How to run a project

This looks like a very interesting book.
If you have ever undertaken a major development effort, you almost certainly know the wisdom of the adage, "Build one to throw away." It's only after you're finished that you know how the thing really should have been done. You seldom get to go back and do it again right, of course, but it would be nice.

This same idea can be applied to whole careers. Between the two of us, we've spent nearly thirty years managing projects or consulting on project management. Most of what we've learned, we've learned from doing it wrong the first time. We've never had the luxury of managing any of those projects over again to do it entirely right. Instead, we've written this book.

Who will watch the watchers?

The watchers, of course!
The United States government, not any court, is the best judge of whether to keep programs such as its controversial effort to eavesdrop on citizens a secret, an assistant attorney general said on Wednesday.


I have about 20 wooden weapons under my couch. Is that normal? Of course, the ones I practice with are under the coffee table, for easy access. And the 6' staff is next to the bed, since it's too hard to get out if it's under the couch.


I've been trying to teach myself Spanish from the Pimsler CDs that Mrs. Turtle got me. I've gone through three lessons so far, and at this point it seems to be pretty easy to learn. I suspect that's because I know French, and there's a lot of overlap. The hardest part, as usual with the romance languages, is remembering the gender of everything, and remembering to conjugate adjectives with nouns based on gender and count.

Next time I go to Spain, though, I'll be set. The CDs are teaching a Mexican accent, so I'll have to learn one of the Spanish accents over there.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Am I?

I Am Jean-Luc Picard!!!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


Traditional vs. Modern

I think this quote sums up the difference very well
There is a difference in what is done in the traditional Japanese arts and what is done for 'modern street effective fighting'. The main difference that I have noticed is that the modern arts tend to teach 'if he does this, you do this!' The traditional Japanese arts have a more holistic approach. They teach a way of reacting, without actually teaching specifics. While there are specific kata [forms] taught within all of the Japanese arts, they are not there to teach technique, but rather to instill a particular set of reactions and movements as defined by the overall outlook of the ryu [school].
This is very true from what I've seen, and is one of the reasons why people who practice modern martial arts don't like (or understand) the more traditional martial arts.

I guess he desired to live a long life

A great story from Ellis Amdur:
A friend of mine was teaching Shindo Muso-ryu jo (staff) in Hong Kong. There is a technique with a very forceful push with the stick under the person's floating ribs. One of his Chinese students, pushed very hard, broke off training and said that he had to return home and take some medicine, because he had been pushed in a vital point and needed to rebalance himself. (The validitiy of his assertion is not the issue here). I told this to my instructor who looked completely bewhildered. He thought hard, puzzling it out, and speaking slowly about an alien concept, said, 'Oh. I guess he desired to live a long life.'

A Goldilocks Number
On May 17, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced the launch of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood by citing a terrifying statistic: “It has been estimated that, at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the Internet prowling for children.” But where did that figure come from?

Spokespersons for the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire say it’s not based on any research they’re aware of.

The AG’s press secretary has the answer, though: “That number is actually pulled from [NBC newsmagazine] ‘Dateline’ and other media outlets,” says Tasia Scolinos via e-mail. Indeed, “Dateline” reporter Chris Hansen offered the statistic last fall during one of the show’s popular hidden-camera stings of would-be pedophiles, and other media outlets have since repeated it.

Hansen’s source, according to the “Dateline” report: unnamed “law enforcement officials.” Asked who those law enforcement officials were, Hansen told Legal Times that “this is a number that was widely used in law enforcement circles,” though he couldn’t specify by whom or where.

Hansen says he confirmed the figure with Ken Lanning, a former FBI agent who had advised the show and works for a consulting company in Virginia. Lanning, however, isn’t so sure. “I don’t know where that number came from,” says Lanning, adding that it’s possible Hansen could have prompted him to confirm the figure.

Lanning, who spent 30 years at the FBI, is skeptical about the stat, whoever originated it. “Was it just a WAG — a wild-assed-guess?” he says. “It could have been.” Lanning theorizes that there may be something special about the number 50,000 and crime scares.

In the late 1980s, the figure was cited by the media as an estimate of the number of people slaughtered annually by satanic cults. In the early 1980s, it was similarly cited as the number of children abducted annually by strangers.

“For some reason the number 50,000 keeps popping up,” he says. “Maybe because it’s not small and not large. It’s a Goldilocks number.”
This is how our government and media operate. Just fills me with trust.

No Shame

Representative William Jefferson was videotaped taking a $100,000 bribe, and he won't resign. As the representative from Louisiana, I can't help but wonder how many Katrina victims could have been helped with that money.

Stone Golem

Some people made an amazing stone golem outfit for a live-action role playing game.

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

This preview makes the movie look hilarious!

Former 'Naked Guy' at UC-Berkeley Dies

New York Times:
The former college student known as the ''Naked Guy,'' who gained notoriety in the early 1990s for attending class in the buff, has died in jail, authorities said.

Andrew Martinez, 33, whose stripped-down strolls at the University of California, Berkeley, got him expelled and prompted the city to adopt a strict anti-nudity ordinance, was found unconscious Thursday in a Santa Clara County jail, said jail spokesman Mark Cursi.

Officials are investigating the death as an apparent suicide.

He had been in custody since Jan. 10 on charges of battery and assault with a deadly weapon, authorities said.

In 1992, Martinez organized a ''Nude-In'' protest at the university. He said he was trying to make a point about free expression.

The message caught on, and nude spottings spiked on campus. Martinez, who landed on national talk shows, was expelled the next year after the university banned nudity.

How to cheat good

Advice on cheating from a professor:
This is my Number 1 piece of advice, even if it is numbered eight. When you copy things from the web into Word, ignoring #3 above, don’t just “Edit > Paste” it into your document. When I am reading a document in black, Times New Roman, 12pt, and it suddenly changes to blue, Helvetica, 10pt (yes, really), I’m going to guess that something odd may be going on. This seems to happen in about 1% of student work turned in, and periodically makes me feel like becoming a hermit.
Read the rest. It's funny, but kind of sad.

The Stuff of Life

You have to watch this. Especially "Energy". Some energy companies put out an ad that is so horrible, I'm not quite convinced that it's not a spoof. It seems legitimate, however. Check it out. You won't believe your eyes.

Why we can't just trust the guvmit

Balloon Juice:
I suppose that we should be grateful for the current batch of leaders in DC.
If they managed to handle their massive power grab with any degree of responsibility then a decent plurality of the public may have considered it ok. That would be ten times worse, because the expanded powers would be engraved into common practice and that much harder to roll back when a subsequent administration decided to abuse them. Thankfully for our nation the Executive branch has done us all the favor of illustrating exactly why we don’t trust government with expanded power and limited oversight.
This is an interesting way of looking at it. I suppose it is best that they've illustrated why their actions were bad, so we wouldn't have to come up with theoretical reasons why they're bad.

Evolution of Dance

A pretty cute standup routine.

Ten highest-radiation cell phones

Ten highest-radiation cell phones. Mine is 1.13 (not in the top 10. Did you make the top 10?

Olde-Timey Codes

A cool story about decrypting an encoded message from the Civil War.


Volkswagen's new storage facility:

The Forearm Forklift

The Forearm Forklift looks pretty cool. I'm thinking about getting one.

Circular kitchen

This kitchen is built like a large lazy-Susan. It looks like it would be great for a small apartment.

Isn't it Ionic?

Shorter MSNBC: Don't use ionic air purifiers.

Flood Watch

See how rising sea levels will affect your house. We're safe up to 14m, the maximum height that it can simulate.

Video Shows al-Zarqawi Fumbling With Rifle - Yahoo! News

Video Shows al-Zarqawi Fumbling With Rifle - Yahoo! News The US military has released a video showing the self-proclaimed head of al-Qaida in Iraq fumbling with a machine gun. There are apparently more scenes emphasizing how incompetent he and his fellow fighters are.

Apparently this video is meant to embarrass and demoralize the insurgents, and it very well could have that effect. In fact, I'd bet that from the point of view of the Iraqis who are the target of this propaganda, this is a very clever move. On the other hand, domestically this seems embarrassing to us. After all, these bumbling fools are the ones giving us a hard time. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

SMB3 Beat

This guy beats Super Mario Bros. 3 in 11 minutes! It's mesmerizing... I couldn't stop watching.

The OC

North of Beijing, California Dreams Come True:
ORANGE COUNTY, China — An hour's drive north of Beijing, on an icy country road lined by fields and populated by trucks and sheep, the landscape is a far cry from palm-ringed golf courses and 'Surfin' USA.'

But wait. There is Sun City, a half-built gated community with echoes of the desert. Then the tidy homes of Orange County come into view. Finally, you drive through a stone portal, past advertisements showing men fly-fishing in cowboy hats, pulling up before the impressive mansions of Watermark-Longbeach, the epicenter of faux L.A. in China.

'I liked it immediately — it is just like a house in California,' exulted Nasha Wei, a former army doctor turned businesswoman, sitting on a white suede banquette in the four-bedroom home in Orange County (China) she moved into this year.


Houses are replicas of Southern California homes, designed by Southern California architects, with model homes decorated by Los Angeles interior designers. The basement pool tables are American. The appliances are imported. The tiles, wood siding and wall sconces are from the United States, too.

Of course, not every aspect of upper-middle-class Los Angeles translates exactly, and adjustments have had to be made. Houses in Orange County were all built with sprawling American-style open-plan kitchens, with ovens and countertop stoves. But residents have discovered that they are poorly suited to typical Chinese cooking, which is centered on woks and sends grease and smoke spewing everywhere.

"I love the kitchen — it is very pretty — but the smoke is dispersed all over the house by the central air," said Liang Haijing, a thirtysomething lawyer, with big eyes and curly hair. So, like many Orange County residents, Ms. Liang has built a shack just outside the kitchen's sliding glass doors, and all cooking is done out there.


She said she liked the huge master bathroom and "scientific" layout, which divides the first floor into living, dining and family rooms. Typical upmarket Chinese homes have just one large space.


Name: Ben Kahn: "This is a rich man's war and we have no business in it; they talk about Hooverism--it's a joke. Nobody pays any attention to it. It don't amount to anything; The Lusitania was warned not to sail. They were carrying munitions and wheat over to the Allies. The poor man has no show in this war. The soldiers are fighting the battles of the rich."

For these words, Mr. Kahn was sentenced to prison, and ended up serving 34 months. Follow the link for 40 more examples of people who were sent to prison for sedition. It seems that they will all now be granted posthumous pardons, but they should never have been charged in the first place.

Why you should never believe anything on the news

The Reality-Based Community:
So I made on camera pretty much the same points I'd made on the radio:

1. The new law would expand the number of police who can make drug arrests.

2. The new law would free users caught with small quantities from going to jail, but not from arrest.

3. The Federales probably weren't in the habit of arresting users for possessing small amounts, any more than the DEA is.

4. The new law more or less tracks California law, and the law in many other states: users, if arrested, get diverted from the criminal justice system.

The reporter seemed very reluctant to believe any of this...

When the reporter failed to call back as promised to let me know when the story would run, I guessed that my viewpoint hadn't made it into the segment. I was right.

The story as it aired (scroll down to 'Mexico moves to soften drug law') was about as inflammatory as imaginable. The anchor introduced it as an account of 'the outrage in this country over a decision by Mexico to make possession of some illegal drugs legal.' The correspondent, Peter Alexander, after a reference to 'dangerous narcotics' and the usual grim war-on-drugs footage, reported that 'in effect, the law would approve the use, in small amounts, of a dizzying array of illegal drugs...'
The "reporter" already had a story in mind, and was just using the interview to find points which would back up his storyline. This is the exact opposite of real reporting, which is doing research, interviewing people, and broadcasting what is discovered. This is why Peter Alexander is a "reporter", not a reporter.

C for Cookie

Almost there!

I've started compiling my thesis and I'm at 116 pages so far. I'm sure that there's lots of duplicate material in there, but there's also material that I've got to add, so who knows how long the final draft will be. Interestingly, it's only 64 pages when formatted as a standard conference paper: 11pt font, single-spaced, two columns. To get the 116 pages it has: 12pt font, 1.5-spaced, one column.

It will be composed of five papers worth of material. I've published four of the papers, but I might not get the last one out before I graduate. I'll end up graduating with eight published papers plus the soon-to-be published paper, all 12-20 pages. I've been looking over the people in my group who have graduated, and this is at the high end, surprisingly enough.

Places not to shop

A web site has published a list of the top 10 business contributors to the Republican party. The list is given as a suggestion of places to shop, but I prefer to look at it as a list of places to avoid.

History News Network

History News Network:
After 34 years of college teaching, I thought I had heard just about every imaginable student complaint. Last week, however, a freshman in my 300-seat US History Since 1865 course came in to discuss her exam with one of the graders and proceeded to work herself into a semi-hissy over the fact that we had spent four class periods(one of them consisting of a visit from Taylor Branch) discussing the civil rights movement.

"I don't know where he's getting all of this," she complained, "we never discussed any of this in high school." One might have let the matter rest here as simply an example of a high school history teacher's sins of omission being visited on the hapless old history prof. had the student not informed the TA in an indignant postcript, "I'm not a Democrat! I don't think I should have to listen to this stuff!"