Addicting song of the day

In attempting to get Simeon to let us do some end of the year filling, Pam and I got hit with this friendly fire:

I especially like the part where Bert is trying to figure out what’s going on in the bathroom.

How to Mingle (and Exit a conversation)

I just listened to a NPR piece on party conversation based on Raymond’s Recommendation and found myself yelling in concert with the host “Stop the Party!”. This advice would have been helpful at last weekend’s playgroup meeting (Simeon is the one with the drool soaked shirt) where I knew none of the dads and didn’t really remember real well the moms (although I did attend the post birthing classes that formed the group). This party was also my first real experience with more then two babies in a room, and it defiantly was a different experience then anything I’ve seen before. Babies heading in every different direction getting into whatever they could find. I really liked the way they had set up toy containers (back right of this photo) and books and will have to set something like that up. I’m currently using a toy chest from ikea (MINNEN treasure Chest), that is not bad for storage but not so great for quick access.

Getting back into Cardio

So I was back at the gym this morning, did 45 minutes of cardio and got a nice headache as a result. This happend the last time I tried to restart cardio. I’m going to have to keep at it until I can get over this hump. I’ve also started diet tracking again. I think I’m going to have to focus on this for the rest of my life.

How will history remember Bush?

The Washington Post has a series about how Bush will be remembered:

  • He’s The Worst Ever 
    …somehow, in his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors. I think there is no alternative but to rank him as the worst president in U.S. history.
  • Move Over, Hoover
    Bush has two more years to leave his mark, he argued. What if there is a news flash that U.S. Special Forces have killed Osama bin Laden or that North Korea has renounced its nuclear program? What if a decade from now Iraq is a democracy and a statue of Bush is erected on Firdaus Square where that famously toppled one of Saddam Hussein once stood?
    …truth is, after six years in power and barring a couple of miracles, it’s safe to bet that Bush will be forever handcuffed to the bottom rungs of the presidential ladder. The reason: Iraq.

    His presidential library will someday be built around two accomplishments: that after 9/11, the U.S. homeland wasn’t again attacked by terrorists (knock on wood) and that he won two presidential elections, allowing him to appoint conservatives to key judicial posts. I also believe that he is an honest man and that his administration has been largely void of widespread corruption. This will help him from being portrayed as a true villain.
  • Time’s on His Side
    … Perhaps Bush can take solace in the case of Harry S. Truman, who was reviled at the end of his presidency, with approval numbers hovering around 30 percent. Too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals, Truman was saddled with an unpopular stalemate in the Korean War and accusations of corruption at home. Many saw him as a belligerent rube, too unsophisticated for the White House.

    Today, however, many historians have revised their estimate of his presidency upward. There certainly are echoes of Truman in the current carping about Bush.

    No one expects historians to be perfectly objective. But history should at least teach us humility. Time will cool today’s political passions. As years pass, more documents will be released, more insights gleaned and the broader picture of this era will be painted. Only then will we begin to see how George W. Bush fares in the pantheon of U.S. presidents.

  • At Least he’s not Nixon
    Bush has two years left in his presidency and we don’t know what they’ll hold. They may be as dismal as the first six. Future investigations may bear out many people’s worst fears about this administration’s violations of civil liberties. And it’s conceivable that the consequences of the invasion of Iraq may prove more destructive than those of Nixon’s stubborn continuation of the Vietnam War. Should those things happen, Bush will be able to lay a claim to the mantle of U.S. history’s worst president. For now, though, I’m sticking with Dick.

“credibility” = “investment in reputation as an idiot” meme

Crooked Timber explains why acting like a bitter dead-enders is not a worthwhile policy for democracies.

The point here is that it’s one of the more important things in game theory that a signal has to be a costly signal to be credible; like membership of the Modern Languages Association, a reputation in deterrence theory is something that is worth having, but not worth getting. People who use the word “signal” in this context (usually on the basis of a poorly understood or second-hand reading of Schelling) don’t always seem to realise that they are explicitly admitting that the costs of being in Iraq are greater than the benefits.

Because of this, in my opinion it is very difficult for a democracy to establish this kind of credibility. The reason is that although leaders are often idiots, democratic polities rarely are. It is very hard for a democratically elected leader to credibly commit to a policy of stupidity, because everyone else knows that it is highly likely that the electorate will not support it. I hasten to add that to take this obvious fact and turn it into a Dolchstosslegende, or to bemoan the lack of national vigour in the manner of Victor Davis Hanson is to get the analysis back to front. It is a good thing about democracies that they don’t in general do stupid things, and the fact that an argument from “credibility” and “deterrence” can be constructed to make the case that it is a weakness (even “a fatal weakness”) of democracies that they are insufficiently inclined to pointless military dead-endism is just another example of the Davies-Folk Theorem.

NIST on Electronic Voting

The NIST has released a draft white paper on electronic voting machines. Washington Post summarizes:

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country “cannot be made secure,” according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

NIST says in its report that the lack of a paper trail for each vote “is one of the main reasons behind continued questions about voting system security and diminished public confidence in elections.” The report repeats the contention of the computer security community that “a single programmer could ‘rig’ a major election.”

Fears about rigging have animated critics for years, but there has been no conclusive evidence that such fraud has occurred. Electronic voting systems have had technical problems — including unpredictable screen freezes — leaving voters wondering whether their ballots were properly recorded.

Computer scientists and others have said that the security of electronic voting systems cannot be guaranteed and that election officials should adopt systems that produce a paper record of each vote in case of a recount. The NIST report embraces that critique, introducing the concept of “software independence” in voting systems.

NIST says that voting systems should not rely on a machine’s software to provide a record of the votes cast. Some electronic voting system manufacturers have introduced models that include printers to produce a separate record of each vote — and that can be verified by a voter before leaving the machine — but such paper trails have had their own problems.

Compass in your nose? via JWZ:

Stephen Juan, an anthropologist from the University of Sydney answers Lee Staniforth of Manchester, UK question, “Do humans have a compass in their nose?” He writes about some scientists at California Institute of Technology discovered that humans possess a tiny, shiny crystal of magnetite in the ethmoid bone (pink bone to the image on your right), located between your eyes, just behind the nose… but doesn’t give us any clue as to where the research was published.

Joel praises the Windows Branching and Quality gate model

Joel writes:

Of all the things broken at Microsoft, the way they use source control on the Windows team is not one of them.

When you’re working with source control on a huge team, the best way to organize things is to create branches and sub-branches that correspond to your individual feature teams, down to a high level of granularity. If your tools support it, you can even have private branches for every developer. So they can check in as often as they want, only merging up when they feel that their code is stable. Your QA department owns the “junction points” above each merge. That is, as soon as a developer merges their private branch with their team branch, QA gets to look at it and they only merge it up if it meets their quality bar.


So where does the branching model have issues in Windows?

First, we haven’t gone to a branch(s) per developer so there are semi redundant tools for managing checked in code and tools for managing potential changes not checked in. This causes friction in building and testing such changes. Also a branch implies a path for a change to get some main place or product, and managing the path can be annoying. You get emails of, “The old path is getting shut down, migrate your code to the new path”. At times there is no place to do your work and check it in. Another set of problems come via the quality gates on RIs. Constainsts around how many branches can be built a night and the velocity of change to the overall code base resulting in a need to meet the quality gates quickly and in a automated way. You see, if you take to long to RI, your test results may not be valid anymore becuase the OS has changed enough from other teams.

A lot of this system came as a result of the famed Longhorn Reset and thier was growing pains in such a huge change, so it’ll be intresting to see what system we come up for the next release.