Friday, May 29, 2009

The Road to Search

Just wondering where Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer get their names for stuff.

Once, long ago, we had Microsoft's Bob - a wonderful help for anyone who really shouldn't have been using a computer in the first place.
Now we have Microsoft's Bing - not just a search engine, mind you, but a decision engine - or so they hope.

And that's where my wondering started off.
I'm sure few of you remember the big band era, but Bob Crosby led the band Bob Crosby and the Bobcats - a pretty decent, fun band. He described himself as "the Crosby without Hope."
Sadly, if you don't remember the big band era, you probably don't remember those great Road pictures either (as in "The Road to Morocco," which had a great line in the title song which went, "like Webster's dictionary, we're Morocco-bound.").
At any rate, Bob was the Crosby without Hope, Bing was the Crosby with Hope (Bob Hope, but let's ignore that for now).

So ... my assumption, based on vast amounts of pure speculation and nothing much more, is that after Bob was declared hopeless and consigned to the same bin that now holds Clippy (we can only hope neither ever will escape!) the namers at Microsoft decided to bring out the one with Hope - hence Bing.

or not.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Good Read

I ran across this fine post by John Carney and thought you might enjoy it. At the very least, you ought to read it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Empathy to the Devil

What are the most important qualities for a Supreme Court Justice? Clearly a powerful intellect and grasp of the law joined with an understanding of the limits of the judicial role (that judges interpret and apply laws, they don't make them) are paramount. At least that's what our fearless leader said - until he also mentioned that the life of the law is not logic, but rather experience (drawn from Oliver Wendell Holmes).
Ah, that's right, when the president told us how he was going to choose his nominee to replace the retiring Justice David Souter, he mentioned that one of the requirements was "empathy" - for aggrieved parties, one assumes.
This delicately worded "but" at the end of an otherwise-reasonable pronouncement simply vacates the initial premise: that judges don't make laws.

So, what the president told us he would do - and what he now has done - is to nominate to the Supreme Court a person who would be intentionally biased - both before hearing the facts and arguments of a case as well as after. What, after all, would empathy matter should the decisions be based merely on facts and law? Perhaps a decision might go something like, "I'm sorry we couldn't decide in your favor, but we have to actually base our decision on the merits of the case." That would be all well and good. Instead, it appears we will be treated to decisions more in the mold of, "While plaintiffs failed to prove their case or to even present credible evidence, we feel sorry for them, and thus decide in their favor."

My delight at Souter's retirement is already beginning to fade.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 26 May 09


def. - strongly held beliefs, generally adopted in early to mid- adolescence, and left unexamined since.

sample: "It seems that the president holds fast to his pup tenets, even at an age where most men have grown enough to have embraced mature policy positions."