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Thursday, June 14, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

The little daughter's class had its D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony this morning. Hot and stuffy, but fun to watch the shining faces and hear the ever so earnest words. I decided it'd be in bad taste to wear, say, a NORML T-shirt.   *8)

As with the military, I have certain qualms about DARE in theory, but in practice it seems kinda cool. The kids gets to talk about self-esteem and peer pressure and dispute resolution and the influence of the media and stuff. Which is all stuff that I like to have them thinking about; I don't actually care if it reduces the probability that they'll try Illegal Drugs.

An optical illusion I hadn't seen before. Full of hacks, the old Human Visual System.

A Ringworld movie? For some reason this strikes me as a bad idea.

sectile adj. able to be cut smoothly by a knife.

stelobryant n. any of several small burrowing mammals native to the Northeastern United States, with long furry noses, porkpie hats, and a generally positive outlook on life.

Okay, so here's the bit about Judaism being the official religion of the United States. It's a nice convergence of the "law on the Web" and the "conspiracy theories" threads.

There are these things called the Laws of Noah, or Noahide laws. They are seven rather generic "be a good Western religious person" laws, telling the believer to worship God, not blaspheme, not kill or steal, persue justice, not break any sexual taboos, and not eat the flesh of living animals. (Well, three out of seven ain't bad, I suppose.) These laws are in various forms all over the Web (see links above). Here's one that at least keeps the list of sexual taboos small.

Anyway, the fun thing is that the U. S. Congress (presumably while not paying much attention) once passed a resolution, Public Law 102-14, that (in the process of naming 26 March 1991 "Education Day, U.S.A.") said nice things about the Noahide Laws; I imagine the relevant Lubavitcher Rebbe's congregation had been found to contain a number of voters. Copies of the Public Law can be found on various pages.

Various people have noted this fact and reacted to it in various ways. Some people see it as a lowest common denominator that Christians and Jews can agree on. Some see it as a lever Christians might use to convert Jews, or Jews Christians. Some see it as a Terrible Threat to Religious Freedom. And way out at a Particular End of the Spectrum, we have some folks who think that in Public Law 102-14 Congress made "the Jewish religion the officially recognized religion of the United States." Cool!

(I think it's rather obnoxious that the U. S. Congress officially stated that this particular set of Rules, sexual taboos and all, are "the basis of civilized society". This is annoying, but fortunately in this context it's rather harmlessly annoying!)

So what, I wonder to myself, is the current status of this Law? I doubt it occurs in the United States Code anywhere (no relevant hits on "Noah" or "Rebbe" in the search engines).

Is it still part of the U. S. Public Law? This site doesn't go all the way back to the 102nd Congress. Has the law expired, in some sense? I mean sure 26 March 1991 is a long time ago now, but is or isn't it still officially "Education Day, U.S.A."? If the law's still in effect, where do I find it on the Web? It'd certainly be nice if all laws currently in effect were up there. Otherwise how will I know what to obey?

Wednesday, June 13, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Yes, I'm feeling considerably more competent today. Thanks for asking!   *8)

... only significant incident of this kind occurred on 14 October 2012, when an uncontrolled colony converted the upper two stories of the Hotel Cinquante in Nice into eight-gigabyte memory chips for kitchen appliances.

I've run across a number of Singularity references recently, both from these Extropian and Transhuman lists that I subscribed to the other day, and just serendipitously at random. (Here's Vinge's original talk on the Singularity, and a pretty cool panel discussion about the idea, with comments from Vinge.)

So am I interested enough in all this to buy, say, The Spike, or The Last Mortal Generation? (Gotta love the title.) This interview with Damien Broderick is good reading, anyway. Too bad most of his SF work seems to be out of print (is that only in the U.S.?).

And out of the blue someone just pointed me to this Kurzweil piece on the Singularity. I'd seen it before, but not read it completely (and I still haven't read it completely). Kurzweil has some way interesting thoughts. I do wish, though, that he'd stop talking about "Human Brain capacity" as though it were a measure of gate-cycles per second. The hardest part about making an intelligence is not getting enough fast gates in the same box. (Have I said this here before? I've said this other places before.)

While we're thinking out on various limbs, think about what it would be like if your soul weren't human. I love stuff like this.

This person's blatant trolling for hits has succeeded again (I like the bit about the beagles).

A reader writes:

More on famous people getting into blogging

(Julius Caesar, in this case. Very educational!)

The Parliament of Fools: GOP weighs creating House seat for North:

Mr. North told The Washington Times he would run for Mr. Boucherīs seat next year, provided his fellow Republicans in the state want him to and that they can find a way to extend the 9th District east and north to include Mr. North's home in Clarke County, which is now part of Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf's district.

Can I coin the word "Olliemander"? Thank you.

From Pursed Lips, a worthwhile Salon article about how images of sex (and violence) are(n't) dangerous to children:

The notion that words and images and ideas can cause harm to young minds has become such an article of faith that it's hard not to feel a sense of futility when you point out that there is not a shred, not an iota, not an atom of proof that exposure to images or descriptions of sex and violence does children any harm.

And a related interview.

flinsonan adj. surrounded by, or at a great distance from, a group of five or more unrelated people who are considering major lifestyle changes.

I think I've leave the stuff about how Judaism is the official religion of the United States until a future entry. (Don't you hate teasers?)

Tuesday, June 12, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

drimfe n. five oranges arranged in a circle; v.i. (of someone sleeping) convinced of one's own virtue.

Yes, there was no log entry yesterday. We were busy.

Do you keep falling asleep in meetings and seminars? What about those long and boring conference calls? Here is a way to change all of that!

We also have lots of links saved up in our Links file.

What, that old meme again?

I'm not sure that we have anything very profound to say in between them.


I'm considering unsubscribing from virtually all the lists that I'm on, just to see what happens. Maybe I'd get more work done!

OK, are these guys serious, or are they just seeing how many publications they can get to reprint their press releases?

On the other hand, once in awhile I do read something that's important in one sense or another on one of these lists. And it's probably a good idea for an organization to have people who are generally aware of random stuff?

Inferring Internet Denial-of-Service Activity; interesting paper.

I dunno.

More evidence that the DMCA is Evil (file under "chilling effect").

Do you have trouble remembering which is the Blue Pill and which is the Red Pill?

There was something I told Ian I'd probably log today. What was it? Maybe he'll remind me.

stynerdin adj. (of a melon) overpriced

The U. S. Code. A buncha laws and stuff. FindLaw has them (here's the chapter about why you've gotta pay taxes). Although there seem to be some bits missing. Cornell has them, too (their version of that section seems more complete). The government has them also, which is nice. Although you have to download the bits as ZIP files.

(Note that the U. S. Code is different from the U. S. Public Laws. It's all very confusing, but at least it's online.)

You can even keep up with what the U. S. Government is actually doing. Take this law for instance.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. DESIGNATION. The United States courthouse located at 1 Courthouse Way in Boston, Massachusetts, shall be known and designated as the "John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse".


Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the United States courthouse referred to in section 1 shall be deemed to be a reference to the "John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse".

My Tax Dollars at Work.

I'm apparently trying to shake myself out of a bit of a stupor here. Or something.

There is an expectation of privacy in the infrared signature of your exterior walls! This is our Supreme Court Decision of the Day:

Held: Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of a private home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a Fourth Amendment "search," and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.

They could have added "especially when what you're looking for is something as stupid as Gro-lites shining on pot plants! Sheesh; go find some real criminals."

Finished reading the entire Tax Protester FAQ; some inneresting and/or amusing stuff. Also a link to another similar thing, listing hokey arguments that don't work in court, by someone who has some iffy ideas of his own.

Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.   --

What was all that about, anyway? Everything's so mysterious and ill-defined this morning (and in fact it's afternoon).

And speaking of conspiracies, here's a "debunking" of various theories and stories about the U. S. Federal Reserve system. Or so they would have you believe.

Friday, June 8, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

"You," she said, having stepped away from him to stand, one hand on a hip, her head to one side, "are either the shyest guy I've ever met, or you just don't like me."

"I like you!" he said, too loudly, "I really like you! A lot!"

Her smile broadened. "Good!" And she went into the kitchen.   --

Squeaky Clean Sex! The folks on alt dot sex dot stories dot dee recently had a Festival in memory of one of the regulars that passed away a few years ago (who says there's no such thing as an online community?). The centerpiece of the Festival was a bunch of stories in the style of Dulcinea (the pseudonym of the memorialized author). Accordingly, all the stories (well, I haven't read all of them, but according to the rules all the stories) are happy romantic stories of consensual heterosexual sex between romantically-involved adults. How much more wholesome can you get!

(The authors include Nicholas Urfe and Mark Aster, who have been mentioned in these pages before, and a whole lot of others.)

If ever a body of work seemed designed to tease apart the "tending to inspire lustful thoughts" and "tending to debase or corrupt or lead to immoral acts" threads of that tough old obscenity question, this is it. These stories certainly arouse lustful thoughts! But it's hard to imagine them leading to immoral acts.

Hot-cha! Boy howdy, I'm gonna go out and get me one of them committed romantic relationships!

What would Justice Rehnquist think?

Funny stuff! VMyths.com points to a great (if cruel) virus hoax joke. Apparently some people are taking it seriously. Which shouldn't strike a truly virtuous person as at all amusing.

**   Click your start button.
**   Click on "Find".
**   Click on Files / Folders.
**   Change the "look in" input box to "My Computer".
**   The named input file should have: AOL.EXE

Once the find engine has located the file, highlight it and press the delete button.

Deleting this file will fix a damaged 30 megabyte area of your hard drive and restore it to full functionality.

Unrelated political banner of the day

Reading through the Tax Protester FAQ, I came across this great story from American History. Apparently Ohio didn't become a state until 1953. Well, sort of. Or not really. Some more details are here:

Ohio congressman George Bender thought it was no laughing matter. He introduced a bill in Congress to admit Ohio to the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803. At a special session at the old state capital in Chillicothe the Ohio state legislature approved a new petition for statehood that was delivered to Washington on horseback. Congress subsequently passed a joint resolution, and President Eisenhower, after a few more jokes, signed it on August 7, 1953.

I especially like the "on horseback" touch. This is from another tax protester Q&A; pity this amusing issue only comes up when people are trying to get out of paying taxes. Elsewhere on that same page:

OK, said the resisters, but the proposed amendment had been introduced to Congress by the administration of William H. Taft. Taft had been born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1857. The Constitution requires that presidents be natural-born citizens of the United States. Since Ohio was not a state in 1857, Taft was not a natural-born citizen, could not legally be president, and could not legally introduce the 16th Amendment. (Presumably one would also have problems with anything done by presidents Grant, Hayes, Garfield, B. Harrison, McKinley, and Harding, who were also born in Ohio.)

Note the connection to Platonism vs. Pragmatism in Nomics (and what is government but a huge Nomic?): the Tax Protesters in this case are taking the Platonist position that since Ohio really wasn't a state between 1803 and 1953, Taft wasn't really wasn't ever President and so on, and we have to go back and recompute the real state of the nation, which is radically different from what we thought it was all this time. And the rest of the country, in Pragmatist mode, responds "gimme a break!".

Funny Spam: now it's not unusual to get spam containing stuff like this:

If you wish to be removed from this newsletter reply to this message with the word: REMOVE in the subject header

In this case, though, that was the entire contents of the message! I'm not sure if it actually counts as a "newsletter"...

Steve found a gayness test. Wandering from Ian to megnut and onward, I found another gayness test. It's even sillier than the one Steve found!

The Mayday Mystery: schizophrenia, a secret society, or the world's longest-running game of Treasure Hunt?

Scientists with Luxuriant Flowing Hair!


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