Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

# 5:45 AM

Good article in the online Washington Monthly: How [the] Democrats Could Have Won (the 2002 elections, that is).

Sunday, 24 November 2002

# 11:05 AM


Congratulations to Sumana on her promotion.

oh, that's why

For the past week or so I have been occupied with the difficult question of why Computer A refused to respond to ARP queries from Computer B.

Today, I finally thought to read the routing table on Computer A closely enough to realize what was wrong. Computer A used to have two IP addresses (long story), and the second one has been recycled for Computer B, but the old annotation saying to route packets for B's address via the loopback interface was still there. The loopback interface, naturally, does not reach Computer B.

and once again

why am I still awake?

Saturday, 23 November 2002

# 2:50 AM


ICSI is located in an oldish building with oldish elevators. The emergency phones in these elevators were installed when there was only one Phone Company and it wouldn't sell you anything except phone lines with telephones attached. In other words, they're not intercoms, they're telephones, old-fashioned telephones with rotary dials. And, as I discovered today, it's possible to call these telephones. I was in the elevator when it started ringing.

Who was on the other end? A robot, inviting me to participate in a survey. "If you are interested," it said, "press 1 now." On a rotary phone, this would be difficult. I wanted to see if I could somehow get hold of a human and explain to them what place they had reached, but I was holding up the elevator, so I just hung up.


This has been there for awhile: Teresa on the vanity-press scam. In the discussion is some very interesting stuff on why self-publishing is such a scam in print fiction — and the only sane way to go in many other genres, like music.

Friday, 22 November 2002

# 8:35 PM

not dead yet

The lack of posts for the last few weeks has been entirely caused by my not being in the right mood to write any. This, in turn, is because very little happened which would be of interest to a general audience. I could blather about the endless rounds of test case redaction that have occupied my working hours, or about the joys of changing one's mail client, primary editor, and desktop environment all at once, but really, what would be the point?

good stuff

Unmedia: principled pragmatism.

Tuesday, 5 November 2002

# 7:20 AM

i'm only going to say this once, so listen

Tomorrow is Election Day in the USA. Both houses of Congress are balanced right on the edge between Republican and Democratic Party control. Quite a few races are also balanced right on the edge — Democrats Abroad has a list for your perusal.

I want all my readers who are US citizens to vote tomorrow. You really can make a difference this time, especially if you live in the ambit of one of those close races. I'm not going to tell you which way to jump — but consider carefully. Specifically, consider carefully these articles. And ask yourself: do you want to let people who do things like that run the country?

Monday, 4 November 2002

# 9:15 PM

worth your time

Commentary on the Microsoft antitrust decision by Ben Rosengart.

Review of the coherent arguments for war on Iraq (as opposed to the incoherent ones currently being put forth by the USA's leadership) by Joshua Marshall.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden on fraud and gormless cover letters. Read the discussion.

Friday, 1 November 2002

# 6:30 AM

I just spent about an hour stuffed inside a narrow cylinder with my head immobilized, only able to see a blurry projection screen, instructed to imagine carrying out sentences projected on the screen while a giant magnet induced radio frequency absorption in my brain.

Or, in other words, I was asked to be a guinea pig for Shweta's fMRI experiment. The idea is to see which parts of the brain are active when one imagines taking an action, and compare this with the parts of the brain that are active when one actually carries out an action. The theory is that they will be more or less the same.

The experience of being MRI-scanned is not terribly pleasant: you can't move, you're in a coffin-sized space, and the machine makes a horrific noise while it's operating, sort of a buzzing chirp, which is so loud that they give you earplugs to prevent hearing damage. However, it was fun to have done it, and theoretically I will get to print out pictures of my brain and stick them on my wall or something. Also, the setup is thoroughly mad-science: it's a giant magnet, full of liquid helium! With a crazy tangle of hoses to carry various coolants, and big fat copper cables to supply current! You have to walk through a metal detector to get into the room, lest you have some iron on your person that might get yanked around by the field!

# 4:05 AM

Tonight, the ICSI Movie Committee (of one) screened "Dark City", which is a beautifully disturbing movie about memory and identity. I can't really describe the movie without spoiling it; for this reason I am not linking to any reviews. But go rent it, you won't be disappointed. (It is not a horror movie.)

We were invited to come in costume. I had all of ten minutes to put mine together, so I pulled some old clothes out of the back of my closet and went as a 1992 grunge rocker. This costume worked only because of the wonderful hat which my mother made for me this summer: it's all black and brown and blue wool, in a sort of pointy cylinder shape. I don't think any grunge rockers actually wore such a thing, but it is definitely something one can imagine seeing on a grunge rocker.

This makes two movies in one week, which is a personal record for the entire year: I see a movie about once every three months, on average.

In other news, the British Standards Institute has reissued the original C standard, ISO/IEC 9899:1990 (commonly known as "C89"): a hard copy can be yours for only £30. Just punch "9899" into the search box on that webpage. C89 has been superseded by the newer C99 (ISO/IEC 9899:1999) but it's still good to have it available; backward compatibility will be important for years to come.