Wednesday, June 30
Still waiting on my copy of Noam Chomsky Sleeps Furiously...
At least I'll know where to spend it all.
92" monitors? 3.8GHz desktop PCs with solid-state disks and 16GB of memory? Laptop computers with built-in RAID? Linux servers with up to 32 CPUs and 112 expansion slots?
As I mentioned before, there will be a rally held in Sydney tomorrow (June 30) to demand that Australia's troops be withdrawn from Iraq. Of course, as of yesterday our troops are there at the express request of the Iraqi government, so this demand is unlikely to gain much traction.
Thursday July 1 marks the first birthday of the Mu.Nu Forums, and your lovely hostess Renata is holding a party! All welcome as long as you behave... Unless your name begins in S, or you live in Texas or Michigan. (Registration necessary, otherwise you can't see the good bits.)
Sunday July 4 is Australia's Reserve Forces Day, with a parade through Sydney's streets featuring 90 horsies and a column of armoured vehicles! How cool is that? Also, our American friends will be celebrating their Nation Barbecue and Fireworks day.
Monday, June 28
Pixy Misa's award for Correct Use of Algebra this month goes to Pretty Cure. In the first episode (by the way, can anyone tell me what that theme song is reminding me of?) our heroine Nagisa (the sporty one) is called upon in class to solve the equation:
x - 7 = 19 + xWhile she was dithering on the screen, I was saying to myself That's not possible - it simplifies to 0 = 26! Then our other heroine, Honoka (the brainy one) stands up and says That's not possible - it simplifies to 0 = 26! Perhaps you meant to write x - 7 = 19 - x, and then x would be 13.
Apart from that the show wasn't particularly impressive..
And irritating trick of the month goes to Aishiteruze Baby... Which puts an extra minute of story after the closing credits, something I didn't discover until episode 12.
Saturday, June 26
I think we may have seen this one before, but anyway:
Sunday, June 20
Brought to you care of Serenity and SarahK.
But... Um, ladies, I knew about this. And I'm, err, well, a guy.
Friday, June 18
I'd love to read a book with that title - assuming it lived up to the title. Or even to write one, though it would take me a full year of work, because I'm not nearly well-enough informed on the subject to even consider writing it now. Either way, though, we need such a book, because the current issue of New Scientist* has a headline
Conspiracy threat to anti-nuke treatyWho? China selling secrets to Pakistan? Pakistan dealing with Iran? North Korea and Syria?
Read the sub-head:
Secret swapping between the US and UK is undermining global stabilityAnd ask yourself: What the hell kind of planet do these lunatics live on, anyway? The US-UK alliance has been the underpinning of whatever peace we've enjoyed here on Earth this past century - flawed though it has been. Remember World War I? World War II? The Cold War? The Current Unpleasantness? Hello? Mr Functioning Brain Cell? Hello?
They are allies, and more than that, they are the core of The Allies. And they both already have nuclear weapons, and they aren't sharing the information with anyone else, so it's unclear exactly how this is supposed to lead to proliferation.
The only bright point of the article is the reference to the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. No, really, that's what it's called.
* Yeah, them again.
Thursday, June 17
From Rob of XSet this little meme:
- Bold those you’ve readmore...
- Italicise those you started but never finished
- Add three of your own
- Post to your blog
I'm not sure why I keep getting moderator points, but I guess it's because they pretty much give them away like candy. Of course, I violate the Moderation Guidelines every chance I get:
Concentrate more on promoting than on demoting. The real goal here is to find the juicy good stuff and let others read it. Do not promote personal agendas. Do not let your opinions factor in. Try to be impartial about this. Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it down. Likewise, agreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to mark it up. The goal here is to share ideas. To sift through the haystack and find needles. And to keep the children who like to spam Slashdot in check.Whenever I get mod points, my first thought is to chop down some of the idiots that plague the place. The fact that many of the idiots are also lefties simply makes the task more enjoyable.
Since the place is full of lefty idiots with mod points, lefty idiot posts tend to get moderated up to the maximum rating of 5 rather often. If you take a look at the details, though, you'll often see a post rated at 5 with +11 positive and -7 negative - so there's clearly more than just me battling the lunacy. Unfortunately, they don't have the moderation flags they really need, like +1 Right, -1 Wrong, and -∞ Stupid.
Anyway, there's something interesting coming out of this hotbed of Crypto-Communism - oops, that's Kuro5hin - this hotbed of political naïveté:
In a forum with a strongly liberal readership, just 1% are voting because they favour Kerry. (Or whoever they think the challenger is; there's at least one commenter voting Libertarian.) That's gotta hurt.
Displaying poll results.
Why Will You Vote In The Next Election? No reason, really. 1459 / 5% Hate the incumbent. 12990 / 44% Love the incumbent. 1866 / 6% Hate the challenger. 1711 / 5% Love the challenger. 378 / 1% Civic duty. 7035 / 24% Pride. 685 / 2% Just want to get 'I Voted' sticker. 2821 / 9% 28945 total votes.
Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks. Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first. This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
(Though it just provides another datapoint for the thesis that the current Democratic Party is not for anything, only against things. As if we needed another such datapoint.)
Wednesday, June 16
When I was ten, I wanted to be a writer.
Young Pixy: You mean they pay people to make up stories?!When I was twelve, I wanted to be a teacher.
Teacher: Yes, child. It's called journalism.
Teacher: You don't want to be a teacher! You're too smart for that; it would be a waste of your talents.When I was fourteen, I knew I was going to be a computer programmer.
Young Pixy: Guk.
What I wanted to be, of course, was a wizard, but there's no money in wizarding.
And programming is the next best thing. In fact, if you think about it, it's the same thing, except that it sometimes works. You say the secret words, and if you get it right, the result is magic. If you get it wrong, of course, you get dragged off to hell by demons. (Don't try to tell me otherwise. I had sign off on a major Y2K project. I saw the contract.)
Programming allows you to work in a medium that is almost infinitely tractable. It's not like, say, sculpture, where one slip of the chisel and
Oops. That's got to hurt.If you make a mistake, you can go back and do it again. And again and again. And you can make multiple copies of your work and the touch of a button, and compare them, and make changes, and keep the good and reject the bad.
No, she's meant to have no nose. It's, like, allegorical.
It got bitten off by one, then?
The problem with that is that the results are largely limited only by your skill and your patience. More so now than fifteen or twenty years ago, when the absolute limits of the computer hardware put a clearly marked boundary around most projects. If you only have one megabyte of memory, and the feature list would require two megabytes of memory, then some of the features have to go. When you have eight gigabytes of memory, you can no longer make this argument.
Instead, today it's more a case of, Yes, you can have everything you want. If you can think of it, it can be done. Now which features did you want first?
It's a sort of a Limited Omnipotence. We can do anything, we just can't do everything. (And of course, we don't always know the consequences of what we do.)
And when it works, it's magic. Take Google, for example. If I wanted to learn about, say, magnetohydrodynamics, I can just type in the word (assuming I know how to spell it) and hit enter, and in three-tenths of a second (or to touch on something I'll come back to later, no time at all) I have the first ten of over forty-four thousand results. Bing! The demons of Jack Vance's Dying Earth books were never this helpful.
And the reason that it's magical is that we can't see how it works. Unless you already know how Google works, there's not much you can determine from using it. You can work out some of what it does, the way it ranks pages, for example, but those are the just rules that it follows, not the reason it follows those rules. It's kind of like our understanding of the atom before the discovery of subatomic particles - we can describe and predict how atoms behave, but we don't know why.
One of the most useful ways of finding out how something works is to look at a broken one - or indeed, to break one deliberately and see what happens. There's a lot of information in failure modes. That's why scientists built atom smashers, for example. And if not for a faulty connector, I would never have known that Cityrail ticket machines use EBCDIC.
And that's also why, I think, we get so mad when software doesn't work. There's no feedback on the internal operations when it does work, unlike the familiar machinery that surrounds us with its clanking and grinding and whirring. When a car is about to break down, it usually makes horrible noises first, and then makes a really horrible noise just as it fails. And even if you can't tell from the noise that the flange sprocket has worn through the fairing pin and fallen into the gearbox, you can at least tell that something has actually, physically, broken. And that replacing the broken thing will make the car work again, and that although this will cost lots of money, you can at least be reasonably assured that upon payment of said money, your car will be repaired.
But with computers...
Yesterday, when I clicked this, it retrieved my email. Today, it doesn't work. I don't get any errors, it just doesn't do anything. (My crystal ball doesn't work!)The problem is, we are wizards, near enough. We're just not good at it.
Have you tried rebooting? (Did you start again from page one in the Codex Emailulorum?)
Yes, that's the first thing I tried. (Yes, that's the first thing I tried!)
Did it help? (Did it help.)
No. (No. And can you do anything about these sales pitches for time-shares in Hell I keep getting?)
(End of Part 1)
There's a reason that this blog is called Ambient Irony. Take a look at this*
Reporters at three news organizations are resisting subpoenas issued in the trial of a lawyer charged with conspiring to support terrorists.So the question is, are the quotes accurate, or did the reporters edit them to suit?
Prosecutors issued subpoenas to four reporters at Reuters, The New York Times and Newsday, saying they want the reporters to testify that lawyer Lynne Stewart said what they quoted her as saying in their articles.
Lawyers for the reporters have argued that making the reporters testify would compromise their neutrality by forcing them to side with prosecutors.So, that means you made the quotes up? Or is it just that being legally required to tell the truth compromises your principles?
In a motion filed Monday, a lawyer for Newsday argued that its subpoenaed reporter, Patricia Hurtado, might have to stop covering the trial if she is required to testify.Well, yes, I think that would follow.
My suggestion: Look for the little ... markers. They're a dead giveaway.**
* Of course, since it's linked from Instapundit, you probably already have.
** I wouldn't be at all surprised if the quotes were edited. A while back my brother was interviewed by The Australian (Australia's Least Worst Newspaper&trade for an article on PocketPCs. They had him speaking in marketese ("maximise the product synergies" sort of thing), and I asked him if he really said that. He replied "Well... Not exactly." And they didn't even use the ... markers!
Step 1. Pick up a newspaper.Note: This may not work with The Wall Street Journal or similar papers. It's not that they're not biased; it's just that their bias boils down to Money good. More money better. Unless you live in Berkeley, California, you are unlikely to score any points by protesting this.
Step 2. Pick any article from the first four pages.Anything after page four is what is known in the business as "filler": material that is there just so there aren't embarassing blank areas between the ads.
Also, picking on the OpEd pages is a task reserved for our grade school classes. (Well, and Tim Blair. But that's only because we can't get him to stop.)
Step 3. Pick a paragraph at random.Check to see if it is an unedited quote with attribution; this sometimes happens. (Look for the little ... markers; these indicate that the quote has been changed so as to reverse its original meaning. Sometimes these markers are left out, this is covered in our Advanced Course.) If so, pick the following paragraph instead.
Under no circumstances follow the story beyond the "jump" - the point where it says, Continued on page Q-37. Paragraphs after the jump are often written by underpaid assistants or "stringers" and rarely exhibit the quality and quantity of bias we are seeking.
Step 4. Publish the paragraph on your blog as an example of the treachery of the MSM (mainstream media).You may want to disable comments at this point too.
[A] movie promo for "The Stepford Wives" ... depicted Condoleezza Rice as a topless hottie and Hillary Clinton as a bosomy housewife holding a baking sheet.I don't think it would have been tolerated either.
"Henry Kissinger was national security adviser 30 years ago, and if he had been used in this way at the time, I don't think it would have been tolerated."
(Words of wisdom from the Washington Post)
Okay, now that I have that off my chest...
I was reading the latest catalogue from Software Warehouse on the way home tonight, and I noticed that they are selling some new tape drives, including the Sony SAIT. Now, I'd never heard of SAIT before, so I thought I'd do a quick Google to find some details, only I ended up at Google News instead and it took me half an hour to finally stop cursing and pry myself loose.
Anyway, one downside of the 12-month doubling period for hard disk densities I mentioned in the previous episode was that the capacity of backup tapes wasn't growing nearly as fast, so instead of (as it was in the old days) one tape backing up multiple disks, it took multiple tapes to back up one disk. Which was rather less convenient than the other way round.
Sony have come up with an interesting solution to the problem with SAIT: They cheated.*
Check out the physical specifications of the drive:
5.25" Full Height Extended (5.8"W x 3.3" H x 12" D)I haven't seen a full height 5¼-inch drive for years, and 12 inches deep?! Okay, so it can store 500GB compared to AIT-4's 200GB, but AIT-4 would actually fit inside a normal computer! AIT drives are usually half-height 3½-inch devices, about 4" by 6" by 1.6"... So about one sixth the size of the SAIT.
Bring back 9-track tapes, I say. At least you could watch them spin while the blinkenlights blinked...
* By the way, Sony guys and girls, your website lists "Desktops Computers" as a destination in the menu. Either they're awfully big or you've got a typo.
From The Globe and Mail:
Iraqis dance around victim's bodyOf course, having Arabs dancing around the bodies of their victims is nothing new, but it never seems to get reported unless it can somehow be spun into a broader defeat for America and her allies.
'Down with USA' Baghdad bomb another blow to reconstruction
By ORLY HALPERN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - Page A1
BAGHDAD -- Baghdad's second major car bombing in 24 hours killed at least 13 people yesterday, including five foreigners working to rebuild critical power plants -- the latest blow to U.S. reconstruction efforts just two weeks before sovereignty is handed back to Iraqis.
Think I'm reading too much into it? Read a little further:
While the insurgent attacks set back reconstruction efforts, Iraqis hold the Americans responsible for the lack of improvement.Not "some Iraqis". Not even "many Iraqis". All twenty-some million of them, one assumes.
And here's the Arizona Republic:
Arizona Republic - 10 minutes agoAh, the good old firestorm of rage! Nothing quite like it for cleaning up after the party.
BAGHDAD - Iraqi insurgents struck at the heart of downtown Baghdad on Monday, setting off a huge bomb as a Western convoy passed, an attack that killed at least 13 people, wounded dozens and triggered a firestorm of rage against America's presence.
Google News is a wonderful tool for finding examples of outrageous bias in the media. Of course, all it's doing is throwing up articles at random from a broad spectrum of the media - but that's all it takes.
President Mohammad Khatami has warned Europe's three big powers [Three big powers? That would be, uh, Britain, okay, I guess they can be counted as part of Europe, and then there's... Um....] that Iran's future cooperation with UN nuclear inspectors may be at risk if criticism of Tehran's nuclear program persists, newspapers said on Tuesday.You can tell it's Reuters, because they said that with a straight face.
Iran: If you don't stop criticising us, we'll stop co-operating!Reuters, Tuesday: Terrorists around the world walked off the job today in a protest against unfair treatment, demanding better working conditions and free dental care.
World: But you aren't co-operating now.
Iran: Right, that's it! Down tools! Everybody out!!
(Though there remains the question of why Reuters is reporting what the newspapers reported. Slow day down the salt mines?)
Heck, even Xinhua is less biased, and they're a mouthpiece of the Evil Chicoms™:
Car bomb explodes near Jewish settlement in GazaWell, apart from the near-universal use of the euphemism "militant" and the "showers" and "rain" of gunfire from the Israelis, it's pretty straightforward: Terrorist tries to blow up checkpoint; IDF, not being stupid, fire on car; bomb blows up killing zero infidels, no virgins for you.
GAZA, June 15 (Xinhuanet) -- A car bomb exploded on Tuesday near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip as a Palestinian militant drove his explosive-laden car and tried to approach one of the lookout posts, Palestinian witnesses and sources said.
The militant, whose identity was not known, was killed after his car was showered by the gunfire of the Israeli troops stationed on the outskirts of the settlement, Palestinian security sources said.
Palestinian witnesses said that as soon as the car approached the post, soldiers rained the explosive-laden car with gunshots until it blew up. The militant in the car was killed as flames and black smoke were seen coming out from the vehicle, they said.
Mind you, The Australian - possibly Australia's least worst paper - actually manages to report the news on the same incident:
Car explodes near Israeli troopsLight on detail, perhaps, but pretty light on the bias too.
From correspondents in Gaza
June 15, 2004
A VEHICLE blew up near Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip today after soldiers fired on it, the army said.
There were no reports of Israeli or Palestinian casualties.
The vehicle apparently was rigged with explosives, the army said. Palestinian witnesses said no one was inside when it blew up.
The blast went off on a road closed to Palestinian traffic. Black smoke was seen in the area, and Palestinian witnesses said they heard gunfire.
Is it so hard? Really, is it so hard? You report the facts. If all you have is statements from opposing parties, you report the statements with attribution. He said. She said. This is third-grade composition class stuff; surely at least some journalism graduates know how to do this.
Or maybe their writing skills were all consumed by the firestorm of rage.
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