Thursday, July 31, 2008

From the Sky is Blue files

NYTimes:
But college attendance appears to trigger some surprising changes. When male students enrolled in four-year universities, levels of drinking, property theft and unstructured socializing with friends increased and surpassed rates for their less-educated male peers.


First, college guys drink? Nooo. I woodah never guessed. Second, does property theft include stealing your roomate's cds or downloading mp3s? Or are we talking about stealing bicycles and maybe the odd automobile? Lastly, this author lost all credibility to speak with any authority about absolutely anything as soon as they typed "unstructured socializing with friends." That can only be one of two things -- a euphemism or a category so ambiguous that it is irrelevant to discuss.

Unstructured socializing with friends could mean 1) sitting around playing Xbox while getting high from a six foot bong, 2) getting so drunk that you can't lay on the floor without holding on after having urinated in the neighbor's bush or 3) sitting in a barefoot circle while pondering the essence of the universe through free association.

My guess is that the author means 1 and 2, ie using substances and partaking in activities ranging from goofing off to petty larceny, which means that it is in fact a category so ambiguous as to be irrelevant.

Famous Album Covers Recreated in Lego

Link here.

This also reminds me that I owe you, my dear readers, an update on my attempt to make a lego Rat Pack in front of the Sands picture. Well, I did visit the lego store in both Tysons and Potomac Mills, and I am still pretty much exactly where I was on June 14th -- planning to buy materials from lego.com.

It hurts just thinking about it

Telegraph:
A naked sunbather had to be rescued by firefighters after he impaled himself through the groin with a metal spike.

Houston, we have water!

Nasa.gov:
"We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."


The use of touch and tasted is a bit much, but the water is still cool.

Full Disclosure: I went to SpaceCamp three times, so I am really interested in this shit. Why did I major in International Econ? Good question. To be a space person you either have to get a PhD in math or physics, which I was not willing to do. Or join the Air Force or Navy and fly enough hours in a high performance jet so that you can even try out to be a astronaut.

SocGen Update

Yes, I am still following the story.

Le Monde:
Le rapport reprend dans ses grandes lignes la vision de l'affaire développée dans le rapport interne de la Société générale rendu public le 23 mai : techniques de dissimulation utilisées par le trader pour masquer ses prises de position sur les marchés, "défaillance" de la hiérarchie dont Jérôme Kerviel a "bénéficié et profité", insuffisance des services de contrôle en dépit des alertes.


Rough Translation:
A report blamed the obfuscation techniques used by the trader to mask his market positions, "failure" in the hierarchy that "benefited and profited" from Jerome Kerviel's previous trades, and insufficient monitoring services despite of alarms.

I still stand by what I wrote when it first came out:
I knew incompetence and poor system security design were involved. Granted this is from the mouth of the accused, but somebody had to know something was wrong. If they didn't, they should have.

Somebody made a decision somewhere to streamline a process and either knew the business risks (greed) or made the decision without full knowledge of the risks (incompetence). It was probably a little bit of both, but I lean toward greed.

Executives like to say, and said in this case nauseum, that you can't prevent fraud. That's true, but you can prevent one person from committing fraud. Sure, people can collude to defraud, but it is far less likely than if one person has the ability.

So, when the next one of these happens, remember nobody can prevent fraud, but they can force collusion. Collusion was not forced in this case.

Holy Villians, Batman!

Johnny Depp to be the Riddler and PSH to be the Penguin?

Name Change

In honor of the explanation by Ritus for her name, Fear and Loathing in Georgetown has been temporarily renamed to Vereor quod fastidium in Georgiopolitanum.

Female Athletes

Why can't feminists just accept that there are nontrivial biological differences between men and women? I realize it is nice to think that the only barriers to complete and total equality in all aspects of life is simply to change what we have social constructed, but alas that is just not true.

Feministing is upset about the Olympics testing female athletes to see if they are, well, female, and not just a guy tucking his junk. Feministing raises three points:

First off there is the sexism behind a practice which only targeted female athletes.


This derives from the fact that a woman is not going to pretend to be a man to win an Olympic event. So, it is pointless.

Second, there is the sexist assumption underlying this that men are inherently better at sports than women (an idea that many, including me, would argue against) such that someone might try to sneak into the women's competition to have an advantage. I think athletic ability varies based on a lot of factors and it is overly simplistic to assume gender will be such a strong determinant.


Sorry, gender is a huge determinant of athletic ability. Men are, on average, stronger and faster than women. The best male athletes are stronger and faster than the best female athletes. Therefore, the best male athletes are better than the best female athletes in every sport that strength and speed provide an advantage. Are there women better at basketball then me? Absolutely. However, the best female basketball player will never, ever be as good as the best male player. Society acknowledges this fact by creating separate womens' sports, without which women would medal, or even make the team, in very few sports.

Third is the idea that gender or sex can be conclusively proven.


First, it is pretty easy to determine sex 99.99999% of the time, if the people hadn't had any surgery or very rare genetic abnormalities. Is the Olympics concerned about eunuchs. Who would chop their dick off to win an Olympic event? Anyway, I thought it was pretty easy to determine until I read this:

It's very difficult to define what is a man and what is a woman at this point," said Christine McGinn, a plastic surgeon who specializes in transgender medicine. Because of a range of genetic conditions, people who look like women may have a Y chromosome, while people who look like men may not, she said. Many times, the people do not learn of the defects until they reach adulthood. "It gets really complicated very quickly," McGinn said.


Again, 99.9999% of the time it ain't that hard to determine unless there has been transgender surgery. And if you are XX, then you are a female. Period. Anything else, and you are a male.

All that said, I wholeheartedly believe that girls should have the same opportunities to play sports, which is why we have to acknowledge that there are nontrivial biological differences between women and men, and that these differences require the existence of separate sports for female and males after puberty. To ignore the differences in order to keep an ideological belief in the absolute equality between men and women in all aspects of existence will be detrimental to the feminist cause. Too often feminist thought and theory undermines real world feminist progress.

The issue here is that the female athletes shouldn't be marched in front of people naked to verify that they have a vagina. Instead, the women should provide blood samples for a chromosomal test. As to why the men don't have to, well, let's accept the fact that no woman is going to sneak into the male competition and win in almost every sport. Maybe equestrian or something is an exception.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Press Button, Get Bacon

Hilarious

Computer Lust

Mrs. FLG says FLG doesn't need this computer. The computers he has are perfectly good. We need to save money for the baby. Yada, Yada, Yada.

Does she have a point? Yes. Does FLG want a computer cooled using purple liquid? Absolutely. Why does he want a computer cooled using purple liquid? He has no idea why, but thinks it's really cool. Plus the case is brushed aluminum. Hmm...maybe FLG will wait until VooDoo comes out with a gun metal case.

Toots and the Maytals

Am I the only person who didn't know they did a cover of Take Me Home, Country Roads?

Our Robot Overlords now have access to nukes

BBC:
A small army of robots is being increasingly deployed in the clean-up of a Scottish nuclear complex.

A spokeswoman said: "They have really proved themselves, particularly the semi-automatic ones that can be pre-programmed."


I've got this great idea for a computer system. I call it SkyNet.

More Trouble in Belgium

French-speaking Beligans are talking about becoming part of France.

Why didn't I think of that?

Danger Room:
After five years of war, at least one mid-level Army commander finally has realized what should have been obvious from the beginning: that winning the war in Iraq requires soldiers that understand Iraq's culture, customs ... and language.

Two groups of soldiers at Ft. Lewis, Washington -- home of two Stryker brigades -- already have graduated from a class that teaches basic Arabic. "Graduates typically have the verbal and written skills of a fourth- or fifth-grade Arab child."


I can't believe that it has taken this long to figure this out. The problem was most likely bureaucratic ossification. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center out in Monterrey can only teach a small portion of our soldiers, or even officers for that matter, a foreign language. Many soldiers are using Rosetta Stone to get some familiarity with the language.

Hopefully, the Army will start offering more Arabic training. The benefits of knowing a language increase dramatically when you can get to a fourth or fifth grade level because adults can simply tailor their explanation to you, but they can still explain almost anything. It just might take a little bit longer.

It would be great if all of our soldiers were fluent in a foreign language, but that just ain't gonna happen.

Online Gaming

Apparently, the Army is setting up a MMOG. It's got potential, but odds are it will devolve into casinos and red light districts.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fitness

FLG has been gaining weight since quitting smoking and starting work again. Some might be sympathy weight with Mrs. FLG. Anyway, it's time to turn the tide. As he has several times before, FLG is going to start on the Navy's recommended fitness schedule to prepare for SEAL training. They actually pulled the document from the SEAL page, but still have the same workout listed for EOD in a PDF here. I do, however, substitute stationary bike for swimming.

I usually make it to week 8 before I completely collapse and dial it all back. Nevertheless, this is a really good and really freakin' hard workout. It's starts to get too time consuming at that point too.

Corruption

UD points out that Ted Stevens is up on corruption charges. It couldn't have happened to a nicer or smarter guy.

I loathe the man.

Clowns

I have a theory that superstitions were created rationally, but the circumstances that led to their creation are no longer applicable. These beliefs stay with us until such time that they are have negative consequences when society eventually decides to eradicate the superstition. Clowns throw a wrench in the works.

Clowns are creepy and quite frankly disturbing. I am not afraid of them, but I know many people who are. I've asked around and sentiments towards clowns range from the aforementioned fear, and sometimes loathing, to ambivalence. I have yet to meet a person that actually enjoys clowns. Therefore, society should get rid of them. However, the saving grace of this whole thing is that clowns are not actual superstitions but real, and really annoying, people. Much like their cousins -- mimes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hiding Files

A friend asked me the other day if it is possible to hide files on a windows computer so that other people wouldn't even know they are there. (I didn't ask why.) However, the answer is yes, if you use alternate data streams. Note: This only works on NTFS format drives, but most windows drives are ntfs now anyway.

Bring up a command prompt.

First, let's make a directory to ease clean up. Type:
mkdir flg


Now, let's go into that directory:
cd flg


Create a text file containing only the word hello:
echo hello > file.txt


Verify the file says hello:
notepad file.txt

Close notepad.

Check the size of the file:
dir


The file should be 8 bytes. Now, let's create a secret file within file.txt:
notepad file.txt:secret.txt


It will ask if you want to create a new file. Say yes. Type a sentence or whatever you want. When you are ready click File->Save (not save as.) Close notepad.

Check the file size again:
dir


Still only that 8 byte file.txt. Secret.txt doesn't appear at all, nor did it change the file size.

Verify that the secret file is still there:
notepad file.txt:secret.txt


Close notepad.

Now, that's not that big a deal, but the secret file does not have to be text. It can be an mp3, word document, etc. In fact, you can embed multiple files into that same file.txt and it will remain the same size. Those other files are almost impossible to find without special tools. Just don't email them or move them off the ntfs drive.

PS Don't forget to delete that file and directory
del file.txt
cd ..
rmdir flg

James Bond USB Drives

I am really tempted to buy one of these simply because it looks cool and has a self-destruct mechanism. It doesn't blow up like an Inspector Gadget message, but it is pretty badass nonetheless.

Or I could just continue encrypting my shit for free.

From the Nutjob Files

Telegraph:
Ape expert Ian Redmond, who is leading the research, said: "The hairs are the most positive evidence yet that a Yeti might possibly exist.


Some Film Notes

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow look badass in the upcoming GI Joe movie.

Tron 2 is in the works.

And The Dark Knight made bank over the weekend -- $75 mil.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In case you didn't know: Internet and mobile phones become all-pervasive in modern society

That's the actual headline.

Later this week:
Sky is blue.
Mathematician proves 2+2=4
Gravity, it keeps you down.

There is a God!

Crocs fad fades

Now, if we could only get rid of Uggs...

Space Madness

Guardian:
The profile of Edgar Mitchell does not conform to that of your common or garden UFO aficionado. He holds two Bachelor of Science degrees and a doctorate in aeronautics from the prestigious and not exactly tree-huggy Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


I'm gonna start looking for that black oil vaccine.

I have to pee. I'll be right back...

BBC:
A plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Germany after two British women tried to open a cabin door mid-flight, police have said.

The women, aged 26 and 27, were drinking heavily and had to be held in their seats by security staff until the plane landed in Frankfurt.

In case you didn't know: Stuckey's

Stuckey's sells a Lifelike Dog on a Pillow.

Also, in case you were wondering what is meant by the Low Carb Snacks in the title bar on Stuckey's Home Page, they're talking about jerky.

In all seriousness, I could go for one of their log rolls right about now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Be Careful Government Weenies

You can take the trans fats, but if you try to ban bacon then you and me are going to have a problem -- a big problem. Don't test me.

Cholesterol, coronary, whatever. Don't put some conehead doctor on TV to tell me that banning bacon is for the public health and my own good. No matter what your studies say, I don't want to hear it. Also, don't say you have no current plans to ban bacon. I don't want to hear that either because I know you are lying. You have been warned.

Bacon is delicious, and I won't allow you to ban it.

Patum Peperium

I am eagerly awaiting the return of blackberry season, almost as much as new episodes of Heroes.

Women are fucking insane when it comes to weddings #10,624

NYTimes:
‘You should do Botox for the wedding!’ She giggled, and then I said, ‘I’m serious. It’s exactly what you need to freshen up.’ At first she kind of laughed it off, but the more we talked about it and I told her my mom was going to do it, she said ‘O.K.’”

FLG's continuing education

Anybody know where a class in sycophantic Mandarin is offered? I might need that. Thanks.

Quote of the day

Sarkozy:
Obama? C'est mon copain!

One area where nobody wants equality

IHT:
Female suicide bomber strikes in Iraq

Froggy Landing

French pilots did touch-and-gos on the Teddy Roosevelt. It was probably easy for them because the USS Charles de Gaulle is a glorified dingy in comparison.

Online Courses

While it is not as high tech as Yale's Online Courseware, Otto has uploaded a syllabus for his course Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism.

Two thoughts:
I had no idea that there was a Slavic Review.

I will be reading Armstrong, John, “Mobilized and Proletarian Diasporas,” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 1976), pp. 393-408.

Youth Vote

E J Dionne thinks this might be the year that the Youth Vote matters. However, his second paragraph has it right:
Since the late 1960s, the same chorus has been heard from election to election: The young don't care. They're disengaged. They're too wrapped up in their music, their favorite sports and their parties to take an interest in politics. Predicting that the young will vote in large numbers is like saying the Cubs will finally win the World Series.


Look for youth vote to be the same as the last election for two reasons:
1) They don't think Obama can lose.
2) His speeches are like concerts.

For both of these reasons turn out will be flat because young people would rather be doing anything than go to a smell elementary school gym to vote.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scary Stuff

This scares the shit out of me. Beyond the obvious moral, ethical, and societal issues, I have enough trouble deciding what to have for lunch.

A conversation

FLG: Apparently, girls are doing just as well at math as boys.

Co-worker:
Let me know when they can pee standing up.


Yes, he's a dick.

I fear

that FLG has jumped the shark. So, new poll...

Dread Pirate Roberts

Perhaps some of you will remember my Dread Pirate Roberts-esque succession plan. The offer has stood since March with no takers. My only conclusion is that the qualifications are too rigorous. Indeed, many are no longer relevant. Therefore, I have thinned them down to one:

* Borderline drunkard

Please place any little people in the clear, plastic bags

Telegraph:
Dwarf hiding in suitcase shocks airport staff

Obama and hubris

I don't understand the obsession of people on the right regarding Obama's hubris. Anybody, and I mean anybody, who thinks they should be President of the United States is way too full of themselves. In fact, I suggest choosing presidential candidates at random from the population.

First round: 1,000 randomly selected people are allowed to post 200 word bios online. Call or text in your votes.

Second round: Top 100. Contestants Candidates get to post a 5 minute video. Call or text in your votes.

Third round: Top 10. Have a marathon debate over two successive days, all freakin' day. Call or text in your votes.

It would be over in 3 weeks. Ryan Seacrest could host it.

Les trente-cinq heures

Guardian:
MPs vote to scrap France's compulsory 35-hour week


Woohoo! France comes its senses. I wonder what Marianne thinks.

If-then statements

If you take out your bluetooth headset only when you sleep, then you are a self important assshole.

Parents lose custody of girl

...for naming her Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii.

I am with the judge on this one. The insouciance of the parents' choice of name casts doubt on their ability to make serious decisions. However, I am conflicted, as I am hoping to name my child Dweezil Ahmet Diva Moon Unit in honor of Frank Zappa's kids. Or, possibly, Purple Monkey Dishwasher. So, clearly, I am concerned about judicial overreach.

French Nuke Incident

I have been following this in the French press, but have been too lazy to translate any of it.

BBC:
About 100 staff at a nuclear plant in southern France have been exposed to a low dose of radiation, power firm Electricite de France (EDF) says.

They were "slightly contaminated" by radioactive particles that escaped from a pipe at a reactor complex in Tricastin, an EDF spokeswoman said.

Holy Thieving Pig Shit!

UD reports on a researcher who absconded with a VCR (who still uses those?), a couple of projectors and computers when he moved from the University of Georgia to Vanderbilt. Oddly, I am willing to overlook this incident because the professor is studying how to lessen the odor of pig shit. If you have never lived in a place near a pig farm, and by near I mean within 10 miles, then you just don't know how big a deal this is.

And somebody get that professor a DVD player or Digital Video Recorder for goodness sake.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vox Poplui

I just discovered Vox Populi, Georgetown's Blog of record since 1969 via a commenter. A few points:

First, great name.

Second, congratulations on blogging since 1969. It must have been difficult back on the UNIVAC.

Third, FLG was Georgetown's blog of record until May when FLG graduated.

Anyway, godspeed Vox Populi.

Factor Price Equalization

Factor Price Equalization basically says that free trade in goods will result in the equalization of the prices of the inputs to produce those goods.

I realize this does not directly speak to the non-food biofuels issue, but I was thinking that perhaps the similar thing will result from non-food biofuels.

Whether biofuels are made from edible or non-edible plants might not matter. Both require land, water, and fertilizer. If a farmer has a choice of making a killing planting grasses to make gasoline or to plant soy beans, he will chose to plant grasses until such time as so much grass is being planted that the profit is equal to soy beans. Non-food will replace food, which will keep food prices high. I haven't read enough about, but I fear that even non-food ethanol will keep food prices up because they require the same inputs.

Production from non-edible byproducts of sugar or corn, corncobs for example, will probably not be a problem, but it is also not likely to solve the problem simply because the energy contained in those waste parts is not as readily accessible or concentrated even with enzymes.

An Open Letter To Max Boot

Nouri al-Maliki is the prime minister of Iraq, a sovereign country. If the elected government of Iraq wants us to leave, then we leave -- even if you think it is a bad idea. Otherwise, just admit that Iraq is not a sovereign nation.

Edit:
Max Boot responds:
This brings me to the other point raised by the bloggers–their claim that by casting doubt on whether U.S. troops can really be pulled out by 2010 I am infringing on Iraqi sovereignty. Really. (See, e.g., this post.) This, in spite of the fact that I actually wrote, “Of course, if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we will have to leave.” As that sentence should make clear, I am all in favor of respecting the sovereign decisions of the Iraqi government.

But in this case the government hasn’t made any such decision. I stress the word “government” because this whole conversation has been driven by shifting and ambiguous statements from a prime minister who is the leader of a small minority party in a large coalition government. Maliki has been gaining strength with his courageous decision to take on the Shiite militias, but the fact remains that his word is not law. This isn’t, mercifully, the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. This is a parliamentary democracy where, in order to make big decisions, the prime ministers needs to convince his fellow cabinet ministers and parliamentarians.

Email Communication Problems

Lifehacker:
A University of Chicago study shows that people overestimate their ability to convey tone in email messages.

Study participants recorded messages vocally and wrote them in email messages. The message recipients' success rate at understanding the tone of the message was significantly higher verbally than via email.

The reason for this communication disconnect, the researchers find, is egocentrism the well-established social psychological phenomenon whereby people have a difficult time detaching themselves from their own perspectives and understanding how other people will interpret them.


While that is not quite The Big Assumption, it is a cousin.

If Fonts were people

Video here.

Starbucks is a social good? I thought they were an evil, faceless corporation

NYTimes:
When a Starbucks opened on Broad Street [in Newark] almost eight years ago, it was not seen as a bland new spigot of a corporate coffeepot, but as a gathering place whose very existence would have seemed impossible a decade before, a symbol of a knocked-down city’s attempts to get up.

“It’s the only nice place on this street,” said Jorge Espana, a 70-year old retiree who comes to Starbucks twice a week from the other side of town.


Don't blame Starbucks. It is not their responsibility to maintain the only nice place on the street. Blame your decades of incompetent city government for the predicament. I realize that the removal of easy access to no-whip, half-caf, extra shot, soy milk, venti skim lattes will only remind Newark residents how shitty that city is, but perhaps voting for competent and less corrupt city officials is the best path to city revitalization.

French Constitution

IHT:
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France won approval for important constitutional changes on Monday, but by a very narrow margin.

The changes, Sarkozy insisted, strengthen the power of Parliament and will make the president more accountable. But his critics, including the main opposition party, the Socialists, said they would increase the power of the already semiroyal president, creating a "monocracy."


I really need to read up on what the changes entail. I've been skipping those details figuring it wouldn't pass.

WarGames Sequel

There is going to be a WarGames Sequel. Sure, it's over 20 years later and will probably suck, but I will see it anyway.

New Blog

I usually read blogs for months before placing them on my blogroll, but there have been exceptions. Today is one of them. I found the The Llama Butchers via Irish Elf, where I noticed almost immediately that they had wished Melissa Theuriau a happy thirtieth birthday. This endeared them to me immediately.

First, as many of you know, she is the linchpin in my plan to return a network newscast to ratings glory. Second, I had no idea it was her birthday on Monday. Bon Anniversaire!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Otto 86'd us

Policy change over at Otto's Random Thoughts.

I am strictly enforcing a no anonymous comments policy from now on.


I should have checked that thread sooner after my reply. Nevertheless, I will abide by the new policy.

Saharan Solar

Guardian:
Vast farms of solar panels in the Sahara could provide clean electricity for the whole of Europe, according to EU scientists working on a plan to pool the region's renewable energy.


Europe isn't exactly full of desert, but am I the only one who sees something colonial and NIMBY about this? Spain gets sun, right?

Who Can It Be Now?

Atlanta is getting rid of signs that read "Men At Work."

For your viewing pleasure:

Labyrinth

The AFI Theater will be showing Labyrinth this weekend.

I am going to try to talk Mrs. FLG into seeing The Bridge on the River Kwai, Amadeus, or Pee Wee's Big Adventure next month. However, she will probably want to see E.T. or Can't Buy Me Love.

Quote of the day

Slate:
It's only once we shake our own innate belief in linear progression and consider the many recessions we have undergone and will undergo that we can grasp the gross stupidity of those who repose their faith in divine providence and godly design.


The reason I chose this one is because the Christian interpretation of time as linear, and the consequences thereof, keeps coming up in my conversations and reading. I am sure that River Lethe had its own consequences and effect on cognition as well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In preparation for football season

I give you 220 pictures of cheerleaders.

An open letter to the Air Force brass

Are you intentionally trying to become the Army Air Corps again? As I have written before, I cannot see any other way to solve the institutional inertia that prevents your service from adapting to the post-Cold War era.

The Air Force appears to have an institutional problem with incompetence. Losing nukes and screwing up procurement isn't a good way to build confidence that the service can adapt to new realities.

I am no military expert, but you, the brass not the pilots, sure seem to be screwing things up royally. Army Air Corps may be in your near future.

Sincerely,
Fear and Loathing in Georgetown

Idiots and their T-Shirts

Guardian:
Last Tuesday a 25-year-old white student was wandering around Union Square in New York when she was set upon by four black teenage girls who pushed her, pulled out her earphones, and spat in her face. She was wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "Obama is my slave" that she had bought from Apollo Braun's Lower East Side store in Manhattan.

This isn't the first controversial T-shirt Braun has printed about the Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama. His body of work includes such slogans as "Jews Against Obama", "Obama = Hitler" and "Who Killed Obama?" - which he told New York's Metro was his most popular yet.


WTF? Obama is my slave? That's just stupid, and the 25-year-old is lucky that she was only spit on.

Communication Problem

FLG: I think that's a terrible idea for the following reasons...

Co-worker: I don't think you understand. We want to...

FLG: Yep. Terrible idea.

Co-worker: But...[repetitive explanation]

FLG: It's still a terrible idea.

Co-worker: I think we have a communication problem.

FLG: Perhaps. I understand what your plan is, and I think it is a terrible idea. But, for some reason, my objection is not registering with you.

A few minutes later.

Co-worker 2: I hear you don't agree with the plan. Let me explain it to you so that we are all on the same page.

FLG: Wait. Let me explain it to you....

Co-worker 2: Exactly! Why did co-worker 1 tell me you were against it?

FLG: Because I am. It's a terrible idea.

Co-worker 2: But you just explained it to me.

FLG: Let me explain what is wrong with it...

Co-worker 2: But...[repeat plan]

FLG: It's still a terrible idea.

Co-worker 2: I think we have a communication problem.


Why is is that people frequently assume disagreements arise from misunderstandings? I blame Sesame Street. In addition to numbers and letters, it also fills childrens' heads with the idea that talking solves everything. This is a great concept when resolving issues over who can play with the Barbie, but is less applicable when stupid people are putting together corporate plans.

Also, can we all agree to stop using cliched phrases and buzzwords around the office? Particularly annoying examples: Proactive. To be on the same page. Interface.

I've started being really pedantic in response to the people who use these words because I find they often think these words make them seem smart and are pretentious about it. So, when somebody uses a word they don't know, like acquiescence or malaprop, they continue on as if the word was never said. Yes, I'm a dick sometimes.

Lastly, two years at college made me forget how on the money Dilbert is.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

I really liked Iron Man. It was a great superhero movie. However, even Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man, would have to admit that The Dark Knight is in a completely different category. It is quite simply a great movie sans qualifier. It is a bit like crossing Silence of the Lambs with Die Hard, and is as good as either. Saying it is as good as Die Hard is high praise from me. I have long considered it to be the best action movie ever made. And I would put Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker up there with Anthony Hopkin's performance as Hannibal Lecter. He really is that good, and way better than Nicholson's Joker.

I enjoyed The Dark Knight more than any movie in a long, long time.

Facebook Aging

Without Facebook I would probably have had absolutely no contact with some of my high school friends. There are probably about 10 who had a party recently, and they posted the pictures, as is the fashion now, on Facebook. The thing that immediately struck me was how old they look. They aren't old, mind you, but within my memory they had been frozen at 18. It made me feel old.

Friday, July 18, 2008

They ruined it for me

For obvious reasons, I was intrigued by this headline:

My boyfriend wants doggy style sex in front of a mirror

However, they break down every possible psychological, cultural, physical, mental and sociological aspect of doin' it doggy-style in front of a mirror such that all titillation value is lost.

Marriage

Megan writes:
I assume that contrary to the popular stereotype, men actually must do much better out of marriage than women do, because society expends so much energy on telling women that they cannot be happy unless they marry, and trying to make sure they can't be happy by stigmatizing women who don't. If women genuinely got more benefits out of marriage, we wouldn't have so many social institutions that punish them for failing to enter that happy state.


Two fact:
1) A woman always knows if a child is hers.
2) Paternity, on the other hand, was difficult if not impossible to prove until the invention of DNA testing.

Two assumptions:
1) It is easier for two parents to raise a child than a single parent.
2) Every society is concerned about its survival, and therefore usually encourages children.

Marriage was created so that the father could be reasonably sure of his role in the producing the offspring. The focus on female virginity also comes from this difficulty. The increased probability that a husband's wife gave birth to his child increases the probability that he will stick around to assist with the rearing of the child.

So, men get added assurance that they can determine paternity. Women receive a higher likelihood that they will not be left raising their children alone.

Obviously, there is more to modern marriage than simply child production, and both the husband and wife have additional social constructed roles as well. However, I still contend it all goes back to the ambiguity surrounding paternity.

Iranian Interest Section

IHT:
The Bush administration is considering establishing an American diplomatic presence in Iran for the first time since relations were severed during the 444-day occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran nearly three decades ago, European and American officials said on Thursday.


It's one thing to say the United States of America shouldn't talk to terrorists. It is a completely different thing to say that the United States of America should not talk to a country, even one that supports terrorism, for thirty years. Wait, you say, talking to them will only encourage them. Uh, not talking to them will only encourage them. I'm not saying to have the President pay a state visit to Tehran, but opening up an interest section to approve visas for Iranian citizens to visit and study in the US is the best long-term strategy vis-a-vis Iran. Paying no respect to Iran breeds contempt for America within Iranian society. So, even if the people are pro-American, talking to Iran removes the disrespect thing.

It's good to be the King

..unless, of course, your country is on the verge of failing apart and there is really no reason for it to exist in its current form.

BBC:
Belgium's King Albert II has rejected the resignation of Prime Minister Yves Leterme, the royal palace has said.


I'm sure that will hold Belgium together.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Correspondence

Why have you stopped writing about the presidential election?

Bill


Dear Bill:

First, the election is in war chest building mode -- lots of quiet fundraisers before the conventions. Second, the election, as far as I am concerned, is over. Obama, barring some completely unforeseen and huge screw-up, has this thing wrapped up. That said, I am not sure who I am going to vote for yet.

-FLG

Desktop Cube

I have been using Ubuntu more lately, even at work. One major benefit of Linux is the 3-D cube desktop, which probably seems like ostentatious computer dorkiness, but is very useful thing.



Going back to the windows desktop is hard after that.

Because the enemy has knives too, but ours knives have wings!



I want one

HT: Danger Room

F-22 Competitor?

Apparently, the Russians say they are going to build an F-22 competitor:
The Farnborough International Air Show is taking place this week in the United Kingdom, and the Russians are there in full force promising that their fifth generation fighter will match our fifth generation fighter, the stealthy F-22 Raptor.


Right...
They might as well claim to be building the Starship Enterprise.

FLG's Asset Allocation

42% of my holdings is in foreign equities. I am seriously considering increasing that exposure. However, part of me wants to double down on the good ol' US of A. Since the market is depressed right now, maybe it would be smart to buy domestic while the buying is good. I have decades to make up for any short-term losses if it continues to fall.

I don't do these things rashly, so I'll be researching over the next week or so.

Quote of the day

Tyler Cowen:
you should never spend more than $1500 on art unless you know at least roughly what it is worth at auction. One of life's good rules of thumb

Schools

NYTimes:
Randi Weingarten, the New Yorker who is rising to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, says she wants to replace President Bush’s focus on standardized testing with a vision of public schools as community centers that help poor students succeed by offering not only solid classroom lessons but also medical and other services.


While I see the theory as to why this might be effective, it will be a completely FUBAR if actually implemented. Our schools can't teach kids to read, and now they will have the responsibility for all kinds of community services? Dumb, dumb idea. However, it follows the standard government mantra: When you can't do one thing right try to do more things. Eventually, hopefully, you will get one thing right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Paris of Africa

IHT:
Talaat Harb Square was conceived by Ismail, an Ottoman viceroy who ruled from 1863 to 1879 and was given the hereditary title "khedive," or lord.

During a visit to the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris, Ismail was impressed by the French capital's broad avenues and palaces. "Egypt is no longer part of Africa," he declared, according to "Egypt's Belle Époque," a history published in 1989. "It is part of Europe."


What is it with Paris? I love Paris, but come'n. Cairo is the Paris of Africa. Beruit is the Paris of the Middle East. Istanbul was the Eastern Terminus of the Orient Express from Paris.

People need to have some pride. Alexandria used to be, well, Alexandria, which predated the glory of Rome.

The FLGs' Bank Troubles

The FLGs had an account at NetBank for years, until it went belly up about a year ago. Now, the bank they moved their account to looks risky too.

Wachovia going under, unlike Bear Stearns, might just cause a freakin' panic. Most people haven't heard of Bear Stearns and don't have accounts there. Wachovia, on the other hand, is a retail bank millions of people have heard of. From an economic perspective Bear was probably a bigger problem. But from a psychological perspective, Wachovia going under would be way worse.

NB: While I am thinking abount banks, I should mention that I love ING Direct.

The Iraqi Air Force

Strategy Page:
The United States has given the Iraqi Air Force eleven training aircraft (eight Cessna 172s and three Cessna Caravan 208). The donated aircraft are worth nearly $10 million.


I bet Iran is quaking in its boots. Are the Iranians still operating their F-14s? Because if they are the Iranians might have to get out and walk to shoot down the Cessnas.

Trades

Dead bodies for live prisoners is not a fair trade.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Have you been wondering what NATO is up to?

Me too.

1) Helping Azerbaijan deal with this serious environmental threat

Azerbaijan is not a NATO country, and as bad as melange is, do we want an international military alliance cleaning up environmental hazards?

2) Launching NATOChannel.tv.

3) Be on the lookout for New NATO:
"We have the green light to think about branding policy for NATO," said Bureau, who aims to present the strategy in time for the 60th anniversary summit meeting next year.


I hope its spokesperson will be Max Headroom.

Please, please just go away North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Your relevance is over.

FLG's Current Goal

Talk Mrs. FLG into moving to Australia.

Sarkozy on the Irish Vote

Le Figaro:
Les Irlandais devront revoter et je mettrai le veto à tout élargissement tant qu'il n'y aura pas de nouvelles institutions


Translation:
The Irish must revote and I will veto all enlargement [of the EU] so that there won't be any new institutions.

Monsieur le Président, it's not like the French ever voted "Non" on the hideous treaties and constitutions that the Eurocrats foist on them.

Israel, Iran and Nukes

John Bolton:
That is why Israel is now at an urgent decision point: whether to use targeted military force to break Iran's indigenous control over the nuclear fuel cycle at one or more critical points. If successful, such highly risky and deeply unattractive air strikes or sabotage will not resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis. But they have the potential to buy considerable time, thereby putting that critical asset back on our side of the ledger rather than on Iran's.

With whatever time is bought, we may be able to effect regime change in Tehran, or at least get the process underway. The alternative is Iran with nuclear weapons, the most deeply unattractive alternative of all.


It is quite possible that using military force will lower the possibility of regime change. Iran is a proud country that traces its lineage back to Ancient Persia. While it appears that the people are not happy with the current regime, it is very likely that a military strike will create a rally around the flag effect, the exact opposite of what Bolton would like to create. And this risk would be taken despite the very low probability of seriously affecting the Iranian nuclear program.

His position sounds very much like:
Iran is going to get nukes. That's really bad. We can't really do anything about it. However, we can bomb them. So, let's do that. Why? Because we can and doing something is better than doing nothing.

That's not a foreign policy. Well, maybe it is, but it ain't a good one.

Incest

The Times:
Daniel is my brother, but since I was 14 we've had a sexual relationship - and that's not something that many people would feel comfortable with.


Count me as uncomfortable with that.

Conservatism, Liberalism and Geography

Phoebe and Withywindle have offered some thoughts on conservatism. My addition is not quite fully formed, but I believe provides some context.

The issue is not elitism versus populism within the conservative movement. It is geographic differences and The Big Assumption.

To oversimplify I will use New York and Texas.

A New York liberal is elite, liberal, and mostly concerned with their own sense moral self-satisfaction derived from their consumption decisions and public policy preferences.
A New York conservative is elite and uses the philosophical principles of conservatism as a guideline for public policy.

A Texas liberal is populist.
A Texas conservative is concerned with a protecting the status quo, and if possible turning back the clock to some imaginary Golden Age of piety and decorum.

I found this hilarious



Is that wrong? I think it might be wrong.

Quote of the day

David Brooks:
This age of tremendous scientific achievement has underlined an ancient philosophic truth — that there are severe limits to what we know and can know; that the best political actions are incremental, respectful toward accumulated practice and more attuned to particular circumstances than universal laws.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kelly's Heroes

is a tragically underrated movie.

Just FYI.

Bastille Day

Happy Bastille Day! I almost forgot.

Nonprofit Nutjobs

Nonprofit groups are more likely to be more radical or reactionary than their supporters. For example, Greenpeace is more radical than the average person who donates. On the other side of the political spectrum, the NRA is more staunch in its opposition to gun control than its supporters. The list goes on.

The most commonly repeated and accepted explanation for this exaggeration of supporter sentiment is that the groups need to create the appearance of constant crisis to keep the donations flowing. This misses a very important point.

NGOs do not pay as well as the private sector. This means that those who work at NGOs value the job more than an average person values the additional income. Therefore, NGOs are staffed with people who either really like their job for the perks, like a flexible work schedule, or are really passionate about the issues of their NGO. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about an issue, but as studies have shown similar thinking individuals result in an echo chamber that results in the group taking more extreme positions than the median opinion in the group.

So, Greenpeace, PETA, ACLU, NRA, etc, etc are more extreme than their members because the people who run and work for the organizations care about the issues more than their supporters and suffer from groupthink.

One of the scariest versions of this type of thing is when a bunch of libertarians NGO people get together and convince themselves that spontaneous order will solve all the world's problems if we could only abolish all governments.

Independence Movements

A post over at Athens & Jerusalem reminds me of something I was tinkering with during my Pacific History class.

the prestige accruing to the British meant that they didn't, in point of fact, collapse quite so disastrously as the French and the Dutch after the war--that if the French collapsed after Dien Bien Phu, the British won their counterinsurgency in Malaya, where the prestige won in the Burma campaign played a definite role in providing the British the morale to tough out that campaign, and perhaps a role in intimidating the Russians, Chinese, etc., from challenging the British too strongly in Malaya.


Communism, for obvious reasons, appealed to anti-Colonial factions. Prior to WWII, the colonial powers were motivated to keep their empires together, but after WWII would Britain have fought as hard to keep Malaya if it weren't for the communists? I am not so sure. The French, however, had to be routed from Indochina. They're too stubborn and proud.

If independence movements had chosen another ideology, such as a narrow nationalism, would they have been more successful, more quickly? Indonesia and the Philippines seem to imply that non-communist independence movements would have had an easier time of it. Not an easy time. But an easier time.

India, which achieved independence shortly after WWII, is a more complicated case.

Mortgage Lenders

Krugman:
And let’s be clear: Fannie and Freddie can’t be allowed to fail. With the collapse of subprime lending, they’re now more central than ever to the housing market, and the economy as a whole.


I can't imagine anytime we could or would allow Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to fail. Their quasi-government status, as Krugman mentions, provides an implicit guarantee. Perhaps, after this crisis is over, we remove their special status, but I seriously doubt that will ever occur. But even so we couldn't let either of them fail ever.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More things that should be common knowledge

Battle of Zama
Masada
The speed of light
Doppler Effect, and red/blue shift
The acceleration due to gravity
Council of Nicaea
Æthelberht of Kent
Charlemagne
Runnymede and the Magna Carta
Auld Alliance
Hundred Years War

Hadrian

A Hadrian exhibit will open at the British Museum later this month. I know very little about him besides the eponymous wall and that he was one of the five good emperors, of whom I can only name three from memory -- Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius.

I wonder what the implied message of the first sentence in the promo video is?
His first act as Emperor was to pull the Roman army out of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).


In case you are wondering why I check the British Museum website when 1) I don't live in London and 2) I have no plans for visiting London in the near future, my answer is that I just do. Actually, A Don's Life linked to it.

I do, however, have a picture of the Rosetta Stone that I took a few years ago.

Holy Fucking Shit!

City Journal:
The head examiner of a British school-examination board, Peter Buckroyd, whose examinations are taken by 780,000 children, recently explained to teachers why a pupil who answered the question, “Describe the room you’re in,” with “Fuck off”—an actual case, apparently—should receive a grade of 7.5 percent rather than a grade of zero.


Go read the fucking explanation!

Internet Radio

Alan told me about Pandora Radio a while back. He was raving about it. I have to say that it pretty much rocks. I've been using it for about a month now.

Economists: Libertarians or Potheads?

Greg Mankiw in the NYTimes:
LIBERALIZE DRUG POLICY Many economists marry their support of economic freedom with a similar support of personal freedom. Drug policy is a case in point. A 2006 poll of professional economists asked whether the United States should legalize marijuana. Those in favor outnumbered those opposed more than three to one.


I concur with the economists on this one.

Eureka!

I found a store that sells Kinder Schokolade. It's delicious.

Anti-Missile Missiles

StrategyPage:
Even with the growing availability of effective anti-missiles missiles (from the U.S., Russia and Israel), ballistic missiles can still get through if you can fire enough of them in a short time.


I was aware that the US and Israeli systems were considered effective. The US has so many of them that something has to work, and the Israelis usually get their shit together. However, I had no idea that the Russian ABM system was active. I thought their previous system would be a rust bucket, and any new system would be in very preliminary stages. Will be researching further...

Quote of the day

WWPD?:
To be conservative is to reject the notion that Things Fall Apart is just as good as The Iliad, that Bach is no different from Britney.


The quote is from a few days ago, but I am still catching up with my blog reading.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'll put it on the AMEX

BBC:
The Ghanaian government spent more than $1.4m (£704,000) buying 515 gold medals from a company based in the Channel Islands, officials have confirmed.


Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Music

West End Girls was on the radio today. I hadn't heard it in a really, really long time. It reminded me of the spoof by Flight of the Conchords.







Update:
Lastly, a cover by a Swedish group named, ironically enough, West End Girls:

FLG's Survival Tip #1

Water Filtration System

It does work. I've done it, but the water isn't the best.

Quote of the day redux

The Times:
men store up useless facts because one day they might, just might, become useful.

Pink and White Noise

This website is a white or pink noise generator. I have been using the downloadable audio files to block out noise on the Metro while I read.

Pics from San Diego

The view from the in-laws' apartment:


Two killer whales, neither of which is Shamu:


Noisy flamingos:


Sunbathing turtle:


A polar bear:

Quote of the day

A Don's Life:
anyone who does the library rather than the lab version of pushing back the frontiers of knowledge can tell you about the tedious days of reading pretty unappealing material (just try reading an ancient dictionary) looking for some particular gem that isn’t there. Even worse is the low level panic that the clever idea that set you on this particular month of reading is going to turn out to be a blind alley.


That pretty much sums up the reasons why I don't want to become an academic.

iPhone craziness

I don't understand it. Sure, they are cool. I, however, am not sure I need one. Furthermore, I would rather pay too much for something one-time rather than what I consider expensive rates for voice and data every month. Add to all this my confusion over the waiting in line thing. Megan McArdle appears to be camping out at the Clarendon Apple Store, at which I would probably be able to walk in and buy one with no wait to little delay after work.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bikers

I am on the bikers are more dangerous side of the bikes versus cars debate.

When I am walking across the Key Bridge they whiz very close to me at Mach 9. They also have this issue about not yielding to pedestrians. Yes, I know, you will lose your inertia. Well, tough shit. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way, and it is not like I am trying to get in front of you. I am simply attempting to get onto the sidewalk from the crosswalk. Also, if I am walking in a straight line and there is nobody else nearby, then ride on the other side of the freakin' sidewalk.

I have almost had enough, so beware bikers who ride in the Rosslyn/Georgetown/Key Bridge area. I am in the market for an ASP Telescoping Baton, which when extended quickly at my shoulder height should be perfect to knock you off your bike and, if I am lucky, completely unconscious. Please note two things about this event. 1) You won't even know what happened when you wake up. 2) A reputable lawyer has told me that if you do happen to remember the event he is confident that I would be acquitted of all charges as I technically didn't hit you with the baton -- you ran into it.

US Air Force

I have been in favor of abolishing the United States Air Force and turning it back into the US Army Air Corps for quite a while. (A conversation with GEC a few months ago leads me to believe he concurs. Alan, who happens to be former Chair Air Force, unsurprisingly demurs.)

The Air Force would basically wind up being like the Marines are to the Navy. It would still have a seat at the table, but be rolled into the Department of the Army. I won't go into all of my reasons for abolishing a separate air force, but the basic reason is force integration. During the Cold War a separate air force with strategic bombing and ICBM responsibilities made sense. However, the most important role currently for the air force is close air support. Our planes are so advanced that air superiority isn't a concern anymore.

In light of this new mission, and the integration and coordination required, the Air Force, which has been completely lost since the Cold War, would be placed under the auspices of the Army to facilitate the necessary change to close air support. To summarize the transition, it would be to move from a primarily strategic to a tactical role.

The Air Force is institutionally incapable of accomplishing this on their own because of a cultural problem and, apparently, general incompetence.

Other Air Force acquisition decisions are on the horizon. GAO's conclusions show that even in a large, complex procurement with considerable staff resources and oversight, work accomplished by our contracting personnel, our warfighters and our engineers is not always adequately prepared to withstand the detailed audits and the legal challenges that we can now expect. I've asked Sue Payton, the Air Force's assistant secretary for Acquisition, and her team to ensure that GAO's findings are fully understood and accounted for in preparation for other pending program decisions.


Don't forget about the other major example of incompetence in what should be the Air Force's strong suit, um, strategic nuclear weapons. Let's solve the problem by rolling them up into the Department of the Army.

HT: Danger Room

His nuts?



Who says that? Kick his ass, gouging his heart out with a spoon, and my personal favorite, stabbing him in the eye with a fork are all acceptable hypothetical desires. However, to want to cut somebody's nuts off is crazy, I mean, nuts.

In case you didn't know: Boomers

WaPo:

The baby boomers -- that prominent group of middle-agers whose massive numbers invite never-ending dissection and speculation -- have once again spoken. What they have said is, " Waaaaaahhh."


I'm shocked.

In other news...

Mrs. FLG is pregnant.

This will probably be the only time I mention it until the birth.

Your guide to the G8

1) Announce preposterous medium- to long-term goal
2) Have photo op.
3) Do nothing until the next meeting, when everybody calls for everybody to do more.
4) Have photo op.
5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 until out of office.

Latest example:
IHT:
Pledging to "move toward a low-carbon society," leaders of the world's richest nations on Tuesday endorsed the idea of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2050, but they refused to set a short-term target for reducing the heat-trapping gases that most scientists agree are warming the planet.


Is this possible? Perhaps. Will the G8 be responsible for it happening if it does? Absolutely not.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More technology bullshit

The Times:
Digital natives and digital immigrants are terms coined by the American futurist Marc Prensky to distinguish between those who have grown up with technology and those who have adapted to it. As an immigrant, I may be computer-proficient, but I still print out documents to read them, call people to check they received my e-mail and keep a dictionary by my desk. And I can remember (admittedly only in a vague way) that when it came to exam revision, I spent many hours sealed in my room away from the TV and other distractions, my head burrowed in books. Natives, in contrast, multi-task, thrive on instant gratification and claim to function best when networked. None of this is new. Prensky first wrote about natives and immigrants (and the startling fact that today's average student will, before graduating, spend 10,000 hours computer-game playing, but only 5,000 hours reading books) seven years ago.


A little bit about myself. I grew up with a computer about as far back I can remember. I know a heck of a lot more about technology than these supposedly technology tuned teenagers. I can use Facebook, im, etc, etc. Furthermore, I can actually explain to you how the internet actually works. For example, I could tell you how an email gets where it is going. Most people think of it basically as magic. Anyway, back to my point.

This whole immigrants versus native stuff is bullshit. Nobody, and I mean nobody is better at doing multiple things than one thing at a time. Sure, some people can be better at doing multitasking than others. However, nobody is better multitasking than focusing on a single topic. Maybe kids are better at doing multiple things than their parents. I just happen to think they have less patience and are more easily distracted because helicopter parents give into their kids too much. Either way, if the kid is supposed to be studying and they've got im, Youtube, facebook, iTunes, and their homework open, then they need to close everything but their homework. Take away the computer or disconnect the network connection. Complaints about not being able to google for research? Tough shit. Don't buy into this stuff about kids neurologically adapting to the multitasked world of modern computers and network devices. It is complete crap.

I do not deny that I work much faster in front of a computer connected to the internet. I can find almost any information I require in a moment. However, I also know that closing IM and Facebook are required to do real work. It is impossible, even if you have grown up on computers like I have, to multitask better than single task. Impossible.

Parents need to stop thinking that their relative lack of computer experience somehow negates their parenting responsibilities and instincts because of two mistaken perceptions that 1) technological proficiency is a good in and of itself and 2) their kids are technologically proficient because they can use google talk and facebook.

Technical Difficulties

I currently have major technical difficulties with one of my computers. So, blogging has taken a back seat until said problems are resolved.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm Back

Our flight was delayed for hours in Newark yesterday. So, I am just getting settled after a long day of work. Blogging will resume after I catch up on my reading. I barely read anything, except Love in the Ruins, which I finished, on my trip.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

San Diego

San Diego has been beautiful, and it is really cool to watch fireworks displays with two aircraft carriers in the background. Not sure that it beats our usually fireworks watching location, which permits views of the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument, but still awesome nonetheless.

Heading to Sea World today. Gonna sea Shamu!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Christopher Hitchens gets waterboarded

Video here.

Article here.

It don't look pleasant.

HT: GW Patriot

Travel Plans

I will be in San Diego for the weekend. Have a happy and safe Independence Day Weekend.

Otto's getting serious

Last semester I caught one out of every five of my students plagiarising. So for next semester I have revised my official policy on plagiarism. The paragraph below will appear in the syllabi of all four of my classes.


If things in Kyrgyzstan are anything like they are at Georgetown I fear that Otto's well-intentioned policy will cause serious headaches only for himself. Godspeed nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Terrorism

Withywindle:
I should specify here that I don't think terrorists by themselves are much of a threat; they are always the catspaws of state sponsors. Al Qaeda doesn't disturb me; Al Qaeda as the tool of Saudis, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, does. Now that we are wary of terrorists, an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan is much less threatening.


This is an appealing line of reasoning, but I think it misses something fundamental. States, while still important, do not have a monopoly on the technology required to kill large amount of people anymore. Likewise, Al Qaeda can get funds without state sponsorship. The danger is no longer state centric.

It is too easy to say the only reason that the terrorists hit us was because we weren't paying attention. Hence, now that we are paying attention it is not such a big deal. By this logic, terrorism's success is its own destruction, which may be true eventually. However, I also think it underestimates the intelligence, creativity, and adaptability of Al Qaeda.

I am actually less scared of an al Qaeda run by a state then a bunch of religious fanatics in the mountains with enough resources to cause a lot of death, but a complete lack of reason. Do not underestimate Al Qaeda as a bunch of idiots. Do they pose an existential threat to the US? No. Do they pose an existential threat to NYC or DC? Absolutely.

In case you didn't know files: bulk update

The pope is German
Crack might be bad for you
Infighting may have doomed Clinton campaign

Other possibilities -- Half the freakin' country hates her, but that probably isn't a big factor.

I, for one, love puppies

I'll let Andrew Sullivan explain the issue.

But being anti-puppy is the biggest political loser since bathing in the blood of virgins. Just sayin'

Space Madness

BBC:
Ambitious plans for European missions to the Moon and Mars are being considered by the French government.

It wants to kick-start a revolution in space by letting EU politicians not bureaucrats decide on priorities for the European Space Agency (Esa).


Like that will be any better. They will simply squabble over who gets to build what and where rather than bureaucrats arguing about what letterhead to use.

One more reason why I don't like The Corner

Over at The Corner, they have been harping on how the Obama Campaign is like a cult. For example, Obama supporters have changed their middle name to match the candidate. Let's investigate this a little further.

NYTimes:
Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.


So, it's on fucking Facebook you fucking twits.

“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on dailykos.com.


And dailykos bloggers...

Mark Elrod, a political science professor at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., is organizing students and friends to declare their Husseinhood on Facebook on Aug. 4, Mr. Obama’s birthday.


And more Facebook shit.

In short, these sound like teenagers who are following some sort of viral trend. Like getting those annoying chain letters. It is not a cult, and the people over at The Corner just don't get it.

Also, if we pick out a few wackos who support a candidate and then paint the entire campaign with that broad brush, I fear that McCain could be called the racist candidate because I am sure a goodly portion of racists support the non-black guy. Does that make the McCain campaign racist? Surely not. But a few overexcited teenagers don't make the Obama Campaign a cult. The Corner really just doesn't get it. How about attacking Obama's policies instead of portraying all of his supporters as unthinking dolts? Thank you.

Quote of the day

Tyler Cowen:
It is notoriously difficult to find a convincing link between educational expenditures and educational quality and I don't think that is econometric problems.
 
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