Thursday, March 29, 2007

What I'll be reading.
I have a paying gig at (Chicago Pharm Co) which will give me a lot of extra time to sit around and read books, so I spent $20 and bought:
1 Murrow his life and times.
2 Complete short stories of Mark Twain (I think I've read all these, but it was 50 cents.)
3 The Senator (Burke, about Ted Kennedy.) I find I have very little interest anymore in the Kennedy/Johnson reading binge I was doing a couple of years ago. I never got the book started,and I've probably forgotten most of what I learned in reading 50 or so books.
4 Virtual Light- William Gibson. Now I'm confused about was it Neil Gaiman or who exactly, that wrote that movie Randy Shelly will be in with William F Shatner, and some other people. This comment is incoherent now, but it's a placeholder for me to go back and google later.
OK, I see why I was confused. Randy is in Beowulf, Neil Gaiman screenplay and executive producer, with Angeline Jolie John Malkovitch and Anthony Hopkins, but Randy is also in Horroween with William F Shatner, Eric Estrada, George Clinton, Jenna Jamison, Tila Tequila, Alice Cooper, Barry Humphreys, Jay Thomas, and Joe Boxer, among others.
5 At Ease: stories i tell to friends. Dwight Eisenhower.
6 How to get invited to the white house, Humes
7 Partners in power, Morris, about the Clinton co-presidency.
8 Vignettes of Legal History, Julius Marke.
also in the box are a few books that were in my car, which i got slightly cleaner today:
9 Worldwalk: one man's journey around the globe
10: The evolution of primate behavior.
This should keep me from getting bored for a month. I won't read all of it, but I'll have stuff with me to read.
Currently, I'm reading The Covenant, by James Michener, one of his trademark long historical sagas, this one about South Africa.
update: What I had was volume I, but here at the clinic they have the full thing, so I'll read it this week, also picked up "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman - it's ok, but only ok, and an Anias Nin. Currently reading this week's New Yorker,and struggling with a dialup connection on a P3 - but the study is going smoothly,and I'm getting paid while wasting time online; that's the right job for me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fixed the xkcd link.. i'd left off a quote mark.
Today I got my dsl running at home and got a gig that will pay the rent for a few months, so I may be able to update this blog more often than I'd been doing lately.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The pentium turned 10 today, wired reports.
The pentium was a big breakthough in computers, as the 386 had been a few years before.
With a 386, you could have text, and network computers together - it went beyond hobby machines into work horses for regular folks. The pentium allowed graphics and video and fast response times, so that if you could get a high speed internet connection, your machine could use it effectively. With these tools, there was a critical mass for people to move information online as the web exploded into e-commerce, leading to google and the open source revolution.
Meanwhile, 9 years after it started, a court has just struck down COPA, one of the government's several attempts to outlaw the internet. This a victory, but victories like this kill.
During the years when COPA hamstrung a transition to a web-based economy, countries like South Korea left ahead in deploying high speed internet networks,and the US lost ground in what had been one of its strongest advantages in the world economy.
The children, who would have been protected from the big bad internet, have grown up to find that jobs have moved overseas, as the internet routed around the censorship damage. Nobody in government is going to admit to the costs to the economy of this unconstitutional legislation. Kudos to Chris Hanson of the ACLU, who has stuck with the case for 9 years, a career in itself. The ACLU has become a 4th branch of government, repairing damage dome by oathbreaking legislators and the voters who allow the oathbreakers to remain in office. But it shouldn't have to be that way.
I was not able to sustain the struggle for 9 years, in the small part of the puzzle I used to work on. I do not love big brother, but I've been broken by the system,and have stopped fighting. For the moment I hold on to my law license, but don't do anything with it. My last few cases could dismissed any time now. I am currently renting out my body for medical studies, as a way to try to survive while I sort out what to do next. I need to get some sleep -(some ranting edited out.)

What I'm reading:
I bought some books to take with me for a study that I didn't get into,and got sick while traveling to screen for, so I've been reading them, or trying to.
I think I'm likely to be back on track for 50 books in 2007, since the medical studies I'll be doing will leave lots of time to read.
I had heard great things about A Confederacy of Dunces. The author wrote one book, killed himself,and his mother took the book to a publisher, who thought it was wonderful. I found it awful. The main character is selfish in the not good way, stupid in a pedantic way, oafish,and has misadventures set in New Orleans. This is all considered a comic riot, only I found it hateful or sad or something like that. It is bleak like Bleak House if not quite as long. I gave up a few hundred pages into it.
A book I made the mistake of finishing was John LeCarre, the Honorable Schoolboy.
It's about british espionage in Hong Kong circa 1974. The characters communicate in oblique injokes and very british idiom, so I often couldn't understand what they were saying. I'm someone who generally likes British novels, Christie or Wodehouse or Maugham or Sayers or my internet friends who write stories about their boyhood boarding school lives. And I'd liked LeCarre's the Taylor of Panama, in which things actually happen, to believable characters. But I couldn't get into this one at all.
I don't know if it's my own rotten mood, (I've been both ill and having a bout of depression related to financial stresses), or whether he improved greatly as a writer in between the two books, or that this one just wasn't my cup of tea.
Spy guy novels in the Clancy line are not my usual genre.

Anyway, currently I'm reading and enjoying All's Fair, by James Carville and Mary Matalin. It has a great gimmick - lovers working opposite sides of a presidential campaign, the 92 Bush-Clinton-Perot race. She's somewhat likeable, him a bit less so.
Unlike all the Kennedy and LBJ campaign books I've read, I remember this one. I was a very small player in that election, but a player, so it's interesting to read the war room stories and the air force one gossip, very topical since we have the current incarnations of Bush and Clinton. On the other hand, it's not a must read.
It's a not a thrilling page turner. It's not especially good either as a romance or as a campaign journal. I'm not learning a lot, don't care deeply about the players, and we already know how it will turn out. Carville is frank about being a hired gun and a spin doctor, which could be a great set up for fun stories, but there's not much new here. Matalin is sincere as a reformed hippie, a genuine person among a bunch of stuffed shirts who are righteous compared to their corrupt opponent, but self-righteous so we don't really care. Unlimited Access by Gary Aldrich was a much better book about the culture clash between these two camps. Aldrich was an FBI agent assigned to do security clearances for the incoming Clinton gang, and has a story with drama and humor. I'd like to see it as a movie with Dan Acroyd playing the Joe Friday character, as he did in Dragnet and Exit to Eden. All's Fair misses the drama and the humor.
The tension between the Clintons and the Bushes is a bit like the tension between LBJ and the Kennedys. LBJ was a crook, crass and tacky, a drunk, powermad, egomaniacal.
The Kennedys were something worse. The Clintons are crooks, crass, tacky, from a culture of drug use, powermad and egomanical. The Bushes are something worse, smug and self-righteous, holier than thou.
It brings to mind the campaign for the corrupt Governor Edwards of Louisiana, who was running against David Duke. The bumper stickers said, "vote for the crook - it's important!" It seems, at this early date, that the Democrats will pick Hillary, or somneone else just as bad, instead of running a credible mainstream candidate.
That leaves a window of opportunity for the GOP to settle on the worst they can find.
I don't yet know who that would be - McCain perhaps.
They no longer let me vote - I'm unwilling to display a voting license.
Meanwhile, I don't see anythone worth voting voting for. Ron Paul, who I respect, is in the race, but I doubt he will last long past New Hampshire.
That concludes today's cynical rant and book report.

It was windy this week in spain, which helped push wind ahead of both nukes and coal to be the biggest (27%) chunk of spain's electricity production. Spain isn't unique as windpower resource. If they can do it in spain, should be doable many other places.
It's taken many many years, but it looks like wind power is currently viable. I haven't done the research to find out if this is market-driven, or if spain is investing in wind for political reasons. Info via Digg.

gmail tip from digg:
Post subject: Find out who gives away your email address with Gmail trick
When you give your email address to a website, you hope that they don't sell or trade your address to a bunch of spammers. Well if they do, here is a simple way to see what sites are responsible for what particular piece of email. This requires you have a Gmail account.

If your Gmail login name was username@gmail.com and you went to samplesite.com to fill out a registration form, instead of just entering username@gmail.com as your email, enter it as username+samplesitecom@gmail.com instead. When Gmail sees a "+" in an email address, it uses all the characters to the left of the plus sign to know who to send it to. In this example it would still send it to username@gmail.com.

Now whats cool is if you search Gmail for username+samplesitecom, you will see all massages that were sent to that email address.

To see who is responsible for sending a specific message click the Show Details link and you will see the complete address.

Death of Crescat?
The blogs that I read daily are Hasen's election law blog, because of the topic matter, and Volokh, because of the quality and quantity of law blogging, but crescatsententia has been my favorite.
There are strong hints that it is dying off. Since the beginning, it's been about 1/2 Will Baude, 1/4 Waddling Thunder aka Raffi,and 1/4 misc others. Currently, Will is busy writing articles at Yale, and Raffi is apparently actually working as a lawyer. The others have mostly wandered off to other things.
The solution, if any is needed, might be something like an auction.
I don't know what kind of hit count crescat gets, and its usual lack of comments limits the ability to see if it has a following, but it seemed to get lots of interaction with other law student type blogs. I haven't seen much in the way of emerging new law blogs. I know the sheer number of blogs is up every year, but I don't see the new ones getting linked and integrated into the older ones. I realize the corner of the internet I follow is a tiny slice of what is out there, and I've never heard of some of the blogs that some people find essential, and vice versa.
Anyway, crescat could a) offer itself for sale and see if gets any takers or b)put out a call for auditions to let new blood take over. Not interested myself - I think i've proved I can't blog my way out of a paper bag. But there may be others willing and able. Now I'll try going back to sleep.

Friday, March 16, 2007

At the moment I am online wirelessly at the local coffeeshop on a new (recycled) laptop. It's been up and down tonight, not yet reliable, but if i can it to work more consistantly, I'll be able to spend more time online,and that could mean being able to update the blog more often. -
update: the laptop worked for a day then crashed. Currently I'm looking at a $200 desktop P4, (obstacles) Meanwhile I've had zero personal productivity lately, a combination of sick, lazy, and limited access to computers.
Bought the P4 and found out the phone company turned off my dsl and won't turn it on again for a week. Color me frustrated.
Spent a half hour on hold getting an AT&T supervisor, then 5 minutes fixing the problem - I am online via dialup as a workaround till the DSL is on. It's been over 5 years since I've had to cope with dialup, and it's a whole different world... makes me wish i had a working copy of the lynx browser instead of firefox. A dialup emulator for web pages would be another handy tool... it makes me want to remove my aardvark logo from this blog.. dialup handles text pretty well but slows to a crawl when it encounters graphics. The advantage, or maybe disadvantage, is that when I can't sleep at 4:17 am I can be online. I don't sleep well which may be a factor in not being as productive during the days as I would like.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I have finally gotten around to adding marginal revolutions to the blogroll here. I find some of it is over my head, but some of it is highly interesting. Updating my blog, right now, should take lower priority than getting work done.
There are probably a few people who follow my blog, cutting down on the number of letters I need to write...
[Block of whining text deleted...]
It's just that I've been updating less and less frequently, because I feel my time has to be allocated to other tasks, even though more time allocated doesn't equal more work done.
Partly, it used to be easier to blog when I was a media junkie. Currently, I watch old movies on cable and don't spend all day surfing the net. If the computer repair I've ordered works, and I get some of the gigs I've applied for, I might get back to being able to spend more time online. Momentarily, I'm on a semi-hiatus because I'm sick, just some flu or something, and the computer lab is on reduced hours for spring break.

The CD circuit has struck down a handgun ban for DC, based on the Second Amendment. The case is likely to reach the supreme court, and has the potential to be a major landmark.
Volokh has coverage,and has been a leader in generating and distributing scholarship on the issue.
Update: Volokh is cited in the opinion.
Compare Eugene Volokh,
The Commonplace Second Amendment, 73 N.Y.U. L. REV. 793
(1998), with Michael C. Dorf, What Does the Second
Amendment Mean Today?, 76 CHI.-KENT L. REV. 291 (2000).
However, the structure of the Second Amendment turns out to
be not so unusual when we examine state constitutional
provisions guaranteeing rights or restricting governmental
power. It was quite common for prefatory language to state a
principle of good government that was narrower than the
operative language used to achieve it. Volokh, supra, at 801-07.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Little Foxes

at catallarchy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Too many of my friends are gamer geeks - you know, masquerade, larps, magic the gathering, DnD, pokemon, doom. I only play three games, other than cards:
chess, monopoly, and elections. Ok, I'll play tag or hide and seek or stuff like that, but I don't find grownups into that sort of thing very often.
Anyway, the point is chess.
I've been playing since 1968,and thought I knew the rules, but a situation came up with a rule dispute,and at the time we didn't have access to google.
The question: when castling, can you move the rook across a space where it would be attacked? (remember, the rook and king can not have moved, and the king cannot cross a space where it would be attacked,and you can't castle out of check.)
Googling the first two sets of rules that came up, it seems that the guy was right - it's ok to move a rook across an attack. When asked at the time, I said I didn't think that was kosher, but I wasn't absolutely sure - spoken like a lawyer, I left myself an out in case I was wrong. I spent a month away from google,and I felt like I'd lost 20 iq points - I'm just used to having information at my fingertips.

Had a nice email from an old friend, who suggests we mail weekly, in what will be an evolving dialog.
Current topics include
Open sourcing education
Is Atlas Shrugged worth re-reading?
I'm not yet cutting and pasting from the mails to here, because I'm waiting for his ok, and because this terminal has some sort of malware that's interfering with cut and paste at the moment.
But slashdot today has a story about open sourcing education,including that MIT is going to put all its courses online by the end of the year.
That should help bring the singularity: all those afghan rebels can start getting MIT educations in nanotech and particle physics.
Meanwhile, BoingBoing has a story by Xeni about how Sikh temples open source food: they feed whoever comes by. Pay what you want. A comment to the story points out this isn't just a sikh thing; most temples in India do this. I can vouch for the practice - I used to eat weekly at hindu temples in Newark DE and Boulder CO. I assumed it was a recruiting tool for that particular sect, but it turns out to be a more widespread custom.
Meanwhile, I applied today to be a research subject for a nasa study on effects of weightlessness. I got laid off fired from my factory job a few weeks ago, so it looks like I'll be doing research studies for a living again until I find something else. It's not likely I'll get the nasa gig, but I test tomorrow for a medical study. Yesterday I didn't get into one at Eli Lilly because I disclosed that I'd had some nosebleeds as a child. www.jalr.org turns out to be a good resource for finding such studies.

Monday, March 05, 2007

British to ban assault forks next.

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