20041031

Bush, Kerry... or other (please state)

On the grounds that absolutely no one reading this who happens to have a ticket to vote in the upcoming US popularity contest will be influenced remotely by what someone writing on the internet has to say, I thought I'd say this anyway. After considering the options --- Bush, Kerry, Nader, and so on --- we have decided to endorse a candidate for election. Several media sources have already come out in support of one candidate or another. The Economist went for Kerry. The Financial Times for Kerry. The New York Times for Kerry. Boston Globe, for Kerry. And, er, oh, I'm sure someone probably endorsed Bush as well, just for a change. So it's a tough decision, but we are officially endorsing... Bin Laden for US president.

Check out OBL's manifesto.

He's opposed to the sweeping powers brought in by the "Patriot" act to erode the freedoms of people in the US.

He proposes electoral reform to combat vote rigging and election stealing in swing states (he's a little unclear, but I'm guessing he would also reform the electoral college).

And, most surprisingly of all, he attacks Bush for his failure to respond adequately to the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Presumably if OBL had been in charge, then the response to 11/9 would have been very different indeed.

So on balance, based on this strong performance, it looks like OBL has the strength to protect and strengthen the USA and the world.

I'm Hugh Anchor, and I disapprove of this message.

20041029

New Release

Oh, I see Bin Laden's got a new album out. Can't say that I've liked his recent stuff very much -- a bit too repetitive. Still, one more chance for those Doh fans to post on my behalf:



You know, if you keep reminding me about 11/9, I don't think I'd be able to sleep either.

20041028

More political drivel

Having just received my first paycheck, it's time to waste some company time on posting a new entry. Firstly, the Economist--with a cover asking The incompetent or the incoherent? (presumably both references to Bush)--- has come out in favour of Kerry. Clearly a consequence of his economic genius mentioned here before, which I would link to, but I'm too lazy too.

Secondly, as has been widely reported, the official bush re-election site is now blocking non-US/Canadian viewers. All thanks to those smart coookies in Akamai! -- thanks guys. This sounds like a very good idea--let's improve the clientele by blocking out those european riff-raff. Consequently, I have decided to adopt the same policy, that only USAdians may read this webpage. Unfortunately, I don't have the same IP address filtering technology, so instead I'll just have to ask you, if you are not currently located in the North Americas, to close your browser and stop looking at this page.

Go on, hop it.

Shoo!

Honestly, what ever happened to decency and people following a polite request?

20041022

Free alcohol!

According to the register, An alarming 76 per cent of employees are coming back to work drunk after taking a "liquid lunch" but "Out of the 1342 employees polled, 68 per cent said they enjoyed alcoholic beverages during lunch".

That's amazing -- 8% of those surveyed can get drunk without drinking alcohol (unless they do drink it but don't "enjoy" it).

Read further down and you see "Even more worrying is that a third of respondents (33 per cent) claimed to enjoy a liquid lunch three times a week with 76 per cent feeling slightly drunk when returning to work." So, really this is 76% of those third -- ie 1/4, not 3/4 as claimed. Lazy hacks.

20041017

"No, you're a dick..."

If you're a regular watcher of CNN's crosstalk (and I'm not), then the Jon Stewart appearance was probably a breath of fresh air. He certainly had a point as he turned a book plugging spot into a full on attack. And he is most probably right. But it was still a little disappointing. Although he was quite forceful on the subject, he was never entirely clear on his main point. Does he think that CNN and the rest of the media pack is too soft on the politicians, or too hard? And his defense of his own show is a little too easy -- any criticism is reflected by the fact that it's just a comedy show, and what do you expect from Comedy Central? Yet, after Stewart and crew pillioried a morning talk show for asking John Kerry how he keeps in shape -- fairly standard probing for the show in questions -- didn't the bow tie wearing dick have a point when he asked whether Stewart went a little too easy on Kerry when he showed up on the Daily Show?

The point is, as was seen on the debates several times, none of the candidates will answer a straight question directly, and the media seems to have no interest in getting an answer out of them. It's hard to imagine a 'Did you threaten to overrule him' scenario taking place.

20041016

Quick Note

For anyone in the process of writing a teen-comedy/parody:

Scene: the new character is being shown round the various tribes in the school yard by a narrative explanatory kid.

Narrative Explanatory Kid: ...then you have the white kids who think they are black, the black kids who think they are white, the spoilt little rich girls...

Camera pulls back to reveal another character:

New Kid: That's the narrative explanatory kid. He always does that with the new kids. We don't know why.


OK, maybe only I understand what I'm talking about.

20041015

John Kerry is an Economic Genius!

Yes, it's true. JFK(2) is a genius. If you listen to him in the debates, you'll hear how rolling back the Bush tax cut for the richest 1%, roughly $90 billion, is going to pay for all of the following:

  • Paying for operations in Iraq
  • Fixing medicare
  • Paying down the $5 trillion deficit
  • Leaving no child behind
  • Improving homeland security
  • Making the world love America again


And so on. The man is so damn clever! Let's all vote for him --- eight out of ten countries recommend it!.

20041014

Learn English with George W. Bush!

Today's word of the day is litany! It means "a group of sentences or phrases that the pastor and the congregation take turns reading". Hurrah!

20041013

In the year two thousand and two...

Hugh Anchor cross the ocean. Blue.

Yesterday was Columbus Day, on which we celebrate the fact that Columbus rediscovered the American continent by not doing anything differently. But for once this holiday has some meaning for me, since it was two years ago (ish) that I landed in New Jersey, on Columbus Day: October 14, 2002. Consequently, I am reminded of the anniversary of my arrival, and I think back on all the pleasures and accomplishments of the past two years.

Well, that didn't take long. So it's time to indulge further in another passtime: the dredging of the email logs. Long suffering readers will recall that about this time last year I posted a tedious breakdown of the contents of my email. Well, guess what: I'm doing it again this year.

I can't really be bothered to do the full analysis I went into last year, as that requires too much effort. Instead, I'll just use the scripts that I hacked together to process my procmail logs to come up with some similar results.

Last year, I plotted a text graph of real mail versus spam. Here it is, extended to this year:

* 3000
* 2900
* 2800
* 2700
* 2600
* 2500
* 2400
* 2300
* 2200
* 2100
** 2000
** 1900
#** * 1800
#** * * 1700
* #**** * 1600
* *#**** * 1500
** *#****** 1400
** *#****** 1300
* #* **#****** 1200
# *#****##***** 1100
# *#****##***** 1000
**# *#****#####*# 900
**#* * *#***######*# 800
#### **** ***##**######*# 700
####* ***** ***##**######## 600
#####* *#**#***###*#########* 500
***######***####*###############* 400
*#**######**###################### 300
################################## 200
################################## 100
################################## 0
JFMAMJJASONDJFMAMJJASONDJFMAMJJASON
2002 2003 2004


Again, # represents a 100 real messages, * represents 100 spam. Categorization is based on the simple, but wrong, assumption that any message from an email address that only occurs once is spam.

The main observation is that, while spam skyrockets (and is safely caught and dealt with by my carefully crafted spam filters), my real email is also increasing significantly, up to baout 1000 messages a month. Could just be that the spam is using more recycled addresses, but I could just be becoming more popular. Or because I'm on more mailing lists, that could also be a factor (maybe I should try to remove those). The spike in March this year could be from the fact that I was in the middle of my job search, although that doesn't really seem like an adequate explanation. It was also reasonably busy, work-wise, but not really any more so than June.

This year, I made some plots of the skewness of the frequency distribution of the counts of messages from each senders. Fans of such things will be delighted that my email exhibits a very clear power law, and that my email this year was skew with Zipf parameter 1.3, whereas last year it was skew with Zipf parameter 1.1. This delights me, since I am a big fan of Zipf distributions, especially ones with parameter > 1.

Perhaps more later. I'm starving now, and I want my dinner.

20041009

Tick-tock

Some choice quotes from GWB from the most recent debate:

"I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft."

"You might remember the stock market started to climb dramatically six months before I came to office"

and then, about three minutes later,

"The stock market was declining six months prior to my arrival. It was the largest stock market correction -- one of the largest in history".

Well, which one is it?

This exchange amused me:

Is my time up yet?
MR. GIBSON: No, you can keep going.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Keep going. Good. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: You're on a roll.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You looked at me like my clock was up. (Light laughter.)


Well, maybe it is. More later, as soon as the rest of the transcript goes online.

Rumour mill

Apparently, GWB has been hearing rumours about the reinstatment of the draft "on the internets".

No Legs and Company

At some point soon, I will indulge myself with the delightful "K9 and Company". Here, in advance of that, is possibly the worst theme tune for a TV show ever created K9! K9! K9!.

Now, compare and contrast to this. Or am I just imagining things?

Edit: Well, to appreciate the true awfulness of the theme, I think that you have to see the credits sequence in its entirety. Thankfully, you can. That's what I (don't) pay my licence fee for!

And is it just me, or is there something of the alice lowe about Elisabeth Sladen?

20041006

More Debate Larks

Had to wait for a transcript to emerge for this one, but it's a nice example of how Dick Cheney delights in ignoring instructions.

FILL: Mr. Vice President, picking up on that, you both just sang the praises of the tops of your ticket. Without mentioning them by name at all, explain to us why you are different from your opponent, starting with you, Mr. Vice President.

CHENEY: Why I am different from John Edwards. Well, in some respects, I think, probably there are more similarities than there are differences in our personal story.


It seems like this is being interpreted as "without mentioning [your presidential candidate] by name", but my natural reading of this is "without mentioning [your opponent] by name". This puts Cheney's response in context: immediately following what could be interpreted as a direct instruction not to mention his opponent by name, that's the first thing that he does.

Of course, none of this affects the fact that it's a completely dumb question. What is this, Vice Presidential Party Games? Defend your foreign policy without deviation, hesitation or repetition (actually, that would have been a refreshing change from the rather boring rehashing of the same old arguments over Iraq). There's a lot of discussion about who was "the winner" of the debate, but to me it's pretty clear that the moderator was the loser.

Mass Debates!

OK, so I'm probably a little too excited that the current VP debate is coming from a gymnasium that I used to cycle past every day for a year, but still...

Dick Cheney lied!

How? He asked us to look up Haliburton on factcheck.com -- which turns out to be a sleazy ad link page. Perhaps he meant to say factcheck.org? BTW, both sites seem to have collapsed right now, indicative that there are too many people like me who are sitting next to a computer during the debate and are not reallly paying full attention.

20041005

I'm so lazy

A couple of LazyWeb style requests.

Firstly, does anyone remember the name of a site that was selling cheap textbooks? I think the deal was something like that these were cheap Indian editions of the textbooks, shipped over by grad students in their suitcases... I think it's finally time for me to own a copy of CLR(S)...

Second, a more general idea (perhaps should send this out to the half-bakery instead). In addition to the usual spam, I'm now receiving "corporate spam", ie mail generated from my employers telling me all kinds of dull stuff about retiring executives, profit margins, what I should be doing instead of writing blog entries. Now, if people can use bayesian learning techniques to detect and filter spam, can't we extend this further, and get it to filter out this corporate spam into different folders for, er, later viewing. One could generalize this further, and tag every incoming email with one of half a dozen or so different categories (spam, corporate, personal, work, etc.) for prioritizing viewing of them...

20041004

Tell me, is it normal...

...to go to your boss's leaving party the day before you start working for him?

I only ask because... oh, never mind.

20041002

AOLly sticks

Have been tidying up this afternoon, and found some discarded lolly sticks stuck to the back of an AOL CD. So, time for an all new game: guess which of the following are lame lolly stick jokes, and which are AOL passwords!

1) What washes up on really small beaches? Microwaves
2) Freeze-chord
3) Fifed-midis
4) What gets colder as it warms up? An air conditioner.

Um, ok, so that doesn't actually work. Never mind, eh? Still, the last one is interesting, since not only does it belie a certain basic lack of understanding of thermodynamics, it can also be read as a metaphor for the US attitude towards climate change and the effect of pollution on global warming. But perhaps that's stretching it a bit too far. The AOL passwords are also becoming rubbish, what went wrong?

OK, so let's have another competition: Where in the World is Hugh Anchor? Hidden amongst these photos are at least four pictures of Hugh looking variously, stunned, asleep, dopey, and befuddled, amongst luminaries of the theoretical computer science community. Can you find them all? And if you do, will anyone care?

The winner, as judged by me, will be the lucky recipient of no Gmail invites. So get ogling!

Consumerism gone mad

Look -- it's a devastating satire of consumerism and capitalism!

20041001

Unemployed layabouts

Hello.

I'm unemployed!

Woo-hoo!

That is, my previous contract finished on September 30th. My new jobs starts on October 4th. So, today and for the weekend, I'm technically unemployed. I'm celebrating this freedom by, er, working in the office on some stuff. Er, never mind, eh? Not my fault someone has dumped a paper deadline on Monday, so I need to get stuff moving for it.

I quite enjoyed the debate yesterday, although it was somewhat repetitive.

Statistics:

Number of uses of the phrase "Mixed messages" or "mixed signals":
GWB: 8
JK: 4

References to Saddam Hussein:
GWB: 16
JK: 12

References to Osama binLaden
GWB: 6
JK: 9

Number of times Saddam Hussein confused with Osama binLaden
GWB: 1
JK: (one slight confusion)
Donald Rumsfled: constantly.

Quote of the night: "That's kind of a pre-September 10th mentality" -- GWB.

Also, "I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court. It's a body based in The Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors can pull our troops or diplomats up for trial. "

Yes. Wouldn't want to be party to courts that are completely unaccountable and can summon foreign citizens for trial, eh? Let me know, which would you prefer, the Hague, or Guantanamo Bay? I know what I'd choose. I'd choose not to get caught.