Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Now if I had a TiVo, which I don't, pace, Max, because they're far too expensive in this country, not to mention that they're not very useful with only 5 channels on tap, I would be a little bit frightened if it suddenly decided that I were Estonian and a lover of Clint Eastwood movies, based on my prior viewing choices. But really, I have a soft spot for the emergent product-targeting technology that amazon.com, netflix.com (who thought I'd get a huge kick out of the Bollywood oeuvre), and TiVo are working to improve. It's still clearly early days for all of this stuff, but it does mean that the idea of having a 'television proxy' or a 'publications proxy' is not far away. That excites me.


Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Still loving First Monday. Especially the fact that it's well-respected and at the same time, free!


Sunday, November 17, 2002
Follow-up:

The maps are up for The Dialect Survey. More isoglosses than you can fit in your trash can/garbage can/rubbish bin....


Friday, November 15, 2002
As much as I adore my Game Boy Advance, I'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that it has its deleterious effects...

To wit, on my visit to Florida a few weeks ago, I injured my wrist a bit (doing cartwheels with Dan's 5-year-old niece). Nothing big, and in fact, the pain disappeared right away. But on the plane ride home, I played with the Game Boy Advance quite a bit, and when I arrived home again, my wrist was acutely, terribly painful. So much so that I couldn't even open a door with my right hand.

At this point, I didn't make the game <--> pain connection and kept on using the machine. In fact, I kept on using it until a few days ago, and sadly, seem to have dragged my pain along with me through the past two weeks. When I put the game away this weekend, I didn't pay much attention to the diminishing pain, and it was only this morning when I realised that my wrist is back to normal again.

There's some anecdotal evidence that I'm right in thinking that there is a correlation here... But it pains me to think I'll have to give up my new Roland Garros 2002 game-- especially since I finally won a Grand Slam.


Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Dear Tom,

You miss the point. It's not idealistic to work for a world where we have both (a) high voter registration and turnout; and (b) thoughtful, considered voting behaviour. As it stands, it's just too damned easy not to vote. We simply haven't made significant moves (pace, Alaska's fax-voting initiative) to allow people to be civically responsible and work a full day at a low-wage job where breaks are infrequent, at the same time.

Claims like yours, that not everyone should be allowed to vote, rely entirely on a privileged reading of the political system-- if a voter can't take time to read about issues that you think are important, s/he shouldn't be allowed to cast a ballot. Isn't this about as antithetical to the democratic process as is logically possible?

Who cares if people are reading The Wall Street Journal or The Economist when they prepare to vote? Perhaps the issues these publications consider salient to candidate selection aren't actually the important ones to everyone. If I decide to vote for the candidate with the best hair, why shouldn't I? That's what democracy is all about. Maybe I can even claim a gestalt understanding of the fitness of a president by his coiffure, and who can prove I'm not right?

Who also cares if people do vote randomly? As anyone who knows any rudimentary statistics can tell you, this will produce two kinds of results-- the small-number kind, wherein only a few people vote randomly, and therefore are extraordinarily unlikely to affect an election; and the large-number kind, wherein because lots of people are casting random votes, they cancel out the effects of each other, making a shift to election results again highly unlikely.

The only way that random voting would actually change an outcome is if all the people who were planning to vote randomly got together and collectively decided to select a candidate to support. But this act, in itself, produces a de facto political party, and therefore is as legitimate as any other. In the long run, this Randomcrat party would choose a lovely, evenly-balanced goverment.

You imply that perhaps a 'voting fitness test' is in order, to ensure that people who vote are capable of making informed decisions. This sounds strikingly retrograde, as this very tactic was used in combination with the poll tax to keep black voters away until the 24th Amendment was passed (and in the South, long afterwards).

What you really would like to say, but don't have the stones to, is that people should vote, if they plan to vote conservative. After all, high voter turnout has historically meant disproportionately higher black voter turnout, so why shouldn't you want people to stay home, satisfied that not needing to vote is a fringe benefit of a hale democracy?

Now if you'll excuse me, a few thousand of my friends and I are going to roll dice to choose the next Governor of Florida.


Friday, November 01, 2002
Sorry for the long absence (two weeks without posting-- yikes!), but I've been away and am back now, with a suitcase full of Twizzlers.

Interestingly, Twizzlers were not the reason I was stopped in the airport, scanned, and my luggage searched. It was, in the end, the adorable little Game Boy Advance light that I just purchased. As it turns out, the little coil looks suspiciously like a detonator, especially when coupled with the power source from the Game Boy Advance and the organic material it sat atop (read: a book).

I should be comforted that the crack security team was awake, I know... but really I'm just more shocked that the guy who was plowing through my backpack was flirting with me at the same time.

Ever been chatted up while having your electric shaver taken apart and waved underneath the snout of a bomb-sniffing dog?















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