One of the first things that children learn through instruction is to recognize shapes, both plane and solid, though they are not often given the names of the solids.

Now that they recognize the shapes, why do we not procede to the next phase and teach geometry? Geometry does not require arithmetic.

I picked out a couple of stories to read to the girls on this subject. I have Flatland and Euclid’s Elements, but I doubt they will be as engaging as Sir Cumference: no princesses.


I turned off auto-run on my Windows desk the other day. Auto-run is a feature which permits the operating system to start an application when a disc is inserted into the CD-ROM drive. Some discs use the feature to start the music player, or a demonstration, or to violate constraints start an installation process. notes

Windows will no longer be notified when you insert a new CD.

I don’t comprehend why AutoRun needs to be enabled for the drive ready event to fire — unless there’s no drive ready event.

Game of Tag

Damn. I got caught; Rick tagged me!

Four jobs I’ve had

  • Cashier
  • Secretary
  • Pre-Press Operations
  • Sysadmin
  • Dad

Oops, that was five.

Four movies I can watch over and over

Watching Groundhog Day once is not unlike watching it over and over. I don’t generally watch a movie more than once. But if I had to, I could watch these.

  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, except the dream sequence at the end The James Bond œuvre
  • Mary Poppins
  • A Room with a View

Four TV shows I love(d) to watch

  • The West Wing
  • Lost
  • Desperate Housewives
  • The Sopranos

Four places I’ve been on vacation

  • North
  • South
  • East
  • West

Four favorite dishes

  • Cherry pie
  • Bacon
  • Pancakes — butter melting on each — drizzled with maple syrup
  • My wife’s lentil soup

Four websites I visit daily

Four places I’d rather be

  • Home
  • Library
  • Restaurant
  • See vacation, above

Four I’m tagging

David Parmet dodged, so I tag Matt Weyandt.

Larry, you ever going to get back on the web?

Museum on Stilts

I ran across a blurb in the paper about Louisville’s new art museum, by the same firm which worked on Seattle’s public library.

It will be housed in a radical-looking 61-story skyscraper that’s … an eye-catching example of modern architecture.

You can see if for yourself at The video shows the building’s impact on the overall mass of the city, but not the impact at grade. The impact at grade is supremely important, given the claims made for this building.

There will soon be a new, exciting place to live and visit in the heart of Louisville. Created by world renowned architects, it will attract tourists from around the country and the globe. It will transform downtown into a world class arts and entertainment mecca.

Have they given any thought to the Cincinnatians who have to look across the river at this thing?

Retry-After: After After

Whilst reading the HTTP/1.1 specification for something else, I noticed that the Retry-After header may be used with 3xx redirection status codes.

This field MAY also be used with any 3xx (Redirection) response to indicate the minimum time the user-agent is asked [to] wait before issuing the redirected request.

David Nesting had the thought that this would eliminate the last good reason — other than not having control over your webserver — for using a meta http-equiv=refresh element in HTML. Support for Retry-After in in Mozilla has been requested. It seems also needed in Internet Explorer, Opera, curl, and wget, among others. The test is here.

On Reducing Demand

World oil prices peaked in real terms in 1980 at about $90 per barrel. In 1977, U.S. imports were 6.6 million barrels per day. By 1985, imports had been cut in half to 3.2 million barrels. Why? Simple economics: Higher prices boosted domestic production and reduced consumption.

“Presidential Energy,” Ronald Bailey, The Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2006; Page A10

Postage Paid

Tom Evslin opines on the attempt by AOL and Yahoo! to charge postage to bulk-mailers: It’s my mailbox; pay me! Paul Hoffman suggests that Any sane ISP will wait to see how badly their competitors fail in introducing this new anti-service before trying it themselves.

There are technical hurdles here, such as positively identifying the sender, which if it could be done reliably today would, and accurately billing him, unless Goodmail is planning that senders would anonymously transfer funds from their off-shore accounts before deluging the recipients with fraudulent messages. I agree that increasing the cost of spam is what will decrease its frequency, but I still get paper junk mail. There will be some who will profit despite the high cost of delivery.

And as far as “adding trust” to e-mail goes, I know who to trust. The Computer doesn’t.

Let me add a historical tidbit to Paul’s observation.

[W]hen customer usage of email accelerated in 1991 [Prodigy] imposed a 25 cents charge for each email above the 30-email limit each month. Customer reaction was swift – complaints surfaced on Prodigy bulletin boards and 18,000 customers joined the “Cooperative Defense Committee” to protest the user fees. [link added]

I suspect that improving the quality of mails received is something that recipients do value. This scheme may, if only by providing someone to execute for sending unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Fruit Stickers

You know those stickers the grocers put on the fruits and other produce because the cashiers are ignorant of the prices and names of the fruit, and have to type a number into the register? I think it’s a bit excessive to put three of them on one peach.

Attendance at Movie Theaters: A Simple Economic Problem

Mark Cuban notes that the National Association of Theatre Owners has issues with the simultaneous release of Bubble in multiple distribution channels, and discussion on Fresh Air with Terry Gross mentioned that attendance at movie theaters is down. The drop in attendance is easily explained, even without recourse to quality-of-life costs such as incompetent staff, dirty floors, dirty washrooms, and peeling wallpaper. I need to graph the supporting data, but the graph should be obvious to Econ101 students: prices go up; demand goes down.

Graphs: Attendance as a percentage of the United States population graphed against average prices, in 2004 dollars (calculated using this inflation calculator), the same but unadjusted for inflation, and the un-normalized graph. I have included a curve for the screens available.