Monthly Archives: February 2010

For My Relatives and Friends in DC

Snowpocalypse With Soundtrack

Yes, it's a Baltimore weather forecast, but it's right next door….

Posted in Etc | 2 Comments

There Are Many Ways to Be Bad

It's an amazing world where a few clicks leads me from boingboing's overly enthusiastic endorsement of what it calls 'Afrikaans rap-rave' (check out the comments too), to this chilling, compelling, greasy-sickening south african trash-rap (now taking the world by storm) to this pointless confection to wikipedia's dry dissection of bubblegum dance.

Now if I could just decide which I more wish I had never heard of…

Update: To ice the cake, according to the folks from South Africa in this comment thread, Die Antwoord are playing roles. The lead rapper, for example, is Waddy Jones, who is anglophone, not an Afrikaner.

Posted in Kultcha | 2 Comments

There Is a Difference Between Warning About Something and Doing It

I know, I know, I have a case of this today:

…but forgive me.

There is a very serious error in the IT World posting Can you trust Chinese computer equipment?. I've written to the author to ask him to correct it, and to post the correction to Slashdot, which has repeated the error (which is how I came to find it).

The original item states,

Indeed, back in 1983, Ken Thompson, one the creators of Unix, admitted that he had included a backdoor in early Unix versions. Thompson's backdoor gave him access to every Unix system then in existence.

“Why am I always the last guy in the world to hear about this stuff?” I wondered. In this case, it is because it is not so. If you look at the actual article referenced, Ken Thompson's Reflections on Trusting Trust, his famous acceptance speech for the Turing Award, you will see it basically says the opposite of what the quote above suggests.

For starters, the very elegant backdoor attack presented in Ken Thompson's paper is a PROOF OF CONCEPT not an “admission” that anyone in fact did anything like it to early or late Unix builds. Ken Thompson in fact takes a very strong stand against such hacks. His point, though, is that the nature of compilers makes what have become known as “Thompson hack” or trusting trust attack very hard to detect.

It would be good if IT World ran a correction; if not maybe someone trying to chase down this latest piece of tin foil will find this posting instead.

Posted in Software | 4 Comments

Why the ‘Enmeshed Male’?

In the secret script at USA Networks (aka the enmeshed male), Grant McCracken thinks he's found USA's hit formula for shows like Burn Notice:

A man riding high is brought low. He now survives by dint of his wits and only because he relies on people he never relied on before. This man is now thoroughly enmeshed in a small group of friends and relatives. Without them he is nothing.

But his question is, Why this?

Explain, please, why this new pattern is so much in evidence in these USA Network shows.

What is happening in American culture that might help explain this new vision of our masculinity? After all, American culture has long been home to a notion of the unconstrained, rogue male. Consider all those tradtional TV heroes and movie stars, men who answered to no one. Why a new pattern? Why an enmeshed male?

He's even running a contest for the best explanation.

My only guess is that the imposition of great adversity makes it OK for traditional male hero characters to be a bit vulnerable, even sensitive. Which makes for better plots, and also makes plots that will appeal to women as well as men. And we've now moved to a state where a tough guy being a little vulnerable — with good cause — is not disqualifying.

That said, I still think from what little I've seen of him that that guy in Burn Notice is pretty wooden.

Posted in Kultcha | 3 Comments

Sheer Carly

OK. Now we know what happened to Mike Gravel's media team: they're working for Cal Sen candidate Carly Fiorina. Here's an early but very strong entry in the contest for weirdest campaign video of 2010.

Via Kos which says, too kindly,

It's as if a very expensive Senate campaign for an incredibly wealthy woman in the biggest, richest state in the United States of America collectively dropped acid and decided to make an art school, prog rock “concept commercial.”

(Mike Gravel Flashback 2 and Flashback 1.)

Posted in Politics: 2010 Election | 1 Comment

Speechless

Wordless Editorial from the Tuscon Citizen.

(Via Barbara Brandon).

Posted in Law: The Supremes | 2 Comments

Jon Stewart on Fox

“How is Barack Obama a socialist? As far as I can see, the majority of the billions of dollars he's given, he's given to banks. So if he's a socialist, he's dyslexic.”

—Jon Stewart during his Fox Bill O'Reilly appearance.

Posted in Politics: US | 4 Comments