Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
Email [hidden]
Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco

The (only) developer at earthli.com.


2518 Articles

#1 − Dean Baker on Copenhagen


It’s a bit late now, but the article What should Obama say in Copenhagen? by Dean Baker (Politico) serves as a source for the U.S. requirement that the Chinese commit to ¼ of the per-capita CO2-output of the U.S.:

“The current view in the U.S. appears to be that the Chinese should forever commit themselves to emitting greenhouse gases at one-third or one-quarter the per capita rate as people in the United States.”

So, when you kept hearing the President say that the “deal is on the table” and that “countries should step up”, he knew full well that the deal was completely unacceptable to the Chinese. Hillary also made sure to very specifically note that the U.S. would only proceed with their deal if “all other parties” also signed on. Both Obama and his Secretary of State took the opportunity to try to look and sound good because they knew that the Chinese wouldn’t take the bait and force the U.S. to actually have to go through with the deal they’d offered.

(Attached to Article In Short in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − South Korea is the key ally in this equation


The article, We Have a Nobel Peace President Who Won’t Ban Land Mines by Bill Moyers (AlterNet), points out that a major modern-day deployer of land mines is, in fact, South Korea, another major U.S. ally (home to dozens of thousands of U.S. troops and numerous bases).

“But still we refuse to sign, citing security commitments to our friends and allies, such as South Korea, where a million mines fill the demilitarized zone between it and North Korea.”

Given that situation, there is every reason to believe that U.S. commitments to South Korea play an important role in the continued lack of a U.S. signature on the land mine treaty. It’s not as if an objective reading of history would lead anyone to expect principles to have anything to do with U.S. policy.

(Attached to Article Screw You, Peg-leg in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − Another example from Eric Lippert


Begging the question by Eric Lippert (Fabulous Adventures In Coding):

“Suppose I asked “why are diamonds very hard but butter is very soft?” and you answered “diamond and butter are both made out of atoms; the atoms of diamonds are hard and the atoms of butter are soft.” You would have begged the question; your answer to my question “why are some things hard and some things soft” is “because some things are made out of stuff that is hard and some things are made out of stuff that is soft” – that is, you’ve avoided answering the question by providing an “explanation” that itself cannot be understood without answering the original question – namely, why is some stuff hard and some stuff soft? This pseudo-explanation has no predictive power; it doesn’t tell us anything new, it just circles back on itself. The explanatory assumption – that some atoms are hard and some atoms are soft – is stronger than the thing we are trying to investigate – the hardness and softness of two substances.”

#1 − Another clever and succinct solution


This one’s from Chris Meadowcroft:

const string EnglishListPrefix = "{";
const string EnglishListSuffix = "}";
const string IntermediateSeparator = ", ";
const string LastSeparator = " and ";
static string BuildStringWithEnglishListSyntax(IEnumerable<string> itemsEnumerable)
  StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder(EnglishListPrefix);
  using(IEnumerator<string> items = itemsEnumerable.GetEnumerator())
    if(items.MoveNext())  // make sure it's not an empty list
      bool isFirstString = true;
      bool isLastString = false;
        string current = items.Current;
        isLastString = !items.MoveNext();
          result.Append(isLastString ? LastSeparator : IntermediateSeparator);
          isFirstString = false;
   return result.ToString();
(Attached to Article Elegant Code vs.(?) Clean Code in Programming)

#1 − More Pictures

marco (updated by marco)

The photo attached to the article itself is quite tame. In the ensuing days since publication, these far more devastating ones have appeared:

#1 − Excellent Article


The article Call Me Ishmael… by Tony Karon (Rootless Cosmopolitan) puts the paltry thoughts outlined above much more eloquently:

“The war on terror is a profound conceptual error, not simply because the problem with making war on a common noun (drugs, poverty, terror) is that a common noun cannot surrender; but also because it treats a small band of extremists with no means of transforming the balance of power as if they represent a genuine strategic threat rather than what John Kerry quite correctly in 2004 labeled a ‘nuisance.’ Kerry told the New York Times, ‘We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance. As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.’”

#1 − Nothing to Lose


The article, Not My Financial Crisis – I’ve Got Literally Nothing to Lose by Alexander Zaitchik (AlterNet), makes the following point about those who have not really participated in the economic boom, who don’t really do much more than scrape by:

“Scraping by will likely become even harder in the days ahead for people in my income bracket. But it seems to me that a decade of scraping by is good practice for whatever’s coming. And it’s just a fact that this particular era of capitalism hasn’t been very good for those of us at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. If it takes some creative destruction to herald a new, more egalitarian, better regulated economy, then so be it. Millions of us are waiting for the reckoning with belts already tightened. They’ve been tightened for as long as we can remember. (emphasis added)”

It is easy to sympathize with the emphasized statement above; it’s probably true. But, it also indicates that the author isn’t at the bottom of the heap or isn’t aware of the ramifications of a true restructuring of the economy. When economists claim that the system can be saved, they mean that it will be put back the way it was; they don’t mean systemic change, which would benefit the unwashed masses, but not before it starved half of them to death.

(Attached to Article Define Crash, Please in Finance & Economy)

#1 − The Bernouilli Fairy


Moral-Philosophic Implications for Socialism in One Sector of a Visit from the Bernoulli Fairy by Brad DeLong (Grasping Reality) has some back-of-the-envelope numbers supporting the idea stated above that “[t]he only reason many schemes tend to succeed instead of fail is that people, in general, pay off their debts and work very hard.”. He comes to the conclusion that, when you invest in the market, “you are accepting assets that promise an average return of $125,000, and yet the market is silling to sell them to you for only $55,000”. Unless, of course, you make this investment right before everything goes in the dumper.

#2 − Jesse Last’s Latest


One week later and Mr. Last is a good deal more skeptical than the words quoted above would imply. In My Hope for Obama by Jesse Last (3QuarksDaily), he now writes:

“Recently, he seems to have turned up the “change” volume but neglected the “individual contribution” sound, and now his message feels slightly out of tune. When I watch him speak on television, I see the crowd cheer with an incredible fervor. […] I just wish I did not feel as though I were watching a rally bordering on a revival. We need soaring rhetoric in a world of depressed resignation, but such rhetoric should be filled with content. I want to hear more about his proposals.”

Welcome back.

(Attached to Article The Cult of Obama in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − Very Observant


In Who wins if it is McCain v. Hillary? McCain v. Obama? by Mitchell Freedman, says:

“As for Obama, he remains a mirror with flowery rhetoric. People see what they want to see with him, more than many candidates. Yet, when he gets specific on matters such as health care, Obama keeps wanting to show, at least rhetorically, that he is a reliable corporate Democrat a la the Clintons.”

Obama’s health-care plan would cover less than half of the Americans without health insurance and would be voluntary—screwing any chance it has of working because the insurance pool would be out-of-balance as only sick people would volunteer to pay into the program.

(Attached to Article The Cult of Obama in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − He Dropped out of the Iraq Study Group!


Rudy missing in action for Iraq panel by Craig Gordon (NY Newsday) reports that:

“Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war. … [h]e cited “previous time commitments” in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why – the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani’s lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.”

Check the article for more sordid details. However, those who believe that his preference for cash above public involvement will sink his campaign are sorely mistaken. People don’t care about shit like this. If his campaign staff is clever (and they are—they’re the same people Bush used), they’ll spin this as Giuliani, Man of the People, didn’t have time for high falutin’ study groups.

(Attached to Article Il Duce Giuliani in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − Flunking Diplomacy


It truly takes a master idiot to get Russia mad at us again. See Bush Flunks Diplomacy 101 by Fred Kaplan (Slate) for a rundown of the history behind Bush’s missiles in Europe.

“What the Russians really fear about this plan is the vast American presence that goes with it. The anti-missile interceptors—the same models as the ones now in Alaska—are gigantic, as big as the old intercontinental ballistic missiles and, like them, buried in substantial blast-hardened silos. To deploy 10 of them, along with a huge X-band radar system, will require an enormous military base, heavily staffed, apportioned with the usual complement of U.S. Air Force infrastructure and American amenities. … In short, the United States would be gaining a substantial foothold deep inside Eastern Europe, closer than ever to the Russian border.”

But, wait! Don’t they realize that we’re the good guys? That we beat them 15 years ago—fair and square—and that we’re all on the same team now?

#1 − Ryan Block of Engadget Joins the Fray


The appropriately titled, Waaaaaah! by Macalope, takes a columnist at Engadget to town for making a hypothesis, assuming it to be true without a shred of proof, then whining about conclusions drawn from it. When Block asks, “So why not make 99-cent 128-bit AAC tracks DRM free as well?”, the Macalope responds:

“Why not give Ryan Block a pony?! Because he’d only bitch that he wanted a bigger, shinier pony.”
(Attached to Article Free Software/Open Source in Technology)

#1 − God, I do love killing these bastards.


The article, Why Can’t We Talk about Peace in Public? by Matt Taibbi (AlterNet), contains some disturbing quotes from other soldiers in Iraq. They are far less reflective than the soldier from the article above.

“It’s starting to sink in… I’ll have to go home, the opportunities to kill these fuckers is rapidly coming to an end. Like a hobby I’ll never get to practice again. It’s not a great war, but it’s the only one we’ve got. God, I do love killing these bastards. … I still have 20 days of kill these motherfuckers, so I don’t wanna take even one day off.”

The author is an airforce pilot, seeing the world through a high-tech bomb sight; seeing his targets as splotches on a screen; seeing everything that moves as an insurgent. Though the soldier is clearly to blame for his own complete lack of empathy, it’s hard not to consider the sheer amount of brainwashing, both military and civilian, that went into creating this fine human being. It’s hard, in fact, to lay the blame for what he’s become at his feet. He is what he was raised to be by a society that needs grist like him for its perpetual wars. Or, as Taibbi puts it:

“In my mind, all the people in the Bush administration and in Congress and in the media who got these kids sent there in the first place have to be the first ones held responsible for whatever those kids do after being thrown into the fire. I just don’t yet have the stomach to start pointing the finger at a bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings who never should have been sent there in the first place.”
(Attached to Article War is Revenge in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − In case it’s not already crystal clear…

marco (updated by marco)

Here’s a picture.

 Steve Sack hammers it home

Do you see the US anywhere on there? No? Good … then, you’ve got the right idea.

#3 − Kirkpatrick Follows Protegé


One of the founding mothers of the neocon movement that has made this world such a warm, safe place to live also died recently. Former U.N. envoy Kirkpatrick dies (CNN) has the story, which is naturally chock full of quotes about how sorely she will be missed—by such upstanding community members as Bill Frist, Bill Bennet, John Bolton and the American Enterprise Institute. Somehow they forgot to mention what an ironclad, heartless bitch she was who often competed with Maggie Thatcher in drawn-out contests to see who could squash more of the poor under the heel of her sensible pump.

Seriously, Kissinger. What are you waiting for?

(Attached to Article Good Riddance in Public Policy & Politics)

#2 − The Washington Post Loved Him Too


The Washington Post and Pinochet (UggaBugga) writes about this article, A Dictator’s Double Standard (Washington Post), in which the basic attitude toward Pinochet is akin to “At least Hitler introduced the Volkswagen and the autobahn and reduced unemployment”. Although comparing Pinochet to Hitler isn’t fair—Pinochet wasn’t nearly as efficient—neither is the Post’s comparing him favorably to Castro.

All in all, a disgusting showing from the Post, which doesn’t even have the decency to label it as an editorial.


(Attached to Article Good Riddance in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − And, from Santiago


As expected, reports from Chile itself aren’t nearly as forgiving of Pinochet as the BBC and other western media are. Crowds Take to Streets to Celebrate Pincohet’s Demise by Jen Ross (Common Dreams) tells the story of “a cacophony of car horns and cheering yesterday”. The only disagreement was over whether to be happy he was dead or mad that he evaded going to trial.

(Attached to Article Good Riddance in Public Policy & Politics)

#2 − Try the up arrow …


#2 − No Longer Old-School here …

marco (updated by marco)
“…a lot of IT staff I know by default switches back to this old interface.”

Heh. I used to be one of those … but I stopped using the Windows Classic look when I found Opus OS 1.5 by Ross 'b0se' Harvey, Opusworks (Deviant Art). I still can’t use the default Windows XP blue theme for very long, but Vista looks pretty nice. I just don’t have the horsepower on my notebook to turn on all the pretty details …

(Attached to Article Spolsky’s Choices in Technology)



Wildcards are a way to provide partial support for propert generics, in which—if B inherits from A—List<B> also inherits from List<A>. In both Java and C#, this is not the case, which makes passing generic parameters all the more difficult.

The where keyword in C# corresponds to the extends keyword in Java. It indicates that the actual generic parameter must conform to the given base type (which can be a class or an interface). In your example, the implementation of the generic class may call any features defined in MYBASETYPE on MYTYPE.

(Attached to Article Wildcard Generics in Programming)

#1 − Flash Version available


Interactive Map of Springfield is now available, with popup cels for many buildings to help you remember which ones are which.

(Attached to Article Map of Springfield (Simpsons) in Fun)

#2 − Just tested it!


I just tried it out and am still very excited about it. Both PowerPoint and Word are worlds better than any previous versions.

“the “bad thing” is that microsoft once more did their own thing for the toolbar-system.”

Kind of … the toolbar is actually a whole area on which any controls can be laid. The “ribbon” really only works for applications with a lot of functionality and a lot of different workflows. It also only works once a lot of time has been put into researching how people want to use the program.

Many other applications—including those condsidering using the “cool new” toolbar from Microsoft—will have far less success than they expect. Even if they manage to replicate the look and feel, they won’t be able to replicate the usability with a simple copycat approach. That said, I do hope they at least make the toolkit available so that applications that do want to make the leap to using a “ribbon” can do so in a standard way.


(Attached to Article Office 2007 Innovations in Technology)

#1 − MNFTIU does it again

marco (updated by marco)

Check out the second pane for a well-written summary of the situation:

(Attached to Article Chatty Retirees in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − Konami Pro Evolution Soccer 4


Took this demo for several spins and it pretty much kicks ass! It has almost none of the problems mentioned above (although it’s kind of hard to shoot). I imagine the control issues are addressed in the manual … and it’s a steal at $20!

(Attached to Article PC Soccer Games in Video Games)

#1 − Followup…


I even got a nice response. We agree to disagree … could have been worse.


“I am glad and surprized to hear that you are willing to agree to disagree. Let freedom ring:

““In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism, who seeks to subvert these(religion & morality)greatest pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”- George Washington

“Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful),

“Joseph Gomez”

(Attached to Article My first hate mail! in Miscellaneous)

#1 − More Opera startup packs


When you start up Opera for the first time ever, it defaults to the Startup home page at Opera. From here, you have a link to Customize, which offers one-click downloads that adjust your browser to have the “IE/Firefox look and feel” or “Safari look and feel”.

They may not be open-source, but they seem to know how to get new users accustomed to their product.

Does Firefox have anything like this?

(Attached to Article Extensions and Plugins in Technology)

#2 − Hired Muscle


That’s interesting because of their job description, that “many of them [are] tasked to protect US troops and personnel”. The Army can’t be so bad … they hire more troops to protect their troops.

“Often the foreign contract workers are highly paid former soldiers who are armed with automatic weapons, leading to Iraqis viewing all foreign workers as possible mercenaries or spies.”

That is a dastardly conclusion to which only a crazy Arab could come. Ahem.

#1 − Michael Moore’s response to the Bush press conference


Try not to think of the credibility Michael Moore lost when he supported Wesley Clarke (as he was pioneering the ABB movement), consider the excellent points he makes in Personal Voices: Setting the Record Straight by Michael Moore (AlterNet) on their own merits. Here he talks about the coverage of Falluja and the rising Iraqi revolution:

“First, can we stop the Orwellian language and start using the proper names for things? Those are not “contractors” in Iraq. They are not there to fix a roof or to pour concrete in a driveway. They are MERCENARIES and SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE. They are there for the money, and the money is very good if you live long enough to spend it.”

To Bush’s babbling about terrorists and Baathist extremists, he responded: “You closed down a friggin’ weekly newspaper, you great giver of freedom and democracy!”

About reporting in Iraq, he reminds us that what we are seeing is not reporting in a news sense, but simply packaging of press releases:

“…it is now too dangerous for a single media person to go to that [Saddam statue] square in Baghdad … those brave blow-dried “embeds” can’t even leave the safety of the fort in downtown Baghdad. They never actually SEE what is taking place across Iraq (most of the pictures we see on TV are shot by Arab media and some Europeans). When you watch a report “from Iraq” what you are getting is the press release handed out by the U.S. occupation force and repeated to you as “news.””

Moore has his own cameramen in Iraq, and they tell him that:

“…when they fly into Baghdad, they don’t have to show a passport or go through immigration. Why not? Because they have not traveled from a foreign country &#8211; they’re coming from America TO America, a place that is ours, a new American territory called Iraq.”
(Attached to Article A War President in Public Policy & Politics)

#1 − Alex Cockburn (Counterpunch)


Bush as Hitler? Let’s Be Fair by Alexander Cockburn (Counterpunch) quotes an article by contributor Dave Lindorff:

“It’s going a bit far to compare the Bush of 2003 to the Hitler of 1933. Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was. But comparisons of the Bush Administration’s fear mongering tactics to those practiced so successfully and with such terrible results by HItler and Goebbels on the German people and their Weimar Republic are not at all out of line.”
(Attached to Article Moveon movies in Public Policy & Politics)