April 30, 2006

Government drops bomb on EFF

This has been brewing over the last few days: the gov't is trying to block the EFF's civil case against AT&T. See also the Friday article from Wired and of course the full info (with helpful FAQ) on EFF's site. This and net neutrality are a couple of the more important stealth issues of our day. Don't allow them to be forgotten.

The EFF and Amnesty are the two institutions that I support. Charity's a personal choice, I know, but consider them. I've decided to update my front page.

[ Updated 4 May 2006 ] Wired examines the issue further.

The state secrets privilege cannot be found in the U.S. Code, the code of federal regulations or the Constitution. Instead, it is a part of common law, the body of laws and precedents created over centuries of legal decisions.
posted by sstrader at 8:43 PM in Politics | permalink

April 29, 2006

Templates as type-checked dynamic typing

In C++, templates provide compile-time polymorphism (similar to parametric polymorphism) by expanding templates into different type-checked functions and types during compilation. std::vector<MyObject> is a unique vector<> type because it implements the required interface, and the determination of the "derived" vector<MyObject> type occurs at compile-time. Circle is a unique Shape type for the same reason, but the determination of derived type (given a Shape reference) occurs at run-time.

Using MyObject within vector<> means that you've entered into a contract stating that MyObject will provide those features that vector<> expects. This contract is different from polymorphism using inheritance because the is-a relationship does not exist. Types used within templates do not need to exist in a specific class hierarchy. However, those types must contain an implied interface--one which the template expects. This implied interface is managed similar to how dynamically typed languages manage accessing interfaces on class instances. A dynamically typed language only determines if FunctionA() exists on MyObject at run-time and at the point of the call. With templates, FunctionA() is only required at the point of the call, but checking occurs when the code is compiled. In both dynamically typed languages and statically typed templates, an object can be missing the required method if the code never gets called.

Using the following class (in pseudo-code):

class MyClass

    function set(String param1) {do something;}


In a dynamically typed language, a specific interface is validated only if the code is called:

function FunctionA(param1)

    param1.set("a string");


function FunctionB(param1)

    // Run-time error here, only if MyClass passed in.


MyClass myClass;

With run-time polymorphism, a specific interface is required but accessed only when the type is used:

class AnotherClass extends MyClass

function FunctionA(MyClass & param1)

    param1.set("a string");


function FunctionB(MyClass & param1)

    // Compile-time error here, even though it is never called.


AnotherClass anotherClass;

With compile-time polymorphism, a specific interface is validated only the the type is used:

template MyTemplate<type MYTYPE>

    function FunctionA(MYTYPE param1)

        param1.set("a string");


    function FunctionB(MYTYPE param1)

        // Compile-time error here, only if this method is referenced.



MyTemplate<MyClass> myTemplate;
MyClass myClass;

This gives templates the flavor of dynamic typing (classes need not be of a specific type) but with the benefits of static type checking.

posted by sstrader at 1:33 PM in Programming | permalink

April 27, 2006

My car 2009


New German concept car. It's a little future-y looking, but it offers 157 miles per gallon of gasoline or 1.5 l per 100km. Is there anything those Germans can't do?

posted by sstrader at 8:24 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

Net neutrality

Now that net neutrality has been smacked down, I'm beginning to worry. I really didn't think it would lose. The same telecom corporations that said that Internet companies (Google, Amazon, et al.) were getting a free ride by not paying some extra tariff for Internet bandwidth, above and beyond what they're paying their ISPs, have bought Congress. Such restrictions, designed to promote only what benefits telecom companies, could starve innovation and freeze the Internet into a state that always and only benefits those companies. Change would only appear in the context of which telecom company had the greatest power.

In this era of media congomerates, can anyone really expect an invisible hand to protect companies competing with those conglomerates from being throttled and firewalled out of existence?

posted by sstrader at 8:11 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

Maps updates

I was reading the article on Werner Herzog in the recent New Yorker (very interesting life). At one point, the author tells of how Herzog heard a friend of his in Paris was sick, so he walked there from Munich. I'm not sure what prompted me to do this, but I decided to try to map the route on Google Maps. It worked (838 km). It also includes the little overview window at the bottom right that first showed up maybe a week ago. Oh, and there're satellite shots too, presumably all from Google Earth. Nice features.

posted by sstrader at 12:16 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

April 25, 2006


Friday I was itchin' to get out, so Lisa & I went to Pura Vida (always great) then The Star Bar (we didn't really fit in) then The Yacht Club (ah, home). Heading home, we had our first Near Death Experience of the year: an SUV barrelling towards us and a couple of other hapless innocents as it insisted on not only getting ~2 miles-to-the-gallon but also going the wrong way on a one way street. They did quick work of the ozone layer, but we were a little harder to kill and live today to tell about it. Beware Piedmont Ave. on a Friday night.

Saturday was an annual crawfish boil at one of Lisa's previous boss's house. Great time cut short by prior commitments. She fulfilled those commitments while I took advantage of some quiet time to practice piano. Then some programming. Then watched two of the Nacho Cerda shorts. The one praised by Ultra Violent Magazine was very praise-worthy but not really that shocking. Except for a couple of acts of depravity, it was more stylish than sinewy. Finished up with Koyaanisqatsi at around 2.

During my Sunday jog I decided to double my standard route, turning it into a ~10k. My feet were cramping for about an hour afterwards, but it felt good. Evening was Thank You For Smoking [ IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes ] at Landmark. Very sharp.

posted by sstrader at 12:34 AM in Cinema , Personal | permalink

April 23, 2006

'Madding' is an adjective? Really?!?

Our favorite linguistetitians, the purveyors of Language Log, have produced a book (announced on the 17th, but I've been notoriously behind-the-times). Far from the Madding Gerund will be available the beginning of March and is sure to pleeze (the cover depicts, gratuitously, an acorn). Although I generally think of LL as a singular "they," they are in this instance the contributors Mark Liberman and Geoffrey K. Pullum, and contents are pulled from the best of Language Log. Now you may ask, "why pay for the book when I can get the blog for free?" I have no answer, but 22 bucks ain't too bad for, at the very least, a veritable Strunk and White on the infelicities of Dan Brown's offenses.

As has been said by wiser than me: Go forth unto your bookstore, and choose wisely. Word.

posted by sstrader at 12:05 AM in Language & Literature | permalink

April 22, 2006

Currently listening to

I just recieved the Leon Kirchner double CD of historic recordings and the Vincent Persichetti CD with his Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto. I discovered Kirchner from the New World Records album with his Piano Concerto, checked out from the local library in 9th or 10th grade (?). I was stunned. It was beautiful and wild and new and my dad was perplexed ("do you really enjoy that?!?"). The very same recording is contained on this set--I immediately recognized the nuances of the performance even across the many years--along with various other mostly chamber music that is equally engrossing.

Persichetti was introduced to me by my first piano teacher here in Georgia, just post high school, whose name I hate that I forget. She presented me with the invaluable set of his Poems for Piano and it really opened up a new world of piano repertoire. Without digging out the sheet music, I remember one piece that I played from that set was "To whose more clear than crystal voice the frost had joined a crystal spell." I've listened to little of his works since that time, but expect the best.

Something brought me back to the Koyaanisqatsi score but I don't know what. I've been curious to watch it again just to see the masterful closing scene with the decending rocket. It also coincides with my Genius Idea that wine bars and coffee shops, instead of having live jazz, should have live music like that in Koyaanisqatsi. It would be similar to the trip-hop soundtracks of Very Cool Bars, but with a more unique flavor. Everyone does electronica. No one does minimalism.

So far, my workshopping of the idea to friends hasn't gone over as well as it does in my head.

Finally, the Saint-Saens Piano Concertos. I really have no familiarity with his music, so that needs to changes. These were recorded off of RadioWave.

Continue reading "Currently listening to"
posted by sstrader at 10:21 PM in Current Interests , Music | permalink

April 21, 2006

Google v. Miro

I should be pro-artist in this dispute, but that Google logo was the coolest yet so I'm siding with them...


posted by sstrader at 4:38 PM in Art | permalink


Expletives are useful for their function as manifestations of the boundaries of language. Although it's usually blamed on a paucity of vocabulary, cursing will never diminish to zero as vocabulary extends. Smash William F. Buckley's foot with a sledgehammer and his first verbal expression won't be G-rated. Wait a few days and he will have time to form a more expressive anecdote about the event, but language is a poor medium for a real-time articulation of anguish. There are times when what we're feeling inside has no appropriate surrogate when mediated to the outside.

The often quoted remark writing about music is like dancing about architecture touches on a similar limit. Although it's somewhat overly didactic, it does illustrate assumptions we have about language. We forget that language is only a mediator for our subjective experiences. A great deal of those experiences that we communicate are trivially equivalent when transferred by language (e.g. "daytime" or "pencil box"), so we can forget the limits of it as a transfer system. Some possess varying degrees of differences in meaning ("beautiful music" or "poor selection"). Because music is also a symbol system of a completely different domain, music criticism involves people using one language to discuss the quality of "speech" in another language. Translation errors are inevitable, and that's what the quote was pointing out.

On the other hand, our primary means of communication is language, so criticizing the limits of language as absurd is a little unfair. No one would seriously use an art form to communicate quotidian concepts. You wouldn't make a shopping list with dance. You just wouldn't. Language--as opposed to music, art, or dance--can be more precise in representing the physical world and so becomes the lingua franca to discuss anything that resides in the physical world (such as music, art, or dance). The limits are accepted simply because there's not a better choice.

posted by sstrader at 1:51 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

April 19, 2006

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam; Aslan, Reza

Finally getting around to reading this. I just received it after a rash of impulse-purchases (mostly CDs). The opening caught my attention as he describes his chance meeting with missionaries in the post-9/11 Middle East. He wonders how to respond to such spiritual profiteers when, also post-9/11, Franklin Graham calls Islam an evil and wicked religion, Ann Coulter encourages countries to kill Muslim leaders and convert [their people] to Christianity, and a past president of the SBC calls Muhammad a demon-possessed pedophile. With these unfortunate examples, he introduces what he calls a clash of monotheisms in contrast to the less-precise class of civilizations.

Continue reading "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam; Aslan, Reza"
posted by sstrader at 8:05 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

April 15, 2006

Nacho Cerda

Just impluse-bought a three-movie set by director Nacho Cerda from Poker Industries: Aftermath, Genesis, and The Awakening (somewhat explicit image). Aftermath sounds like an extreme gore-fest. The other two promise to be more imaginative films. Genesis is about a man whose sculpture of his dead wife begins transforming into flesh as he changes into clay. The Awakening presents the story of a student who falls asleep in class and wakes up with everyone and everything around him frozen in time. Should be weird. And with a 15% off coupon!

I've ordered from Poker Industries before, but can't really recommend them: their check-out is un-encrypted! Can you believe that shit? I took the chance this time, but they really need to clean up their act.

posted by sstrader at 5:52 PM in Cinema | permalink


I saw this a week ago and can't wait to get one in the fall (available October 15, 2006):


I'm not responsible enough to take care of a dog, and have been hearing horror stories recently of ill-mannered ones at that, so this could be the perfect substitute.

posted by sstrader at 4:50 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

Where was I?

Began the month with a purgation. Dan and Alicia's wedding was a culmination of over-indulgences including food, alcohol, and a long stretch without jogging. Years ago, I had gotten 20-25 pounds heavier than I am now and started the slow process of getting down to where I am now. Having acheived that, I became image-obsessive and weigh myself probably at least once a day. Obsessive. So, I'd just gained 5 pounds and decided somethingmustbedone: I've been jogging every day, only missing the evening I went out with my brother and two sick days earlier this week. It took three weeks, but I'm back in line.

Tuesday and Wednesday this week were spent with some sort of illness contracted from that dirty wife of mine. I did the excessive sleep thing and came through on Thursday almost completely cured. I am indestructable!! *cough*

Apparently, extra jogging infringes on my music schedule. At about the same time of my purgation, I decided to cautiously begin working on the first movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 1 in B-flat minor. It's just beyond my abilities and will be a nice stretch. I hessitated starting because it's always very difficult to give the time required to such a piece. Updates later.

chopin page 1

Last Friday, Lisa and I had dinner at Feast in Decatur where we radomly ran into Matt (it happens more often than either of us can explain). Feast was wow and you should go there immediately. Last Saturday, we went to a housewarming for a previous boss and friend and had a riotous feast of Indian food. Namaste.

I missed the blogger get together on Thursday just to play it cautious with my health and also to dive back into music--Lisa was at the Braves game with friends so the condo was all mine. Last night, with the mother-in-law in town, we met first at Vinocity for their 4:20 happy hour: Four $20 bottles of wine along with $2 bottles of Sweetwater 420. They have a great patio, shaded and breezy, and the weather was perfect, but the event was fatally flawed by including pleasant-enough live music that was I-kid-you-not turned up to 11. Four of us were sitting closely but still had considerable trouble having a basic conversation over the volume of the acoustic guitar and harmonica (I know) that was amplified to the point of distortion. Don't go until they fix that. My email:

Ouch. Everything was great except for the volume of the music. This should not have been treated as a Solo Rock Show. The guitarist was a good performer just too loud by far. He needed to turn the volume down so that people can relax, enjoy the music, *and* have a conversation.

The wines were good, the bartenders were nice, your patio is perfect and the weather made it more so, but don't let the music ruin an otherwise ideal locale.

Continue reading "Where was I?"
posted by sstrader at 11:40 AM in Where was I? | permalink

April 12, 2006

How We Are Hungry; Eggers, Dave

Finished this a couple of days ago (very slow in updating lately).

The stories have a narrow and somewhat monotonous tonal range. There are good moments (it's unimportant that we can look behind the stories and see where the author has travelled) presented with a tell-all honesty that at its best is rewarding enough, even though there are few of those moments. A quick and satisfying read.

Continue reading "How We Are Hungry; Eggers, Dave"
posted by sstrader at 8:33 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

Rhapsody, 25 free

Rhapsody is offering 25 free streams a month without subscription. This includes content either from their custom radio stations or from their songs online. If you're just testing out new music, it's probably worth using it as a resource. Not sure how long they've been doing this, so I may be stating the obvious.

posted by sstrader at 4:05 PM in Music | permalink

April 11, 2006

Iran link

Re-reading this recent history lesson on Iran.

9/11 comes along, the Iranians are overflowing with sympathy. Mass candlelit vigils are held in Tehran. Iran offers aid and cooperation.

Iran hates the Taliban who have executed Iranian diplomats and massacred Afghan Shiites. Iran hates Saddam Hussein. Iran hates Al Qaeda which is a Sunni Fundamentalist organization which declares Shiites infidels and subhuman.

Iran shares its intelligence with America - they even arrested Taliban members and handed them over to US custody.

So we've got the Iranian spring; things are finally going to sort out.

And what happens? The Bush administration rebuffs every Iranian overture and does its best to instigate a cold war. [emphasis mine]

Many comments, plus this criticism:

I enjoy rants like the one above. That's what the Web is for! But you cannot just take a breathless worst case scenario and ignore all other possibilities. Kind of sensationalist, isn't it?

Not that I consider attacking Iran is anything close to a good idea.

I tend to think that the US Govt. is going to be so broke soon that it won't even be able to fly its own troops back home. Families will be asked to step up to pay for airfare or other forms of transportation to get their kids back safe. ...

posted by sstrader at 8:22 AM in Politics | permalink

April 6, 2006

Mixed messages

A woman who lost her husband in the towers on 9/11 was commenting on the Moussaoui trial on NPR. She watched the trial on closed-circuit TV and calmly dismissed the importance of a death penalty verdict. "He's a jihadist wannabe. ... Give the firefighters radios that work; fix the FBI; find bin Laden. Don't think that Moussaoui is a proxy for me." Another woman saw evil in his eyes and felt that the chance that some sense could have been made of his limited knowledge and contradictions earned him the death penalty. Weeks earlier, another trial observer commented that he'd love to see Moussaoui burn, but he feels that from the testimony in the trial all of the blame goes on our own government. I'm torn he said with understatement.

posted by sstrader at 7:04 PM in Politics | permalink

April 5, 2006

Moresight at Graveyard tomorrow

Going to see Moresight at Graveyard Tavern tomorrow. Not my favorite bar: too bright, not dive-y enough. Maybe it needs some power-ups?

posted by sstrader at 9:58 PM in Music | permalink

April 2, 2006


This is a wonderful story of some teen chicks in Ohio who deployed Mario power-up blocks around their town, hanging them sneaker-style over tree branches and power lines. Unfortunately, these silly question mark cubes stunk too much of ObL's handiwork, so the girls are being charged. My only goal in life now (besides finding the source of The Sing-along Beard) is to hang these up and down Peachtree St. so that the Saturday night cruisers can gain extra power and possibly attain speeds higher than 5-miles-an-hour.

From the originators of the urban power-ups:

[D]espite what Ravenna [Ohio] Police Chief Randall McCoy says, the purpose of these boxes is not "just to see what kind of response you get". It is to bring a smile to people's faces, to get them to connect with their neighbours, to bring colour into an otherwise grey urban landscape.


posted by sstrader at 12:19 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Where was I?

The Wife's out-o-town (for the LSU game in Indianapolis, with unfortunate results) so The Bro' came down Friday night to drink, avoiding his oldest daughter Caroline's birthday party at their house, attended by a dozen or so 9-year-old girls. No boys allowed. First Baraonda then the Vortex with political arguments all around.

Tonight (Saturday) was a birthday dinner at our parents. Our mom makes The Best Lasagne in the World (tm). Caroline played a few songs for us on her guitar. Groovy. Photos:

bro and dad

bro and dad

The younger niece, Sarah, couldn't hang:


I had to get gas on the way home. Wacky vandals!


posted by sstrader at 1:58 AM in Where was I? | permalink