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05 August 2011 @ 05:05 pm
I think just about everyone who wants one already has one, but if you want a G+ invite let me know.
25 May 2009 @ 08:20 am

I'm still following Power Line in an effort to try to incorporate at least one voice from the opposite end of the political spectrum into my reading, but so far I've found little that has been at all persuasive to me, and frequently I just end up shaking my head.

Case in point, this entry. In it, the authors use this quote from Obama's Memorial Day speech:

    "Our fighting men and women - and the military families who love them - embody what is best in America. And we have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us.

    And yet, all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility. We have failed to give them the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve. That is a betrayal of the sacred trust that America has with all who wear - and all who have worn - the proud uniform of our country."

Apparently they're interpreting this as a specific attack on the Bush administration?

    I've never thought much of Barack Obama's policies, and I'm starting not to think much of him as a human being. Today he continued his gratuitous and graceless attacks on his predecessor in the inappropriate context of Memorial Day.

Paranoid much?

I'm thinking of dropping them from my readings, but I'd like to replace them with a more thoughtful, less rancorous conservative voice -- something like a long-lost conservative twin of Kevin Drum. Will have to go looking when I have more time.

14 May 2009 @ 10:00 pm
So I was making a donation to the developer of the incredibly useful FoxyProxy extension, and was surprised to see this:

Now until quite recently, the only real game in town for internet access was QTel, and QTel (presumably at the mandate of some ministry) used SmartFilter to block web access to sites "Prohibited in the state of Qatar", a classification which is not specifically defined anywhere, but experimental evidence indicates applies to porn, political criticism, and ways to bypass the block.

Notably the internet connection on the campuses of Education City is said to be completely uncensored, and, never having run into a blocked site, I believe this is true. EC housing, which is owned by Qatar Foundation, also had an uncensored connection, though it's unclear whether this was by design or by virtue of network topology.

Anyways, apparently something has changed, and EC housing internet is now being censored, though they seem to be using a different system.

End result? I doubled my donation to the foxyproxy guy. If he's on their blocked list for being helpful in bypassing the block, he clearly deserves more money from me.
04 May 2009 @ 11:37 am

Adblock Plus with an auto filter update is such a wonderful combination; every time I have to use a machine without it, I'm shocked at how much advertising exists which I never knew about.

It's not perfect, though, and this was sitting on the edge of my browser window earlier:

I know we Americans are suckers for buying in bulk to "get a good deal". But man, after the second or third eye, you'd think the marginal utility would pretty much fall off a cliff.

(U^-1 + S'HS)^-1 is the same as (I + US'HS)^-1U

For reasons which are of interest to very few people, figuring out this (in retrospect really obvious for linear algebra geeks) tidbit makes me very, very happy.
22 January 2009 @ 10:04 pm
As of this moment, if you go to www.microsoft.com and try to click through to the "Security" tab...you get a 404.

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.
11 January 2009 @ 06:04 pm
The amount of spam I get for some variant of a "male enhancement" product is truly prodigious. It got me thinking--why do I never seem to get spam for any shady products aimed primarily at women?

In contrast, mainstream advertising (TV, magazines, etc) seems to have plenty of spots featuring products of questionable efficacy targeted primarily at women (diet pills, etc).

The whole issue makes me wonder if:

A) Spammers are smart/careful enough to try to use some sort of automated system to guess my gender

B) The male of the species is far more gullible/insecure/trusting than his female counterpart


C) I truly do have a deficiency of...ahem...apparatus which is both globally known and of great concern to a surprisingly large number of helpful people
11 October 2008 @ 05:44 pm

Some questions to which I wish I knew the answers:

  • Common wisdom is that the level of political discourse is trending continually downwards in the US. It says that the electorate is increasingly polarized and that there is less and less willingness to even consider the opposite side of many political issues. Is this really true, or is this just a case of looking fondly to the past?
  • If it is true, is the increasing interconnectivity of the world partially to blame? Are we as people less likely to engage with those who disagree with us if it's easy to find forums which just reinforce our own views?

A while back, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who would almost certainly describe himself as a born-again Christian. Although we rarely broke that implicit rule that says don't talk politics with a friend on the another part of the political spectrum, we did talk about what political blogs we follow. He said he gets a lot out of reading Power Line, and I suggested that Kevin Drum is a liberal blog that is more substance than rancor.

(I was terribly embarrassed that, after giving this advice, the headline on day and find that the top story was something along the lines of "Most idiotic conservatives ever".)

I don't know if he still checks up on Drum, but I do look over Power Line every few days, and I find myself shocked at what I read there; it seems so clear to me that the narrative of the Other Side's consists entirely of rumors, scaremongering and personal attacks while My Side clearly states its case...

If there's anything I got out of my college education, it's that certainty is to be distrusted, questioned, and skeptically examined, especially when it is you that is certain of something. When I step back and look critically at what's written in the blogs which seem RightCorrect, I see some of the same unsubstantive look-at-how-awful-those-people-are stories that fit with my world view and therefore slip past my own bs-detectors.

I do sincerely hope that, if Obama does win this election, his rhetoric of finding common ground across the political spectrum turns out to be more than talk.

31 July 2008 @ 02:09 pm
"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."

- H. L. Mencken, via Quotes of the Day
03 July 2008 @ 06:16 pm
I actually clicked through an ad (porcine aviation is just around the corner, or so I hear) today; it was a blurb about a service to bypass monopolistic and/or paternalistic internet stupidity, an offering of which I heartily approve.

It seems to be common wisdom that free markets and other freedoms go hand in hand, but it's not often you see such a direct connection...