Posts from September 2002

Torch torched: Robert Torricelli quits

Torch torched
: Robert Torricelli quits the race and manages to turn it into a bottomless egofest. The man ruins the the Democratic party and manages to act haughty about it. What a dickdork.

So who’ll replace him on short notice? Former Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bill Bradley Rep. Bob Menendez are the names on the list so far.

I wonder what the residency requirement is in NJ. Can Bill Clinton run?

Or how about Bruce Springsteen?

: The Republicans are becoming all too accustomed to winning elections in court, not at the polls. They’re threatening to stop anyone from replacing Torch on the ballot. How undemocratic (small d) can you get? We voters in New Jersey deserve the right to vote for a candidate of our choice. This is not Florida!

: Torch’s opponent’s TV commercials are still running in prime time. Kicking a horse after it’s down.

: Not that I’m suggesting this, but Torch would have done his Democrats a better service if he’d torched himself. We’d elect a dead man (a dead man defeated John Ashcroft, remember). But trying to find a live one is way harder.

Another era bites…
: I walk by the famous Howard Johnson’s on Times Square today and it’s closed by order of the Health Department. Damn. An icon falls. And I didn’t get to have that last taste of HoJo’s fried clams.

Let me kiss my diploma
: The MIT Open Courseware program is turbo cool. I thought I’d take a class at MIT using its open-source class materials. I now think better of it. I think I’m glad I graduated college when I did.

I was, for a brief while, a philosphy major. But it was nothing like this.

Here are notes from MIT’s problems of philosopy class:

II. The Problem of Evil

Remember, we’re considering the existence of a certain kind of God, a God who is perfect in every way. By hypothesis, this God is omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good (I’ll abbreviate these characteristics as “OOG”).

1) If God exists, she’d be OOG. [By hypothesis]

Now surely if an OOG God exists, there ought to be no evil in the world. Here’s why: Since God knows everything, she knows when there is going to be an earthquake, or terrorist attack, or a lynching. Since she is all-powerful, she could prevent it if she tried. But since she is wholly good, she does try. Thus the earthquake, terrorist attack, lynching, etc. is prevented. So:

2) If an OOG being exists, there would be no evil. [from 1]

Suppose, then, that:

3) God exists.

You should conclude that:

4) There is no evil. [From 1-3]

But the truth is that (as the Dostoevsky reading and current events make vividly clear):

5) There is evil.

But note that (4) and (5) are contradictory. You can’t reasonably believe both that there is and there is not evil in the world. As a result, even many religious people have felt compelled to conclude:

6) [An OOG] God does not exist.

This is the problem of evil for theism. Unless there is a way around the problem, theists have reason to give up their belief, on pain of irrationality.

Note that the argument, as presented, has the form of a reductio ad absurdum….

Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute….

Flash forward: I’m having a

Flash forward
: I’m having a bad flash forward right now, after watching tonight’s premiere of American Dreams: I fear that 40 years from now. somebody will make a show about how everything in America changed not in November 1963 but in September 2001 and we–you and I, real people today–will be turned into period pieces, made quaint in our clothes and attitudes and lives, stereotypes in stereo.

The ’60s were my time; I am their child. I was in third grade in 1963, when JFK was killed; I was in high school during Vietnam and the ’68 elections; I marched in protest against that war; I was ready to risk jail or my citizenship to fight against the fight (and I was saved only by the luck of numbers: my birthday and lottery).

Now I’m looking at a show that is going to turn much of that time into a cliche.

But then, I get the exact same feeling when I watch protest marchers on the news today: anti-capitalism, anti-trade, anti-Americanism, anti-war, anti-meat. They mock a time of real protest worse than any TV show ever could.

Here was New York: Note

Here was New York
: Note that Here Is New York has exhibitions in lots of cities around the world. But note also that the New York Prince Street gallery, the original, is closing at the end of this month and they will stop taking orders for prints. So order now. And get the amazing book, the best on 9.11 to date.

Do not pass go: Make

Do not pass go
: Make your own, personalized Monopoly game.

Mapping the ‘sphere
: A pretty nice metasearch engine that places the results in a confusing yet intriguing map at Kartoo.

Guns ‘n’ roses: I think

Guns ‘n’ roses
: I think this is a little sick, though I can see Glenn Reynolds et al love it: In Toronto, a weekend-getaway travel company is pushing a Charley’s Angels tour:

The morning starts with a visit to a private gun club. Here you polish your gun shooting skills with personal, side-by-side firearm instruction. You learn basic gun safety and how to load your own magazine, then you fire-off 50 rounds of ammo at a paper target. The target is yours to take back as a souvenir.

Then off you go to Stillwater Spa, one of the hottest spas in Toronto, for a manicure. Relax in the whirlpool, have a cold drink and enjoy being pampered for a couple of hours.

After the manicure, trot back home, get dressed to the nines and get ready for a night on the town. Dance, meet new people and party the night away….

Program includes:

– Firearm instruction

– Use of protective eye and ear wear

– Use of handgun, ammunition and paper target

– Use of whirlpool, sauna and other Stillwater Spa facilities

– A manicure treatment at Stillwater Spa

Will it be long before the girls on Sex & the City are armed? Is gun chic on the way? Please, no.

Nick Denton fact-checks Google’s ass
: Here.

Just what we need: Four Saddams
: ZDF, the German TV network, says it has proof that Saddam uses doubles, long rumored. They analyzed hundreds of photos in their archives and determined that he has sent out at least three doubles lately, each surgically enhanced and each trained in Saddam’s mannerisms. One source said that the real Saddam was not seen in public, on TV, from 1998 until last Saturday. Will W get the right one?

: Babelfish translation here.

Blog the prom
: Metafilter points to a high-school student who’s getting in trouble for blogging from school.

I was in the office again today, balling my eyes out. Lets just say one of the options is to have me expelled from the school. I was gasping for air half the time I was in there. I had to write this affidavit telling them everything I knew about my blog, how long I had been posting from school, who else from my school had a blog and everything. I was crying the entire time. And don’t you dare joke me for crying. I mean, you’d cry too if you had a PERFECT perm. record and then have it screwed up in high school and mess up your chances of getting into the college of your choice.

If true, this is obnoxious and the kid should fight. He’s cleary smart and eager and he should be encouraged to develop those talents, not called before HUAC and made to name names because of it.

Why, in my day, I brought the ACLU into my junior high to fight a dress code (I was defending the rights of girls to wear slacks, not my right to wear sandals and socks). Defending free speech is a much better cause.

: The update from the auction this morning: Plastic Enron beer mugs sell for $14 each.

Infamy has a value.

The latest reality show:

The latest reality show: Selling off Enron
: You can listen to the Enron auction right now (midday Wednesday). Sony 27-inch TV just sold for $300.

: Thanks to Nick Denton and Elizabeth Spiers for pointing me to the auction. I’ve been listening off and on all day long (while doing more productive things, of course). It’s riveting. This is what becomes of crooks. The loot is so telling: Not just the chairs, lined up like those Chinese clay soldiers in an archeological dig, but lots of Enron briefcases and balls and best of all, beer coolers with the Enron log and the slogan, “Ask why.” Indeed.

I look forward to the auctions for not only the companies but also their executives.

I want to pitch this as a reality show for the Home Shopping Network.

: The show is going into overtime tonight and they’re not nearly done unloading all the servers and laptops and chairs. It starts again Thursday morning. Tune in.

Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction:

Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction
: Here is Tony Blair’s paper detailing evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Spam, another solution
: I’m sure someone will tell me what’s wrong with this but I come to think we are all attacking spam from the wrong direction.

We are trying to make lists of spammers and their tricks so we can block them.

We should instead be trying to get ourselves off the lists of email addresses the spammers are using.


I want someone to invent an email function that lets me easily and manually bounce email from spammers so they think I don’t exist and so they don’t want to waste time and money sending me spam and so they take me off their lists.

Surely, this can’t be hard.

I mark a bunch of email in the morning and direct my email to send bounce messages to all of them.

The program sends a (faked) bounce message via my mail server.

The spammer counts this as a bounce and takes me off the list.

And that’s one fewer spams I’ll get the next morning. One by one, piece by piece, we kill the cockroaches.

Make sense?

: Update. Gotta love this Internet. Within minutes, I got an email from Danny Jobe pointing me to Mailwasher, which does what I want and for free. The key description from their web site:

MailWasher works directly with your email server, exactly like your email program does. But there is one important difference: you can tell MailWasher to delete a message at the server, without downloading it – or you can bounce an email back to the sender so that it looks as though your address is not valid.


So much for the future of journalism
: Here’s the list of luminaries Columbia’s president appointed to a commission to rethink the future of Columbia Journalism School and thus journalism itself.

Don’t hold your breath for anything new to come from this.

Though there are unquestionably some smart and capable people on the list, the cast as a whole is quite predictable.

And you will not find any emissaries from the future of any weight, experience, or credibility. I could nominate people here in blogdom but that would take on the air of blogrolling for the sake of aw-shucks links back to me; you make the list. I could nominate people who have changed journalism and reporting and commentary using the tools of this new medium and the new relationship with the audience they create, but what’s the point.

Too bad. Opportunity lost.

: See also Columbia J’s interim dean, David Klatell on Romenesko, responding to Michael Wolff‘s excellent column on the future of Columbia J and journalism. The guy completely misses the point and the point misses him. Wolff was writing about a new vision for journalism education and media study; the temp dean whines about Wolff not listing the school’s name-brand alums. Forest, meet trees.

Google news
: Google’s automated news is cool but Nick Denton points out the fatal flaw in how it works.

Missed opportunities
: Old blogging pal Thomas Nephew gives me the punchline I should have gotten myself (I’m so ashamed!) for the HAL Internet-connected refrigerator post below:

You overlooked the chilling possibilities of a wired fridge:

The morning after: Forget the

The morning after
: Forget the Emmys. People are talking about the Sopranos. And the best place to listen in is in the Soprano’s forum (full disclosure: one of my company’s sites). It’s great reading for true fans.