Monday, December 31, 2007

Kneeling Woman

Kneeling Woman
Originally uploaded by macoggins
Pic of another statue in Buenos Aires park.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Woman with Flowing Hair

Flowing Hair
Originally uploaded by macoggins
Here's a shot of a statue from the Botanical Gardens in Buenos Aires.

Old Subway Advertisement

Old Subway Sign
Originally uploaded by macoggins
An old advertisement for tea in the Peru subway station of Linea A in Buenos Aires.

Weight Machines

Weight Machines
Originally uploaded by macoggins
Here are some old "your weight for a peso" machines in the Peru subway station of Linea A in Buenos Aires. Linea A is the oldest line of the system and Peru is the station that most looks like the stations did when the subway first opened at the turn-of-the-century.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Patio in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Patio in San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Originally uploaded by macoggins
Here's a patio from a "sausage house" (what we in the US might call a "shotgun house") in the San Telmo neighborhood in Buenos Aires.

Recoleta Cemetary

Boy Angel
Originally uploaded by macoggins
Thanks to Robert Wright, I took an excellent tour of Buenos Aires' Recoleta Cemetery on Christmas day. Here's a picture of an angel on one of the crypts.

Special Delivery from Buenos Aires

Bicycles in Palermo, Buenos Aires
Originally uploaded by macoggins
We're spending the holidays in Buenos Aires, and although I can't really scare up anything mystery- or crime-related to scribble about, I can share a few of our better pictures.

With no further excuses or apologies, here come some pics from BA. This one was taken in the Palermo neighborhood ...

Saturday, December 15, 2007


In earlier posts (one, two, three), I provided links to a series of podcasts featuring Joe Gores talking about The Maltese Falcon. Now we've got something even better--a series of six YouTube videos with the same material. The sound is generally better and you get the extra bonus of seeing the visual on Joe's imitation of Gutman discovering the Falcon is made of lead! The player embedded below will show them all in sequence automatically.

Thanks to Penny Johnson, Senior Librarian at the Pleasanton Public Library for making and editing the tape.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Runoff in Houston

I went to Houston to do a signing for Runoff at the wonderful bookstore Murder by the Book and in a true, life-imitates-art moment, discovered that the city was holding a runoff election for city council that very day (December 8, 2007). Check out a copy of the sample ballot in pdf here.

But it got weirder still. The only reason I knew there was an election was because my hotel was serving as a polling station for precinct 360.

No electioneering allowed within 100 feet of the polling place:

Not that it would have been moved the needle much, given the low voter turnout by the time I visited:

I went inside to explore and was immediately asked by the poll workers if I was there to vote. I somewhat sheepishly explained that, no, I was there for a book signing.

They: What's the book about?

Me: Er, election fraud.

They: What's it called?

Me: Runoff

They: This is a runoff election! I hope you're book is fiction

Me: Oh, yes, it is.

They (noticing my obvious interest in the hardware in the room): Well, there's no risk of that sort of thing in Houston with our new electronic voting machines.

At that point I didn't have the heart to tell them that e-voting machines were in fact at the center of the fraud in the book and that in my opinion and the opinion of many other people in the software industry, e-voting poses a big threat to the integrity of US elections.

Houston uses the eSlate voting system, which produces no voter verifiable paper audit trail, and sure enough, a little research surfaced concerns about the way the system was used to adjust votes in the earlier, general election.

As Professor Ballou, a character in Runoff from the Stanford University Computer Science department, explains:

If you want one-stop shopping, then the best thing to do is wait until all the votes are loaded on the central server. If you can gain access to the network where the election management system runs, then results for the whole election are at your fingertips. It's not dissimilar to a student who wants to cheat in school. It's more efficient to hack into the university system to change the grades for all your courses than to go to the trouble of cheating on individual exams in each class.

Thus endth the civics lesson. Visit or Brad Blog if you want to learn more.

I told the story about my visit to the polling place at my signing at MBTB (most people in the audience weren't even aware there was a runoff election that day) and got a few laughs.

And election or no, I had a great time at the signing and also picked up a copy of A Hell of a Woman, the new anthology edited by Megan Abbott and published by MBTB employee David Thompson's Busted Flush Press. I haven't gotten very far into the book yet, but Jeff Pierce's summing up of it as a "dark, propulsive anthology" in his Pierce's Pick of the Week at January Magazine sounds just about right to me.