Digital Archeology

For those fascinated by Internet history, there’s a nice little article in Salon about the successful salvaging of most of the early Usenet archives, with a lot of emphasis and quotes from the ubiquituous (at least to those of us in both the Internet and space communities) Henry Spencer.

Thanks to these packrats, Google now estimates that 95 percent of the posts ever made to Usenet are now searchable from the site. But Spencer, for one, can’t help thinking of all that’s still been lost — not just of the other 5 percent of Usenet, but also of the other early history of online communication.

Think of the Arpanet mailing lists that were the precursors to Usenet. Spencer points out that while most of the mailing lists kept archives, a significant number of them have been lost over time. “The first flame war, things like that, most certainly dates before Usenet,” he says. “And I would bet that a lot of that material is gone, because at some point, nobody thought it was worth saving.”

Oh, The Humanity

Lileks is giving Steffie Salter another rhetorical thrashing. Despite the fact that it’s more than well deserved, it still seems unfair somehow, like shooting a whale in a pail with a double-barrel shotgun. But read it anyway, for a little guilty pleasure.

Lord Of The State?

I don’t normally read Vin Suprynowicz, but he has an interesting take on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. He thinks that it’s actually a metaphor for the virtues of limited government. I can’t get into Tolkien’s mind, but could be…

[Update, a few minutes later]

I see that on Samizdata, Perry de Havilland has made the same point today–the ring represents the State.

Jihad Charlie

According to Fox News, Charles Bishop, the fifteen-year-old kid who drove the plane into the building in Tampa, left a note in it expressing support for bin Laden.

We’ll see what his parents have to say about this. Was he just seeking his own enlightened path? Or rebelling against his last name?

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

Back To The Future

Gosh, I really do have to be more diligent about keeping up with the Weekly World News. A time traveler informs us in today’s issue that by the year 2028, America will be overrun with, and ruled by, hideous mutants and freaks.

And Bat Boy will be president.

Also, “Humans become second- class citizens,” he wailed, “forced to do the bidding of their evil, mutant captors. President Boy himself has a dozen young women brought into the Lincoln Bedroom every week for God only knows what!”

My question is, in what significant way will this differ from the 1990’s?

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!