And don’t call them techettes

When it gets down to zeroes and ones, X and Y don’t matter:

Computer Science is about the flow of information, especially as represented in binary form. There are precisely zero hormones involved. If it happens that fewer daughters are inclined toward the study, Then So Be It. If I ever have a daughter who wants to hack, I’ll cheerfully do a Linux From Scratch project with her.

Having hung out a lot on Slashdot before drifting into blogging, I can say that the gender bias actually favors any interested women. Actual skillz demonstrated will crush the occasional bit of chauvinism.

Having seen such skillz in action, I must concur. When Trini left us for warmer, or anyway more sanitary, climes, she won a promotion over several hardware guys for the simple reason that she was better at it and could prove it. For that matter, she was better at it than I was. And being more interested in getting the job done than in finding ways to prop up my ego, I had no problem deferring to her judgment. I suspect that the men she passed on the ladder have gotten used to it by now — and too bad if they haven’t.

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Toward a post-TSA world

Will the peasants finally be revolting?

I wonder if public support, such as it ever was, for the more intensive security practices at airports and courthouses, will begin to evaporate altogether after this. You and I know bin Laden’s now-documented assumption of room temperature doesn’t eliminate the danger, but the checkpoints and scanners and patdowns are 99% theater anyway and the improvement to safety isn’t anywhere near proportional to the extent to which it annoys people and makes them less likely to subject themselves to it.

The airlines, of course, can go perform various unnatural acts with my blessing, and perhaps yours as well. But government buildings are a different story:

A free country in which people are discouraged from attending public trials or the meetings of legislative bodies, isn’t a free country.

Normally this is where one inserts the “or the terrorists have won” boilerplate, but I’m going to exercise a modicum of restraint. I might even refrain from sending a Maxim gift subscription to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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Blown away

A reader sends a question to Glenn Reynolds:

I just do not get it. For how long have Americans known about Tornado Alley? For how long have they known that a typical house would not withstand a once-in-20-years tornado, much less a worse one?

And yet houses are still built of clapboard and a couple of two-by-fours. Just like New Orleans is being rebuilt just where it used to be, because that worked out so well the first time around.

To which the Instant Man replied:

Even in Tornado Alley, the likelihood that any particular house will ever be hit by a tornado in its lifetime is pretty low. (Also, brick and stone construction, while good for tornadoes, is bad for earthquakes; wood-frame buildings actually do better there.) And basically nothing except quasi-fortified structures will withstand an EF4 or EF5 tornado.

The most significant storm of the 1999 Oklahoma outbreak, which sent funnels as far east as Tennessee, was a single F5 that started near Amber and didn’t lift until Midwest City, still packing F4 winds. (By the time it got to my neighborhood, I think it had just barely dropped into the F3 range.) The storm took out about 8,000 buildings, which sounds like a lot, but that’s over a sixty-mile stretch.

I am reasonably certain that another F5 would scrape my little frame house right off its slab. As it stands, though, the worst I’ve seen so far was from a hailstorm last year, which caused about $10,000 damage to the roof but left the house pretty much intact. Certainly nothing that happened then would have motivated me to move away.

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As I take my cootie shot is the project of these three excellent babes:

Founders of Hello Giggles

More specifically:

Founded by actress/musician Zooey Deschanel, producer Sophia Rossi and blogger/web personality Molly McAleer, is the ultimate entertainment destination for smart, independent and creative females. Everything hosted on the site will be lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us.

There are moments when I revel in fratboy humor, and moments when I am utterly appalled by it. (And sometimes, yes, those moments are adjacent to one another.) Their first piece, a three-minute spot for Teleflora, is cutely whimsical, and I have a high tolerance for whimsical cuteness, which gives me another excuse to keep an eye on HelloGiggles.

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You don’t know me

In fact, they won’t even let me tell you who I am:

An Arab banquet waiter at the legendary Waldorf-Astoria hotel says he was forced to wear different name tags at work to prevent guests from being frightened by being served by someone named Mohamed.

Mohamed Kotbi, born in Morocco, has worked for the Waldorf for twenty-six years, and this apparently wasn’t a problem until shortly after 9/11. After complaining to the EEOC, he was given a tag with his last name: “Kotbi.” And then:

This past November, however, he was given a name tag that said, “Edgar.” Kotbi said he complained and was told by a manager, “It’s better to be Edgar than Mohamed today.”

You’d almost think the Waldorf was outsourcing their banquet work to Bangalore, home of Steve and Debbie and a whole lot of other people who don’t sound like they’d be named Steve or Debbie.

Kotbi is now suing, charging that the hotel’s finagling has created a “hostile work environment” in which co-workers are regularly mocking him.

(Via Fark.)

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Accept no substitutes

It’s a “customer-service nightmare,” says danah boyd, but it’s also the harbinger of something that has the potential to be far nastier:

I threw a public hissy fit when I found out that Tumblr’s customer service had acted on a trademark request from a company called Zephoria who had written them to ask that they release my account to them. (Tumblr has since apologized and given me my identity back.) In some ways, I feel really badly for Tumblr — and all other small social media companies — because brokering these issues is not easy. In fact, it’s a PITA. Who has the legitimate right to a particular identity or account name? What happens when the account is inactive? Or when the person who has the account is squatting? Or when there are conflicting parties who both have legitimate interests in an account name? Or when the account owner has died?

Trademark law, of course, is an impenetrable thicket in and of itself, and J. Random Blogger, or whoever, is not likely to be able to thread her way through it. And the result is fairly predictable:

There are all sorts of people roaming around the internet, building their reputations and associating them with nicknames, handles, and pseudonyms. They aren’t necessarily building businesses or engaging in commercial acts, but they are building a public reputation no less. And there are also all sorts of companies out there operating as individuals to give their consumers a sense that they are “authentic.” And these two practices are colliding online. When is a Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/YouTube account an individual? When is it a company? When is it an individual at a company? They’re all meshed into one TYPE: account. So then who has precedence?

Time was, I wrestled with the temptation to register on every new service that pops up, just to reserve the name, or more precisely to keep it out of the hands of Someone Unworthy, lest said someone’s antics tar my reputation. This thinking almost certainly informed my decision to set up my official Backup Blog at But I eventually figured out that there’s no way I can keep up with everything that comes along, and I really don’t want to go through life with the ™ — or worse, the ® — affixed to everything I say and everything I do.

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Always wondered about the North Shore

This won’t make me feel any better about it:

House in Swampscott

Must be all that botulism.

(Via Criggo.)

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Strange search-engine queries (274)

It’s time once more to thumb our way through the week’s logs and see what the search-based community thinks is important. As is the case in real life, the weirdos get all the attention.

muskrat bit dogs tongue:  And yet people insist that there’s something called “muskrat love.” Dogs know better.

is 2001 mazda 626 the same as 2002 mazda 626:  Most of the time, the only part that doesn’t match up is going to be the one part you need.

“the injection” panties:  Much easier to take them orally.

can a humvee climb a mountain:  I do hope you’re not in a hurry.

nudist resorts for african americans:  Good luck persuading them that they’d look better with a tan.

“we sell bladeless knives without handles:”  It’s like carbon credits, only more substantive.

how to get checkers to stop a naked indian induced trance:  Jump three rows, receive your king, and then throw a bladeless knife with no handle.

smart man smattering woman affair:  I can’t help you there; my experience with affairs is a smattering at best.

pat robertson donated out of personal wealth:  Mostly from funds donated from other people’s personal wealth, I’d expect.

how is climate change detected:  There are two accepted indicators: (1) when the weather seems different; (2) when the weather seems exactly the same.

Bizarre Search Engine Searches:  You’re soaking in them.

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Room to exhale

If you live in New York, everything else is Podunk, and they’ll happily tell you so:

“oh, Dallas — what do they have there — cows?” “oh, Miami? seedy nightclub joints, bland condo towers and garish boardwalk crowd” “oh, Chicago? its best days are over, and besides it’s terribly chilly” So in a sense, it did me good — the reality exceeded my lowered expectations threefold. Same happened this time. Just yesterday somebody told me “oh, St. Louis? Spread out Big Nothing. Nothing to see after you climbed that Arch”.

“Spread out” is a common term of opprobrium among those who would prefer that everyone be stacked vertically, for whatever reasons.

But you can immediately sense — this city is very different from NY. Reminds me of Dallas’ center, actually: same vast space, pristine streets (wide!) paved sidewalks (king-size!) benches everywhere (big!), dirt-cheap parking ($60 a MONTH!), amazing courthouses and municipal buildings (my favorite: Deco monumentality and 1920′s classicism), plenty of space between those skyscrapers to see each and every one, alley (like in Chicago!) gorgeous City Center Sculpture Park (that’s the one I read about in Metropolis; I’ll talk about it later); and amazingly — no people!

Not to put the knock on New York, generally, but the Apple is pretty much sui generis: other cities do not look much like New York, nor can they be expected to. If St. Louis had the density of Manhattan, you’d have seven million people in its 60 square miles. And you wouldn’t have “dirt-cheap parking,” either.

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Truly targeted marketing

“We know our customers.”

Wasted and Broke Ramen

Now that’s using the old noodle.

(Via Engrish Funny.)

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An egg from the golden goose

So Les Griz came to town, and they dominated the proceedings: the Thunder never quite got on track, and Memphis scored a surprisingly-easy win at the Raincatcher Arena. Darnell Mayberry had tweeted that the Thunder were lucky to be down only ten at halftime, and he wasn’t kidding. The final was 114-101, and it could have been a lot worse than that.

In a way, this was reminiscent of how the Griz disposed of the San Antonio Spurs, winning the first game and thereby negating all that home-court advantage stuff. The things Memphis does best — scoring in the paint and collecting turnovers — they were happy to do today, to the tune of 52 points and 18 Thunder turns, which latter became 23 Grizzlies points. About the only thing Memphis didn’t do well was shoot the three-ball, and they didn’t have to: it was too easy to get into the lane.

Thirty-four points for Zach Randolph, who was apparently still on the same roll that finished off the Spurs Friday night. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Next door, Marc Gasol had 13 boards and 20 points. Three other Grizzlies posted double figures. Memphis controlled the boards, 45-42; they even outdid the Thunder at the stripe, sinking 23 of 28. (Telltale statistic: the Griz turned the ball over only 7 times.)

The usual Thunder suspects got their usual numbers: Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka had double-doubles, Durant rolling up 33 points. Russell Westbrook had 29 points and eight rebounds and six assists — and seven turnovers. The Thunder in aggregate came up with only 16 assists, meaning that they weren’t moving the ball as well as they needed to. (The Griz managed 21.) And the OKC bench contributed only 16 points to the cause.

Game 2 is Tuesday night. The general consensus has been that the Thunder wins this series in six or seven; right now, I’m thinking the Griz pull this one out in six. If the Thunder have another game like this, maybe five.

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As is my wont these days, I spent part of Saturday on YouTube looking for fresh takes on Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” and halfway up the list was the legendary Stephen Colbert/Roots collaboration on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from the first of April, which was, you’ll remember, a Friday.

I was surprised to see it there, given NBC’s and Hulu’s assiduous policing of the scene, and perhaps even more so to see it reversed on screen. The uploader explains:

For those who still wonder why this video is flipped as a mirror image it is due to copyright reasons. YouTube scans all videos upon uploading for copyrighted material and without mirror imaging uploading this video would not have been possible.

I wonder what will happen when Hitler finds out.

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How come my alternator glows in the dark?

If this sort of thing is actually going on, my faith in the human race, never particularly high, decays just a little bit more:

The car salesman at the local Ford dealership says I must sell my Toyota, cause in the future any parts I buy for Toyota truck will have radiation on those parts. Sounds like a sales scam to scare me into buying a new Ford truck. Its sad at what happened to Japan with the earthquake and tsunami. I’m sicken to hear this dealership is using the disaster as a sailing point to the us car buyers. Is this true about radiation can be on any car parts imported from Japan?

If the car salesman is sacked for such tactics, at least he has a future in politics, where scaring people is de rigueur.

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People take pictures of each other

The kinks, and not the ones who were the Village Green Preservation Society either. Except, of course, when they are.

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Fuels rush in (3)

Unless you can somehow manage to bum a UPS truck, the most painless way of getting your hands on a vehicle powered by compressed natural gas is to get on the waiting list for the Honda Civic GX.

Craig Dickson has one, with about 23,000 miles on it, and he’s done some of the math:

$7,000 more for the GX over the equivalent gasoline LX.

-50% or $3,500 from Oklahoma state income tax CREDIT, not deduction.

$3,500 out of your pocket.

The Feds, at the moment, don’t have any tax bennies of this sort for CNG. Now for the fuel savings:

$3.50 gasoline vs $1.40 CNG – $2.10 savings per gallon.

35 mpg for both LX and GX.

$3,500 / $2.10 = 1,666 gallons x 35 mpg = 59,000 miles.

So five years, maybe, for payback. And it’s probably less than that now, since gas has spun up to more like $3.65 a gallon since he wrote that, and the nearest CNG station to me (49th and Western) hasn’t budged from $1.39. (I paid $3.94 today, but that was for premium. Do they even have premium CNG?)

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Morning routine to be altered

News Item: Meredith Vieira will exit NBC’s Today show in June, nearly three months before the end of her contract, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation. Today newsreader Ann Curry will be promoted to co-host.

For those of us whose interest in the Today show is entirely skirt-related, this is not exactly devastating:

Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry on the Today Show

Although some of us still remember Jane Pauley.

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Which may explain the hair

Donald Trump, big head:

I have a really hard time believing that an ego like that would be able to stand coexisting with the 500-plus similar egos fulminating under the Capitol Dome, not to mention whatever cabinet secretaries he might appoint, and even more not to mention the self-importance of the Washington, D.C.-based media. If by some miracle Trump should win the GOP nomination and then by an even bigger one win the presidency itself, I imagine he would become the second president ever to resign from office as he grew ever more frustrated with how much the job wasn’t about him and figured that resigning was the only way he could make it be that way.

I wonder if he could fire himself. Or some other similar verb.

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Expansion interface

“Work expands,” said C. Northcote Parkinson, “so as to fill the time available for completion.”

Venomous Kate observed yesterday on Facebook that this phenomenon is not restricted to mere work:

I noticed while packing that my wardrobe expands to fit the size of its receptacle. Small suitcase, large suitcase, it doesn’t matter: my clothes and shoes will fill it to capacity. Plus some.

The problem with this, of course, is that adding a second bag won’t make the slightest bit of difference: it, too, will be filled to the brim and then some, and now there’s twice as much baggage to tote.

Generally, it takes me two bags (plus a third for the laptop) to do a World Tour, and they’re crammed fairly tightly. Then again, I usually take only two pairs of shoes. There may be somewhere on earth a woman who travels with only two pairs of shoes, but I suspect she’s either a nun or a nudist.

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Should I not have bought these?

“I thought you said you wanted some earrings.”

Ear rings

(Found here by Smitty.)

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Hey, where’d that Monte Carlo go?

In March, Motor Trend ran a piece about driving a Subaru Outback across the Outback, however many thousand miles through the remotest parts of Australia. A couple of laudatory letters were printed in the magazine, including one that suggested further exploration along these lines: “Like, [Subaru] Tribeca through Tribeca, [GMC] Yukon through the Yukon, [Dodge] Dakota through the Dakotas?”

The editorial response was well-nigh brilliant: “Up next, we’ll take a Toyota Avalon on a hunt for Excalibur.”

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