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Archive for March 2010

Perfect Description of Maureen Dowd

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From Salon:

On the surface, Sunday’s “A Nope for Pope” looks like just another Maureen Dowd column. There is rhyming. There is a simple solution (make a woman the Pope) to a complex issue (child molestation and corruption in the Catholic Church) that does not quite satisfy.

I hate Maureen Dowd’s columns for this exact reason. Her lack of intellectual depth shows in her lame writing. All she writes is feel-good articles that do nothing, say nothing, and mean nothing. She should be fired.

I think the same applies to David Brooks, though with less relevancy. Occasionally, he writes something brilliant, but then follows that up with a series of lame articles of zero substance where he tries to describe the emotional state of the “average American,” as usual with zero evidence. He’s like an armchair sociologist and psychologist, an uneducated¬†practitioner¬†of a soft and illegitimate science, confusing his own biases with that of Americans.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 March 30 at 2:36 pm

What I’m Reading 2010 March 25

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Today, I’m trying to post every news article I read that I find somewhat interesting. I’ve always wondered how much time I waste use per day reading news.

OK, I’m kind of bored of this now. It’s way too hard. In summary, I read a lot and it uses about two hours of my time per day.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 March 25 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Twitter Spam Statistics #fb

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Twitter published a blog post about how spam has been reduced in the system. While I personally haven’t seen much spam tweets so I can guess that their anti-spam measures are working, I think their blog post is slightly misleading in how it uses the power of numbers.

Their main piece of evidence is that the percentage of spam tweets per day has gone down from a high of 11% in August 2009 to about 1.5% in February 2010. This piece of data would allow us to conclude that the chances of seeing spam are way lower.

However, percentages do a great job of obfuscating information. By their very nature, percentages are ratios of one number to another. When a percentage changes, one has no way of determining which number in the ratio actually changes.

In this case, we have no way of knowing whether legitimate tweets went up or spam tweets went down. Given the increasing popularity of Twitter, I’d bet on legitimate tweets increasing, at least at a faster rate than spam. I guess that’s a good thing for one of my favorite social platforms.

(Not to mention, we don’t know their methodology of distinguishing a spam tweet from a legitimate tweet.)

Written by notatypewriter

2010 March 23 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Nerding out

Tagged with ,

Second to last place is not good enough anymore

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They say that if you’re running from a hungry bear, you only need to be the second slowest person in the group.

I’m taking a Secure Programming course and my professor said basically the same thing: that you only need to be marginally better than the worst guy to discourage many attacks. To put this into context, he was talking about using canaries to detect heap overflows. This would make your program slightly harder to exploit and you would hope an unskilled attacker would just move on.

Then, I was reading about how Google is redirecting it’s .cn site to .hk to route around censorship and I was thinking about how we got here. Basically, Google claimed it was the target of a sophisticated hacking effort coming from the Chinese mainland, and at the very least tacitly approved by the PRC government.

Putting these two thoughts together, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think my professor’s advice holds anymore in the era of the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)*. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by notatypewriter

2010 March 22 at 8:26 pm

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services

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What the fuck? This decision is messed up. I only wrote it here so I can make some sense of it. There are five separate opinions.

  • Majority opinion by Rhenquist (joined in parts to be described later)
  • Concurrence by O’Connor
  • Concurrence by Scalia
  • Concurrence/Dissent by Blackmun, joined by Brennan and Marshall
  • Concurrence/Dissent by Stevens

Rhenquist’s opinion has parts I, II-A, II-B, II-C, II-D, III.

  • Part I: controlling, joined by White, O’Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy. (5)
  • Part II-A: controlling, joined by White, O’Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy. (5)
  • Part II-B: controlling, joined by White, O’Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy. (5)
  • Part II-C: controlling, joined by everybody (9)
  • Part II-D: joined by White and Kennedy, concurred in judgment by O’Connor and Scalia (5)
  • Part III: joined by White and Kennedy (3)

I think this is right. If I made a mistake, please leave a comment.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 March 18 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with , , ,

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