Blogging in New Orleans

The Interdictor is blogging from New Orleans. He's holed up in his company building trying to keep everything running. Read some of it to get a feeling for the complete breakdown of law and order there. Evidentally, even the police have started looting, when they aren't being shot at. It sounds like a horrible situation.


Sorry for the recent lack of posts. This wedding thing is taking up a lot of time. Why not take a look at Publius's description of some problems with Supreme Court nominee Roberts. It's worth reading.

Cheap motherboards are just as good as expensive motherboards

Tom's Hardware Guide:
The benchmark results are more than interesting: they are shocking. They show that the latest state-of-the-art chipset with state-of-the-art memory is not able to outperform a mainstream product running mainstream memory. Of course there are scenarios that will benefit from the high-end hardware, but the purpose of this project was to determine whether the average user will notice a difference.

And it is clear that if you do not require dual core support or the option of upgrading to SLI dual graphics, performance is absolutely no reason to replace an existing 915 system by one of the latest products.

This is very valuable and money-saving information. Why haven't I ever heard of this before? Did the expensive motherboards have an advantage in the past, or has nobody ever done this comparison before?


Steven Seagal's LIGHTNING BOLT:

Steven Seagal now can add “Energy Drink formulator” to a list of talents that already includes veteran actor, singer/songwriter, guitarist, and Aikido black belt. Maintaining an unrelenting schedule that would tire younger entrepreneurs, the 54-year-old Seagal has just completed two movies, “Into the Sun” and “Submerged.” His album, Songs from the Crystal Cave, released earlier this year, has already hit the pop charts in Europe. Steven Seagal Enterprises Lightning Bolt Energy Drink™ is the result of Seagal’s travels in Asia in search of the ingredients believed to keep many locals disease-free for life.

Fuzzy Logic

Now I know what fuzzy logic is! The short version: Say you want to design a linear controller for a non-linear system. One thing you could do is to break the system up into different regions, and use a different linear controller for each region. You want to know what to do? Check which region you're in and use the appropriate controller. Fuzzy logic comes into play when you can't really say what region you're in. For example, what do you do when you're inbetween the "hot" and "cold" regions? One way to use fuzzy logic is to run both controllers and average their outputs based on how "hot" and "cold" you are.

So, it seems that fuzzy logic is simply a way to use the linear control systems that we understand so well to control non-linear systems. Nothing to see here, folks, move along, move along.

Down, Down They Go

The Carpetbagger Report: "Bush's approval rating among self-identified Republicans has dropped to 77%, which is still hard to explain but considerably lower than it's been over the last several years. Among Dems, 15% approve and 81% disapprove. But among [s]elf-identified independents, Bush's approval rating is just 21%, with 72% disapproving."

The most interesting thing, to me, is that self-identified Republicans are such outliers. Are self-identified independents actually liberals who dislike the label, or are the Republicans now composed of only the hard-core rightwingers?

Graduation Rates

The Washington Monthly:
There’s been a bit of discussion in the blogosphere recently about the very low graduation rates at historically black colleges ... only 38% nationally...

As we crunched the numbers for the upcoming (and totally spectacular!) Washington Monthly College Rankings, we noticed that a school’s graduation rate correlated very closely with the percentage of its student body receiving Pell Grants—federal funds that are the best available measure of how many poor students a given school enrolls. The statistical correlation was clear: The more poor students at a given school, the lower its graduation rate tended to be. ...

One of our goals for the project was to measure each college’s contribution to social mobility: How well was each college doing at taking poor kids and getting them college degrees? By running a statistical regression, we could determine what a given school’s predicted graduation rate should be, based on the number of Pell Grant recipients. ...

So back to the historically black colleges. One of the surprising things we found, especially given the recent spate of negative press, was that some HB schools did astoundingly well in our social mobility rankings—that is, they graduated far higher proportions of their student bodies than most schools with similar socioeconomic distributions.

An interesting way of looking at the problem of low graduation rates. Their analysis makes sense, but they don't give enough information to anaylze their claims directly.

Pat Robertson Wants to be Secretary of State

It sounds like the intro to a joke, but it's not. Pat Robertson advocates assassinating the president of Venezuela:

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.


And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

The Oilcomputer!

Poor Reporter!

New York Times:
As of today, Judith Miller has spent more time behind bars to protect privileged information than any other New York Times journalist. Reporters from other news organizations have endured longer jail time in the same important cause over the years, but for us and we hope for others, it should be clear after 41 days in a Virginia jail that Ms. Miller is not going to change her mind. She appears unwavering in her mission to [aid the government in using its power to punish whistleblowers at the expense of national security].

I had to clean up that last line for readability purposes.

A Dog and the Mind of Newton

A short history of Darwin's religious life. It's not very long and it's very interesting. Darwin was once a devout Anglican but eventually became an agnostic. People have tried to claim that "Darwinism" therefore leads to athiesm, but it turns out that Darwin became agnostic when his favorite daughter died.

Darwin was also annoyed with the appropriation of his ideas to form social Darwinism. "I have received in a Manchester newspaper rather a good quib, showing that I have proved 'might is right' and therefore that Napoleon is right, and every cheating tradesman is also right."


Well it looks like everybody's tryin to figure out what John Roberts believes about stuff before they vote for him, which I think is just wrong. This whole nomination thing would be a lot easier if we just stopped askin judges about what they'll do with the vast power we're about to give em and focus on the stuff that matters: Are they nice judges? Are mean judges? Are their children adorable little scamps or perfect little angels? Did they come from an inspirational poor minority background or from an upstanding upper-class white family? What's their favorite color? These are important things to know.

100% backed by gold

I'm not sure what to make of this: "e-gold... Internet payments, 100% backed by gold". Incorporated in the West Indies, it seems to be a Paypal replacement but with payments backed with gold instead of credit. Weird... I'm not sure what the point is. Leave a comment if you have any ideas.

I Miss Japan

S.Korean man dies after 50 hours of computer games "'We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion,' a Taegu provincial police official said by telephone."


Fafblog!: How To Tell How Gay Your Gay Son Is:

Your children are gay, you have always known it! But how can you prove it for sure? Behold Giblets's Guide to Proving Your Son Is Gay! These are can't-fail tests that should have you diagnosing deviant offspring as early as age 5. There's no use bothering with your daughter; she's stuck as a girl as it is.

  • Casually ask your son at dinner, "So, ever have sex with a woman?" If he appears uncomfortable, he's gay. Non-gays like sex with women.


  • Tell your son you are going outside to play ball and wrestle alligators. Then shove your son to the ground repeatedly and say, 'Whassamatta, crybaby? Gonna cry? Gonna cry?' If he cries he is a great big pussy and therefore gay. If he 'takes it like a man' he's still gay, but one of those butch tough-guy gays, like a 'bear' or a 'top.'

  • Dunk your son into a deep pool of water. If he floats to the top, he is full of buoyant gaymotrons (identified by physicists as the gay particle) and therefore gay. If he sinks to the bottom and drowns, he is a poor swimmer and unathletic and therefore gay. If he begins to sink and then just sorta hangs there, the water is gay.

  • Starve a large wolf cub for two days and have it wrestle your son. If he loses to the wolf, he's gay - it was only a wolf cub! If he beats the wolf, he is a lesbian. If he is beaten mercilessly by the wolf while apologizing for its economic agenda, he is a Log Cabin Republican. If he is bitten by the wolf, he is now a werewolf. Shoot him with a silver bullet before the rising of the next full moon.
  • The addictive risks of cannabis

    Mark A. R. Kleiman::
    A[n} ... estimate of the risk of meeting DSM-R.III criteria for cannabis dependence was obtained from data collected in the National Comorbidity Study. This indicated that 9 per cent of lifetime cannabis users met DSM-R-III criteria for dependence at some time in their life, compared to 32 per cent of tobacco users, 23 per cent of opiate users and 15 per cent of alcohol users.

    Interesting statistics.

    Very Sad

    ABC News anchor Peter Jennings dies of cancer.

    The Bomb

    An interesting discussion on the necessity of using nuclear weapons in Japan to end World War II.

    Catholic Hypocrisy

    LA Times:

    In 1994, then-Archbishop of Portland William Levada offered a simple answer for why the archdiocese shouldn't have been ordered to pay the costs of raising a child fathered by a church worker at a Portland, Ore., parish. ... In her relationship with Arturo Uribe, then a seminarian and now a Whittier priest, the child's mother had engaged 'in unprotected intercourse … when [she] should have known that could result in pregnancy,' the church maintained in its answer to the lawsuit. [T]he church — which considers birth control a sin — seemed to be arguing that the woman should have protected herself from pregnancy...

    Harry Reid wasn't an amateur boxer for nothing

    The Carpetbagger Report:
    Although he was taking part in a sting, Reid was unable to control his temper; the videotape shows him getting up from his chair and saying, 'You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!' and attempting to choke Gordon, before startled agents pulled him off.


    Two Prosecutors Faulted Trials for Detainees

    This is what the prosecutors thought of the trials:
    As the Pentagon was making its final preparations to begin war crimes trials against four detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two senior prosecutors complained in confidential messages last year that the trial system had been secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence.


    Among the striking statements in the prosecutors' messages was an assertion by one that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

    The same officer, Capt. John Carr of the Air Force, also said in his message that he had been told that any exculpatory evidence - information that could help the detainees mount a defense in their cases - would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the Central Intelligence Agency for security reasons.

    Captain Carr's e-mail message also said that some evidence that at least one of the four defendants had been brutalized had been lost and that other evidence on the same issue had been withheld. The March 15, 2004, message was addressed to Col. Frederick L. Borch, the chief prosecutor who was the object of much of Captain Carr's criticism.


    He added that "the evidence does not indicate that our military and civilian leaders have been accurately informed of the state of our preparation, the true culpability of the accused or the sustainability of our efforts." The office, he said, was poised to "prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."