kisrael.com | archive | 2004 nov

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(9) november pain
2004.11.01
Quote of the Moment
"Every player who excels in the college game has a modicum of bloodlust; as Bill Parcells once noted, football isn't a game for well-adjusted adults."
--Brendan I. Koerner in this older Slate piece on Why some NFL players are meaner than others. And with that, the Patriots record-breaking, absolutely historic winning streak came to an end...

Link of the Moment
You probably have to be geeky to get this but this Slashdot link comparing Linux Gentoo users to "Ricers" really amused me...because I tend to see computers as more-or-less appliances, at least as far as the hardware and OS goes, I'm amused by people who go nuts trying to tweak their systems. ("Ricers" is a disparaging term for guys who take Japanese cars and tweak them for "better performance"...the most obvious sign of Ricers are super big rear spoilers and those giant exhaust pipes)

Video of the Moment
--Cobra Commander for President! Stop the wasteful GI Joe Boondoggle that's taking the taxpayers money!

(28) .... #9 .... #9.... #9 ....
2004.11.02
Wow, I can't believe that today is election day. Between all the sports history being made around here and the way I haven't been watching TV, I've been exposed to very little campaigning...Howard Stern rooting for Kerry, Sports Talk Radio guys rooting for Bush, and a smattering of annoying radio spots. (The Kerry one was kind of stupid, how "The Saudi Royal Family appreciates your support when you're at the pump, and also the support of the Administration"--it kind of implies everyone is GUILTY for filling up...and then there's John McCain saying he knows Kerry and Bush and he's with Bush on this one, for all the tough decisions he's made, even though I think he's made some of the wrongest damn decisions this side of El Paso.)

I'll spare you the "so get out there and vote people!" rhetoric. Hell, barring surprise upsets, I think everyone not in a swing state is half-disenfranchised anyway thanks to the Electoral College. The main reason for a Kerry backer to vote in Massachusetts is so the Republicans don't pull any fast ones, and also so that the overall popular vote gets tabulated, not that it matters.

Cultural Insensitivity of the Moment
At the risk of sounding antisemitic and generally insensitive to the religous beliefs of other cultures, I still want to say that Sabbath mode on fridges and stoves for Orthodox Jews still strike me as a rather worldview.

Alarming Story of the Moment
A boingboingn story on a Santa Clara voting machine saying
Vote Save Error #9
Use The Backup Voting Procedure
Awesome. Faulty technology is screwing with our democracy. Not as badly as the whole electoral college crap, but still. BoingBoing has another story on how hard it is to do a paper ballot there.

Quote of the Moment
"I don't think Osama bin Laden sent those planes to attack us because he hated our freedom. I think he did it because of our support for Israel, our ties with the Saudi family and our military bases in Saudi Arabia.
You know why I think that? Because that's what he fucking said!
Are we a nation of 6-year-olds?"
--David Cross. I gotta say, that "hates freedom" line was always the lamest kind of thinking. Jihadists might resent our social freedoms, but then again our own religous fundies aren't crazy about them anyway.

Article of the Moment
Too late to make a difference in the electin, the Nation presents 100 Facts and 1 Opinion about the Bush administration.


(19) feh
2004.11.03
Feh.

I can't believe how segregated the nation is, red and blue wise.

And of course, having fairly close elections doesn't push a politician to be a centrist, like you'd hope. Hell no, it just makes them kiss the ass of the extreme edges of their political base.

Assuming this is a win for Bush...yeesh. I can't believe the Dems couldn't come up with a stronger candidate than Kerry...I've said that before, I think for shallow reasons Edwards would have been a better choice. You would think that a middling economy along with the Vietnam feel of Iraq would have made this a walk in the park.

And with stronger Republican control of House and Senate....jimminy frickin' crickets, having one party with the triple threat has never been great for our contry, whether it was Republican or Democrat.

The Republicans are a scary, weird alliance of fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. I'm more or less ok with the fiscal guys but the social ones scare the hell out of me.

Scariest News Quote of the Moment
More exit poll respondents -- about 22 percent -- called "moral values" the election's most important issue then cited the economy, terrorism or Iraq. Those expressing this sentiment backed the president overwhelmingly, 79 percent to Kerry's 18 percent. Bush did similarly well among the 19 percent who identified terrorism as their top issue.

Kerry won overwhelmingly among the 20 percent who pointed to the economy and jobs as the most important issue -- taking this group 80 percent to the president's 18 percent. The 15 percent who named the Iraq war as the race's top issue backed the senator by a 3-1 margin.
--CNN...moral issues...prolife as a litmus test comes to mind.

Article of the Moment
Slate piece by William Saletan Simple but Effective: Why you keep losing to this idiot. George W had a simple message. Kerry had a complex one. That's why George W won. Incidentally, he suggests Edwards would be a good choice for the Democrats to unite behind, just like Republicans got behind W in 1998.

Frankly, I think most of the Red States are full of anti-intellectual, gut-feeling shmucks. They vote on a few issues and on general karma, not on record. Unfortnately their gutfeeling doesn't extend to thinking "hmm...Iraq is a bad, bad idea".

Great weather for quagmire fans, however.


(111) say it loud...agnostic and proud
2004.11.04
I want to say...and I know this might hurt some people I love, and offend many others, and I'm sorry for that, but this election has made me really, really despise, distrust, and fear organized religion in general. Well, mostly Fundamentalism, but I think the whole exercise is tarred in some ways. Especially because people I'm politically for have no choice but to kiss religion's butt left and right...I don't think any politican can make it without talking about faith in what ends up being the Abrahamaic God, because "doesn't believe in God" (put in terms like "doesn't share the faith that the rest of us do") is just a giant hammer for opponents to wield.

It really makes me want to start a big anti-fundamentalist "YOUR BELIEF IN GOD IS A GUESS" campaign, not that it would help matters anyway...hardly anyone changes their viewpoint thanks to a slogan. (But think about it..."faith" is all well and good, but think of all the other "faiths" your putting aside. Like the old Atheist saw about "so which god aren't you believing in?")

I guess the problem is Fundamentalism as a practice is more self-consistent than a more liberal religous viewpoint. Once you're convinced that your religion is correct, and you've taught yourself to ignore every other religous belief as misguided at best and evil at worst, which is actually a tremendous leap of faith that millions and millions of Christians and Moslems have no problem making, than of course you should act on those principles and work to enact them in your society, and not in a pansy-ass, liberal "can't we all get along" kind of way. I mean, you don't need commonsense and generally humanitarian principles to guide you when you have someone who is willing to give you a very specific and direct singular interpretation of how to to act on your holy book.

In a day where science has done so much for us, where a rational understanding of public health has expanded all of our lifespans and a skeptical, put-everything-to-the-test worldview has let us see the history of our species, planet...universe (and not in a dogmatic way!) people's willingness to accept a literal reading of the Bible kind of floors me. "God Said It..I Believe It...That Settles It" indeed.

I think people of faith are so defensive because of the promise of eternal life. The idea of getting into Heaven and not really having to face their own mortality is their Binky, their safety-blanket, and they'll put aside rational, skeptical thinking so that they can keep being convinced that they and their deceased loved ones will all meet up in Heaven. Fear of the reality of death gets people to shape their entire belief system around some thought like that. Sure, some people come to their faith throgh a thougtful, rationalist process, but I'd be willing to bet that's a minority compared to people who just believe like their parents and friends do.

It's easy to forget that Religion doesn't equal Fundamentalism. I was floored when I heard about some of the liberal Christianity in like, England...there are people there, clergy even, who accept things in the Bible as poetry and myth, but still find it a good general social and cultural construct to base their lives on.

I wish I had a better historical understanding of how religous zeal and fundamentalism waxes and wanes in a culture, because right now right here it's definately on the rise, and it's hard to remember there tends to be a cyclical nature to it, that many generations are less religous-oriented than the previous one, not more. As much as the fundamentalists are shaping the world into a big Christianity vs Islam clash, the world has been a fundamentalists vs. secularists struggle...and the latter group is losing, badly. Except maybe in Eurupe.

I welcome feedback on this, and I hope we can keep it friendly and respectful, despite my obvious emotional view of all this. How does your religous faith influence your politics? Why do you believe what you believe, and not something else? How do you feel about all the other people who have a strong faith in a competing belief system? If you feel that you're a moderate, how do you feel about people who have an extremist view within your system?

Proposed Redistricting of the Moment
--via Bill the Splut, original here, I think by Dave Ruderman.


Followup Thought of the Moment
There's something about the rise of puritanical thinking that makes me want to rejoice in all the things they wring their hands over...yay more smut on TV and in movies! Yay violent or sexually-suggestive video games! Yay for recreational drugs! Yay for cussing!

Sigh
How many votes were discarded in Ohio? How many of those were cast by minorities? Why is it such a big secret?

Of course, it can never come up, because of the public and media backlash against any party who would want to investigate. Maybe it's just liberal wishful thinking. Maybe it's too sinister for words. If Nader really cared about our political system, he would be just the person to spearhead an overhaul of the voting technologies used all over this country.

Jeez. Thinking about it, will the need for anonymous voting always mean the system is subject to abuse?


(4) one moment in time
2004.11.05
Quote of the Moment
Writers Should Keep Their Fame In Perspective
Literary immortality is a moment in geological time
--Will Durant via a page of his thoughts. Useless Kirk trivia: today's title "One Moment In Time" was the Forbidden Song for my high school marching band after a subset had to play it over and over and over and over for the parading of the homecoming court candidates one year. Even mention it, never mind hum it, and you had to do a lap.

Political Griping of the Moment
"At least Dems won't have to clean up Bush's fiscal mess". My favorite observation: it's amazing how all the Red states are the ones who are net drain on Federal income, and the Blue states are the ones that actually work for a living. Republicans used to be known for some measure of fiscal responsibility, but now they and their states are the "ghetto welfare moms" of the USA.


(6) great garglin' gargoyles!
2004.11.06
Source code // Built with Processing
The return of an old little friend...years ago I made up a windows version of this guy, inspired by this Gameboy Game "Gargoyle's Quest". Now he's back in Java...he tends to fly away from the pointer when you hold down the mouse button.


Link of the Moment
I've set myself a little goal for the end of the year...get rid of all my 2003 backlog, so the thing is only like a year behind. I only have 9 or 10 entries to post, mostly links. Here's one on the classic shooter DOOM: 10 Years of DOOM with lots of neat little pieces. Including a version of something I can't believe I hadn't posted before, Old Ma Murray's Crate-based Videogame Review System...the world's first completely unbiased review system, where you can tell exactly how good a game, since it's an inverse function of how long it takes you to see a random crate or barrel in the background as you run around. Some great lines in that.

Quote of the Moment
"Written words; they seem to talk to you as though they were intelligent, but if you ask them anything about what they say, from a desire to be instructed, they go on saying the same thing forever."
--Socrates

(6) we got the beat
2004.11.07
So, I'm a rhythm and beat-centric kind of guy, and one thing I always notice is the pattern of my car's turn indicators...I like to find patterns with different beats, see if I kind find synchronicity in too different patterns The thing about blinkers' beat is that it that they NEVER MATCH ANYTHING. Never have the same beat as traffic signals, never match the music, never even match the blinkers of other cars. For some reason that really bugs me.

Quote of the Moment
"What if a Spanish guy was named Ita,
then you'd have to call him Senor Ita."
--Rene on Candi Pox's LJ

Link of the Moment
What brands got the most play in Hip Hop songs in 2003? Mercedes, Lexus, Gucci, Cadillac, and Burberry.

I'm so white. "But I went to a very black high school".

(4) show'd!
2004.11.08
Dumb Sports Thought of the Moment
St. Louis, Missouri: "Show Me"
Boston, New England: "OK"
--From Super Bowls to World Series, Boston's got St. Louis' number, most recently in a nice strong win by the Pats on the Ram's home (astro-)turf. Anyway, this was the best line I could come up with.

Quote of the Moment
"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

Article of the Moment
Dang it, Canada DOES sound better and better...except for the weather. Maybe if it's global warming (despite the counterintuitive cold that may come before it) it will be an even better place...

Health Hazard of the Moment
Eww. I am now regretting my previous habit of reusing plastic water jugs for extended periods. Probably by the time I noticed the smell was a bit off, it was well into a not-so-good-for-me kind of way. My current strategy is to just use small soda bottles and iced coffee cups for just a day or two at a stretch. Water jugs are so hard to clean, because of the narrow tops...

(23) axe the sax
2004.11.09
Most overrated musical instrument: without a question, for me it has to be the saxophone.

First off is how corny the thing's origins are. While Adolphe Sax's motivations aren't clear...maybe he was worried about some weird clarinet "overblowing octaves" things, maybe he was just looking to let woodwind players make as much damn noise as the brass...the indisputable fact is he named the stupid things after himself. If I were to make a whole new instrument I hope I could come with a better name than "Kirkaphone". It's just self-aggrandizing egotism, is what it is. (And of course, the instrument always gets abbreviated to "playing sax". That's like saying you're "playing Jones" or what not.) And the guy's almost supernatural ability to tick off other instrument manufacturers made the instrument a pariah for years, and that's why it's not a part of classical music from the 1800s. Or maybe those composers just knew something that later music guys forgot.

Second off is just the playing of the Sax, especially for beginner players. I hate instruments with reeds, they're always cracking and the players are always running out, or having to work to keep 'em damp. Any instrument where you're supposed to keep part of it moist doesn't seem like a good instrument to me. Plus...well, I was a brass player, and I'm kind of grateful that the mouthpieces for those instruments are concave. Freudian symbolism aside, it's kind of nice to not be required to place part of the instrument IN your actual body. And speaking of beginning players...man, no instrument sounds as bad in the hands of a novice as a sax can. That squeaking and squawking was the bane of my middle school Wind Ensemble years.

Then there's the music that is made with saxes. They say that the saxophone is one of the most expressive instruments, capable of providing a huge variety of moods and sounds and that's why the jazz guys dug it so much, why it's almost like the human voice almost and blah blah blah, but really, there's only two types that you run into: the brash, honking stuff, and the smooth, corners-free "Kenny G" crap. I guess the honking stuff is ok, I'm as amused by a good round of Yakety Sax as the next guy, but that Smooth Jazz crap is really the stuff that aesthetic crimes against humanity are made of.

And, finally, while on the topic of aesthetic crimes...why the hell is Saxophone the only instrument culturally linked to coolness that's not an electric guitar? They're right up there with "throw on a pair of sunglasses" in terms of hackneyed visual signifiers of "cool". Sometimes I can't believe that my political allegiance to Clinton survived him playing saxophone with sunglasses on on national television--for a guy so in touch with the Black community that he put his office in Harlem, he is as corny as all get out. Plus, the way saxophone players feel compelled to duck and bob around during any solos they might have, flapping their elbows like they're doing the funky chicken...man, it's a nightmare. How they still manage to culturally read as "hip" is beyond me. Not to mention that retarded pun "Sax Appeal" that always seems to rear its ugly head.

Now, fair disclosure: my opinion might be biased by the bitterness of years of playing tuba. The only thing lower down on the cultural totem pole than the tuba players might be the accordionists. And yet, years after I stopped playing I had to confess that the reputation is not completely undeserved: they aren't a good sounding instrument by themselves. If you can hear a tuba do anything besides providing a general "bass" foundation, you're probably regretting it. Unless it's Dixieland. Dixieland is kind of fun. So maybe I'm jealous of all the attention the saxophones got, but still; Saxophones are completely, completely overrated.


(5) brand of fire
2004.11.10
Gargoyle of the Moment
Source code //
Built with Processing
Same basic idea as the other day, but now I have the ability to screengrab from the Gameboy original rather than painting my own rough version. This is Firebrand the Red Destroyer, the main character from the game Gargoyle's Quest. Interestingly, he got his start as a bad guy in the game Ghosts 'n Goblins. Now I think he's supposed to be red, but in the original GB version, he is of course the same spinach green as everything else on that old system, and I don't feel like updating him from the version I got to know and love. I just always thought he was the cutest little guy, a great example of pixel art.

(7) just chillin'
2004.11.11
Man, my apartment is chilly. During the summer it was great, it's relatively shaded location kept in nice and temperate, but of course now it's time to pay the piper. It also seems a little drafty...I'm such a household moron...I checked and it doesn't look like there are any kind of non-screen sections to pull down, it's just the screens from the summer. So assuming there aren't any storm windows the landlords expect me to know about in the basement...maybe I should talk to him.

But assuming what I see is what I got (and that I'm seeing it correctly, and there isn't some non-screen extra layer lurking in those windows), I wonder what would be good to make my place warmer and less drafty. I know some people who put up a layer of plastic, basically clingwrap, which I'm sure is warm but looks terrible. Maybe some heavy curtains? Which might also help deal with the "too much light" problem--in my bedroom when I'm trying to sleep-in, and then again if I get that video projector I'm jonesing for...

Any suggestions?

Quote of the Moment
"A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life to be thankful for a good one."
--Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Map of the Moment
--One nation, Red and Blue and Purple all over. E. pointed me to these election results, blended red and blue by county, with each state warped so that its size reflects the number of votes cast. The page this image came from has some other diagrams that kind of build up to this one.


(21) go to the ant thou sluggard
2004.11.12
My laptop at work is amazingly bad. It's 2 1/2 years old, which isn't too awful, but there's something about Dell laptops, at least the ones running Windows 2000, that makes them get all clogged up...apps are always a little on the slow side, and startup and shutdown take a LOOOONG time.

And I don't even need a laptop for work...it's been nice a few times when I wanted to "work at home", and when I want to have a document at a meeting without printing it out, but overall, I have one because when I asked for a flatpanel in 2002 those screens were considered luxuries...so they gave me a much more expensive laptop instead, go figure.

So the laptop was sluggish but usable. Then they added some Symantec virus scanning, and now the thing is just silly. For some reason the system is setup to do a full deep scan daily. When the scan is going full out, the harddrive is whirring constantly and sometimes I can watch a newly visible application's window refresh, drawing in the window line...by line....by line....by line. The system runs like molasses. In January. On Pluto. During a coldsnap. My only recourse is to spend about 20 minutes or so shutting it down and then restarting...I can't kill the scan process directly...it's protected, 'cause killing it is exactly what you'd expect a virus to do, innit?

So there is of course a tremendous irony in a virus scan procedure doing more damage to my productivity than any virus has ever done. It's the computer equivalent of a neurotic who can't stop washing his hands...I get this image of the scan program running around frantically, hunting through every other nook, every cranny, and it would do this same deep frenetic searching every day if I let it.

Help is on the way, however. I'm getting a kick-butt new desktop PC either this week or next (and now flatpanels are standard here, not a luxury (in fact a lot of people use 2) so I'll be getting one of those too.) Even though the rate of relative PC speed increase has dropped a lot lately, it's a little odd thinking that this will probably be the fastest most powerful computer I've ever touched or used directly. (Or not....I can't remember if I've messed with much "big metal" servers that would blow even the most modern typical desktop away.) So that'll be nice. Maybe they'll let me keep my old laptop for a while, and I can let it do nothing but run its virus scan day in, day out, whirring happily and neurotically to itself and generally keeping busy.

Gripe of the Moment
Grrr...when did Apple start make QuickTime download == iTunes download?


(17) computer art of the moment
2004.11.13
paintbars Source code //
Built with Processing

Just a bit of abstract kinetic semi-interactive art...I find it a little hypnotic. The paintbarsnakeguys are attracted to the center of the screen at first, as well as to the tail of one of the other paintbarsnakeguys. When you click with the mouse, they lose interest in the other paintbarsnakeguy and just go to where you're clicking...once you release the mouse button, they go back to their old behavior, but instead of the center, they're attracted to wherever the mouse last was.

I was actually trying for a different effect, recreating this old screen saver I had for Windows. I ended up liking this one more, though if I get the other one down I might post it as well. I really don't use color enough, in my art, maybe not in my life in general. I have mostly blue and green shirts because I know they look ok on me and that's about it...


War of the Moment
Icon Story, the desktop battlefield rages and in the end their can be only one...some really clever and playful use of the iconography found on most Windows XP boxes. I want a fighting game based on this! (via MELAS)


(7) mindless
2004.11.14
Here's a thought: I've been taking some yoga lately. (Though even more lately I've been inclined to blow it off.) One of the big themes in yoga and other forms of meditation is quieting the mind, stilling all the endless chatter and, at least for Zen Bhuddism, leaving nothing behind. It seems almost every Eastern philosophy and many of the Western ones see a calm mind as a benefit. For a long time I took it for granted that it was a good thing. But lately it's been occurring to me: I love the way my mind wanders. I really enjoy having it zigzag from one thought to another, how sometimes it'll land at a meme, I'll start thinking "Now how did I get to thinking about that?" and can enjoyably trace the steps back. I'm a tangental thinker, pretty good at making connections, twisting concepts slightly and then examining the results...why on earth (or in heaven) would I want to lose that? (Of course it is annoying when your brain fixates on a single meme over and over, whether it's a song or a bad joke or what have you.)

I suppose there might be some health-type benefits. A static mind is more relaxed, it's not going in any anxiety and neurosis-producing places (and I sure as heck have enough of those) and so I guess for blood pressure and what not it's a good thing. But for my money, nothing beats a good leisurely mental ramble, a thoughtful ponder. It's where some of society's big breakthroughs have come from, and I can't see why giving that up is such a big plus.

Actually, it's funny how much of this goes on in the hindmind without the conscious mind being aware of it...sometimes a vague emotion will be the main residue that my aware mind can follow to figure what the rest of my head is up to (To quote They Might Be Giants, "Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of"...or what it is thinking of, in this case.) For instance, I'll be trying to remember something I was supposed to do...I'll feel a slight sense of...I dunno, nervousness, or pride, and that will be the hook to let me recall the core idea. "Why do I feel nervous? Oh right, there's that project that's almost due and still needs a lot of work." Does anyone else function this way? My brain is a brain of associations, I think a bit more so than with some people, which lets me more clever than average in some ways, but it has handicaps as well.

(3) grand theft auto: kirk's scion
2004.11.15
So lately I've been sinking some time into Grand Theft Auto: San Adreas...it's a pretty amazing game, greatly amplifying the feeling of an adventure overlayed on a "real city" that the previous games introduced to the field. It's the first GTA I've spent much time with since getting the GPS for my car, and I realized that its display, with a polygon-ish road map and a triangle indicating my position and direction is just like the little map shown in GTA. So basically, I've turned my life into Grand Theft Kirky...

Strange Links of the Moment
After FoSO and some others seemed to indicate that they like the rambles, lately I've been trying to push this site in that direction a bit. But I don't mean to be neglectful of links, so here are 3 of the oddest things I've seen on the web this week:
  • A Japanese McDonald's Ad feature a gal in a haute coutre take on Ronald...there's one for people who like their clown-clad models more ambiguosly gendered as well.
  • What might be the best foosball playing you've ever seen.
  • Robodump 1.0...a robot design to sound and look (at least from the legs down) like a high powered executive having quite a time of it in a company restroom. (They made it an executive so people would be less likely to strike up a conversation...)



(2) well hung seperately
2004.11.16
Quote of the Moment
"I believe that fascism is about abandoning your personal responsibility to the group or to society. You say 'In unity there is strength,' which inevitably will become 'In uniformity there is strength.' It's better if those sticks are the same size and length, because then they'll make a tidier bundle, which consequently leads to the kind of fascism that we saw in the '30s and '40s."
--Alan Moore, interview with the Onion's AV Club

Image of the Moment

--I'm not really into "Extreme Sports" for the most part but this shot of Mike Basich I couldn't resist. There's a Video and more info at arborsports. (via this Big-Boys.com entry)

Bad Law of the Moment
"However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited."
--Wired on HR2391, the "Intellectual Property Protection Act". Jeez...do you think this would mean skipping the previews that are at the head of some DVDs and VHS tapes would be illegal?


(12) stick around, pal
2004.11.17
Literary Passages of the Moment
Who knows how to make love stay?

Tell love you are going to the Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.

Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.

Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.

-Tom Robbins, excerpts from "Still Life With Woodpecker"

News of the Moment
Howard Stern is right, we are becoming such a nation of prudes. We've totally lost the idea of a little bit of light, sexy fun...the Monday Night Football intro was hardly pornographic. "Won't somebody think of the children??" We've got more hangups than...dang, what's a good end to that sentence? A strike at AT&T? A blowout clearance at The Christmas Tree Shop?

Correction of the Moment
"in clause 82, paragraph 17, subsection (b) of the original treaty, delete the word "pertanually" and replace with the word "insubdurience".
--Alleged ammedment to the EU Constitution, though I think Guardian Unlimited was just having a bit of fun. Still, it seems to be taken seriously by the guy griping about the abuse of language by politicians in this article. As far as I can tell these are perfectly cromulent words.

(21) to do: start to do list
2004.11.18
Here's where I'm torn: I love the idea of getting things done, of ticking them off of a "to do" list, of freeing my brain from the clutter of "stuff I gotta get around to doing". But I'm also cursed by this procrastination urge, usually when I'm not quite sure how to do something, or it's not clear if it's going to work out like I hope.

And of course that sense of anxiety-induced procrastination is a bumbling idiot: for these situations where I'm not sure if it's going to work out, putting off finding out rarely helps and often hurts. So much of the time it's better to get a "good enough" (or at least "good try enough") solution out quickly, in time to take a second or third stab at it if need be...hardly ever do I use that "extra time" in a productive way. (Of course not, because if I did use that time well, I would be "taking the time to do things right the first time" rather than just "procrastinating".)

So my entire life seems like a struggle between these two impulses, the light and the dark. I suspect winning this battle is what separates the gifted and talent successes from the gifted and talent nobodies.

Come to think of it I've been aware of this for a while...last year I bought a hypnosis CD "Do It Now". The thing is, I'm thinking I'm not too succeptible to hypnosis, though it might be worth giving it another shot at sometime. I do sometimes hear the womans voice in my head "think about how good it will feel when you just 'do it now'"...

Commercial of the Moment
The music and dancing is not as good as Breakin' Soundwave, but Citroën's Dancing "Transformer" is closer to being photorealistic...


(3) what is wrong with everyone nowadays?
2004.11.19
Rant of the Moment
"What is wrong with everyone nowadays?

Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?

This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centred system which admits no failure.

People think they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability.

This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history."

--Prince Charles. There's been a bit of a backlash for this anti-egalitarian screed, but I wonder if there's something to it. I mean, it's kind of ironic for a member of the royalty to kvetch about "putting in the necessary work" (though I assume he assumes "having natural ability") I think what does raise my hackles in this is the "contradict the lessons of history", which for me is usually a tipoff of some overly constrained thinking.

I've heard American kids rank low in actual math skills but high in math skills confidence, and that's the kind of thing that seems messed up. Kids...in fact, any healthy individual...needs some amount of self-confidence, but can it be taken too far?

(11) on multiple intelligences
2004.11.20
It's a kind of self-evident idea: most people know that you can be smart at one thing (like taking standardized tests ;-) and dumb at other things, but we still tend to measure smarts on one scale and call that "intelligence". The theory of multiple intelligences just says that there are different ways of being smart, emotional and what not...

Actually I just realized I've been using the term loosely... A google search came up with http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm which lists 8 specific ones:
Linguistic intelligence ("word smart"):
Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
Musical intelligence ("music smart")
Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")

At one point back in school, when I was still using the term loosely, I thought there should be a similar concept for art and literature. It was in an early black literature class, and I was noticing the circles some of the academics were running in to justify studying some of these novels that really weren't "very good"; schlocky and corny, knockoffs of the white novels written at the same time. But they were worth reading, because of who wrote them and when they were written. I realized a "theory of multiple intelligences" would do well to analyze what makes a given work worthwhile.

And what I thought is it doesn't have to preclude pointing to some things as "great works", it doesn't have to be some egalitarian equality of all books; even a dimestore trashy romance is "good" at provoking a certain response in its audience, via titillation and/or something emotional; it just is more likely to be bad on the other fronts. Something like Shakespeare, on the other hand, is much more likely to be effective on a bunch of these hypothetical levels, and that's why we consider it great.

--I wrote this to someone last January, not sure who, but grabbed it for future use here. I think people forget that there is hardly ever a single axis of "good" for anything, there are almost always tradeoffs between different alternatives.

roshambo rambo
2004.11.21
Geekness of the Moment
The "R" pentomino linked to this piece on Rock Paper Scissors dice....Dice with number arrangements different than the usual one through six, where Die A statistically beats Die B, and Die B beats Die C, but Die C goes ahead and beats Die A. It's a deeper idea than it first sounds, and the article talks about some of the implications.

Image of the Moment
--Color Photos from WWI. Interesting to see proof that challenges that old "Calvin's Dad" argument that the world just wasn't in color back then...


Literary Bit of the Moment
"How do you make love stay? Take love out onto a distant hilltop on a cloudless night. When love falls asleep, replace love's glasses with glow in the dark stars spelling "This Is It". As Love starts to stir, swap the original glasses back. Love will stay."
--I wrote that a while back, trying to emulate the Tom Robbins I kisrael'd the other day.


(28) chef of iron, jaw of glass
2004.11.22
Funny of the Moment
Most of what I know about Japanese cuisine comes from Iron Chef, so I was going to recreate it. It fit my fourth of July theme perfectly. It starts with Chairman Kaga emerging in riding gloves and a cape to reveal a secret ingredient from a billowing cloud of his own gay. Then two superhero chefs make luxurious but insane dishes out of it. And every single episode, one of those madmen makes ice cream out of ham or asparagus and a team of elite food eaters spout mistranslated nonsense about the emotions it brings out in their large intestine. It gives me a surge of patriotism, because it's as if every second of it is designed to make me and my country look not crazy.
--The rarely-updating Seanbaby, who has graced with a new article exploring the twin worlds of Japanese mystery foods and homemade fireworks. Laugh-out-loud funny in parts.

English Lesson of the Moment
Ksenia hadn't known the word "bellybutton", but it's her new favorite English word, replacing "exactly". She just think it's such a cute little image.

Marcos from Portugal's favorite word was "marshmallow".

I guess my favorite English words aren't actually English...but middle eastern food names: "Falafel!" "Cous Cous!" "Huh--Hummus!"

What's your favorite word?


(5) wear sunscreen
2004.11.23
Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

--Mary Schmich, in the late 1990s it was being falsely attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. It's really brilliant, I love the Baz Luhrmann musical version of it.

Also odd note...I'm not very into scents, but one of Ksenia's that I really dig is when she wears Nivea skin cream, which smells just like summer sunblock. Summer Sunblock has this certain smell, a few different brands have it, that totally bring me back to high school summers, trips to the amusment park and fun summer romances.



(12) equanimity
2004.11.24
I've been thinking more about "equanimity around success or failure", something I also kisrael'd a month ago. There's a friend of my family named Robbert (yes, with two "b"s), a European guy who makes big money doing SAP stuff. (I think he once mentioned some huge financial rewards if I wanted to work in Kuwait for a while...this was back when I was just out of school '96 or so.) Anyway, at Sunday family pub night my Uncle Bill mentioned one anecdote, where because of some scheduling mixup he had to leave some luggage outside of someone's apartment, and when he got back, a nice camera had been stolen, and he took it totally in stride: "ah well, easy come, easy go." It's been on my mind ever since, what an amazingly phenomenal attitude that is to have. I mean I know I would be really upset and ranting against the world in that scenario. Must that kind of tranquility be innate, or can it be learned? Maybe it does have some genetic component, Uncle Bill also mentioned a time when Robbert's son wouldn't pick up his toys, Robbert calmly played the "well you have too many toys, so we will trash these" card, the son calmly removed them from the trash a bit later, put them away, and that was the end of the problem.

I was going to say there's also a financial component, if you don't want to worry about losing an expensive camera it helps to be comfortable financially. Though I think unless I managed to make "I could retire right now" dough, I'd never be able to achieve that kind of balance, even though I'm doing pretty ok for myself right now.

Do people who are that calm have everything worked out? Like they know what they want out of life, and that they're working their way towards that, and so these little hiccups just ain't a big problem? Or are they just calm by their general nature? To what extent could I will myself to further calmness?

Sometimes I think I was happier and more generally relaxed before I started sweating Y2K. Seriously. It's like it broke something in me, or at least bent it. And before that I was neurotic about nuclear war; I guess there was this brief time after 1992 and before 1998 where I could just chill out. Post-9/11, who knows if I'll ever see that again...

Bad News of the Moment
Speaking of anxiety producing things, Economic `Armageddon' predicted by Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley. "In a nutshell, Roach's argument is that America's record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants. [...] The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded." One odd factoid from the article: "Nearly half of new mortgage borrowing is at flexible interest rates" Seriously? With rates so low weren't all sane people going fixed rate? Am I missing something? Do people think this guy is onto something?

As a guy who has managed to get out of debt and has some savings, is there something I can do to brighten my own prospects? Buy Euros or precious metals? (Hey LAN3, what do you think of this slate bit on those wacky Bush claims of supporting a strong dollar?)

(2) thanks a lot
2004.11.25
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone...try to keep in mind what you're thankful for.

Vanity Card of the Moment
I believe that the very act of believing in something causes us to distance ourselves from that thing, thus a duality is created: oneself and the thing in which one believes. Now since we all know that in order to fully understand a thing one must be that thing -- walk a mile in its shoes so to speak -- it seems obvious that the state of believing in something inevitably causes us to not truly understand that thing in which we believe. This noncomprehension leads to all sorts of difficulties. "I believe in love" has a better than even chance of leading to divorce, while "I believe in God" seems to end in variations on the Spanish Inquisition. But -- and it's a big but -- if one were love, one couldn't help but be affectionate and caring towards oneself and others. If one were God, one would act toward all beings and all things as if they were one's own creations. And that, my friends, is the secret of life in a two-second vanity card. Of course, the secret could also be "Sit, Ubu, sit." We have to keep an open mind.
--Chuck Lorre, vanity card at the end of an episode of "Dharma and Greg". You can see all of them here...either go for the Text-Only option, or hit the Flash and click on the bookshelves.

Random Thought of the Moment
Is Thanksgiving the only major US holiday mainly represented by what you eat on it? (Other than Groundhogs Day of course.) It's kind of macabre seeing all these happy turkeys around. But it's either that or pilgrim gear. Or maybe Autumn leaves, though that's a stretch.


(2) unicron and on and on
2004.11.26
Whoops almost forgot to do an update today...

I got nothing to say so I'll just leave you with this:



If you know where that Death Star Devourer is from, you deserve a geek cookie. (And if you know the name of that thing's nemesis, you deserve a whole geek cake!)


(6) business logic
2004.11.27
Another cop-out day... but the good thing is I'm this close to finishing up a new feature on the site: throwing open the sidebar location to pretty much anyone who's a regular on the message boards. I hope it'll be a really dynamic part of the site, letting people who may or may not have their own blog get a bigger audience, and adding more interesting content to mine. I really loved what Dylan and Sarah have done, but lately they haven't been able to keep updated as much as I like...but their posts are a great start for the sidebar...more details later!

Geekness of the Moment
One day Jane asked me "what's business logic" in a work e-mail, and I thought it was a great question, and saved my response for future use on this site...which is now. It might be mildly interesting to people who wonder what I do for a living.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jane
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2004 4:41 PM
To: Israel, Kirk
Subject: all this talk of 'business delegates'

kirk - in one document i'm looking at, they keep mentioning 'business delegates' - do you suppose they just mean 'clients'? or is this some unique term in the industry that i'm not getting?
ex.:

'Verifies calls issued by the back end of the adapter in response to front-end API invocations. These calls are issued to Business Delegates, whose interfaces are prescribed by the corresponding Zeus Session Facades'

It's a techie term.

Zeus is a "client/server" system, right? The bit connecting to the ERP is over here on the left, it then sends data over the wires, so to speak, to the server over there on the right, and then stuff comes back over the wires to the client.

Now, the thing is, sending the stuff over the wires is relatively hard from a programming point of view. People connecting the client to their code don't want to deal with crap like that. So Business Delegates hide the over the wires crap from that programmer.

More specifically, I think "Business Delegates" usually have the same "signature" as the functions that do the actual work on the server...by signature I mean they take in the same objects in the same order, and spit out the same objects. But of course, the "Business Delegate" on the client aren't doing the "real work"...it's just sending it over the wire.

The whole term "business logic" seemed weird to me for a while, becuase it seemed like every damn thing we were writing was "business logic"...so what's the point of having a special term for it? But later I realized the opposite of "business logic" is...well, "system logic" or "system code", stuff that's directly involved with keeping the infrastructure humming. Business Delegates is a "design pattern" (meaning, a generalized setup that you can apply to many problems) that is a good example of letting the programmer focus on the "business logic" (in our case, grabbing financial data and what not from the ERP and putting it into the tax document objects) while not having to sweat the system level stuff, the sending it over the wire.

(6) sidebar ahoy
2004.11.28
So the new sidebar is there...still haven't sent out the invites for the people I hope will be adding to it, alongside stalwarts Dylan and Sarah. Pretty much anyone who knows me in real life is eligible for an account, along with anyone who has played a recurring role on the comments section here, so if you meet one of those criteria and don't receive an invite in the next couple of days, let me know.

Ramble of the Moment
I blew off UU Church this morning. One thing that bugs me about that place...you know, this is a liberal, thoughtful, well-educated population. Is it actually a rule that all responsive readings must be read in a flat, dull, lockstep monotone? Would the reading be thrown into incompatible chaos if everyone just tried to put a little life and vitality and expression into what they're saying?

Quote of the Moment
"Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim."
--George Santayana, via John Sawers in the Comments the other day.

google-y eyes
2004.11.29
Old Link of the Moment
Have you tried Google Desktop? I was hoping for something better than Outlooks awful search engine for my e-mail. One disconcerting part of it is how when you go to regular Google, by default it also starts showing you matches from your local desktop. It's pretty freaky when it looks like the contents of your local machine have somehow made it to Google, even though they swear it's all smoke and mirrors, no information is sent back to their servers. The othe stupid thing about that is by default it shows you matches in your browser cache, so the sequence is you're at a website, you decide to Google the general topic, and the first hits are always...what you were just looking at...duh.

Paperbacks of the Moment
--via boingboing.net, this amusing collection of Sleaze Science Fiction Covers. "Starship Intercourse" was a pretty good one too...and the site has different genres as well, from Film Noir to Lesbiana.


Link of the Moment
I swear I've never actually played D+D, but Fun With Dice, how to roll the dice in the most annoying ways possible, made me giggle.

(6) see you in court!
2004.11.30
I've got a traffic court date today. I swear I was trying to do the Right Thing and what the traffic signs were telling me to do. The incident was on August First...I was driving south on 93. There was an electronic roadsign saying "LEFT 3 LANES CLOSED". I thought that was a little odd, because the road was only 3 lanes, but whatever. Eventually I get to the slowly moving traffic...and there's another sign "LEFT 3 LANES CLOSED". And there's only 3 lanes. But traffic is somehow still moving, so I figure everyone is going to the breakdown lane. I thought this was confirmed when I see 2 or 3 cars go start using the breakdown lane, and I actually thought that was what we were supposed to do. Sure I thought it was a chance to get moving ahead of other folks, but I also thought it was what we were supposed to be doing to get traffic moving in general.

Sigh. $100 fine, but assuming I don't succesfully fight it I'm more concerned about the insurance aspect. This is my first moving violation, I've never even gotten a speeding ticket. So it's really annoying to get the blemish, especially when I really thought I was doing what the signs indicated I should do.

Stupid Obscure Punning Clickable Text That You Only Get If You Read The Article of the Moment
Something Wickard This Way Comes. Drugs are bad, mmm-kay? Stupid prude nation. Are our drug laws really a commendable act of keeping society in order and staving off entropy and chaos, or are these mostly just self-righteous blowhards who delight in stopping other people from having fun, even if that also means people who are really, really sick and have a legitmate need for marijuana get screwed? The article points out that the Justices' hypocrisy of being for states' rights just so long as they agree with the state in question is astounding.

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