Saturday, August 04, 2007


I had a chance during the last few days to watch the first 11 episodes of HBO's "Rome".

Really outstanding! Well worth your time and energy, I cant wait for the second season to come out on DVD. I have to admit, I'm a late student to Roman history, but I have really enjoyed it lately as I catch up. If I were teaching a class, I'd definately use scenes out of it to teach specific principles of government, freedom, populism and class warfare.

Really well done.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bruce v. TSA

Bruce Schneier, security expert and cryppie, interviews the head of the TSA. Question 1:

Bruce Schneier: By today's rules, I can carry on liquids in quantities of three ounces or less, unless they're in larger bottles. But I can carry on multiple three-ounce bottles. Or a single larger bottle with a non-prescription medicine label, like contact lens fluid. It all has to fit inside a one-quart plastic bag, except for that large bottle of contact lens fluid. And if you confiscate my liquids, you're going to toss them into a large pile right next to the screening station -- which you would never do if anyone thought they were actually dangerous.
Can you please convince me there's not an Office for Annoying Air Travelers making this sort of stuff up?

The answer here.

Spoiler: they are, in fact, just making shit up.

Politics + Religion = Rational Discourse

or, sometimes not. The Kansas GOP seems to be moving from a philosophical/political movement to a quasi-religion.

More worrisome for the GOP have been the high-profile defections we saw in 2006. First, the former head of the Kansas Republican Party, Mark Parkinson, left the party to become the running mate of Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The pair won easily.
Then former Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison left the GOP to run for state attorney general, trouncing the Republican incumbent, Phill Kline.

There were others, and there are bound to be more now that moderate Republicans have learned the secret to beating their conservative adversaries: Avoid a losing battle in the primary, where the most-conservative voters hold sway. Switch parties and eke it out in the general, winning the support of Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans.

Maybe this isn't a loyalty issue so much as it's one of substance. To be fair, the Dems flirted with some pretty quirky ideas also when they were lost in the woods.

Personally, I vote for the candidate that makes the most sense, which means no one I have voted for has won an office in more than a decade.

Except Barney Frank and Ted Kennedy.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Kennedy. But, he's a very senior guy who knows all the rules and delivers the goods. And once in a while he stands up for things I think are right. His past is, lets say, water under the bridge,

Thursday, August 02, 2007


FTR, today is my 43rd birthday. I am more surprised than the rest of you that I lived this long, more proof of the lack of a vengful god. Here's to another year of apostasy!

Angels, meet Pin: Pin, Angels

The god-volken are having the usual sectarian debate about who is more correct in their ghost hunting, Brownback or Huckabee.

"Last Sunday, the Brownback for President campaign privately contacted the Huckabee campaign and asked them to intervene and stop this anti-Catholic whisper campaign," said John Rankin, Iowa communications director of Brownback for President. "After two days, the Huckabee campaign did not respond, which left the impression that they would not take action to end the anti-Catholic whisper campaign by their supporters. While we are all delighted that Mr. Saltsman is a lifelong Catholic, we deplore the anti-Catholic whisper campaign being perpetuated by Huckabee supporters. The Huckabee campaign's response lacked a clear denunciation of the offensive contents of the email."

This happens when you ust make shit up and expect everyone to believe. Would you feel comfortable with either of their fingers on the nuclear trigger? Me either.

Asperger test

I, for one, have never self-diagnosed with Asperger's although I can certainly see some of the more obvious symptoms in my personality, e.g. strong concentration skills especially with numbers, a rich inner life, introversion, noticing details other folks miss etc. I've always assumed that these characteristics are also shared with general intelligence and I, frankly, got a pretty full helping of that. I've worked fairly hard the last 15 years or so to become less introverted and more social, something I think an Asperger's patient would not do. Also, among a certain set, a self-diagnosis of Asperger's becomes an excuse for being lazy or rude and not putting any energy into social dynamics.

So I took the following test pretty honestly, but expected a negative result: AQ Test
Guess what?

I don't have Aspergers! I scored a 22, within the error bar for the average computer scientist and a little below the average math contest winner. I was very slightly dissapointed with the latter.

I was actually a little worried at one point in the test because it asked about randomly memorizing license plates and phone numbers. "ut oh!", I thought, then remembered not only the phone number of the hotel I am staying in (which I dialed a month ago), but the license plate numbers of my last 3 rental cars. "hmmmm.. not good"

It's nice to know this is "normal" behavior.

Klielbasia, The Accordion Playing, Lunch Lady Drag Queen

Provincetown has a lot entertainment to offer, some of it unique, even to a world traveling, play-going dillitante like myself. So when I was handed a flyer for Kielbasia, by a tall, accordion wielding drag queen with a hair net, I was not taken too far aback. Normally drag shows can be funny and, as a class, I've never met a group with a faster, sharper sense of humor than drag queens. As some of you know my mother's parents are Polish, so Kielbasa, Accordions and Polkas are all part of my childhood, although I have never seen them presented in drag form before. So I bought a ticket for the 10 pm show and had a drink.

It's impossible to summerize her act here. Anything you can think of pales in comparison. Let's just say, if you see this, you'll never look at polkas the same way again...