Bruce's Theorem of Haircuts: If, after getting a haircut, you receive compliments from people who didn't know you were going to the barber/hairstylist, you waited too long to get your hair cut. This is not to say that the people giving you compliments are anything other than genuine. It simply means that a good haircut should not be a dramatic improvement over your old haircut. I'm speaking mostly of basic haircuts here -- special cuts like high-and-tight or a perm are exceptions, because they can't be anything but dramatic. Corollary 1: The closer attention you pay to your hair, the more often you'll tend to get it cut. This is almost axiomatic. In fact, you can make any number of rules of the form "The closer attention you pay to your [blank], the more often you'll tend to [maintain it]." For now, let's just use this specific form. Corollary 2: The more diligent you are about keeping your hair trimmed, the less compliments you will tend to receive. Grant me the luxury of mixing in some conventional wisdom: Everybody Knows That: Most women tend to be more concerned with their appearance than most men. This can be tempered somewhat by marriage, as each spouse starts to rub off on the other. I could include references to research studies about pre- and post-courtship behavior, role-playing behaviors as children, gender identity and so on, but none of you would read it anyway, so let's just total it up thusly: Conclusion 1: Most married women get less compliments from their husbands about their hair than they'd like. Conclusion 2: Most married men live in constant fear of not noticing their wife's next haircut. Eight years of marriage (in a couple of months), and this is what I've learned.
By way of the site where the blog survey is underway, this excellent analysis of what the press reports and what actually happens.
Via the inestimable Meryl Yourish, we have this photo from the AP. It shows two happy, brave, noble, enthusiastic young men about to set forth on a great adventure. You see, these two young men are freedom fighters, struggling to "strike a blow" for their people against the brutal oppressor. The AP doesn't go into much detail as to just what sort of blow they intended to strike, describing it first as "a target." Later, it's called "an Israeli vehicle." At the end, they say that the two young men killed "two Israelis" and wounded "four others."An Israeli vehicle. Hmm, like a tank or armored personnel carrier? Missile battery? Maybe a transport carrying troop supplies? Read on.
This "target" that these two valiant warriors attacked? This couple, in their 50's, returning home in their car after visiting family....
What the HELL does it take before the AP will use the term "terrorists?"This goes way beyond Spin and into Comfort For The Enemy, in my opinion.
Random find on the net
This is from a site called "Spamusement", which creates "poorly drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines". You will open and fill this one out for sure. Some of the cartoons are just as awful as the spam they mock, but most are quite funny. OK, just one more: amazing new pleasure for men (not what you think) OK, just ONE more: The internet never sleeps OK, last one for sure: HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH STOCKS
A particular meme in the mainstream media has always bothered me; that of hacker = evil. While this is pretty widespread outside the computer industry, to those inside the industry it usually has a much different meaning - that of expert programmer. Wikipedia has their usual comprehensive analysis of the term hacker. From their timeline, what I consider the "true" definition seems to have been seeded in the 1950s among ham radio fans, who defined it as "creatively tinkering to improve performance". Also noteworthy (and a fun read) is the meaning of "Hack" from the venerable Jargon File, aka the Hackers Dictionary. (Who better to define it?) All this to give context when I say I really enjoyed this rant on the differences between script kiddies and real hackers.
Script kiddies have all the destructive capability, without any of the brains. Hey, what's this? I don't know, let's break it. That makes you cool, right? Ugh. The power to destroy something is not knowledge, and that doesn't make you cool....
If they only screwed themselves over, I wouldn't be so worried about it. Everyone has the right to run their own lives as they see fit, and that includes the right to screw up your own life if you want. But when they're taking the rest of us with them, it bothers me. I was in a restaurant waiting for a friend of mine I hadn't seen in a long time. She greeted me fondly with "How's my favorite hacker?", and the management asked us to leave. Lame? Absolutely. But why did it happen? Because of people like that.Truly, I consider "hacker" a high compliment, when delivered by someone who understands the definition. Some parts of my job call for "hacking" in many senses of the word. I have been called upon to recover lost passwords; to find a way into a client's network when the client could not be reached; to bypass firewall security temporarily or permanently; to verbally negotiate past unknowledgeable technical support people (thereby hacking a person); to find a way around an inappropriately applied policy (hacking the rules); and even to investigate and demonstrate security holes. Even in the midst of typing this paragraph, a coworker asked me to help find a workaround for some misbehaving DLLs. Far and away, most of my hacking involves finding elegant solutions for complex problems. With our clients, we use the words "architecture", "system design" and "technical review", but deep down it's hacking, and I love it.
One more brick in the wall?
The Washington Post reports that New York City cops will be performing random searches on people entering the subway, in response to the second round of subway bombings in London in two weeks.
Passengers carrying bags will be selected at random before they pass through turnstiles, and those who refuse to be searched won't be allowed to ride, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "We just live in a world where, sadly, these kinds of security measures are necessary," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "Are they intrusive? Yes, a little bit. But we are trying to find that right balance." The announcement drew complaints from civil liberties advocates in a city where an estimated 4.5 million passengers ride the subway on an average weekday. The system has more than 468 subway stations _ most with multiple entrances _ and the flood of commuters hurrying in and out of stations during rush hour can be overwhelming. Kelly stressed that officers posted at subway entrances would not engage in racial profiling, and that passengers are free to "turn around and leave." He also downplayed the possibility of bottlenecks at subway entrances.I haven't tended to be very alarmed by most of the increased security measures, but something about this bugs me. On the face of it, it's not much different from what happens at airports, where everyone's bags are already Xrayed, and some (randomly or for cause) are subject to a more detailed search. Maybe it's because I see riding public transit as an everyday event, and riding an airplane as an exceptional event. Obviously, this isn't true for everyone. I generally find myself on the other side of any statement made by a Civil Liberties Union, but there's some truth in this statement:
The New York Civil Liberties Union said the searches violate basic rights and will inconvenience New Yorkers, but the group stopped short of threatening a legal challenge. "The NYPD can and should investigate any suspicious activity, but the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from conducting searches where there is no suspicion of criminal activity," executive director Donna Lieberman said.I guess an important question is what was meant by the authors of the Fourth Amendment. Does it mean that we are absolutely protected against any search without cause, or was it intended to protect against searches for the wrong reasons, I.E. harrassment, poorly researched investigation. At the time this amendment was written, random searches for nothing at all were a not-too-distant memory. I'm inclined to think that searching for an item within an indistinct crowd, while seeming personally invasive, is on the whole far less of a violation of privacy than a "because I don't like you" search experienced in other countries, and may have some room under the Fourth Amendment. That still begs the question, is it right for them to search at all? This quote troubles me - here's a guy who doesn't get it.
"Sometimes you need to get to an appointment, you're running late and a cop stops you to delay you even further? That's going to create a mess," he said.If the police are within legal parameters to perform random searches, the inconvenience of running late does not take priority. If you're concerned about being stopped, don't be late. Ultimately, a random search is not going to achieve what is necessary. Even if the police stop one in ten commuters carrying bags, if ten people decide to attack, nine of them will probably get through. Statistically speaking, it doesn't matter whether they're at the same station or different stations. I would hate to be part of the NYPD right now. It's very hard to search for someone when you don't know who you're looking for, but then, when you do know what you're searching for (e.g. olive skinned males between 18 and 25, as on 9/11/2001), that's labeled "profiling", even if it's not racially targeted. Bad news, civil libertarians: detective work involves figuring out who did it, then trying to find them. Without eyewitness tips or signed confessions, profiling is what it's all about.
Supreme Court Battle
I don't know much about the President's nominee for the Supreme Court, but it appears that he may be so non-controversial that nobody likes him. Ann Coulter has not much nice to say about the selection. If she's right, he may be confirmed by each side simply because they know the other side dislikes him. My jaw dropped when I read this line, which is shocking and yet probably true:
It means absolutely nothing that NARAL and Planned Parenthood attack him: They also attacked Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Hackett Souter. The only way a supreme court nominee could win the approval of NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be to actually perform an abortion during his confirmation hearing, live, on camera, and preferably a partial birth one.Ann also says some very encouraging things about the political state of our nation. If true, this really shows how much the mainstream media, the DNC and "Screaming Dean" have pulled the wool over the eyes of the public.
If the Senate were in Democrat hands, Roberts would be perfect. But why on earth would Bush waste a nomination on a person who is a complete blank slate when we have a majority in the Senate! We also have a majority in the House, state legislatures, state governorships, and have won five of the last seven presidential elections — seven of the last ten! We're the Harlem Globetrotters now - why do we have to play the Washington Generals every week? Conservatism is sweeping the nation, we have a fully functioning alternative media, we’re ticked off and ready to avenge Robert Bork . . . and Bush nominates a Rorschach blot.This nomination is going to be interesting, that's for sure. W is pretty savvy, but this candidate does seem a bit odd. Even if he knows there will be other vacancies during his term, with only 9 positions to be filled, there's no room for "testing the waters" with a less than perfect candidate. I just hope he really knows what he's doing.
Another list of electronic gadgets. Please try to keep the drool from running down your chin while you read this - do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a website clean? The Cellular Squirrel screens your callers using word recognition and voice-stress analysis (as well as Caller ID) to determine whether a call is important enough to warrant your attention. The more urgent the call, the more the squirrel jumps up and down to get your attention. "Earlier embodiments included a parrot and a cute bunny." This is some guy's MIT dissertation project. Ah, to be in college again! The INFILL T3 is an in-car computer made for running Windows XP Media Center Edition (the version meant for controlling your TV, stereo and music library). 1.6Ghz CPU, 40GB hard drive, DVD drive, TV tuner, GPS, voice control, USB, remote (so the back seat can change channels) and an expansion slot. The screen folds forward and slides into the dash, so as not to attract the attention of the nearsighted car thieves, at least. Pop an 802.11 card in the expansion slot, and you can do some actual wardriving. The slim form-factor PS2 (aka PSTwo) looks an awful lot like those portable DVD players that are catching on. Now you can complete the deal with a clip-on 8" flat-panel screen with stereo speakers, remote control and two earphone jacks. It comes with an in-car power adapter, so the kids can stay entertained while Dad is wardriving. Live in fear of Darth Tater and his armies of Spud Troopers. Not sure if I mentioned this one before, but alienware has the most awesome laptops I've seen anywhere. They're definitely in the "gaming" category, but they sure sound like they'd let me work faster, too. Dual-processor, dual DVD drives, dual hard drive (as mirror or a stripe set, no less) and the fastest CPUs you can get. Funny, they don't say anything about battery life, but way more luggable than a high end desktop.
JackLewis.net is taking a survey of bloggers to find out why they blog, specifically in order to try to understand what makes the big, successful blogs different than the tiny ones. I know at least three who read this have tried a blog in the past. The results should be interesting, too.