Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished

So…the stock markets are soaring today on news that the government has banned naked short selling. Add this to the jumble of other awkward, piecemeal “solutions” they’ve vomited out and what it leads to is disaster. Banning naked short selling is not a solution, it’s a bandage. No, it’s worse than that; it’s a faustian bargain. Yes, shorting creates bearish pressure, but it’s not the reason we got into this mess, and those reasons seem to have been forgotten behind the backdrop of exciting new pain-avoidance strategies.

My Favorite Internet Resources for Learning Japanese

Sacha Chua posted a nice list of resources for learning the Japanese language on her blog (I’ve been reading her blog for a while and didn’t even know she studied Japanese), which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post about a new Japanese (and other foreign language learning) site that I’m completely hooked on: Lang-8 is a language exchange social networking site. This means that all of the members of the site are working toward the common goal of learning a foreign language.

Humans: Pattern Matching Machines?

I have a personal maxim (or apothegm, to use a word I just learned) which states, “two isn’t a pattern, and three barely is”. My purpose for reminding myself of this message is the quell the natural human tendency to assume there is an underlying pattern to something when there really isn’t enough evidence to assume so. Consider an event with two possible outcomes (formally known as a ‘Bernoulli trial'), for instance: will the weather tomorrow be hot or cold?

Mr., Ms., and Mrs.

I think that if I were a woman, married or unmarried, I would choose to call myself Ms.. Consider the fact that a woman’s title—a part of her name—is expected to change when she gets married. A person’s name is an integral part of her/his identity; essentially our culture tells us that a woman’s identity changes when she gets married. Contrast this with the fact that men are called Mr. regardless of marital status.

Samsung SyncMaster 931BF Flickering Issues

I have a Samsung SyncMaster 931BF monitor that has had flickering issues since a couple weeks after I bought it. I tried everything I could think of to fix it, to no avail, and for a while I wondered if it was a configuration issue. I’m not too knowledgeable about monitors, so I thought perhaps the refresh rate could be incorrect or something of that nature. Unfortunately, since Linux users don’t get any real driver support from most hardware vendors, I remained unsure about if it was an actual hardware issue or just software misconfiguration.

Database Connection Handling in Common Lisp Web Apps

I’ve spent most of this evening hacking my blogging software, but sadly not to add new features. I’ve clearly spent too much time doing web programming in PHP, because I neglected to even consider some major threading issues that arise when doing web programming from a persistent environment. In PHP the entire script is loaded (into a fresh thread) everytime the page is requested. This has a few interesting implications. One is that we can in many ways be wasteful about tracking resources when doing web programming in PHP because the whole running instance will be trashed soon enough anyway.

Emacs Windowing Improvements

One element of Emacs’s behavior that annoyed me for quite a while is Emacs’s handling of windows (or rather, the natural consequence of having multiple windows which arrive at various times). Often I end up with a random window that I really don’t want to be there. Usually the window is occupied by a temporary buffer (or something like *info*) which has outstayed its welcome. In most cases point is not in the window, so I have to switch to the other window and then kill the buffer with C-x o C-x k RET.

The Stock Game

I have a new form of entertainment in my life: stock trading. I’ve been watching the markets for a few weeks, and I made my first trade on the 16th, purchasing MLS when it was low, and riding it up. My investments have been very small thus far—roughly $1000. While that’s not exactly pocket change, it’s difficult to get away with much less. Assuming a brokerage fee of $13 (E*TRADE’s basic price), which has to be paid on both on your buy and sell order, you’ll need to earn 2.

Inferior Reimplementations of Web Services

I am getting really tired of every community-based website creator feeling the need to reimplement basic functions of the web. Why does every site have to have a ‘Message This User’ action? Has everyone forgotten about email? The problem of sending a body of text to another individual on the web was tackled long ago! Let it be! Under the ‘I’m going to reimplement a perfectly good system’-system I now have to check yet another message box.

Literally, A Web Log

Out of pure coincidence today I happened upon a blog directly related to my previous post. Check out Literally, A Web Log, “an English language grammar blog tracking the abuse of the word ‘literally'.”