The More You Know

“She” referenced in the post below is an immature Peregrine Falcon. She’s mostly pealei and weighs a little more than a thousand grams. I’m manning and taming her following the suggestions made by Ronald Stevens in Observations on Modern Falconry.

Boston’s Logan Intl. Airport has always been tough to navigate, but after years and years of arrivals, depatures, pick ups and drop offs, I had it pretty well mastered. Now, in the aftermath of the Big Dig and Ted Williams Tunnel project, I’m back to square one. Thursday night’s trip to the cargo center at Logan was highlighted by an involuntary 2 way transit of the Splendid Splinter (aka Corpsicle) tunnel ($3 toll, thank you very much) and beaucoup white knuckle driving. When I know where I’m going, I can do a pretty good job of getting into a Boston driving headspace (aggression punctuated by near psychotic behavior); when I’m unsure about turns or really need to get somewhere, I become one of the herbivores, cut out of the herd and slaughtered by predatory cabbies. Sigh.

A Very Nice Morning

That was a thoroughly satisfactory start to the day! It began with Boone and me taking a quick trip into Durham for coffee. I brought the laptop with me in hopes of finding a stray wifi signal – and I did. So, we relaxed at a table for a bit; I drank my java and web surfed and Boone shmoozed up the passers-by.


Two recommendations from the breakfast surf (from the same thought provoking blog – Crooked Timber) :

  • The Bugs Bunny/Saki connection for any Edwardians out there (I have someone in mind). Mmm, Filboid Studge!
  • A good entry point into the Gorman/Encyclopedia Brittanica dustup (I’m still reading the posts) aka Neo-Luddite Quasi-Mandarins vs. Creationist Global-warming-denying Maoist Hive-mind-wannabe Dirty Haight-Ashbury Hippies in Some Sinister Borg-like Collective. On the same topic, Clay Shirky’s post on Keen’s Cult of the Amateur is worth a read.

The tone of Gorman’s remedial lecture implies that educators now devote the better part of their day to teaching students to shove pencils up their nose while Googling for pornography. I do not believe this to be the case. (It would be bad, of course, if it were.) *

When we got back to the house, Boone relaxed in his crate in the truck while I took Janey for a run. A note on dog juggling – I have realized that I just can’t let Boone come on runs. He has tendonitis/arthritis/something screwed up in one of his hind hocks and the only way to keep it from bothering him (and to keep him from worrying it) is to limit his crashing around. This is a dog who has paid his dues – I am not interested in making things hard on him either physically or mentally. Crating him up and taking Janey out would not be a good thing, but taking him out for coffee and then leaving him where he can’t see the girl and I heading out – that works. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this fall when it’s bird hunting time – he’ll need to come along – I guess I’ll cross that bridge…

Janey had a good jaunt – she’s old enough (7) that I can’t run her into shape in the fall, so I’m paying attention to keeping her in decent condition over the summer. We got back to the house, dogs went on their tie-out in the yard while I got the Red Tail out to weather and watered some plants. We (canines and I) are now back in – dogs are sleeping, I’m finishing up this post – it’s 9:45 and I’m off to work on some projects!


A friend’s young gyrfalcon. I’m always amazed by how playful – even puppy-like – young gyrs are – this beastiegirl is no exception.

Free books…

…are good, even if the reason they are free for the taking is bittersweet. H (the previous owner) is retiring to his ranch outside of Cody, WY – was culling his library to prepare for the move – and put quite a few books out for vultures like me. H was the person who pointed me at Ivan Doig many years ago – that, in and of itself, is a debt I doubt I’ll be able to repay.




The only thing I’ve seen that might redirect my desire for a Pazyryk bird head-antlered elk:

Needs more Trieste!


  • If you think the advice in an earlier post on maintaining anonymity online was tinfoil hat stuff, take a look at the EFF’s suit against AT&T. (more info here and here – 2nd link is a PDF)

In 2003 AT&T built secret rooms hidden deep in the bowels of its central offices in various cities, housing computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company’s popular WorldNet service and the entire Internet. These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the Internet and analyze exactly what people are doing. Documents showing the hardwire installation in San Francisco suggest that there are similar locations being installed in numerous other cities.

ATT + NSA makes a pack of shoggoths look benign. A palate cleanser:

You say it’s your birthday

One year ago today, I put my first post up on DoaMNH. It’s been a great year – thanks to readers, commenters, correspondents – I hope I don’t run out of ideas or shiny intellectual magpie gewgaws to post on any time soon.

nom nom nom says the gator

Couple quick hits…

Words to live by from Schneier’s latest Cryptogram:

I tell people that if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. The very definition of “news” is “something that hardly ever happens.” It’s when something isn’t in the news, when it’s so common that it’s no longer news — car crashes, domestic violence — that you should start worrying.


Both Bruce Schneier and John Robb have commented favorably on The Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly Improbable – looks like it’s time to add it to my wish list (or to suggest it to my friendly neighborhood spiderman librarian).


In a recent post I alluded to my fondness for the normal distribution, sometimes known as the bell curve. I use it as a filter through which to view big – especially apocalyptic – claims. Now comes John Robb with a post contrasting the bell curve with the long tail.

Historically, Gaussian [bell curve] expectations for most events derived from human systems were usually correct. In that world, dampening factors dominated within relatively sparse and simple systems, driving events towards the mean. Over the last decades, however, systems have shifted towards towards ever greater levels of complexity and information density. The result has been a shift towards Paretian [long tail] outcomes, particularly within any event that contains a high percentage of informational content.

Interesting stuff – when combined with Charlie Stross’ observations on changes in transportation speed, we’ve got three models to worry about:

  • normal distribution – things are going along as they usually do
  • power law curve – OMG, it’s the singularity!!1!
  • sigmoid curve – things will change quickly, until some higher level constraint is reached

The devil will be in deciding which model to apply to a given trend – regardless, if you’re passing out tracts and wearing a sandwich board proclaiming the eschaton, I’m going to avert my eyes and scurry by.