Saturday, January 29, 2005

Inauguration Balls

So, who had the inaugural balls in this clip?

Wonderful stuff I got pointed to by Frank Rich of the NYT.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Very funny, from Lissa

She forwarded me, today, the "NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF INDEPENDENCE" allegedly by John Cleese. It's great...

So I did a Google search, with that in quotes, to see if it was on the web. I got 5230 hits. It seems that this has gone around by e-mail since November and many people have copied it to their blogs. I'll let you do the Google search yourself, if you want to read it. With 5230 copies, I don't think there's much danger of its getting lost, so I won't make it 5231. Computers themselves will go out of existence first, I would guess. :-)

3 Republican Laws

I can't resist forwarding this link from David. Thanks, David!

(I know - it's geeky - but that's part of what makes it fun.)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Another rant on IDs

See my comment to this post that claimed that it would be good to have a single ID rather than this turmoil of given names.

I close with the contention that all attempts to get people to use IDs for people, the way computers use IDs for people, are going to fail.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Today's Fortune

..with all this talk about Bush actually believing that Iraq has been a success and that maybe it's time to have many more Iraqs other places in the world, I got the following fortune on logging in at


A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of self-illusion.

-- H. L. Mencken


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Capitol Steps on-line

The Capitol Steps News Years 2004-5 show is available on the web for download!

I was especially grabbed by the music of Red State Woman (about 45 minutes into the show). I'm trying to learn it - but really wish I were a better piano player...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Security Priorities

In an article on TiVoToGo:

"in what universe should an episode of 'Desperate Housewives' get more protection than my Quicken financial data?"

Good question.

My Letter to the Editor on the WA Vote

This wasn't published, AFAIK, but I still like it, so here goes. [Written 12/31/04]

(thread link)


Dino Rossi's claim that the election was a total mess is false. The election was a statistical tie, not because of any flaws in the system but because the voters happened to split nearly evenly. So, an overlooked ballot here and a machine mis-read there yields enough of a difference to change the winner.

Our system doesn't understand what to do with a statistical tie. If it were an exact tie, some states allow for drawing cards or flipping a coin, but if it's a statistical tie, we have no procedure other than the one we just went through.

We might want to rethink those procedures for the future. The answer isn't to keep voting until the candidate with the most strident voice finally wins or until people get tired of voting.

The answer is to learn to detect a statistical tie and devise methods for breaking that tie. We might start by asking a statistician to: 1) measure the probability of error in each counting process and 2) use that measurement to compute the probability that the one with the largest count actually had the most votes. We might then set some threshold for that probability - say 75% - below which we call it a tie and draw cards (for example).

Feminist hoax?

Maureen Dowd, who has earned my respect many times over, as lost a little with her recent column on the dating and mating preferences of men.

I felt compelled to write back to her.


"This may be true for even a majority of men - certainly is true for some - but for those of us men for whom it is not true, describing that side as if it were true for all men just gets in our way.

"As I date and look for a woman who is at least my peer intellectually and occupationally and hope to marry that woman, if she projects your characterization onto me because I'm a man, I'm at an added disadvantage.

"On the bright side, a woman as intelligent as I want for a partner would reject such overgeneralizations."

Friday, January 14, 2005

Nature of Identity - shown through crisis

A NYT story points out that identity is a matter of relationships or records of relationships - and the tsunami wiped both away, leaving some people without identities.

(thread link)

Custom Comics Page for a fee

Thanks to my friend Gerry for handing me this URL. For about $12 a year, you can get a custom comics page. Since I can't afford any more paper coming into the house but I really do miss the comics page from the newspaper, this looks tailor made for me.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Great photo in local Seattle's Best

I'll see if I can get a photo of it and post it.

It's of a store - maybe 40 years ago - with a sign hanging from 2 hooks over the front door, reading:

Today's special

and hooked to the bottom of that sign is another one, the same size, reading:

So is tomorrow


Another Maureen Dowd column

Maureen Dowd has yet another great column, IMHO, on the mess in Iraq and the Administration that got us into this mess.

..and again, her last line is priceless.

WA Gov Race marches on

The current loser of the WA Gov race has filed suit to declare the election flawed.

We'll have to wait to see how this all ends.... There's no reason it should, since we have no mechanisms for handling a statistical tie.

Monday, January 03, 2005

WA Sec of State in trouble

WA Sec. of State Reed is apparently in trouble because he was unbiased.

Are we doomed to a combat-to-the-death style of politics in this country? I thought we were done with that sort of thing after we saw what it did in Germany in 1933.

At least one Op Ed writer thinks elections have changed irreversibly.

..and then there's Oregon.