27.June 2000

You have a right to remain silent. And, you have a right to speak up, most of the time. Let's hear it for the 7 Supremes who reaffirmed Miranda, with the booby prize to Scalia and Thomas for bringing up the rear.

Is the required warning an "extraconstitutional constraint"? Or is it part of our culture? We sing the Star Spangled Banner before sporting events, we have our kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance, complete with the egregious "under God" amendment. I think it's entirely fitting that our law enforcement officials have to recite a little bit of the Constitutional protection afforded our citizens on a regular basis.

26.June 2000

Finished up Michael Lewis' Trail Fever about the 1996 presidential campaign over the weekend, coincidentally in synch with the Green Party's convention. The past is prologue, as ever. Ralph Nader spoke longer than was probably necessary (90+ minutes?), but I liked his message, and I think I'll vote for him. The idea of not having to hold my nose to vote for a candidate is appealing, and Al and W. are both getting pretty stinky.

That and the fact that the Demopublicans and Republicrats are getting hard to tell apart. The spin on keeping Nader and Buchanan out of the debates will be typically lame. Perhaps the populace will rise up on that one; it's one thing to be apathetic about politics, but entertainment? Less likely.

25.June 2000

It seems that the next most indefatigable subject of conversation after the weather is gas prices. Since they were too low for too long, we have mobbed our way into an unholy mess of freeway culture and Stupid Urban Venalities that is dependent on cheap gas.

Midwestern family of 7 is outraged at paying $100 to fill up their Chevy Subdivision, which is an essential part of their life. It's as if drinking water were being overpriced.

Senator Hutchison from Texas thinks we should suspend federal taxes to ease the pain. (Texas has lots of oily friends.)

There's a dumbass idea if I ever heard one. Argue for or against taxes on some rational grounds and I'll listen, but tweak them to control prices? Why not just have the government control prices? Remember how well that worked? (Ok, you probably don't, it was what, 25 years ago?)

What if people were actually motivated to change their behavior, and vacation closer to home, or by towing something smaller than an apartment complex behind the family tractor?

Paul Krugman has a slightly more rational take on why prices are high. His conclusion seems in line with mine: no pain, no gain.

22.June 2000

Latest OTEV (Outlook transmitted e-mail virus) just in. This one exploits Windoze file typing by suffix, and a filetype most of us had never seen or heard of - "scrap object."

The beauty (?) of this type is that the suffix is ALWAYS hidden. On my NT system, one action (the default) is defined:
rundll32 C:\WINNT\system32\shscrap.dll,OpenScrap_RunDLL

Looks just ripe for a virus doesn't it? With the file named whatever.txt.shs, users see only "whatever.txt" and may overlook the somewhat subtle difference in the icon. Fire up that text file and shazam! You and folks in your address book are on the way to infection.

Monocultures breed disease.

18.June 2000

Finished Berlinski's The Advent of the Algorithm today. It had bogged down for me, but toward the end got really interesting. I think the Amazon rating is slipping, because it's a really difficult book, and because his intended humorous degressions sometimes just make things more difficult. And of course, we're left with an open question... but the subtitle -- "The Idea that Rules the World" -- is demonstrated well enough.

Stepped a bit deeper into Dave Winer's world, with tva.editthispage.com/. Good weblog technology (although I'm still figuring out the kinks), but I'm still trying to figure out if it's really simpler or not. I bought off on editing HTML directly from the get-go, and haven't seen an HTML editor that improves on vim with good macros yet. For me, anyway. ( Let me know if you've found one, wouldja?)

The "Flip this Page" idea is attractive, but the first time I tried it, I flipped my edited-on-the-fly home page into oblivion, and was a bit less enamored.

17.June 2000

Anthony Lewis, writing in the June 17, 2000 New York Times:

Asked about the (Chicago) Tribune study (of the details of the 131 Texas executions during his term), Governor Bush said, "We've adequately answered innocence or guilt" in every case. The defendants, he said, "had full access to a fair trial."

There are two ways of understanding that comment. Either Governor Bush was contemptuous of the facts or, on a matter of life and death, he did not care.

Courtney Love has something important to say about the ownership of intellectual property. Really. (Dave told me.) It makes me glad I'm not trying to sell any of this; it may not be worth much, but it's mine.

Elsewhere on Salon, a fiction writer by the name of Neal Stephenson has his geek credentials authenticated with "he once even wrote an image processing program for the Macintosh." Ooo. I guess I should add "even wrote an image processing program for the PDP-11" to my résumé.

16.June 2000

The trash flow continues. Brand new, black calfskin women's dress shoes, still in box with tissue. Label still on box: $178.00. Today, a 33 cent self-adhesive stamp, still on its release paper. Then there was the old purse, with a handfull of change that had escaped into the lining. Too hard to fish it out, just throw it away.

14.June 2000

When it's hot, the weather takes over the news.

It's really hot.

Like, 110+, maybe 120 F coming home on sun-drenched pavement, riding alongside a line of heat-belching automobiles, windows rolled up to keep their own exhaust from poisoning them.

At home, the rolling blackout was rolling our way. 6-ish, we powered back up.

Hot again tomorrow.

12.June 2000

Beautifying our highways with a personalized EAGER

I got to thinking about e-names we won't be seeing soon... eChump, eScam, eLoser, ePonzi... But no - don't underestimate the gold rush in domain name space. All those and eTwit are taken. Am I the only one that finds it depressing that so many people are willing to spend $70 for a domain name that they have no idea what to do with? (The whole elist is between stale and first blush.) Why don't more people get personalized plates and beautify our highways with their sparkling wit? Most states it's less than $35/year.

11.June 2000

DaveNet does a good job of describing what the Web wants from the Microsoft breakup. Unfortunately, the justice system isn't likely to run this as an exercise in engineering optimization. His letter to Bill in that piece has a lot more potential than mine did... and who knows, maybe Bill reads DaveNet.

10.June 2000

Is there a Bookbuyer's Anonymous, I wonder? I've got half a dozen books with bookmarks (or queued up), but a sale of used books still draws me in. Here's what went into our library (at least provisionally), for about $20:

On Management, Harvard Business Review, 1975. 39 of HBR's best papers from 1955-1975. For a dollar.

Office 97 Annoyances, Leonhard, Hudspeth & Lee, O'Reilly, 1997. Entertaining commiseration if nothing else (but a couple good ideas will pay for it).

Learning Perl on Win32 Systems, Schwartz, Olson & Christiansen, O'Reilly, 1997. A durable text on a durable language.

A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von Oech, 1983. A classic idea book I've already read, I'll give away.

Trail Fever Spin doctors, rented strangers, thumb wrestlers, toe suckers, grizzly bears and other creatures on the road to the White House, Michael Lewis, 1997. Jeanette's been laughing every other page. I enjoyed Liar's Poker 10 years ago, and one of these days I'll read The New, New Thing too.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Burton G. Malkiel, 1996 ed. Seems like a good time to review the history of the madness of crowds.

Russian Tales and Legends, retold by Charles Downing, 1957 (first edition; the Amazon link points to a 1990 paperback.

A Treasury of Irish Folklore, ed. by Padraic Colum, 2nd revised edition, 1967.

This Boy's Life, a memoir, Tobias Wolff, 1989. From back when memoirs were just on the rise.

Song Fest 300 songs - words and music, ed. by Dick and Beth Fest, 1955 the Intercollegiate Outing Club Association. Somewhat different lyrics for a few of the songs...

Musics of Many Cultures, An Introduction, ed. by Elzabeth May, 1980.

I could've picked up another copy of Phil Greenspun's 1999 Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing for fifty cents! but I left it for another lucky customer.

Nice bottom turn on a sweet wave; wish it were me

Then to Waddell Creek the same day, for a swim and sail in the ocean. I've sailed in big waves, but the surf makes me feel like a beginner again... The wind and waves were just right for a first time at the spot, sailed my 4.7, after putting duct-tape over the window gash I must've put in last time I used it.

3.June 2000

iwindsurf missed the forecast (at least if their reports are right), but I don't mind. They said "better at the Stick, and Crissy," but the average never got above 20 for the latter, in spite of a fine fog bank riding the ridge.

It was sunny, mid-60s, and the water was clear and good-looking on the ebb tide, with a big Coyote crowd out to enjoy it. I started to rig my 5.7, seeing lots of upper 5s and some 6-things, but let myself be persuaded to go with the newer Ezzy 5.1 instead, 'cause it would be "bigger outside."

It was just the thing. I resolved to go out and stay out, and not waste energy traversing the damn slog zone. That daily work out has helped, and I went out, stayed out, pointed high and let the ebb take me upwind of the crowd, outside of the SFO exhaust.

I was powered-up
in the groove
on the line
in the zone
on time
in the flow

It was sa-weet!

I dodged the port ramps, stayed on the water tickling them with my fin and didn't let them hurt me. Went after the starboard side where I'm comfy instead.

Reached so long, just got into the meditation of it, watched a jet on its way in for a while, then looked down and saw this beautiful starboard ramp with my name in lights, reared back and kissed the sky, landed it cushy-soft on my tail and planed right out of it. Oh yeah, ooo-weeee.

One unpleasant spill, surfed an outside jibe a little too eagerly, spiraled into the trough ahead of the wind and landed on my back across the mast, kidney-high. Uuhh. Tweaked my torque a bit, not quite the same pop off the ramps after that.

I came in for a drink, blasted easily through all but the very last bit of the bay, filled up with fresh.

The reprise was nice, still optimally powered and not fretting about pointing or those port-side nasties, kept pulling off jibes both sides, one way or another, but starting to tire. Drove in again, blasting downwind to my spot on the beach, packed it up, showered it off, loaded the van. Still going at 20 to 7, but the crowd seriously thinning...

Garrison Keilor's "Prairie Home Companion" had a sweet, lyric soprano just stepping up to "Dove Sono?" from the Marriage of Figaro; a sublime send-off for the the relaxed drive home.

1.June 2000

Just went for a random walk through forgotten bookmarks. Found the lyrics for two songs by Woodie Guthrie. Gave me chills just to read 'em.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org


Thursday, 08-Mar-2001 20:42:50 MST