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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Oh my... Anne Rice

Anne Rice complains about reviewers of her new book on Amazon.

I rather like her using the term "slander" in this passage.

Now, if it doesn't appeal to you, fine. You don't enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander.

Slander does not apply to expressions of opinion. It's kind of like all those people who claim Fox News delivers the news in a biased fashion because of the opinions of their commentators.

Rather than post a link to Amazon, I'll post a link to a MiSTing of her comments. Much funnier.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I know it's best to walk alongside someone, rather than in front of or behind them. It makes it easier to have a conversation.

However, if you're walking at the edge of the roadway, does it really make sense to walk even further into traffic?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

How to conduct their business

One of Indiana's representatives. Mark Souder, proposed repealing some of the District of Columbia's gun laws. It's hard to imagine it making this situation worse, given the high crime rate in D.C., and given the experience in England, which banned all guns only to see armed robberies in occupied homes increase.

What was most striking about this article is the quote from a D.C. labor leader who opposes Souder's legislation.

"We are not going to Idaho or Indiana . . . to tell those states how to conduct their business," said Josh Williams, a D.C. labor leader who participated in a recent news conference denouncing Souder's legislation. "Why is this that they are coming here to tell us how we ought to live? It's mind-blowing to me."

Hmmmm... could it be because IT'S IN THE %&@*# CONSTITUTION? In case Mr. Williams isn't up to date on this rather important document, here's the relevant quote from Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17:

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, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings

Testing education

Joanne Jacobs discusses the problem with educational research: namely, that it's not research as the term is used in scientific spheres.

Part of the problem might be that education professionals don't want to look at research, as it may disprove the effectiveness of trendy pet theorems of the day. Some anecdotal evidence from someone who saw education schools first-hand: truly frightening stuff.

Thanks for the link, Joanne!
It's nice to get a link from someone who actually has readership. It really does wonders for one's Sitemeter count, increasing it by 150% in this case.

Update 2:
The author of the posts on the actuary.ca thread has a blog now, and noticed the discussion in the blogosphere. It's all my fault. I'm the one who pointed Joanne Jacobs to the thread.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

What CBS should say

Hugh Hewitt comes up with the speech that CBS president Les Moonves should give.

I conclude that we will sooner see a proliferation of porcine aviation.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Jayson Blair Speaks Out on Rathergate

I was shocked that no one in the mainstream media had made the obvious link to speak to Jayson Blair. Rathergate did, and the result is a very good article.

Blogosphere = Voltron

I wish I came up with this analogy.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Good blog summary

At The American Spectator, a worthy article on the history of blogs, including the reason why some unfortunate people have their names associated with actions (Fisking, Dowdification).

I had forgotten about this Glenn Reynolds quote: "Give it up, dude. This is the Internet -- and now we can fact check your ass from orbit."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Still summer

The temperature says summer, but the sky is darkening earlier, saying fall is here. And if the Indiana legislature wouldn't keep listening to the complaints of the cows, maybe night would come an hour later, with the adoption of daylight savings time!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A cynical look at global warming

Locally, we had the 10th coolest summer on record. Not once did we hit 90°F (32.2°C). And talk of global warming was way down. I mean, only a total idiot would talk about global warming when it's cold out!

I first recall global warming being a hot topic (no pun intended) in 1988, a year when San Francisco was seeing 100°F (37.8°C) or higher summer temperatures (and that never happens). There was quite a bit of discussion of global warming that summer. Then, 1989 was an unusually cool summer, and there was a lot less discussion of global warming. Thus, my cynical outlook on the subject.

I'll outline my main questions for all sides in the global warming debate:
  1. First, why did environmentalists assume, circa the early 70's, that we were looking at another ice age? I thought their conventional wisdom is that man-made CO2 emissions over the whole century were causing global warming?
  2. Second, what is the effect of cloud cover? Does it contribute to global warming, as it traps infrared radiation, or does it contribute to global cooling, as it reflects the sun's rays?
  3. In the period known as the Medieval Climate Optimum, temperatures were certainly higher than today. Why didn't the world end? And how did that happen, as humans weren't producing our current level of CO2 emissions?
  4. What role does the sun's activity play in global temperatures?
  5. Studies revolving around the Kyoto plan says it would delay global warming by 6 years. Is that worthwhile?
  6. Is there something better we can be spending our money on, to help the poor people of the world?

A better use of time

Are you looking to pick up a quick lunch to go at a fast food restaurant?

You can wait in the long line in the drive-thru.

Or, you can park your car. Listen to the end of the song on the radio. Go inside the restaurant. Wait in line. Order. Go ahead and make it a special order, while you're at it. Get the food. Fill up your drink cup. Drink half a cup, then refill before going. Get in your car. Drive off.

Chances are, you'll still beat the people in the drive-thru.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Taking the blame

Think back to childhood. Ever take the blame for something you didn't do? Did you get blamed for starting a fight? For breaking a vase? For making a mess? You know you did nothing wrong, but you were punished.

Maybe, you've experienced something similar recently. Did you get blamed for the failure of a project at work, when you did nothing wrong?

Feels terrible, doesn't it?


Remember that feeling the next time someone talks about reparations for slavery.

And to rub salt in the wound, think about your own slave ancestors. We're all descended from slaves. Let's face it, it's unavoidable; slavery was such a part of human society, at least until some dead white Christians started thinking it was a bad thing 200 or so years ago.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Government at work

On a section of a street near home, between two cross streets, the city put up new signs. They changed the 20 mph school zone signs, and also added a sign indicating the end of school zone and resumption of the normal speed limit. However, the normal speed limit, 30 mph, was not the same as the speed limit north or south of this section of road! Elsewhere, the speed limit is 40 mph.

The net effect of this situation is that for a few weeks, the speed limit of a particular stretch of road varied based on when you were travelling north or south.

The mess was corrected (by adding 30 mph speed limit signs near the intersections), and at a remarkable speed, at least as far as the government is concerned!

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Two years ago, Wizards of the Coast announced a contest sure to attract attention: design a new world for the Dungeons and Dragons game, with a $100,000 prize. That world is Eberron. From what I've seen, it looks interesting. I ran some games at Gen Con set in the world, but the details of the world really weren't the focus. There should be a new campaign starting in January.

I heard second-hand about another game company complaining about the political struggles in Eberron being a little too close to their own campaign world. But on the other hand, I see similarities (the development of magic as an analog to technology) between Eberron and the world I've worked on for years. That world is almost entirely in my head, so I know it's just a case of great minds thinking alike. (Although I didn't get $100k, alas. Yes, I submitted an entry, but it wasn't this world, since I thought it wasn't distinct enough. Anyway, I knew my entry wasn't very good, so I was not surprised to be among the thousands of losers.)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Best Rathergate explanation yet

Daniel Wiener comes up with a very plausible explanation for Rathergate. Check it out!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The future of comic strips

An interesting column by webcomic artist Scott Kurtz on the economics of newspaper comic strips. I did not realize there was such a high fee for comics!

I find myself agreeing that the comics page has gotten stale. I remember loving Garfield when younger, and now it's very ho-hum. And I strongly disagree with the idea of running classic Peanuts strip, no matter how much of a classic that strip is. That's a space on the comics page that could be given to a new artist!

Scott Kurtz might be onto something. If he gets, say, 5 webcomics together, and can convince a newspaper to drop 5 underperforming comics in favor of 5 free comics, and they survive, that could herald a paradigm shift in the newspaper industry!

I read a lot of webcomics, and recognize that many are too narrow-interest to succeed in a newspaper. A lot of webcomics are focused on computers or video games, for some way too hard to figure out reason. :-) But here's one that would be perfect for a newspaper: Count Your Sheep. Cute, clever, very family friendly. And for you newspaper editors who worship at the altar of diversity: it's drawn by a minority artist!

I see so many good comic strips being produced, so I get upset that Mark Tonra has a syndication deal....

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Welcome, CBS, to the blogosphere!


Who are you going to believe?

Okay, anyone who is ready to believe that these memos "accurately reflect the viewpoints of Col. Killian and documents that would have been in the personal file," imagine this situation:

It's 1992. CBS releases memos allegedly from the Arkansas state troopers in 1979, including a CYA memo talking about escorting Governor Clinton to one of his "alleged" booty calls. The documents are obviously laser-printed from Microsoft Word with the WYSIWYG adaptor, and the Arkansas state troopers used typewriters in 1979.

CBS tracks down the secretary, a Clinton opponent who describes him as "unfit to govern," who says the documents are actually fake, but accurately represented the facts of Clinton's womanizing scandals as known by the Arkansas state troopers.

Would you find that acceptable proof?

Didn't think so.

Who says conservatives don't have a sense of humor?

For your drinking displeasure: the Marion Barry shooter! Jagermeister, Kahlua, bourbon, and Coke. As Jonah Goldberg says: A drink "so black not even the man could keep it down."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Rathergate continues

There's an extensive reward for someone who can produce copies of the forged documents on early 70's office equipment.

A site with a clever name: Rathergate. (with the th raised as a superscript)

Time for congressional hearings?

It's all quite a story.

Ever wish...

you had a save/restart button for life in general?

Hit "save" right before you fill in the numbers on that lottery ticket!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Driving annoyances

Take an interstate highway, two lanes in each direction, with a 65 mph speed limit.

In the right lane, a semi travelling 65 mph.

In the left lane, passing the semi in the right lane, a semi travelling 65.0000001 mph.

Time drags as the semi on the left doesn't accelerate, and the semi on the right doesn't decelerate.

I understand that many semis have governors that cap their speed, but why doesn't the semi being passed slow down?

Kerry-Cambodia Document Surfaces!

In the words of Glenn Reynolds, "Heh."

Friday, September 10, 2004

The power of the blogosphere

I don't post often enough to keep up with breaking stories in the Blogosphere, but I had to discuss the 60 Minutes memo scandal. To summarize in the briefest terms, some early 70's memos concerning George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard purport to make him look very bad, but the documents look fake. The memo features proportional type, not fixed width; there was a superscript th, not a common feature on a 1972 typewriter; the lines had 13 point spacing; and characters were kerned (when letters like t and o are moved closer together). Basically, the document appears to be composed with Microsoft Word today, not on a 1972 typewriter. (There is also the issue of some incorrect abbreviations and whether a referenced military document actually exists.)

Some have discussed that some of the features (the superscript and proportional type of a form) were on some typewriters of the time. However, they are difficult features to use, and it is doubtful that they would have been done for a memo to file. One point I haven't seen discussed, though, is: why hasn't a defender of the memo found a typewriter from the era with all these features, and typed the memo? Those who doubt the memo have demonstrated that Word can produce the memo, but if someone can find a typewriter that can produce the memo, that would deflate the argument.


Why are multivitamins so large? I suspect many people have trouble swallowing them, and I'm pretty sure they still have a lot of filler (milligrams and micrograms are very small units). Probably, some marketing types did a survey, and found that consumers expect a multivitamin to be large.

For Voldemort?

Someone who obviously thinks himself clever presents a T-shirt with the slogan "Republicans for Voldemort." This slogan is just another example of a left-wing pundit whose hatred for people unlike him causes him to say something that defies logic and intelligence.

First of all, Republicans are known as the party that supports the status quo. Voldemort attempted to overthrow the status quo of the wizarding world. That should obviate the comparison for anyone with a familiarity of the Harry Potter novels and American politics.

Second of all, if I were comparing Voldemort to a real world politician, I'd choose a left-wing politician: Joseph Stalin. Think about it.... both Voldemort and Stalin were obsessively focused on eliminating their enemies from existence. They both enlisted legions of terror. They both killed an incredible number of people (tens of millions in Stalin's case, an unknown but likely proportional number in Voldemort's) in pursuit of their goals.

And the clincher: Both Voldemort and Stalin had many supporters that, once he was defeated, claimed that no, they never really supported him. At least Voldemort's supporters had the decency to claim to be magically controlled. Supporters of Stalin, and communism in general, just pretended we couldn't see what they had written and said in the past.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Corollary to Godwin's Law

One of my favorite bits of wisdom from the world of the Internet is Godwin's Law, which states:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made in a thread the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

We need a corollary for discussion of economics.

Once a comparison is made to the Great Depression, the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Great Depression has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

No matter what your political persuasion, the economy is not and likely never will be as bad as it was in the Great Depression. Simple things like welfare and the FDIC will keep money circulating through the economy and financial institutions sound, and hopefully politicians won't be stupid enough to pass another Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

Energy saver <> money saver?

The typical printer or photocopier has an energy-saver mode. It takes a while to warm up and print or copy. I find it annoying, and I really wonder how the electricity savings compares to the wasted time of the people working in an office.

60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. 7.2 million seconds. If a person earning $48,000 a year waits 15 seconds for the electronic device, that's 10 cents wasted. If this happens on average once a work day, that's $25 a year per person. Just how much energy savings are we talking about, anyway?

Too many people forget the concept of marginal costs. You want the cleanest air possible? Go to a clean room where microchips are made. But the costs for that air filtration must be ridiculous. The cost of acceptable quality is normally significantly less than the difference between the costs of acceptable quality and top quality. Cars. Electronics. Hotels. Furniture.


I'm at a loss on how to simply title this post, so let me describe it. This question relates to a problem that is similar to something I saw in operations research classes, about managing flows of people. It's a question requiring some logic, some knowledge of how people act, and while there's probably a discipline that deals with questions like these, I don't know its name.

How hard is it to program elevators to handle traffic flow in heavy traffic situations? Take for example a hotel with a bank of five elevators, to handle around 20 floors of rooms and 4 public floors (lobby and meeting rooms)? When the system doesn't work, it quickly collapses, as people start pushing the up button (when they want to go down) and down button (when they want to go up), as they try to just get on the elevator. This undoubtedly confuses the computer programming. Furthermore, elevators fill up with people who shouldn't be on them, if the system worked, and that further hurts people's abilities to use the elevators.

This relates to an earlier rant. If a stairway were in a public and prominent place, more people would use it, helping the elevator system.

Most people reading this post will think it is a random rant, but there are thousands of people who can figure out exactly where I was this past weekend based on this post.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Get well soon!

I heard that Bill Clinton is going to undergo quadruple bypass surgery. Here's to a speedy recovery. It would be a tragedy for his life to be cut short like that.

Note that unlike liberal politicians and pundits, I don't wish death to my political opponents. I merely wish for them to be forever discredited, never to have further impact in the political sphere.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Another minor rant

For whatever reason, I don't like it when a novel turned into a movie is rereleased with the cover changed to resemble the movie poster.

Under $20!

Just filled my tank for under twenty dollars, which I haven't done for well over a year.

Of course, it doesn't really count, since I was still three gallons from getting the low light indicator. However, since I drove by that gas station (~20 miles from home) with the inexplicably lowest gas prices, I couldn't pass on refilling the tank.

The price was $1.699 a gallon for regular unleaded.