The All-Thing

All stick and no carrot, since ought-three.


塞上 (柳開)


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Mon, 16 Feb 2004

Sims for Sims

Am I prescient or what?

Now comes a fan-made plug-in that allows Sims characters to effectively play SimCity inside The Sims. The Sims franchise has gone meta.,2101,62287,00.html

Posted at 14:55 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 05 Feb 2004

Abusive language


Judge Noonan, one of the Ninth Circuit judges who listened to the Morpheus case in which the legality of building a tool without the entertainment industry's permission — and hence the future of the Internet — is being decided directed this blast at Ramos, the attorney arguing the music publishers' side:

  "Let me say what I think your problem is. You can use these harsh terms
  [piracy, theft], but you are dealing with something new, and the
  question is, does the statutory monopoly that Congress has given you reach
  out to that something new. And that's a very debatable question. You don't
  solve it by calling it 'theft.' You have to show why this court should
  extend a statutory monopoly to cover the new thing. That's your problem.
  Address that if you would. And curtail the use of abusive language." 


Posted at 16:49 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Fri, 23 Jan 2004

African American

Being half-(South) African myself, I can't say I haven't thought of the same thing, especially since college scholarships and the like are so lucrative:

'Officials disciplined students who papered their nearly all-white high school with posters advocating a white student from South Africa for the school's "Distinguished African American Student Award."'

Jeez, I guess making decisions and classifications based on these completely ill-defined race groups is a bad idea? Why don't you just come out and say that it's all about skin pigment? Or is that just another thing you can't say?

(from mf)

Posted at 10:19 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Wed, 14 Jan 2004


A day in the life of a People's Daily web editor. It seems that China's 15-year news blackout on the Tiananmen square massacre was let up briefly yesterday, albeit apparently inadvertently. Very amusing.

(from A Better Tomorrow, who happily happens to be a tea enthusiast like xiao de zhe.)

Posted at 10:49 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Fri, 19 Dec 2003


Christ. Check out what these fuckers are doing when the Democratic convention reaches Boston next year.

Now, I'm not known for liking where I live, in general, but are there any good points to living in Boston?

Posted at 19:42 | /news | 1 comment | permalink

Wed, 10 Dec 2003

Kill all Haitians

Apparently the company that makes Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (which, in a happy coincidence, just arrived in the mail today, courtesy Gamefly, so I can finally finish it) has promised to remove the phrase "kill all Haitians" (and other similar phrases) from all future copies of GTA:VC.

Well, that's just dumb. A, the only people who haven't played that game already are the johnnies-come-extremely-lately like myself, so it's not like removing anything from future copies is going to have any effect; b, that phrase is made in the context of being in conflict with a particular Miami-based Haitian gang, so it's hardly an incitement to genocide against all Haitian people, as the protesters claim; c, Haitians are hardly singled out in this game, as you have dealings (good and ill) with many groups, race-defined and otherwise; d, it's a video game for chrissakes; and e, you guys are dumb.

So I hope the protesters are happy. They've wasted their time and money on a ridiculous issue, and reached the only solution they could possibly hope for: a completely limp and ineffectual one that does nothing to further their otherwise laudible goals.

Posted at 14:58 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Mon, 24 Nov 2003


Looks like Ashcroft is at it again:

"The MATRIX (which stands for 'Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange') creates dossiers about individuals from government databases and private-sector information companies that compile files on Americans' activities for profit. It then makes those dossiers available for search by federal and state law enforcement officers. In addition, Matrix workers comb through the millions of files in a search for 'anomalies' that may be indicative of terrorist or other criminal activity."

Christ. The MATRIX? What are these guys thinking? As in, the giant evil computer-controlled false reality that ENSLAVES ALL OF MANKIND? It wouldn't be THAT Matrix, would it?

I find it pretty funny, in an extremely morbid and pant-shittingly terrified way, that Ashcroft and company don't even bother to hide their evil Orwellian motives any more. First Total Information Awareness, and now The Matrix. What does it matter that the very name of the program is met with fear, indignation, anger, and rejection by the American public? It's not like they have a say, ho ho ho, the potential terrorists.

"Raising even more issues, the Matrix is operated by a private company, Seisint Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida. Ironically, the company's founder was forced to resign after information about his own past came to light: according to Florida police, he was formerly a drug smuggler who had piloted multiple planeloads of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S."

Tee hee!

Posted at 10:15 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 23 Oct 2003

Schneier on Data Mining

This one is making the rounds, but I figured I'd point it out too.

Security is always a trade-off: How much security am I getting, and what am I giving up to get it? These data-mining programs are not very effective. Identifiable future terrorists are rare, and innocents are common. No matter what patterns you're looking for, far more innocents will match the patterns than terrorists because innocents vastly outnumber terrorists. So many that you might as well not bother. And that assumes that you even can predict terrorist patterns. Sure, it's easy to create a pattern after the fact; if something identical to the 9/11 plot ever happens again, you can be sure we're ready. But tomorrow's attacks? That's much harder.,0,3927478.story

Schneier has it exactly right, as usual. Data mining sounds snazzy and exciting and high tech, but it's not the right tool for this job. In fact it's just about the worst tool possible—no real benefit, and a very high cost, both pecuniarily and in terms of further encroachment on people's rights and liberties and ability not to be treated a priori like a criminal etc.

Posted at 10:23 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 16 Oct 2003

Logan Airport Security

"Five undercover agents of the US Department of Homeland Security posing as passengers last week carried weapons through several security checkpoints at Logan International Airport without being detected, officials confirmed yesterday.


[A] source who works in security at Logan said the undercover agents, who work for the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, brought knives, a bomb, and a gun in carry-on baggage through several checkpoints at different terminals without being stopped.

A pocket knife set off alarms at one checkpoint, the source said. It was concealed inside an agent's pants, hanging by a string behind his zipper. The screeners wrongly believed it was the zipper that had set off the alarms."

Great. Thousands of people are forced to break the nail files off their clippers every day, and these retards can't even spot a gun!?

In related news, I just bought this and this. No way am I making it through security unharassed.

Posted at 10:30 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 31 Jul 2003


"Pacific Bell Internet Services jumped into the contentious music-downloading fray late Wednesday, filing a lawsuit against the recording industry and questioning the constitutionality of the industry's effort to track down online music sharers."

Now that's just heartening.

Posted at 14:51 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Tue, 01 Jul 2003

More "Brain Power" Needed for Mandarin than English


Unlike English speakers, who use one side of their brain to understand the language, scientists at the Wellcome Trust research charity in Britain discovered that both sides of the brain are used to interpret variations in sounds in Mandarin.

Cool research result, although the article itself is terrible. My comments:

The term brain power is, of course, a mystical term with no real meaning, but it is, I suppose, a convenient draw'em'in phrase for the headline.

"We think Mandarin speakers interpret intonation and melody in the right temporal lobe to give the correct meaning to the spoken word," Scott said in a statement.

This is bizarre. Intonation is unrelated to tones. (E.g. intonation exists in English; tones do not.) Additionally, what is melody supposed to mean? You're speaking a sentence, not singing a frickin song. I'll give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume that the reporter incorrectly reported his statement.

"Native English speakers, for example, find it extraordinarily difficult to learn Mandarin," Scott said.

Heh. No kidding. (And it's not just the tones.)

I'd be interested in knowing if they did comparisons with non-native speakers of Mandarin, and with native and non-native speakers of other Chinese languages (which by and large have more tones than Mandarin does). Brain damage studies, as suggested by my colleague, would be pretty intreresting too.

Anyways, a cool find, even if the article is crapulent.

Posted at 10:23 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink

Wed, 18 Jun 2003

Remote destruction

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

Posted at 15:39 | /news | (leave a comment) | permalink