Blog: 2004-08

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Bev Harris, "Consumer Report Part 1: Look at this -- the Diebold GEMS central tabulator contains a stunning security hole," BlackBoxVoting.Org, 26-Aug-2004

Scheme port of testlibpq2.c (async notification) now works with my MzScheme PostgreSQL interface, which is tentatively named "PGmz." Most of the effort is in finding efficient ways to make the Scheme interface safer than the C one, such as by protecting against freed pointers and file descriptors, and by automatically freeing abandoned resources.

Am writing PostgreSQL libpq bindings for PLT Scheme (by hand, not SWIG). Scheme port of testlibpq.c works.

Harry Stein, "Daytime TV Gets Judgmental," City Journal, Spring 2004

I dislike the lowbrow style of this article, since that makes it too easy to take liberties with fact and logic, but nice to see evidence of principled MBTA cops (in addition to the questionable just-following-orders random-search stormtroopers on the subway): Brian McGrory, "Criminal complaints," Boston Globe, 27-Aug-2004

The will of the people may not be terribly articulate, but it comes out in the wash.

—Louis Menand, "The Unpolitical Animal," New Yorker, issue 30-Aug-2004, posted 23-Aug-2004

The Onion 2004 Election Guide

[Members of the] Iraqi Olympic soccer team beg to differ, blasting Bush's attempt to use their participation in the Games as justification for the US occupation of their country. "My problems are not with the American people," Iraq's soccer coach, Adnan Hamad Majeed, told the Associated Press. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American Army has killed so many people in Iraq." His star midfielder, Salih Sadir, agreed: "Iraq as a team doesn't want Mr. Bush to use us [in an ad] for the presidential campaign.... We don't wish for the presence of the Americans in our country. We want them to go away." [...] Another team member, Ahmed Manajid, demanded to know: "How will [Bush] meet his God having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes."

—Robert Scheer, "Iraqi Olympic Soccer Players Kick the Stuffing Out of Bush's Fantasy," The Nation, 24-Aug-2004

Released Httper 0.3, to migrate from UriFrame to uri.scm.

Maybe they're just slacking, maybe they've decided not to pursue it, maybe someone's been gagged, or maybe they're relying on electronic surveillance/forensics: Mark Fitzgerald, "Scranton Papers Mystified by Secret Probe, Subpoenas Not Served," Editor & Publisher, 20-Aug-2004

Christian Parenti, "Fables of the Reconstruction," The Nation, 12-Aug-2004

At the age of 9, I put a Nixon bumper sticker on the wire basket in the front of my bicycle. Unfortunately, the little Catholic girl down the street was a couple years and about 20 pounds on me. She was for Kennedy. When she saw me on my bike with my bumper sticker for Nixon, she put me on the ground, flattened me out and gave me a bloody nose. Despite that beating, I never lost interest in politics.

—Karl Rove, quoted in "Moral Clarity, Courage Needed, Bush Aide Says," AP via Washington Post, 9-May-2004

Somebody find that little girl! Her country needs her once more!

Hugh MacLeod, "How To Be Creative," gapingvoid.com

Released uri.scm 0.1. Feedback appreciated.

Derrick Z. Jackson, "Chasing the SUV vote," Boston Globe, 18-Aug-2004

Nice summary argument, which might've had more persuasive impact in any paper other than the NYT: Jonathan Rauch, "Imperfect Unions," New York Times, 15-Aug-2004

Is that really the job of a senior cabinet minister in charge of counter-terrorism? To feed the media? To increase concern? To have something to say, whatever it is, in order to satisfy the insatiable desire to hear somebody saying something? Of course not. This is arrant nonsense. I've never been known as a shrinking violet and I'm the first person to say something when I've got something to say. But it is important to be able to distinguish if there is a meaningful contribution that helps to secure us from terrorism. And to understand if there isn't.

—David Blunkett, "Why I refuse to feed the media's summer frenzy," The Observer, 17-Aug-2004

Released WebScraperHelper 0.2.

Updated my Privoxy actions file. Most of the additions lately are blocks for sites advertised in spam. As a practical matter, this is ineffective, but it'll have to do until we jail the prominent spammers, pressure the connectivity providers of certain spam havens, cut off the domain name registrars who supply spammers with disposable names by the truckload, take certain software vendors to task for abysmal security defects, etc.

But as the number of pilgrims has steadily increased in the last 50 years, the area immediately surrounding the "Grotto of Apparitions" has developed into something of a sacred shopping center. A slew of souvenir shops — stocking rosary beads, statuettes and all varieties of votive candles — are brightly lighted in fluorescent celestial hues, making it something of a seedy blue light district.

—Jason Horowitz, Pope's Visit Shines Light on the Practical Side of Lourdes," New York Times, 15-Aug-2004

Biblical precedent. Waltz in there with a whip and drive the money-changers away, shouting, "Out of my father's house, you satan!" And have a "It is you who say that I am" quip ready for the judge.

Iraqi police ordered all journalists to leave the holy city of Najaf on Sunday, just as a new U.S. offensive against militants hiding out in a revered shrine began. [...] The police said any cameras and cellular phones they saw would be confiscated.

—Rawya Rageh, "Iraqi government evicts reporters from Najaf as fighting resumes ," AP via Boston Globe, 15-Aug-2004

William E. Jackson Jr., "The Al Qaeda Express," Editor & Publisher, 14-Aug-2004

We saw "Maria Full of Grace" at Kendall Square Cinema. The plot was predictable, and the condition and perspective was familiar, but the film was well executed.

Rented "Good Will Hunting" and "Shakespeare In Love" this week, neither of which I'd seen. The Southie genius was probably the best role I've seen Damon in so far, although some suspension of disbelief is still required in order to swallow the over-the-top character. Affleck is typecast in my mind, since I'd first seen him in a succession of Kevin Smith films, playing a jerk or putz in each. (I began to wonder whether Kevin Smith secretly hated Ben Affleck.) So... Damon's roles are hard to play convincingly, and Affleck plays a convincing jerk. I should add that a friend actually spent some time with Affleck a couple years ago, and I understand he seemed like an OK guy.

Apropos wishes of a 1-Jul-2004 weblog entry:

Informants told McGeough that Allawi — who denied the incident took place — "shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence." "Dr. Allawi's office... dismissed the allegations as rumors instigated by enemies of his interim government," the newspaper reported. While US officials in Iraq did not issue "an outright denial of the allegations," an e-mail from Ambassador Negroponte said: "If we attempted to refute each [rumor], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy's press office is concerned, this case is closed."

—Bill Berkowitz, "Iraq's Prime Minister suppresses media," WorkingForChange, 12-Aug-2004

Inadvertent coddling of Creationists?

The thumb, by contrast, is opposable and flexible, and has been designed for manifold uses, he said.

—Matt Richtel, "All Thumbs, Without the Stigma," New York Times, 12-Aug-2004

But Paul Graham is a rank amateur when it comes to Cambridge curbside trash computer rescue.

A few weeks ago I was walking along the street in Cambridge, and in someone's trash I saw what appeared to be a Mac carrying case. I looked inside, and there was a Mac SE. I carried it home and plugged it in, and it booted. The happy Macintosh face, and then the finder.

—Paul Graham, "Great Hackers," July 2004

Greg Palast, "Will Venezuela get the Florida treatment?," WorkingForChange, 11-Aug-2004

This year, Ms. Jacobsmeyer is a "team leader" in the Bush campaign's effort to turn out conservative Christian voters. "This year I am voting for him as a man of faith," she said over breakfast after an early morning service. "He has proven that he will do what is right, and he will look to God first." Jan Klarich, her friend and another team leader, agreed. "Don't you feel it is a spiritual battle?" she asked to nods around the table.

—David D. Kirkpatrick, "Churches See an Election Role and Spread the Word on Bush," New York Times, 9-Aug-2004

A little interesting that the Bush clan should name a child after alleged Nazi collaborator and profiteer Prescott Bush. Some shocking charges are in Chapter 2 of George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography by Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin. Cecil Adams addresses a few of these in a 14-Feb-2003 Straight Dope article. German acquaintances tend to be familiar with the Bush family's involvement in the Nazi rise to power, and express surprise that the connections do not seem widely known in the US.

When his grandfather ran for president in 1988, George Prescott Bush debuted on the political stage as a precocious 12-year-old, leading the crowds at the Republican National Convention in the Pledge of Allegiance.

—Anne E. Kornblut, "Little talk of dynasty as a Bush weds," Boston Globe, 8-August-2004

Ordered a Nikon 8700. (I omit the heinous don't-judge-our-pro-cameras-by-this brand name qualifier "Coolpix.") Would've paid $250 more to get Canon 300D, but couldn't abide a DSLR with a silver body. The Canon 10D and Nikon D70 were too far out of my comfort zone just now, although I expect to get one of them or their successors in 6-18 months.

NYT "Safety Second" 'Op-Chart'

Nikon should be happy that Canon isn't marketing a black-body EOS 300D in the US.

As this behemoth was bearing down on me this morning, with no driver in the cab, it occurred to me that you could probably sell WARNING STAY CLEAR T-shirts.

Sunday night, 2AM, street deserted, in front of the B-Side Lounge, saw abandoned pink shoes.

This transcript is full of great quotes:

Apropos of nothing when Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, interviewed Fidel Castro a couple of years ago. He asked Castro, "What's the difference between your democracy and ours?" "I don't have to answer questions from Helen Thomas," Castro replied. [...] And I remember on Air Force One when we asked JFK what would happen if the aircraft crashed. "I know one thing," he said. "Your name will just be a footnote."

—Helen Thomas, quoted in Nicholas F. Benton, "Helen Thomas Makes Historic Visit to Falls Church as Guest of News-Press," Falls Church News-Press, 29-Jul-2004

"CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog," The Onion, 4-Aug-2004

That's not gonna hold up the building for long.

I want to invest in tattoo-removal emerging technology. Should be a huge market once people start deciding maybe those tats weren't such a great idea after all.

Released linux-proc-apm.scm 0.1.

Tom the Dancing Bug, 2 August 2004

Added four more packages to PLaneT.

Given the glut of qualified and arguably more ethical job candidates, would any reputable company even consider hiring Anish Dhingra or Jeffrey Davis now?

In November, the FTC charged that D Squared had flooded consumers' computers with pop-up ads — as frequently as one every 10 minutes — offering to sell them them software to block the very ads the company was sending. [...] While that function can be disabled with a few clicks of the mouse, most computer users aren't savvy enough to know how to do it. [...] Dhingra and Davis are planning to resume their studies at UCSD.

—Jennifer Davies, "Company settles suit over flood of pop-up ads," San Diego Union-Tribune, 31-Jul-2004

I was going to vote for him, but then orange happened.

But there is also something else involved - call it marital fidelity. On average across the United States, about 5 percent to 10 percent of people who have DNA tested for various reasons are not really the sons or daughters of the person they had thought of as dad, scientists say.

—Kirk Johnson, "By Accident, Utah Is Proving an Ideal Genetic Laboratory," New York Times, 31-Jul-2004

Earlier to... 2004-07

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