Misc: January 2008 Archives


January 28, 2008

I've upgraded to Movable Type 4. This may produce some weird artifacts, which you should let me know about.

UPDATE: Yes, I know the archives are broken. For some reason, MT4 wants to replace spaces with hyphens instead of underscores. Currently RTFMing for the setting to change this back. If anyone out there knows and wants to save me the trouble, please let me know.

UPDATE: Problem solved, I think. Not the world's most intuitive UI.


January 23, 2008

In this installment of EG career day, I give sex advice. Every year The Stranger runs a charity auction and this year I bought the right to be Savage Love's guest expert. So, last week I flew up to Seattle, met with Dan, and picked out some questions to answer.

Here's me with Dan Savage:

(Sorry about the low quality... it was taken with my iPhone.)

My so-called advice runs in The Stranger this week and in other papers next week and can be found here.

Last time on EG career day, I made burritos.

UPDATE: Props to Jon Peterson, who did the actual eBay bidding for this item.


January 21, 2008

I haven't gotten my copy of Liberal Fascism (aka "a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care") to make fun of yet, but it seems to me that this theme isn't exactly new to Goldber. Here's Jello Biafra in 1979:
I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...

Carter Power will soon go away
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school
Your kids will meditate in school!

California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California

Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face

Rest of lyrics here.


January 18, 2008

On my way home last night I caught Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss on NPR. Anyway, Weiner claimed that all languages had many more words for negative emotional states than positive ones that this was some sort Sapir-Whorf thing). I'm not sure that this is really true—there are actually quite a few words for positive states— but of course Tolstoy said it first:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

And of course along the same lines, here's Richard Dawkins:

True, there are many different ways of being alive - at least ten million different ways if we count the number of distinct species alive today - but, however many ways there may be of being alive, it is certain that there are vastly more ways of being dead!

January 16, 2008

Mrs. Guesswork and I just finished watching Penn and Teller's Bullshit! episode on feng shui. Regardless of the merits of feng shui, I was surprised to see that the recommendations from the various practitioners varied so widely. I don't know much about feng shui, but I'd always had the impression the rules (whatever you think of their merits) were pretty well defined. By contrast, while there's some variation in the exact rules, it's not like half the Orthodox rabbis in the world think it's cool to eat bacon double cheeseburgers.

January 15, 2008

Courtesy of Steve Bellovin on the cryptography mailing list, here is the (a?) article about Mike McConnell's desire to "tap into cyberspace":
Spychief Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to protect America's cyberspace that will raise privacy issues and make the current debate over surveillance law look like "a walk in the park,\u201d McConnell tells The New Yorker in the issue set to hit newsstands Monday. "This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we're going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens."

At issue, McConnell acknowledges, is that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Part of the lawmakers' ire, they have said, is the paltry information the administration has provided. The cyberspace security initiative was first reported in September by The Baltimore Sun, and some congressional aides say that lawmakers have still learned more from the media than they did from the few Top Secret briefings they have received hours before the administration requested money in November to jump start the program.

I can't tell if there's even anything new here.


January 14, 2008

Sorry about the lack of posting over the past few days—the combination of all-day meetings and a bad cold has left me pretty useless. My viral load is still high but my meetings are over, so expect posting to resume shortly. In other news, nasal spray is the greatest medical invention of the 20th century.

January 6, 2008

The Times Magazine has a mondo article about electronic voting. I haven't had time to write up a full comment on it, but check this out:
Still, the events of Election Day 2007 showed just how ingrained the problems with the touch-screens were. The printed paper trails caused serious headaches all day long: at one polling place, printers on most of the machines weren't functioning the night before the polls opened. Fortunately, one of the Election Day technicians was James Diener, a gray-haired former computer-and-mechanical engineer who opened up the printers, discovered that metal parts were bent out of shape and managed to repair them. The problem, he declared cheerfully, was that the printers were simply "cheap quality" (a complaint I heard from many election critics). "I'm an old computer nerd," Diener said. "I can do anything with computers. Nothing's wrong with computers. But this is the worst way to run an election."

Here's the thing: those printers (called voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs)), are supposed to be tamper sealed, so that they provide a record of how people voted. You're not generally supposed to be opening them up and screwing with them.


January 3, 2008

I caught NPR on the way home discussing the Iowa Caucuses and Huckabee and Obama were described as "insurgents." Given that that seems to be the semi-official term for "bad people we're fighting in Iraq", maybe it's not the best word choice...