kisrael.com | archive | 2004 jul

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(19) our collective nostalgia has run amok
2004.07.01
Passage of the Moment
Something is happening. It's funny. It's a little strange. Personally, I don't think it's disturbingly prurient so much as endearingly pathetic, an absurd side effect of these superfast times where everyone over 20 feels over the hill. Our collective nostalgia has run amok. We're all a bit hung up on high school, pining for our own rosy recollections of our own youth, and, in doing so, we've inadvertently become soft-core fetishists.
--David Amsden in Prom Story, a Slate piece on how he (in his mid-20s) took his cousin to Prom for the research angle. Or something. He's talking about our nation's obsession with the Olsen Twins and other underage pretty people. Come to think of it, it's kind of similar to Humbert Humberts' (the narrator of "Lolita") explanation of his obsession. And it's similar to the reason why I'm into cars that look like minivans, which is what I borrowed to drive back in the day...

Purge of the Moment
I am thinking about launching a significant decluttering program. I'm even considering yet another book purge...I keep thinking about what the standard for what stays and what goes should be. My latest thought is to move away from the "enjoyed it in the past or have reasonable expectations of enjoying it in the future" standard to a harsher "would expect to say 'hey, this is cool, look at this!'" to someone else or even my future self.

Eh, maybe this book move is misguided, just an easy target relative to the more heterogenous junk that's really bugging me. I don't know if I have an "impressive" amount of books or not, but they sure are heavy...

Event of the Moment
I got a new car! That Scion xA, called "Dogma" or sometimes "the Dogmatic". (See, it's a Scion, and the only time I remember that phrase (meaning like "descendent") being used is the Kevin Smith movie Dogma.) If I didn't think of my self as a sort-of photobloggy person (I do have a camera at all times, for the most part) I'd think it was even geekier than it I do now to post "hey, it's pix of me and my new car!" but hey.


It's actually a lot more spacious feeling that this picture would imply. Also, it rides a bit higher than a typical low-slung car. So far, my only beef with it is that with the back headrests up, backwards visibility is kinda poor. Oh, and I am getting hubcaps, they were out of the type I wanted.


This is my usual driving technique, taught to me by my dad.


At 2:13 today, my car had 8 miles on it. Weird!

Right now these cars are pretty amazing bargains, all the Toyota goodness, a fair chunk of extras (A/C, power-everything standard, good CD/MP3 system) for $15K or so including taxes and fees and what not. Many thanks to Sawers and Cordelia who got me there and hung around a bit...

(1) in the land of cleves (backlog flush #46)
2004.07.02
Heading to Cleveland, see some friends, drink to Mo's health with a high school English teacher of mine, maybe see some fireworks...but of course after over a thousand kisrael.com entried without a miss I'm not going to start now, so here's some of my backlog...

What strikes me as odd about this backlog is that it dates back to just when Mo was starting to bring up "The Conversations" last October...man that seems like a long time ago.

(5) in the land of cleves (backlog flush #47)
2004.07.03
  • At some point I wanted to rant about how lousy a tool Excel is for "issues lists" and "data dictionaries" that my project had by the truckload. The UI is so ugly, data gets hidden where you can't see it, you have to make up these retarded little macros for everything, etc etc...
  • Ridiculously over-modified cars. From England, I think. I wonder if "Northern Monkey" in the URL is a bit of cultural chauvinism, what with London being an urban center to the south and all.
  • Video game fun: Gamespot's Top 10 'Boss Fights'. Boss Fights, usually a one on one conflict with a particularly nasty enemy, are really a big draw of many games for me. I appreciate how Rare and some other companies always make it easy to come back to the game and just do the cool boss fights...
  • "Men who cherish for women the highest respect are seldom popular with them."
    --Joseph Addison
  • Pretty good site for developers:Builder.com.
  • --I keep meaning to get around to making my own 3D Wigglegrams, but I haven't yet, so I'll go ahead and link to the page.

(3) in the land of cleves (backlog flush #48)
2004.07.04
  • "There goes the good time that was had by all."
    --Bette Davis, remarking on a passing starlet...
  • September 12th...a software "toy world", a somewhat heavy handed but interesting interactive political cartoon about the futility of fighting terrorism with cruise missiles...
  • Free Duel, Oh This Hot Seat Of Ours, a review of some old multiplayer games.
  • The Evolution of Alphabets.
  • Evocative SPAM filler:
    constitution to certain specific 
    relations and interests. The obtaining 
    for us this information, and to Mr. Ralph 
    Richardson for kindly the poetical names 
    of Flower of Blood, and Froth of Blood, 
    Also, odd Subject: buried inside a SPAM fake bounced email message: Nude_young boys_from_polar_bears_land. Strange world.

(2) in the land of cleves (backlog flush #49)
2004.07.05
  • Raymond Kurzweil has written some good books and he's also been productive in areas of CyberArt.
  • North Korean anti-USA progagand:FUCKING USA. Interesting that's the word in English...don't they have their own swears?
  • "The old repeat themselves and the young have nothing to say. The boredom is mutual."
    --Jacques Bainville via Bill the Splut
  • Tokyo on One Cliché a Day: Wacky Food, Manga, Inane Protocol, Capsule Hotels, and Earthquakes...I love Slate so much. I wonder if they actually are in the black, or if they're just a big Microsoft charity case.
  • "There is no remedy for sex but more sex."
    --Author Unknown
  • --The Muybridge Motion Studies are amazing . His horse studies proved things about how they gallop.

(11) in the land of cleves (backlog flush #50)
2004.07.06
  • The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.
    --Frederick Brooks, Jr., "The Mythical Man Month" that I kisrael'd about recently. Reminds me of why I like programming...
  • A veritable Cornucopia of old 'Net humor
  • More old electronic lore: textfiles.com has all the old stuff from the BBS days.
  • When a friend calls to me from the road
    And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
    I don’t stand still and look around
    On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
    And shout from where I am, "What is it?"
    No, not as there is a time to talk.
    I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
    Blade-end up and five feet tall,
    And plod: I go up to the stone wall
    For a friendly visit.
    --Robert Frost poem A Time To Talk, via the now sadly defunct therosser.com...
  • >> ClipclopclipclopBANGBANGclipclopclip
    >> -- Amish driveby shooting

    >Ermm.. seeing as the Amish don't like machinery,
    >shouldn't that be "TWANGTWANG" as in a catapault
    >rather than "BANGBANG" as in a gun?..

    I like the version that goes "clipclopclipclopclipclopFROWNclipclop..."
    -- Amish drive-by shunning.

    --Rhiannon S, Gid Holyoake, and Adrian Ogden on alt.fan.pratchett. I saw some Mennonites singing at Harvard Square the other day, women in white bonnety cloth hats and all.

  • Buddha Baby! Not me, but my parents nickname for me was "The Buddha" for a while when I was a baby...their friends knew they were kind of weird and thought that might actually be my name...

(17) back from the land
2004.07.07
So, I'm back from Cleveland. I realized that most of the photos I took wouldn't be of such wide interest to most of the kisrael crowd, so I decided to be a little selective.

Now, I almost hesitate to post this in case someone gets the idea that Cleveland is less urban or urbane than it actually is. In general, I guess it runs a bit on the conservative side, at least relative to us here in Taxachussetstan. Still, I was strucky by this Jeep rear window:

Two Irish flag decals plus an American flag with "No Vacancy" over it. Now, I'm more or less ok with a strong devotion to ethnic heritage even though I'm just a WASP-mutt, but do you think this person has a deep understanding of the history of Irish-American immigration, and the way the rest of the country responded to it at the time?

Anyway, in more amusing topics, we threw Mike a birthday party. Here he is wearing a mask with the eyeholes blacked out and his special birthday crown:


Dialog of the Moment
"I've got a mask on that's duct-taped to my face, I'm wearing a silly hat, I've got a wand in one hand, a beer in the other, and I've got explosives in my pocket."
"That sounds like a perfect evening."
--Mike and Me Saturday night...here's the cameraphone video of it.

(25) i hear it's really big in japan
2004.07.08
Link of the Moment
Peterman pointed out Japander, with lots of videoclips of Western celebes doing Japanese commercials. The Schwarzenegger page is one of the most popular...both because of his political office, and also many of the ads are delightfully weird. (Some of the other celeb's do spots that are pretty pedestrian.) The one labled "A Classic" is great, showing off his mighty mighty biceps as he swings around some giant tea kettles. The Simpsons were worth a glance, but interesting to see how they don't bother to keep anyone in character because not many people have watched the show.

Funny of the Moment
"<stops using punching bag> Oh. [ahem] Hello. [ahem] So many rice crackers claim to be low-cal, but only Fujikawa Rice Crackers make your interiors go bananas! <to self> What did I do to deserve this? ..... Oh, right."
--Woody Allen in the Simpsons episode Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo where they go to Japan...I was hoping there'd be some Woody Allen at Japander, guess I'll have to make do with this...

On The Naming Of Things
I've realized that my previous naming of my car was a bit on the premature side. You really should see if you can get to know something at least a bit before coming up with the right name, and I'm realizing "Dogma"/"Dogmatic", despite the Scion cleverness, just isn't quite right.

So the history of possible names has been:
  • "Dogma"/"Dogmatic" -- because of the Scion/Kevin Smith movie reference. Possibly influenced the color selection a bit.
  • "Death Star" -- the interior has a kind of cool black-and-silver 70s-tech look, and I thought this name reflected it, and sort of fit the exterior as well...kind of a tough name for a car to pull off, and "death" and "highway driving" are two concepts best kept as far apart as possible.
  • "Pug" -- Dogma/Dog reference, also a reference to the size of the thing. And can get changed to "Pugly", which fits what some people think of the car.
  • "Mica"/"Nickel"/"8 bits" -- these were some ideas Peterman came up with, mostly involving the color and size and then devolving into old computer geekery.
  • "Puck" -- derivative of "Pug", nicely captures the size and color as well as a reference to my lord.what.fools.these.mortals.be domain. My favorite as of last night.
  • "Spruce Goose" -- I let R. drive it a bit the other night and she thought that the interior air vents were kind of reminiscent of the rotary coils on old plane engines, or something. I thought the name was a little too light in the loafers, even if people didn't think "Goose" was a weird "Top Gun" fan boy reference.
  • "Sluggo" -- my favorite as of right now. Captures the squat nature of the car (which I also thought was a bit "fist like", so the name captures that) plus on a whim I bought this brass snail paperweight, which could be the car's mascot, the slug refernce. Plus, some people think the car is sluggish on the highway (though I think it's fine.)
What amazes me is that very few people I've talked to think it's odd to name your car, or to put thought into the right name. (Though with this post, I might be pushing the envelope.) Peterman noticed that there are a number of google hits for "name my car" and "name your car" has a couple hundred as well.

Let me know what you think! Here's the picture if it helps.

Article of the Moment
Slate on an army report about how stretched our supply lines were. Also interesting was the part about the grindingly effective A10...the politics behind that plane are really too bad, because it performs brilliantly--it's essentially huge, robust artillery in the sky...the Army can't use it because it's fixed wing and that's the Air Force's balliwick, but it's too unglamorous for the Air Force to really get behind, too similar to what the army does... (Oh, right, here's the Slate piece on the A-10 where I probably got that opinion from...what a great website.)

(11) give me an f
2004.07.09
Cussing of the Moment
"You know, Minister, I believe that in the long view of history, the British Empire will be remembered only for two things ... The game of soccer. And the expression 'fuck off.' "
--The last British governor of South Yemen, according to Niall Ferguson and via this slate article.

Surfing of the Moment
So after yesterday's post about various car names, I decided to look for some Sluggo images. Not what I was looking for, but this sticker to the right caught my eye. It came from this cafepress page but my wandering mouse really enjoyed the animated Monsters by Kristen. (Also the sticker might be the right size and shape to cover up those stupid "kids might get smooshed by airbags! danger! danger!" warnings. Man, I hate how big and obnoxious and redolent-of-past-lawsuits those things are.)

Anyway, getting back to the "typical" Sluggo of Nancy and Sluggo fame, this is a very attractive page of clips from the comic strip. None of those seemed quite as cool as this cartoon though:
Somehow this seemed like a good metaphor for how Mo and I dealt with each other. Live and learn.

Anyway, if I went with Sluggo as the name, I could try seeing if these magnets would stick to the back, put one on at a time 'til it got stolen.

Speaking of possibly stolen, 3 of 4 of the cheap plastic hubcaps I got are missing. Are they that crappy and fall-off-able? (They are just plasticky clip things, and it's not clear that the salesguy knew what he was doing when they put them on.) Or are they too easy to remove and tempting to "collectors"? (I do live near a school...) I actually kind of like the way the wheels look with no covers, but it is a bit on the ghetto side.

Anyway, yesterday's message board has suggested "Tetsuo" as being an appropriately Japanese name...the name is known here for the famous Anime film Akira. While the idea of being able to walk to my car mentally yelling "TETSUO!!!!" like they do in the movie is appealing, I am still worried about how Japanese-fanboi-ish the name might be.

Random Geekery of the Moment
Thinking about joining the Scion life message board, just to see if, indeed, everyone who bothers joining that kind of board is into modding and pimping out their cars or if there are some utilitarians like me, and I was impressed by the Agreement Terms page...readable bullet items, and you have to click each one. I don't know if it helps, but it's a clever idea and implementation.

(2) what the puck
2004.07.10
After many minutes of sober consideration, I think "Puck" (as in, "The Puck") is it as a name for my new Scion xA. "Tetsuo" is a fine name, but I prefer car names that aren't people names, and that reflect physical characteristics of the car. Plus there's an emotional significance to the name that I've already mentioned.

You know, it's surprisingly difficult for me to go against a popular other option...I'm such a weasely wishywashy politician at heart, or something.

Off to my family reunion!

Milestone of the Moment
Coalition Deathtoll hits 1,000. And that's just our dead...not their dead, and not our wounded. Is the amount of additional safety our nation might (or, might not, depending on how you read some of the implications of such a focused effort) be receiving from causing a change of government in Iraq worth this cost?

Interview Q+A of the Moment
You know, The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn't see it. I watched Keanu's performance - and very rarely do I say this - but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn't smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be. Let the movie and the director tell the story, and don't try and perform every moment.
--Will Smith in this Wired interview. I admire the candor, and over all he definately strikes me as one of the smarter entertainers out there.

Geekery of the Moment
McSweeney's on On the Implausibility of the Death Star's Trash Compactor. Great stuff. I always wondered why the monster in there didn't get smooshed itself...I never thought that it might be deliberately put there, figured it was kind of weird parasite.

(29) i musta been a beautiful baby
2004.07.11
Baby Picture of the Moment
--Me at the age of 3 months, in Philadelphia. I thought this picture was lost, but it's my favorite...either I'm thoughtful, or doing a ferocious elbow smash.

It was a bit of a shock to discover that the photos in my photo album were all duplicates and rejects from my mom's collection...I had forgotten that utterly.


Cheer of the Moment
"Gimme some angst!
Gimme ennui!
What do we got?
TEAM APATHY!"
--At my family reunions we usually end up with a few rounds of Capture the Flag, but this year most of the enthusiasm for the activity was on the other side, so I came up with this irony-tinged cheer.

(8) didn't inhale
2004.07.12
Ramble of the Moment
So in the "What Are You Trying To Do, KILL Your Mother???" department, I wanted to mention that I've made an odd discovery; how to inhale while having a cigarette. And because I'm NOT a smoker, I get a pretty amazing buzz, to the amusement and perhaps even envy of my smoker friends. (And there were a lot of them in Cleveland.) It's reasonably intense (but still mellow) and short-lived.

For years I was the tiniest bit of a social smoker...at my absolute height, one a day with a girlfriend who was on about the same schedule. But I didn't inhale, just brought it into my cheeks, and so never saw the point really, other than that the mechanics were kind of fun.

And I'm not going to indulge nearly that often. I am aware of the risks of this, and if I ever actually smoke alone or have more than 2 in one evening, that's it, I'm going cold turkey. But I have a few friends (like Anne Lapine) who have been doing this for a while; the trick is, if you stop getting the buzz, you deal with it by laying off for a month or two, not by upping the dose.

So I know many here will think me utterly foolish, and playing a risky game. And I'm aware of how unhealthy and difficult to shake an addiction to cigarettes can be. Up 'til now, at least chemical-wise, I haven't displayed any kind of readily addicted personality, so I don't think the overall risk to this carefully-bounded behaviour is as great as it would seem.

Incidentally, when I was in Portugal on the border with Spain I astounded Marcos by saying "tu sabes yo no fumo" in perfectly accented Spanish. During my 3 weeks there I started a trademark / running joke of accepting a cigarette (didn't want to be rude) and not lighting it...

Image of the Moment
--Here I am that trip, do-rage, unlit cigarette, beloved green canvas jacket, Marcos' (I think) sunglasses, waist pack and all. (Incidentally, I think the car we drove around in was a 60's Honda knockoff the Mini called the N360 that the Mini dealer mentioned.)


Lines of the Moment
She was the answer to his dreams.
Unfortunately, that answer was "no".
--Evil Bastard

Feature of the Moment
Via Bill, it is the Worst Songs of Great Rockers. S'funny!

(8) smoke gets in your eyes
2004.07.13
Ok, my announcement yesterday was wrongheaded and the wrong way of mentioning it. I thought it would make amusing kisrael reading, but I was wrong. I'm not sure if it would've been better to say "if I'm at a party, and people are smoking, every once in a while I'll have a solitary cigarette" which is all it amounted to, and all it will ever amount to. I think it came across as "hey, I'm taking up smoking, but in a limited way" and that's not what I'm doing. It's not meant to be a form of delayed teenage rebellion or acting out and I'm sorry to worry people who love me. So, sorry.

Quote of the Moment
"Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch."
-- Robert Orben

Music of the Moment
Cool if slow-to-load computer music video. Nice and percussiony and kinetic, kind of like an animated subset of Blue Man Group.

More Music of the Moment
Speaking of slow music, they're up to like the third note in the 639 year playing of John Cage's "As Slow As Possible". Excellent!


(10) cool stuff! from the web!
2004.07.14
Quote of the Moment
"There are no answers, only cross-references."
--Weiner

Transformers of the Moment
It's not as cool as that Soundwave Breakdancing video, but Iacon City has lots of 3D models and transformation animations to look at.

Art of the Moment
Classic Modern Art meets Modern Classic Video Games in Pac-Mondrian...a very clever mashup, I didn't realize the whole Pac-thing would be quite so robust, though it's not quite as playable as normal Pac-Man.

(1) thus endeth the streak
2004.07.15
So my 1,292-day streak (Dec 30 2000 - July 14 2004) without a missed entry comes to an inglorious end, when my webhost provider got cut off by their upstream provider Qwest for a bit under 48-hours. So I'm writing this in a post facto kinda way, just so that the run of entries doesn't have a hole in it.

While I think I'm still gonna be pretty religous about the daily updates, in a way it's kind of nice to not be pressured by the spectre of missing a day. Kind of how like Cal Ripken Jr. beat Gehrig's "unbreakable record" of 2,130 games without a miss, played a few hundred more, and then just took the day off so it was no longer an issue.

(5) back in the saddle
2004.07.16
So I started loading up kirkjerk.com/mortals.be with the stuff I would've been posting here had the site not been down...came up with some fun links in the interim.
  • "Jesus, it's like the Illuminati sprouted a Housewares Department."
    --Scott Lynch on the comments for this article about how the Zeitgeist palette /popular color schemes are pretty much dictated by an industry trade group. I wonder how big an impact it has on people like me who pretty much stick with basics from Old Navy. (Like I quoted in...Yikes, 2000 -- "nobody sells any damn normal shirts anymore"
  • Via Bill, it's the top 10 Dumb Moments in Sci-Fi Cinema (and why they generally don't matter that much.)
  • "And it looks to me as though everyone in Civilization is operating heavy machinery every day, by our standards. That time when the guy stops at the barber for a shave, I bet it is with the atomic clipper, which by a million tiny rays of incomprehensibly powerful fourth-order radiation annihilates the hair microscopically straight down to the root. So horrific were the energies concentrated upon every follicle, that it not only was vapourised, but each particle was individually propelled into nega-space without leaving even one atom of vapour to trouble the hair's owner; and yet the energies were in perfect balance - the customer being shaved felt not even the slightest sensation of warmth upon the skin - as, indeed, he would not feel it if the balancing bar were misaligned, and the Titanic force misdirected to blow his head into tiny pieces, and, a moment later too small to measure, the barber shop and the entire city, also. Yet such was the reputation of the Engineers of Civilization that not once had this happened anywhere on the planet!"
    --Ryk "Sea Wasp" Spoor in rec.arts.sf.written talking about "Civilization" in E. E. "Doc" Smith's "Lensmen" books...florid but fun old-school sci-fi that inspired the game "Spacewar!"--Spoor really captures the feel of 'em.
  • Buck Truck, The Rappin' Trucker is about as bad as it sounds, but was kind of an interesting insight into a different subculture.
  • If you want your childhood corrupted forever...DECEPTICONSORT is nothing but Transformer porn. Weird. I mean, do robots like that even need thingies?
  • The Onion's A.V. Club offers Hollyblog, "A helpful guide to celebrity web logs".
  • This kinda disturbing story about Middle Eastern men behaving oddly on an airplane was poo-poo'd by the Metafilter folk who pointed to a Ann Coulter swing, but I admit I'd be freaked out a bit if I saw the events as described. That's the thing...the American populous is told to keep our eyes open for suspcious stuff, but we have NO idea what's really suspicous.
  • Porn minus the People. Odd stuff...pretty seedy though sometimes it's hard to explain quite why.

(290) D & D-er
2004.07.17
Webcomic of the Moment
Peterman introduced me to the webcomic Full Front Nerdity...3 guys (and a webcam) around a D+D table. I don't konw if I'm ashamed or proud to say I've never actually role-played. Still, I read the books enough to understand this one and if you're in a hurry just check out this other one that ends with a potentially reusable "zinger".

Related Joke of the Moment
A fifth-level paladin drives his car to the repair shop.

He gets out and says to the mechanic "It's really weird. Normally I fight for justice and righteousness, but every time I get in this car I have this incredible urge to run over old ladies, drive way past the speed limit, and pick up hitchhiking demons. Can you help me?"

The machanic looks the car over and says "Yeah, I see what the problem is. Your alignment's off."
--Lore, "a joke that come to [him] in a flash of dumb"

Explanation of the Moment
For the unitiated: both the first "this one" cartoon link and the joke deal with D+D's concept of "alignment". See this definition of the concept for an explanation.

Annotated Doodles of the Moment
--I created this page of doodles during a company-wide business meeting...I recommend the technique of filling an entire page with small, non-repetitive doodles, it's very satisfying. Just to make my self-obsessive-geekness complete, I made it into an imagemap...hover the mouse over any doodle to find out what it is, or use the tab key to tab through each as a link and see its description in the status bar. (only tested in MSIE)

(1) pengel, excel
2004.07.18
Game of the Moment
So it's rare these days that I'll spend a lot of time on a single player video game, but there's this brilliant game called Magic Pengel ("Pen+Angel") that I keep coming back to. It has this amazing feature where you sketch out parts of a creature in 2D (indicating "this is the body piece", "these are arm pieces", "this is the head piece" etc), it creates a nice, rounded 3D model from that, and then animates based on that.
Bad screen shot of CHIKZLA, my most fearsome creation.
And the animations are really pretty convincing...if you've drawn in a club it'll swing it, you need at least 2 legs to do a double kick, etc. Based on the limbs you make (and what shape) and colors you use, your creature has different statistics and can do different attacks.

Unfortunately, the combat is "Pokémon-like", you don't actually control your warrior directly, just pick a type of attack in a decent "rock-paper-scissors" setup. Still, it's a fun game, and I'm enjoying unlocking more and more drawing features.

Here's a Flash-based fan site with Videos and Screenshots of that person's creations, here's IGN's review.

Neat stuff. I really want a game where I could then control these creatures directly in fierce, "Smash Brothers" like combat, but this is still pretty impressive. I mean, it really seems kind of magical; isn't letting kids draw some pictures than having them come to life exactly the kind of things computers should be doing for us by this stage? (No, we don't want computers to be a total imagination crutch either, but still, anything with a creative element in it like that is going to be better than tv or a typical video game.)

Rant of the Moment
I only sort of got around to ranting about how bad and overused Excel is but here is proof...Excel is frickin' EVIL. It's retarded auto-correct garbage is eroding valuable genetic data. My company uses that blighted program for way too much...data dictionaries, screen layout even...ugh! It's probably great for people who are actually crunching numbers and have grown into its UI, but other than that...feh. I really need to make a public release of my one-table-database online that's much easier to get around in for basic flat data recording than excel...

Flash Video of the Moment
It has made the rounds already but the pretty-much-bipartisan parody of "This Land" is better than I expected, with jabs at both sides.

(14) i have a religous mandate to notice your beautiful face
2004.07.19
Passage of the Moment
"We are here to abet creation and to witness to it, to notice each other's beautiful face and complex nature so that creation need not play to an empty house."
--Annie Dillard. Noticed it as a reading in the Unitarian Universalist songbook. I managed to find a page with more Annie Dilliard small Selections -- the second ones about Trees is pretty cool as well.

Political Quiz of the Moment
Slate lets you figure out Red or Blue based on the cultural tidbits you know and incidental things that you do. I came up exactly in the middle. (That might be because I pay attention to the right wing and knew a few trivial bits.)

Though I find the whole assignment of the colors "red" and "blue" kind of arbitrary. I guess we've come along way from the 50s, seeing as how now the republicans don't being called "red". (And only Nixon could go to China.)

Music Video of the Moment
Fans of the video game Soul Calibur (or anyone into virtual skinny guys in gimp outfits grooving to pop music) may enjoy seeing Dance, Vold, Dance. Once you've seen half of it you've probably got the idea, but still its pretty cool.

(3) knight rider, the motorcycle version
2004.07.20
Did any of my buddies who were over recently leave a black Medium Old Navy nylon-y light jacket in my living room? I have no idea whose it is. (Though I like how the label says "for best results, wear with another article of Old Navy clothing".)

Japan of the Moment
My friend Josh is with his Japanese fiancee T. in Tokyo and writes:

The attached picture is a one-person car, or a futurized motorcycle that Toyota will unveil in about two years. It is basically a reclining chair in a pod that has for wheels and is operated not by a steering wheel but by two joysticks. In park and for local driving the driver is situated up at about a 70 degree angle. For longer drives the angle goes to about twenty degrees and the driver is aided by sensors,cameras, and auto-pilot functions that prevent accidents. For highway driving the driving pod is flat and the driver cedes controls to the GPS system and the sensors.

We saw a limited demo and it was cool. But, I wonder if it is too impractical for actual use. It is good for single commuters, though, and would be good for situation similar to motorcycles today. It certainly is much safer than a motorcycle.

The other car we saw adjusts the chair and mirrors for the driver when the driver sits down in the seat. It can remember three people and even sets the radio, GPS, and TV as the driver preprogrammed them.

My thoughts were I hope those are good sensors, because I certainly wouldn't trust the GPS unit I have for my car quite that much...also...TV, huh? Well, I guess if the computer's driving...I really wish we could get autodriving cars so I could read a nice book on the way to work. I think it's a long way off, especially for this country.

Online Game of the Moment
Two different friends have recommended checking out The Kingdom of Loathing, a simple web-based RPG game w/ lots of amusingly sketchy graphics. (A bit like the doodles I posted the other day.) I haven't played it enough to get to much interaction with other players, so it hasn't been that exciting, and it has a lot of leveling up "grinding" (just click click click click click to get through little adventures and build up your character's stats) but much of it is fairly amusing--the What Is The Kingdom of Loathing page is worth reading through if you just want a taste.

Journal of the Moment
I was reading about Lance Armstrong taking the leader's yellow jersey back in the Tour de France, and they mentioned he as a strong supporting team, including fellow American Floyd Landis. For some reason, I always have more affection for supporting cast than for the stars, just the workmanlike way they go about kicking butt and living through triumphs and defeats everyone else hardly ever hears about, so I found Landis' journal at CyclingNews.com to make for some interesting reading.

(19) awaken to the forsaken bacon
2004.07.21
Spike in traffic yesterday...looking at my referers I think it's because I got this comment in early in a slashdot discussion, and it had a link to my site (just mentioning that my site's structure isn't super-RSSable--though I'm almost tempted to ask this guy to give it a whirl).

Some of the bulk has to do with this stupid web hijack scheme where I seem to get a hit from a link at
"random-pornish-name".blogspot.com
...going to one of those sites brings up a huge flurry of Porn windows, just a stupid trick for people who bother to check to see who's linking to 'em.

Passage of the Moment
"Bacon is truth, friend. It's not only a food that knows no culinary boundaries, it is a forceful, vengeful, little pile of fat that loves to make things crispy and dangerous.

Bacon makes everything crazy. Tie two hot dogs together with bacon. Strangle Bay scallops with bacon. Devil an egg and then stab it with bacon. Stick seventy-seven strips of bacon up a Cornish hen's ass. Rape a baked potato with bacon. Fuck with your peanut butter sandwich. When it's expecting the grape jam, hit it with the bacon."
--From Bacon To Soap: The Impossible Journey. Found part of this quote on mo's LJ profile. One summer Tufts computer lab geek's had a Cult of Bacon, and had a few BaconFests. Good times.

News of the Moment
The Olympic Village as the world's most elite "two-week-long private party for thousands of hard-bodies". Heh, that would be interesting.

Queestion of the Moment
Huh, Just realized that the day the divorce is final is a Saturday, August 7...I'm almost half tempted to try to throw my apartmentwarming party that day. Though I think that might be a bad idea--A., is 2 1/2 weeks enough time for evites and all for a big party? and B. I think I explicitly asked Mo not to have celebrations that day, so it would be kind of cheeky for me to do that.

Whaddya think? Would the 14th or 28th be a better bet?


(10) dozens of stick-figure people running amok in a donkey kong style universe
2004.07.22
Animation of the Moment
Pretty cool animation, huh? (I like the guy who's sitting there like 'the thinker'.) What's really cool is that you can tile a bunch of them, creating this giant ongoing universe of mayhem and motion...check it out.

The image was posted on a discussion board at b3ta that has a few more, though this one is the coolest. The artist has his own webpage that has a lot of cool animations in Java, Flash, etc, worth checking out.

Today's title comes from the boingboing link, a link that later pointed out that the tiled image makes a great sterogram. (You know, onfocus your eyes and see a 3D sailboat out of the background noise...in this case the whole stickfigure universe just gains a bit of depth in your monitor...)

The artist's site reminds me: question on my mind, for the webhead geeks out there; I have an idea for a Mega-Man themed interactive project, basically capturing a lot of the animations of characters and creatures in the game for human- or computer- control. Should I do it in Java (maybe in processing?) or use it to try learning Flash, or something else?

Quote of the Moment
"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting, and doing things historians usually record--while, on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, write poetry, whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happens on the banks."
--Will Durant, "The Story of Civilzation", via Mr. Rogers

Comic of the Moment
Sweet Jimmy Durante on a Breakfast at Tiffany's Crutch, a softer world might just be the Best. Webcomic. Ever. And I don't use that Simpsons' reference lightly. 3 Panels w/ some great photography, and brilliant overlayed captions...thoughtful, wistful, funny. READ THEM ALL but if you're in a hurry check out April 30th 2004 (melancholy) and Jun 4th 2004 (funny as heck.)

(1) i'm like dudley moore in "arthur", but without all the money. or the alcoholism. or liza minnelli.
2004.07.23
Line of the Moment
"Maybe this is just the booze talking, but *'hic!'*"
--Me to R., former flame, now Red Sox buddy. After the game we watched a Tivo'd episode of South Park...unfortunately I built up the Giant Stone Abraham Lincoln line a bit too much, but still she was amused by my amusement when it finally arrived.

Web Comic of the Moment
PartiallyClips is a pretty good comic as well...all based on clipart. Bill liked this one--and who doesn't like kittens and puppies?

Article of the Moment
Slate on Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. It's astounding how our culture--starting at the top with our political leaders--completely oversimplifies our enemies. But of course, even a liberal politician can't try to express a more nuanced opinion because he or she would be accused of cuddling up with the people who want to see us hurt badly. I think the most interesting, though maybe not most important from a policy standpont, idea in the article is that Moslem countries don't grok seperation of church and state (not that our President is that hot at maintaining the divide either) so they assume any rightwing christian crap from a religous bigwig carries huge weight here: "So every time Falwell inveighs against the 'terrorist' Prophet, the hate might as well be coming directly from George W. Bush."


(2) thanks lan3
2004.07.24
Sometimes, I don't have to go out looking for interesting and/or funny stuff...sometimes it comes right to my AIM message window. All I have to do is change a few bits of text into links:

AIM of the Moment
LAN3: Heh. This is what I call balanced media:
"Sept. 11 Panel Says Government Failures Not to Blame for Attacks"--headline, Associated Press, July 22
"9/11 Inquiry Damns US Government"--headline, Reuters, July 22
"Leaders Not Blamed in 9/11 Report"--headline, Associated Press, July 22
"9/11 Panel Point to Bush and Clinton Failings"--headline, Reuters, July 22
LAN3:(from OpinionJournal: no jump link; it's halfway down under "Did Reuters see a different report?")
LAN3: Also, I don't know if you wanted to link to it, but "Uncle Patrick" Hughes has posted another list of advice for the kiddies. As he disclaims from the start, it's not as funny as the first list, but it's pretty funny.


(4) caw collect
2004.07.25
Ramble of the Moment
Not the most original thought, but new to me...dialing up voice mail on my cellphone starts to sound like the opening notes of "Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?" (Samsing phones remap the keys from regular touchtones to the musical C-scale). So I got to thinking about that song (mostly I know it from that Simpsons' Episode where they buy a doorbell that plays just the first line, but gets stuck and plays it over and over) and how that lyric could be read so differently, in like a Hitchcock-ripoff horror movie: "It's eerie...you show up, and then all these different kind of birds show up and start attacking and pecking at everyone's eyes! I never knew a humming bird could be so vicious....what the hell is up with you? Are you cursed?? Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear Every Time You Are Near???"

Banner of the Moment

--from typoGenerator, a tool for making coolish but meaningless banners with text.

Comic of the Moment
Fleep is a very odd comic...a guy is trapped in a phonebooth surrounded by concrete, with what (he estimates) about 48 hours of Oxygen left..."Using only the contents of his pockets (two pens, a paperback novel, three coins and 20 ft of unwaxed dental floss) our hero must fashion and execute an escape plan before he runs out of oxygen". Very strange, some of the Macguyver-like details seem a little suspect, but very cool.

(3) a key está aquí
2004.07.26
News of the Moment
Bill says, "Every time you lose your keys, they turn up in the last place you'd look."

Geek Article of the Moment
Slashdot posted an article on some Open Source Myths. I think the article rang very true about OSS in practice, as opposed to in theory. Especially the "All software should be free" bit, thats been bugging me...I mean for the most part the little things I churn together aren't worth cash, and ego-boost is all I can hope for (though most folks can't be arsed to drop an e-mail, I've learned from experience.) And there is something weirdly limiting to the idea that any you can do for a fee, someone else can do at least 75% as well for free.

Retort of the Moment
A friend of mine suggested (in a very polite way) that as part of my makeover I should pay more attention to my finger- and toenails, at least being much more consciences of keeping them trimmed. They weren't truly horrendous, but I was a little lazy about 'em. So I will now be more proactive about them, getting on a regular schedule rather than just waiting 'til I notice "huh, they're a little long". But anyway, to save a little face I decided to respond with some mock-outrage:

HOW DARE YOU INSULT MY MAGNIFICENT TALONS

IT TOOK ME WEEKS AND WEEKS TO GROW THESE GNARLED BEAUTIES

THEY PROVIDE BALANCE AND STABILITY AND PERMIT EASIER FORAGING FOR GRUBS AND SMALL BERRIES

YOU JERK!!!!

(like, how often for the fingernails?)



(13) bot bon mots
2004.07.27
Work in Progress of the Moment
Can anyone (besides Ranjit and Peterman) tell me what these guys are from? First person to post the right answer on the message board gets a cookie.

Geek Amusement of the Moment
Some guy (a video game music by writer) has written a program that has passed a rough form of the Turing Test by making jenny18, a floozy of an Eliza-based bot...it seems like many horny guys on IRC were fooled. A college professor did something similar with a very abusive bot, its webpage has the full conversation as well as a lot of background and supporting information.

Local Interest of the Moment
Slate has Timothy Noah talking about the changes in Boston, from the Big Dig to cultural attitude adjustments in general.

News Quote of the Moment
"He pants hard, emitting low 'hrrr, hrrr, hrrr' grunts with each stroke of the pedals, his shoulders bobbing up and down."
--CNN on George Bush's Mountain Biking (mis-)Adventures. Another good quote: "I'm gonna show you a hill that would choke a mule." That's our leader of the free world!


(15) "balls," said the queen. "if i had them i'd be king."
2004.07.28
Did some nautilus etc. with a personal trainer at the gym this morning. It's kind of intimidating, I find it kind of difficult to remember all the details of the exercises and form and stretches and what not.

Toy of the Moment

Source code // Built with Processing
--Made this last night, click and hold to make a circle, let it go and all circles start gliding to the common centerpoint, marked by a pixel. Learning Processing has been on my "To Do" list for a long time; it has a lot of nifty 3D features I haven't even begun to touch.

Geek note, I realized my usual trick of breaking down motion into seperate X and Y components won't quite work to get a nice orbiting effect, because of Pythagorean theorem and all that. Maybe later I'll try to make a Processing "sketch" that handles that better.

Peterman mentions it's a bit of a memory hog. Also, if you click to quickly it gets stuck, classic threading issue I have to work on.

Cuss-filled update follows...highlight with mouse or hit Ctrl-A to see, if you want....UPDATE: SHIIIIIIIIIIT. I made up a new version that avoids the freezing issue...works great in the toolkit but I cannot get it to run on my PC or laptop's browser for love nor money. DAMN IT I hate when technology fucks with me like this. Pardon my anglo-saxon, but it's better to rage here then hurl my laptop across the damn room which is what I'm so god damn tempted to do. METAUPDATE: got it working, doing after-hours work on my job's laptop. Weird.


Cookie of the Moment
Arguably (it's amazing what you can get away with if you start out by saying "arguably") the world's best cookies are sold just a block or two from my workplace...Bert's Horrible Cookies are astounding. Considering how good they are, and how they are only available in the "Witch City" of Salem, I think witchcraft or some other black magic may be afoot. Essentially it's a chocolate chip cookie with a fudge brownie baked inside it. No kidding. Stunningly delicious. FoSO was very happy with her reward. (Turns out she didn't actually know the game "Cosmic Ark"...she checked the image filename and Google'd to confirm.)

Just thought you'd all like to know about the world's arguably best cookies.

Playground Equipment of the Moment
--This brilliance via BongBoing:
the Infinity Climber, a Möbius
strip for kids to climb on! UPDATE: In the comments section Harry points out it has one too many twists to be a Möbius. Doggone it.



(1) you must be mistaken
2004.07.29
Quote of the Moment
"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
--Tallulah Bankhead

Offer of the Moment
Anyone want a pair of tickets to Cirque de Soleil on August 7, $150 for both? Great seats, says my coworker...

Wrongness of the Moment
As he entered the room within which so many a wild night of their sweltering love affair had been spent, the White Rabbit regarded her with benevolent eyes, her posture such that he suspected something was wrong, but before he could speak Alice unburied her face from her trembling hands and between her intense sobs he made out the words, "I'm late . . . I'm late."
--Cory Gano, this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Some good stuff, but there's too much of it to get through without starting to think "I've seen this before..."


(7) fishing for complements
2004.07.30
Java Toy of the Moment
--A fishtank is one of my traditional thingies to build when learning a new graphical system. Usually 2D, this is actually a slight update of the one I made at the Boston School of the MFA back in 1993 or so--a very odd "C" language programming class I took there. You can change the viewpoint with the mouse and click to zoom in a bit. (The color and the zooming are the new bits...I like being able to get up close and personal with the little fish.) (Source code)

Funny of the Moment
Researchers recently said that the chimpanzee, hunted for meat and threatened by deforestation, could be extinct in 50 years. What do you think?
"They're being hunted for meat? Are chimp fajitas any good?"
--This Onion What Do You Think? feature.

Politics of the Moment
Slightly more interesting than I would have guessed, one of my former coworkers is a DNC blogger, at Centrist Coalition's blog. Looks like a group effort.

Mmmm...centrism. I think the CC's take may be that Fiscal conservatist, Socially liberal viewpoint that got Weld into office as governor. In its extreme form, it's kind of a Libertarian Lite, but still.

(3) put this in your pipe and smoke it donkey konga
2004.07.31
Music of the Moment
Saskrotch makes some cool, tiny music bits: "nintendo breakz" is about 40 old NES tunes with breakbeats behind them. Fun.

Old Onion of the Moment
Christopher Reeve Placed Atop Washington Monument

WASHINGTON, DC--One of America's most beloved landmarks, the Washington Monument, became all the more stirring and inspiring Monday with the addition of disabled actor Christopher Reeve.

Reeve, 51, paralyzed below the neck after a tragic equestrian mishap 6 years ago, was bolted to the pinnacle of the 555-foot monument and affixed with display spotlights for night viewing. He will remain there permanently, on 24-hour display.

"Christopher has shown himself to be a pillar of strength and courage who brings out the best in us all," said John Beaumont, Director of U.S. Parks and Services. "He was a logical addition to this already impressive monument. Once the idea was presented, nothing could stop us: not logistical problems, not budget constraints, not even the teary objections of Mr. Reeve."

--My all time favorite Onion article...funny headline, funny writeup. ("Though Reeve was unable to speak at the commemoration due to an intense fear of heights, no one was more moved by the ceremony than the actor himself. 'Please let me down,' the visibly touched celebrity said to reporters. 'I'm cold, and I miss my family.'") Someone preserved the rest of the article. (No picture, though.)

Form of the Moment
Heh...PDF but worth a quick glance, for after the breakup it's the relationship evaluation form. "The purpose of this evaluation form is to learn of your opinions on, and experiences of, our previous relationship; both to improve the quality of my future relationships and also so that we can compare our thoughts on the one we had." It's hard to tell if it's tongue-in-cheek or serious; maybe some of each. I think there's some of this I'm still wishing I could hear from Mo; on the other hand, I realized she's right sometimes when she refuses to talk about some stuff saying "we've been through this already"; I forget about the tone and content of some of our past correspondance since the breakup.

7 Days 'til the divorce is final...

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