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Thursday, October 31, 2002

Happy Halloween
The hierophant by Mark Ciocco : I guess its a little corny to post a story I wrote, but its Halloween and I like to give everyone a spooky story to read... I wrote this story several years ago as an homage to H.P. Lovecraft (specifically, the story Pickman's Model, which also dealt with a strange artist...) I cringed a couple of times while reading it, because I am certainly no H.P. Lovecraft, but it held up better than I thought it would, so posted it in its original form. Someday, I may revise it, but this will have to do for now...
Posted by Mark on October 31, 2002 at 07:39 PM .: link :.



Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Dr. Seuss Goes to War
Dr. Seuss Went to War: A Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss : Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991) is known best for his many brilliant children's books, and he is not known as a political cartoonist, yet for two years (1941-1943) he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM, and he drew over 400 editorial cartoons. The cartoons range from the critical and cynical to the outright supportive, and, I must say, its a bit disturbing to recognize his unique style being put to use in such a way...
Posted by Mark on October 22, 2002 at 08:13 PM .: link :.



Tuesday, October 08, 2002

gods amongst mortals
Information gods is a series of articles written by Brad Wardell about those who know how to find and digest information quickly and effectively with the tools on the internet. They are "information gods", and they are much more productive than the majority of people, who are still figuring out how to open attachments on an email (if they are on the net at all). The main thrust of the articles is that "the gap between information gods and information mortals grows wider every day. The tools for gathering information gets better. The amount of data available grows. And the experience they have in finding it and using it increases." Its an interesting series, and its funny when you see info gods clash with info mortals in a debate. Guess who generally does better?
Posted by Mark on October 08, 2002 at 08:00 PM .: link :.



Monday, October 07, 2002

If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.
Rumsfeld's Rules by Donald Rumsfeld [PDF version]: 14 pages of bulleted wisdom that have kept Mr. Rumsfeld alive and well in the White House and on the Hill for three decades. He compiled it during his first stint as Secretary of Defence in the late 1970s. It gives some insight into the man, his actions, and the actions of others in similar positions (as well as some points about business, politics and life in general), though I'm sure there are plenty of people who'll claim that the man isn't following his own rules (to them I'd like to point out the last rule). It also highlights some of the broader attitudes of our governmental system and how it differs from other systems... Some examples:
  • Don't accept the post or stay unless you have an understanding with the President that you're free to tell him what you think "with the bark off" and you have the courage to do it.
  • In the execution of Presidential decisions work to be true to his views, in fact and tone.
  • Learn to say "I don't know." If used when appropriate, it will be often.
  • In our system leadership is by consent, not command...
  • Don't divide the world into "them" and "us." Avoid infatuation with or resentment of the press, the Congress, rivals, or opponents. Accept them as facts. They have their jobs and you have yours.
  • Don't automatically obey Presidential directives if you disagree or if you suspect he hasn't considered key aspects of the issue.
  • Let your family, staff, and friends know that you're still the same person, despite all the publicity and notoriety that accompanies your position.
  • Most of the 50 or so invitations you receive each week come from people inviting the President's Chief of Staff, not you. If you doubt that, ask your predecessor how many he received last week.
  • When you raise issues with the President, try to come away with both that decision and also a precedent. Pose issues so as to evoke broader policy guidance. This can help to answer a range of similar issues likely to arise later.
  • "Every government looking at the actions of another government and trying to explain them always exaggerates rationality and conspiracy, and underestimates incompetency and fortuity." (Silberman's Law of Diplomacy, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman)
  • If you try to please everybody, somebody's not going to like it.
  • "No plan survives contact with the enemy." (Old military axiom)
  • "In unanimity there may well be either cowardice or uncritical thinking." (Unknown)
I think you get the idea. Interesting stuff... (don't forget to read the last rule:)
Posted by Mark on October 07, 2002 at 08:36 PM .: link :.



Tuesday, October 01, 2002

#!usr/bin/legal
Law School in a Nutshell, Part 1 by James Grimmelmann : Lawyers spend years learning to read and write legalese, and James makes a striking correlation between legal writing and a programming language.
To understand why legalese is so incomprehensible, think about it as the programming language Legal. It may have been clean and simple once, but that was before it suffered from a thousand years of feature creep and cut-and-paste coding. Sure, Legal is filled with bizzare keywords, strange syntax, and hideous redundancy, but what large piece of software isn't? Underneath the layers of cruft, serious work is taking place.
For the rest of the article, James goes page by page and takes you through the intricacies and minutiae of a legale brief (for Eldred v. Ashcroft). Its only the first part, but its informative and well written. Another interesting note, as commented at the bottom of the page:
If "$plain_text = $file_key ^ $xor_block" seems unapproachable, consider what those not trained in the language of legal citation would make of "111 F.Supp.2d 294, 326 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)." Each is meaningless to those unfamiliar with the language; but each is more precise and compact for those who do understand than would be an English narrative equivalent. -- James S. Tyre, Programmers' & Academics' Amici Brief in "MPAA v. 2600" Case
Updates: Part II and Part III
Posted by Mark on October 01, 2002 at 07:49 PM .: link :.



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