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Giant Bugs:
Wednesday, June 26, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

More breaking news on enabling technology for the DTPA! I'd been rather ignoring the talk about "Palladium", since I figured that, Microsoft being more or less on record as anti-Consortium, this was just another bit of PR-ware to convince people that they shouldn't distrust .NET just because everything similar that MS has ever done has turned out to be hideously insecure.

But, as it turns out, "Palladium" actually seems to be a key enabler for the whole DPTA/Consortium thing, as described in a recent Steven Levy piece. With a bit of reading between the lines, we discover that Palladium:

  • Tells the Consortium who you're dealing with -- and what you're doing. Palladium is all about deciding what's trustworthy. It not only lets the Consortium know that you're you, but also can limit what arrives (and runs on) your computer, verifying where it comes from, who created it, and that they've paid their weekly license fee.
  • Protects information. The system uses high-level encryption to “seal” data so that end users wanting to know what their machines are doing are thwarted. It also can protect the integrity of documents so that they can’t be altered without the Consortium's knowledge.
  • Stops viruses, worms, and fair-use copying. Palladium won't run unauthorized programs, so viruses can't trash protected parts of your system, and you can't inadvertantly copy any data without first paying the license fee.
  • Cans spam. Eventually, commercial pitches for recycled printer cartridges and open-source software can be stopped before they hit your inbox -- while unsolicited mail from Consortium members can arrive if it has credentials that meet the Consortium's standards.
  • Safeguards privacy. With Palladium, it's possible for the Consortium not only to seal data on your own computer, but also to send it out to "agents" who can distribute just the discreet pieces that the Consortium wants released to the proper people. Microsofties have nicknamed these services "Bill." If you apply for a loan, you'd say to the lender, "Get my details from Bill." which, upon Consortium authorization, would then provide your bank information, etc. Best part: You can't read the information yourself, and neither can a hacker who breaks into your system, unless they are a Consortium business partner.
  • Controls your information before and after you send it. Palladium is being offered to the studios and record labels as a way to distribute music and film with "digital rights management" (DRM). This could allow studios to prevent users from exercising "fair use" (like making personal copies of a CD) and publishers could at least start releasing works that enable them to keep profits high. But a more interesting possibility is that Palladium could help introduce DRM to business and just plain people. "It's a funny thing," says Bill Gates. "We came at this thinking about music, but then we realized that e-mail and documents were far more interesting domains." For instance, Palladium might allow the Consortium to seal your e-mail so that no one can read it without first paying a weekly license fee. Or they could cause your Word documents to self-destruct if you get behind in your payments. In all cases, it would be the Consortium, not the user, who sets these policies.

The March of Technology proceeds apace!

Tuesday, June 25, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

At last, the Center for Popular Culture at the University of Wallamabanga is pleased to announce the publication of the results of the CEOLN assedness poll.

(Thought I'd forgotten all about it, didn't'cha?)

First, we present the results in graphical form, for our USA Today readers:

Assedness Poll Results Pie

In numerical terms, those who chose the "fully assed" response, indicating that the term "half-assed" is, in their opinion, calling attention to a condition of deviation from a normal (or perhaps merely desirable) condition of full assedness outnumbered those who chose the "not assed at all" response (indicating the opinion that the normal or desirable condition is not assed at all) 71% to 23% (with 6% cleverly not voting either way).

(Three votes in which the person voting explicitly admitted to voting multiple times, were thrown out. Some other votes, not explicitly marked as duplicates but originating from the same IP address and therefore at least slightly suspect, were counted. Discarding those votes would not have materially changed the results. Void where prohibited, licensed, or taxed. Take with plenty of water.)

Deep insights into human nature here, what? Here are the comments of those who did not vote either way:


I think it's pretty much the same as half-cocked. That is to say, there is no normal condition.

half assed could = mule

I think "half-assed" is a complete condition, rather like being pregnant; you either are or you aren't.

I like that last one especially; either you're fully half-assed, or you're not at all half-assed.

The comments of the other voters, in chronological order for maximum clarity:

I've often heard the phrase "put your ass into it" -- I think fully-assed is the default state.

When one uses the phrase "half-assed", they are usually comparing it to the situation they think should govern, which is not assed at all. It is almost never a positive comment, commending the thing for not being fully assed.

As much as I adore the stories of your little daughter, I have to disagree with her here. "Half-assed" refers to a job that is done, but not particularly well or competently. I'd say that "Not Assed at All" refers to doing a job well, with the attention it deserves, and "Fully Assed" refers to not doing the task at all. In that respect, "slightly half-assed" itself is ambiguous--does it mean putting even less effort into a project than a "half-assed" effort would be, or does it mean putting nearly as much effort into the job as it deserves, and only falling slightly short of what a good job would entail?

best go with the positive


You gotta put your whole ass into it if you want it done right.

Of course, one would ALWAYS rather be a smart ass than a dumb ass, but better not to be an ass at all.

In Australia we say "can't be arsed" when we mean "too lazy to undertake same". Which could go either way, really.

Think of donkeys rather than buttocks.

Analogous to half-cocked, I think.

by analogy to a gun going off "half-cocked" (and not hitting the cap with enough force to fire the round...so a half-assed attempt fails to accomplish the task

Ass here probably refers to a donkey, not one's backside. Given the existence of a phrase "He's made an ass out of himself", being half-assed seems to be a milder version of the same thing. Half-assed = screwed up, but not completely. When you screw it up completely, you've made a full ass out of yourself.

I agree with the daughter.

accidentally voted twice, adding onre more to cancel the erroneous 2nd vote

Half an ass being of no use to anyone - being as it would be two legged. And we all know how stupid two legged things are. ;-)

I always assumed that half asses was a derivative of "Half cocked" which refers to guns, I just thought that some wag had replaced the cock with the ass. ... or something

I think it's a measure of how much you're willing to get your ass in gear to get something done right.

It's not that full-assedness is the "normal" condition, but rather that it's optimal. You don't want to do something half-assedly; put your whole ass into it.

i'm voting twice (but for the same thing each time)

Your daughter's logic is impeccable and inescapable.

definitely fully, definitely

"To be an ass" is to make a fool of yourself (dictionary.com has a nice definition of 'ass'), therefore a half-assed comment would be that of someone who is foolish; of course in the UK we tend to say 'arse' not 'ass' - ass usually refers to a donkey.

Consensus of my son & me (where default might be "kick-ass")

"Half-assed" is usually used to indicate incomplete development or execution, similary to "half-baked." Thus, just as the best pies are fully baked, the best ideas, etc, are fully assed.

Actually, I don't think that "being half-assed is an abnormality or a flaw", but that in order to complete a project, one must ass it all the way; therefore not assed at all is the default, but it's not a flaw. Assing is the exception, not the rule.

In the spirit of half-baked/baked, I think "fully assed" is the normal condition.


WTF is your poblem

but really, don't ass me

The ass (and legs) do all the lifting.

I believe it refers to having a pair of donkeys pull a load. If you've got only one ass out of two pulling something, well that sucks.

Late, I know. But you haven't collated the results yet. So this'll make you later. May be related to "can't be arsed" (we don't have asses over here unless we are donkey herders), as in can't be bothered. So to be half arsed is to undertake something with less than one's full attention or enthusiasm. Actually, this may be my *normal* condition.

Don't I have the best readers? (I'm especially impressed by the person who voted, and then asked "WTF is your poblem". You tawkina me? WTF is your poblem, busta?) I like the analogy with "half-baked"; it seems very apt.

Anyway, thanks to all for clearing that up.

Lust: My attention has been drawn to a new "daily erotic vignette" site, similar to, but entirely different from, the lamentably quiet Parents Strongly Cautioned (whose archives I still consult for the occasional frisson). Highly recommended.

Twassel is another of my favorite authors of naughty stuff. The differences between him and Aster are hard to sum up; oversimplifying wildly, I could say that Twassel is more likely to give you a wholesome sex scene including the word "tummy", whereas Aster is more likely to give you people discussing philosophy and/or casually removing their own scalps before (or during, or after, or instead of) intercourse. *8) But try them both and see for yourself; they both quite skillfully defy summarization.

Gluttony: and/or sloth; LaDiDa links to Junk science about obesity, a very heartening story that says there's no problem being fat, as long as you get your walk in:

...long term studies conducted at Dallas's Cooper Institute, involving tens of thousands of subjects tracked for a decade or more, have concluded that all of the excess mortality associated with increasing weight is accounted for by activity levels, not weight. These studies show moderately active fat people have far lower mortality rates than thin sedentary people, and essentially the same mortality rates as thin active people.

Robots taking over the world: everyone else has blogged this (I first noticed it on flutterby), but it's still very cool: 'Thinking' robot in escape bid. I remember once I had a bunch of algorithms sitting in an evolutionary soup learning to perform some task, and the little devils managed to cheat by communicating through a back channel that I'd accidentally provided for them (they weren't supposed to be able to communicate at all).

Speaking of which, I've now read a couple of chapters of the new kind of book that I describe in this weblog entry, and some of it's actually interesting. If only he'd stop interrupting the flow to talk about how everyone before him failed to discover what he has discovered, and how his discovery is going to revolutionize science. Like they say, "show, don't tell".

More on that later, I imagine...

Monday, June 24, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

The Consortium expresses its thanks to various responsible bloggers who have helped educate the public about the DTPA. Will the rest of you get on the stick, please? We need a MeFi thread, at the very least, if we're to get the word out properly. These memes don't spread themselves, you know...

Gentlemen one and three go out to the right,
Swing Sally Gooden with your right hand
And now your Taw,
Now swing the girl from Arkansas.
Sally Gooden Sally Gooden Sally Gooden with the left
And now your Taw
And don't forget your ol' Grammaw.

Ev'rybody bow to your partner,

Most of my muscles protest any activity at all. On Saturday the little boy woke up with a fever, so only the little daughter and I went across the river for the potluck lunch and square dancing at the church.

When I was a kid we'd go square dancing every week (or every few weeks, or something; my kid memories are pretty vague on stuff like that), and it was many of the same people as it was last Saturday, and it was the same caller as it was last Saturday, and I remember him looking then just like he did on Saturday (he had, maybe still has, this great handmade house with a living room big enough for at least two full squares, maybe three or four, to do a Grand Right and Left in).

And that was like twenty-eight years ago.

I asked him if the turntable that he uses to play the old seventy eights of square dance music (and folk dance and line dance music; Salty Dog Rag and Road to the Isles) is the same as the one he used all those years ago.

"Yep," he said, "I've got three of them now. But the guy who repairs them is talking about closing down."

(On the way over we missed the exit, and had to drive lots of miles out of our way to find a place to turn around, and we were half an hour late, but I'm not going to talk about that.)

Then on Sunday morning we had bagels, and the little boy still had a mild fever, and the little daughter's feet were sore from square dancing barefoot, so I went and had the week's "parent and child" tennis lesson myself. It's a lot more work when there's not a child there to hit half the balls! So after that my feet and my calves were sore.

Then on Sunday at noon I went down and helped dig up the old water line leading to the pavillion down at the lake, so the neighbor who knows how to do such things could cut out the old leaking pipe and solder on a new shiny pipe with better valves. It was hot, and I was really starting to ache in various muscles. But a good swim in the lake in between digging and filling the trench (not to mention the presence of various lively young persons in bathing attire) was very refreshing.

So my calves and my bottom and my lower back and my arms (and even my neck a little) ache, and it's like kinda hard to go down stairs without wincing. On the other hand it was a great weekend.

From gorjuss, a cool old P. K. Dick essay; gorjuss links to it here, but that seems to be missing the first page; another copy is here:

It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe -- and I am dead serious when I say this -- do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe.

I have discovered on Amazon.com a new kind of book. Unlike every other book ever written, the new kind of book that I describe in this weblog entry was written by someone with an ego the size of the Greater Magellanic Cloud. I believe that in the coming decades the new kind of book that I describe in this weblog entry will allow me to take credit for any and all progress made in virtually any field of human endeavor.

Since I invented weblogging in 1998, other weblog entries have described books; but the new kind of book that I describe in this weblog entry is unique and revolutionary, due to how incredibly annoying the first twenty pages are. The annoying qualities of previous kinds of books have invariably stemmed from the truth or falsity of the claims made in the books; but the annoying quality of the first twenty pages of the new kind of book that I describe in this weblog entry has nothing to do with that truth or falsity; it will be just as annoying if it somehow turns out to be true.

In fact, the first twenty pages of the new kind of book that I describe in this weblog entry are so annoying that, although they are the only part of the book that I have so far read, I find myself unable to resist the temptation to lampoon them in my weblog.

From alchandler.com, the Chilling Paragraph O' the Day:

In a broad assertion of presidential authority that could ultimately be tested in the Supreme Court, the government said in court papers on Wednesday that anyone it designated an "enemy combatant" did not have to be provided the legal protections accorded most American citizens. Further it said, the courts have no authority to interfere with such decisions.

Somehow that's not the way I remember it from the Constitution...


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