Friday, March 28, 2008

Too Bad: Clinton vows to stay in the race | Politics | Reuters

Clinton vows to stay in the race | Politics | Reuters
I used to think rather highly of Mrs. Clinton. She's an impressive woman.

I never wanted her to run for the Presidency, though, because so many people hate her guts. Because so many people dislike her so intensely, she's probably not electable anyway. Even if she somehow won the election, she would be bad for the country because of the increase in loud partisanship to surely follow for the duration of her Presidency.

Now, with each day that she hangs on my regard for Mrs. Clinton diminishes. She needs to get out of the way. The sooner the better.

Mrs. Clinton, please have the grace to bow out now.


"Fitna" was released yesterday. It's pretty much what I expected it would be, and it accomplishes its aim of provocation.

The "Fitna" link that follows no longer works. Instead, you are shown a statement of why the provider removed removed "Fitna": credible threats against their staff. Well, more power to them for getting it out there in the first place.

There are links to several versions of "Fitna"

In the meantime, Network Solutions is still "investigating" whether the domain Wilders registered through them is in violation of their terms.

End update.

Since embedded videos don't always work well, here's a link:

As a film, though, "Fitna" can't hold a candle to "Submission".


This version of "Submission" is labeled as Part I. There is another one labeled as Part II, but it's just a repeat of the end of Part I. I downloaded a supposedly complete version of "Submission" a long time ago, so I'll have to find it and watch it again because it seems to me that this Part I Part II business is incomplete.

UPDATE: I found the AVI of "Submission" that I downloaded a long time ago. I was mistaken about the version linked above being truncated. It's the same as the long-ago download. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Striking Image

I took this picture at work yesterday.

Did you happen to notice a ghostly image in front of the rightmost tree? Here's another view of it.

And another.

National Geographic (I think) recently had a program on the television about the effects of the sudden disappearance of all humans from the planet. One of the effects of this rapture was that bird mortality from crashing into humanity's back-lit or reflective windows would go down.

Unless someone picked up the carcass before I happened along, this poor bird survived, but I don't know how. From the position of the wings I'd guess it was in full-powered flight when it crashed. If you click on the first image for a bigger view, and look closely at the wings, you can actually see the outlines of the leading-edge feathers as they bent forward against the glass on impact.

Poor bird.

As for the pictures, "Not too bad for a Blackberry," I thought. I'm looking forward to the day when these things have real, optical zoom features, rather than just cropping, enlarging and sacrificing the resolution of the un-zoomed image. Reduced resolution of the two lower pictures is obvious, making the zoom feature pretty worthless, but hey...

New N.Y. governor admits to illicit affair - On Deadline -

New N.Y. governor admits to illicit affair - On Deadline -
...has told the Daily News that he and his wife, Michelle, had affairs during a rough patch in their marriage several years ago.
I wish politicians would learn how to say, "It's none of your goddamn business" and refuse to discuss personal things like that.

Then again, I wish we could all just get along, too.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Imaging the Numerator

Good article. Hat tip Schneier.
Little research exists on the physical health effects of any risk disclosure, never mind the cumulative effects, although media saturation is being blamed for increased anxiety, stress and insomnia--gateways to obesity, high blood pressure, depression and other maladies. But the mental health effects of so much disclosure are reasonably well understood. Research suggests that it’s not only unproductive, but possibly counterproductive.

To understand how, I was sent to look up research from the late 1960s, when some psychologists put three dogs in harnesses and shocked them. Dog A was alone and was given a lever to escape the shocks. Dogs B and C were yoked together; Dog B had access to the lever, but Dog C did not. Both Dog A and Dog B learned to press the lever and escape the shocks. Dog C escaped with Dog B, but he didn’t really understand why. To Dog C the shocks were random, out of his control. Afterward, the dogs were shocked again, but this time they were alone and each was given the lever. Dog A and Dog B both escaped again, but Dog C did not. In fact, Dog C curled up on the floor and whimpered.

After that, the researchers further tested the idea of negative reinforcement, using babies in shock cribs. Baby A was given a switch that controlled the shocks. Baby B was given no such switch. When both babies were subsequently placed in cribs with switches that controlled the shocks, Baby A quickly stopped the shocks; Baby B just curled up and screamed.

The one that always annoys me is ignoring the base, or focusing on multipliers.
...focusing on multipliers instead of base rates, says Fischoff. For example, cases of the brain eating amoeba killing people have tripled in the past year. Yikes! That’s scary, and good for a news story. But the base rate of brain-eating bacteria cases, even after rate tripled, is six deaths. One in 50 million people. That’s less scary and also less interesting from the prurient newsman’s perspective.

OK, just kidding about the babies.
After that, the researchers tested the idea with positive reinforcement, using babies in cribs. Baby A was given a pillow that controlled a mobile above him. Baby B was given no such pillow. When both babies were subsequently placed in cribs with a pillow that controlled the mobile, Baby A happily triggered it; Baby B didn’t even try to learn how.

Risks of the sort discussed in this article are one thing. It's relatively easy to dispense with anxieties over the safety of kids in school buses, air travel vs. hijackers and death by sand hole. I'm not particularly worried about stuff like that.

Acceptance, though, has largely replaced anxiety with respect to the biggies (some of them very real, in my estimation).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hey YouTube!

Hey YouTube, how about making it plain, right up front, how long is the video I'm thinking about watching.

The duration of every video ought to be the denominator in the time counter, which would read "0/X" before the Play button is pushed, and where X is the total duration of the video.

As it is, I probably don't finish watching 60 or 80 percent of the video links I click.

This oversight leads to an irritating waste of time and bandwidth, and it's the reason I increasingly avoid clicking YouTube links. With the duration stated before the click more videos would be watched (even if deferred to later), and good will would increase.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NZ dolphin rescues beached whales

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | NZ dolphin rescues beached whales
Mr [Conservation officer Malcolm] Smith said that just when his team was flagging, the dolphin showed up and made straight for them.

"I don't speak whale and I don't speak dolphin," Mr Smith told the BBC, "but there was obviously something that went on because the two whales changed their attitude from being quite distressed to following the dolphin quite willingly and directly along the beach and straight out to sea."

He added: "The dolphin did what we had failed to do. It was all over in a matter of minutes."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Blessing from God

Suspect's mom to Burk family: 'I am sorry' |
But it was police officers from Phenix City who caught and arrested Lockhart on Friday.

'I wouldn't call it a lucky break,' Auburn police Assistant Chief Tommy Dawson said Saturday. 'I would call it a blessing from God.'

Police held a news conference in Auburn late Saturday morning to announce that Lockhart has been charged with three crimes: capital murder during a kidnapping, capital murder during a robbery and capital murder during an attempted rape.

It always jumps out at me how people are prone to credit their god with some things but not others. God spared your house (but not hers). God saved my child (but not yours). God did this (but not that).

God helped you catch the suspect (but didn't lift a finger to save the victim's life)?

Nothing like counting the hits.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


BBC NEWS | Europe | Licence to lie for Italian women:
But the Court of Cassation found that having a lover was a circumstance that damaged the honour of the person among family and friends.

Lying about it, therefore, was permitted, even in a judicial investigation.

Something's warped here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How to Defeat Barack Obama by Ben Shapiro

How to Defeat Barack Obama by Ben Shapiro
His [Obama's] focus on change means he despises this country the way it is.
What a load of bullshit.

Master political strategist Karl Rove spoke to the American Jewish University this week. He stated that the key to attacking opponents isn't to attack their strengths -- it's to attack weaknesses they perceive as strengths.
You mean with swift boats? To hell with Karl Rove. Master strategist? Goebbels was a master storyteller.

Shove Ethnicity

Proving You're a Jew in Israel
Didn't the Nazis have similar requirements for people seeking to qualify as Aryan?

Shove ethnicity.

Consciousness is Nothing but a Word

Skeptic: eSkeptic: Wednesday, February 27th, 2008:
Humans alone learn the concept of red because we alone learn one response to all things that reflect that particular wavelength even if they differ in all other respects (e.g., size, shape, texture, etc.). That one response is the word “red.”
Interesting article.

I don't know about humans alone, but what the hell, it's an interesting article, the unstated logical conclusion of which is that with respect to Iraq, the strategy has to be Kill them all.

Just kidding about Iraq.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Lore Sjöberg's Alt Text: Beware the Curse of YouTube's Hideous Archive

Lore Sjöberg's Alt Text: Beware the Curse of YouTube's Hideous Archive

Here's a little lightness that made me smile. I think I know what he means.

I've got a dozen or so videos I've bought from iTunes over the past couple of years. Madonna's La Isla Bonita happens to be one of them. For some reason I like it.
"Warm wind carried on the sea / He called to me, te dijo te amo."

The climatology is unexpectedly sound here, but the translation is iffy. As far as I can make out, it literally means, "He called to me, 'He told you I love you.'" So some guy is calling out to Madonna that some other guy told Madonna that he, the first guy, the guy who's talking to Madonna right now, loves Madonna. Apparently conversation in San Pedro is very roundabout. I guess that's why they don't call it "La Isla de Comunicación Clara."
I always figured it was just a case of a non-Spanish-speaker making a mistake in the pronunciation of the word digo, in which the g would be like golf not like hole. Clearly she sings the word with the latter, incorrect pronunciation. Or maybe there's something I don't grasp, along the lines of Lore Sjöberg's other observations.

Naa... I think it was supposed to be "te digo te amo" (I tell you I love you).

I still like the song. In fact, it's part of the reason I want a new computer. A while back Apple released a new version of iTunes, and the hardware requirements were a bit more than my old computer can match. I can't watch my videos any more. They look much better with iTunes than on YouTube (before YouTube took them down, that is).

Maybe, rather than a gun, I'll get a new computer with my economic stimulus windfall. Except that the gun I'd buy is made here in this country, making it the more appropriate purchase, right?