Who knew?

by Ted on May 14, 2004

[Removed. Upon reflection, I couldn’t back this up. I apologize.]

Molesworth

by Harry on May 14, 2004

When I met Henry in March we conjectured that one possible unifying influence on many even perhaps most of the CT-ers is the work of the analytical Marxists. It’s hard to find other unifying themes. But in the early days I noticed a penchant for Moleworthian phrases and even brief discussions (that I now can’t find). For the Molesworth innocents, unwilling to risk the miniscule cost of the collected works (also purchasable in the US at staggering expense), Radio 4 just rebroadcast its pretty good tribute to the curse of st custards. Have a listen. And then buy the book.

Fingerprints

by Kieran Healy on May 14, 2004

My post “about voting networks in the Eurovision”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001852.html led to a followup from “Danyel Fisher”:http://drzaius.ics.uci.edu/blogs/danyelf/, a grad student at Irvine who studies social networks. His “weblog”:http://drzaius.ics.uci.edu/blogs/danyelf/ is has lots of interesting stuff, including a better-informed version of a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while about “fingerprint databases”:http://drzaius.ics.uci.edu/blogs/danyelf/archives/000188.html. When the U.S. announced that it was going to fingerprint visitors entering the country, I began to wonder when the vast size of these databases was going to run up against the problem of false positives. Although we think of fingerprints as unique, the matching process is prone to error (like everything) and, for a large enough scale, your prints may be essentially identical to someone else’s. Daniel’s post links to a story where exactly this happened, in the case of the Spanish investigation into the train bombings. A perfect match turned up in Portland, Oregon.

Danyel links to a paper “On the Individuality of Fingerprints”:http://biometrics.cse.msu.edu/prabhakar_indiv_pami.pdf (pdf). I also know of — but haven’t read — Simon Cole’s “Suspect Identities”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674010027/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/, a study of the emergence and institutionalization of standards for fingerprinting.

Zarqawi again

by John Quiggin on May 14, 2004

The report that abu Musab al-Zarqawi personally committed the brutal murder of Nicholas Berg raises a number of thoughts for me. The murder and the knowledge of its videotape were bad enough (I’ve seen the still photos published in the papers, but have not looked for the video or for photos showing the actual murder). Giving the murderer a name seems to make things even worse, though it’s hard to say why this should be. There are, though, some important issues that need to be raised.

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