24 December 2015

A warm and sunny Christmas to all

It’s Christmas Eve, and it’s a balmy 21°C in New York City. People are out strolling around in T-shirts. In the UK, spring daffodils are in bloom. It’s 11°C in Toronto. 2015 is the warmest year in recorded history, even hotter than the second hottest year in recorded history — which was 2014. Of course, that’s just weather, not climate. When you average over the entire globe, for the entire year, things don’t seem so crazy. ... Read more

23 December 2015

Book review: “Galápagos”, Kurt Vonnegut

I hate to give a Kurt Vonnegut novel two stars, but I seriously considered giving up on this one. Douglas Adams was a big fan of Vonnegut, and here the favor is returned as Vonnegut attempts to write an entire novel in the style of Douglas Adams — or at least, a mutant crossbreed of Vonnegut and Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide is replaced by the Mandarax pocket computer; the omniscient narrator point of view is provided by a ghost; and characters’ deaths are signaled in advance in the manner of the Magrathea attacks. ... Read more

23 December 2015

Gitmo is over (if you want it)

For years, people have been buying the excuse that Obama can’t close Gitmo because “Congress won’t let him”. I’ve been arguing that no, Obama could close Gitmo any time he liked if he really wanted to. Sure, Congress can refuse to allow funds to be allocated for special shutdown procedures and ferrying people by aircraft. They can pass laws prohibiting relocation of detainees to the US. But the President of the USA is the head of the nation’s armed forces. ... Read more

21 December 2015

Thinking too much about Christmas carols

I have an issue with a Christmas carol I heard while driving. I saw three ships come sailing in On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; I saw three ships come sailing in On Christmas Day in the morning. And what was in those ships all three, On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day? And what was in those ships all three, On Christmas Day in the morning? The Virgin Mary and Christ were there, ... Read more

5 December 2015

Belt and braces

A week or two ago I was listening to some music, when it stopped. I investigated the FLAC file and discovered something nasty: it was corrupt. Both attempting to decode it and running an integrity check resulted in an error part way through. I went to my backup drive, and discovered that the file was corrupted there as well. Presumably it had been corrupted somehow before I placed it on the server, maybe during the CD ripping process. ... Read more

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