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December 19, 2005

If I Had Infinite Hours in the Day: 20051211

If I had infinite hours in the day

http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25549-1898046,00.html TLS on pineapple: "In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke asserts the impossibility of knowing the taste of pineapple before you have actually tasted it. This is not just a throwaway remark; he returns to the point in several drafts and in several places.... For Locke, who had never tasted a pineapple himself... only first-hand sensory experience could give knowledge of the taste -- the quiddity -- of pineapple. Locke's choice of the pineapple to make his point was not random.... The pineapple... was the ultimate in inaccessible luxury fruit. Unless you were close to royalty, or a traveller to the West Indies, you were very unlikely to have been anywhere near one. Moreover, those who had tasted its yellow flesh, described it as peculiarly complex and elusive.... Some thought it musky. Others thought it combined all that is 'most delicate in the Peach, the Strawberry, the Muscadine Grape and the Pippin'..."

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/HA011894211033.aspx Microsoft Quality Software: William Kennedy, General Manager, Outlook Product Development: "Outlook does not allow you to receive attachments... such as an .exe file.... The vast majority of users don't have reasons to send these potentially dangerous files around, and those who do can use other methods.... Outlook does not block documents such as .xls, .doc, .ppt, and .txt files..."

http://www.physicsweb.org/articles/world/18/12/2/1 Gerard 't Hooft: "Nature provides us with... the unnatural, tiny value of the cosmological constant... the universe has a propensity to stay flat. Why this happens is a mystery that cannot be explained in any theory in which gravitation is subject to quantum mechanics.... There might be another example, which is the preservation of the symmetry between the quarks in the subatomic world, called charge-parity (CP) symmetry - a symmetry that one would have expected to be destroyed by their strong interactions. The problem of the cosmological constant has always been a problem of quantum gravity. I am convinced that the small value... cannot be reconciled with the standard paradigms of quantized fields and general relativity. It is obvious that drastic modifications in our way of thinking, such as the ones hinted at in this text, are required to solve the problems addressed here..."

http://www.danielgross.net/archives/2005/12/11-week/index.html#000429 Daniel Gross writes: "CRAM-DOWN NATION, VOL. XVI, PART 48: Milt Freudenheim and Mary Williams Walsh write in the New York Times on the great cram-down soon to be felt by millions of public-sector employees. The reason: government leaders -- Democrats, Republicans, independents, appointed and elected alike -- have never really bothered to tally up the costs of the reitrement health care promises they made to workers..."

Doug Henwood writes: "Sorry I missed this one.... [A] friend who went to Alberto Gonzales's appearance before the Council in Foreign Relations the other day said that the men in gray suits went after him hard on torture - Pete Peterson (Nixon's Commerce Secretary, big cheese investment banker at Blackstone, whose name adorns the room the event probably took place in at the CFR) among them..."

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_12_04_atrios_archive.html#113406697004304415 Duncan Black gets into the Wayback Machine and finds yet more right-wing media bias: "When [Howard] Dean made his 'gaffe' that capturing Saddam Hussein didn't make the country any safer a few Washington types expressed a version of 'he's absolutely right but he still shouldn't have said it because we're going to attack him for it anyway!' I give you Sam Donaldson: 'DONALDSON: Let me tell you something. I think Howard Dean deserves the bad press. And I'm not against him. I'm not making a case against him. That one phase, "America is not safer because of Saddam's capture," in context you know what he's saying, which is the war on terrorism is a wide-ranging war in the future and this will not really affect that. But someone on his staff should have said, "Don't use that phrase because every headline and writer, every Donaldson, everybody on television will stick it out, and it's just the wrong message..."'"

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written/browse_thread/thread/a8d50a821745a5ac/b14a24ba205f4560?hl=en#b14a24ba205f4560 Charlie Stross writes, apropos of Vernor Vinge (2006), Rainbows End (New York: Tor: 0312856849) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0312856849/braddelong00 (which is not a "Zones of Thought" book in spite of what amazon says): "Dunno if they'll use it, but [here's my blurb]: 'Welcome to 2040. They've cured Alzheimer's and you're going back to school. Bad news: so are the terrorists.'... I'm voting this for best novel Hugo of 2006. And it'll take something truly spectacular to shove it off the throne." Let me concur: there are a few too many whos doing whats to whoms in the big mishegass near the end (which could stand being rewritten), but the book as a whole is at least as good as Vinge's previous best, A Deepness in the Sky...

http://www.slate.com/id/2132036/fr/rss/ Timothy Noah writes: "...al-Qaida's suspiciously large number of members holding the organization's No. 3 position. I said there were four... I'd forgotten No. 1 Son-In-Law Mohammed Atef, reportedly killed in a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan way back in Nov. 2001.... So, make that five No. 3s in al-Qaida over the past four years. Which... would be a turnover more rapid even than that for Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts.... In the meantime, Michael Tortorello of the Minneapolis alternative weekly City Pages has been keeping tabs on the number of "lieutenants" or "key aides" or "key associates" there are to Iraq's most notorious bad-guy insurgent, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. If you guessed 10, guess again. According to Tortorello, the latest count is 17..."

http://prairieweather.typepad.com/big_blue_stem/2005/12/sheer_bloody_ch.html "Found in New York Magazine: "Bush administration officials... threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on... would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal.... Bush officials informed organizers of their intention to pull out... late Thursday afternoon, when the Associated Press ran a story saying that Clinton had been added.... [B]arely minutes after the news leaked, conference organizers called Clinton aides and told them that Bush administration officials were displeased. 'The organizers said the Bush people were threatening to pull out of the deal,' the source said.... Clinton... immediately said, 'There’s no way that I’m gonna let petty politics get in the way of the deal. So I'm not gonna come.'... At around 8:30 p.m., organizers called Clinton aides and said that they'd successfully called the bluff of Bush officials..."

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/vote_fraud_/2005/12/law_v_polics_voting_rights_department.php Mark Kleiman writes: "The career staff of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department unanimously recommended rejection of the DeLay redistricting of Texas as a violation of the Voting Rights Act. The political management of the Department overruled the staff, just as it had in accepting Georgia's virtual poll tax.... I'm sorry to be late on this one, but the capacity of the Bush Administration to execute outrages is outrunning may capacity to comment on them..."

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2005/12/ny_times_and_th.html Prawfsblawg is amused at the "subtle hint of bias in the [New York Times] reporter's judgment" in coverage of the challenge to the SEC's power to regulate hedge funds: "The lawyers and judges... focused largely on statutory interpretation rather than broad financial policy questions, and in so doing, shifted the battle to a more friendly terrain for a business that is barely regulated.... "You can't come in and say we will make 'client' whoever you want it to be," Judge Edwards said impatiently and dismissively to Mr. Stillman. Mr. Stillman... unfazed by the questions... carefully guided the judges through the history and purposes of the complex regulatory regime.... The panel's third member, Judge Thomas B. Griffith... suggested that the squabbling over legislative interpretation was less important than giving the agency the tools necessary to detect financial chicanery. He also suggested that the agency and Congress should set policy, not the courts. 'What's more important', Judge Griffith asked Mr. Bartz, 'the concept of client or for them to root out fraud?'..."

Posted by DeLong at December 19, 2005 11:37 AM