Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Thursday 16 March 2006

You've got to hand it to USMC Chief Warrant Officer James Averhart: he's doing his part in the war on terrorism by tracking down Vietnam-era deserters:

A man was being held in a US military prison yesterday for deserting from the marines 38 years ago after being caught on the American-Canadian border amid a new drive to track down Vietnam-era deserters.
Since he took over the marine corps Absentee Collection Centre in 2004, Averhart has reopened cold cases and claims to have tracked down 33 deserters. "I have a different leadership style than the guys who have had this job. My job is to catch deserters. And that's what I do," he told Florida's St Petersburg Times.
Legal observers said the new drive to hunt down Vietnam deserters is designed as a deterrent for soldiers being sent to Iraq.

I mean, really.

Thursday 16 March 2006 09:55:39 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#
Wednesday 15 March 2006

The President's job approval is at 33% today, according to Pew.

And Garrison Keillor has a scathing op-ed as well.

Ouch.

Wednesday 15 March 2006 17:08:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#
Tuesday 14 March 2006

Larry Johnson over at Talking Points Memo Cafe posited what Sunday's activity in Baghdad might look like if it were in New York instead. I have changed the numbers to reflect the relative sizes of Iraq and the U.S.:

03/12/06 AP: A roadside bomb hit a police convoy in White Plains, New York, 35 miles northeast of New York City, killing 8 patrolmen and wounding 32 others, police said
03/12/06 AP: U.S. forces also clashed with gunmen Sunday afternoon in New York City's upper West side, Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.
03/12/06 AP: In Newark, about 20 miles south of New York City, gunmen ambushed and killed a police major as he headed to work, police said.
03/12/06 Sixty four bodies were found with their hands tied and gunshot wounds to the head in Mineola, a suburb in eastern New York City, police said.
03/12/06 Reuters: Gunmen ambushed and killed a local football player (Vinny Testaverde) in Elizabeth City 40 km (25 miles) south of New York City, local police said.
03/14/06 Reuters: At least 320 people were killed and up to 1,000 wounded in three apparently coordinated car bombs at two markets in the Jewish section of Brooklyn on Sunday, police said.

These events actually happened in Baghdad on Sunday. This is our legacy in Iraq. The image of massed armies wearing blue and grey uniforms clashing on the fields outside Manassas should not guide our views of Iraq. It is a real civil war: neighbor against neighbor, multiple factions struggling for control, deaths by the hundreds.

Tuesday 14 March 2006 08:03:26 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#

Yesterday the President apparently blamed Iran for supplying some of the explosives that are being used in the ongoing Iraqi civil war:

"Iraqis have shown the world that they want a future of peace," Bush said.
Bush also accused Iran of providing material support to the insurgency in Iraq and vowed to continue to pressure Iraq's neighbor.
"Such actions, along with Iran's support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran, and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats," he said.

Apparently he forgot that 350 tons of explosives went missing after we invaded, because the battle plan didn't leave time to guard them.

Occam's razor, Mr. President.

This habit he has of treating the American people like idiots may explain his 36% approval rating.

Monday 13 March 2006 20:41:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#
Monday 13 March 2006

The Census Bureau estimates that as of the last week of February, world population exceeded 6.5 billion. They estimate also that the U.S. population will hit 300 million around November 25th. (Actually, they have a current estimate and a rate, which I used to compute a date. So check back in October to see how close this is.)

Monday 13 March 2006 13:34:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#
We were in Boston on Saturday. The weather was perfect. So naturally I took a photo of the Massachusetts State House.
Monday 13 March 2006 07:45:42 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Weather#

Very interesting op-ed in today's New York Times: Slavoj Zizek calls athiests "Defenders of the Faith":

Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill God's will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God's favor; I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way, when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God's existence.

Amayn.

Sunday 12 March 2006 20:01:47 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#

My incredibly brave wife got into a Piper Warrior with me today, and we flew from Nashua to Portsmouth, N.H. I last flew in January 2005, also with Anne, so I was excited to get back into the cockpit.

Landing in variable 8-to-12 knot winds—variable, in this context, meaning direct crosswind to tailwind—was not the most fun I've ever had flying. But it was still tons o' fun, and we still got Anne home on time.

Sunday 12 March 2006 19:51:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Weather#
Friday 10 March 2006

I lost my ID case last week here in New Hampshire, and had Anne overnight my passport to me so I could go home. It turns out, I needn't have been so paranoid, as reported on Bruce Schneier's security blog:

According to the TSA, in the 9th Circuit Case of John Gilmore, you are allowed to fly without showing ID -- you'll just have to submit yourself to secondary screening.

Here's a link to the 9th Circuit decision (pdf).

Friday 10 March 2006 14:06:33 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics#
Frontal systems can be a lot of fun. A warm front passed through Southern New Hampshire today; see if you can spot when that happened.
Friday 10 March 2006 12:20:31 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Weather#
Thursday 9 March 2006

I'm not sure what Anne thinks, but as long as I'm commuting to New Hampshire, maybe we should get these Wi-Fi wine glasses:

Jackie Lee and Hyemin Chung, experts in human-computer interaction...have incorporated a variety of coloured LEDs, liquid sensors and wireless (GPRS or Wi-Fi) links into a pair of glass tumblers. When either person picks up a glass, red LEDs on their partner's glass glow gently. And when either puts the glass to their lips, sensors make white LEDs on the rim of the other glass glow brightly, so you can tell when your other half takes a sip. Following tests in separate labs, Lee says the wireless glasses really do "help people feel as if they are sharing a drinking experience together."

Awww...

Thursday 9 March 2006 13:36:52 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software#
MSNBC is reporting today that thieves have stolen a batch of PINs from a retailer—PINs the retailer shouldn't have stored in the first place
Thursday 9 March 2006 08:55:52 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Politics | Software#
Wednesday 8 March 2006

Here's a hint: the problem is between chair and receiver.

Bruce Schneier linked today to this excellent essay on the unseen dangers of mobile phones:

About four seats away is a gentleman (on this occasion pronounced 'fool') with a BlackBerry mobile device and a very loud voice. He is obviously intent on selling a customer something and is briefing his team. It seems he is the leader as he defines the strategy and assigns each of his unseen team with specific tasks and roles.
Eventually, he starts to close down the conversation. Relief might be here at last! Oh no, he goes on to announce the conference number and the pass code - and say he will see them all on the conference call in a minute.
Wednesday 8 March 2006 15:11:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software#
Tuesday 7 March 2006
My colleague Cameron Beatley sent me this handy comparison guide for programming languages.
Tuesday 7 March 2006 15:08:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software#
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If this isn't civil war, what is?
President, forgetting something important, blames Iran
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First flight in...gosh, more than a year
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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