Thursday, December 26, 2013
We did a careful, scientific test the past couple of days ... of the proposition that it's possible to have too much good seafood. On Christmas day, Debbie and I – all by ourselves – consumed two pounds of Dungeness crab meat cooked in lovely southwestern-style crab cakes, with homemade tartar sauce. Today we followed that up with a pound and a half of giant-sized fresh Atlantic sea scallops, broiled to perfection with butter, garlic, lemon, and other seasonings. We haven't a bit of room left in our stretched bellies. Conclusion: it is not possible to have too much good seafood! We'd do it again in a heartbeat!!
“...in those days, you could XOR anything with anything and get something useful”... A sample from the writings of “the funniest man at Microsoft Research”. For anyone with a geekly mindset, there are some very funny passages in these essays by James Mickens. Here's a sample paragraph:
I picked that last example at random. You must believe me when I say that I have the utmost respect for HCI people. However, when HCI people debug their code, it’s like an art show or a meeting of the United Nations. There are tea breaks and witticisms exchanged in French; wearing a non-functional scarf is optional, but encouraged. When HCI code doesn’t work, the problem can be resolved using grand theories that relate form and perception to your deeply personal feelings about ovals. There will be rich debates about the socioeconomic implications of Helvetica Light, and at some point, you will have to decide whether serifs are daring statements of modernity, or tools of hegemonic oppression that implicitly support feudalism and illiteracy. Is pinching-and-dragging less elegant than circling-and-lightly-caressing? These urgent mysteries will not solve themselves. And yet, after a long day of debugging HCI code, there is always hope, and there is no true anger; even if you fear that your drop-down list should be a radio button, the drop-down list will suffice until tomorrow, when the sun will rise, glorious and vibrant, and inspire you to combine scroll bars and left-clicking in poignant ways that you will commemorate in a sonnet when you return from your local farmer’s market.Awesome, Mr. Mickens. Awesome!
Term of the day “Manufactured intelligence”... Daniel Greenfield, writing at his Sultan Knish blog, with a useful tool for understanding the progressive (or, as he says, liberal) mindset. Here's his conclusion:
Liberalism isn't really about making the world a better place. It's about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.But you should read the whole thing, really...
That is why Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for having good intentions. His actual foreign policy mattered less than the appearance of a new transformative foreign policy based on speeches. Gore promised to be be harsher on Saddam than Bush, but no one remembers that because everyone in the bubble knows that the Iraq War was stupid... and only conservatives do stupid things.
Liberal intelligence exists on the illusion of its self-worth. The magical thinking that guides it in every other area from economics to diplomacy also convinces it that if it believes it is smart, that it will be. The impenetrable liberal consensus in every area is based on this delusion of intelligence. Every policy is right because it's smart and it's smart because it's progressive and it's progressive because smart progressives say that it is.
Progressives manufacture the consensus of their own intelligence and insist that it proves them right.
Imagine a million people walking in a circle and shouting, "WE'RE SMART AND WE'RE RIGHT. WE'RE RIGHT BECAUSE WE'RE SMART. WE'RE SMART BECAUSE WE'RE RIGHT." Now imagine that these marching morons dominate academia, the government bureaucracy and the entertainment industry allowing them to spend billions yelling their idiot message until it outshouts everyone else while ignoring the disasters in their wake because they are too smart to fail.
That is liberalism.
A cryptographic nightmare... Some French mathematicians have made a dent in the discrete logarithm problem that is at the heart of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol and elliptic curve encryption – both widely used on the Internet. So far their discovery is only useful for decrypting some much less-used cryptography, but they're working on extending it to a more generally useful tool. If they succeed, their method will invalidate much of the cryptographic infrastructure that today allows secure transactions...
In memoriam: the space robots we lost this year... A nice summary of the robotic space explorers that stopped working this year – some expectedly, others not...