March, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Finding an Office in New York City - "In the good buildings, people appear to get into the elevators talking to themselves, but they have a tiny earphone, so it's totally different, they're just on the phone."

[bookmark]

Fear and grokking on the war crimes trail - "US training selects the officers who are the most motivated, and the way that you distinguished yourself in the Salvadorean military in the 1980s was by killing people. So the most motivated officers are also the worst. But what this also says is that US training is useless for restraining human rights abuse."

[bookmark]

Use a Firewall, Go To Jail - "Most operating system products (including every version of Windows introduced in the last five years, and virtually all versions of Linux) would also apparently be banned"

[bookmark]

Prime numbers not so random?

[bookmark]

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Useless Comparison: Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Laker vs. Kozy Shack tapioca pudding

criterion Shaq Kozy Shack advantage
relevance to my life none always a good snackKozy Shack
taste tasteless comments about diminutive chinese opponent Yao Ming tasty desert Kozy Shack. especially after Ming stuffed Shaq four times in one game.
packaging7'1", 338 lbs 1/2 cup, 113g per servingtie: Kozy Shack if you're looking for portability; Shaq if you're looking for intimidation
availability signed to the lakers, might sign an autograph if you're nice they never seem to have the big containers at the albertson's near me but lately they've been carrying the single serving packs tie. neither readily available. Kozy Shack will win this one if they keep carrying the single serving pack with the "club card" discount, though.
attack? Shaq attack, useful if you're playing professional basketball hunger attack, always good to have on hand in case of Kozy Shack, unless you're Michael Jordan. actually even if you are Michael Jordan, as he does not fear Shaq.

winner: Kozy Shack

[bookmark]

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Expert wary about information misuse - "If used as the main tool of surveillance, the data mining approach is too blunt an instrument, in Louie's view, and one likely to needlessly undermine individual freedom. 'The policy has not been defined for how you get on or off these watch lists,' he said."

[bookmark]

Justice Dept. Lifts FBI Database Limits - I may be misreading this, but it implies that the Justice Department has asked the FBI to break the law.

[bookmark]

Monday, March 24, 2003

I recommend going to The Agonist for war related news. The author appears to be having an OCD fit with a web browser, and his coverage is broader, deeper and more up-to-date than any major news outlet I've found.

[bookmark]

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Top Ten Dying Game Genres - "any of the popular games of today simply couldn?t be done fifteen years ago, and the popular games of fifteen years ago now seem rather quaint."

[bookmark]

Robert Scoble on technology waves - and how to benefit from waves as either the driving force or someone building on a wave.

[bookmark]

Doubts and Questions - "The notion that the military has things under control isn't quite clear in other aspects as well."

[bookmark]

Friday, March 21, 2003

Burnout increasing among information technology workers - "Some 55 percent of companies surveyed have begun 'skill development' programs to boost morale, and 24 percent have bolstered their retention programs. Still, only 11 percent said they had boosted salaries and just 8 percent offered cash incentives to curb worker burnout."

[bookmark]

E-mail reveals real leaders - "But communities of practice are difficult to identify - the process typically involves laborious interviews and surveys."

[bookmark]

Entire Division of Iraqi Army Surrenders

[bookmark]

National guardman changed his name to a toy - "I got a letter from a general at the Pentagon when the name change went through and he says it was great to have the employ of the commander of the Autobots in the National Guard."

[bookmark]

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Saddam's obstinacy signals start of war - "the Iraqi president's only hope is a long shot: that protesters will force Bush to sue for peace" - Naked man on stilts uses a clown mask and catchy sayings to cause President Bush to reconsider the meaning of life - film at 11.

[bookmark]

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Computer Risk Redefined After 'Zero-Day' Attack - "Both Cooper and Stiennon agreed that a worm exploiting this vulnerability will make the rounds soon. Cooper put the time frame at seven to 10 days."

[bookmark]

Turkey Shoot - How Bush made enemies of our allies.

[bookmark]

Tivo Less of a Threat? 'Surprising' P&G Findings - "People hardly recall anything. So you're dealing with low numbers anyway"

[bookmark]

War in the Ruins of Diplomacy - "There is no ignoring the role of Baghdad's game of cooperation without content in this diplomatic debacle. And France, in its zest for standing up to Washington, succeeded mainly in sending all the wrong signals to Baghdad."

[bookmark]

The Arrogant Empire - "Being pro-American should not be a political liability for our allies. The diplomatic fiasco over Turkey is an excellent example. For well over a year now it has been obvious to anyone watching that the Turkish people were deeply opposed to a war in Iraq. Yet the administration assumed that it could bully or bribe Turkey into giving it basing rights. But Turkey over the last year has become more democratic. The military is less willing to overrule politicians. The new ruling party, AK, is more open to internal debate than Turkey?s other parties. It allowed its members to vote freely on the motion to allow America basing rights, only to have it defeated. Since more than 90 percent of the Turks oppose giving America basing rights, this should not have been surprising. The administration wants democracy in the Middle East. Well, it got it." - READ THIS. THE WHOLE THING. SEVERAL TIMES.

[bookmark]

This Isn't About You - "One can sympathize, of course, with the idea that we have to somehow mark this occasion, Day One of the American Empire, by doing something unusual."

[bookmark]

Monday, March 17, 2003

Study: Ancient Brits mummified dead too

[bookmark]

Researchers: Marriage doesn't make you happy

[bookmark]

Humanity's Slowing Growth - "Helping poor countries improve their economies is not a matter of charity but of intelligent foreign policy. And no matter how much progress is made, there will be large population shifts into better-off nations."

[bookmark]

WorldCom tells a tale of stunning stupidity - "WorldCom was not alone in building an ambitious network, its hard-asset write-down has implications for others in the telecommunications industry and the nation's economy over all."

[bookmark]

House Rules - "Being shocked, shocked that the UN Security Council differs from a Model UN meeting only in that Cameroon is represented by a Cameroon native instead of a 16-year student body treasurer who desperately wants to go to Cornell is breathtakingly thickheaded."

[bookmark]

Looking at my Epinions account, I am disturbed to find that my reviews of XXX and The One were rated "Helpful" and "Very Helpful", respectively. The Tomb Raider review got "Very Helpful" as well, but it wasn't marinated in irony like the others.

[bookmark]

Review: Cradle 2 the Grave

[bookmark]

[IP] SARS resources and comments - "ICU is seeing the serious cases of the first contacts. We are all waiting apprehensively to see if there is a second wave."

[bookmark]

Horror stories - "In the early stages of a recovery, the corporate sector usually runs a small financial surplus, investing less than cashflow. But America's companies continue to run a deficit. Worse still, profits have remained feeble. Ian Harwood, chief economist of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, estimates that profits across the whole economy, as measured in the national accounts, fell again in the fourth quarter of last year?the third quarter in a row of decline after a brief recovery. This may explain why firms are still cutting jobs. American households have done even less to repair their balance sheets."

[bookmark]

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Fair punishment supports human altruism - "It may be that groups of our ancestors who found the best strategies to promote altruism prospered, and bequeathed their behaviours to us."

[bookmark]

Watching the Detectives - "The official body count of Dirty Harry is just four, with Callahan himself racking up only one kill. By today's standards, that almost qualifies as a pacifist tract. But that's how slippery slopes work, and ultimately, Harry Callahan, genteel torturer that he was, helped popularize the idea that 'criminal rights' was such a preposterous notion that it actually legitimized any action against odious beasts like Scorpio."

[bookmark]

Friday, March 14, 2003

Too Many Rights Make a Wrong - "He gets busted because the G-man always deliberately fails his first log-in attempt and logs in correctly on his second try"

[bookmark]

U.S. jobs jumping ship - "Those workers -- in one narrow segment of the outsourcing industry in just one country -- would replace about 1 million U.S. workers, according to consulting firm Gartner."

[bookmark]

French Toast is apparently named after its inventor, Joseph French of Albany, NY, and has nothing to do with France.

Update: Grant Barrett wrote to point out that the OED has a citation for french toast which precedes the "French's toast" story by some 64 years. A little digging found the story and several others on the Food Network web site. It still appears to be an American invention, though.

[bookmark]

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Water 'flows' on Mars - "life may exist near to the surface of the planet"

[bookmark]

She has bones to pick with France - "'Turkey no doubt will be next,' said Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. 'When will you have a member of Congress wanting to cancel Thanksgiving?'"

[bookmark]

Norman Lear to Co-Write 'South Park'

[bookmark]

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

If end is near, do you want to know? - "any attempt to keep a killer asteroid quiet would be futile. 'Pofessional and amateur astronomers from around the world can easily access and confirm observational data and calculations of any discovered NEOs'"

[bookmark]

Jonathan Edelstein has some observations regarding the similarities between the "war on drugs" and the "war on terror", and the potential for the latter to turn into the same semi-permanent legal quagmire as the former.

[bookmark]

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Judge permits 'enemy combatant' to meet lawyers - "Lest any confusion remain, this is not a suggestion or a request that Padilla be permitted to consult with counsel, and it is certainly not an invitation to conduct a further 'dialogue' about whether he will be permitted to do so. It is a ruling -- a determination -- that he will be permitted to do so"

[bookmark]

Universe as Doughnut: New Data, New Debate - "Cosmologists have built a house of cards and it stands"

[bookmark]

The darkest side of ID theft - "Most law enforcement officers say this type of criminal identity theft is rare. But the few reliable identity theft statistics suggest it may be more common than they think."

[bookmark]

Irrational Physics: The observably finite universe after all?

The New York times reports on new observations regarding cosmic background radiation and discusses the implications for the shape of the universe. If this is true then it throws all sorts of theories into doubt, recasts the need for inflation, "and more"! Thoughts: Can you have multiple parallel dimensions? Would energy waves looping back into the universe create any kind of interference pattern when they cross back over themselves? (That last one is kind of ridiculous, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around this.)

[bookmark]

New favorite web site for abusing my editorial DNA: HyperGrammar.

[bookmark]

Monday, March 10, 2003

Irrational Physics: Meta -- iPhysics

iPhysics (Irrational Physics) is an experiment in non-linear thinking. I'm recording random musings on the nature of reality, for posterity and perhaps for contemplation. I doubt any of these bear much resemblance to what's actually going on (although the notes in "The births of multiple universes" seem to bear similarity to some recent theories - seeing the theory come out about 6 months after I had the thought was part of what inspired me to start recording things). Below are three random thoughts I had over the past year. I'll post more as I think of them. Feel free to mail me your thoughts (please note whether you'd mind it being published and if so, attributed).

[bookmark]

Car fanciers' brains experience perceptual traffic jam when trying to identify autos and faces at the same time - "Last year, she published work showing that as people are trained as experts on identifying novel, computer-generated objects, they begin to recognize them holistically. But these studies left unanswered the question of whether the same neural circuitry was involved in processing faces, birds and automobiles or whether the faces and objects were processed by different neural networks that are intermingled in the same small area in the brain."

[bookmark]

Changes in the Earth's rotation are in the wind - "So if the atmosphere speeds up (stronger westerly winds) then the solid Earth must slow down (length-of-day increases). Also if more atmosphere moves to a lower latitude (further from the axis of rotation), and atmospheric pressure increases, it also gains angular momentum and the Earth would slow down as well."

[bookmark]

There has been a lot of interesting material on Eurekalert over the past few days..

[bookmark]

Are SUVs too dangerous for the road? - "In 2001, 19.5 per cent of all fatal road crashes involved rollovers, and 35.2 per cent of SUV-related fatal crashes involved rollovers. And in terms of fatalities from all types of crash, SUVs are slightly more unsafe than passenger cars. In 1999, for every 100,000 registered vehicles in the US, there were 16.4 fatalities in passenger cars, and 17.8 in SUVs. What's more, the aggressive design of SUVs ensures passenger cars come off worst in collisions with them. Last month, researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, found that in crashes between small cars and large SUVs, the risk of death was 24 times greater in the car."

[bookmark]

Irrational Physics: The births of multiple universes

Assume for the sake of argument that any given region in space will grow to the point that there is an external event horizon beyond which objects fall out of reach (see Steven Weinberg's "The Future of Science, and the Universe"). Were this the case, would you see a collapse of the contents of a given set of objects within the event horizon after everything fast enough or distant enough to escape had escaped. Would this collapse look like one supermassive black hole and would that black hole, absent any possible outside influence, eventually explode into its own new universe?

[bookmark]

UCLA chemists report new method for producing carbon nanoscrolls, an alternative to nanotubes - "While nanotubes are normally made at high temperatures, nanoscrolls can be produced at room temperature."

[bookmark]

Scientists pinpoint stellar production of helium, yielding new insights into the young universe - static analysis, limited data set, yet interesting

[bookmark]

Irrational Physics: Elementary particles

There is a theory which states that the reason we have particles the way we do is that any universe in which all particles behaved differently in the slightest way would not wind up with the universe we have today, but there may be other universes in which particles and forces have different properties. Question: what if we actually did start with a universe in which there were all sorts of particles with different forces (i.e. you could have an "electron" with all sorts of different options for charge and mass") but the "it only works if the numbers are this way" collapsed the universe of particles into the limited subset we see today. By way over overextended analogy, think of "life" simulations which tend to collapse to a small number of self replicating surviving objects while everything else is wiped out.

In this scenario, "electron" is not really an elementary particle from the beginning of the universe, it's just one of the classes of particles which survived to the later stages of the universe. Ditto all other particles.

Follow-on question: what sorts of interactions would cause the sort of cancelation and annihilation of all but the existing particle/force combinations and would there be any observable evidence available today?

[bookmark]

Short thighs linked to greater likelihood of diabetes - "After adjusting for other risk factors, the inverse association remained for white women and Mexican-American women, but not for blacks or men. For each centimeter less of ULL, white women were 19 percent more likely to have diabetes, and Mexican-American women were 13 percent more likely to have it."

[bookmark]

Australian overturns 15 years of nano-science doctrine - "This finding is surprising and counterintuitive, contradicting accepted practice and manufacturing standards worldwide where the V-shaped cantilever is the standard due to its alleged advantages"

[bookmark]

Medication protects patients with peanut allergies - "An earlier study found that fatal reactions can occur after such difficult to avoid situations as eating a tuna sandwich made with a knife that had not been thoroughly cleaned after spreading peanut butter or eating cookies that were made on factory equipment that had earlier been used to make other cookies with peanuts."

[bookmark]

Bush Sr warning over unilateral action

[bookmark]

Irrational Physics: The size of the universe and the forces between objects at distance

Thinking about the theory that the speed of light is not invariant over time, what would the universe look like if there was an outward pressure on the space between any two objects which varied directly (perhaps exponentially) with the space between the objects and inversely with the size of the universe. e.g. in an early state universe objects are much closer together but the space is fairly large relative to the size of the universe, so pressure is high and space pushes apart. In the later stage universe the space between close objects is the same but the size of the universe is much much bigger so you'd hardly notice it over the noise of the forces, yet distant objects (galactic clusters, etc.) would be far enough apart that the pressure would be measurable.

[bookmark]

America admits suspects died in interrogations - "A spokesman for the air base confirmed that the official cause of death of the two men was 'homicide', contradicting earlier accounts that one had died of a heart attack and the other from a pulmonary embolism."

[bookmark]

Blix 'hid smoking gun' from Britain and US

[bookmark]

Sunday, March 09, 2003

World of Ends - "the Internet?s elementary laws never figured people would build careers on not understanding them"

[bookmark]

Friday, March 07, 2003

Ten Reasons You Don't Want to Run a Massively Multiplayer Online Game - "With other games, developers can go into a 'crunch mode,' release the game, and then take a vacation. That just doesn't happen with persistent worlds."

[bookmark]

Roger Ebert: Public prayer fanatics borrow page from enemy's script - "This is really an argument between two kinds of prayer--vertical and horizontal. I don't have the slightest problem with vertical prayer. It is horizontal prayer that frightens me. Vertical prayer is private, directed upward toward heaven. It need not be spoken aloud, because God is a spirit and has no ears. Horizontal prayer must always be audible, because its purpose is not to be heard by God, but to be heard by fellow men standing within earshot."

[bookmark]

New Cornell U. System Will Meter Network Use and Charge for 'Extreme' Amounts - "But Cornell officials say they prefer that students and employees make informed choices about how much bandwidth they want to use. The new billing system, they say, is designed to let them make those choices." - This system looks to have holes so big you could sink the Titanic through them.

[bookmark]

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Amitai Etzioni has some notes on anti-American sentiments at Davos - I tend to roll my eyes at (the usually knee-jerk) cries of "anti-American!", since half the time it really means "someone I don't agree with", but in this case he makes some interesting points.

[bookmark]

Blogger RSS Issues Update

Update: Regarding my Blogger RSS Issues post, Evan Williams wrote to say that this issue is fixed in the next version of Blogger Pro, currently undergoing testing. Reading between the lines, I'm guessing a lot of people had the same problems with the current scheme that I do, and that the Blogger team is listening.

[bookmark]

Blogger RSS Issues

Blogger Pro, which I use for the weblogish portions of this site, will create an RSS feed. The implementation is... somewhat lacking. It will only produce RSS elements if you use titles, and explicitly title every post you want showing up in the RSS file. You don't have to show the title, but you do need one. You can see the practical result of this in the Blogger produced RSS file here. This post has a title, while no other posts on the page do. The title does not show up on the page, but does show up in the RSS file. The other posts show up on the page, but don't show up in the RSS file. End result: I'm using RSSify to deal with RSS. It's free, but I'd be dramatically more willing to renew my Blogger Pro subscription if I thought that the Blogger crew were going to fix this. The other features don't appeal to me that much.

Suggestions on ways to fix the issue:

This concludes the tool related frustration portion of the evening.

[bookmark]

One Man's Tense Ride on the LIRR - "New Yorkers, you know, Americans are willing to defend your rights."

[bookmark]

Putting a dollar value on a good name - "That study found that the feedback system that creates eBay reputations was widely employed, for more than half of the transactions, in fact. That study also showed that, perhaps surprisingly, more than 99 percent of feedback on sellers was positive. Zeckhauser said the eBay reputation system is a good example of a system that works. There are others in wide use in our society that do not, however. The system of job references, he said, almost always provides positive feedback, even when the person was fired from a previous position."

[bookmark]

Which Price is Right? - "The earliest Uruk tablets aren't just the oldest pricing records ever found. They are the oldest examples of human writing yet discovered." - I had a really hard time picking a pull quote from this article. It contains a large number of interesting factoids and observations. I'd say "READ THIS" but this level of economics detail might bore you to tears. Read it anyway.

[bookmark]

Kicking back as a career -- Life of tester not all fun, but it is all games - "Longo considers himself lucky to have gotten into the industry a few years ago. Now that a growing handful of schools offer programs teaching game development, employers are expecting some training or experience from applicants, he said."

[bookmark]

Is There Something About Conservativism? - "Perhaps instead of embodying a new mode of popular education that can save the country, talk radio has merely dumbed down conservatism and turned it into a megaphone for fascist ideology." - Asks (or at least implies) a lot of good questions. Doesn't pretend to have the all the answers, but makes some good points.

[bookmark]

The CEOs' Dim View of Deficits - thus speak the interests of the self-interested

[bookmark]

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Return of the Middleman - "Such outfits have modest IT departments at best, and they lack the volume to command much attention from equipment manufacturers. They need a relationship with a knowledgeable vendor, which is exactly the service CDW sells."

[bookmark]

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Supreme Court curbs trademarks' reach - "It's going to affect the cases that arise over infringement because Justice Stevens emphasizes that infringement is about the interests of consumers, not just protection of companies"

[bookmark]

I was thinking about houses, and came up with the following set of rules I'd follow if I had the leeway:

[bookmark]