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October 23, 2004

I've been very busy with school and work. At work we're approaching a public web site launch deadline so there's lots to do, and at school there's just a lot of practicing and studying to do. I'm involved in a lot of things that take a certain amount of time to do OK at, or about 5-10 times as much time to do really well at. Everything threatens to take over my whole schedule.

Last month, Kim and I flew to New York City to attend the wedding of our friends Tero and Ailin. It was a very nice ceremony, held at the New York Academy of Sciences. It's a really cool place, and we had lots of fun. I hadn't seen Ahmed Sako for a while and I was glad to see him again. Most of the other people there were new to me.

Before the wedding we spent the night visiting with Kim's friend Megan, and had a nice picnic lunch in Astoria Park. On the way we were told about the General Slocum Disaster which was something I had never heard of, but it's pretty interesting anyway.

After the wedding and reception, we had a little while to relax in the hotel and ended up watching C-SPAN, since that was the best thing on. Actually it was really fascinating - Thomas Barnett of the U.S. Naval War College was speaking about The Pentagon's New Map. You can get a DVD of the presentation here, BTW. I've reserved his book at the library; I really want to hear more about his ideas in depth. He's the only person I've heard who has any specific ideas about what the new global threat environment looks like in a post-cold war time frame. In fact I couldn't have articulated that last sentence so clearly without his insight - I was thinking of things at a lower level, like "what kind of forces does the military need in a guerilla/terrorism conflict rather than a nations-at-war conflict". As we've seen in Iraq, our military is outstanding at crushing another nation's military in a head-on conflict, but as a nation we aren't very good at peacekeeping and rebuilding. I suspect that we'll see that the much celebrated Afghani democratic elections were really very flawed and not such a great example of the victory of freedom over tyranny and repression after all. Our own Founding Fathers understood that liberty and democracy had a lot of prerequisites, and that's why the Constitution says more than just "you can vote for the guy in charge".

There's an interesting trend in high-performance computing lately: desktop (or deskside) mini-clusters. Intel has been hampered by a 4 GHz barrier; high performance applications are increasingly able to operate efficiently on a networked cluster of individual PCs instead of a single massively multiprocessor system; PC hardware is getting amazingly cheap. It's becoming reasonable to just put a bunch of 3+ GHz processors in a single box, make it look to an operating system like they're each individual PCs, and stick that on a researcher's desktop. Examples: Orion Multisystems and the RocketCalc Saturn.

In case you think a Hummer is for wimps, maybe this monstrosity will better suit you. However, unless you look like Jack from Tekken 5, people will probably just laugh at you and make jokes about how you must be compensating for a small penis.

Real work, necessary friction, optional chaos is an excellent article from the Communications of the ACM magazine. A subscription is required but I think that it's free if you're not an ACM member.

Check out The Bush campaign's TV commercial if he were running against Jesus.

Howard Stern is moving to satellite radio to escape the FCC (NYTimes registration required).

Here are some disturbing letters from Americans in Iraq to Michael Moore. You mean... things aren't going well over there like the Bushies keep telling us?

Living in California means you have to deal with stuff like No on Prop 64. Nice jingle, where's the actual information? Ooh, it's sneaky, and looks mean and nasty in that pretty animation. I guess I'm a well informed citizen now. Come on. Regardless of whether Prop 64 is bad or not, this is a dumb approach.

Cheney Vows To Attack U.S. If Kerry Elected.

In the process of converting a simple 7-page specification document from Word format to HTML format using Word's "Save as Web Page" function, Word somehow found a reason to create a 5,900 line CSS stylesheet. Why? Well, there are a bunch of bulleted lists and tables in the spec, and Word is too dumb to figure out that the style name in the Word doc is the same for all of them, so it creates a complete and unique CSS style for each and every bullet. Why? I have no idea. But it's really stupid.

If you haven't seen it, iFilm has the clip of Jon Stewart not being a monkey for the anchors on CNN's Crossfire.

This is the best collection of jokes I've seen for a long time.

Roine Stolt touched it. So you buy it. Yeah, that's pretty close to how I work lately.