Archive for January, 2007

backwards E

Monday, January 29th, 2007

I don’t know how much weight I’d give to this study. But it reminds me of a joke we had in mathematics at Sydney University in the early 80’s. It went like this:


Translation: For all upside-down A’s, there exists a backwards E.

I didn’t say it was funny.

democrats to eat their own?

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

I love the dynamics of the upcoming US presidential race. With Hilary and Obama both in the running for the Democratic nomination, it’s gonna be a doozy. You can see the shape of things to come from recent events:

  • A story appears claiming that Obama attended a Muslim madrassa in Indonesia. Nevermind that he was about 6 years old, that it’s not a particularly Muslim school, and that madrassa doesn’t imply evil (it’s just Arabic for “school”).
  • Fox News runs with it. A caller (random, no doubt) suggests that maybe Obama “doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.” Nice.
  • Then it is claimed that the story arose from work done by Hilary’s research team. Aha!
  • Clinton’s team denies it.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Ugly and damaging fabrications are manufactured about Obama, and they’re pinned on Clinton. For how long will Obama continue to believe that the Clinton campaign is innocent? For how long will the Clinton campaign be able to resist doing some Obama smearing and then claiming it to be part of Hilary’s vast right-wing conspiracy? Is the Clinton campaign in fact innocent?

It’s a field day for the right wing. They get to play all sides: inventing muck on both Dem candidates, airing it, AND then sourcing it to the other Dem candidate – hey, it must be news if it’s coming out of the Dem camp, right?

If I were Karl Rove I’d be rubbing my hand with glee at the prospects for evil. I’d be planning to smear both Obama and Hilary, in each case planting evidence to frame the other, so that whoever (if either) emerges battered and bruised with the Dem nomination will have all sorts of problems – but none of them caused by the sweet ol’ GOP. Nope, that was just those ugly divided Democrats tearing each others throats out. Which may come to pass. It’s like the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Hilary and Obama have to continue to believe that each other’s campaign group would never do the low-down things that they are claimed to have done. How long will they continue to take it on faith? How long can they resist the opportunity to defect? There’s 22 months left…. lots of time to someone to crack.

Hilary and Obama could make the problem go away if they announced right now that they were running a joint ticket (but which of the two would settle for the VP slot? Neither, I bet).

So it looks like open season on the Dems for 2008, both from without and within. At this point I don’t think Obama or Hilary can win the presidency, but that’s no reason to stop one of them winning the nomination. Surely Hilary & Co will have the upper hand when it comes to political machinations, no matter who Obama has to advise him, and they’ll almost certainly have more cash.

2008 is going to be much more fun than the last time around.

walk-in legal shop

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Here’s something that seems new. It’s a shop where you can go to get legal help.

Maybe I’m behind the times, but this seems like an idea with huge potential. The legal profession could do with some shaking up. There are several hurdles that make getting legal advice feel like such a big deal. It’s supposedly very expensive. You need to make an appointment. You feel like it’s something you just want to do for major problems. You wonder if you should dress up to go to the lawyer’s fancy office. You need to go to the richest part of town. You expect the process of talking to a lawyer to be complex and drawn out, advice to be full of qualifications, and to encounter a broad range of issues whose scope the lawyer will take pains to describe. You expect to be billed by the hour and through the nose, and you somehow need to know when to cut the legal advice (and the billing) off because it’s probably no longer important or relevant.

That all seems a bit old-fashioned. It’s in the strong interests of the lawyers to keep things semi-obscure and to maintain their priesthood at your expense.

The creation of easily accessible walk-in legal shops like lomaslegal seems to strike at the heart of this old-fashioned system. I think it’s great. I also think there’s a strong chance the traditional legal firms will turn up their noses at this sort of initiative, just like the traditional airlines turned up their noses at budget airlines offering cheap and easy no-frills service to the masses. Given that the law is so vast, that we bump into it so often, and that the legal profession preserves itself in a self-interested archaic state, it seems like there’s the strong potential for change.

Another initiative, also in Spain, is iAbogado. You just call them and pay a euro a minute. Or you can buy an electronic token and IM them for half an hour (though I’ve no idea why anyone would choose that low-bandwidth option).

But…. maybe it’s just me who’s behind the times and this sort of thing is already commonplace elsewhere.

how i spent my night

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Here’s how I spent my night. Which says nothing of the amount of time I spent deep in the debugger finding the problem in the first place. Not to mention a whole bunch of extraordinarily obscure digging and thinking and hypothesizing and and and…. argh.

YouTube spam

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

I just got spammed at the email address I signed up with at YouTube:

Nora72o has sent you a message

Use to go directly to this message, or go to your Inbox at on YouTube to view all your messages.

Thanks for using YouTube!

– The YouTube Team

Thank you for using YouTube indeed. And thanks for your email address too!

Maybe someone at Google missed out on the IPO, so they’re doing a little business on the side selling the mailing list of Google’s acquisitions?

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

London tube poster