Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dog Ate It

Since when did "we do not comment on ongoing investigations" and the like become an answer in itself? When asked a question answerable by yes or no, one could answer yes, no, or refuse to answer. In the third case, the audience draws whatever conclusion it draws. What we're seeing more and more often are flimsy excuses tossed out to manipulate the audience when they take the third option.

When Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroid use, he refused to go into details, citing confidentiality concerns. That doesn't make any sense, because confidentiality agreements are meant to protect him from disclosure by third parties, and will never restrict him from revealing something personal. This isn't a gag order from a judge.

Similarly, when Vice President Dick Cheney was asked if he has mentioned the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame to his chief of staff, he is entirely free to answer. Since when does telling the truth interfere with an investigation?

Monday, October 24, 2005

My Poor Uncle Fadi!

Received this via email:

Dear Friend,

Let me start by introducing myself. I am Mr. Cheung Pui director of operations of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd. I have an obscured business suggestion for you.

Before the U.S and Iraqi war our client Major Fadi Basem who was with the Iraqi forces and also business man made a numbered fixed deposit for 18 calendar months, with a value of Twenty Four million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars only in my branch. Upon maturity several notice was sent to him, even during the war early this year. Again after the war another notification was sent and still no response came from him. We later find out that the Major and his family had been killed during the war in bomb blast that hit their home.

After further investigation it was also discovered that Major Fadi Basem did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bankdeposit. And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank. So, Twenty Four millions Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars is still lying in my bank and no one willever come forward to claim it. What bothers me most is that according to the to the laws of my country at the expiration 4 years the funds will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the funds. Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Major Fadi Basem so that you will be able to receive his funds.

Do you folks think I might pass off as Iraqi in front of a Chinese judge?

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I've always been fascinated by the simulation of traditional media brushes by the likes of Fractal Design Painter, but since Deluxe Paint II I've clearly realized that I still can't draw or paint. So I was happy to find the free ArtRage from Ambient Design, which is more toy than tool, and comes with a nifty "tracing paper" feature for people like me. Here's my first real attempt at oil painting (okay, tracing) a shot of McWay Cove of the Big Sur coastline, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

McWay Cove (oil on canvas, ha ha)

Yes, the thumbnail looks better than the full-size drawing. That's why I write software for a living.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cat Is Out of the Bag

Apple just announced the new iPod, which I've been working on for most of the last few months. I got to attend the "One More Thing..." special event in San Jose, and it's fun to watch the product of your hard work unveiled with ceremony. I think most software engineers work on such intangible things that this sort of personal reward is particularly nice. The new iPod is basically the same size as the old ones, but comes with a really nice color screen and is much thinner. It looks exactly like the big brother of the Nano that it is.

Steve Jobs also said that we had sold a million iPod Nanos in 17 days. That's nearly 41 per minute.

So go buy one now, and help pay my salary.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Amateur Night

I must applaud here President Bush's persistent refusal to discriminate against appointees on the basis of qualifications. If a lawyer for the International Arabian Horse Association can serve successfully as the Directory of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, then certainly a lawyer who has never been a judge can serve just as well as a Supreme Court Justice.

Unfortunately, this has a little more consequence than letting William Hung on American Idol. Harriet Miers may well be a competent justice and maybe even a nice person, but could he really not find anybody of her caliber among sitting judges? Or are judges really meant to conclude that political connections are far more important than performance on the bench?