Friday, July 15, 2005

Warnings Laptops Should Have

All laptops should come with the following sticker, which can only be removed by physically destroyng the computer:

WARNING: While looking at pornography in a crowded airport, always place your back against or towards an outside wall. Placing your back towards the crowd will likely result in that same crowd knowing you are watching hot lesbian pornography in an airport, some of who may inform local officials.

I'm just saying...

Calling Bullshit

I agree fairly strongly with this piece by Paul Krugman. I keep waiting for someone, anyone, to start calling bullshit. Friends of mine who, 2 years ago, would argue one side are now arguing the other on the same topics. While it's fine to come to a principled change of opinion, it's hard to this is the light of them suggesting, "I never said that", or "That's not what I meant".

I first realized that we were living in Karl Rove's America during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush began saying things about Social Security privatization and tax cuts that were simply false. At first, I thought the Bush campaign was making a big mistake - that these blatant falsehoods would be condemned by prominent Republican politicians and Republican economists, especially those who had spent years building reputations as advocates of fiscal responsibility. In fact, with hardly any exceptions they lined up to praise Mr. Bush's proposals.


But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant. For one thing, he knew he could count on the administration's supporters to obediently accept a changing story line. Read the before-and-after columns by pro-administration pundits about Iraq: before the war they castigated the C.I.A. for understating the threat posed by Saddam's W.M.D.; after the war they castigated the C.I.A. for exaggerating the very same threat.

Book Review: Iron Sunrise

Charles Stross, 2004

This is the sequal to Singularity Sky, which I liked a great deal and this one is as good or better. It picks up right after Singuality Sky leaves off, with some of the same folks, UN-for-Profit agents Rachel and Martin (who is also an agent of the post-singularity non-quite godlike intelligence the Eschaton). It starts with an act of horror, the inducing of a supernova reaction into a populated star, Moscow, and follows the action trying to figure out who and why this happened. It's pretty good, introduces new characters and threats (one of which seems to be based on the Mormoms and their worship of the unborn).

Good, light reading.

Book Review: Olympos

2005, Dan Simmons

I'm travleing a lot, so I'm reading a lot. I make it a point not to try to work on airplanes but to do pleasure reading as much as possible. I read Dan Simmon's second half of the Illium story called Olympos. I tried to explain to Jim what it was about:

It's set in the year 5000 or so, there are only a couple of 100,000 actual physical people left on the planet after everyone of the post-humans ascended or something. The remaining humans are basically post-literate circuit boys and girls who live for exactly 100 years in bliss then supposedly ascend. Makes sense right? It turns out that they are just killed and all the posts are gone, except for a handful which are trapped in a blue beam of light in Jerulislam. Well, there are also real Olympian gods living on a real Olympus on a terraformed Mars (which is also host to a race of photosynthisizing beings called zeks which spend their time making Easter Island Statues for some reason). The Olympian Gods shuttle back and forth through spacetime to Troy in 2000 BC where they are staging the real Trojan War. Somehow the immortal gods with real powers haven't read the Illiad and they have resurrected a bunch of 20-22nd centruy Homer scholars to document it for them (since they also can't read anymore). In the mean time it turns out the entire cast of Shakespear's Tempest are are/post humans/computer avatars and are sort of running the Earth's infrastrucutre but seem to be running it into the ground. Oh and mechanical life has been evolving all this time on the moons of Jupiter since it started as a mining colony in the 21st century. They're investing what the hell is going on with Mars since in 5000AD it's been teraformed and there are gods living on it and the gods are somehow threatening quatum reality. Then it gets weird...

Jim: I see. How long has this been going on.
Mark: I read the first one last year....
Jim: No. How long have the brain worms been back?
Mark: ... I can see why you might think that...

Olympos builds on Illium in the usual Dan Simmons way, introduces more plot complications (inlcuding, I think, several pointless ones) but does, in fact, wrap the whole package up into a single, comphrensive story that almost makes sense. Almost. If you like Dan Simmons, you'll like this but if you've never read him, go ready Hyperion, which is better, makes more sense, and gives you a better feel of what Dan is like at his height. The Illium story is good, but it seems like an echo of Hyperion.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

On the Road Again

FTR, I'm leaving today on a two week road show to Spokane, Vegas, Seattle and Atlanta (oh joy). Not that it will effect this blog much.

Ultra Fox

This is a weird spin on the Rove thing from Fox. Basically John Gibson is suggestion that Karl Rove is a hero for out a CIA operative. Taking this logic a bit futher then, in his view any political operative should be able to burn any intelligence operative if it advances the president's agenda. Somehow I don't see this logic sitting well with the Right if the president were a Clinton.

I say give Karl Rove a medal, even if Bush has to fire him. Why? Because Valerie Plame should have been outed by somebody. And if nobody else had the cojones to do it, I'm glad Rove did — if he did do it, and he still says he didn't.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I want Yesterday's Future Today!

An interesting, somewhat amusing in a Lileks kind of way, look at the future that wasn't.

It wasn't that long ago that we had a future. I mean, we have one now; the world isn't going to crash into the Sun or anything like that. What I mean is that we had a future that we could clearly imagine. The future wasn't tomorrow, next week, next year, or next century. It was a place with a form, a structure, a style. True, we didn't know exactly what the future would be like, but we knew that it had to be one of a few alternatives; some good, some very bad. The future was a world with a distinct architecture. It had its own way of speaking. It had its own technology. It was for all intents and purposes a different land where people dressed differently, talked differently, ate differently, and even thought differently. It was where scientists were wizards, where machines were magically effective and efficient, where tyrants were at least romantically evil rather than banal, and where the heavens were fairyland where dreams could literally come true.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Music in your head

I discovered very recently that most people don't hear music all the time. This has been a surprise to me on pretty much every level as I've always assumed that people hear different kinds of music, pretty much all the time. It came up in conversation about two years ago with some friends who, when I asked about what music they heard in their head, looked at me really weird. It came up again when I had the brain worms as the music had stopped for the first time ever and, when I told the neurologist, we had a discussion about it. He confirmed that that was pretty much the way everyone was and asked me questions about how I dealt with it. "Easily," I said. "I've never not heard it, so it's something I'm used to"

Today the NYT had an interesting article confirming, yet again, that my brain is very different from the standard issue one.

FTR, tonight it's dance music although earlier it was Christmas songs (the most common).

Lightning Bolt!! Lightning Bolt!!

File this under "Things in 2022 which don't seem as such a good idea during this interview as they did in 2005 when I did them".

Monday, July 11, 2005

My Day in Haiku

From an email thread with Kenny McBride, the Industry Manager for Microsoft Capital Markets. Some of it is fairly internal stuff, e.g. the Charlotte reference is to Kenny's management who is based there instead of NY for very poor reasons. Also my old job as Industry Technical Strategist (ITS) was filled today by someone who is basically a cronie for the new manager.

I was in a standards body meeting on the phone all day:

Exciting like a forest fire
Or watching paint dry

Standards Bodies
Knitting needles in the eyes
But far more painful

Discussing the New Charlotte-based management for Kenny's current and my old team
The old VSU
Sinks near needle sharp pines
As the hot air cools

Management Styles differ
I was just going to suggest that
Lets build a scorecard

Great suggestion Ken!
Be more proactive and feel
the paradigm shift!

Red Yellow Green
The Killer Deck creeps silently
From Building 22 into trash

ITS still open?
Many qualified candidates
Live close to Charlotte

Kenny (with not so strict adherence to the forms)
ITS Just Closed
Sitting on the dock of a bay
Ideal incestuous incremental improvments

Ring a bell, yell, shout!
Sing the praises of surprise

An offsite will enable
B’s to hire C’s
All in order to please

Let’s have a meeting!
If we gaze at our navel,
profits will follow!

Glib vertical pretences
Make the innocent all work and no play
In then out of the fray

Adults speak caution
but every child also knows
“I can drive this car”


This is my son's current career goal. He's definately decided to join the millitary, but I can't kick about this too much (especialyl after all the government work we did at CertCo).

Specialty Summary. Operates, evaluates, and manages airborne signals intelligence information systems and operations activities. Performs and supervises identification, acquisition, recording, translating, analyzing, and reporting of assigned voice communications. Provides signals intelligence threat warning support and interfaces with other units. Performs and assists in mission planning. Maintains publications and currency items. Maintains and supervises communication nets. Transcribes, processes, and conducts follow-up analysis of assigned communications. Related DoD Occupational Subgroup: 232

Error 421: Can't resolve statements

Reading this WaPo article on Plame, I can't resolve these two statements:

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified as a covert agent in a newspaper column two years ago, but Rove's lawyer said yesterday that his client did not identify her by name.


Rove gave Cooper a "big warning" that Wilson's assertions might not be entirely accurate and that it was not the director of the CIA or the vice president who sent Wilson on his trip. Rove apparently told Cooper that it was "Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip,"

I suppose, technically, he didn't say her name was Valerie Plame, he said the person was Wilson's wife. I don't think that cuts it though. We're back to the days of splitting legal hairs when there is clearly a larger issue.

Rove's an ass and I have no sympathy for people who do what he did. Outting an agent is wrong, the man should be tried for treason.

An Ecclesiastical Question Finally answered

Something like what I once asked a nun in Cathechism before I was banned from attending.

Herr Doktor Kaptain!

PhD, a grad school comic strip. Blisteringly accurate and funny! Like this or this motivation graph

It's a well documented fact that my 3rd and 4th year of grad school I ate nothing but Captain Crunch and drank nothing but (cheap) beer and Jack Daniels.

Sundays would be a special day for church and I would do both together.