Wednesday, December 31, 2003

"As to diceing, I think it becommeth best deboshed souldiers
to play at on the heads of their drums, being only ruled by
hazard, and subject to knavish cogging; and as for the chesse,
I think it over-fond, because it is over-wise and philosophicke
a folly." -- Henry VIII, quoted in The sports and pastimes of the people of England, A new edition, with a copious index, by William Hone.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes,
That have been so bedazzled with Sun

   (apologies to Shakespeare).

OK, well it's certainly not the first time Sun has been perceived as an enemy of open source, and apparently there is good reason:

Sun should have owned Linux and should have owned the community. It is Unix, and all Unix developers should have been Sun developers with Linux.
This is from Ed Zander who just left Sun after being second to Scott McNealy for 5 years (ref).

Thursday, December 11, 2003

If you've got IE, click on this link to "CNN" to see an interesting exploit. It's not new, but I'd never heard of it. The URL uses the username portion to fool the browser into displaying a string that isn't where it's being sent (forwarded from Keith Wannamaker).

Saturday, December 06, 2003

My favourite charity has just posted their year-end appeal. I donate to Deep Roots because I think it's pretty close to maximizing my leverage: by funding the education of kids in some of the poorest countries of the world, I hope my donation will help these students out for life. Deep Roots has less than 10% expenses (verified by GuideStar) so a US dollar donation of only $75 can easily fund a kid's basic school education in Namibia for a year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I just finished another knitting project, striped socks, so I updated my knitted projects page. I put up another couple old projects on the page, ones that I did years ago but didn't get pictures until recently: a mauve sweater and a pillow knit in part from handspun natural wool.

Monday, December 01, 2003

It's interesting how Bush's free-trade position, his steel tariffs, the WTO appeal and finally the repeal of said tariffs, may all have contributed to strengthen the idea of WTO-moderated free trade. The blog postings have been unanimously positive about the repeal (exhibits A, B, C, D). The obvious lessons to draw from the sequence of events are:
  • The WTO can act quickly (15 months, I think) in its rulings

  • The rules are effective, if even Bush must cave

  • The rules are principled, because Bush's argument for the steel tariffs was based on convenience. The excuse for the tariffs was that they were only temporary. When you argue for such a weak exception to a rule, that can reinforce the principle beind the rule.

If Bush had never put the temporary tariffs in place, there wouldn't have been this clear an opportunity for the WTO to strengthen its hand.
The Kyoto agreement was dealt an unexpected blow or two in the last month, from Russia, casting a shadow on this week's discussions in Milan. I'm behind on this news but, intrigued, I spent some time trying to figure out exactly who said what. A condemnation from Putin could in fact trigger support in many other places depending on how poorly it was worded. Instead, the Russian opposition seems broad but reasonable: Putin mostly complains that Kyoto won't work, and would "doom Russia to poverty, weakness and backwardness" (ref). In some places Russia's recent response is described as "Russian officials’ outright rejection of the global warming theory" (ref), but that seems to be exaggeration because this article has more detail indicating that the head of RAS only described the "theory of rapid, catastrophic global warming" as inaccurate. However, Russia hasn't definitively said no - this could be pre-election posturing for the Russian public, and Russia could still sign on after the elections.

Seablogger has a good post on the event, including notes on the difficulty of agreeing that Kyoto is good even if we all agree that global warming exists.

A TCS article by Iain Murray includes this tidbit:
There are plenty of reasons people are proposing these new commercial ventures, however. One proposed wind farm in West Virginia, would cost $300,000,000 to build, but would recover those costs and then some through various tax shelters and subsidies equaling $325,434,600. In many cases, the profit from this government largesse exceeds the income generated from electricity sales. Wind farm owners enjoy windfall profits at taxpayer expense. Green is very attractive when there are greenbacks involved...
The article overall is whether wind farms are in fact an environmental win over gas consumption. It's a difficult issue, and often involves comparing apples to oranges (noise and bird death to chemical pollution, for example). But it certainly clouds the issues to have such large tax-payer-backed government subsidies. Just think how much that $325 million in subsidies could have done if it had gone directly to protecting wildlife or unspoiled areas.

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