is winner-take-all broken?

Olympic athletes use a huge amount of sponsor money — not to mention legal and illegal performance aids — to reach gold. Soon we will have genetically engineered physiology to reach even greater records. Schools compete for an annual #1 ranking. They spend more and more money to bid for the best professors and build the best facilities, driving up tuition. Coding theorists run massive simulations to find the best code to compete for the one spot in standards. But is the second place athlete, school, and code that much worse? No, usually they are nearly as good as #1.

I’ve often wondered whether many problems in the world are not variations of attempting “exact optimization” — this being the only way to guarantee success in a winner-take-all reward system.
(Read the article)

tax season again

Gotta love the tax code… all things considered:

More here.

How to (maybe) get WordPress Stats to accept the API key

WordPress stats is a nice little filter for WordPress, one of those devious hidden image IP trackers. Unfortunately, getting it to accept the API key doesn’t always work (even if it works for Akismet without complaint).

You may keep getting

Enter your API key to link this blog to your account. Be sure to use your own API key! Using any other key will lock you out of your stats.

even if the API key is correct. or if you hard code the API key

An API Key is present in the source code but it did not work.

The Stats Plugin is not working because it needs to be linked to a account.

I didn’t find a solution in any of the forums, so I looked at the stupid script some more. Basically it uses the API key to get a “blog_id” (database index, most likely) from and can’t find one. So I made up a blog_id in the code. That shut up the plug-in, but of course stats aren’t tracked.

Finally, I went to, logged into the account, made a new garbage * blog, then a bit later took out the made-up blog_id from the code, de-activated and re-activated, and … everything works. The external blog shows in the “Global dashboard.” Also the real blog_id is returned from code. But, if I take out the hard coded API key, it stops working again.

This is definitely a problem with registering externally hosted blogs, so to make it work, hard code the API key, make sure there is at least one * blog, wait a little bit, then re-activate the stats plug in.

tax forms must be designed by idiots

CA income tax form is the worst.
MA is only slightly better.
The federal one is a disaster but at least I’m used to it.
These things require reverse-engineering the spagetti code behind the instructions in order to see the actual calculations, which are all fairly simple. And yet, there is no logic to the instructions, like why the apportioning of income for non-residents need to be calculated multiple times, or why rate and value calculations are interleaved in random order, or why two forms that should give the same answer, don’t… Argh!