The Sanctity of Elements

Meg Hourihan: “Nielsen speaks on behalf of the users' wants, and points a finger at us developers for using these elements in non-standard ways. But the blame does not lie solely with developers. Many developers do not choose to make bad design decisions; they are forced to because of circumstances.”

Whoa, attribution theory in full effect here.

A Beautiful Mind's John Nash

Chris Suellentrop: “A few things in the movie, of course, are just plain wrong—characters and scenes are compressed, events prettied up—but the fudges are mostly forgivable, given the difficulty of whittling a nearly 400-page book into a two-hour biopic.”

A Beautiful Mind was a really good movie, primarily because I identified with the social awkwardness of Nash (but not the genius nor the dementia), and was intrigued by his wife (or at least the movie's version). Roger Ebert said “is attracted to his genius, is touched by his loneliness, is able to accept his idea of courtship when he informs her, 'Ritual requires we proceed with a number of platonic activities before we have sex.'” Not that women like these are numerous by any means (and not that women would give a man who uses the type of come-ons that Nash used in the movie), but I buy the fact that this can be a reason for a woman to be attracted to a man like Nash.

The article fills in the important blanks of the movie in brief form, saving us from having to read the book on which the movie was based.

Recycling Subsidy

Robert Book: “Since wastepaper is a major input to the production of new paper, municipal sponsorship of recycling provides a significant implicit subsidy to the paper industry.”

It should come as no surprise that the author is an economist from the University of Chicago, which is notorious for it's neoconservative economists (Milton Friedman being the archetype).

Picking up the Pieces

Peter L. Bergen: “If the attackers [on Sept. 11] were not motivated by economic discontent, then, what drove them? Religion, of course -- although not everyone is ready to fully admit the role of Islam in September's attacks. In her essay in How Did This Happen?, for example, the religion scholar Karen Armstrong doth protest too much when she says that the Koran tells Muslims they "may never initiate hostilities ... and aggressive warfare is always forbidden." Her claim is simply false. Some verses in the Koran, it is true, seem only to allow purely defensive wars: "Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those attacked, because they have been wronged." But the Koran also exhorts the believers to aggression: "When the Sacred Months are past, then kill the idolaters wherever you find them." Turn the other cheek this is not. Bin Laden, in fact, quoted this very verse when he declared his war against the West in 1998.”

This very much parallels Alastair Johnston's argument that there is a myth of the Chinese preferring non-violent strategies in dealing with potential conflict.

Much to like in this review: like the counter-evidence that the United States is belligerent towards Islamic groups and countries; that the United States should do a better job of selling itself to Middle Eastern countries; that the United States media is too U.S.-centric. And ooh, in one of the books there's apparently an essay by Niall Ferguson, who has argued that Britain's entry into World War I was the worst mistake of the twentieth century. He's apparently, in his essay, argued that an American Empire would do the world some good (he's probably a believer of the hegemonic stability theory). Great, as if I didn't already have enough to read.

First Palestinian-Israeli War

The First Palestinian-Israeli War by Leon Wieseltier

A piece that is anti-Palestinian, pro-Israeli, but anti-Bush Administration (particularly Dick Cheney). A war is raging in Israel, and, as wars go, it doesn't matter who starts it, but who ends it. He seems to be differentiating between Middle Eastern Anti-Americanism and non-Middle Eastern (read European) Anti-Americanism, which is probably just that the Middle Eastern variant is violent whereas the European version is all talk.

8 glasses of Water Myth

Yahoo! News: No Need to Guzzle All That Water, Expert Says

"[Dr. Heinz Valtin] hopes people will be relieved of the guilt of not getting enough water, and of the expense of buying bottled water to drink throughout the day."

I'm relieved about the former, yes, and the latter doesn't really affect me. Tap water is of extremely high purity, when compared to the developing world, and is fine. My rule of thumb: drink when I'm thirsty. Now if I could only master the rule of thumb of eating only when I'm hungry...

Charlton Heston Guns

Bryan Curtis: This section of California state law requires that anyone who represents a threat to others because of a mental disorder or illness can't own a firearm. The state also denies gun ownership to those suffering from any kind of grave illness. For Heston to lose his Second Amendment rights, a court would have to find that he has a grave illness or represents such a threat.”

I favour gun control, and oppose the NRA on almost every count. Heston is an extremist among extremists, and although it's sad to know that Moses will fade intellectually (Alzheimer's is a disease that no man ought to suffer through), it's nice to know that one day, they will take his guns away.

Mideast Stability

John O'Sullivan: “The United States is in a position to offer an attractive deal to Riyadh: We will protect you against any domestic insurrection provided that you break with the mullahs, end subsidizing terrorism and fundamentalism abroad, bring in liberal reforms of the polity and the economy today -- free speech, freedom of the press, rule of law -- and begin the gradual transformation of the country into a constitutional democratic monarchy over the next few decades.”

Pretty good deal, if you ask me. Not that either party would be full, willing partners. But Saudi Arabia, our "friends", is not a pleasant place to live. Neither is Afghanistan now that the Taliban has been defeated (I read somewhere that it was the worst armed army in history, comparative to "at the time" world standards, going up against the best armed country, in absolute terms as well as comparative, ever), the Left huffed and hawed that Afghanistan was pretty much ignored before Osama bin Laden made it his hideout. Fair enough, but that complaint seems a little muted now that women are again allowed to be educated. If it's a side-effect, this is a positive side-effect, is it not?

O'Sullivan seems to be suggesting that if you bring down Saddam and impose 'regime change' (which is probably just a nice way of saying we'll kill him and his cronies and put in whoever we like), that the house of cards in the Middle East will fall, with effective 'regime change' in other states.

Also: George F. Will: “Congress then did not so much declare war [against Japan in 1941 after Pearl Harbor] as acknowledge war's surprising eruption. Today the justifiable, but undeniably radical, policy of preemptive war compels Congress to play a dramatically different role. What is underway is without precedent in U.S. history. It is a methodical and semi-public preparation for a massive military operation to achieve an aim frequently proclaimed at the highest levels of government. The aim is to compel a change of regime in a nation that is intensely and increasingly menacing as it strains to achieve the capacity for attacking American interests.”

Photodude: “My prediction: after the polls close Election Tuesday, Hussein Hunting Season opens, very shortly thereafter. In time to give a positive final report in the State of the Union address in January, 2003.”

Comment on

comment on about Dave Eggers by mathowie: “(It's funny how people either hate Dave Eggers or love him. there's no in-between. He's either satan or jesus)”

Waitaminute! I thought his book was just okay! Not great, not sucky-bad. Okay. I don't think Eggers is Satan nor Jesus. (Kottke evidently thinks he's the latter.)

Acronym Pronunciations

As a (welcome?) departure from my tales of non-existant woe (ToNEW for short), I hereby give you a Dreamweaver-created (out of laziness) table of the way I pronounce computer-related acronyms. I haven't seen SCSI used very often lately (must be pass� already) but the others are still used pretty often.

Acronym Standard pronunciation Way I pronounce it
MySQL My-sequel My-Ess-Cue-Elle
SCSI Scuzzy Scizzy
LOL Lawl Elle-Oh-Elle
GUI Gooey Gee-You-Eye
:P *actually sticking out tongue* Colon-Pee

Just kidding about the last one. I don't actually say "colon-pee" when I want to stick my tongue out at someone. I just stick out my tongue. And I pronounce the acronym ToNEW Toh-noo. But it's not a real acronym, so nevermind. But I usually spell out acronyms, because acronyms-as-words is just plain silly. Hell, I'm not even sure of the standard pronunciations of any of them. It's just that since I don't ever really hear them that often, I decided to make up my own pronunciations.

Is there anyone else who defiantly pronounces acronyms in a non-standard way like I do?

Canadian Guys Rule

Leah McLaren: “Last week, The Spectator, a London weekly, published an article I wrote on the romantic ineptitude of the English male. Since then, I've found myself invited to slag off the chinless wonders on TV, radio and the pages of various newspapers. But while it's true that English suitors leave a lot to be desired, at heart I know the real problem lies with me. Over the years, I've been spoiled silly by Canadian men.”

Bah humbug, I still don't like her.