death penalty is negative.

There are many who oppose the death penalty, and I generally agree that no one has a right to take another life.  But is that really the question at hand?  Is it not more a question of duty, justice, and obligation?

On November 16th, 2011, Guadalupe Esparza was executed in Huntsville by lethal injection.  He was convicted for the abduction, rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl.  DNA evidence from both Garza and the child conclusively identified Garza as the perpetrator.  Garza had a long history of violent attacks, including attempted murder, but had been paroled repeatedly to alleviate overcrowding.  The last time he was paroled was 1996.  The girl was murdered in 1999.

Guadalupe Esparza did not have the right to kidnap, rape, and murder that little girl.  Her rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were forever extinguished by his actions.  Once his guilt was firmly established beyond a shadow of a doubt, there was no longer a question of his rights.  The government had an obligation to see that justice was satisfied by punishing Esparza.  In spite of how some may feel, there are crimes that are so terrible that the only appropriate punishment is execution.  But let’s set aside the death penalty for a moment and examine the question from a different perspective.

Would Mr. Ebert agree with assisted suicide?  Dr. Kervorkian “assisted” others by administering lethal injections to them.  If no one has a right to administer a lethal injection for the purpose of  executing a criminal, did Dr. Kervorkian have a right to administer a lethal injection for the purpose of assisting Thomas Youk’s suicide?

Does Mr. Ebert agree that physicians have a right to kill an unborn baby? In his blog, he states that he believes a woman has a right to choose abortion.  But isn’t a woman’s right to choose to abort and kill her child the same as a right to take another life?  No one could be more innocent than an unborn baby, yet the abortion procedure is far more gruesome and painful to a baby than a lethal injection to a criminal.  If Mr. Ebert objects to the execution of a proven, violent criminal, how can he support a woman’s right to dismember or burn a baby to death in her womb?

At the beginning of his post, Mr. Ebert cites the article from the British Guardian which states that there is a disparity between the number of African-Americans and whites on death row.  Mr. Ebert, whose wife is African-American, has repeatedly shown an understandable sensitivity toward racial issues in America.  But he seems to be overlooking one of the most important racial disparities.  The number one cause of death among African-Americans is abortion.  1/3 of all abortions in America are performed on African-American women.  Stated another way, the number of African-American children killed by abortion is three times that of white children.  Three out of every five African-American women abort their children.  Around 50% of all African-American babies are killed by abortion every day.  To the best of my knowledge, he has never posted an article to his blog that focuses on that particular disparity.  If he is truly concerned with racial parity, why has he never spoken out on the genocide of African-American babies?

I admire Roger Ebert and enjoy his movie reviews.  I have learned much from him and I don’t know that there is a better film critic writing today.  He is intelligent and articulate, his writing style is lucid and engaging, and his knowledge of film is encyclopedic.  Few things would give me more pleasure than taking classes from him on film-making and criticism.  But when it comes to social issues, his liberalism frequently gets in the way of rational thought.  The position he holds on the death penalty is inconsistent with his position on abortion.  The two cannot be reconciled.

By now, my own position should be perfectly clear.  Punish the guilty, protect the innocent.

PS:  Mr. Esparza’s case is not unique among Texas death row inmates.  All are guilty of similarly violent crimes and have had multiple opportunities to prove their innocence through the appeals process.
PPS:  The abortion statistics come from blackgenocide.org
PPPS:  Duane Buck was convicted on the evidence of eyewitnesses and has never denied his guilt.

Time to play!

Real manhood is not all solemnity, hard work and standing against the world. Real men play, and sometimes they play hard. Real men are, at least they should be, rough and tumble. If you want proof, look at little boys before they have been corrupted by our hyper-feminized public school system. They are the raw material, the stuff from which the final product will be made. They wrestle, hit each other, insult each other, run for no good reason and throw stuff for no good reason. They play with mud, rocks, sticks, fire, knives, and anything dangerous that they can get their hands on. Boys like to build and break things; the bigger the building, the better the breaking. They get dirty, muddy, bloody and bruised, step on each other, get offended, fight, make up, and have a good time doing it. They might have short fuses, but they also have short memories.

Boys love to compete. There will always be a goal, a quest for a hero to achieve. There will be good guys and bad guys, cops and robbers, Cowboys and Indians, Steelers vs. Cowboys, Rangers vs. Yankees, Americans vs. commies – opposing sides about which each will say the other is in the wrong. They will use plastic replicas, sticks, and even fingers as pretend weapons and the more boys involved in the play, the more imaginary blood will be spilled and the higher the imaginary body-count.

Contrary to the politically correct establishment, these are all healthy traits that should be encouraged and indulged as often as practicable. It is critical that boys be allowed to play like boys. Play is not solemn, but it is serious. To paraphrase Lewis, boyhood play is the serious work of manhood.

There are many reasons why the play of boys is important, but I will focus on the most vital. First, it is through play that boys begin to discover what they are good at. They identify and begin to develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, and psychological gifts. Play helps boys to learn who they are and where they fit in the world around them. The idea that children possess unique gifts is increasingly misunderstood. Children are often told that they can be anything they want to be. This is simply not true. Ability is not democratic. Not everyone is equally gifted in every area. This sounds cruel, unfair, and limiting to a politically correct world, but it is none of these. In fact, the opposite is true.

When a boy is told that he can be anything he wants, he is being set up for failure. There are very real limitations on what a particular person is capable of doing. I am of medium height and build, and when I was a boy I was smaller than my peers. If I believed that I could be anything I wanted, and I wanted to be a linebacker for the Packers, my physical build would have been a hindrance, a limitation. I would have been imprisoned in my body and forever be frustrated if I had tried to make that position my life’s goal. But by being allowed to discover my real gifts through the agency of play, by working in the scope of my real strengths, a near infinite field opens up to me that aligns with those strengths. Ability is not infinitely broad, but it can be infinitely deep. Being allowed to work within the scope of a child’s gifts frees him from the tyranny of unrealistic expectations created by the “you can be anything you want” school of thought.

Second, competition in play teaches boys how to win, lose, and take their lumps, both deserved and undeserved. They must learn this, for life is filled with victories and defeats, great and small, fair and unfair. The playing fields in which men work are rarely level, and sometimes the cards will be stacked unfairly against them. The unsheltered world outside the halls of academia cannot be the first place they learn these lessons. If it is, they will enter life severely handicapped. They will be stymied by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that they inevitably encounter. Without the armor forged over time through play it will be difficult for them to persevere in the face of a prolonged losing streak. Yes, there are unfair situations that they will experience in school, but those pale in comparison to what life in the real world can inflict on them.

Third, play helps boys to develop their moral imaginations, their sense of right and wrong, good and evil. When they play cops and robbers, they are exploring the moral lessons they have learned from parents and church. Through play, they work out the implications and consequences of right and wrong actions in a safe environment. Their innate, God-given understanding of the eventual triumph of good over evil is allowed to germinate and blossom. Properly developed, the moral imagination of a boy becomes the moral compass of a man who will recognize good and evil even in their most subtle garb, and respond appropriately when he is called upon to do so.

Finally, the imaginary wars they fight, the blood they spill, and the piles of corpses they leave behind them serve very real functions. The imaginary heroes who fight their battles for and through them help protect them from the monsters of their own imagination. In the dark, late at night, imaginary creatures can frighten a young boy far more than any real terror. Chesterton said it best when he wrote “At the four corners of a child’s bed stand Perseus and Roland, Sigurd and St. George. If you withdraw the guard of heroes you are not making him rational; you are only leaving him to fight the devils alone.” With Perseus and Roland at his side, a boy learns courage and is better prepared to act in spite of his fears as a man.

Further, those heroes prepare boys for the real wars they may encounter as men. The idea that aggression and war can be trained out of the mind of a boy is as wrong as the idea that the Earth is flat. There will always be evil in the world, and that evil will threaten nations as well as individuals. Therefore, the world will always need armies of men ready to fight in the name of the right, to kill or be killed in order to protect the good, the beautiful, and the true. Boys must not be taught that war is wrong, or that to rejoice in the victory of good over evil is wicked. As they grow, they can learn the subtleties of just war theory, but as boys, they must be able to act out the war between good and evil in a way that makes sense to boys.

Of course, none of this is present in a boy’s mind when he plays. He is merely enjoying the play for its own sake, happily unaware of any benefit he receives when he goes to play “kill the guy with the ball” with the guys in the neighborhood. If he understood all that was going on, it would cease to be play. It is because the lessons learned at play are unconscious that they form part of the foundation of what the boy will be as a man. Our role as adults is to stay as far out of the way as possible. Yes, we must enforce rules, and supervise play to ensure that there no serious harm is done. The one thing we must never do is forbid them to play like boys.

Allowed to play like boys, they will not lose these traits when they become men. The man will still play, though his play matures along with the boy. He will give up that which is childish, but can still be childlike. This is a difficult balance to strike, but if he can do it, a man will be able to guide the boys around him through their own play. He can enter their world and fight the bad guys with them, or give them a bad guy to defeat. He can also play with other men for the sheer enjoyment of being a man.

Which brings us back to where we started. When they are at rest from the fight, men should play hard and enjoy being men. Fathers, play with the boys in your lives, and forbid them not. Reassure your wives that all really will be well. That scar on your boy’s left knee will give him something to brag about with his friends and show off to girls while he is young, and laugh about when he is older. The gap in his teeth will fill in, the broken arm will heal, and the fistfight with his best friend will be forgotten tomorrow. Boys must play like boys if they are to be worth anything as men.

The War of the Worlds

The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent work of science fiction by one of its founding fathers. Wells vision of an alien invasion and the impotent human response is dark and troubling. There is no institution to which man can turn for salvation. The church is reduced to incoherent babbling, the military is outgunned, apathetic and lazy, and man is too self-interested to mount any type of effective response once he finds that his first lines of defense have failed him. It is only by an accident of evolution that man survives at all, and this is no guarantee of survival in the future. It is by no mere coincidence that the last word in the book is “death”.

Of course I disagree with Mr. Wells’ presuppositions, but his skill as an author and the force of his imagination ameliorate any faults in his reasoning.

View all my reviews

The Time Machine

The Time MachineThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though I disagree with H.G. Wells’ worldview, I admit that I admire him and his writing. He did not flinch from facing the logical conclusions of what he believed. As a Darwinist and materialist, he understood the full implications of those theories, and in “The Time Machine” he follows their implications to their ends, as horrible as they may be. There are no happy endings for the Darwinist, humanist, or materialist. The universe will one day wind down. Long before that happens, man will have died, and all of his greatest achievements will be dust. This is the world of “The Time Machine”. The great question left unasked, and unanswered at the end, is “why bother?”

As with all his works, “The Time Machine” is a well-executed work of art and worth reading. Wells was a master storyteller and “The Time Machine” provides ample evidence to support that assertion.

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