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Archive for July, 2005

Hecke Algebra

Friday, July 29th, 2005

No seriously. That’s what this post is about. I hope this will be the first liveblooging of a math doctoral defense. And you hope it will be the last. If he says something I can comprehend I’ll pass it along. Otherwise, I’ll just talk about his clothes.

UPDATE, BY OLLY: Clearly, I failed to reach my audience.

Either way, It Is Done. I am now going to the bar, where I am going to continually insist on being referred to as “Doctor” until someone punches me.

Destroy or be Destroy-ed

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

Thank you, livescience.com. Now when OSPIRG blames humans for destroying the planet, simply point them in this direction and present them with the scientific feasibility of actually destroying Earth.

What’s that? You say hurling science at OSPIRG should be like taking a vampire sunbathing, right? Correct, they should just shrivel up and turn to dust. But having actual pondered methods of planet ruining is better.

As predicted, there was indeed a Douglas Adams citation included. Enjoy.

Whoops

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

So, yes, I did just accidentally delete the last 200 comments. Let me explain why.

You see, we are using an old versoin of Movable Type, and an old version of MT Blacklist. Recently, when I’ve tried to add new blacklist entries, I get an error about exceeding the maximum packet length. No, I don’t know what that means. Anyway, I meant to do a search on a text string, and accidentally searched on all of the last 200 comments, then hit delete before I realized my mistake. Whoops, down the memory hole.

Further, I’ve long since forgotten the login to the cpanel and ftp so I could update to blacklist 1.65, the latest version this MT version will support, from 1.64. One of you cats back on the ranch should do that. Also, you should fork over the $99 for the latest unlimited version of MT Personal. Look, there ought to be enough of you to scrape together $100. Then you can update, and I can stop this madness.

Here Be Dragons

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

I don’t know about you lot, but after reading this, I’m thoroughly convinced. After all, would you rather be descended from apes or The Flintstones?

(Ian adds: “I’m surprised they’re using the word ‘dinosaur’, instead of the more correct ‘Jesus-horse’.”)

UPDATE TO ADD: My officemate John – my go-to source on all matters pertaining to creationism – points out the cartoon on this page, which made coffee come out of my nose.

So You Want a Plamegate Post?

Friday, July 15th, 2005

A commenter complained about a week ago that we weren’t covering the Plamegate/Rovegate/Millergate/Coopergate/Political Hackerygate/Novakgate “scandal” on the blog. Well, here’s an open post so everyone can discuss their wild theories and unsubstantiated facts.

Before doing anything though, it’s worth reading Charging RINO’s “Senate Shamelessness” post criticizing the Senate for wasting its time and our money arguing over two idiotic amendments to a national security bill. (hat-tip: Blogometer) No Senators come out of it looking good, with the exception of poor Susan Collins (R-ME). She tries to talk some sense into the vindictive babies we call leaders but, alas, it falls on deaf and dumb ears:

Mr. President, last week we saw the terrorist attack on an ally. Our country faces very important homeland security challenges. We have been in the midst of debating important public policy issues – how best to secure mass transit or to prepare our first responders. I cannot believe the Senate has diverted from that important debate – a debate important to Americans all across this country – and instead of finishing up the Homeland Security bill, we have diverted to debate these issues.

We should not be doing this. This is exactly why the American public holds Congress in such low esteem right now.

Commie-Hater Watch: Not Connecting the Dots

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

Moss Street Avenger and possible Mexican wrestler Zachary Vishanoff left the Commentator a voicemail today. He takes us to task for not going after OSPIRG enough, allowing nanotech on campus, and not connecting dots. Meanwhile, he busted his ass and pulled political weight, dammit! Listen up. (mp3)

Also, it’s worth noting that this is the only thing we’ve ever published by Vishanoff. We don’t generally print angry, incoherent rants about Nike, nanotechnology, and the clandestine gnomish dictatorship which runs the western world from a hideout in an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia.

Beutler: In The Eye Of The Beholder

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Something not about London for a change: distinguished alum William Beutler’s latest venture is now available to the entire interweb! The National Journal’s Blogometer is here. Every day, Bill sits down early in the morning with a cup of coffee and reads every single blog in the world, then writes a concise digest of them all. This is his story, hitherto available by subscription only.

But do we make the blogroll? Do we bollocks. Where’s the love, WWB? Where’s the love?

Fashion Watch

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

The design might not be up to much, but you can’t argue with the message.

Incidentally, “Drink-Soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for WAR!” – via which this was found – is my new favorite blog name.

“You know, Im not sure that these people have quite understood us.”

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Lots of commentary, obviously, on the London bombs. Tim Worstall and Europhobia both comprehensive.

Two widely-quoted passages sum things up nicely. Worstall:

I have a prediction to make, that tomorrow well find out whether Britons are, still, in fact, Britons. Many years ago I was working in The City and there were two events that made travel into work almost impossible.

The first was a series of storms that brought down power lines, blocked train routes and so on. Not surprisingly, the place was empty the next day. Why bother to struggle through?

The other event was an IRA bomb which caused massive damage and loss of life. Trains were disrupted, travel to work the next day was horribly difficult and yet there were more people at work than on a normal day. There was no co-ordination to this, no instructions went out, but it appeared that people were crawling off their sick beds in order to be there at work the next day, thrusting their mewling and pewling infants into the arms of anyone at all so that they could be there.

Yes, well take an excuse for a day off, throw a sickie. But you threaten us, try to kill us? Kill and injure some of us?

Fuck you, sunshine.

Well not be having that.

And Europhobia:

I tell you what, if this is an “Islamic” terrorist attack, they’re doing a piss-poor job. The pubs are all packed out, people sipping their pints happily, all a tad pissed off, but basically fine with it. Nice one, Al Quaeda – you profess to be from a teetotal religion, and you’ve given the pub trade a massive mid-week boost. Result.

Also, as a side-effect of all this blog consumption from over yonder, I have only just learned that Home Secretary and national ID card proponent Charles Clarke has been nicknamed “Safety Elephant”. Nice one indeed.

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Not a good day, to put it mildly.

Posting here to report that OC Publisher Dan Atkinson, although nominally taking classes in London, was skiving off on the Continent and so he and Ashley were well out of harm’s way.

Dissent: Already Commodified

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

Very interesting article in Dissent from Michael Walzer, here, noted for saying rather well something that I’ve been noticing for a while:

Intellectuals on the left certainly lack certainty: we no longer have a general theory, such as Marxism once was, that tells us how things are going and what ought to be done. Does that mean that we are no longer “general intellectuals” but only locally and particularly engaged-”specialists,” as Michel Foucault argued? This left intellectual writes about education, this one about city planning, this one about health care, this one about the labor market, this one about civil liberties-and all of them are policy wonks. Is that our world? Well, maybe it is ours, but it isn’t theirs. Here is the crossover again: there are definitely general intellectuals on the right. The theory of the free market isn’t a world-historical theory exactly; one might say that it is a world-ahistorical theory. But it does have extraordinary reach; it allows its believers to have an opinion about pretty much everything. In this sense, it is an imperial doctrine, like Marxism… [here he begins to lose me again - ed.]

Those of you inclined to disregard any tract featuring the M-word should bear in mind that Dissent requires a certain number of uses per paragraph as a matter of editorial policy.

Obviously, there’s wonkishness on the right: vast amounts of it. It doesn’t play into Walzer’s worldview, though, since his Right is a monolithic thing in which

the free market, individual self-reliance, the crusade for democracy, the war against terrorism, heterosexual marriage, conventional sex and gender roles, religious faith, and patriotic sentimentality

come in a single package with a ribbon on top. He also exercises the partisan’s prerogative in assuming that the people on the other side are venal and uncaring, while only the scattered ranks of his side actually care about fixing the world’s various problems.

But he’s right in his main point: we’re lacking a coherent Big Theory on the left, and the result is a more cautious and moralistic Democratic party. (Which I regard as a bad thing, but there you go.) The interesting thing to me about the contemporary Right is that people with an interest in only one or two of the list of concerns quoted above – even the disfavored ones towards the end of the list – can still be regarded in some sense as being in the same big tent. Walzer (not to mention the rest of us) might benefit from musing a bit as to why this can be so.

UPDATED TO ADD: The “M-word” to which I refer is, of course, “Michel”. And the last sentence.

ODE News: Reporting The Bleedingly Obvious

Friday, July 1st, 2005

From Today’s ODE: Renters may be required to cover cost of new code.

Money Quote(s):

Theyre building it into their rents, Rasmussen said. Any landlord who says theyre not is lying to you.

{snip}

Rasmussen said taking a landlord to court is not necessary under the existing protections.They just withhold it from the rent and fix the problem, Rasmussen said. And its illegal for the landlord to retaliate or kick them out. Rasmussen said the only reason to have a new housing code is to provide more jobs for city employees.


Aside from the mouth-breathing headline, the article doesn’t say anything that those of us who have even a basic understanding of economics didn’t say when the housing code was being debate. In fact, the headline is really sort of a lie. Renters will pay for the fee, one way or another.

Notice especially that Keystone is raising prices more than just the fee, so that they can cover the cost of collecting the fee in the first place. Sure, $1.25 a month might not seem like a lot, but if you operate any number of units that’s going to cut significantly into your margin. In an already economically depressed area, the marginal cost of this regulation severely obviates any potential marginal benefit.

Given that tenents are already protected under existing landlord-tenent law, and that the three new positions created will “For the work they do that is not related to the new housing code, they will be paid out of a separate fund that is not funded by the $10 per unit annual fee,” the city has succeeded in expanding its bureaucracy while not achieving the ostensible goals of the new housing code. Congratulations, Eugene, you’re the very model of how not to succeed.

Anybody want to take bets that soon they’ll be taking the crappy, run-down homes that comprise the bulk of housing in the city so that they might turn them over to developers and raise revenues through the $10/unit fee?