As I mentioned before, everyone in my family but me is an expert at statistics. It’s hard to explain…

When my brother was angry that O.J. got away with it, my dad calmed him down by pointing out that in was a natural consequence of our legal system minimizing Type II error.

When my mom pointed out how unfair it was that her children were the highest rated teachers in their departments and she was the lowest rated in hers, my brother joked, “That’s just mean reversion, mom.”

I won’t get into how many times we’ve seriously argued about what the proper null for our discussion was…

Which brings me to last night’s dinner after Spontaneous Drinking Night, with my geek friends:


(Sometimes I think I’m living in an xkcd comic.) Also apologies to Benjamin Disraeli…and my family 😉

Obama's 2002 speech

“Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

“The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly.”
—Barack Obama, Illinois State Senator speaking at Chicagoans Against the War in Iraq, 2002

Brent Budowsky reminds us of Barack Obama’s 2002 speech opposing the war.

The speech is classic. The constant use of word pairs (“Auschwitz and Treblinka,” “Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz,” “Pakistan and India,” “the Saudis and the Egyptians,” “Exxon and Mobil.” “ignorance and intolerance” “corruption and greed,” “poverty and despair”), the sentence repetition an and counterpoint (“I don’t oppose all wars.” and then “I oppose dumb wars” followed by, “You want a fight, President Bush?”), the use of quick powerful sentences (“A dumb war. A rash war.” and then “He is a brutal man. A ruthless man”); it even ends, in the final sentence with three references to another Illinois politician’s reference to the greatest American speech of all time.

Truly impressive word play and well worth a read.

Read the full text here.

Requiem for the Republican Party

Last week, the politics of fear ended:

“Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration’s warrantless surveillance program.

“If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don’t have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations — including al Qaeda — that have gained strength since 9/11.

“I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

“We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.”
—U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, “Letter to President Bush regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” February 14, 2008

[A requiem after the jump.]Continue reading

Why Red States vote red

“Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn’t won any of the significant states — outside of Illinois? That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.”
—Mark Penn, Chief Strategist for the Clinton campaign

By my count, if you are from Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, or the District of Columbia, the Democratic Party establishment thinks you’re insignificant.

Clearly the party is powered by idiots. These guys have won majority of the popular vote only once in the last 27 years! Triangulation my ass.

I’m so glad idiots like these will have been the first ones against the wall when the revolution came.

Parting Shot.

Triumphs of the Human Spirit

Blurb is hosting Lunch 2.0 today on Valentine’s Day!

Reading people’s twitter’s I think

Am I the only single person who loves Valentine’s day?

Oh the gifts, flowers, chocolates, singing telegram, and the the restaurant dinner reservation! I love watching the public trauma this day brings to two people in love. Sometimes it is like a romance sped up. Other times it is a romantic comedy in miniature, but mostly it is a complete disaster—still memorable in a “visit the inlaws” sort of way.

To that last one, I remember how my friend Jay broke up with his girlfriend by taking her to McDonald’s for Valentine’s—given how I love fast food, this would probably be my ideal date. 😀

I thank that I never have had to privately experience that public trauma. Historo-mathematically, it should have happened—I know that I’ve been in a relationship during some February 14th of the past, but somehow I’ve been spared any compulsion to participate.

Instead, I normally celebrate it by spamming friends and family with an e-card.

Not this year.

[Triumphs of the Human Spirit]Continue reading

Geek. Set. Match…

Just now, Mager messaged me:

“I am excited for Lunch two dot oh—I don’t say “point-oh” anymore.


In the summer of 1992, a friend was reading me a geek purity test he got from USENET.

One of the questions was:

Do you pronounce “*.*” as “star-dot-star?”

Of course, since he was reading it aloud, I heard:

Do you pronounce star-dot-star as star-dot-star?

Needless to say, I was quite confused. 😀

[More geek after the jump]Continue reading

…surrounded by reality

At dinner the other day, A— quoted someone saying:

“San Francisco. 14 square miles surrounded by reality.”

I thought that was rather clever as I seem to like a slight self-effacement now and again. I bothered to look up the full reference. It turns out the quote was by our very own Mayor McDreamy and he really said:

“San Francisco, a wacky wonderful place, a place of dreamers and doers. I think someone described San Francisco as ‘49 square miles surrounded by reality.’ I kind of like that.
—Mayor Gavin Newsom, Speech at the Sierra Summit

I guess they didn’t have Google in San Francisco in 2005, because Gavin is quoting a saying about Madison, Wisconsinthe Left Coast of Wisconsin.

Sometimes, reality is a big old let down.

Parting shot. I love this city.

Every so often you need to be reminded

(For my cousin Alex who asked I blog more often about politics.)

On Obama’s Iowa win:

“Hope could give way to fear once again. But, for tonight at least, it holds a mirror up to the face of America, and we can look at ourselves with pride.…It’s the kind of country we’ve always imagined ourselves being — even if in the last seven years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.”
—Ariana Huffington, “Obama Wins Iowa: Why Everyone Has a Reason to Celebrate Tonight

I mentioned before that I chose the category “religion and politics” because I am a strong believer in the separation of Church and State in the body politic, but never in ourselves.

Our morals inform every decision.

[Fear and Morals, Death and Triumphalism, Silence and Responsibility after the jump]Continue reading

All your codebase are belong to Jenga

Someone designed the framework like a big game of Jenga. Every time someone went into fix something they pulled it out of the core and put it on top. Now the whole thing is unstable.
—Mark Jen, talking about building code on top of bad OO architecture