Surreally Seducted: Damn You Salvador Dalí!

One monkey promoting the ceaseless propagation of useless crap on the internets since a long time ago.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cubicle Connie

She came into the office, her dog barking quietly. To me it was quiet, I suppose, because I was wearing my headphones, listening to the new CDs I had bought myself. Or perhaps it was because she had zipped the little guy up in her handbag. She’s rather daft that way; she’ll flip her hair into her spaghetti at lunch while laughing at the boss’s dumb jokes and then wonder, hours later, why her hair was a sticky mess.

The first thing she did the first week she came in was complain about how loud everyone else was when they talked on the phone. As if she were some kind of mime when she was on the phone. In reality, she was more crazy loud mouthed psycho. No conversation was out of place. You would think her sex-life would be out of the question when the cubicle of your boss is on one side, and my cubicle is on the other. But no. She’d bring up the most awkward shit in the world. "Honey, I think you should get your rash checked out." "Honey, how come we couldn’t make love last night? Were you too tired?" Nothing was out of the question. But then, when you are Facelift Francis’ younger sister, you’re bound to be just a little fucked up.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Birds of feathers...

Image copyright Tweedlegirl
The goose controls traffic on the pond.

The duck’s shiny green head was either covered in sweat or water. I’m not sure. “Quack quack quack!” was duck-speak for “Stay the fuck away from my fucking bread crumb you grey bitches! It’s already in my mouth! You’ll have to kill me to get it!” These cries were always ignored.

Unfortunately for the duck, seagulls do not speak, nor do they understand duck. So they continued to swoop and attack, breadlessly. Had the duck been able to speak gull, he might have been able to explain the situation to them. But in the lake, geese speak Canadian (which is really amazing, given their small brain size), gulls speak gull, and duck speak duck. None of them understand each other (and nobody other than the geese and the Canadians understand Canadian, so…), and despite the volume of each other’s cries, they remain ignorant of the simple facts at wing. This was not the only problem. The gulls were far more numerous than the ducks, who in turn outfeathered the geese five to one. The geese had the advantage of size; however, this prevented them from venturing out too far onto the ice, as they might fall in. The ducks, on the other wing, could survive in any environment, so long as the seagulls were kept completely unawares of bread crumbs landing on the ice. When bread hit the ice, it sent a shockwave, much like a dog whistle to a dog, that only the seagulls could feel. So keeping the gulls at bay was not an easy task. Furthermore, the ducks abhorred cooperation. One duck’s crumb was his own, and the other ducks would need to find their own. The gulls had the great advantage of short-range flight. While the ducks slipped on the ice, though they never fell, the gulls could swoop in and attack as they pleased, with the grace only a gull possesses.

So, I guess it would be fair to say that things on the lake were at a stalemate for a while. The geese did what they pleased, wherever they pleased. But competition for food caused them to roam the shallows mostly. The geese, as I’ve said, being very intelligent realized that they could take on a partner, get more food, and rule the lake. The ducks, being extremely individualistic, were not the good partners, so the geese decided on the gulls. The geese could rule the gulls, get their food from the gulls, and control the lake. In return, they could keep the ducks away from the crumbs on the ice, and thusly let the gulls feed. All in all, the geese decided, it was a very good plan. The geese brought their idea to the gulls, and the gulls were enthusiastic. (The reader will state, "You said gulls cannot understand geese, nor the opposite." Indeed. But much like you cannot understand Russian, you can understand a slap upside the head from a Russian, much as a Russian understands you stomping on his toe.) The geese explained their plan by drawing on the ice with their beaks, and through a great deal of wing-waving. It was in this way that the gulls, dimwitted though they were, realized that once the ice melted, the deal would be off and they’d have to pick crumbs up off the ground, approved the gaggle’s plan at their biweekly Gull Association meeting, and returned to the geese with a contract in hand the following morning. What we see here, then, is the happy truce between the geese and the gulls at work. Notice the ducks (forefront) remaining in the water, as the geese signal to the gulls that it is acceptable for them to come forward and take their crumbs from the water’s edge.

BTW, the photo is copyright Tweedlegirl. Any distribution, copying, or republishing is forbidden without the express written consent of Tweedlegirl (email me).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

H is for Handicapped Thinking

The Harvard Crimson is running a variety of pieces today (this week?) on the Terri Schiavo case. The opinions range from the tried-and-true tactic of linking this with the Nazis, the new tactic of changing her name to Schindler-Schiavo, gross misstatements and selective ignorance of the facts of the case, and a rather neutral discussion of the oft overlooked thoughts of the case by an associate law professor from Florida. Apparently, Harvard was unable to come up with anyone to provide the neutral discussion on their own. But the first two links provide somewhat of a scary thought: our future politicians are already well-versed in manipulation of the facts to support their idealogies*.

Contrast that with this well-written op-ed piece from today's Daily Princetonian, referencing, I believe the op-ed from David "I'm too far right to be on the political spectrum" Horowitz that I took a poop on.

*A note to the authors of the second op-ed in the Crimson. Perhaps he doesn't want to transfer care because he really believes that she would want to die. Are you incapable of thought? There are arguments for everything. But by selecting your facts, your article reaks of the knee-jerkery we on the left are oft accused of.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fire This Man

Someone. Someone. Please. Fire Jimmy Roberts and put us out of our misery. This guy is awful. All he does is wax poetic about the most meaningless shit and look awkward next to Bob Costas (maybe they slept together back in the wild 1990's?). And the poetry is just awful. Even Tweedlegirl agrees, so I'm not the only one. So, NBC, please fire him, and just show some golf.

Actually, I'd fire most of the NBC golf staff. Including Johnny Miller. It's easy for them to read putts, because they've been watching the same holes all day. "That's the straightest put you'll ever see, Mr. Verplank!" after he misses it is not good announcing. It's just downright... awful.

In which we wonder why guns and copyrights don't mix...

In copyright law, there is a section under which a company can be held liable for contributory and/or vicarious infringement if it is found that the company had knowledge of the infringement and facilitated it (contributory), and if a company profits of the infringement and has a way to control it (vicarious). I can think of a perfect real world example where this does not happen: gun laws. While vicarious murder/manslaughter would be hard to prove (gun manufacturers don't profit off the murders, nor do they have any way of controlling it), but contributory murder/manslaughter would not be too hard to prove, if the laws were/are in place to allow for it. Do gun companies know that their weapons are being used for killing people? I don't see how they cannot, and even if they didn't, any notification to the gun company would count as knowledge. Did they facilitate the murder? Well, more so than a knife manufacturer who makes kitchen knives (one or two of which may be used to kill). The express purpose of a gun is to main and wound (or, if excited, to shoot into the air to display your excitement). While gun use is ostensibly targeted [oy] towards animals, the fact that they are often used against people should be enough.

I understand that this could be a slippery slope, but it appears that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with me. Huzzah.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The exurbs, population, and what it all means...

I'm not a sociologist. I'm not a historian. I'm merely a researcher with a degree in computer science. I think I've a pretty good grasp of the analytical, so I'm going to go with something here, and see where it takes us... (click on "The plot sickens..." for more).

An article emailed to me today started me thinking. Not an article, rather, but an opinion piece in today's Telegraph. The piece deals with the right to life, the huge dearth of babies in the West, and why this is a bad thing. This article is so wrong on so many levels, and makes one wonder why it was even put in print. It dismisses the Schiavo debacle as "the court-enforced starvation of a brain-damaged woman for no reason other than that her continued existence is an inconvenience to her husband." So, this article is about abortion without the inconvenience of facts. But the crux of this opinions biscuit is that abortion is causing the population growth of the West to fall incredibly short of predictions made years ago, and thus causing all the problems of the West. Oil, the author claims, is not a problem because we will always be inventive enough to find more oil or get more oil, so long as there are humans there to invent those new techniques. But because of abortion, there won't be enough people to invent! In fact, I must say, I don't understand how one argument here links to another. But to say that abortion is the problem is completely, and utterly, wrong.

The problem with population growth is there is a surprising lack of resources to go around in the West to maintain quality of life. What would be interesting to see is the number of children in the west born into poverty vs. the number born. My guess is that in most countries (but not America) that the ratio has gone down. And it is not because of abortion that some couples decide not to have children. It is because of the exact thing that the author applauds that what the author decries, in some part, occurs. More people spend more time being more inventive and acquiring vast amounts of wealth and resources, and decide not to have children, or do not have the time to have children. So, despite being inventive, they are not providing future generations of inventive people.

Finally, the author equates abortion with low birth rates and low life values. But, dumbass that he is, Mr. Steyn says that blue states do not value life. I think this is utterly false. The blue states value the importance of being able to live a good life (I'm not saying the red states don't), as well as the value of life. If the blue states didn't, why would they have murder statutes?

Sushi completed, I want to discuss the other topic of today's mega-post: the exurbs. A piece says that city planners are decrying the growth of the exurbs. They focus on Denver. This problem, they admit, is not illogical. Every since the homestead acts, and probably before, Americans want and expect their own plot of land that they can call home, and raise their kids on. In the city, this land is much more expensive than, say, 25 miles outside the city, which is more expensive than say, 50 miles outside the city. But, this comes at a cost. While people move outside the city, businesses don't. I would assume this happens for many reasons:
1. The city gives the company tax breaks for remaining inside the city limits.
2. It's not easy for companies to move locations, especially when they own the location they are in at the time.
3. The exurbs don't extend in only one direction. The city is still at the center. Moving the company to one exurb may inconvenience a lot of your employees.

This is not to say that the exurbs are great. They do great more problems traffic wise, and the natural spread means that emergency services will take longer to arrive. And we certainly can't go back and rezone the cities to be more like the exurbs: there's stuff already there. So, barring tearing down everything and starting from scratch, what can be done? Mr. Steyn would say that this problem is caused by too much abortion, and therefore too much open space. But Mr. Steyn is an idiot, so we have to think of something else. Cities' budgets are already spread thin, so creating more parks and better parks and recreations programs for the children is difficult. However, it may be possible to create a certain advantage for those living in the city. Create a tax on those living outside the city. Say, a $1 toll for cars to enter the city by highways. Those people living in the city will pay this toll far less often than those living in the exurbs. Use this toll money to improve the quality of life inside the city, thereby making it more attractive to families. But the tolls will make a commute a tiny bit longer, and for those parents truly interested in spending some time with their kids, this may exacerbate an already tenuous balance of the quality of life out in the exurbs vs. a 45 minute commute each way becoming an hour long commute each way. I'm open to other ideas, and would like to hear them.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich...

Tweedlegirl found Sandwich Bag. I thought I'd give it a little link love. Irreverently ridiculous and funny.

Friday, March 25, 2005

In Which the Hero of Another Blog Questions What to Blog

Bitch, Phd has an extremely long, but thoughtful post about blogging and what to blog about. With regards to number 2, I often find myself wondering what to write about. I can write stories and the like: here and here and here in the links from here. But the Volokh and Schiavo stories both got me more hits than anything else. Why? Because those I can trackback to blogs unfmailiar with my own, and that gets more people seducted into reading this. It's much harder to bring people in to read my stories. And as much as I comment over at other blogs, I don't get a ton of people to come read this.

But then again, I'm not complaining. I started this for fun because there was an annoying lady behind me on an airplane, and because my favorite professor had one that I read quite a bit, and felt I could contribute some ideas with this. So, save for my ego, I don't mind the lack of readers. But I can understand Bitch's condition: how to share one's voice, where to share it, and how that relates to one's life.

These Guys are Good.

The PGA tour may have some of the best commercials. Like the one where it's raining, so Brad Faxon decides to mow his carpet and practice putting there.

It's amazing to imagine a sport where someone can make a great living, despite never winning a single tournament.

Best. Story. Ever.

I hate to get all biblical on your ass, but Genesis might be the best story of all time.

In Which the Hero of the Blog has a Bad Dream, Wakes Up Screaming, and Then Realizes It's OK.

Last night I dreamt that Boston was hit by a nuclear bomb. For those of us who could not escape the city and outlying areas, all that was left to do was sit and watch as the mushroom cloud built. Amazingly, we just stood there on the banks of the Charles and watched as the heat and smoke roiled at the base and moved upwards. I'm pretty sure thats not how it works, exactly, but it was still quite a sight to behold.

The dream frightened me; not the bomb explosion, but the response that I knew would come from the nation. See, the explosion wasn't terrorism; it was an act of war perpetrated by the Russians, I think. My immediate thought was that this would open up the true nuclear option for retaliation, and bring the end of days that Bush and Rove and all their phonies are so sure is coming. And Volokh would say we should use them, because an eye for an eye always applies and all that shit. So I was frightened.

It's actually quite a nice day in Massachusetts today.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Why I love the internets

+There's aethernet in the house. I can watch the O.C. and blog at the same time.

+The TPC Sawgrass is internetivizing the 17th hole. I'm at work, so I can't watch it on TV. But, thanks to the internet, I can watch people play the 17th.

+I'm thinking of buying new golf clubs soon. I did a search on TGC, and found a 5 iron of the type of club I wanted. So I bought it. Just to make sure I can play that type of club.

Bliggotry: Writing things in a blog about matters in which you have no expertise.

In Which Mr. Right Tries to Restrict Educators... Or Why Republican Scholars are Little Angels

David Horowitz, everyone's long-time favoritest right-wing academic attempter to level the non-existant playing field, writes this into The Daily Princetonian.

More below the jump.

The chief criticism of my bill is that, by enjoining professors not to be political partisans in the classroom, it would limit professors' speech. Leave aside for a moment the validity of this claim. Are not professors already limited in their speech by the powerful faculty commissars of political correctness who will not allow certain things to be said or certain questions to be raised? Just ask Larry Summers. And secondly by the strictures of diversity correctness which enjoin certain ideas or the use of phrases hurtful to minority sensitivities? I am certainly not for the suppression of ideas. But as long as universities are enforcing certain civilities, how about civility towards those who disagree with the majority view on politics and religion? How about respect for these differences? We don't expect our doctors to give us political lectures or make derisory remarks about our political choices. Neither should students have to expect this of professors.

No. Actually, professors are not enjoined from saying exactly what they want. If Larry Summers were merely a professor, the outcry would have been farless. Fact ofthe matter is, Larry Summers is the President of a major university; he's the man responsible, in the end, for tenure and the running of the university. So anything that might allow prejudice to enter into employment and the university as a whole. Furthermore, the Larry Summers incident took place at an academic seminar. It wasn't a class in front of college students; it was in front of other professors, some of whom could possibly find themselves employed directly by Larry Summers. Not the best example, Mr. Right.

That is what my bill of rights is about. It is not about affirmative action hiring for conservative professors, as Jon Wiener falsely claimed in these pages. In fact, it expressly forbids the hiring or firing of faculty on the basis of political belief. How to promote intellectual pluralism? If it were truly committed to this goal, Princeton could instantly diversify its faculty and enrich its curriculum by granting departmental status to Professor George's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.

Actually, that's not what Mr. Wiener said:

Conservative activists want affirmative action to increase the number of Republican professors at places like Princeton, but for some reason they are not advocating affirmative action to bring more women or minorities to the faculty, or to bring more Democrats to the faculties at West Point, Pepperdine or the University of Chicago Economics Department. Maybe "balance" isn't their highest goal.

Oh, and the James Madison Program? Not so balanced. Hm...

Lawrence v. Texas: The Worst Supreme Court Opinion in History?
Nelson Lund, Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and Second Amendment, George Mason University School of Law.

A balanced view that title is not. Would you feel comfortable going to that if you thought otherwise?

But Mr. Horowitz doesn't quit there:

In fact, the only "restriction," so to speak, on faculty speech proposed by the Academic Bill of Rights is one lifted verbatim from the Principles of Tenure and Academic Freedom of the American Association of University Professors, going back to its General Report of 1915 in which it warned that there was a difference between "indoctrination" and "education." In 1940 the AAUP's "Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom" said this: "Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject."

Mr. Horowitz would like to extend this to any speech that is controversial. If an economist says in his class that the President's social security reform bill is bad, and goes into an academic discussion of why, I doubt Horowitz would appreciate that. But what of the professor of ethics who says that abortion is immoral, or that euthenasia is not, as a way to open the conversation? Should we enjoin him too, even if I find one or both of those positions extremely controversial? Where do you draw the line, sir?

Perhaps the problem is that scholarly opinion is dominated by progressive thought. After all, that is the goal of scholarship: to move forward, to understand, to create.

It is also interesting that Mr. Horowitz decries only the electioneering against Bush by scholars? Were Republican teachers not electioneering for Bush or against Kerry? Are they perfect little angels?

If I were not to assume, however, that Mr. Horowitz's agenda was the promotion of only conservative ideals in the classroom (and why shouldn't I assume this), I might believe that he was sincere when he said: "One reason for universities like Princeton to adopt these policies is that it may protect them from the storm that is coming." That storm? Is that the total takeover over the United States by the right wing? Has there been a call to arms by conservative scholars?

Mr. Horowitz, you cannot hide behind vague, patriotic words like Freedom, but only care when the freedom pertains to those things you want. You cannot hide behind the words "Bill of Rights" without extending those rights to all people. Did I complain when I took a class taught by Robert George, a staunch conservative. If college-aged students are so vulnerable, why are you recruiting them to launch your bill of rights against scholarship, when all of your examples are of a vast "left wing scholarship conspiracy?"

And one final thing. Someone will always complain. I could complain that I got a bad grade from my thesis advisor because I wasn't (and still am not) female. But that would be covering up my own faults. That student who refused to write an essay about how Bush is a war criminal? She let her own ideology get in the way. I can imagine a much better essay in the style Professor George taught: tell the professor exactly every argument that supports the case he is looking for, and then refute each and every one of them. But by ignoring the question, she has failed miserably in answering it.

The anti-substances crowd won't like it...

But this is just too damn funny.

The story below

It is semi-autobiographical, but no more so than anything else ever written. Incidents and accidents are taken from my life and inserted, but I am neither he nor she, nor am I he again. Instead, they are both pieces of me and pieces of other people. She is not any single person I've ever met, but rather, a combination of people I've known, and, by that fact, people I'm sure I've hurt in some way.

The main idea behind the story is from a song. The band is Better than Ezra (but not Less than Jake). Tweedlepoints (to be redeemed later) to whomever should be so wise as to recognize it.

Fleshing things out...

She sat in the middle of the room, the ceiling fan overhead casing a five fingered shadow on the ceiling above. She sighed, and continued sobbing. Time passed, but she had never been prepared for that. Neither had I, but then, I wasn't around. I had left long ago. Not because the going got tough, but because she got going. The breakup had been mutual, but that didn't make it easy. We both graduated, she met Jakob, and I, well, I am not important. I moved on, forgot about her, and met my wife. Had I been in the room at this time, I would have known that she hadn't forgotten me.

The rain fell softly on the roof, surprising her. It was sunny outside, but it was definitely rain falling on the roof. She continued sobbing as the wind howled. The fall brought strange things. The leaves, scared of dropping to their death and eventual decomposition below, clung to the trees like a swimmer trying to stay afloat. Eventually they'd drop, only to bob back up to the surface. This cycle repeats itself for ages, until eventually the old trees collapse to their knees and give up trying to stand. The trees were smacking the roof trying to get some more air to stretch their arms.

With the drop in temperature overnight, and Jakob on a trip, she had decided to get some spring cleaning done (odd, since it was definitely the twilight of autumn; but then again, in South Carolina there isn't much of a winter). Behind the dust bunnies and the dust wolves that swallowed them up, the boxes of things that cannot be discussed, the missing socks that the washing machine had swallowed, was a box filled with photos of her as the child I had known. We had both been college students, but we were both young, and our personalities probably. But it was not like that. I would get deadly serious at times, and during those times she would disappear from my life for days. Then I'd calm down and work my way back into her life. Depression was debilitating for me. No matter how much I liked everyone around me, I would have to withdraw into myself and battle my own demons. I had tried therapy, but I was too proud to accept that there was anything wrong with me. I would go, completely detach myself, and tell the therapist exactly what was going on in my life. I refused drugs, refused to hurt anyone or myself, and eventually refused to keep appointments. My excuse was that I felt slighted for having the psychologist call me and attempt to reschedule. This led to the ultimate disapperance of myself from her life. Eventually, I wasn't be able to work my way back into my life as a who I had been and that made it impossible to work my way back into her, where she'd find Jakob waiting there for her. By the time she met him, I had withdrawn myself completely from her life, and the life I had known, instead turning to the life of nocturnalism.

The pictures in the box were filled with memories, mostly memories that she wanted to forget but couldn't bear parting with. Fireside pictures from camp, wedding pictures from friends that hadn't turned out so well, pictures from friends' weddings that hadn't turned out so well, pictures of the broken family she had left, and pictures of me (years later, after my death, she and my wife would share these pictures and their stories about me). There were pictures of the spring break trip to Maine (I was recovering from a bout of alcoholism brought on by a bout of depression brought on by absolutely nothing at all). It was in Maine that we fucked for the first time. It was a cold day, we were in a cabin with no heat, and all we could do was huddle close to stay warm. That was until we discovered the joy of sex, and the rest of the vacation was spent huddling together, most of the time spent.

I believe Jakob was his name. I'm not entirely sure if Jakob is his name. The phone lines were garbled as we had one of our final conversation, and it's amazing how easily Nathan or something similar can turn into Jakob. He changed her. If I had bumped into her on the street, I would have recognized her face, but if she had called me on the phone ever (impossible as we did not keep up contact), I would not have recognize the voice. Ironically, the paths upon which we changed were entirely parallel, so we would have still had much in common.

She flipped through more pictures. Pictures of her house, her high school graduation, which she had gone through alone. She had left home, emancipated herself, and gone to high school in South Carolina. She had worked her way through high school by writing articles for the town newspaper, delivering the newspaper, and in the summers she worked construction. By the time she got to school, she had more experience under her belt in providing for herself than all of the others in our dorm. Jakob lived across the hall from her, and during the entirety of the freshman year, despite the relationship she and I started during the second week, Jakob inserted himself into her life as her safety valve: the one she could always talk to in times of need (which tended to be the times when I refused to need anyone or anything).

She finished flipping through the pictures in the box. She cleaned out the dustbunnies, picked up the last of the socks, and found one more picture. The picture almost looked like someone falling into the abyss. She recognized herself immediately. Her hair hid her face, but it was definitely her. I had taken this picture of her; nighttime in Carolina. We had spent the day walking around downtown, and went to a park to watch the fireworks. We had one of those disposable cameras, and as she did a cartwheel I took a picture with the flash on. We spent the rest of the evening dancing to the beats of the explosions, and afterwards pointed out all the stars we could recgnize. This was the last vacation we took with each other. Two weeks later, I wouldn't leave my own bed. She ended up leaving it for good.

The rain continued as the sun stubbornly refused to hide. Thunder screamed out and frightened her. Still sobbing, she found a frame and put the picture away. Somewhere in the house, her phone rang. She thought it might be me, at long last fixed, at long last able to work my way into her life. That phone call would never come (when I died, she was called by my wife, but it was obviously too late for any rekindling to occur). It was only Jakob, calling to let her know that he would be home in a couple of hours, and that he really missed her. But he couldn't make her feel alive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In which Bill Gates pleads for the future of the PC

Bill Gates has made his fortune making local software cheap and easy for the average user. Windows is easy for the user to understand. While not the best software in the world, it fulfilled its purpose for 90% or so of the population. For the others, it has become a point of contention. From this Techdirt blurb, Bill Gates responds to Nicholas Carr's editorial in January's BusinessWeek. I think Bill might be about... 25% right.

Your average office (and I use this in the non-MS way, trademarks be damned) user doesn't need more than a word processor, spreadsheet, web browser (maybe), e-mail, and perhaps a piece of presentation software. Do they need a full PC in front of them? I'm not so sure.

Single-purpose applications like word processors and spreadsheets have evolved into rich collaborative tools that help teams share information and work together efficiently. Web services are enabling companies to unlock the knowledge of an organization, empowering individual workers to make more strategic decisions, and turning a company's most valuable asset into a strategic tool that drives competitive advantage.

The result is that the personal computer has become far more than a "cog" in the machine of corporate computing -- it's an essential tool for every individual in the organization. Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

Nothing Bill says here precludes a distributed application. In fact, I would guess that one could make a more feature-filled network application, especially for collaboration.

This abundance has enabled the software industry to create innovative new ways to leverage the power of computing at every scale. Centralized servers manage large amounts of information and make it available to a diverse array of devices, while the power and flexibility of connected PCs, mobile phones, and handheld devices give users a rich, powerful way to visualize, understand, and act on that information. The Web-services revolution blurs the distinction between information, applications, and services on PCs and mobile devices, on a company's intranet, or on the Internet -- offering customers seamless computing and communications wherever they are.

Again, nothing Bill says, save for visualization, precludes moving away from a network terminal.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the PC is the fact that much work is done while someone is not connected to the network. And as netowrks become more pervasive and network pipelines become increasingly fat, this will be less of a good reason. But while workers remain mobile, they will need the ability to manipulate and carry data with them. This is the best reason for the PC as it is in the workplace right now.

In the home, the PC is obviously still a necessity. In research fields, the workstation (PC) is increadibly useful, although networked systems are quite ubiquitous there. Interestingly, I this area as the place where the workstation or PC will have its biggest impact, and may be saved. Not for the visualization reasons, but because networks aren't reliable, and therefore servers are not reliable. Just look at any story that gets put on Slashdot.

posting light

Dinner and a movie with tweedlebrother. will post (have a pretty good short story idea).


Ripping Robbie

Because I didn't exactly enjoy his course (I liked the precept and that was it), and because I think his views are completely wrongheaded (and the presumptions of his arguments provide no ground on which to actually argue with him), I'm going to respond to Messr. George's interview tonight. Feel free to read the interview and weep.

For shame Robert, for shame!

Update: I may or may not post on this. Don't really have the time or energy. It's a question of diction and the facts, neither of which the right will let get in the way of their version of the truth.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Quick hits on education...

The future tweedlemunchkins will never get a computer. I bet Pseudonymous Kid doesn't have one, and he's frickin brilliant (and pretty funny too).

Multiple people have blogged recently about abstinence only education. The Apostropher screws around with the study, but only got Mithras' sloppy seconds. Wow. Really looks like it is working. Hooray for abstinence! Hooray for federal funds! Hooray for education that works!

UPDATE 3/22: It now looks like Pandagon has jumped on this story as well. It's turning into a regular gangbang.

Important Editorial

An important aside: I'd like for everyone to understand that I do not wish bad things upon or for the Schiavos or the Schindlers. I wish this could have been settled amicably, but the simple matter of the fact is that there will be no outcome that makes both sides happy. But the case has been settled in front of 19 judges. I have a feeling this one won't rule any differently. I am not going to be rejoicing if the judge rules with Mr. Schiavo, and I will be indifferent if the judge sides with the Schindlers. The damage has already been done by the House, the Senate, and the President. This isn't a right-to-die case; this is a case of the federal government nullifying state courts. Woe, I say.

Because Mainstream Catholicism is Quickly Moving to the Fringe

The papacy responds to the Terri Schiavo fiasco here.

This brings up another problem I have with Catholicism. Odd, because I really think there are some great things about Catholicism (structure, some of the ideas).

I do understand why the papacy is saying what it is saying. However, there is a disconnect between the Vatican and the rest of the world. See, the Vatican wants the rest of the world to live by their rules. And that is an admirable idea. And Terri Schiavo is Catholic, so that's not the problem. But I do think the Vatican has to beigin to realize that their role in this world is no longer as a director of public policy in every arena, but more as a director of the Catholic Church alone, through which their influence may grow (for better or worse).

The problem is that they are claiming all different sorts of reasons to intervene here: it's euthanasia, it's a pitiless way to kill, it's an extraordinary case. Missing here is any analysis of what would have happened if we weren't playing god ion the first place to keep her alive. She'd be dead already. And what about all of those people in Texas who might die because of the law there, despite their wishes to continue living (which is not so crystal clear in the case of Ms. Schiavo)? I don't know enough about Catholicism to know whether keeping someone alive is a sinless thing. But I do know that this is not an exemplary case save for the fact that she's been kept alive for 15 years.

Dye My Eyes and Call Me Pretty

Tweedlegirl sees everything through the lens of her camera. I see everything with my naked eye, and instead of projecting their image onto film, I project my imagination on them. That's enough for a character sketch or two. But what of insterting myself into a story?

It would be a copout (which would be typical me) to do something autobiographical. I was thinking more along the lines of putting myself in as a bit player. Not a cameo; a minor role throughout the story. And not necessarily portrayed in an entirely positive light. Simply put, I wouldn't want to be the protagonist, or the antagonist. But I feel that this hasn't been done a lot, and I can understand why.

There's a certain difficulty in not being so vain, and in not extending one's influence as a character across the other characters in the novel. In short, there must be a large enough breadth of characters that the author is not a major player, but not too few so as to make the author a cameo. I wonder if Faulkner ever inserted himself this way.

Wow. Boring post.

How can you turn a blind eye when I'm screaming?

How long until the right says that democrats want to murder Schiavo?
How long until the right says that activist judges are to blame?

You know it will happen. It's simply a matter of when. And no matter how right we are in our opinions, they'll still look better, because they'll use the right words. There's no way to boil down what they've done into something hateful. Circumvention doesn't have that visceral response.

Our only ability to strike back? This is not a Republican manuever. This is a religious right manuever. A true Republican would be shocked at the interference of government in the private lives of the citizens. We should be hammering away at this.

How long until this administration collapses under the weight of its own incompetent mismanagement?

More here.

No more clowning around...

My comment at Unfogged:

Let's say I file a civil suit against Joe Blow Balloon Company in the state of Nebraska. Every state judge the case goes in front of, after reviewing the evidence anmd learning the intricacies of the case, rules against Joe Blow Balloon Co. JBBc decides this isn't fair, so they petition congress to change the jurisdiction of this case to the federal court system, and and Congress, knowing that if they do, each one of them will receive $150k from the clown lobby, decide that they will create a law moving this case to the federal court system, essentially voiding the decision of the courts and stepping outside the system of checks and balances.

Simply because a court does not rule in your favor does not mean you should petition Congress to change the nature of your case to a different court system. If so, what protections do courts have to maintain their rulings, if the Congress can simply move their case to a different jurisdiction?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court is full of Nazis

Godwin's Law in full effect here.

Apparently, letting someone die naturally is as bad as gassing them. Or, at least, that's what the religious right would like us to believe. The U.S. Supreme Court? Nazis, all of them.

How dare that guy in the back equate this one case with Auschwitz.

To sleep perchance to dream

The other night, I had a very weird dream. A little background first. I watched the golf channel before I went to sleep. They should a bunch of golfers on the range, and all their caddies had umbrellas out.

Cue Wayne's World dream sequence sound.

I had a dream that I was an allied soldier during WW2. I had been captured by the Nazis, and they had taken me to a top secret airbase. Over the runway there was metal bridge. All the Nazis were dressed in black.

With the setting, well, set, the dream can begin. We're at this airbase (me and some allied soldiers and our Nazi captors), and the uncaptured Allies start dropping bombs. With the highest point obviously being the safest possible spot, we all ran up to the bridge. Then, umbrellas were dropped by the allies. Not knowing why, we all grabbed umbrellas and put them over our heads. Obviously not a moment too soon, because the Allies then started dropping acid. No, not the kind of acid that I felt like I was on while dreaming this, but the kind of acid that burns through everything except acid-proof umbrellas. Which we had, because the Allies had dropped them to us. but the Nazi's, realizing that we perhaps did not want to be outside while acid was being dropped, took us inside.

A short while later, us captives decided we wanted to escape. But, me being the fraidy cat that I am, decided not to. Turned out to be a good choice. After a bit, I heard some screaming. I went over to the window, and there were my buddies, tied up, floating, face up in the pond out back. The ducks were circling. The German guard turned to me and said (in a German accent), "It looks like we will not have to throw bread crumbs to the ducks today."

Then I woke up. I almost laughed at the ridiculous of it all.

For those who drowned it made no sense they should have known because we told them

The title of CNN's headline for this story is Rains kill over 200 in Afghanistan. I can imagine this means one of a couple things:
a)the people in Afghanistan all turned their open mouths to the sky, and drowned.
b)the rains where actually little bombs dropped by tiny little American airplanes.
c)the major industries in Afghanistan have polluted the air so much that the rain was actually quite acidic. Like HCl, but more acidic.

It turns out, most of the people were killed by floods. Floods are caused by rain, but are not rain.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Yay for the EC

I'll write more on this later, but I point you to this. Basically, the shysters at Microsoft said, "You want interoperability? Sure. But we're going to charge a price. A price at which it will be useless for you to build interoperabilty into your systems, because it will be too costly. Suckas!" To which the EC replied, "Um, there's no fucking way that's acceptable."

After a day of rather rampant posting, it's time to go join Tweedlegirl in the darkroom. She has a critique on Monday, and the lack of aethernet in there will prevent me from commenting on the dearth of commenting being commented on in the comments section.

Problems with Haloscan

Everytime I do anything, it changes back to blogger comments. Please hold off on commenting for a short while.

Update: Maybe fixed?

Volokh apologizes, but...

Apparently, he'd be cool with it if we had gladiatorial events where all of society could judge those who deserved it outside of the realm of politics and the courts. I can't think of anything more public or painful. I guess since it worked so well for the Romans and a California penitentiary, and since human rights appear to have gone out the window with torture, this shouldn't be a problem. Hell, I'm sure Halliburton could make some money off of it.

For some less snarky, better thought out response, check out Dr. B's post.

Letting go...

Terri Schiavo has been on a respirator for over 10 years, fed through a tube. For more than a decade. Her parents think that she can get better through some rehabilitation.

Well, 14 years have passed, and she hasn't gotten better; the Schindler's haven't given up hope though. They've gone through the courts, and now they are circumventing the courts by going to the legislature.. I'm not really sure how this fits the Republican agenda. I mean, I suppose it fits their whole right to life agenda, which Bitch, Phd has gotten quite angry about. Which is fine. Because I don't agree with the whole right to life agenda. But it also doesn't fit with the right's torture and death penalty agenda.

After 14 years, I think it's time to let go. Even if they keep her alive, it's a drain on resources. This idea is cold, calculated, and unfeeling enough that I think most Republicans can understand that. On a more feeling level, I can understand the Schindler's feelings, but if I were in this position, if it were Tweedlebrother, Tweedlesisters, Tweedleparents, or Tweedlegirl, I think after 14 years, I'd know how to say goodbye.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sex and Sensibility

I'm becoming a huge education nut. Today's post on Unfogged pissed me off, but I also thought it was funny cause I was going to post about abstinence education before I read it.

Abstinence only education is great if you live in a fantasy world. Here in the real world, it just won't do.

I talked this over a lot with a classmate of mine who received a Rhodes. Extremely bright kid, and one I enjoyed talking to. We argued quite a bit too. He's a starboard, I'm a port.

Abstinence only education is a farce. We can't expect that kids will not have sex, and therefore not teach them about what happens. HEY! What a great idea. Let's tell kids not to drink, and then let's not tell them how to take care of someone who is too drunk. Because that would be really smart.

Listen. We need to teach everyone about everything when it comes to sex. I understand that some kids won't have sex (another one of his objections). We can say that sex isn't what makes you cool. Because it isn't. I mean jesus fuck. Abstinence only education is like the Just Say No drugs campaign. It works great for those people who aren't going to do drugs, but it's a complete waste for those who are going to ignore it. But with sex, at least it can be done safely. Look we can say "Just Say No to Sex" and that's great, so long as we follow it up with, "But if you do...". Unless we want a bunch of pregnant diseased kids running around. Shit, if I were one of them, I'd sue the school for negligence or reckless endagerment or whatever it is for not teaching me how to protect myself.

Does it matter? No. I won't change anyone's opinion. But maybe someone will think about it, and say "Hmm... well maybe he's got a point. Maybe I should think more about that."

Crime and Punishment

Eugene Volokh says that we should have public executions. Over at Unfogged, the folks there are having a big argument about it. But I was on the road, and then running, so I arrived late to the party and don't want to repeat someone else in the threads there. But there's a lot of indignation already from people I already like and whom are a lot more seasoned at this, so it looks like I was late to the party.

Humans are violent. This is a given. It's not a universal given, but there is violence in the human race. Volokh and Ogged see (public) executions as a way to satisfy humanity's bloodlust. Joe Drymala comments that public execution has never cured humanity's bloodlust. But then again, neither has a society without public execution. Does Canada still go to war? From time to time. France? Yes. Societies are warlike. Killing the killers in society is not going to do anything.

Part of the problem with studying capital crimes, I think, would be that the death penalty is selectively applied. But we can extrapolate. What is the murder rate in those states without the death penalty, and what about those states with it? This site is pretty good, but it requires concentration (i.e. no Law and Order in the background).

Volokh also tries to ground his argument by saying that if we are wrong about the executions, it wouldn't matter if we had sentenced them to life because nobody overturns those criminals. Well goddammit. Chances are too slim that we'll be wrong (yeah, we never hear about that), so we shouldn't even give them that chance. Eugene, if someone was convicted for raping and murdering a good friend, and years later was exonerated, how would you feel if they had been executed instead of merely locked up in jail? And don't give me the "only bad people get locked up" excuse; simply because someone may have been thought of as a bad person is no reason to kill them, let alone rejoice in it!

This is not along the same lines as the John Adams example. We are not saying we have to forgive people we execute, or forgive those that we don't. Forgiveness does not even have to enter the equation.

If Ogged and Eugene want state-sanctioned blood so badly, let's bring back the gladiators. Look at how well having them did for Rome. I mean, murder completely stopped in the cities!

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of the holiday, I'm changing my name for 24 hours. Kiss me, I wish I were Irish.


Tweedle McDopey

Update: I am Irish. Partly. I just wish I had an Irish accent. oh, aye do i eva.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The color of money

Yes. My favorite color is green. But that's not what this is about.

Like a chess match, it becomes necessary to look a few moments ahead before one acts. Sometimes the best move is to go backwards before going forwards. Unfortunately, with capitalism, this is sometimes impossible. If company A wants to move forward, they sometimes need to take a huge hit in the present time to make even more money in the future. But because the primary goal of a public company is to maintain value for the shareholder, taking a huge hit would be unacceptable. This is one problem with public corporations in a capitalist society.

Unfortunately, the government is like checkers. They can only move forward, and there is no strategy involved in checkers. There doesn't seem to be any long term thinking in the government right now, just an attempt to make things great for everyone who is already rich.

My guess? The ANWR contracts go to Halliburton. Fuckers.

Summertime and the living is easy...

Or not so much. Larry Summers got the big shaft. He's not liked there. My guess though? He won't leave.

A Chance to Build it from the Ground

So, my friend Stubs does Teach for America. My mom teaches when there are openings and needs for extra special help teachers. I've just gone through the educational system (though probably not for the last time). I've been in both public and private schools. I've seen public schools in wealthy parts of the nation, and public schools in poorer areas. I've seen some of the worst public schools, and my mom has done some special help teaching there. And yet, most of the schools in the country can be thought about as subpar. We can do one of two things to fix this, and neither are what we've already done.

Way 1: Say that subpar is the new par. F is this year's A. It's a cop out, but it worked with the SATs when they recentered. I do not advocate this method. At all. We shouldn't reward mediocrity by making it excellence.

Way 2: Revamp the education system. Model it on education systems outside the US. Not education systems in Texas. I have nothing against Texas, but why look within the country to mediocre schools as a way to improve the school system as a whole? Instead, we should be looking to other countries to see where we falter. Maybe it is a lack of funding (in fact, I know that contributes to it). Interestingly, I doubt you could convince American companies to pay more taxes directly into the school system and tell them that it will produce better workers in the future. No company is looking that far ahead, and no company would want to do that. But it would make so much sense.
But for christ's sake, let's please stop teaching to the tests. Let's stop saying, look, here's what's going to be on the test. Why? Because then I learn it only for the test, and afterwards, I forget. I know because I have done this. I remembered very little calculus after I graduated from high school, because I learned it solely for the test. Instead, let's teach the kids how to learn first, then how to think independently. Bring back the book reports, bring back the creative writing, bring back word problems.

I once participated in an psychology study in which I was shown a series of pictures and words. After the series was done, I was shown pairings of the pictures and words. If they were the same as from the series, I gave one response. If not, I gave a different response. There was a limited amount of time to respond. I remembered what went with what by creating a situation where each pair became part of a sentence. I did pretty well on getting things right. But what does this mean? I wasn't thinking about the problem abstractly. I didn't think bubblegum/orange and try to remember that. I created a real-world situation out of an abstraction, and put that to work. I wonder if that was taught to me or not. But I remember suffering through abstract tests in college (linear algebra, calculus), and perhaps if I had been able to create concrete examples, I might have been a bit more interested in the material.

I don't know how this all ties together, but I think it should someday. But my view is that the educational system as it is is pretty much fucked, and we need to rebuild it. Enough patching. It doesn't matter how much individual attention Student XYZ gets if all he's being told is that he needs to know how to solve x+y=4 and 3x-2y=7 for the No-Child Really Helped test.

This isn't the end all be all for education. There are some changes that need to be made on a social level as well. You can't teach fractions if people don't know how to share.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Scenes from a roadside diner

"May I borrow your chair?"

There was no response. He fumbled with the newspaper on the table, but there was no response. I was confused.

I followed his eyes, but his eyes didn't look anywhere near mine. They didn't look anywhere near anything. There was no focus. Then I noticed the cane hung over the back of his chair. There were no other seats in the diner, so I repeated the question.

"Sir," I said, "Would you mind if I sat down here?" He nodded, and I sat down. It was one of those annoying tables that doesn't stand quite straight; the salt and pepper shakers would rock back and forth whenever any weight shifted on the table. It was amazing that the salt and pepper shaker wouldn't force the table into perpetual motion.

The man across from me picked up his newspaper, and told me a fascinating story.

"I sit down here every day. This place fills up; I can tell by the sound. My cane usually scares everyone off, but they usually don't recognize it at first. One time, a kid tried to take the seat away from the table. When he realized that I was blind, he just walked away. I could hear his voice for the next thirty minutes. He was sitting with some pretty sounding girl. Anyhow, so every day I sit down here, order a coffee and buy a newspaper. I know, I know. I'm blind. It's not braille. But every day I sit here, and eventually someone sits down here. I assume that they give me a quizzical look, but I tell them this story, and then I ask them to read the front page stories of the paper. So, son, will you read me the front page stories?"

Sunday, March 13, 2005

On drinking...

I used to say I was going to stop because I made other people feel awful when I drank.
Then I said I was going to stop because I made an ass of myself while drinking.
Now I say I want to stop, because I find it totally unnecessary, and it makes me feel awful. I puke with regularity when I drink, I wake up feeling shitty no matter how much water I drink, I don't sleep as much, and I don't remember things with the clarity that I would like. So that's why I'm going to try and stop drinking again.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

My dad...

I remember my dad when I was a little kid. He wore glasses, and looking back at pictures of him then he looked rather goofy. But he didn't look goofy to me then. I don't think I noticed. I remember that he used to work until until dinner time. Which was late. He would drive home and arrive right when dinner started. We used to say his car was on remote control. Now, I think my mom would call him when dinner was forty five minutes away.
He used to dry my hair. It was as long as it is now. He would take the towel and roughly dry it. Since I swam a lot, it would have a lot of knots, and when he combed it, it would kind of hurt. Most days when I arrived to elementary school I wouldn't have my hair combed, or it had been but the ski caps i wore in the winter would muss it up. So I had really whacky hair. People would call me Einstein because I was smart and had wild hair. I'm not that smart though. At least, not anymore.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Monkey see, monkey won't

This is just really cool. Brief synopsis: Rhesus monkeys are really smart. If someone is watching, they won't "steal."

My own problem with the article is that they don't connect the dots between why rhesus monkeys didn't take the food in the original experiment. They thought they were stealing. Smart monkey. I want one. Just like this one.

Rhesus monkey


Distance has no way of making love understandable

There are few things as important to me as family. One of them is my own life. Interestingly enough, this ties in very well with my family.

One of the things I think is that everyone is interesting enough in some way to have a biography written about them. The biography may not be as important or as well read as Churchill, or Lincoln, or Howard Hughes. But what about the everyman (shut up feminists. deal with the fact that I won't say everywoman. or everyperson. we are all man. you can have your womankind. but nobody ever said when mankind and womankind first stood on two legs and fucked)? Isn't the everyman's biography as important as the few who stood out in each generation? But no one person is the everyman. Perhaps a biography of the time would be one large amalgamation of each person. I guess that would be a sort of ubermensch.

I was thinking today of my parents. And the rest of my family. So perhaps, in installments, you will hear about them. About the sacrifices they've made, lives they touch, jokes they told (and still tell) that fall flatter than a pancake, but which we all laugh at anyhow. Perhaps out of them, this little mensch (as my mom would like me to have been raised) can create an ubermensch that explains why I am the way I am. Do I think my tale is any different than the tail of you, or your neighbor? No. But while you may not find it completely interesting, perhaps looking at it in the larger picture will make everything seem, well, understandable and maybe even exceptional. Is this a memoir? No. I am far too young to write my memoirs. I have far to little experience in this world to write a memoir. Perhaps it is the beginning. Perhaps it is a little piece of the larger puzzle of my life. A corner piece. A green corner piece from which the rest grows and fits nicely. But not one of those three dimensional puzzles. They are really difficult and exceptional. I am a normal puzzle. Yes. That will do nicely.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I shake like a toothache whenever I hear myself sing...

It's a Saturday. I went to sleep at midnight:30, got a wonderful phone call at 1 am, conked out immediately after that, woke up at 930, and have been doing work since then. It's been quite the busy day. And golf doesn't start on TV until 3 pm. Arg.

In the crazy pope watch, there is little to report. He is still in the hospital. He hasn't done anything crazy in there.

It's a balmy 31F out right now. Maybe I will go out later today. Go to the post office and CVS. I'm gonna eat right now though. MMM food. PB&J anyone?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I've got reservations about everything but not about you

Things I find really interesting:

When steel/metal fails under high stress, it bends like liquid. Not liguid, but that would be cool.

That every disaster creates an outpouring of wealth, regulation and technology that, while not worth the loss of life, at least helps move everyone elses to a better quality of life.

I still think the pope is crazy, but I wish him a speedy recovery from his illness/surgery. I just hope he takes his time coming back.

Unlock my body and move my soul to dance...

Much has happened since I last really posted. ery long week. Working till 7 every night. Most of the time, really busy.

Last weekend went down to see Tg. Saw the Gates. Now, I didn't go in with an open mind, but I thought it sucked. As I told Tweedlesister the Eldest, "One man's giant art project is another man's shit in a urinal." Art, I hope, requires talent. Putting up metal a-frames with curtains is not talent. It's a great organizational feat to be sure, but not art. I use the "if I can do it, and I'm not trained to do it, then it isn't it. But it was nice to be with her on her first trip to Central Park, and it was funny to watch ducks try to walk on the ice. I hope she enjoyed it with her eyes stuck in the viewfinder of our camera.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bad things don't happen to good people...

Things happen to people.

It's been snowing, and the roads are wet.

Today, I woke up at 730. Got to work at 915 after digging my car out and filling up with gas. Worked hard all day. Took 30 minutes off for lunch, sat in on two meetings, finished two projects, and got ready for a presentation tomorrow. Left work at 730. Tweedlebrother needed a clean white shirt for an interview in New York tomorrow. I had a clean white shirt, so I drove home, picked it up, and dropped it off. While at home, I didn't check the mail, checked my email (one message from work), and struggled to put a dry cleaning over the shirt (so that it wouldn't get wrinkled). I dropped off the shirt (Tb was there right when I pulled up). I left and started driving the two or so miles back to my apartment. I got halfway there, and was driving at the speed limit or slightly under. Up ahead there was a yellow light. I let off the gas, and thought to myself that there was no way I could stop before the intersection, and continued on. The light changed to red while I was in the intersection. I hate it when that happens. But I hate what happened next. I got pulled over. First time ever. [statement redacted] I feel like the situation would have warranted only a warning if anything. But I don't make the laws, I don't make the decisions. I do appreciate that the cop told me to drive safely though.

UPDATE: I've decided I'm going to fight the ticket.