Letters To The Editor

May 19, 2010

One last bit of old starter-content: Over the years, I’ve periodically gotten frothy about something or other, and shared the spittle with the letters editor of some publication — usually the New York Times. Most of the time they drop the letter in the trash. However, on a few occasions, they’ve published them:

In addition there was a period when Andrew Orlowski, of The Register, was throwing entertaining brickbats at Wikipedia every few weeks..  I sent him a response to one such article, which he reprinted in full at the end of a follow-up article. The “Twenty Jackasses Make An Expert” meme still clings to Wikipedia in various obscure corners of the web.


An Apology

May 19, 2010

Election Day 2008 came as a great catharsis for me, as for many other people around the world. On November 5, I sent an e-mail to a few friends, which summed up as best I could what that day meant, given the preceding eight years. Oddly enough, a few weeks later, someone else sent the same message (by now without attribution) back to me. In the meantime, it had gone whirling around the Intertubes as one of those humorsicles that people fling at one another when they’re bored. Anyway, here’s the original:

Dear World:

The United States of America, your quality supplier of ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for its 2001-2008 service outage. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service interruption has been located, and the parts responsible for it were replaced last night. Early tests of the newly-installed equipment indicate that it is functioning correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional by early January.

We apologize for any incovenience caused by the outage, and we look forward to resuming full service — and hopefully even to improving it in years to come.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this trying time,



May 19, 2010

In October 2008 I left a blog comment on Nate Silver’s 538 blog, expressing some things I thought I’d learned from watching the death spiral of the McCain campaign. It seemed to strike a nerve with a few people who sent it around and republished it. Here’s the original comment:

Setting aside momentarily the campaigns’ respective political programs, as well as the aspects that relate to the candidates’ personal fitness for office, it is interesting to reflect on what the campaigns’ structures teach us about the next President’s ability to run one of the largest and most complex bureaucracies on Earth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Schneier Joins BT

May 19, 2010

This is related to something that happened in 2006:  Bruce Schneier, the well-known security guru, sold his company to BT.  He blogged about it here. I wrote a short parody in a comment to that post, which Bruce appears to have enjoyed (“Best blog comment ever”), and which appears to have gotten some blogplay in various places as a consequence. Here it is:

FLUNKY: Sir, that Schneier person called again. He left a detailed

CEO: Again? What does he want this time?

FLUNKY: Well, to begin with, he’d like BT to accept legal liability for
security compromises of our DSL customers’ computers.


FLUNKY: Yes, sir. Externalities.

CEO: Come again?

FLUNKY: He said [mumbles] externalities.

CEO: What’s an externality?

FLUNKY: I thought _you_ knew.

CEO: No idea. I haven’t read this month’s “CIO Trends” magazine though,
maybe it’s in there. Doesn’t matter really, we’re filing this under “Hell
Freezes Over”. Anything else?

FLUNKY: Yes, sir. He wants you to start wearing your company badge to

CEO: Why? Security knows who I am, and I have the key to my private
elevator anyway.

FLUNKY: Yes, er, well…

CEO: What?

FLUNKY: He’s…that is to say…

CEO: He’s after my elevator too, isn’t he?

FLUNKY: Well, he says it’s bad security to create a privileged low-security
channel for a lucky few.

CEO: He isn’t a socialist, is he?

FLUNKY: He’s a very wealthy one if he is.

CEO: HFO file. Is that it?

FLUNKY: [mumbles] password…

CEO: [steely glare] He’s after my password _again_?

FLUNKY: He seems to think that “Cat” is weak.

CEO: I _know_ it’s weak. But two of my secretaries can’t recall how many
fingers they have without counting, and the other one can’t spell. How are
they supposed to remember my password if I make it something complicated,
like my birthday, or Mom’s name?

FLUNKY: [Looks at floor, embarrassed, would obviously rather leave at this
point, sighs again at message] It’s a funny thing, he had a few things to
say about secretaries, birthdays, Moms…

CEO: Not interested. Let’s cut to the chase. What does he want my
password changed to?

FLUNKY: dF3#(~!pk40%L/sD:@

CEO: This is a prank, right?

FLUNKY: That’s this week’s password. He has another one for next week.

CEO: Bring in his golden parachute agreement. I want to look it over.

Oh, Dear, Another Blog

May 19, 2010

Welcome.  Thanks for reading.

This blog is not so noteworthy, and probably will stay that way.  It serves two purposes:

  1. I’m an inveterate ranter and letter-to-the-editor writer and blog commenter.  Most of my rants are inflicted on patient friends, aquaintances, family members.  Most of my letters wind up in the trash (the NYT has published a handful, though).  Most of my blog comments contribute to blog noise.  I need another outlet, so friends, family, paper editors, and bloggers don’t have to feign interest.
  2. Occasionally, I’ve written things that people liked, and wanted to read and share.  Those things are scattered in various places.  Now they can all be here. I’ll republish a few them as early posts, just to get some content going.

Otherwise, not much to see here.