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: Good morning. I'm off to work soon, after the longest vacation by far since I graduated from college. It was very refreshing.

For some reason I haven't mentioned yet that I got a banjo for Christmas! It's an antique, and my mother bought it and my uncle Jon refurbished it. My current banjo repertoire is "Oh, Susanna" and the intro to "Michigan Militia" by Moxy Fruvous.

: Also among my Christmas presents was an all-in-one paperback copy of The Lord of the Rings. I remember thinking this was a great innovation when they first started appearing, but my mother (whose mighty 1965 hardback set was the one I'd used on my previous trips through the trilogy) said that the covers would curl like crazy. How right she was; it's worse in that respect than Cryptonomicon, and I'm going through it a lot faster than I did Cryptonomicon.

Anyway, I'm about halfway through and enjoying it a lot more than last time; the movie made clear a lot of previously fuzzy scenes (like all of book III). I mantain some irrational fear that people will see me reading my movie-branded copy and take me for one whose interest in the books stems entirely from seeing the movie. I don't know why I care what these putative people think, especially since such people would probably not care that this is my fourth time through the trilogy.

: A while ago I realized that a lot of people (myself included) say "sorting" to describe what is actually hashing, eg. "I'm sorting these books into four piles on some criteria". This should annoy me, but I don't think it does.

: Cool, the Second Great Interactive Fiction Excerpt Hunt has an excerpt from Degeneracy on its list. Yes, I read the entire list looking for quotes from my games.

: Today was Crummy Cleanup day. I totally revamped my personal start page, which was about two years old and not nearly as useful as it is now that I've revamped it. I also posted a quaintly pre-terrorist-attack article I wrote in early September called Behind the Firewall, which contains reaction to and discussion of the contemperaneous closing of the Helm source code. And who knows what the morrow will bring?

Unrelatedly, there's a very funny television ad for something, in which a guy types in a password, and his password -- displayed plaintext, mind you -- is "value". Preposition-buzzword form and horrible security in the same action! Not since Clinton used the name of his dog as his password has such a bad password been broadcast on television. How did that work, by the way? He used a digital signature to sign a law which gave digital signatures the force of real signatures. It was like Marbury v. Madison all over again!

: Sumana demands to know the relevance of Marbury v. Madison to my previous entry. Marbury v. Madison was the case which employed judicial review to establish the principle of judicial review. To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion, or so the joke goes; but for someone (me) on the outside looking in, sometimes it seems that that is no joke. The idea of invoking a procedure to justify itself (whether inferring from the law the power to infer from the law, or using a new technique to sign the law that enables that technique for things like signing laws) seems illegitimate to a technical person such as myself.

: A bit more cleanup before I hit the stain: pictures from the Dmitry Freedom Party on December 19. Seth, what is the name of the lawyer speaking forth in picture 6? Kim? I don't remember.

Update: Her name is Robin. Thanks, Seth!


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