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We're leaving for New York tomorrow morning; if we can find Internet access there'll probably be pictures and stuff during the trip, otherwise not until next Wednesday.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Administration ... Permalink




Some brief thoughts about "Revenge of the Sith," with spoilers, so quit reading if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to know about specifics.

Click to read more

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Movies ... Permalink




I became a Master on Friday and saw "Revenge of the Sith" on Saturday, so it's been a good weekend. After I've had a chance to see it again I'll comment more on how it completes the puzzle, but I will say that it's probably the best film that could've been expected. It not only sets up "A New Hope" terrifically, but it subtly complements "Return of the Jedi" in ways that I suspect Lucas won't get much credit for.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Movies ... Permalink




Tomorrow afternoon I defend my thesis and (hopefully) turn into a PhD candidate. The paper is called "Sound and Fury: Discovering Empty Language in Political Communication" and you can download it here if you so desire.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




The Chicago Tribune's insipid free tabloid, Redeye, offers this assessment of the state of iPod security:

But the iPod, at least in some cities, is a different matter. New York Police reported a 20 percent spike in subway robberies so far this year, primarily driven by an increase in iPod thefts.

The iPod is a natural street target too. A 25-year-old out jogging in New York's Central Park was recently mugged by a group of teens that took off with his iPod. A man in Washington, out walking near the National Zoo, was stabbed and robbed of his digital music player.

So far, Chicago Police and the CTA report no noticeable trend of stolen iPods here. Theft records aren't broken down to that level of detail, but officials say there's no anecdotal evidence to indicate a problem, either.


What to do?

Consider swapping out the white, telltale earbuds for something less recognizable. Also, keep it in a zipped inside pocket. If someone tugs at the earphones, that's all they'll get.

That's all they've got for helpful suggestions. How is this subtle terror affecting the good people of Chicago?

Tom Firestine doesn't listen to his iPod when he goes for a jog, but that's pretty much his only concession to safety. Fire-stine, 21, said he thinks the concern about iPod thefts is overblown.

"I don't see why it would be stolen any more than a watch or a wallet or anything else," he said

Perhaps not, but iPods seem to possess more personal value than a watch or a wallet. Credit cards can be replaced, but what about the hours spent compiling perfect playlists that may never have been backed up?

The number of reported stolen iPods is slight compared to other stolen items--and not even on record in Chicago--but the media's disproportionate interest in the story plays off fear more than anything else.

Thank you, media, for reflecting and never ever ever creating our disproportionate feras.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink




More big BitTorrent sites sued, including maybe the biggest TV site:

In a press release issued today, the MPAA has filed lawsuits against six (6) independent BitTorrent indexing sites. This move comes as little surprise, as many of the MPAA's members also hold considerable interest in TV production as well. In addition, according to a recent survey by Envisional, TV piracy (especially on BitTorrent) as increased by 150%.


"Since we began shutting these sites down, the time that it takes to download a file on BitTorrent has increased exponentially which means the experience of downloading copyrighted films and TV shows is not what it used to be," said Glickman. "We intend to make it even worse. Protecting the television industry is essential."

Whatever you say, Mr. Former Secretary of Agriculture.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Technophunk ... Permalink




John Kerry, despite seeming to have given up hope almost immediately on the night of November 2, is clearly still on the campaign trail:

US Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that he believes it's a mistake for the Massachusetts Democratic Party to include a plank in its official platform in support of same-sex marriage, saying that such a statement does not conform with the broad views of party members.

Kerry, who opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions, said in an interview with the Globe that he would prefer that the party not mention gay marriage in its platform, because Democrats continue to disagree on how to handle the issue.

''I'm opposed to it being in a platform. I think it's a mistake," Kerry said shortly after hosting a forum on his universal children's healthcare bill in Baton Rouge. ''I think it's the wrong thing, and I'm not sure it reflects the broad view of the Democratic Party in our state."

For fuck's sake, it's already law in Massachusetts. Kerry is suggesting that the state party not talk about supporting one of their positions which is the law of the state, the one place where the battle is basically won. The mountain came right to Mohammed's fucking doorstep on this one and he still doesn't want to climb the goddamn thing. Amazing. At this rate, Kerry will catch up to Bush by roughly mid-2006.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Within a year, NASA will have to stop funding Soyuz flights to the International Space Station, effectively mothballing the $40,000,000,000 exploratory venture. Why? Iran's nuclear system. What?

The legislation in question is the Iran Nonproliferation Act (INA), which came into force in 2000. The orbiting tin can is the International Space Station (ISS), an American-led (and largely American financed) project which also involves Japan, Canada, Brazil, the EU and, most notably, Russia. To keep people on it requires regular servicing trips. In practice, that means visits from America's space shuttles (grounded at the moment) and Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. But after April next year, an agreement that committed Russia to supply the space-station programme with flights on Soyuz will expire. From then on, America's space agency, NASA, will not be able to pay for any more Soyuz flights because of the INA.

The act prevents NASA from buying such flights until the president certifies that the Russian government is demonstrating a �sustained commitment� to prevent the transfer of weapons of mass destruction and missile-delivery systems, and also that neither the Russian Space Agency nor any entity reporting to it has made any such transfers in the previous year. So even if the space agency were as clean as a whistle, Russia's government has to be behaving itself. And it isn't, so there is something of an impasse.

In the absence of the shuttle, visits to the station require two Soyuz vehicles: one docked as an emergency escape pod and one to transport astronauts to and from the station, an arrangement that NASA would not be allowed to benefit from after April 2006. But even if shuttles return to service this year, as is planned, they can only remain docked to the station for a few weeks at a time, which puts a limit on the span of any American stay there.

Mars, bitches!

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink



It's taken almost 26 years, but I've finally found somebody else with my name. Apparently he's some kind of surf videographer. Also strange is this page, in which a Betsy Veenstra is listed with an Aaron Scott; the Google excerpt reads "...Veenstra Aaron Scott...."

[UPDATE: Found a baseball player in San Diego, too.]

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




It snowed a little bit today, which is odd, because the same thing happened exactly 52 weeks ago. I can't figure out why the weather here should be so much odder than it is in, say, Green Bay.

[UPDATE: Early evening brought hail. Hail? WTF?!?]

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink