Monday, December 6, 2010



Bruce Schneier says that rather than put airport-style security on the Washington Monument, we should close it. I agree.

An empty Washington Monument would serve as a constant reminder to those on Capitol Hill that they are afraid of the terrorists and what they could do. They're afraid that by speaking honestly about the impossibility of attaining absolute security or the inevitability of terrorism -- or that some American ideals are worth maintaining even in the face of adversity -- they will be branded as "soft on terror." And they're afraid that Americans would vote them out of office if another attack occurred. Perhaps they're right, but what has happened to leaders who aren't afraid? What has happened to "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"?

An empty Washington Monument would symbolize our lawmakers' inability to take that kind of stand -- and their inability to truly lead.


We can reopen the Washington Monument when we've defeated our fears, when we've come to accept that placing safety above all other virtues cedes too much power to government and that liberty is worth the risks, and that the price of freedom is accepting the possibility of crime.

Remember integral calculus, which most of us learned in high school or college (sometimes both), concerned with finding the area under curves? A medical researcher not only "discovered" it, but published a paper on it, and the paper has 75 citations. The blog post author is a bit kinder than I would be.

Roger Ebert has a rant about how religion views women, especially in the Catholic Church.

If you're curious about the kind of subtleties that go into computer user-interface (UI) design, here's a short piece about why Google Maps labels are so much more readable than other sites. It's good to remember that our experience of computers is determined just like our experiences of chairs and cars and amusement parks: some human designed it that way. Often, they didn't do the best possible job.

Finally, the President of SUNY-Albany apparently decided to cut the French, Italian, Russian, Classics, and Theater Arts programs, and did so without a great deal of courage. Biochemist Gregory Petsko wrote an excellent open letter.

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