Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Easier than a camel through a needle’s eye

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Bruce Schneier spends some time talking about the fairly obvious dangers of the You’ve Been Left Behind web site.  I assume these guys are crooks who are promising to “send documents by the email” to those left behind by the Rapture, but really are planning to pocket the subscription fees (or raid the assets of) the gullible.

“The gullible” sounds like I’m picking on people for believing in the Rapture, but I’m not particularly.  I’m picking on them for poor asset management.

Think it through. Even if you believe the Rapture is immanent, isn’t it kind of presumptuous to decide you’re going and someone else is staying?  That’s going to be a fun moment when Mom gets that “sorry you didn’t make the cut, but here’s my savings account” e-mail.  It’ll be especially interesting if you didn’t make the cut either, and you have to race her to it.

If you think the Rapture is upon us and you have word from on high that your reservation is confirmed, hand deliver your assets.

Return of the Gong Show?

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

I’ve waxed romantic about The Gong Show before, and it saddens me somewhat to see that someone thinks that magic can be recaptured.  I suppose anything’s possible – Battlestar Galactica’s a critical success these days.  But I doubt that Gong Show lightining strikes twice.

What century?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Another for the “what century is it again?” file.

Bobby Fischer

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Bobby Fischer passed away this week.

When I was in High School, I played chess seriously enough to learn the language and develop an appreciation for the esoteric, mathematical beauty of the game. It’s really remarkable how expressive a few pieces of plastic and a shared understanding of the world that they imply can be. I’ve seen players joke, threaten, rage, panic and nearly everything else within the confines of 64 squares. Even without outside commentary, you can see players talk to one another in the moves they make.  Between humans, it’s a framework for interaction and understanding that goes beyond the constrained aspects of play.

Once you’ve learned to converse a little in that dialect, Fischer’s name comes up a lot, and not just for the popularization and politicization of the game that he catalyzed. He was a genuine chess genius. He blazed new trails of play and revitalized lines of thought that were believed to be dead ends with his passion and brilliance. People make analogies between his ability and Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, but if anything, his presence in chess is larger. Even if he’d never been on the wider world stage, the chess world would remember him as a revolutionary, and rightly so.

Unfortunately, on virtually every other axis he seems to have been unbalanced. Of course, I’ve never met him, so I can only say what I’ve seen reported, but it seems undeniable that he was a dedicated anti-semite and generally a whack-O outside the world of chess.

It’s heartbreaking when someone is clearly superhumanly talented in one area, but so prosaic in others. Outside the game, Fischer was just a guy, and not a guy I had much respect for. That’s just being human, I suppose, but it’s a sad reminder of how many different aspects that game has.


Friday, October 26th, 2007

Most computer or math geeks have come to love xkcd for its quirky geek humor and surreality.  What I think is underrated about it is its breathtaking heart.

NASA air safety survey squashed?

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

This AP story (via CNN) alleges that NASA is being told to not release results of an aviation safety survey that might make people nervous and airlines less profitable (if that’s possible). If that’s true someone’s got a lot to answer for. Particularly troubling is:

The survey’s purpose was to develop a new way of tracking safety trends and problems the airline industry could address. The project was shelved when NASA cut its budget as emphasis shifted to send astronauts to the moon and Mars.

That makes the whole hubub about the impractical Mars mission particularly alarming. While I’d love to see us get to another planet before I die, using it as a smoke screen to cut aviation safety programs isn’t good government.

This post is going out to…

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Brenda and I were suffering through a dedication radio show at a restaurant last night.  You know the kind – some earnest young disk jockey listens to someone pour out their heart and end up dedicating some sappy song to the person who dumped them, or has taken them back or whatever.  Roughly 70% of all these dedications are for “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb.  I think I can fix the genre, though.

My idea is to leave the sappy stories and the dedication goal in place, but let the DJ pick the song.  So some blinded-by-love fool who thinks he’s telling a “Reunited” story can get the “Norwegian Wood” (or, for you Pat McCurdy fans, “Imagine A Picture”) that he really needs.  And the joy of sending out a “Jail Bait” or “House Rent Blues” to someone who needs to hear them but didn’t know it would delight me.

I think it would be much more effective than Dr. Phil and more entertaining than Casey Kasem.  But I’m a “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” kind of guy.

Fear is a Force Multiplier

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

I think of cholera as the sign of a failing society in the 21st century. We understand how to avoid it, and the requirements for doing so amount to basic sanitation. It’s a big failing for us as a species that we continue to lose people to it.

Of course, cholera has returned to Iraq.

Bruce Schneier points to a post from Eric Urmansky about how terrorism and our reaction to it is putting Iraq back into the 19th century.

Most pages re-styled

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

I’ve restyled all my pages to more closely match the look of the blog here. I’ve got more stuff up than I remembered, including a couple rants from the past that I liked some.

Let me know if anything’s illegible.

Could it be…

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

So apparently a couple big chunks of ice hit a small town in Iowa.

Note to CNN: there are a lot of weird things in this world, and not all of them are tied to global warming. Just so you know.