kirk.is | archive | 2003 sep

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tote barge, lift bale

(5 comments)
September 1, 2003
Helping Jesse move today, might be light update-wise.

Hit an important milestone in JoustPong though--though there's still a lot I'd want to add to it, I could release the current version and think it a complete game. I guess I really should write up some instructions for playing it for people who haven't used atari emulator before.

Quote of the Moment
"Bees make honey and jelly? Huh. How come nothing humans make tastes good?"
—-Fry, Futurama (on finding out about the "Royal Jelly" of the Space Bees.

the rise of man

(6 comments)
September 2, 2003
Blenderites: It looks like things are starting to work again on the Love Blender but there are still some bugs (like the author profile page isn't showing up). I'll be getting things up to speed this evening.

Funny of the Moment
"A study in The Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: 'Duh.'"
--Conan O'Brien

Article of the Moment
After reading the article The Naked Face a year ago, I was thinking someone should capitalize on training people to read the "microexpressions" people inadvertantly broadcast with their faces...according to Wired, it looks like somebody has.

News of the Moment
That news report about the deliveryman who had a bomb strapped to him and was forced to rob a bank is the weirdest and saddest thing I've heard in a while.

Image of the Moment
The miniseries "V" was on one of the movie channels the other day...everyone remember its logo of a spraypainted "V" but I was more struck by the Vistors' "official" logo, which I've tried to reconstruct here. I like how it looks other worldy but still useable, like the alien countdown LED timer in Predator.

Incidentally, the current overapplied gag on Slashdot is "I, for one, welcome our new ______ overlords", from Kent Brockman in this episode of The Simpsons, which fits the old miniseries well.

luck be a lady tonight

(5 comments)
September 3, 2003
Quote of the Moment
"God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."
--Terry Pratchett

Image of the Moment
I don't know where exactly this logo is from, other than this BBC article on the RIAA laying down a $50K smackdown on music copiers, but I like it. UPDATE: Check the "comments" section for Bill the Splut's explanation of its origins.

Article of the Moment
Great little bit of (most likely) foolishness at kuro5hin.org, Traffic Zoology, considering packs of highway cars as conglomerated creatures...it's hard to know exactly how serious to take the idea.

give me a g! give me a nius!

(4 comments)
September 4, 2003
Quote of the Moment
"Let me put this in words even a genius could understand: YOU ARE NOT A GENIUS."
--Hank Hill, "King of the Hill"

Article of the Moment
LA Weekly story on people who are really, really obsessed with Disneyland. Have I ever been that obsessed with anything? I dunno. I don't think so. I've been reasonably deep in a few hobbies like video games, but I can't think of anything that's inspired that level of devotion in me.

Poems of the Moment
If you got some time, check out the poems of Jason Pettus. He contacted me looking for some information on Cocheam, where we went in Germany, but he writes some good stuff, I'm trying to get a feature of his stuff on the 'Blender. If you're in a hurry just check out Jane the Geek.

Geek Link of the Moment
Heh...sidebar for a gamespy.com article: from 1976 Creative Computing, Playing PONG to Win! Show this to our grandkids.

just joustin'

(3 comments)
September 5, 2003
Man, I'm manic-depressive about this JoustPong thing. Read all about it at the JoustPong journal--now in reverse chronological order and with "Quick Start" instructions for your convenience.

Plea of the Moment
Go vote for the dog of Ranjit's friend!

Quote of the Moment
"I'm always relieved when someone delivers a eulogy and I realize I'm listening to it."
--George Carlin

Link of the Moment
The Hentai Dictionary is an attempt to catalog the wide variety of Japanese porn genres. "Japanese porn consumers are so utterly perverted that the industry can't invent new kinks fast enough." No pictures or anything, but it's a very amusing bit of cultural anthropology.

the barcode of the beast

(15 comments)
September 6, 2003
You know what I need? Some program that would take text, pipe it through a text-to-speech synthesizer, record the result as a wav file, and then let me burn it to a CD. I think they have something like that for the Apple iPod, except it makes files that can be loaded onto your MP3 player. And then, of course, I'd have to find e-texts that I really want to listen to. And not get sick of that robovoice...

Toy of the Moment
Conceptually neat (but with a fragile implementation) barcode clock. Actually, that site has lots of random barcode themed stuff.

Article of the Moment
Very cool and readable History of Nintendo's NES for the 20th anniversary of the Famicom, the original Japanese version. A nice two-person format, and mini-reviews of lots of games, broken up by year. Great reading for anyone who grew up during the 80s, not just for classic video game nerds like me.

it burns! it burns!

(1 comment)
September 7, 2003
Funny of the Moment
"Well you know what they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
"But I'm allergic to citrus."
"Well you know what they say, when life gives you lemons, swell up and die."
--Dogbert and Dilbert, via Ross. (And my favorite from Red Meat, "when life gives you poop, make poop-juice!")

zapp! zapp!

(10 comments)
September 8, 2003
Oy, yesterday was terrible for hometown fans in Boston...after way out slugging the Yankees in the previous two games, the Red Sox fail to sweep, losing 3-1, and the Patriots 4-0 preseason doesn't do much to mitigate their 31-0 defeat at the hands of Buffalo...I guess maybe giving them our old quarterback and losing a core defensive guy to them because of a contract dispute might not have been such a hot idea. Not to be too much of a fairweather fan, but I have a few feelings for Buffalo, they were the first team I ever started to root for, back when I lived in upstate New York.

Comic Panel of the Moment

--Also pointed out by Bill, this panel of powerful nostril superpowerness, from the short-lived comic Fly Man.

Computer Science Quote of the Moment
"A debugged program is one for which you have not yet found the conditions that make it fail."
--Jerry Ogdin

Video of the Moment
Via Bill the Splut, an 8bit look at D+D. This reminds me of some old promotional video for a video game...Diablo 2? Something...that took a similar look at the old gaming table.

Links of the Moment
Two links that complement each other in odd ways. The first is a Globe and Main rant by Sci-Fi author Spider Robinson about the long-term decline of Science Fiction, how it has been supplanted by Fantasy and a few Franchises with "Star" in their name. The second is a link I was previously planning to use, an interesting crossover people are making as a roleplaying game: SteamTrek. "Steam Punk" is a genre that extrapolates an alternate past where certain things are different, some technology problems were easier to solve in the 1800s or so than they were in our world, and a technology emerged that, to a modern person, seems like an odd blend of the unbelievably high-tech with the quaint and charming (like steam engines.) (Incidentally, The Difference Engine is a terrific book in that genre for any computer history literate geek , what if Babbage's computation devices were in fact engineer-able by the tool quality of the day, and inspired a Victorian London cultural revolution.) Anyway, Steam Trek has a British Aetherfleet exploring solar system full of aliens that is suspicously like the Star Trek galaxy. Some very clever stuff.

the long and short of it

September 9, 2003
I remember sitting on the floor back in middle school gym, looking at my feet and thinking they seemed kind of far away. This might have been after my growth spurth, but still, every once in a while I look down and get a twinge of that...we're taller than we think, in that 5 to 6 feet is actually a bit far when put horizontally.

I can see you're all fascinated.

Quote of the Moment
"You can't break a bad habit by throwing it out the window. You've got to walk it slowly down the stairs."
--Mark Twain

Link of the Moment
I was looking for an "abandonware" copy of Windows 3.1 to make this one ancient laptop of mine potentially useful again (I had foolishly put Windows 95 on it to make it "easier" for my mom, but that OS overwhelmed its puny 4meg self, whereas 3.1 ran pretty well.) I ended up just getting a (shrinkwrappe, supposedly) copy on Ebay, but in the meanwhile I found Dan's 20th Century Abandonware. No downloads, as far as I can tell, but information and screenshots that makes decent computer-history-geek reading.

In case you're wondering, "potentially useful" would be something I could use to carry around WAV files for my atari supercharger, to video game get-togethers and what not.

mechanical sabbatical

(3 comments)
September 10, 2003
Image of the Moment
--There's something oddly appealing about the entries in the Industrial Art Gallery.


Link of the Moment
I'm also a sucker for an interesting clock display. I guess displaying the time has some interesting design constraints and possibilities.

Ramble of the Moment
Speaking of time...so, tomorrow is the anniversary of WTC et al. You know, it's making me realize that my sense of time is getting a bit screwed up. Spring of 2001 Event Zero folded, Late Spring 2002 Gale Group decided to close its Boston office. It seems strange somehow that there was only half a year betwee EZ and WTC, but its been 2 years since then, 6 months or so at Gale, and coming up to a year and a half at Taxware. (Yeah, I know compared to the awfulness of the events two years ago one almost 30-year-old guy wondering about time squeaking by is such small potatoes as to require nanotechnology, but still.)

new day

(3 comments)
September 11, 2003
Jeez, LAN3, thanks for picking on me in yesterday's Comments. Sometimes I think I need to hand in the little card they gave me for being an English major in college. (I double majored: English ("to keep me well rounded") and Computer Science ("to keep me well employed"--and frankly, I think it more or less worked, even if I tend to ramble on a bit.))

Quip of the Moment
"It's useless to try to hold some people to anything they say while they're madly in love, drunk, or running for office."
--Slashdot

Articles of the Moment
Slate has some good WTC-reading today, including two on incorrect public perceptions of the day: Wall Street Will Abandon New York … And all the other lousy post-9/11 economic predictions and What You Think You Know About Sept. 11...but don't.

Quote of the Moment
"My father's illness impressed on me from an early age that life was going to be a struggle, and there were a lot of losers."
--Tony Blair. His father, at the time a rising figure in the Conservative party, had an almost deadly stroke and lost the ability to speak for three years when Blair was 11. I really understand the sentiment, I think I felt something similar during my dad's illness and death when I was 14.

oh johnny boys

(5 comments)
September 12, 2003
Johnny Cash and John Ritter dead in one day? Bad day for that name I guess.

Death Announcement of the Moment
"Surgeons at the hospital tried to save the Emmy Award-winning actor but, sadly, were unable to do so."
--Statement from Lisa Kasteler, John Ritter's publicist. While I am saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of a guy who seemed to be very friendly and funny, I have to admire the chutzpah and lack of tact of his publicist in working in that "Emmy Award-winning".

History of the Moment
The oldest entry in my backlog for the longest time, it's the story behind Bibendum, the Michelin Man. This original poster, a man made of tire innertubes toasting with a glass full of nails and broken glass ("Michelin tires drink obstacles") is kind of disturbing... of course, tires don't look that way anymore, so I guess most people assume he's just a big inflated guy, kinda like a lower-rent "Stay Puft Marhsmallow Man" from Ghostbusters.

Online Toy of the Moment
Amusing for lke 2 or 3 clicks, American Military Operation Name Generating Device comes up with those odd namepair titles given to our military operations.

duhh

(5 comments)
September 13, 2003
Sometimes I get the feeling I used to be more clever than I am now. But that was in college, and I was in idiot then, so maybe not. Actually, I've always had that feeling, so either I'm always getting dumber, or more aware of my limitations, or some of both.

UPDATE: bozo left a cheery message on today's Comments section, forecasting accelerating mental deterioration in my 30s, 40s, and beyond. Though I don't think that link I posted was a particularly good example...I think I just got lucky with the windows drivers, and I can probably repeat such bits of cleverness even now in my pre-middle age. Actually, the "slippage" that I'm more curious about now is usually in the form of typos...I definitely make more of them than I used to, but the diagnosis is made murky by the way I taught myself to more or less touchtype in 1999 or so. Eh, still, I have faith that my brain will be able to compensate for its own shortcomings for a long, long time.

Bozo also suggests not waiting too long before having kids, if I'm gonna have 'em....yurk. That's a bit area of indecision for both me and Mo.

Hrrm. It makes me wonder about what I see as "meaningful" in my life. In college it was getting an education chasing after R. After college, it was accimating to the workplace and managing to woo Mo. (And damn if you trying to impress women doesn't bring out the most creativity in literate guys...unfortunately, I think from an objective view I made better stuff chasing R. because the chase was so much harder.) These days, though, I think I really get satisfaction out of various projects, ongoing (like this site and the loveblender) and one-offs (like my Atari 2600 game.) I guess I've always found discussion, intellectual and otherwise, important as well.

Still, I guess I don't just view life as a quest for meaning, because I'm willing to believe childraising is about as meaningful as you can get, but I'm still very ambivalent about it.

Heh...I just glanced at this e-mail in the K+R Carousel Archive from 1995, and I was making stupid typos then, "this" for "there is"...and that's exactly the kind of sound blend typo I tend to make these days.

Hrrm. This italicized update is about 6-8 times as long as the original comment. Ah well!


Line of the Moment
"I can't say any more than I love you. Anything else would be a waste of breath."
--Elvis Costello

Link of the Moment
In the old link department, this Teens and Politics page for Tom Watson, a British Labour MP, is interesting; I think it's a sincere appeal to teens that works by making fun of sincere trying-to-be-cool appeals to teens. A relatively sophisticated idea for that kind of site.

why just waste time when you can waste money too?

(3 comments)
September 14, 2003
Went to Mohegan Sun last night for Peterman's bachelor party, just four guys having a good dinner and then trying their luck for a bit. I played a really boring "bet on black" roulette strategy for a long while and ended up even, Peterman had a bit more flamboyent strategy and more than made up for some poorer luck at other games. (Betting on a color like I did doubles your money if that color comes up (shade under 50/50 chance) or takes your money if it's the other color. I took that strategy for nostalgic reasons, I once wrote a roulette simulation to demonstrate to Lena that the seemingly foolproof strategy of betting a fixed amount when you win, then continually doubling your bet when you lose until you win again (thus making up for whatever you lost) fails without a well-nigh infinite bankroll, and quickly runs into house limits before then. Also, it's a vey easy to follow strategy, and I'm a bit of a gambling retard.)

It's so funny how the Indian-run casinos can't put up highways signs, so you end up going on these fairly unlabeled backwoods roads for a while, 'til finally these giant buildings spring up like the Star Destroyer at the start of the first Star Wars movie. The styling is kind of odd, as if Epcot center had a "Native American" section in its international section.

It seemed like there were a higher percentage of people in wheelchairs there, which adds a certain air of pathos. Overall I've decided I don't like gambling very much, I just find the stressful repetition off-putting. (Maybe in the long run I'm fortunate, I've heard that one of the worst things that can happen to a newbie is to win big the first time out...that sets you up to lose a lot trying to repeat that first big event.) Maybe my protestant upbringing intrudes, and talks away a certain joie de vivre from the whole thing for me.

Today's title ("why just waste time when you can waste money too?") is what I said a few times previously when I was tempted to cash out after struggling back to the break even point...but I was never up by more than 40. (If I had been up by 60, doubling my starting amount, I would've walked away.) Finally though, the night was getting a bit long, Peterman sensed it was time to go for him.

Quote of the Moment
"Don't bring me back anything."
--Leslee (Peterman's fiancée) when Peterman checked in with her before going to a stripbar while away from her while on a trip in Canada. I think that that line is a really witty mix of permission-granting and boundaries-setting that works on a couple of levels, almost like a phrase-based pun.

Links of the Moment
100 Years of Design...some products do have such a grace and elegance to 'em...lots of pictures, and some interesting background reading too. Fun to contrast and compare that to Tack-O-Rama, a survey of some of our cultural's tackiest stuff.

eww

(2 comments)
September 15, 2003
Sick Joke of the Moment
"What has two legs, and bleeds profusely?"
"What?"
"Half a cat."
--The Don and Mike show, via some guy on Slashdot.

Games of the Moment
People who know I'm such a classic game geek may think this kind of weird, but after skimming through these Atari 2600 game reviews, I'm astounded at how many Atari games were released that I never ever heard of. I had what was a pretty big collection of games for the time, actually really big by normal kids standards (though I didn't get them 'til everyone else was moved onto NES, and my collection pales compared to the serious collectors') and so I guess to tend to forget that there was this whole world of games beyond the carts me and my friends managed to get a hold of.

Posters of the Moment
--Not the best interface for browsing but still cool, MagicGallery.com has tons of posters advertising old time magicians.


Observation of the Moment
Speaking of "eww": dangnabbit, I hate it when you sneeze and a droplet flies onto a tv screen or monitor and you see those giant R-G-B pixels reminding you of how disgusting you are.

your applause is all backwards

(5 comments)
September 16, 2003
I'm kind of interested in body language, and what stays the same and what varies between different cultures. I was thinking about getting a book called "Gestures:The Do's and Taboos of Body Language Around the World", when I saw this sample page on Amazon. At the bottom, it claims that "Incidentally, you can detect whether a person is right-handed or left-handed by observing the way they applaud. A right-handed person will slap that hand down into and on top of the left palm; a left-handed person will make the left hand dominant." Now, this is is not true for me (a right-hander) or Mo (who's always been a bit sinister.) How about all of you?

Quote of the Moment
"I have never loved anyone for love's sake, except, perhaps, Josephine--a little."
--Napolean

Write Like An Egyptian
Put your name--or anything else, without numbers or puncuation--into hieroglyphics. I think I accidetnally stole a wheel card thing that did the same conversion from elementary school. Too bad "kirk" looks so boring in those letters.

don't forget nothing

(3 comments)
September 17, 2003
I made up a new logo for JoustPong, combining the blatantly borrowed-from-Joust top with a goofily nondescript bottom. The funny thing is it probably looks like a made this "proper" version and then converted it to the 2600, but really I made this version after the fact. (Though admittedly using the same techniques.) It looks great on a real atari, you can see a photo at the JoustPong Development Page (or see an emulator screenshot)

Orders of the Moment
1. Don't forget nothing.
2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.
3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.
4. Tell the truth about what you see and do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.
5. Don't never take a chance you don't have to.
6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.
7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.
8. When we march, we keep moving 'til dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
10. If we take prisoners, we keep 'em separate 'til we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between 'em.
11. Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.
12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards in the rear, so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.
13. Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
14. Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.
15. Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack.
16. Don't cross a river by a regular ford.
17. If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
18. Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down. Hide behind a tree.
19. Let the enemy come 'till he's almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.
20. Don't use your musket if you can kill 'em with your hatchet.
--Supposed Major Robert Rogers Standing Orders to his rangers, 1759, though I've heard this is a purposefully folksy sounding 20th century paraphrasing. The actual orders were more verbose, precise, and "properly" written.

Hero of the Moment
Angle Grinder Man frees clamped cars in the UK by using an Angle Grinder as a form of political protest. Or something. The oddest real-life superhero you've seen in a long time, I'd wager.

Observation of the Moment
I heard an Radio ad inviting "moral men" (or something like that) to find out about becoming a mason. I'd heard that they were having trouble filling their ranks, but was surprised to hear an actual advertisement. Of course, it didn't help that all I could think of was the Simpsons episode with the Stonecutters and their song...(Who controls the British crown? / Who keeps the metric system down? / We do! We do!)

dance dance non-revolution

(1 comment)
September 18, 2003
Friday is Talk Like A Pirate Day...are you ready?

Flash of the Moment
Check out Drift, "an interpassive flash clip of a dancer without a body", whatever that means...still, it looks cool and has good music. (Huh...reading this onsite interview with its creator, I guess they used motion-capture and everything. Huh!

Rant of the Moment
Bill the Splut's 9/17 entry is a thought provoking rant about how A. average Iraqis hate us (according to the NY Times even) and B. the numbers of dead and wounded are way understated. What the hell has Bush gotten our soliders into there? More than he'd want you to realize.

Quote of the Moment
I recognize that just because the story had a theological happy ending doesn't mean that the Crucifixion was anything other than horrific. (Jews probably should not go around saying, "Yeah we killed Jesus—and you're welcome.")
--Steven Waldman, in an article about the lack of productive discussion on 'who killed Jesus' inspred by Mel Gibson's new movie "The Passion". He also entertainingly states near the begining "In the interest of disrupting the already-off-on-the-wrong-foot public discussion of Gibson's movie—and with curiosity about whether I can alienate both my Christian and Jewish relatives in one article—I propose the following".

yarr

(4 comments)
September 19, 2003
Yarr! It be National Talk Like A Pirate Day! You best be talkin like me, or we'll have you taking a long walk down a short plank to Davey Jone's locker! Yarrr! (Dangit, my pirate voice sounds like the Sea Captain on the Simpsons trying to speak ebonics. Ah well.)

Optical Illusion of the Moment

--Yarrr, you'll be thinking' these little seeds are spinning when they aren't spinning at'all. It's like you were too deep into your cup of ale, yarrr, y'scurvy dog. This and a regular pirate's treasure of other tricks on the eye can be seen at this here webpage. Yar.

Java Applet of the Moment
Ahoy! This be some more booty for yer eyes, Arrrrr....the coolest special effect I've seen across th' seven seas. Natalie Portman as Matrix Code, and a higher-rez and byootiful version, a Portman Reloaded -- Object404.com seems to have a pirate's treasure o' neat stuff, go look or I'll keelhaul the lot o' ya. (and he says he be lookin' for a job, if you need a guy for yer ship's crew.)

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Line of the Moment
"This program runs at a blistering speed. And by 'blistering speed', I'm refering to the blisters formed on your fingers while drumming them on your desk, waiting for the damn thing to get finished."
--Yarrrrrrrs truly

peterman and leslee sittin' in a tree

(2 comments)
September 20, 2003
Peterman and Leslee are getting married today! I'm very happy for them, I've known Peterman for long time and he's gotten much more civilized, and I do think he realizes how extraordinarily lucky he got in finding Leslee, who both Mo and I have grown close to over the past few years.

But there most likely won't be a lot of updates today.

Joke of the Moment
A seaman meets a pirate in a bar, and talk turns to their adventures on the sea.
The seaman notes that the pirate has a peg leg, a hook, and an eye patch.
The seaman asks "So, how did you end up with the peg leg?"
The pirate replies "We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as my men were pulling me out, a shark bit my leg off"
"Wow!" said the seaman. "What about your hook"?
"Well," replied the pirate, "we were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords. One of the enemy cut my hand off."
"Incredible!" remarked the seaman.
"How did you get the eyepatch"?
"A seagull dropping fell into my eye," replied the pirate.
"You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?" the sailor asked incredulously.
"Well,", said the pirate, "it was my first day with the hook."
--At the end of Talk Like A Pirate Day, I remembered my favorite pirate joke. (At Jim Graves' weekly Psychotronic Movie night one of the films was Yellowbeard so that spurred my memory. Along with a pirate jokebook that was there with stuff like "What does a well-dressed pirate wear? ARRRRRRRRRmani.")

stampede de l'amour

(13 comments)
September 21, 2003
Image of the Moment

--Peterman hurtling towards true love with Lelsee on a Cape Cod beach at the post-reception gathering for their wedding, 2003-9-20.

Link of the Moment
Sorry for the kind of bare weekend, update-wise. It doesn't get much better unless you're interested in video games, in which case you might find Game Spy's 25 Most Overrated Games of All Time list a good read.

peterman SMASH

(6 comments)
September 22, 2003
--On yesterday's comments, bozo asked "Well, what happened in the NEXT frame" so here is the same image with the before and after frames. To my surprise the newlyweds were in the neighborhood and stopped over last night for just a bit of video game fun.

Quote of the Moment
"The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many for love."
--Margaret Atwood

FAQ of the Moment
Wow. Does National Hurricane Center really frequently get the question Why don't we try to destroy tropical cyclones by nuking them? Yikes, this world must have a lot of people who are even more insane than me.

Link of the Moment
Language Removal Service takes out all the language from soundclips and leaves only the breaths and "um"s and "uh"s. Here's their take on the California Recall Election. Sounds kinda like obscene phonecalls from the mentally handicapped, which probably isn't inappropriate, considering.

if you're dreaming and you know it clap their hands

(2 comments)
September 23, 2003
So I had a lucid dream last night, where I became aware I was dreaming. The story was sometihng random about being in this old schoolgrounds and auditorium. I was amazed at the level of detail in the dream, how I could see the little grey threads on the back of some guy's jacket. (Actually, that level of detail issue is kind of funny, I don't know at what level dreams plug into the brain. It seems as if you wouldn't get that kind of detail at the purely visual level, that the dream must be plugging in at a lower part of image identification, the one that would trigger recognition of a jacket with little grey threads on it.)

The cool thing about when that happens is you can take some measure of control of what happens in the dream, though usually it's not absolutely exactly what you "command". Also, my dream self has a terrible lack of imagination...I mostly fly and make peoples' clothes disappear.

Passage of the Moment
"The thing to remember about love affairs," says Simone, "is that they are all like having raccoons in your chimney. ... We have raccoons sometimes in our chimney ... And once we tried to smoke them out. We lit a fire, knowing they were there, but we hoped that the smoke would cause them to scurry out the top and never come back. Instead, they caught on fire and came crashing down into our living room, all charred and in flames and running madly around until they dropped dead." Simone swallows some wine. "Love affairs are like that," she says. "They all are like that."
-- Lorrie Moore, from the collection "Birds of America"...seemed a bit too cynical of a quote to put in yesterday, but I find the imagery too good not to post.

Links of the Moment
Slashdot posted about Phillip Greenspun arguing that Java is the SUV of programming languages. I don't completely agree (especially since a lot of his argument seems to be about JDBC binding variables) but it's a good thinking point with something to it. Anyway, I found some interesting stuff on his site, though most of it is about the web circa 3 or 4 years ago. Using the Internet to Pick up Babes and/or Hunks was amusing (and where I got today's passage) and his bookshelf page had an interesting starting photo, as well as amusing Perl ranting. (More of his nude photography here, I guess photo.net is his site.) Things I Learned the Hard Way made some points as well.

achtung, baby

(5 comments)
September 24, 2003
Quote of the Moment
"Arnold Shwarzenegger. Finally a candidate who can exaplain the Bush administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German."
--Bill Maher

Query of the Moment
So in my quest for healthy-ish foods I can eat and not worry too much about eating I've stumbled upon that dieting cliché "cottage cheese". I think it's quite tasty. What's funny, though, is that there seems to be a difference of opinion about whether it's something that goes well with sweet, or something that goes well with savory. For instance, if you go to the supermarket, they have premade cottage cheese blends; most are with various types of fruit, but the ones I like have chive or black pepper. (Which Mo think is really rather weird.) It might be like grits/oatmeal etc, where people down south eat that stuff with salt and butter, and Yankees pour on the sugar. So, a question for today's comments section: is cottage cheese mostly something to go with sweet, to go with salty, or does it go just about as well with either?

Gallery of the Moment
Space Art in Children's Books is a terrific thing to browse, visions of the future from 1883-1974. If you're in a hurry, just take a second to check out the cool spaceplane in 1930's "Other Worlds Than This", this striking illustration from 1957's "Planets, Stars, and Space", the clever spacesuit toe-claws from 1959's "Space Flight: The Coming Exploration of the Universe", and some boisterous scenes from 1961's "America's Astronauts... Conquerors of Space!" (This scene here is from 1950's "Sun, Moon, and Stars".)

On the other hand, the front page's quoting of Wyn Wachhorst "Soon there will be no one who remembers when spaceflight was still a dream, the reverie of reclusive boys and the vision of a handful of men" is a little poingnant, given how so many parts of that dream have gone unfufilled. If we're not careful after a while there would be no one who remembered when landing on the moon wasn't just a dream! But maybe with India and China in the picture a bit of the Space Race will pick back up.

Article of the Moment
Bill pointed me to Harper's The Revision Thing, the story of our conflict with Iraq as told by real administration sound bites. Or,as the subtitle puts it "A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies."

thursday thud

(3 comments)
September 25, 2003
Article of the Moment
Another Bill piece, from last week, a Vietnam vet argues yeah, maybe Iraq is another Vietnam after all. Not that our president would know, shirking even from his Air National Guard work.

Quote of the Moment
"What you don't know won't help you much either."
--D. Bennett

Product of the Moment
Now it's not just George Bush you can get in convenient action figure form: Herobuilders.com's villain page has Saddam Insane, Osama the Dirty Terrorist, and Massive Headwound Uday...some of 'em even talk.

like a cheetah but different

(3 comments)
September 26, 2003
Photo of the Moment
--Mo went to an acupuncturist the other day, and also had some "cupping" done. Mo now has spots! Actually, they're kind of like giant hickeys...

I'm almost suprised that my inner-skeptic isn't dismissive of acupuncture. I'm not sure I buy into all the explanations about why it works, but (even though I haven't researched it much) there does seem to be some empirical, or at the very least strong anecodatal, evidence for what it claims to be able to do.

Dialog of the Moment
"I learned a lot from that encounter group you sent me to."
"Yes?"
"Everyone was totally honest. We told each other what we really thought of each other. No one was allowed to get away with any falsehood or insincerity"
"You must've learned a lot about yourself."
"Yes, I learned how valuable self-deception can be."
--Stuart Hample's 'Inside Woody Allen' comicstrip.

Link of the Moment
Hey Kids! WIN BIG! With REAL! SUPER MARKETING: Ads From The Comic Books! Great for a Quick Browse! Or a Good Long Read!!

News of the Moment
Europe is about to launch their first moon probe. "Despite decades of research, we have never fully discovered what the Moon is made of," says Manuel Grande at UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, who built the spacecraft's X-ray spectrometer. Haha! So my cheese theory has not yet been disproven!

Update of the Moment
Dang, I was wondering if someone would have something (hopefully nice!) to say about a slightly risque picture of Mo...then again I've always found jeans sexy. And Mo sexy. Despite the acu-hickeys.

pudding is not a beverage

(3 comments)
September 27, 2003
Quote of the Moment
"Pudding can't fill the emptiness inside me... but it'll help!"
-- Capt. Hank Murphy, Sealab 2021

Poem of the Moment
Loveliest of trees, the maple now
Is turning yellow on the bough.
It stands aong the trees of green,
All dressed up for Halloween.
Now of my three score years and ten,
Sixty will not come again.
Subtract from seventy, three score.
It means I don't have many more.
And since to look at things sublime,
Ten years is not a lot of time.
It's rather sobering for a fellow
To see the maples turning yellow.
--A Garrison Keillor bump off of this A. E. Houseman poem. What's funny is I remembered the original as being set in Winter, not spring...

ant acid

(2 comments)
September 28, 2003
Game of the Moment
Ant Arena is a challenging little game. It's based on the way kids would stage little ant gladatorial battles by putting a few in a plastic dish. In the game, you have to steer your blank ant so it hits the sides or backs of increasing numbers of red ants. Fun!

Passage of the Moment
It was good, making love two nights in a row. Doggone it, maybe we men are right about sex not being the answer; sex is the question, yes is the answer, and it blows away a ream of troubles, especially when it's your old beloved. Oh, miracle of miracles. Authentic rapturous passion between two old pros. You lie in bed afterward in a warm daze, tired, rapturized, like a salmon who made it back to the headwaters, like an old stallion who has fulfilled his destiny one more time, and life begins anew. In the dark, the judges are holding up their scorecards--8.1, 9.0, 9.0, 8.9--but that doesn't matter so much, what matters is that the war is over, the roads are open again, the ice is gone, spring is here, and you have discovered, for the 863rd time, the great beauty and simplicity of your life as an animal here on earth. You rise naked from the bed and go down to the creek for a drink of water and far off in the distance other males sound their cries of manly joy and you reply with a deep, chesty roar and the forest is quiet. You drink your water and return to the warm nest of percale and eiderdown and fit your naked self into the dozy curve of Madame's body where she lies swooned on her side and you smell her dew and roses and absorb a simple thought about marriage: this woman is all women, and when you chose her, you became Jay Gatsby and Robert Jordan and Prince Andre and Raskolinov and Ishmael and embarked on a life of imagination, which adultery cruelly violates, and breaks up the music in your head, and also it's a hell of a lot of work to scout up something inferior to what you and she can create at home. You have roamed the Western world in search of a the perfect tuna sandwich; your wife makes a good tuna sandwich; your powers of imagination are what make it perfect.
--Garrison Keillor, "Love Me", at a point of reconciliation between the narrator and his wife.

Trivia Quote of the Moment
"One day he pulled up his shirt to show me his belly button, which he didn't have. He'd had an operation and when they sewed him up they took it away. His belly button was gone!"
--Karen Black on Alfred Hitchcock. So that's why Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a bellybutton.

Headline of the Moment
CNN had the headline Colombia explosion kills 10. I have to admit, my first thought was "Again? Why isn't the headline higher up?" And then it was "Isn't that old news? And shouldn't it be kills 7?" Then I read the article.

boom boom boom

(7 comments)
September 29, 2003
So they're rounding up people for layoffs at work today (the rumor mill predicted this last week) I'm not sure if I'm in or out yet (over the weekend I gave myself 50/50 odds) but my pulse is going over 130. I'd really like to avoid 3 layoffs in 3 calendar years.

UDPATE: so far, so good, looks as if I'm in the clear for now.

Article of the Moment
I, Cringley on the Taguchi Method of robust design. Cool column. Not sure if I would name a column after myself if I had a name like "Cringley" though.

Quote of the Moment
"Thinly sliced cabbage."
--Cole's Law

i've got to believe it's getting better

(9 comments)
September 30, 2003
Link of the Moment
Lore Sjöberg (of Brunching Shuttlecocks fame) on Ways The Web Is Better than it was 6 years ago. One is he's "in a lot more sigs", heh.

Image and Quote of the Moment
"Human beings were created by water to transport it uphill"
--Exploding Dog. Thanks to Ross for quoting this provocative little idea. Though I wonder, then, what water thinks of evaporation.

Column of the Moment
Lileks has a ton of cool stuff, I've linked to it many times. I've recently rediscovered his every-weekday journal, "Bleats". I get bogged down when I try to plow through its extensive archive, though he is a good writer. (Partially because of the so-so navigation that makes it easier to jump to the next week rather than the next day.) Kneejerk moderates such as myself might find his politics a bit to the Libertarian right for their liking, but at least the opinions are usually well-presented.
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