Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gitmo Manual

Bruce Schneier reports that a 2003 Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures manual has been leaked onto the Internet. As Schneier notes it's got some interesting security holes in it.

Now playing: Pink Martini - Ojala
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, November 18, 2007


"What is Co-in-troe?" That's how he pronounced it. "He" being a customer in his mid 30s, about 6 feet tall, a little extra baggage, dusty brown hair cut in a way that says "I manage people who are better programmers than I am", glasses, burgundy shirt, and tan pants.

"Cointreau is an orange liqueur," I reply. I take him to the shelf location and point it out to him. A woman follows us. They have matching rings.

"How do you pronounce that again?" After pronouncing it for him, he echoes it back to me then turns and says it to his wife again as if he's contemplating some deep mystery of foreign languages.

The wife is wearing a black sweater. Her hair is also brown, though darker than her husband's. She has it shoulder length, pulled back behind the ears, and there is a wave in it. She's also in her 30s. She's wearing jeans. She looks excited. "That's the stuff we need then!" She smiles and shares a look with her husband that tells me that they are making a new recipe and trying it out for fun.

"Cointreau" he says again. "What is the difference between Cointreau and Grand Marnier? What do they make margaritas out of?" For the record, he pronounced Grand Marnier with the commonly accepted American butchering of the name.

"Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur made with brandy. It's flavor comes off as sweet, but warming. Cointreau uses no brandy, but when they make the liqueur they use both orange essence and orange rind in the process which adds a hint of bitter orange flavor. The effect is that it's less warming and sweet than Grand Marnier, but more of a natural orange flavor. It's still sweet, but not as cloying. Both can be used to make a margarita. Triple Sec is also an orange liqueur used to make margaritas. It uses no brandy and is more of a candy orange flavor. Sweet, not warming." By the recognition in their eyes I could tell that Triple Sec was the answer to what margaritas are made with.

"Let's get this one," says the wife pointing to the Cointreau. "It's what the recipe calls for. What do you recommend for vodka?"

"What kind of drink are you planning on using it for?"

"Cosmopolitans," she replies, pronouncing the entire name where most people would say "Cosmos" and trust me to know that they are referring to the drink and not the flower. The husband is now the one tagging along. The wife has taken the lead. I infer that this was all her idea and he's another player in her fun game.

"Well, since you're looking at a drink with fruity flavors I don't recommend spending a lot of money on the vodka. You want something that's good and won't give you a hangover, but spending a lot of money on it is wasted. If you were looking at making a martini, then I recommend something more pricey. However, for Cosmos I recommend Vikingfjord. It's one of the better vodkas that I sell and it doesn't cost a ton of money. It's distilled 6 times which means it doesn't have a lot of impurities. It's made from potatoes. Good quality stuff at a reasonable price."

The wife gets a look of glee in her eye. She's made up her mind. "Let's get this one."

"Sold!" agrees the husband.

The wife reaches for a fifth, then pauses and turns to her partner in the game. "Should we get the big one?" she asks, referring to the half gallon sized bottle. Both are on sale so the half gallon is a better bargain.

"Let's get the small one," replies the husband.

"I don't know," she says. "I'm thinking maybe I should just go for it and get the big one."

"The small one will do. If we want more we can always come back."

It's at this point that I suppress my smirk. When the wife first asked for the big bottle, the thought crossed my mind to say "Size queen!" but I suppressed it and shoved it far into the back of my mind. Now it occurred to me that I was hearing the whole conversation played aloud for me. Here was the woman looking for the "big one". Here was the man saying, in essence, "Size doesn't matter. It's adequate and will do the job. You don't need a big one. You've got me and I can always bring you more. Don't worry about it....really." He was hoping that she would settle for the little one. I was cracking up inside contemplating this. Then, he gives into her crazy whim.

"Oh, let's just get the big one. If we like it, then we won't have to come back for more and if we don't we can always find something else to do with it. Come ooon! Live a little and have some fun!"

He nods his acquiescence. They thank me and move to the counter completely unaware of the interpretation I had of their conversation. I came home that night and told my partner about the whole thing.

"That's hysterical." she said. "I never would have thought about it that way. You should write about it in your blog."

And so it goes.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hollywood trip

Hollywood 010
Originally uploaded by B.D.'s world
Well, we're back from Hollyweird. A whole set of photos of the neighborhood, downtown, and our hotel can be found here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'm leaving town for this?!?

We're off to Hollyweird for a few days. I love the rain and clouds in Seattle, but the change of scenery will be nice. The co-signer has a conference to attend on Monday and Tuesday. We'll be out together today exploring the area. Tuesday night we'll be attending a show with Jill Sobule and Julia Sweeney (sp?) which should be a joy. I'll try and post pictures of some sort when I return.

We'll be back Wednesday afternoon. Our friend next door is keeping an eye on the place and checking on our cats frequently (especially Chaiyo who suffered from the trauma of going to the vet yesterday).

Funny thing is, when we get to LAX today, the weather is supposed to be rainy and a high of 59 degrees. In other words, Seattle fall weather.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New word

Well, new to me anyhow: "Vegequarium".

Scene: Cute man and woman, both in their early 30s, chatting at a coffee house. Both are highly educated professionals. They have some minor shared event like a class they had in college on the east coast and ran into each other on the west coast. Both are very outgoing and are also clearly attracted to each other. They are doing their best to engage conversation, listen to each other, be humorous, demonstrate their maturity, and their attractiveness. She is discussing having guests to her new home this Thanksgiving for the first time. He suggests a free range, organic turkey.

"I don't think I can do that," she says. "I'm vegequarium. I mean, I'm vegetarian, but I eat seafood. My parents are vegetarian, but I found that I love seafood and couldn't give it up. I've never eaten beef and tried pork only once."

There you have it boys and girls, "vegequarium". A mash up of "vegetarian" and "aquarium".

Now playing: Radical Face - Glory
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 05, 2007


A new study from Canada suggests that file sharing networks have no effect on CD sales. This isn't the first study to suggest that.

Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz crunched government-sponsored research data, and concluded: "Among Canadians who engage in P2P file-sharing, our results suggest that for every 12 P2P downloaded songs, music purchases increase by 0.44 CDs. That is, downloading the equivalent of approximately one CD increases purchasing by about half of a CD."

Across the whole Canuck population the picture is ambivalent. They write: "Analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased. That is, we find no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole."

The San Jose Mercury News reports that, according to U.S. Census data, 70% of the people from California reporting a Mexican heritage are U.S. citizens. That should, but won't, put to rest the myth of the hordes of illegal aliens overwhelming the state.

The Google Phone software platform has been officially announced. Of course, Google wants to sell ads to people on these phones. Will the user pay for the data transfer for those ads? Will the ad buyer pay for that? What incentive does the user have to get an ad-filled phone?

Now playing: blaine l. reininger - Throatsinging
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wine buy

At Pete's Wines in Bellevue: Latitude 46 - Vindication. This blend of Merlot (70%), cabernet sauvignon (26%), and syrah (4%) is a delicious delight. Normally priced at $30 per bottle, you can snap some up for $13.99 at Pete's. I'm not sure that the wine is worth $30, but at $13.99 it's a steal. Grab it while you can.

Now playing: Zero 7 - In The Waiting Line (Dorfmeister Vs MDLA Dub)
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

The video for 100 Days, 100 Nights is out. In Seattle on December 8th at Neumo's. Catch them while they're still playing the smaller clubs. Absolutely fantastic.

Medical Marijuana

Drew Carey has gotten together with the libertarians at Reason to produce a series of videos on a variety of topics. His latest, video number 2, is on medical marijuana and it is an excellent way to spend 10 minutes.

In related news, DEA Administrator Karen Tandy is stepping down.
Now playing: Lord Creator - Claudette
via FoxyTunes


Two essays on security are interesting. First, from Guardian Unlimited, comes this essay on the pervasive closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in London and the effect that they have on the culture. From the editorial:

The Stockbridge shopkeeper would say that shouldn't matter. But it does matter because, even beyond the compelling civil liberties arguments, the explosion of CCTV fundamentally alters a population's relationship with its public spaces. Those who are most aware of being watched respond in ways that only render them more vulnerable to sanction: teenagers hoist up their hoodies, demonstrators cover their faces on marches. Much more insidious is the way that our misplaced confidence in an omnipresent witnessing eye apparently makes us feel absolved of any responsibility to intervene ourselves.

Britain has become a witness culture, inured to watching and being watched. Be it Big Brother or posting friends' antics on YouTube, our leisure time has become increasingly infected with the imperative to expose ourselves and others. No activity, no individual, is deemed valid without an audience.

So maybe acquiescence to a constant mechanical witness should not come as such a surprise. But it bears repeating that that winking eye in the corner is singularly failing to keep us safe. And it has corrupted our sense of public and private to the extent that, every evening, we can go home to help ourselves to a piece of a stranger's life while, on the street, we feel no compunction to help at all.

Next, from Bruce Schneier comes this excellent essay on what he terms is The War on the Unexpected. Basically, playing on the fears of people to report anything different and the effect that has on our culture, our security, and our political system.

For some reason, governments are encouraging this kind of behavior. It's not just the publicity campaigns asking people to come forward and snitch on their neighbors; they're asking certain professions to pay particular attention: truckers to watch the highways, students to watch campuses, and scuba instructors to watch their students. The U.S. wanted meter readers and telephone repairmen to snoop around houses. There's even a new law protecting people who turn in their travel mates based on some undefined "objectively reasonable suspicion," whatever that is.

If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn't be surprised when you get amateur security.

We need to do two things. The first is to stop urging people to report their fears. People have always come forward to tell the police when they see something genuinely suspicious, and should continue to do so. But encouraging people to raise an alarm every time they're spooked only squanders our security resources and makes no one safer.

Now playing: Fadhili Williams Mdawida - Wee Jane
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