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Saturday 20 October 2001, 23:20 BST
"Beep beep, my ass!"
In article <3BCC7B13.9F2375C3@mitre.org>, Carl Burke said:

>>> In a way, he's a little like the Roadrunner.
>> But everybody roots for the Coyote...
>> Er, don't they? [wdstarr]
> No, of course not. If he wins, the game's over.
> Does anybody ever actually root for the coyote?

Of course! He's the technologist, the tool-user, the direct spiritual descendant of the ape who got an Idea in the opening of "2001: Space Odyssey!" He's got a brain and opposable thumbs and an Acme Products catalog, and by golly he's going to _use_ them!

What's the bird got besides feet and luck? An air of annoying smugness, that's what. Make him lunch, I say.

When I win the lottery, I'm going to fund a Wile E. Coyote Chair of Applied Engineering at some university, I am...

-- William December Starr
I love rec.arts.sf.written!
It turns out my Buffy Dream Date is ... Cordelia. I wanted Willow, dammit! [Via web-goddess.co.uk]
Try rubbing this and see what comes up. (NB/- probably not a link you should follow while at work.) [Via Grayblog]
Locusts watching Star Wars may spell end for car accidents. Come on, I know it's just another silly Ananova story but how could I resist linking to an article with a title like that? [Via Scalloblog]
Friday 19 October 2001, 22:05 BST
Superman vs Muhammad Ali. Let's see them adapt that for the big screen. [Via linkmachinego]
Bruce Schneier explains just why deploying face recognition software to spot terrorists in airports is a lousy idea.
Suppose this magically effective face-recognition software is 99.99 percent accurate. That is, if someone is a terrorist, there is a 99.99 percent chance that the software indicates "terrorist," and if someone is not a terrorist, there is a 99.99 percent chance that the software indicates "non-terrorist." Assume that one in ten million flyers, on average, is a terrorist. Is the software any good?

No. The software will generate 1000 false alarms for every one real terrorist. And every false alarm still means that all the security people go through all of their security procedures. Because the population of non-terrorists is so much larger than the number of terrorists, the test is useless. This result is counterintuitive and surprising, but it is correct. The false alarms in this kind of system render it mostly useless. It's "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" increased 1000-fold.
[Via rc3.org]
Talking of airport security, here's a worrying example of how paranoia and incompetence can combine with ridiculous consequences. [Via MetaFilter]
Boids. Craig Reynolds has gathered a ton of fascinating information about the flocking behaviour of birds. His page includes a vast array of links to related sites. Highly recommended. [Via Apothecary's Drawer]
Thursday 18 October 2001, 22:45 BST
2 KewL 2 ReAD. Michele is in charge of her school's Parents as Reading Partners programme, and she's having some trouble coming up with a good slogan. I quite like "Books are Like Crack" myself.
Nowhere Girl is a highly worthwhile online comic from Justine Shaw, who is new to this online comics lark. You can argue that the storyline she relates isn't wildly original, but it's beautifully drawn and I found the telling of the tale is very touching. Definitely worth a look. [Via Memepool]
Wednesday 17 October 2001, 21:55 BST
Now that's what I call "Stormy Weather."
Bush Threatens Taliban With ISO Certification.
This could well be the product that finally persuades me to buy a mobile phone.
MSN Technical Support are apparently using AI bots to answer queries. I mean, that must be the explanation: surely no sentient human being could be this clueless? [Via CamWorld]
Buffy enters Australian politics. Well, sort of. [Via web-goddess.co.uk]
Get Your War On. [Via Off On A Tangent]
Fascinating profile of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz. "Shoeless Joe" has his doubts about the efficiency of the holy marketplace. [Via Red Rock Eater]
Tuesday 16 October 2001, 23:10 BST
Systray.org The place to post a copy of your taskbar's System Tray icons. I have but one question: why? [Via Memepool]
Looking beyond the Current Situation, Rafe Colburn has a rather neat suggestion as to how to install a new government in Kabul which will forego the less savoury policies of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance alike.
For once, I find myself in complete agreement with George Monbiot. This is deeply worrying. Next thing you know, I'll find myself thinking Tony Benn is a deep and original political thinker...
Far Too Strange For Fiction. In reviewing a new biography of Richard M Nixon, Jonathan Lowy reminds us of just why Nixon's rise and fall - and rise and fall and rise - was so compelling. (NB/- no permanent URL given - check the site's Book Review Archive page once the article is replaced by a newer review next week.)

Nixon has always fascinated me, ever since I read the reports of the Watergate crisis in the Daily Mirror (which was actually a pretty decent, somewhat serious left-of-centre tabloid in those pre-Maxwell days) as an eleven year-old politics nerd and wondered how the most powerful man in the world could be brought so low. I hope I'm a lot less naive now, but I still find Nixon far and away the most interesting 20th century American president. [Via Arts & Letters Daily]
Monday 15 October 2001, 21:30 BST
Have you ever noticed how many web pages have a title starting with "C:\My Documents\"? Scary. [Via Bifurcated Rivets]
{fbi.getTerrorist ()} Dave Winer's Scripting News announces UserLand's contribution to the fight against terrorism. [Via Haddock.org]
Warren Ellis is offering a PDF version of Issue 1 of his Ministry of Space series for download. It looks like good fun, in an alternate-history/Hugh Walters kind of way. I may have to keep an eye out for this series. [Via linkmachinego]
Dilip Hiro ponders the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia as the gap between government and governed widens in the Arab world. [Via David Grenier]
Wallpaper Originals. Very nice eye candy for your desktop. [Via /usr/bin/girl]
Sunday 14 October 2001, 22:50 BST
Police Use Helicopter for Doughnut Run. Chief Wiggum, is that you? [Via NextDraft]
Check out the Super-Smart Bomb. While you're there, you might want to check out Hate Time too. [Via dutchbint]
It turns out I'm in good company: Wil Wheaton is Data too. (Ironic, huh?)

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