Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Living in a small town

Living in a small town means . . . you cannot use the Yellow Pages for a booster seat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tab Clearing

 When Will our Email Betray Us? An Email Privacy Primer in Light of the Petraeus Saga   Good crypto can't hurt, and it might help.

JEP writes: I suspect that “Mankind” will not show the crucial scene in the education of Alexander of Macedon (not yet The Great) who as a teenager was sent with one of Phillip’s marshals with a small force to deal with insurgents and raids on the frontier. On the way they encountered a stream of refugees, young people, women well raped, carrying everything they had as the fled toward the order represented by King Phillip. The old marshal pointed to the stream of misery and said “That is defeat. Avoid it.” Alexander remembered that all his life. It is a lesson every free person should learn.

What to do about dysfunctional universities that deliver no value for money spent?  Forget 'em, writes William Briggs. The idea is sound. Ignore the old system, which hasn’t any hope of being repaired, and start again. Let those who wish pile up debt, collect “womyn’s studies” “degrees”, and be taught by adjuncts at Behemoth U. But for those students who actually want to learn, we have to do something different. Nothing radical. Just return to the roots of what a classical liberal education was
meant to be.

Elon Musk: Triumph of His Will

The Other Economic Cliff: Why Business Investment Is Really Nose-Diving

NeoVictorian Computing. We software creators woke up one day to find ourselves living in the software factory. The floor is hard, from time to time it gets very cold at night, and they say the factory is going to close and move somewhere else. We are unhappy with our modern computing and alienated from our work, we experience constant, inexorable guilt.

WordPress Accepts BitCoin

Six guys fought in the American Revolution, lived long enough to have their pictures taken, their words written down.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blue Falcon Part II

By coincidence I have a new home project: Replacing a run of pipe that feeds my new dishwasher.

See, it has a cunning weak spot that looks like it was, at one time, bent over at a sharp angle . . .

Blue Falcon

Dear Whomever Used to Live Here and Installed the Dishwasher.

You had a new dishwasher.
You had a 3/8 brass pipe running up from the basement.

The correct solution to connect the two is not not not, at the point this pipe pops out of the kitchen floor, to bend the pipe over at 90 degree angle and ram it into the inlet valve on the dishwasher.

No.  They sell actual hardware to solve this problem.


The Current Occupant.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Fake it till you make it - adopt that pose

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Video: Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

We are such apes: acting like one is large and in charge fakes your brain into being large and in charge.  Like a boss.

Which is why the folk-saying 'fake it 'till you make it' exists, one supposes.   Like most folk-sayings it just works.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers

Jeff Riggenbach writes . . .

Quigley's book also explains why the federal government of the United States of Europe & America in Philip K. Dick's novel The Simulacra is a one-party state — and why those who still believe at this late date that there is any significant difference between Republicans and Democrats is indulging him- or herself in childish fantasy. As Quigley put it,

The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy. … Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.


When the truck don’t run, the bread don’t come, have a hard time finding petrol

There aint no heat and the powers gone out, It's kerosene lamps and candles.
The roads are blocked its all grid locked, you got a short wave handle?
Can you track the deer, can you dig the well, couldn’t quite hear your answer.
I think I see a rip in the social fabric, brother can you spare some ammo.

Corb Lund - Gettin' Down On The Mountain

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Celebrities, email, IM: How Do They Do That

Listening to 'Penn's Sunday School' and he had George Takei on as a guest.

(That bit about George's family being swept up into FDR's concentration camps? Some powerful stuff. It Can Happen Here.  Again.)

George and Penn were gassing along like friends.  George has a new play.  Penn can't make it to opening night but he really wants to see it the next night.  George is delighted.   I had a thought: how do guys like this keep in touch?

Okay yes, they have people. Email. Instant Messaging. Sure.

But how do they keep the noise down?

Email. Brad Famous has an email: He gets thousands of emails to it a day: fans, well-wishers, spammers, the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, d*ckheads.

And Brad has people he actually wants to email: his wife, his kids, his buddy Penn, because he can't remember the punch line to the bear joke.

Everyone who is famous or rich or in the public spot-light has the same problem: how do you talk to people to get things done?

This kind of thing - a technical and social problem all wrapped up in a meaty package - is super-fascinating to me.  Dogs have squirrels, I have thoughts like these.

I can imagine a close-held white listing service: out-of-band updates to your network, crypto. They'd shred their trash as a matter of course. It's could be a guy and his wife in Montana or Wisconsin, someplace out of the way. Like that.

I might be over-complicating things, there.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The messiness cannot go into the program; it piles up around the programmer

Soon the programmer has no choice but to retreat into some private interior space, closer to the machine, where things can be accomplished. The machine begins to seem friendlier than the analysts, the users, the managers. The real-world reflection of the program — who cares anymore? Guide an X-ray machine or target a missile; print a budget or a dossier; run a city subway or a disk-drive read/write arm: it all begins to blur. The system has crossed the membrane — the great filter of logic, instruction by instruction — where it has been cleansed of its linkages to actual human life.

The goal now is not whatever all the analysts first set out to do; the goal becomes the creation of the system itself. Any ethics or morals or second thoughts, any questions or muddles or exceptions, all dissolve into a junky Nike-mind: Just do it. If I just sit here and code, you think, I can make something run. When the humans come back to talk changes, I can just run the program. Show them: Here. Look at this. See? This is not just talk. This runs. Whatever you might say, whatever the consequences, all you have are words and what I have is this, this thing I’ve built, this operational system. Talk all you want, but this thing here: it works.

Ellen Ullman - Close to the Machine