February 23rd, 2004


A Nader in the Woodpile

I see that like Jason or Michael Myers, Ralph Nader won't stay dead.

I remember that right after the September 11 attacks, one of my coworkers, aghast at how Bush was responding to the situation, kept muttering "No, Ralph, they're NOT both the same" (refering to Nader's oft stated criticism that there's no appreciable difference between Democrats and Republicans). Now, I can't say whether Gore would have handled things any better, but I know he wouldn't have appointed Ass-croft, and that counts for a lot right there to me.

Nader's contention that both parties are controlled by corporate interests and therefore are unsatisfactory is true but missing the big picture. It's like being told "You can choose one of the following methods for your death; either an overdose of drugs that will put you to sleep and you'll never wake up, or you can be brutually stabbed to death by OJ" and then replying "well, either way, I end up dead, so it doesn't matter which method I choose".

Just go home, Ralph. How about using some of your notoriety to campaign for Greens in city or state elections where they actually have a chance of winning an office and building a viable third party?
master's voice

If you like movies, you may also like television

I'm usually amused by the uselessness of Bot-generated recommendations from amazon, especially when blockbuster bestsellers have just been released ("people who bought "A+ Certification for Dummies" also bought "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", which will undoubtedly also help you pass your certification exams") but Netflix's recommendations are really getting nonsensical. Since I've been renting a lot of television (specifically South Park, Simpsons, and Mr. Show) I'm getting recommends like "Babylon 5: Season 3", despite the fact I've never rented Seasons 1 or 2 from them. I "wish listed" Futurama Season 3 (coming out in 3 or so weeks), so it recommends Season 2, as if it would have never occurred to me to check for the older seasons after establishing that season 3 was available.

How hard is it to program a bot like this to default to "part one" when doing a brute force "people who like X also like Y" and exclude obvious recommendations like "people who rented season 6 also rented Season 7"? I realize Netflix gets the same amount of money from me each month whether I have 50 or 80 movies in my queue, but if they're actually trying to build an intelligent recommendation agent, these are major "duh" obstacles.

Also I'd be remiss as a curmudgeon if I didn't single out half.com, which removes things from my wish list once I buy them (good!) and then recommends these same titles to me as "people with similar tastes also enjoy..." months later (dumb!). Also notable is the habit of recommending music to me that I've sold on half.com, ie: "People with your tastes bought this, didn't like it, sold it, and then were persuaded by a bot to acquire it again".