kirk.is | archive | 2002 dec

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backlog flush #6

(10 comments)
December 1, 2002

back from the land of cleves

(6 comments)
December 2, 2002
So I got back from Cleveland and my ten year reunion pretty much intact. It was great seeing people.

Hey Rosser-man, drop me a line, wouldya? Your sister mentioned that you like this site, and I see you have a link to it. Sounds like an interesting time you're having...and you beat my SAT score, you little brat. (Doesn't matter, in a few years they'll be scoring out of 2400 instead of 1600, and we'll all sound like a bunch of morons to the kids..."no, really, sonny...that was a good score back then!" "yeah, right, gramps".)

Speaking of Ross's sister, Marnie...she and I dated in high school, and a bit beyond. And one of the games you play at reunions is, if there's an old romantic interest present who is there with their current spouse or S.O., you're likely to kind of stack yourself against that person. Probably not the healthiest game to play, but it's pretty much inevitable. So not only is Marnie's husband a very sweet seeming guy, and one who lived up to the shorthand description "short but built" that Marnie once used (given that Marnie makes Mo look tall, that isn't at all a bad thing)...he's a friggin' Cancer Researcher at the Cleveland Clinic! GAH! Whatamatter, she couldn't find an astronaut-novelist who runs orphanages and rescues puppies at risk and finds a cure for AIDS on the side?

Quote of the Moment
"There are answers in this book that I wish there weren't questions for."
--Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling on "Useless Sexual Trivia"

Disgustingly Cuteness of the Moment
You know, I used to get irritated by this one small elmo doll some of the women in Tufts Wind Ensemble promoted as a mascot...especially when he started getting credited as a musician in the prgorams. Dang it, until we could hear him play, he shouldn't have gotten credit. Plus the thing's pupils got rubbed off, so for the longest time it had the creepiest blank stare, until they fixed it with a black Sharpie. But I have to admit... this game/video is about the cutest thing I've seen so far this month. I dunno why they were talking about in during a promo for some Cleveland shock jocks.

it takes a worried man to sing a worried song

December 3, 2002
Quote of the Moment
"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened."
--Montaigne, quoted in Dale Carnegie's How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Kind of a note about why we shouldn't fret so much.

Tech Art of the Moment
Wow...a tattooing robot! -- and it looks like a PalmPilot is part of the control system. Now, I love my PalmPilot, but I'm not sure if I trust it quite that much...

Bad News of the Moment
The other day, I kisrael'd a Salon piece on the danger of shoulder launched missiles against commercial aircraft. And last week in Kenya, it happened, though it was a miss. (One question is, did the airplane use electronic defense measures or was it just dumb luck?) Anyway, this Slate article argues that in terms of the future of airline travel, Nov 28 will be a bigger deal than 9-11.

Linguistics of the Moment
I've always been interested in the difference between English here and in the UK, here are the differences in the first Harry Potter book and the second. The biggest thing was changing "Philosopher's Stone", which was a cool legendary alchemy reference into the much more pedestrian "Sorcerer's Stone".

Geek Link of the Moment
The 2002 Perl Advent Calendar has a tasty tidbit (for the computer language Perl) every day for the holiday season. Already I've seen some cool modules I should have been using, rather than doing it from scratch. You can see last year's and the first year's as well (though that first year was just links into previously existing Perl documentation.)

the campfire of consciousness

(1 comment)
December 4, 2002
Quote of the Moment
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being."
--C. G. Jung. Interesting to compare this to the first quote on this entry on my old Palm journal, from Babylon 5, which says in part "We are the Universe made manifest, tring to figure itself out."

Self-Improvement Essay of the Moment
I need to master the fine art of Structured Procrastination.

Read of the Moment
I just finished Alan Moore's highly lauded graphic novel "Watchmen". It was great, borrowing both from traditional superhero comics as well as some very Vonnegut-esque concepts of time. The concept that even beings with superpowers might not be enough to deal with the nuclear weapons of the superpowers was a bit disturbing. I found a site featuring odd tribute comics and with a lot of links (many stale, alas) including annotations by fans and other commentary. (Though most of those links contain spoilers, so you shouldn't read them without having read the work first.)

bow to your ur-quan overlords!

December 5, 2002
Game of the Moment
Good golly, I don't know how I almost let this one slip by...Star Control 2, about the best game of the early-90s, is being engineered and released for free as The Ur-Quan Masters (Toys for Bob, the current company of the original designers, owns everything about the game except the title "Star Control") More information about this incredible series on The Pages of Now and Forever. For my money it's about the best RPG and head to head deathmatch ever. It's a big download, but worth it.

Bad Writing of the Moment
In one fluid movement Herman rolled forward on to his knees, grasped Dorian by the shoulders, and kissed him. Such suction. They were like two flamingos, each attempting to filter the nutriment out of the other with great slurps of their muscular tongues. Adam's apples bobbed in the crap gloaming.
--Will Self, "Dorian", from The Guardian's coverage of the shortlist for the Literary Review Bad Sex Prize 2002. A great (if by great you mean terrible) collection of unfortunate similes and odd apparent fetishes and turn-ons. (via metafilter)

More Bad Writing of the Moment
He pauses, flexing those amazing pecs. "Let's try once more. 'The god ran his fingers through his thick curls; she could only gasp in amazement.' See? Use a semi-colon, not a comma there. If you do it right, I'll consider running my tongue up and down your body."
--The Semicolon, from Thamiris's Sexed-Up Grammar Guide. Right after that last link but from an unrelated source, I found a Globe and Mail piece on "Erotic Fan Fiction".

Dreams of the Moment
I went to half.com to order Dion McGregor Dreams Again. In the 1960s, Michael Barr taped his flatmate Dion McGregor as he talked in his sleep, narrating the most funny and spectacular (and sometimes a bit dirty) dreams, with huge vigor and enthusiasm. Assuming it's not a hoax (and as one reviewer put it even if it is a hoax then "Dion McGregor was the greatest poet of the 20th century") it's the most amazing tour of the subconscious imagination. You can hear some brief samples on the Amazon page.

It's interesting to compare this to Jess Reklaw's Slow Wave, 4 panel comics based on the dreams people send in. I remembered a bit from last night's dream, something about being at camp with Mo driving the camp's big old 15 passenger van, and it slowly rolled over at one point, but everyone was ok. Somehow I don't think that's quite Slow Wave material. (Unlike my future self and Yak Man episodes...)

Incidentally, the first Dion McGregor link (the album has been on my To Get list ever since some NPR coverage a long time back) is from a site on Song-Poem Music, services for people to send in their lyrics and get them set to music and recorded. The site presents these companies as scam artists, since they imply they will also provide an in to major labels, but it seems pretty cool to me as long as the writers know what they're getting into.

backlog flush #7

(4 comments)
December 6, 2002
  • Seung Ho Henrik Holmberg makes some amazing landscapes...they say he just draws directly in Photoshop, and the results are astoundingly photorealistic.
  • Mmm...mid-90s nostalgia...remember OK Soda, and its hotline? (What was it, 1-800-I-FEEL-OK ?) I remember a 1995 Wired magazine "Scenarios" view of 2020 that had an OK Soda ad in it...guess they missed on that one. I thought it was pretty good advertising campaign/attitude. (Sort of like that Coca-Cola slogan in Japan: "Coke: No Reason".)
  • Geek Programming Links: Perl Paraphernalia! Plus PHP, PHP and more PHP!
  • Video Game Director's Cuts has lots of homebrew Flash movies using Video Game characters, mostly Mario, Sonic, and that lot.
  • This Salon interview with Signapore's ambassador to the UN has some interesting stuff on Asian nation's struggles with modernization, though his book's title ("Can Asians Think?") raised some eyebrows.
  • "The worst case scenario is to have a bunch of dummies in charge of the nuclear weapons" --quote from Weekend All Things Considered, about the fact that the old generation of weapons scientists is retiring, and due to test bans there aren't enough up-and-comers to replace them. (via Ranjit)
  • I first heard about the simulation Wa-Tor in a Scientific American "Computer Recreations" column. The idea is a grid (which could map onto a torus-shaped planet so the "wrap around" made sense) with shark predators and fish prey. Sharks eat too many fish, the fish population dies out, the sharks starve, the fish come back, lather rinse repeat.
  • "[Sung while operating on Homer] The kneebone's connected to the... something. The something's connected to the... red thing. The red thing's connected to my wrist watch. ...Uh oh."
    --Dr. Nick
    "What a day, eh, Milhouse? The sun is out, birds are singing, bees are trying to have sex with them -- as is my understanding..."
    --Bart Simpson
    "Fat Tony is a cancer on this fair city! He is the cancer and I am the... uh... what cures cancer?"
    --Chief Wiggum
  • I was tempted by this CD with music from recent VW commercials...I think they really picked some great tunes and made some cool videos, as longtime readers already have seen.
  • "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate."
    --Thomas Jones

from poop to policy

(3 comments)
December 7, 2002
Funny of the Moment
In the beginning was the Plan
And then came the Assumptions
And the Assumptions were without form
And the Plan was completely without substance
And the Darkness was on the faces of the Employees
And they spoke unto their Supervisors saying
"It's a Crock of Shit and it Stinketh!"
And the Supervisors went unto their Department Heads and sayeth
"It's a Pail of Dung, and none may abide the Odor thereof."
And the Department Heads went unto their Managers, and sayeth unto them
"It is a Container of Excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Director and sayeth
"It is a Vessel of Fertilizer, and none may abide its Strength."
And the Director went unto the Vice President and sayeth
"It contains that which aids Plant Growth, and it is very Strong."
And the Vice President went to the Executive Vice President and sayeth
"It promoteth Growth, and it is very Powerful."
And the Executive Vice President went to the President and sayeth
"This Powerful New Plan will actively promote the Growth and Efficiency of the System."
And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was Good
And the Plan became Policy
--via rec.humor.funny.reruns. It's really great how it plays with language.

Product of the Moment
Someone had the same idea I had for using laptops on the desk. Still, I wonder if that's good for the hinge?

I first saw that thing in the latest Wired, which had the cover headline "CHINA:THE NEW CLONING SUPERPOWER". You know, when I think of china, and what it needs as a nation, a way of making more people isn't high on the list. (To be fair I think the article raises the same point.)

Comic of the Moment
This here is Drinky Crow from the comic Maakies. As Ranjit says, "you weren't already obsessed with Maakies? You should be." A brilliantly bizarre comic, with an interesting archaic style, it's kind of like Little Nemo in Slumberland's alcoholic and suicidal cousin, crossed with Itchy & Scratchy and with a streak of tiny Bazooka Joe cartoons underneath (but more misogynistic). Being the borderline obsessive compulsive that I am I had to read the entire archive. If you're in a hurry, I liked this one on kisses, this one made me laugh, this one had a strange poetic beauty, and this one's undercartoon was a bit like a Jack Handy routine. (I love the whole "DOOK DOOK DOOK" drink sound.)

pixeltimes gone bye

(3 comments)
December 8, 2002
Dot Com Nostalgia of the Moment
Ranjit rocks so hard. If it was for certain obvious issues of gender, other relationships, and geography, I'd totally have his baby. For a Christmas gift, he unearthed some old Pixeltime stuff... including my old pixeltime userpage (javascript popup), with all 105 images I made on it. Yay! It turns out my old pixeltime tribute page had only grabbed about 1/3 of the total... I was pretty creative on that site. (The top image was for the "Your Job" gallery...I guess it was before the "Mucko" shootings in Wakefield. I like the fat guy that I drew though.) I had forgotten that the self-portrait I use at the top of kisrael was designed for use as a pixeltime image.

Ranjit also sent me news of an update to the moonmilk wallpaper gallery. The one of his dog, "Tikko in August", is pretty amazing.

Funny of the Moment
Doctor: I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Your condition is definitely fatal.
Patient: Oh, no! Well, how long do I have left?
Doctor: 10
Patient: Ten what? Months? Weeks? Ten what?
Doctor: 9

Ad Quote of the Moment
"Many of you feel bad for this [discarded] lamp. That is because you're crazy."
--Scandanavian Man in a commecial for Ikea by Spike Jonze, part of their Unböring campaign. (Though anyone who enjoyed Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker might disagree with the sentiment.) NY Times Sunday Magazine recently had an article on Ikea in their "Design" issue, talking about the idea of disposable, DIY furniture. I wonder why there are no Ikea stores around here?

backlog flush #8

(1 comment)
December 9, 2002
  • "Lisa, I've had it with you and your stories. 'Bart's a vampire.' 'Beer kills brain cells.' Now let's go back to that... building thingy... where our beds and TV... is."
    --Homer Simpson
    "They say the greatest tragedy is when a father outlives his son. I've never understood why that is; frankly, I can see an upside to it! Ha ha!"
    --Grampa Simpson
  • I've previously written about Fan Fiction...the pornographic stuff is disturbing, but Minesweeper Fanfic is just plain weird.
  • Not sure why I tagged the "S" page off of this, but it seems to have a lot of SNES games.
  • Hmm, maybe I was looking for "Picross"...this page has it for the SNES, and here's an online version. It's a puzzlegame where you have to make a picture on a grid by looking at the sequences of off and on pixels...
  • >Rick is a Mason, he's not a Shriner, nor does he have
    >any interest in becoming one. The Shriners, BTW, are
    >considering dropping the requirement of being a Master
    >Mason to become a Shriner.
    I never knew that about shriners... but how high up the degree tree is a master mason anyhoo?
    I think it might slightly boggle my illuminatus world view to think of all those guys in fezzes riding go-carts as 33 degree masons.
    --Dana Carpender and GrapeApe on alt.fan.cecil-adams
  • Jeff Minter is obsessed with Llamas and other four legged beasts. (He is the proud owner of Flossie the most beautiful sheep in the world.) He also makes video games, all the way back to the old 8-bit days. He has a website with an interesting blog.
  • Calculate the speed of light with marshmallows and a microwave.
  • "You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone."
    --Al Capone
  • Here are some interesting Tesellations, patterns that repeat to fill a 2D space.
  • I'm in a hurry making scientific gadgets, Tom Jr. said Swiftly.

a pox on both your houses

December 10, 2002
Bad News of the Moment
You know, it took me a while to realize why Federal Government wanted "first responders" to be immunized within 30 days...it seemed like such a rush schedule. And then I realized it probably has to do with possible schedules for war with Iraq, especially given this whole Madame Smallpox, Soviet->Iraq connection. Woohoo! Let's hope they're just being conservative and that they don't know specifics that they're not telling us. (What's is it, like a 30% mortality rate for smallpox?)

As scary as that is, what's about as bad is thinking what our government might do if there were outbreaks of smallpox that coincided with an attack on Iraq. Any escalation beyond what they're already likely planning is really awful to consider...could it be the justification our cowboys are looking for to whip out some of our Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Geek Funny of the Moment
You know what would be cool?
A One Ring looseleaf binder. It would have one ring, and you could use it in the darkness. To, you know, bind things.
--Alter S. Reiss on rec.arts.sf.fandom via alt.humor.best-of-usenet

Religous Funny of the Moment
If Xmas was a Jewish Holiday--funny cultural crossover idea.

Lifestyle Change of the Moment
At work, they started firing warning shots o'er the starboard bow about websurfing on the company dime. (In particular, they seem to be alarmed at how often http://alienbill.com/home/ shows up from my computer...it's my startpage, I use it for work as well as play, but still. They also have an idiotic URL-keyword-based blocker engaged, so "loveblender.com", about as innocent a domain as you could hope for, raises red flags.) So that probably means I'm due for a lifestyle shift, and need to back away from the intraday updates I've been doing, and in general, not do any sort of surfing except maybe around lunch.

Although I resent having to do it, it's probably an overdue change. It's a form of growing up, I guess. I've developed very slackeriffic habits in the late-90s, and never really had the need to shake 'em. I'd still get my work done on schedule and of excellent quality relative to my peers. Assuming this takes, who knows, maybe I'm poised to be some kind of development superstar.

I'd feel worse about it if I wasn't still making a lot of money, managing to avoid post-dot-com deflation. I mean, it's an annual salary, but to expect them to pay all those tens of dollars per hour of me just nosing around the world wid...er, I mean, keeping abreast of the latest software and technical developments via online professional journals (ahem) is a bit much.

But still. My role as observer of the online world, and recording it here, is one of the most important things in my life. (Of course, my company's big nightmare seems to be paying me as I work for somebody else on the sly, so maybe this is triggering their primal fears.)

So, assuming I do go back using just a local page for my homepage, and strictly limit myself to technical stuff on Google for the most part, it'll mark a change of my life from the last 5 years. It'll be growing up, and I'm not sure if I like that. Somehow growing up always seems to carry the danger of shrivelling up, losing that spark.

Yeesh, I'm going to be even more sensitive about things that seem to risk cutting into my freetime...

slogans for the masses

December 11, 2002
Links of the Moment
"Obey Your Kisrael.com." "Kisrael.com Tested, Mother Approved." "Strong Enough for a Man, Made for a Kisrael.com." The Advertising Slogan Generator is providing all my Kisrael.com slogan needs! And if that wasn't cool enough, the Brunching Shuttlecocks' C.Y.B.O.R.G. (what would your acronym be, if you were a robot designed to cause mayhem?) has been upgraded to generate cool graphics like the one here to the right.

Quote and Review of the Moment
"The Turkish Enterprise's dress code has got to cause problems. The female personnel are forced to wear miniskirts that end four inches above the bottom of their asses, and when they turn around to work on the spray-painted cardboard computers, they have no secrets. I'm sure this leads to situations where the navigator loses his concentration and says, 'Miss Uhura, we are crotching a course for the panties sector, coordinates your whole ass hanging out. Repeat: panties, panties, panties.'"
--This was some of what boingboing decided to excerpt for its link to a review of the Turkish Star Trek. The review was funny though it went on for a bit...but this damn "coordinates your whole ass hanging out" quote has been sticking in my brain.

Headline of the Moment
"The Bush administration is reminding potential attackers that nuclear retaliation is among the U.S. options." Pandora, your box is ready.

Quote of the Moment
"The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not."
--George Bernard Shaw. Dylan said about the same thing to me when I was having my "existential crisis", that I was fretting about the fate of the world while he was worrying over the current price of ground beef.

blog for live people

(1 comment)
December 12, 2002
Link of the Moment
Morbidly romantic, Mix Tape for Dead Girl. A bit enigmatic as well. Though when I stop to think about it, it's probably cooler to read about than actually hear, being mostly conceptual in nature, so maybe it's good it's not going to be listened too to much.

Political Quote of the Moment
"Until then, we've got an Ichabod Crane economic policy--headless, and galloping wildly on a horse named Tax Cut."
--Slate article from last week. I think that was before GWB picked his canidates, but the article called it ahead of time, none of the guys are very impressive or confidence inspiring.

Poll Results of the Moment
A really big poll shows much of the world becoming disenchanted with the USA, surprise surprise.

Quote of the Moment
"If Jesus Christ played baseball he would be the best ever; but if Babe Ruth was the Messiah the Catholics would have beer and hot dogs at communion."
--Bill Engvall...people use it as a retort to hypotheticals along the lines of 'but if X was still in the game, things would be totally different'. Still, I think I like it more for its sound than its sense.

your lucky number

(1 comment)
December 13, 2002
We had dinner with Brooke and her new boyfriend Brad last night. Somehow the topic of 'number of past lovers' came up. Brooke wasn't wanting to admit the number in front of her new beau, having just had a "stuff SOs don't really need to know about each other"/TMI conversation with Brad.
Mo: Come on, you can tell me, I won't say.
Brooke: Well, ok. [Whispers in Mo's Ear]
Mo: Oh, that's not such a bad number! ......Unlucky, maybe...
Brooke/Brad/Kirk: [Laugh]
Mo: Oops.

Science of the Moment
Huh...boy monkeys like "boys' toys" and girl monkeys like "girls' toys". It seems to indicate that some gender things assumed to be cultural constructs might be innate, at least on some levels.

Doodles of the Moment
Mo thinks the heart snowman that I made for a Gala's Winter Holiday Poem Contest on the loveblender is cute. I like making these little heart guys, like I did for Halloween. I'm not electronic doodling enough...one reason I'd like to get a new Palm is because the 320x320 screens allow for much better doodles than I can do on my current model.

Geek Link of the Moment
Web Design Feng Shui has some good ideas and some goofy ones, but the ratio is better than I would have guessed.

Quote of the Moment
"The problem cannot be truly understood until the solution exists."
--Robert C. Martin on the OTUG (Object Technologies User Group) mailing list. Via an interesting book I'm reading now, Clouds to Code, the in-depth story of a real life software project. One of the author Jesse Liberty's rallying cries is for dramatically smaller teams than are generally employed.

georgia on my mind

December 14, 2002
Bad News of the Moment
Pro-Life, Anti-Choicers legislators in Georgia have come up with a scary new tactic. They put forth a bill where a woman seeking an abortion would be forced to get a "death warrant", after which a guardian for the fetus would be appointed. The guardian would be authorized to seek a jury trial before the "execution" was permitted.

Yikes. It's such an irritating tactic...ingenious and disingenuous at the same time. It's not like Georgia doesn't have laws against killing people. They're trying to do an end run around the central debate, which is and has always been "does the fetus count as a person?", by pretending that it's obvious that the answer to that is yes, but the law was lacking in some other way.

Homebody Geekiness of the Moment
Ranjit knitted this Moebius Strip. It's practice for this Moebius Scarf project that he might do in the future. (Wondering what's a Moebius Strip?) And the thing is, he didn't just make a small scarf and connect the ends with a half twist, that would be too easy. He says it's "basically like building a spiral staircase on a circular foundation, except in this case the foundation has only one side so the staircase grows in both directions--- kind of breaks my brain thinking about it."

Kirk's Geekiness of the Moment
Human Beatbox -- I AM NOT ALONE. Includes tutorials. I think it sounds a lot better when you use a microphone...

backlog flush #9

(4 comments)
December 15, 2002
  • So MAME is a program that lets you run all those old arcade games (though the ROMs are a bit harder to come by once mame.dk got shutdown) and MAMED is a version that runs on Dreamcast. Nice to run these things on a TV, and I know a guy who stuck a DC in a fullsize arcade cabinet. The emulation isn't quite as on a PC good though.
  • Vintage Labels has all these cool Hotel and Travel stickers, like they used to put on luggage. I have a small suitcase that has a ton of cool stickers on it, I keep trying to think of a way of displaying it.
  • While the grossness and PG13ness of this Penny Arcade cartoon led me to put off posting it, it's really funny.
  • Melodyhound is a cool tune search engine, based on the fact that most melodies can be identified by the pattern of "note is higher/lower/the same as previous" for the first few notes.
  • The revisions of the NPR All Things Considered theme music. Now because I hate you all, I'll tell you this: you can sing the words "I like ice cream, it's sooooo tast-eee, I like ice cream, tastes so GOOD!" to this tune. And this fact might not ever leave your head.
  • Salon on online dating. I fool myself by thinking if I hadn't managed to woo Mo I'd have found somebody by the power of online personals, but I dunno.
  • "Any five-paragraph essay that claims to be able to end any problem that's been around for more than a three years has no more worth than a program that fills the screen with the sentence 'I TOOK MY PARENTS' PRAISE TOO SERIOUSLY.' And God help me, if you ever create a section titled 'Rants' I'm going to come over there and kick your ass."
    --From Lore's (of Brunching Shuttlecocks fame) letter to himself on advice for his new blog. (Neither Brunching nor the Blog have seen many updates lately, alas.)
  • LEGO - BUILD has some cool stuff, including Ranjit's Junkbot game. (previously kisrael'd)
  • Snot is my Copilot, an old Usenet posting. I have no idea why I thought I should link to this, maybe the title?
  • Some people are very interested in historically inaccurate fonts as seen in movies. I got bugged when an actor is too blatantly faking playing a musical instrument, this guy is on the lookout for fonts. (And I guess he can identify many many at a glance.)

no "re-elect gore in '04"

(1 comment)
December 16, 2002
News of the Moment
Gore isn't going to run in 2004. It's too bad, I really like him. I don't know if he was the candidate with the best chance of beating War "Hero" Bush. 'Course without the absolute retardedness of the electoral college...(And while we're ranting and taking cheap snipes: Yeah, Nader, Gore obviously would've been just as bad as Bush. Pheh.)

Publishing Thoughts of the Moment
Topic points from an essay by publisher Tim O'Reilly. (For non-geeks, O'Reilly is known for a series of terrific techie books, with various, somewhat randomly selected animals selected for each topic and used on the cover.)
  1. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
  2. Piracy is progressive taxation
  3. Customers want to do the right thing, if they can.
  4. Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy.
  5. File sharing networks don't threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers.
  6. "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service
  7. There's more than one way to do it.
Funny of the Moment
"Come with us."
"Where?"
"El Perro Fumando."
"'The Smoking Dog'?"
"Yes."
"Why?"
"If you wear something blue, you get $2 off a giant blue margarita."
"You know, I make a pretty good living. I can actually afford to wear what I want and pay full price."
"I'm not promoting the economic upside as much as I am the opportunity to drink something giant and blue."
--from Sports Night. Since my mom's in town, my family had early Christmas yesterday, and one of things I asked for (and got) was the complete set of this very funny show.

ko-re-a! i've just met an url named...korea!

(3 comments)
December 17, 2002
Hmm, I wonder if North Korea's nuclear technology is on par with their web design? It's odd seeing old school communism piped through a newer technology like the web...actually, it's just odd seeing this kind of propaganda. (Our propaganada is much slicker and shinier! Sometimes you hardly realize it's there at all.)

Essays of the Moment
Brilliant essay by David Brin on Lord of the Rings and its retrograde view of technology and democracy, with further thoughts on how we judge who is good and who is evil. He also wrote on the democracy of Star Trek vs. the elitism of Star Wars. Reminds of some of the other Star Wars and Trek stuff I posted this summer. I think I need to hunt down some of Brin's scifi.

Irony of the Moment
"When I came to office, I made a commitment to transform America's national security strategy and defense capabilities to meet the threats of the 21st century."
--Bush on the 2004 missile defense shield. The trouble is, that's the threat of the 20th Century, not the 21st!! It's not going to do us a heck of a lot of good against smuggled bombs and viruses, is it? But it will put a lot of money into the hands of defense contractors, and away from the people who might be doing something useful, like scanning incoming cargo shipments. Yeesh.

well-hanged

December 18, 2002
Oy, weird, I just remember I had a dream last night where I was going to kill myself at A dinner party for my 29th or 30th birthday, had my head in a noose and everything for a while, but then I decided not to. I said to the party "they say a lot of people who attempt suicide just want the attention... and I certainly wouldn't put that past me!"

Reminds me of one of my favorite Simpsons clips...this clip was one of the more useful ones to have at hand at work, along with this one. (Hey, it's easy to dehydrate when you''re codemonkeying--thank heavens that job offered free softdrinks. Actually, I kid. Free softdrinks aren't such a hot idea.)

Quote of the Moment
"No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it's doing, but most of the time, we aren't either."
--Marvin Minsky. I added this one to my mortality guide, it's a good reminder that our flavor of consciousness isn't all we crack it up to be.

games just ain't what they used to be

(2 comments)
December 19, 2002
News of the Moment
So they busted some guys from Infocom for possible terrorists. While I don't think it's the same Infocom who made all those text-only games in the 1980s, it brings to mind some funny ideas...

> look
You are on a sidewalk. There is a bus stop to the north.
What do you want do now?
> i
You have:
a cheap wrist watch (being worn)
a vest of explosives (being worn)
a can of diet coke
What do you want do now?
> north
You are at a bus stop. There are many Israelis here. It is sunny.
What do you want do now?
> martyr myself for the glorious jihad of the palestinean people!
Sorry, I don't know how to "martyr".
> wage jihad and smash the infidel jews in a rain of fire!
Sorry, I don't know how to "wage".

Ok, maybe not quite as funny as I envisioned.

Movie Link of the Moment
FilmWise's Invisibles are a very cool idea...they photoshop out people's bodies from scenes from movies, leaving just the clothes, and the results are surprisingly difficult to identify. This here is a famous scene from "Basic Instinct". Only a hardcore movie buff will be able to guess more than one or two.

Movie Quote of the Moment
"If pictures have anything to say, it's this: I was here, I existed. I was young and happy and someone cared enough about me to take my picture."
--One Hour Photo. Haven't seen this one, actually, but it was the imdb.com quote of the day.

Graffiti of the Moment
      SANTA
IS
REAL
     (I just found an example of what the link was talking about, this was taken at the 7-11 by the "Garage" at Harvard Square.)

backlog flush #10

(1 comment)
December 20, 2002
Great, we're going to war, but at least it's not immediate or anything. Slate's Saddameter puts the chance of war at 72%.

In good news, I'm halfway through 2003 in terms of the backlog now...
  • The Rosetta Project is a cool mission to make a modern hugely-multilingual rosetta stone, the multitranslation archaeological find that let us start to understand Egyptian hieroglyphics. By the same guy who brought you The Long Now.
  • Geekness: I'd previously posted about OO-skeptics, and here's another one.
  • "The true subject of poetry is the loss of the beloved."
    --the Urdu poet Faiz
  • The Toy Robots Initiative. How cool is that?
  • Old Wired article on how different cultures prefer different kinds of user manuals.
  • "When I was first asked to write an article about how women get over a broken heart I figured it would be the easiest money I ever made. Are you ready? We don't."
    --Stephanie Miller
  • "I do, believe it or not, consider myself to be a Christian--and I'm sorry, but you just don't go shooting doctors. If a judgement's to be made, God gets to make it. Not you. Him. You are Barney Fife. Keep your bullet in your shirt pocket. All right?"
    --Dennis Miller
  • I thought I liked the Fran Liebowitz line "Sleep is death, without the responsibility" but then I realized I only liked it because I was reading it wrong... I thought that it was saying it was death that had no responsibility, which really is one of the few cool thing about dying...
  • "This linguistic oddity stemmed from the fact that educated people used to learn Latin. This is no longer the case. In Latin, data is the plural, and datum is the singular. So it sort of bled over. I was delighted when reading early Roman texts that they considered Etruscan a "better" language and used it for religious purposes for quite some time. Sound familar? Apparently, "Roman Numerals" were borrowed from the Etruscans as well." I think this quote ties into this link on the Etruscan laguage but I'm not sure how, exactly.
  • Mark Twain on Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses. This classic essay pretty much stick Cooper in a big old ghetto, though I'll always remember how "Last of the Mohicans" was set in Glens Falls, New York where Dylan (of pointless sidebar fame) and I used to live.

gimme that ol' time religion

(4 comments)
December 21, 2002
Quote of the Moment
"I'm an old-fashioned type of guy. I worship the Sun and Moon as gods. And fear them."
--"Rocky" on slashdot

Toy Review of the Moment
Everybody loves Slinky, the springy coil that long ago slunk its way into America's heart, so everyone is sure to love Slinky Pets, which combine the coil-like fun of Slinky with the furry plushness of stuffed animals. Best of all, since the fuzz-covered Slinky is topped with a furry dog's head, you needn't worry about any of that horrible "slinking." Instead, the Slinky Pet tumbles clumsily down stairs, to the delight of kids and adults alike.
--Onion AV Club Annual Cheap Toy Roundup...toys that were marked down for a reason.

Slightly Good News of the Moment
According to the latest Ask the Pilot on Salon, maybe shoulder launched missiles aren't that big of a threat. Still, it makes you wonder.

Random Gift of the Moment
My grandfather-in-law just got us a subscription to Reader's Digest. Now I feel old.

Vaguely Sacrilegious Image of the Moment
--from an eBay auction, a Jesus-signed bible! Jesus sounds like a real cool dude.

the nfl by kirk

December 22, 2002
Random Iconography of the Moment
(Ok, this is incredibly geeky, but in an oddly sportsy way.) While looking at ESPN's NFL Power Rankings, I noticed certain patterns in the iconography, and decided it would be much cooler if they grouped via that, rather than geography...
Bird Head League
Mammal Head League
Whole Animal league
Words and Letters League
People Head League
Icon and Thingy League
Speaking of football, I'm getting a little freaked by all the military promos and what not. I wonder if we'll be at war by the time the superbowl comes around?

And as long as I'm sort of ranting...ugh, between the Debeers 'I love this man, I love him I love him' buy-a-diamond-and-be-loved spot and the Lexus 'auto as perfect gift' ads...yeesh.

Essay of the Moment
On the other hand, this is one of the few pro-war "Hawk" essays that makes some kind of sense to me. The author has pretty good credentials; I hope he knows what the heck he's talking about.

Blog of the Moment
God, I don’t have great faith, but I can be faithful. My belief in you may be seasonal, but my faithfulness will not. I will follow in the way of Christ. I will act as though my life and the lives of others matter. I will love.
--Prayer from a moving Blog by an anonymous preacher in Texas who has lost some of his faith, but keeps up his practice.

You know, I'm still always a little startled when I hear about the ministers and other believers who are Christian but don't take everything about the Bible literally. (I think a lot of Anglicans are like that, according to one survey I heard about, and the preacher in the blog mentions that's one of the things he learned about Bible scholars in his pre-seminary schooling.) I think the church in America does itself a disservice with its Fundamentalist "incorruptable and literally true" reading of its holy book. I think that's certainly something that drove me from my faith. On the other hand, from a meme point of view, maybe "the American church" is doing better for itself with this kind of simple, easy to understand, take-it-or-leave-it belief. After all, people don't seem to be getting much more rational, or equipped to judge the scientific likelihood of some of the claims of the bible.

I'm not 100% which of these camps my mom falls into. But I think she's aware of how this kind of thought has kept me from the church, and that's why she's bugged that I like to listen to Christian radio, which tends to be very fundamentalist. I listen to it because I like to argue with the radio, and it's probably not fair that that radio is so tempering my view of the religion.

backlog flush #11

(1 comment)
December 23, 2002
Hey, did we finally pass the shortest day of the year? Yay!
  • Mo's a decendent of Rebecca Nurse, one of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. Cool, huh?
  • This Salon article on Ted Nugent was really something, though I don't think the idea that anyone can get rich just by working for really holds up.
  • The Programmers' Stone, "to recapture, explore and celebrate the Art of Computer Programming."
  • I need to catch up with Small Stories, some nice little slice of life comics.
  • $oy = "vey"; Perl is Internet Yiddish, tracing the similarites between the spoken dialect and my favorite language to do interesting stuff on the Web with.
  • Mario 64 was a brilliant N64 game, putting the old 8-bit hero and his world into 3D, here's a page with lots of glitches and odd things to try.
  • KurzweilAI.net has lots of articles about the technological possibilities for the future, from machine intelligence to the possibility of immortality.
  • "The first requisite for immortality is death."--Stanislaw Lem. I'm not sure what all that means, but it sure sounds good.
  • Speaking of immortality, a slashdot comment on the Death of Lord British in the shared universe of Ultima Online. He was supposed to be invulnerable but there was a technical goof. You can get a little more information but I wasn't able to find the screenshots.
  • Hmm, I need to check up on the final results of the 5K contest as well, where people write as much style and functionality as possible in a tiny amount of code.
Image and Band Name of the Moment
This is a bumper sticker on a car at work. The missing word is "Rapto", and it's saying when the Rapture happens this car will be without a driver...but I think "Sin Conductor" would be a pretty good name for a band, and oddly has pretty much the opposite meaning as intended in the original Spanish.

keys please

(3 comments)
December 24, 2002
So Mo found my keys which has been missing since mid-Sunday or so. I swear I did check my car...but what kind of dork would leave them hanging out of the lock of the trunk for 2 days straight?

Game of the Moment
About the oddest 'educational' game I've ever seen, it's Journey to Planet Prostate. Guide this little fella, Sammy Sperm, through 5 levels, from Arousal Nebula to Planet Prostate. All I can think of was my old chemistry teacher's old joke, "there is a Vas Deferens between men and women".

Grumble of the Moment
I swear I installed my holiday header before memepool did.

Quote of the Moment
"The Tedium Is The Message"
--A sticker I've seen, from unamerican.com, though their current facorite slogan seems to be "Please Don't Start World War III".

ho ho holy cow

(2 comments)
December 25, 2002
Whoo, the twentyfifth already? I'm all confused because I had one my family's main gift exchange on the 15th or so, anyway, Merry Christmas y'all.

Quote of the Holiday
You are born in pain; you live in fear; you die alone: Merry Christmas.
--Old Scottish Christmas greeting.

Game of the Holiday
It's Sober Santa! Or, not-so-sober-Santa, as the game goes on. Kind of an interesting game, like a "what it's like to be drunk" simulator.

Link of the Moment
Heh...some young guy has written a virtual suck tour of Arlington, MA, where Mo and I used to live. Three sections: landmarks, bylaws, and excerpts and commentary from the police ledger. He writes some funny stuff, actually, I had forgotten how odd that place could be.

Comic Monologue and Link of the Moment
Cold Chicken!
It's the little pleasures that mean most in life.
Fortunately.
--Arlo (of Arlo and Janis) as he makes a discovery in the fridge, and then plunks down in front of the tube. Make sure to click that link! ...right now it has a lot of annotated strips as Jimmy Johnson's "Christmas Gift" to his readers.

snowtime at the apollo

(2 comments)
December 26, 2002
Kirk's Snow Observation #273
It is both more difficult and less satisfying to dig out a white colored car.

Geek Quote of the Moment
"why would you want to own /dev/null? 'ooo! ooo! look! i stole nothing! i'm the thief of nihilism! i'm the new god of zen monks.'"
--Kevin Lyda. (For the geek impaired: /dev/null/ is a special location on a Unix computer, you can send the output of programs that you don't care to see there, and it gets whisked away into the 'bit bucket'. So why would someone care about the "file ownership" of it?)

he got game

(2 comments)
December 27, 2002
Got a PS2 yesterday...and there was much rejoicing. Probably won't be a lot of action here on kisrael.com, especially with today's previously scheduled FOKN'A video game group get together.

Game of the Moment
Just so the rest of you don't feel left out, here's a game for you: River City Hacky Sack. Based on the sprite style and some of the moves from the NES classic River City Ransom (that link is to a great Seanbaby review, where this guy on the side is stolen from), RCHS is a challenging game where you try to knock little cherubs down with the bouncing volleyball, and then you can kick them like a hacky sack. The more you prevent stuff from hitting the ground, the longer the game lasts and the more points you get.

Quote of the Moment
"I'd rather be the king of dev\null than a mere serf in \root !"
--bozo in guestbook. Heh, that's pretty funny (in response to yesterday's quote).

zen of the moment

(1 comment)
December 28, 2002















backlog flush #12

(3 comments)
December 29, 2002
I have to sort of apologize for yesterday's entry, it's an overdone gag. There was actually a glitch in my publishing system, and it came up with a blank entry, with no whitespace. I added a bit of space, and liked the result. Plus I preoccupied with my latest gaming obsession, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It's very addictive and time consuming...not addictive in a Tetris way, but in the "do well and I'll show you something new and cool" sense. It's about the most fun and pseudo-realistic driving game I've ever played. And amazing music from the 1980s! 99 Luftballons, Sunglasses at Night, Michael Jackson, Run DMC, a ton of others. (In fact, they've released the soundtrack as a set of 7 CDs.)

It also has the main character performing some outrageously antisocial behaviors, with an astonishingly small regard for (virtual) innocent life...for instance, you pretty much only hear that great soundtrack in autos that you've carjacked...ah well.

So to make up for yesterday's indulgence (though I did find the blank space on the page a bit refreshing) here's a backlog flush with tons of stuff.
  • Though the original site for this, markpoyser.com, seems to be defunct, I still had this helpful diagram to Wallstreet inbreeding in my cache: "ImClone, Martha Stewart, Merrill Lynch, Enron, Arthur Anderson, Global Crossing, Tyco, WorldCom, Adelphia, et. al."
  • Is calorie restriction the key to longevity? Dunno. Is it worth it? Could those rumors of scientists coming up with a way of giving the benefits of that kind of diet, without actually having that kind of diet?
  • Rules for Massively Multiplayer World Design, online virtual kingdoms (or galaxies) with lots and lots of people playing at once. Oddly, a very recent slashdot article talked about the addictiveness of this kind of gaming, and reminding players that the companies are out to keep you online as long as possible, keeping you just interested enough to keep you playing for hours and hours despite the annoying "timesink" challenges. (I think "Vice City" has many of the same properties, providing time consuming challenges in a very detailed world, even though it's usually pretty obvious I'm the only real human in it.)
  • I'm not sure if this is an exact quote, but Bush said something very close to "I'm not interested in nuance"...that describes about half the problem with his presidency right there.
  • With my Atari project in a coma, sometimes I wonder if I should have tried programming for a more modern game console like the Dreamcast, with its 4 controllers and much much much more power to work with.
  • I keeping meaning to go back and listen to his NPR "On Point" broadcast on Finding the Perfect Mate, asking "Can we learn to fall in love?"
  • Wired.com had a piece on people using Blogs to cope with Alzheimer's Fog. That's related to why I keep two journals, this descendent of my old "quote journal", and then a more diary like one...I think few people have a really great memory in the long run, and this stuff helps me keep track of the cool stuff.

    I also wish I could come up with a way of making a trust fund to keep sites going in perpetuity. I wonder how much of a central investment you'd need, to have the interest fund an ongoing static site?
  • I've already kisrael'd APOCAMON, a japanese-cartoon-style retelling of the Book of Revelation, but the rest of E-Sheep is wonderful as well. The Guy I Almost Was, about a young man thinking about reinventing himself from starry eyed technohippy to Kerouac-ish writer of the people in the early-90s recession sticks out in my mind.
  • And you thought you had to deal with dumb people at work? (Not entirely dissimilar from Bill the Splut's old SHAWT, or "Stupid Human At Work Today" theme in his journal.
  • "Oh, one world at a time!"
    --Henry David Thoreau, when asked about afterlife.
    "Rejection is the greatest aphrodisiac"
    --Madonna
    "What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness."
    --Leo Tolstoy
    All of those were from my old friend, fellow alum, and former coworker Zachary Blocker's quote page (now defunct, alas) (the page, not the person, I mean. I assume.)
Now with such a big entry under my belt, I can go blow the whole day on Vice City and still feel vaguely productive! Haha!

sing sloppy and have a good beat

(2 comments)
December 30, 2002
Ugh, back to work for me today! Nose, meet grindstone.

You know, I realize that to a certain degree, I have to fight thinking of my unemployed friends the same way as other people think of people who are HIV+...they know it's not really contageous, but still. Or maybe it's just a similar not wanting to get involved with unhappy situations, once you've done what you can. Which is a very unsupportive way to be, so I'll try to work may way through this attitude.

Quote of the Moment
Nowadays people don't want you to sing good. They want you to sing sloppy and have a good beat to your songs. That's what angle I'm going to shoot for. That's where the money is. So just in case about three or four months from now you might hear a record by me which sounds terrible, don't feel ashamed, just wait until the money rolls in because every day people are singing worse and worse on purpose and the public buys more and more records.
--from a Jimi Hendrix letter to his father, 1965

News of the Moment
Boingboing, where I stole that less quote from, also linked to Harpo Marx, Underconver Agent. I guess he worked for J. Edgar Hoover to smuggle some documents out of the Soviet Union. I can just picture the Boris and Natasha like agent... "yes, ve have intercepted the wery waluable documents...they say 'honk, honk'...ze other, 'vant to buy a duck?'. I do not understand."

2002 for me and you

(3 comments)
December 31, 2002
Goodbye 2002!
I'm going to miss this year...after all, it's the second and likely last palindrome year of my life time! That fact and a quarter or two will buy you a newspaper, but hey, it was kind of interesting. I'm just happy to have avoided two layoffs in one year...

Link of the Moment
Good grief, it's the Peanuts Arcana Tarot Deck. Many of these cards are really clever. 'Course I don't know jack about Tarot decks, but I can appreciate the little jokes.

Cartoon of the Moment
There's a new chapter of Nowhere Girl up...it reminds me a lot of the story of Mo and also the one of our friend Lee, young women who are pretty much self taught in technology. And I was struck by the first episode's sense of being a bit character in other people's lives.

Flash of the Moment
There's something beautiful about Fly Guy, an interactive Flash piece. The minimalist art style, the music, the exploration of the other travellers, or maybe just the dream of flying.

News of the Moment
War in Iraq cost estimation reduced. CNN pointed out that the guy wouldn't really give reasoning behind the new numbers. I suspect it all ties into the Administrations ability to come up with a conclusion and that get people to diddle with the facts that support that conclusion.

I'm a bit meta-alarmed that the idea of war with Iraq doesn't alarm me as much as it did, though it's still blatantly obviously a bad idea.

Japanese Pop Culture of the Moment
Mo just sent me an email with this link and the Subject "hee hee".

Bad News Quote of the Moment
"This is a crisis unfolding as badly as the Great Depression. The economy doesn't feel like it yet but, in a year or so, it may do."
--Albert Edwards, head of global asset allocation at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, in this article. And when that guys asks if you wanna buy an apple, he'll be talking about his computer...hardeehar, har. I wanted to get this out of my system and not post it on the first day of the new year. Lets hope he's just a gloom and doomer and we'll see some new vitality.
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