Work, Lack of Sleep, Spring Break and Blogging

So finally the report is done, the project design is almost complete and under testing and spring break is on to us. There are two problems however. I am really tired right now because of lack of sleep. I have slept only 4 hours the last two nights (and I usually need at least 8 hours every night). And the spring break does not mean spring is here. Especially since I am going home. The weather in New Jersey is definitely colder than here. I hope the roads are ice-free tomorrow when I drive the 14 hours to Piscataway. Bloggin obviously will have to wait until sunday. But don’t worry, I have a free week ahead of me.

Nigerian 419 scam takes a life

A Nigerian diplomat in the Czech Republic was murdered by a man who was fooled by the famous Nigerian email scam.

A notorious e-mail scam has resulted in the murder of a Nigerian diplomat in the Czech Republic.

Fifty-year-old Michael Lekara Wayid, Nigeria’s consul in the Czech Republic, was shot dead by an unidentified 72-year-old Czech at the Nigerian Embassy in Prague on Wednesday.

According to police reports, the suspect was a victim of the 419 scam, a thriving industry that employs thousands of people around the world. The scammers successfully manage to extort money from thousands of victims by promising them compensation for assistance in moving funds from foreign countries to banks in the United States.

The criminals typically make their money by extracting ever-escalating sums of money for bribes, bank fees and the like from their “business partners,” that is, the folks they scam. But according to early reports in Nigerian and Czech newspapers, the gunman’s bank account was drained after he gave the account number and other personal details to someone posing as a senior Nigerian official.

It is not known whether the suspect was contacted by e-mail or other means. The 419 scams were carried out by postal mail until the advent of e-mail, but, according to FBI reports, most 419 scams are now conducted, at least in the early stages, by e-mail.

According Nigerian newspaper reports, the suspect arrived at the embassy and said he needed to discuss a business matter. He was referred to Wayid. Soon afterward, an embassy receptionist heard raised voices followed by shots and went to investigate.

The killer has been arrested. The fool! First, he lost his money and now his liberty!

Blog Talk

Some time on friday, the 5000th “unique visitor” read my blog. That’s after approximately 3 months of making the blog public.

Busy

Blogging will be light until March 1 as I try to design a project for the VLSI class I TA and work on a research report due next friday.

Eenie, meenie, minie, moe

One learns new things every day. Via Eve Tushnet, I found out that two African-American women have sued Southwest Airlines. The reason is said to be the reciting of “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.” This apparently has some racist history in the US.

When we get around to having kids, please remind me not to teach them the Urdu version of “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe.” When we were kids, we had a few versions of this rhyme in Urdu. How was I supposed to know it has racist overtones half way across the world. Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to offend, even though I was only four at the time!

Part of Pi

Our names are represented within the first 4 billion binary digits of pi (=3.14159…) if you encode the alphabet into 5-bit binary numbers. Here are the results:

search string = “zack”
20-bit binary equivalent = 11010000010001101011
search string found at binary index = 1514694396

search string = “ajmal”
25-bit binary equivalent = 0000101010011010000101100
search string found at binary index = 3302046204

search string = “amber”
25-bit binary equivalent = 0000101101000100010110010
search string found at binary index = 2167926308

search string = “ambrin”
30-bit binary equivalent = 000010110100010100100100101110
search string found at binary index = 2595054309

Via Volokh Conspiracy

Computer Languages

A reader Trevor Anderson of Volokh Conspiracy defends C and blasts Java, Ada and Pascal.

There are other languages, sure, and they are not all bad, I suppose. Java is okay if your objects need to be oriented: it looks a lot like C and its working parts are written in C (I’d bet!), but there is something of the granola-eating, latte-quaffing, socks-with-sandals options-watcher to its aura that I just don’t like. If Java is still too liberal for your tastes there is always Ada, as good an example of totalitarian programming as ever there was. Choc-full of turgid rules and regulations and government interference, invented by comittee with the express intent of keeping incompetent programmers in business. Full of itself, it lets the anal control freaks among us think we’re really in charge. Ugh. Another choice might be Pascal, eminently suited to prescriptivists: no split-infinitives there, pal, just rigid typing and pedantic grammar.

It had me laughing a lot.

Smallpox Vaccinations

Virginia Postrel says:

Speaking of immigrants, I can’t help wondering whether the estimates of how many (or rather, how few) Americans have been vaccinated against smallpox fully account for the immigrant population. I’ve noticed quite a few vaccination scars on the upper arms of relatively young Vietnamese manicurists.

Jay Manifold says vaccinations are good for 50 years, but I’d rather not bet my life on that estimate. My last vaccination was in 1966, as a requirement for entering first grade, but it “didn’t take” because I still had immunity from my vaccination in infancy. See how common these things used to be?

I imagine most immigrants from the developing world were vaccinated at least in the 1970s. Both my wife and I were vaccinated against smallpox when we were kids and have the scars to show for it.

UPDATE: The last case of smallpox infection in Pakistan was in 1974 while the last case worldwide was in 1977 in Somalia.

Welcome, MSNBC Readers

I hope you like my weblog. Please look at the archives as well and visit again. Thanks, Will Femia of MSNBC Weblog Central for putting me on the Best of Blogs list.

Here are some of my posts that you might be interested in reading:

Political Islam and Pakistan
Wahabis/Salafis (1, 2, and 3).
Muslims, the West and Media
Global Attitudes Survey
Tribalism and Conservatism
Activist Islam in Pakistan (1, 2, 3, 4).
Bin Ladenism
Antisemitism among Muslims

Pakistan
Joke of a Prime Minister
Islamabad: Pakistani or not?
US/Pakistan Forces Clash
Impressions from Pakistan
Conspiracy Theories

Honor Killings
Posts 1, 2, and 3.

Japanese-American Internment and Relevance for Today
Abduction of Japanese-(Latin)Americans
Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans (1 and 2).
Better than Hilter, Stalin and Castro
Rep. Howard Coble

INS: Immigration and Security
Security: Pros and Cons (1, 2).
Special Registration (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
Deported Pakistanis: Illegal Immigrants
INS Bunglings (1, 2, 3).

Terrorism
Condemnations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Terrorism and Repression (1, 2).

Race Relations and Discrimination
Trent Lott’s nostalgia for segregation (1, 2, 3).
Employment discrimination study using racially distinct names (1, 2, 3, 4).
States’ Rights and Slavery
Criminal record, race and employment
Eve Tushnet’s series on race
Racism in Death Penalty cases
Racial Profiling in traffic stops

Israel and Palestine
My views on the conflict
Jewish settlers and Israeli Arabs as a political obstacle to a peace settlement.
Look towards the future
Higher standards for Israel
I support Amram Mitzna

Weekend Stuff

If you are wondering what I did over the weekend, wonder no more! On Friday, Amber and I went to Restaurant Serenade in Chatham, NJ for our Valentine’s day dinner. It’s a nice (and expensive) comtemporary French restaurant. The food was good, though I liked the food in France better.

We also watched two movies on the big screen: Chicago and The Hours. Chicago was definitely more entertaining, may be because both of us are suckers for musicals. The Hours was interesting but depressing movie. Having watched the performance of both Renée Zellweger and Nicole Kidman, it’s the consensus opinion in our home that Kidman will get the nod for the best actress oscar.