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via http://xkcd.com/662/

I suppose that this would mean more to me if I actually had cellphone coverage here.

Cookie Meme

A good idea from a famous blogger:

"The first five people who respond to this post will get a batch of cookies made by me brought to or delivered to their house sometime in 2009.

"So long as they repost this in their journal. Those of you who don't bake can still participate by promising on your journal to order or ship a box or bag of Milanos or something.

"Because the World needs more cookies."

I'll even make an attempt to match your favorite (no guarantees if it's not chocolate chip).

Where did that come from?

When I read a book with a fictional setting (an invented town or an entire world), one important aspect that helps makes the book work for me is a high level of convincing detail about the world. Authors that can provide this in a natural way and make me believe that it could just be have my undying respect. China Mieville's Perdido Street Station is one recent example that does this well.

Here's a piece:


that includes an interesting list of resources for world builders.

What's wrong with Windows - an example

I was trying to explain to our builder last week why Windows worries me and why it is that I so rarely use the OS these days. Sometimes it's hard to know where to start. If only I'd had this article at hand:

It's the start of a new year. With that comes a flood of end of the
year retrospectives. It's also the end of an eight year presidency in the
United States. That's eight times the fun when making up lists! After
so many years working as a physicist and computer scientist, it's no
surprise that I like numbers in my lists. That's probably why I found
Harper's Index:


so compelling. Some of of the more striking entries:

Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they
used to represent as lobbyists: 98

Years before becoming energy secretary that Spencer Abraham
cosponsored a bill to abolish the Department of Energy: 2

Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained
in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182

Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0

Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an
"elevated terror alert" that the level has been relaxed: 0

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated
by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based
on information from a single defector: 100

Number of times the defector had ever been interviewed by U.S.
intelligence agents: 0

Percentage of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who
have filed for disability with the VA: 35

Number of all U.S. war veterans who have been denied Veterans
Administration health care since 2003: 452,677

Portion of all U.S. income gains during the Bush Administration that
have gone to the top 1 percent of earners: 3/4

Percentage change since 2001 in the average amount U.S. workers spend
on out-of-pocket medical expenses: +172

Number of times FDA officials met with consumer and patient groups as
they revised drug-review policy in 2006: 5

Number of times they met with industry representatives: 113

Number of Republican officials who have been investigated by the
Justice Department since 2001: 196

Number of Democratic officials who have been: 890

Number of White House officials in 2006 and 2007 authorized to discuss
pending criminal cases with the DOJ: 711

Number of Clinton officials ever authorized to do so: 4

Percentage change since 2001 in U.S. government spending on paper
shredding: +466

Percentage of EPA scientists who say they have experienced political
interference with their work since 2002: 60

Estimated amount Bush-era policies will cost the U.S. in new debt and
accrued obligations: $10,350,000,000,000

Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during Bush's
presidency: +31

Percentage change during Reagan's and Clinton's, respectively:
+16, +0.3

Estimated value of Henry Paulson's Goldman Sachs stock when he
became Treasury Secretary and sold it: $575,000,000

Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval
rating: 1

Is it art?


A serious piece in the London Review of Books on the cultural significance of video gaming. It was prompted by the observation that the industry now outsells music and video combined in the UK but yet somehow it's still an underground subculture.

I suppose that this should concern me, given what I've spent so much time doing the last 40 years.Meh...