30 January 2007

soylent green

scientist develops caffeinated donuts.
Bohannon says he's developed a way to add caffeine to baked goods, without the bitter taste of caffeine. Each piece of pastry is the equivalent of about two cups of coffee.
now that's science.

28 January 2007

money for nothing

from an op-ed post by Radley Balko at reason:
When you see the inevitable stories about how much money will be spent on the 2008 election, the spin will likely be something along the lines of how we should be worried because all of that money is buying influence. A better question would be why so much influence is on the table in the first place.
in all my rantings, this is the point i'm always trying to make.

27 January 2007

the world loses a wonderful man

via the Boothbay Register

Rev. Dr. Robert E. Luccock of Ocean View Retirement Community, Falmouth, passed away Friday, January 12 at Maine Medical Center.

Born in New Haven, Conn. on October 4, 1915, he was the son of Halford and Mary Luccock. He spent his early childhood in Rutherford, N.J but returned to New Haven graduating from Hopkins School in 1934, Yale College in 1938 and Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1941. He also received two honorary divinity degrees, one from Lake Erie College and the other from American University.

In 1946 he married the former Barbara Follansbee of Newburyport, Mass.

He served churches in Plainville and New Haven, Conn., Northport N.Y., Newburyport and Wellesley, Mass., and had taught at Boston University School of Theology. He was a guest professor at Berkley School of Religion and Ilif School of Theology in Denver.

Rev. Dr. Luccock had been a guest preacher at many churches throughout his career including numerous churches in the Boothbay region.

Dr. Luccock's published writings include nine books on religious themes. Among them were "The Power of His Name," "If God Before Us," "Preaching Through Matthew," and "Becoming the Best We Can Be."

Among his many interests were the study and photography of fifteen National Parks in the United States and Canada, and 12 Gothic cathedrals in Great Britain. He was an avid train enthusiast, a collector of United States stamps, a music lover, an enthusiastic sports fan (a loyal Red Sox fan) and a life-long reader and historian.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years; one sister, Marietta Phillips of Falmouth; two daughters, Susan Isler and her husband Robert of Falmouth, and Nancy Strong and her husband Michael of Wellesley, Mass.; two grandsons, Jim Isler and his wife Emily and Tom Isler, both of New York City.

A private burial service for the family will be held at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Ocean View Resident Assistance Fund, 20 Blueberry Lane, Falmouth, ME 04105.

Arrangements are under the guidance of Independent Death Care, 471 Deering Avenue in Portland.

UK seeks to perfect the Panopticon

officials in the UK are considering adding closed-circuit cameras to monitor traffic cameras because there have been 7 defilings of cameras in three years. i didn't detect any questioning of the use of the traffic monitoring or a realization that the monitored public might not care for the constant state of surveillance.

26 January 2007

quote of the day-or-so

I believe in personal responsibility and limited government. I do not believe the Founding Fathers intended the government to be some vast beneficent safety net that would take care of citizens from cradle to grave. The truth is that America's most important instrument of social justice stares back at each of us in the mirror every morning. We have grown accustomed to thinking it's government's job to take care of our neighbors and brothers and sisters and parents. But it's not. It's my job, and it's your job. And the sooner we realize that and get to work, the better our society will become and the faster everyone will realize we've been looking for justice in the wrong places.
-- Warren Bluhm, The Green Bay News Chronicle (Wisconsin), August 2, 2001

when the NRA goes bad

as everyone knows, i'm a bit of a gunless gun nut. with all this freedom shit i keep yapping about, i think it's time i provided evidence of the necessity for all of it. click here.

dodge the draft

originally published 25 September 2004

since i am lacking inspiration, i figured i'd write about something that's been pissing me off lately: people talking about reinstating the draft. consequences for the military and the motivations for the war in Iraq aside, there are some serious issues with oligarchs snatching children and parents from families to fight their wars.

by definition, the draft is involuntary, "involuntary servitude" one might say. to cut to the chase, the Thirteenth Amendment specifically guarantees protection from involuntary servitude. seems simple, but there doesn't seem to be any sort of intelligent thought about the powers actually granted to the gubmint.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution grants the authority to congress to levy taxes. specifically, Clause 12 grants taxing authority "to raise and support armies." being able to read, i understand that to mean uncle sam can raise money and spend it on a military. simple enough. but others take it to mean utter authority over the lives and freedom of any US male 18 - 35. yet others don't care to place limits on gubmint.

for the sake of argument, let's assume that Article I granted that authority. again, being educated, i know the act of amending the Constitution supercedes the original powers established therein. that's just how the whole system works. Amendment XIII really does state a specific protection from involuntary servitude.

i also think that any war that was truly just and in the interest of the country wouldn't require a draft. i don't think the US military wanted for recruits when invading afghanistan.

i have a couple quotes that i think are pretty cool (and compelling?):
  • "Where is it written in the Constitution, in what section or clause is it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battle in any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it." -- Daniel Webster, in a speech before the U.S. House of Representatives in 1814.
  • “...it [conscription] rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state- not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers- to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn’t a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.” --Ronald Reagan
  • http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul72.html

of the people, by the people

in ballot access news:

After the November 2004 election, the presidential nominees of the Green Party and the Libertarian Party jointly requested a recount of the presidential vote in New Mexico and in Ohio.

Both states had relatively nominal fees for requesting a recount. But elections officials in both states were determined to thwart the requests. In New Mexico, the state retroactively increased the fee ten-fold and a lower court said that was OK. The two candidates couldn’t afford the $1,400,000 new fee for the recount, so they dropped their request, and the voting-counting machines were then reprogrammed so that any recount would be impossible. Later, on May 16, 2006, the New Mexico Supreme Court said the two candidates should have received the recount they had requested after all, but, of course, by then it was too late.

In Ohio, the recount supposedly went ahead. Under the law, a few precincts were supposedly to be randomly chosen. A hand count of these randomly-chosen precincts was then to be compared with the machine total. If they matched, no further recount in that county was needed. On January 24, a jury convicted two Ohio elections officials of rigging the recount. Instead of randomly choosing precincts, they first identified a few precincts in which the hand-count and the machine-count matched. Then they claimed that those precincts had been the randomly-chosen ones; and since totals matched, no further recount of other precincts was needed. As in New Mexico, it is too late to do anything about it.

now that is a truly responsive gubmint. if we give them more money, maybe they'll get betterer.

25 January 2007

spaces is dead

for those subscribing via rss or atom, you've just been swamped with a treasure trove of posts i have ported. i tried to limit myself to those worth moving, but copying them over manually wasn't too terrible.

i have permanently deleted my spaces space (account?) so this is now the place for all of the ranting you've grown to read.

positive discontent

Joel has written about the Identity Management Method that, in short, leverages people's innate desires to do well. having spent yonks in both the Command and Control and Econ 101 management styles, i've discovered, after reading Joel's post, that i am now happily plopped into the superior Identity method. my managers coach me on goals and expect me to make the right decision.

i find that this method fits an agile organization much better. a militaristic approach stifles creativity and introduces more opportunities for error by favoring the vision of a single person. offering misplaced incentives is plain idiocy. it never fails to create negative unintended consequences.

my favorite Econ 101 failure was with my last company. we were gathered together in a common area and told to work longer hours to earn more money for the bossman, in those very terms, with no incentive to produce higher quality software. as reward, we might get extra vacation time. the catch: all vacations were canceled for the foreseeable future, making any extra time off moot.

the common theme i've found among all the bad managers i've encountered can be summed up in a single catch phrase: "work harder, not smarter."

so, if you want your resources to do better work for you, considered thinking of them as people and harnessing their discontent in a positive manner. when a team member grumbles, listen. it's usually something you did.

mapping government-sponsored terror or more google love

Cato has made what i consider to be one of the finest uses of google maps i've seen in internets tubedom. the map, an adjunct to the paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," lists the locations and accompanying descriptions of unnecessary, incorrect, botched, or overly zealous paramilitary-style police raids in the US from 1985 to 2006. i'm quite impressed. (by the map, not the raids.)

i'd be more impressed with google maps if my street actually showed up in the google database. but i guess that statement might give away my 20. can i expect a midnight, no-knock raid for to silence my questioning of authority?

satanism vs statism

politics being what they are in America, i'm not necessarily surprised by the use of the word 'satanic' to describe another's viewpoints, especially as applied to the debate surrounding school choice. i am personally affronted by teachers' unions attempts to control public education at the expense of the public. unions are established to protect members' interests and therefore cannot represent the interests of school children. while it may be entirely appropriate for union members to provide input on educational decisions, it is parents' right and responsibility to decide what education is of greatest benefit. monopolistic government education necessarily centralizes the power and decision-making in the politically-connected few at the expense of individual families.

invariably, i have found, through individual conversations, that those people who most vigorously support public education are those with access to better public schools or those who deify FDR and have no children. a zealous defense of the present public school architecture stunts debate and hurts society by blocking reform and responsiveness, effectively ignoring the motivations of families seeking to escape the system, especially the poor.

so i encourage people to continue valuing education as a cornerstone of a strong and truly representative democracy, but step back and consider how to achieve goals rather than practices. consider changing the meaning of public education: public funding for private education freely chosen by parents.

church and state (of Maine)

Maine has what i think is an excellent solution to a limited number of highschools in rural areas: a voucher program that sends kids to any school of their choice--almost. the state has a law that bans use of vouchers at religious schools. excluding such schools from the program based on their religiosity is discrimination based on religion.

any argument that claims this financial aid forces taxpayers to support beliefs they may not hold is farcical: religious members of society have been forced to do just that for quite some time. if we want publicly funded education, we have to provide an agnostic system.

Universal Tuition Tax Credits may be a means of addressing the goals and problems inherent in all this mess.

United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency

the onion be damned. in a move that i can only call outrageously baffling, the gubmint has succeeded in trying and convicting physical currency. i shit you not. due process is now officially a sham. the owners of said currency were never even charged with a crime of any sort related to this money. you can read the ruling to take in the morbid stupidity of asset forfeiture law.

per pupil funding

by way of cato.

i came across an interesting post about the funding of education in washington state that puts per-pupil spending over $10k. since my bairns attend or will attend private school, i noticed the huge offset that money would make toward tuition: mighty close to 90%. since mine is seemingly a more expensive private school, how much would an 'ordinary' school cost? my bet is less than that ten grand. i want my two dollars!

the quote i like best is
Imagine what we could achieve if we thought of public education as a goal (an educated public) rather than a particular kind of delivery system (state-operated schools).
i've been saying this for years, but most of what i hear from public school bigots leans toward the latter. so why do we seem to be caught in this circular argument? i think i have my answer:
Responsible citizenship, especially on matters relating to the education of our children, requires more than simply having opinions and going to the polls on voting day.

if you bicycle without a bell, the terrorists have won

i have been informed that there is a great national tragedy unfolding in the UK as we sit comfy in our mold-ridden hovels: people are bicycling without bells! the next thing you know, people will stop wearing helmets. it's a slippery slope--slippery from the blood of innocents.

what drives a society to consider such outrageous attacks on personal freedom? 12 pedestrians dead over five years! and countless bell salesmen starving in the streets and tunnels of Londinium. step 1: "London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, says he is considering forcing cyclists to carry number plates." step 2: bicycles are to be fitted with blackbox devices to record the dramatic actions of bicyclists to be used in courts of law.

update: there may be a light at the end of the chunnel.

Green Shift

via Dr. Dobbs.

i guess it was naive of me to expect only my previous management to sing the praises of a failing project. toward the end of the 'development phase' of a project, i raised a red flag (actually, a series of red flags that aren't necessarily germane to this story) regarding the lack of server to integrate our separate submodules to form the Voltron that would be our dashboard. (consider that the automated tests i had written were routinely removed from the project since they didn't compile after changes were made!) my direct 'manager,' a fellow who realized he couldn't do the technical bits so weaseled his way into a supervisory role, had changed the red status i reported in the morning to yellow in the afternoon. by late afternoon, all was green and rosy; however there was still no server.

as a little joke--and hopefully you won't have had to be there to appreciate it--i replaced all the green/yellow/red/etc. icons in the system with green. so when a user reported status to feed the dashboard, their only real option was green. i saw it as a time-saving device, simply mapping the real workflow to code.

Bullet Bureaucracy

ganked from Tufte

that style of management that generates all project documentation as powerpoint slide packs, favoring bulleted lists of pitch-speak over coherent ideas. acolytes tend to favor management by objectives as well.

i still haven't quite grokked how best to think in powerpoint. my best guess is, similar to the developers' penchant for removing vowels in variable names, simply remove verbs and qualifiers from sentences and re-format into bullet lists.

when to use it: absolutely never.

Generalissimo Corncob

the supreme chief of "architecture" in a small company or department, usually a Simpleton, who vehemently demands adherence to faulty design rules, generally leading to frequent corrective cycles in development. the Generalissimo often resorts to intimidation or humiliation to achieve his goals.

Simpleton

the individual on the team who has discovered object-oriented design, patterns, or a new golden hammer and proceeds to re-"architect" applications or subsystems to benefit from his newly-gained knowledge.

generally, the Simpleton is a technical manager or senior-level programmer with one year of experience ten times over who insists that you follow or implement his "architectural" vision.

if you have some sort of leadership position, you are much more likely to be able to swing the hammer. although, sneaky peons have been known to apply ninjary to achieve similar results.

Lane Shift

The diversion of processing toward a responsibility not implied by the name of a long method that was named in such a manner as to imply its adherence to the single responsibility rule.

Best used as a component of an entry in an obfuscated code contest.

Dewey Defeats Truman

Documentation or comments that are often not kept updated tend to contradict the current implementation of the code they describe or, more often with flower box mavens, are simply copied from one method or class to another without being updated.

Automated comment generation is the next killer app for creating maintainable systems. The simplest possible thing that could work is to copy the same meaningless flower box to every class and member.

Heavily commented/documented codebases are by definition easier to maintain. If you care about the future, you will comment your Data Cloud!

Pyrite Hammer

props to The Greg.

The tendency to overhype any technology with the old tried-and-true benefits of 'reuse, reducing development cost, leveraging your legacy investments, etc.' See COM, CORBA, web services, EJB, etc.

When preparing your PowerPoint slide pack for your next meeting, create at least one slide in 4 point font that lists all elements of your technology stack in TLA format.

"for all the reasons you'd want to use web services"

Electronic Napkin

A system designed on the back of a napkin, generally identifiable by long-running maintenance projects necessary to deploy updates across the enterprise.

example: Create a fat client that shells out to Excel to handle all custom processing in VBA and spreadsheet formulae.

Best if used on or before 11 June 1981.

Ostrich Farm

You are an Ostrich Farmer when a significant portion of your codebase ignores exceptions using empty catch blocks or the dreaded On Error Resume Next.

In designing a high-availability application that doesn't fail unexpectedly, be sure to squelch all exceptions. As long as you remember to log the errors where appropriate, you will be able to keep processing.

git off my proppity

after reading about problems for the unabomber, i have found a crack team of lawyers to protect my screeds and diatribes, though i'm willing to entertain to offers.

24 January 2007

quote of the day-or-so

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H.L. Mencken

Gordian Knot

the Gordian Knot is the coupling of classes in a manner that is so tight as to resist refactoring except through "clever tricks" or Deletion.

19 January 2007

more google love

google has created a wayawesome tool used to visualize data, including the changing of the data over time. it reminds me a bit of a spotfire scatter plot.

prototype 1.5 is available

i just found out that 1.5 is official. check er out.

18 January 2007

my hero

a retired navy captain in virginia has won a six year battle against gubmint overreach. he was given a $35 ticket for not having a valid inspection sticker on his car. the funny thing is that the car was parked on private property.

i found his argument in the opinion:
Eberth raises three separate assignments of error. First, Eberth contends that Code § 46.2-1307, which vests localities with the authority to define certain private roads as “highways” for law-enforcement purposes, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Second, Eberth argues that the Prince William County ordinance is invalid because it impermissibly extends the scope of the authority granted to the County under Code § 46.2-1307. Third, Eberth contends that the ordinance is a “nullity” because the laws of the Commonwealth only require a vehicle to display an inspection sticker when it is being “operated.”
conclusion:
For these reasons, we hold that, in enacting County Code § 13-277(a), Prince William County exceeded the scope of the authority granted to it by Code § 46.2-1307. The County did not have the authority to enforce its parking regulations on “private roads” such as the one at issue in this case. Likewise, the County did not have the authority to enact County Code § 13-322, which prohibits the parking of uninspected vehicles on public highways. We reverse7 the judgment below and dismiss the underlying citation.
i'd try to piece together a more readable description, but there is way too much lawspeak sprinkled in the text.

Lane Shift

the diversion of processing toward a responsibility not implied by the name of a long method that was named in such a manner as to imply its adherence to the single responsibility rule. such a method may be accompanied by a comment identifying it as side-effecty.

Kuiper Belt

Kuiper Belt provides a menagerie of views, stored procedures, triggers, and myriad other database objects that contribute to the muddied mess that is Data Cloud. It is a corollary pattern following Data Cloud.

Reduce duplication (well, readability anyway) in one fell stroke by encapsulating business logic in database objects, especially triggers. This practice is certain to optimize all database activity to save precious milliseconds.

If you're using Data Cloud, you're most likely using Kuiper Belt.

Data Cloud

a specialization of Big Ball of Mud that requires common knowledge of all business rules within consumers. the database is the system.

every consumer of data within a given system makes direct queries against tables within a backing store, re-applying known rules and meaning to data elements either through duplicated code or mystifying SQL kludges.

the beauty of this pattern is that it may be scaled easily to Enterprise Data Cloud (aka Oort Data Cloud) simply by publishing data diagrams. who needs web services or integration platforms when you have SQL?

mad scientist

in more ways than one, Heidi Cullen (of Weather Channel "fame" ) may be called a mad scientist. she has called for American Meteorological Society decertification of any global warming skeptics. if science is about one thing, it certainly is not inquiry or rational debate. while her lack of skepticism may be well-founded, her alarmist tactics should concern anyone who cares about open and honest public debate.

perhaps it's a symptom of our collective tendency to give all sides of an argument equal weight. some people are just wrong.

update: thought i'd link to Cullen's response to the link i provided, especially given her direct statement as follows:
The point of my post was never to stifle discussion. It was to raise it to a level that doesn't confuse science and politics. Freedom of scientific expression is essential.
who can argue against that?

i was wrong

i hate to admit when i'm wrong, but it's easier when i can blame it on someone else. SCOTUS has refused to hear the case of the unfortunate fellow i wrote about earlier who is having his land seized by his local gubmint via extortion by a private party. i'm reminded of a line from Billy Bragg's "Rotting on Remand" from Workers Playtime:
This isn't a court of justice, son. This is a court of law.
which is itself probably taken from a statement by the SCOTUS justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. how apropos.

quote of the day-or-so

Skepticism is the art of questioning all claims, including skepticism, although you shouldn't take my word for it.
Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and columnist for Scientific American magazine.

17 January 2007

quote of the day-or-so

People who object to weapons aren't abolishing violence, they're begging for rule by brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were always automatically 'right.' Guns ended that, and social democracy is a hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work.
L. Neil Smith, The Probability Broach

quote of the day-or-so

P.J. O'Rourke
When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

Bucket

as one of the most common patterns in use, the Bucket provides a dumping ground to group nominally related items, generally for those preferring expediency over thought.
Function Bucket turns out to be quite useful when coding in javascript since browsers tend to suck: IE, for example, provides no means of extending built-in instances (e.g. HTMLInputElement). helper classes tend to exist solely because classes were not designed for extension, forcing developers to graft static methods onto immutable classes.

Rube Goldberg Machine

i am beginning the long process of importing posts from my old blog so's i can delete it from the intertubes. here is the first...

An incredibly overcomplicated system that breaks, stomps on, and further soils the concept of humane interface.

example:

I want to delete records from an Enterprise Data Cloud. The logical process for deletion is as follows:
  1. Figure out which table you want to delete from.
  2. Select all data associated with those records--everything.
  3. Partition the total number of records, knowing that the message you are about to send can't be over size X.
  4. XML-ify the message, embedding all kinds of random-character identifiers that you should just know.
  5. Put all messages in a QueueQueue to throttle the number of messages sent at any given time.
  6. Send each message to a message queue, no more than five at a time.
  7. Monitor the immediate error queue to know when an immediate error has occurred.
  8. Monitor a reply queue to know when each message has completed.
  9. Parse each reply to understand how many records out of each message were deleted.
  10. Re-combine all results into one statement for a user.
  11. Rinse. Repeat.

If you are asking yourself "Why not just delete the records from the database?," you are not an architect. All enterprise architecture depends on properly implemented Rube Goldberg Machines in order to justify calling it enterprise.

i have also found another real-world(?) example of the RGM.

16 January 2007

when software becomes cultish

sometimes i find myself thinking the same way Kevin Barnes does about the java cult.
Java as a culture has become a temple of rules presided over by a clergy most of whom only understand the surface meanings of their doctrine, and every day another law is added to the holy writ. Were I still a starry-eyed youth I might, perhaps, view these rules as deep and impenetrable. I could think of them as something that I might learn and eventually understand. Unfortunately, I have long ago passed the point of blind devotion and find myself an atheist amongst the flock. I am no longer impressed by the arguments and am even less impressed by many of those who make them. I have, quite clearly, passed out of all grace and hope for redemption.
the .NET community on whole is basically the same, perhaps without the years of chanting the same phrases. unfortunately, we all have our own versions of the same, whether it's an insistence on protected fields or an insistence that protected fields suck. i know i have my own manifesto in me, but it only comes out in expletives and finger-wags. maybe i'll live up to my name and write it out. then burn all copies.

democratic kickback on the minimum wage?

from Carpe Diem, on a WSJ editorial (which i won't pay to read):
The House last week whooped through an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25, by a vote of 315-116. But, lo, included as part of this boon to the working man was a loophole: The new, higher wage floor applied to all of these United States and its territories -- save for the Pacific outpost of American Samoa. In the immortal words of Congressman Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.), "There's something fishy going on here."

It turns out that American Samoa has a big fish and tuna canning industry, specifically operations run by StarKist and Chicken of the Sea. Both companies are headquartered in California, and StarKist's parent is located in none other than Ms. Pelosi's own San Francisco district. So faster than you can say "middle class squeeze," Democrats rediscovered the eternal economic truth that a higher minimum wage can cost jobs and granted Samoa its reprieve.
if true, it's yet another example of the politically connected buying influence; if not, then it probably proves that a minimum wage requirement actually has detrimental effects on the poor.

i am javascript!

i don't think anyone would disagree.

find out where you rate.

import blog posts

who out there knows how to import posts from blogger.com and spaces.live.sucks into blogger?

15 January 2007

better know a who

according to gallifreyone, The Invasion will be released with animation used to fill the gaps in missing content (eps 1 & 4). the beeb has used the same folks who did their webcasts together with the sound from the missing episodes.

to mock or not to mock

i'm not a huge fan of mocks (interaction testing), preferring instead to test behavior. mocked tests don't survive refactoring very well and i despise passing information as strings. currently, i need to test how a certain class in my system launches external process, which i've tossed behind an interface to enable dependency injection.

i had chosen to mock this interface in the test since a sham instance would require nothing more than strongly-typed expectations. (why re-write something that already exists?) in the process, i had to write my own array equality matcher (i.e. i discovered that it doesn't already exist). as i sit now to write my own method invocation action, i realize that a custom sham would have been sooooooo much easier to work with.

i've started writing mock tests five or six times now in this project, but i seem to re-realize each time that mocks suck. at least for the way i prefer to write tests. i am now attempting to codify my thinking so that i'll remember the next time i'm tempted to mock.

14 January 2007

ceiling fans

i've just hung my ninth ceiling fan today, the second in this particular spot. i recommend against fans with remote controls, especially if the remote no worky. i would also recommend that you test the wiring before you finish installing all the parts so when you have to fix the wiring (maybe the stripped ends ripped off in the wire nut), you needn't hold the fully assembled fan in one hand when putting the mounting screws back in. and maybe before you put the light assembly on, you first balance the blades. i could really use some automated refactoring tools.

13 January 2007

on DRM

again, i couldn't put it better myself, especially when considering humor. the music industry has it all wrong.

update: here is what i want in terms of copyright protections.

ethanol no worky

i found a decent description of what i think of ethanol. i'm lucky to keep finding my ideas expressed so much better by others.
Perhaps the ethanol scam is like burning wood in a fireplace - it makes us feel good, but results in a net energy loss, making us worse off overall.
even given my penchant for electric vehicles, i would still shudder at the thought of special legislation or tax-payer-funded subsidies to the industry. i want entrepreneurial technologists to find a way to make it happen: have the rich and motivated pay to bring down the costs for the rest of us.

american sheep

from an interesting article (thanks, Mike) about a study that links behavior established at an early age to later political leanings:
If we are so suggestible that thoughts of death make us uncomfortable defaming the American flag and cause us to sit farther away from foreigners, is there any way we can overcome our easily manipulated fears and become the informed and rational thinkers democracy demands?
...

"People have two modes of thought," concludes Solomon. "There's the intuitive gut-level mode, which is what most of us are in most of the time. And then there's a rational analytic mode, which takes effort and attention."

The solution, then, is remarkably simple. The effects of psychological terror on political decision making can be eliminated just by asking people to think rationally. Simply reminding us to use our heads, it turns out, can be enough to make us do it.

why is it that Joe Public is an irrational sheep when it comes time to pull the lever? maybe people don't realize just how manipulative politicians are.

quote of the day-or-so

from Thomas Sowell:
Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination.

09 January 2007

regulators just don't get it

Lawrence Lessig admits he was wrong when putting the smack down on microsoft for "anti-competitive" practices. the interesting bit is that he cops to being totally ignorant of what might take place in a market of ideas where unknown and unkowable incentives drive different types of people to innovate. when will regulators and ne'er-do-well activists learn that no individual or elite group can possibly know what's best? central planning absolutely sucks. i thought the rooskies proved that for us.

a monopoly needn't be evil if it is created through consumer choice. google is now the king (or will be) of mashups and integration, the same concept thrown in microsoft's face. if Bill wants to serve his customers better by making the default software on 90+% of computers do more for them, why stand in his way? i was not unable to install and use firefox. i don't necessarily like much of what Bill makes, but i recognize that shizzle has to be tried before it can be perfected. my next computer will prolly be a Mac, but i'm sure they're better for the competition.

i'm now a pundit

it's official. at least as my head swells it eliminates some CO2 from the atmosphere.

secret identity revealed

i'm not the first to make the comparison. Munger, your secret is safe with me. and my 3 readers.

05 January 2007

price controls no worky

munger has provided a layman's write-up of why price controls are bad for all of us. it also explains why i cringe when i hear people call what we have a "free market."

seriously, how could you not vote for this guy?

javascript leaks

i came across an article on MSDN regarding memory leaks in javascript. let me summarize it for you: "change your code so we don't have to fix ours." given micorosft's commitment to fixing inadequacies in their products, you may want to implement their suggestions sooner rather than later. the thought of eliminating closures is ridonculous.

gubmint-sponsored extortion

via Christian Science Monitor:
The US Supreme Court will examine whether a private company can demand payment in exchange for not seizing private property.
a fellow in Port Chester, NY, wishes to build a CVS on his property. the local gubmint has granted a monopoly to develop a swath of land that includes a portion of his property.
The developer, Gregg Wasser of G&S Port Chester, told Didden he'd have to pay $800,000 or give G&S a 50 percent stake in the CVS business. If Didden refused, Mr. Wasser said, he would have Port Chester condemn and seize his property and instead of a CVS he'd put a Walgreens drugstore on the site.
as the fellow has refused to be extorted, the gubmint is attempting to seize his property as promised. the resulting countersuit has (un?)surprisingly made its way to SCOTUS after being thrown out of all lower courts. even the FBI refused to intercede.

the Kelo case makes law that "public use" includes public benefit. but does it follow that one private entity may extort profit from another entity that was not a party to the contract signed by the gubmint and developer?

i expect SCOTUS to find in fellow's favor in an attempt to make up for the Kelo fiasco, but i'm not holding my breath.

01 January 2007

campaign finance reform

from Munger's campaign finance testimony before congress:
If our campaign finance system should be "reformed," it should be in the direction of making it easier, not harder, for parties to attract "soft" money and other resources required to strengthen national organizations and nurture grass roots participation. Parties are the only alternative to government dominated by special interests and narrowly focused influence groups.

The idea that there is a third alternative, with voters choosing among isolated candidates offering disparate, uncoordinated, and incomplete policy proposals was a conceit of the Progressive reformers. It has shown remarkable vitality as an idea, but it is a wrong idea, a dangerous idea. Politics abhors a vacuum. Only if strong parties are able to articulate coherent, and competitive visions of governance, and be held accountable for the performance of those visions, can democracy in the U.S. survive.

Finally, public financing combines most of the worst features of all the other proposals. It denies equality of opportunity to challengers, and to third parties. Ultimately, voters and citizens must rely on parties to provide a counterbalance to the power of entrenched interests in government. If parties have to rely on the public purse for their funding, how can we rely on those same parties to serve their function of providing effective countervailing power?
i don't think i can anything of value to that. except maybe another link.