Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plus, It Doesn't Even Work!

First off, I do admit that this critique of the administration's torture methods does not completely refute the idea that pain == information. Forgive my bias in this matter, torture is so repugnant to decent human beings that we're a bit spring-loaded to consider information debunking its effectiveness.

But these experts do say that the current torture regime is probably not nearly as effective as other interrogation methods, without even considering the moral dimension, and that better alternatives exist (and were used in World War II to elicit tons of useful intelligence from captured German and even Japanese military men).

So exactly why do we continue to torture, if even a cold-blooded cost/benefit analysis shows that it pays off in neither the short run (better intelligence) nor the long (America's standing in the world, treatment of captured U.S. soldiers)?

Plus it's wrong. Even if it worked, it'd be wrong. Are we America, or merely Rome with better weapons?

New York Times article

PDF of original report

Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't Kick Bush When He's Down

A bird had the right idea -- CRAP on him instead! This added a Daliesque touch to an already surreal Rose Garden press conference Thursday morning. Dana Millbank's column on it is hilarious, opening with:

Is there no safe haven for President Bush?

It happened midway through his news conference in the Rose Garden yesterday morning, in between his 10th and 11th mentions of al-Qaeda: A bird flew over the president and deposited a wet, white dropping on the upper left sleeve of his jacket. Bush wiped the mess off with his bare hand.


But as frequently happens at presidential events these days, it quickly became al-Qaeda, all the time. Bush invoked the terrorist group 19 times and even suggested it was going after individual reporters' kids.

"They are a threat to your children, David," he advised NBC's David Gregory.

"It's a danger to your children, Jim," Bush informed the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg.

This last warning was perplexing, because Rutenberg has no children, only a brown chow chow named Little Bear. It was unclear whether Bush was referring to a specific and credible threat to Little Bear or merely indicating there was increased "chatter in the system" about chow chows in general.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Just Can't Hate Ashcroft Quite So Much Now

I am no fan of the man, his policies, and what he did as Bush's A.G.

But if James Comey is telling the truth, he did at least make an admirable stand for the rule of law, sick and probably tranked, in the face of considerable pressure.

Did Ashcroft blow the lid off the N.S.A. wiretap program subsequently? He did not. Would I want him in a position of power in our government? I would not. Do his views still constitute a potential disaster for America's social fabric? They still do. Nevertheless, there was a level to which he would not sink, according to Comey.

On the other hand, should Gonzales and Card be publicly excoriated, humiliated, and (in Alberto's case) forced to resign in disgrace? Damn betcha. I've heard of sleazy, but this is really quite stunning.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not the Only One

The recent rant on grammar having no doubt caused an eye-rolling epidemic among the Teeming Dozens...let me tell you that I'm not alone in this. Seen on the very forum that ticked me off in the first place (Woot):

Monday, May 14, 2007

Google Adwords Campaign Snares ~500 Phish

The author used Adwords to cause a link to appear:

Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!

Yes, Virginia, in 6 months 498 people clicked the link, potentially opening themselves up to drive-by downloads. In fact, that phrase was the search term that brought up the ad in the first place.

Of the 498, 98% were Windows users, a platform peculiarly vulnerable to the technique.

This is the sort of thing that makes security people hide their heads in their hands.

"Why is your password written on a stickynote on your MONITOR, for God's sake?"

"Well, you made me use one that was so hard to remember..."

Saw the item on Schneier's blog originally.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Grammar-Driven Bobby Knight Moments from your Humble Correspondent

My friend Dennis pointed out (another) funny contest on Woot. Reading through the forum postings, I began to foam and gibber at stuff like:

Yeah what would happen if a company made it's products only compatible with each other?

and (note comment at top of shot):

I continue to be appalled at the illiteracy displayed even in relatively up-brainy fora like Woot. (OK, so the Latinate plural of "forum" is a bit over the top.) I'm starting to think that the Grammar Police should check up on everyone who hasn't figured out the difference between a possessive, a contraction, and a plural by the age of 18; the still-clueless have their right pinky-tip removed, as a public service. Lest you think I'm too brutal, let me hasten to add that whoever can demonstrate the correct usage of "they're", "their", and "there" will have anesthesia administered first.

Post-surgery recidivists are legally required to use keyboards wherein the quote keycap features a vertical needle. For misusers of "two", "to", and "too", however (I almost said "on the other hand"), the surgery is performed by a Rottweiler.

No, don't thank me, I'm happy to serve such an important cause. Language is all that separates us from the creationists, after all.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Stop-Motion Animation At Its Finest

This has heart, humor, incredible special effects, cool music...and zero budget. I mean, it makes Primer look like a Jerry Bruckenheimer extravaganza.

Tony vs. Paul

Here are Space Invaders, Frogger, Pac-Man, and more, all done in stop-motion style with...pizzas? Bugs?

I've blogged before about Animator Versus Animation. But did you know there was a sequel?

This Illusion is So Cool, It Can't Even See Cool From Here

I'm sure that now my brain has been reprogrammed and I secretly am about to do a Manchurian Candidate on the Current Occupant or something.

Oh wait, I was already.

(JUST kidding, USSS. Honest! Here, stare at the nice dots.)

Excellent Street Ads by Nonprofits

Ah, almost makes me wish I were back in the biz. Got this link off Woot:

Monday, May 07, 2007

CNET on Green Tech

CNET has published a many-linked green technologies page that should be interesting reading.

IronRuby is out!! IronRuby is out!!

John Lam does indeed deserve Larry O'Brien's "He-Man Programmer of the Year" award! As we anticipated, at the MIX conference Microsoft announced a version of Ruby running atop -- not bridged to -- the .NET CLR. Get sample code here, for example.

Between this and Silverlight...hmmm!

Janet Needs One Of These

I mean, forget the SawzAll. We are talking serious vegetative destructive capacity here. (From AvWeb's Video of the Week)