Erik Ackerman

The Puppini Sisters

23 August 2007

They've got the old sound down pat, and do some unexpected covers that remind me of Nouvelle Vague. You can grab them at iTunes:

Bridges and Safety

03 August 2007

I heard this morning that the Governor of Minnesota has called for an emergency inspection of all bridges in the state with the same structure as the one that collapsed.

I may well be missing something here, but my understanding is that there is already a national bridge inspection database, which rated the collapsed bridge as unsafe in 1990. We don't need an emergency inspection sweep, we need to do something about the bridges which have already been inspected and rated unsafe.

It was said that the unsafe rating was not significant because there were 77,000 other bridges with the same rating in the country. To me, this seems like saying that DUI related deaths are not significant because there are hundreds of them every year. The fact that there are lots of a bad thing does not make the thing better. Maybe I'm just missing the logic here.

Name That Tune

01 August 2007

Michael Stackpole has refered to the relationship between authors and readers as an ongoing game of Name That Tune. That the reader is constantly thinking, "Oh, I know how this ends," and it is the author's responsibility to say "No, you don't." If the author is right, and the reader gets to the end thinking, "I see how we got here, and it makes perfect sense, but I never saw it coming," the author has succeeded. If the reader was right, they're unlikely to ever read that author again.

I'm inclined to think that Michael is right, at least most of the time. I know it's been true for the books I have enjoyed the most. There have been a couple of cases of books that were very predictable that I enjoyed immensely, but they have tended toward cliché books which are a literary equivalent of B-movies. Immensely fun, but not high art.

Music Rotation in the Podcast

22 February 2007

Hm. I'm trying to make a decision about how I do music in the podcast. Currently, I don't get podcasts produced very often, in part because of the time involved in finding new music. I've also noticed that it often takes me a couple of hearings to get really hooked on a new song. So I'm trying to decide whether to only play new finds (without repeats), as I've been doing so far, or to start allowing songs to repeat, albeit in varying mixes, to increase exposure and get more people hooked. What do you think?

The Immigrant Issue

06 February 2007

OK, I think it may be time to finally address this issue.

What do I think about illegal immigrants? I think they're here illegally and should be deported. Categorically. I think that they are not entitled to any benefits of our society such as public education and welfare. Instead, they need to be on the next bus, train, boat, plane, whatever, to send them back home.

I'm not against immigrants in the least. I'm just against illegal immigrants.

I've heard the argument that we need them to sustain our economy, as they will take the jobs that "American's" won't. I say we up the immigration quotas if that's true. I've no objection to them being here and working and living and playing etc. What I object to is the fact that they have effectively line-jumped those who are trying to come in legally. I object to the fact that they want the benefits of our society (i.e. medical care or education) without supporting it (e.g. paying taxes).

I've heard another argument that there are too many of them to deport. "Heck," they say, "look at the fact that we couldn't even effectively evacuate New Orleans. How are we going to transport all the illegal aliens?" To which I say, we're never going to do it if we don't start. It's not like I think we can round them all up simultaneously. If we transport them as we catch them, I have to believe that it's an achievable goal.

Personally, I'm more interested in addressing this aspect than in "tightening borders." I don't think we can practically close the borders. But in the current climate, the view for an alien is that once they're in, they're golden. If we change that to once you're in, you're a criminal fugitive, there's less incentive to enter illegally. Make it better to follow the rules than break them, and shockingly more people will follow those rules.

Ozone — Thought Palace

02 February 2007

Wow! Who knew Jens had it in him? Ozone — Thought Palace

Penn Jillette

02 February 2007

Neil wants to help up Penn's Google rank. ;-) Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman's Journal: "...and in the time it took to say that Neil Gaiman wrote another two movies..."

iPod Update

29 January 2007

It occurs to me, I never posted about the iPod resolution. At WWDC last August, I caved and got an iPod Video. I bought the harddrive out of Jim's dead 1st Gen to fix my old one. Then, for Christmas, we passed on the 1st Gen and the Nano to Carrie and Aly, respectively. All seems to be well, and everyone happy.

Jens Alfke considers Java

22 January 2007

In Which I Think About Java Again, But Only For A Moment — Thought Palace - Jens says it better than I do.

The Right Wing

24 November 2006

Once again, I find myself agreeing with Stephan.


24 November 2006

I wanted to chime in as seconding Stephan's comments here.

The speed of emotion.

09 March 2006

I've long thought that there was an emotional/intellectual dichotomy that went largely overlooked.  In college, I wrote an essay (not for any class) on how the "speed of thought" is out-done by the "speed of emotion."  It's why rollercoasters are scary even when you know they are safe.  Same for scary movies.  Intellectually, you know you're fine, but the emotion gets there first and is hard to uproot.
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The Multiple Self

27 February 2006 The Multiple Self - Nicely said.

iPod Quandry

26 February 2006

Well, my 1st gen iPod has finally died.  Now I am in a quandry.  Much as I would love to replace it with a video iPod, I'm not sure I can justify the expense.  On the other hand, I can spend about $130 to replace the dead hard drive in my old 5 GB with a 20 GB one.  Hm...

Same Sex Marriage

14 October 2005

I am concerned about all of the furor surround same-sex marriages. My concern stems from what I think is a miscommunication: is marriage a secular or religious institution. I believe that as a religious institution, any given religion absolutely has the right to reject same-sex marriage. However, when it is an institution recognized and sanctioned by the government, I believe that it must apply equally to all. The fact that a particular church rejects same-sex marriage is not a reason for the government to do the same. There is a separation of church and state.

One must ask what the purpose of government recognition of marriage, and what that recognition entails. If the purpose is to promote stability of households and therefore communities, I see no reason for a restriction based on gender. If it is to provide government sanction to a religious institution, I believe it violates the separation of church and state.

What I am trying to say is this: if marriage is religious in nature, it should not be sanctioned or regulated by government and should have no direct effect on government activity such as taxation. If, on the other hand, it is a secular institution maintained and regulated by the government for the good of society, the gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, etc. of the participants should not matter.

Therefore, I think an amendment banning same sex marriage is senseless, since it either does not apply due to separation of church and state, or does not apply because it doesn't matter whether the parties involved are male or female.

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you hit the nail on the head. If marriage is a state defined by the church then govt. has no biz with defining same. Can govt. not come up with a legal contract between two people for setting up a household? No . . . not enuff political will to do so because it would cost emplyers too much money in added benefits to 2nd partner- not to mention citizens who will bully lawmakers into no action by maintaning that the church has a right to define who can and can't have a domestic partnership. There is no existentail seperation of churcha nd state on this one. Both the church and the state (businesses) gets their needs met by non-action. An intolerable situation for same sex couples who are alienated from rights other couples enjoy i.e. who is next of kin in a medical sitz where one partner is in hospital and is not legally next of kin. Thanks for your post!

Management by Fiction

14 October 2005

Nice article. I've definitely seen this phenomenon. ;)

Sin City

26 July 2005

Saw Sin City over the weekend and all I can say is "Wow!" It is incredibly dark and violent (think Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction), but is a technical masterpiece. The acting is phenomenal, no surprise given the cast, but the film-making artistry is unmatched to date.

When you realize that many of the actors never met (at least, on set), even some who fought each other on screen, and that people who didn't know could not tell that the "sets" didn't exist, you can't help but be impressed.

On Being and Deliciousness, with Wil Shipley

25 July 2005

On Being and Deliciousness

As usual, Wil has some tremendous insights into the development world. I am very impressed with his views on the future of development and heuristics. I also think that his analogy between development languages and syringes is spot on.

I think he slightly missed the mark when commenting on not wanting to adopt the habits of large companies however. He compares a large successful company to an old, rich, and dying man. He says that adopting a large businesses habits is like saying "I'm going to start walking with a cane and I'm going to act crotchety and I'm going to get liver disease." I think it would make a better analogy to say that copying a big companies practices is like saying "I'm going to drink, smoke and eat rich food." That is what the successful old man does, but it is not what made him successful and rich. This hits a bit close to home :)


06 May 2005

I find that Quicksilver is becoming more and more of an indespensible part of my Mac OS X installation. The more you use it, the more useful it becomes, so the trick is to make yourself use it in the first place. It seems that everyone has a different aspect of Quicksilver that addicts them to it. For me, it's the ability to quickly find a track in iTunes and make it the next item in Party Shuffle. No switching away from the app I'm in, just a few key strokes. And as this became more and more of a habit, I found that I was using the Finder less, since it was so easy to launch apps and documents from Quicksilver too. Gotta love it.


30 April 2005

I'm thinking I need to put in some time on widgeting. It would be good to have a widget-ized version of Stackinator. I'd also like some memo pad thingy that supports locked entries (for passwords and such). I like Notational Velocity's model, but everything is clear and too easily displayed. WicketyWidget is good, but forces CamelCase for wiki links, and doesn't lock. I may look more into StickyBrain again. Or I may end up rolling my own. We shall see.