Archive for September, 2008

Winning Streak

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.

Jeannette Rankin (1880 – 1973)


Two Books

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

I buy books on impulse, often following a recommendation. My last two reads were Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig), a favourite among readers of and The Black Swan (Nassim Nicholas Taleb), recommended by the Economist a while back. A couple similarities between the two are striking, though they are (at least nominally) in different genres:

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM) is fast becoming a classic, preaching Quality through interchanging present and past tense. It’s written like fiction but seems to be based partly on the author’s experiences.

The Black Swan is the former trader explaining in a cock-sure fashion how stupid you are (to some extent maybe even being right). On the cover it says “part literary essayist, part empiricist, part no-nonsense mathematical trader”, mostly essay (in chapters) I’d say.

(1) Neither author is practising philosophy but yet their both entire books are filled with philosophic reference and content. Greeks are both heroes and villains in either book.

(2) Everyone is wrong, according to the authors. Well, not everyone but the vast majority of those that are experts in the respective subjects, while the rest of mankind is merely mislead. There is also a solution, namely to stop listening to those that are wrong (i.e. the experts).

(3) To achieve what they are getting at rhetorically, both authors are willing to show their opponents in a very non-flattering way. Taleb does this without shame, interpreting what others mean like the devil reading the bible. Pirsig is less mean but I still don’t quite believe the portray of people at University of Chicago.

So – did the reading of two similar books result from my sources of recommendation, mere chance or a third option? I’d say chance, only it seems that The Dice Man (Luke Rhinehart) that I’m halfway through run along the same lines. Also:

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.

Robert R. Coveyou


Google Chrome

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

As an Opera-user I do get attached to my browser and secretly believe Mozilla-users to be all wrong. Yet, I am willing to give Google a chance, if only for the fact that lately Gmail has been requiring tweaks in Opera.

First verdict:

  • Fast, especially Gmail
  • Seems to handle most sites and content, only exception thus far being Outlook Web Access in simple-mode (same as Opera)
  • Neat tracking of memory use (shift+esc)
  • Needs ad-blocking and (many) more options for customisation
  • The cartoon presenting Chrome implicitely takes the credit for a few functions well-known in Opera
  • Sleek graphics (good) but reminds me somewhat of Apple (not so good)


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)


To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three men, two of whom are absent.

Robert Copeland

(Both from